In the ancient world, Epicurus scored belief in the gods for its fear-mongering; in the modern world, Enlightened and Marxist philosophers attacked religious belief for the opposite failing: for its attempt to extinguish an accessible and realizable happiness in the “real” world in favor of an imaginary happiness in the afterlife. But decades before such hopes for a this-worldly happiness would be dashed in the abattoir of the twentieth century, Friedrich Nietzsche had already exposed that illusion. What happiness? What “real” world? What improvement? What progress? Along with ignoring the French Revolution, one of the most telling features of the new books on atheism is their consistent refusal to engage Nietzsche, who, if read correctly, ought to make atheists squirm far more than he has ever caused discomfit to believers.
Tuesday, January 29, 2008
Edward J. Oakes, S.J. takes stock of the 'new' atheists: