Atheists Against Atheism

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Not all atheists are on board with ‘the four horsemen’ of the New Atheism: Dawkins, Dennett, Harris, and Hitchens. Julian Baggini, podcaster and author of Atheism: A Very Short Introduction

The new atheism tends to get religion wrong. The focus is always on the out-dated metaphysics of religion, its belief in personal creator gods, miracles, souls and so forth. [...] However, there is much more to religion than the metaphysics. To give a non-exhaustive list, religion is also about trying to live sub specie aeternitatis; orienting oneself to the transcendent rather than the immanent; living in a moral community of shared practice or as part of a valuable tradition; cultivating certain attitudes, such as gratitude and humility; and so on. To say, as Sam Harris does, that ‘religion is nothing more than bad concepts held in place of good ones for all time’ misses all this. The practices of religion may be more important then the narratives, even if people believe those narratives to be true.

While Baggini is liberal, his criticisms echo those of conservative non-theist philosopher Roger Scruton. Scruton, in an article for The American Spectator, defends a form of Enlightenment humanism and existentialism that still sought to affirm human life and ideals, whereas the New Atheism is primarily destructive:

My parents too thought belief in God to be a weakness. But they were reluctant to deprive other human beings of a moral prop that they seemed to need. … [When] I look back at the humanist movement that I encountered as an adolescent, one thing above all strikes me: that the old humanism was not about deconstructing God; it was about constructing man. It was a positive movement, devoted to seeking things worthy of emulation and sacrifice, even if there is no God to promote them. Its principal fear was that, deprived of religious belief, people would let go of their ideals. Hence it urgently sought a new basis for moral restraint in the idea of human dignity.

If Scruton is too conservative for you, another excellent contribution along this line of thought is made by philosophical literary theorist and Marxist Terry Eagleton in his book Reason, Faith, and Revolution: Reflections on the God Debate.

-Tom McDonald

Comments

  1. Profile photo of Wes Alwan

    Wes Alwan

    May 16, 2011

    Interesting, thanks; I have the Eagleton book and just acquired the short intro book (the one on agnosticism is also good). I have a long list of other rebuttals that I’ll share when I’ve evaluated them.

  2. Profile photo of Daniel Horne

    Daniel Horne

    May 16, 2011

    Hi Tom,

    Pretty cool, thanks for sharing! In defense of Hitchens, I don’t think that he has “missed” (Baggini’s words) these non-metaphysical versions of Christianity. He simply rejects them as being Christianity in any meaningful sense.

    • Tom McDonald

      May 17, 2011

      @ Daniel: Well that makes sense to me. One should expect Hitchens to be the most nuanced among The Four Horsemen — not being a scientist, not being a reductionist, being the most historically informed and literary man among them.

    • Ethan Gach

      May 18, 2011

      The others have done this as well. They often start lectures/debates by saying, if you beleive in a fuzzy kind of new-age-y christian mysticism, then you don’t count.

      A lot of it ends up coming down to who gets to define what. If refromed, watered down Christians want to say, no, we’re the real Christians, then we have a problem on our hands. It similar to the problem in current Islam…who get’s to define what it means to be a “true” Muslim.

      Catholocism makes this slightly easier by having a pretty clear orthodoxy maintained by a strict political hierarchy. We really do know what a “true” Catholic believes.

  3. Prior_Analytics

    May 17, 2011

    Hi Tom,

    So, I’ll agree that there are a number of issues with a statement like “There probably is no God; so stop worrying and enjoy life.” I also have concerns for the futility of the endless effort of those that try and disprove every detail of everything they disagree with.

    In a previous century, I was a Mormon Missionary of 19, sent to Japan to teach Mormonism to the people of that part of the World.

    One of the biggest mistakes that many of my fellow Missionaries would make, is to try to argue with a person about that person’s ‘current religion’, or the ‘local religion’ or the ‘religion that the person grew up with’.

    Needless to say, in Japan, pragmatism and the culture are not on the side of 19-year olds from the US of A. And, you could spend endless hours debating pragmatism of a particular cultural aspect.

    I would tell other missionaries, I don’t care if every person in America wears their shoes in the home, in Japan, they don’t, and you are going to have a very tough two-years here, if you make it your mission to change everything you disagree with.

    Some in the ‘New Atheism/New Humanism’ seems to be taking this same path of showing why it’s ok to wear shoes in the house. Showing the history of where the custom of taking shoes off came from, and showing that no harm comes from all the people that don’t take them off. And, coming up with slogans like “There probably is no God; so feel free to wear your shoes in the house”.

    Today, I call myself a Humanist. My own flavor of Humanism is one I define as “the study of personal morality, and the discover of group ethics, both in the pursuit of greater human flourishing (eudaimonia)”.

    As such, I have a great deal of sympathy for statements along the lines of “There probably is no God; so start worrying, and remember that self-discipline is up to you.” Though I would shorten it to the point “remember that self-discipline is up to you”.

    If PEL has shown anything, it’s that poking holes in the philosophy of another is much easier than coming up with a coherent philosophy of one’s own. On the other hand, finding some sort of beauty in the philosophy of other’s can be very rewarding, and probably where we’d all be better off in the end.

    How boring would this podcast be if instead of digging deep into the writings of all these Philosophers, PEL just wrote up some second-hand, post-grad list of what the three of them could agree upon, from their college years, and left it at that….

    Or even worse, if they just got together every week and discussed the parts where they all 3 disagreed with the Author. “What did you guys think of chapter two? Hated it. Hated it. Yep, me too, I hated it.”

    The beauty of any writing is where the Author gets it right, not wrong. The beauty of any reading is not in finding all the crud, but in finding the gems.

    To say that we need no gems in life, is to live the life of a satisfied pig….wearing shoes….in the house.

    -p_a

  4. Ethan Gach

    May 17, 2011

    It’s hard when you are debating popular belief to use definitions that would satisfy a deep thinker but are not adhered to by the larger public.

    Ask most people what they mean when they claim to be religious and you’re going to get a lot of the metaphysical stuff too. Maybe religion as an anthropological, sociological, and psychological object isn’t just the metaphysics, but those do come in very strongly, especially on the morality front, and when considering how to arrange society.

    I’m sure most of the Four Horseman would be fine dealing with the neutered version of religion that Baggini expresses.

    I mean, John Paul II is to be a saint. What does that mean? In part that he miraculously cured a person of Parkinsons. Believing such things is not just an act of symbolic expression or ritual, but bleeds into the other realms of life.

    • Geoff

      May 18, 2011

      Ethan Gach :I mean, John Paul II is to be a saint. What does that mean? In part that he miraculously cured a person of Parkinsons. Believing such things is not just an act of symbolic expression or ritual, but bleeds into the other realms of life.

      I was thinking on similar lines last night. I recently read Campbell’s Hero with a Thousand Faces, and have now embarked on Frazer’s Golden Bough (Myth month all month at my place)

      Frazer details at length the various magical and religious rites practiced by tribal societies around the world then throws in examples from Europe in the 19th century. Christians performing magical rites using the images if christian saints and so on.

      Magic, and religion in many of its guises, has been a bout this world – gaining boons from the powers and spirits that govern worldly affairs.

      I sometimes wonder how many believers possess the concepts that theologians about, or are their ideas of ‘religion’ not much different from many ancient societies.

  5. burl

    May 17, 2011

    It takes 8 min. for a photon of light from our Sun to reach earth. If I start a stopwatch at the instant such a photon leaves the Sun, what will my watch read when the photon reaches earth?

    • trekker

      May 18, 2011

      zero

  6. burl

    May 17, 2011

    Say the equator is a train track carrying a train exactly as long as the track with the caboose hooked to the locomotive. The train is very rigid compared to the earth.

    The train is traveling near the speed of light. Will the time length contraction of Einstein’s SR cause the train to form a circle whose diameter is much smaller than that of earth, so that it will squeeze earth and make both poles bulge outward?

  7. Ethan Gach

    May 17, 2011

    What are you getting at burl?

    I feel woefully ignorant.

    • Nono

      May 1, 2013

      It is zero. In the case when the watch is started on the sun and we travel with the watch at the speed of light. Or in the case the watch is started on earth and communication comes at the speed of light. Or in the case where we simply wait for the photon to come at the speed of light.

      It is not zero when we start the watch on the sun and use another method to travel or when we start the watch on earth and use another method to communicate.

      It is also not zero but twice the time if takes the light to reach earth, if we stay on the sun and wait for comminication from earth.

      Then, we don’t even know the basics yet. Is the speed of light really a limit?

  8. burl

    May 17, 2011

    Dealing w/ something of questionable existence, you are likely to get those who affirm it wholeheartedly, those who harbor reasonable/intuitive doubt about it, and those who deny its existence.

    If you cannot prove its existence, the only philosophically logical course of action (and the one put forth in the scientific method) is to remain agnostic.

    So much personal inconsistency exists on this theme: The secular liberal says “I believe it when scientists say that evolution theory is settled, spacetime is curved and this geometry causes gravity, and that time slows and lengths contract at high speeds. But, I refuse to believe religious/spiritual thinkers who say God exists.” Most religious conservatives would believe the inverse.

    So it gets down to ‘who ya’ wanna’ believe?’ And my response is that if you say you believe, then the burden of proof is with you, and quoting one or two experts is not enough. Further, I judge one’s credibility w/r his/her metaphysical beliefs on their beliefs w/r nature.

    Physics precedes metaphysics.

    If you dogmatically accept some things on faith, you might as well say everything may likewise be known

    Agnosticism trumps dogmatism.

    Splitting hairs on metaphysics before getting your physics on right is a waste of energies,

  9. Ethan Gach

    May 17, 2011

    “I believe it when scientists say that evolution theory is settled…”

    No scientist (worth his or her salt) claims those things to be settled and fixed laws. Scientific laws are short hand for: until proven otherwise.

    Atheism is the same. If you made predictions based on religious belief, and they came to pass, devotees would have a case to make. The problem is that the predictions don’t pan out, which yields evidence to the contrary.

    It’s not that belief in “God” could go either way (i.e. agnosticism), it’s that there is currently little to no evidence for believing that.

    If agnosticism is a reasoned moderate should approach “God,” is how should that same person approach something like global warming?

  10. burl

    May 17, 2011

    Approach earth warming the same way.

    So many today are quick to sum up over 3000 yrs of mythology and religious speculation, often without looking very far into the details by saying “… it’s that there is currently little to no evidence for believing that.”

    But ask a modern person skeptical of theism what they understand to be gravity, space, and time, their inability to say is taken for granted; this, because, since they have a solid belief that whatever the mysterious new science of the past 80 years theorizes (and for which we have even less evidence for than theism) is surely settled beyond any question.

  11. burl

    May 18, 2011

    As is so common when ‘doing philosophy’, I will let someone else speak for me.

    I have a high regard for Suskind, even though I bet even he is not following things to a simpler level (ala Whitehead’s relativity) because he is caught-up in the mob-think which always includes lots of wrong presumptions and erroneously excluded fact. Ask Kierkegaard.

    (I bet Searle was one of those philosophers of mind whom Feymann blasted silly.)

    http://www.cisco.com/web/about/ent/network/index.html?POSITION=3rdPartyBanner&COUNTRY_SITE=us&CAMPAIGN=HN+Trend+Now+Ent&CREATIVE=trending_now_network_preroll&REFERRING_SITE=TED

  12. burl

    May 18, 2011

    Value of agnosticism from one who has used it well…

  13. burl

    May 18, 2011

    zero?

  14. trekker

    May 18, 2011

    If you started the watch while on the sun and traveled with the photon to the earth then no time would have passed. If you were on earth and started at the “instant” the photon left the sun you’d have to go back in time 8 seconds.

  15. Ethan Gach

    May 18, 2011

    I’m confused burl. Are you saying that the average person has as much reason to believe in gravity as they do in “God?” That would seem to suggest that a person has no good reason to believe either. Not that they should believe both.

  16. burl

    May 18, 2011

    I should clarify:

    It takes 8 min. for a photon of light from our Sun to reach earth. If I start a stopwatch at the same instant such a photon [which likewise starts its clock] leaves the Sun, what will [both watches] read when the photon reaches earth?

    [Note, the photon accelerates free of the Sun and quickly reaches lightspeed.]

    As an engineer, I actually find the train question far more interesting and maybe useful, if all this stuff is real, that is.

  17. burl

    May 18, 2011

    **I’m confused burl. Are you saying that the average person has as much reason to believe in gravity as they do in “God?” That would seem to suggest that a person has no good reason to believe either. Not that they should believe both.**

    We need to remain agnostic until we are prepared to assert that enough persuasive evidence for something has been offered. In all likelihood, such evidence is more available in physical nature than in metaphysics. Thus, at a minimum, one ought at least be better versed in science than religion, but thoroughness in knowledge of both areas is ideal.

    Evidence of nature’s existents is the stuff of science. If you accept what scientists tell you w/o personally confirming for yourself that it IS worthy of belief, then you are merely making an act of faith. This is dogmatic faith. If a person accepts science on such faith, then s/he must allow for the acceptance of belief in God on faith as well.

    If, OTOH, you are diligent with your science research and believe its findings after careful scrutiny, you are using sound reason. These findings of science are based on the agnostic scientific method. Before you are allowed to accept or dismiss religious claims, you are obliged to exert similar due diligence in examining its rich field of claims, in which case you have again acted reasonably. Here, in my opinion, absent faith, one will tend to be agnostic in light of religious/mythological claims.

    Did this help?

    Too many are quick to accept science on faith, but reject religion when it calls for faith.

  18. Ethan Gach

    May 18, 2011

    So all you are saying, as I stated earlier, is that most people, not being scientists, have AS little reason to believe what they read in science textbooks as what they read in religious or theological texts?

  19. Ethan Gach

    May 18, 2011

    Meaning they should not believe either, i.e. the jury is still out on the being in the heavens as well as the speed of light?

  20. burl

    May 18, 2011

    Ethan

    What you say is interesting and worth mulling over by everyone.

    What I am most getting at is that whatever degree of diligence used to rationally shore up your beliefs has to be equally applied to physical and metaphysical matters.

    There are too many atheists critical of religious claims that they have not studied in any great depth. The former take on faith that science has ‘the truth,’ and dogmatically buy into some pretty oddball things science holds. They have not applied reason in either case – they are dogmatists just as much as any anti-science theists they criticize.

    Simply put: unless you are very well prepared in studies of science and religion, you have no justification to tear down one on the basis of another.

  21. David Buchanan

    May 18, 2011

    Science is supposed to be based on an empirical investigation and an open, peer-reviewed process. It’s supposed to be open to change as new facts come in through that process. Faith isn’t like that. Religion isn’t like that, although it could be and should be. We can’t study religious experience the way we study rocks or light but its existence is an empirical fact. There is a whole range of such empirical facts about religion. Why shouldn’t the scientific method be adapted to examine them? Like Joe Campbell used to say, if you have experience, you don’t need faith.

  22. burl

    May 18, 2011

    David, you are all about the pragmatic (and some radical) empiricists like James, Dewey, Pearce, and one of my favs – Pirsig.

    But you never talk about THE CENTRAL CHARACTER to these men that needs be in your thesis research, A N Whitehead, who says “beside experience, there is nothing, nothing, nothing…”

    What gives?

  23. burl

    May 19, 2011

    trekker

    Your analysis is spot on in SR theory (you meant 8 min, not sec, I am sure).

    Can you say something about the implications? Likle, since the photon experiences NO time – does this mean it is inactive, utterly changeless? In everyday speak, time is how we mark natural process of change, so a timeless photon must not oscillate or otherwise act. Or is science time a different animal from common sense notions of it?

  24. burl

    May 19, 2011

    Ethan said:

    So [Burl] all you are saying, as I stated earlier, is that most people, not being scientists, have AS little reason to believe what they read in science textbooks as what they read in religious or theological texts?…
    Meaning they should not believe either, i.e. the jury is still out on the being in the heavens as well as the speed of light?

    Physical habits of nature are easier to understand as they involve sense data from which science convincingly abstracts accurate theories that our sentient nature comfortably grasps and uses. When things get counter-intuitive, reason says ‘uh, what.’

    The subject matter that religions have framed into systems of belief and practice principally involve matters of value of which science must remain silent. There are some hard-core principles we do well to heed (charity, no murder, no stealing, etc.), and some for which our intuitions say ‘uh, what?’

    Proceeding to believe in either case is an act of faith.

    Geoff saud:

    Magic, and religion in many of its guises, has been a bout this world – gaining boons from the powers and spirits that govern worldly affairs.

    I sometimes wonder how many believers possess the concepts that…their ideas of ‘religion’ are not much different from many ancient societies.

    This is as true of science as it is religion. Remember that earliest myths were attempts to grasp the nature of things in both spheres. Obviously science has evolved to a better grasp of its subject matter than religion, but like religion, science also is still occupies its time “gaining boons from the powers and spirits that govern worldly affairs” – witness the Manhattan project, DNA, and QM.

    David said

    Science is supposed to be based on an empirical investigation and an open, peer-reviewed process. It’s supposed to be open to change as new facts come in through that process. Faith isn’t like that. Religion isn’t like that, although it could be and should be.

    We can’t study religious experience the way we study rocks or light but its existence is an empirical fact. There is a whole range of such empirical facts about religion. Why shouldn’t the scientific method be adapted to examine them? Like Joe Campbell used to say, if you have experience, you don’t need faith.

    Religion as Logos, like for science, started out as Mythos, though science has done more to make the transition for reasons to which you allude, namely, particular instantiations of subjective experience is harder to universalize than objective experience. And private intuitions have reasons that the public sphere knoweth not.

    Still, aren‘t you overlooking modern advances in many religious systems. Biblical deconstruction, Unitarian-Universalism, process theology, even the failed attempts of Vatican II are a few that come to mind.

    Will science make short work of Pirsig’s metaphysical ultimate, Quality, or Whitehead’s analogous ‘Creativity with God’s constant lure to higher value,’ or Buddhist and Joe Campbell’s sublime awareness of existence? I hope not.

  25. Ethan Gach

    May 19, 2011

    “What I am most getting at is that whatever degree of diligence used to rationally shore up your beliefs has to be equally applied to physical and metaphysical matters.”

    I will take the extra step now of defending why metaphical claims require stricter justification, and that is that they presume things where nothing need be presummed.

    I would certainly sepearte out the practices associated with a religion from its metaphysical claims. One could derive a great deal of meaning and import from the rituals and symbolic expression of the practice of a religion without regarding the theological claims as fact.

    That said, while experience is close at hand, the “after physics” is not. To put them on even ground is to pressume experience’s uncertainty, while presuming the legitamcy of certain unprovable, inaccessible ideals.

  26. Ethan Gach

    May 19, 2011

    If you allow that metaphysics, or religion, can make certain assumptions, and then build reasonable systems from these assumptions, why not allow that science can not only do the same, but do so with less doubt because it need assume far less.

  27. burl

    May 19, 2011

    Ethan, I agree w/ you. In our words, like metaphysics, I wonder what either of us is envisioning. Like the theist talking to the atheist: “Tell me what your image of God is, and in all likelihood I also deny that God.”

    I think that over the years, I am drawn to such ideas as Joe Campbell’s sublime-ness of being, Pirsig’s Quality, and some of Whitehead’s lofty descriptions of a ‘nature alive’ all serve as sources for my developing an understanding of God. It involves a sense of high worth of life coupled with an intuition of an inherent rightness of some values over others.

    I am not much on metaphysics these days, and a more naturalistic explanation of these things has an appeal to me.

  28. Ethan Gach

    May 19, 2011

    Which would be the important distinction of Hume, between “natural religion” and “revealed religion.”

    I think simply observing that distinction would go a long way toward reconciling many atheists with many philosophers and many religious believers.

  29. David Buchanan

    May 20, 2011

    A reply to Burl.

    Yes, I tend to look at things from a radically empirical perspective, especially as James and Pirsig construe it. And that’s exactly why it seemed important to point out that science is based on empirical evidence. As I understand it, James and Pirsig are both critical of the metaphysical assumptions behind science and they’re both critical of the materialism and the pretense of objectivity but one of their main complaints about empirical science is that it is not empirical enough. Traditionally, empiricism is limited to sensory experience, to direct observation, and so there is a whole range of experience that simply doesn’t count.

    But the radical empiricist says that experience and reality amount to the same thing. He says that ALL experience must be accounted for in and he excludes anything that cannot be known in experience, especially the metaphysical entities that philosophers tend to posit. Such entities can only ever be hypothetical and speculative. But as pragmatists, I think these guys would also point out that science is not only empirically based, it’s also successful for countless practical purposes. In that sense, it works.

    We should even say it works too well. Through technology, our culture and our ordinary lives are both saturated with science. Scientific materialism has become the standard worldview among educated Westerners. But the radical empiricist, I think, wants to say its success is due to the fact that it’s empirically based. That’s what makes it work, not because its metaphysical assumptions are correct or because its conclusions are true. James and Pirsig attack reductionism, nihilism and the attitudes of objectivity that say human values and feelings have nothing to do with the facts. But they don’t dispute the facts and they both hold science in high regard despite their criticisms.

    Pirsig presented a lecture called “Subject, Objects, Data and Values” at a conference titled “Einstein Meets Magritte”. (There is a very expensive book by that title too.) In that talk, Pirsig advocates “a rational integration of science and values”.

    As the conference website puts it, Pirsig thinks that, “In the past, rejection of ‘values’ by scientific method has helped prevent corruption into religious dogma, social propaganda and other forms of wishful thinking, but it has also prevented scientific explanation of huge areas of human experience: art, morals and human purpose. This inexplicability undermines the universality and validity of scientific thought. It is argued here that values can exist as a part of scientific data,..”

    What impressed me most about the lecture was Pirsig’s praise for leading physicists like Heisenberg and Bohr. He described them as great artists, as was fitting with the conference’s theme, the meeting of science and art. …If you’re interested, “Subject, Objects, Data and Values” can be read for free at mog.org/forum/Pirsig/emmpaper.

    Apologies for the excessive length.

  30. burl

    May 20, 2011

    I’ve read it many times.

    Everything you just wrote is 100% Whitehead. See his ontological principle, wherein he says that the reason for anything real must be found in occasions of experience, besides which there is NOTHING. His views on science are likewise critical in hopes to correct it from its excess of abstraction from the whole. His sympathies lie with recognizing the affective feelings of all experiential aspects of ‘nature alive’ – reality as organism.

    Like Pirsig, ANW lauded James, and taught many famous pragmatist professors including Quine, Hartshorne, Rorty, and most pertinent to your interests, F S C Northrop, whose undifferentiated aesthetic continuum, which Pirsig credits as highly influential of his Quality. Thus Whitehead is the bridge between James and Northrop upon which Pirsig walks. ANWs prehensions lured on by the Creative Advance is synonymous with Quality.

    So, David, it perplexes me and I am wondering why you never mention him as a famous pragmatist and as one whose thought clearly had major influence on Pirsig’s philosophy? You are certainly in good company, as it is standard practice to ignore the unwanted white elephant (Whitehead) in the philosophy lounge.

  31. burl

    May 20, 2011

    Corrections:

    Hartshorne was a teaching aide and close colleague of ANW. Rorty wrote his MS thesis on ANWs work (under Hartshorne).

  32. David Buchanan

    May 21, 2011

    Hey Burl:

    What gave you the idea that I’m ignoring Whitehead or that I’m treating him like an unwanted white elephant? I was just talking about the difference between faith and empiricism, between religion and science.

    The simple truth is that I don’t know enough about Whitehead to include him in my comments about anything and that’s true of hundreds of other philosophers too. The field is very wide and time is limited so we have to make choices, right?

    I like to follow my instincts on these things just because it’s more fun that way. John Dewey and Cornel West are probably next on my list but not because I’ve rationally concluded they are the most relevant next step, although that might be true. I guess you could call it a “dim apprehension” but I think it’s more compelling than Whitehead’s phrase would suggest. Sometimes encountering a thinker is more like the thrill of hearing a really great song for the first time or watching a supermodel walk by. In that sense, I don’t have anything against Whitehead but he doesn’t really turn me on either. He’s on my reading list because of his relevance to Pirsig and James, because of the similarities you point out. But this is motivated by a sense of duty rather than a visceral reaction to his irresistible sexiness. Is this analogy getting too weird?

    I’d be glad to know why he makes you want to dance. But more to the point, would you say your original contention concerning science and faith is a Whiteheadian contention? Would it be fair to say he was a theist? Did he view science as a kind of faith? That’s the debatable notion, isn’t it?

    • Tom McDonald

      May 22, 2011

      I think this notion of a more radical or more liberal form of empiricism, encompassing the whole of experience — in distinction to the positivist restriction of empiricism to sense-data — is common to many important philosophers, including Hegel, Nietzsche, James, Heidegger, Dewey, and Deleuze. It seems to me that the key distinction is between empiricism as restricting oneself in the attempt to grasp a sheer given, i.e. sense-data, versus an empiricism that recognizes the creativity in human experience as also a legitimate part of experience, not to be outstripped by any philosophy.

  33. burl

    May 21, 2011

    LOL…never would’ve guessed sexy would in any way possible be connected to Alfie. I am not criticizing your leaving ANW out, I just wanted to point out how common it is to ignore him, even when he is directly relevan.

    David said: “I’d be glad to know why he makes you want to dance. But more to the point, would you say your original contention concerning science and faith is a Whiteheadian contention?”

    I was only giving my opinion formed from my past. I get irritated by intellectuals (generally liberal) who condescendingly mock religious traditions and theological studies (which they may have never looked into much), and they preach faith in science (which they also haven’t delved far into themselves). I’ve seen too many like this suffering from the fallacy of baseless ego-inflation.

    David said: “Would it be fair to say ANW was a theist? Did he view science as a kind of faith? That’s the debatable notion, isn’t it?”

    He had become agnostic in his post-math years where he worked on QM, SR, and GR problems in physics and developed philosophy of nature/science. He seemingly reluctantly brought God into his metaphysical philosophy because he felt he had no choice: his ontological principle, he wrote, required that conceptual abstractions and universals (Plato’s eternal ideas) had to be founded in an actuality – which he concluded to be a God who limits the chaos of Creativity. He was a scientist critical of reductionist science.

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