Science != Atheism

Over at Open Parachute I’ve participated in some entertaining discussions, without wishing to preach or anything, out of pure interest in the faith/science interface. Religion and Science are both cultural artefacts, but there is an extreme form of atheism posing as ‘scientific’ that wants to assess the ‘validity’ of all fields of human endeavour [ed: just religion actually] through a rationalist, empirical, materialist lens. This school of thought finds it difficult to admit that religion might actually be a worthwhile endeavour, making all sorts of moral judgements, thoughtless dismissals of history, and grandiose claims of superiority. This attitude is rightly critiqued in the following (lengthy) book review:

A Modest Plea for a Historically Responsible Atheism « The Dunedin School
We cannot ignore Christianity as a whole and the problematic of the Incarnation in particular, Žižek claims, because these things form an essential part of the intellectual world of modernity. Christianity achieves its unique position in history because it is an essential element of modernity itself, an essential piece of the dominant logic of a globalising capitalist modernity.

After the onslaught of ‘school-yard’ atheists, reactionaries like Hitchens and Harris as well as better-informed critics like Dawkins; in Žižek’s arguments, we find that ‘the supposition of naive atheists that the West can leave behind either Christology or ecclesiology is worthy to be greeting only with ironic laughter’ (181). One cannot blithely ignore the centuries of theological thinking that lies at the back of any assertion of atheism, … not if there is to be actual, productive debate – not just people shouting at each other or simply restating their own presuppositions over and over again.
(tags: atheism faith)

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2 thoughts on “Science != Atheism

  1. “After the onslaught of ‘school-yard’ atheists, reactionaries like Hitchens and Harris as well as better-informed critics like Dawkins…”

    After this, then what? Is this a complete thought?

  2. No it’s not a complete thought, it’s part of an extract from a lengthy blog article. The full paragraph is:

    What Žižek does here is to make atheism respectable again, after the onslaught of what Eagleton quite rightly calls ‘school-yard’ atheists, reactionaries like Hitchens and Harris as well as (slightly) better-informed critics of religion like Dawkins. In Žižek’s arguments, we find the deeper meaning to Milbank’s assertion that ‘the supposition of naive atheists that the West can leave behind either Christology or ecclesiology is worthy to be greeting only with ironic laughter’ (181). One cannot blithely ignore the centuries of theological thinking that lies at the back of any assertion of atheism, philosophically justifiable as any such an assertion may be, at least not if there is to be actual, productive debate – not just people shouting at each other or simply restating their own presuppositions over and over again – about all of this.

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