Apr 23, 2014

Caught in the Pulpit Quote

I read Daniel Dennett's and Linda LaScola's Caught in the Pulpit: Leaving Belief Behind recently.  A powerful book for anyone who's left a faith, and presumably for anyone who's stayed.  One passage in particular, written by Dennett, stuck with me in light of other recent discussions:
I have been asking defenders of sophisticated theology for a reading list of works they are prepared to defend as intellectually bracing and honest, but I have yet to have my challenge met.  I am tempted to conclude that they have realized, on closer examination, that they, too, have adopted a double standard, letting pass as deep thought work that is actually just obscure--and often apparently deliberately obscure.  Such works serve only to buttress the adopters of epistemological modesty, who can reason as follows: "These professors are professorial thinkers about religion.  They are still in the church, so they must have gone way beyond me in thinking these issues through.  I don't get it, but they do, so I should accept their authority."  These high-flown ruminations may well be incomprehensible, but they are nevertheless deemed inspiring and authoritative.  "Go read the meticulous arguments of this thinker; they should sweep away your doubts."  (And if they don't, it must be your fault.) (page 224)
To a T, sir.  To a T.  There's simply no 'there' there, no solid ground but a fuddled slough so vast that no end can ever be reached to prove it.

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