What defines us as athiests is that we reject the concept of a Deity. We assume this posture by using logic and reason. A deity is logically extremely improbable. We then go on to rely on logic and reason to construct our cosmology based on observation, scientific inquirey, rational deduction and so on. We each have a belief system on which our sense of the world is constructed, our reality so to speak.
I've been reading a bit about quantum mechanics and multi universe theories. None of this fits neatly into my cosmology. Even so, the theories are reached by logic that I can follow and can't really dispute at my level of understanding.
To approach concepts like the nature of our consciousness reveals the limits of logic and reason. Logic and reason would ascribe them to chemical reactions in the brain that interperate stimuli. But we only have five senses with which to evaluate the world (if an external world actually does exist!). Is it not reasonable to assume that there are things imperceptable to these five senses? If consciousness is indeed a chemical function of the brain, then we rely on the eyes, the ears, the nose, the skin to give us all the interaction with the physical world and supply all the data that the mind asesses. Can we trust that these mechanism are supplying accurate interperatations of the physical world?
And what's going on in the next person's head? Are we sure it's similar to what's going on in our own? Is each person a unique universe? Do they really connect in a physical space? One of the theories is that all matter is a congealing of possibilities enacted by consciousness, that in fact the universe does not exist on it's own without consciousness to define it. This begs the question, do any of you exist outside my head?
What I'm getting at is that religion provides a rudimentary construct for us to understand and relate to the universe. I believe our logical, reasonable, scientific cosmology is no less an invention of our mind than religion and is dependent on your intelligence level, understanding of science and philosophy, life experience, indoctrination to other cosmologies, level of inquirey, and psychological makeup among many other factors.
Who are we to be so disdainful of religion when our concept of reality is no less an invention of our minds? Is it essential to the human condition to have a cosmology? If it is, doesn't religion provide an essential construct for some?
Disdain for a cosmological view derived from a desired end result is perfectly justified when you have worked to derive your cosmological view by studying the evidence. To me, it is analogous to how I might feel if I sat on a jury taking notes and studying the evidence for three days only to wind up in a room with 11 other people: 6 of whom say, "I think that little [ethnic minority slur] is guilty"; 3 of whom say, "There is a lot of evidence but I can't decide because you just never know for sure."; and only 2 who are actually prepared to engage in a real review of the testimony and evidence.
Science may often be 'wrong' but, for the most part, it doesn't derive it's results by determining which ones would be better leveraged for acquiring social control. There is an inherent honestly to that process that deserves much more respect than the conclusion, "I don't know therefore goddidit AND furthermore god wants you to give me money."
When science is wrong it is rarely pointed 180 degrees in the wrong direction. Galileo's concept of relative motion is still important to grasping Newton's concepts of motion which are only adjusted for conditions of high velocity/gravitation in Einstein's special relativity. Quantum mechanics might change our understanding of the underlying mechanisms but that understanding still doesn't undermine the validity of Galileo's, Newton's, or Einstein's observations.
So when someone just throws all three of these great minds out in favour of the unfounded postulation that, "My imaginary god is bigger than all your geniuses," I feel that my disdain is fully warranted. At least when science is wrong it has a systematic mechanism for self correction that doesn't require rationalizing previous observations.
Disdain for religion is different than disdain for the people who subscribe to it. Where I come from, to 99% of the people Newton is a cookie with figs in it and relativity has to do with how close your wife is to your sister. These people didn't cast out anything. They were never exposed to these ideas in a meaningful way. They accepted a view of the world that I find laughable because every force in their lives worked to make them accept it.
That doesn't make them any less misguided or dangerous when they mob up. I guess I'm just playing a little sympathy for the devil here. Are we really able to be so confident that there isn't any glass in our houses before we go throwing stones?
The only glass in my house (my house being the scientific world view) is the inherent bias of politically oriented committees of scientists and I'm eager to see that glass smashed as soon as possible. Some of the internal glass fixtures, theories that will eventually be proven errant, will be smashed to ruin to the sound of my applause - because I know that we don't know everything and I'm eager to find out where we have taken steps in the wrong direction.
World views based on a fallacious sense of superiority derived the unfounded claim, "my dad is bigger than your dad," are equally repugnant in the hands of individuals as institutions. A significant portion of my family laughs at "Newton's Laws of Motion" because the mere uttering of that phrase entreats within them a mental image of Cosmo Kramer's arch nemesis rolling down a flight of stairs. Their intellectual shortfalls are NOT what evokes my disdain; my disdain is triggered by the arrogance they exude in arguing against that which they know for a fact resides outside of their mental sandbox.
Can't it? It has proven to be many times in the past. Flat earth, Earth is the center of the universe. Powered flight can never happen. If you transport cattle at over 35 miles per hour it will kill them. Man can never reach the moon. Traveling faster then sound is not possible. Or one of my favorites from a few centuries back 'Everything that can be known is already known. The only remaining advancements in science are in the realm of precision.' I really like that one, as it came from the head of the Royal Academy of science. I'd say each of those is right up there with any wrong claim theists have made, and were all known, proven scientific fact, as well as being resoundingly wrong. though in fairness, the cattle one was paid study and it was later discovered that the 'scientists' were poisoning the cattle and forging everything to prevent the train owners from taking the jobs of the cattle drivers.
Though all that said, I still bet on science. I just see it as a danger sign when some one praises one group and damns an other, for the same actions. Science can be as corrupt as any religion. And religions can be just as true and noble as science at its best. Any one that neglects to review and check motivation from either side is acting on faith and not reason.
Humans have much more then "just" 5 senses, all sensory perception can be a "sense" (hunger, balance, heat just to name a few).
I believe our logical, reasonable, scientific cosmology is no less an invention of our mind than religion
That might be so, but it's the result that truly matters to me, science works which is why I can justify that it is a better product from human imagination then is religion.
Ok, after a few posts in the thread, I'm going for the topic it self. To answer your title 'Are We Being Arrogant?'. Well, I'd have to say 'Yes'. But, in defense of that, how many humble people do you know of in history that discovered anything, other then the heels of those that weren't humble? Well, out side of philosophy at least. A little arrogance is a good thing, as it helps us to think we have any chance of understanding what is out there. And because it allows us to think that, we try. May never manage it, but at least by trying it allows for the possibility that we will, where not trying brings only the certainly that we won't.
I think the better question is, are we being too arrogant? If our certainty drives us to try and block others from exploring what we feel to be folly, then we are being too arrogant. That goes for theist and atheistic alike. Both have members guilty of clinging to what they find comfortable and trying to stop others from exploring what they wish. But, if we restrict our arrogance to chuckles and head shaking, but recognize that even the most seemingly absurd ideas have the potential to uncover something valid, then our arrogance is not too much.