August 5th, 1915.
Received by:James Padgett
I am here, Robert G. Ingersoll.
I am a spirit who when on earth taught men that the only salvation required for them was good deeds and kind hearts, and that the Bible, outside of its moral precepts, was not worthy of belief, that many of its sayings were untrue, and that all of its teachings as to belief and faith were not worthy of consideration.
I was perfectly sincere in what I taught and thought, and hence I don't feel that I was guilty of any very great sin, although I have now changed some of my beliefs, or better, thoughts. I did not believe that Jesus ever really lived, as was set forth in the Bible, and I certainly did not believe in a vicarious atonement, or any salvation through blood or propitiation of an angry God. Neither did I believe in any New Birth or in any of the doctrines of St. John having reference to a soul being redeemed; but believed that every man's future state, should there be a future state, depended upon his deeds of love and mercy towards his fellow man. I believed that God was not to be worshipped or consulted, neither would He, nor could He, save a man from anything that might tend to make him unhappy; but that man's love for one another was the great thing that would determine his condition in the future life, should such life exist.
I did not deny that there would be a future life. I merely didn't know anything about it, and hence, all my teachings were directed to making men live on earth in a way that would bring to them happiness while mortals. And my foundation stone, as it were, was love, one towards another. And with this went love, kindness and forgiveness, and good feeling, and fair dealing. Especially did I emphasize the necessity for love at home.
I am still of the opinion that these qualities, if possessed and expressed in action, will make men happier, make the world better, and finally do away with evil and distress.
I now see, though, that there is a future life and that men who would enjoy the greatest happiness in this future life must not only have this love and kindness for one another, but must also seek the Love of God, and believe that God is a Father of Love and believe that He is interested in the soul of each individual man.
I am in the Fourth Sphere and have much happiness in my intellectual pursuits and in my love of my fellow man, and am trying to help them get the best out of life on earth. I do not yet believe in the teachings of those parts of the Bible which, in effect, say that you must believe on the Lord Jesus Christ in order to be saved, for I do not believe that any mere belief will save a man from anything. I know that many here believe that Jesus is the saviour of men, as taught by the orthodox churches, but I think that such spirits are as much mistaken as were those who believed the same doctrine when on earth.
I consider myself as saved. I have not found any hell as taught by the churches, although each man has to pay the penalties for his evil deeds done on earth, and many men are suffering here since they became spirits. I will confess that I was somewhat surprised to see that spirits who did not live correct lives on earth are suffering very serious tortures; but this I suppose is the effect of the law that demands a penalty for every violation of its command.
But I do not understand that this suffering will have to continue forever, or that the state of these men is fixed. Progression is the law of the spirit world, and I cannot conceive that any spirit will remain the same through all eternity. To me, the great satisfaction is that there is no orthodox hell and no devil to punish the wicked. I am myself not entirely satisfied that the condition of those who suffer from their evil deeds may not last a long time, as I am told that many of these spirits have been in a condition of suffering for a long time.
Well, I am satisfied with the condition that I am in, and in the possibility of progression, and I need not the teachings of the spirits who profess to have knowledge of a higher love that brings happiness of a kind that enables them to enjoy supreme bliss. Such spirits, I believe, are those who had the old ideas of the churches, against which I taught. I was not compelled to undergo such suffering when I came into the spirit world or to endure much darkness; but I suppose there were some deeds which I had to pay the penalties for, and hence I had to suffer some. But as my love for all mankind was my principle and feeling when on earth, this love gives me a position which I now enjoy.
I could write much longer, but I will not do so tonight, and will come again sometime and explain some of the laws of the spirit world. I am Robert G. Ingersoll and was called an infidel.
Well, my friend, that is a very astounding proposition, and you must be either a very ignorant man or a very self-conceited one to make such a statement.
Well, as to the last statement, you are right. I have an open mind and am willing to learn any truth that may be presented to me in such a way as to convince me that it is a truth. You are stating things of which I have no knowledge, and which I do not believe to be true. I have thought a great deal of God and believe in a God, but as to this Divine Love, I have never heard of it nor ever thought of it.
I know of no love but the love for man, and that means spirit for spirit, and a certain love of God for man. But as to a Love that makes one partake of divinity, I have never heard. And as to the New Birth that you speak of, I don't believe in it any more than I did on earth. To me it seems foolishness. What is there about me or any other spirit to be born again? You might probably say that when I left my body and became a spirit I was born again, and in a sense that is true, but when you tell me that I must be born again and that by such birth I will become a partaker of divinity, I cannot believe what you say or understand what you mean.
Well, you state your proposition very fairly and very clearly, and I must say that I am impressed with what you say, and it might be that you are right. At any rate, I will keep an open mind and will stand ready to hear any argument from you or any spirit that you have mentioned; and if they can show me the truth of your propositions I will not hesitate to embrace them. I want to learn everything possible, and as I was an honest inquirer on earth, I will be an honest one here. You make your assertions very strong and you seem to be in earnest in what you say, and for those reasons I must listen to you.
Yes, I knew Riddle very well, and he was a believer somewhat like myself. I have not met him since I have become a spirit, but would like to do so.
I will keep in mind what you say and will observe any difference in beauty that may exist, because if such be a fact there must be some cause for it, and that cause I shall endeavor to understand. I have done as you suggested and I see Riddle, but hardly recognize him, as he is so changed and is so much more beautiful than I conceived of. He has shaken my hand and introduced me to the others. And what beautiful spirits they are! The one who, he says, is your grandmother is glorious in her beauty and brightness, and love seems to be a part of her very being. How I thank you for the experience! I am going with Riddle, who says that he has a wonderful truth to tell me and that I will become convinced of its reality.
So, my friend, I thank you for our conversation and if you desire, I will come again and tell you of the result of our interview - I mean between Riddle and myself. I have made the request of your grandmother and she says that she will be pleased to tell me of this Love that you speak of. But let me tell you this before I stop; that what you said about the difference in beauty and brightness of the spirits is true and that I am as a dark night compared to the noonday sun in my appearance compared with theirs. I am so glad I came to you tonight. So my dear friend, I will say goodbye for a little while.
Robert G. Ingersoll