to disagree with him. For example, PaulnJohnson, in reviewing Hook’s memoirsnfor the Washington Times, praises himnwithout qualification. Never does Johnsonnmention that some of the mostnprovocative parts of Out of Step arenHook’s defense of socialism and a “democraticnform of secularization.” Thisnomission, on Johnson’s part, seemsnstrange, coming as it does from a selfdeclarednChristian conservative historian.nPerhaps Johnson agrees with onenmovement conservative who in speakingnabout Hook explained: “He’s soundnwhere it counts, fighting the Commiesnand the academic crazies.”nNeedless to say, such a judgment failsnto take Hook’s world view seriously. Fornwant of a better term, one may call thisnview “untragic atheism.” Unlike thosenatheists who consider the “death ofnCod” to be somehow disturbing, evennthe point of departure for an anguished,nfatalistic philosophy. Hook and othernuntragic atheists pooh-pooh the loss of anProvidential universe. Indeed they go onnbelieving in a soft kind of Christianity, ansecularized form of progress, whichnteaches that humankind is advancing,neven though jerkingly, toward a culturallynhomogeneous and socially egalitariannfuture. Moral laws as such will notncrumble in this future world but becomenmore humane as the result of rationalndialogues, the removal of class barriers,nand the disintegration of theistic illusion.nHook presents this view most explicitlynin his critical observations about WhittakernChambers, the former Communistnwho became a founding father of postwarnconservatism and a devoutly ChristiannQuaker. According to Hook, Chambersnwas correct to abandon Communismnbut wrong to turn against then”authentic liberal tradition . . . from Jeffersonnto [John] Dewey” and to make annonexistent deity “the source or thenjustification of man’s moral judgments.”nHook argues that Cod is “always creatednin man’s moral image.” Thus “whennChambers thought he had ‘found God,’nhe was really rediscovering certain basicnmoral truths that do not rest in theology.”n”If God is completely other [asnAugustine, Karl Barth, and Chambers allninsist], one can believe in Him and stillndo anything one pleases.” Moreover,n”the religious view of the world becomesnsensitive to human freedom only when itnis persecuted.” Hook concludes that then”final conflict of the age” is not betweennbelief and unbelief but “between thendemocratic form of secularization, dedicatednto the broadest religious tolerance,nand the totalitarian form of secularization,nintolerant not only of religion but ofnall free and spontaneous variations in art,nphilosophy, and other works of thenhuman spirit.”nHere as elsewhere in his book. Hookninsists on hurling down the gauntletnbefore religionists who, like Johnson,nmay go on extolling him without noticingnthis repetitive gesture. Hook sets up anstraw man in place of religion. His ownnversion of Christian theological claimsnremoves God entirely from the universe,nby misrepresenting the doctrine of divinentranscendence.nContrary to Hook’s assertion, neithernSolzhenitsyn nor Karl Barth nor Augustinenargued that Cod remained totallynaloof from the world He had created.nOne might have expected Hook to knownenough Christian theology not to confusenit with some variant of the Gnosticnheresy. It is also questionable whethernskeptics have a better record of defendingnpolitical freedoms than Christiansnand Jews. Hook presents his case unfairlynby identifying religion with obscurantistsnwhile associating skepticism with peoplenlike himself—that is, with those whongrew up in a still vestigiously religiousnsociety, whether Eastern European Jewishnor middle-class Protestant. Why not,nfor the sake of balanced perspective,nplace Lenin, Stalin, Hitler, and Eichmannnin the camp of the freethinkers?nThis seems only fair, seeing that Hookncannot discuss religion without evokingnthe bugaboo of ecclesiastical authoritarianism.nOf course the piety Chambersnexemplified was unrelated to ecclesiasticalnauthoritarianism. Indeed Chambers,nwho embraced the teaching that thenKingdom of God is in each man, emphasizednthat side of biblical Christianitynmost supportive of the individual person.nOne might even suggest that Hook’snincreasing isolation on the anti-Communistnleft may indicate somethingnabout the untenability of his position.nThe reconstructionist and homogenizingnthrust of his thinking, together withnits implicit denial of permanent moralnrestraints, makes his democratic secularismna doubtful bulwark of our liberty.nHis plan for reforming society assumesnthat everyone can be transformed into annidealized clone of himself. One wonders,nwhat is the intended fate of those whonnnresist conditioning or who continue tonstruggle for their property rights andnreligious convictions? Hook’s paeans tondemocratic procedure cannot redeemnwhat is morally problematic and theologicallynsimplistic in his thinking. Countingnheads may be a good idea where agreementnon first principles exists. In thenabsence of such consensus, as Platonpointed out, democratic rituals are anninvitation to anarchy and to tyranny.nThomas Molnar explains rather wellnwhy Hook and other anti-Communistnsecular humanists must fight a lonelynbattle with a diminishing base of support:n”The difference between totalitarianismnand the liberal-democratic secularists isnthat the latter suggest the gradualness ofnthe process of absorption, while the formerninsist on its acceleration.” The theoreticalnbattle between Hook and thenCommunists may be seen as one overninstruments and procedures. Hook isnundoubtedly a kinder and more decentnman than those he attacks, but it is bestnto turn elsewhere for true alternatives tonthe Communist vision of man.nJANUARY 1988 / 35n