Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Thoughts on Bentley Hart's Atheist Delusions

It took me longer than I anticipated, but I've finally finished up reading David Bentley Hart's Atheist Delusions: The Christian Revolution and Its Fashionable Enemies.

Sadly the length of reading means my sense of the whole is a little blurred. The best thing for you, really, is to go and read it. Things I appreciated in the book:

- Challenging the historical 'accounts' that the New Atheism gives about various things, including the myth of 'Reason' triumphing over 'Superstition', the genesis of Science, various historical misconceptions.
- Hart's devastating use of language and overall dismissal of Neo-Atheists as rather contemptible
- A compelling account about how Christianity impacted Antiquity on some very fundamental levels, reconceiving our whole understanding of the world, so that our world now can never be non-Christian, but at best post-Christian. Hart's argument is that atheism's whole edifice of secular rationalism is built upon the changes that Christianity wrought in society.
- A likewise compelling account of how the 'Age of Reason' was really the ascendency of the freedom of the will as the driving value of secularism. That we live in an age where freedom is seen as the freedom of the will from all limitations, so that our ultimate criterion for anything simply becomes the will: a kind of unlimited nihilism. This rings very true.
- Hart's closing contemplations of what the post-Christian West might look like: banality, nihilism, and a 'rationalism' without constraints.

No comments: