It only takes a moment, reading A .C. Grayling’s new book, The God Argument: The Case Against Religion and For Humanism, to discover that his “humanism” revolves around distortions.
Whereas the consolations of religion are mainly personal, the burdens are social and political as well as personal.
He goes quickly on from there to complaining about religions’ attempts to have influence in the public square. Its consolations apparently must be kept mainly personal.
But this is either astonishingly ignorant or intentionally deceptive, at least with respect to Christianity. I’ll read further before I decide whether I can tell which it is.
And read further I certainly will. This is not a book review; it’s a first impression. (I would suggest that it’s an impression that Grayling intended to impart.)
Still I can’t wait to find out how The God Argument is going to treat the social history of religion, where Christians have led the way in matters of justice, compassion, education, linguistics, exploration, the arts (he did make a not toward that early on; it’s a safe topic), science, care for strangers and foreigners, and much more. Christianity is intensely personal, and it’s intensely social. Or what does he think Jesus taught?
Now, lest I be falsely charged with claiming more than I have, I did not say Christians have always led the way in these things, or have been the only ones to lead the way. That’s a different thing to claim. All we need recognize are the myriad places where Christians have led the way: that’s sufficient to overturn what Grayling is saying here.
But perhaps I’m rushing to judgment. I’m only a couple minutes into it. But continuing, I find that Grayling thinks “critical examination of religion’s claims places it in the same class as astrology and magic.” Apparently he is ignorant of Christianity’s considerable differences from both.
And then he’s back to where he started: “In regard to the good things attributed to religion — its consolation and inspiration — ” As if those were the only good things attributed to religion.
Error, distortion, ignorance: are these “humanism”? Is this the way the book is going to continue? It’s certainly off to a bad start.
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