Salient: Victoria University Students' Paper. Vol. 25, No. 3. 1962.
Sin, Sex and Imagination
Sin, Sex and Imagination
The debating season took off to a vigorous and somewhat bawdy start as Vic students debated the proposition "That Sin is a Figment of the Imagination."
Opening for the affirmative Hogg claimed that there was no Divine Law and therefore no sin, since an omniscient God would forgive everything. Larsen countered by saying that sin could be defined socially as well as theologically, and that Hogg reminded him of the New York psychiatrist who claimed that even the common cold was a figment of the imagination. Middleton rested the affirmative's case on the difference in morality in different societies "There is no word for bastardry in Samoa." Dent replied by (uncharacteristically) quoting Jung and Billy Graham, and told the story about the reporter who had questioned President Coolidge about a sermon.
"What did the parson speak on, Mr Coolidge?"
"What did he say about it?"
"He was against it."
However, when the debate was thrown open to the floor, not all seemed to be in agreement with Coolidge's minister. The gusto with which several speakers "defended" Sin drew adjudicator Bollinger's comment that they seemed to have thought the debate was about sex. O'Brien pointed out that adultery was a sin and certainly real "otherwise we would not spend so much time indulging in it." Ever hopeful Flude admitted that Sin was sometimes imaginary, but could often be achieved, while Larsen affirmed that he found Sin both real and enjoyable.
The debate did get serious in parts. Iorns asked which God was responsible for conflicting moralities, and Dwyer denounced the concept of Sin as an invention of the Priests.
Dwyer: "I am socially progressive."
O'Brien: "In the wrong society."
At an early stage it became obvious that speakers divided into materialists who, like McKinley, thought Sin was a Social concept, and idealists who like Miss Hall thought that it was based on Natural or Divine Law. Few of the materialists however grasped Berthold's contention that a reality such as Truth or Sin can be intangible.
Theologically Christians, Rationalists, and even a stray Pantheist (Lind-Mitchell) mutually disagreed on whether God existed, and if so, whether he had promulgated any Divine Laws.
The close of the debate saw Sin apparently believed in or favoured by most of the Audience, and the motion was defeated 79/36 on the Student vote, and 79/43 on the vote of the whole house. This curious breakup drew the chairman's comment that appearances to the contrary, students apparently were less immoral than outsiders.
Placings: 1, Dent; 2, Middleton; 3, Hogg; 4, Larsen; 5, Dwyer and Bromby; 7, Berthold and Mitchell.