Terry Eagleton's Reason, Faith, and Revolution
"A socialist thinker comes to the rescue of believers," says Andrew Lynch in his review of the new book — The new atheism: “crusades and Galileo 101”. An excerpt:
- In Reason, Faith, and Revolution: Reflections on the God debate -- the published and expanded version of his lectures -- Eagleton argues that the description of religion, and mainly Christian religion, offered by Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens, largely consists of a 101 course on the Crusades, the persecution of Galileo, and the case of Pius XII during the Holocaust. For good measure they throw in the consequences of 9/11 -- just to show that they have some idea of the religion outside of the Christian context. Dawkins’s The God Delusion, Hitchens’s God Is Not Great, and Onfray’s The Atheist Manifesto, draw on some well worn clichés and straw men to show why we should shun religion.
Eagleton points out that such a view of religion is biased and unfair. The importance of religion for a great many people today and throughout history is excised in a view that narrows down to the controversies in its history. These atheist writers make little or no mention of the contributions made by religion to education, health, civil planning, and to the development of such institutions as the university where Dawkins himself is gainfully employed. Eagleton is right to pull these authors up on their unsophisticated analysis of what religion actually is, and he will have struck a chord with any informed religious person who has read the work of the new atheists and grimaced at their simplistic notions of religion, faith and churches.