June 25, 2006

"When a Man stops believing in God he doesn’t then believe in nothing, he believes anything."

As I mentioned in my review of "The Da Vinci Code," this most famous of all G.K. Chesterton quotes doesn't appear to have actually been said by Chesterton in its current lapidary form. A reader points me toward one source in one of Chesterton's Father Brown detective stories:

The Oracle of the Dog

It's part of something I've noticed more and more in the modern world, appearing in all sorts of newspaper rumours and conversational catchwords; something that's arbitrary without being authoritative. People readily swallow the untested claims of this, that, or the other. It's drowning all your old rationalism and scepticism, it's coming in like a sea; and the name of it is superstition.' He stood up abruptly, his face heavy with a sort of frown, and went on talking almost as if he were alone. 'It's the first effect of not believing in God that you lose your common sense and can't see things as they are. Anything that anybody talks about, and says there's a good deal in it, extends itself indefinitely like a vista in a nightmare. And a dog is an omen, and a cat is a mystery, and a pig is a mascot, and a beetle is a scarab, calling up all the menagerie of polytheism from Egypt and old India; Dog Anubis and great green-eyed Pasht and all the holy howling Bulls of Bashan; reeling back to the bestial gods of the beginning, escaping into elephants and snakes and crocodiles; and all because you are frightened of four words: 'He was made Man'.'

My published articles are archived at iSteve.com -- Steve Sailer

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