THE GODS (16)
by: Robert G. Ingersoll
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From a philosophical point of view, science is knowledge of the laws of life; of the conditions of happiness; of the facts by which we are surrounded, and the relations we sustain to men and things- by means of which, man, so to speak, subjugates nature and bends the elemental powers to his will, making blind force the servant of his brain.
A belief in special providence does away with the spirit of investigation, and is inconsistent with personal effort. Why should man endeavor to thwart the designs of God ? Which of you, by taking thought, can add one cubit to his stature? Under the influence of this belief, man, basking in the sunshine of a delusion, considers the lilies of the field and refuses to take any thought for the morrow. Believing himself in the power of an infinite being, who can, at any moment, dash him to the lowest hell or raise him to the highest heaven, he necessarily abandons the idea of accomplishing anything by his own efforts. As long as this belief was general, the world was filled with ignorance, superstition and misery. The energies of man were wasted in a vain effort to obtain the aid of this power, supposed to be superior to nature. For countless ages, even men were sacrificed upon the altar of this impossible god. To please him, mothers have shed the blood of their own babes ; martyrs have chanted triumphant songs in the midst of flame ; priests have gorged themselves with blood ; nuns have forsworn the ecstasies of love; old men have tremblingly implored ; women have sobbed and entreated ; every pain has been endured, and every horror has been perpetrated.
Through the dim long years that have fled, humanity has suffered more than can be conceived. Most of the misery has been endured by the weak, the loving and the innocent. Women have been treated like poisonous beasts, and little children trampled upon as though they had been vermin. Numberless altars have been reddened, even with the blood of babes ; beautiful girls have been given to slimy serpents ; whole races of men doomed to centuries of slavery, and everywhere there has been outrage beyond the power of genius to express. During all these years the suffering have supplicated ; the withered lips of famine have prayed; the pale victims have implored, and Heaven has been deaf and blind.