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November 15, 1959 - Image 11

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The Michigan Daily, 1959-11-15
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V (~~' -,~

The ie
(Continued from Page 11)
And with those words, onei
reaches the . self - contradictoryF
heart of Harvard unbelief - as
also in -the atheist admiration of1
Jesus and the agnostic apprecia-x
tion of the Church. The under-
graduate skeptic seems to havet
forgotten what was the rock on1
which the Western moral struc-
ture has rested for two -millenia,1
forgotten from what book his
ethical principles originally sprang,
In Whose name meaning and pur-
pose have overtly or covertly been{
found'in life since time imme-
morial, and at Whose omnipotent
behest good and evil were first
thought to be distinguished -and
have been held in rigid antithesis1
ever since.-
Like a good liberal nineteenth-
century freethinker, the typicalE
Harvard nonbeliever doodles with
arguments about an entity named
God as if this merely happened to
be a nondescript question 'that,
struck his fancy. Instead pf being,
made more complacent by. Hume
and Freud, he needs to be jarred
by Nietzsche and Kierkegaard,
Pascal and Dostoyevski, into the
realization that the religious ques-
tion is the question of questions,
that the problem of God is not
whether an entity exists or does.
not exist-about which a cautious
skepticism might make sense-but
whether the spiritual dynamo of
an entire civilization is still run-
ning or not, whether the ancient
foundation of an entire moral
system has been eroded away,
whether an awesome Person is
alive or dead. Here a decision one
way or the other must be made;
one "merely for practical pur-
poses" is not "mere," for with
postulates so fundamental as this,
all purposes are momentously
FORAS any unsophisticated out-
sider could tell you-who had
not become mesemrized by the
tripartite division of the Harvard
course catalogue-the conclusions
you reach on certain subjects in
humanities are basic to your whole
outlook even in social science.
Dropping God from one's meta-
physical inventory does not leave
everything else neatly in place;
enormous reverberations are set
up which it would be perilous to
That the questions are sweeping
does not make them any the less
real: If the Biblical mythology has
crumbled for most of the popula-
tion, what heroic archetypes are
left to summon men to greatness?
Are there to be no images of hu-
man possibility commonly avail-
able to men beyond the mediocre
range afforded by popular litera-
ture and the mass media? If the
light of the Godhead has gone
out, what is to save us from an
everlasting night of spiritual
squalor, timidity, and sloth? What
remains to command human oy-

.ws of Atheism and Agnosticism


Valid Area of Academic C

alty and aspiration beyond the
interests of-one's particular gen-
eration and narrow milieu?
If neither the history, of the-
race nor the biography of the in-
dividual is any longer thought to
be an obedient unfolding of some
fixed omnipotent Will, .how can1
man be awakened to the enormous
task that has therefore devolved
upon him of infusing both these,
things with his own will, of be-
coming his.own Law-Giver and
Providence,, bearing absolute -free-
dom and responsibility for all that
occurs or is the whole process of
human-life now to be surrendered
to blind chance and accident,
habit, stupidity and chaos? - or'
worse still, allowed to lapse into
the control of elites with stunted
souls who can count on "the ,de-
spairing resignation of everyone'
else to manipulate or intimidate"
the species into a cheerful, com-
fortable serfdom?
The only trouble with most
atheists and agnostics is that, deep
down, in their bones, they Still feel
the future of the world couldn't
possibly be ghastly, that Jesus
loves them, and that they're never
actually going to die; in short,
they still believe in God.
BUT THE POLL also unearthed a
couple of statistical correla-
tions which may faintly suggest
the first dim stirrings of full self-'
consciousness in the unbelievers'
souls. Both were connected with
the highly hypothetical but heu-
ristically significant choice be-
tween war and American sur-
render "if the United States should
find itself in such a position that
all other alternatives were closed,
save a world war with the Soviet
Union or surrender to the Soviet
Among the godless, American
surrender as the proper alterna-
tive was outvoted by less than
two-to-one, where as the general
vote against surrender ran close to
three-to-one. And the group of
215 who chose war included over
four-fifths of those who were also
willing to affirm a belief in the
immortality of the soul (all but
fourteen persons), while 35 per
cent of the nonbelievers took the
opposite stand in favor of sur-
Possibly all this indicates a more
alert awareness on the part of the
latter group of the nuclear holo-
caust such a conflict would almost
certainly entail - as well as- a
greater reluctance to identify the
survival of a North Americani na-
tion-state with the good of higher
culture everywhere and for all
time. If so, a deeper moral con-
cern with the fate of this world
may be adumbrated here - as well
as a strikingly universal sense of
direct ethical responsibility.

mortality, makes politics im-
mensely the more serious; it could
be the;spur to a radicalism almost
frenetic, hysterical, insane --
'though Nietzsche's phrase seems
more appropriate: "a higher his-
tory than all history hitherto."
The orthodox have always talked
as if losing the hope of immortality
would trivialize or vitiate the
worth of life altogether. But their
opponents might well reply that
quite the opposite is true: eternity
is only "shortened," as it were-
the fate of -one's soul, one's hopes
for "eternal happiness," for salva-
tion, that is\ to say, remain at least
as pressing as ever. It's just that
now we only have one world to
work with instead of two.
For it may well be wondered if
anyone longing for redemption has
ever really been drawn by the
prospect of continuing to subsist
through an infinite temporal series
--no one thirsted for "eternal hap-
piness," I suspect, in a literal
sense. It would be an insipid life;
only the certainty that the tem-
poral series is finite imparts any
worth to a given point or segment.
An immortal man would not be
a man; like an unshakeably secure
God, he would lack the tragic per-

spective of the mortal and the
limited in which alone value ap-
pears. Water has no value to a
fish in the ocean-but in a desert:
ultimate and absolute.
Thus the longing for "eternal
happiness" seems rather a fierce
hunger for the actualization of
value, for the full incarnation of
the summum bonum in eistence.
It's not that the saints are pic-
tured as consciously enduring be-
yond their bodies' last heartbeats
-not just that they can go on
cognizing -- but that . afterwards
they are beatified.
AND SO, in one sense, a socialist
lecturing to atheists on politi-
cal economy is every bit as much
preaching to them about the salva-
tibn of their souls-propter nos
homines et propter nostram salu-
tem -- as a priest addressing the
faithful about the Incarnation,
Crucifixion and Resurrection. The
aim is .not heaven, however, bit
utopia- and a false utopia will no
more do than a tinsel paradise
would have sufficed *for the mar-
tyrs and the saints.
To atheists, politics is religion;"
rival schemes of worldly order,
are, literally, conflicting escha-
tologies; and the .contemporary

sense of individual, political im-
potence is as awful a burden as
Luther's overwhelming sense of
guilt and sin, of total depravity-
"the dark night of the soul"-be-
fore he discovered hope in the un-
merited gift of Divine Grace.
Like Iscariot, we are prostrated
by a weight too oppressive for us
to bear, and it is anything but an
accident that, as Niebuhr and Til-
lich and Dawson have shown us,
religious language provides the
most adequate metaphors for con-
veying our thoughts and feelings
on this subject. But it is of the
first importance to remember what
the distinguished theologians
themselves sometimes forget, that
these are only metaphors. Only re-
ligious discourse has evolved ex-
pressions powerful enough to con-,
vey how intense political concerns
have become today because the,
latter alone deals meaningfully to-
day with what once the former
alone could speak of: that is, the
'salvation' of the human 'soul'.
We have surrendered the belief
in heaven and in the resurrection
of the dead-but nevertheless, no
concern is to the non - believer
more vital, urgent, and intimate
than that with vitam venturi sae-
culi-the life of the world to come.

The Religious Affairs Office-
Balances an Educational Interest
With a Nonsectarian. Approach

Combining The Protestant
And Catholic Bible Into One

olics - the same Bible.
That's considered a possibility
in the ranks of Biblical scholar-
ship today. It's also seen as a po-
tential means of bringing closer
ties between the two folds.
But some practical difficdlties
are noted, including the question
of whether ordinary church people
would readily take to the idea.
"It could be done," said the very
Rev. Msgr. John J. Dougherty, of
Immaculate Conception Seminary,
Darlington, New Jersey. "At the
scholarly level, it's recognized that
there is little difference in con-
temporary Bible translation."
Yet scant likelihood is seen for
the project at present, since
Protestants have barely launched
a major new translation of their
own, the revised standard version,
and Catholics are just finishing a
new one, the confraternity edition.
Each undertaking has required
years of work, - and heavy in-
A MUTUAL Bible might not be
"feasible at the present, but it
would be wonderful for the fu-
ture," said the Rev. Dr. William F.
Albright, a noted Protestant ar-
cheologist, Biblical expert and pro-
fessor at Baltimore's Johns Hop-
kins University.
"If such a Bible could be brought
out, it would be advantageous to
both sides," he added; "It would
be one more break in the wall

which separates Catholics and
The suggestion was made this
week by the Rev. Walter M. Ab-
bot, associate editor of the Cath-
olic Weekly, America. With mod-
ern advances in Biblical research,
and increasing cooperation of
Protestant and Catholic scholars
in this field, he said, "It would
seem an easy step to a joint trans-
lation of the 'Bible for the Chris-
tian people."
The Rev. Dr. Luther A. Weigle,
of Yale Divinity School and a
leading Protestant authority on
Bible translation, said the propos-
al was entirely within reach "from
the standpoint of the scholars."
HOWEVER, some experts cited
obstacles, including the mis-
taken view of many lay people
that differences in Catholic and
Protestants beliefs arise from dif-
ferences in Bible texts, and they
want their own distinct version.
"Given that kind of popular
misconception and recognizing the
pastoral responsibilities, a common
Bible seems unlikely in the near
future," Msgr. Dougherty said.
"People have to be educated."
Recent archeological finds have
provided a wealth of new informa-
tion on vocabularies, idioms and
cultures of Bible days, and stirred
wide activity in Biblical research
by both Protestants and Catholics
often together.
They use the same original texts,
same methods and share scholarly

served that the death of
soul, Western civilization's
nunciation of the belief in


"After all, the differences in
translations are very slight," Dr.
Albright said. "These differences
have nothing to do with differ-
ences between Catholics and
Protestants themselves."
Such doctrinal differences stem
mostly from varying interpreta-
tions of the same text.
SHE MAIN difference in their
Bibles, other than secondary mat-
ters such as some spellings and
numbering of verses, are seven
Old Testament books, deemed
authoritative by Catholics, but not
considered so by Protestants. They
are, however, included in some
Protestant Bibles under a special
heading. {
This still could be done for
Protestants in a common Protes-
tant-Catholic Bible, the experts
say. The same translation, for
Catholics, would not separate the
material, and would add the re-
quired Catholic sequence of ex-
planatory notes.
However, Msgr. Patrick W. Ske-
han, a leading Biblical scholar and
professor of semitic languages at
the Catholic University of Amer-
ica, Washington, D.C., said he
doubted the project could be
achieved, for two main reasons,
That different theological em-
phasis would cause trouble at some
points ,and also that some Protes-
tants are attached to maintaining
an Elizabethan literary flavor,
whileCatholics seek only a clear,
understandable text.
mon Bible, however, has "been
in the air,'! Msgr. Dougherty said,
and 'would be a practical step in
forging Christian bonds. "It has
been. discussed, particularly .in
England," he said.
In Holland, both faiths have
used the same Bible. Such prac-
tice i not unusual in seminary
circles in America.
"I think agreement could be
reached," said the Rev. Myles
Bourke, professor of scripture at
St. Joseph's Catholic Seminary,
Yonkers, New York. "The time
doesn't seem ripe, but I can't see
any technical obstacles."
George.Cornell is the As-
sociated Press religion writer.

SEPARATION . of Church and
State as a principle 'is fairly
well-accepted in the United States
Yet battles still r a g.e o v e r
whether' complete divorce of re-
ligious activity and study from
state-supported education is the
only valid approach in terms of
that principle.
Court cases and other public
controversy to date have centered
on elementary and ondary edu-
"Released time" for religious
instruction, public transportation
to parochial -schools, compulsory
assemblies on religious holidays,
and use of prayers to begin school
sessions have all been attacked by
advocates of complete separation.
Those who feel religion an es-
sential part of schooling defend
such activities with equal vehe-
Less frequently discussed are
the implications of religion's pres-
ence or absence in higher educa-
The issue is basically the same:
does the importance of religion in
society merit it a place in the edu-
cational community? Is its inclu-
sion imperative? If so, should its
place be within the curricular
structure, outside it but under the
University's wing, or existing on
the campus unsupported but tol-
T HE CLASSIC defense of reli
gion as a part of university'ed-
ucation is that set forth by Card-
inal Newman in "The Idea of a
Newman's university, seen from
a Catholic viewpoint in the mid-
nineteenth century, is an institu-
tion for preservation and dissem-
ination of knowledge rather than
for expanding knowledge through
research. It is this context with-
in which Newman advocated in-
clusion of religion.
The university of today is a far
broader institution, i n c 1 u d i n g
technical training of various sorts,
and emphasizing research and in-
Yet Newman's precepts still ap-
ply, many critics of modern edu-
cation maintain, and students in
today's secular institutions are be-
ing shortchanged.
The University has chosen an
approach more religion-oriented
than most state institutions. Its
Office of Religious Affairs would
not be tolerated on the campuses
of the Universities of Wisconsin
and Washington, a Religious Af-
fairs counselor pointed out re-
THE OFFICE has as its goal "the
building of a campus climate
in which religion will be recog-
nized as a valid area of academic
inquiry and as a resource for the
student's growth and education.
"Beyond the introductory stage
a person can only be moved to a
religious commitment within a
specific religious tradition,' and
this cannot be the task of the
state university, according to a
University publication.
The Office and its staff of re-
ligious, counselors operate under
the Board of Governors for Reli-
gious Affairs.
The group is forbidden by Re-
gents By-Laws to have any di-
rect connection 'with classroom
programs in religion.
There is currently one literary
college program in this area,
Thomas Turner is editor of
The Daily and d senior in the ;
literary college, . Maor mg in

Studies in Religion. The Religious'
Affairs Office maintains an offi-
cial liaison with this program's
Being interdepartmental, it co-
ordinates relevant courses from
the philosophy, . anthropology,
classical studies, English, Near
Eastern andFar- Eastern 'studies,,
fine arts, history, psychology and
sociology departments.
Studies in Religion may be a
major if one chooses 18 hours of
courses from this list, as well as
electing 18 hours of other courses
-from one of the literary college.
This program- has been drawn
up in line with a University policy
that no department or larger divi-
sion be set up for religious study.
IN THE EARLY '20's, however,.
there was an ambitious move-
ment to ,set up a School of Reli-
gion on the campus.
A national organization called
the Council of Schools of Religion
was founded at Yale in 1922. The
University was represented in the
group's committees by its presi-
dent, Marion Leroy Burton, by the
dean of women, and by a repre-
sentative of the faculty,
The Council launched its drive
for a School of Religion with a
banquet in Detroi;,. The Daily
headlined the event with "Million
Dollar Religious School to be
Built Here by Non-Denomination-
alists," and in June, 1923, the

ffL- . &A


Michigan Schoof of Religion was
incorporated as an independeit
organization under the laws of
the State of Michigan.
Funds for a three-year program
were secured, a building site was
selected, and plans were contrib-
uted by the architects who de-
signed the Union.
Faculty for the school was
drawn from universities and sem-
inaries across the country. Courses
were first offered in 1924-25, and
by the next year 200 students were
enrolled. Prospects for the School
seemed excellent.
In 1925 and '26, three of the
leaders of the School died, and
classes closed in 1926. Lecturers
on religion were- brought to cam-
pus under the auspices of the
School for three additional years.
'HOUGH unsuccessful because
it was organized outside the
University proper, the College left
a curricular- pattern which hag
been adopted with success by the
indepartmental Studies in Reli-
gion program.
Soon after the demise of the
College, President Alexander G.
Ruthven instituted a program in
religious counseling, which has
led to the present Lane Hall pro-
The current University approach,
as embodied in the religious af-
fairs office, has been quite influen-
tial nationally, according to staff
Other state universities are con-
sidering adopting similar ap-
proaches, they said.
This, then, is the University's
approach to religious study and
activity on campus. It is perhaps
best characterized by President
Ruthven's concept that "the state
university, which could never af-
ford to be sectarian, could not, on
the other hand, afford to neglect

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