Saving God: Religion after Idolatry

Saving God: Religion after Idolatry

Saving God: Religion after Idolatry

Saving God: Religion after Idolatry

Excerpt

What follows is an essay, a sustained attempt to get something across, written more or less extempore. It uses the limited range of literary forms the author has at his disposal: quotation, argument, exegesis, midrash, mythic framing, the via analógica, readings against the grain, and the interrogation of the reader. (A poem would do so much better; there your man is Hopkins, and before him Rumi.)

The essay begins, dryly, with a simplified review of the semantics of names; and it gradually evolves into a sort of jeremiad. It contains some philosophy but is not a work of philosophy. My fellow philosophers will all too readily recognize the many places where I have declined the philosophically interesting pathways that branch off from what I say. Still less is it a work in academic theology, and I beg the forbearance of professional theologians as they read what must be, at so many points, glaringly at odds with their creedal commitments and their standard ways of explaining those commitments.

The work is offered simply as the expression of a certain sensibility. I give expression to it, at whatever risk, only because I hope that it has not entirely passed from the world. One kind of ideal reader would be an intelligent young person who is religious, but who feels that his or her genuine religious impulses are being strangled by what he or she is being asked to believe, on less than convincing authority, about the nature of reality. Such a person could begin with the postscript in order to see if what comes before might be in any way helpful, and so be worth the effort.

For those who are looking for a philosophical defense of the spiritual irrelevance of supernaturalism, one place to look is in my Hempel Lectures, entitled Surviving Death. Those lectures take up the crux of supernaturalist belief, namely, the belief in life after death.

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