Atheism doubles among Generation Z

Good news from the Barna Group, a Christian polling organization:

Atheism on the Rise

For Gen Z, “atheist” is no longer a dirty word: The percentage of teens who identify as such is double that of the general population (13% vs. 6% of all adults). The proportion that identifies as Christian likewise drops from generation to generation. Three out of four Boomers are Protestant or Catholic Christians (75%), while just three in five 13- to 18-year-olds say they are some kind of Christian (59%).

This was particularly interesting…

Teens, along with young adults, are more likely than older Americans to say the problem of evil and suffering is a deal breaker for them.

…as was this:

Nearly half of teens, on par with Millennials, say “I need factual evidence to support my beliefs” (46%)—which helps to explain their uneasiness with the relationship between science and the Bible. Significantly fewer teens and young adults (28% and 25%) than Gen X and Boomers (36% and 45%) see the two as complementary.

613 Replies to “Atheism doubles among Generation Z”

  1. newton
    Ignored
    says:

    Nonlin.org: Assumptions, Facts Selection, Extrapolations, Interpretations… = Sum of Axiomatic Beliefs

    Sum of Axiomatic Beliefs = Religion …therefore,

    a plate of Enchiladas can be a religious experience.

  2. Entropy Entropy
    Ignored
    says:

    newton: a plate of Enchiladas can be a religious experience.

    No doubt.

  3. Entropy Entropy
    Ignored
    says:

    Nonlin.org,

    Arrogance and stupidity don’t go well together. You should quit at least one of the two.

  4. Robin Robin
    Ignored
    says:

    fifthmonarchyman: What is the current growth rate exactly??How did you come by the data?

    Pew-Templeton Global Religious Futures Project, 2015.

    Christianity is and has been growing at a rate of about 1.8% every 100 years

    1200 years is just a fraction of the time humanity has existed If we assume you are correct Christianity would have went from zero to the majority faith of all humans that ever existed in less than 3,500 years. That is nothing sort of astounding.

    If you want to call a highly unrealistically conservative estimate of 1200 years a feather in your cap, you go right ahead. Yet another reason for me not to trust you: you can’t even be honest or realistic with yourself.

    Think about it, that is less than 7% of the time humans have been around.
    That amount of time is a drop in the bucket of the million or so years Mammalian species typically last.

    Once again, that’s the highly unrealistic inside number. And further, it completely disregards other religious growth, which honest people recognize isn’t going away.

    But hey…it’s all academic anyway. The little pimple of a religion you subscribe to now is insignificant. That it might be significant sometime long after you and your children’s, children’s, children are long forgotten doesn’t impress me much.

    What exactly is the “Christian God” concept?

    Gosh…and here I thought you claimed to be a Christian. My bad…

    I will be the first to grant that the Christian God is not like lesser deities and if your point is that most folks choose to reject the Christian God you will get no argument from me.

    No, that’s your point. It has nothing to do with mine. From my perspective, it is you denying the true God given the evidence of what the actual most embraced belief has been throughout the ages.

    However Christianity is a revealed religion and your knowledge of God will depend on the revelation you have received.

    Funny how so many different religious people make that claim…

    A small child will have a less developed understanding of God than an adult and a person born in a country with no history of Christianity will have a less developed understanding than a person raised in a Christian home with access to Scripture and a heart to understand it .

    …or the heart to realize it’s just metaphorical pageantry wrapped up in classical epic fantasy.

    None of that changes the fact that Christianity is growing rapidly and will be the majority faith of all humans that ever existed if something does not change.

    peace

    You keep telling yourself that yarn…

  5. Robin Robin
    Ignored
    says:

    fifthmonarchyman: check it out

    https://www.amazon.com/God-Us-Divine-Condescension-Attributes/dp/1433509024

    peace

    No thanks. I already know a few scholars and have one in my family. Oliphint is not a trustworthy source or all that impressive in my book.

  6. Entropy Entropy
    Ignored
    says:

    Robin: No thanks. I already know a few scholars and have one in my family. Oliphint is not a trustworthy source or all that impressive in my book.

    Any apologist who is “interested on Van Til’s method for apologetics” cannot but be an imbecile.

    For years I thought, surely these internet-apologist idiots must be misunderstanding something. Surely Van Til did better than just claim all this shit! Later I read something by Van Til, lo and behold, no misunderstanding, Van Til’s bullshit is exactly what these internet idiots present. Van Til was the imbecile his followers make him appear to be.

  7. Robin Robin
    Ignored
    says:

    Entropy: Any apologist who is “interested on Van Til’s method for apologetics” cannot but be an imbecile.

    For years I thought, surely these internet-apologist idiots must be misunderstanding something. Surely Van Til did better than just claim all this shit! Later I read something by Van Til, lo and behold, no misunderstanding, Van Til’s bullshit is exactly what these internet idiots present. Van Til was the imbecile his followers make him appear to be.

    I don’t think I could have said that better. Van Til is father of what I like to refer to as “apologetics for the malevolent monster”. Seriously, Van Til believed his god specifically created most of humanity for death and torture. Hard to believe anyone ever took anything he uttered seriously.

  8. petrushka
    Ignored
    says:

    Robin: Van Til believed his god specifically created most of humanity for death and torture. Hard to believe anyone ever took anything he uttered seriously.

    It does comport with observed facts.

    Tiger, tiger, and all that.

  9. fifthmonarchyman
    Ignored
    says:

    Robin: Seriously, Van Til believed his god specifically created most of humanity for death and torture.

    link please.

    I’m pretty sure Van Til being a good Presbyterian would agree with the Westminster Shorter Catechism that Man’s chief end is to glorify God,and to enjoy him forever.

    Perhaps you are confusing Van Til with the Apostle Paul who speculated that God endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction in order to make known the riches of his glory for vessels of mercy (Romans 9:22-23)

    Robin: No thanks. I already know a few scholars and have one in my family. Oliphint is not a trustworthy source or all that impressive in my book.

    Oh well, suit yourself. You can lead a horse to water and all that.

    Just know that you sound a little willfully ignorant to Christians when you say that God’s transcendence is incompatible with his immanence with out dealing with the incarnation and it’s implications.

    peace

  10. walto walto
    Ignored
    says:

    fifthmonarchyman: Perhaps you are confusing Van Til with the Apostle Paul

    Easy mistake to make, what with their hairlines.

  11. fifthmonarchyman
    Ignored
    says:

    I always pictured Paul as short fat and bald and Van Til as thin and sporting a coiffed 1940’s haircut.

    I might need to readjust my imagination 😉

    peace

  12. Robin Robin
    Ignored
    says:

    fifthmonarchyman: link please.

    I’m pretty sure Van Til being a good Presbyterian would agree with the Westminster Shorter Catechism that Man’s chief end is to glorify God,and to enjoy him forever.

    Seriously? I have to teach the implications of your own dubious and ignorant leaders’ beliefs to you? Yet another reason why Christian claims are so untrustworthy.

    Let’s start with the basics:

    “God preordained, for his own glory and the display of His attributes of mercy and justice, a part of the human race, without any merit of their own, to eternal salvation, and another part, in just punishment of their sin, to eternal damnation.”

    – John Calvin

    Oh…yeah…that’s Calvin, not Van Til. What the heck was I thinking… ?

    Oh…right…this: Van Til’s teachings on Calvinism, his book The Case For Calvinism, and, most importantly, his criticisms of Schaeffer, his former student:

    “When you say that man is not caught in the wheels of determinism you do not mean for one moment to deny that God has determined whatsoever
    comes to pass in history, including the thoughts and acts of man, do you?” (p. 92)
    – Van Til

    So, yeah, anyone who’s studied Van Til recognizes he embraced Calvinism and bought into the whole absurdity of a god creating the vast majority of humanity to be punished without any merit of their own for its own sick glorification.

    Perhaps you are confusing Van Til with the Apostle Paul who speculated that God endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction in order to make known the riches of his glory for vessels of mercy (Romans 9:22-23)

    Perhaps you could confuse the two. You don’t seem really up on your own supposed religious writings and beliefs…

    Oh well, suit yourself. You can lead a horse to water and all that.

    Oooo…great example of projection there! Oh the irony!

    Just know that you sound a little willfully ignorant to Christians when you say that God’s transcendence is incompatible with his immanence with out dealing with the incarnation and it’s implications.

    peace

    HAHAHAHAHAHA!! I cannot stress enough how happy I am that Christians of your ilk think I sound ignorant! I could not be happier knowing that my measure of intelligence comes from…well…folk who actually display some intelligence.

  13. Kantian Naturalist Kantian Naturalist
    Ignored
    says:

    fifthmonarchyman: Just know that you sound a little willfully ignorant to Christians when you say that God’s transcendence is incompatible with his immanence with out dealing with the incarnation and it’s implications.

    And here I thought that Christians regarded the Incarnation as a mystery that transcended human understanding. “Credo quia absurdum”, as Tertullian put it. Or as Kierkegaard emphasized in his work, it is the very ability to affirm the paradox of the Incarnation which is the essence of Christianity.

    But apparently there is no paradox to affirm if transcendence and immanence are not incompatible. The Incarnation is entirely comprehensible to finite human minds after all. Better tell the Vatican — they’ll be keen to see how you did it.

  14. Kantian Naturalist Kantian Naturalist
    Ignored
    says:

    No doubt Van Til has the stupidest possible theology. It’s a depressing commentary on our intellectual culture that quacks like him are regarded as serious theologians when people like Paul Tillich and Reinhold Niebuhr are almost completely forgotten.

  15. fifthmonarchyman
    Ignored
    says:

    Robin: So, yeah, anyone who’s studied Van Til recognizes he embraced Calvinism and bought into the whole absurdity of a god creating the vast majority of humanity to be punished without any merit of their own for its own sick glorification.

    Calvinism is definitely not the idea of “god creating the vast majority of humanity to be punished without any merit of their own”

    I have absolutely no idea where you got that idea

    It’s as you yourself just quoted.

    Calvinism is the idea of God granting
    part of the human race, without any merit of their own, to eternal salvation and at the same time
    another part, in just punishment of their sin, to eternal damnation.

    Those who are punished are simply given justice for their crimes. Surely justice is something you can get behind.

    peace

  16. walto walto
    Ignored
    says:

    fifthmonarchyman:

    I always pictured Paul as short fat and bald and Van Til as thin and sporting a coiffed 1940’s haircut.

    I might need to readjust my imagination 😉

    peace

    https://goo.gl/images/vxWiEF

    https://goo.gl/images/qsTScr

    I dunno, maybe it’s just me, but I’d say you clean Paul up a little–and poof! same guy!

  17. fifthmonarchyman
    Ignored
    says:

    walto: I dunno, maybe it’s just me, but I’d say you clean Paul up a little–and poof! same guy!

    You might be right. and If you can’t trust medieval icon artists to get the likeness of folks who lived hundreds of years earlier right who can you trust?

    There is this description of Paul from the second century

    quote:

    “A man small in size, bald-headed, bandy-legged, well-built, with eyebrows meeting, rather long-nosed, full of grace.”
    end quote:
    Acts of Paul and Thecla

    Take that with a pound of salt

    peace

  18. fifthmonarchyman
    Ignored
    says:

    Kantian Naturalist: But apparently there is no paradox to affirm if transcendence and immanence are not incompatible. The Incarnation is entirely comprehensible to finite human minds after all.

    Compatible does not remotely equal entirely comprehensible and mystery does not remotely equal contradiction.

    peace

  19. Nonlin.org
    Ignored
    says:

    newton: a plate of Enchiladas can be a religious experience.

    Also any mention of Darwin or “evolution”. Somehow I doubt you get it.

    Entropy: Arrogance and stupidity don’t go well together.

    Don’t be so harsh on yourself. Better stay speechless.

  20. walto walto
    Ignored
    says:

    fifthmonarchyman,

    No way he was a unibrow. That’s just mean.

  21. fifthmonarchyman
    Ignored
    says:

    walto: No way he was a unibrow.

    Hey, you sound like a unibrow-phobe?

    Shouldn’t this be a safe place where those who choose to openly express their unibrowness can feel safe to let their natural bushy selves shine with out fear of being brow-shamed?

    peace

  22. keiths keiths
    Ignored
    says:

    Glen, to KN:

    You used to occassionally call yourself an apatheist, as I recall, so I have no idea why you’re taking nearly the opposite stance now.

    KN is definitely not an apatheist, judging by past discussions. His own religious beliefs are very important to him, and he’s quite sensitive to suggestions that religious beliefs are irrational. It’s why he keeps urging us to regard them as “non-cognitive”, since that would get them off the logical/evidential hook.

    He even denies being an atheist and (bizarrely, given his nym) a naturalist! From a 2015 discussion:

    William J. Murray:

    One wonders what is of “genuine spiritual significance” to any atheist/naturalist?

    KN:

    I wouldn’t know — I’m neither an atheist nor a naturalist.

    More precisely, I’m a humanist (with qualifications) and a secularist (with qualifications). But I don’t consider myself an atheist, because I think that atheists and theists make the same mistake: they both misunderstand the pragmatic force and semantic content of religious vocabulary because they treat it as a kind of assertoric vocabulary instead of as a kind of disclosive vocabulary.

    And I’m not a naturalist, actually. Though I do think that scientific methods for arriving at empirical knowledge are more reliable than non-scientific methods, and I’m skeptical of the idea that phenomenology is a source of knowledge comparable to empirical explanation, I do not think that either metaphysical naturalism or methodological naturalism is ultimately defensible. And I say that as someone who has been thinking about these issues consistently for the past ten years. This is a not a trivial, off-the-cuff remark on my part.

  23. Robin Robin
    Ignored
    says:

    fifthmonarchyman: Calvinism is definitely not the idea of “god creating the vast majority of humanity to be punished without any merit of their own”

    LOL! Calvinism is definitely not the idea that God is a trinity figure either, but funny enough it covers that point too.

    This sort of response strikes me as a feigned admission that you know that I’m right. You have no way to defend my actual point, so you try to attack a strawman instead.

    But the fact you can’t seem to come to terms with is that Van Til believed in a god that created most humans specifically to die and be tortured for the god’s glory. I wouldn’t want to admit anyone I admired believed such a horrendous fiction either, but then that’s not my pig and not my farm.

    I have absolutely no idea where you got that idea

    Oh please. Yes you do. You even requoted it.

    It’s as you yourself just quoted.

    …wait for it…

    Calvinism is the idea of God granting
    part of the human race, without any merit of their own… in just punishment of their sin (which actually contradicts the “without any merit of their own”), to eternal damnation.

    My emphasis, for those hard of reading.

    Those who are punished are simply given justice for their crimes. Surely justice is something you can get behind.

    Right…because Calvin wants his cake and to eat it too. But of course, he’s simply being absurd. Grace is granted solely by God, not based on any human merit. Ergo, sin is built in, solely for God’s glory and not by choice of man. It’s even in the Five Points: Total Inability and Unconditional Election. Calvin stated that the sinful man cannot choose, of himself, to come to Jesus at all; those who are saved are preordained to be forgiven by God. And that God has already elected the sinners and saints from the get-go; man has no say or ability to do anything about it.

    So…yeah…preordained to sin without any ability to come to forgiveness seems pretty straight forward to me.

  24. newton
    Ignored
    says:

    Nonlin.org: plate of Enchiladas can be a religious experience.

    Also any mention of Darwin or “evolution”. Somehow I doubt you get it.

    Or NASCAR or erosion . I get it fine. If you want to equate the belief in a Supreme Being with even the most mundane human activity it is OK with me.

  25. GlenDavidson
    Ignored
    says:

    keiths: KN is definitely not an apatheist, judging by past discussions. His own religious beliefs are very important to him, and he’s quite sensitive to suggestions that religious beliefs are irrational. It’s why he keeps urging us to regard them as “non-cognitive”, since that would get them off the logical/evidential hook.

    Yes, he seems to be using the typical weaseling to save some kind of religiosity/spiritual belief. Either not willing or able to come up with anything that could count as a proper inference, it’s back to the old game of pretending that one’s faith that God exists is the epistemologically the same as acknowledging that there’s no excuse for such an inference.

    It’s philosophy in the service of wishful thinking.

    Glen Davidson

  26. Alan Fox Alan Fox
    Ignored
    says:

    Moved a comment to guano. Address the comment, not the commenter, please.

  27. Kantian Naturalist Kantian Naturalist
    Ignored
    says:

    keiths: KN is definitely not an apatheist, judging by past discussions. His own religious beliefs are very important to him, and he’s quite sensitive to suggestions that religious beliefs are irrational. It’s why he keeps urging us to regard them as “non-cognitive”, since that would get them off the logical/evidential hook.

    If I’m a non-cognitivist about religion, then how do I have any religious beliefs at all?

  28. Kantian Naturalist Kantian Naturalist
    Ignored
    says:

    keiths: Though I do think that scientific methods for arriving at empirical knowledge are more reliable than non-scientific methods, and I’m skeptical of the idea that phenomenology is a source of knowledge comparable to empirical explanation, I do not think that either metaphysical naturalism or methodological naturalism is ultimately defensible. And I say that as someone who has been thinking about these issues consistently for the past ten years.

    Follow-up on this: my qualms about “methodological naturalism” are that I don’t see what distinguishes methodological naturalism from sophisticated empiricism. I would like to figure out if “methodological naturalism” is just a term that philosophers invented so that they could talk about what was right about empiricism without getting bogged down in the criticisms of classical empiricism or logical empiricism.

    But if that were the case, then what’s really at stake there is not a semantic thesis but what we might call “verificationism about epistemic significance”: the epistemic significance of a claim, how much it should matter in our inquiry, is proportionate to how strongly (or weakly) verified it is. And verificationism about epistemic significance is a view that I do indeed hold (along with Hume and Dennett). I just don’t see what value there is to calling it “methodological naturalism”.

    And my reservation about “metaphysical naturalism” turn on whether metaphysical naturalism requires a unity of science thesis. The arguments in favor of the disunity of science are quite compelling to me, and the best argument I know of for the unity of science — Ladyman and Ross’s Every Thing Must God — goes awry quite badly because they don’t take into account how different biology is from physics. (Though I do like their definition of fundamental physics and I use it in my work.)

    If metaphysical naturalism is compatible with the disunity of science, then fine, I’m happy to call myself a metaphysical naturalist. At that point, metaphysical naturalism just becomes indistinguishable from scientific metaphysics: the task of metaphysics is to generalize and systematize the presuppositions and discoveries of the empirical sciences (physics, chemistry, biology, psychology, sociology, etc.).

    But if metaphysical naturalism only works if the sciences are unified or unifiable, then there’s a problem, because we have no good reason to think that they are.

  29. Entropy Entropy
    Ignored
    says:

    Alan Fox:
    Moved a comment to guano. Address the comment, not the commenter, please.

    Both became one and the same, like a holy duonity. 😁

  30. Entropy Entropy
    Ignored
    says:

    Kantian Naturalist,

    I thought methodological naturalism was coined to allow people to talk about “non-overlaping magisteria” and all that accommodationist crap. Just to avoid insulting creationists.

    😁

  31. GlenDavidson
    Ignored
    says:

    Entropy:
    Kantian Naturalist,

    I thought methodological naturalism was coined to allow people to talk about “non-overlaping magisteria” and all that accommodationist crap. Just to avoid insulting creationists.

    “Naturalism” was the way of saving religion from empiricism.

    Glen Davidson

  32. Entropy Entropy
    Ignored
    says:

    Robin,

    OK, let’s see:

    Create humans to be sinful: checked!
    Save a few of them “by grace” (aka for no merit of their own, aka by caprice): checked!
    Condemn the rest for being what you created them to be: checked!
    Control whatsoever comes to pass: checked!
    Condemn humans for being sinful under your full control: checked!
    Call that bullshit “justice”: checked!

    So what’s the problem? I don’t see any problem. What are you talking about?

    😁

  33. Kantian Naturalist Kantian Naturalist
    Ignored
    says:

    Entropy: I thought methodological naturalism was coined to allow people to talk about “non-overlaping magisteria” and all that accommodationist crap. Just to avoid insulting creationists.

    I rather liked Gould’s NOMA position. He was wrong to give religion pride of place in being authoritative about meaning and value, but he was certainly right that scientific theories have nothing to say about meaning and value. What some folks here call “accomodationism” seems exactly right to me.

  34. fifthmonarchyman
    Ignored
    says:

    Robin: Grace is granted solely by God, not based on any human merit.

    The word grace means unmerited favor

    Robin: Ergo, sin is built in, solely for God’s glory and not by choice of man.

    I have no idea where you are getting this. Calvinists believe that human choice is compatible with God’s sovereignty. No one is condemned by God unless they choose to reject his mercy.

    Robin: Calvin stated that the sinful man cannot choose, of himself, to come to Jesus at all

    Correct, you can’t choose to come to Jesus because you love your sin more than you love God. Absent grace we all do.

    It’s not God’s fault that you love your sin. That is on you.

    Robin: And that God has already elected the sinners and saints from the get-go; man has no say or ability to do anything about it.

    Phrases like “from the get go” don’t make a lot of sense from the perspective of a being outside of time. God did choose to give grace to some sinners while treating others with justice.

    That is his certainly prerogative he is under no obligation to take upon himself the punishment due to anyone else.

    peace

  35. fifthmonarchyman
    Ignored
    says:

    Robin: So…yeah…preordained to sin without any ability to come to forgiveness seems pretty straight forward to me.

    That is because you either are willfully ignorant of what Calvinists believe or you choose to think they are being deceitful in when they explain it to you.

    I think there is a rule against that here 😉

    peace

  36. keiths keiths
    Ignored
    says:

    KN,

    If I’m a non-cognitivist about religion, then how do I have any religious beliefs at all?

    That’s precisely the issue! Your position is incoherent.

    Remember, you are the person who, in an attempt to get around the problem, introduced the clunky notion of “non-epistemic beliefs”:

    I am not an atheist because I have religious beliefs; I am not a theist because they are not epistemic beliefs.

    As I said above:

    KN is definitely not an apatheist, judging by past discussions. His own religious beliefs are very important to him, and he’s quite sensitive to suggestions that religious beliefs are irrational. It’s why he keeps urging us to regard them as “non-cognitive”, since that would get them off the logical/evidential hook.

    “Non-cognitive”, “non-epistemic”, “non-assertoric”. All attempts to reclassify religious beliefs in a way that exempts them from criticism.

  37. keiths keiths
    Ignored
    says:

    KN,

    The arguments in favor of the disunity of science are quite compelling to me, and the best argument I know of for the unity of science — Ladyman and Ross’s Every Thing Must God — goes awry quite badly because they don’t take into account how different biology is from physics.

    [emphasis added]

    Freudian slip? 🙂

  38. keiths keiths
    Ignored
    says:

    KN,

    If metaphysical naturalism is compatible with the disunity of science, then fine, I’m happy to call myself a metaphysical naturalist.

    That’s an oddly casual reversal of something you described as “not a trivial, off-the-cuff remark”, by “someone who has been thinking about these issues consistently for the past ten years”:

    I do not think that either metaphysical naturalism or methodological naturalism is ultimately defensible.

    Do you think metaphysical naturalism is defensible, or not?

  39. Entropy Entropy
    Ignored
    says:

    GlenDavidson: “Naturalism” was the way of saving religion from empiricism.
    Glen Davidson

    Kind of recently, Sean Carroll and a few other people, among them some famous philosophers (I think Massimo Pigluicci was one of them), had a meeting to discuss what naturalism should mean / entail / whatever. The meeting was probably prompted by Sean’s tendency to talk in terms of naturalism as a contrasting position to theism. Anyway, the meeting is available in youtube (I’m too lazy to look for the link right now), I tried following the discussion, but the thing was boring to death. They just couldn’t get to the fucking point. I suspect they really didn’t know what they wanted to do. So, I didn’t watch the whole thing. That must be the only video I know about where Sean Carroll was boring.

    Anyway, if anybody is up to listen to some boring discussions, or if you actually enjoy that kind of thing, now you know that there was such a meeting.

  40. petrushka
    Ignored
    says:

    Is the disunity of science a fact, or an opinion?

  41. Neil Rickert
    Ignored
    says:

    petrushka: Is the disunity of science a fact, or an opinion?

    I guess that depends on what you mean by “disunity”.

    I’ll go with “fact”. I see science as a loose association rather than as a unity.

  42. Kantian Naturalist Kantian Naturalist
    Ignored
    says:

    keiths: “Non-cognitive”, “non-epistemic”, “non-assertoric”. All attempts to reclassify religious beliefs in a way that exempts them from criticism.

    Not quite — it’s an attempt to show that religion is much more about attitudes than it is about assertions. I’m interested in the affective states at work in religions (though of course not only in religions): reverence, piety, awe, gratitude, hope. Our experience of these affective states is supported by the scaffolding that organized religions institute: rituals, symbols, prayers, holidays, masses or services, etc.

    I conjecture that it’s more difficult for us to experience these affective states without the external scaffolding, and it’s not clear to me what the atheistic analogue of that scaffolding is going to look like.

    keiths: Do you think metaphysical naturalism is defensible, or not?

    What is this, a deposition?

    I think that it’s complicated, like everything in philosophy.

    I think, because of the arguments developed by 19th & 20th century philosophers, that metaphysics and epistemology cannot be separated. We can’t talk about what is without also talking about how we know what there is, and we can’t talk about how we know what there is without talking about what we take there to be.

    That means that we cannot take a scientific turn in metaphysics without also taking a scientific turn in epistemology. That means that we need to develop a conception of our cognitive capacities and incapacities that’s informed by ecology, evolutionary theory, neuroscience, psychology, linguistics, and anthropology.

    But I think that taking into account the relevant sciences will oblige us to revise our confidence that we can apprehend the structure of reality. And that will have some serious implications for how far any metaphysics can go, naturalistic or not.

    petrushka:
    Is the disunity of science a fact, or an opinion?

    Neither — it’s a philosophical position backed up by argument. I thought that Dupre’s The Disunity of Science was superb. Dupre is an excellent philosopher of biology and has become a leading proponent of process thinking in biology (see here).

  43. GlenDavidson
    Ignored
    says:

    Neither — it’s a philosophical position backed up by argument. I thought that Dupre’s The Disunity of Science was superb.

    We’ve seen no argument.

    And the most I can see from the one Amazon review that Dupre’s complaining about is the fact that species is a problematic term, which I didn’t think anybody was contesting. It’s not supposed to be a simple matter, thanks to evolution.

    Life is connected by relationship, by evolutionary processes. And clearly life follows chemistry and physics. I see plenty of connections, not disunity, although to claim “unity” might be overdoing it. The worst problem with unity seems to be the matter of some incompatibility between QM and relativity.

    I don’t see any reason to think that science is necessarily disunified, just because there are some problems. And a bare argument from authority isn’t convincing.

    Glen Davidson

  44. Kantian Naturalist Kantian Naturalist
    Ignored
    says:

    GlenDavidson: And the most I can see from the one Amazon review that Dupre’s complaining about is the fact that species is a problematic term, which I didn’t think anybody was contesting. It’s not supposed to be a simple matter, thanks to evolution.

    The review doesn’t do justice to what Dupre is talking about.

    Here’s the problem: is species a particular or a kind?

    In traditional metaphysics, particulars are whatever exists at specific points in space and time. Kinds are the overarching categories under which particulars as classified. (Whether kinds are real, or if only particulars are real, is the debate about realism vs nominalism about universals.)

    Michael Ghiselin has a nice argument that, according to evolutionary theory, species are particulars. They are particulars in the same way that sports teams are particulars. A football team may have members coming and leaving, and the team roster is different now than it was eighty years ago, but the team is still a concrete thing that exists in space and in time. Likewise with species, once we take the Darwinian turn and see species as just populations.

    But, Dupre argues, while Ghiselin is right about evolutionary theory, there are nevertheless reasons in ecology to consider species as kinds that occupy various niches.

    So, are species particulars or are they kinds? Dupre argues that there simply is no metaphysical fact of the matter. We can treat species as particulars when we’re doing evolutionary theory and we can treat them as kinds when we’re doing ecology.

    But if the metaphysical commitments of evolutionary theory and ecology are not compatible, then there’s no way those sciences can be unified.

    Dupre also has an elegant argument for the disunity of Mendelian genetics and molecular genetics, but I’d have to look it up again — I don’t have that argument memorized.

    In other words, there’s a lot of disunity even within biology — let alone the incompatibility between quantum mechanics and general relativity, because we don’t have a version of quantum field theory that’s consistent with general relativity. QM and GR treat space and time in fundamentally different ways. It would seem that they cannot both be right, though they may both be wrong.

    Or, if they are both right, then we might have to conclude that there simply is no fact of the matter about the fundamental structure of space and time — just as there is no fact of the matter about whether species are particulars or kinds.

    Perhaps the Buddhist are right when they argue that the only ultimate truth about reality is that there is no ultimate truth about reality.

  45. walto walto
    Ignored
    says:

    Kantian Naturalist: Perhaps the Buddhist are right when they argue that the only ultimate truth about reality is that there is no ultimate truth about reality.

    Siddhartha was obvi a Quinian.

  46. Kantian Naturalist Kantian Naturalist
    Ignored
    says:

    walto: Siddhartha was obvi a Quinian.

    Quine is obviously a Buddhist — if they’re making the same claim (which to be honest they aren’t) it should be named after the person who discovered it first.

    By the way, Garfield’s Engaging Buddhism: Why Buddhism Matters to Philosophy is excellent & I’m using it in my philosophy of mind class this semester. It’s very Sellarsian but it works — there’s an argument there that craving for the Given is a source of suffering.

  47. GlenDavidson
    Ignored
    says:

    Kantian Naturalist,

    It appears to me that there’s a lot of presupposition going on with Dupre’s critique. I certainly don’t credit “particulars” or “kinds” as having anything but contingent meaning.

    Seems like the disunity he’s talking about is a disunity between science and philosophy, especially metaphysics.

    Glen Davidson

  48. Kantian Naturalist Kantian Naturalist
    Ignored
    says:

    GlenDavidson:
    Kantian Naturalist,

    It seems to me that there’s a lot of presupposition going on with Dupre’s critique.I certainly don’t credit “particulars” or “kinds” as having anything but contingent meaning.

    Seems like the disunity he’s talking about is a disunity between science and philosophy, especially metaphysics.

    He’s arguing that evolutionary theory and ecology have incompatible ontological commitments because of the conceptual status that each assigns to the term “species.”

  49. Neil Rickert
    Ignored
    says:

    This is why I stay away from social media.

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