Is the “new” atheist echo chamber so small they really don’t have a clue as to the key influences that brought us Western Civilization? Really? Have they read anything other than Dawkins or Dennett? Do they live in caves? Do they ever venture out? From this, one would guess not.
Of course the most ironic point made in this undressing of Pataki, is noting where the foundations of empiricism should be located. How amazing that most of these new atheists wield what they think is some sort of hammer against “religion” and theism, forgetting the hammer was handed to them by others. They certainly never came up with it. In fact, they have never come up with anything, ever. All they can do is flail about with tools someone else produced and perhaps they wield them so incorrectly because of the intellectual laziness inherent in their own worldview and the poverty of vision that comes from being so ignorant of that which they critique. As the writer notes:
The methodology of empirical testing fundamental to our Western intellectual tradition did not come from the Greeks. Indeed, it could not. The Greeks closed the door on verification through experience. “The whole business of testing for truth,” says Professor Edwin Judge, a specialist on the reception of Graeco-Roman culture into the modern world and founder of Macquarie University’s Ancient History Department, “was explicitly rejected in classical culture as being illogical.
Why? Because the Greeks believed the universe operated according to a fixed, eternal logic, which was accessible to the logical mind of human beings. What was needed in order to comprehend the world, whether the movements of the stars or the circulation of the blood, was not testing but careful reasoning from unchallenged axioms.”
This revolution in the path to knowledge was the result of the shattering of the Greek worldview by the Judeo-Christian worldview. And we can date it precisely. In AD 529 the Christian philosopher John Philoponus published his Refutation of Proclus echoing his Refutation of Aristotle. These were a stunning dismantling of the Greek doctrine of the rational, eternal universe in favour of a philosophical defence of the biblical notion of the universe as a created object with a beginning. And this gave us science as we now think of it.
The Oxford Classical Dictionary states things plainly: Philoponus “influenced subsequent science to Galileo by replacing many of Aristotle’s theories with an account centred on the Christian idea that the universe had an absolute beginning.”
The breakthrough was immense. If the world is not an eternal, logical system but a creative work of art, we cannot simply think our way to understanding reality.
We must humbly inspect what the Creator, of his own free will, has produced and apply our rational powers of testing to comprehend what He has manufactured. Testing of what is, not rationalizing from first principles, will lead us to the truth about the physical world.