Beyond Disbelief: preliminary report

Posted on September 24, 2010

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Not long ago I placed on this blog information about a web survey of nonbelievers that was carried out by a couple of academics from the University of Waterloo. The results are now in and Cheyne and Britton have produced a preliminary report that makes for interesting reading. I quote just the final paragraph as it seems particularly condign:

Consistent with the role of epistemic values, several of the characteristics of our respondents are consistent with those of the new atheists that have been characterized as “scientistic.” Scientism is typically used as a term of abuse, applied to those who, in the view of one who uses the term, overextend the domain of science. The new atheists would argue, however, that the general tendency of science has ever been to extend its border and is, in the view of these same people, on the point of eliminating them altogether. The new atheism is founded on a scientism describable as naturalism without borders. NwB appears to aspire to do the equivalent of erasing from those old maps the words “hic sunt dracones.” The current, and perhaps last, dragon for the new atheists and, apparently, for many of our respondents, is religion.

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