Wednesday, 12 September 2007

Tristram Hunt joins critics of Hitchens, Dawkins et al

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For the latest "critique" of the rationalist viewpoint, step forward TV historian Tristram Hunt, who's written a piece for today's Guardian attacking the "new atheist orthodoxy" with all the usual accusations of ignorance, arrogance, solipsism and sophistry. Tristram's particularly upset with the pride atheists take in the Enlightenment, which in his view had "its foundation in elements of the Protestant tradition" and was "intimately connected with non-conformist Protestantism".

Like so many others, Hunt chooses to depict atheism/humanism/rationalism as driven mostly by its "central pillars" - Dawkins, Dennett and Hitchens - before basing his entire argument on Hitchens' view of the Enlightenment in his polemical bestseller God Is Not Great. So in Tristram's eyes Hitchens' uncompromising view that religion had little part to play in the Enlightenment becomes the view of all us atheists out there.

Meanwhile, Tristram's busy expounding his view that the Enlightenment was all thanks to Protestantism, showing particular fondness for the period's "flourishing Deism". Which of course isn't actually Protestantism at all.


Anonymous said...

"By ignoring the influence of religion on progressive politics, the new atheist orthodoxy reveals itself as stupid and solipsistic "

Actually, Tristram, we consider that it is the humanist in the religionists which accounts for their humanity.

The 'solipsistic' part, I suppose, is that humanity is all alone without the gods.

Not at all. Any gods we need, we can create. The argument is that we don't need them. They belong to our intellectual infancy and, however they are tarted up by academics, intellectuals and the entirely unenlightened, they are very manifestly dead, dead, dead.