modern atheist philosophers

Dawkins endorses the general hypothesis that religion and religious belief are byproducts (what some evolutionary biologists call “spandrels”) of something else that has survival value. Yet among philosophers, a supposedly rational group, 62% are atheists (compared to about half that among all academics and 2% in the general population). Russell led the revolt against idealism in the early 20th century and is considered along with Wittgenstein and Frege a founder of analytic philosophy, which considers formal logic and science as the principal tools of philosophy. It refersto the propositional content of belief, not to the attitude orpsychological state of believing. The epistemological component is their common claim that religious belief is irrational. Prosecuted by the Athenian democratic party for impiety in 415 b.c.e., he was forced to flee the city and died in Corinth. Harris calls the source of this basic moral knowledge “moral intuition.” Since the other New Atheists don’t argue for the moral principles to which they appeal, it seems reasonable to conclude that they would agree with Harris. Viewed 297 times 3. Though Hitchens mentions Dennett’s naturalistic approach to religion in his chapter on “religion’s corrupt beginnings,” he focuses primarily on the interplay between a pervasive gullibility he takes to be characteristic of human beings and the exploitation of this credulity that he attributes to the founders of religions and religious movements. It’s always now Sam Harris notes on his blog, that he’s observed a number of instances, on You Tube, where folks have set the audio portions, from some of his appearances, to slide-show, animation, or video creations of their own. Richard Georg Strauss [1864-1949] was a brilliant German composer who began writing music at the age of six and continued almost until his death. In doing so, he employs the concept of a “culturally based replicator,” which Dawkins had previously labeled a “meme” (on analogy with “gene,” which refers to biologically based replicators). The fourth philosophical question raised by the New Atheists is one they address themselves: “Why should we be moral?” Harris’s answer is that being moral tends to contribute to one’s happiness. Despite several romances, the love of her live was Spencer Tracy, with whom she made nine movies. Wolfgang Pauli once described Dirac’s first commandment concerning religion as, “God does not exist and Paul Dirac is his prophet.”. They agree that these sociological and psychological phenomena are rooted in biology. Pinker’s works on how children acquire language echoes Noam Chomsky’s work on language as an innate faculty of mind. There are varying accounts of his age at death, ranging from a ripe 90 all the way to 109 years. to the controversial (prohibition of “victimless crimes” such as drug use and prostitution, criminalization of abortion and euthanasia, “child abuse” due to identification of children as members of their parents’ religious communities, etc.). Epicurus himself was never able to escape a life of pain or a painful death, as he suffered greatly from kidney stones and died at the age of 72 of complications from that ailment. He has been vice president of the American Society of Naturalists and serves on the editorial board of the Human Behavior and Evolution Society. This view maintains that belief in God is genetically and biologically hardwired. The Dawkins Delusion? His interest in music, writing and a life on the road led him into musical and busking adventures during the early 1960s, and finally to Pink Floyd in 1967, which went on to become one of the top grossing rock bands in history. In this way, the New Atheists link their epistemological critique of religious belief with their moral criticism of religion. Higgs lives a reserved life and is not anxious to offend religious believers. But the New Atheists either explicitly reject ethical relativism, or affirm the existence of the “transcendent value” of justice, or assert that there is a consensus about what we consider right and wrong, or simply engage in a moral critique of religion that implicitly presupposes a universal moral standard. In a 1999 speech in Washington, D.C., he said, “With or without religion, good people can behave well and bad people can do evil; but for good people to do evil – that takes religion.”. The New Atheists also affirm evidentialism, the claim that a belief can be epistemically justified only if it is based on adequate evidence. Dennett, Daniel. He shared the 1933 Nobel Prize in physics with Erwin Schrodinger, formulated what became known as the Dirac equation, and held the Cambridge Lucasian Chair in mathematics established by Sir Isaac Newton and currently held by Stephen Hawking. Dennett hints at a different objection to the Bible by remarking that anybody can quote the Bible to prove anything. Atheism enjoys an amazing and diverse collection of intelligent, unique, interesting, and often hilarious voices. He expresses his hope for a renewed Enlightenment focused on human beings, based on unrestricted scientific inquiry, and eventually productive of a new humane civilization. Dawkins further states that the God hypothesis creates a vicious regress rather than terminating one. A few decades after the death of Hadrian, a philosopher named Sextus listed the most prominent atheists in history, but the only one whose influence was destined to endure into the Enlightenment was Epicurus. 1944] was born in Nairobi, Kenya, one of three sons of noted archaeologists Louis and Mary Leakey. Atheism is generating quite a lot of attention these days. Schloss, Jeffrey and Michael Murray, eds. He follows up in The God Delusion with the claim that faith is an evil because it does not require justification and does not tolerate argument. While he does not publicly profess atheism, Hawking does profess agnosticism. Searle is regarded as an atheist who believes in freedom of will and has argued eloquently (and controversially) for that position. Laertius complained that Theodorus “did away with all opinions respecting the Gods,” but he may have just rejected the notions of deity popular in his time. I am still relatively new to philosophy and was curious to realize that most modern philosophers seem to announce that they are a physicalist or an atheist. (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2006). Eagleton, Terry. He is an energetic promoter of science generally and evolution in particular. While he once said that “God used beautiful mathematics in creating the world,” his personal views on religion were far less expansive. This view drew much criticism from behaviorists, particularly his hypothesis that humans share an innate linguistic capability. I wanted to understand.”. He became an atheist with a firm conviction that all phenomena must be materialistic in nature. As for metaphysics, Dawkins has been criticized for engaging in an overly cursory evaluation of theistic arguments and for ignoring the philosophical literature in natural theology. He married archeologist and orientalist Odette Bruhl in 1938, they had twin sons, Oliver and Phillippe, one of whom became a geologist, the other a physicist. Many non-theists have located the natural basis for morality in human convention, a move that leads naturally to ethical relativism. Hitchens includes chapters entitled “The Metaphysical Claims of Religion are False” and “Arguments from Design,” but his more journalistic treatment of the cases for and against God’s existence amounts primarily to the claim that the God hypothesis is unnecessary, since science can now explain what theism was formerly thought to be required to explain, including phenomena such as the appearance of design in the universe. Professor emeritus of linguistics at MIT, and is considered a father of modern linguistics. Starting with the art rock band Roxy Music in 1971, he became bored with the rock and roll lifestyle quickly. A case for studying the history and practice of religion by means of the natural sciences. It was picked up by Seed Magazine that year and anchors their large stable of popular, multidisciplinary science blogs. First, what is the content of morality? The New Atheists reply that Hitler was not necessarily an atheist because he claimed to be a Christian and that these regimes were evil because they were influenced by religion or were like a religion and that, even if their leaders were atheists (as in the case of Stalin), their crimes against humanity were not caused by their atheism because they were not carried out in the name of atheism. At first Spinoza was reviled as an atheist - and certainly, his God is not the conventional Judo-Christian God. A veteran of many different day jobs, Adams once worked as a bodyguard for a Qatar oil family and told hilarious stories about his misadventures. The combination of their reliance on science and their adherence to evidentialism entails that a religious belief can be justified only if it is based on adequate scientific evidence. The examples they provide of such objectionable behaviors range from the uncontroversial (suicide bombings, the Inquisition, “religious” wars, witch hunts, homophobia, etc.) In that book Hawking expounded upon his “no boundary” model by stating, “If the no boundary proposal is correct, He [God] had no freedom at all to choose initial conditions.”. A number of essays and books have been written in response to the New Atheists (see the “Works about the New Atheism” sub-section of the “References and Further Reading” section below for some titles). Harris and Dawkins are quite explicit about this. The New Atheists observe that if there is no supernatural reality, then religion and religious belief must have purely natural explanations. Awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1983 for his important contributions to knowledge about the evolution of stars, he is probably better known for his 1995 opus >Newton’s Principia for the Common Reader which explains the detailed arguments of Newton’s original Principia using the language and methods of ordinary calculus. The two sold some possessions to raise $1,300, assembled the first prototypes in Job’s garage. He got involved in the use of the internet for this purpose and was a founding member of the pro-evolution website The Panda’s Thumb, and created his own web blog, Pharyngula, in 2002. Second, if the content of morality is not made accessible to human beings by means of a revelation of God’s will, then how do humans know what the one moral standard is? Dawkins’ argument for the probable non-existence of God is the most explicit and thorough attempt at an atheistic argument amongst the four. When asked by a student if he believed in God, Watson answered, “Oh, no. Stephen Russell Davies [b. An interdisciplinary discussion of issues raised by the sort of naturalistic account of religion promoted in Dennett 2006 and elsewhere. Having become one of the wealthiest musicians in the world – and a Knight of the Realm as of 2003 as well – Jagger founded his own film company with Victoria Pearman in 1995, Jagged Films. Dawkins’ particular brilliance is not so much reflected in radical discoveries in his field of biology, but in his popular science writings like his books The Selfish Gene and The Extended Phenotype. He says that religious faith is unjustified belief in matters of ultimate concern. Keller, Timothy. He thinks it more likely that they merely profess belief in God or “believe in belief” in God (they believe belief in God is or would be a good thing). Dennett discusses a number of these specific hypotheses more thoroughly in his attempt to “break the spell” he identifies as the taboo against a thorough scientific investigation of religion as one natural phenomenon among many. Just four days before his death the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts announced that he would receive the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor. He also worked in radio, hosting CBC Radio One’s Quirks and Quarks, and a weekly program for more mature audiences called Science Magazine. Hitchens, Christopher. Prominent atheists are getting the word out about their views in increasing numbers and generating lots of public debate on the proper place of religion in governments and share societies in the modern world. Warren Edward Buffett [b. McGrath, Alister and Joanna Collicutt McGrath. For inspiration in a Godless world, Dawkins looks to the power of science to open the mind and satisfy the psyche. He is a notable promoter of public understanding of science, and his entire course on quantum physics can be downloaded on the iTunes platform from Stanford. His specific hypothesis is that human beings have acquired religious beliefs because there is a selective advantage to child brains that possess the rule of thumb to believe, without question, whatever familiar adults tell them. He was made a Commander in the Order of the British Empire in 2005, an honor just below full knighthood. Where In The World Is Facial Recognition Being Used? Starting out as a corporate lawyer for a railroad company, he soon jumped the ideological tracks and represented the leader of the American Railway Union in the Pullman Strike of 1894. Freud’s family escaped after Nazi Germany annexed Austria in 1938 and moved to London. He is a recipient of the 1997 Dirac Medal and Prize for outstanding contributions to theoretical physics, the High Energy and Particle Physics Prize by the European Physical Society, and the Wolf Prize in physics. 119-120). Arguments for and against God’s Existence. 1932] is an American philosopher whose contributions to the philosophy of mind, philosophy of language and social philosophy made him an influential member and spokesperson for the Free Speech Movement in Berkeley during the late 1960s and early ’70s. in Athens, Epicurus established the school of philosophy known as Epicureanism, and was a follower of Democritus even though his own philosophy denied the influence of strong determinism and often denounced other philosophies as confused. In his Evolutionary Studies program at Binghamton students study not only the sciences related to evolution, but also religion and the psychology of religion in terms of evolution. Russell was awarded the Nobel Prize for literature in 1950. Yet among philosophers, a supposedly rational group, 62% are atheists (compared to about half that among all academics and 2% in the general population). He is recognized as one of the most creatively intelligent people of the modern scientific age, best known his contributions to the fields of cosmology, quantum gravity and general relativity, as well as for his best-selling popular science books. He had one of his students attend him on his deathbed to record the circumstances of his dying, as if it were just another psychological experiment. Westmont College Stenger, Victor. This earned her the obsessed attention of would-be Presidential assassin John Hinckley Jr. who stalked her while she was attending Yale. Clearly, the range of philosophical issues raised by the New Atheists’ claims and arguments is broad. On his 60th birthday he released his third solo album, On An Island, which debuted #1 on the UK charts. Today about 2.3 percent of the world’s population identifies themselves as atheist, and nearly 12 percent more (a number that is quickly growing) describe themselves as nontheist – non-believers in any deity. The prosecution side was argued by William Jennings Bryan, the the trial served as the story for the play and later film, Inherit the Wind. Her autobiographical and anti-Soviet novel We the Living, was published in 1936. Perhaps his most momentous achievement was his 1936 paper reformulating Kurt Godel’s results on the limits of proof and computation, replacing Godel’s arithmetic-based formal language with what are now known as Turing machines – formal and simple devices. Reviewers have noted that these authors tend to be motivated by a sense of moral concern and even outrage about the effects of religious beliefs on the global scene. The God Delusion (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2006). The ranks of scientists boast probably the largest concentration of atheists, and many of those have been recognized as among the most brilliant of human beings for their work. 1928] is one of the most notable American philosophers of any age. In fact, don’t get me going. Despite some controversy over the platform and a lawsuit over the ConnectU application which was later dismissed, Zuckerman sold a 1.6% stake in Facebook to Microsoft, which had a $15 billion market value at the time according to Forbes. His appreciation for parliamentary democracy and concern for the poor allowed him to formulate policies derided by some for their socialist leanings. Alicia Christian Foster [b. Among his colleagues he was perhaps better known as a beatnik and clown, always thinking up clever pranks or juggling or sitting in with any impromptu band playing bongos. The framework has a metaphysical component, an epistemological component, and an ethical component. In a review of the book, The Cosmic Landscape: String Theory and the Illusion of Intelligent Design, Michael Duff wrote that Susskind is “a card-carrying atheist.”, Stephen Jay Gould [1941-2002] was a paleontologist, evolutionary biologist and historian of science who became one of the most influential popularizers of evolutionary biology through his books and essays. “I shall never be converted, and I shall remain true to my old religion of the classics until my life’s end,” he declared shortly before his death. “Afterword” in Richard Dawkins, The God Delusion, 10th anniversary edition (London: Penguin Random House, 2016), pp. A standard observation is that New Atheist authors exhibit an unusually high level of confidence in their views. Sagan was an outspoken opponent of nuclear weapons and starred in the popular PBS television series Cosmos: A Personal Voyage. Born into the Jewish community in Montreal, he became an atheist at the age of 13 but remains a “cultural Jew.”. During the trial Darrow self-identified as an agnostic by saying, “I do not consider it an insult, but rather a compliment to be called an agnostic. 1966] Is an Australian philosopher, director of the Center for Consciousness and past director of the Center for Consciousness Studies at the University of Arizona in the U.S. His 1996 book The Conscious Mind is considered a seminal work on consciousness and its relation to issues in the philosophy of mind, even by its physicalist detractors. Higgs describes himself as an atheist, but expresses discomfort with one of the designations of his field boson, the “God Particle.” That designation was popularized by Nobel Laureate Leon Lederman in his book by that title, published in 1993 as part of a PR campaign in favor of the proposed Superconducting Super Collider [SSC] proposed to be built in Texas. The New Atheists’ appeal to a universal secular moral standard raises some interesting philosophical questions. It was from this association with the leaders of the “Phage Group” of molecular biologists that he became involved in the search for the nature of genes. These moral objections to religion presuppose a moral standard. In The Selfish Gene, Richard Dawkins states that faith is blind trust without evidence and even against the evidence. A notorious womanizer, Jagger has seven children by 4 women (two of whom he married), and four grandchildren. Some of his other interests were painting, biology, Mayan hieroglyphics and lock-picking. In a 1973 interview on The Dick Cavett Show Hepburn said that while she agreed with Christian principles and thought highly of Jesus Christ, she had no personal religious beliefs nor any belief in an afterlife. His activities in favor of pacifism and against nuclear weapons earned him an appearance before the Senate Internal Security Subcommittee, which explicitly accused him of being in league with the Communists. “Atheism” is typically defined in terms of“theism”. Not content to simply speak against the popular pantheon of Greek gods, he also criticized the Eleusinian Mysteries. Philosopher Michael Ruse states that “if you want a concession, I’ve always said that naturalism is an act of faith…” (2). David Takayoshi Suzuki [b. 1966] is a theoretical cosmologist specializing in general relativity and dark energy. Third, what is the ontological ground of the universal moral standard? 1928] received the Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine in 1962 as co-discoverer along with Francis Crick and Maurice Wilkins of the molecular structure of DNA. An intellectual and moral critique of faith-based religions that recommends their replacement by science-based spirituality. If there is no divine being, then there are no divine revelations. The New Atheists seem to be generally agreed that theistic belief has generally worse attitudinal and behavioral moral consequences than atheistic belief. Dennett goes on to engage in a relatively extensive speculation about how religion and religious belief evolved from these purely natural beginnings. You might also try The Moral Landscape by Harris, very popular, pretty controversial. Their presuppositions should also prompt more discussion in the fields of philosophical theology, philosophy of science, philosophical hermeneutics, the relation between science and religion, and historiography. A collection of essays by Christian apologists that addresses challenges from New Atheists and other contemporary critics of Christianity. (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1989). Search by Category. Russell was not fond of organized religion, but expressed some difficulty in defining himself as an agnostic or an atheist. For this atomic theory, which echoes eerily the theoretical formulations of modern physicists, he is sometimes called the “father of modern science.” He was well known to Aristotle, and a thorn in the side to Plato – who advised that all of Democritus’ works be burned. Jacques Lucien Monod [1910-1976] was a French biologist who contributed greatly to the understanding of the Lac operon as a regulator of gene transcription in cells, suggested the existence of mRNA molecules in the process of protein synthesis, and further contributed to the field of enzymology. Dawkins, Richard. In the book Breaking the Spell Dennett examines religious beliefs from an evolutionary point of view as social adaptations that conveyed selective advantages to the species. Nehru enjoyed the honorific title of “Scholar” and despite his family’s Hindi religious background, was an atheist. A collection of essays by philosophers and theologians defending the rationality of theistic belief from the attacks of the New Atheists and others. The New Atheists and Old Testament Ethics,” Philosophia Christi 10:1, 2008, pp. His most famous case was the defense of Tennessee teacher John Scopes in the “Monkey Trial” against the state law that barred the teaching of evolution. Francis Harry Compton Crick [1916-2004] is best known as the co-discoverer of the structure of DNA. Dawkins argues that the “God Hypothesis,” the claim that there exists a superhuman, supernatural intelligence who deliberately designed and created the universe, is “founded on local traditions of private revelation rather than evidence” (2006, pp. Political philosopher and social psychologist, John Locke was an outspoken supporter of equal rights within a governed society. Hume: A Very Short Introduction Jean-Jacques Rousseau Genevan (1712-1778) Jean-Jacques Rousseau was an important figure in the Romantic movement and made key contriutions to educational and political theory. Their conclusion is that science fails to show that there is a God and even supports the claim that such a being probably does not exist. An even bigger fortune was made later by Shannon and colleague Ed Thorp when they applied the same theory (later known as the Kelly criterion) to the stock market. He produced the opera Friedenstag in 1938, a thinly veiled criticism of the Third Reich. Finally, as regards ethics, critics argue that a problem with the New Atheists biological answer to the philosophical question concerning the ontological ground of the universal moral standard is that it could only explain what causes moral behavior; it can’t also account for what makes moral principles true. The New Atheists’ conclusion that belief in God is unjustified follows, then, from their addition of the claim that there is inadequate scientific evidence for God’s existence (and even adequate scientific evidence for God’s non-existence). He married Margrit, the sister of fellow Nobel laureate Eugene Wigner, in 1937. Dennett, Daniel. Related topics. He espoused the natural rights of man, namely the right to life, liberty and property, and he articulated that every government’s purpose is to secure these rights for its nationals. Harris summarizes their view by saying that as a biological phenomenon, religion is the product of cognitive processes that have deep roots in our evolutionary past. Copan, Paul. Steven Weinberg [b. Though it is difficult to find a careful and precise definition of “faith” in the writings of the New Atheists, it is possible to glean a general characterization of this cognitive attitude from various things they say about it. 1941] is the most prominent scientific atheist in the world today, and was the Simonyi Professor for the Public Understanding of Science at Oxford until his retirement in 2008. He further wrote for and appeared in Monty Python’s Flying Circus, and counted Pink Floyd guitarist David Gilmour among his closest friends. A criticism of the New Atheists by an atheist. At the heart of his argument is the claim that any God capable of designing a universe must be a supremely complex and improbable entity who needs an even bigger explanation than the one the existence of such a God is supposed to provide. Alan Mathison Turing [1912-1954] was a mathematician, logician, computer scientist and cryptanalyst from England. Objectivism is particularly prized by dedicated capitalists and economists and underpins much of the wider free-thought movement. He describes himself as religiously agnostic. With respect to epistemology, critics point out that the New Atheist assumption that religious faith is irrational is at odds with a long philosophical history in the West that often characterizes faith as rational. He adopted her two children and the couple had two more. On the matter of religion, Crick once said, “Christianity may be okay between consenting adults in private, but should not be taught to young children.” In his book Of Molecules and Men he expressed his strong views on the relationship between science and religion. A typical case for this claim appeals to the atrocities perpetrated by people like Hitler and Stalin. Douglas Noel Adams [1952-2001] was an English writer, dramatist and musician, best known for his Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy series. She married socialite businessman Ludlow Ogden Smith in 1928, but divorced six years later. 1949) Barker, a former Protestant minister, is a jazz pianist, composer, author, … The two became friends while working on a mainframe during the summer of 1970. Peter Ware Higgs [b. 1942] is the Lucasian Professor of Mathematics at Cambridge, a position once held by Sir Isaac Newton. His popular science books and articles combine explaining science in the added context of history, philosophy of science, and atheism. Clarence Seward Darrow [1857-1938] was an American lawyer, a leading member of the ACLU and a notable defense attorney. He argues that faith in what religious believers take to be God’s will as revealed in God’s book inevitably leads to immoral behaviors of these sorts. In spite of their different approaches and occupations (only Dennett is a professional philosopher), the New Atheists tend to share a general set of assumptions and viewpoints. A defense of the God and ethics of the Old Testament against the New Atheists’ criticisms of them. David Sloan Wilson [b. His views also contributed to the development of the idea of “Memes” that Richard Dawkins made famous in his writings. Dawkins labels his argument for God’s non-existence “the Ultimate Boeing 747 gambit,” because he thinks that God’s existence is at least as improbable as the chance that a hurricane, sweeping through a scrap yard, would have the luck to assemble a Boeing 747 (an image that he borrows from Fred Hoyle, who used it for a different purpose). he has almost no neuromuscular control and must communicate via a speech synthesizer. Answer from Skeptics: Atheists and other skeptics demand no more nor less evidence for the existence of the Christian god, Yahweh/the resurrected Jesus Christ, than we do for the existence of the Loch Ness Monster, the Abominable Snow Man, and Bigfoot. It isoften defined as “the belief that God exists”, but here“belief” means “something believed”. Harris is explicit about placing the blame for these evils on faith, defined as unfounded belief. Richard Phillips Feynman [1918-1988] contributed much to the development of quantum mechanics, including what became known as Feynman diagrams, the path integral formulation, the theory of quantum electrodynamics [QED], the physics supercooled liquid helium’s superfluidity, and the parton model of particle physics. 10 Interesting Facts About the State of Alabama, 50 Amazing Facts About Outer Space and Earth, The 50 Most Brilliant Atheists of All Time. During the Nazi period he was appointed president of the German State Music Bureau and composed the theme song for the infamous 1936 Summer Olympics in Berlin. “Is Yahweh a Moral Monster? “There is nothing behind the curtains of religions, people put there whatever their imaginations can … He was locked in a hotel suite by his editor for three weeks to force him to complete his book So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish, he was a bit notorious for his deadline difficulties. Prominent atheists are getting the word out about their views in increasing numbers and generating lots of public debate on the proper place of religion in governments and share societies in the modern world. He is also known for his controversial positions on issues like eugenics and euthanasia. Which modern philosophers profess an atheist personalism? 1930] is an American businessman and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway rated by Forbes as the richest person in the world (in the first half of 2008, before the Wall Street meltdown). For his part, Dennett implies that belief in God cannot be reasonable because the concept of God is too radically indeterminate for the sentence “God exists” to express a genuine proposition. Wilson, who describes himself as a “nice atheist,” views religions as a sort of mega-trait that evolved because it conferred advantages on believers. 1943] was expected by his family to become a teacher, like his father and grandfather, but what he really loved to do was sing. His increasing popularity as a proponent of atheism have made him a popular speaker at freethought, atheist and humanist events. 1929] is a theoretical physicist and emeritus professor at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland. He displayed distinct signs of genius early in his life, solving advanced problems without having studied elementary calculus. And now more than ever, atheists have been able to network together and join forces because of the Internet. The Selfish Gene, 2nd ed. Compare that to what taxpayers are now paying the CEOs of failed Wall Street investment firms! A critical engagement with the arguments set out in Dawkins 2006. poet and sophist from Melos known as Diagoras the Atheist. Again, Harris’s view that our ethical intuitions have their roots in biology is representative. He earned that Ph.D. in zoology from Indiana University at the age of 22. These authors include Sam Harris, Richard Dawkins, Daniel Dennett, and Christopher Hitchens. Not bad for a fabulously wealthy, world famous economics school dropout. At the foundation of Dennett’s “proto-theory” about the origin of religion and religious belief is his appeal to the evolution in humans (and other animals) of a “hyperactive agent detection device” (HADD), which is the disposition to attribute agency—beliefs and desires and other mental states—to anything complicated that moves. The romantics, attracted by his identification of God with Nature, rescued him from oblivion. An Atheism is a brilliantly written, thoughtful book that presents the reader with the history of a modern atheism that has separated itself from humanism. Hitchens adds his own similar criticisms of both testaments in two chapters: “The Nightmare of the ‘Old’ Testament” and “The ‘New’ Testament Exceeds the Evil of the ‘Old’ One.” He also devotes a chapter to the Qur’an (as does Harris) and a section to the Book of Mormon. 7-37. He left school at 19 to follow his musical ambitions. He has also written several books about science and environmentalism, is an outspoken critic of global climate change corporate deniers and established the David Suzuki Foundation to promote sustainability. According to Harris, faith is the permission religious people give one another to believe things strongly without evidence. Atheism (or non-theism) is the belief that gods do not exist, or a complete rejection of Theism or any belief in a personal god or gods (the latter also known as antitheism).It can cover a range of both religious and nonreligious attitudes. Breaking the Spell: Religion as a Natural Phenomenon (New York: Penguin, 2006). Though he says that “Jesus is a huge improvement over the cruel ogre of the Old Testament” (Dawkins 2006, p. 25), he argues that the doctrine of atonement, “which lies at the heart of New Testament theology, is almost as morally obnoxious as the story of Abraham setting out to barbecue Isaac” (Dawkins 2006, p. 251). In 1999 the American Film Institute ranked Hepburn as cinema history’s greatest female star. Harris, Sam. For political reasons, Socrates in Athens (399 BCE) was accused of being atheos ("refusing to acknowledge the gods recognized by the state"). He celebrates the liberation of human beings from ignorance due to the growing and assumedly limitless capacity of science to explain the universe and everything in it. Zuckerberg launched Facebook from his Harvard dorm room in 2004. The Reason for God: Belief in God in an Age of Skepticism (New York: Dutton, 2007). Monod wrote the book Chance and Necessity in 1970, which became a popular primer on the relationship between the roles of random chance and adaptation in biological evolution and provided much ammunition to the atheist community by proposing that the natural sciences revealed an entirely purposeless world that undermines the traditional claims of the world’s religions. In Roger Lowenstein’s 1995 biography Buffett: The Making of an American Capitalist, he is described and non-religious. Christian Humanism is thus a product of Renaissance Humanism and is an expression of the religious rather than the secular aspects of that European movement. In Western classical Antiquity, theism was the fundamental belief that supported the legitimacy of the state (the polis, later the Roman Empire). His mother was an intellectual noted for translating Ibsen’s A Doll’s House into the Tamil language. They draw on science for recommended alternatives to religion. A scientific case against the existence of God by a physicist who also taught philosophy and who is often classified as a New Atheist. On his views of religion, Chomsky said in a Common Sense interview in 2002, “…if you ask me whether or not I’m an atheist, I wouldn’t even answer. Absolutely not… The biggest advantage to believing in God is you don’t have to understand anything, no physics, no biology. Born Sigismund Schlomo Freud [1856-1939], Freud was an Austrian psychiatrist founded the psychoanalytic school of psychology. Atheism & Religion Infographics (1) Atheist Comics Strips - Atheist Image Collection (44) Atheist Philosophers (24) Atheist Scientists (47) Blasphemous Art (2) Celebrity Atheists (50) Children (10) Church and State (11) Famous Atheists (136) Famous Quotes (18) Hitchens says that religious faith is ultimately grounded in wishful thinking. The New Atheists make substantial use of the natural sciences in both their criticisms of theistic belief and in their proposed explanations of its origin and evolution. At the age of 16 he encountered Einstein’s work and extrapolated it to question Newton’s laws of motion from a text in which this challenge was not made explicit. His 2008 book Doctor Who: The Writer’s Tale is a collection of autobiographical emails between Davies and journalist Benjamin Cook that has been described as “…a funny, revealing insight into the workings of the genius” behind the beloved Doctor Who. By 1962 he’d earned a private pilot’s license and began offering aerial tours of Olduvai. The New Atheism: Taking a Stand for Science and Reason (Amherst: Prometheus Books, 2009). Woz calls himself “atheist or agnostic,” in that he says he doesn’t know the difference between the designations. His father was a government worker and accomplished violinist who wrote several books on musicology. Linus Carl Pauling [1901-1994] was one of the most influential chemists in history as well as one of the most important scientists of the 20th century – or, according to Gautam Desiraju who wrote the Millennium Essay in the journal Nature, one of the greatest thinkers and visionaries of the last thousand years. But there are atheists in all walks of life and throughout history as well. November 16, 2013 in Meaning, Memes, Philosophy, Religion. The New Atheists counter the claim that religion makes people good by listing numerous examples of the preceding sort in which religion allegedly makes people bad. The first and most ancient of recognized atheists must include a 5th century b.c.e. He generated some controversy with A Scientific Dissent from Darwinism, taking issue with the gradualism and reductionism of orthodox neodarwinists. If his predicted Higgs particle the field boson imparting mass to matter – is discovered as expected by the Large Hadron Collider at CERN and he is still alive, Higgs is expected to receive the Nobel Prize in physics within the year. Foster is an atheist who celebrates both Christmas and Hannukah with her two sons, and claims great respect for all religions. Ask Question Asked 1 year, 5 months ago. Dennett adds that when an event is sufficiently puzzling, our “weakness for certain sorts of memorable combos” cooperates with our HADD to constitute “a kind of fiction-generating contraption” that hypothesizes the existence of invisible and even supernatural agents (2006, pp. Contending with Christianity’s Critics (Nashville, Tenn.: Broadman and Holman, 2009). What science will show about religious belief, they claim, is that this belief can be explained as a product of biological evolution. Email: In 1973 he proposed a modification of the Standard Model of physics did not predict the Higgs, but there is as yet no consensus. Shannon and his wife Betty put their collective mathematical and analytical abilities together in a game theory for many successful visits to the gaming tables in Las Vegas and made a fortune. Avram Noam Chomsky [b. Another example of an ‘unorthodox’ philosopher, Chalmers too belongs to the New York University crew of star philosophers, but also teaches at the Australian National University. Indeed, three of the New Atheists (Harris, Dawkins, and Hitchens) are quite explicit in their moral condemnation of religious people on the ground that religious beliefs and practices have had significant and predominately negative consequences. 1940] is an American physicist specializing in string theory and quantum field theory. Criticisms have been raised about a number of the New Atheists claims mentioned above. 1933] is an American physicist best known for his work on unification of electromagnetism and the weak force, for which he shared the Nobel Prize in physics in 1979. For the rest of her life Rand lectured and wrote about objectivism, which she termed “a philosophy for living on earth.” All of the books Rand published during her lifetime are still in print, and her philosophy is still taught at many major universities as one of the most important philosophical movements in the modern world. 1984] is an American computer programmer named by Time Magazine as one of the World’s Most Influential People in 2008 for his development of the internet application Facebook. Finally, the challenges to religion posed by the New Atheists have also prompted a number of seminars and conferences. She began her career as a child star who later made the transition to adult stardom and expanded from there to produce some of the most popular and thought-provoking films of the last decades. God: The Failed Hypothesis. These authors include Sam Harris, Richard Dawkins, Daniel Dennett, and Christopher Hitchens. Jawaharlal Nehru [1889-1964] was a follower of Mahatma Gandhi, Nehru rose to leadership of the Indian National Congress at a young age in part due to his charisma and advocacy of complete Indian independence from the British Empire. Moreover, they think that it is possible to live a satisfying non-religious life on the basis of secular morals and scientific discoveries. Paul Zachary Myers [b. 1957], better known as “PZ,” is an evolutionary developmental biologist and professor of biology at the University of Minnesota, Morris. Here’s a look at 50 of the most prominent atheists of all time who also happen to be recognized as some of the most brilliant members of our species. Theodorus the Atheist from Cyrene lived around 300 b.c.e. Dawkins is less committed to this specific hypothesis than he is to the general hypothesis, and he is open to other specific hypotheses of the same kind. His work in television began in 1970 with the weekly children’s series, Suzuki on Science, going on to host CBC’s The Nature of Things and the acclaimed PBS series A Planet for the Taking. Historically, any person who did not believe in any deity supported by the state was fair game to accusations of atheism, a capital crime. One of only 4 individuals ever to have won solo Nobel Prizes in separate and unrelated fields – for chemistry in 1954, and the Nobel Peace Prize for his tireless campaign against atmospheric nuclear bomb testing in 1962. Though a critic of the deterministic view of human behavior and society, he contributed much to expanding upon the mechanisms of natural evolution. The “New Atheist” label for these critics of religion and religious belief emerged out of journalistic commentary on the contents and impacts of their books. Daniel Clement Dennett [b. An explanation and defense of biological evolution by natural selection that focuses on the gene. And I think that’s why he looked so unbelievable.” Lee had majored in philosophy at the University of Washington and kept an extensive library of philosophy. What emerged from his resolution is a view he calls “biological naturalism” – that consciousness is real, caused by the physical processes of the brain. Perhaps the simplest definition of modern Christian Humanism is the attempt develop a human-centered philosophy of ethics and social action within a framework of Christian principles. He became a National Research Fellow at the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton, and worked freely across disciplines with other notable scientists to shape the ideas that became information theory. 1963] is a Welsh writer and producer of the modern version of the popular science fiction television series Doctor Who. George Denis Patrick Carlin [1937-2008] was one of the most popular and controversial comedians during his lifetime, having won five Grammy awards for his comedy albums. Each of the New Atheists recommends or at least alludes to a non-religious means of personal fulfillment and even collective well-being. He also wrote three episodes of the BBC series Doctor Who for his friend Russell T Davies and served as script editor during the seventh season. 31-32). Watson began his Ph.D. research with Salvador Luria, who later earned his own Nobel for work with Max Delbruck on phages. In2006 Dawkins founded the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science, and in 2007 founded the atheist “Out” campaign, and in 2008 he supported the Atheist Bus Campaign, Britain’s first atheist advertising blitz. Harris advocates a “spirituality” that involves meditation leading to happiness through an eradication of one’s sense of self. A defense of religion against the New Atheists’ arguments by a philosopher-theologian. He is Felix Bloch professor of theoretical physics at Stanford. Reason, Faith, and Revolution: Reflections on the God Debate (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2009). Given this, Dennett questions whether any of the people who claim to believe in God actually do believe God exists. In a 2007 interview upon his induction into the Academy of Achievement for his contributions to paleoanthropology and environmentalism he said, “I simply would not accede to being forced into this, and would frequently be kept out of classes because of irreverent comments and mocking this religious stuff. He was most noted for his focus on psychology, religion, the English language and any other subject that might shock and delight his audiences. It’s so boring.” In the end, he died after surgery for only one of them. But in his autobiography he stated, “At the age of eighteen, …I read Mill’s Autobiography, where I found a sentence to the effect that his father taught him the question “Who made me?” cannot be answered, since it immediately suggests the further question “Who made God?” This led me to abandon the “First Cause” argument, and to become an atheist.”. 1954] is an experimental psychologist and cognitive scientist best known for his advocacy of evolutionary psychology and the computational theory of mind. Copan, Paul and William Lane Craig, eds. Steven Arthur Pinker [b. He describes the human mind as a sort of Swiss Army knife that comes with specialized tools designed to deal with problems our Pleistocene ancestors encountered. Also a prolific writer, he has also become famous for being an outspoken political dissident, anarchist, humanist freethinker and libertarian socialist. He explored this theme in his book, Darwin’s Cathedral: Evolution, Religion and the Nature of Society. He wrote many books on the subjects of wealth and its responsibilities, on social issues and on political philosophy. He had an elaborate system for interpretation of dreams as indicators of unconscious desires, and did early neurological research on cerebral palsy. He developed ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease) in graduate school in Cambridge and has survived with the condition longer than was thought possible. He is a best-selling author of popular science books as well as a popular speaker. Theodorus taught that the aim of human life was to obtain joy and avoid grief, and that joy comes through prudence while grief arises from folly. Born in 341 b.c.e. He suffered more than 30 operations for oral cancer in his late life, and convinced his physician friend Max Schur to assist his suicide in 1939. Stephen Gary “Woz” Wozniak [b. “I am an atheist and that’s it. Harris also hints at reasons to deny God’s existence by pointing to unexplained evil and “unintelligent design” in the world. Whereas the former categorization suggests that Dawkins thinks that faith is necessarily non-rational or even irrational, the latter description seems to imply that faith is merely contingently at odds with rationality. In his off time he took to being a pick-up singer in London’s club scene, developing a small fan following even though he had no formal musical training. Is this purely becasue of modern natural science and empirical inquiry into areas such as metaphysics, phil of mind, ethics etc. The New Atheists are authors of early twenty-first century books promoting atheism. Ayn Rand [1905-1982] was a Russian-born writer who emigrated to the U.S. in 1925. He was dubbed the “Great Explainer” for two masterful lecture series on physics at Cal Tech (which were later turned into the books Six Easy Pieces and Six Not So Easy Pieces. Cicero wrote that one of Diagoras’ friends tried to convince him that the gods did exist by citing the many people saved from storms by their pleas to their favorite gods, to which Diagoras was purported to reply, “there are nowhere any pictures of those who have been shipwrecked and drowned at sea.”. He was banished from Cyrene in his early years, and moved to Athens to become a follower of the younger Aristippus. A fan of the good doctor since childhood, his writing and direction of the new series has won critical acclaim and a new generation of fans. He also introduced in an HBO special the “Two Commandments,” a condensed version of the ten ending with one additional commandment, “Thou Shalt keep thy religiion to thyself.”. Harris, Dawkins, and Hitchens each construct a case for the claim that no alleged written divine revelation could have a divine origin. Noting a potential fossil bed, he went back with an associate of his father’s and was given the funding for a month’s dig. He was an important figure in the early development of the scientific methodology, insisting that nothing which cannot be tested through direct observation and defended through logical deduction should be believed. It was in this service that he was sent as an ambassador to Lysimachus, who became offended by Theodorus’ free speech as a lack of respect and decorum. Dennett’s popular work in philosophy of mind and cognitive science, the books Content and Consciousness and Consciousness Explained reflect an expansive and detailed development of his philosophical ideas that have generated some heated debates among his peers. He developed two rare forms of cancer late in his life, complaining that, “I’d hate to die twice. This Western Philosophical tradition can be said to begin with Augustine and to include a number of prominent Western philosophers up to the present (including Anselm, Aquinas, Descartes, Pascal, and more recently, Alvin Plantinga and Richard Swinburne). Conversations about the New Atheists’ stances and rationales have also taken place in the form of debates between Harris, Dawkins, Hitchens, and Dennett and defenders of religious belief and religion such as Dinesh D’Souza, who has published his own defense of Christianity in response to the New Atheists’ arguments. He has been called “Darwin’s Rottweiler” in the press for his strong support of evolution by natural selection. Strauss was dubious of all religion, except perhaps the religion of reason. He designed the gold plaque attached to the Pioneer 10 and 11 spacecraft, a message that could be understood by an extraterrestrial intelligence that encountered it. Noted as a skeptic who advocated for humanist ideals, the public considered him an atheist. “I mean, he probably had one of the lowest body fat counts of any athlete. Wozniak is a committed philanthropist, funding various educational projects, and has even taught fifth graders. This moral component sets them apart from other prominent historical atheists such as Nietzsche and Sartre, and it plays a pivotal role in their arguments because it is used to conclude that religion is bad in various ways, although Dennett is more reserved than the other three. Moreover, given the New Atheist epistemological assumptions (and their consequences for religious epistemology), some criticism of their views has included questions about whether their reliance on empirical science is scientifically justified and whether there is adequate evidence to support their thesis of evidentialism. Despite his ideas falling out of favor or being modified in later years, his methodology and theoretics continue to exert influence in the humanities and some social sciences. In his 1949 speech, “Am I an Atheist or an Agnostic?” Russell admitted that he could not prove the non-existence of God any more than he could prove the non-existence of the Homeric gods. A case for the irrationality and immoral consequences of religious belief that draws primarily on evolutionary biology. The New Atheists are authors of early twenty-first century books promoting atheism. In 2005, Davies was tapped to write and produce a more adult spinoff called Torchwood, which featured darker science fiction drama and more sex and which Davies described as “The X-Files meets This Life.” Davies was named the most influential gay person in Britain in 2006, spent several years on the top 100 list of influential media figures, and was named an Officer of the Order of the British Empire in 2008. God is Great, God is Good: Why Believing in God is Reasonable and Responsible (Grand Rapids: InterVarsity Press, 2009). He was the first and longest serving Prime Minister of an Independent India from 1947 to 1964. He was a capable student and went to the London School of Economics on scholarship. Harris’s articulation of the nature of faith is closer to Dawkins’ earlier view. Theism, in turn, is best understood as a proposition—something that is either true or false. The close association between atheism and materialism is evident in Christopher Hitchens’ edited volume The Portable Atheist: Essential Readings for the Nonbeliever which includes as its first entry a collection of excerpts from the great Roman philosopher Lucretius’ magisterial two thousand-year-old poetic work De Rerum Natura (On the Nature of Things). Her first play, Night of January 16th, was produced in Hollywood and then on Broadway. When asked why … PZ Myers has become the leader of the science-focused online atheist movement and his brilliance as an atheist might be said to be the remarkable success he has had in this position. “He adopted his father’s ethical underpinnings, but not his belief in an unseen divinity.”. Hitchens hints at his own source of secular satisfaction by claiming that the natural is wondrous enough for anyone. As a note of clarification: we’ve ordered this list chronologically and we use the term “brilliant” to mean “brilliant at their craft” – not just pure brainiacs;-).

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