Do You Believe In God Essay

Do You Believe In God Essay-40
The Protestant leader John Calvin, for instance, declared in 1559 that anyone who suppresses his fear of God and instead follows his own appetites “denies that there is a God.” And, on that basis, Calvin thought his society as chock-full of atheists as ours.

The Protestant leader John Calvin, for instance, declared in 1559 that anyone who suppresses his fear of God and instead follows his own appetites “denies that there is a God.” And, on that basis, Calvin thought his society as chock-full of atheists as ours.

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To believe the wrong thing, or in the wrong way, was not really to believe at all.

Calvin thought his society as chock full of atheists as ours.

Opinion is raised up to a new level, while religious belief is knocked down a peg.

In this brave new world, I might believe a religious doctrine in much the same way I believe that Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone, or that the sun is part of the Milky Way galaxy: I judge it to be true based upon whatever evidence I find most probative.

By this definition, opinion might sometimes contain some truth, but it always contained falsehood, so opinion could never be a religious virtue.

Belief, by contrast, was virtuous because by definition it was assured.To understand the difference between believing and not believing, you have to consider how Christians talked about unbelief five centuries ago, when Taylor says it was virtually impossible.When you do this, you discover that atheism is nothing new, but its meaning has changed.As the Catholic philosopher Charles Taylor asked in his 2007 book A Secular Age: “Why was it virtually impossible not to believe in God in, say, 1500 in our Western society, while in 2000 many of us find this not only easy, but even inescapable?” I think we’re looking at the wrong part of this question—atheists—when we should be looking at the really interesting part: belief.By this logic, belief left little or no room for evidence or argument.As Lactantius, advisor to the Emperor Constantine, wrote around 310, “If you believe, why then do you require a reason, which may have the effect of causing you not to believe?On the opposite side of the Reformation, the Jesuit priest Robert Parsons agreed in 1582 that atheists were everywhere, because anyone who puts their worldly affairs above their salvation commits a “secret kind of atheism.” For one thing, belief was understood to be certain rather than merely probable: To think something 99 percent likely was to disbelieve it rather than believe it.Medieval theologians distinguished sharply between “belief” and the very different, corrupt faculty called “opinion.” Thomas Aquinas, for instance, writing around the year 1270, defined “opinion” as an “act of the intellect inclined to one alternative while retaining respect for the other,” a kind of probabilistic calculus.Likewise, ancient Christian doctrine held that to believe was to yield to authority rather than to form your own views.Augustine, Bishop of Hippo, and the most influential Christian theologian of the later Roman Empire, made this the fundamental definition of belief in 391: When we believe, we believe someone else.

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