Wednesday, August 17, 2016

David Bentley Hart - an author you should read!

Today I share with you an important (downloadable) essay by David Bentley Hart:

David Bentley Hart is an Eastern Orthodox philosophical theologian, philosopher, and cultural commentator. He has held positions at the Notre Dame University Institute for Advanced Study,  St. Louis University, The University of Virginia, Duke University, and Providence College. He has also been an endowed fellow of the Center for Theological Inquiry in Princeton. He was the winner of the 2011 Michael Ramsey Prize of the Church of England. Hart’s specialties are philosophical theology, systematics, patristics, classical and continental philosophy, and Asian religion. His most recent work has concerned the genealogy of classical and Christian metaphysics, ontology, the metaphysics of the soul, and the philosophy of mind.

His principal scholarly books are The Beauty of the Infinite (2003); The Doors of the Sea (2005); In the Aftermath (2007); Atheist Delusions (2009); and The Experience of God (2013).  He has also published a popular history of Christianity (2007), a volume of short stories, and over 150 articles in such scholarly journals as Modern Theology, The Scottish Journal of Theology, and Pro Ecclesia, as well as in such trade publications as The Times Literary Supplement, The Wall Street Journal, First Things, and Commonweal.
If you enjoyed the downloadable essay, you might like to hear Hart being interviewed for the Australian Centre for Public Christianity. Click on the topics below, and you will be taken to the video files on their website (except the first one which is audio only):

David Bentley Hart examines the impact of Christianity on the West 

David Bentley Hart explains how he reconciles suffering with his belief in a good God. 

David Bentley Hart on whether the Gnostic gospels should be taken seriously. 

David Bentley Hart considers if the pagan society was better than the Christian one that overtook it 

David Bentley Hart examines whether humans can create objective ethics without referring to a deity. 

David Bentley Hart explains why New Atheism has become so popular. 

David Bentley Hart responds to the accusation that Christianity causes violence

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Oliver Burkeman writing about David Bentley Hart’s book The Experience of God on The Guardian website (Tuesday 14 January 2014).

One reason that modern-day debates between atheists and religious believers are so bad-tempered, tedious and infuriating is that neither side invests much effort in figuring out what the other actually means when they use the word ‘God’. This is an embarrassing oversight, especially for the atheist side (on which my sympathies generally lie). After all, scientific rationalists are supposed to care deeply about evidence. So you might imagine they’d want to be sure that the God they’re denying is the one in which most believers really believe. No ‘case against God’, however watertight, means much if it’s directed at the wrong target.

Yet prominent atheists display an almost aggressive lack of curiosity when it comes to the facts about belief. In The God Delusion, Richard Dawkins expertly demolishes what he calls ‘the God hypothesis’, but devotes only a few sketchy anecdotes to establishing that this God hypothesis is the one that has defined religious belief through history, or defines it around the world today. AC Grayling insists that atheists are excused the bother of actually reading theology – where they might catch up on debates among believers about what they believe – because atheism “rejects the premise” of theology. And when The Atlantic ran a piece last year entitled Study theology, even if you don’t believe in God, Jerry Coyne, the atheist blogosphere’s Victor Meldrew, called it “the world’s worst advice.” And on and on it goes.

My modest New Year’s wish for 2014, then, is that atheists who care about honest argument – and about maybe actually getting somewhere in these otherwise mind-numbingly circular debates – might consider reading just one book by a theologian, David Bentley Hart’s The Experience of God, published recently by Yale University Press. Not because I think they’ll be completely convinced by it. (I’m not, and I’m certainly not convinced by Hart’s other publicly expressed views, which tend towards the implacably socially conservative.) They should read it because Hart marshals powerful historical evidence and philosophical argument to suggest that atheists – if they want to attack the opposition’s strongest case badly need to up their game.

Go HERE to read the rest of the article.


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