Sunday, 2 December 2012

Atheism's religion

Is atheism a religion? Is evolutionism a religion? Is secularism a religion?

Subscribers to various positions try to prejudice their own beliefs by claiming that religious beliefs should be excluded from the public square, or that such beliefs represent a conflict of interest, or a bias—often implying an unacceptable bias.

Of course if religion is (reasonably) defined as belief in a deity or, more broadly, the supernatural, then materialism is not a religion. Unfortunately for the materialist he is not off the hook. Firstly the debate is over truth. And if God exists, as the majority of the world has believed since creation till now, then the premises of the atheist are false and his conclusions are more likely to be errant.

Even ignoring this, the relegation of religion to second tier prominence is unjustifiable. What is it that people believe? It is their worldview. Consistent or not, events are interpreted according to an underlying belief structure. It is not more logical to justify a course of action based on considerations that deliberately deny divinity rather than affirming it.

One may categorise a worldview by topic. Say, how does one view economics or philosophy? Within such a system the atheist has a view on theology. His claim is atheism, the Christian's claim is theism. Other particular worldviews include pantheism.

The atheist wishes to allow his denial of theism to influence his views, yet deny his theology (atheism) shut him out of the marketplace of ideas; the very reason he gives for banning the theist. He labels a theistic worldview "religion," which is enough to disparage ideas influenced by it, but somehow not have the same effect on areligious reasoning. He wants to eat and keep his cake.

Some atheist and evolutionist thinkers are more aware of the influence of worldview, and can see how such premises affect their ideas in ways analogous to religion. From their mouths....

Hubert Yockey (1916–), evolutionist. Journal of Theoretical Biology (1977), doi:10.1016/0022-5193(77)90044-3.
One must conclude that, contrary to the established and current wisdom a scenario describing the genesis of life on earth by chance and natural causes which can be accepted on the basis of fact and not faith has not yet been written.
Boyce Rensberger, evolutionist. How the World Works.
The fact is that scientists are not really as objective and dispassionate in their work as they would like you to think. Most scientists first get their ideas about how the world works not through rigorously logical processes but through hunches and wild guesses. As individuals, they often come to believe something to be true long before they assemble the hard evidence that will convince somebody else that it is. Motivated by faith in his own ideas and a desire for acceptance by his peers, a scientist will labor for years knowing in his heart that his theory is correct but devising experiment after experiment whose results he hopes will support his position.
Richard Lewontin (1929–), evolutionist. The New York Review of Books (1997).
We take the side of science in spite of the patent absurdity of some of its constructs, in spite of its failure to fulfil many of its extravagant promises of health and life, in spite of the tolerance of the scientific community for unsubstantiated just-so stories, because we have a prior commitment, a commitment to materialism. It is not that the methods and institutions of science somehow compel us to accept a material explanation of the phenomenal world, but, on the contrary, that we are forced by our a priori adherence to material causes to create an apparatus of investigation and a set of concepts that produce material explanations, no matter how counter-intuitive, no matter how mystifying to the uninitiated. Moreover, that materialism is an absolute, for we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door.
John Dunphy, humanist. The Humanist (1983).
I am convinced that the battle for humankind’s future must be waged and won in the public school classroom by teachers who correctly perceive their role as the proselytizers of a new faith: a religion of humanity that recognizes and respects the spark of what theologians call divinity in every human being. These teachers must embody the same selfless dedication as the most rabid fundamentalist preachers, for they will be ministers of another sort, utilizing a classroom instead of a pulpit to convey humanist values in whatever subject they teach, regardless of the educational level—preschool day care or large state university. The classroom must and will become an arena of conflict between the old and the new—the rotting corpse of Christianity, together with all its adjacent evils and misery, and the new faith of humanism … .
Michael Ruse (1940–), agnostic.
Evolution, akin to religion, involves making certain a priori or metaphysical assumptions, which at some level cannot be proven empirically.

1 comment:

  1. Another Ruse quote: Evolution is promoted by its practitioners as more than mere science. Evolution is promulgated as an ideology, a secular religion—a full-fledged alternative to Christianity, with meaning and morality. I am an ardent evolutionist and an ex-Christian, but I must admit that in this one complaint … the literalists are absolutely right. Evolution is a religion. This was true of evolution in the beginning, and it is true of evolution still today. … Evolution therefore came into being as a kind of secular ideology, an explicit substitute for Christianity.

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