Have you noticed the boom recently in books pro and anti-God? There've always been books about religion, about faith and atheism, agnosticism, and pretty much every -ism in between. But lately there's been so much mud slung around, especially by the non-believers, it's no longer safe to venture into the bookstore.
Terry Eagleton's written a book (Reason, Faith, and Revolution: Reflections on the God Debate) taking both Richard Dawkins (The God Delusion) and Christopher Hitchens (God is Not Great), two particularly opinionated anti-religious gents, to task, arguing with them on minor points left unconsidered in their books, while also sharing their atheist views.
One chapter into Eagleton's book and I decided, ENOUGH! You all have good points. Any one of you could be right, but YOU'RE ALL GIVING ME A HEADACHE! Yes, much of religion is myth handed down from generation to generation. Yes, so much of it is so unbelievable as to be ridiculous, and yes, I find the greater majority of it hard to stomach. I also can't stand fundamentalists of any stripe. Yes, yes and yes. But the manner in which these men go about espousing their beliefs (or lack thereof) is so angry. They shout so loudly I can't even hear them. It all becomes one, big cacophony.
Calm down, or shut up!
I don't have the theological scholarship to organize all my opinions on the debate, so I had the foolish hope one of these books would have something to say that I could latch onto, to represent their side of things. Turns out two of three spew anger, and the other is so academic I can't understand a damned thing he's saying. But, in his favor, I like the cover of his book:
I'm simply tired of all of you.
The one person I am still listening to is Michael Shermer, he of Skeptic Magazine fame. His periodical is thoughtful, without being venomous. And his subject isn't always religion. He covers much, much more than that. His books are the same – well reasoned, expressed in a normal conversational tone, not at all angry and vindictive, so far as I can tell. Him I'll keep around.
But for the others, I'm glad all your books belong to libraries, so I can return them without having lined your pockets with any more money (THE ROOT OF ALL EVIL!). Your angry, angry pockets. I have no more use for any of you. Get thee hence.
5 thoughts on “The whole God book thing.”
I couldn’t agree more. It’s so sad. I’m happy to debate religion – or lack of it – with anyone but so few people seem to be able to do so without getting worked up about it. As for the books – I’ve long since stopped bothering.
Robert Frost said that education is the ability to listen to almost anything without losing your temper or your self-confidence. Sounds like these authors could go back to school! Thanks for the warning.
” Turns out two of three spew anger, and the other is so academic I can’t understand a damned thing he’s saying. But, in his favor, I like the cover of his book.”
Okay, that was funny. Hey, cover art people can’t help it if what’s inside sucks, right? 😉
It seems to me that a good part of the vitriol you see from these authors stems from the automatic defensive posture that anyone with an atheistic or anti-religion viewpoint is forced to assume. There is a tremendous bias in favor of the status quo (tyranny of the majority) and outspoken atheists have been eviscerated in ways both overt and subtle. Just look at the abuse Rob Sherman has taken for trying to enact some (reasonable, I think) enforcement of church and state separation. An awful lot of people have misread or ignored history and believe that America was founded as a Christian nation. Anyone who knows differently is fighting an uphill battle.