The New Atheism: Logical Positivism for the Masses

Over the course of the last year or so I have become increasingly convinced that the so-called New Atheism is merely a popular form of the now thoroughly rebutted, outdated and extinct radical empiricist philosophy of logical positivism.

In the last several weeks I have happened upon a few atheist sites that make the connection explicit.

Some time ago I left a comment on Triablogue in which I claimed, “As classical foundationalists and naive evidentialists, fundamentalist atheists are the flat-earthers of philosophy.” (Dustin Segers later used the “flat-earthers of philosophy” phrase in one of his exchanges.)

The same is true with respect to their being logical positivists.

This observation has probably been made before, but it is worth highlighting again.

Historically there is usually about a fifty year gap between the time an idea hits the academy and the time it filters down into the populace.

If I had to do a little armchair sociology I would say we are on the other side of the logical positivist gap.

Fortunately (or unfortunately, depending on how you look at it) the New Atheists make even more obvious, embarrassing epistemological mistakes than did the logical positivists who, in the end, were exposed as affirming a verificationist principle that could not be verified in virtue of itself.

It is not surprising that the New Atheists, who pride themselves on rhetorical skill in mocking religious belief as opposed to actual academic study (especially of philosophy) would blindly follow the radical empiricist epistemology of the logical positivists to its philosophical death.

Becoming an atheist is not the same thing as becoming an expert in any field, contrary to what most of the insta-expert theorists on the Internet would have one believe.

Planting an entire movement in an inherently bad philosophy that has peaked and fallen does not seem the wisest move to make should those involved in the movement hope for it to last for any significant amount of time.

But covering this fundamental flaw is the mockery, scoffing, foul language, bigotry, rebellion and other insanity that constitutes the fundamentalist flavor of the New Atheist movement.

They do not know what else to do.

The shrill collective voice of the New Atheism is a sure sign of desperation for that movement, for which I am grateful.

 


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