Atheism and science

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The scientist Isaac Newton wrote: "Opposition to godliness is atheism in profession and idolatry in practice. Atheism is so senseless and odious to mankind that it never had many professors."[1] See also: Decline of global atheism

In the both the physical sciences and social sciences atheism has had a negative effect on science.

On the other hand, the culture fostered by Judeo-Christianity has had a positive effect on science (See also: Christianity and science and Scientists and belief in the existence of God).

Atheism and the suppression of science

See also: Atheism and the suppression of science

Atheism and the suppression of science, as well as atheism and the rejection of science, is one common criticism of atheism, as militant atheists have often suppressed scientific knowledge because it conflicts with a presupposed materialistic worldview.[2]

Dr. Richard Lewontin, in the New York Review of Books, January 9, 1997:31 entitled Billions and Billions of Demons (reviewing the book The Demon Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark by Carl Sagan) states:[3]

We take the side of science in spite of the patent absurdity of some of its constructs, in spite of its failure to fulfill many of its extravangant promises of health and life, in spite of the tolerance of the scientific community for unsubstatiated just-so stories, because we have a prior commitment, a commitment to materialism. It's not that the methods and institutions of science somehow compel us to accept a material explanation of the phenomenal world, but on the contrary, that we are forced by our a priori adherence to material causes to create an apparatus of investigation and a set of concepts that produce material explanations, no matter how counterintuitive, no matter how mystifying to the unitiated. Moreover, that Materialism is absolute, for we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door.[3]

For various examples of atheists suppressing science, see:

East Asia, atheism and unscientific thinking

See also: Irreligion and superstition

A torii is a traditional Japanese gate most frequently found at the entrance of or within a Shinto shrine. Nearly everyone in atheistic Japan is careful to have a new car blessed by a Shinto priest.[4]

The current atheist population mostly resides in East Asia (particularly China) and in secular Europe/Australia among whites.[5] See: Asian atheism and Secular Europe and Western atheism and race

Discover Magazines declares:

...the most secular nations in the world are those of East Asia, in particular what are often termed “Confucian societies.” It is likely therefore that the majority of the world’s atheists are actually East Asian...

This is not to say that East Asia is necessarily a haven for a critical rationalist perspective, what with the prominence of Chinese medicine, geomancy, Korean shamanism...[6]

In 2015, Rodney Stark wrote in his book The Triumph of Faith: Why the World is More Religious Than Ever about secular European countries and atheistic Japan:

35 percent of the French believe in astrology, 35 percent of the Swiss agree that 'some fortune tellers really can foretell the future'; and nearly everyone in Japan is careful to have a new car blessed by a Shinto priest.[4]

Western irreligion and superstition

See: Irreligion and superstition

Existence of God: A philosophical question. Not a scientific question

The majority of philosophers of religion, or those who have extensively studied the existence of God, are theists (72 percent).[7] Alvin Plantinga is widely known for his work in philosophy of religion, epistemology, metaphysics and Christian apologetics. Time magazine called him "America's leading orthodox Protestant philosopher of God".

Strictly speaking, the existence of God is a philosophical question and not a scientific question since God is supernatural and thus outside of nature.

The majority of philosophers of religion are theists

The majority of philosophers of religion, or those who have extensively studied the issue of the existence of God, are theists (72 percent).[7]

Atheism and questions of origins

See articles: Atheism and Evolution and Evolution as a secular origins myth

Atheism and the origin of the universe

See also: Atheism and the origin of the universe

Creationist scientists state that the first law of thermodynamics and the second law of thermodynamics argue against an eternal universe or a universe created by natural processes and argue for a universe created by God.[8]

The new atheist Richard Dawkins wrote: “The fact that life evolved out of nearly nothing, some 10 billion years after the universe evolved literally out of nothing, is a fact so staggering that I would be mad to attempt words to do it justice."[9] See also: Atheism and the origin of the universe

Atheism and evolution

See also: Atheism and evolution

A majority of the most prominent and vocal defenders of the evolutionary position which employs methodological naturalism since World War II have had the worldview of atheism or agnosticism.[10] Creation scientists assert that the theory of evolution is an inadequate explanation for the variety of life forms on earth.[11] The theory of evolution has had a number of negative social effects.

In addition, the current naturalistic explanations for the origin of life are inadequate.[12]

Atheism, scientism and the limitations of science

See also: Scientism

A large segment of the atheist population, especially new atheists, hold to ideology of scientism and/or they are science fetishists.[13]

In addition, many atheists have an inordinate degree of confidence in the consensus opinions of scientists instead of possessing a healthy degree of skepticism.[14]

Scientism is the belief that the scientific method has no (or few) limits and can successfully be applied to almost all aspects of life, and provides an explanation for everything. It is essentially a religion where its followers (Scientists) worship science its rituals, and its results.[15]

Strict scientism as a worldview is self-refuting since the scientism cannot be proven to be true through science.[16] For other significant problems with scientism as far as its unworkability, please see William Lane Craig's commentary on scientism entitled Is scientism self-refuting?.

Atheists, scientism and the limitations of science

See also: Limitations of science

Atheists who hold to scientism and/or are science fetishists, often fail to have an appreciation for the limitations of science.[17]

Experimental evidence that the prayers of Bible believers are effective

Furthermore, there is experimental evidence supporting the proposition that the God of the Bible does answer prayers.[18] The Christian apologist Gary Habermas wrote: "Double-blind prayer experiments: where people pray for others with terminal illness. Habermas admitted that most such experiments have not worked, but the three that he knows of that have indeed worked were cases of orthodox-Christians praying for the sick."[18]

Percentage of American scientists who believe in God

In 2009, the Pew Research Center indicated: "According to the poll, just over half of scientists (51%) believe in some form of deity or higher power; specifically, 33% of scientists say they believe in God, while 18% believe in a universal spirit or higher power."[19]

Doctors believe in God more than social scientists. Medical science is often more reliable than social science

Few, if any, political scientists predicted early on that Donald Trump would be the leading Republican candidate in the 2016 GOP primary. 27 percent of American political scientists believe in the existence of God while 76 percent of American doctors said they believe in God.[20] Compared to medical science which has many effective medicines and surgical procedures, the social science of political science is often unreliable.

See also: Atheism and health

Physical sciences, social sciences and reliability

In an article entitled How reliable are the social sciences?, Cary Cutting wrote in the New York Times:

While the physical sciences produce many detailed and precise predictions, the social sciences do not. The reason is that such predictions almost always require randomized controlled experiments, which are seldom possible when people are involved. For one thing, we are too complex: our behavior depends on an enormous number of tightly interconnected variables that are extraordinarily difficult to distinguish and study separately. Also, moral considerations forbid manipulating humans the way we do inanimate objects. As a result, most social science research falls far short of the natural sciences’ standard of controlled experiments.[21]

In 2014, the science journal Nature reported that over half of psychology studies fail reproducibility test.[22]

Doctors, social scientists and belief in God

NBC News reported: "In the survey of 1,044 doctors nationwide, 76 percent said they believe in God, 59 percent said they believe in some sort of afterlife, and 55 percent said their religious beliefs influence how they practice medicine."[23]

On the other hand, according to Livescience.com, 31 percent of social scientists believe in God. 27 percent of political scientists, who are social scientists, believe in the existence of God.[24]

Compared to medical science which has many effective medicines and surgical procedures, social science is often unreliable. For example, few economists (economics is a social science) in academia predicted the Great Depression or the 1987 financial crisis. Ludwig von Mises was snubbed by economists worldwide when he warned of a credit crisis in the 1920s.[25] Few, if any, political scientists predicted early on that Donald Trump would be the leading Republican candidate in the 2016 GOP primary.

The abstract for the journal article Measurement Validity: A Shared Standard for Qualitative and Quantitative Research which was published in The American Political Science Review indicated "Scholars routinely make claims that presuppose the validity of the observations and measurements that operationalize their concepts. Yet, despite recent advances in political science methods, surprisingly little attention has been devoted to measurement validity."[26]

The political scientist Emily Thorson wrote at the Politico website:

Late last semester, a student showed up during my office hours. She sat down across from me, looking worried. I assumed she wanted to discuss her upcoming paper, but she had something else in mind. “Professor,” she said. “How did Donald Trump happen?”

This is the question everyone seems to be asking these days. Trump’s rise has defied the predictions of pundits and pollsters, repeatedly embarrassing those who swore that he would flame out. I’m a political scientist, and I count myself among that number. In September, I offered my students a $500 bet that he wouldn’t become the Republican nominee — a wager I’m increasingly glad that none of them took me up on.[27]

Atheism and the social sciences

See also: Atheism and the social sciences

The economist and sociologist Karl Marx. The political theorist Vladimir Lenin

According to the University of Cambridge, historically, the "most notable spread of atheism was achieved through the success of the 1917 Russian Revolution, which brought the Marxist-Leninists to power."[28] See also: Atheism and communism

The economist and sociologist Karl Marx said "[Religion] is the opium of the people". Marx also stated: "Communism begins from the outset (Owen) with atheism; but atheism is at first far from being communism; indeed, that atheism is still mostly an abstraction.[29]

Political philosophy, or political theory is considered by some political scientists as a sub-discipline of political science. The political theorist Vladimir Lenin similarly wrote regarding atheism and communism: "A Marxist must be a materialist, i.e., an enemy of religion, but a dialectical materialist, i.e., one who treats the struggle against religion not in an abstract way, not on the basis of remote, purely theoretical, never varying preaching, but in a concrete way, on the basis of the class struggle which is going on in practice and is educating the masses more and better than anything else could."[30]

Marxism is an revolutionary movement developed by the German scholar and activist Karl Marx and his collaborator Friedrich Engels. Marx's approach is indicated by the opening line of the Communist Manifesto (1848): “The history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggles”. Marx believed that capitalism, like previous socioeconomic systems, would produce internal tensions which would lead to its destruction.

Communism, as it emerged around 1918-20, was a late political manifestation of Marxist philosophy. Lenin in Russia and later Mao Zedong in China tailored Marx's ideas it to their expedient political needs.

Eventually, the communist Soviet Union collapsed due to: an inferior economic system, lack of personal liberties for its populace due to excessive central government control and an economy burdened by militarism.[31]

In September 2010 Fox News reported concerning communist Cuba:

Jeffrey Goldberg, a national correspondent for The Atlantic magazine, asked Castro if Cuba's economic system was still worth exporting to other countries, and Castro replied: "The Cuban model doesn't even work for us anymore," Goldberg wrote Wednesday in a post on his Atlantic blog.

The Cuban government had no immediate comment on Goldberg's account.[32]

Communism and mass murder

See also: Atheism and mass murder

It is estimated that in the past 100 years, governments under the banner of atheistic communism have caused the death of somewhere between 40,472,000 and 259,432,000 human lives.[33] Dr. R. J. Rummel, professor emeritus of political science at the University of Hawaii, is the scholar who first coined the term democide (death by government). Dr. R. J. Rummel's mid estimate regarding the loss of life due to communism is that communism caused the death of approximately 110,286,000 people between 1917 and 1987.[34]

The atheist psychologist Sigmund Freud promoted pseudoscience

Sigmund Freud in his laboratory

See also: Sigmund Freud's view of religion and Atheism and depression and Atheism and suicide

Sigmund Freud and the atheistic and pseudoscientific Freudian psychoanalysis has had a cultish following.[35][36] See also: Atheist cults

Freud was a proponent of the notion that theism was detrimental to mental health.[37] Oxford Professor Alister McGrath, author of the book The Twilight of Atheism, stated the following regarding Freud:

One of the most important criticisms that Sigmund Freud directed against religion was that it encourages unhealthy and dysfunctional outlooks on life. Having dismissed religion as an illusion, Freud went on to argue that it is a negative factor in personal development. At times, Freud's influence has been such that the elimination of a person's religious beliefs has been seen as a precondition for mental health.

Freud is now a fallen idol, the fall having been all the heavier for its postponement. There is now growing awareness of the importance of spirituality in health care, both as a positive factor in relation to well-being and as an issue to which patients have a right. The "Spirituality and Healing in Medicine" conference sponsored by Harvard Medical School in 1998 brought reports that 86 percent of Americans as a whole, 99 percent of family physicians, and 94 percent of HMO professionals believe that prayer, meditation, and other spiritual and religious practices exercise a major positive role within the healing process.[37]

The prestigious Mayo Clinic reported on December 11, 2001:

In an article also published in this issue of Mayo Clinic Proceedings, Mayo Clinic researchers reviewed published studies, meta-analyses, systematic reviews and subject reviews that examined the association between religious involvement and spirituality and physical health, mental health, health-related quality of life and other health outcomes.

The authors report a majority of the nearly 350 studies of physical health and 850 studies of mental health that have used religious and spiritual variables have found that religious involvement and spirituality are associated with better health outcomes.[38]

Atheism and historical revisionism

See: Atheism and historical revisionism

Atheism, Christianity and the foundation of modern science

See also: Christianity and science

The birth of modern science occurred in Christianized Europe.[39] Sociologist Rodney Stark investigated the individuals who made the most significant scientific contributions between 1543 and 1680 A.D., the time of the Scientific Revolution. In Stark's list of 52 top scientific contributors,[40] only one (Edmund Halley) was a skeptic and another (Paracelsus) was a pantheist. The other 50 were Christians, 30 of whom could be characterized as being devout Christians.[40] Sir Francis Bacon, sometimes referred to as "the Father of Modern Science", wrote in his essay entitled Of Atheism the following: "I had rather believe all the fables in the Legend, and the Talmud, and the Alcoran, than that this universal frame is without a mind."[41]

Secular scientific community and their grasp of logic, statistics and history/philosophy of science

As far as atheists in the scientific community, Theodore Beale correctly points out that many atheist scientists (and scientists in general) have a poor grasp of logic, statistics, the history/philosophy of science and other matters which often causes them to reach erroneous conclusions and engage in pseudoscience.[42]

Moreover, due to the poor ethics of many atheist/secular scientists, scientific fraud has become a significant problem within the scientific community.[43] See also: Atheism and morality and Moral failures of the atheist population

List atheist and agnostic pseudosciences

National Academy of Sciences scientists and disbelief in a personal God

See: Atheists and the National Academy of Sciences

Science journal and science magazine quotes about atheism and theism

See also: Atheism quotes relating to science and Denials that atheists exist and Atheism quotes

“Atheism is psychologically impossible because of the way humans think... They point to studies showing, for example, that even people who claim to be committed atheists tacitly hold religious beliefs, such as the existence of an immortal soul.” - Graham Lawton in the New Scientist science magazine [44]

“A slew of cognitive traits predisposes us to faith.” - Pascal Boyer, in the British science journal Nature[44]

See also

External links

References

  1. Newton, Isaac. A Short Scheme of the True Religion. Unpublished writing quoted in Brewster, David (1855). Memoirs of the Life, Writings, and Discoveries of Sir Isaac Newton (Edinburgh, UK: Thomas Constable), vol. 2, p. 347. Retrieved from GoogleBooks archive on February 19, 2015.
  2. John Lennox. Same evidence, different conclusions: how?. Science and Ethics. Retrieved on 2011-03-05. “Some atheists are quite explicit that their atheism comes first. One of the most famous is Richard Lewontin, a profesor of genetics, who said it wasn't science that compelled him to accept a materialistic explanation of the universe. It was an a priori materialism. You start with that materialism and he said that materialism is absolute.”
  3. 3.0 3.1 Shmuel Waldman. Beyond a Reasonable Doubt: Convincing Evidence of the Truths of Judaism. Feldheim Publishers. Retrieved on 2011-03-05. “Consider the following remark made by Harvard biologist Richard Lewontin in the New York Review of Books, January 9, 1997:31 entitled Billions and Billions of Demons (reviewing the book The Demon Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark by Carl Sagan): "We take the side of science in spite of the patent absurdity of some of its constructs, in spite of its failure to fulfill many of its extravangant promises of health and life, in spite of the tolerance of the scientific community for unsubstantiated just-so stories, because we have a prior commitment, a commitment to materialism. It's not that the methods and institutions of science somehow compel us to accept a material explanation of the phenomenal world, but on the contrary, that we are forced by our a priori adherence to material causes to create an apparatus of investigation and a set of concepts that produce material explanations, no matter how counterintuitive, no matter how mystifying to the uninitiated. Moreover, that Materialism is absolute, for we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door."” 
  4. 4.0 4.1 The Triumph of Faith: Why the World is More Religious Than Ever by Rodney Stark, Introduction section of the book
  5. A surprising map of where the world’s atheists live, By Max Fisher and Caitlin Dewey, Washington Post, May 23, 2013
  6. Most atheists are not white & other non-fairy tales By Razib Khanm, Discover Magazine
  7. 7.0 7.1 Does it matter that many scientists are atheists?
  8. Multiple references:
  9. Richard Dawkins quote about the origin of the universe, God, Science, and Reason: Finding the Light of God Amidst the Darkness of Atheism and Dogmatism By Michael Bunner, page 141
  10. Morris, Henry M., PhD. (January 2001). "The scientific case against evolution". Institute for Creation Research.
  11. Origin of life by Dr. Don Batten
  12. No skepticism in science
  13. Ashgate Science and Religion Series
  14. Is scientism self-refuting by William Lane Craig
  15. Where’s the conflict? by Alister McGrath
  16. 18.0 18.1 Christian Apologist: 10 Reasons for the Fall of Atheism by Gary Habermas
  17. Scientists and Belief, Pew Research Center
  18. How reliable are the social sciences? by Cary Cutting, New York Times
  19. Over half of psychology studies fail reproducibility test, Bature
  20. Most doctors believe in God, NBC News
  21. Scientists belief in God varies starkly by discipline, Livescience.com
  22. The man who predicted the depression, Wall Street Journal
  23. Adcock, Robert, and David Collier. 2001. “Measurement Validity: A Shared Standard for Qualitative and Quantitative Research.” The American Political Science Review 95(3): 529-546.
  24. 5 Political Myths Trump Is Exploding by Emily Thorson, Politico
  25. Investigating atheism: Marxism. University of Cambridge (2008). Retrieved on July 17, 2014. “The most notable spread of atheism was achieved through the success of the 1917 Russian Revolution, which brought the Marxist-Leninists to power. For the first time in history, atheism thus became the official ideology of a state.”
  26. Mulligan, Martin (1959). "Private property and communism" translation of Marx, Karl (1932), Economic and Philosophic Manuscripts of 1844 (Moscow: Progress Publishers).
  27. Rothstein, Andrew and Issacs, Bernard (1973). "The attitude of the worker's party to religion" translation of Lenin, Vladimir (1909), Proletary, No. 45, May 13 (26), Collected Works, (Moscow: Progress Publishers) vol. 15, pp. 402-13.
  28. Thayer Watkins, San José State University, Department of Economics
  29. http://www.foxnews.com/world/2010/09/09/castro-admits-cubas-communism-doesnt-work/
  30. Multiple references:
  31. Rummel, R. J. (November 1993). "How many did communist regimes murder?" University of Hawaii website; Freedom, Democracy, Peace; Power, Democide, and War. Retrieved July 19, 2014.
  32. The Freudian psychoanalysis cult by Kevin MacDonald, Ph.D.
  33. The pretensions of the Freudian cult by Thomas Szasz, The Spectator, 4 OCTOBER 1985, Page 32
  34. 37.0 37.1 McGrath, Alister (February 28, 2005). "The twilight of atheism". Christianity Today website. Retrieved on May 23, 2015.
  35. Mueller, Dr. Paul S. et al. (December 2001). "Religious involvement, spirituality, and medicine: implications for clinical practice". Mayo Clinic Proceedings vol. 76:12, pp. 1225-1235. Retrieved from Mayo Clinic Proceedings website on July 20, 2014.
  36. Bumbulis, Michael, Ph. D. (November 24, 1996). "Christianity and the birth of science; The evidence; Clue #1. The founders/fathers of modern science were shaped by a culture that was predominantly Christian." Lambert Dolphin's Library. Archived at Internet Archive on July 20, 2014.
  37. 40.0 40.1 Williams, Alex (August 2004). "The biblical origins of science; a review of For The Glory of God: How Monotheism Led to Reformations, Science, Witch-hunts and the End of Slavery by Rodney Stark", Journal of Creation, vol. 18:2, pp. 49–52.
  38. Bacon, Francis (1601). The Essays or Counsels, Civil and Moral, of Francis Ld. Verulam Viscount St. Albans; "Of atheism". Authorama.
  39. Why the epidemic of fraud exists in science today by Jerry Bergman
  40. 44.0 44.1 Unruh, Bob (July 19, 2014). "Scientists: atheists might not exist". WorldNetDaily. Retrieved on February 21, 2015.