Monday, September 27, 2010

David Bentley Hart skewers the New Atheism

I think I am very close to concluding that this whole “New Atheism” movement is only a passing fad—not the cultural watershed its purveyors imagine it to be, but simply one of those occasional and inexplicable marketing vogues that inevitably go the way of pet rocks, disco, prime-time soaps, and The Bridges of Madison County.-David Bentley Hart.

See also this excellent paragraph: 

But a true skeptic is also someone who understands that an attitude of critical suspicion is quite different from the glib abandonment of one vision of absolute truth for another—say, fundamentalist Christianity for fundamentalist materialism or something vaguely and inaccurately called “humanism.” Hume, for instance, never traded one dogmatism for another, or one facile certitude for another. He understood how radical were the implications of the skepticism he recommended, and how they struck at the foundations not only of unthinking faith, but of proud rationality as well.

5 comments:

GREV said...

Vic:

Love this -- "Hume, for instance, never traded one dogmatism for another, or one facile certitude for another. He understood how radical were the implications of the skepticism he recommended, and how they struck at the foundations not only of unthinking faith, but of proud rationality as well."

Amazes me how those committed to the dogma of rationalism of whatever stripe don't see that invoking Hume cuts both ways.

Harts book is better then the article.

The Uncredible Hallq said...

GREV

But no rationalist has ever said anything as stupid as what Hart is saying here, which amounts to "Hume was a skeptic! Therefore, we should all be skeptics!"

Joshua Blanchard said...

I think Hart is just saying that Hume is a good kind of skeptic, in ways that some current skeptics are not good. Hart points out the characteristics he has in mind. This doesn't seem so stupid.

GREV said...

Is Hart really being stupid here? I don't think so. His work, especially the book, contends for the fact that the recent atheist offerings lack the imagination and strength of earlier writers.

I think he is correct. Is his language at times too strong? Probably. But he believes he has a fight to wage and he thinks the current opponents are a lot of smoke and mirrors and little substance.

Especially because they have not embraced the radical demands of what their positions call them to.

Jeeprs said...

I am currently working through Thomas Nagel's "The Last Word" which I think is very close in spirit to this post, and indeed this blog in general. I have been debating the evolutionary roots of reason (and everything else) on one of the philosophy forums and am firmly on the side of the traditional understanding of reason, which cannot be reduced to a matter of adaptive necessity.