In a rather hilariously misbegotten--you'll pardon the expression--review, Andrew O'Heir lavishly praises the bumptious Terry Eagleton for disparaging the so-called new atheists habit of attacking religion only "in its stupidest and most literal-minded form" by picking on two of the most stupid and literal-minded atheists. To wit:
As Eagleton ultimately admits, the discount-store atheism of Dawkins and Hitchens is something of a useful straw man, and his real differences with them are, in the main, not theological but political.Thus do the second-rate doxologists of both sides ever creep into each others' nests, stealing eggs.
The new religionists, hoping to reclaim the centrality of their cultural artifacts from the scifi Dispensationalists and other such creatures, have in response to Hitchensian nitpickery trascended their god out of existence, eliminating one by one any discernible quality or attribute that might be observationally, empirically, or logically challenged. God is just, like, the universe, man. Your Eagletons and O'Heirs would object to this as crude caricature, but it's simply indisputable that Yaweh's life chart has plotted a trajectory from the concrete to the ineffable as the centuries and millennia have marched by, at least within Roman Catholicism and the declining sects of mainline Protestantism. Notably, O'Heir and Eagleton both conspicuously discount the rising non-denominational, evangelical creeds with cosmopolitan embarrassment, since these millions upon millions of believers do attribute actual qualities to their god, which are of course easily argued against and shown to be ridiculous.
Appeals to "Judeo-Christian" theology are particularly disingenuous in any argument about god as a thoroughly transcendent entity, because in the Jewish tradition, he is anything but. Much as he likes to thunder "I AM" like some cosmic Popeye, the god of the Tanak is an entity, who acts and communes directly with people and peoples, not merely some cut-rate cryptognostic demiurge. Or less yet:
Eagleton further argues that not only is the Ditchkinsian version of traditional Judeo-Christian belief a travesty, in which God is envisioned as an unproven and improbable creature like the yeti or the Loch Ness monster, but that this strain of post-Enlightenment atheism cannot comprehend the character of religious faith at all. The creedal declaration "I believe in God" is a statement of action and will; it is performative rather than assertive. It is not equivalent to the claim that God exists (although Christians believe that too). It possesses the kind of certainty that belongs to such wistful sentences as "I love you" or "I believe the Mets are the best team in baseball." It clearly lacks the empirical certainty of the sentence "I believe this maple tree will turn red in October."And there you have it, god in all his discorporeal non-glory proven, proven!, through the argument of that most sophisticated of all theologians, George Micahel.