6 MAY 1978, Page 19

Atheist argument

Sir: Richard Ingrams (22 April) is quite right to criticise the Cross Question programme in which two atheists discussed the question whether Christianity was a Good or a Bad Thing; but he is quite wrong to comment that the programme was 'an illustration of the distortions and humbug that result from atheism'. It was an illustration of the absurdity of asking professional performers to discuss a serious issue.

Clive James and Gore Vidal obviously knew little and cared less about a subject which has been thoroughly discussed by non-Christians for nearly two thousand years, and by many very able atheists for nearly two hundred years; but it is as silly to blame atheism for the result as to blame Christianity for the trendy nonsense which . normally appears on religious programmes and which Richard Ingrams has rightly criticised in the past.

. As a matter of general principle, atheists surely have just as much right to discuss Christianity as Christians have to discuss atheism. Christian speakers often attack atheism from their privileged position in religious broadcasting, and it is only fair to let atheists reply from the same position.

Nicolas Walter Rationalist Press Association, 88 Islington High Street, London Ni