Return to Christian roots

April 9, 2009

The proposal to set up more Christian universities is long overdue ("Faith, hope and the academy", 26 March). Communism and capitalism, philosophies promulgated by secular universities, have collapsed and a return of universities to their Christian roots is welcome.

The origins of UK (European) universities are Christian. It is contrary to the historical development of natural philosophy in the West to argue that faith and belief are irrational: both are the consequence of an exercise in thought. St Thomas Aquinas synthesised Christian orthodoxy and Aristotelianism: abstracting from the data provided by the senses enables intellect to go beyond perception. For Aquinas, truth about God and creation cannot be arrived at by the unaided use of reason. Charles Darwin among others demonstrates this in his unifying analysis.

The argument that Islamic, Sikh and Judaic equivalents to Christian universities would have to be established is tenuous. Christian equivalents in Israel or in Muslim countries do not exist. Anyway, the mobility of students and academics makes this superfluous to requirements in the UK and Europe.

Mona Siddiqui's argument that it is dangerous to create institutions where there is "one truth" is nonsense: it is no more dangerous than having a university in Tehran with Islamic perspectives. If all doctrines are equally true within an institution, even if they contradict each other, then all you have left is opinion and the ethos is lost.

Andrew Chanerley, University of East London.

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