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Template:Unreferenced Credo quia absurdum is a Latin phrase of uncertain origin. It means "I believe because it is absurd" It is derived from a poorly remembered or misquoted passage in Tertullian's De Carne Christi defending the tenets of orthodox Christianity against docetism which reads in the original Latin:

Natus est Dei Filius, non pudet, quia pudendum est;
et mortuus est Dei Filius, prorsus credibile est, quia ineptum est;
et sepultus resurrexit, certum est, quia impossibile.

"The Son of God was born: there is no shame, because it is shameful.
And the Son of God died: it is wholly credible, because it is unsound.
And, buried, He rose again: it is certain, because impossible."

(De Carne Christi V, 4)

The phrase is sometimes associated[citation needed] with the doctrine of fideism, that is, "a system of philosophy or an attitude of mind, which, denying the power of unaided human reason to reach certitude, affirms that the fundamental act of human knowledge consists in an act of faith, and the supreme criterion of certitude is authority." (Catholic Encyclopedia).[citation needed] Fideism as a school of thought was rejected by Church in the Middle Ages.[citation needed]


In Civilization and Its Discontents, Freud reverts to the phrase while questioning the commandment 'Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself'.[citation needed] In The Future of an Illusion, Freud again refers to this phrase as a tactic to evade the need to support one's factual beliefs with reasons.[1] The phrase appears again in Freud in Moses and Monotheism, in his discussion of the development of religion, in context of Freud's argument that those whose sense of spirituality is developed enough to provide for non-rational belief take great pride in this achievement and consider it an accomplishment that makes them superior to others who have mere sensory beliefs.[2]

It has also been used, though often in different interpretations, by some existentialists.

References Edit

  1. The Future of An Illusion, translated and edited by James Strachey (New York and London: W.W. Norton & Company, 1961/1989), p. 35. The editor adds this note: ['I believe because it is absurd.' This is attributed to Tertullian.]
  2. Moses and Monotheism, translated by Katherine Jones (New York: Vintage, 1939), p. 151.
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