Translated by Clara Bell.
o be there again next year on the same day and at the same hour, to see if he should find him there again. In that case the periodicity of his devotion would justify a scientific investigation; for in such a man there ought to be no direct antagonism of thought and action.
Next year, on the said day and hour, Bianchon, who had already ceased to be Desplein's house surgeon, saw the great man's cab standing at the corner of the Rue de Tournon and the Rue du Petit-Lion, whence his friend jesuitically crept along by the wall of Saint-Sulpice, and once more attended mass in front of the Virgin's altar. It was Desplein, sure enough! The master-surgeon, the atheist at heart, the worshiper by chance. The mystery was greater than ever; the regularity of the phenomenon complicated it. When Desplein had left, Bianchon went to the sacristan, who took charge of the chapel, and asked him whether the gentleman were a constant worshiper.
"For twenty years that I have been here," replied the man, "M. Desplein has come f
The friend of an atheist doctor follows him one day and finds him going to a church and praying. When he asks his friend about it, the doctor tells him the story of why he goes to mass four times a year.
A slow, thoughtful story, with Balzac showing how sometimes kindness overcomes principles.
This bit of literature has proven to be a great comfort to me over the years. See, we atheists don't get to do a lot of the fun stuff, like you religious people do.
We just show up to work and do our jobs...Sundays are just another day to work in the yard...our prayers are usually aimed at the Lakers to make this free throw, or to sink a five foot putt...and they usually aren't answered.
When we die, nothing particularly good or bad happens.
But...and this why I'm an atheist...WE ALMOST NEVER HAVE TO GET DRESSED UP.