The book - and this blog - will look at the ways in which the ideas and prestige of the eighteenth century Enlightenment are used in contemporary political debate. In particular I want to show how attempts to define Enlightenment primarily as a conflict between reason and faith can function as a form of enchantment, and distract us from the work of understanding the world.And from his second:
There has been a spate of books in recent years that have sought to set out a simple division between faith and reason in which faith is understood as being a commitment to Biblical (or Koranic) literalism and reason is a commitment to materialism and the values of the Enlightenment. The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins and The End of Faith by Sam Harris adopt this central organizing division.Of course, I've been trying to talk about some of these issues here, in my own stumbling way. I've been afraid that I might have painted myself in a corner--but I guess that's a good thing about blogs; I can start over if I want to. Anyway, I've disagreed with Dawkins and others about the "problem of religion"--even as an atheist, who agrees on what evolutionary science tells us about the likelihood of there being a God. (I am aware that I have already in effect repudiated my earlier linguistic argument against saying "I am an atheist". Holding myself to saying "atheistic" all the time, I quickly noticed, would make for some awkward writing. The point still holds, however, that my atheism does not define who I am, nor do I consider it terribly interesting.) Hind says in passing here what I've been wondering about but haven't gotten around to discussing: even if Dawkins and Harris and so on were right, their approach to the problem seems remarkably wrong-headed, even stupid.
We will have plenty of opportunities to examine this style of thought in the months ahead [...]. But right now I just want to ask whether if what Dawkins and Harris say is true - that fundamentalist religion poses a unique and autonomous threat to secular society, even to the survival of mankind - their response is a sensible one. (They are quite wrong of course, let's be clear about that, but like I say, we have plenty of time).
I strongly suspect I'll be reading Hind's book when it appears. And of course, I'll be returning to this theme yet again here.