Knowledge: Robert Ingersoll

Maybe it's where I get my iconoclastic tendencies. Supposedly, I'm a descendent of both Robert Ingersoll and 19th century poet Amy Lowell. Lowell known for smoking cigars and pushing gender roles. Ingersoll being known as "The Great Agnostic".

A few points of interest from a book on Ingersoll that  I recently started. First, he is not the abrasive, argumentative, personality I imagined. He is, above anything else, a humanist who fought for women's rights and against slavery. The evil of religion was his focus because he cared about people. Here is his creed as printed in The Best of Robert Ingersoll: Immortal Infidel.

To love justice, to long for the right, to love mercy, to pity the suffering, to assist the weak, to forget wrongs and remember benefits, to love the truth, to be sincere, to utter honest words, to love liberty, to wage relentless war against slavery in all its forms, to love family and friend, to make a happy home, to love the beautiful in art, in nature, to cultivate the mind, to be familiar with the mighty thoughts that genius has expressed, the noble deeds of all the world; to cultivate courage and cheerfulness, to make others happy, to fill life with the splendor of generous acts, the warmth of loving words; to discard error, to destroy prejudice, to receive new truths with gladness, to cultivate hope, to see the calm beyond the storm, the dawn beyond the night, to do the best that can be done and then be resigned.

Despite being known as "The Great Agnostic" he uses the word agnostic interchangeably with "atheist". Susan Jacoby, Author of another book on Ingersoll says in an interview 

...Robert Ingersoll – the person who was called “The Great Agnostic” by others in America – said in the 19th century, there is no difference. The word “agnostic” was invented by Thomas Henry Huxley specifically because he was looking for a softer sounding word than atheist, which is a much older word and was always a pejorative word, well into the 19th century.