Friday, August 11, 2017

Atheus Evangelismus--the Varieties of Evangelical Materialists*

Militant Atheism--modified from Wikimedia Commons
"Many people may be comforted by the idea of a powerful being who cares about their lives and who determines ultimate standards of right and wrong behavior.  Personally, I am not comforted by that at all;  I find it extremely off-putting."--Sean Carroll
 “[Religious] Faith can be very very dangerous, and deliberately to implant it into the vulnerable mind of an innocent child is a grievous wrong.” ― Richard Dawkins
 "Because there are laws such as gravity, the universe can and will create itself from nothing. It is not necessary to invoke God to light the blue touch paper and set the Universe going."--Stephen Hawking
"I can't prove that God doesn't exist, but I'd much rather live in a universe without one".--Lawrence Krauss
 "When people organize their lives around these [religious] beliefs, and then learn of other people who seem to be doing just fine without them--or worse, who credibly rebut them--they are in danger of looking like fools. Since one cannot defend a belief based on faith by persuading skeptics it is true, the faithful are apt to react to unbelief with rage, and may try to eliminate that affront to everything that makes their lives meaningful.” --Stephen Pinker 

Scientism, the belief that science can explain everything about the world and ourselves, is a religion, although not formally expressed as such.  By being a religion, I mean that it is founded on faith, a faith that its proponents say proceeds from rational processes, but which in fact denies many rational objections.

There are many scientists who write books, justifying their scientism;  whether they do this to gather people into the fold or just make money is a question I won't attempt to answer.    Some--I'm thinking of Richard Dawkins in particular--are so convinced of the righteousness of their belief and the evil of religious faith that they would prohibit the practice of religion.    Others--I'm thinking of Sean Carroll--take a more balanced view, conceding there are legitimate reasons for belief in God, but those reasons aren't for them.  


Now I'm more familiar with the works of Carroll, Dawkins and Hawking, but I do know something about what Krauss and Pinker have written about religion.   So, I thought it might be instructive put their quasi-religious beliefs into correspondence with some Christian sects.   So, here they are:

Carroll    <----> Unitarianism Universalism
Dawkins <----> Catholic Geocentrists 
Hawking <----> Low Church Anglican
Krauss    <----> Missouri Synod Lutheran or Southern Baptist
Pinker     <----> United Methodist

These correspondences are, I'll admit, arbitrary to an extent.   I've assigned them on the apparent willingness of proponents to argue reasonably and to acknowledge possible merit of those who do believe in God.   

What's your take?

NOTE

*My wife, my beta-reader, said on reading this, "It isn't really a  post, it's more like a comment".    I agree, and the only two legitimate correspondences are those for Sean Carroll and Richard Dawkins--the three others are sort of put in just to get some more people and denominations in the list.

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About Me

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Retired, cranky, old physicist.   Convert to Catholicism in 1995.   Trying to show that there is no contradiction between what science tells us about the world and our Catholic faith.   Intermittent blogs and adult education classes to achieve this end (see http://rationalcatholic.blogspot.com/   and http://home.ptd.net/~rkurland)

Extraordinary Minister of Communion volunteer to federal prison and hospital; lector, EOMC.
Sometime player of bass clarinet, alto clarinet, clarinet, bass, tenor bowed psaltery for parish instrumental group and local folk group.

And, finally, my motivation:
“It is also necessary—may God grant it!—that in providing others with books to read I myself should make progress, and that in trying to answer their questions I myself should find what I am seeking.
Therefore at the command of God our Lord and with his help, I have undertaken not so much to discourse with authority on matters known to me as to know them better by discoursing devoutly of them.”
St. Augustine of Hippo, The Trinity I,8.