New books I won’t be reading

May 16, 2010 • 1:45 pm

. . . because I already know what it says:  Evolution is true. . .creationism is simply bad theology. . .  but science doesn’t tell us everything. . . two magisteria. . .scientism rampant and horrible. . . isn’t it marvelous that God chose evolution as His way of creating life, and, after all, doesn’t that make perfect sense?. . .and it’s such a terribly dramatic, story too. . . God just loves a good story. . . . . blah blah blah

The worst part is that Haught apparently tries to rehabilitate that pompous Jesuit fraud, Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, who believed in directed evolution (read Peter Medawar’s wonderful deflation of Teilhard de Chardin’s The Phenomenon of Man).

24 thoughts on “New books I won’t be reading

  1. Isn’t it marvelous that god chose to create life that could only live by out competing or out-right killing other living things? Isn’t it wonderful that most wild animals die in pain and terror from starvation/disease or predation? Gosh, golly, gee willikers – just makes you want to praise the one that made it this way.

  2. I will put this book as #120,801 on my books to read list (as it is ranked on

  3. After reading Amir Aczel’s bio of Teilhard “The Jesuit and the Skull” the terms pompous and fraud don’t readily spring to mind. He was an unusual man of his times, trying to do serious anthropology and always under scrutiny by his Jesuit and vatican overlords. He really loved and believed in the pursuit of a scientific/evolutionary understanding of man. He seemed to be naive in not getting why he was always getting in hot water with his bosses. He also got taken in by piltdown like many of his era. Anyway, I liked the the man after reading that book.

    1. I long ago read a quite convincing essay in SJ Gould’s ‘The Panda’s Thumb’, on why Teilhard de Chardin was probably responsible for the Piltdown Man hoax. It was mostly circumstantial but impressive even so.

      1. Will check it out. Try “Bones of Contention” by Roger Lewin for the early era of anthropology.

  4. The Michael Dowd crowd. More “semiotics of the creator” crap.

    This represent nothing more than a series of transitional rags written in a window of time before the gavel of elucidation annihilates the last vestiges of gap-filling mythos.

    Hope they cash their checks soon…

  5. God is a being that is the best at everything. He is thus the best at hiding his own existence.

    It all makes sense.

  6. “New books I won’t be reading

    . . . because I already know what it says: ”

    You’re probably right, but it’s a bad look to write him off without a hearing. There (just) might be nuggets amidst the dross.

    1. By now I’ve dug through several of Haught’s books, and I have yet to find a single nugget. Presumably you wouldn’t urge someone to read yet another book by an author who has consistently produced fool’s gold!

  7. Why would an omnipotent being use evolution? He knows it will lead to us, so what’s the point? Just snap your magic fingers, or wiggle your nose, and voila!

    1. No, you don’t understand. God loves the DRAMA of evolution! Read Haught. On second thought, don’t. . .

      1. Post-semitic gods are so _moral_, letting such a drama play out for cheer self amusement.

        [As a presumed out against the argument of evil, this must be one of the more at the same tragic and laughable ones.]

        Who asked the actors, better yet who is paying them minimum wages? Waving Pascal’s wager around as terms of contract is a patent and suable fraud.

    2. Plus god works in mysterious ways beyond our ken when it turns out that rational, skeptical inquiry notes that there is no evidence for such an entity and in fact a lot of evidence to suggest such an entity does not exist.

      On the other hand gods ways seem to be perfectly comprehensible when it comes to the personal lives of ones neighbors and that god resembles in a most startling manner a bronze age tribal patriarch.

      Or as Ambrose Bierce put it:

      Christian, n. One who believes that the New Testament is a divinely inspired book admirably suited to the spiritual needs of his neighbor. One who follows the teachings of Christ so long as they are not inconsistent with a life of sin.

  8. I just hope no one is confusing this guy with my old friend James Haught, author of Holy Horrors, among other things. The same last name is unfortunate.

  9. The condemnation of Teilhard de Chardin’s books by the Church magisteria (I believe they were published posthumously) seems to have conferred a kind of martyrdom on the man.

    I believe Flannery O’Connor, the Catholic writer, actually followed Church protocol and obtained formal ecclesial permission to read his works.

    In any event, anybody who pisses off the Church like Chardin did can’t be all bad.

    1. “In any event, anybody who pisses off the [Catholic] Church like Chardin did can’t be all bad.”

      Ummm, Calvin?

    2. How disappointing it was to find out recently that O’Connor’s brutal and witty skewering of religion in her excellent short stories was only her skewering other Christian competition, as she believed fervently that the bag of merde, Catholicism, was this brilliantly shining lovely truth.

      Being forced to tend ‘liberal’ Catholic schools for 12 years, I was mind-fucked each and every day with stuff that the Church may have approved (instead of Chardin), but it had the same stink of nonsense parading as substance.

      Thanks so much for that link to Medawar’s takedown. I especially appreciated the part of why this style of philosophy/science/religious writing is so popular–to feed the many over educated fools just like tabloids do for the many who are churned through compulsory education.

      1. 40 years ago, when I had only recently become an ex-Christian, and had a number of religious acquaintances who thought Chardin was profound, I intended to read one of his books, but happened across Medawar’s review first, which cured me of any interest in Chardin. It’s a superbly well-written hatchet job – intelligent snark as an art form.

  10. “…its author can be excused of dishonesty only on the grounds that before deceiving others he has taken great pains to deceive himself.”

    That’s my favorite negative review line, ever.

  11. John Haught is not simply one of the best theologians of our time

    So much for theology. Apparently Haught could be its gravedigger and no one would rise an eyebrow.

  12. The story of the origin of species is a rather dramatic tale, with it’s own terrible beauty… as long as there is no conscious hand behind it. As soon as you ascribe intentionality to it, particularly if the intentions are those of an omnipotent being, the whole story gets really fucking disturbing.

    It’s like the difference between, say, a story about loss and redemption during the time of the bubonic plague vs. a story about loss and redemption during an outbreak of smallpox in a Native American village who had recently been given a “gift” of several very nice blankets by the white-skinned newcomers. The former is tragic but potentially beautiful; the latter is just depressing.

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