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Salient. An Organ of Student Opinion at Victoria College, Wellington N.Z. Vol. 10, No. 5. May, 7, 1947



As stated in the introduction we believe that doubt is an essential prerequisite for the concrete workings of intelligence. But, although the "dogma of doubt" is a healthy enough battle-cry its function is a restricted one. That is, while the open minded attitude is the best correlate to the wide-open universe, in itself it is insufficient. Doubt is not enough. The progress of intellectual inquiry in University Education is to be fostered as much by religious experience as it is to be made effective by doubt. It is just such experience which, transferred from dogmatic objects, makes the ideals of life a possibility. Without such a religious background these ideals will not become real for us.

It is only by the transference of such religious values as those of reverence and abundance that we can overcome our complementary impatience and selfishness in social dealings. Possibly there may come a time when we are purely rational (the aspiration of Freud). In those "Methuselan" days doubt may be sufficient. Meanwhile, it is not a case of too much faith, as Haldane asserts, but rather of misplaced faith. We need essentially the complementary and progressive adjustment of faith and doubt to objects we conceive as most worthwhile. Doubt alone is insufficient, unscientific. It is but a negative aspect of experience. Without the positive, the religious, it is as useless and one sided as the religious dogma it seeks to overthrow.

Just in case we be misinterpreted, however, we must assert again that we are speaking of a religious aspect of experience which is as natural as the scientific aspect. It is important that this be separated from a religion with its usual impossible supernatural claims.

Unless this religious experience be consciously and explicitly dealt with within education along with the claims of doubt it is likely to have unsatisfactory outcomes; either (1) by being connected with scientifically invalid dogmas, or (2) by being supposedly rejected from experience and then insidiously and surreptitiously exerting its influence on doubtful political or other dogmas.

In education not only doubt but the conscious acceptance of what is religious in experience is necessary. It is such experience which enables us to envisage our society as one "in which sensitive and responsible personalities seek to enter with sympathy and understanding into the lives of others as a pre-requisite of their own self-expression." (V. T. Thayer, "American Education Under Fire.") Doubt alone could not accomplish this.