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The Death of God and the War on Terror
5th October 2016
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"Atheism is nothing like as easy as it looks. It may be simple enough at the individual level, but for whole societies to achieve this condition has proved remarkably hard. In fact, modernity is littered with the rubble of failed surrogates for the Almighty, all the way from Reason, Geist, art, science, culture and Humanity to Nature, the People, the nation, Society, the state and Tom Cruise. No sooner has God been rejected than he is smuggled in the back door again, sometimes in heavy disguise. I don’t of course mean to suggest that these phenomena are nothing but stand-ins for the deity, but all of them have fulfilled such a function at various times in their careers. Religion has traditionally played such a vital role in legitimating political regimes that our rulers could hardly look upon the disappearance of God with any degree of equanimity, which is one of several reasons why there have been various largely doomed attempts to fill his shoes."
Terry Eagleton is a celebrated literary and cultural theorist. He is Distinguished Professor of English Literature at Lancaster University and Emeritus Fellow of Wadham College, Oxford. He is the author of over fifty books; recent publications include Why Marx Was Right (2011) and Culture and the Death of God (2014).
Prof Eagleton delivered the ninth Theos Annual Lecture on 5th October 2016 at One Birdcage Walk. The event was chaired by Gordon Corera, Security Correspondent at the BBC.