Let me stay with that last point for a minute–the belief that only science can answer all of our questions.
Can the numinous collapsing of all empirical religious traditions into the word “religion” (equivalent to the equally mystical collapsing of all scientific inquiry into the word “science”) be justified on the basis of a prior assumption–because that’s what it is–that gods don’t exist?
(D)oes “subject matter” mean a certain kind of theology? Or does it mean (I think is often does in new atheist harangues) apologetics–which is unknown in many religious traditions?
Predictably, I am going to say that the best theologians–those who still mistakenly think they have a “subject matter”–are aware of the sovereignty of science over theology in terms of explaining everything from the cosmos to human origins and nature. And they have seen it this way for a long time.
Atheists, as usual, weren’t quite sure what to do (about the Iraq War) because while many hated George W. Bush they hated Islam more and so–like Christopher Hitchens–they backed the wars. They were, in a phrase, paralyzed and morally invisible.
Complacency is what killed European Christianity. The fruits and comforts of the industrial revolution killed it. Not education and science; not curiosity; not Darwin’s dangerous idea. Just the creeping rot of not really giving a damn about anything.
And why, between this and his seeming Enlightenment-era gravitas, he is indeed a frenemy of modern secular humanism. And, why I hope that some of my online friends see that while he can be a useful A-list ally, he's not close to a fantastic one.
UPDATE: On his latest blog post, he spells "favoUrite" the British way, too. For a native American to do this is a bit of pretentiousness, in my book.
And, per this column, he appears to pull his punches on the question of the historicity of Jesus AND the worthiness of study of whether he existed and who he was, if he did.