Devils advocate – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Less Word than Phrase of the Moment, this is pretty fascinating. The origin of “Devil’s Advocate”, it seems, is more literal than I would have guessed:

Formerly, during the canonization process of the Roman Catholic Church, the Promoter of the Faith (Latin Promotor Fidei), or Devil’s Advocate (Latin advocatus diaboli), was a canon lawyer appointed by the Church to argue against the canonization of the candidate. It was his job to take a skeptical view of the candidate’s character, to look for holes in the evidence, and to argue that any miracles attributed to the candidate were fraudulent, etc. The Devil’s advocate was opposed by God’s advocate, whose job is to make the argument in favor of canonization.

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