Tuesday, February 12, 2008


The study of credology, its central inquiry, investigates the perennial need of our species to establish systems of belief, as distinguished from systems of scientific knowledge. Whereas systematic science is a very recent event in human history, established in only the 16th century, belief systems purporting to make sense of the mysteries that baffle human minds trace back to our most ancient myths, which probably had to wait upon the development of language in the course of human evolution. But once we learned to communicate, we possessed the means to express our wonderment about the world and our place in it, which distinguishes us from speechless, unreflective beasts bound to the present moment and the most immediate and practical of needs.

Our development of language permitted us to articulate higher-level needs beyond surviving and toward thriving. We came to require not only safety and comfort but solace and inspiration: psychic as well as physical satisfactions. Able now to wonder and speculate, to seek reasons and explanations, we began to devise suppositions to make sense of what we yearned to explain and know—we sought meaning. And out of such inquiry and speculation emerged beliefs and creeds, the subject matter of credology.

Beliefs, then, serve our distinctly human need for meaning, and more particularly for authority (What is true?), ultimacy (What is absolute?), purpose (Why is anything?), direction (Where should we go?), guidance (How should we get there?), protection (What will keep us safe?), and connection (How are we related to everything else?). Connection is the root idea of religion, which means binding back, or reconnecting with our ultimate source.

Thus credology is the study of our speculative attempts to discover meanings beyond what science can reveal, meanings that are vital to our thriving as human beings.