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The Varieties of Nonreligious ExperienceAtheism in American Culture$
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Jerome P. Baggett

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9781479874200

Published to NYU Press Scholarship Online: January 2020

DOI: 10.18574/nyu/9781479874200.001.0001

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The Empirical Root

The Empirical Root

Science without Scientism

(p.115) 4 The Empirical Root
The Varieties of Nonreligious Experience

Jerome P. Baggett

NYU Press

Even though the science versus religion “conflict myth” has been debunked by scholars for some time now, this chapter shows that most American atheists still presume it is true today. Methodologically, they prefer science’s integrity over religion’s comfort; attitudinally, they elevate science’s open-mindedness above religion’s closed-mindedness; and in terms of consequences, they believe science leads to progress while religion leads to regression. Yet, unlike the New Atheist authors whom many atheists have read, their worldviews do not come so close to scientism, the perception that science is the only way of knowing about the world. Instead they complement their esteem for science with strong convictions about things that are personally meaningful to them and, in some cases, even feel comfortable with describing themselves as spiritual.

Keywords:   empirical root, conflict myth, science, religion, integrity, open-mindedness, closed-mindedness, scientism, personally meaningful, spiritual

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