a sick fly taking a dizzy ride


Senior Member
Mencken had a quote on religion that goes "The cosmos is gigantic flywheel making 10,000 revolutions a minute, Man is a sick fly taking a dizzy ride on it. Religion is the theory that the wheel was designed and set spinning to give man the ride."

My question is that why Mencken compared man to a sick fly? What does the metaphor mean here? And what does he want to say about religion through such a quote.


    Senior Member
    English - USA
    How does a sick fly maneuver? Certainly not as well as the healthy fly. When sick, the fly has less control. The world is already spinning. So you have the world spinning like the flywheel and you have the fly buzzing around (perhaps as if it were drunk) sick. Then he suggests "God" created this spinning world to give man a ride like on a roller coaster.

    I hope this offers some clarity.

    Keith Bradford

    Senior Member
    English (Midlands UK)
    I don't think that Mencken is saying that. He is saying: "What makes you think that the universe is made for you? Do you think that the big wheel, on which a fly is riding, was constructed for the fly's benefit? You have invented religion to justify a self-centred view of the universe."


    Senior Member
    English - USA
    Bravo, Keith! I tried to explain a it piece by piece then left off the real conclusion. Spot on.
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