[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.