Gregory Nazianzen on the Two Faiths of Theism and Atheism

Gregory Nazianzen on the faith of theism and the faith atheism, i.e., the beliefs, respectively, that there is a God, and that there is not a God; from the De Vita Sua:

τοῦ γὰρ προχείρως πάντα πιστεύειν θέλειν

χεῖρον τὸ πᾶσιν ἀντιτείνειν ἐξ ἴσης.

τὸ μὲν γάρ ἐστι κουφότης, τὸ δὲ θράσος.

For worse than being willing to believe all things readily

Is the willing rejection of them out of hand.

For the one is flippancy, the other presumption.


I don’t know why I often encounter atheists attempting to deny that their assertion that there is no God is a belief. Even the largest atheist society in the USA proclaims as an article of faith that there is no such thing as the supernatural:

there are no forces, phenomena, or entities which exist outside of or apart from physical nature, or which transcend nature, or are “super” natural, nor can there be. Humankind is on its own.

The motivation for calling one’s agnosticism atheism often comes out in these conversations, that the agnostic desires to dress his flimsy agnosticism up in a positive doctrine with a firmer foundation. But so he falls into the same sin of which he accuses the theist: faith in something that cannot be demonstrated from principles in “natural phenomena (matter)” (ibid.).

He was better off, according to his own argument, with the honest, agnostic, “I don’t know”, than in the religious, atheistic, “I know.” As for the theist, at least, if he can make up a God to believe in, he can make up a God that can talk and tell man that he exists and ought to be worshipped.

The atheist who believes that there is not a God cannot go on to assign attributes to his fiction.

If he were truly honest in his belief he would say nothing on the matter at all.

Thanks, dear reader, should you ever find me, for having the humility to admit that the truth must be sought, and the temerity seek it.


About philokalos

Philologist, historian, and lover of great books, I started this blog to keep myself alert to the beauty of what I see amid the demands of my work.
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