Monday, June 7, 2010

Zizek and Christian Atheism

Via fb: Alastair, linking to this article, comments helpfully (as usual) on why Zizek is interesting:
For some minds the appeal of Zizek's brand of atheism to theologians lies in the fact that it flatters them that their work has a broader significance than is generally acknowledged and that even atheism must adopt a sort of theological approach. To my mind, much of the appeal lies in the fact that, no matter how mistaken he might be on many points in his reading, Zizek recognizes something of the particularity of the Christian faith, most particularly the strong atheistic moment that exists within the Christian faith itself.

It is no accident that the first Christians were widely regarded as 'atheists'. Christianity involved an uncovering and overturning of the foundation of the ancient world and an exposing and a ridiculing of the pantheon. Christians know, probably better than any, what the critique of religion ought to look like. Christians have been subverting the idea of the divine for two millennia. We are radicals who want to drive this subversion of the idea of divine down to the very roots of society, our understanding of the world and our humanity.

This is why, despite my significant disagreements with them, I feel a distinct affinity to the projects of thinkers like Feuerbach, Nietzsche and Zizek, and their forms of atheism. They retain the radical atheism of Christianity, and seek to expose the myth of the divine completely, to think without flinching of the radical consequences of being human in a world in which the gods do not exist.

This is also why I lack respect for the work of the 'New Atheists'. Theirs is a lazy and conservative atheistic dogmatism, unprepared to drive their critique of the myth of the divine through into a more searching and troubling uncovering of the roots of society and humanity itself. They are unwilling to examine the degree to which the Christian legacy infects the entire Western project, our concepts of the world, culture, society and humanity.

The sort of atheism that Christians have historically been committed to is one that is deeply discomforting and unsettling, and one that leaves the thinker himself deeply exposed and vulnerable. I have a genuine respect for any atheists who have the courage to continue in the tradition of thought. [source]


Dorian Gray said...

I like this post. I consider myself an atheist in the Christian tradition. Zizek makes the bold claim that God himself was an atheist. I don't know how I feel about the "God is dead" philosophy, however, that many Christian atheists espouse. An interesting manifesto of sorts can be found here: