Ten years ago, I attended the Reason Rally on the National Mall in Washington DC with 30,000 of my closest atheist friends. It was claimed to be the largest secular event in world history.
Tom Gilson of The Stream (the love child of conservative Christianity and right-wing politics) still can’t get over it. He said he wrote his book True Reason (2014) in response.
Now he’s back to have another try with Why Do Atheists Think They’re the Party of Reason When They Reason So Poorly?
Gilson tells us, “Interact with atheists much, and before long they’ll tell you they’re the reasonable ones…. It’s as if they’ve anointed themselves as The Party of Reason.”
So then the Christians are the reasonable ones? This should be good.
He began by attacking Richard Dawkins for labeling it “child abuse” when “parents raise their children to believe in religion.”
Indoctrinating a child into unevidenced beliefs when they’re not mentally mature enough to fight back is analogous to hitting a child who’s not physically mature enough to fight back. Children who survive physical, verbal, or sexual abuse can be scarred for life. That’s also possible for a child raised in a cult. If this isn’t child abuse, then what is it?
Gilson next complained about an anonymous atheist commenter. He says he shut down the atheist with a single devastating post summarizing the atheist’s record of logical fallacies. Gilson concludes his illustration of the problem saying, “Yet they still think of themselves as The Party of Reason.”
Uh huh. After that tsunami of two examples, I see why you’re skeptical.
What explains atheists’ claimed unreasonableness? Gilson gives three points.
1. Atheists are all about the science
Gilson gives us an odd combination of a decent evaluation of the value of science followed by criticism as if he knows of something better.
Science has a special lock on reason in this crowd. It’s not because scientists’ reasoning processes are better than logicians’ or historians’ or even theologians, though. It’s because science is “objective,” “self-correcting,” and therefore “less biased” than other lines of thought.
Yes, science’s secret ingredient is its process, not that its practitioners are necessarily smarter than theologians. He next cautions us that science isn’t perfect.
Science is a human project, not a mechanical one. Scientists can lock themselves in biases as much as anyone else. And even at its best, science comes up with wrong answers. Like geocentrism, phlogiston, and “physics is complete.”
I’m not sure that scientists’ biases get through its process as easily as they do for theologians. And I’m tensing for what seems like an inevitable, “And I know a better way!” with an evidence-free appeal to some sort of divine revelation.
But we’re spared that. Since he won’t compare them, I will. The scientific method is the best approach we have to channel human curiosity and avoid errors. Religion has done nothing to teach us about reality. Can a Christian really be putting their worldview up against a scientific one?
The scientist believes in proof without certainty,
the bigot in certainty without proof.
Let us never forget that tyranny most often springs
from a fanatical faith in the absoluteness of one’s beliefs.
— Ashley Montagu