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Ask the Patriarch 76
Should We Have Saints?

from Philip van Bergen

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Is it philosophically (and logically) OK for us to have saints? If so, then who should we choose. May I suggest St. Bertrand Russell as our first patron saint?

The Patriarch replies:


While I am obviously not averse to raiding the vocabularies of various religions for our nomenclature, I do have difficulty with "saint."

Sainthood involves so much metaphysical nonsense that it would almost be derogatory to apply the term to rational thinkers.

Perhaps we should recognize those who developed the intellectual basis of agnosticism, but let's consider something other that sainthood to recognize them.

Recognizing we learn from them, we could call them mentors.

Recognizing they show us the way, we could call them guides.

Recognizing they share their wisdom, we could call them sages.

Or, in line with the Newton quotation[1] you referred to in another article (to be published in a later update,) we could call them giants.

I am open to further discussion on an appropriate term, and potential nominees together with reasons.



  1. "If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants."
    Isaac Newton