25 OCTOBER 1930, Page 16

[To the Editor of the SPECTATOR.]

Sin,—Would you permit me to make three comments on Mr. Bernal's article on " Irreligion " ?

(1) In one paragraph Mr. Bernal protests most vehemently against the restrictive influence of religion in education. He asserts that what is needed is freedom to grow eagerly without fear or preconceptions. In this connexion Mr. Bernal indulges in an exhibition of intolerance which is surely a dangerous companion for the scientific spirit. Then in a later paragraph arising out of the extension of the scientific method into the sphere of morals, Mr. Bernal refuses to be ruled by greedy and stupid people and looks approvingly to the Russian model, whose progress is a deliberate experi- mental adventure. Now Mr. Bernal cannot have it both ways. If progress demands some deliberate experimental adven- turing it demands that in education that deliberateness expresses itself in some policy which inevitably must have its restrictive side. Mr. Bernal may protest against religion, but he cannot very well protest against restrictiveness. The point, of course, is that Mr. Bernal doesn't like the religious policy of progress, which leads me to the second comment.

(2) To those holding the Christian faith the whole tenor of Mr. Berries article reveals a woeful ignorance of the essence and spirit of religion. There is a passing complimentary reference to the Roman Catholic Church which is significant. Does Mr. Bernal know much of the non-Roman Church ? Does he know anything of the non-episcopal churches ? The spirit of Christianity may cling limpet-like to certain categories of morality and produco reason for so doing, but the spirit of Christianity finds no room for defending things as they are. The Christian, too, knows the eager quest for life, sees the world as an opportunity of fashioning character that is worth while, recognizes the possibility and even admits the necessity of experiment and adventure, welcomes increasing knowledge as widening revelation. But all this in a different framework of thought. Mr. Bernal can finish his article with a sentence that no Christian could use, " we give what is in us to give and we die having lived." The Christian faith bids its children say, " we seek a city whose Maker and Builder is God." Mr. Bernal has not been fair to the onward urge of Christianity.

(3) Mr. Bernal has had an experience of unbelief which, he equates with the Christian's experience of faith. As to the psychology of that judgment we may differ, but is Mr. Bernal aware that when he admits that the whole basis of Christian ethics is a brilliantly intuitive solution of the psychological problem of guilt that he is making an assertion which only one school of psychological scholars would support, and that he makes a big leap in his logic when he categorically asserts that " thus from being part of the real world it becomes a phantasy that has outlived its usefulness " ?

I would suggest very respectfully that Mr. Bernal ponders over that " brilliantly intuitive solution." It lights up many problems and reveals the strength of Christianity.—I am,