The religion of materialism

From Edward Feser, The Last Superstition (Kindle edition), Location 363-387:

…the so-called “war between science and religion” is really a war between two rival philosophical worldviews, and not at bottom a scientific or theological dispute at all. Occasionally you’ll find a secularist who admits as much. Nagel is one example [See this post].  Another is biologist Richard Lewontin [See this post] … Similarly, physicist Paul Davis tell us that “science takes as its starting point the assumption that life wasn’t made by a god or a supernatural being,” and acknowledges that, partially out of fear of “open[ing] the door to religious fundamentalists … many investigators feel uneasy about stating in public that the origin of life is a mystery, even though behind closed doors they freely admit that they are baffled.” [1] Among prominent contemporary philosophers, Tyler Burge opines that “materialism is not established, or even clearly supported, by science” and that its hold over his peers is analogous to that of a “political or religious ideology”[2]; John Searle tells us that “materialism is the religion of our time,” that “like more traditional religions, it is accepted without question and … provides the framework within which other questions can be posed, addressed, and answered,” and that “materialists are convinced, with a quasi-religious faith, that their view must be right” [3]; and William Lycan admits, in what he himself calls “an uncharacteristic exercise in intellectual honesty,” that the arguments for materialism are no better than the arguments against it, that his “own faith in materialism is based on science-worship,” and that “we also always hold our opponents to higher standards of argumentation than we obey ourselves.” [4]

Feser’s footnotes:

[1] Paul Davis, The Fifth Miracle: The Search for the Origin and Meaning of Life (Simon and Schuster, 1999), pp. 17-18, emphasis added.
[2] Tyler Burge, “Mind-Body Causation and Explanatory Practice,” in John Heil and Alfred Mele, eds., Mental Causation (Oxford University Press, 1995), p. 117.
[3] John R. Searle, Mind: A Brief Introduction (Oxford University Press, 2004), p. 48.
[4] William G. Lycan, “Giving Dualism Its Due,” a paper presented at the 2007 Australasian Association of Philosophy conference at the University of New England. The draft is available on Lycan’s website.

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