Eagleton’s notion of God

October 7, 2010

Since Eagleton berated Dawkins for his theological naivety, shall we see how the sophisticated man himself avers to define his deity?

“the condition of possibility of any entity whatsoever”

“pure vacuity”

“without point or purpose”

“pure nothingness. He is not a material entity or an extraterrestrial object. He cannot be located either inside or outside the universe.”

Well, I complained in my Daft Question #3 a couple of weeks ago, “Why are Christians so reluctant to confess to what they actually believe?” I suppose it is fair to regard Eagleton’s professions to be his own particular answer.

I can’t put it any better than James Ley, who says of Eagleton’s peregrinations On Evil, published recently:-

“Of course, if we accept what Eagleton
calls the ‘orthodox’ theological
view – namely, that God is an inhuman,
inexplicable, intangible, unlocatable,
unthinkable, pointless, non-creating,
uncommunicative nonentity – then
God’s relevance to human affairs would
appear to be limited. Certainly, anyone
who claims to speak on God’s behalf can
be safely told to rack off. By definition,
such a deity has no implications for
questions of morality, value or meaning.
It can have no objection to gay marriage,
contraception or female priests; nor
could it father a son or require any form
of religious observance. Even attributing
indifference to such an ineffable
non-being would seem to be laying on
the anthropomorphism a bit thick.

Consistent with this view, On Evil
dismisses all forms of theodicy – that is,
the attempt to reconcile the existence of
purposeless suffering with the idea of
a benevolent God – as ‘bogus’. Yet,
as a number of responses to Reason,
Faith and Revolution pointed out,
Eagleton is happy to attribute positive
human characteristics, such as aesthetic
preferences and a capacity for love, to
pure nothingness when it suits his argument.
He describes God as an artist who
‘made the world’ and celebrates Jesus as
a ‘cross between a hippie and guerilla
fighter’, forgetting that orthodox
theology, rather surprisingly, reduces
Jesus to the status of an ill-fated moral
philosopher. God, it seems, is sometimes
an impure nothingness.”

Well worth reading the whole review.


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