Robert Ingersoll On Miracles

Robert Ingersoll was interviewed in the Pittsburgh Dispatch, December 11, 1880, where he was asked about miracles in one part of it. This is must reading, the end of it is funny, really funny.

Question. You have seen some accounts of the recent sermon of Dr. Tyng on "Miracles," I presume, and if so, what is your opinion of the sermon, and also what is your opinion of miracles?

Answer. From an orthodox standpoint, I think the Rev. Dr. Tyng is right. If miracles were necessary eighteen hundred years ago, before scientific facts enough were known to overthrow hundreds and thousands of passages in the Bible, certainly they are necessary now.

Dr. Tyng sees clearly that the old miracles are nearly worn out, and that some new ones are absolutely essential. He takes for granted that, if God would do a miracle to found his gospel, he certainly would do some more to preserve it, and that it is in need of preservation about now is evident.

I am amazed that the religious world should laugh at him for believing in miracles. It seems to me just as reasonable that the deaf, dumb, blind and lame, should be cured at Lourdes as at Palestine. It certainly is no more wonderful that the law of nature should be broken now than that it was broken several thousand years ago.

Dr. Tyng also has this advantage. The witnesses by whom he proves these miracles are alive. An unbeliever can have the opportunity of cross- examination. Whereas, the miracles in the New Testament are substantiated only by the dead. It is just as reasonable to me that blind people receive their sight in France as that devils were made to vacate human bodies in the holy land.

For one I am exceedingly glad that Dr. Tyng has taken this position. It shows that he is a believer in a personal God, in a God who is attending a little to the affairs of this world, and in a God who did not exhaust his supplies in the apostolic age. It is refreshing to me to find in this scientific age a gentleman who still believes in miracles. My opinion is that all thorough religionists will have to take the ground and admit that a supernatural religion must be supernaturally preserved.

I have been asking for a miracle for several years, and have in a very mild, gentle and loving way, taunted the church for not producing a little one. I have had the impudence to ask any number of them to join in a prayer asking anything they desire for the purpose of testing the efficiency of what is known as supplication.

They answer me by calling my attention to the miracles recorded in the New Testament. I insist, however, on a new miracle, and, personally, I would like to see one now.

Certainly, the Infinite has not lost his power, and certainly the Infinite knows that thousands and hundreds of thousands, if the Bible is true, are now pouring over the precipice of unbelief into the gulf of hell. One little miracle would save thousands. One little miracle in Pittsburgh, well authenticated, would do more good than all the preaching ever heard in this sooty town.

The Rev. Dr. Tyng clearly sees this, and he has been driven to the conclusion, first, that God can do miracles; second, that he ought to, third, that he has. In this he is perfectly logical. After a man believes the Bible, after he believes in the flood and in the story of Jonah, certainly he ought not to hesitate at a miracle of to-day.

When I say I want a miracle, I mean by that, I want a good one. All the miracles recorded in the New Testament could have been simulated. A fellow could have pretended to be dead, or blind, or dumb, or deaf. I want to see a good miracle. I want to see a man with one leg, and then I want to see the other leg grow out.

I would like to see a miracle like that performed in North Carolina. Two men were disputing about the relative merits of the salve they had for sale.

One of the men, in order to demonstrate that his salve was better than any other, cut off a dog's tail and applied a little of the salve to the stump, and, in the presence of the spectators, a new TAIL grew out.

But the other man, who also had salve for sale, took up the piece of tail that had been cast away, put a little salve at the end of that, and a new DOG grew out,

and the last heard of those parties they were quarreling as to who owned the second dog.

Something like that is what I call a miracle.