Apples and Oranges here.
For all their differences, most philosophers in the Western tradition, and indeed most of the world’s religious traditions, have held that a satisfactory account of the things of greatest concern to human beings requires reference to some transcendent reality. As one the greatest philosophers of the twentieth century, Ludwig Wittgenstein, put it:
“We feel that even if all possible scientific questions be answered, the problems of life have still not been touched at all.”
There are, of course, many different ways of responding to the problems of life. But while there remain such questions – questions to which God provides one possible answer – it is not clear how science could render belief in God obsolete.
Breathing Fire here.
Empirical verification is the touchstone for the sciences. Theory alone is never enough, without the possibility of empirical testing and verification, and indeed possible falsification. No theory, not matter how elegant and mathematically satisfying, is sufficient to convince the sceptical scientist. As Krauss notes,
“a truly open mind means forcing our imaginations to conform to the evidence of reality and not vice versa, whether or not we like the implications.”
Here I find the conclusions of Martin Rees a bit more metaphysically modest:
“Theorists may, some day, be able to write down fundamental equations governing physical reality. But physics can never explain what ‘breathes fire’ into the equations, and actualizes them in a real cosmos.”
Whether or not there is “fire” in the equations demands empirical testing. Science can verify this, but according to Rees, it cannot explain it. Such existence is either given or not given, a contingent “brute fact” of the type the multiverse was designed to escape from.
Rees might be surprised to be told that the distinction he is drawing is nothing less than the scholastic distinction between essence and existence. Aquinas would have been proud. To recognise this distinction is to begin to recognise the difference between a scientific question and a metaphysical one.
Of course, Krauss might have come to know this if he were not so convinced of the intellectual bankruptcy of philosophers and theologians that he did not have to listen to them.
No Shades Needed here.
The New Atheism’s greatest strength was its novelty value. But what was the substance of the movement? Put simply, the New Atheism is increasingly being seen as a one-trick pony. It’s great for its predictable theatrical denunciations of religion, which may explain why the media give it such an easy ride.
Yet many are still wondering what positive ideas the New Atheism represents. The critic David Bentley Hart caustically remarked that the New Atheism is “so intellectually and morally trivial” that it is best classified as merely another “form of light entertainment.”
Will it feature in next season’s schedules? Or will it be dropped for something more interesting? Or is the term “Bright” simply heading for cultural ridicule and decline?
Even one of the leading New Atheists was repulsed: the late Christopher Hitchens openly criticized Dawkins and Dennett for their “cringe-making proposal that atheists should conceitedly nominate themselves to be called ‘Brights’.”
The smart money’s on Hitchens here. Let’s see if the trend continues in Australia in the wake of the Global Atheist Convention.
No Christian Narrative, no Modern Science- and Easter too here.
Melvin Calvin, Nobel Prize-winner in biochemistry, finds the origin of the conviction, basic to science, that nature is ordered in the basic notion:
“that the universe is governed by a single God, and is not the product of the whims of many gods, each governing his own province according to his own laws. This monotheistic view seems to be the historical foundation for modern science.”
Far from belief in God hindering science, it was the motor that drove it. Isaac Newton, when he discovered the law of gravitation, did not make the common mistake of saying, “Now I have a law of gravity, I don’t need God.’ Instead, he wrote Principia Mathematica, the most famous book in the history of science, expressing the hope that it would persuade the thinking man to believe in a Creator.
Failing Grade here.
But despite the fact this book is mainly philosophy (Dawkins is not a philosopher, but a biologist), much of the philosophy he purveys is remarkable jejune. You might say that some of his forays into philosophy are at best undergraduate, but that would be unfair to undergraduates. The fact is many of his arguments would receive a failing grade in a basic philosophy class.