[EconTalk] John Gray on the Seven Kinds of Atheism

John Gray on the Seven Kinds of Atheism

15/10/2018 by EconTalk: Russ Roberts

Web player: http://podplayer.net/?id=56909770
Episode: http://files.libertyfund.org/econtalk/y2018/Grayatheism.mp3

Philosopher and author John Gray talks about his latest book, Seven Types of Atheism, with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Gray argues that progress is an illusion and that most atheisms inherit, unknowingly, a religious belief in progress that is not justified. While Gray concedes that technological know-how and scientific knowledge improve over time, he argues that morality and political systems are cyclical and that there is no reason to be optimistic about the future.

Listen Date: last week of October, mostly over two gym sessions

Notes on the podcast:

  • The dismissal of the New Atheists as barking up the wrong tree, because they’re focused on religion as a set of mutually incoherent beliefs; rather than as a set of practices, matches the skepticism I had while reading The God Delusion. Of course, John Gray explains why New Atheism is a dead end much better than I ever could.
  • That’s not to excuse the practices themselves, which can often be vile and vicious, and the podcast sort of skirted around that, to focus more on vile and vicious practices carried out by modernity.
  • Vile and vicious practices carried out by religious people does seem to be an EconTalk blind spot.
  • The argument about progress not being inevitable seems to make sense but it doesn’t go into enough detail to be either contradicted or taken up wholeheartedly. So it goes.
  • John Gray talking about how he believed Communism would collapse but not because of technology; and of how he now doesn’t fit in either anticommunists or other atheists reminds me of Grouch Marx / George Orwell.
  • The podcast doesn’t at all go into what the seven kinds of atheism are.
  • I want to get the book and find out, based on this podcast.

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