Home » Atheism, Culture, Darwinism, Intelligent Design » Physicist Rob Sheldon: Neo-atheism dispenses with rationality, not religion

Physicist Rob Sheldon: Neo-atheism dispenses with rationality, not religion

Reflecting on (atheist) Bryan Appleyard’s dissection of new atheism, physicist Rob Sheldon dissents, observing:

This is very fine description of the “cult” of neo-atheism. What it fails to do is understand it.

The oversight is thinking that neo-atheism is merely a “triumphalist” version of Modernism. After all, it elevates scientism, Darwinism, and atheism all at the same time, which superficially look identical to Modernism.

But neo-atheism dispenses with rationality. And Modernism was all about rationality. If one couldn’t rationally prove one’s atheism, there was something wrong-as Anthony Flew demonstrated when he abandoned his atheism. But for the neo-atheist, rationality has nothing to do with it. What then takes it place? What replaces Reason as the Queen of the Sciences? What justifies and makes one eligible for neo-atheist salvation?

As one columnist said of Peter Gleick – “Saving the World, One Fraud at a Time” – the neo-atheist minds not at all raking the muck. Call the opponent a Nazi, never read the book you pan, skew the Amazon polls, sabotage their web site. There is no ethical rule so high that it can’t be broken in the name of saving the world.

What do we call this behavior? The author called it a “cult”, drawing attention to its religious zeal and anti-rationalist dogma. But as we all know, it is awfully hard to define a “cult”. Or as my preacher father used to say, “a fanatic is someone who loves Jesus more than you do.”

The oversight is thinking that neo-atheism is merely a “triumphalist” version of Modernism. After all, it elevates scientism, Darwinism, and atheism all at the same time, which superficially look identical to Modernism.

What is it they love so much? What drives their cultish religion? We’ve dispensed with Reason, and we’ve dispensed with Ethics. What is left?

A Bee in the Mouth: Anger in America Now

Peter Woods argued that it is Post-Modernism. In “A Bee in the Mouth” he argues that what validates the text in today’s discourse is anger. Passion. Demagoguery.

I would phrase it a little differently. In the traditional division of philosophy into Epistemology, Metaphysics, and Ethics, the main emphases were Reason, Being, and Righteousness, or Truth, Reality, and Sin. By eliminating Truth and Sin, we are left with Reality.

Today’s debate is driven by a need to promote a certain vision of reality, a certain metaphysical being. One cannot “be real” or “be authentic” unless one is passionate about their life. One cannot let facts, science, ethics, people or civilizations interfere with the “saving of the planet”.

In that sense, a cult is identified by its alternate reality, and the measures it takes to defend it. This is why PZ can “never read” a critique of Darwin. This is why blogosphere riots are instigated by Darwinbots. This is why Hitchens is a polished blasphemer. Because it is not the truth but the perception of reality that is the battleground: “You can all have your own god, as long as you all see him as I do.” Censorship comes to be about perception, not about truth. If there be a defense against post-modern neo-atheism, it must be metaphysical.

So, contrary to Stephen Hawking and his multiverse, it’s back to philosophy for us, if we want to understand reality.

See also: My Generation

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4 Responses to Physicist Rob Sheldon: Neo-atheism dispenses with rationality, not religion

  1. The secularist/atheist/leftist view involves self-censorship, which, in shorthand, is “Political Correctness”. It is the absolute preference for ideology over reality. We see how lunatic a view it is whenever a black conservative is said not to be “black”, all based on his/her ideological perspective. This is the full fruition of the “Enlightenment”, and the road to the true Dark Ages. It manifests itself by the censorship of any discordant thought. In the end, it’s diabolical—directed by the Father of Lies, with Truth as its victim.

  2. What is the link to the document from which Sheldon’s quotes are taken?

  3. OT: Wow, a professor of paleoanthropology openly admitting that genuine problems exist in the Darwinian story of human origins.,, He must be tenured!

    Pikaia interviews Bernard Wood – pt. 2/2 – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lXLG7MbsGIk

  4. What I find astounding about atheists is the way their arguments initially come across as witty and clever, but after careful scrutiny they always turn out to be logically incoherent, fallacious, or outright foolish. And this OP spells out the reason for it: neo-atheism dispenses rationality.

    And yes I know that it is probably a matter of time before an atheist invades this thread and opens fire against the typical straw man of religious myths and superstitions being irrational, as if such attacks on religion would give any credibility to atheism. But the fact of the matter remains that Theism in general is the most plausible worldview given the current knowledge and evidence about life’s complexity and design, the origin of the universe and fine-tuning, and the subject of morality.

    I also liked the bit about the importance for atheists to prove their atheism in the second paragraph. And I guess we all know the clishe response to that: “atheism is just an lack of belief”. But the reality is that an atheist worldview which carries Darwinist & materialist baggage has plenty of proofs yet to fulfill, things like having an uncaused or self-caused universe, depending on what they choose. And there is also all that “multiverse” day-dreaming. Let alone the virtually impossible undirected origin of life from a chemical soup without any intelligent input. Aren’t those the tenets of an atheistic worldview? So who in their right mind could claim that a worldview infused with such extraordinary claims does not carry a burden of proof?

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