Believing in Divinities, by David Carlin

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*Image: Saturn Devouring a Son by Peter Paul Rubens, c. 1636-38 [Museo del Prado, Madrid]

By David Carlin, The Catholic Thing, March 19, 2021

David Carlin is a retired professor of sociology and philosophy at the Community College of Rhode Island, and the author of The Decline and Fall of the Catholic Church in America.

David CarlinOne of the more remarkable facts about human beings (at least to me) is the fact of our almost universal belief in God or gods – in any case, some transcendent divine power (or powers) able and willing to confer benefits or inflict harms on us.  No society, it seems, has ever been without these beliefs.  It appears that such beliefs are innate in human beings, or, at any rate, a strong disposition to embrace such beliefs is innate in us.  The newborn baby is not neutral or agnostic with respect to the existence and power of these divinities.

I’ll be reminded, of course, that belief in divinities, though widespread, is not universal.  There are such persons as atheists in the world. While atheists may be more common today than they used to be, they have been around for thousands of years at a minimum.  But atheism is (we may say) a sophisticated attitude while belief in divine powers is a naïve attitude.  Disbelief is possible only because belief comes first. …

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