Bob Stewart, NOBTS. “Collegiate Church Planning” has been moved to Holcomb 208. You can get this PPT file by emailing me at email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org. Introducing the New Atheism. Their Core Beliefs.
You can get this PPT file by emailing me email@example.com@nobts.edu
Their Core Beliefs • Science and Religion are mutually exclusive ways of looking at life. In short, Religion and Science are at war.
Richard Dawkins “An atheist before Darwin could have said, following Hume: ‘I have no explanation for complex biological design. All I know is that God isn’t a good explanation, so we must wait and hope that somebody comes up with a better one.’ I can't help feeling that such a position,
Richard Dawkins though logically sound, would have left one feeling pretty unsatisfied, and that although atheism might have been logically tenable before Darwin, Darwin made it possible to be an intellectually fulfilled atheist.” The Blind Watchmaker, 6
Daniel Dennett “Almost no one is indifferent to Darwin, and no one should be. The Darwinian theory is a scientific theory, and a great one, but that is not all it is. The creationists who oppose it so bitterly are right about one thing: Darwin’s dangerous idea cuts much deeper into the fabric of our most fundamental beliefs than many of its sophisticated apologists have yet admitted, even to themselves.” Darwin’s Dangerous Idea, 18
Atheistic Shrillness “It is absolutely safe to say that if you meet somebody who claims not to believe in evolution, that person is ignorant, stupid or insane (or wicked, but I’d rather not consider that).” Review of Blueprints:Solving the Mystery of Evolution, Maitland A. Edey and Donald C. Johanson, New York Times Review of Books 9 April 1989, 35
Their Core Beliefs • Science and religion are mutually exclusive ways of looking at life. In short, Religion and Science are at war. • “Faith” is a superstitious blind leap based on the denial of evidence.
Faith as Superstition “What can be asserted without proof can be dismissed without proof.” “Less Than Miraculous,’’ Free Inquiry magazine, Volume 24, Number 2, http://secularhumanism.org/library/fi/hitchens_24_2.html
Faith as Superstition “Faith is the great cop-out, the great excuse to evade the need to think and evaluate evidence. Faith is belief in spite of, even perhaps because of, the lack of evidence.”
Their Core Beliefs • Science and religion are mutually exclusive ways of looking at life. In short, Religion and Science are at war. • “Faith” is a superstitious blind leap based on the denial of evidence. • Religion is inherently evil.
Nobel Prize Winner Steven Weinberg “With or without religion, you would have good people doing good things and evil people doing evil things. But for good people to do evil things, that takes religion.” The New York Times, April 20, 1999
Their Characteristic Practices • They have a superficial knowledge of the Bible
Their Characteristic Practices • They have a superficial knowledge of the Bible • They are theological novices
Terry Eagleton “Dawkins speaks scoffingly of a personal God, as though it were entirely obvious exactly what this might mean. He seems to imagine God, if not exactly with a white beard, then at least as some kind of chap, however supersized. He asks how this chap can speak to billions of people simultaneously, which is rather like wondering why, if Tony
Terry Eagleton Blair is an octopus, he has only two arms. For Judeo-Christianity, God is not a person in the sense that Al Gore arguably is. Nor is he a principle, an entity, or ‘existent’: in one sense of that word it would be perfectly coherent for religious types to claim that God does not in fact exist. He is, rather, the condition of possibility of any
Terry Eagleton entity whatsoever, including ourselves. He is the answer to why there is something rather than nothing. God and the universe do not add up to two, any more than my envy and my left foot constitute a pair of objects.” “Lunging, Flailing, Mispunching” London Review of Books, http://www.lrb.co.uk/v28/n20/eagl01_.html
Terry Eagleton “All I can claim in this respect, alas, is that I think I may know just about enough theology to be able to spot when someone like Richard Dawkins or Christopher Hitchens—a couplet I shall henceforth reduce for convenience to the solitary signifier Ditchkins—is talking out of the back of his neck.” 2008 Yale University Terry Lecture
Their Characteristic Practices • They have a superficial knowledge of the Bible • They are theological novices • They are primarily anti-Christian and anti-Muslim
Their Characteristic Practices • They have a superficial knowledge of the Bible • They are theological novices • They are primarily anti-Christian and anti-Muslim • They are materialists
Their Characteristic Practices • They have a superficial knowledge of the Bible • They are theological novices • They are primarily anti-Christian and anti-Muslim • They are materialists • They are evangelistic copycats
Atheistic Spirituality? Apparently Naturalists recognize that spirituality is not going to go away. This quote, from Naturalism.org, seems to imply as much. Although naturalism may at first seem an unlikely basis for spirituality, a naturalistic vision of ourselves and the world can inspire and inform spiritual experience. Naturalism understands such experience as psychological states constituted by the activity of our brains, but this doesn't lessen the appeal of such experience, or render it less profound. Appreciating the fact of our complete inclusion in nature can generate feelings of connection and meaning that rival those offered by traditional religions, and those feelings reflect the empirical reality of our being at home in the cosmos. http://www.naturalism.org/spiritua.htm
Atheistic Spirituality? • Spirituality Without Faith—explores the spiritual possibilities inherent in naturalism, and how these compare with traditional approaches to spirituality. • Enlightenment: Myth and Reality—an imagined dialogue in four parts about naturalizing the enlightenment experience, by Paul Breer, author of The Spontaneous Self. • Reason and Reverence—a review of William R. Murry's fine book on humanistic religious naturalism. • Debunking Enlightenment—a review of John Horgan's Rational Mysticism: Dispatches from the Border Between Science and Spirituality. • How to be a religious atheist—interview with Tom Clark at Science and Theology News (cached, image is not Clark). http://www.naturalism.org/spiritua.htm
Their Characteristic Practices • They have a superficial knowledge of the Bible • They are theological novices • They are primarily anti-Christian and anti-Muslim • They are materialists • They are evangelistic copycats • They feel marginalized
Believing Scientists • Nicholas Copernicus, Heliocentric Solar System • Galileo, Observational Astronomy, Kinematics • Johannes Kepler, Laws of Planetary Motion • Isaac Newton, Laws of Motion • Joseph Lister, Antiseptic surgery • Louis Pasteur, Bacteriology • Robert Boyle, Chemistry and Gas Dynamics • Georges Cuvier, Comparative Anatomy • Charles Babbage, Computer Science • Lord Rayleigh, Dimensional Analysis • John Ambrose Fleming, Electronics • James Clerk Maxwell, Electrodynamics • Michael Faraday, Electromagnetics and Field Theory • Lord Kelvin, Energetics • Henri Fabre, Entomology of Living Insects • George Stokes, Fluid Mechanics • Sir William Herschel, Galactic Astronomy • Gregor Mendel, Genetics • Matthew Maury, Oceanography
Agnostic Stephen Jay Gould “To say it for all my colleagues and for the umpteenth millionth time . . . science simply cannot (by its legitimate methods) adjudicate the issue of God’s possible superintendence of nature. We neither affirm nor deny it; we simply can’t comment on it as scientists. . . . . . . Either half my colleagues are enormously stupid, or else
Agnostic Stephen Jay Gould the science of Darwinism is fully compatible with conventional religious beliefs—and equally compatible with atheism, thus proving that the two great realms of nature’s factuality and the source of human morality do not strongly overlap.” “Impeaching a Self-Appointed Judge: Book Review of Darwin on Trial by Phillip E. Johnson” Scientific American 267. 1 July 1992, 119.
Francis Collins “For quite a while in my twenties I was a pretty obnoxious atheist. At the age of 27, after a good deal of intellectual debating with myself about the plausibility of faith, and particularly with strong influence from C. S. Lewis, I became convinced that this was a decision I wanted to make, and I became by choice a Christian, a serious Christian, who believes that faith is not something that you just do on Sunday, but if it makes any sense at all, it is part of your whole life. It’s the most important organizing principle in my life.”
Friedrich Nietzsche “Another Christian concept, no less crazy, has passed even more deeply into the tissue of modernity: the concept of the ‘equality of souls before God.’ This concept furnishes the prototype of all theories of equal rights: mankind was first taught to stammer the proposition of equality in a religious context, and only later was it made into morality.” Friedrich Nietzsche, The Will to Power, Aphorism 765
Keith Ward “But consider a parallel case: politics could also be said to be one of the most destructive forces in human life. In Russia and Cambodia, millions of people have been killed in the name of socialist political ideologies. In Latin America, millions of people “disappeared” in ruthless campaigns of violence propagated by right-wing politicians. Deception, hypocrisy and misrepresentation are commonplace in political life. Might we not be better off in a world without politics too?
Keith Ward Even science, often thought of as an uninterested search for truth, produces terrifying weapons of mass destruction, and the most advanced technology is used to destroy human lives in ever more effective and brutal ways. Would we be better off without science as well?” Keith Ward, Is Religion Dangerous?, 179-80
Thomas Crean “Still, one point is worth making in answer to the author’s claim . . . that ‘religion causes people to do evil things’. Insofar as this is true, it has no tendency to show that religion is itself a bad thing, or that its message is false. Love causes people to do evil things; so does patriotism. The love of a man and a woman can lead to unfaithfulness, to the
Thomas Crean destruction of families and even to murder. Patriotism can lead to hatred and to the indiscriminate bombing of cities. None of this means that either love or patriotism is a bad thing. It simply means that the weakness of human nature is such that any great object or cause may stir our emotions as to lead us to act against our better judgment. If religion occasions evil as well
Thomas Crean as good, this is no sign of its falsity, but simply of its power of attraction over human nature. That in the name of religion good men may do bad things is no argument against religion, unless crimes of passion are arguments against human love.” Thomas Crean, God is No Delusion, 118-19
Why I Am Not a Naturalist • Because Naturalism is Self-Refuting.
Naturalism.org Naturalism as a worldview is based on the premise that knowledge about what exists and about how things work is best achieved through the sciences, not personal revelation or religious tradition. . . Scientific empiricism has the necessary consequence of unifying our knowledge of the world, of placing all objects of understanding within an overarching causal context. Under naturalism, there is a single, natural world in which phenomena arise. http://www.naturalism.org/tenetsof.htm
Naturalism as Self-Refuting One reason that I am not a naturalist is that naturalism cannot be proved according to its own methodology, i.e., the scientific method. What sort of scientific experiment could possibly be constructed to test such a hypothesis? The answer is none. This would not be a problem if the scientific method were not viewed as the onlymeaningful test for truth, but given that it is this becomes a deal-killer.
Dawkins Contradicting Dawkins “As an academic scientist, I am a passionate Darwinian, believing that natural selection is, if not the only driving force in evolution, certainly the only known force capable of producing the illusion of purpose which so strikes all who contemplate nature. But at the same time as I support Darwinism as a scientist, I am a passionate anti-Darwinian when it comes to politics and how we should conduct our human affairs.” A Devil’s Chaplain: Reflections on Hope, Lies, Science, and Love, 10-11.
Why I Am Not a Naturalist • Because Naturalism is Self-Refuting. • Because Naturalism undermines human rationality.
Naturalism and Reason Naturalism undermines reason by insisting that reason is the result of an organ produced by a random process. Why should we believe that reason is a reliable guide to truth if naturalism is correct? Why should we believe that any theory produced by an organism that is itself produced by random processes is true?
J. B. S. Haldane “If my mental processes are determined wholly by the motions of atoms within my brain, I have no reason to suppose that my beliefs are true . . . and hence I have no reason to believe that my brain is composed of atoms.” “When I am Dead,” in Possible Worlds ed. Carl A. Price (New Brunswick: Transaction, 2002), 209.
Patricia Churchland “Boiled down to essentials, a nervous system enables the organism to succeed in the four F's: feeding, fleeing, fighting and reproducing. The principle chore of nervous systems is to get the body parts where they should be in order that the organism may survive . . . Improvements in sensorimotor control confer an evolutionary
Patricia Churchland advantage: a fancier style of representing is advantageous so long as it is geared to the organism's way of life and enhances the organism's chances of survival. Truth, whatever that is, definitely takes the hindmost.” Patricia Smith Churchland, “Epistemology in the Age of Neuroscience” Journal of Philosophy, 84 (October 1987), 548.
Richard Rorty “The idea that one species of organism is, unlike all the others, oriented not just toward its own uncreated prosperity but toward Truth, is as un-Darwinian as the idea that every human being has a built-in moral compass—a conscience that swings free of both social history and individual luck.” “Untruth and Consequences,” The New Republic, 31 July 1995, 32-36.
Why I Am Not a Naturalist • Because Naturalism is Self-Refuting. • Because Naturalism undermines human rationality. • Because Naturalism undermines human free will.