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The alternative to heaven and hell - patient enquiry.

Francis Bacon, the major prophet of modern science in the British tradition, did not proclaim the word of the Lord but spoke with his own more modest voice:

“If we begin with certainties, we will end in doubt, but if we begin with doubts and bear them patiently, we may end in certainty.”

Bacon was writing at the beginning of the seventeenth century, when religious wars were raging in Europe, when Pilgrim fathers filled with Abrahamic hopes were building a new world in America, when Puritan divines filled with visions of Jeremiad doom were preaching hellfire and damnation. He offered a third alternative to the certainties of heaven and hell: the alternative of patient inquiry.

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