This is not a post to critique the different forms of Atheism. I want to address specifically PZ Myers’s definition of Atheism.
As I was puzzling over how to answer such an odd question, I realized why I thought it was odd. The scientist and atheist positions are the same. It doesn’t matter which hat I’m wearing, the answers won’t change.
The emphasis is his. Most likely Myers is not even aware that he is resurrecting a form of logical positivism. Logical positivism was originally forwarded by men such as Moritz Schlick and A. J. Ayer to eliminate metaphysics. Logical positivism is the idea that anything outside of sense perception is not real and therefore meaningless. If an idea or thing can not be subjected to empirical testing and verification then it is meaningless. Does this sound familiar? Essentially logical positivism is making a truth claim through tautology.
PZ Myers on Godless Science
I do think that the processes of science are antithetical to the processes of religion — personal revelation and dogma are not accepted forms of evidence in the sciences … The whole philosophy of critical thinking and demanding reproducible evidence arms its proponents with a wicked sharp knife that is all too easily applied to religious beliefs
Myers does not seem to have studied his faith in Atheism because he would have realized that this sort of reasoning had been debunked long ago. This is why Myers’s synthesis of science and Atheism is dead on arrival. You see, the problem with logical positivism is that in order for its argument to be true, it can only apply to some metaphysical claims. Since metaphysics by definition is beyond empirical verification there is no way to determine scientifically which one is correct and which is false. On the other hand if the argument is used to apply to all metaphysical claims then logical positivism itself must also invalidate itself, because it cannot empirically verify that empirical verification is the only valid method of validating and idea or thing. In order to validate itself it must be able to empirically invalidate metaphysics, which it is not able to do.
The other argument against Myers’s atheistic positivism is that it contradicts reality. It is an inescapable fact that human existence involves qualities of intangibility. The aesthetics for the appreciation of beauty, love, hate, jealousy, envy, generosity, courage, fear, imagination and the list goes on. Even if the atheist were to insists that these are nothing more than random molecules in a sea of complex chemical reactions that produces these feelings, thoughts and emotions. The atheist cannot empirically prove this scientifically; therefore logical positivism is meaningless according to its own definition.
Science as some have said is a powerful tool, but in the face of reality it is insufficient to explain the whole of reality. In order to understand reality in its entire existential sense, we need another tool. The ancient philosophers understood this even better than Myers. Metaphysical thoughts and ideas are needed for the complete understanding of existential reality as we experience it. There needs to be unity in diversity. An atheist like Myers is anxious to whip out that scientific sword to strike religion but at the cost of losing reality. That is another story.
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