In response too all the atheist bestsellers of the past few years (Dawkins, Hitchens, Harris), David Bently Hart has written a thorough, brainy, flame-thrower response. I love the title: Atheist Delusions: The Christian and its Fashionable Enemies.
Liberals and secular humanists have all these good things they want to do for the world – feed the children, bring peace and justice, etc. Except they insist on doing it without God, especially the God of Christianity. As if these noble, altruistic desires are inherent in human nature (despite everything Darwin and Freud said). Bah. Hart points out here how all these nice ideas are NOT secular. They are derived straight from Christianity.
“…a society is truly modern to the extent that it is post-Christian.” That is, “modernity is not simply a ‘postreligious’ condition; it is the state of a society that has been specifically a Christian society but has ‘lost the faith.’ The ethical presuppositions intrinsic to modernity, for instance, are palliated fragments and haunting echoes of Christian moral theology. Even the most ardent secularists among us generally cling to notions of human rights, economic and social justice, providence for the indigent, legal quality, or basic human dignity that pre-Christian Western culture would have found not so much foolish as unintelligible.”
-David Bently Hart, Atheist Delusions: The Christian and its Fashionable Enemies, p.32
Without Jesus, these things aren’t just weakened, they’re crackers.
(I saw this blogged about in several other places.)
Girard takes this even further from another angle and asserts that some form of theology MUST be the basis of all contemporary thought, even if you don’t realize it.
…what guides our interpretation is only a conceptual system dominated by the idea of divinity, a theology. Skepticism concerning religion does not abolish this theological perspective. We are forced to reinterpret all religious schemata in terms of divinity because we are unaware of the surrogate victim ([Girard’s theory of religion]). If one examines psychoanalysis [Freud] and Marxism [socialism] closely it becomes evident that this theology is indispensable for them. It is indispensable for all modes of contemporary thought, which will collapse whenever what we have said concerning the king and the god is finally understood.
-Rene Girard, Things Hidden Since the Foundation of the World, p.57