Are We Becoming Less Religious? (11 august 1906)

From The Arthur Conan Doyle Encyclopedia

Are We Becoming Less Religious? is a letter written by Arthur Conan Doyle first published in the Daily Express No. 1973 on 11 august 1906.

Are We Becoming Less Religious?

Daily Express No. 1973 (p. 1)

To-day we print, in connection with the question, "Are we becoming less religious?" a reply to his critics from Sir A. Conan Doyle, a characteristic challenge from Father Ignatius, and among other letters an important examination of the subject bv the Rev. F. St. John Corbett. the rector of St. George-in-the-East.


To the Editor of tho "Express."

Sir, — I had no desire to be led into the morass of a theological discussion; but in answer to Mr. Pollock's categorical question as to my view upon a series of texts. I would answer by reminding him of the words of the Founder of the Christian Faith, that it is the letter which kills, and the virtue lies in the spirit.

This insistence upon the literal meaning of texts is, in the words of Winwood Reade,"to pull down idols of wood only to replace them with idols of paper and printer's ink." They are the weapons by which theologions from the earliest days of Christianity have spread disunion and strife. Everv creed can found its position upon a test, and every other creed can find some other to controvert it.

When, for example, the Catholic founds his doctrine of transubstantiation upon the plain text. "This is my body and this is my blood," it seems that nothing could be worded more clearly. And yet the Protestant stoutly denies its validity, and insists upon a metaphorical meaning. To the Unitarian there are many texts which make it appear to him that Christ did not claim the attributes of Deity.

When we consider the origin of the gospels, their translation from language to language, and the fact that every revision has shown the text to be faulty, it is inconceivable that any absolutely hard-and-fast incontrovertible system of theology can be built from them.

But the spirit of the New Testament is clear enough and there lies the justification of Christianity.


See also