On the Schleiermacher episode, we referred tangentially to Is God a Delusion? A Reply to Religion’s Cultured Despisers, by Oklahoma State University’s Eric Reitan (who has his own blog). Thanks to my nicely networked local library system, I now have a copy of this in my possession and thought I’d give you a taste from his introduction.
He stated that his working title for the book was “How the Religious Right Gets Religion Wrong,” and that it was only upon reading Dawkins’s The God Delusion that he felt he should change his approach. He says that a colleague suggested he should call it “A Pox on Both Your Houses,” and even though the book is an attempt to rebut point by point Dawkins’s arguments (which Reitan summarizes nicely in this introduction), Reitan is also very critical of the very beliefs Dawkins attacks (from p. 7):
I will not be defending the doctrine of biblical inerrancy because I think it is both mistaken and dangerous. I will not be defending the doctrine of hell because I think that it is mistaken and (at least in its most traditional formulations) dangerous. I will not be defending the divine command theory of ethics… because I think it is both mistaken and dangerous. I will not be defending the legitimacy of “faith” understood as stubborn belief without regard for evidence because faith in that sense is a dangerous and inappropriate basis for forming one’s convictions…
What should be clear is that many actual religions tread shamelessly… into the domain of superstition and ideology; and when they do so, they render themselves appropriate fodder for Dawkins’ attacks. Dawkins’ mistake is… to blithely assume that theistic religion itself falls prey to these attacks. It does not.
Like Karen Armstrong’s book, this supposed entry in the “pro-religion” column is a liberal reinterpret of religion, and like Schleiermacher, Reitan faces the challenge of making what he’s defending at all relevant to what most Christians think they’re defending. From p. 6:
I teach and work in Oklahoma, which is at least one “buckle” of the American Bible Belt. And I soon learned after coming here that when I describe my faith to my students, calling myself “Christian” strikes many as akin to describing an eighteen-legged purple animal with an elephantine nose, and then calling it a horse.
Time permitting, I’ll dip into this further in preparation for our new atheists episode, which is currently planned for recording in late July or August.