Rational Man

The skeptic who scandalized Victorian America.

(Page 2 of 2)

It would take a great deal more than that to astonish a man as widely read and traveled as the Great Agnostic, and Santorum is hardly a spokesman for the mainstream on this issue. Jacoby even makes snippy remarks about the atheistic origins of the first name of former Texas representative Ron Paul’s son, Kentucky senator Rand Paul (who denies, by the way, that he is named for Ayn Rand).

Her afterword is a lecture directed at the New Atheists, in which she takes the likes of Christopher Hitchens and Richard Dawkins to task for failing to include Ingersoll among their credited influences. She accuses them of ignor-ance and bias against Ingersoll because he is difficult to fit into our modern political categories—all in the kind of hectoring tone Ingersoll himself eschewed, and to his great benefit.

When Hitchens died in 2011 of esophageal cancer, raging and grumping all the way to his grave, he was compared (favorably and unfavorably) to Thomas Paine, who died impoverished and alone, with rumors of suicide and conversion further besmirching an already damaged reputation. Such deathbed mythology has long plagued prominent atheists.

Perhaps mindful of Paine’s example, however, Ingersoll was determined to use his own death to make his point one last time. As the heart disease that had long plagued him began to take its toll, Ingersoll settled in at home. Surrounding himself with family—he got along famously with his in-laws, freethinkers who later curated his papers and tended his legacy—Ingersoll smoked cigars, played billiards, and took one last morning nap before expiring with his wife by his bedside. The Chicago Tribune’s obituary headline: “Ingersoll Dies Smiling.” 

This article originally appeared in the January 28, 2013 edition of The Weekly Standard.

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  • DenverJay||

    "the turn of the 19th century" should be "the turn of the 20th century", unless the rest of the dates in the article are wrong. Also: First!

  • Gladstone||

    He also inspired Lew Wallace to write Ben-Hur.

  • FucktheNannyState||

    A skeptic does not deny knowledge, he simply demands strong evidence to support it.

    I try to explain this conspiracy nuts. I like Ron Paul for the most part, but his extreme followers tend to be hyperbolic and passionate, which generally means a lack of reason and logic. Especially the "truthers". It's one thing to say, "I question the validity of your assertions that 9/11 was an act of terrorism", and quite another to say, "I have verified evidence to support that 911 was an inside job".. yet not actually produce that evidence.

  • Libertarius||

    For a subjectivist, one whim is as good as another.

  • Briggie||

    That and the whole thing with Russell's teapot. Just because no one can prove you 100% without a doubt wrong, does not mean you are correct. One of my huge pet peeves. Along with saying "Everyone is entitled to their opinion." during a debate. No, you are not entitled to your opinion; you are only entitled to what you can argue for/prove.

  • MSimon||

    Look up "Mohammed Atta and the Venice Flying Circus" also "Rudi Dekkers 9/11".

    It is my opinion that 9/11 was a US drug smuggling operation gone bad. i.e. CIA double crossed by Osama.

    YMMV

    I think "truthers" are on to something. But most of them miss the Drug War aspect. That is the missing link.

  • Jam||

    from a PBS God in America
    http://www.pbs.org/godinameric.....rsoll.html
    Each nation has created a god, and the god has always resembled his creators. He hated and loved what they hated and loved, and he was invariably found on the side of those in power. Each god was intensely patriotic, and detested all nations but his own. All these gods demanded praise, flattery, and worship. Most of them were pleased with sacrifice, and the smell of innocent blood has ever been considered a divine perfume.

  • sasob||

    Thanks very much for that link.

  • Mediterranean Death Cult||

    Jacoby even makes snippy remarks about the atheistic origins of the first name of former Texas representative Ron Paul’s son, Kentucky senator Rand Paul (who denies, by the way, that he is named for Ayn Rand).

    Jacoby either ignored or skipped her research. Senator Paul was named Randal and grew up as Randy. His wife shortened his name to Rand.

  • waaminn||

    So who really knows whats going on up there?

    www.Anon-ids.tk

  • d_remington||

    Why do I have an instant liking of this guy, but somehow I can't stand the likes of Dawkins and Hitchens?

  • ||

    Because Dawkins and Hitchens are and were, respectively, elitist ivory tower cunts who are uniquely capable of alienating even the people with whom they agree due to their abrasive personal style.

  • Bill Dalasio||

    Well, I tend to view Hitchens as a bit of a contrarian. As such, I don't have much of a problem with the guy. Dawkins, on the other hand, is just a dick. He always strikes me as getting off on feeling intellectually superior to "the little people", even though his theories require as much faith ("the selfish gene") as the religions he's dismissing.

  • ||

    Ingersoll considered the theory of evolution a desirable replacement...

    It's an unfortunate oversight on the part of both religionists and secularists that the theory of evolution really doesn't even concern abiogenesis, and therefore doesn't need to displace anyone's origin story of choice. It's particularly inexcusable in the case of people like Dawkins who should and do know better, but simply thrive off the antagonism.

  • ||

    Also:

    ...she takes the likes of Christopher Hitchens and Richard Dawkins to task for failing to include Ingersoll among their credited influences. She accuses them of ignor-ance and bias against Ingersoll because he is difficult to fit into our modern political categories

    While she may be violating the spirit of Ingersoll in doing so, she has a point. Dawkins and Hitchens are and were, respectively, to atheism what the Westboro Baptist Church is to Christianity in terms of messaging.

  • T o n y||

    I'm so sick of this conventional wisdom on Dawkins and Hitchens. Against centuries of atheists receiving not just verbal but actual, deadly abuse at the hands of the religious, atheists fire the tiniest pellets of indignation toward that institution (and it deserves every ounce it gets and thousands of times more), and they are labeled wackos. Well they are very well-evidenced wackos.

    I don't think you believe that religion is above skepticism. I think you just haven't read Dawkins or Hitchens and instead have relied on the opinions of those in the mushy middle who are actually serving as religious apologists. Hitchens was deliberately provocative but hardly offensive, and Dawkins is a sweet, polite old man. Their only crime is happening to correctly think that religion is bad and we'd all be better off if it were gone. If you're truly a freethinker then there is no reason to be on the fainting couch over Dawkins and Hitchens, and the religious or mushy middlers have no right to be.

  • DrAwkward||

    Not that they're wackos, just abrasive to anyone who doesn't already agree with them.
    Also, the fact that there is no god doesn't necessarily imply humanity would be better off with no religion. It's two different questions.

  • Capt Ace Rimmer||

    Blows my mind that we live in a universe that thinks about itself.

  • MSimon||

    "Santorum is hardly a spokesman for the mainstream"

    He doesn't have to be. If he only speaks for 5% he makes Republicans unelectable on a national stage. See Romney, Mittens vs the med pot user on youtube.

    You going to vote for THAT? Not me. I'm one of the million.

  • sohbet||

    super blogs thanks admins
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