Reason, Faith, and Revolution: Reflections on the God Debate (The Terry Lectures Series)


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There are rationalist myths as well as religious ones. Indeed, many secular myths are degutted versions of sacred ones. Far from fostering some ghoulish cult of suering, Jesus seems to regard physical sickness as unequivocally a form of evil, and opposes to it what he calls abundance of lifewhich is to say what the Gospel calls eternal life, life at its most richly and exuberantly human, intoxicated with its own high spirits and self-delight.

For Christian faith, so I take it, the phrase atheistic humanism is not so much erroneous as oxymoronic, since there can be no full humanity without God. Let the dead bury their own dead, Jesus brusquely informs his followersa sentiment that the Jews of the time, for whom burial of the dead was a sacred duty and unburied corpses an unthinkable scandal, would have found outrageously oensive.

Far from greeting his own impending death with stoical aplomb, the thought of it plunges him into a frightful panic in the garden of Gethsemane. On no occasion does he counsel the aicted to be reconciled to their woes. On the contrary, he seems to grasp the point that the diseased and disabled are prevented from taking their full part in the human community. His aim is to restore them to their full humanity by returning them to the fellowship of society at large. Jesus is remarkably laid back about sexuality, unlike those millions of his followers who can think of hardly anythe scum of the earth In fact, there is hardly anything about sexuality in the New Testament, which is no doubt one reason why the work is not taught in cultural studies courses.

At one point, Jesus stops o to chat with a plurally adulterous young Samaritan woman, thus violating three taboos simultaneously for a young holy man of the day: dont talk to women alone, dont talk to women with a disreputable sexual history, and above all dont talk to those lowlife creatures known as Samaritans.

He does not rebuke her for her colorful past, but oers her instead what he calls the water of life, which she eagerly accepts. He seems to take the point that compulsively sleeping around betrays an inability to live fully. One might contrast this rather negligent attitude to sexuality with a recent report in the New York Times about a Father-Daughter Purity Ball in Colorado. In oor-length gowns and tiaras, seventy or so young women of college age danced with their fathers or future fathers-in-law to the sound of synthesized hymns in a ballroom containing nothing but a seven-foot wooden cross.

After dessert, the fathers stood and read out loud a solemn promise that they would before God cover my daughter as her authority and protection in the area of purity. The exact meaning of cover in this context is left unclear. One young woman, the daughter of a man named the scum of the earth Randy, remarked to reporters that what she needed from her father was being told that she was beautiful. If we dont get it from home, she commented, we will go out to the culture and get it from them. Once again, the precise meaning of the verb get it remains ambiguous.

Some of the fathers announced that pledging to protect their daughters purity made them less likely to cheat on their wives. They were, they observed, taking a stand for their families and their nation. From time to time they held their daughters close and whispered a brief prayer, and every half an hour the dance was halted so that the fathers could bless their ospring. At the end of the evening the fathers took their ushed and sometimes sleepy girls toward the exit. But one father took his two young daughters for a walk around the hotels dark, glassy lake. It is scandalous that a once-reputable newspaper like the New York Times should give space to this barely sublimated orgy of incestuous desire.

Sin, Thomas Aquinas claims, has so distorted our emotional natures that we are unable to enjoy sex as we should. If by sin one means violence, aggression, envy, exploitation, acquisitiveness, possessiveness, and so on, then that these damage our creaturely and aective life can scarcely be denied. All this is what Saint Paul means by the sins of the esh, which, as the atheistic French philosopher Alain Badiou recognizes, has nothing to do with the supposed badness of the body.

It is a myth that Paul was hostile to the body. Despite being a celibate, then, Aquinas is surely right. It is an emthe scum of the earth Aquinas did not draw a sharp contrast between divine and erotic love: he thought that charity presupposes rather than excludes the erotic. It is worth adding that Jesuss attitude to the family is one of implacable hostility. He has come to break up these cozy little conservative settlements so beloved of American advertisers in the name of his mission, setting their members at each others throats; and he seems to have precious little time for his own family in particular.

Such a cold-eyed view of the family can suggest to him only the kidnapping habits of religious cults. He does not see that movements for justice cut across traditional blood ties, as well as across ethnic, social, and national divisions. Justice is thicker than blood. One reason why Christianity has proved intuitively attractive to many people is that it places love at the center of its vision of the worldeven if, as we have seen, its version of love is peculiarly unlovely.

This strikes a lot of people as fairly plausible, given that their experience suggests that love is the most precious of all values. That love is the focal point of human history, though everywhere spurned and denied, has a convincing enough ring to it in one sense. In another sense, the scum of the earth For the liberal humanist legacy to which Ditchkins is indebted, love can really be understood only in personal terms. It is not an item in his political lexicon, and would sound merely embarrassing were it to turn up there.

For the liberal tradition, what seems to many men and women to lie at the core of human existence has a peripheral place in the aairs of the world, however vital a role it may play in the private life. The concept of political love, one imagines, would make little sense to Ditchkins. Yet something like this is the ethical basis for socialism. It is just that it is hard to see what this might mean in a civilization where love has been almost wholly reduced to the erotic, romantic, or domestic. Ditchkins writes as he does partly because a legacy which oers an alternative to the liberal heritage on this question is today in danger of sinking without trace.

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Now I would be reluctant to label the account of Christian faith I have just given liberation theology. All authentic theology is liberation theology. Nor am I necessarily proposing it as true, for the excellent reason that it may very well not be. It may be no more plausible than the tooth fairy. I should add, the scum of the earth Left-wing Christians are in dire need of dating agencies. But though the account may not be true, it is not, in my opinion, stupid, vicious, or absurd. And if it evokes no response from Ditchkins at all, then I think his life is the poorer.

Many reective people these days will see good reason to reject religious belief. But even if the account I have given of it is not literally true, it may still serve as an allegory of our political and historical condition. Besides, critics of the most enduring form of popular culture in human history have a moral obligation to confront that case at its most persuasive, rather than grabbing themselves a victory on the cheap by savaging it as so much garbage and gobbledygook.

The mainstream Christian theology I have outlined here may well be false; but anyone who holds to it is in my view deserving of respect. This is not the case for those who champion imperial wars, or who sneer at religion from the Senior Common Room window as yet more evidence of the thick-headedness of the masses. Ditchkins, by contrast, considers that no religious belief, anywhere or anytime, is worthy of any respect whatsoever. And this, one might note, is the opinion of a man deeply averse to dogmatism.

Insofar as the faith I have described is neither stupid nor vicious, then I believe it is worth putting in a word for it the scum of the earth That a great deal of it is indeed repulsive, not to speak of nonsensical, is not a bone of contention between us.

But I speak here partly in defense of my own forebears, against the charge that the creed to which they dedicated their lives is worthless and void. It is in the spirit of democracy to hold that any doctrine to which many millions of men and women have clung over long periods of time is unlikely to have nothing going for it whatsoever. What it has going for it, to be sure, may not be what those who hold the doctrine consider it to be; but there are many possibilities between this and pure garbage.

It ought always to be possible to extract the rational kernel from the mystical shell. I also seek to strike a minor blow on behalf of those many millions of Muslims whose creed of peace, justice, and compassion has been rubbished and traduced by cultural supremacists in the West.

I am not foolish enough to imagine for a moment that Ditchkins would be impressed by the theological account I have given, since for one thing it is scarcely the conventional wisdom of North Oxford or Washington, D. It represents a view of the human condition which is far more radical than anything Richard Dawkins is likely to countenance, with his eminently suburban, smugly sanguine trust in the ecacy of a spot of social engineering here and a dose of liberal enlightenthe scum of the earth The anti-Enlightenment crew are no more plausible either, as I shall be arguing later on.

The view of the world I have just laid out is not what one characteristically hears around North Oxford dinner tables or in the eshpots of the U. Hitchens, Martin Amis, Salman Rushdie, Ian McEwan, and other members of the liberal literati have spoken up with admirable eloquence for the value of free expression, against what they rightly denounce as a bigoted and benighted Islamism.

This is to be warmly welcomed. But not unequivocally so. For one thing, Rushdie has recently announced that he is now very far from politicsa curious admission, one might think, at a time when his own people are under more ferocious attack in the West, and subject to more withering insult and contempt, than for a very long time.

Rushdie also denies that Amis was advocating discrimination at all, despite the fact that the latter speaks in his interview of favoring discriminatory stu. Christopher Hitchens has also defended Amiss comments in the blandest conceivable terms as no more than a mind-experiment. It is remarkable how passionate some commentators can be in their disinterested search for justice and true judgment, except when it comes to their friends. For another thing, is there not something a touch selfinterested, as well as commendably principled, about devoting almost the whole of ones political energies to just the kind of issue which touches most on ones own professional situation?

What would one say of a trade unionist who was silent on everything but the right to strike, or a feminist who was agitated about abortion but seemed nonchalant about sweated labor? This is not a criticism which applies to Hitchens, who has always been politically engaged across a broad spectrum of issues. But it certainly applies to some other morally indignant observers today. What is one to make of the tirades of those who appear to know little of politics beyond their own invaluable right to publish their stu and say what they think?

One might claim, to be sure, that poets and novelists have no more special privilege to hand down political judgments than nurses or truck driversthat their vocation grants them no particular entitlement to be heard on such momentous questions.

REASON, FAITH, AND REVOLUTION: Reflections on the God Debate

If they are intent on issuing such pronouncements, however, it is surely preferable that these professional traders in human sympathies should try to look a little beyond their own immediate interests, important though they are. The antagonism between Ditchkins and those like myself, then, is quite as much political as theological. Where Richard Dawkins and I dier most fundamentally, I suspect, is not on the question of God, science, superstition, evolution, or the origins of the universe.

Theologians are not in the least the scum of the earth The dierence between science and theology, as I understand it, is one over whether you see the world as a gift or not; and you cannot resolve this just by inspecting the thing, any more than you can deduce from examining a porcelain vase that it is a wedding present.

The dierence between Ditchkins and radicals like myself also hinges on whether it is true that the ultimate signier of the human condition is the tortured and murdered body of a political criminal, and what the implications of this are for living. Faith, Ditchkins seems not to register, is not primarily a belief that something or someone exists, but a commitment and allegiancefaith in something which might make a difference to the frightful situation you nd yourself in, as is the case, say, with faith in feminism or anticolonialism. It is not in the rst place a question of signing up to a description of reality, though it certainly involves that as well.

Christian faith, as I understand it, is not primarily a matter of signing on for the proposition that there exists a Supreme Being, but the kind of commitment made manifest by a human being at the end of his tether, foundering in darkness, pain, and bewilderment, who nevertheless remains faithful to the promise of a transformative love.

The trouble with the Dawkinses of this world, however, is that they do not nd themselves in a frightful situation at all unless, like myself, one counts Oxford the scum of the earth High Table in that category , beyond the fact that there are a lot of semideranged people called believers around the place. It is natural, then, that they have no use for such embarrassingly old-fashioned ideas as depravity and redemption.

Even after Auschwitz, there is nothing in their view to be redeemed from. Things are just not that desperate enough. In their opinion, it is just shoddy, self-indulgent leftist hyperbole to imagine that they are. Your average liberal rationalist does not need to believe that despite the tormented condition of humanity there might still, implausibly enough, be hope, since they do not credit such a condition in the rst place. This is one important reason why God-talk makes no sense to them, though it is by no means the only reason.

Plenty of people repudiate God for eminently creditable reasons; but as far as this point goes, Ditchkins rejects him for reasons which are both boring and politically disreputable. As the rst truly global mass movement in human history, Christianity nds in what it sees as the coming kingdom of God a condition of justice, fellowship, and self-fulllment far beyond anything that might normally be considered possible or even desirable in the more well-heeled quarters of Oxford and Washington.

It is hard to imagine informing some hard-bitten political lobbyist in a Washington bar that only through a tragic process of loss, nothingness, and selfdispossession can humanity come into its own. In such civilized circles, God-talk is not really any more acceptable than talk about socialism. Neither language game ts at all the scum of the earth When Christopher Hitchens writes in a review of liberation theology as a sorry aair, one takes it that he is referring to the liberation quite as much as to the theology.

In God Is Not Great he even suggests that there were some good reasons for the papacy to put this theological movement down as heretical. It is not often that Christopher Hitchens is to be found defending the pope. But it chimes well enough with his politics. In the so-called Santa Fe document of , the U. One gathers from Daniel Dennetts indierently written, disappointingly conventional critique of religion, Breaking the Spell, that he thinks that the invasion of Iraq was ne if it only could have been better managed, which is enough to suggest that not every atheistic iconoclast is radical in any other sense of the word.

The advanced capitalist system is inherently atheistic. It is godless in its actual material practices, and in the values and beliefs implicit in them, whatever some of its apologists might piously aver.

Reason, Faith, and Revolution by Terry Eagleton - Yale University Press

As such, it is atheistic in all the wrong ways, whereas Marx and Nietzsche are atheistic in what are by and large the right kinds of ways. A society of packaged fulllment, administered desire, managerialized politics, and consumerist economics is unlikely to cut to the kind of depth where theological questions can even be properly raised, just as it rules out political and moral questions of a certain profundity. What on earth would be the point of God in such a the scum of the earth One place where so-called spiritual values, driven from the face of a brutally pragmatic capitalism, have taken refuge is New Ageism, which is just the sort of caricature of the spiritual one would expect a materialistic civilization to produce.

Rather as those with hearts of stone tend to weep at schmaltzy music, so those who would not recognize a genuine spiritual value if it fell into their laps tend to see the spiritual as spooky, ethereal, and esoteric. This, incidentally, is what Marx had in mind when he wrote of religion as the heart of a heartless world, the soul of soulless conditions. He meant that conventional religion is the only kind of heart that a heartless world can imagine, rather as embarrassingly broad humor is the only kind of comedy the humorless can appreciate.

The religion Marx attacks betrays just the kind of sentimental, disembodied understanding of the spiritual that one would expect from hard-headed materialists. Romanticism, as Marx himself pointed out, is among other things the ip side of utilitarianism. Those who are in every other way worldly, cynical, and hard-boiled Hollywood superstars and the like reveal a truly bottomless gullibility when it comes to spirituality. Nobody is more otherworldly than the worldly, nobody more soft-centered than the hardnosed.

Spiritual matters must naturally be as remote from their lawyers, minders, agents, and hairstylists as one could imagine, in order to provide some fantasy alternative to them. This is why people who are in every other respect urbane and streetwise believe that aairs on earth are being controlled from an alien spaceship parked behind a cloud. Money is a great breeder of unreality. The idea that spirituality is about visiting the sick and ghting injustice would no doubt strike these Kabbalists, necromancers, and chiropractors of the psyche as intolerably prosaic.

Even their minders and hairstylists can do that. It is in just this sense that Karl Marx described religion as the sigh of the oppressed creature, as well as the soul of soulless conditions. The extraordinary surge of New Age religion in our own time has been of this kind. It oers a refuge from the world, not a mission to transform it.

The sigh of the oppressed creature, as opposed to its cry of anger, is merely a pathological symptom of what is awry with us. Like the neurotic symptom for Freud, this kind of religious faith expresses a thwarted desire which it simultaneously displaces. It does not understand that we could live spiritually in any authentic sense of the word only if we were to change materially. Like Romanticism, it is a reaction to a heartless world which stays conned to the sphere of feelings and values.

It therefore represents a protest against a spiritual bankruptcy with which it remains thoroughly complicit. Yet such religion is a symptom of discontent even so, however warped and repugnant. Phrases like the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, and the soul of soulless the scum of the earth Religious illusions stand in for more practical forms of protest. They signpost a problem to which they themselves are not the solution.

Islamic radicalism and Christian fundamentalism would seem quite dierent from this. Unlike Romanticism or New Ageism, they are movements of the masses, not just the doctrines of a disaected minority. Religion here is less the opium of the people than their crack cocaine. Fundamentalism does indeed set out to change the world rather than simply seek refuge from it. If it rejects the values of modernity, it is quite ready to embrace its technology and forms of organization, whether in the form of chemical warfare or media technology. Those British leftists or former leftists who supported the invasion of Iraq, and who wrote in their manifesto on the subject that We reject fear of modernity, were wrong on two counts: Islamism does not reject modernity tout court, and in any case there is much in modernity to be rejected.

Finding chemical warfare a trie alarming does not make you a nostalgic reactionary. If this is not to be feared, it is hard to know what is. In the teeth of what it decries as a hedonistic, relativistic culture, Christian fundamentalism seeks to reinstate order, chastity, thrift, hard work, self-discipline, and responsibility, all values that a godless consumerism threatens to rout. It some ways, its criticisms of the status quo are quite correct, which is what many a good liberal will not allow.

Late capitalism does indeed breed a culture of mindless hedonism, sexual the scum of the earth It is just that fundamentalism oers a cure which is probably even worse than the sickness. Fundamentalism is otherworldly in the sense that its values spring from an earlier epoch of capitalism industrial production , not just because it dreams of pie in the sky.

It is less the sigh of the oppressed creature than of the ousted one. Fundamentalists are for the most part those whom capitalism has left behind. It has broken faith with them, as it will break faith with anyone and anything that no longer yields it a prot. Yet if New Ageism is apolitical, Christian fundamentalism is antipolitical. It may be politically militant, but it is basically a form of culturalism, seeking to replace politics with religion.

Much the same is true of Al Qaida. Nothing is more antipolitical than planting bombs in public places, even in the name of a political cause. As Gilbert Achcar comments, whereas Christian liberation theology is a component of the political left in general, Islamic fundamentalism developed in most Muslim-majority countries as a competitor of, and an alternative to, the leftin trying to channel protest against real misery, and the state and society that are held responsible for it. As such, it belongs to an age in which culture betrays a worrying tendency to grow too big for its boots and conscate the political altogether.

There are similar tendencies in so-called identity politics, some of which belong to the same global disillusionment with the political. Islamic radicalism, like Christian fundamentalism, believes in replacing polthe scum of the earth If politics has failed to emancipate you, perhaps religion will fare better. We shall return to this topic at the end of the book. What is distinctive about our age when it comes to religion, then, is not just that it is everywhere on the rise, from Islamist militancy and Russian Orthodoxy to Pentacostalism and Evangelical Protestantism in Latin America.

It is also that this resurgence often seems to take a political form. Yet this reects a failure of politics proper rather than a reinvigoration of it. Modernity, by and large, is the era in which religion retires from the public sphere in the West to be cultivated as a private pursuit, like troilism or marquetry. If it thus becomes fairly meaningless, the damage it can inict is at least diminished. Postmodernity is the era in which religion goes public and collective once again, but more as a substitute for classical politics than a reassertion of it.

We are witnessing an alarming reenchantment of the late capitalist worlda rekindling of the spiritual aura, so to speak, after an age of mechanical reproduction. This is a religion that is once more prepared to agitate and kill. Perhaps this is also a postnationalist phenomenon. In the epoch of modernity, nationalism, as perhaps the most poetic form of politics, provided an outlet for spiritual or symbolic energies which have now been forced to migrate elsewhere. Postmodernism takes o where revolutionary nationalism ends. What is the postmodern response to the kind of theol-.

The idea of postmodern culture rejecting such theology in some conscious way is absurd. It just doesnt have enough doctrinal consciousness to do so. It no more dismisses theology than it dismisses Swahili or the Antarctic. Such a social order is posttheological only in the sense that Madonna is post-Darwinian. There is a thriving postmodern theology, but it is hardly typical of the culture as a whole.

It is unlikely that words like grace or fallenness or redemption can exert much force in a social order where even words like emancipation are greeted with bemused silence. Emancipation from what, exactly? Isnt that just too sixties to be true? How could there be a transformed future in a culture for which, as one postmodern thinker excitedly remarked, the future will be the present only with more options?

What is the point of faith or hope in a civilization which regards itself as pretty well self-sucient, as being more or less as good as it gets, or at least as a spectacular advance on what went before? It is hard to see what role faith could play, other than a sheerly ideological one, in a Western world which some of its inhabitants see as nothing less than the very consummation of human history, lacking nothing but more of the same.

How could such a form of life accept that there is something profoundly amiss with our conditionthat it simply does not add up, that it is in several respects intolerable, and that one of the chief signs of this incoherence and intolerability is the plight of the poor? To date, capitalism has not abandoned its religious and metaphysical superstructure, whatever it may nd itself compelled to do in the future.

One would certainly not rule the possibility out, not least if, in a world of terrorism, religious faith becomes increasingly identical with a socially dysfunctional fundamentalism. The problem for the present, not least in the United States, is that religion, as one of the few places in which some of the spiritual values expelled by the marketplace can nd shelter, becomes by this very situation defensive, paranoid, and semipathological.

Its remoteness from the practical world is one cause of this, as it is one cause of the pathological quality of some modernist art. Religion is therefore less and less able to legitimate the social order, with its innately godless priorities. It therefore ceases even to have much of an ideological function, which pushes it further into irrelevance. The social order betrays in its everyday practice that it does not and cannot believe in the spiritual values it supposedly holds dear, whatever it may solemnly claim on Sundays or in presidential addresses to the nation.

What it does, and the way it justies this to itself, are grotesquely at odds with each other. It is a discrepancy between ideal and reality which also applies to a great deal of religion, as we shall now go on to see. There is nothing fashionable or newfangled about it; indeed, much of it goes back to Aquinas and beyond. In my view, it is a lot more realistic about humanity than the likes of Dawkins. It takes the full measure of human depravity and perversity, in contrast to what we shall see later to be the extraordinarily Pollyannaish view of human progress of The God Delusion.

At the same time, it is a good deal bolder than the liberal humanists and rationalists about the chances of this dire condition being repaired. It is more gloomy in its view of. A nation which can even contemplate replacing the World Trade Center with an even taller building is clearly something of a slow learner, and not just from the viewpoint of homeland security. Yet it also believes that the very frailty of the human can become a redemptive power. In this, it is at one with socialism, for which the harbingers of a future social order are those who have little to lose in the present.

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Christianity believes that a great deal of human wickedness is historically caused, and can be tackled by political action. But it also thinks it wildly implausible, given the scale and persistence of human viciousness, to think that this is all there is to the matterthat there are not aws and contradictions built into the structure of the human species itself, which cannot simply be historicized away. Psychoanalysis holds much the same view. There has been no human culture to date in which virtue has been predominant. Some of the reasons for this are alterable, while others are probably not.

This is not to conclude that racism or sexism or capitalism cannot be defeated, but simply to take a sober measure of the diculties involved in such a project. Yet at the same time Christian faith is absurdly, outrageously more hopeful than liberal rationalism, with its apparently unhinged belief that the revolution betrayed Not even the most rose-tinted Trotskyist believes that. A huge number of the charges that Ditchkins levels against actually existing religion are thoroughly justied, and he deserves a great deal of credit for parading them so forcefully.

Indeed, it is hard to imagine how any polemic against, say, the clerical abuse of children or the religious degradation of women could be too severe or exaggerated. Yet it is scarcely a novel point to claim that for the most part Ditchkins holds forth on religion in truly shocking ignorance of many of its tenetsa situation I have compared elsewhere to the arrogance of one who regards himself as competent to pronounce on arcane questions of biology on the strength of a passing acquaintance with the British Book of Birds.

Some might claim in defense of Ditchkins that he is speaking of religion as a social phenomenon, not of theology; but how could you speak of, say, fascism as a social phenomenon without a reasonably accurate grasp of its teachings? As Denys Turner remarks, It is indeed extraordinary how theologically stuck in their ways some atheists are. Stephen Mulhall writes in a similar vein of the atheists superstitious conception of God. An atheist who has more than a primitive one might say Satanic understanding of theology is as rare as an American who has not been abducted by aliens.

The truth is that a good many secular intellectuals with the revolution betrayed These days, theology is the queen of the sciences in a rather less august sense of the word queen than in its medieval heyday. These intellectuals claim as Christian doctrine the idea that God is some sort of superentity outside the universe; that he created the world rather as a carpenter might fashion a stool; that faith in this God means above all subscribing to the proposition that he exists; that there is a real me inside me called the soul, which a wrathful God may consign to hell if I am not egregiously well-behaved; that our utter dependency on this deity is what stops us thinking and acting for ourselves; that this God cares deeply about whether we are sinful or not, because if we are then he demands to be placated, and other such secular fantasies.

A Paradox of Faith and Doubt

With dreary predictability, Daniel C. Dennett denes religions at the beginning of his Breaking the Spell as social systems whose participants avow belief in a supernatural agent or agents whose approval is to be sought, which as far as Christianity goes is rather like beginning a history of the potato by dening it as a rare species of rattlesnake. Predictably, Dennetts image of God is a Satanic one. He also commits the Ditchkins-like blunder of believing that religion is a botched attempt to explain the world, which is like seeing ballet as a botched attempt to run for a bus.

Hitchens, too,. The Almighty in his view is a kind of cosmic version of the CIA, keeping us under constant surveillance.

Terry Eagleton - The God Debate

When people like this are told that these are crude distortions of Christian belief, they imagine that this means not that they never were orthodox doctrine, but that they have been ditched in the modern age by a clutch of guitar-toting liberal revisionists. Both parties agree pretty much on what religion consists in; it is just that Ditchkins rejects it while Pat Robertson and his unctuous crew grow fat on it. There are always topics on which otherwise scrupulous minds will cave in to the grossest prejudice with hardly a struggle. For most academic psychologists, it is Jacques Lacan; for Oxbridge philosophers it is Heidegger or Sartre; for former citizens of the Soviet bloc it is Marx; for militant atheists it is religion.

It is, in fact, entirely logical that those who see religion as nothing but false consciousness should so often get it wrong, since what prot is to be reaped from the meticulous study of a belief system you hold to be as pernicious as it is foolish? Who is likely to launch a time-consuming investigation of what Kabbalists, occultists, or Rosicrucians actually hold, when there is still War and Peace to be read and the children to be put to bed?

So it is that those who polemicize most ferociously. It is as though when it comes to religionthe single most powerful, pervasive, persistent form of popular culture human history has ever witnessed, as well as in many respects one of the most obnoxiousany old travesty will do.

And this view is often shared by those ebulliently on the side of the common people. In a similar way, when it comes to the political left, no blow is too low, no libel too crass, no slur too scabrous for certain of their antagonists, among whom we are now forced to include the more bibulous half of Ditchkins. When it comes to God, liberal rationalists who are otherwise accustomed to enforcing ne discriminations are permitted, agreeably enough, to be as sloppy and raucous as they please. In the face of so-called irrationalism, science yields to stridency with hardly a struggle.

Like the so-called war on terror, such rationalism is in danger of mimicking the irrationalism it confronts in the very act of seeking to resist it. Add to Basket. Book Description Yale University Press, Condition: New. More information about this seller Contact this seller. Seller Inventory M Dust Jacket Condition: New. Seller Inventory Never used!. Seller Inventory P Book Description Yale Univ Pr, Condition: Brand New.

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Sign In Subscribe. Sunday 22 September Demolishing the Ditchkins delusions. Palpable hits in the God debate here, says John Saxbee. Am I bovvered? Men and woman of the Bible. New titles just published. Other Topics Reading groups World Gazette. View this week's new titles. Show all previous new titles.

Reason, Faith, and Revolution: Reflections on the God Debate (The Terry Lectures Series) Reason, Faith, and Revolution: Reflections on the God Debate (The Terry Lectures Series)
Reason, Faith, and Revolution: Reflections on the God Debate (The Terry Lectures Series) Reason, Faith, and Revolution: Reflections on the God Debate (The Terry Lectures Series)
Reason, Faith, and Revolution: Reflections on the God Debate (The Terry Lectures Series) Reason, Faith, and Revolution: Reflections on the God Debate (The Terry Lectures Series)
Reason, Faith, and Revolution: Reflections on the God Debate (The Terry Lectures Series) Reason, Faith, and Revolution: Reflections on the God Debate (The Terry Lectures Series)
Reason, Faith, and Revolution: Reflections on the God Debate (The Terry Lectures Series) Reason, Faith, and Revolution: Reflections on the God Debate (The Terry Lectures Series)

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