Scientism: The New Orthodoxy – Google Books

Scientism: The New Orthodoxy is a comprehensive philosophical overview of the question of scientism, discussing the role and place of science in the humanities, religion, and the social sciences.Clarifying and defining the key terms in play in discussions of scientism, this collection identifies the dimensions that differentiate science from scientism. Leading scholars appraise the means available to science, covering the impact of the neurosciences and the new challenges it presents for the law and the self. Illustrating the effect of scientism on the social sciences, and the humanities, Scientism: the New Orthodoxy addresses what science is and what it is not. This provocative collection is an important contribution to the social sciences and the humanities in the 21st century.Contributors include: Peter Hacker, Bastiaan van Fraassen, Daniel N. Robinson, Kenneth Schaffner, Roger Scruton, James K.A. Smith, Richard Swinburne, Lawrence Principe and Richard N. Williams.

Source: Scientism: The New Orthodoxy – Google Books

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Muslims Aren’t A Race, So I Can’t Be Racist, Right? Wrong. | The Huffington Post

Need more proof that Islamophobia is a form of cultural racism? Consider the experience of Inderjit Singh Mukker. Mukker was assaulted in September 2015 for “looking Muslim”; he was dragged out of his car and beaten to a pulp by a man screaming “you’re a terrorist, bin Laden!” The twist here is that Mukker is not even Muslim; he is Sikh. The perpetrator of this crime looked at Mukker’s turban and thought “he’s a Muslim. He’s dangerous.” A cultural symbol, in this case, was used as a signifier to judge an entire group of people, however wrongly. Is this racism? Most definitely. Even Sikhs suffer from Islamophobia.

Source: Muslims Aren’t A Race, So I Can’t Be Racist, Right? Wrong. | The Huffington Post

4 Things the Atheist Movement Has Done Badly (and How to Do Them Better) | Alternet

3. Reject violence and militarism. While atheists as a whole are one of America’s most progressive voting blocs, it’s an unfortunate quirk of history that some prominent atheists have been aggressive advocates of neoconservative foreign policy, which calls for the subjugation of Muslim countries through bombing and invasion. Although religious terrorism is a real threat, too many atheists can’t conceive of any way to respond to it except with more violence.

A case in point is the late Christopher Hitchens, who was a brilliant and fearless writer but will forever be tainted by George W. Bush’s invasion of Iraq, which he enthusiastically supported on many occasions. Another example is Ayaan Hirsi Ali, a Somali refugee who deconverted from Islam and rose to become a member of the Dutch parliament. While Hirsi Ali’s life story is undeniably inspiring, and she’s endured great personal trauma and danger for her apostasy, she’s adopted xenophobic ideas about the Western world being at war with Islam. Last but not least, there’s Sam Harris, who’s made many hair-raising comments about Islam such as a call for airport security screeners to profile anyone who “looks like” they “could conceivably be Muslim.”

All these thinkers bought into the destructive fantasy that endless war and brutality, or the all-seeing eye of a surveillance state, are the ways to stop terrorism and other dangerous outgrowths of fundamentalism. There may be cases where military force is the only option, in self-defense or to prevent genocide, but this can only be a last resort. The battle against jihadism and other violent ideologies is ultimately a battle of ideas, not of arms. We’ll only win when we quiet the siren song of destructive fundamentalism and make people feel they have a stake in their own future. And that means we need to invest in democracy, education and true nation-building, rather than cozying up to corrupt rulers or local autocrats who promise to cooperate in keeping their people repressed.

Source: 4 Things the Atheist Movement Has Done Badly (and How to Do Them Better) | Alternet

Revisited: An Appetite for Wonder Review: The Closed Mind of Richard Dawkins | New Republic

His atheism is its own kind of narrow religion

… Unlike most of those who debated then, Dawkins knows practically nothing of the philosophy of science, still less about theology or the history of religion. From his point of view, he has no need to know. He can deduce everything he wants to say from first principles. Religion is a type of supernatural belief, which is irrational, and we will all be better off without it: for all its paraphernalia of evolution and memes, this is the sum total of Dawkins’s argument for atheism. His attack on religion has a crudity that would make a militant Victorian unbeliever such as T.H. Huxley—described by his contemporaries as “Darwin’s bulldog” because he was so fierce in his defense of evolution—blush scarlet with embarrassment…

Source: An Appetite for Wonder Review: The Closed Mind of Richard Dawkins | New Republic

Jerry Coyne’s response : Richard Dawkins doesn’t deserve fellow atheist’s smears

Center for Inquiry – John Gray’s embarrassingly awful review of Dawkin’s an appetite for wonder

Sam Harris’s Quantum Universe (or, How to Say One Thing While Meaning Another)

Comment (edited 3.58 PM 12/14/2015): New Atheist fundamentalism must have a sound logical foundation based on definitions and contextual parameters prescribed by it’s demagogues. It’s not bigotry if you can rationalize it?- PG

Oxford, England. A basic premise of philosophical logic is that two contradictory propositions cannot both be true. If I put a cat in a box and close the lid, and ask you whether the cat is alive o…

Source: Sam Harris’s Quantum Universe (or, How to Say One Thing While Meaning Another)

Why Ayn Rand Is a Fan Favorite Among Christian Theocrats | Alternet

Ayn Rand’s followers find themselves sharing a lot of common ground with the Christian Right these days. The Tea Party, with its stress on righteous liberty and a robust form of capitalism, has been a rallying point for both groups. Still, the philosophical disharmony between Christianity and Objectivism (Ayn Rand’s philosophy) has presented problems for anyone seeking to straddle the two worldviews. Just ask Paul Ryan.

Congressman Ryan, a Conservative Catholic, made no bones about his love for Ayn Rand’s signature novel, Atlas Shrugged, when he began his political career. The novel’s portrayal of heroic entrepreneurs fighting an evil government fits perfectly with Ryans’s ideal of conservatism. But a few years ago, the congressman began to feel pushback from traditional Christians who weren’t so keen on Ayn Rand’s theological views. How, it was asked, could Ryan condone an atheist who dismissed religionists as ignorant and deluded? The upshot: Ryan began parsing his words in a hurry.

Judging from recent trends, however, the icy divide over the God issue shows clear signs of melt. Gradual movement toward accommodation is coming not just from Christians wishing to co-opt Ayn Rand’s capitalistic ethic, but from Randians seeking to expand their fan base…

Continue via Why Ayn Rand Is a Fan Favorite Among Christian Theocrats | Alternet.

Bill Maher terrifies Bill O’Reilly: An atheist has the Fox News host running scared – Salon.com

What flabbergasts O’Reilly & Coulter is nonbelievers are no longer keeping mum about Christianity’s rank stupidity

Jeffrey Tayler

All in all, rationalists should applaud O’Reilly and Coulter for having the courage to so boldly air their mendacity, mischaracterizations, and lopsided analogies, which are in fact illuminating.  Namely, they both argue from a premise so widely accepted that they leave it unstated: that those who believe, without proof, fantastical, far-reaching propositions about the nature of our cosmos and how we should live our lives have nothing to explain, nothing to account for, while those of us who value convictions based on evidence, reasoned solutions, and rules for living deriving from consensus must ceaselessly justify ourselves and genuflect apologetically for voicing disagreement.

Beneath this unstated premise lies another more insidious notion: that there are two kinds of truth – religious and otherwise.  That, say, the assertion that God created the earth in six days and rested on the seventh might not be literally true, but it merits respect as “religious truth” (or, as Reza Aslan puts it, “sacred history”), as a metaphor for some ethereal verity, one so transcendental that boneheaded rationalists obsessed with superfluities like evidence cannot grasp it.

This is sophistry of the most contemptible variety.  By such unscrupulous subterfuge the faithful (and their apologists) commit treason against reason, betray honest discourse, and hope to render their (preposterous) dogmas immune to disproof and open to limitless interpretation, depending on their needs of the moment.  Either an objective proposition (say, that Jesus was the son of God, or that the Prophet Muhammad flew to heaven on a winged horse) is true or it is untrue.  It cannot be whatever the one advancing it says it is; much less, true for some, but not for others.

via Bill Maher terrifies Bill O’Reilly: An atheist has the Fox News host running scared – Salon.com.


April 13, 2015 – Note: “…a metaphor for some ethereal verity, one so transcendental that boneheaded rationalists obsessed with superfluities like evidence cannot grasp it.” It’s too bad that straw-man based judgments like this ruin an otherwise good point. A metaphor is pretty much an ‘ethereal verity’ by definition so doesn’t this mean any use of metaphor is verboten when speaking to ‘evidence’ obsessed ‘boneheaded rationalists’?

Another funny thing  Jeffrey Tayler does in this extract is to move from Coulter and O’Reilly to all the ‘faithful (and their apologists)’ without batting an eye. From two publicity-seeking media whores to billions of people, just like that! Like magic! Then, to prove my previous point, he reverts to a literal reading of religious myths, he dismisses as ‘sophistry’ any value they may have as metaphorical storytelling, and he insists his dogmatic empiricist interpretation renders them logically inconsistent and therefore devoid of meaning. Anyone who disagrees is ‘contemptible’ and ‘unscrupulous’.

What really tickles my funny-bone is Tayler’s ‘either/or’ tone – taunting, sarcastic, condescending … (ie. cliche – ‘yur either with us or yur with the terrorists’ attitude).  By seeing humanity as fuzzy & grey, I’m an “apologist”. I’m sinister. I’m stupid. I’m worse than Coulter and O’Reilly!

It’s getting to the point where I no longer want to label my state-of-disbelief-in-theism as being an “atheist” – a word that seems to have been hijacked by militants.

Peter Guenther