Fish on Eagleton on God

During a recent bookstore browse, I came across Terry Eagleton’s recent anti-New Atheist book Reason, Faith and Revolution. I was tempted to buy it in spite of Eagleton’s deeply silly review of Dawkins in the London Review of Books. This review was, in large part, the motivation for P.Z. Myers to coin the term Courtier’s Reply. By this Myers meant people who responded to Dawkins not by addressing his arguments in any serious way, but instead by rattling off a load of irrelevant theological esoterica Dawkins is expected to master before ever opening his mouth on the subject.

Since I am always interested in getting the other side I picked up the book and opened to a random page. I noticed that Eagleton had taken to referring to RIchard Dawkins and Christopher HItchens simply as “Ditchkins” and immediately put the book down. Combining names like that is a sure sign that crankery is afoot.

Now here comes that most odius and content-free New York Times columnist, Stanley Fish, to tell us all about Eagleton’s book. In an essay that reads suspiciously like a nine-year old’s book report, Fish hits Eagleton’s major points. Let’s have a look:

By theological questions, Eagleton means questions like, “Why is there anything in the first place?”, “Why what we do have is actually intelligible to us?” and “Where do our notions of explanation, regularity and intelligibility come from?”

The fact that science, liberal rationalism and economic calculation can not ask — never mind answer — such questions should not be held against them, for that is not what they do.

None of those questions is especially well-posed, but for the purpose of this discussion I’m happy to agree that there are certain ultimate questions that science can not address. But religion hardly fares any better. To the extent that religion and theology provide answers to life’s ultimate questions they do so only by making things up, or by reposing their confidence in highly dubious religious revelations. Evolution has far more to tell us about our origins and place in the world than does any religious tradition.

And, conversely, the fact that religion and theology cannot provide a technology for explaining how the material world works should not be held against them, either, for that is not what they do. When Christopher Hitchens declares that given the emergence of “the telescope and the microscope” religion “no longer offers an explanation of anything important,” Eagleton replies, “But Christianity was never meant to be an explanation of anything in the first place. It’s rather like saying that thanks to the electric toaster we can forget about Chekhov.”

What a steaming load of crap that is.

Christianity was never meant to be an explanation of anything? Really? Why, then was Augustine mocking people who believed the world was older than six thousand years old on the grounds that he knew from reading scripture that it was not? What did Basil think he was doing when he wrote at length about the meaning of the Genesis account of creation (and, incidentally, interpreted it in much the same way as modern young-Earthers)? If Christianity was not about explaining aspects of nature, then why was the Church so threatened by Galileo? How could a scientist’s ideas about the motions of the planets be a threat to the Church’s authority unless the Church saw discoursing about nature as part of their domain? Was James Ussher confused about the nature of Christianity when he tallied up the generations in Genesis to conclude the world was created in 4004 BC? And what of the nearly fifty percent of Americans today who accept the young-Earth view of the world? Every one of them is confused about Christianity? They need Professor Eagleton to come in and tell them how they are doing it wrong? Really?

The fact is that Eagleton is far more disrespectful of Christianity than is Dawkins or Hitchens. They at least take Christianity seriously, and engage it on its own terms. By pretending the empirical claims of Christianity are irrelevant or never what it was meant to be, Eagleton is simply conceding that those emprical claims are arrant nonsense.

Progress, liberalism and enlightenment — these are the watchwords of those, like Hitchens, who believe that in a modern world, religion has nothing to offer us. Don’t we discover cures for diseases every day? Doesn’t technology continually extend our powers and offer the promise of mastering nature? Who needs an outmoded, left-over medieval superstition?

Eagleton punctures the complacency of these questions when he turns the tables and applies the label of “superstition” to the idea of progress. It is a superstition — an idol or “a belief not logically related to a course of events” (American Heritage Dictionary) — because it is blind to what is now done in its name: “The language of enlightenment has been hijacked in the name of corporate greed, the police state, a politically compromised science, and a permanent war economy,” all in the service, Eagleton contends, of an empty suburbanism that produces ever more things without any care as to whether or not the things produced have true value.

Can someone tell me, please, what any of that means? The idea of progress is a superstition akin to those of religion? I am not aware of anyone who worships something called “progress” in the same way that the devout worship God.

And what of Eagleton’s little list? Corporate greed is the result of a superstitious belief in progress? Police states and war economies are the result of secular liberalism? Really?
Religion is the antidote to politically corrupted science? Eagleton presumes to set himself up as the arbiter of what does, and does not have true value? This man is from Mars.

One suspects that Eagleton would not be willing to give up very many of his creature comforts in the service of an enlightened spirituality. HIs railing notwithstanding, it is liberalism, capitalism and secularism that, working together, have produced a higher standard of living and more social justice for more people than any other governing philosophy ever tried. It is because of them that Eagleton is free to pursue a career as a Professor of Cultural Theory (whatever that is), and to muse about the benefits that would accrue from a more respectful treatment of religion.

And as for the vaunted triumph of liberalism, what about “the misery wreaked by racism and sexism, the sordid history of colonialism and imperialism, the generation of poverty and famine”? Only by ignoring all this and much more can the claim of human progress at the end of history be maintained: “If ever there was a pious myth and a piece of credulous superstition, it is the liberal-rationalist belief that, a few hiccups apart, we are all steadily en route to a finer world.”

More demented fiction. Liberals and rationalists believe we are steadily en route to a finer world? That’s news to me, and I consider myself a member of both camps. Certainly Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens don’t believe any such thing, and they are the main targets of Eagleton’s ire. Surveying the world we note that much of the misery and racism in it is the result of despotic theocratic governments, which is why we spend so much time inveighing against it. We also note that religion is at the core of a great many other social pathologies, and is a main reason that the ideals of liberalism have not managed to become as widespread as they ought to be. If we thought the world was just naturally proceding towards greater social justice and elightenment there would be no need to constantly refight these old battles. It is precisely because we don’t believe progress is a given that we do what we can to argue on its behalf.

And, really, is Eagleton seriously suggesting that more religion is the solution to his little list of social ills?

Fish, parroting Eagleton, drones on in this ridiculous way for several more excruciating paragraphs. Go read it if you must, but I am growing impatient with this. So let us proceed right to Fish’s closing paragraph:

The other source of his anger is implied but never quite made explicit. He is angry, I think, at having to expend so much mental and emotional energy refuting the shallow arguments of school-yard atheists like Hitchens and Dawkins. I know just how he feels.

Poor Dr. Fish, having to deal with rabble like Dawkins and Hitchens. One suspects he’s still bitter about the Sokal hoax, which would help explain his incessant nattering imbecilities about science.

Comments

  1. #1 The Science Pundit
    May 4, 2009

    Ugh! I stopped reading Fish quite a while ago. It’s nothing but standard apologetics.

    Whenever I hear sombody say that Dawkins is a poor philosopher, I know (or at least I’m 98% sure) that I’m dealing with an apologist.

    Fish said:

    By theological questions, Eagleton means questions like, “Why is there anything in the first place?”, “Why what we do have is actually intelligible to us?” and “Where do our notions of explanation, regularity and intelligibility come from?”

    To which Jason responded:

    None of those questions is especially well-posed …

    Okay perfeser, here’s a kestion fer ya
    What caused causation?
    Aha! There’s no answer but g0d. :-)

  2. #2 abelian jeff
    May 4, 2009

    Aaah, this is the blogging I missed from you! I understand that you’re busy, but I’m very happy when you’re able to make a post. Excellent review…I’m glad you read that rubbish so that I don’t have to.

    Anyway, my real reason for commenting is to make you jealous. I just wanted to let you know that I had Hoagie Haven the other day, and it was delicious as always. I do miss Clementine’s and the Earth and Tea Cafe, though…

  3. #3 Blake Stacey
    May 4, 2009

    “The language of enlightenment has been hijacked in the name of corporate greed, the police state, a politically compromised science, and a permanent war economy,” all in the service, Eagleton contends, of an empty suburbanism that produces ever more things without any care as to whether or not the things produced have true value.

    Hmmm. Let’s think about this. Just who exactly has been compromising science through political means, and who has fought to bring that corruption to light?

    I noticed that Eagleton had taken to referring to RIchard Dawkins and Christopher HItchens simply as “Ditchkins” and immediately put the book down.

    It’s like something from the world of fanfiction! You know, like how a “Camteen” story is one in which the writer imagines a romance between Cameron and Thirteen. (Honest: I only know that word because I found a LiveJournal community dedicated to fanfiction wherein the characters from House make fun of bad House fanfic, Mystery Science Theater-style.) Eagleton is writing Dawkins/Hitchens slash fic. . . excuse me, I think I just made myself rather queasy.

  4. #4 Anthro
    May 4, 2009

    I read Fish this morning (I usually pass) but the headline grabbed me. I could barely get through it. No one LIKES Hitchens, and he is a whiner, but you cannot find a better debater and I await his response to this screed.

    But, I digress; I wanted to post that the comments following the article were excellent and made up for the time wasted reading the article. I didn’t have to post because others said everything I was thinking. Well, actually I did post something about all the silliness of human “progress” and the thinking that human evolution is some kind of ladder rather than a tangled sort of bush. I’m an anthropologist, so I had to give that perspective.

  5. #5 Blake Stacey
    May 4, 2009

    Fish:

    By theological questions, Eagleton means questions like, “Why is there anything in the first place?”, “Why what we do have is actually intelligible to us?” and “Where do our notions of explanation, regularity and intelligibility come from?”

    Calling these “theological” questions is arrogant and unwarranted presumption.

  6. #6 Nigel
    May 4, 2009

    I do not much like being put in the position of defending people like Eagleton and Fish, who I entirely agree are both dreadful, or even Christianity, of which I am no great fan, but you, Mr. Rosenhouse, might do well to learn a little bit more about the actual facts of history before you start calling something “a steaming load of crap” on the basis of a few decontextualized factoids and historical myths.

    If Christianity was not about explaining aspects of nature, then why was the Church so threatened by Galileo? How could a scientist’s ideas about the motions of the planets be a threat to the Church’s authority unless the Church saw discoursing about nature as part of their domain?

    The Church as a whole never felt particularly threatened by Galileo. Although a few individuals within the Church hierarchy disliked him, a few others (who tended to be more powerful and influential) actually supported his work, and for the most part, for most of his career the Church authorities either ignored him, or brushed off the occasional attempts by his enemies to get him into trouble. Why Galileo did eventually get brought to trial is unclear, but if you read any book on the subject by a professional historian written in the last 50 years or so (i.e., since the history of science began to be written by scholars rather than just by ideologues) it will make it clear that it was not because of any profound clash of ideologies, but resulted either from some personal falling out between Galileo and Pope Urban, or from behind the scenes political infighting which happened to make it convenient or politically necessary for Urban (who had long been known as a supporter and sponsor of Galileo’s work) to distance himself from Galileo, and to silence him, at that time.

    On the whole, the Catholic Church in Galileo’s time had about as much concern with what orbits what as the current U.S. government cares about the existence or nature of dark energy. Just as the U.S. government sponsors some of the research into dark energy, the 17th century Catholic Church, as a major center of political and economic power and as a major sponsor of education, also sponsored research in astronomy and other areas of science, but the detailed outcome of that research was very far from being a major concern to the Church as a whole. Certainly the Catholic Church at that time was not strongly committed to Biblical literalism (that has always been more of a Protestant thing) and, in any case, there are only a handful of passages in the Bible that are at all relevant to the geocentric-heliocentric issue, and, as Galileo showed, they are easy enough to interpret in a way compatible with heliocentrism.

    Was James Ussher confused about the nature of Christianity when he tallied up the generations in Genesis to conclude the world was created in 4004 BC?

    If he thought that doing so was some sort of religious duty, or important service to the Christian religion, then yes, he was confused. However, there is no reason to believe he thought so. He was curious about the age of the Earth and unfortunate enough to live in an age when the science of geology had not developed to anywhere near the stage of being able to say anything useful about the matter. Thus he turned to what was the only source available to him that seemed to contain any relevant information, which, also happened to be a book that was already, but for quite different reasons, revered by him and just about everybody else in his culture. The fact that a particular Christian, Ussher, because he had nowhere else to turn, turned to the Bible as a source for chronological data (as, also, did Isaac Newton) is not evidence that Christianity in general particularly cares about the age of the Earth.

    And what of the nearly fifty percent of Americans today who accept the young-Earth view of the world? Every one of them is confused about Christianity?

    Yes. Absolutely. Contemporary creationists are quite as profoundly and willfully ignorant of Christianity as it has been practiced in former ages as they are of modern science (except, maybe, for a tiny handful who consciously reject mainstream Christian tradition). In Galileo’s time they would have been regarded as far worse heretics than he was ever accused of being even by his worst enemies. Unlike Galileo, they would have burned at the stake. Even in Darwin’s time, educated and devout Christians would have regarded them as ignorant rabble.

    I do not know enough about Augustine or Basil to be certain of myself, but I strongly suspect that you are misrepresenting what they were about at least as much as you misrepresent Ussher and the circumstances that brought Galileo to trial. It is certainly suspicious that, going by Ussher’s calculation of the world having been created in 4,004 B.C., the Bible would not have made out the world to be 6,000 years old in Augustine’s time, but only about 4,500. (And if Augustine, long considered the greatest and cleverest of the Church Fathers, had already made his own biblically based calculations, why would Ussher have bothered? Certainly if Ussher’s figures had disagreed with Augustine’s, everyone would have regarded Augustine as more authoritative.)

    I am not a Christian, and I much prefer the scientific world view to any sort of religious one, but and on this point (even if on little else) Eagleton and Fish are essentially right. Christianity does not care much about most of the things science cares about. If science is better than religion, in very large part that is because science cares a lot more about scrupulously and honestly facing up to verifiable facts. You do no service to the scientific world view if you try to defend it by peddling historical lies and slanderous half-truths.

  7. #7 386sx
    May 5, 2009

    Yep it’s true about Augustine. There you go Nigel:

    http://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/npnf102.iv.XII.10.html

    “Chapter 10.—Of the Falseness of the History Which Allots Many Thousand Years to the World’s Past.”

    That came as kinda a surprise to me because some Christians around the blogosphere are always saying that Augustine was so wonderful because he warned people about looking like fools by pretending to know more than they know, and because Augustine didn’t interpret Genesis “literally.”

    Well guess what I just noticed: Yeah Augustine didn’t believe in a literal six day creation. He instead believed in an instantaneous creation. He thought six day was too long.

    I always thought there was something fishy about this “Augustine is just so freakin scientifical wonderful” meme. Give me a freakin break.

  8. #8 Brian X
    May 5, 2009

    Funny you should mention the Courtier’s Reply. If you’re familar with Fish’s role in the Sokal affair, you might recognize him as the Courtier’s Reply’s living embodiment.

  9. #9 386sx
    May 5, 2009

    Theistic evolutionists going around and quote mining Augustine like, “See! Hey we knew that along time ago way back since in the Augustine day!!” How very wonderful.

  10. #10 386sx
    May 5, 2009

    You do no service to the scientific world view if you try to defend it by peddling historical lies and slanderous half-truths.

    Yeah, we can’t have any historical lies and slanderous half-truths and stuff. That would be really bad for the “world view”.

  11. #11 Jason Rosenhouse
    May 5, 2009

    abelian jeff –

    Glad you liked the post. And, yes, I’m terribly jealous that you ate at Hoagie Haven the other day. It is the finest sandwich shop in all the land, and a model of consistency. I ate their last summer and it was as good as it was when I was in high school.

  12. #12 Jason Rosenhouse
    May 5, 2009

    Nigel -

    I’m afraid you are wrong about everything.

    When Pope John Paul II issued his apology to Galileo, he wrote, “The majority of theologians [in Galileo's time] did not perceive the formal distinction that exists between the Holy Scripture in itself and its interpretation…” Evidently we are not talking about some fringe view within the Church of the time, if the majority of theologians held it. The Church did not come down on Galileo until late in his life, but he had long been perceived as treading on theology’s turf and to be holding views in conflict with Scripture. And when Galileo was finally brought to Rome, the leaders of the Church seemed pretty adamant that he was guilty of heresy for promoting ideas about astronomy that were at odds with their interpretation of the Bible. This is all very odd behavior if Christianity was never meant to include certain empirical claims about the world.

    Certainly Ussher viewed studying the Bible as a sacred obligation and part of his duty as a Christian, and he viewed its teachings as an infallible source of information about the world. Nor was he just one Christian engaged in an idiosyncratic activity. He was regarded as one of the greatest scholars of his time, and his writings were hugely influential among Christians generally. He also had many critics in his time, but the idea that the Bible has much to teach us about natural history was not the basis of the criticism. Again, this is all very odd behavior if Christianity was never meant in part to be about making empirical claims about nature.

    I have no doubt that modern creationists are ignorant of historical Christian practice, but that is neither here nor there. The young-Earth interpretation of the Bible has a long and honored history within the Church; it is not some modern aberration. Furthermore, there is no Christianity independent of what it’s adherents say it is. You are welcome to say you don’t like their version of Christianity, but you have no reasonable basis for saying they are doing it wrong. You can not fairly accuse Dawkins and Hitchens of attacking straw men (as Eagleton and Fish do) when the version they are attacking is so well represented among Christians generally.

    As 386sx pointed out, in The City of God Augustine says specifically, “They are deceived, too, by those highly mendacious documents which profess to give the history of many thousand years, though, reckoning by the sacred writings, we find that not 6000 years have yet passed.” I await your apology.

    Feel free to read Basil’s homilies on Genesis and get back to me. You will find a defense of the young-Earth interpretation far more eloquent than anything modern creationists are able to produce.

    And spare me the exaggerations of how young-Earthers would have been treated in Galileo’s time or Darwin’s time. Prior to modern geology it was an entirely mainstream view among Christians that the Bible taught 24 hour days and a young Earth. No one was getting burned at the stake for advocating that view.

    Throughout Christian history theologians have arrogated to themselves the right to hold forth on scientific matters based on their understanding of Scripture. For Fish and Eagleton to try to deny that, or to relegate these pronouncements to the fringes of Christianity, is simply ridiculous.

  13. #13 Pseudonym
    May 5, 2009

    I’m afraid I’m none the wiser after reading this post. I’m not a fan of Eagleton (the Marxism really gets to me), and the “Ditchkens” line is stupid (there’s a world of difference between Hitchens and Dawkins), but I’m sufficiently cynical that I’m pretty sure that that Fish’s take on Eagleton’s book is probably highly misleading.

    I find Anthro’s comment interesting:

    No one LIKES Hitchens, and he is a whiner, but you cannot find a better debater and I await his response to this screed.

    Duane Gish is a pretty good debater, but I don’t await anything that he says whatsoever.

  14. #14 Sam C
    May 5, 2009

    You say:

    … Eagleton had taken to referring to RIchard Dawkins and Christopher HItchens simply as “Ditchkins” …

    I saw a little argument in Conservacrappipedia where the nutters there were arguing about whether humor could have existed before or without Christianity. What seemed to have escaped the nutters in their debate was that they are the most most miserable bunch of humorless bastards one could ever wish to avoid. What is it about religion that it causes atrophy of the humor centres?

    I suppose it’s probably the loss of rationality which blinds one to the irrationality of the world, which is so often the source of amusement.

    Yes, Eagleton is a twat, and I can say that without reading St Thomas’s Treatise on Twattery, St Dickhead’s Discursions on Divvery, St Peter’s Polemics on Prattery or St Fumblebuttock’s Fabulations on Foolishness.

  15. #15 Jud
    May 5, 2009

    Nigel writes: I am not a Christian, and I much prefer the scientific world view to any sort of religious one, but on this point (even if on little else) Eagleton and Fish are essentially right. Christianity does not care much about most of the things science cares about.

    Yeah, for instance these days Christianity doesn’t give a fig about the science of human reproduction – oh, wait…or the science of when life ends – oh, wait…or evolution – oh, wait….

    Nigel, sorry, but your position really doesn’t stand even a few moments’ thought.

    Now, about Fish, whom I cannot believe is becoming even more aggravating: This man accuses science of being the impetus behind all the crap about the “perfectibility” of society? Really? Don’t I recall some book predating science and even rational philosophy saying something about humankind (or to be less generous and more accurate, Man) being made “in God’s image,” and that humans were the pinnacle of creation? And exactly why is it that so many Christians feel others’ personal lives are their business, if it isn’t to seek the salvation of all (including themselves) by the perfection of God’s will on Earth?

  16. #16 SLC
    May 5, 2009

    Re Jason Rosenhouse

    In fairness here, as Martin Gardner pointed out in his seminal work on pseudoscience, “Fads and Fallacies in Science,” the reaction of the Catholic Church to Darwins’ theory of evolution was rather less negative then the reaction of most of the Protestant Churches, perhaps because the church learned something from the Galileo incident.

  17. #17 Ken
    May 5, 2009

    The sentence “The language of enlightenment has been hijacked in the name of corporate greed, the police state, a politically compromised science, and a permanent war economy,” expresses badly the ghost of an argument made more coherently by Dan Hind in his book “The Threat to Reason”. Dan Hind is also wrong, but he is a smart guy, and I would recommend his book as it is always more profitable to read counters to your own world view written by smart people than ones written by idiots. Working out why you disagree can clarify your own ideas, so you are not just wasting your time as you would be with Eagleton or John Gray.

  18. #18 eric
    May 5, 2009

    Nigel said:…Christianity does not care much about most of the things science cares about.

    Nigel – Jason and others are exactly right when they say that many Christians, both historically and today, think their faith has something to say about the empirical world. Eagleton is wrong to attempt to sweep this group under the rug.

    Of course there is nothing, no issue, on which all self-identified Christians agree, either today or in the past. But I would make the educated guess that most of the world’s Christians, both today and in the past, accept that Jesus was a real historical figure. The vast majority probably also accept that he performed empirically observable miracles. These are both statements about the physical world, ‘things science cares about.’

    So, IMO you’re wrong in trying to eliminate the problem by redefining Christianity, and you’re wrong to imply that empirical statements are not a part of typical Christian belief.

  19. #19 Trin Tragula
    May 5, 2009

    Nigel: On the whole, the Catholic Church in Galileo’s time had about as much concern with what orbits what as the current U.S. government cares about the existence or nature of dark energy.

    I look forward to the upcoming papal bull on dark energy.
    VI. THE RETREAT OF THE CHURCH AFTER ITS VICTORY OVER GALILEO.

    In spite of all that has been said by these apologists, there no longer remains the shadow of a doubt that the papal infallibility was committed fully and irrevocably against the double revolution of the earth. As the documents of Galileo’s trial now published show, Paul V, in 1616, pushed on with all his might the condemnation of Galileo and of the works of Copernicus and of all others teaching the motion of the earth around its own axis and around the sun. So, too, in the condemnation of Galileo in 1633, and in all the proceedings which led up to it and which followed it, Urban VIII was the central figure. Without his sanction no action could have been taken.
    True, the Pope did not formally sign the decree against the Copernican theory _then_; but this came later, In 1664 Alexander VII prefixed to the _Index_ containing the condemnations of the works of Copernicus and Galileo and “all books which affirm the motion of the earth” a papal bull signed by himself, binding the contents of the _Index_ upon the consciences of the faithful. This bull confirmed and approved in express terms, finally, decisively, and infallibly, the condemnation of “all books teaching the movement of the earth and the stability of the sun.”[158]

  20. #20 Trin Tragula
    May 5, 2009

    Which side will the Vatican take on the question of dark energy? Which works will be placed on the Index Librorum Prohibitorum?*

    * I am are the Index was abolished in 1966 (during my lifetime!), but the current pope is such a medievalist I’m sure it’s only a matter of time before he commands its restoration.

  21. #21 Thony C.
    May 5, 2009

    Trin Tragula you can’t be serious quoting ANDREW DICKSON WHITE’s fairy tales and thinking that they mean anything!

  22. #22 abb3w
    May 5, 2009

    386sx: “Chapter 10.—Of the Falseness of the History Which Allots Many Thousand Years to the World’s Past.”

    In slight defense of Augustine, his argument there isn’t bad from the evidence he puts forth to consider; namely, two conflicting chronologies of the age of various kingdoms. Since he also has report from scripture (a third piece of evidence), the “best” explanation for the data really is that the older chronology is inaccurate.

    Of course, this only holds valid if your evidence set is limited to ONLY considering the three chronologies. Given the additional evidence from Archeology, Geology, et cetera, we’re back to where Augustine was saying Plerumque enim accidit ut aliquid de terra… again.

    SLC: In fairness here, as Martin Gardner pointed out in his seminal work on pseudoscience, “Fads and Fallacies in Science,” the reaction of the Catholic Church to Darwins’ theory of evolution was rather less negative then the reaction of most of the Protestant Churches, perhaps because the church learned something from the Galileo incident.

    The Roman Catholic church is slow on the uptake, but the institution does exhibit learning behavior slightly faster than most geology….

  23. #23 386sx
    May 5, 2009

    Of course, this only holds valid if your evidence set is limited to ONLY considering the three chronologies. Given the additional evidence from Archeology, Geology, et cetera, we’re back to where Augustine was saying Plerumque enim accidit ut aliquid de terra… again.

    He’s not “considering” them, he’s comparing them against the One True chronology. He even says that his holy books predict that there would be bad chronologies and that people would falsely believe them.

  24. #24 386sx
    May 5, 2009

    Then didst Thou by a vision discover to Thy forenamed Bishop where the bodies of Gervasius and Protasius the martyrs lay hid (whom Thou hadst in Thy secret treasury stored uncorrupted so many years), whence Thou mightest seasonably produce them to repress the fury of a woman, but an Empress. For when they were discovered and dug up, and with due honour translated to the Ambrosian Basilica, not only they who were vexed with unclean spirits (the devils confessing themselves) were cured, but a certain man who had for many years been blind, a citizen, and well known to the city, asking and hearing the reason of the people’s confused joy, sprang forth, desiring his guide to lead him thither. Led thither, he begged to be allowed to touch with his handkerchief the bier of Thy saints, whose death is precious in Thy sight. 32 Which when he had done, and put to his eyes, they were forthwith opened. Thence did the fame spread, thence Thy praises glowed, shone; thence the mind of that enemy, though not turned to the soundness of believing, was yet turned back from her fury of persecuting.

    That’s Augustine talking about “Saint” Ambrose (Thy forenamed Bishop). Apparently Ambrose was like the Benny Hinn of Augustine’s day. And… Augustine was really freakin gullible, man.

  25. #25 Sara
    May 5, 2009

    Hah! The Sokal hoax link would suffice to discredit him completely as a professor of anything, a sentient creature and something-that-is-not-made-of-goo. Why bother dissecting his (let’s magnanimously call them) opinions at all?

    (Great commentary, as ever :))

  26. #26 lidagazeteler
    May 12, 2009

    Thanks

  27. #27 sesli sohbet
    May 20, 2009

    thanks your comments

  28. #28 seslichat
    June 15, 2009

    thank you very nice

  29. #29 Hannibal Plectrum
    September 3, 2011

    By creating “Ditchkins” Eagleton has a chance to flog the inaccurate model of what he wants athiests to be. Which is unsurprizing since the most zealous religious folk interact with a largely inaccurate model of reality on a day to day basis.

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