Grad School God
David Bentley Hart wants atheists to engage the "most sophisticated forms" of the "belief he or she rejects." Drum objects:
Hart would like us to believe that anyone who hasn't spent years meditating on Aquinas and Nietzsche isn't worth engaging with, but walk into any Christian church in America or the world and you'll find it full of people who understand God much the same way Hitchens and Dawkins do, not the way Hart does. That's the reality of the religious experience for the vast majority of believers. To call a foul on those who want to engage with this experience with the world as it is, rather than with Hart's abstract graduate seminar version of the world is to insist that nonbelievers forfeit the game without even taking the field.
Look: human nature being what it is, most religious people will be a dreadful example of the best version of faith you can find. Drum permits what Hitch's book was: a grand guignol of anti-clerical, fish-barrel-shooting. It's easy; it's way fun; mockery of inarticulate believers has made my friend, Bill Maher, lotsa money. But it's largely missing the real intellectual task by fighting a straw man, rather than a real and living and intelligent faith. Part of that is the fault of believers. We've done a lousy job of delineating a living faith for modernity.
But I think that's changing. As it must, if we are to take this debate forward.