Wednesday, 5 June 2019

Variations of Scientisms and Atheisms

No One World View

When someone claims to be an atheist, it is prudent to inquire exactly what sort of atheist he or she might be.  The reason that this would be prudent is due to the abundance of different types and stripes of atheism.  John Gray, in his book Seven Types of Atheism [London: Penguin Random House, 2018] writes:
If there are many different religions, there are also many different atheisms.  Twenty-first-century atheism is nearly always a type of materialism.  But that is only one of many views of the world that atheists have held.  Some atheists--such as nineteenth-century German philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer--have thought that matter is an illusion and reality spiritual.  There is no such thing as 'the atheist worldview'.  [Op cit., p. 4.]
The statement that "there is no such thing as 'the atheist worldview' " is likely to shake up more than a a few modern atheists.  Fast following this discombobulation is the way Gray trims back the pretensions  and claims of many modern, materialistic atheists:
Science cannot replace a religious view of the world, since there is no such thing as 'the scientific world view'.  A method of inquiry rather than a settled body of theories, science yields different view of the world as knowledge advances.  Until Darwin showed that species change over time, science pictured a world of fixed species.  In the same way, classical physics has been followed by quantum mechanics.  It is commonly assumed that science will someday yield a single unchanging view of things.  Certainly some view of the world are eliminated as scientific knowledge advances.  But there is no reason for supposing that the progress of science will reach a point where only one worldview is left standing.  [Ibid., p. 12.]
It would seem that a little bit less arrogant grandstanding and a little more humility would be appropriate amongst the ranks of the so-called New Atheists.

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