Alex Rosenberg is the R. Taylor Cole Professor of Philosophy and chairman of the philosophy department at Duke University. He’s published more than 100 articles and reviews. Among his books are Microeconomic Laws: A Philosophical Analysis, Hume and the Problem of Causation, The Structure of Biological Science and Darwinian Reductionism. Like most philosophers these days, he writes for an academic audience. In 2011, however, he published a book for a general audience: The Atheist’s Guide to Reality: Enjoying Life Without Illusions.
The title is a little misleading, since Rosenberg derives his atheism from a more fundamental belief called “scientism”. That’s the view according to which, in Rosenberg’s words, “the methods of science are the only reliable ways to secure knowledge of anything”. Unfortunately, there is no word for a person who accepts scientism other than “scientist” and you can be a scientist without believing in scientism. For that matter, you can be an atheist without believing in scientism.
On the other hand, if you’re sure of God’s existence, The Atheist’s Guide to Reality probably won’t change your mind. It’s a book for people who are willing to take science extremely seriously, even to the point of concluding that many of humanity’s most common beliefs are wrong. Since I’m one of those people, I enjoyed the book, even while disagreeing with some of Rosenberg’s conclusions.
Because The Atheist’s Guide is well-written and covers so much ground (for example, physics, evolution, perception, consciousness, free will, history and morality), I thought it would be an interesting exercise to work through it, explaining and responding to Professor Rosenberg’s views right here on this blog (while continuing to write about other things, like class warfare and mowing the lawn).
If you want to consider the professor’s views first-hand and be able to correct my account of what he has to say (assuming you want to participate), the paperback and electronic versions are going for less than $15 online.
Next time: the relationship between science and atheism.