Saturday, 29 March 2008

Complex faith

Modern theologians, especially those inspired by recent theory, often consider Dawkins et al to be simply beneath contempt, not even worth commenting upon. 'It is an attack characterised by its crudity, that's all: it is clumsy. Atheists who attack my belief in God do so in the belief that my belief in God is a simplistic belief. But in fact, as any reading of contemporary theological writing will confirm, many people have a belief in God that is enormously complex and subtle, capable of generating an immense body of intellectually challenging and stimulating discourse.' This is true, of course; and the Dawkinsite response (that he is not attacking the minority faith of university academic theologians, but the majority faith of most people in the world), though also valid, isn't quite to the point. The point surely is that the valorisation of complexity is itself problematic. Human beings are complex; human philosophical enquiry is complex; complexity is intensely satisfying to certain sorts of minds. A complex theology is a sort of discursive anthropomorphism, rendering the proper discussion of God in man's image, a fancy version of gifting the divine principle fingers and toes, arms and legs, a beard of white.

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