Atheist Fundamentalism and the Limits of Science

Discussion in 'Religion Archives' started by lightgigantic, Dec 3, 2007.

  1. lightgigantic Banned Banned

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    by Michael Egnor

    introduction

    Juno Walker at Letters from Vrai has responded to my post Dr. Pigliucci and Fundamentalism in Science Education. Dr Massimo Pigliucci published an essay in The McGill Journal of Education in which he made the absurd claim that effective science education would dissuade students from a belief in Heaven. I pointed out in my post that Heaven wasn’t exactly a proper subject for the scientific method and that the assertion that science education was even applicable to a belief in Heaven was fundamentalism — a kind of atheist fundamentalism. The conflation of methodological naturalism and philosophical naturalism — science and atheism — is no more acceptable pedagogy than the conflation of science and creationism. Atheism and creationism are philosophical inferences, and, irrespective of the truth of either faith, neither is consistent with the scientific method. The scientific method — methodological naturalism — is the data-driven study of nature. It’s based on natural, not supernatural, claims. The irony is that the McGill Journal of Education published Dr. Pigliucci's atheist broadsheet for fundamentalism in science education, but would never publish a creationist broadsheet for fundamentalism in science education.


    Is atheism a claim that stands outside of science?
     
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  3. SnakeLord snakeystew.com Valued Senior Member

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    Atheism isn't a claim - it is merely a lack of belief in certain claims due to lack of evidence.
     
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  5. S.A.M. uniquely dreadful Valued Senior Member

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    Its most certainly a claim.

    Have you heard of "The God Delusion"?
     
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  7. GeoffP Caput gerat lupinum Valued Senior Member

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    It is for the reverse, theism. It's possible that atheism is also a claim outside science, since it also establishes a hypothesis that could be theoretically refuted.
     
  8. SkinWalker Archaeology / Anthropology Moderator

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    I don't believe in playing golf in my spare time. Does this label me as an agolfer? I suppose so, but I don't refer to myself as such.

    Atheism is a condition that occurs among rationalists. There is no apparent such thing as "atheist fundamentalism."

    Fundamentalism is a belief in the infallibility, and literal interpretation, of a particular religion’s dogma or doctrine, as defined by the authors of The Fundamentals during the early 20th century. They sought to protect their superstitions and paranormal beliefs in Christian mythology and mysticism against the increasing tide of rationalist paradigms that threatened them.

    Therefore, it cannot be said that atheism, which isn't a dogma, doctrine or religion (except, perhaps, in the eyes of the irrational that seek to impose the to quoque fallacy of "you too"), has a "fundamentalist" side.

    Incidently, if this is to be simply an anti-science thread posted in a science forum (attempting to argue that because Egnor is trained as a scientist will not work as a defense since his anti-science rants are well-known and rebuked on the web), it will likely find its way to the cesspool.
     
  9. SkinWalker Archaeology / Anthropology Moderator

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    Dawkins' book is a response to a claim. It would not exist if a positive claim did not already exist that one or more supernatural beings are responsible for one or more natural occurrences.

    Therefore, you are wrong. Atheism is not a claim. It is a lack of one. My 6-year old is an atheist. She makes no claims about gods or lack thereof. It is only after encountering positive claims of superstition that others can question or doubt those claims, finding themselves classified by the superstitious and irrational who allow themselves to be deluded by claims of gods to be "atheists."
     
  10. S.A.M. uniquely dreadful Valued Senior Member

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    You don't know what your 6 year old is. She does not know it herself.

    If she grows up to become a theist, what does that say about your claims?

    As for Dawkins, his book is a claim, since he has published it as one.

    And aren't you assuming that religion is not a response to something?
     
  11. sniffy Banned Banned

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    Dawkins did not invent atheism. Dawkin's book 'The God Delusion' is HIS response to theism.
    Atheism has existed as long as theism has.
    Anyone heard of philosophy? Religion is a form of it; an interpretation of the way things are or appear to be.
     
  12. ashura the Old Right Registered Senior Member

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    If she grows up to become a theist, what does that say about her stance now?
     
  13. Grantywanty Registered Senior Member

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    Some athiesm may not be making a claim. But to state that believers in God are by definition deluded is to make a claim. To say it is not a claim is the ignore the fact that certain things have been experienced and interpreted correctly by individuals and groups and only later, sometimes much later validated by science.

    To say that theists cannot prove the existence of their God is one thing. To state with certainty that they are deluded is a claim. And remember it is also a claim about the experiences and beliefs of people who never proselytize or do any of the things that theists are generally hated for. Such a blanket claim is also impossible to prove. Which is a no no in science.
     
  14. SnakeLord snakeystew.com Valued Senior Member

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    It most certainly isn't a claim, it's merely a name given to those that lack a belief in specific claims. Your lack of belief in leprechans isn't a claim, it's merely a lack of belief in leprechauns. That's it.. there are no claims as far as atheism is concerned.

    The 'god delusion' is a book, it is not atheism. It is, as stated by others, a response to specific theistic claims.
     
  15. sniffy Banned Banned

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    I claim the right not to claim anything!
     
  16. S.A.M. uniquely dreadful Valued Senior Member

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    You tell me.

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  17. ashura the Old Right Registered Senior Member

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    She's an atheist.

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  18. SkinWalker Archaeology / Anthropology Moderator

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    You're being absurd. If she had a belief in your god or anyone else's, I'm sure I'd be aware of it. Moreover, she hasn't any reason to believe in such nonsense. Yet. She may have reason in the future. It would seem that you're simply defending an untenable position. Saying that she *might* believe in god is like saying that she might be a golfer without my knowledge. Or that she *might* be a republican. Or that she *might* believe in astrology. While each of these "mights" may be true since I obviously don't know her every thought, there is no reason to accept that they are. I can, however, say that she believes in Santa Clause, though I think this belief is held conditionally and playfully since it is fun more than it is necessary for her to get through the day. I've had several conversations with her in which we discussed, playfully, the nature of Santa's "magic" and his ability to know if she'd "bad or good."

    But to say she doesn't "know herself" whether or not she believes in a god is stupid and not something I'd expect from you unless you're simply taking the contrary position as might be expected for an alleged theist (I've never really believed you believe in god(s), and to that I'll concede I don't actually know because you may not "know yourself"). If she believed in a god, which one would it be? There have been thousands throughout history. There are several dozen for her to choose from that are alleged to exist today.

    It may be that someone has informed her at school of what they believe and, to some extent, why, but it is unlikely that she would accept that belief and not "know" it. What you're suggesting is that there is an a priori belief in god(s) which is untenable since, if this were true, there wouldn't have been so many different and often contradictory gods throughout human history.

    It will say nothing about my claims. I make none. It will, however, create claims of her own that she would either need to justify or admit are untenable.

    What, specifically, has Dawkins claimed that isn't a response or question to an already existing claim? His overall thesis is, of course, that god is a delusion of humanity, which he supports throughout the book. That god is real is the claim. Dawkins' criticism of the claim is that it is a delusion. Call it a counter-claim if you will, but it is one that he provides far more supporting evidence than the god hypothesis does.

    No. I concede that religion most definitely is "a response to something." I don't, however, accept that it is a response to positive claim. It could be a response to a fear or lack of understanding of death; a realization that awareness is lost at death and how can that be?; a desire to believe that the people we care about go on even after death; etc.

    It could be a response to a human propensity to believe or entertain credulous thoughts, which very well may be an evolutionary advantage since someone who believes the noise he heard in the brush was a lion might survive the person who demands to be sure, thus passing on DNA.
     
  19. S.A.M. uniquely dreadful Valued Senior Member

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    In other words, you are influencing her beliefs to match yours.
    She can choose whichever belief she identifies with. As it is they are all representations of theism.
    Why? Do all people have the same manner of cultural expression or understanding of belief? Are they (and you) not affected by cultural displays of theism?

    To whom? You or herself?
    All Dawkins has proved is that he is willing to suspend the scientific method to pander to his beliefs.



    Because you have seen, of course, how unrestrained atheism is so beneficial to society.

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    Thats like saying the worlds population problem would be solved if everyone was a homosexual.
    Or perhaps that is merely your belief, based on your education and culture.
     
  20. SkinWalker Archaeology / Anthropology Moderator

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    I can accept what you are saying. However, in spite of Dawkins' provocative title, having read the book I came away with the understanding that he is saying, "either there is a god or those that make claims about god are deluded into believing in god; there is no evidence to support the claims that god exists; there is evidence that rejects the god hypothesis as claimed by those that believe; therefore, god believers are probably deluded."

    With regard to whether there is actually a deity or set of deities in the universe that qualify as being labeled gods by human definition, I will not say one way or the other. I will, however, state with conviction, that the god that most humans accept to exist based on biblical mythology is one of delusion, mostly since my education in primarily in archaeology, anthropology, and geology, and with sciences like chemistry, physics, anatomy, and so on preclude the sorts of stories told in biblical times from actually occurring the way they were told. Moreover, my understanding of literature and literary criticism informs my ability to view biblical literature and mythology for what it actually is: literature and myth.

    Is there a god in the universe? Maybe. There's no evidence to show it and, until such time such evidence is produced, I see no reason to believe in any gods, particularly the gods claimed to exist by humanity. I'm making no positive claims about gods, I'm simply questioning and declining to accept at face value the claims made by those who are apparently deluded. That delusion may be a claim, but it is a counter-claim and not one regarding any gods but regarding people. And that is the claim that Dawkins makes in his book, not a claim about god. If there is anything that comes close to a claim, it is that he says god "probably doesn't exist." And this is only in response to the evidence surrounding the claim that it does exist.
     
  21. SkinWalker Archaeology / Anthropology Moderator

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    Yes. My belief is that the world should be viewed in a rational manner. My atheism isn't the cause of this belief. I arrive at a lack of belief in gods because of my rational beliefs. We all have beliefs, some are rationally supported some aren't. I attempt to eliminate those beliefs that aren't rationally supported and I hope that she'll do the same. But if you were implying that I'm teaching her to be an atheist, you couldn't be further from the truth. That gods are silly explanations for shit humans can't explain *is* a belief I'd like her to arrive at, but I hold it important that she arrive at this and other beliefs on her own. I want her to rationalize her actions and beliefs. I want her to know why she believes what she does.

    If that all results in her believing in some religious dogma, then that's what it will result in, but this will be a conclusion she's arrived at on her own. And I expect it would make for very lively and thought-provoking debate if she learns anything else from me!

    But, as I said, I think it to be very important that she arrives at her beliefs on her own through her own rationalizations. And, if those rationalizations are fallacious, I want her to also discover the fallacy in them so that she might choose to re-evaluate them. Contrary to what you might think of me, I'm not an "atheist first and foremost." I'm easily swayed by evidence and reason and willing to change my mind on matters of even theology should compelling evidence be shown. I've allowed myself to be convinced of many things over the last few years that I previously held different stances on. And I'm willing to revise these new conclusions yet again with the right evidence.

    With regard to my daughter, the quoted text above was the only response you made that was relevant, so it's the only one I'll respond to.

    Perhaps you might be willing to quote the passage in his book where this was so?

    The remainder of your text was red-herring/straw man in variety, so no sense going down that path. Please don't confuse me with (Q). (incidentally, that was an ad hominem fallacy, but directly somewhat playfully at (Q) rather than you).
     
  22. spidergoat Liddle' Dick Tater Valued Senior Member

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    Why can't the methods of science be applied to the investigation of anything? Why is the hypothesis of a heaven or a God supposed to be off-limits?
     
  23. Sarkus Hippomonstrosesquippedalo phobe Valued Senior Member

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    The methods of science CAN be applied to the investigation of anything - on the proviso that the something is testable, repeatable, falsifiable etc.
     

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