Letter: From Plato and pagans to ping-pong balls

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The Independent Online
From Mr Charles Freeman

Sir: Niall Ferguson writes that "the appeal of lottery is profoundly pagan because it elevates the role of chance above that of God and reason".

Why should "pagans" be associated with lack of reason or spiritual belief? When the term was first used by Christians to describe non-Christians, there were many so-called pagans whose religious beliefs were as sophisticated as those of any Christian. Augustine, for instance, might never have been led to Christianity without the influence of the "pagan" Plotinus and his concept of the Supreme Good. And where does the concept of reason, which Mr Ferguson applauds, come from if not from the "pagan" Greek philosophers?

Yours faithfully,

Charles Freeman

Buxhall, Suffolk

8 January