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Saturday, July 11, 2009

Terry Eagleton and God

Laurie Taylor interviews Terry Eagleton:

"It was a time when the Church was going through a massive renewal. It was called the new theology and it gave me good reasons to stay in the church when most right, decent people would have left in disgust. I was challenged head-on by a number of Dominican clergy who would say, 'Okay, so you're joining the International Socialists. Okay, so we quite agree with that revolutionary project. But it's just that Christianity from within its own revolutionary perspective can see that that project has certain limits to it.' For the first time I was not only hearing an intellectually persuasive interpretation of Christianity but also one that made sense politically to me."

Memories like this constantly inform Eagleton's passionate criticism of the "New Atheists". Whereas he has spent months and even years of his life debating theology with clever believers, the likes of Dawkins and Hitchens suddenly arrive on the scene and sweep away the entire philosophical content of religion with a derisory wave of the hand. Eagleton might now be ready to talk of religion as an allegory and to question along with Dawkins and Hitchens the literal truth of the Bible. But what he can never overlook in his opponents is their failure to ever engage in intellectual debate with the likes of the Dominicans who changed the course of his own life at Cambridge. It is because they never exposed themselves to this type of theological debate that they can now be indicted for having "bought their atheism on the cheap". They are, in the equally scathing words of other Eagleton enthusiasts, nothing more than "discount store atheists" or even "schoolyard atheists".

link: Tragic hero: Laurie Taylor interviews Terry Eagleton | New Humanist


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