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What's God Got to Do with It?: Robert Ingersoll on Free Thought, Honest Talk and the Separation of Church and State Paperback


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What's God Got to Do with It?: Robert Ingersoll on Free Thought, Honest Talk and the Separation of Church and State + The Great Agnostic: Robert Ingersoll and American Freethought + Challenging the Bible: Selections from the Writings and Speeches of Robert G. Ingersoll
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 144 pages
  • Publisher: Steerforth (August 16, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1586420968
  • ISBN-13: 978-1586420963
  • Product Dimensions: 7.5 x 5 x 0.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #301,835 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

Ingersoll "is a critical figure in the struggle for true freedom of conscience in America -- meaning the freedom not to worship any god as well as to worship God in one's own way . . . Ingersoll did more than anyone to restore Americans' memory of their country's secular and rationalist tradition." -- Susan Jacoby in Freethinkers

"In this collection of short excerpts . . . the patron saint of free thought celebrates human reason and decries the influence of blind faith. Opponents of the Kansas Board of Education, federal funding for church social programs and faith-based restrictions on medical research will find here the inspiration to keep fighting." — Washington Post

"Ingersoll's ideas force a reader to reexamine the words freedom, liberty, truth and democracy. This little paperback has the pleasant feeling of a morning spent listening to a lecture or sermon on a small-town green." — Los Angeles Times

About the Author

Tim Page is the Pulitzer Prize—winning chief music critic for the Washington Post. He is the author of Dawn Powell: A Biography and editor of The Diaries of Dawn Powell (Steerforth Press, 1995) and Selected Letters of Dawn Powell.


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Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
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This book is a quick read with short chapters.
book lover
I was impressed with his rationality, logic, and clear expression.
JC Abq
No, it was not that bad, it was, in fact, that good.
Vincent D. Pisano

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

85 of 90 people found the following review helpful By Mark Mauer on February 27, 2006
Format: Paperback
At only 130 pages or so - and short ones at that, this is not some massive tome by a guy who wrote 120 years years ago in flowery 19th century language that will sit on your shelf gathering dust.

You can chew this up in an afternoon - or a few afternoons, if you'd like to savor it more. And it's completely readable prose - no archaic Victorian language here.

In fact, the main thing that makes one realize that this book isn't contemporary writing is the lack of cynicism and snarkiness aimed at the other side; religious zealots that want to insert God into public policy, law, education and so on.

There's no bitterness here, no anger at what has been lost or could be lost in our society if we overthrow rational thought, enlightenment and science over for any 2000 year old magic book.

Ingersoll's points about why God is not mentioned in the US Constitution and why that was such a bold important step in the evolution of society is something that I wish every fundamentalist in America would read and consider.

Tim Page's non-sycophantic intro to Ingersoll is also well-done, pointing out how remarkable he was, even if his writings never produced the single polished gem that might have kept his works known a little more in the early 21st century.

It's a valuable book for any freethinker in America today; cheap, and well put together. Highly recommended.
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46 of 48 people found the following review helpful By Vincent D. Pisano on January 1, 2008
Format: Paperback
This brief selection of Robert Ingersoll's writing is one which I would repeatedly pick up to read an essay, put it down and walk away, and read some more the following day. No, it was not that bad, it was, in fact, that good. I felt the need to read it over a week's time rather than finish it in one sitting on a quiet afternoon, which easily could be done, so that the words had time to soak in. Ingersoll, though he wrote over a century ago, gives modern readers a great deal to think about. Truly, it is easy to forget that these works are not contemporary, as the issues he speaks about are still relevant, and perhaps even more so now. It is not until he mentions things such as workers earning three dollars a day that we are reminded of our distance in time, if not in character and predicament. It also reminds us of how desperately our country needs an Ingersoll today.

Ingersoll was a pragmatic agnostic and an incredible moral thinker. Then, as now, his skepticism kept him from reaching high political office. Readers will find that his reasoning is sound and powerfully convincing while his language remains approachable but still with its own inspirational beauty:

"You cannot be so poor that you cannot help somebody. Good nature is the cheapest commodity in the world; and love is the only thing that will pay ten per cent to borrower and lender both. Do not tell me that you have got to be rich! We have a false standard of greatness in the United States. We think here that a man must be great, that he must be notorious; that he must be extremely wealthy, or that his name must be upon the putrid lips of rumor. It is all a mistake. It is not necessary to be rich or to be great, or to be powerful, to be happy. The happy man is the successful man.
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33 of 34 people found the following review helpful By Michael G. VINE VOICE on September 9, 2007
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
So wrote editor Tim Page of Robert G. Ingersoll in the introduction to this short, easy to read book. Ingersoll was one of the intellectual giants of the second half of the 19th century. Sadly and tragically he is now all but forgotten. Known as The Great Agnostic, he spent his life pointing out hypocrisy, railing against injustice and ridiculing superstitious beliefs. As America's foremost practitioner of rational thought, he had the ear of many a President. Yet he remained always modest and never deviated from living a life characterized by kindness, love of humanity and generosity in all things.

Any writing or speech attributable to Robert Ingersoll is worth reading and rereading. And those contained in What's God Got to Do with It? are no exceptions. This collection consists of a number of short works on a wide range of subjects. Like his admiration for Robert Burns and Thomas Paine. The unfairness of tax exempt status for churches. The ugliness of corporeal punishment of children. The futility of prayer and fasting. Women's rights and much, much more.

For those unfamiliar with the humanistic philosophy of Robert Ingersoll, this book would be a fine place to start. America sorely needs another Ingersoll now more than ever. He was one of the greats.
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32 of 35 people found the following review helpful By Elvis on January 9, 2007
Format: Paperback
If only more people had the guts to put the defense of the constitution ahead of their personal desires this country would be great forever. Robert Ingersoll is one of the greatest Americans of all time, and his words should be studied in every history class in America. Why aren't they? I will let you figure that out.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By J. Levy on March 30, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Outstanding. We need Ingersoll now. Please do yourself a favor and pick this up. Ingersoll was a Republican (back in the 1800s) but spoke beautifully about the separation of church and state, women's rights, black people's rights and what being a Republican meant (back then). Are there any Republicans like this out there who have the guts to speak out? Democrats should all be reading Ingersoll regularly too. Can't recommend this highly enough.
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