Are the New Atheists Suffering From the Dunning-Kruger Effect?

That's the question Philip Jensen asks. Jensen opines regarding Richard Dawkins:
[T]he less competent you are the more confident you are likely to be. To launch out on a world-wide campaign on subjects over which you know little and have researched less – to say nothing of intentionally not studying because you do not believe – is less than acceptable as genuine public debate or academic discussion, to say nothing of failing in the art of war.
Victor Reppert links to this and said, "Oh, I forgot. It's just believers who suffer from cognitive pathologies." Sarcasm with a point, right? Well then, what does Vic say about the real impact of the Dunning-Kruger Effect?

I commented as follows:
Vic, given this propensity of ours and the number of religions in the world compared with the number of settled results from science, what is YOUR proposal for overcoming this malaise? That is the question. My solution is to trust the results of science. What's yours, faith? No seriously, what is your solution?
Vic responded. Notice what he says about science:
The sciences get results within a certain framework of operation. So even if we decide to trust science, how are we nonscientists supposed to figure out what is really well-established by science and what is not?

At the very least we have to be skeptical when something shows up with scientific packaging on it. People have been taken by all sorts of things they thought were supported by science when they really weren't.

There's no safety in uncritically "following science." That is not a substitute for thinking.

Atheism doesn't provide immunity from either the cognitive ills or the moral ills of the human race. If you think it does, then you just bought some oceanfront property in Arizona, not to mention bridges in the states of California and New York. You can say you're from Missouri, but you're still gullible.

In psychology, back when I was an undergraduate, we were consistently told that to have a truly scientific view of human though had to embrace behaviorism. Now Skinner and friends have been moved to the Olde Curiosity Shoppe of discarded ideas.

Now, any doubts about orthodox Darwinian biology are sufficient to get yourself condemened as a "creationist" (the scientific equivalent of "heretic).
Does his response not sound utterly ignorant about science to anyone else but me? To my knowledge Vic has never read one book I've recommended and I've recommended many of them. He should read and digest Mike Mcrae's book Tribal Science: Brains, Beliefs, and Bad Ideas.That should bring him up to speed about science. So long as he refuses to read it he'll continue being ignorant about science. Or he can read Victor Stenger's book, God and the Folly of Faith: The Incompatibility of Science and Religion. There are many more. But no, this isn't his expertise. He's a philosopher, a scientifically uninformed Christian philosopher, a breed I have little respect for.

So, how are we nonscientists supposed to figure it out? The most important way to do this is to understand how science works. Science works based on the evidence and the evidence has a way of changing minds eventually. So we must understand the scientific method which tests hypotheses against the evidence. To anyone who wonders about science then all you need to do is look at its results. Touch the cover of the massive book, The New York Public Library Science Desk Reference.If you want to know whether you can trust science then look at the scientific consensus in a vast number of areas. To continue pointing to the disagreements among those scientists who operate on the cutting edges of science is nearsighted and ignorant. In every era there have been these debates on the cutting edges of science. Believers need to understand this. But eventually the evidence brought about an overwhelming consensus on those issues. Based on this track record we should expect that a consensus on the current debates will be arrived at in the future as well. At least, if there is to be a consensus then it is science, not theology, that will produce it.

Believers cannot successfully rail against the evidence or the method of science, try as they might. They point out that science has not always led to correct conclusions, and that is correct. They point out that as human beings with passion and agendas that scientists are not completely objective, and that too is correct. They point out that science does not arrive at certain conclusions, and that too is correct. What they fail to understand is that science advances knowledge whereas faith has no method and has repeatedly hindered its advances. In response, theology has repeatedly been revised because of this advancement. Christians no longer believe hell is located in the belly of the earth. They no longer believe the six days of creation are to be taken literally. They no longer believe Yahweh lives in a castle above the firmament. Some of them no longer believe the Canaanite holocaust took place because of archeology. The list goes on and on, depending on the believer. Liberals have taken this kind of scientific evidence seriously and they accept the overwhelming evidence for evolution along with the deconstruction of the Bible due to biblical criticism.

Now I want everyone to notice Vic's lack of a solution to the Dunning-Kruger Effect:
My claim is not "trust religion." It is that we have to put ideas to the test, as opposed to the wholesale acceptance of anything that has scientific packaging on it.
Put ideas to the test, eh? As opposed to a wholesale acceptance of anything that has scientific packaging on it, eh?

Presumably, and Vic can correct me, he accepts scientific testing up until the point where it shows his theology is wrong. So, although every scientific study on petitionary prayer shows that it works no better than chance, he can still believe prayer works. And even though the overwhelming scientific consensus accepts evolution he can deny it in favor of what some pre-scientific superstitious people said in a book of sacred writings as interpreted by pre-Darwinian exegetes (or close to it).

We are now at the end of this long century and a half debate and the consensus is in, evolution is a fact. The implications for theology are enormous, including but not limited to Reppert's own "Argument From Reason." If scientists are not always dispassionate and objective about the evidence then how much more so is Reppert? Faith is almost certainly not objective with the evidence. In the hands of the apologist, faith will cause him to distort or the deny the evidence so many times it can only be described as delusional. There is no comparison, no parity, when it comes to faith as compared to the scientific consensus, none at all. In fact theology, by it's very nature, since it's based on faith, produces more diversity rather than a consensus. All one needs to do is look at the religious diversity in this world, and a great place to start is with Bill Maher's Religulous,and Roger Nygard's The Nature of Existence.

It's only a matter of time before Reppert's own students who follow in his footsteps in becoming Christian philosophers will say he was ignorant, just as Reppert himself says that pre-Copernican cosmology was ignorant. Given the present scientific consensus on evolution and the number of theologians who now embrace it, including evangelicals like Bruce Waltke and Randal Rauser, this will happen. Reppert cannot suggest that perhaps in the future evolution will be overturned, since that is an utterly unfounded faith statement. Sure, it's possible, but possibilities do not count. Only probabilities do. And if it is overturned in the future it will be science, not faith, that does it.

I just don't think we should ever bet against science in favor of theology. It has a proven track record. While it has its faults and produced dead ends it will eventually succeed because, unlike theology, it's based on evidence, hard evidence. Kick against the goads all you want to Vic, but doing so is ignorant. That's what it takes to defend theology, ignorance.

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