One of our most brilliant social critics—and the author of
the bestselling The Middle Mind—presents
a scathing critique of the “delusions” of science alongside a rousing defense
of the role of art and philosophy in our culture.
The so-called new atheists, most famously Richard Dawkins
and Christopher Hitchens, made a splash in the new millennium. They told the
evangelical and the liberal believer that they must give up religion and submit
More recently, neuroscientists and their fans in the media
have delivered a variation on this message: the mapping of the human brain will
soon be completed, and we will know what we are and how we should act. Their
faith is that the scientific method provides the best understanding not only of
the physical world but also of art, culture, economics, and anything left over.
The message is nearly the same as that of the new atheists: submit to science.
In short, the rich philosophical debates of the eighteenth
and nineteenth centuries have been nearly totally abandoned, argues Curtis
White. An atheist himself, White fears what this new turn toward “scientism”
will do to our culture if allowed to flourish without challenge. After all, is
creativity really just chemicals in the brain? Is it wrong to ponder “Why is
there something instead of nothing?” or “What is our purpose on Earth?” These
were some of the original concerns of the Romantic movement, which pushed back
against the dogmas of science in a nearly forgotten era.
In this brilliant multipart critique, White aims at a TED
talk by a distinguished neuroscientist in which we are told that human thought
is merely the product of our “connectome”—neural connections in the brain that
are yet to be fully understood. He examines the ideas of a widely respected
physicist who argues that a new understanding of the origins of the universe
trumps all religious and philosophical inquiry and ends with an eloquent
defense of the poetry and philosophy of Romanticism, which White believes our
technology and science-obsessed world desperately needs to rediscover.
It’s the only way, he argues, that we can see our world
clearly … and change it. Download and start listening now!