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Robert Ingersoll Science N Sentiment

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Science N Sentiment

Robert Green Ingersoll


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

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.

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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.

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