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Atheist Delusions: The Christian Revolution…

Atheist Delusions: The Christian Revolution and Its Fashionable Enemies (2009)

by David Bentley Hart

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Though there were many points in this book where I had to grit my teeth, this is actually a worthwhile book. I was surprised, to be honest. Hart does wander off the rails a few times, and opens the book with e.g. a kind of "some of my best friends are atheists" comment ("hey, some of my best friends are black/gay/liberal/conservative, but..."), but I found this an easy price to pay to read a very clear, cogent, concise, argument for Christianities fundamental importance in the development of the West as we know it. In face, he makes a very strong case for the argument that without Christianity there would be no liberal, 'advanced', individualistic West at all. In other words, the "New Atheists" have it all wrong, religion -by which Hart means Christianity, and he acknowledges this- isn't anything like "poison."

While I could quibble here or there with his logic, and he does seem to apply a double standard in places, this is worth the read (to repeat myself.) His last chapter, especially, left me thinking hard, especially as it touches on topics I have been thinking and reading about for several years now. E.g. Having developed, or inherited anyway, a society with respect for (and the very concept of, Hart points out!) human rights and individual value, can we "kick the ladder away" and keep the values without keeping the religion?

Hart himself is obviously a "believer", but he most sidesteps -whether you like it or not- issues such as whether the truth of God/Christ/etc. matters... mostly, I think, because he really does believe and so that is not really something he is going to discuss. But there are points where he does seem to brush up against a Pascal-ian, utilitarian argument for believing... ( )
  dcunning11235 | Oct 17, 2016 |
Excellent. Detailed. Makes the case that Terry Eagleton, John Haught, and others have made, that scientistic atheism takes for granted the Christian ethical moral and social heritage. Bracing. A great revision of Charles Cochrane Norris's classic on Christianity versus classical ancient philosophy. Readable polemic persuasive to me. ( )
  ted_newell | Jun 20, 2015 |
David Bentley Hart's book, 'Atheist Delusions', should be read by everyone one each side of the current God debate in our time. Hart's work, which bares a polemical title that he himself did not want, is not an apologetic of the validity of Christian belief, but rather a systemic debunking of the many myths of modernity, specifically those leveraged at Christian belief. The commonly touted (but hardly sustainable) critiques such as Christianity being an impediment to the development of science (including that oft highly misrepresented account of Galileo and the Roman Catholic Church), that it has been the source for countless wars (it has not), etc.

However, the more powerful parts of Hart's work are in his third and fourth sections where he first details the world of pagan antiquity (filled with its vapid and nihilistic religions with a correspondingly inane culture), and how Christianity completely revolutionized how people saw themselves; personal individuality for all peoples, human rights, the beginning of the end for slavery, and more. The fourth section details the retreat of this paradigm and the uncertain future that society now goes to. Though Hart may seem like a bit of an alarmist in this section (something he is aware of consciously), his critiques and shuddering at some of the moral ideas put forward (systemic infanticide of all children with retardation, selective breeding for the benefit of the human gene pool, etc) are all supported by the works of major philosophers and other intellectual giants of the modern era.

This book, by no means, is likely going to convince someone of Christian truth, but that was never it's goal. Rather, it is a powerful refutation of ignorance, a destroyer of historical myths that have become all to common, regardless if they are used with an anti-religious polemic driving them or not. That alone makes this book worth reading. ( )
2 vote phyzics | Aug 29, 2012 |
A must read for EVERYONE. Not only is it a very entertaining and informative read, but a deathblow struck against the "New Atheists" like Richard Dawkins, Bart Ehrmann, Christopher Hitchens, Elaine Pagels, etc. Hart exposes the logical and historical errors pervasive to modern atheism and modernism in general, and reaffirms the heart of Christianity and the new humanity it created. ( )
1 vote davidpwithun | Sep 16, 2011 |
Showing 4 of 4
[W]hile the book does provide some strong invective against the New (actually, not so new) Atheists, it has an importance out of proportion to its occasion. Dawkins et al. are like the irritant that prompts the secretion of a pearl.

What Hart does in this book is set forth a sweeping, and convincing, counternarrative to the story of Western civilization told by the atheist propagandists. Far from being an obscurantist obstacle to human fulfillment, he writes, Christianity actually invented the idea of humanity as we understand it today. . . .

The sadness of pagan antiquity — of a fixed, closed, tragic world order — gave way to a world in which the lowest could be liberated into a joyful communion with God. Pope John Paul II loved to quote from a particular Vatican II document the assertion that Christ did not just reveal God to man, but “reveals man to man”; Hart’s book is a profound essay on this theme, and the revolution wrought in history by this new understanding of intrinsic human dignity.
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Hart outlines how Christianity transformed the ancient world in ways we may have forgotten: bringing liberation from fatalism, conferring great dignity on human beings, subverting the cruelest aspects of pagan society, and elevating charity above all virtues. He then argues that what we term the "Age of Reason" was in fact the beginning of the eclipse of reason's authority as a cultural value. Hart closes the book in the present, delineating the ominous consequences of the decline of Christendom in a culture that is built upon its moral and spiritual values. --from publisher desciption… (more)

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Yale University Press

2 editions of this book were published by Yale University Press.

Editions: 0300111908, 0300164297

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