‘Theologians and other fuzzy people’: two 20th-century Dutch novelists on the sciences and humanities

by Jeroen Bouterse For better or worse, Dutch 20th-century postwar literature comes with a canon of three authors: Gerard Reve, Harry Mulisch, and W.F. Hermans. There, you learned something today. Other than this factoid, however, this post is not going to be a lecture about the landscape of Dutch literature, or even the literary qualities…

n + 1 Types: Atheism and Historical Awareness

by Jeroen Bouterse It is simultaneously awkward and exciting to read about your own consciously and responsibly adopted beliefs as something to be anatomized. It is also something atheists are not always much disposed to. On the contrary, perhaps: many forms of atheism present themselves as a consequence of free thought, of emancipation from tradition.…

Bad Arguments On Bad Arguments: the Sokal Squared Hoax as an Unfortunate Cliché

by Jeroen Bouterse What do you prove by fooling somebody? What did Alan Sokal prove when he got his bogus paper on ‘quantum hermeneutics’ published in Social Text? What did Helen Pluckrose, James Lindsay and Peter Boghossian prove when they got several bogus papers published in several different journals? Earlier this month three authors (to…

History of Science and the ‘Conflict Thesis’

by Jeroen Bouterse One of the most simple, elegant and powerful formulations of the conflict between science and religion is the following bit of reasoning. ‘Faith’ is belief in the absence of evidence; science demands that beliefs are always grounded in evidence. Therefore, the two are mutually exclusive. This is an oft-repeated argument by modern…

A ‘Gulf of Misunderstanding’: Steven Pinker and the Two Cultures

by Jeroen Bouterse Steven Pinker’s 2018 book Enlightenment Now is a reasoned defense of the values of the Enlightenment: of reason, science, humanism and progress. Pinker uses most of his space to demonstrate, positively, how the attitudes and institutions associated with Enlightenment thought have done good in the world. However, he has also woven through…