Critical thinking

April 8, 2005

I share Gary Day's frustration with the rise of fundamentalism among university students (Opinion, April 1). But I believe he has misdiagnosed the problem.

In my experience, students of mathematics and natural science - who should know "that truth needs evidence, that arguments should be logical... and that we, like the cosmos, are pretty complex things" - are more likely to be fundamentalists than their counterparts in "softer" disciplines.

All too often I find atheist intellectuals opining that since theism is irrational only the irrational can be theists. If we continue to ignore that human beings are, by nature, both rational and religious creatures, we run the risk of driving our students not away from God but away from reason.

Theist intellectuals must champion intellectually respectable religion over irrationalism, and atheists must be willing to grant that rational, intelligent people may disagree. Only united against our common enemy - ignorance - can we help our students to take St Paul's advice: "Test everything; retain what is good." (I Thessalonians v, 21.)

Brian King
Cambridge

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