Monday, July 3, 2017

I Am a Fundamentalist

We often hear religionists accusing atheists of having religious fervor for their naturalist metaphysical views and the attendant empiricist epistemology.  Of course, religionists don't ever criticize these philosophical views directly.  You don't ever hear them say "You are militant naturalist", or "You adhere religiously to your empiricism, despite all the evidence."  But they do say those things about atheism, which seems a little silly to me, because atheism is a direct consequence of those philosophical views.  But religionists are apparently less inclined to criticize legitimate philosophical views, perhaps because they understand that their own philosophical underpinnings are on no more solid footing than those of the atheists.  But atheism, in its own right, is not a philosophy, although it is, in some sense, on a par with religion.  You believe in God or you don't.  If atheists can mock religious beliefs, then why shouldn't religionists mock atheism?

In fact, it is a common tactic for religionists to define atheism as a religion and then proceed to mock atheists for holding such ridiculous views.  This is a topic I have discussed previously, here.  And of course, along with that, the empiricism of the atheist is re-defined as "scientism", and turned into a straw-man that bears little resemblance to the actual epistemological views of the atheist, so that religionists can proceed to ridicule it.  This, too, is something I have discussed here.  And note that whether they are talking about atheism as religion or scientism as religion, the religionists always separate these accusations from any discussion of the underlying philosophical positions, preferring instead to focus on the (supposed) beliefs of the atheist, which they find easier to turn into straw men that are amenable to mockery.

Here, we see yet another example of such mockery from grodrigues:
I think people are giving short shrift to the Awesomeness of Science (tm). Only science deniers (and maybe Donald Trump -- but I repeat myself) deny the Glorious Awesomeness of Science (tm).

(1) with the great technological advances we are now in a position to finish off human race.

(2) with no human race there are are no human problems.

(3) ergo Science can end all human problems.

So it is obvious that the answer to OP's question is yes. I ****in' love Science.

I think anyone that does not trust the Sheer, Pure Awesomeness of Science (tm) is a stinky poo-poo head.

Now if you will excuse me, I am going to do something more useful and watch a Bill Nye video. - grodrigues
He has turned science, or "Science (tm)", into an object of worship, as indicated by its "Pure Awsomeness".  Notice any resemblance to the way religionists speak of God?  And by simply dismissing anyone who disagrees as a "stinky poo-poo head" without providing any philosophical argument, the atheist is depicted as being unthinking and unreasonable - just like any religious fundamentalist.  Fundamentalism is characterized by unthinking adherence to the indefensible primitive aspects of the religion.  But as all thinking religionists know, their belief is based on a strong foundation of philosophical tradition.  Let's not give atheists credit for having any such basis.  Let's not give them credit for thinking about why they are atheists, or for having any philosophical foundations.  They are fundies.

If we examine the beliefs of religious fundamentalists, we see that the foundation of their belief is not philosophical.  It is a literal interpretation of scriptures.  It's something that they can't afford to think about, because that would lead to inevitable contradictions.  The bible says the earth was created in seven days, and lays out a timeline that indicates an age of about six thousand years.  The bible says sinners will be cast into a lake of fire, and on and on.  All of these things are seen as literal truths by fundamentalists.  But if you employ reason and logic (and perhaps some science?), you may realize that all those biblical stories can't be literally true, so the more sophisticated theist has been forced to re-invent his religion.  (And remember, it wasn't so long ago that the vast majority of Christians shared these beliefs of the literal truth of biblical stories - beliefs that have been largely dispelled by scientific understanding that didn't exist during most of the history of Christianity.)  The modern non-fundamentalist holds a watered-down version of the original, where God's creation of man has morphed from molding a clump of clay into an evolutionary development over millions of years under God's purposeful guidance.

What can we say about the supposed fundamentalism of atheists?  If religionists want to claim that it's thoughtless and unreasoned adherence to a belief system like the religious fundies, I have to protest.  At least for me, my atheism is based on the underlying philosophical views of naturalism and empiricism.  There is no objective evidence and no convincing logical argument that refutes these views.  To say that the philosophical foundations of atheism are devoid of rational justification is a lie. 

But maybe that 's not what they mean.  Maybe they think that as with their own religious beliefs, the sophisticated atheist should adhere to a watered-down version of the original.  Naturalism shouldn't be taken literally, because sophisticated religionists still insist there are supernatural things in the world, and it's only fundie atheism that denies that.  And empiricism must be taken with a grain of salt, because sophisticated religionists derive their beliefs from non-empirical "Knowledge".  Just as non-fundamentalist religious beliefs have been watered down from the original with a healthy dose of scientific understanding, they seem to think that in order to be a sophisticated non-fundie atheist, the original naturalism and empiricism should be watered down with a healthy dose of religious understanding.  Isn't that why religionists think so highly of people like Thomas Nagel?  He's no fundie atheist.

But the underpinnings of my atheism have not been watered down at all.  Call me a fundie if you want, but I'm sticking with unvarnished naturalism and empiricism.  It's not a religious adherence, and it's not unthinking.  The philosophical basis of my atheism has remained unscathed to this day.  And there is not a shred of objective evidence that refutes it.  I don't worship "Science (tm)", but I understand that science is successful in revealing truths about reality.  It's the very thing that has forced religionists to back down from their own fundamentalist origins.  The most reasonable thing for religionists to do is to continue following the same line of reasoning to its logical conclusion.

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