I shouldn't have brought this up.
Sorry, I was in a bad mood when I wrote that. Such things don't happen to me much. I'm over it now.
It seems to me that he hasn't really read any of the "neo-atheist" books that he's trying to put down. Dawkins, for example, explicitly states that he "doesn't know" and is therefore technically agnostic at a 6.9 on his own religious scale. I honestly don't find many atheists making the dogmatic claims that he says we are making regarding things that we cannot know. To me this seems like useless quibbling at best and another example of someone not understanding what atheism is at worst.
Nope, he has read them. He's not saying that atheism is wrong, that it is a stringent stand that depends upon science being right. And science isn't right about everything yet. Because of the "we don't know" part. Atheists such as myself are making the assumption that science will eventually explain everything.
Keep in mind that he is a neuroscientist working on the cutting edge of human perception. He understands that the model of reality we each have in our heads is created by a brain that is dependent upon our senses, our cultures, our genes and a few other variables to construct said reality. And that reality is somewhat wanting in the information department. We can perceive, on our own, less than 1% of the electromagnetic spectrum. We treat color as real, when it is a construct of our minds. Hence we are assuming that what we perceive is actually "real". It is a reality of sorts, but not necessarily accurate.
We have gaps on our knowledge, gaps in our perception, gaps in our awareness, gaps in our understanding of even just ourselves. And to assume that we can know that science will someday answer every important question to our satisfaction is setting the human race up for at least a little disappointment.
But you're making this assumption on the track record of science, which, so far, has yet to require the use of any supernatural qualifications to explain anything.
If you happen to have watched the video, note that he said science could tell us whether or not anything was true. But whether or not the truth is scientific is an unknown. That is, there may be some explanations out there for some of our existence that are beyond the ken of science. And there may be explanations out there that we aren't expecting.
Right now there are researchers seriously exploring whether or not our existence is a hologram. Serious scientists. And they think they will be able to prove whether or not it is sometime in the near future. Or at least show that it is more likely than not that we are. Now I'm not all the well read up on the use of holograms by nature to accomplish things, but methinks this would be a fairly amazing discovery. If true, how do we explain it. We have no fossils of holograms, no way to date holograms. Such a discovery would make the universe really really weird.
By insisting that all is explicable, we are setting ourselves up for a certain amount of disappointment. And shutting out other possibilities. What if we are, in fact, some sort of experiment by aliens. I don't think for a second that we are, but how can any of us, lacking complete knowledge about reality, say that we absolutely are not?
Dr. Eagleman is simply trying to tell us not to be to frickin' cock sure of ourselves. The unknowns are incredible and none are guaranteed to follow our assumed scientific scripts.
If it does turn out the every last mystery can be and is solved by science, so be it. Hell, even being an alien experiment can still be solved by science. But nothing is as certain as I, a 7 on Dawkins scale up until a day or so ago, might think it is.
I don't for a second think a god is involved. It's just that there may be influences and causes that are not as cut and dried as physics and biology and such would like it to be.
Note: He mentioned that we don't even know what 90% of the universe is, because what we observe gravitationally and what we predict based on the observable mass of the universe is so different. Science has given this stuff the name "dark matter" but it is a complete mystery. How much are we in control of information about reality when we can't define over 90% of what is out there? And science has things under control?
The dude is asking us to be open minded. We atheists don't like the god of the gaps, and he is saying we should be a little careful about the science of the gaps too. We just don't know enough yet.
And again, he expects us to use the methods of science to confirm anything we find, whether it is scientifically explainable or not. If he was saying we needed to abandon science, I too would be suspect. He's not.