Roots need firmer footing

April 23, 2009

Andrew Chanerley commits a logical error that underlines the reason why a "return to Christian roots" (Letters, 9 April) would be an outrageous and completely unacceptable academic development in 21st-century Britain.

He states that it is "contrary to ... philosophy in the West" to assert that religious belief is irrational, since such belief is the result of "an exercise in thought". Indeed, it may be, but the use of a thought process does not mean that the process is logical.

Many people, especially those associated with religious doctrine, "think" irrationally. This distinction is at the heart of the science-religion conflict and reaches its zenith in the illogical premise that any aspect of life or religious experience that cannot be explained rationally is due to the "mysterious ways" concept. In other words, we have fallen off the end of the rational road but we intend to persist in our irrational beliefs anyway.

For any right-thinking, honest intellectual, it must be accepted that religious belief is nothing more than a hypothesis, and to base a major establishment of academic learning on an unproven (and highly improbable) hypothesis is simply unthinkable.

Trevor Stone, University of Glasgow.

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