Dawkins, Dilbert and the Illogical Scientists

by Graham Veale

By now, it should be obvious that New Atheists believe that religion will be replaced by scientific materialism. This worldview has two notable elements – scientism and materialism. Materialism is the belief that there is no non-physical reality. Everything is composed of objects that could, one day, be quantified, measured, and described by physicists. Whatever cannot be described by science is not real. So you do not have a soul, your mind is nothing other than your brain in action, and no divine power governs this universe.

Scientism is the belief that the scientific method is the only way we can discover the truth about whatever is real.  The arts may make life bearable, but if we want to know the truth about the universe we need to use the scientific method. Everything that exists will ultimately be described in the language of biology, physics and mathematics.  A Theory of Everything will explain why the universe exists with just the laws that it has. Consciousness and moral values will turn out to be events in, or functions of, the human brain.

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Of course, if you only ask certain kinds of question you’ll only receive certain types of answer. If someone insists that scientific questions are the only questions worth asking they are determining, in advance, the types of answer that they will receive. Scientific answers are tied to the language of mathematics, and tend to avoid the language of purpose, meaning and value. If you will only listen to scientific answers then you will inevitably conclude that the universe lacks purpose meaning and value. That’s exactly the conclusion that the New Atheist wanted to reach; so science becomes central to his worldview.

When Richard Dawkins was accused of cowardice[i] for refusing to debate philosopher William Craig, many of Dawkins supporters insisted that Dawkins need not respond because Craig is not a scientist. This is reminiscent of “Dan the Illogical Scientist”…


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