Terry Eagleton, Distinguished Professor of English Literature at Lancaster University, delivered the ninth annual Theos lecture on 5th October 2016.
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Terry Eagleton, Distinguished Professor of English Literature at Lancaster University, gave the 2016 Theos Annual Lecture at One Birdcage Walk, Westminster. He discussed the future of atheism and the future of religion, drawing on his book Culture and the Death of God (2014). The lecture was chaired by Gordon Corera, BBC Security Correspondent.
“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.”