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Science N Sentiment
Robert Green Ingersoll
SCIENCE AND SENTIMENT. IT was thought at one time by many that science would do away with poetry -- that it was the enemy of the imagination. We know now that is not true. We know that science goes hand in hand with imagination. We know that it is in the highest degree poetic and that the old ideas once considered so beautiful are flat and stale. Compare Kepler's laws with the old Greek idea that the planets were boosted or pushed by angels. The more we know, the more beauty, the more poetry we find. Ignorance is not the mother of the poetic or artistic. So, some people imagine that science will do away with sentiment. In my judgment, science will not only increase sentiment but sense. A person will be attracted to another for a thousand reasons, and why a person is attracted to another, may, and in some degree will, depend upon the intellectual, artistic and ethical development of each. The handsomest girl in Zulu-land might not be attractive to Herbert Spencer, and the fairest girl in England might not be able to hasten the pulse of a Choctaw brave. This does not prove that there is any lack of sentiment. Men are influenced according to their capacity, their temperament, their knowledge. Some men fall in love with a small waist, an arched instep or curly hair, without the slightest regard to mind or muscle. This we call sentiment. Now, educate such men, develop their brains, enlarge their intellectual horizon, teach them something of the laws of health, and then they may fall in love with women because they are developed grandly in body and mind. The sentiment is still there -- still controls -- but back of the sentiment is science. Sentiment can never be destroyed, and love will forever rule the human race. Thousands, millions of people fear that science will destroy not only poetry, not only sentiment, but religion. This fear is idiotic. Science will destroy superstition, but it will not injure true religion. Science is the foundation of real religion. Science teaches us the consequences of actions, the rights and duties of all. Without science there can be no real religion. Only those who live on the labor of the ignorant are the enemies of science. Real love and real religion are in no danger from science. The more we know the safer all good things are. Do I think that the marriage of the sickly and diseased ought to be prevented by law? I have not much confidence in law -- in law that I know cannot be carried out. The poor, the sickly, the diseased, as long as they are ignorant, will marry and help fill the world with wretchedness and want. Bank of Wisdom Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201 10 SCIENCE AND SENTIMENT. We must rely on education instead of legislation. We must teach the consequences of actions. We must show the sickly and diseased what their children will be. We must preach the gospel of the body. I believe the time will come when the public thought will be so great and grand that it will be looked upon as infamous to perpetuate disease -- to leave a legacy of agony. I believe the time will come when men will refuse to fill the future with consumption and insanity. Yes, we shall study ourselves. We shall understand the conditions of health and then we shall say: We are under obligation to put the flags of health in the cheeks of our children. Even if I should get to heaven and have a harp, I know that I could not bear to see my descendants still on the earth, diseased, deformed, crazed -- all suffering the penalties of my ignorance. Let us have more science and more sentiment -- more knowledge and more conscience -- more liberty and more love. END