Reason, Faith and Folly

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Freudians and political radicals, along with a great many people who would see themselves as neither, are aware that without reason we are sunk, but that reason, even so, is not in the end what is most fundamental about us. Richard Dawkins claims with grandiloquent folly that religious faith dispenses with reason altogether, which wasn’t true even of the dim-witted authoritarian clerics who knocked me around at grammar school. Without reason, we perish; but reason does not go all the way down. It is not wall to wall. Even Richard Dawkins lives more by faith than by reason. There are even those uncharitable observers who have detected the mildest whiff of obsessive irrationalism in his zealous campaign for secular rationality. His anti-religious zeal makes the Gran Inquisitor look like a soggy liberal.

–Terry Eagleton,
Reason, Faith, and Revolution

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The Religion of Science

scientism 5Science, like any other human affair, is indeed shot through with prejudice and partisanship, not to speak of ungrounded assumptions, unconscious biases, taken-for-granted truth, and beliefs to close to the eyeball to be objectified. Like religion, science is a culture, not just a set of procedures and hypotheses. Richard Dawkins declares that science is free of the main vice of religion, which is faith; but as Charles Taylor points out, “to hold that there are no assumptions in a scientists work which aren’t based on evidence is surely a reflection of blind faith, one that can’t even feel the occasional tremor of doubt. . .

There are . . . still a great many telescopes up which science is churlishly reluctant to peer. Science has its high priests, sacred cows, revered scriptures, ideological exclusions, and rituals for suppressing dissent. To this extent, it is ridiculous to see it as the polar opposite of religion.

–Terry Eagleton,
Reason, Faith, and Revolution

Without God Dawkins Would be Out of a Job

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Creation “out of nothing” is not testimony to how devilishly clever God is, dispensing as he can with even the most rudimentary raw materials, but to the fact that the world is not the inevitable culmination of some prior process, the upshot of some inexorable chain of cause and effect. Any such preceding chain of causality would have to be part of the world, and so could not count as the origin of it. Because there is no necessity about the cosmos, we cannot deduce the laws which govern it from a priori principles, but instead have to look at how it actually works. This is the task of science. There is thus a curious connection between the doctrine of creation out of nothing and the professional life of Richard Dawkins. Without God, Dawkins would be out of a job. It is thus particularly churlish of him to call the existence of his employer into question.

–Terry Eagleton,
Reason, Faith, and Revolution