Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Dennett on religion

American Scientist Online - Escaping Illusion?: "Religious commitment cannot both be the result of natural selection for (for example) enhanced social cohesion and be a response to something that is actually divine"

This is a mistake. The man needs to read Pirsig. (And Wittgenstein - 'why can't God act in accordance with a calculation?')

The real problem with reviews such as these - and the books being reviewed - is that the material is vitiated by a profound ignorance of what religion actually is (or, better, what Christianity, Buddhism, Islam are). The debate is conducted within a bubble of late Protestant Atheism, and all dissonant material is bracketed out. For example, the understanding of 'supernatural' used in the review is wholly philosophically Modern and has no application to classical Christianity, ie that governing the formation of the faith for the first 1500 years.

Once upon a time I spent many hours writing a book aimed at trying to persuade this sort of culture of its error. I've lost all enthusiasm for the task, almost certainly because of my experience on with 'the missing you' (let the reader understand), and more substantially because other things have taken the foreground rather dramatically (Peak Oil, and Christian life in general) - but also because the intellectual foundations for this approach have been removed. It's a paradigm shift, in the specific and strictly Kuhnian sense. Things will change once this present generation, without the emotional strength to embrace the change, has died out. The surface structure will take time to collapse, but collapse it will. The Twin Towers could stand as a metaphor for this - Babel towers, created and emodying a confident atheism; toppled by the Other, not taken account of in their philosophy.

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