Tuesday, 15 September 2009


David Bentley Hart has recently come out with a book Atheist Delusions where he engages with people like Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchins etc. as well as providing a positive account for the impact of Christianity on civilisation. It looks very interesting.

This is the blurb from Amazon:

Currently it is fashionable to be devoutly undevout. Religion's most passionate antagonists - Christopher Hitchens, Richard Dawkins, Daniel Dennett, Sam Harris, and others - have publishers competing eagerly to market their various denunciations of religion, monotheism, Christianity, and Roman Catholicism. But contemporary anti-religious polemics are based not only upon profound conceptual confusions but upon facile simplifications of history or even outright historical ignorance: so contends David Bentley Hart in this bold correction of the distortions. One of the most brilliant scholars of religion of our time, Hart provides a powerful antidote to the New Atheists' misrepresentations of the Christian past, bringing into focus the truth about the most radical revolution in Western history. Hart outlines how Christianity transformed the ancient world in ways we may have forgotten: bringing liberation from fatalism, conferring great dignity on human beings, subverting the cruelest aspects of pagan society, and elevating charity above all virtues. He then argues that what we term the 'Age of Reason' was in fact the beginning of the eclipse of reason's authority as a cultural value. Hart closes the book in the present, delineating the ominous consequences of the decline of Christendom in a culture that is built upon its moral and spiritual values.

To get a feel for it, here is an excerpt from an earlier article on-line where he review Daniel Dennett's Breaking the Spell: Religion as a Natural Phenomenon

I would hesitate to say that Breaking the Spell is, in this sense, entirely absurd, as I doubt that it is tightly reasoned enough to merit the description. What does seem clear, however, is that, in its general form, the book's argument is one that strives (not always successfully) to preserve the shape of reason, logic, and method, even though that shape has been largely evacuated of all rational, logical, or empirical content. To put the matter bluntly, no one could mistake it for a genuinely substantial argument who was not firmly intent on doing so before ever reading the book. Viewed impartially, Dennett's project leads nowhere, and its diffuse and flimsy methods are altogether unequal to the task of capturing the complex, bewildering, endlessly diverse thing they are designed to subdue.

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