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This book is based upon the famous lecture delivered before the Independent Religious Society, Chicago by Mangasarian.Born in Mashger (now within Turkey) in the Ottoman Empire, M. M. Mangasarian attended Robert College in Constantinople, and was ordained as minister in Marsovan in 1878. In about 1880 he enrolled at Princeton University. He was pastor at a Presbyterian church in Philadelphia from 1882 to 1885, when he resigned, becoming an independent preacher and a lecturer on "independent religion" in New York. In 1892 he became leader of the Ethical Culture Society of Chicago, a group established by Felix Adler. In 1900 he organized the Independent Religious Society of Chicago, a rationalist group, of which he remained pastor until 1925. He retired to Piedmont, California, where he lived for the rest of his life.During his life Mangasarian wrote a number of books. His most popular, including The Truth About Jesus — Is He a Myth? (1909) andThe Bible Unveiled (1911), deal with the evidence against the existence of an historical Jesus. He also wrote hundreds of essays and lectures on questions of the times. His books and essays were translated into French, German, Spanish, and other foreign languages. The general subject of his writing was religious criticism and the philosophy of religion.Mangasarian considered himself a Rationalist or a Secularist not an Atheist, since he considered atheism a non-verifiable belief system.
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Letter to Right Rev. Bishop Anderson
MORALITY WITHOUT GOD
APPENDIX: THE INDEPENDENT RELIGIOUS SOCIETY
Right Rev. Bishop Anderson, Chicago, Ill. Reverend and Dear Sir:—
Last Sunday’s papers announced that the Episcopal Church has arranged for a series of meetings in this city “to arouse a national revival of interest in church extension at home and abroad.” The report also furnished the names of the distinguished speakers who will address these meetings at Orchestra Hall.
I write this note to suggest that, if agreeable to you and your committee, a representative of your church be sent next Sunday morning to deliver an address before the Independent Religious Society, which holds its Sunday meetings at Orchestra Hall. We shall be very much pleased to have you deliver this address, but it will be equally agreeable to us to welcome anyone whom you may delegate in your place.
If you have no objection, I request that your address be on the following important and timely question: “Can there be any morality without a belief in God?” This subject will offer you, or your representative whom you may send in your place, an opportunity to show the importance of the church in the moral education of the people.
It is understood, of course, that the lecturer of the Independent Religious Society will be upon the platform with you at Orchestra Hall, to introduce you, and to present his thoughts on the same subject You may speak first, or if you prefer to make the closing address, there will be no objection to it.
Let me assure you that this meeting will not be in the nature of a debate, as no interruptions from the audience or comments by the lecturer upon your address will be permitted. Immediately upon the conclusion of the two addresses, the house will be dismissed.
If it will be a help to you to know in advance what position I will take on the subject of the proposed addresses, let me say as clearly as I can, that I will try to show that morality is independent of a belief in God or gods, and that, therefore, church attendance is not essential, but that, on the contrary, often church going retards both intellectual and moral progress; and further, that the countries in which a larger proportion of the people go to church, and the Ages of Faith, in which everybody went to church, are and have been, the least moral.
Hoping that you will not refuse to come and present your views on this serious question to the large audience which will receive you most cordially at Orchestra Hall, next Sunday morning,—or if you cannot come next Sunday, on any other Sunday morning that you may appoint,—I remain,
Yours with all good wishes,
M. M. Mangasasian.
WHEN I INVITED BISHOP ANDERSON of the Episcopal Church of this city to address you, it was from a sincere desire to give you an opportunity to hear in this house, and under the auspices of this movement, a strong and comprehensive statement from the other side, if I may use that expression. I invited the bishop because he is freer on Sundays than the average clergyman who has his own people to preach to, and in the second place, because he has the authority to send someone in his place if he could not come himself. In the third place, I addressed my letter to the Episcopalians because they were to have a convention in this same hall for the purpose of rousing interest in church work.
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