November 24, 2008


What harm does superstition do? What harm in believing in
fables, in legends?

To believe in signs and wonders, in amulets, charms and
miracles, in gods and devils, in heavens and hells, makes the brain
an insane ward, the world a madhouse, takes all certainty from the
mind, makes experience a snare, destroys the kinship of effect and
cause — the unity of nature — and makes man a trembling serf and
slave. With this belief a knowledge of nature sheds no light upon
the path to be pursued. Nature becomes a puppet of the unseen
powers. The fairy, called the supernatural, touches with her wand
a fact, it disappears. Causes are barren of effects, and effects
are independent of all natural causes. Caprice is king. The
foundation is gone. The great dome rests on air. There is no
constancy in qualities, relations or results. Reason abdicates and
superstition wears her crown.

Robert Green Ingersoll - “Superstition” (1898)

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