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God in a Postmodern World,
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This review is from: The Face of God (Hardcover)
Review of The Face of God: The Gifford Lectures 2010 Roger Scruton [continuum 2012]
In the middle of last century Austin Farrer wrote what should have been a seminal book exploring the compatibility of science and religion when God is understood through the framework of human comprehension that is theology in parallel with science. Regrettably, the path taken in the science and religion debate since has been predominantly adversarial; to the point where science largely rejects religion as irrelevant not just to scientific understanding but to understanding per se while religion retreats into a cocoon of denial, either by ignoring science altogether or else by seeking to trivialize scientific understanding through pseudo- science as evidenced in Creation Science and Intelligent Design arguments. (See my review of Farrer's A Science of God? at Amazon)
Roger Scruton's Gifford Lectures of 2010, now published as The Face of God, offers the possibility of rapprochement again - in keeping with the foundational intent of the Gifford bequest - as he "explores what we lose when we lose [God] belief". Scruton argues that expressing a disbelief in God "is not only an intellectual phenomenon ...but also a moral phenomenon, involving a turning away from God". Through the analysis of face as the core concept of meaning and understanding for a metaphysic in harmony with the diversity of human knowledge and understanding, Scruton seeks to re-open the transcendental dimension that has been lost to Postmodern consciousness.
God is not a `hypothesis' to be set beside the fundamental constants and the laws of quantum dynamics. .... It is not causation but revelation that leads us to such an entity ..." And that revelation is, ultimately, the revelation of the face of God. But in a consumer and utilitarian culture such as ours, "we should not be surprised ... if God is so rarely encountered now" and "that moments of sacred awe should be rare among us". "... it is surely this, rather than the arguments of the atheists, that has led to the decline of religion". "By remaking human beings and their habitat as objects to consume rather than subjects to revere we invite the degradation of both". For then we have created a world without faces, without Face: without God.Roger Scruton's Gifford Lectures are an important challenge to religious meaning and understanding for a Postmodern world. His illustration of his arguments through the exploration of art and architecture, music and the variety of human expression makes for a rewarding and enlightening reflective journey.