top of page


Herbert Spencer (1820-1903) wrote, “There is a principle which is a bar against all information, which is proof against all arguments, and which cannot fail to keep a man in everlasting ignorance — that principle is contempt prior to investigation.” This quotation is a paraphrase dating back as far as 1794; an almost verbatim restatement of what British theologian William Payley (1743-1805) wrote in his book, The Rejection of Christianity in Evidences. It’s interesting that Spencer the atheist and Paley the Christian would both see that the way to censer truth and keep people ignorant of it is to express contempt for it before any investigation is made that might validate it.