28 Pages

"In Vestigiis Veritatis"

WHY are our beliefs what they are? Anyone with whom thinking has been the chief occupation of life must often have reflected upon the forces that determine men's beliefs. These determining factors are obviously not always conscious, nor are the reasons we give for our beliefs always the real reasons for their genesis and development within the mind. Certain dominant influences are clear. They begin in childhood with the steady impact of tradition and habit upon the plastic organism. The pressure exerted by institutions and by social groups is soon effectively in operation. Commitments to a career and to the practical necessities of a livelihood prove hostages to belief as well as to fortune. The r6le of emotion and desire, too, is important. With not a few, beliefs are largely objectified emotions and wishes. As the ancient oracles were inclined to speak according to indications given by the interested consultants, so the result of reflection is often predetermined by desire. No wonder truth wins its way slowly! One might well despair if it were the creature of a day, and had not the long career of the ages.