Who Hath Made Israel to Sin?: William Clifford on Why “it is wrong always, everywhere, and for anyone, to believe anything upon insufficient evidence”

William Clifford, from his essay, “The Ethics of Belief” (1879):

[I]t is wrong always, everywhere, and for anyone, to believe anything upon insufficient evidence.

If a man, holding a belief which he was taught in childhood or persuaded of afterwards, keeps down and pushes away any doubts which arise about it in his mind, purposely avoids the reading of books and the company of men that call into question or discuss it, and regards as impious those questions which cannot easily be asked without disturbing it—the life of that man is one long sin against mankind.

If this judgment seems harsh when applied to those simple souls who have never known better, who have been brought up from the cradle with a horror of doubt, and taught that their eternal welfare depends on what they believe, then it leads to the very serious question, Who hath made Israel to sin?

About Santi Tafarella

I teach writing and literature at Antelope Valley College in California.
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4 Responses to Who Hath Made Israel to Sin?: William Clifford on Why “it is wrong always, everywhere, and for anyone, to believe anything upon insufficient evidence”

  1. Anonymous says:

    That line was written by T H Huxley. It was written only a few years after Clifford’s paper, but it was in Huxley’s “Agnosticism- The Only Legitimate Response”.

  2. No one makes anyone sin. Sin is a personal choice to lust after the pleasures of the world around you. The key to overcoming sin is Bible study. If you don’t know what the Bible teaches, you won’t know who to believe. After reading the Bible we accept it by faith because it would take many years more than you have on earth to try to prove what the Bible contains.

    infinitestructure.com

  3. Atheist says:

    Fuck the bible, respectively. And religion too.

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