Taking on Celebrity Atheists

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terry-eagleton.jpgThree years ago, when the literary critic Terry Eagleton was asked to review a book by a fellow academic. The book was The God Delusion. In it, Richard Dawkins takes aim at religion, calling it dangerous superstition, completely out-dated by science.

This is how Terry Eagleton began his review: "Imagine someone holding forth on biology whose only knowledge of the subject is the Book of British Birds, and you have a rough idea of what it feels like to read Richard Dawkins on theology."

And thus was born a passionate debate that continues to this day. Dawkins was soon joined by Christopher Hitchens, Sam Harris and Daniel Dennett. They have formed a kind of "new atheists' league", arguing ferociously against all forms of religious dogma and prejudice, and in favour of reason and humanism. Their books have become best-sellers.

Terry Eagleton, in forceful, witty and graceful prose, continues to fight back. Eagleton is regarded by many as Britain's most influential living literary critic. He is Bailrigg Professor of English Literature at the University of Lancaster, and Professor of Cultural Theory at the National University of Ireland, Galway. He has written more than 40 books. His most recent is Reason, Faith and Revolution: Reflections on the God Debate, published by Yale University Press.

 

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