The Five Gospels

This is an excerpt from Robert Ingersoll's writings. Ya know, I've noticed that quite a few Christians believe that atheists are a bunch of brooding, negative and generally depressing people. You've heard, "Know Jesus, know peace; no Jesus no peace." It just ain't so. Ingersoll's five gospels is a good example of how those of us in good mental health live our lives.

Taken from Ingersollia. Gems of Thought from the Lectures, Speeches, and Conversations of Col. Robert G. Ingersoll, Representative of his Opinions and Beliefs. The Whole Carefully Classified and Indexed. Edited by Handford, et al, Chicago, 1888.

1. The Gospel of Cheerfulness.
I believe in the gospel of cheerfulness; the gospel of good nature; in the gospel of good health. Let us pay some attention to our bodies; take care of our bodies, and our souls will take care of themselves. Good health!...I believe the time will come when with studying ourselves and understanding the laws of health, we will say we are under obligations to put the flags of health in the cheeks of our children. Even if I got to Heaven, and had a harp, I would hate to look back on my children and see them diseased, deformed, crazed, all suffering the penalty of crimes I had committed.

2. The Gospel of Liberty.
And I believe, too, in the gospel of liberty - of giving to others what we claim. And I believe there is room everywhere for thought, and the more liberty you give away the more you will have. In liberty extravagance is economy. Let us be just, let us be generous to each other.

3. The Gospel of Good Living
I believe in the gospel of good living. You cannot make any God happy by fasting. Let us have good food, and let us have it well cooked; it is a thousand times better to know how to cook it than it is to understand any theology in the world. I believe in the gospel of good clothes. I believe in the gospel of good houses; in the gospel of water and soap.

4. The Gospel of Intelligence
I believe in the gospel of intelligence. That is the only lever capable of raising mankind. I believe in the gospel of intelligence; in the gospel of education. The school-house is my cathedral; the universe is my Bible. Intelligence must rule triumphant. Humanity is the grand religion. And no God can put a man into hell in another world who has made a little heaven in this. God cannot hate anybody who is capable of loving his neighbor. So I believe in this great gospel of generosity. Ah, but they say it won't do. You must believe. I say no. My gospel of health will prolong life; my gospel of intelligence, my gospel of loving, my gospel of good-fellowship will cover the world with happy homes....My doctrine will relieve the world of the abnormal monsters born of the ignorance of superstition. My doctrine will give us health, wealth, and happiness. That is what I want. That is what I believe in.

5. The Gospel of Justice
I believe in the gospel of justice - that we must reap what we sow. I do not believe in forgiveness. If I rob Mr. Smith, and God forgives me, how does that help Smith? If I by slander cover some poor girl with the leprosy of some imputed crime, and she withers away like a blightedflower, and afterwards I get forgiveness, how does that help her?...For every crime you commit you must answer to yourself and to the one you injure. And if you have ever clothed another with unhappiness as with a garment of pain, you will never be quite as happy as though you hadn't done that thing. No forgiveness; eternal, inexorable, everlasting justice - that is what I believe in. And if it goes hard with me, I will stand it. And I will stick to my logic, and I will bear it like a man.

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