The Harvard-Radcliffe Christian Fellowship and the Harvard-Radcliffe Discussion Group were joint sponsors of a discussion program moderated by psychiatrist Dr. Armand Nicholi, of the University Health Services in Harvard Medical School, and featuring an address by Dr. J. N. D. Anderson, dean of the faculty of law in the University of London and visiting professor last year at Harvard Law School. Dr. Nicholi’s introduction and Dr. Anderson’s address follow.
DR. NICHOLI: As we came in the door Professor Harvey Cox said that many more people are here tonight than were at the conference titled “God is dead”—and he wondered if perhaps more people are interested in His being alive. This afternoon somebody told me he had seen, on one of the subway walls, a sign that said, “God is dead. Nietzsche.” But a student had come along and put a line through that, and had instead written, “Nietzsche is dead. God.” We like to think that our beliefs are based on a careful consideration of the evidence. This of course is seldom the case. What we currently know about the functioning of the mind indicates rather clearly that our belief as well as our behavior is influenced more by how we feel than by what we think. Even within the intellectual community, where a high premium is placed on reason and on the process of distinguishing between assumption and fact, we find that what a man believes is influenced in large measure by emotional bias and prejudgments and less by objective and critical assessment of the evidence. There are few areas in which this is more true than in Christianity, and this accounts for many of the misconcepts that surround it. As with all reality, a little knowledge leads not to a few correct concepts but to many misconcepts. ...1
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