Post Author: Bill Pratt
This canard has been repeated so often that it is now part of 21st century folklore. Contrary to this popular myth, philosopher Edward Feser, in his book The Last Superstition, correctly points out that the “so-called ‘war between science and religion’ is really a war between two rival philosophical worldviews, and not at bottom a scientific or theological dispute at all” (emphasis in original).
On one side is the worldview derived from the “classical philosophical vision of Plato, Aristotle, Augustine, and Aquinas.” The other side, that of materialistic secularism, derives its premises from the likes of Hobbes, Hume, Descartes, Locke, and Kant.
Feser presents candid comments from several modern scientists and philosophers who admit as much.
The physicist Paul Davies tells us that “science takes as its starting point the assumption that life wasn’t made by a god or a supernatural being.” Feser further quotes Davies as saying that partially out of fear of “open[ing] the door to religious fundamentalists . . . many investigators feel uneasy about stating in public that the origin of life is a mystery, even though behind closed doors they freely admit that they are baffled.”
Feser continues by quoting prominent contemporary philosophers.
Tyler Burge opines that “materialism is not established, or even clearly supported, by science” and that its hold over his peers is analogous to that of a “political or religious ideology”; John Searle tells us that “materialism is the religion of our time,” that “like more traditional religions, it is accepted without question and . . . provides the framework within which other questions can be posed, addressed, and answered,” and that “materialists are convinced, with a quasi-religious faith, that their view must be right”; and William Lycan admits, in what he himself calls “an uncharacteristic exercise in intellectual honesty,” that the arguments for materialism are no better than the arguments against it, that his “own faith in materialism is based on science-worship,” and that “we also always hold our opponents to higher standards of argumentation than we obey ourselves.”
One of the most famous admissions from a scientist about the war of worldviews comes from the materialist biologist Richard Lewontin. Writing in a book review, Lewontin admits:
Our willingness to accept scientific claims that are against common sense is the key to an understanding of the real struggle between science and the supernatural. 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 extravagant 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 is 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 counter-intuitive, no matter how mystifying to the uninitiated. Moreover, that materialism is absolute, for we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door.
All of this points to the need for the public conversation to include philosophy and worldviews. The secularist who claims that science, in and of itself, disproves God has merely smuggled in atheism from the start. Science, in and of itself, does not disprove God. Only when it is built on a foundation of materialism can it do that kind of work.