Sunday, 21 January 2007

L'Athéisme est morte!

Alister McGrath's The Twilight of Atheism is very well written and thought-provoking, and I think it well underscores what I have long guessed: the challenge of the world is no longer that it does not believe in any Deity, but that it believes in any deity, or believes without allowing that belief to alter its course. McGrath shows convincingly that atheism in its full form (as opposed to mere agnostic indifference) is no longer a viable cultural force, and the increase in pitch and volume in its contemporary adherents only underscore this fact.

Which makes one think: if the first century largely came to disbelieve in the "old gods" and gave itself up to a myriad of spiritualities without objective center, and that was indeed the kairos moment at which the preaching of the Gospel would be most fruitful, then can we not have hope for this age of the world also? For today we have passed beyond unquestioned atheism into a relativistic plethora of spiritualities. Perhaps the ground is being cleared for a renewal of faith. Perhaps it has already begun.

Postcriptum: Another startling aspect of the book, but personally so, since I am a convert to the Faith, lies in this passage:
"To suggest a link between Protestantism and atheism might, at first sight, seem improbable, perhaps even bizarre. How could a movement so dedicated to the propagation of the Christian faith conceivably be said to have encouraged the rise of atheism? In making this suggestion, I am drawing together the number of scholarly studies of the origins and development of Protestantism, which indicate that there is a significant link between the movement and the emergence of atheism. Given the importance of this suggestion, however uncomfortable it may be for Protestants (among whom I unabashedly number myself), it is essential to explore its foundations ..."
McGrath then continues to describe, later in the same chapter, how Protestantism carries within it "imaginative failure", and a "disconnection from the sacred". He concretizes many of my tentative ideas.

But all of this begs the question. If Protestantism is the Gospel pure , without the Roman idolatry, then it follows that God wishes His Church to follow teachings which bring about a "disconnection from the sacred" and "imaginative failure" ... clearly false. Yet why then do you remain Protestant, professor McGrath? What reflects so alarmingly in the waters of the Tiber that you will not cross them?

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