Andrew Sullivan often has posts titled “poseur alerts” that highlights particularly incoherent or obscure use of jargon by academics, but he presents this quote from Robert Barron without noticing that it would qualify very well for that label. Barron is arguing that the “new atheists” (I really hate that term) don’t understand God at all:
It is not so much that Christopher Hitchens and Richard Dawkins disagree with Thomas Aquinas on the existence of God; it is that neither Hitchens nor Dawkins has any real grasp of what Aquinas even means when he speaks of God.
To a person, the new atheists hold that God is some being in the world, the maximum instance, if you want, of the category of “being.” But this is precisely what Aquinas and serious thinkers in all of the great theistic traditions hold that God is not. Thomas explicitly states that God is not in any genus, including that most generic genus of all, namely being. He is not one thing or individual — however supreme — among many. Rather, God is, in Aquinas’s pithy Latin phrase, esse ipsum subsistens, the sheer act of being itself.
That’s the kind of meaningless babble you hear from the more “new agey” and liberal Christians quite often. What could it possibly even mean to say that God is “the sheer act of being itself”? Absolutely nothing. It is, quite literally, gibberish, like a baby making random sounds with its mouth.
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