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Atheism in Christianity: “Only an atheist can be a good Christian; only a Christian can be a good atheist”

November 3, 2009

Birkbeck Institute for the Humanities in conjunction with Verso Press
Saturday 17 October 2009

In the long unavailable Atheism in Christianity, Ernst Bloch provides an original historical examination of Christianity in an attempt to find its social roots. He pursues a detailed study of the Bible and its long standing fascination for “ordinary and unimportant” people. In the Bible stories’ promise of utopia and their antagonism to authority, Bloch locates the appeal to the oppressed—the desire “to transcend without transcendence.” Through a lyrical yet close and nuanced analysis he explores the tensions within the text that promote atheism, against the authoritarian metaphysical theism imposed on it by priest interpreters. At the Bible’s heart he finds a heretical core and claims, paradoxically, that a good Christian must necessarily be an atheist.

Speakers:
Jane Shaw, Dean of Divinity, Chaplain and Fellow (New College, Oxford)
Peter Thompson, Director, Centre for Ernst Bloch Studies (Sheffield)
Ben Morgan (Worcester College, Oxford)
Eric Kaufmann (Birkbeck)
George Pitcher (Chair) Religion Editor of The Daily Telegraph & The Sunday Telegraph

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