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

by Terry Eagleton

Terry Eagleton’s witty and polemical Reason, Faith, and Revolution is bound to cause a stir among scientists, theologians, people of faith and people of no faith, as well as general readers eager to understand the God Debate. On the one hand, Eagleton demolishes what he calls the “superstitious” view of God held by most atheists and agnostics and offers in its place a revolutionary account of the Christian Gospel. On the other hand, he launches a stinging assault on the betrayal of this revolution by institutional Christianity.

There is little joy here, then, either for the anti-God brigade—Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens in particular—nor for many conventional believers. Instead, Eagleton offers his own vibrant account of religion and politics in a book that ranges from the Holy Spirit to the recent history of the Middle East, from Thomas Aquinas to the Twin Towers.

Download Reason, Faith, and Revolution: Reflections on the God Debate (The Terry Lectures Series) epub
ISBN: 030016453X
ISBN13: 978-0300164534
Category: History
Subcategory: World
Author: Terry Eagleton
Language: English
Publisher: Yale University Press; 1st edition (March 16, 2010)
Pages: 200 pages
ePUB size: 1356 kb
FB2 size: 1755 kb
Rating: 4.2
Votes: 532
Other Formats: mbr mobi lit docx

In this short work, originally given as lectures at Yale University, Eagelton, hardly a believer, turns his gimlet gaze upon three of the Four Horsemen (Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens, and Daniel Dennit, called "Ditchkens" for short) of the New Atheist Movement. Far from a standard "Science doesn't touch on the topic of God" rhetoric, although that is present, Eagelton instead attacks along a few interesting lines: intellectual dishonesty, bourgeois banality, and narrow dogmatism. On an interesting side note, he leaves the fourth Horseman, Sam Harris, alone. This is despite Harris' record for supporting the torture and death of those who would refuse to go along with his Brave New World. Perhaps Eagelton found him beneath his notice.

On the First point, Eagelton points out that "Ditchkens" tends to blame all of the evils of the world, unreservedly, on religion. Eagelton points out that the sanctified science of Ditchkens has played as much a role in the destruction of lives and the furtherance of suffering, typically under the banner of the Enlightenment, as the hated religion. He also points out, through a scathing bit of satire, that behind the cheap theatrics and overblown arguments, Ditchkens arguments are, at best, category errors. For example, Hitchens' argument that religion is a failed attempt at explaining the Universe is the same as saying that " ... ballet is a failed attempt at running for a bus." He also attacks this as a form of Straw Man Arguments, not worthy of much more than scorn.He also assaults the Pollyanna like belief in "progress" that studs the prose of Ditchkens works. His distaste for what he calls Liberal Humanism, as expressed in this one sided, shallow humanism is as palpable as his disdain for the rest of the naive simplicity of any fundamentalism.

On the second point Eagelton blasts the bourgeois betrayal of social justice by Ditchkens. Chiefly he lampoons the "North Oxford" character of Dawkins, the failed revolutionary pretensions of Hitchens, and the obdurately clueless ponderings of Dennit. To be specific, he points out that these men are all cheerleaders for the neo-conservative war on terror, as well as any other number of self aggrandizement that they find. They have turned there back upon those who have suffered, generally at the hand of the much vaunted Enlightenment. He traces the hand that the Industrialized West has helped bring about the current rise of Islamism, and the role that science and "progress" have played in that. He particularly lifts up Hitchens, a former Marxist/Trotskite, up to scorn for not only betraying the Revolution (Eagelton is after all a Marxist) but for becoming the enemy.

The third point touches on the first, but is separate in that it is a special species of intellectual arrogance. To be exact, Eagelton points to the narrow, dogmatic, and almost silly extremes that Ditchkins will go in order to indite religion. Nothing is allowed to cloud the view that religion is not only wrong, but evil, and that Ditchkins is the enlighten bringer of good news. He holds up the hypocrisy of making their metaphysical and philosophical arguments into "science" while pointing out that they are actually harming the thing they seek to defend.

In parallel to his critique of Ditchkens, Eagelton also attacks the failure of Christianity to live up to what he sees as it's revolutionary potential. It, too, has cast its lot with power, and has betrayed what he sees as it's first commitment to truth and to the human race. When not excoriating the New Atheists, he is whipping the Church for it's weakness.

At the end Eagelton bids us to look to what he calls "Tragic Humanism" as a remedy for the failed Liberalism of Ditchkens and the rest of the New Atheist crowd.

In all, this is an excellent book, one that should be read, not just for it's assaults, but for it's call to something better.
Terry Eagleton is a sharp witted and well read author who has engaged in the God debate with fellow Oxford alums Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens. Dawkins and Hitchens have called into question the existence of God and the intellectual capabilities of those who continue to believe. In the God Delusion referenced by Eagleton (I have not read the Hitchens book he references), Dawkins theorizes that belief in God and religion is a relic of a by gone era, an era that we as humans started moving away from during the Enlightenment, when science began to lead the way to understanding the world around us. As convincing as Dawkins was, it is just as clear that Eagleton is on the right track when he says that religion, for lack of a better word still is very much in play in the lives of many humans and should not be dismissed so lightly. While science can explain what we see and to some extent how the world works, it does not have the ability to explain how we feel about the world around us, how we determine what is right and wrong, good and bad, beautiful and ugly. The framework that Eagleton uses to discuss these differences is religion but it just as easily be called something else. Dawkins points out that religion is responsible for much of the world's misery and that once we accept science and the provable we as humans will be mcuh better off rather than relying on the myth making structure of religion. Science allows for discussion of what is and invites others to question our assertions. Religion on the other hand hinders inquiry, evidenced by the fact that at least in American society one simply does not question another's religious beliefs. Thus, those beliefs continue to fester in the human psyche generation after generation. Eagleton acknowledges that relgion has been responsible for a good deal of what has gone wrong in human history. However, he cleverly points out that science has its share of catastrophes as well. Eagleton glibly retorts that he will see religion's holocaust and call science's nuclear and chemical warfare. Thus, even if one is inclined toward atheism, Eagleton makes it clear that there is still a lot to answer for as far as how humans feel about the world. This is something that science simply can not answer. It leaves open the possibility of the necessity of a partnership between science and religion if we are really to get things right. As usual, one is left with more questions than answers after reading this book. However, thanks to the discussion in my book group, I have better appreciation of Eagleton's positon.
Just a brief review here. Most of the reviewers who rate the book with only one star have an ax to grind, as far as I can tell. Simply reading the review excerpts provided by the publisher will give the potential reader enough information to know that, at the very least, this is a well written and interesting book. If you don't agree with the author, that's something different. If you want a view about anti-theists Dawkins and Hitchins, this is a higher-level and different-than-average approach. Most critiques of the two come from Christians, often evangelistic/protestant. Here you get a view that is from a Catholic influenced Marxist. So sit back with an Irish coffee--and dictionary if your vocabulary is rusty--and enjoy.
One of the best books, I have ever read! Terry Eagleton's prose has a pleasantly addictive charm to it! His comprehensive analytic approach is amazingly gripping!