May 21

“When a person has been taught that hail and crop failures are to be ascribed to the devil, this may be very well meant, but such a teaching is essentially a cleverness that weakens the concept of evil and introduces into it an almost jesting note, just as, esthetically, it is jest to speak of a stupid devil. So when dealing with the concept of faith the historical is made so one-sidedly significant that the primitive originality of the faith in the individual is overlooked, faith becomes a finite pettiness instead of a free infinitude. The consequence is that faith may come to be regarded in the manner of Hieronymus in Holberg’s play, when he says about Erasmus Montanus that he has heretical views of faith because he believes that the earth is round and not flat, as one generation after another in the village had believed. Thus a person might become a heretic in his faith by wearing wide pants when everyone else in the village wears tight pants. When someone offers statistical surveys of the proportions of sinfulness, draws a map of it in color and relief, so as to guide the eye quickly in its perspicuity, he makes an attempt at treating sin as a peculiarity of nature that is not to be annulled but is to be calculated just as the atmospheric pressure and rainfall are. The mean and the arithmetical average that result are nonsense of a kind that has no comparison in the purely empirical sciences. It would be a very ridiculous abracadabra if anyone should seriously suggest that sinfulness averages 3.375 inches in every man or that in Languedoc the average is merely 2.25 inches, while in Bretagne it is 3.875.”

~Source: The Concept of Anxiety (1844)
Author: Søren Kierkegaard using the pseudonym Vigilius Haufniensis