How to Debunk Accusations of Scientism

The Argument

Many atheists and critics of religion are looking at things from a scientistic viewpoint. You think everything can be reduced to scientific terms and misunderstand how much of the world simply doesn’t work that way. Religion can’t be analyzed and dissected through the cold and narrow scientific viewpoint.

How to Debunk It

  1. There are two types of claims that can be made: objective-truth claims about reality in general and subjective claims that have to do with personal feelings. Objective claims must be supported by objective reasoning and evidence. It’s only subjective claims that can be supported by subjective feelings and opinions.
  2. The problems begin when people get things confused and conflated. Supporting objective-truth claims with subjective feelings is a mistake, since it opens up the objective claim to personal bias. This is what the religious usually do. Conversely, trying to support a subjective claim with objective reasoning and evidence is also a mistake because it expresses a misunderstanding of the subjectivity of such things as love, beauty, friendship and art. Accusations of scientism are true only in the latter case.
  3. The only way for a claim to be non-scientific in principle is if it’s a subjective and personal claim. The mistake of scientism is to look for scientific proof for non-scientific, i.e. subjective, claims. Therefore, arguing that your religious claims are non-scientific, and therefore not subject to scientific proof, is another way of admitting that your religious claims are subjective and personal—that they only apply to you, in your own head, and that they have no objective validity.


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