History, Evolution, and The Darwin Debate

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Theism/atheism, dialectic, and–‘the rest is silence’

April 27th, 2011 · 1 Comment


Hitchens sounds eloquent here, but to a larger perspective I think he is worried there is something missing in the New Atheism. We have been saying that all along, and there was a lot of commentary here on Hitchens’ book, from several years ago. I am sorry in one way since all of that feeds Xtianity and its traditionalism, but to challenge monotheism requires more than a brittle atheist screed.

I think Hegel, who I have critiqued enough times to have earned the right to cite, was at the real crux of the emergent atheism, as a strain of the Enlightenment. Within a generation of Holback the atheist perspective was challenged, and in many ways transcended, but by what? a comeback by theism, Feuerbachian atheism?
As Hamlet said, ‘the rest is silence’, and atheism was one of the non-survivors falling over dead on the corpse of theism.
Hegel spoiled many of his best ideas, driving Schopenhauer to a frenzy of contemptuous denunciatioon, but his sense of a ‘dialectic’ here is helpful, as long as you stay away from what he said about it. But the dialectic really points, not to the outcome of a debate, but to the history of a debate, and then all debates, which is the history of philosophy itself. The only refuge is therefore the moment of philosophy which is not yet science, forever, and beyond theology, which is eroding in the tide of modernity. That was why ‘philosophy’ became the king for a day in the tide of German classical philosophy, followed, significantly, by the coversion to positivistic scientism in the generation of, guess who, Marx and Engels. They tried to advance beyond, yet remained inside that earlier generation’s outlook, and we already have a fairly good experiment in the ‘new atheism’ leading nowhere in the development of the left. The sad outcome was that the left lost the ability to understand the exploitation of religion. The atheistic was an equal or worse exploitation, and the massacre of millions ceased to have meaning in the Stalinist phase.
The New Atheists should realize they are a curious replay, probably with conservative crypto tendencies, and no reall social program, save to produce the vulgar utiliarianism visible in Sam Harris’ junk ethics.
We can see the value of Hr
How is it that the New Atheists could have learned nothing from this immense experiement of the left in ‘atheism’.
I think the left should learn here. I am not saying the left should become ‘accomodationist’, but perhaps that it stand above the dialectic, the history of the debate, with something close to dynamic agnosticism with respect to theism/atheism.
If you embrace theism, you will be set up to disbelieve, and if you embrace atheism, you will equally be set up to disbelieve. I thiink that the ”rest is silence’ implies that silence with respect to the exhausted ‘god’ term is inevitable.

I think that the New Atheists should predict their own failure some time soon, and move to something related to what they are doing, but more intelligent. And the left should move to something better than their current stale post-Hegelianism.

That sounds too obvious to be relevant, but neither dogmatic theology nor scientific reductionism can accept this fate for the ‘god’ idea, and wish to go down fighting in another performance, I presume, of ‘the rest is silence’ dramatics. The resemblance of dogmatic theology and scientism is strikingd here: both wish to constrict the consciousness of their robots, in the name of soft (preferably invisible) totalitarian control, replacing self-knowledge the mono-focus of a mechanization of behavior. It is a sadomasochistic leather head cap, cutting off sensory awareness of larger realities, and attempting to make obedience total, the one through god submission, the other by submission to the absolutes, presumed, scientism dressed up as Science. It is this suspicious game in both cases, not the mechanical clash (dialectic) of science and religion, which is really a turf war by bullies.

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1 response so far ↓

  • 1 Stephen // Apr 27, 2011 at 12:53 pm

    In past history, Hegel, may have been “the real crux of the emergent atheism,” say as Marx interpreted Hegel. However, in all probability Hegel was not an atheist. See Francis Lieber’s “The Metaphysical Religion of Hegel,” or check out my book review of a book where the essay is published:


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