Friday, 18 March 2011

"On Being" a scornful atheist on the Today Programme

Peter Atkins has a new book out. On Being is apparently a rallying cry for the virtues and reliability of science in a solely materialist, naturalistic universe. Professor Atkins was on the BBC Radio 4 Today Programme yesterday morning, along with philosopher Mary Midgley. The 6'34" streaming audio clip is available here:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/today/hi/today/newsid_9427000/9427512.stm
Does science have all the answers we need to the big questions of life, like why are we here and where did we come from?

Oxford scientist Prof Peter Atkins and philosopher Mary Midgley discuss whether there is anything more than facts, facts and more facts.
There's an accompanying article by Tom Colls on the BBC website:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/today/hi/today/newsid_9410000/9410486.stm

I dislike the term "militant atheist" because as applied to people like Richard Dawkins or Christopher Hitchens it degrades the meaning of "militant", but I think "scornful atheist" or "disdainful atheist" could accurately describe Peter Atkins. He's very clear about his naturalistic approach to the whole of existence and doesn't moderate his language when speaking to those who have a more transcendental take on things. Some may see his approach as lacking in nuance, though I suspect he would maintain nuance on these matters is superfluous.

Stephen Law also heard the Today clip, and posted about it on his blog:
Funnily enough I had exactly this debate with Atkins a couple of weeks ago in Oxford over about 2hrs (part of THINK week). Dawkins sat right in front of me and chipped in too. I believe there will be some sort of recording available shortly...
I look forward to hearing that recording.
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