No One Is Afraid Of Big Bad Science (When It Agrees With Them)

It transpires that well know conservative philosopher Roger Scruton is giving the Gifford Lectures this year with the title ‘The Face of God’ – the basic gist being popular science is wrecking everything. As Scruton demures “By understanding the world in the way of popular science we fortify those destructive tendencies in our culture which are wiping away the face of the world”. In an essay ‘The Sacred and The Human‘ Scruton gives a preview of what will be said. Scruton begins with a tour of reductions of religion in secular in Hegel, Schleiermacher, Feuerbach, Freud, Frazer and Durkheim, then he ends up at René Girard who ‘wins’, by proving a theory of religion that is positive about the role of Christianity as a unmasking of the problems of mimetic violence and proving a solution to it in positive imitation (of Jesus and of God) and the end of sacrificial violence. Contrary to Dawkins, Dennett and Hitchens then, religion in general but monotheism and Christianity in particular, is not in essence violent but a refutation of most forms of violence – “Religion is not the cause of violence but the solution to it”. This though is problematic for what Scruton wants, and maybe reveals one of the philosophical problems of our time, highlighted to me at last week’s conference in Dundee and Adam’s recent highlighting of a post on the use of evolutionary psychology in the study of literature. He is attempting to refute one (social) science in the name of another.

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