Reason, Faith, and Revolution: Reflections on the God Debate by Terry Eagleton - review by John Cornwell

John Cornwell

A Dig at Ditchkins

Reason, Faith, and Revolution: Reflections on the God Debate


Yale University Press 208pp £18.99

In The God Delusion, Richard Dawkins invoked 9/11 and suggested worse was to come as the price of the continued existence of religion. According to Dawkins, faith means a step into barbarism: the irrationality of the suicide bomber, the unreasoning cruelty of the fundamentalist. 

There is surely no denying that religionists have caused much misery and violence down the ages in God’s name. Yet Dawkins has drawn severe criticism for his narrow and distorted understanding of religious faiths; not least from Terry Eagleton, who opined that Dawkins’s book was like someone holding forth on arcane aspects of biology who has read nothing more on the subject than The British Book of Birds.

Now Eagleton has returned to the faith and reason debate with an entire book on Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens, whose God Is Not Great swiftly climbed the bestseller list in Dawkins’s wake. Based on a series of lectures Eagleton gave in America last year, the book treats us to lots of knockabout stuff at the expense of the atheist duo, whom he characterises as an ill-assorted pantomime horse he calls ‘Ditchkins’. 

On the face of it, Eagleton makes for a queasy champion of

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