3 jul. 2011

Eagleton

Eagleton I regard as barely capable of coherent or honest thought:
None of these writers points out that if Christianity is true, then it is all up with us. We would then have to face the deeply disagreeable truth that the only authentic life is one that springs from a self-dispossession so extreme that it is probably beyond our power. Instead, the volume chatters away about spirits and Darwinian earthworms, animal empathy and the sources of morality.

The notion that the only authentic life is beyond our capabilities means, logically, that there is no authentic human life at all. Why bother then? Wouldn't it be better to pursue some feasible form of "inauthentic" life? The word "if" also performs a deeply dishonest function here, as do the words "true" and "truth." After all, the question to be decided is whether it is true in the first place, and if Christianity isn't true, then it is noxious nonsense, especially if it preaches a self-dispossession that makes normal human life all but impossible. If Eagleton really doesn't believe in Christianity, he should call it nonsense. If he does believe, then he should speak non-hypothetically.

Here's my problem with Egginton too, and other forms of thought that try to steer a middle course. Anti-atheism really boils down to theism, in the end, but the advocate of "moderation" cannot quite take the theistic route. If theism (or some variant thereof) is actually true, then it is a very serious matter with radical consequences (Eagleton is right in this at least).

And why fault authors just because they haven't had some silly idea that has occurred to the reviewer? I think a Darwinian earthworm is a lot more interesting than an incoherent theological point, but that's just me. At one point he complains that no theologian would ever call God an "entity," as one writer in the book under review does. This is sheer silliness: that word is all over theology. Try explaining the ontological argument without using it (or a close synonym like being, thing, etc...).

I'll be trashing more Eagleton writing in the near future, probably after I get back from Spain. It is very fun, because Eagleton, while a witty writer who can launch clever zingers, can barely think straight for more than a clause at a time. The only question is whether I hate Eagleton more because he is a Marxist or a dishonest Christian apologist.

8 comentarios:

Professor Zero dijo...

I had thought blind peer review was invented to catch the kinds of errors he makes. The reason I don't like him are the misleading statements, poor modeling, and so on.

Jonathan dijo...

He's probably not had to go through blind peer review in the last 30 years.

Professor Zero dijo...

I know. But he really needs it. Needed it before that.

Joseph Hutchison dijo...

I agree that Eagleton is a dope. But I wonder if the theist/atheist dichotomy is not a figment of Western thinking. You know: the thinking that says the Earth exists for me to pillage. What I mean is that the issue may not be whether or not there is a God, but whether or not there is a way to segregate the forces that flow through Nature and the forces that flow through you and me. I don't think there is. I doubt that Lorca thought there was such a segregation. But I read him as a poet, not as a scholar....

Clarissa dijo...

I still find this absolutely lovely: "Like art and sexuality, religion is taken out of public ownership and gradually privatised. It dwindles to a kind of personal pastime, like breeding gerbils or collecting porcelain. As the cynic remarked, it is when religion starts to interfere with your everyday life that it is time to give it up."

Many of the ideas he tries to sell are disagreeable to me, but the writing is always fun to read.

I will be looking forward to the anti-Eagleton posts!

Jonathan dijo...

I agree, Joseph, that there are other more pressing issues that don't have much to do with the validity of theism. Just like your comment didn't have much to do with my post.

Joseph Hutchison dijo...

Your post just sent me down a byway. All I meant to say is yes, Eagleton is a dope....

Jonathan dijo...

Agreed...