Skip to content

Eagleton on Dawkins and Creation

Terry Eagleton’s new book, Reason, Faith, and Revolution is, like most Eagleton books eminently entertaining and easy to read. I’ll have more developed (and actually rather critical) thoughts on the book later, but for now I’ll leave you with one of Eagleton’s trademark rhetorical flourishes:

Creation “out of nothing” is not testimony to how devilishly clever God is, dispensing as he can with even the most rudimentary raw materials, but to the fact that the world is not the inevitable culmination of some prior process, the upshot of some inexorable chain of cause and effect. Any such preceding chain of causality would have to be part of the world, and so could not count as the origin of it. Because there is necessity about the cosmos, we cannot deduce the laws which govern it from a priori principles, but need instead to look at how it actually works. This is the task of science. There is thus a curious connection between the doctrine of creation out of nothing and the professional life of Richard Dawkins. Without God, Dawkins would be out of a job. It is thus particularly churlish of him to call the existence of his employer into question. (p. 8-9)


  1. kim fabricius wrote:

    Coincidentally, I’ve run a couple of quotes from the book over at Connexions. I love it when Eagleton goes off on yet another inimitably hilariously polemical “It is rather like …” – e.g. “Ditchkins on theology is rather like someone who lays claim to the title of literary criticism by commenting that there are some nice bits in the novel and some scary bits as well, and it’s all very sad in the end” (pp. 52-53). As Eagleton comments, for Ditchkins “any old travesty will do” (p. 52).

    Monday, May 25, 2009 at 10:48 am | Permalink
  2. J. Gyllenhaal wrote:

    Does anyone have an inkling of what Eagleton’s own religious convictions are? My assumption would be “none” based on his old-school Marxism (if I’m remembering my Lit Crit classes correctly), but it seems like he’s sort of become one of the high-profile critics of Dawkins (I can’t say “Ditchkins”; it sounds silly). The LROB review was really great.

    Tuesday, May 26, 2009 at 10:27 am | Permalink
  3. kim fabricius wrote:

    J., I think Eagleton is still in faith-flight, but the hound of heaven, set loose by his mentor Herbert McCabe, is in hot pursuit.

    Tuesday, May 26, 2009 at 11:40 am | Permalink
  4. d barber wrote:

    Editor in younger years of Slant, a journal of Christian Marxism. Though reportedly wants his writings from this to be disappeared, no longer of the persuasion.

    Tuesday, May 26, 2009 at 12:07 pm | Permalink
  5. Peregrinus wrote:

    I heard him interviewed on an Australian radio programme a few months back. He identified as an agnostic, if I recall correctly, but said that his Catholicism was of a form which it cost him something to reject (unlike Dawkins caricature of Christianity).

    Monday, June 8, 2009 at 6:14 am | Permalink

Switch to our mobile site