Wednesday, May 06, 2009
While in the States, I heard Christopher Hitchens lacerating some Christianist on one of those God-bothering radio stations they have over there. It was like shooting fish in a barrel. Not that Hitch was remotely persuasive but he has mastered the art of using expensive words and arcane references crushingly. I've tried this on my occasional appearances on American radio and I've failed. But Hitch has a kind of fruity loquacity that seems to make the yanks feel like downtrodden colonials with a bad case of culture cringe. Admirable but, of course, wrong about everything of importance. This came to mind while reading Stanley Fish. I don't normally do this as Fish always uses 500 words when five will do, but something kept me going. He's writing about Terry Eagleton, a thinker I admire slightly less than I mistrust. He always seems to be about to say something amazing and then doesn't. On that basis, I won't, unless paid to do so, read the Eagleton book Fish is writing about, Reason, Faith and Revolution. Yet what he seems to be saying - that science, reason etc don't fulfil the human needs that religion does - seems sound if a touch obvious to all but the Hitchs of this world. Also he is right to defend faith for the sake of his forebears - 'against the charge that the creed to which they dedicated their lives is worthless and void'. Right on, Tel. Fish ends with a swipe at 'the shallow arguments of school-yard atheists like Dawkins and Hitchens'. Well, it was just enough to cheer me up in Luxembourg airport.
Posted by Bryan Appleyard at 2:53 pm