As a long time atheist and free-thinker I am constantly reading about others who have had the temerity to stand up for what they DON'T believe in.  One of the names that keep coming up is that of Robert G. Ingersoll.  The website that carries his name is informative, but I wonder: Does anybody out here in our community know of any documentary or film that focuses on his activism and speeches?  How come it has taken so long for me to hear of him. (Freethinkers; Susan Jacobson (I think))?

His website describes him as the "Most famous American that nobody has heard of."

I would like to know more; anybody got clues for me.

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As far as I know, no film.  I wish there WAS....   He did record a few sentences for Thomas Edison, but the sound quality is so poor.....

I did know an actor who could have played Ingersoll beautifully, but he died about 20 years ago....had a wonderfully resonant voice, dammit!  I'd also like to see the man who does the arena announcements for the Westminster Kennel Club's big show.....GREAT voice!  (He's probably a fundie....oh, well.)

But, yeah....his life would make a great mini-series, but I just don't know anyone in this chicken-shirt town with the courage to start such a project.  Or even suggest it.  Yet.

I do know someone who knows Bill Maher....tee-hee...if he could make "Religulous," maybe he COULD get a production company interested in doing the life of Robert G. Ingersoll.  I'd like to live long enough to see it.

He died in 1899 but you can find some of him on You Tube. Famous orator and civil war veteran. I'm also just now discovering him thanks to posters here on Nexus.

American Infidel, by Orvin Larson is THE best biography on Ingersoll.  The Freedom From Religion Foundation has it for sale but you can also find used copies at extremely reasonable prices at

There are also used paperbacks of collections of Ingersoll's speeches, poems, comments, etc.

And the 12-volume collection of the Dresden Edition of everything he ever wrote is on the net or you can check things by title at:

Have fun!  (I particularly like "Some Mistakes of Moses."  I think he does mention that YHWH never bothered to tell Moses....or anyone else....that Earth is NOT flat.  Nor is it very important as planets go.)

Oops. A couple of mistakes above: First his website site calls him "The most Remarkable American nobody has ever heard of".  And secondly the author of the book "Freethinkers" was Susan Jacoby.

And thanks for the additional comments about where to find more about this 'remarkable' man.  From what I am gathering he would certainly give Richard Dawkins and Sam Harris and Christopher Hitchens a run for their money in the 'World's Most Hated Atheist" category.  Can't wait to read some more of his stuff!

For "the world's most hated atheist" Ingersoll certainly had a lot of famous and/or influential admirers and close friends...including Mark Twain, Thomas Edison, James Garfield, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Walt Whitman, Luther Burbank, and I could go on for at least a page.

Actually, he didn't consider himself an atheist, the most he'd commit to was agnosticism, but according to most definitions, an atheist just lacks a belief, or faith, in any god, and he qualified.

But he was an extremely compassionate and deeply loving man....and highly intelligent.

Oh, and I meant to mention that almost every school in the town I've lived in since I was 5 years old is named for a freethinker....I went to Ralph Waldo Emerson and Thomas Jefferson elementary schools.... There is Edison, Horace Mann, (and I'd have to squint at the phone book to list them all.  John Muir and Luther Burbank Jr Highs (now  "middle schools"), John Burroughs High School (our cross-town rivals).  I find  it delightful, and wonder if the naming was deliberate.

The biggest Catholic school and church in town are named for "saint" Robert Bellarmine.... the man who persecuted prosecuted Galileo.  Some of my friends started out there, but begged and pleaded for years to be high school they were all in the public school system.

"Actually, he didn't consider himself an atheist, the most he'd commit to was agnosticism,"

Yup, there's that integrity thing cropping up again. ;-)

I really wish more people would admit, just as you pointed out, that anyone NOT a theist, is in fact an atheist. This includes agnostics as well. We're not the enemy because we won't claim more than we know. Most agnostics I know are pretty harsh towards theistiots.

Definitions have changed over time. Atheism appears to have early on included only those who would insist god(s) did not exist. It's softened, or fractured if you will, to now include all flavors of non-theists.

I think a film version of the life of Ingersoll would be great. Unfortunately, it would probably lack car chases and gratuitous sex so it wouldn't sell here. Maybe an independent film maker could get it done. If they can make movies about Hawking and Turing there might be a chance.

Naahhh...been done a million times before.

But if we can get Robert Downey Jr., DeCaprio, Clooney or Pitt?? 

Actually, it's more likely the studios would put either Cruise or Cage in the lead. That would really be weird.

They would need a LARGE actor to play with a stage-trained voice.  That's why I thought of my late friend.

Maybe computerized animation.....?  With David Frei ("The Voice of Westminster") doing Ingersoll's voice.

David Frei - Westminster Dog Show Pre-Event Press Conference

Oh, in that case the studios would definitely get Cruise.

Eeewwwww!  = 8 > 0

Oh My Gosh! (See even us atheists have yet to come up with an exclamation that DOESN'T, somehow, kowtow to an archaic belief system. But...there it is!)

That made me laugh out loud!!!!

Here in the public library.

THAT (above) is truly funny!!!!

KUDOS, on top of KUDOS!!!!

I am referring to Bertold's speculations above.





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