Saturday, May 09, 2009

Another Great Eagleton (and Fish) Takedown

After PZ hits a home run, next up to bat is Matt Taibbi. Back to back?

The beginning:

I’m always on the lookout for religion’s latest counter-arguments, the new rhetorical approaches that God People are constantly fine-tuning for use in pimping the righteousness of faith (and for demonstrating the moral dissoluteness of agnostics like myself). There isn’t an inherently irresolvable metaphysical challenge that comes close to wasting as much of the world’s time and energy as this particular one. It’s the intellectual equivalent of the eternal R&D quest for a baldness cure: you just never stop being surprised at how many different ways men can find to fail at growing hair.

This latest salvo is fired by author/professor Stanley Fish, a prominent religion-peddler of the pointy-headed, turtlenecked genus, who made his case in his blog at the New York Times. Fish was mostly riffing on a recent book written by the windily pompous University of Manchester professor Terry Eagleton, a pudgily superior type, physically resembling a giant runny nose, who seems to have been raised by indulgent aunts who gave him sweets every time he corrected the grammar of other children. The esteemed professor’s new book is called Reason, Faith and Revolution, and it’s sort of an answer to the popular atheist literature of people like Richard Dawkins and Chris Hitchens. If you ever want to give yourself a really good, throbbing headache, go online and check out Eagleton’s lectures at Yale, upon which the book was based, in which one may listen to this soft-soaping old toady do his verbose best to stick his tongue as far as he can up the anus of the next generation of the American upper class.

That's how I'd write, if only I could write a thousand times better than I can.

The rest.

(h/t: John Cole | x-posted)


John Evo said...

I've yet to be disappointed when reading Taibbi. He really is a talented writer. At 39 years old, there is reason to hope his best writing is ahead of him.

Adam said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Adam L said...

I could not stomach watching more than about 5 minutes of this insipid old fool's drivel; I would note that I found Dawkins's book to be so full of anger that not only did I think it did not help the atheist cause (which I vigorously support) I personally found it unpleasant to read.

Even Hitchens's God Is Not Great, which I thought was written with at least more wit if not less vitriol than Dawkins's, which I wound up being able to get through, it was a pretty tough slog... and I like the drunk bastard!

So the intellectual opposite, in video form no less, as you can imagine, and as Taibbi describes, is a good way to make you want to take the pointy end of a claw hammer and hit yourself vigorously in the brain stem.

So I'll have to plead ignorance of what his trying to convince people of the validity of supposed ramblings of superstitious bronze age schizophrenics has to do with "in which one may listen to this soft-soaping old toady do his verbose best to stick his tongue as far as he can up the anus of the next generation of the American upper class." I don't know anything about this guy, nor do really care too much as I don't watch the many hours of Bin Laden rambling online about allah this and jihad that. Is it because he's a cultural representative of the Republican Party? Does he explicitly use the gospels teachings about the meek inheriting the earth to argue for a flat tax or something? I'm serious here, I'm a bit lost, especially since after seeing the banner on his webpage and reading the explanation that he seems to poison a number of good, bad and mediocre historical characters (I assume) by discussing them in a religious context:

The bottom row is composed of images of significant political thinkers, cultural leaders and social critics who have shaped the world in which we live and to whose ideas we must respond with Christ’s message. They are the originators and revolutionaries, so to speak, of our contemporary ideas of democracy, captialism, despotism, communism, distributism, utilitarianism, liberteriansim and critical theory:
(L to R) – Alexander Hamilton, Simón Bolívar, Adam Smith, Niccolò Machiavelli, John Locke, Jürgen Habermas, Karl Marx, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Plato, Ludwig von Mises, J.S. Mill, Martin Luther King, Jr., Aristotle, Hannah Arendt, Vladimir Solovyov, Thomas Hobbes, Bono and José Ortega y Gasset

These figures, among others, collectively represent the matrix in which responsible and informed socio-political discourse occurs, where faith and practical reason may truly flourish.
I guess that that list is stacked with libertarian types a bit more heavily than leftie wackos with the classical greeks, Hamilon, Smith, Locke, Hobbes, Von Mises, and Arendt all in one camp. Are the Marx and Bolivar inclusions just to throw you off the scent of him being an unintentional (and oxymoronic) hardcore Chistian shill for libertarianism?