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April 21, 2006

A Teleology of Disbelief -- 2

A couple of thoughts are helpful if you want to see the world as "progressing" toward nonbelief: First, you might want to view the current apparent resurgence of religion as a mere counter-trend, a hysterical reaction to a global march toward secularization, a blip on the curve. Second, you might want to develop a theory that religion itself has been growing more diffuse, gods getting increasingly "wan."

That latter thought can, in turn, be buttressed by the notion that the New Testament represents some sort of step forward from the Hebrew Bible. The old bellicose Deity of Genesis and Exodus, who demands only adherence to the Law and sacrifice, has been replaced by a Father and Son who demand "faith," good works done in secret, morality in the "heart" not just in practice. It helps, in other words, to view Yahweh as louder, more visible and the Son's Father as more a reticent resident of the heart.

However, here's the often provocative Harold Bloom, in his usual literary reading, to mess up that view of progress from Old Testament to New. (This from Benjamin Balint): "The aesthetic dignity of the Hebrew Bible," Bloom writes, "is simply beyond the competitive range of the New Testament…. In the aesthetic warfare between the Hebrew Bible and the New Testament, there is just no contest." And Bloom, less originally, sees in the Trinity a step back to polytheism.

Posted by Mitchell Stephens at April 21, 2006 10:13 AM


Then there's the Koran, in which God has completed his descent into paranoid, solipsistic, violent psychosis. In this scenario, the God of the Old Testament is a tribal thug; in the New Testament, He takes on delusions of grandeur; in the Koran, He becomes completely wacko.

There may be some who will disagree.


Posted by: Richard Blumberg at April 21, 2006 11:18 AM

I do computer generated graphic animations. I support my passion for art by doing forensic animations for court use. Computer graphic hardware and software is the most advanced scientific visualization tool ever invented.

Yet what is this amazing technology used for?
To make superstitions come to life.

We take one step forward and one step back. The Heart of Darkness is alive and well inside each one of us.
80% of Americans believe in angels. There it is.

Posted by: Jay Saul at April 21, 2006 10:35 PM

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