katagrapho

writing things down…

Gooey Compounds

Two recent book reviews have captured my attention for several reasons:

1) They are extremely well-written. I aspire to have such skill.

2) They are thoughtful reflections on religion and its place in history and society.

3) They skewer two of the most popular books to come out of the recent rise of intellectual atheism, not by stooping to caricatures and straw-men, but by careful and insightful readings.

Excerpts from review #1: Terry Eagleton reviews The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins.

He asks how this chap can speak to billions of people simultaneously, which is rather like wondering why, if Tony Blair is an octopus, he has only two arms.

The Creation is the original acte gratuit. God is an artist who did it for the sheer love or hell of it, not a scientist at work on a magnificently rational design that will impress his research grant body no end.

So there we are, then: we have it from the mouth of Mr Public Science himself that aside from a few local, temporary hiccups like ecological disasters, famine, ethnic wars and nuclear wastelands, History is perpetually on the up.

Excerpts from review #2: Eugene McCarraher reviews God Is Not Great by Christopher Hitchens

Any decent freshman survey could have informed Hitchens that, as Aquinas and many others have patiently explained, God is not an entity and thus is not ensnared in any serial account of causality. Not a thing himself, God is rather the condition of there being anything at all. Thus, “creation” is not a gargantuan act of handicraft but rather the condition of there being something rather than nothing. Creation didn’t happen long ago; it’s right now, and forever. (This is why “creationism” is bad science-because it’s bad theology.)

In any case, what we get from Hitchens in the end isn’t “culture” but a gooey compound of boosterish bromides and liberal nationalism. Like so many disappointed radicals, Hitchens has elsewhere declared capitalism the only remaining revolutionary force, and for all his bad-boy press, he is a stalwart guardian of the bourgeois virtues, harrumphing like a sullen Rotarian at Christ’s injunction to “take no thought for the morrow.”

And Hitchens’s uplifting predictions about the God-less future are most savagely belied by the catastrophe in Iraq, where the bogus distinction between religious and secular violence can be seen in all its ideological duplicity. While pointing to the sanguinary unreason of “fundamentalists,” the war’s advocates have offered up the lives of thousands in sacrifice to a future of Market and Democracy. An Iraqi killed by a U.S. Marine is just as dead as if she were dispatched by a jihadist. Both Hitchens and the jihadist would contend that her death is part of a larger struggle between the forces of light and darkness. To a Christian, she’s a victim of libido dominandi, whatever the discursive camouflage; to Hitchens, she’s the collateral damage of enlightenment.

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Now playing: Thelma Houston – Don’t Leave Me This Way
via FoxyTunes

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