Some of the writings of “sophisticated” theologians are so convoluted, so lacking in substance, so, well . . . dumb, that they could easily be mistaken for a Sokal-style hoax. Karen Armstrong and Terry Eagleton belong to this “are-you-kidding-me” club. Eagleton, for example, has excoriated Gnu Atheists who presume to attack ideas of a benevolent and paternal sky-God, but then Eagleton presumes to know that God not only has emotions like humans, but that they are dominated by love.
Some Sokalian prankster could do us all a favor by writing some Eagleton-style piffle and placing it in a newspaper or magazine. That would demonstrate the vacuity of modern theology in precisely the same way that Sokal showed up postmodern science studies. (Deliberate satire is also good; see for instance Miranda Hale’s hilarious “Rabbit is the Question.“)
In this month’s issue of the Australian Book Review, critic James Ley goes after Eagleton’s latest book, On Evil. The money quote:
Of course, if we accept what Eagleton calls the ‘orthodox’ theological view—namely, that God is an inhuman, inexplicable, intangible, unlocatable, unthinkable, pointless, non-creating, uncommunicative nonentity—then God’s relevance to human affairs would appear to be limited. Certainly, anyone who claims to speak on God’s behalf can be safely told to rack off. By definition, such a deity has no implications for questions of morality, value or meaning. It can have no objection to gay marriage, contraception or female priests; nor could it father a son or require any form of religious observance. Even attributing indifference to such an ineffable non-being would seem to be laying on the anthropomorphism a bit thick.