Do you know Roger Scruton? He's an British conservative philosopher – an unabashed lover of high culture and scourge of all things lily-livered liberals like me hold dear. I think I disagree with him about virtually everything, from multiculturalism to opera, politics to fox hunting. Thing is he's not only a nice man – I worked with him, sort of – and, though unabashedly conservative he is a very original and independent thinker and also writes beautifully. His recent book on the philosophy of conservatism was, almost, convincing, and now, writing in Prospect, he delivers what is the most powerful critique and challenge to the 'new atheism' yet. Taking Hitchkins' (®) "religion is the root of all evil"/"religion poisons everything" argument head on, he makes a powerful case for religion as myth and solution to rather than cause of violence. Some of it is persuasive, like this: "The experience of the sacred is not an irrational residue of primitive fears, nor is it a superstition that will one day be chased away by science. It is a solution to the accumulated aggression which lies at the heart of human communities." Scruton has issued a challenge to those of us who reject religion which we must answer in the next round of God books and humanist responses to contemporary religion. It's all very well when our opponents are half-wit creationists, bully-boy mullahs or whacked-out Scientologists but Scruton has now raised the bar considerably, and, yes, he does make the broad-stroke generalisations of the new atheists look a bit, well, exaggerated. We'll be picking this subject up in the next but one New Humanist in a major essay by a top British philosopher. Don't miss it (subscribe to make sure you get it)
Wednesday, 25 July 2007
Dear reader, our blog has moved to a new address.
Do come on over (and change your bookmarks accordingly): rationalist.org.uk
Posted by Caspar Melville at Wednesday, July 25, 2007