Month: July 2011

Richard Whately: On replacing reasoning with taste

Men did indeed formerly reason on little and ill; but they professed and attempted to reason; they sought, if they did not always find, some rational ground for their conclusions; and though no doubt often biased by their feelings, they did not, as now, avow and glory in this. The evidences of Christianity again were contemned; but it was by avowed unbelievers; not, as now, by persons professing a veneration for Christianity, and even a belief in it. In short, it is an age not particularly perhaps of disobedience to logic, but of open rebellion against it. So I have unfurled my standard, and mustered a respectable minority.

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Nothing is more easy

There is a wide difference betwixt establishing false miracles, by the help of a false religion, and establishing a false religion by the help of false miracles. Nothing is more easy than the former of these, or more difficult than the latter.

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Some intrinsic evidences of the Gospels’ genuineness

Now if these two events, the fact of Pilate’s wife being with her husband, and the presence of Herod and the Governor at Jerusalem, are apparently so unlikely that their explanation escaped Strauss and others, notwithstanding all the knowledge of the time which we now possess, how incredible does it appear, that writers of the second century, if such the Evangelists were, could risk the insertion of such circumstances in their narrative!

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The argument from silence

[E]ven if all such means of corroboration should fail, and if we meet with a perplexing silence where we might expect to find confirmation, we are by no means justified in rejecting the unsupported testimony, merely on the ground of this want of correlative support. Many instances may be adduced of the most extraordinary silence of historians relative to facts with which they must have been acquainted, and which seemed to lie directly in the course of their narrative. Important facts are mentioned by no ancient writer, though they are unquestionably established by the evidence of existing inscriptions, coins, statutes, or buildings. There are also facts mentioned only by some one historian, which happen to be attested by an incidental coincidence with some relic of antiquity lately brought to light; if this relic had remained in its long obscurity, such facts might (we see with how little reason) have been disputed.

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