Taylor's message and the media


Sir, – I have cut out Theo Dorgan’s article (Opinion, August 18th) and stuck it on my fridge with magnets from various sunny holiday destinations. In future anyone who wonders how I can be agnostic, dislike organised religion intensely and still have complete respect (and even envy) for the faith of other people will be directed to the fridge. In fact I might make a copy and keep it in my handbag just in case.

With many thanks to Mr Dorgan. – Yours, etc,


An Caislean,


Co Cork.

Sir, – Theo Dorgan makes a common mistake (Opinion, August 18th).

Gnosticism and agnosticism are positions on whether it is possible to know if there is a god or gods. Theism and atheism are the belief, or lack thereof, in a god or gods. It is possible to be a gnostic theist, gnostic atheist, agnostic theist or agnostic atheist. Mr Dorgan would appear to be an agnostic atheist, however much effort he has put into convincing himself otherwise. Many people who call themselves agnostic are agnostic atheists, but some can be agnostic theists. It is this double use that undermines the utility of the term.

Most self-described atheists are also agnostic- atheists, and are not the ideologues Mr Dorgan would like to portray them as. It is hard to be dogmatic without a dogma. Likewise, many who believe in a god or gods will readily admit they cannot know for certain. Mr Dorgan would do better to direct his ire towards anti-theists, who are actively against religious belief. An anti-theist could be agnostic or gnostic atheist and it is well worth pointing out that there are no lack of theists who disagree with religious organisations on one matter or another or may have a distaste for organised religion.

Regarding Mr Dorgan’s point, though he is right that the tone of the discussion of beliefs should be respectful, public declarations of beliefs should not be above criticism in a free society. It is frankly bizarre for Mr Dorgan to suggest that not talking about beliefs is to go against orthodoxy and will bring us further to a “true Republic” (whatever dogma that may be).

Furthermore, one does not have to be an atheist of any description to be uncomfortable with public expressions of religious or other beliefs, something which many of us regard as a private affair. Personally I think it is inappropriate to bring ideology – any ideology – into sport, especially when one represents a large number of citizens who no doubt have a wide variety of beliefs, or lack thereof. What would Mr Dorgan’s attitude be, I wonder, if on the field of victory, an Olympic medal winner endorsed a political party? – Yours, etc,


Ashurst College Road,


A chara, – I’m not altogether sure what Theo Dorgan was on about (Opinion, August 18th): a self-revelatory piece, a defence of Katie Taylor’s rights to her beliefs, criticism of the church? I am sure of one thing emerging from his article: most of the Christian Brothers I met, and I attended the same school he went to, were Christian and brotherly and I am grateful to them. – Is mise,


Old Youghal Road, Cork.