If Tony Blair is an Octopus

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I only just stumbled upon Terry Eagleton’s review of Richard Dawkins’ The God Delusion in the London Review of Books (thanks to Cross-Currents).

You should read the review if you’re still interested in Dawkins’ strident case for atheism, but also if you’ve never read anything by Eagleton.

A few years back, I did graduate work at the University of Manchester and attended Eagleton’s lectures, which eventually served as the basis for his After Theory.

Eagleton is a renowned cultural theorist, but his wit and charm — and the care he took in his lectures’ prose — were nothing I’d seen from a scholar of his caliber.

Much of this will be apparent in his review of Dawkins, who he takes to task for criticizing religion from a position of ignorance.

The Jews of the so-called Old Testament had faith in God, but this does not mean that after debating the matter at a number of international conferences they decided to endorse the scientific hypothesis that there existed a supreme architect of the universe – even though, as Genesis reveals, they were of this opinion…

Dawkins speaks scoffingly of a personal God, as though it were entirely obvious exactly what this might mean. He seems to imagine God, if not exactly with a white beard, then at least as some kind of chap, however supersized. He asks how this chap can speak to billions of people simultaneously, which is rather like wondering why, if Tony Blair is an octopus, he has only two arms.

Posted on December 26, 2006

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One thought on “If Tony Blair is an Octopus

  1. Superfobby

    This is nice work and hits Dawkins on most of the appropriate things, although maybe not as deeply on his rationalist epistemology as I’d like. Probably because Eagleton remains somewhat partial to that, as whatever type of leftover Marxist he is.

    Couldn’t help but notice, though, that Eagleton’s version of Christianity is still framed in that anti-legalistic way that calls up memories of Judaism as the Other to Christianity. I forgive him because it was all he could do to defend one religion from Dawkins at a time.

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