"Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn was very definitely wrong when he attacked humanism and said that Western man needed to go back to spiritualism to redeem himself." Humanist Chaplain Thomas M. Ferrick said in a speech at Phillips Brooks House last night.
Ferrick, a member of Harvard's United Ministry, challenged the speech Solzhenitsyn gave at Commencement last June in which the exiled Soviet author criticized the West for its lack of civil courage and its lack of religious morality.
Ferrick said the Western press, which Solzhenitsyn attacked for irresponsibility, could claim credit for such important investigations as the Watergate scandal.
"The genius of Western society is precisely its emphasis on the worth of the individual, on human freedom, and on the worth of individual thought," Ferrick said.
Ferrick said Westerners' frequent lack of faith in an afterlife may encourage altruistic activities.
"If your existence ends when you die, you will treasure life more, and you will try harder to do right and fight for good. You regard this world as something holy," Ferrick told the group of 12.