Thursday, April 12, 2018

Seven Types of Atheism by John Gray review – is every atheist an inverted believer?

From The Guardian-

There has been a rash of books in recent years by thinkers for whom the human race is getting nicer and nicer. Richard Dawkins, Steven Pinker, Matt Ridley and Sam Harris are rational humanists who believe in progress, however many famines and genocides may disfigure the planet. We are en route to a vastly improved future. Perhaps this return to the values of the western Enlightenment is not unrelated to the threat of radical Islam. The philosopher John Gray’s role has been to act as a Jeremiah among these Pollyannas, insisting that we are every bit as nasty as we ever were. If there is anything he detests, it is schemes of visionary transformation. He is a card-carrying misanthrope for whom human life has no unique importance, and for whom history has been little more than the sound of hacking and gouging. One might note that Christianity is as pessimistic as Gray but a lot more hopeful as well.

The answer to the question of whether history has been improving is surely a decisive yes and no. For Marx, the modern age was both an enthralling emancipation and one long nightmare. The wide-eyed optimism of Pinker or Ridley is just as one-sided as the prophets of doom who refuse to concede that there is something to be said for such modern inventions as feminism, spin-dryers and antibiotics. The truth is that everyone believes in progress, but only a dwindling band of Victorian relics such as Dawkins believe in Progress. So this book is really hammering at an open door. How many champions of a vastly improved future are there in a postmodern culture?

More here-

No comments: