Odium theologicum



“The Latin phrase odium theologicum (literally “theological hatred”) is the name originally given to the often intense anger and hatred generated by disputes over theology. It has also been adopted to describe non-theological disputes of a rancorous nature.

John Stuart Mill, discussing the fallibility of the moral consensus in his essay “On Liberty” (1859) refers scornfully to the odium theologicum, saying that, in a sincere bigot, it is one of the most unequivocal cases of moral feeling. In this essay, he takes issue with those who rely on moral feeling rather than reasoned argument to justify their beliefs.”


“Philosopher and historian of science Thomas Samuel Kuhn argued that scientists are strongly committed to their beliefs, theories and methods (the collection of which he termed “paradigms“), and that science progresses mainly by paradigm shifts. He claimed that scientists with conflicting paradigms will hold to them as dearly as theologians hold to their theological paradigms. Philosopher of math and science Imre Lakatos, a student of Karl Popper, described the nature of science in a similar manner.

According to Lakatos, science progresses by continual modification or else supersession of what he termed “research programs” (roughly equivalent to Kuhn’s “paradigms”). Lakatos claimed that a research program is informed by metaphysical beliefs as well as observation of facts, and may infinitely resist falsification if a scientist wishes to continue holding it in spite of problems or the discovery of new evidence. If this view is correct, science does not remedy odium theologicum, it provides another field in which it may manifest.”

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