Reasonable doubt

Terry Eagleton is a former Catholic Marxist philosopher and academic who wrote a great critique of the God Delusion that even had die hard atheists (eg Jack Marx who at the time was blogging for the SMH and is now at News Ltd) pondering their positions.

He’s now got a book out – called Reason, Faith and Revolution – and it has been reviewed by a NY Times blogger.

While his own take on the book suggests he’s by no means sold on Christianity himself:

“I do not invite such readers to believe in these ideas, any more than I myself in the archangel Gabriel, the infallibility of the pope, the idea that Jesus walked on water, or the claim that he rose up into heaven before the eyes of his disciples.”

And he’s not a fan of “institutionalised religion” which comes in for a pretty stinging rebuke (according to the cover note). Instead he’s trying to empower the left by presenting Christianity as a solid option. So, while offering up the standard criticism of Dawkin’s insistence that religion and science are incompatible he tackles the issue from a social perspective too, here’s a passage from the review (which is worth a read):

“The language of enlightenment has been hijacked in the name of corporate greed, the police state, a politically compromised science, and a permanent war economy,” all in the service, Eagleton contends, of an empty suburbanism that produces ever more things without any care as to whether or not the things produced have true value.

And as for the vaunted triumph of liberalism, what about “the misery wreaked by racism and sexism, the sordid history of colonialism and imperialism, the generation of poverty and famine”? Only by ignoring all this and much more can the claim of human progress at the end of history be maintained: “If ever there was a pious myth and a piece of credulous superstition, it is the liberal-rationalist belief that, a few hiccups apart, we are all steadily en route to a finer world.”