It may sometimes seem to readers of this blog that too many Irish philosophers of the past were far too interested in religion. However an argument that is first outlined in a religious context may have applications elsewhere.
The thesis of John Toland’s Christianity Not Mysterious is clearly outlined in its subtitle: “A treatise shewing that there is nothing in the gospel contrary to reason, nor above it: and that no Christian Doctrine can be properly call’d a mystery.” Toland’s position is that “reason is the only Foundation of all Certitude” against the Divines who “gravely tell us, we must adore what we cannot comprehend”1. It is impossible, says Toland, to believe what we cannot understand2:
A man may give his verbal assent to he knows-not-what…but as long as he conceives not what he believes, he cannot sincerely acquiesce in it