Robert Ingersoll has been called many things, mostly, Humanist, Atheist, Agnostic and he is listed as the darling of all the above. Yet is never ceases to amaze me that this Civil War Veteran, son of an Abolitionist Preacher was used of God in spite of his public hatred for even the idea of God. A hint of his real uneasiness about his atheistic rants was let fly as he gave the eulogy at his mother's graveside. How much does this line of hope reveal about the inner conflicts such a man faces at the death of a loved one:
"In the night of death, hope sees a star, and listening love can hear the rustle of a wing."
Most un-Christed people see death as a dark night, yet Ingersoll recognized the reality of the steadfast hope burning bright in mother's heart as she faced what he considered the night without end and she faced it as the bright entrance to eternal joy.
Ingersoll was further frustrated in his quest to gain influential support for his life long attempt to obliterate faith from the heart of all mankind when during a train trip with another veteran of the Civil War, Robert posited to his fellow traveler that he should look into this "Christ nonsense" and write a book to refute the silly claims. The traveler, Lew Wallace, took the challenge of Ingersoll seriously and after years of research came to the conclusion of the validity of the claims of Christ as the hope of the world and expressed this staunch faith in the novel, "Ben Hur." In an attempt to destroy the hope of the world, Ingersoll was the unwitting tool of the Almighty God he so vehemently denied!!
Over the years I have conducted several thousand funeral services and I often use the "Hope sees a star" line from Ingersoll. Most hearers have no idea who Robert Ingersoll was or what he represents, so comments are limited, but the few I have received are of the sort that burns the hair from your ears. My answer is always the same: "If God uses a donkey, (I really use the biblical term, referring to Balaam's mode of transportation) does this fact mean that I cannot ride one? If God used Ingersoll, why can't I?"
As an old country preacher might say, "Yes sir re Bob, God reversed your purpose."
The language of "Free thought" of "Agnosticism" and the myriads of other forms of hopelessness all fall like a house of cards when confronted with reality rather than false reason.
The foolishness of religionists does not cancel the faithfulness of God to fuel the human heart with hope, so that when life appears darkest, hope fills the darkest night with stars and love for Christ listens for and hears the rustle of angel wings.
According to the laws of aerodynamics the Bumble Bee cannot fly. The Bumble Bee, ignorant of the laws of aerodynamics fly's.