Why New Atheists tend to love science
and hate philosophy
On this week’s episode of Dogma Debate, an atheist radio show, the host (David Smalley) set out to respond to all the “hate mail” he got, in part because he seemed dismissive of philosophy in our aired conversation last week.
David started the segment saying:
“I don’t hate philosophy…I was kind of joking. … What I don’t like about it is when philosophy is abused and misused to cloud the fact that they don’t have hard evidence. That is what I was trying to get across to Blake.”
Set aside the fact that David never demonstrated any such abuse (and by this, I mean, he did not even try). Is it so clear that he does not hate philosophy? I’m willing to take his word on it, but if he did hate philosophy, he certainly wouldn’t be alone. Among the so-called “New Atheists” (i.e. those zealous about their atheism) and their iconic authors and speakers, a disrespect for academic philosophy is all too common.
New Atheists and Science
It is psychologically interesting that this special class of atheists—the kinds who go to atheist conventions—celebrate science together so passionately. The reverence has been called cultic because it ostensibly extends beyond a mere innocent love of and fascination with the wonderful mysteries and products of the natural world. Instead, at these atheist conventions, “science” is used as a perpetual buzz-word, worthy of a drinking game, and is projected more as a revered arena champion to pit against religion. I think it is important to understand why they do this:
(1) Science arguably looks atheistic. After all, science aims to explain things naturalistically, without God.
(2) Science undeniably wins. It’s hard to argue with results—your media, meals, mobiles, and medicine are all deliverances of science, so those who deny the general reliability of accepted science are clearly hypocrites.
(3) Therefore, an atheistic worldview undeniably wins
The rough line of reasoning here rarely gets spelled out, but I think it is represents the general sentiment: they want to say their worldview is the scientific worldview, and ya just can’t beat science. It can be very rhetorically effective, which makes it dangerous and worth addressing…
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