Friday, January 04, 2019


An Unwarrantable Assumption of Superiority

Hugh Trevor-Roper (1914-2003), Archbishop Laud, 1573-1645, 3rd ed. (London: Macmillan Press, 1988), pp. 3-4:
Take the principle of religious toleration. To us who have rendered religion impotent by dissociating it, at any rate temporarily, from politics, religious intolerance is merely inexplicable; and sympathetic biographers of the churchmen of old, when they come across the burning of a heretic in 1612 by the gentle Bishop Andrewes and the charitable Bishop Neile, or find that Neile, twenty-seven years later, recommended that a similar course be taken with a Dover stonemason who disapproved of episcopacy, pass it off as a sad reminder of the errors of that age, from which even its most enlightened spiritual teachers were, unhappily, not exempt. But this is surely an unwarrantable assumption of superiority in our own age, which has merely transferred its credulity to other things, attributing to pills and mixtures the miraculous properties which it denies to relics, and accepting from the advertisement hoardings dogmatic assurances which would come unheeded from the pulpit.
Id., p. 21:
For if there is one thing upon which people insist, especially in matters, like religion, upon which there can be no possibility of certainty, it is certainty. A revealed religion, stating dogmatically that 2 = 3, will be accepted by thousands, while the most persuasive system of philosophy is rarely be!ieved implicitly even by its founder; and advertisers win far more converts to their patent foods by asserting that they are infallible than philosophers to their theories by proving that they are right.

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