"Agnosticism, the experience of many seems to indicate, is not a state in which one can long dwell," President Pusey yesterday told the members of the Class of 1958 in the sermon of the Baccalaureate Service, "for trust we must in someone or something. The final answer must, we hope," Pusey concluded, "be God."
The Seniors, in caps and gowns, listened in silence to Pusey's sermon, during the impressively simple service led by George A. Buttrick, chairman of the Board of Preachers.
Harvard's Baccalaureate services, Pusey asserted, have always had a strongly religious emphasis. He noted that it has become increasingly difficult to find something to say, partly because of the disparity of faiths and backgrounds, which "promises to grow worse." But he mainly stressed the increase of secularism in the western world.
Pusey defined "secularism" as "a way of life in which there is neither need nor place for religion." He did not quarrel with secularism in itself, but only "as it comes hubristically to pretend to speak for the whole of life."
The growth of secularism Pusey attributed to the shortcomings and inadequacies of the churches, but he also criticized atheists for rejecting, as religion, small conceptions of God. "A God who can be fully encompassed by our minds cannot really be God," Pusey said.
Pusey stated that the role of a secular university is to "help her sons ask the right questions--and all the questions." He criticized secularism for not asking "the questions which are of most importance to us all," and asserted that religion, by answering these questions supplies meaning to life, and gives, "through faith in God, a basis for ethical behavior."
The sermon was concluded with Pusey's hope that the total experience of the Seniors at Harvard would help them realize the "enlightenment and joy of belief."