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Dylan Evans and the 20th century atheist

Dylan Evans had an article in The Guardian a couple of days ago about different versions of atheism (see his website
for a link).

He complains that prominent atheists today, such as Jonathan Miller and Richard Dawkins, advocate a 19C version of militant atheism that is likely to give atheism a bad name. I think he has a good point here, although I can’t go along with his suggested alternative which sees science as a means to an end and finds the meaning of life in art.

In the past and in most societies art was subservient to religion and it could be plausibly claimed that to substitute art for religion as the meaning of life was the grand mistake of the Romantics.

But I think Evans is right to acknowledge the emotional power of the religious vision and of its appeal to the human longing for meaning and transcendence. Iris Murdoch and Marghanita Laski were two atheists who fully recognized this.

Evans's book Placebo is reviewed on my website.


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