Monday, April 28, 2008

Robert Ingersoll

So it is thought by many that it is dangerous for thirteen
people to dine together. Now, if thirteen is a dangerous number,
twenty-six ought to be twice as dangerous, and fifty-two four times
as terrible.

It is said that one of the thirteen will die in a year Now,
there is no possible relation between the number and the digestion
of each, between the number and the individual diseases. If
fourteen dine together there is greater probability, if we take
into account only the number, of a death within the year, than
there would be if only thirteen were at the table.
or many centuries it was believed that eclipses of the sun
and moon were prophetic of pestilence or famine, and that comets
foretold the death of kings, or the destruction of nations, the
coming of war or plague. All strange appearances in the heavens --
the Northern Lights, circles about the moon, sun dogs, falling
stars -- filled our intelligent ancestors with terror. They fell
upon their knees -- did their best with sacrifice and prayer to
avoid the threatened disaster. Their faces were ashen with fear as
they closed their eyes and cried to the heavens for help. The
clergy, who were as familiar with God then as the orthodox
preachers are now, knew exactly the meaning of eclipses and sun
dogs and Northern Lights; knew that God's patience was nearly
exhausted; that he was then whetting the sword of his wrath, and
that the people could save themselves only by obeying the priests,
by counting their beads and doubling their subscriptions.

Earthquakes and cyclones filled the coffers of the church. In
the midst of disasters the miser, with trembling hands, opened his
purse. In the gloom of eclipses thieves and robbers divided their
booty with God, and poor, honest, ignorant girls, remembering that
they had forgotten to say a prayer, gave their little earnings to
soften the heart of God.

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