Satan's Trouble With Eve

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Hobbes-Metaphysicals Polarity: New Affirmation

From today's Arts & Letters Daily, is a very readable article on a new book that continues in the tradition of Hobbes' anti-metaphysical (& anti-theistic) polemic: Breaking the Spell: Religion as a Natural Phenomenon by Daniel Dennett. In the article, written by Adam Kirsch, is a very helpful application of our course thesis, & the following quotation is a précis of it:

For the best atheists agree with the best defenders of faith on one crucial
point: that the choice to believe or disbelieve is existentially the most important choice of all. It shapes one's whole understanding of human life and purpose, because it is a choice that each of us must make for him or herself. To impress on a man the urgency of that choice, Kierkegaard wrote, it would be useful to "get him seated on a horse and the horse made to take fright and gallop wildly ... this is what existence is like if one is to become consciously aware of it."

Mr. Dennett would have benefited from a ride on Kierkegaard's horse. For what dooms his book, not just in literary but in logical terms, is his complete failure to recognize the existential demand of religion. "I decided some time ago," he writes, "that diminishing returns had set in on the arguments about God's existence," and so he leaves God out of his argument entirely .... Mr. Dennett proceeds to analyze religion anthropologically, as a behavior, an institution, and an aesthetic taste. But .... the definition so completely misses the actual substance of religious experience....

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