“Is it really still up to me to choose which way to point my finger, to my left or to my right, or neither? Science answers no.” (Rosenberg, The Atheist’s Guide to Reality p. 152)
Science has offered no proof of determinism–or even anything like a proof. This is for the very simple reason that science doesn’t study the mind’s non-physical traits.
I’ve written on this in the past, however. For now, I’d like to point out that claiming to speak for science, or for God, is hardly a respectful position to take. It is for this reason that those who claim to be the greatest defenders of an idea are often its most insufferable opponents.
Rosenberg’s view of science comes across rather like a teenage girl’s view of her favorite boy-band singer. He’s memorized a lot of facts, and speaks always tenderly about his idol, but such talk only makes it more obvious that he’s never actually met the real thing. As much as he would balk at the idea that he doesn’t actually know or love science for what it actually is, he’s in love with a fantasy.
This would be moot if it were limited to Rosenberg, but it’s been far too often that I’ve been told that quantum mechanics has “disproved” causation or that evolutionary psychology has “disproved” moral realism to wave this off as idiosyncratic.
Actually, I didn’t give much attention to this phenomenon until I started to notice how often Rosenberg and others were willing to jettison any respect for the scientific method in certain fields. He completely dismisses any need to refer to sociology or anthropology when discussing the social effects of nihilism, for instance. As often as I’ve witnessed the term “soft-science” used as an airy excuse for ignoring statical data in favor of a personal gut-instinct, I’m still bothered by it.
The fact that Dawkins, for instance, is still beating the “religion is bad for people” drum in spite of his utter failure to produce any real evidence for it is as clear a sign as one is likely to get. Far too few of the New Atheists show any real interest in what science has to say about their favorite topics. They seem much more interested in what they can make science say.
But turning the object of one’s reverence, be it science or God, into a sort of ventriloquist’s dummy may well be the final stage in closing one’s mind to anything like a dissenting opinion. And this is a very big problem.
After all, why believe anyone else when “science says” one is right?