Atheism & Neo-Liberalism

In a recent interview on the rise of a “new” atheism, John Milbank observes:

Post 9/11 has allowed the media to present the religion versus science story in ever cruder terms. Of course it’s highly significant that Christopher Hitchens also supported the Bush foreign policy. This is because, at bottom, neo-liberalism and scientism line up with each other. But Hitchens never really explains how his imperialism of reason relates to the messianic aspect of American imperialism.

My guess is that Hitchens finds Christianity easier to domesticate than Islam. Rather than seeing two players on the stage – Belief and unBelief – he sees three: Islam, Modernity, and Christianity. When he – the Modern – looks toward Islam, he wants Christianity to cover his back. If the battle were between Islam and Christianity, he’s likely just sit on the sidelines and hope they destroyed each other. His actions, however, tell us he sees the conflict between modernity and religion being waged more effectively and forcefully by Islam. Most Christians – at least the kind that walk with him in the halls of modernity – love modernity as much as he does, and wouldn’t want to see it fall.

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2 Responses to Atheism & Neo-Liberalism

  1. Dan Morehead says:

    Thanks for the link!

  2. Kim says:

    I think it’s interesting and amusing that you used the word “domesticate” here. Assuming that the major Islamic peoples are descendants of Ishmael (which I don’t believe is just an evangelical Christian idea, but also one held by Arabs and Jews alike) … the prophecy over Ishmael was that he would be “a wild donkey of a man” … right?

    Thinking back again to Dr. Score … I don’t remember which text it was, but one of the texts in his class talked about science being a product of Christian assumptions … that the world is ultimately ordered and knowable by systematic investigation. There is an ideological link between modernism and Christianity, even if the two are not completely compatible.

    I’m not arguing that the modernist viewpoint is uniquely or even necessarily “Christian,” in fact, in many ways I find postmodern ideas to dovetail more neatly with my Christian worldview … but rather that there is a link with Christianity that is not there with Islam.

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