From The Archives
ROBERT INGERSOLL (1833 – 1899)
The Great Agnostic
The New Testament informs us that Christ was the son of Joseph and the son of God, and that Mary was his mother.
How is it established that Christ was the son of God?
It is said that Joseph was told so in a dream by an angel.
But Joseph wrote nothing on that subject—said nothing so far as we know. Mary wrote nothing, said nothing. The angel that appeared to Joseph or that informed Joseph said nothing to anybody else. Neither has the Holy Ghost, the supposed father, ever said or written one word. We have received no information from the parties who could have known anything on the subject. We get all our facts from those who could not have known.
How is it possible to prove that the Holy Ghost was the father of Christ?
Who knows that such a being as the Holy Ghost ever existed?
How was it possible for Mary to know anything about the Holy Ghost?
How could Joseph know that he had been visited by an angel in a dream?
Could he know that the visitor was an angel? It all occurred in a dream and poor Joseph was asleep. What is the testimony of one who was asleep worth?
All the evidence we have is that somebody who wrote part of the New Testament says that the Holy Ghost was the father of Christ, and that somebody who wrote another part of the New Testament says that Joseph was the father of Christ.
Matthew and Luke give the genealogy and both show that Christ was the son of Joseph.
The “Incarnation” has to be believed without evidence. There is no way in which it can be established. It is beyond the reach and realm of reason. It defies observation and is independent of experience.
It is claimed not only that Christ was the Son of God, but that he was, and is, God.
Was he God before he was born? Was the body of Mary the dwelling place of God?
What evidence have we that Christ was God?
Somebody has said that Christ claimed that God was his father and that he and his father were one. We do not know who this somebody was and do not know from whom he received his information.
Somebody who was “inspired” has said that Christ was of the blood of David through his father Joseph.
This is all the evidence we have.
Can we believe that God, the creator of the Universe, learned the trade of a carpenter in Palestine, that he gathered a few disciples about him, and after teaching for about three years, suffered himself to be crucified by a few ignorant and pious Jews?
Christ, according to the faith, is the second person in the Trinity, the Father being the first and the Holy Ghost the third. Each of these three persons is God. Christ is his own father and his own son. The Holy Ghost is neither father nor son, but both. The son was begotten by the father, but existed before he was begotten—just the same before as after. Christ is just as old as his father, and the father is just as young as his son. The Holy Ghost proceeded from the Father and Son, but was equal to the Father and Son before he proceeded, that is to say, before he existed, but he is of the same age of the other two.
So, it is declared that the Father is God, and the Son God and the Holy Ghost God, and that these three Gods make one God.
According to the celestial multiplication table, once one is three, and three times one is one, and according to heavenly subtraction if we take two from three, three are left. The addition is equally peculiar, if we add two to one we have but one. Each one is equal to himself and the other two. Nothing ever was, nothing ever can be more perfectly idiotic and absurd than the dogma of the Trinity.
How is it possible to prove the existence of the Trinity?
Is it possible for a human being, who has been born but once, to comprehend, or to imagine the existence of three beings, each of whom is equal to the three?
Think of one of these beings as the father of one, and think of that one as half human and all God, and think of the third as having proceeded from the other two, and then think of all three as one. Think that after the father begot the son, the father was still alone, and after the Holy Ghost proceeded from the father and the son, the father was still alone—because there never was and never will be but one God.
At this point, absurdity having reached its limit, nothing more can be said except: “Let us pray.”