Tuesday, 22 September 2009

Terry Eagleton on Revelation

In his interview with The Immanent Frame, Terry Eagleton has the usual things to say about his position in the debate between him and Ditchkins. He does it, of course, in his usual elegant style and that makes for good reading. So go and read the interview.

One point caught my attention though, largely due to its close proximity to my recent thesis.
NS: There are so many competing claims for supernatural revelation; some people say they adjudicate truth by the Bible, or by papal authority. How do you know one reliable supernatural tradition from another?

TE: Well, you have to argue about it on the basis of reason, and evidence, and analysis, and historical research. In that sense, theology is like any other intellectual discipline. You don’t know intuitively, and you certainly can’t claim to know dogmatically. You can’t simply, in a sectarian way, assert one tradition over another. I don’t think there’s any one template, any one set of guidelines, which will magically identity the correct view. Theology, like any other intellectual discipline, is a potentially endless process of argument. But that’s not to say that anything goes.
This is the problem with revelation-claims. On the one hand there's no template to follow, and this allows revelation to be free from humanly constructed limitations and definitions. On the other hand, we can't say that "anything goes" because of the horrors committed in the name of revelation.

And that, in a tiny little nutshell, is a very big problem for religion. I hope that when my thesis has been finalised, I will be able to write more extensively on the topic here.
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