— Robert G. Ingersoll Union United States Army officer 1833 - 1899
My Reviewers Reviewed (lecture from June 27, 1877, San Francisco, CA)
Contesto: It was said by Sir Thomas More that to give up witchcraft was to give up the Bible itself. This idea was entertained by nearly all the eminent theologians of a hundred years ago. In my judgment, they were right. To give up witchcraft is to give up, in a great degree at least, the supernatural. To throw away the little ghosts simply prepares the mind of man to give up the great ones. The founders of nearly all creeds, and of all religions properly so called, have taught the existence of good and evil spirits. They have peopled the dark with devils and the light with angels. They have crowded hell with demons and heaven with seraphs. The moment these good and evil spirits, these angels and fiends, disappear from the imaginations of men, and phenomena are accounted for by natural rather than by supernatural means, a great step has been taken in the direction of what is now known as materialism. While the church believes in witchcraft, it is in a greatly modified form. The evil spirits are not as plenty as in former times, and more phenomena are accounted for by natural means. Just to the extent that belief has been lost in spirits, just to that extent the church has lost its power and authority. When men ceased to account for the happening of any event by ascribing it to the direct action of good or evil spirits, and began to reason from known premises, the chains of superstition began to grow weak.