What I keep saying! But Sean Carrol says it a lot better in a review of Eagleton’s review of Dawkins.
Okay, very good. God, in this conception, is not some thing out there in the world (or even outside the world), available to be poked and prodded and have his beard tugged upon…The previous excerpt, which defined God as “the condition of possibility,” seemed to be warning against the dangers of anthropomorphizing the deity, ascribing to it features that we would normally associate with conscious individual beings such as ourselves…But – inevitably – Eagleton does go ahead and burden this innocent-seeming concept with all sorts of anthropomorphic baggage. God created the universe “out of love,” is capable of “regret,” and “is an artist.” That’s crazy talk. What could it possibly mean to say that “The condition of possibility is an artist, capable of regret”? Nothing at all…And once you start attributing to God the possibility of being interested in some way about the world and the people in it, you open the door to all of the nonsensical rules and regulations governing real human behavior that tend to accompany any particular manifestation of religious belief, from criminalizing abortion to hiding women’s faces to closing down the liquor stores on Sunday.
This is (she enunciated with quiet intensity) what I keep saying. You can’t do both.
The problematic nature of this transition – from God as ineffable, essentially static and completely harmless abstract concept, to God as a kind of being that, in some sense that is perpetually up for grabs, cares about us down here on Earth – is not just a minor bump in the otherwise smooth road to a fully plausible conception of the divine. It is the profound unsolvable dilemma of “sophisticated theology.” It’s a millenia-old problem, inherited from the very earliest attempts to reconcile two fundamentally distinct notions of monotheism: the Unmoved Mover of ancient Greek philosophy, and the personal/tribal God of Biblical Judaism. Attempts to fit this square peg into a manifestly round hole lead us smack into all of the classical theological dilemmas: “Can God microwave a burrito so hot that He Himself cannot eat it?” The reason why problems such as this are so vexing is not because our limited human capacities fail to measure up when confronted with the divine; it’s because they are legitimately unanswerable questions, arising from a set of mutually inconsistent assumptions.
That’s exactly it. Takes a cosmologist to say it so clearly. It’s not just a minor bump, it’s a deal-breaker. So Eagleton’s blithe one minute having God be ineffable and not like Gore or an octopus or his foot and the next minute having it be all kinds of specific and particular and just so and not otherwise – won’t work, and makes him look silly. Pick one and stick to it, but don’t pretend it can be both.