Monday, September 1, 2014

Can atheists be certain?

In the theology reading group next month we are looking at How (not) to be Secular: Reading Charles Taylor, by James K.A. Smith. More on that later.

In the introduction Smith engages with the novelist Julian Barnes book, Nothing to be frightened of, that expresses his anxieties about dying and death. It looks like a fascinating book that has received wide praise from readers with a diversity of perspectives.

Here I just give one quote that Smith used:
If I called myself and atheist at twenty, and an agnostic at fifty and sixty, it isn't because I have acquired more knowledge in the meantime: just more awareness of ignorance. How can we be sure that we know enough to know? As twenty-first-century neo-Darwinian materialists, convinced that the meaning and mechanism of life have only been fully clear since the year 1959, we hold ourselves categorically wiser than those credulous knee-benders who, a speck of time away, believed in divine purpose, an ordered world, resurrection and a Last Judgment. But although we are more informed, we are no more evolved, and certainly no more intelligent than them. What convinces us that out knowledge is so final?

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