On the Dangers of Inflation

by Eric Steinhart

It’s been great to get feedback from so many readers! I appreciate the time and effort you’ve taken here.

One shared concern is that I’m trying to compel people to believe some abstruse doctrine.

I’m not — at least not yet!

All I’ve said so far is that an atheist has no reason to object to evolutionary metaphysics.

If you’re a certain sort of naturalist, materialist, or empiricist, then you might object to evolutionary metaphysics.
(And your objections might be very good indeed.)

But if you’re an atheist, then you’ve got no reason to object to evolutionary metaphysics.

I’m merely illustrating one of my major complaints about atheists: they confuse their atheism with other philosophical positions.

Atheism does not imply naturalism, or materialism, or empiricism.

Now, I did give a little argument for evolutionary metaphysics. But only because I always want to give some reasons for what I say.
Thus, the evolutionary metaphysics surely is not an unmotivated or reasonless story.

Are the reasons good enough for you to believe it?

Of course not: my little argument isn’t sufficient. But other arguments can be advanced in support of my evolutionary metaphysics.

Over the coming days, I’ll hope to present at least an outline of the logic.

Thanks again for your interest!

  • Daniel Fincke

    For the record, the objections you mentioned here are not the ones I have been raising. Mine are different and more modest and compatible with everything you just said.

    My problem is not that you ask people to accept an abstruse doctrine, it’s that you in places have equated not having speculative metaphysical positions with being a person of faith in a far-overreaching false equivalence.

    My other problem is not that you ask atheists to consider metaphysical solutions to problems, it’s that you want to replace the term atheist with “evolutionist” or “evolver” and have us stress as our key point of contrast with the theist that we think evolution can do everything God is supposed to do.

    Even if you can make a compelling case for that last position it is public relations suicide to make that the central point of our atheism, to elevate it to doctrine and identity forming status, and to assent to such a metaphysics more strongly than its speculative evidence warrants(and thereby turn a possibly good metaphysics into a faith unnecessarily).

  • http://www.ericsteinhart.com Eric Steinhart

    It sounds like you’re confusing atheism with skepticism. Skepticism may entail atheism, but atheism does not entail skepticism.

    Skepticism itself can easily look like mere faith in the purely critical power of reason. And thus a personal commitment to skepticism would be a faith-based identity. No wonder atheism looks like a religion!

    • Daniel Fincke

      Please define “the purely critical power of reason”, “faith” and what it means to “have faith in the purely critical power of reason”.

      Yes, atheism does not necessarily entail skepticism. It is possible that some atheist overly believe in all sorts of fantastic things despite disbelieving in gods. But the kind of atheism that has standing as superior to the dominant world religions in matters of knowledge is the kind that takes a principled stand of proportioning belief to evidence. That’s skepticism but of a rationally proper proportion, not any form of radicalism or overconfidence in reason’s powers.

  • http://nojesusnopeas.blogspot.com James Sweet

    Eric, I think I see the point you are trying to make here, and I’d like you to read this quickly, and then if you have the time, ‘Like’ the Facebook page Grief Beyond Belief and try to find and read the post(s) I am referring to.

    We’re struggling to figure out just how big our tent is here, and there are significant emotional ramifications of that. It’s true that the recent “gnu” movement associated with atheism entails more (and maybe less, too!) than the strict dictionary definition of “atheist”. But it is in many ways a coherent movement — a movement whose main tenets are: “Don’t tell me fairy tales (even if I have my own I tell myself)” and “No idea is immune to criticism once put forward in the public square.” You are right that, if one wants to get technical, that position is orthogonal to atheism/theism.

    Which is why the term “New Atheist” or “Gnu Atheist” has developed. There’s more going on here than just a lack of belief in gods, and if the point you are trying to make is that we haven’t found a good way of defining what we are about yet, all I can say is, “No shit.”

    Frankly, what I find far more baffling than the atheists-who-are-not-skeptics (like my spirit-believing friend there) are the skeptics-who-are-not-atheists. Or-at-least-deists. Seriously?!? Have you looked outside, or at the news lately? Have you noticed how, like, nothing’s fucking magic? Boggles the mind, really… but I guess some people have good experiences in the religions they are raised as a child, go figure. Have at it, I guess, but don’t get mad when we point out your beliefs are pretty silly! heh…

  • http://atheistreadsbible.blogspot.com/ Jude

    I hate it when other people tell me what label to apply to myself and what that label means. I can decide for myself.

    • Daniel Fincke

      Jude writes,

      I hate it when other people tell me what label to apply to myself and what that label means. I can decide for myself.

      Don’t conflate thinking or deciding for oneself with thinking or deciding by oneself. There is no a priori reason to be hostile to others offering reasons for you to label yourself one way rather than another as long as they do not coerce you.