THE ROBERT G. INGERSOLL ANNUAL
LECTURE SERIES BEGINS
To honor the legacy of Robert Ingersoll, a number of Peoria secular humanists have come together to form a lecture series to bring speakers to Peoria that uphold the legacy of Ingersoll that speaks to our modern world.
The Robert G. Ingersoll Lecture Series would like to announce the first annual ROBERT INGERSOLL LECTURE. Those familiar with Robert Ingersoll know what a “Free Thinker” he was over 100 years ago. To honor him and his heritage, we needed a special speaker who could adequately represent Ingersoll's progressive and challenging views. We needed to find someone who, like Ingersoll, challenges the popular beliefs of the culture.
We are pleased to announce that we have obtained Dr. Richard Carrier as our speaker for the first ROBERT INGERSOLL LECTURE SERIES. His topic for the lecture is " From Ingersoll to Now: Exposing the Myths of Christianity "
We need your help to raise sufficient funds to cover Speaker Fees and Publicity. Any excess will go to next year’s promotion. Do you support the legacy of Robert Ingersoll? If so, donate what you can to be a part of the first annual ROBERT INGERSOLL LECTURE SERIES. To donate with a credit card go to:
Thanks in advance. We look forward to seeing you on July 30 at the Peoria North Branch Public Library. Starting at 1:30 PM
ABOUT DR. RICHARD CARRIER
Dr. Carrier is a world-renowned author and speaker. As a professional historian, published philosopher, and prominent defender of the American freethought movement, Dr. Carrier has appeared across the U.S., Canada and the U.K., and on American television and London radio, defending sound historical methods and the ethical worldview of secular naturalism. His books and articles have received international attention.
With a Ph.D. from Columbia University in ancient history, he specializes in the intellectual history of Greece and Rome, particularly ancient philosophy, religion, and science, with emphasis on the origins of Christianity and the use and progress of science under the Roman empire. He is also a published expert in the modern philosophy of naturalism as a worldview. He is the author of:
On the Historicity of Jesus
Sense and Goodness without God
Science Education in the Early Roman Empire Not the Impossible Faith
Why I Am Not a Christian
Hitler Homer Bible Christ
On the Historicity of Jesus
Dr. Carrier is a contributor to The Empty Tomb, The Christian Delusion, The End of Christianity, and Christianity Is Not Great, as well as copious work in history and philosophy, online and in print.
He is currently working on several projects, but also teaching affordable online courses in secular philosophy, history, and methodology at The Secular Academy, and blogging and speaking about history, philosophy, feminism, and other moral causes, as well as his past in the military.
Robert Green Ingersoll is too little known today. Yet he was the foremost, orator, political speechmaker, and secularist of late 19th century America. His golden voice and his criticism of traditional religion made Ingersoll one of the best-known Americans of the post-Civil War era. Ingersoll was born in this house on August 11, 1833. His father was a Presbyterian minister; the Ingersolls left Dresden New York when baby Robert was less than four months old. Ingersoll would make his name as a resident of Peoria, Illinois; Washington D.C., and finally New York City. Yet this house remains the only residence associated with Ingersoll that is open to the public as a memorial to Ingersoll and his message.
Birth and Youth of Robert Ingersoll
Robert Green Ingersoll was born on August 11, 1833 in a room on the second floor of this house. He was the youngest of John and Mary Ingersoll's five children. Robert's father was the Presbyterian minister John Ingersoll. By all accounts a stern, uncompromising parson, John Ingersoll preached Abolitionist sermons so fiery that in the 1830's, even Northern congregations found his preaching excessive. Dresden's Presbyterians were no exception; they handed John Ingersoll his walking papers when Robert was four months old. Robert Green Ingersoll would return to the Finger Lakes region only once. Mary Ingersoll died at thirty-one, when Robert was one and one-half years of age. Rev. John Ingersoll chose his son Robert's middle name in tribute to a fellow abolitionist minister, the Rev. Beriah Green (1795 - 1874). In 1830, Green assumed what was only the fourth faculty position at Western Reserve College in Hudson, Ohio, south of Cleveland. (One of his colleagues, Elizur Wright, would later gain fame as an abolitionist, actuary, and an outspoken atheist.) In November and December 1832, Green delivered the first three openly abolitionist sermons ever preached in the North. Reprinted nationwide, these sermons electrified reformers including Rev. Ingersoll, a fellow abolitionist. In mid-1833, Green traveled east to Whitesboro, New York (now a Utica suburb) to assume the presidency of the Oneida Institute, which he molded into a radical abolitionist college where white and black students would live, work, and learn together. In August, 1833, one month after Green moved back East, Robert Green Ingersoll was born in this house.
His Public Life
Ingersoll entered public life as a Peoria attorney. After the Civil War, he became the first Attorney General of Illinois. Politically, he allied with the Republicans, the party of Lincoln and in those days the voice of progressivism. One of the greatest ironies of the 19th century is that because of Ingersoll's electrifying speaking voice, this controversial agnostic was also the most sought-after speechmaker on behalf of Republican candidates and causes. His legal career was also distinguished. He mounted a successful defense of two men falsely charged in the Star Route Scandal. This led to two of the most controversial, politically-charged -- and lengthiest -- criminal trials of the 19th century. But it was Ingersoll's private speaking career that made him famous. Tour after tour, he criss-crossed the country and spoke before packed houses on topics ranging from Shakespeare to Reconstruction, from science to secularism. He was best known as "The Great Agnostic" in his role as a crusader for women's rights, racial equality and freedom of conscience. His Oratory In an age when oratory was the most dominant form of public entertainment, Ingersoll was the most popular, and the most controversial, of American orators. Ingersoll was a friend to presidents, literary giants like Mark Twain, industrialists like Andrew Carnegie, leading figures in the arts, and reformers like Frederick Douglass, Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Matilda Joslyn Gage. Religious conservatives considered Ingersoll an enemy. He was an early popularizer of Charles Darwin's evolutionary theory and a tireless advocate of science and reason. Most outrageous to traditionalists, he rejected doctrines of eternal damnation and advocated secularism, skepticism and humanism. Critics called him "Injured-Soul." Yet Ingersoll also praised the virtues of family and the fireside. And he practiced what he preached. His personal and family life were idyllic, and opponents despaired of finding anything to disparage.
From the Birthplace Museum: