The Atonement / Individuality
Great quotes from Kersey Graves and Robert Ingersoll...
There is no "mercy or forgiveness" in putting an innocent being to death for any pretext whatever. And for the Father to consent to the brutal assassination of His own innocent Son upon the cross to gratify an implacable revenge toward his own children, the workmanship of his own hands, rather than forgive a moral weakness implanted in their natures by a voluntary act of his own, and for which consequently he alone ought to be responsible, would be nothing short of murder in the first degree.
We cherish no such conception. (...) [N]o person actuated by a strict sense of justice would accept salvation upon any such terms as that prescribed by the Christian atonement.
It is manifestly too unjust, too devoid of moral principle, besides being a flagrant violation of the first principles of civil and criminal jurisprudence. It is a double wrong to punish the innocent for the guilty. It is the infliction of injustice on the one hand, and the omission of justice on the other. It inflicts the highest penalty of the law upon an innocent being, whom that law ought to shield from punishment, while it exculpates and liberates the guilty party, whose punishment the moral law demands. It robs society of a useful people on the one hand, and turns a moral pest upon community on the other, thus committing a two-fold wrong, or act of injustice. No court in any civilized country would be allowed to act upon such a principle; and the judge who should indorse it, or favor a law, or principle, which punishes the innocent for the guilty, would be ruled off the bench at once.
How fortunate it is for us all that it is somewhat unnatural for a human being to obey. Universal obedience is universal stagnation; disobedience is one of the conditions of progress. Select any age of the world and tell me what would have been the effect of implicit obedience. Suppose the church had had absolute control of the human mind at any time, would not the words liberty and progress have been blotted from human speech? In defiance of advice, the world has advanced.
It is a blessed thing that in every age some one has had individuality enough and courage enough to stand by his own convictions, -- some one who had the grandeur to say his say. I believe it was Magellan who said, "The church says the earth is flat; but I have seen its shadow on the moon, and I have more confidence even in a shadow than in the church." On the prow of his ship were disobedience, defiance, scorn, and success.
Surely it is worth something to feel that there are no priests, no popes, no parties, no governments, no kings, no gods, to whom your intellect can be compelled to pay a reluctant homage. Surely it is a joy to know that all the cruel ingenuity of bigotry can devise no prison, no dungeon, no cell in which for one instant to confine a thought; that ideas cannot be dislocated by racks, nor crushed in iron boots, nor burned with fire. Surely it is sublime to think that the brain is a castle, and that within its curious bastions and winding halls the soul, in spite of all worlds and all beings, is the supreme sovereign of itself.