George William Foote is probably one of the most eloquent, yet underrated, of atheist speakers or writers of the early part of the nineteenth century (1850-1915). While reading Foote, an Englishman by birth, I hear echoes of his contemporary and American counter part Robert G. Ingersoll.
If you have some idle leisure time to read, I highly recommend the writings of G.W. Foote, especially his collected volumes aptly titles Arrows of Freethought and Flowers of Freethought.
Here are some of my favorite G.W. Foote quotes from today’s reading:
“No man can do another’s thinking for him. What is thought in the originator is only acquiescence in the man who takes it at secondhand.”
“Let us make the best of this world and take our chance of any other. If there is a heaven, we dare say it will hold all honest men. If it will not, those who go elsewhere will at least be in good company.”
“The whole truth of life may be summed up in a few words. Happiness is the only good, suffering the only evil, and selfishness the only sin.”
“Persecution is the right arm of priestcraft. The black militia of theology are the sworn foes of Freethought. They represent it as the sin against the Holy Ghost, for which there is no forgiveness in this world or the next. When they speak of the Holy Ghost they mean themselves. Freethought is a crime against them. It strips off the mystery that invests their craft, and shows them as they really are, a horde of bandits who levy black mail on honest industry, and preach a despot in heaven in order to maintain their own tyranny on earth.”
“Biology was opposed tooth and nail as the worst of all infidelity. It exposed Genesis and put Moses out of court. It destroyed all special creation, showed man’s kinship with other forms of life, reduced Adam and Eve to myths, and exploded the doctrine of the Fall. Darwin was for years treated as Antichrist, and Huxley as the great beast. All that is being changed, thanks to the sceptical spirit. Darwin’s corpse is buried in Westminster Abbey, but his ideas are undermining all the churches and crumbling them into dust.”
“Doubt is the beginning of wisdom. It means caution, independence, honesty and veracity. Faith means negligence, serfdom, insincerity and deception. The man who never doubts never thinks. He is like a straw in the wind or a waif on the sea. He is one of the helpless, docile, unquestioning millions, who keep the world in a state of stagnation, and serve as a fulcrum for the lever of despotism. The stupidity of the people, says Whitman, is always inviting the insolence of power.”