Wednesday, October 15, 2008

John Gray and humanity

I’ve been reading John Gray’s Heresies, a book published in 2004. Some of the essays go back to the late 90s, but they are, for the most part, still very relevant. I don’t think Gray is particularly optimistic about the future of the human race (he certainly doesn’t see science as our great salvation and he sees our history as being littered with war and strife) but at least he’s more honest about it than the secular humanists, who somehow think we’re going to overcome all our difficulties by putting faith (yes, faith) in the willingness of scientists to work together. Here’s one typical example of his thinking, from Sex, Atheism and Piano Legs.

The need for religion appears to be hard-wired in the human animal. Certainly the behaviour of secular humanists supports this hypothesis. Atheists are usually just as ardently engaged as believers. Quite commonly, they are more intellectually rigid. One cannot engage in dialogue with religious thinkers in Britain today without quickly discovering that they are, on the who, more intelligent, better educated and strikingly more freethinking than unbelievers (as evangelical atheists still incongruously describe themselves). No doubt there are many reasons for this state of affairs, but I suspect it is the repression of the religious impulse that explains the obsessive rigidity of secular thought.
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