Wow, that’s a lot of strawmanning for one comment. I don’t know why you waste your time and mine getting riled up over assertions you imagine I wrote when I clearly wrote no such thing.

The whole chunk of your comment in response to the first quotation is irrelevant from beginning to end. Nowhere do I say that atheism entails philistinism, scientism, or neoliberal technocracy. I say that the presumption that all our deepest beliefs should be decided strictly by reason has those implications. I’ve written lots of articles distinguishing between “new” and “old” atheists, between the science-centered variety and the more existential atheists who emphasize our nonrational side (like David Hume, though paradoxically he’s responsible for the scientism too).

Take, for example, your claim that you prefer what I’ve elsewhere called hyperrationality (faith in reason) out of a concern for “safety.” That’s fine as far as it goes: indeed, reason is eminently reliable as a method for understanding the facts. But since when does reason (logic or experiment) tell us we should be concerned with our safety? You see, that would be one of the “deepest beliefs” I was talking about.

Saying that the wise person bases all her beliefs on the evidence (as Hume says) is easy, but actually being hyperrational is likely impossible for a normal mammalian brain. That’s why this presumption or conceit has absurd implications (scientism, philistinism, etc) since it amounts to a fantasy.

Then you point out that cities have been built not just in secular societies but in religious countries like the US and ever since the agricultural revolution. How is that inconsistent with what I wrote: “I maintain that modern secular culture __and the thrust of civilization since the Neolithic__ amount to a comparable flight from that same reality: we build artificial worlds…”?

Obviously, I’m aware that there are multiple causes of our artificial environments and that religious societies have built most of them. What I said is that those artificial environments are driven largely by another kind of fear, namely fear of the wilderness. Both religious and nonreligious people can have that fear. Thus, when you speak of theism as being based on fear of harsh reality, you might want to check whether we atheists have a log in our eye, or whether our cultures spring from a comparable fear (as opposed to being as hyperrational as we claim).

You’ll note that I wrote “spiritual/existential.” That’s because I wrote a whole article with the instructive title: “Why Existentialism Should Replace Spirituality.” In addition, I’ve written several articles against New Age spirituality. Here are some of the titles, “Is the Law of Attraction Infantile?” “The Dark Secret of Spirituality,” and “The Art of New Age Myths.” So no, I’m not remotely advocating spirituality in the sense of astrology or paranormal mindreading.

I’d suggest working on applying a principle of charity in your commenting here. If you find yourself arguing against a preposterous viewpoint, you might want to doublecheck or ask to confirm that that’s really the viewpoint being expressed.

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Knowledge condemns. Art redeems. I learned that as an artistic writer who did a doctorate in philosophy. We should try to see the dark comedy in all things.

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