Reason, Faith, & Revolution: Reflections on the God Debate
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.
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Reason, Faith, and Revolution: Reflections on the God Debate (The Terry Lectures Series)User Review - Not Available - Book Verdict
Eagleton (English literature, Univ. of Lancaster; Holy Terror) is one of our era's most renowned literary theorists. For the 2008 Dwight H. Terry lectures at Yale University, which support a humanist ... Read full review
Upon reading these lectures one rather quickly comes to agree with Eagleton's premise; much like the postman and the rain, Eagleton's ignorance shall never stay his rant.
While the writing is erudite in it's post-Modern contemptuousness of, well, everyone, it is so factually flawed, as to fail in what otherwise might not only be enlightening argument, but entertaining prose. Instead the essays come off as glib and shallow, both more pompous and petulant than the alleged targets of Eagleton's prose.
He apparently cares not a whit for the scholarship of those who point out that the Christian canon is synthetic; created to establish an orthodoxy intent on erasing early theology while missing the train completely on Jewish messianism. He sees Fundamentalism as a response to Capitlism rather than as a response to ethical relativism that has been mankind's companion for centuries. And he mistakes and misrepresents the arguments of Dawkins, Hitchens and others for the sake of cheap thrills demeaning "liberalism" whatever that term means in an age when no less than Newt Gingrich decries the ignorance and mean-spiritedness of the Republican "base".
Perhaps most egregious is his suggestion that the Age of Reason is instructive of the ability of science and religion to co-habitats as it were. Science was promoted by many religionists of the era because of their faith that science would simply illuminate God's design as announced in scripture. This was also the case in earlier periods as well. But as we eventually see over and, as science debunks religious claims, orthodoxy moves quickly to crush the heresy that science thereby becomes.
This is not to suggest that Eagleton totally misses the mark as to "Dwitchken's" writing; just that the legitimate criticism has little to do with reason, faith or revolution.
Yes, there are arguments to be made, but Yale would have been better served by inviting Karen Armstrong (cf The Case for God) than by the wretched simpering of Eagleton.