I’ve just met a straw-man called “Spocking”; it’s shocking,
But some might believe it’s how atheists act!
Where logic is king, not emotion—the notion
That every decision is based upon fact
These atheists put their reliance in science
Forgetting illusory “feelings” or “dreams”
Eschewing all base superstition; their mission
Is reason, perfected… or that’s how it seems.
What all people need, to be working, is “Kirking”,
Humanity’s hero—with all of his flaws
Kirk’s quirks are not bugs with space creatures—they’re features!
And Spock’s an affront to humanity’s cause!
It’s Kirkish to strive, boldly going—no knowing
The odds, cos what counts is emotion, not thought
The godless feel nothing, quite clearly (or nearly)
They’re cold, heartless bastards… except that they’re not.
Ok, really, this is irksome. I really try to like Alva Noë–he has a lot of really great ideas, but then he writes something like this.
Scientists, and cultural defenders of science, like to think of themselves as free of prejudice and superstition, as moved by reason alone and a clear-eyed commitment to fact and the scientific method. They reject religion as an irrational and ungrounded burden of tradition. They see religion the way Europeans (and some Americans) see Americans. As somehow backward.
Some do, probably. Others don’t.
I’m pro-science, but I’m against what I’ll call “Spock-ism,” after the character from the TV show Star Trek. I reject the idea that science is logical, purely rational, that it is detached and value-free, and that it is, for all these reasons, morally superior.
Yes. Yes, I am against straw-man versions of science too.
Wait, that wasn’t your point?
Spockians like to pretend that science has proved that there is no God, or that fundamental reality consists only of matter. But both of these claims are untrue. The first is untrue because science doesn’t concern itself with God one way or they other. As for the second: Science has no more proved that only matter is real than it has proved that there is no such thing as love, humor, sunsets or knuckleballs.
I’ve actually read scientific papers on love, humor, sunsets, and knuckleballs. I’m weird like that. So, yeah, it’s strange that Noë would say science proves they don’t exist. Noë is a bit of an odd bird.
Spockians give science a bad name. If you think of science as being in the business of figuring out how atoms spinning noiselessly in the void give rise to the illusion that there are such things as love, humor, sunsets and knuckleballs, then it isn’t surprising that people might come to think that the inner life of a scientist would be barren.
Wait… aren’t “Spockians” Noë’s rhetorical device? Now they give science a bad name?
For in a Spockian universe there is no such thing as nature, there is just material process, particles and fields, in the void. Nor, for the Spockian, is there any such thing as wonder, not really; for what is an emotion, but a conjury of particles in the nervous system?
So… Spockians are clearly reductionists, and clearly reject, say, the entire science of psychology (cos, you see, emotion has been a scientific subject of psychology for roughly a century).
Wait. Sorry. I have been responding to “Spockians” as if they were a thing. They are a rhetorical device, and not a good one. There may well be atheists who fit Noë’s description of a Spockian… but who actually cares? You are reading an atheist blog that is written in verse. Clearly, any long-time reader of The Digital Cuttlefish knows that Noë’s Spockians are a convenient fiction. It may well be that there are Spockians. I don’t know. I do know that there is at least one Digital Cuttlefish. Dr. Noë, take a look through my archives–am I a Spockian? Hell, take a look through all of Freethought Blogs! Not a single post from anyone–small samples are subject to bias–take a look at the last 50 posts from *anyone* at FtB. Anyone. Everyone. Go ahead.
Freethought Blogs are a real thing. We are real atheists, not hypothetical constructs. You want to see if atheists are Spockians? Look around! There’s a lot of us here, and we are growing. I, myself, don’t see a Spock among us.