Brains Trust Analysed
SIR,—Many, if not most of us, listen with keen interest to the Brains Trust discussions on the wireless. It is noteworthy how big a proportion of the questions submitted to these great men bear on religion. " What is truth? "
" What is eternity? " What is superstition? " " How do you explain Dr. Dunne's prophetic dreams? " Evidently, questions of this type preponderate in the ocean of postcards reaching the organisers, over homelier matters like: " How does a fly alight on a ceiling?" (a question that baffled the men of science, though it was in their proper field) and points of historical geography, like the reason of Oxford's eminence in learning.
In this phenomenon, we recognise the hunger for knowledge in a people starved of authoritative, spiritual and philosophical teaching. To a Catholic it is almost piteous to hear so many elementary questions being asked, week after week. by adults. which any Catholic child could answer; piteous to hear these enquiries and then listen to the woefully inadequate, and usually misleading answers.
Piofessor Huxley, the keenest, clearest mind in the Trust, always gives the Evolutionary answer. He takes the Evolutionary philosophy as proven, and says: "Of course, to the scientist--e" Mr. Joad usually follows in much the same strain, and we owe to him the dictum that Truth never can be ascertained. In a recent discussion on Democracy. these eminent men taught millions of listeners that the ballot box is a poor thing, because it merely lets men blunder from one had system to one a little better, but it is better than any other instrument because no authority can be found in the world with the right to teach men anything.
Commander Campbell seldom commits himself to anything philosophic. His part is to throw in amusing, bonasse comments. that express pretty well the mind of the goodhumoured, totally uninstructed man's comment. He speaks with knowledge only on practical matters, such as: "What is the Plimsoll Line?"
Now we do not complain that Messrs. Huxley and load should answer questions according to their lights, candidly saying that to them the universe is an affair of chance. " Evolution is a law to itself," said the Professor! " and it is nonsense to talk of a purpose in the world of phenomena." What really is offensive, I am sure, to all Christian subscribers is that these two proclaimed unbelievers—Dr. Toad has told Mr. Arnold Lunn in a printed controversy that he is a convinced atheist—should be the only spokesman on matters of faith and philosophy.
It is true that Monsignor Knox was an auxiliary in just one of the discussions. and it is possible that some other Christian has taken part in others—if so, though I am a diligent listener, I missed him. The point is that on 99 out of 100 occasions, the inquiring and listening public has been given doctrine that is diametrically opposed to Christianity, and given it by minds who are set up as " the best in the land," to quote the genial Mr. Donald McCullough's description of his team. Everyone knows how the English-speaking public has been taught by school and Press a truly superstitious reverence for " scientists," as the only men who know. When the common man hears " the beet in the land " talk of evolution as proven (and I mean evolution with all the implications that these men attach to it, denying the hand of the Creator in His works), a habit of mind is fostered which makes Christianity seem hut the outmoded creed of backwoodsmee
Let me take an ex-dmple. Asked "What is superstition?" the Brains Trust pretty well implied that it is simply the less respectable part of supernatural religion. All faith is superstitious, but we do not say so, except when it is particularly silly—that is a fail paraphrase of what these philosophers said. One of them gave a definition of faith, as understood by Christians. None of them
quarrelled with the definition. Yet it was totally false. He said that faith was holding an opinion because you feel it must be right!
" Touch wood," say superstitious people. when they fear ill-luck. This. one of the Brains Trust affirmed, is a survival of old days, when people touched what were suppo.sed pieces of the True Cross, supposing that some velum resided in it. This, as I need not point out, is a double travesty of truth. The Catholic attitude to relics is misrepresented either through unscientific ignorance, or through scientific malice.
The worst of many such offensive things was heard last Sunday, when a questioner asked why juries append " while of unsound
mind " to verdicts of suicide.. Professor Huxley truly said that this is done in order to relieve the dead man of the odium of a crime against the law, which would interfere with insurance benefits: but then the Brains Ti ust proceeded to deprecate the law's treatment of euicidc as a crime. " I was sent into this world without being consulted. Why should 1 not end my life if I weary of it?" asked one—the familiar and wicked sophistry that has driven many an unfortunate to the crime and sin of suicide. Professor Huxley said that the law's attitude was a survival " of Christian and scholastic teaching." The Christian Church used to teach, he said—and then he gave a characteristically inaccurate version of what the Church " used to " and still does teach. The implication in his sentence was that the Christian Church was a thing of the past,
like the great age of Gothic, only of interest to students of evolutionary processes.
As I say, we cannot blame Plofessor Huxley for telling what his uninstructed mind has come to hold about a religion that he evidently has not studied with scientific accuracy; but what arc we to say of the organisers of the symposium, and of the B.B.C. which authorises it, when the orthodox teaching is not allowed utterance, even as an alternative point of view? What are we to say when these unbelievers lightly talk of suicide as justifiable, or at 'cost not in any way reprehensible? Do they not realise how recklessly they are influencing the suggestible minds of men in trouble? It is not too much to say that the discussion on suicide amounted to irresponsible playing with the souls of mcn.
Such discussions, with the orthodox voice excluded, would not be allowed in America. The Catholic influence there would overbear the wireless authorities. If the Catholic influence is too weak in Britain. where is the non-Catholic but Chtistian influence which formerly drew the line somewhere in matters of belief and morals? Where is the famous Nonconformist Conscience, which may have been erratic and puritanical, but certainly was not pagan? Here we have pure paganism preached, every Sunday, and relayed every Thursday. and not a word of protest anywhere.
I submit that the Brains Trust ought to be required to refrain from discussion of religion and morals, unless at least one aris
tian participates in the debates. It is not, indeed, desirable that delicate and difficult matters of the kind should be debated at all in this ill-directed wireless agora; but that is the way in the Athenian England of to-day. What Catholic, and, as 1 say, all other Christian subscribers have the right and duty to demand, is that the anti-Christian doctrine shall not be given as if it were the only tenable doctrine. Whenever religious or semi-religious questions arc debated, at least one voice should he there to say : " This is the Christian teaching,"
ULS rER SUBSCRIBER.
[We agree in general with the above, hilt we think our correspondent is somewhat hard on Mr. food who often gets in some good cracks at materialism and the evils of war.—ED1TOlt, C.11.]