UPDATE: Yeah, me and Taibbi. We’ve got a head of steam up.
Another title possibility: “Agonistic Agnostics.” The back-and-forth in Comments drove me to Merriam-Webster’s. There, while looking up everyone’s word of the day, I stumbled upon “agonistic,” which primarily means “of or relating to the athletic contests of ancient Greece.” But I like the second part of the definition better: “2: ARGUMENTATIVE.”
Fucking agnostics, the shit we get up to. Thank God no souls or church revenue is at stake. We’d have a non-afterlife-oriented St. Bartholomew’s Day Massacre every weekend.
Cole, if you’re listening, no hard feelings. But I wasn’t a philosophy major and I’m going to stick with our two favorite words the way the dictionary and I like to use them.
I thought Matt Taibbi was an atheist because he gets so pissed at believers. But no. Dig the windup to this blog post laying into Terry Eagleton and Stanley Fish:
They seem to think that if one doesn’t believe in God, one must believe in something else, because to live without answers would be intolerable. … But there are plenty of other people who are simply comfortable not knowing the answers. It always seemed weird to me that this quality of not needing an explanation and just being cool with what few answers we have inspires such verbose indignation in people like Eagleton and Fish.
Taibbi uses “weird,” so you’d think he was bemused. But no, he’s angry. You don’t let loose the following with a quizzical shrug:
… a recent book written by the windily pompous University of Manchester professor Terry Eagleton, a pudgily superior type, physically resembling a giant runny nose, who seems to have been raised by indulgent aunts who gave him sweets every time he corrected the grammar of other children.
Most of the post is about lectures Eagleton gave on faith vs. nonbelief. The excerpts do sound woolly and dumb, a lot of vapid bluff written in jocose academese. But does Taibbi get this mad at atheists? In the post he charges Richard Dawkins with being “humorless” and of trying to make atheism into a religion of its own. But he doesn’t get worked up about him. For the record, I saw Dawkins on the O’Reilly show and he seemed like fun. That’s a nice argument he has about the Flying Spaghetti Monster. But like any atheist or believer (really an atheist is also a believer, in God’s nonexistence, but I’m using shorthand here) he’s left with the problem of trying to settle an infinite question by using finite means.
Of course I had no idea that Eagleton and Fish cared anything about religion. I thought they dealt in some sort of advanced (at least for 1975) French school of heavy literary analysis. Maybe they’ve kind of eased into religion over the years.
More about difficult problems of faith here and here.