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October 09, 1960 - Image 8

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The Michigan Daily, 1960-10-09
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. ,-.

R USSIA

1960:

The Test of God: Where Can One

Continued from Page Ten

t

Does

He Exist Outside the Mind,,

youth movement member) told me
in broken English.
'Attempts at explanation or clar-
ification are sometimes next to
impossible. The youth of Russia
have been raised on steady diets
of full-course propaganda which,
if believed, a few sentences or,
hours of argument cannot dis-
gorge.
Even the oldsters who remember
the days of Western influence
probably have failing memories
of a more liberal government and
press laws, both of which have
been traded in on gigantic tech-
nological strides and promised
five-year plan improvements in
the future.
It Is over a matter of practical
rather than Ideological questions,
however, that the American mind
definitely has the advantage.
First, the American is more
likely than the native Russian to
notice that the mode of dress is
unstylish or the quality of food
unappetizing.
THE AVERAGE Russian is ac-
customed to stretching his
$100 - a - month budget to cover
frowsy and failing attempts at
imitating Western clothing. For
him, small portions of meat, a
surplus of bread and potatoes, and
a relative dearth of fresh fruits
and vegetables are about par for
all three meals per day.
Next,- the visitor passes from
the state of amazement to confu-
sion to disgust at the skyscrapers
built since the revolution, de-
scribed by a Soviet architectual
expert as "true products of the
socialist mind at work. It is the
sameness of every "product of the
socialist mind" from the Univer-
sity of Moscow on Lenin Hills to a
new apartment building -- an
amazingly repeated, monotonous
conformity to socialist architec-
tural law.
Third, the American is permitted

The People and Places
Of the SovietUnion
By NORMA SUE WOLFE

by his government to visit Rus-
sia and, in return, is even granted
relative freedom in touring large
cities on his own. Accidental meet-
ings in varied places with the same
natives, soon - familiar unmarked
cars, and much camera clicking;
when he's around may cause the
American to wonder a little over.
the USSR's hospitality.
BUT A SURE conversation stop-
per is: "I can show you some-
thing of ours similar to this when
you come to visit. By the way,
when do you plan to tour the
U.S.A.?"
In addition, the high cost of
touring Russia ($12 per person
for an average hotel room) may
indicate to the American the
Soviet Union's fondness for visi-
tors.
Despite the nightmarish ques*
tions and seeming surveillance,
though, the American can, ex-
perience a glimmer 9f hope.
It may come in the form of a
seven-year-old child who's more
than anxious to exchange his
large hammer and syele lapel pin
for a simple little tin "U.S.A." .,.
Or 'a Russian teenager wearing
a button-down shirt, asking about
the daily capitalist diet, and beg-
ging for American jazz records,
clothes and chewing gum . .

Or middle-aged people's staring
curiosity . . .
Or a dirty, poorly dressed, vod-
ka-reeking. old man who walks up
to the red, white, and blue-clothed
tourist departing from a packed
performance at the Bolshoi The-
atre, snatches her hand from her
pocket, and, unabashed, bends low
to kiss it before losing himself
again in the throng .. ,
THE SOVIET nation consists of
a race primarily Russians, and,
secondly, Communists.
The Soviet intelligentsia, or
bright students who can make or
break their future by adherence
to or departure from the "party
line" are the only possible excep-
tions.
"Tavareesch" (Comrade) N., a
silver-haired columnist for "Prav-
da," is an example of the Com-
zinnist intellectual: He must be:
l44 tuns out' line. after line of
distorted truth per day.
The unexpected appearance of
two American girls merely asking
directions is more evidence. Mr.
N. dropped the "AFL-CIO News"
he was "interpreting," turned on
his most perfect English, and
started firing questions with the
hope of netting a story on re-
nounced U.S. citizenship or at
Continued on Page Three

RUSSIA is a country of amazing
complexities, engaging para-
doxes and fascinating complexi-
ties.
But the average American tour-
ist in Russia is more than likely
to experience somewhat of a
nightmare. The images of this
incomprehensible dream are the
irreconcilable results of effective
Soviet propaganda and inborn
Russian curiosity.
Surely (the naive tourist be-
Norma Sue Wolfe is a jun.
for in the literary college. She
spent last semester at the Uni-
versity of Vienna and last
summer toured Russia with. a
group of Austrian and Ameri-
can students.

lieves before contact with Rus-
sians) the people can see through
the "dictatorship of the prole-
tariat" and the lines of the propa-
ganda presses. Or, if by some blind
fate they don't, it should be simple
to point out to them by merely
contrasting the life there with
that in a democracy such as
America.
But the tables are sometimes
turned once inside the USSR.
"With the U2 incident as an
example, how is it that American
people cannot realize their unfor-.
tunate position? Can you actually
believe your dictator officials' lies
and press explanations of the oc-
currence?
"THE AMERICAN people should
be fortunate enough to live in
a 6-socialist democracy such as
ours," a Komsomolite (Communist

ment used language incorrectly L
and violated logic. Reflection upon
conditions of the natural world
caused Smart to reject the Teleo-
logical argument, to consider it,
opposed to reason and observa-d
tion.
Natural Theology, as we haven
just stated and attempted to dem-r
onsti'ate, attempts to establish
basic religious beliefs on the basis
of human observation and reason-
ing. Contemporary criticism of
Natural Theology has indicated
that this reasoning employs faulty
use of language and logic and in- t
volves observations which are, atf
best, debateable.a
W E MAY NOW raise our majora
questions: First, are basic re-
ligious beliefs to be "justified" on
grounds of reason and observa-7
tion? Second, can religion be
rightfully rejected because of the
nature of its language and its
logic?
I wish to answer "No" to both
of these questions by arguing that
Natural Theology and its critics
both have adopted a view as to1
what is essential to religion which1
may be rejected in favor of an
alternative view, a different ap-
proach to basic religious beliefs.
It will be argued that the consid-
erations of Natural Theology do1
not touch the heart of what is
essential to religion. If this is the
case, then the contemporary criti-
cism of Natural Theology, al-;
though it may well defeat the ar-
guments of Natural Theology, will
in no way effect what is essential
to religion.
To present my alternative ap-
proach to the establishment of+
fundamental religious beliefs, I
shall present some considerations
of what has been termed the
"philosophy of existence," which,
I hope to imply, are more perti-
nent to the essence of basic re-
ligious beliefs than are the con-
siderations of Natural Theology;
Whether or not the-arguments to
follow are convincing, at the very
least it is hoped that they will+
serve as an indication that there
are alternative approaches to the
est'ablishment of religious beliefs.
The failure of Natural Theology
does not imply the failure of the
basis of religion. What I hope to
argue, beyond this minimum im-
plication, however, is that the
Existentialist approach to the es-
tablishment of some type of foun-

Or Is He a Creation of the Mind of Man?

dation for religion indeed touches'
the very heart of religion. Let us
now consider some ideas of one
representative of this position,
Soren Kierkegaard.
FOR Kierkegaard, the basis of
religion may be discovered only
by compelling the recognition of
the permanent cleavage between
faith and reason, between religion
and culture. There is no religious
doctrine which does not involve
a perpetual offense to reason,
whose acceptance does not in-
volve a decision to suspend reason.
The tendency of theologians to
attempt to reconcile faith and
reason inevitably leads to failure.
To quote "Six Existentialist
Thinkers" by H. S. Blackburn,
"Sooner or later there comes the
extrusion of Christian beliefs as
wholly alien to reason and expla-
nation, inescapable of assimilia-
tion. Such a movement of
thought may spring from the ten-,
sion between a sceptical mind and
a religious heart, but it repre-
sents also the persistent tension
between Christian dogma and sec-
ular culture."
Religion, for Kierkegaard, is es-
sentially an attitude, not a specu-
lative philosophy (a theology) or
an objective system of reason.
Complete involvement with ab-
stract reasoning accomplishes only
what Kierkegaard terms "escape
from the real problems of exist-
ence." Speculative philosophy (for
our purposes, Natural Theology)
subordinated ethical will and ra-
tional doctrines for vital decisions.
The "problems of real exist-
ence," according to Kierkegaard,
involve decisions. Life involves
choices and to make significant
decisions is more important than
speculating. Two of the most im-
portant choices for the individual
involve the choice of the individ-
ual of himself and a choice of the
individual to lead a moral life.
THE first sort of decision is dis-
cussed by Kierkegaard in his
classic work "Either/Or." Two
ways of living are, in general, open

to the individual. Either he can1
do his utmost to forget that he
is an existing individual, or he
can concentrate his entire ener-
gy upon the fact that he is an
existing individual. To choose to
be oneself, to be unique rather
than attempting so to conform
to the general patterns of society
that one's individuality is lost, is
an ethical act. "The self as a to-
tality cares about itself as unique,
not merely about its participation
in a common humanity."
The choice of being an individ-
ual is an ethical act, for it yields
a second choice, that of choosing
to lead the moral life. "Choosing
oneself, choosing inwardness, in-
volves making good choices also,
involves carrying out one's social,
worldly activities in a manner ap-
propriate to the demands of the
species."
Natural Theology did not con-
..4in.e ..,,onnexiaev xin~ tnxir nu"

4

~1

cannot be predicated of such
'things' as God or morality, for
such entities are not themselves
objective-they meet no empirical
tests-one cannot even really con-
ceive pf the sort of tests to which
they could hypothetically be
put in order to validate their ob-
jective existence. Second, it has
at least been indicated how the
argument types employed by Na-
tural Theology have violated the

use
guag
"logi
'trot:
acccl
chop
else
to g
canc
uniq
act
soci
lives
divi
pers

sider contingent existence .and
hoped to find some truth of a
universal nature. Natural Theol-
ogy operated, so it believed, solid-
ly by reasoning. It was an effort
to understand the world rational-
ly. The point of view we have
been putting in opposition to
Natural Theology opposes the pur-
suit of objectivity in religion;
truth, it claims, lies in subjectiv-
ity.
Now we may ask the question,
why is the latter position prefer-
red? We prefer the subjective in-
terpretation of religious doctrines
for, among other reasons, religious
truths cannot be proven to be
objectively valid. As I attempted
to indicate in constructing an ob-
jection to the Moral argument for
the existence of God, objectivity
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MAGAZINE

Vol. VII, No. 2

October 9, 1960

RUSSIA 1960
By Norma Sue Wolfe

RELIGION

Page Two

A PHILOSOPHY OF
By Philo Wasburn
THE VALUES OF A
By Peter Steinberger-
BERKELEY
By Thomas Hayden
MAGAZINE1

LIBERAL EDUCATION

Page Six

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EDITOR: THOMAS KABAKER

Page Seven
Page Eight

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-In: r

THE MICHIGAN DAILY MAGAZINE SUNDAY, C

:TQB ER 91 1960

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