This is a level of dogmatism that would embarrass any theist. Even the strongest religious believer can imagine the possibility that there is no God. So how can these self- styled champions of reason adopt an approach that is so utterly closed-minded? It is the product of a philosophical commitment many of them have without being aware that they have it. Dawkins and the others seem naively to think that they are apostles of reason who are merely following the evidence. The reason they are deluded about their philosophical commitment is that it is hidden inside the scientific approach itself.
Modern science seems to be based on an unwavering commitment to naturalism and materialism. Naturalism is the doctrine that nature is all there is. According to naturalism, there are neither miracles nor supernatural forces. Therefore reports of the supernatural can only be interpreted naturalistically. Materialism is the belief that material reality is the only reality. There is no separately existing mental or spiritual reality. Of course, people are conscious and have thoughts and perhaps even spiritual experiences, but this can be understood as only the workings of the neurons in their material brains. The mental and spiritual are presumed to be mere epiphenomena of the material.
Now these philosophical doctrines—naturalism and materialism— have never been proven. In fact, they cannot be proven because it is impossible to demonstrate that immaterial reality does not exist. Naturalism and materialism are not scientific conclusions; rather, they are scientific premises. They are not discovered in nature but imposed upon nature. In short, they are articles of faith.
Here is Harvard biologist Richard Lewontin: We take the side of science in spite of the patent absurdity of some of its constructs, in spite of its failure to fulfill many of its extravagant promises of health and life, in spite of the tolerance of the scientific community for unsubstantiated just-so stories, because we have a prior commitment-a commitment to materialism. It is not that the methods and institutions of science somehow compel us to accept a material explanation of the phenomenal world, but, on the contrary, that we are forced by our a priori commitment to material causes to create an apparatus of investigation and a set of concepts that produce material explanations, no matter how counter-intuitive, no matter how mystifying to the uninitiated. Moreover, that materialism is absolute, for we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door.