Archive for September, 2018

“Scientism” is the view that the hard sciences—like chemistry, biology, physics, astronomy—provide the only genuine knowledge of reality.

Fortunately, J. P. Moreland; Distinguished Professor of Philosophy at Talbot School of TheologyBiola University in La Mirada, California with four earned degrees: a B.S. in chemistry from the University of Missouri, a Th.M. in theology from Dallas Theological Seminary, an M. A. in philosophy from the University of California-Riverside, and a Ph.D. in philosophy from the University of Southern California; has provided a devestateing critique to this genuinely mistaken view: Scientism and Secularism: Learning to Respond to a Dangerous Ideology.

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I have blogged about scientism before, but J. P. Moreland, with this book, has written the definitive work on the issue.

Here are some examples of people asserting scientism:

  • “Whatever knowledge is attainable, must be attained by scientific methods; and what science cannot discover, mankind cannot know.” – (Bertrand Russell Religion and Science, 243)
  • “Traditionally these are questions for philosophy, but philosophy is dead. Philosophy has not kept up with modern developments in science, particularly physics. Scientists have become the bearers of the torch of discovery in our quest for knowledge.” – (Stephen Hawking The Grand Design, 13)
  • “Science, as the only begetter of truth.” – (Richard Lewontin, The New York Review of Books 1/9/97)

Crossway Books, the publisher of the book, has provided a series of articles by Moreland in preparation of the release:

10 Things You Should Know about Scientism” by J. P. Moreland | Crossway Sept 19, 2018

5 Myths About Science” by J. P. Moreland | Crossway Sept 21, 2018

What is Scientism?” by J. P. Moreland | Crossway Sept 24, 2018

You couldn’t ask for a better resource on this topic.  In his excellent work Love Your God With All Your Mind shares why we should reject scientism: “What I do reject is the idea that science and science alone can claim to give us knowledge. This assertion – known as scientism – is patently false and, in fact, not even a claim of science, but rather, a philosophical view about science.”

J. P. Moreland discusses the issue of scientism in this video:

 

Resources:

Scientism and Secularism: Learning to Respond to a Dangerous Ideology by J. P. Moreland (Crossway: 2018)

“The Dangers of ‘Scientism’ and an Over-Reliance on Science” by J. Warner Wallace | Cold-Case Christianity, Feb 11, 2015

“Is Scientism Self-Refuting?” by William Lane Craig | Reasonable Faith, Mar 21, 2011

“Blinded by Scientism” by Edward Feser | Public Discourse Mar 9, 2010

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Post about other issues concerning science from this blog include:

Science Series: C. S. Lewis on Scientisim, Evolution, and Intelligent Design

Science Series: The Myth that the Church Hindered the Development of Science

Science Series: The Myth that Galileo Goes to Jail

Science Series: The Flat Earth Myth

Science Series: Finely Tuned Cosmos

Science Series: The Dawkins Delusion Continues

Science Series: “Inherit the Wind”

Science Series: Was Belief in God a Science-Stopper? Not for Newton

Science Series: Oxford Professor-Atheism in Decline, Will be Defeated by Faith

Science Series: Creation Confusion – Resources for Research on Creation, Evolution, and Intelligent Design

Science Series: Bill Nye the Pseudo-Science Guy

Science Series: Science Increasingly Makes the Case for God – the Most Popular Article in Wall Street Journal History

Warfare Myth: Science vs. Religion

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Posts about other Apologetic Resources from this blog include:

Apologetics Quick Guide

Belief Map

Reasonable Faith Videos

 

 

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“When a Catholic and a Jew  . . .”

Sounds like the beginning of a bad joke, but Ben Shapiro (a Jew) and Edward Feser (a Catholic) discuss Feser’s new book Five Proofs of the Existence of God (which by the way is a great read) on Ben Shapiro’s Daily Wire “Sunday Special.”

Here is a short clip from the show in which Feser answers the question “Why Atheism is Growing?”

 

Feser provides a nice answer in regards to academia: overspecialization.  Feser means because of the hyperspecialization of academics today, they are essentially ignorant of the arguments and reasons for God’s existence.

I think Feser is right on this analysis, but another issue I want to examine is the original question itself: “Why Atheism is Growing?”

I question the question: is atheism actually growing?

Not according to Rodney Stark, a sociologist of religion.  I have discussed some of his work before: here and here.

Stark challenges the claim that atheism is growing in his book The Triumph of Faith.  It is published by ISI (Intercollegiate Studies Institute).   In May of 2015 the Pew Research Center released a study announcing the declining practice of religion in general and Christianity in particular.  The promotion of this new book challenges this study: “Pew says America is becoming less religious. This book proves them wrong.”

Some of the commonly held beliefs today that this The Triumph of Faith dispels include:

  • Why claims about Millennials’ lack of religion are overblown and historically ignorant
  • Why Islam is NOT overtaking Christianity
  • How 4 out of 5 people worldwide now belong to an organized religion
  • How 50 percent have attended a worship service in the past week
  • Why much-ballyhooed studies from the Pew Research Center and others get the religious landscape wrong
  • Why atheists remain few, anywhere—despite all the talk of the “New Atheism”

In fact the Institute for Studies of Religion did a presentation in November of 2015 at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. challenging the secularization myth.  Stark can be heard discussing this issue on the podcast of Institute for Studies of Religion.  Dr. Stark reveals that:

Rod lists a couple statistics to bolster this point, including 81% of the world population claiming to belong to some organized religious faith, 71% saying that religion is important in their lives, and 51% having participated in some organized form of worship in the past week.  Atheism rates remains relatively stagnant with only three countries registering more than 20% of the population as non-believers.  Attendance and affiliation remains most flaccid in Europe.  This continent registers low among individuals who attend religious services largely because Christianity was never deeply embedded in a number of these countries to begin with (particularly in Northern Europe) and monopolized state churches have little incentive to recruit and serve members, according to Prof. Stark.

He also wrote an article about the “3 Myths about ‘Irreligious’ America, Busted” in Intercollegiate Review.  He concludes that article with “Secularists have been predicting the imminent demise of religion for centuries. They have always been wrong—and their claims today are no different. It is their unshakeable faith in secularization that may be the most “irrational” of all beliefs.”

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Alister McGrath has also written on the demise of atheism in his work The Twilight of Atheism: The Rise and Fall of Disbelief in the Modern WorldMcGrath describes the “high noon” of atheism starting with the French Revolution and Voltaire of the 18th century moving on to Feuerbach, Marx and Freud of the 19th century ending with the death of God in Friedrich Nietzsche.

The 20th century, according to McGrath, saw the unexpected resurgence of religion.  This is congruent with Stark’s thesis.  It does not seem to be the case that atheism is on the rise worldwide.

The Futures Centre has been tracking some current trajectories and implications that include:

  • In 1970, nearly 80% of the world’s population was religious. By 2010 this had risen to around 88%, and could reach almost 90% by 2020.
  • Religion will likely remain a significant component of individual, community and national identity in future, with the spread of representative governments providing an opportunity for some religions to become increasingly politically assertive.

Other studies are concurrent with the aforementioned trends:

Atheism is Down” NPR

The World is Getting More Religious” Time

According the William Lane Craig, he reports that theism is growing in Germany and Japan while atheism has been declining.

There has been a misunderstanding on some studies on how a “none” is to be understood.  The Pew Research Center, a few years back, indicated that more people are identifying as “nones” or no religious affiliation.  A “none” is not synonymous with atheist or atheism. A none is simply someone who does not affiliate with any religious organization.  They actually may believe in God, pray, even attend a religious gathering, but just choose to not associate with any officially organized religious group.

Rodney Stark wrote for the National Press Club in 2015 that the world is more religious than it has ever been stating that: “All of the great world religions are growing and contrary to uninformed accounts, Christianity is growing faster than any of the others,” Stark wrote, according to Johnson. “But the larger point is that we are now in the 21st century, contrary to [historical claims of the religion’s demise], the world is far more religious than it was a century ago, and quite possibly, it is more religious than it has ever been.”