Pharyngula

An annoyed query

Chris Mooney and Sheril Kirshenbaum are discussing their book on Daily Kos. The subject of my review has come up a few times, and one commenter cited this sentence from me:

Following this, he proceeds to damn the “New Atheists” for “collapsing the distinction” between methodological and philosophical naturalism, and argues that Dawkins is taking a philosophical position and misusing science to claim it “entirely precludes God’s existence.”

Then the commenter asks, “My question is, did you in fact say that Dawkins uses science to ‘entirely preclude God’s existence?’”

Here is Chris Mooney’s dumbfounding reply.

we use that phrase
although it is not attributed to dawkins.

i’ve read dawkins book in some detail, and our objection is to his making god’s existence a scientific question. i realize he does not ascribe full certainty to his atheistic conclusion–but he claims he can reason scientifically about god’s existence. we’re saying that a lot of theologians, philosophers, etc, would say that’s a category error.

i really have to ask that you read our book, rather than its misrepresentation in skewed reviews.

This annoys me. Mooney can disagree with me, he can argue his side all he wants, but to accuse me of misrepresenting his book is inaccurate. I will now quote the entire damn paragraph from the Mooney/Kirshenbaum book. You tell me if I have in any way misrepresented what he said with my short summary.

But much like the anti-evolutionists do, the New Atheists often seek to collapse the distinction between methodological and philosophical naturalism. In The God Delusion, for instance, Richard Dawkins makes the dubious claim that the existence of God is, as he puts it, “unequivocally a scientific question.” Quite a lot of philosophers — and scientists — would disagree. It is one thing to say that scientific norms and practices preclude ascribing any explanatory force to God in, say, the movement of atoms, or the function of DNA. It’s quite another to say they entirely preclude God’s existence. In rejecting God or any other supernatural entity, Dawkins is taking a philosophical position.

Mooney has promised a reply to my comments later this week. He should take his time, or not even bother; I think his tactics have been foreshadowed enough here that I’m not going to find much of interest in his response. Although at this rate he may end up simply disavowing everything they actually wrote and trying to pretend it was a completely different book.