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Salient. An Organ of Student Opinion at Victoria University College, Wellington N.Z. Vol. 20, No. 14. September 26, 1957

Australian Agnostic

Australian Agnostic

I am prompted to write after reading a copy of your fine magazine. Compared with the student magazines in Australia, yours is good—particularly considering that staffing is voluntary (I presume).

The particular articles that prompt me to write are some of those in your debate on religion—especially those by Russell Price and K.K.C. and P.A.S.

The basis of Christianity is rather shaky, and depends on acceptance without proof. Consider the Bible, the basis of Christianity. Genesis I, i, begins: "In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth." This has not been proved false, but it has also not been proved true But many scientific theories about the origin of the world also haven't been proved false.

Take prayer if I pray for rain and the weather gets drier and drier, the Christian will offer no end of excuses. If, however, it rains, he will say my prayer has been answered. The atheist will say it would have rained anyway. Who is to judge who is right?

One of the weaknesses of religion is its dependence on so-called "miracles". Volumes have been written on virgin birth, the walls of Jericho, and the rest: but the decision is always "not proved"—but also "not disproved".

To permit the hypothesis "There is a God" is almost to beg the question, yet to the Christian it is fundamental. But to say "there is no God" is equally false. The only statement we may justifiably make is, "There may be (or not be) a God"—with the united disapproval of both Christians and atheists.

Over the years. Christianity has done some good-the monks fostered learning when it was at an ebb, and the Churches have taken a stand on moral issues. But the basis of its beliefs is no less disputable for that. Other organizations with bad principles have done some good.

All this lets us see that atheist and Christian creeds are equally unsound. It is for each of us to choose what he will believe, and accept the logical consequences. Let Christians renounce the commercializing of Christmas, and the atheists work on religious holidays. Perhaps if that was the position, there would be more fence-sitters ("agnostics" they call us).

Mr. Price concluded by saying that statements must be either true or false without qualification. But whereas we have proof that "Napoleon died at St. Helena". we have no proof of the "Christ" in "Christ was [unclear: crucified] at Jerusalem", so this statement is not true—but then, neither is it false.

The Bible is a magnificent collection of stones—but so is Grimm's "Fairy Tales". Why make one the basis of a religion and not the other?

—A. M. Mathew.

N.S.W. University of Technology, N.S.W.. Australia.

(This letter has been slightly abridged.—Ed.)