Over at the Religion and Ethics blog of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, Slavoj Zizek has written an opinion piece on what he views as the aspect of the Christian legacy that is most important for radical politics today—atheism.
Posts Tagged ‘atheism’
Atlantic columnist Wendy Kaminer discusses American Atheists’ suit to prevent the “World Trade Center cross,” an original cross-beam from one of the two towers that was recently moved from a lower Manhattan church to the National September 11 Memorial and Museum. The move, American Atheists charge, identifies the United States with Christianity and excludes nonbelievers from the ranks of the aggrieved.
Jacques Berlinerblau, on The Chronicle of Higher Education‘s Brainstorm blog, enumerates some of the prevalent misconceptions that inform what he calls “Pop Atheism.”
In this age of overt commercialization of the holiday season—where no sooner have children returned from trick-or-treating than Christmas music is pumped through convenience store aisles on loop—Americans have become accustomed to the omnipresence of seasonal cheer. But, as Laurie Goodstein noted in The New York Times the this past week, there is a new band of interest groups wrangling for the holiday spotlight: “Just in time for the holiday season, Americans are about to be hit with a spate of advertisements promoting the joy and wisdom of atheism.”
Last Wednesday evening, eminent theorist of literature and culture Terry Eagleton gave a talk at Columbia University entitled “The New Atheism and the War on Terror.” New Atheism is also the subject of last year’s Reason, Faith, and Revolution: Reflections on the God Debate, which developed as the product of his Terry Lectures (no relation) given at Yale in 2008. Having never seen Eagleton speak before, the talk surprised me in a few ways, so I’d like to give a short review and also use the occasion to address some issues that were conspicuously absent given the title of the lecture.
Stefanos Geroulanos’s An Atheism that Is Not Humanist Emerges in French Thought—the subject of an ongoing forum here at The Immanent Frame—was taken up for discussion last week by participants in the yearlong seminar on secularism being held at the Institute for Advanced Study, in Princeton, NJ, and conceived and directed by Joan Wallach Scott.
At the NYTimes.com blog “The Stone,” Frans de Waal, C. H. Candler Professor in Psychology and Director of the Living Links Center at the Yerkes National Primate Research Center at Emory University, writes on the roots of human morality, using a series of fascinating examples from research on primate behavior to illustrate man’s natural attraction to “the good.”
“Strangely enough,” Foucault mused, “man—the study of whom is supposed by the naïve to be the oldest investigation since Socrates—is probably no more than a kind of rift in the order of things.” He is “only a recent invention, a figure not yet two centuries old, a new wrinkle in our knowledge” who “will disappear again as soon as that knowledge has discovered a new form.”
Foucault’s flippant requiem for “man” reflects a midcentury antihumanism in European thought, which, in the wake of two World Wars in the heart of Europe, had become suspicious of the “anthropotheism” of humanism wherein “Man” replaced the God who had died. And it is this story that is told so brilliantly by Stefanos Geroulanos in An Atheism That Is Not Humanist Emerges in French Thought. For these antihumanists, humanistic atheism had never really gotten over its theological tendencies; so the result of the death of God was the divinization of Man.
In my last post, I made the claim that I wasn’t an atheist. That’s a complicated claim. Atheism, despite being technically no more than contra-theism, is most of the time a philosophy with positive content. It’s usually strict materialism buttressed by other moral and political ideologies (though who could really separate the latter two categories).