WHAT DOES IT FEEL LIKE TO BE AN ATHEIST?
ã 2001 by Robert G. Ingersoll
"The Great Infidel"
When I became convinced that the Universe is natural that all the ghosts and gods are myths, there entered into my brain, into my soul, into every drop of my blood, the sense, the feeling, the joy of freedom. The walls of my prison crumbled and fell, the dungeon was flooded with light and all the bolts, and bars, and manacles became dust. I was no longer a servant, a serf, or a slave. There was for me no master in all the wide worldnot even in infinite space. I was free.
free to think, to express my thoughts
free to live to my own ideal
free to live for myself and those I loved
free to use all my faculties, all my senses
free to spread imagination's wings
free to investigate, to guess and dream and hope
free to judge and determine for myself
free to reject all ignorant and cruel creeds, all the "inspired" books that savages have produced, and all the barbarous legends of the past
free from popes and priests
free from all the "called" and "set apart"
free from sanctified mistakes and holy lies
free from the fear of eternal pain
free from the winged monsters of night
free from devils, ghosts, and gods
For the first time I was free. There were no prohibited places in all the realms of my thoughtno air, no space, where fancy could not spread her painted wings.
no chains for my limbs
no lashes for my back
no fires for my flesh
no master's frown or threat
no following another's steps
no need to bow, or cringe, or crawl, or utter lying words
I was free. I stood erect and fearlessly, joyously, faced all worlds.
And then my heart was filled with gratitude, with thankfulness, and went out in love to all the heroes, the thinkers who gave their lives for liberty of hand and brain.
for the freedom of labor and thought
to those who fell on the fierce fields of war, to those who died in dungeons bound with chains
to those who proudly mounted scaffolds' stairs
to those whose bones were crushed, whose flesh was scarred and torn
to those by fire consumed
to all the wise, the good, the brave of every land, whose thoughts and deeds have given freedom to the sons of men.
And I vowed to grasp the torch that they had held, and hold it high, that light might conquer darkness still.