Good morning. I am an afairyist. I’ll repeat that for clarity, I am an afairyist. Perhaps that is not what you expected me to describe myself as. An afairyist is someone who does not believe in fairies. That’s right; those dragonfly-winged little people who it is said live at the bottom of your garden. You might be thinking that the idea of a word to describe what nobody really believes in is ridiculous, but in fact belief in fairies was widespread until the beginning of the twentieth century. Fairies were believed to belong to a class of supernatural creatures which also included pixies, gnomes, elves, goblins, brownies, sprites and leprechauns. Fairies were blamed for stealing small objects such as pins when they went missing and all manner of mischief were ascribed to them. It was not only simple minded people who believed in fairies, for example, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, the writer of Sherlock Holmes was a believer in fairies. Someone living in Victorian England might have been sceptical about someone claiming that one day almost nobody would believe in fairies. They might have thought that belief in fairies was sufficiently widespread that the belief would persist, perhaps fulfilling a psychological need in the fairy believer, but belief in fairies did die out and today most of us are afairyists. I doubt if you would describe yourself as afairyist because it would seem to put too much importance on the thing you are not believing in and there are an infinite number of things that you also don’t believe in. It would be better to find a word that properly described what you do believe in. I believe in science, democracy, an open society, secular ethics and a naturalistic view of the world in which fairies, ghosts, miracles and Gods play no part. I choose to describe myself as a Humanist. What word would you choose to describe what you believe in?
A Golden Age for Public Philosophy
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