The Arrogance of Atheism-of-the-Gaps: When the only certainty is uncertainty

Mehran Banaei

A glance at the history of science can provide a good insight to its short-lived dominant positions with respect to every scientific discipline. Sometimes the paradigm shifts were gradual; sometimes the new ideas were revolutionary and spread exponentially like wildfire, having concomitant effect on every other branch of natural and social sciences.

For instance, in cosmology throughout the centuries the scientific position moved from Aristotelian celestial motion to Ptolemaic system. The Ptolemaic geocentric model was then replaced by the Copernican Heliocentric universe, a revolutionary idea which lasted until Johanne Kepler and Isaac Newton arrived at the scene. Subsequently, the Newtonian world was superseded by the general relativity theory of Einstein. Then came the era of the static universe of Fred Hoyle which later was demolished by the Big Bang expanding universe. The Big Bang universe is now facing a few new challengers: the Multiverse Theory, String Theory, Parallel Universes, M Theory, the 11th dimensions, etc. Every time we think that we finally unveiled the secrets of the universe, we soon after come to realize that no we did not.

astron25Needless to say human knowledge in every discipline is not static, but dynamic. We understand the universe better every time we discover something new and should never feel obligated to be loyal to mistaken ideas. This is how human knowledge truly grows. Nevertheless, while self-correction of science is commendable, the arrogance and ostentatious attitude displayed by many scientists today is not. Many scientists have adopted a mind-set that they are the elite, that they know better than everyone else, that they alone can lead and we ought to follow them. Yet the perplexing question is: In this atmosphere of dominant ideas constantly being labeled as obsolete, where scientific theories merely go in and out of fashion, how did the arrogant mind-set that science knows it all develop among many scientists? The often-skipped question is, when science is unable to obtain certainty in the scientific dominion, how could it so boldly proclaim certainty in non-scientific dominion, particularly by the scientists who use scientific “certitude” to bash any ideology that allows the notion of the First Cause at its core.

If the question, who speaks for God is justified, likewise the similar question who really speaks for science is equally valid and must be addressed.

At the turn of the 20th century, it was Sigmund Freud who came with a pretentious aristocratic attitude and a sense of superiority that his bizarre ideas on human psychology are scientific and superior to every other competing theory. He supposedly used “science” to validate psychoanalysis. Using this new school of thought he subsequently tried to refute everything he disliked in psychology, sociology, anthropology and theology. Yet, it did not take very long for his psychoanalysis to be dumped in the trashcan of discarded ideas. After all, there was nothing scientific about his methodology of arriving at ideas such as “Penis Envy”, “Oedipus Complex”, interpretation of dreams or other bold claims he made in his popular books: “The Future of an Illusion”, “Civilization and its Discontents” and “Totem and Taboo”. It was Karl Popper who argued that psychoanalysis is a pseudoscience based on faith, since its claims are neither testable nor can they be falsified. Today, psychology textbooks refer to Freud, the atheist who once dominated the field of psychology just as an average Joe among many figures in the history of psychology.

From 1920s to 1960s, it was the era of logical positivism; a radical tradition asserting that all metaphysical and subjective a posteriori arguments not based on observable data are meaningless. Truth can only be determined by repeatable experimentation. The notion of the First Cause is not subject to empirical experimentation; therefore, as such God cannot exist. Hence, science rules. Everything else is of no value. The logical positivists never took a moment to reflect on their self-refuting proposal, which was not based on science, but based on a non-scientific philosophical outlook, thus having no value.

A century after Freud, comes Richard Dawkins, a new Johnny the snake-oil salesman. Dawkins a biologist with an annoying habit of getting of out biology lab to use science as a pillar of atheism in order to refute issues in philosophy, theology, morality and sociology. Teamed with group of like-minded atheist academics like Lawrence Krauss, Dawkins et al define what science is and is not. They all speak as scientists but then repeatedly get into the realm of non-science, mostly religion and the existence or non-existence of “God”. Using the premises adopted by logical positivism, they claim that the standard of proof in science is solely based on evidence not “faith” or ones opinion, however, just like Freud their supposedly scientific belief is nothing short of their own opinion far away from any evidence i.e. random mutation, the Multiverse theory.

MathCartoons1Using Darwinian evolution as the weapon of choice, these materialists make grand claims completely outside the territory of science. Any question that they are paralyzed to clarify is considered as “silly question”. They add that the issues which science today has no explanation for i.e. the origin of life could someday be adequately explained. These scientists think they are authorized to write rain-checks on behalf of science, and expect us to value their promissory notes given their abysmal credit history. Let’s say that someday science may come up with an explanation of ideas that are unexplainable today: Does this not sound like the atheism-of-the-gaps, and is it any different than the much ridiculed God-of-the-gaps?

Today atheist scientists claim with certainty that time and space, matter and energy are created out of nothing without any external agent, then sustainably evolved by blind processes with no intelligent guidence to create complex life with stunning precision and order that defies comprehension. They claim with outmost certainty that God the Creator does not exist. Yet it is puzzling as to, how can they be so certain about their theological claim when they are unable to achieve certainty in their own scientific field?


How can anyone arrive at certainty in the proposed world of infinite universes with infinite possibilities on how life was created out of non-life, where the laws of physics and biology are arbitrary and randomly surface out of nowhere, in the universe that is created out of nothing, where anything that can happen does happen? In this world any possible explanation is just as good as another. Adhered explanation is a matter of preference; that is to say the explanation that “God” created the universe is thus no different than “nothing” created the universe. The God-of-the-gaps is as viable as the atheism-of-the-gaps.

My contention is not at all with science, but with arrogant scientists and their unsubstantiated claims; it is not with evolution but with the extremely improbable Darwinian dice. Some scientists today are so eager to have their name inducted in science Hall of Fame next to likes of Galileo, Newton, Darwin that they completely forget the goals and objectives of science. These scientists should learn to be humble and stop pushing unproven ideas; otherwise like Freud they too will end up being the future inductees of science Hall of Shame.


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Filed under Philosophy of Science and Religion

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