Gilbert Keith Chesterton called himself a "pagan" at 12 and was agnostic by 16. He then developed a personal, positive philosophy that turned out to be orthodox Christianity. First published in 1908, when he was 35, this intellectual and spiritual autobiography combines simplicity with...
Joanna Southcott: And English religious visionary. Uneducated, even illiterate, she spent her earlier years in domestic service. She began c.1792 to claim the gift of prophecy; her "revelations" attracted many followers. Later she announced that, as the woman in Revelation 12, she would be the mother of the coming Messiah. Soon after the time she had set for the birth of the "second Shiloh," she died of brain disease, at the age of 64. Her followers continued to study the 60 or more tracts and books of her writing; the sect never completely died out. She left a locked box with instructions that it be opened only in the presence of all the bishops at a time of national crisis. In 1928, a box alleged to be hers was opened when one bishop agreed to be present; it revealed nothing of interest.
William Cowper: A British poet. Throughout his life he was plagued by recurring mental instability and religious doubt.
John Gilpin: John Gilpin was a based on real-life character whose exploits became legendary and featured in a well-known comic ballad of 1782 by William Cowper entitled The Diverting History of John Gilpin.
Homer: The man who, according to legend, wrote the two great epics of Greek history: the Iliad (the tale of Achilles and the Trojan War) and the Odyssey (about the travels of Odysseus). Both books are considered landmarks in human literature and Homer is therefore often cited as the starting point of Western literary and historical tradition.
John Dryden: A British poet, dramatist, and literary critic. His poetry celebrating the Restoration so pleased Charles II that he was named poet laureate (1668) and, two years later, royal historiographer.
George Herbert: A British Metaphysical poet. He was elected orator of Cambridge University in 1620, a position that involved him with the royal court. He was later ordained and became a rector at a rural parish, to which he devoted himself unstintingly until his death. His poems, published only after his death in The Temple (1633), concern personal, doctrinal, and ritual matters, and they are noted for their mastery of metrical form, use of allegory and analogy, and religious devotion.
Bloody Mary: Mary I of England. Mary Tudor. The daughter of King Henry VIII and Catherine of Aragon, she was declared illegitimate after Henry's divorce and new marriage to Anne Boleyn (1533). In 1544 Mary was restored to court and granted succession to the throne. After becoming queen (1553), she married Philip II of Spain, restored Roman Catholicism, and revived the laws against heresy. The resulting persecution of Protestant rebels and the execution of some 300 heretics earned her the hatred of her subjects and the nickname "Bloody Mary".
Ernst Haekel: A German zoologist and evolutionist. After receiving a degree in medicine in 1857, he obtained a doctorate in zoology from the University of Jena, and from 1862 to 1909 he taught zoology at Jena. His work concentrated on diverse marine invertebrates. Influenced by Charles Darwin, Haeckel saw evolution as the basis for an explanation of all nature and the rationale of a philosophical approach. He attempted to create the first genealogical tree of the entire animal kingdom. He proposed that each species illustrates its evolutionary history in its embryological development ("Ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny"). Through his theories of the evolution of humans, he brought attention to important biological questions.
Henry James: An American-born writer, regarded as one of the key figures of 19th-century literary realism.
Robert Blatchford: A socialist campaigner, journalist and author in the United Kingdom. He was a prominent atheist and opponent of eugenics. He was also an English patriot. In the early 1920s, after the death of his wife, he turned towards spiritualism.
Torquemada: A Dominican prior, he became confessor and adviser to Ferdinand V and Isabella I. He guided the Spanish Inquisition, directing its persecution of Jews, Moors, and others identified as heretics, sorcerers, or criminals. Torture was used to obtain evidence, and about 2,000 people were burned at the stake during Torquemada's tenure. He probably influenced Ferdinand and Isabella in their decision to expel the Jews from Spain (1492). His name has become synonymous with the cruel fanaticism of the Inquisition.Read more: http://www.answers.com/topic/tom-s-de-torquemada#ixzz1RYEYGD3p
Emile Zola: Emile Zola was a French journalist and novelist known for his series Les Rougon-Macquart (1871-93). Zola's style was called literary naturalism; his novels were attacked and even banned for their frankness and sordid detail, and caused quite a bit of controversy in their day.
Thomas Huxley: An English biologist, known as "Darwin's Bulldog" for his advocacy of Charles Darwin's theory of evolution.
H.G. Wells: An English writer known for such works as The Time Machine and The War of the Worlds.
Friedrich Nietzsche: A German philosopher known for beliefs of existentialism, nihilism and postmodernism.
Descartes: A French philosopher often called the father of modern science. He established a new, clear way of thinking about philosophy and science by rejecting all ideas based on assumptions or emotional beliefs and accepting only those ideas which could be proved by or systematically deduced from direct observation. He took as his philosophical starting point the statement Cogito ergo sum -- "I think, therefore I am." Descartes made major contributions to modern mathematics, especially in developing the Cartesian coordinate system and advancing the theory of equations.
Hillaire Belloc: A French-born British poet, historian, Catholic apologist, and essayist. A highly versatile writer, he is best remembered for his light verse, particularly for children, and for his lucid and graceful essays.
John Davidson: Davidson, John, 1857-1909, Scottish poet. After teaching in Scotland he went to London. There, struggling with poverty and illness, he wrote Fleet Street Eclogues (1893; Ser. 2, 1896), Ballads and Songs (1894), New Ballads (1897), literary dramas, and novels. He established a small reputation as a lyric poet, but he earned little money. Despairing, he drowned himself in the ocean near Penzance in 1909.
Ernest Renan: A French philosopher, historian, and scholar of religion. He trained for the priesthood but left the Catholic church in 1845, feeling that its teachings were incompatible with the findings of historical criticism, though he retained a quasi-Christian faith in God. His five-volume History of the Origins of Christianity (1863 – 80) includes his Life of Jesus (1863); an attempt to reconstruct the mind of Jesus as a wholly human person, it was virulently denounced by the church but widely read by the general public.
“Poets do not go mad; but chess-players do. Mathematicians go mad, and cashiers; but creative artists very seldom. I am not, as will be seen, in any sense attacking logic: I only say that this danger does lie in logic, not in imagination.”
“And if great reasoners are often maniacal, it is equally true that maniacs are commonly great reasoners.”
“The madman is not the man who has lost his reason. The madman is the man who has lost everything except his reason.”
“Neither modern science nor ancient religion believes in complete free thought. Theology rebukes certain thoughts by calling them blasphemous. Science rebukes certain thoughts by calling them morbid.”
“The Christian is quite free to believe that there is a considerable amount of settled order and inevitable development in the universe. But the materialist is not allowed to admit into his spotless machine the slightest speck of spiritualism or miracle.”
“Spiritual doctrines do not actually limit the mind as do materialistic denials. Even if I believe in immortality, I need not think about it. But if I disbelieve in immortality I must not think about it.”
“It is idle to talk always of the alternative of reason and faith. Reason is itself a matter of faith. It is an act of faith to assert that our thoughts have any relation to reality at all.”
“The creeds and the crusades, the hierarchies and the horrible persecutions were not organized, as is ignorantly said, for the suppression of reason. They were organized for the difficult defence of reason.”
“The moment you step into the world of facts, you step into a world of limits. You can free things form alien and accidental laws, but not from the laws of their own nature.”
“But the new rebel is a Sceptic, and will not entirely trust anything. He has no loyalty; therefore he can never be really a revolutionist. And the fact that he doubts everything really gets in his way when he wants to denounce anything.”
“So he who wills to reject nothing, wills the destruction of will; for will is not only the choice of something, but the rejection of almost everything.”
“Not only is suicide a sin, it is the sin. It is the ultimate and absolute evil, the refusal to take the oath of loyalty to life. The man who kills a man, kills a man. The man who kills himself, kills all men; as far as he is concerned he wipes out the world.”
“A suicide is a man who cares so little for anything outside him, that he wants to see the last of everything.”
“Some dogma, we are told, was credible in the twelfth century, but not credible in the twentieth. You might as well say that a certain philosophy can be believed on Mondays, but cannot be believed on Tuesdays...What a man can believe depends upon his philosophy, not upon the clock or the century.”
“Of all the horrible religions the most horrible is the worship of the god within.”
“But if I mildly pointed out that one of men's universal customs was to have an altar, then my agnostic teachers turned clean round and told me that men had always been in darkness and the superstitions of savages. I found it was their daily taunt against Christianity that it was the light of one people and had left all others to die in the dark. But I also found that it was their special boast for themselves that science and progress were the discovery of one people, and that all other peoples had died in the dark. Their chief insult to Christianity was actually their chief compliment to themselves, and their seemed to be a strange unfairness about all their relative insistence on the two things.”
“Thus, the double charges of the secularists, though throwing nothing but darkness and confusion on themselves, throw a real light on the faith.”
“People have fallen into a foolish habit of speaking of orthodoxy as something heavy, humdrum, and safe. There never was anything so perilous or so exciting as orthodoxy.”
“Nietzsche always escaped a question by a physical metaphor, like a cheery minor poet. He said 'Beyond good and evil,' because he had not the courage to say, 'more good than good and evil,' or, 'more evil than good and evil.' Had he faced his thoughts without metaphors, he would have seen that it was nonsense.”
“Nietzsche is truly a very timid thinker. He does not really know in the least what sort of man he wants evolution to produce. And if he does not know, certainly the ordinary evolutionists, who talk about things being 'higher,' do not know either.”
“Evolution is a metaphor from mere automatic unrolling. Progress is a metaphor from merely walking along a road - very likely the wrong road. But reform is a metaphor for reasonable and determined men: it means that we see a certain thing out of shape and we mean to put it into shape. And we know what shape.”
“Progress should mean that we are always changing the world to suit the vision. Progress does mean (just now) that we are always changing the vision.”
“As long as the vision of heaven is always changing, the vision of earth will be exactly the same. No ideal will remain long enough to be realized, or even partly realized. The modern young man will never change his environment; for he will always change his mind”
“Some people (as we have said) seem to believe in an automatic and impersonal progress in the nature of things. But it is clear that no political activity can be encouraged by saying that progress is natural and inevitable; that is not a reason for being active, but rather a reason for being lazy. If we are bound to improve, we need not trouble to improve. The pure doctrine of progress is the best of all reasons for not being progressive.”
“In actual modern Europe a freethinker does not mean a man who thinks for himself. It means a man who, having thought for himself, has come to one particular class of conclusions, the material origin of phenomena, the impossibility of miracles, the improbability of personal immortality and so on. And none of these ideas are particularly liberal. Nay, indeed almost all these ideas are definitely illiberal.”
“I may, it is true, twist orthodoxy so as partly to justify a tyrant. But I can easily make up a German philosophy to justify him entirely.”
“I have known people who protested against religious education with arguments against any education, saying that the child's mind must grow freely or that the old must not teach the young. I have known people who showed their could be no divine judgement by showing that there can be no human judgement, even for practical purposes. They buried their own corn to set fire to the church; they smashed their own tools to smash it; any stick was good enough to beat it with, though it were the last stick of their own dismembered furniture. We do not admire, we hardly excuse, the fanatic who wrecks this world for love of the other. But what are we to say to the fanatic who wrecks this world out of hatred of the other? He sacrifices the very existence of humanity to the non-existence of God...He is ready to ruin even that primary ethic by which all things live, for his strange and eternal vengeance upon some one who never lived at all.”
“Not only is faith the mother of all worldly energies, but its foes are the fathers of all worldly confusion. The secularists have not wrecked divine things; but the secularists have wrecked secular things, if that is any comfort to them. The Titans did not scale heaven; but they laid waste the world.”
“If I am asked, as a purely intellectual question, why I believe in Christianity, I can only answer, 'For the same reason that an intelligent agnostic disbelieves in Christianity.' I believe in it quite rationally upon the evidence.”
“For when I look at these various anti-Christian truths, I simply discover that none of them are true. I discover that the true tide and force of all the facts flows the other way.”
“...I read a little history. And in history I found that Christianity, so far from belonging to the Dark Ages, was the one path across the Dark Ages that was not dark. It was a shining bridge connecting two shining civilizations. If anyone says that the faith arose in ignorance and savagery the answer is simple: it didn't. It arose in the Mediterranean civilization in the full summer of the Roman Empire. The world was swarming with sceptics, and pantheism was as plain as the sun, when Constantine nailed the cross to the mast.”
“In a world, the most absurd thing that could be said of the church is the thing we have all heard said of it. How can we say that the Church wishes to bring us back into the Dark Ages? The Church was the only thing that ever brought us out of them.”
“The believers in miracles accept them (rightly or wrongly) because they have evidence for them. The disbelievers in miracles deny them (rightly or wrongly) because they have a doctrine against them.”
“If it comes to human testimony there is a choking cataract of human testimony in favour of the supernatural. If you reject it, you can only mean one of two things. You reject the peasant's story about the ghost either because the man is a peasant or because the story is a ghost story. That is, you either deny the main principle of democracy, or you affirm the main principle of materialism - the abstract impossibility of miracle. You have a perfect right to do so; but in that case you are the dogmatist. It is we Christians who accept all actual evidence - it is you rationalists who refuse actual evidence being constrained to do so by your creed.”
“No one doubts that an ordinary man can get on with this world: but we demand not strength enough to get on with it, but strength enough to get it on. Can he hate it enough to change it, and yet love it enough to think it worth changing? Can he look up at its colossal good without once feeling acquiescence? Can he look up at its colossal evil without once feeling despair? Can he, in short, be at once not only a pessimist and an optimist, but a fanatical pessimist and a fanatical optimist? Is he enough of a pagan to die for the world, and enough of a Christian to die to it? In this combination, I maintain, it is the rational optimist who fails, the irrational optimist who succeeds. He is ready to smash the whole universe for the sake of itself.”
“Thinking means connecting things, and stops if they cannot be connected. It need hardly be said that this scepticism forbidding thought necessarily forbids speech; a man cannot open his mouth without contradicting it. Thus when Mr. Wells says (as he did somewhere), "All chairs are quite different," he utters not merely a misstatement, but a contradiction it terms. If all chairs were quite different, you could not call them "all chairs."”
I. Introduction: In Defense of Everything Else II. The Maniac III. The Suicide of Thought IV. The Ethics of Elfland V. The Flag of the World VI. The Paradoxes of Christianity VII. The Eternal Revolution VIII. The Romance of Orthodoxy IX. Authority and the Adventurer
Necessitarianism: The doctrine holding that events are inevitably determined by preceding causes.
The Clarion: The Clarion was a weekly newspaper published by Robert Blatchford, based in the United Kingdom. It was a socialist publication though adopting a British-focused rather than internationalist perspective on political affairs, as seen in its support of the British involvement in the Anglo-Boer Wars and the First World War.
Socialism: Socialism is an economic system in which the means of production are publicly or commonly owned and controlled co-operatively, or a political philosophy advocating such a system. As a form of social organization, socialism is based on co-operative social relations and self-management; relatively equal power-relations and the reduction or elimination of hierarchy in the management of economic and political affairs.
Materialism: Materialism is a philosophical system which regards matter as the only reality in the world, which undertakes to explain every event in the universe as resulting from the conditions and activity of matter, and which thus denies the existence of God and the soul.
Determinism: The philosophical theory which holds, in opposition to the doctrine of free will, that all man's volitions are invariably determined by pre-existing circumstances.
Fatalism: The view which holds that all events in the history of the world, and, in particular, the actions and incidents which make up the story of each individual life, are determined by fate.
Pragmatism: As a tendency in philosophy, signifies the insistence on usefulness or practical consequences as a test of truth. (Turner, The Original Catholic Encyclopedia)
Universality: Universal inclusiveness in scope or range, especially great or unbounded versatility of the mind.
Empirical: Relying on or derived from observation or experiment.
Cosmos: The universe regarded as an orderly, harmonious whole.
Rivet: A metal bolt or pin having a head on one end, inserted through aligned holes in the pieces to be joined and then hammered on the plain end so as to form a second head.
Cog: a gear. A toothed machine part, such as a wheel or cylinder, that meshes with another toothed part to transmit motion or to change speed or direction.
Verity: Something, such as a statement, principle, or belief, that is true, especially an enduring truth.
The Doctrine of Necessity: The term Doctrine of Necessity is a term used to describe the basis on which extra-legal actions by state actors, which are designed to restore order, are found to be constitutional.
Exhot: To urge by strong, often stirring argument, admonition, advice, or appeal.
Panegoism: The theory that the self is the only thing that can be known and verified.
Three-Penny Bit: a twelve-sided British coin of nickel-brass, valued at three old pence, obsolete since 1971.
Mysticism: Immediate consciousness of the transcendent or ultimate reality or God.
Steroscopy: The viewing of objects as three-dimensional.
Transcendentalism: A literary and philosophical movement, associated with Ralph Waldo Emerson and Margaret Fuller, asserting the existence of an ideal spiritual reality that transcends the empirical and scientific and is knowable through intuition.
Ascetic: A person who renounces material comforts and leads a life of austere self-discipline, especially as an act of religious devotion.
Evolution: A gradual process in which something changes into a different and usually more complex or better form.
Egoism: The ethical belief that self-interest is the just and proper motive for all human conduct.
Utilitarian: Exhibiting or stressing utility over other values; practical.
Anarchism: Anarchism is a political philosophy which considers the state undesirable, unnecessary, and harmful, and instead promotes a stateless society, or anarchy. Anarchists seek to diminish or even abolish authority in the conduct of human relations, but widely disagree on what additional criteria are essential to anarchism. According to The Oxford Companion to Philosophy, "there is no single defining position that all anarchists hold, and those considered anarchists at best share a certain family resemblance."
Demagogue: A leader who obtains power by means of impassioned appeals to the emotions and prejudices of the populace.
Republicanism: Support for the republic and republican values. In France, the word is often applied specifically to a set of values which crystallized under the Third Republic and can be seen as a particular interpretation of the French Revolution.
Liberalism: In general, the belief that it is the aim of politics to preserve individual rights and to maximize freedom of choice.
Nirvana: Freedom from the endless cycle of birth and death and related suffering.
Pugnacity: Inclination or readiness to fight; quarrelsomeness.
Altruist: Unselfish concern for the welfare of others; selflessness.
Idealism: The act or practice of envisioning things in an ideal form.
Philanthropy: The effort or inclination to increase the well-being of humankind, as by charitable aid or donations.
Battle of Armageddon: According to the Revelation of St John the Divine (Rev. 16: 16), the Kings of the Earth under the leadership of the Evil One will confront the Army of God, thus signalling the end of history, military or otherwise. The name comes from the Hebrew Har (hill) and the place is Megiddo. Also hyperbole commonly employed to describe the hypothetical all-out use of nuclear weapons.
General Election: A general election is a set of simultaneous elections that collectively determine the entire elected membership of a parliament.The term general election in the United Kingdom often refers to the election of Members of Parliament (MPs) to the House of Commons
The Carlton Club: British political and social club (founded 1832). Located in London, it was long the center of the Conservative party organization. Since World War II the club has been primarily social.
Oligarchy: Government by a few, especially by a small faction of persons or families.
Dryad: A divinity presiding over forests and trees; a wood nymph.
Jacobite: A supporter of James II of England or of the Stuart pretenders after 1688.
Grimm's Law: A formula describing the regular changes undergone by Indo-European stop consonants represented in Germanic, essentially stating that Indo-European p, t, and k became Germanic f, th, and h; Indo-European b, d, and g became Germanic p, t, and k; and Indo-European bh, dh, and gh became Germanic b, d, and g.
The End of Free Thought: In answer to Mr. G.S. Street., Mr. Chesterton argues that modern man has lost everything except his reason. His world is now full of the old Christian virtues gone mad, which has lead it to an intellectual helplessness.
The Superior Intellectual Philosphy of Fairyland: Nature cannot be described in words such as "law", "necessity" or "tendency"; rather it must be described in words such as "charm", "spell", "enchantment". They express the arbitrariness of the fact and its mystery.
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