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Meditation 281
The doctrine of "Hell" is an infamous lie.

by Robert G. Ingersoll

Editor's Note: The following is from Ingersoll's correspondence,
dated April 10, 1878.

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Mr. Matt H. Carpenter,

My dear Sir:

The lecture delivered by me upon "Hell" has never been correctly published. Portions were taken by reporters and published in papers and pamphlets. They were filled with mistakes. In a little while I am going to publish what I did say upon that subject and will be pleased to send you a copy.

If, however, you wish to substantiate the pleasing dogma of eternal torment, in order that no argument may be lacking to prove the mercy of God I will give you an outline of my lecture. I did say among other things:

  1. All religions have been made by man.
  2. All books have been written by man.
  3. Man gets all his ideas from his surroundings — from all that has been experienced by his ancestors and by himself.
  4. Man knows nothing of origin and destiny. Nothing of a future state of torment.
  5. The idea of hell was born of ignorance, hatred, barbarism and malice and is still maintained by ignorance, hatred, barbarism and malice.
  6. Finite man cannot commit an infinite sin.
  7. Finite beings cannot commit any sin against an infinite being. We can sin only against those we can injure. We cannot injure the infinite.
  8. Hell is simply the consummation of revenge.
  9. No good man can be perfectly happy while he knows that even one being is in torment. No good god can be perfectly happy while misery inflicted by him exists.
  10. Apart from revenge, there can be no explanation of eternal torment.
  11. The doctrine of "Hell" is an infamous lie. It has been an unmixed curse, filling the heart with hatred, and covering the world with blood. Whoever says he believes this doctrine ought to feel his cheeks redden with shame. It is a dogma unworthy of men — it would taint the reputation of a hyena, and smirch the fair name of an anaconda.

Yours truly,

R.G. Ingersoll.