Being Reasonable About Religion by William Charlton

By William Charlton

Once we begin to speak about faith we run into arguable questions about historical past and anthropology, concerning the scope of clinical rationalization, and approximately loose will, strong and evil. This ebook explains how to define our means via those disputes and exhibits how we will be free of assumptions and prejudices, which make growth very unlikely through deeper philosophical perception into the ideas concerned. Books approximately faith often pay attention to a couple of imperative Judaeo-Christian doctrines and both assault them or guard them with tenacious conservatism, yielding not anything. This publication has a broader scope, and rather than attempting to turn out that faith, or any specific faith, is cheap or unreasonable, it seeks to cajole humans to be moderate approximately faith.

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But it is not 3 4 Proclamation of February 1539, quoted by Duffy, The Stripping of the Altars, p. 421. Proclamation just quoted. 32 Being Reasonable About Religion wholly clear how the distinction applies to devout practices. Some theologians may think that there are natural psychological laws, just like physical laws except that they concern psyches, and that God may suspend them. That could lead to conceiving the operation of grace as a kind of psychological miracle. Others may doubt if a definition of miracle in terms of natural law can be transferred to thoughts, desires and decisions: perhaps in the field of psychology nature cannot be contravened but only expanded.

10 Pagans and Christians, p. 30. 3 (reign of Marcus Aurelius). See also Hecataeus and Strabo, cited below, p. 57. 2, cf. 19). According to this second criticism, then, we explain nothing by saying that the universe was created by someone outside it, and, according to the first, the Jews did not say this anyhow. The second criticism needs to be presented carefully if it is not to recoil on the critic. We must not say, ‘It is vacuous to explain a phenomenon by giving a cause that itself needs a causal explanation’.

34 Being Reasonable About Religion would have seen clearly that it was incapable of producing either private happiness or public benefit; and finally the power and ambition of bishops. He also throws in for good measure a further explanation. By the time of Christ the Greco-Roman world had lost its belief in the Olympian gods; ‘human reason … had already obtained an easy triumph over the followers of paganism’. But ‘the practice of superstition is so congenial to the multitude’, and ‘so urgent on the vulgar is the necessity of believing, that the fall of any system of mythology will most probably be succeeded by the introduction of some other mode of superstition’: reason had temporarily deprived the people of their supply of opium and Christianity happened along to fill the gap.

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