Y u no accept my theory!? (Oh no, Dawkins, et al, are really mad!)

angry dennett

(I haven’t written anything in a long time. So, I’m sure, this, below, will be a convoluted blur. But I don’t usually write anything I can’t finish in 10 minutes, so.. to hell with clarity.)

So several of the world’s leading atheist intellectuals decide to have some kind of soiree to discuss how to, in there words, “Move Naturalism forward”. ‘Naturalism’, to those who don’t know, is the metaphysical (although the historical data suggests that nary a scientist there, scientific acumen notwithstanding, is familiar with what the word ‘metaphysical’ even means) commitment to the idea that whatever science can’t understand doesn’t exist. Just like those thoughts in your head; your consciousness, yeah, those, they’re not real. Well, they’re only as real as — they only are, in fact — particles (neurons, perhaps) bouncing around your head. ‘They’re ‘illusions’, I think, is the eliminativist catchphrase. Of course, that raises the question: they’re illusions to whom!? An illusion presupposes a consciousness to perceive it, doesn’t it? So consciousness is an illusion to.. gasp.. consciousness? How morbidly incoherent! But, ah, I shouldn’t be getting ahead of myself, or anyone else.

At one corner is Richard Dawkins, evolutionary biologist (extraordinaire!) and author of  The God Delusion (available at fine book stores everywhere!). In another is Daniel Dennett, philosopher of science, and author of Consciousness explained. In another corner.. well, let’s just say that just about every neo-Darwinist with an I.Q. above 140 was there — from Alex Rosenberg to Jerry Coyne, to Almighty Darwin knows who else.

So they discuss and discuss, as intellectuals are wont to do, and then discuss some more.

At one point in the ‘soiree’, Dennett amusingly admonishes his colleagues, saying that if they repeatedly tell people that free-will (and, therefore, moral responsibility) and the objectivity of morality (the idea that some things are *really evil*) are really nothing but illusions, then that conclusion, should it be accepted, has the potential to, in Ferguson’s words, “undermine civilization itself”. So Dennett says, well, that they shouldn’t be telling people those things — even if, in what would seem to be the mother of all ironies, it’s what he  actually believes!

Dennett, at another point, bangs his fist on the table (well, not really [I mean the banging part]) and lambasts contemporary philosophers who still refuse to accept the conclusions of naturalism — you know, the idea that we’re really, from top to bottom, meaningless gobs (or particles, if you prefer) of goo:

“I am just appalled to see how, in spite of what I think is the progress we’ve made in the last 25 years, there’s this sort of retrograde gang.[..]They’re going back to old-fashioned armchair philosophy with relish and eagerness. It’s sickening. And they lure in other people. And their work isn’t worth anything—it’s cute and it’s clever and it’s not worth a damn.”

Suddenly, but not unexpectedly, Danny (can I call him Danny?) Dennett, of Thomas Nagel, says: “and then there’s some work that is neither cute nor clever!”

Mr. Nagel, who authored ‘Mind and Cosmos’, has of course been in their cross hairs ever since. I mean the guy, who is a self-professed atheist by the way, concluded in his book that materialism, and by extension, naturalism, is almost certainly false. Nagel makes the argument (the complexity of which makes me unable to get into details) that strict materialism, and therefore, strict naturalism, is so implausible, and in fact so self-defeating, that the universe, or consciousness — or both (actually, both) — can only be explained with recourse to some kind of teleology. The more philosophically astute will understand that to mean that the universe was somehow ‘designed’ or was meant to be the way it is. Now, of course, Nagel, the atheist that he is, suggests this without reference to God. But he probably knows, too, that there cannot be — logically, there cannot be — teleology (design or meaning) without a designer or meaning-giver.

The guys at the table know this too. So they say Nagel is crazy. “How dare he! How dare he not accept naturalism!” O.K., they didn’t actually say that, but they did others to that effect:

“Tom, oh Tom..How did we lose Tom..”

“What has gotten into Thomas Nagel?”

Steven Pinker, another atheist intellectual at the round table of sorts, the guy who wrote this book that claims everyone’s turning so nice and friendly, and that we’ll all be singing kumbaya in no time, contrary to all the evidence we see at youtube comment boxes, or all the evidence available to us in real life, once linked to, through twitter, a negative review of Nagel’s book, and said that it “exposed the shoddy reasoning of a once-great thinker.”

“Thomas Nagel is of absolutely no importance on this subject..”

“He’s a self-contradictory idiot..”

So what has Nagel — who is, again, perhaps the most eminent philosopher still living — actually done to deserve all this negative attention from, of all people, his fellow atheists?

Well, because, in a nutshell, Nagel, their fellow atheist thinker, who just happens to be much more of a ‘freethinker’ then they can ever claim to be, says that “certain things are so remarkable that they have to be explained as non-accidental.”

In other words, it’s that word again; it’s the word ‘teleology’; the word that logically entails the hypothesis these intellectuals have spent considerable time and effort attacking; it’s the word that entails a creator, a designer — a God.

Of course, Nagel spends hundreds of pages in his book exfoliating this conclusion — presumably zero pages of which Dennett had been able to read.


Posted on March 19, 2013, in funny, philosophy, Religion, science and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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