While this used to be a blog about atheism, it’s now a blog about what comes after atheism. This is reflected in my new tagline:
Atheism is just the beginning;
now it’s time to solve the harder questions.
Alex Rosenberg’s The Atheist’s Guide to Reality has much the same mission as my blog now does:
There is much more to atheism than its knockdown arguments that there is no God. There is the whole rest of the worldview that comes along with atheism. It’s a demanding, rigorous, breathtaking grip on reality, one that has been vindicated beyond reasonable doubt. It’s called science.
Interestingly, Rosenberg proposes that atheists embrace the (term of abuse) “scientism” to describe their worldview. Just as homosexuals reappropriated the word “queer” to defuse its use as a term of abuse, Rosenberg suggests:
Let’s… call the worldview that all us atheists (and even some agnostics) share “scientism.” This is the conviction that the methods of science are the only reliable ways to secure knowledge of anything; that science’s description of the world is correct in its fundamentals; and that when “complete,” what science tells us will not be surprisingly different from what it tells us today.
I kinda like the proposal, except that I can’t say I’m on board with “scientism” so defined. When there’s a disagreement between probability theory and science, I’m going with probability theory. Science has been successful because it approximated the normatively correct application of probability theory much better than earlier epistemic methods. But science is wrong in so far as it disagrees with probability theory.
Of course, it depends what you mean by “science.” If the Bayesian revolution of the sciences continues such that non-Bayesian science is, two decades from now, simply considered “bad” science, then I’ll be more willing to endorse a “scientism” grounded in the kind of science that agrees with probability theory.
But even this wouldn’t quite be enough for me to embrace “scientism.” Science is a particular human practice that is pretty successful at improving our knowledge, but it just isn’t the only way to know things. One can have overwhelming Bayesian evidence for a proposition without the social structures of science having yet considered it.
For now, my preferred term to describe my worldview remains “naturalism.”