Month: February 2011

Duncan Forbes: Such evidence as is sufficent

[T]he humble CHRISTIAN believes … that, for the reality and truth of such things as do not depend upon reason, or fall within his knowledge, he must depend upon such evidence as is sufficient to induce the belief of any matter of fact.

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A Pilgrim’s Regress: George John Romanes and the Search for Rational Faith

In the summer and fall of 1873, George John Romanes lost his belief in God. Of itself, this was nothing unusual. For a young Englishman of the time—particularly one embarking on a career in the sciences—to abandon the faith of his fathers was, if not a universal rite of passage, at least a common trajectory, a well-beaten path traveled by distinguished Victorian intellectuals like Matthew Arnold, W. K. Clifford, Thomas Huxley, John Tyndall, and above all Charles Darwin. And yet Romanes’s case is distinctive both for the care he took to explain the reasons for his loss of faith and for his candid admission of what it cost him to follow, to the best of his ability, wherever the argument seemed to lead.

In the end, it led him where he never expected to arrive.

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