I think apologists should be grateful for atheist philosopher Alex Rosenberg, as he (inadvertently) lays out the flaws in modern atheism more clearly than any theist has managed.
[My position] is the conviction that the methods of science are the only reliable ways to secure knowledge of anything.
– Rosenberg (Atheist’s Guide to Reality, p. 6)
We trust science as the only way to acquire knowledge. That is why we are so confident about atheism. – (ibid, p.20)
Rosenberg sees clearly what many secularists miss completely: that modern atheism stands or falls with the idea that science is the only source of knowledge. That is, that the kinds of things science studies are the only kinds of things that exist. Eager as he is to salvage modern atheism, he bites the bullet and declares that science alone can tell us anything about reality.
The most obvious problem with this is actually Rosenberg’s own discipline of philosophy. It has often been pointed out that this is an attempt to use philosophy to reject philosophy (making it self-contradictory). But, even more clearly problematic is the fact that science itself is not rational without the philosophical basis which supports it.
And this is something of a Catch 22 for him. To demand that science is the only source of knowledge is to undercut the entire enterprise of science. But, if he acknowledges the tools of philosophy as a valid path to knowledge, he is then obliged to answer the formidable philosophical arguments for God’s existence.
Rosenberg choses the former path, while completely ignoring the consequences named above. Still, he can’t manage to completely avoid the fact that he doesn’t have a reason (other than his atheism) for taking this position. He is reduced instead to demanding, rather caustically, that one is somehow hypocritical to trust the validity of both science and other fields of study.
Though he can’t support his conclusion , his passion is completely understandable. This position is both the rhetorical and intellectual core of contemporary atheism.
That it is unsupported, self-contradictory, and undercuts science, however, is devastating for this position.
March 13th, 2013 at 10:11 am
Very well said. The fact that Dr. Craig went on the offensive by focusing on the contention of naturalism itself also made the debate very interesting.
March 13th, 2013 at 11:10 am
I really enjoyed that debate. I thought it was an excellent interchange, and think I’ll put up more comments on Rosenberg in the future. His most recent book is full of great material for theists, as Craig realized.
March 29th, 2013 at 2:46 pm
[…] and contradictory statements (which I’ll address in turn). In the end, he’s left rejecting any basis he might have had for trusting science in the first place. But, still, he perseveres–for he understands clearly that to reject the idea […]
March 31st, 2013 at 6:00 am
[…] are about things is still a thought about something. But Rosenberg is simply too committed to the completely false idea that there is nothing going on in reality other than the scientific. Apparently, he’s […]
April 2nd, 2013 at 7:27 am
[…] more will probably be added, I think enough has been said to demonstrate that there is more to reality than the physical particles and complex arrangements […]
July 21st, 2013 at 10:04 pm
[…] are either about anything or base their choices in logic. It is also deeply problematic that the basis of science itself is rejected by this view. “Science alone”, if one follows the logic, means “not even […]