Letter: Reverse evolution and the rise in crime

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The Independent Online
Sir: Your profile of John Patten (13 February) is alarming not because of what it tells us about him but because of what it implies about the educational establishment.

Mr Patten, we are told in a somewhat sneering tone, 'believes in individual evil' (ie, that people can choose between good and evil). He also believes that a decline in the conviction that our choices have eternal consequences tends to make crime and bad behaviour more likely. There is nothing odd, let alone 'batty', in either of these beliefs. Freedom of choice is generally taken to be a presupposition of morality. Decline in religious belief is commonly accepted by sociologists as one factor in the rise of crime.

It is not to be supposed that 'the educational establishment' denies these fairly obvious truths, but if it does, it is reassuring to learn that the Secretary of State holds on to them.

Yours sincerely,

BASIL MITCHELL

Woodstock, Oxfordshire

15 February

The writer was Nolloth Professor of the Philosophy of the Christian Religion, Oxford University, 1968-84.

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