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Australian philosopher, literary critic, and professional writer. Author of FREEDOM OF RELIGION AND THE SECULAR STATE and HUMANITY ENHANCED.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Currently reading: God and the New Atheism by John Haught

I'm not going to say a lot about this right now, as I have my sense of proportion right (see previous post for comparison).

But I've got to say that this is an annoying book. Many of the points are familiar and reasonably well expressed, I suppose, but the style is far more ranting and arrogantly self-congratulatory than anything ever written by any New Atheist known to humankind. It's a fact of life that never ceases to amaze me how people like this don't get called on it. Only atheists are ever ranty, arrogant, or strident - or so it seems.

10 comments:

Tom Clark said...

I've reviewed this book at http://www.naturalism.org/projecting_god.htm , suggesting there are four basic requirements in justifying knowledge claims even theology must respect if it's to be taken seriously. From the conclusion:

Haught flouts some basic epistemic norms which ground the plausibility of truth claims: insulating such claims from the influence of bias and wishful thinking; providing public evidence against which subjective experience can be checked; avoiding circularity in one’s justifications; and providing an account of cognitive mechanisms, of how we know. These requirements seem uncontroversial, not special to science (and therefore not special to naturalism), so it seems fair to ask that theology respect them. If it doesn’t, it risks losing status as a serious contender in the argument about how we should best represent reality. Any mode of knowing with pretensions to objectivity must do at least some justice to these requirements, and no doubt to others not mentioned here.

Myron said...

Here's a book review:

http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/bart_klink/new-atheism.html

Marshall said...

It's a fact of life that never ceases to amaze me how people like this don't get called on it. Only atheists are ever ranty, arrogant, or strident - or so it seems.

Not true. Lots of Evangelicals are called out for being ranty, arrogant and strident. And what they say about those Jehovah's Witnesses!!

Andy said...

Haught's title is funny because it couples something that doesn't exist with something that does. So I'm sure he will enjoy my own forthcoming book, entitled "Poltergeists and the Gnubashers."

Russell Blackford said...

Okay, but how often do you see a "moderate" like Haught called out for being ranty, strident, etc.? Yet they are often far more so than, say, Dawkins. This book is a good example.

Roger said...

"the style is far more ranting and arrogantly self-congratulatory than anything ever written by any New Atheist known to humankind. "

It's a matter of self-perception snd perception of the world, I think. People who spend most of their time with people who agree with them assume that their own opinions are so natural and normal that they need not- and eventually should not- be questioned. As a result, they think that everyone who disagrees can be ignored and- if they persist in existing- that they are, indeed, ranting and arrogantly self-congratulatory.
A marxist i knew once said- quite seriously: "We're not arrogant. We're right."
If atheists set the basic assumptions for social discourse they probably would become as ranting and arrogantly self-congratulatory as believers- all believers- are now.

Danette said...

I guess you don't walk into churches much. I grew up evangelical. Christians are posers. They publicly try to sound understanding and open but the fact of the matter is that underneath that demeanor they are the most strident and arrogant group of people you will ever choose to meet. I know of no atheists who have kicked their children out of their homes because their kids didn't believe (or not believe in this case) as they do- yet it happens quite often in Christian homes.

Russell Blackford said...

Who are you addressing, Danette?

Danette said...

I was addressing this comment- "Only atheists are ever ranty, arrogant, or strident - or so it seems." Although I don't disagree with the rest of your review on this book.

Ophelia Benson said...

I hated it first.

:- )