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US: “My hand’s up, sir! Over here, sir!”

May 20, 2012
Me, sir! Pick me!

Me, sir! Pick me!

As a Templeton-funded researcher into the origins of religion, David Sloan Wilson gets all upset when the teachers won’t call on him…

Whenever New Atheists make claims about religion as a human phenomenon, their claims should respect the authority of empirical evidence. Insofar as the new discipline of ERS has added to empirical knowledge of religion, the New Atheists should be paying close attention to ERS. This is especially true for Richard Dawkins and Daniel Dennett, whose names are so closely associated with evolution….

No one would be happier than me to discover that the New Atheists are basing their activist agenda on the best current knowledge of religion as a human phenomenon. But if this is not the case — if New Atheists are portraying religion any way they please by selectively quoting scientific hypotheses — then they’re no better than bible thumpers.

If  New Atheists depict religion ‘any way they please’ it’s because theists are notoriously bad at defining (and defending) what they believe. Any theist who objects is free to try and come up with a plausible definition of religion that they can defend. So far nobody has succeeded in doing so.

But Wilson’s studies into how religion may have originated are entirely irrelevant to whether or not its claims are true, just as whether a cake was baked in an oven or a microwave is entirely irrelevant to whether or not it contains cyanide.

Huffington Post blog

Thanks to Why Evolution is True for the tip.

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