Archive for September 2nd, 2009

A Brief but Common Scene at the Contemporary Cinema

The hordes line up at the box office, awaiting a ticket, or several, from the overburdened cinema employee. Children beg their mothers for candy to accompany their popcorn. The mother subtly forwards the child’s plea to the father. Half an hour passes. An enterprising young individual approaches one of the three lineless automated kiosks to purchase her ticket. The hordes turn to look at the enterprising young woman, confused and unsure of whether they should be envious. The enterprising young woman purchases her ticket and proceeds to the theater. The hordes figure if everyone else is staying idle, it can’t make sense to approach the kiosk. The hordes remain.

In Defense of Atheism….Again

As some readers may remember, I am a committed and proud atheist (despite some apparent controversy on the point). So when someone attacks atheism, as James Wood does in the most recent issue of The New Yorker, I feel obligated to defend it.

The occasion for Wood’s criticisms is the publication of Terry Eagleton’s new book, Reason, Faith and Revolution: Reflections of the God Debate. Eagleton is one of the most respected theists currently writing about the subject of theology, but his new book will probably convert about as many people as The God Delusion or God is Not Great: not many.

Books like this have a tendency to appeal only to the side already in agreement, and Wood seems to think Eagleton’s will do the same. Wood offers a pretty sound criticism of Eagleton’s arguments in his review, and even professes a lack of formal belief on his own part.

But Wood—who from the little I’ve read of him seems like a brilliant critic with whom I disagree about almost everything—has many of the same problems with “new atheism” that Eagleton has. Continue reading