LETTER : Uncritical church aids Dawkins

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Sir: Terence Conran's comments on the proposed Christian Centre in Battersea (letters, 1 Jan) are wide of the mark. Evangelical churches such as Holy Trinity Brompton are not empty. They are full to overflowing with eager young professionals seeking spiritual renewal. Nevertheless, rather than praising God for this, were I not a tolerant member of the liberal wing of the established Church my uneasiness would turn to alarm.

The successful HTB gospel is one which calls us to a belief strongly based on evidence of direct everyday intervention of God in the material world. Miracles, supernatural influences on random events and direct manifestations of angels and devils are taken for granted. Having recently attended the well-known HTB Alpha course locally, I was amazed by the continual use of fervently believed anecdotes as evidence to support religious faith. The suspension of the normal critical faculties underlying all scientific progress which this implies is to me no different from accepting The X- Files as evidence for the devil.

Both The X-Files and supernatural religious phenomena are obviously popular, and I expect Prince Charles, Mr Costa and his supporters will get their Christian Centre. Even if it does no permanent damage, it helps the cause of people like Richard Dawkins more than those who quietly hope for a sincere accommodation between religion and science, which is quite possible, even though not as likely to fill 10,000-seater auditoria.

RICHARD WOODALL

Milborne Port, Dorset

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