Satan Goes Secular

On Evil:  Terry Eagleton YUP  2010

Terry Eagleton, a British Marxist historian who recently published a book titled ‘Evil’ by Yale University Press stands in line with many other European intellectuals who for decades gave moral, intellectual cover to the witnessed horrors of Totalitarian life is wrestling with a profound topic, namely Satan and the nature of Evil.

As a teacher with over fifteen years teaching experience I can attest that this topic never goes out of style.  The difficulity is getting any audience to recognize how intractable the problem of noticing true Satanic Presence differs from portraits seen in Hollywood movies.

Dr. Eagleton’s text is a fresh start.  He writes that for Evil to mean anything, it must transcend ordinary human wrongdoing.  In a sentence, what’s required is the total complete rejection of God.  “Evil is a deviant image of divine love, as plain immorality is not.”  Without God as a foil it is hard to say how even the most heinous behavior can be called Evil.

In a secular world, what meaning does Evil have?

Simply put, secular understanding of Evil is insufficient.  We deprive ourselves of an important moral weapon in our cultural arsenal if we remain unable or unwilling to comprehend or recognize acts of Evil.  An example is Mohammed Atta, who not only slaughters his victims but kills himself.  He acted in pursuit of a goal whose aim is not just the rejection of God, but the slaughter of man.  In studying Atta, we arrive at a signpost helping us define Evil as wickedness for the sake of being wicked.

Dr. Eagleton is one of the very few remaining writers in Continental Europe who possess intellectual responsibility in pursuing theological topics after the demise of Marxism.

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About William Holland

Systematic Theologian/International Relations
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