Letter: Blinded by science and theology

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The Independent Online
Sir: Why is it, that when the concept of 'God' is discussed, the terminology employed is rarely examined? ('Give us faith, in something', 3 August). Words, after all, are inadequate terms of reference to a concept that is essentially beyond language. The reluctance to open our thoughts stems from theologians or scientists being purely students of their own traditions.

Bryan Appleyard is only partially correct in his assertion that Western faiths' foundations have been eroding over the last 500 years. For Western science owes a massive debt to the scientific and philosophical schools of medieval Islam, which revolutionised Western science and philosophy in unison with its theology, an influence that extended to the founders of the Royal Society, and beyond.

Surely the debate should be extracted from the Manichean constraints it is bound by. Would not our intellectual energies be better spent re-examining how different cultural ideas have evolved in conjunction with human belief systems, giving us perhaps a greater insight than just simply juggling with emotive language. For, to paraphrase the mythologist Joseph Campbell, truth is one, the sages merely speak of it by many names.

Yours sincerely,

MATTHEW SCANLAN

London, W5

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