This is a question based on past observations: what is reason, according to New Atheism?
My question is more specific than that, actually. I’ll need to take a moment to set it up for you, then I’ll state what it is that I’m really asking.
New Atheists trumpet their reasoning. It’s in the names of their organizations, it’s all over their websites, it’s at the heart of their “Reason Rally,” and it’s prominent in their self-descriptions.
Some time ago I did a survey of major new atheist authors to find out what they meant by “reason.” I discovered two general answers:
- Refusing to claim knowledge or to affirm beliefs beyond what empirical evidence will support.
- Being reasonable in the way one treats others, in contrast to (citing the most obvious example) flying airplanes into buildings.
Here’s what I have not found in my reading of New Atheist authors:
- Reason being defined as practicing the skill of drawing sound conclusions by way of valid reasoning from true (or at least supportable/plausible) premises and appropriate evidence, coupled together with
- Reason being practiced in that manner.
Peter Boghossian’s Manual for Creating Atheists comes perhaps closer than any other I’ve read to a statement like B1. He misses B2 by a long nautical mile, unfortunately. His arguments are rife with red herrings, straw men, and non sequiturs. He preaches B1 reasoning, but he sure doesn’t practice it.
In other words, based on my admittedly non-exhaustive reading, New Atheists emphasize A1 and A2 reason, but they don’t place much apparent value on B1 in their literature as part of what it means to reason.
So here is my question: are there any New Atheists other than Peter Boghossian who emphasize the importance of B1 reasoning? Do they demonstrate it? If so, I’ve missed them so far in my reading. Please let me know specific sources. I’d like to spend some time studying them.
(Definitional note: by “New Atheist,” I mean atheists who generally align themselves with the likes of Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, Daniel Dennett, and the newer “horsemen” John Loftus, Jerry Coyne, Bill Maher, and P. Z. Myers. More descriptively, the New Atheists share a high regard for science, general agreement with A1 and A2 definitions of reason, a conviction that all faith is unreasoning and unreasonable, and very strong antipathy toward religion in any form.)