“The general notion that science establishes agnosticism is a sort of mystification produced by talking Latin and Greek instead of plain English. Science is Latin for knowledge. Agnosticism is the Greek for ignorance. It is not evident that ignorance is the goal of knowledge. It is the ignorance and not the knowledge that produces the current notion that free thought weakens theism. It is the real world, that we see with our own eyes, that obviously unfolds a plan of things that fit into each other. It is only a remote and misty legend that ever pretended to explain it by the automatic advantage of the ‘fit.’
“…What we call the intellectual world is divided into two types of people — those who worship the intellect and those who use it. There are exceptions; but, broadly speaking, they are never the same people. Those who use the intellect never worship it; they know too much about it. Those who worship the intellect never use it; as you can see by the things they say about it. Hence there has arisen a confusion about intellect and intellectualism; and, as the supreme expression of that confusion, something that is called in many countries the Intelligentsia, and in France more especially, the Intellectuals. It is found in practice to consist of clubs and coteries of people talking mostly about books and pictures, but especially new books and new pictures; and about music, so long as it is very modern music; or what some would call very unmusical music. The first fact to record about it is that what Carlyle said of the world is very specially true of the intellectual world — that it is mostly fools. Indeed, it has a curious attraction for complete fools, as a warm fire has for cats.
“I have frequently visited such societies, in the capacity of a common or normal fool, and I have almost always found there a few fools who were more foolish than I had imagined to be possible to man born of woman; people who had hardly enough brains to be called half-witted. But it gave them a glow within to be in what they imagined to be the atmosphere of the intellect; for they worshipped it like an unknown god. I could tell many stories of that world.
“I remember a venerable man with a very long beard who seemed to live at one of these clubs. At intervals he would hold up his hand as if for silence and preface his remarks by saying, ‘A Thought.’ And then he would say something as if a cow had suddenly spoken in the drawing-room. I remember once a silent and much-enduring man (I rather think it was my friend Mr. Edgar Jepson, the novelist) who could bear it no longer and cried with a sort of expiring gasp, ‘But, Good God, man, you don’t call that a thought do you?’
“But that was pretty much the quality of the thought of such thinkers, especially of the free thinkers.”
— G.K. Chesterton