Is that all there is? | Review | Guardian Unlimited Books
Last year, Dawkins and The God Delusion. This year God gets to fight back, albeit in a half-hearted way that suggests there is a God-shaped hole gaping in the breast of every atheist. Looks like it could be annoyingly parochial in that it sticks to Western society and equates religious belief solely with Christianity, but an interesting thesis nevertheless. Here's a snippet from the review:
Let's stay with the thinkable. What's especially compelling about Taylor's, admittedly sometimes long-winded, book is his charge that cracks in Christianity provided places where secularism's weeds flourished. In this he's not just talking about the reformation, but, for example, the movement called deism, prominent in 17th- and 18th-century Britain, France and America, which rejected the theistic position (common in Judaism, Islam and much Christianity) that relied on revelation in sacred scriptures or the testimony of others. Instead, deism drew the existence and nature of God from reason and personal experience. Deism, of course, for some became a way-station from theism to atheism, but not for all.
From deism, Taylor shifts focus to what he calls the west's current age of authenticity. By this he means an individualistic era in which people are encouraged to find their own way or do their own thing. The idea that one had to use one's own reason and experience to find God instilled a sense of intellectual autonomy that led some to abandon God altogether. "As a result," writes Taylor, "the nova effect has been intensified. We are now living in a spiritual super-nova, a kind of galloping pluralism on the spiritual plane."