Thursday, November 16, 2006
Terry Eagleton's trashing of Richard Dawkins in the London Review of Books is not in the same league as Marilynne Robinson's in Harper's. Eagleton is an oddity, a wild man of the left with some intensely conservative views and a sporadically brilliant thinker who seldom succeeds in being persuasive or convincing. But, crucially, he knows his theology, which is why it is worth reading this review alongside Robinson's. Robinson, a believer, goes out of her way to attack Dawkins in a straightforward, rational way, picking up on his inaccuracies and taking apart his logic. Eagleton, a Catholic turned Marxist, has no hesitation in attacking Dawkins theologically. This inversion of expectations is strange, though rhetorically effective. Eagleton and Robinson share a distaste for any shallow attempt to pretend that religion is not a serious matter. And this, I suspect, means they share something else - a loathing of the depraved humanist orthodoxy that passes for deep thought these days.
Posted by Bryan Appleyard at 9:14 am