Tom Flynn - Ingersoll: The Most Famous Person You’ve Never Heard Of

April 11, 2008

Tom Flynn is editor of Free Inquiry Magazine and director of the Robert Green Ingersoll Birthplace Museum. He also directs traditional video operations at the Center for Inquiry. He is editor of The New Encyclopedia of Unbelief and author of three books: the science-fiction novels Galactic Rapture and Nothing Sacred and the polemic The Trouble With Christmas.

In this conversation with D.J. Grothe, Tom Flynn talks about the life of Robert Green Ingersoll, the 19th Century orator and freethinker. He explains Ingersoll's views on religion, and his secular progressive outlook that he advanced as an alternative. He details Ingersoll's role in GOP politics of the day, and explores his popularity on the national stage. He also discusses about the Council for Secular Humanism's museum dedicated to the life of Robert Ingersoll.

Also in this episode, Ron Lindsay, the director of the Council for Secular Humanism's First Amendment Task Force, responds to various issues related to comments made recently by Rep. Monique Davis (Democrat, Chicago) against the atheist activist Rob Sherman, and reiterates his recent call for her to resign.

Books Mentioned in This Episode:


Links Mentioned in This Episode:

Robert Green Ingersoll Birthplace Museum
Council for Secular Humanism Deplores Intemperate Comments from Rep. Monique Davis

Related Episodes

Tom Flynn - The Science vs. Religion Warfare Thesis
February 22, 2008

Comments from the CFI Forums

If you would like to leave a comment about this episode of Point of Inquiry please visit the related thread on the CFI discussion forums

Perhaps I should actually listen to the podcast before I gush, but when I saw the name “Ingersoll” in the title, I was like, “Yeah!”

:lol:

Posted on Apr 12, 2008 at 5:54am by T. Ruth Comment #1

Excellent subject for a podcast, Thomas. I’ll listen to it in the next few days. Ingersoll is DA MAN.

Posted on Apr 12, 2008 at 8:23am by dougsmith Comment #2

I liked how Flynn mentioned that Ingersoll was a 19th-century Republican, proving that political labels do change over time. In fact, today’s conservatives are tomorrow’s liberals and vice-versa.

As someone who is sick of party politics, I take every opportunity to point out how ephemeral and fleeting the party concept really is — heck, there used to be a Democrat-Republican party (as opposed to the Federalists).

If, someday, a non-partisan can be elected president, perhaps it’s not impossible that a secular humanist can as well. “You may say I’m a dreamer..but I’m not the only one.”

Posted on Apr 14, 2008 at 11:05am by MountainHumanist Comment #3

BTW, for those who are interested in Ingersoll, including hearing the wax cylinder recordings of his voice, check out the Council for Secular Humanism site HERE. Audio recordings are at the link on the left hand side of the page. NB: they are very short and the audio quality is poor, as would be expected of such an ancient device.

Ron Lindsay’s talk was also quite interesting. I find it hard to believe that a local elected official would have behaved in such a manner.

Posted on Apr 14, 2008 at 11:23am by dougsmith Comment #4

BTW, for those who are interested in Ingersoll, including hearing the wax cylinder recordings of his voice, check out the Council for Secular Humanism site HERE. Audio recordings are at the link on the left hand side of the page. NB: they are very short and the audio quality is poor, as would be expected of such an ancient device.

Ron Lindsay’s talk was also quite interesting. I find it hard to believe that a local elected official would have behaved in such a manner.


I’ve been trying to articulate a response after reading about the Sherman-Davis exchange on the Illinois House floor.

All I can finally say is: DAMN! 

I give you your enlightened elected leadership, ladies and gentlemen….

I hope CFI is successful in helping to eject her from office.

Posted on Apr 14, 2008 at 11:39am by MountainHumanist Comment #5

BTW, for those who are interested in Ingersoll, including hearing the wax cylinder recordings of his voice, check out the Council for Secular Humanism site HERE. Audio recordings are at the link on the left hand side of the page. NB: they are very short and the audio quality is poor, as would be expected of such an ancient device.

I’ve never heard a wax cylinder audio before. This is absolutely amazing. Thanks, Doug.

Posted on Apr 14, 2008 at 12:07pm by George Comment #6

In this conversation with D.J. Grothe, Tom Flynn talks about the life of Robert Green Ingersoll, the 19th Century orator and freethinker. He explains Ingersoll’s views on religion, and his secular progressive outlook that he advanced as an alternative.

Also in this episode, Ron Lindsay, the director of the Council for Secular Humanism’s First Amendment Task Force, responds to various issues related to comments made recently by Rep. Monique Davis (Democrat, Chicago) against the atheist activist Rob Sherman, and reiterates his recent call for her to resign.

Good interview.
One of the curious things is how the Catholic Church etc. could exist for hundreds of years without people becoming more skeptical.  Newton wasn’t stupid. Nor Pascal.  I’d like to see a better explanation…

Thanks for getting the Rob Sherman thing archived into the podcast…
[Here is a related *.mp3 on richarddawkins.net and a lot of comments!]

Posted on Apr 14, 2008 at 5:52pm by Jackson Comment #7