Leon Wieseltier of The New Republic probably differs with us Acton folks on a lot of issues. But his review of Daniel Dennett’s Breaking the Spell in the New York Times deserves some praise from all those who recognize metaphysical reality. Dennett’s book is simply another reductionist account of the world from an ostensibly “hard thinking” scientist, but Wieseltier’s article goes beyond a critique of the book. It is, more broadly, an eloquent debunking of materialism and defense of religion—not of any particular religion or of all expressions of religion, to be sure, but of a religious sensibility.
Here’s a taste:
The question of the place of science in human life is not a scientific question. It is a philosophical question. Scientism, the view that science can explain all human conditions and expressions, mental as well as physical, is a superstition, one of the dominant superstitions of our day; and it is not an insult to science to say so. For a sorry instance of present-day scientism, it would be hard to improve on Daniel C. Dennett’s book. “Breaking the Spell” is a work of considerable historical interest, because it is a merry anthology of contemporary superstitions.
Read the rest here.