Observations

I speak from experience, being strongly subject to this fear myself: I want atheism to be true and am made uneasy by the fact that some of the most intelligent and well-informed people I know are religious believers. It isn’t just that I don’t believe in God and, naturally, hope that I’m right in my belief. It’s that I hope there is no God! I don’t want there to be a God; I don’t want the universe to be like that. My guess is that this cosmic authority problem is not a rare condition and that it is responsible for much of the scientism and reductionism of our time. One of the tendencies it supports is the ludicrous overuse of evolutionary biology to explain everything about human life, including everything about the human mind… This is a somewhat ridiculous situation… It is just as irrational to be influenced in one’s beliefs by the hope that God does not exist as by the hope that God does exist.
Thomas Nagel, The Last Word

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5 Responses to Observations

  1. freeze43 says:

    Christoper Hitchens has similar views, sans the suggested over reliance on evolutionary biology, citing the dictatorial and capricious nature of a judeo-christian God.

    Otherwise, why is Nagel upset with “scientism” and “reductionism”? I’m unsure as to the year of this quote, but both terms (and their ideologies) have fallen out of favor and replaced with strong normative science concerned with scientific validity and not agendas.

  2. jackhudson says:

    It’s been my experience that scientism and reductionism are quite predominant in New Atheist thinking, in practice at least, if not by name.

  3. freeze43 says:

    Really? Harris and Dawkins both profess to experience deeply spiritual experiences and an interconnectedness to the universe. What examples have you encountered?

  4. It all depends on your vision of what that God is, doesn’t it? If you have a hunch that God is the God of the 5-point Calvinist – one who sentences men to an eternity of a flaming Hell before they even took a breath merely to express His “power”, most people will inevitably see such a God as a very powerful enemy and nothing more.

    Then there’s the God of Rob Bell and some more sunny and optimistic Christians who believe that God loves everyone and will eventually make all things right, convert everyone to a mindset of love and compassion and remove all traces of sorrow and death and grant to all an everlasting happiness and bliss. Who wouldn’t want that?

    (Of course, the latter is, to some, an intolerable idea: God is nothing if He’s not powerful and will not vanquish and torture their own personal enemies.)

  5. Toby Simmons says:

    Hmm. Very interesting indeed!
    A great blog, by the way. Let me know what you think of mine . . .
    http://apieceofcoffee.wordpress.com/
    Keep on posting!

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