Monday, July 13, 2009

The Only Way of Knowing? Who Says?

What's that mustached guy think he's doing in that church?

No sooner had I juxtaposed “anti-theist” with “crypto-fascists” than I saw this entry on Larry Moran’s anti-theist blog. As far as Larry is concerned religion is not just non-science, but does in fact conflict with science; anyone who claims there is no conflict is derisively referred to as an “accommodationist”. I suspect there is little point in trying to engage Larry on questions related to aseity, ontological complexity, epistemological tractability, meta science and the question of the excluded middle between law and disorder. However, I would be the first to admit that science is the only epistemology in the public domain with social authority. But I certainly wouldn’t claim that its formal law court type methods are the only way of acquiring knowledge, especially when it comes to the vexed questions of world views and source ontology. With the latter methods are far more informal and proprietary. What I find sinister is that Larry seems to go as far as suggesting that formal science is the only way of knowing, else why would he get so uptight about extra-curricular claims to knowledge? True, science is the only publicly authoritative way of knowing just as the courts are the only authoritative way of settling legal cases. But like other anti-theists Larry tries to draw a line round the whole of rationality rather than drawing a line within it. His theory of necessary conflict thus sets science’s authority on a collision course with private knowledge. This is blatant intellectual hegemony. What makes this doubly sinister is that science’s public domain authority is being used to apply a kind of intellectual duress on people, perhaps not unlike what was once seen in the Soviet Union. In this context science’s authority has the potential to be abused as a tool to transgress human rights.

All this makes my rather tongue in cheek remark about “crypto-fascists” just a little too close to the mark for comfort.

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