Remember Alex Rosenberg, the professor we quoted last Sunday to the effect that our brains just didn’t evolve in such a way as to understand that atheism is true? Here’s more from the 2012 interview at Talking Philosophy interview:
You assert that “science’s description of the world is correct in its fundamentals; and that when ‘complete’ what science tells us will not be surprisingly different from what it tells us today.” Perhaps you could say something about those fundamentals, why you think they are unassailable and how much can be derived from them?
I argue in The Atheist’s Guide that all the science we need to answer the “persistent questions” that keep most thoughtful people up at night, are physics’ rejection of final causes, entelechies, prior designs in nature, along with the 2d law of thermodynamics. Those two are enough to give us natural selection, and together with them it is enough to solve all the other problems most people have about reality, the meaning of life, the nature of the mind, free will, ethics and the trajectory of human history.
But these established parts of science are of course not enough to answer all the scientific questions about these matters. To answer the questions of science (quite different from the limited questions of philosophy that people commonly ask themselves and their religious “advisers”) requires all the rest of science, including the parts that are still subject to development, change, revision, and even in a few cases, revolution. But nothing at the frontiers of any science is going to overturn the 2d law of thermodynamics, natural selection or the basic molecular biology of the neuron.
Is the fallibility of science a weakness in your argument or one of its strengths?
Science is common sense recursively reconstructing itself. The reconstruction reflects the fallibility of common sense. Insistence by science on the tentativeness of its results at its ever-shifting research frontier, is what gives us confidence that after repeated test the parts most distant from that frontier are unlikely to be called into question.
So, science is fallible, with an ever-shifting frontier but nothing will overturn current insights which contain enough information to answer most key questions? Hmmm.
Science is fallible and changes a lot, but it is a reliable guide to truth? Well, that would make truth fallible and inclined to change a lot too. Increasing numbers of people, it seems do think that way, but it’s unclear how it could possibly be an advance in clarity of thought.