Saturday, May 20, 2017

The Fundamentalist Religion Of Jerry Coyne and Why Materialism Is Not True

The objection is made that I took part of a phrase out of its context in applying it to Jerry Coyne, semi-pro atheist.   The phrase, taken directly from the "Big Think" text is what is in the author's quotation marks, which I assume meant that it was a taken directly from the researchers he was writing about.

the appeal of such a rigid way of thinking is in promoting “coherence and predictability” within a religious group

First, whatever objection you might have to me saying it, Jerry Coyne's brand of materialist-atheist-scientism is a distinct, discernable religious group. Their religion is radically monistic, disallowing not only the possibility of the truth of anything that doesn't fit into their rigid way of thinking but asserting anything which deviates from it is an evil which should or must be wiped out.  It is a religious group which has a religious position which they assert should rule not only their thinking and conduct but that of everyone else. Any atheists who deviate or swerve from their one true way will be attacked for heresy, Coyne often plays the role of Grand Inquisitor condemning his fellow scientists and atheists for exactly that.   It is a religious group which is notable in exhibiting just about every negative thing which Coyne and his fellow true believers accuse religion of doing, including denying obvious truths.

Any number of times in his writing and assertion Jerry Coyne has advocated that his rigid materialist monism is the only acceptable way of thinking, in one place he asserts that when the Christian scientist Francis Collins was unsuitable to be appointed the head of the National Institute of Health by Barack Obama.  Taking up the campaign of Stephen Pinker to discredit Collins - probably a more eminent scientist than Coyne ever will be and, unlike Pinker, a real scientist -  Coyne said:

Collins is still an advocate of profoundly anti-scientific beliefs, including the notion that the laws of physics indicate fine-tuning by a deity (the same one who freezes waterfalls in three parts), and that human morality—which he calls “The Moral Law”—can’t be explained by evolution, ergo Jesus. (I’m publishing a response to the latter idea within the next few days.)

You could learn a lot more about that by searching Coyne's blog for Francis Collins, and other scientists, many of them with more distinguished careers than his, whose religious belief leads Coyne to condemn them for being "anti-science" or damaging to science, deviating from the one, true way of atheist-materialism, citing the authority of his fellow clergy of the church of neo-atheist scientism such as Pinker, Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, ... to support his accusations of heresy.  In fact he's written a book, Faith vs. Fact, which is endorsed at his website with blurbs from that trio - has Pinker replaced the late Christopher Hitchens in the fading fab-four of faithlessness?

Instead of going on, other than to advocate you search Coyne's blog, either using search terms or just by looking at a typical week of his often hysterical screeds, going on like really bad script put in the mouth of a Brit movie Inquisitor. condemning his fellow scientists, philosophers, etc. even many of them atheists on deviating from his one true faith, thus endangering his scientistic orthodoxy and the universe,  I'll leave you with the Scientific American science journalist - and atheist - John Horgan's excerpted review.  The elisions are his.

Coyne’s defenses of science and denunciations of religion are so relentlessly one-sided that they aroused my antipathy toward the former and sympathy toward the latter… He overlooks any positive consequences of religion, such as its role in anti-slavery, civil-rights and anti-war movements. He inflates religion’s contribution to public resistance toward vaccines, genetically modified food and human-induced global warming.

Conversely, he absolves science of responsibility for any adverse consequences, such as weapons and ideologies of mass destruction. “The compelling force that produced nuclear weapons, gunpowder, and eugenics was not science but people.” Right. Science doesn’t kill people; people kill people.

Naïve readers of Mr. Coyne might conclude that science is rapidly filling in the remaining gaps in our understanding of reality and solving ancient philosophical conundrums. He claims that free will, the notion that “we can choose to behave in different ways,” is being contradicted by research in genetics and neuroscience and “looks increasingly dubious.” *

As evidence, he cites scientific revelations that our choices are often influenced by factors of which we are unaware. Yes, Freud told us as much, and Sophocles for that matter. But it is absurd to conclude that all our conscious deliberations are therefore inconsequential…

Mr. Coyne’s critique of free will, far from being based on scientific “fact,” betrays how his hostility toward religion distorts his judgment. Evidence against free will, he says, “kicks the props out from under much theology, including the doctrine of salvation.” Mr. Coyne thinks that if religious people believe in free will, it must be an illusion.

Mr. Coyne’s loathing of creationism, similarly, leads him to exaggerate what science can tell us about our cosmic origins. Mr. Coyne asserts that “we are starting to see how the universe could arise from ‘nothing,’ and that our own universe might be only one of many universes that differ in their physical laws.” Actually, cosmologists are more baffled than ever at why there is something rather than nothing… And multiverse theories are about as testable as religious beliefs.

Mr. Coyne repeatedly reminds us that science, unlike religion, promotes self-criticism, but he is remarkably lacking in this virtue himself. He rejects complaints that some modern scientists are guilty of “scientism,” which I would define as excessive trust—faith!—in science. Calling scientism “a grab bag of disparate accusations that are mostly inaccurate or overblown,” Mr. Coyne insists that the term “be dropped.”

Actually, Faith vs. Fact serves as a splendid specimen of scientism. Mr. Coyne disparages not only religion but also other human ways of engaging with reality. The arts, he argues, “cannot ascertain truth or knowledge,” and the humanities do so only to the extent that they emulate the sciences. This sort of arrogance and certitude is the essence of scientism.

I think that anyone who does what any responsible person would in judging the nature of someones faith, read what they say, look at what they do, would have to conclude that Jerry Coyne fulfills all of the criteria used to define a fundamentalist used in that study I wrote about last night.  He more rigidly adheres to those methods of thinking than many who get called "fundamentalists" by his fellow atheist true believers in the atheist-monist version of scientism.  I will note that in saying that I am not doing what the idiot who sent me that link and the idiot who gave it to him, no doubt intended, implying that "science has proven that faith-heads are brain damaged".  I'm just noting that Coyne is a religious fanatic, a fundamentalist for the purposes of that study, fulfilling all of the criteria of their definition.

He is also a religious fanatic whose actions betray that he doesn't really believe it, when it applies to him and his religious faith.

* Note;  Anyone who has read much of my blog will know that I certainly reject Coyne's belief that free is an illusion and that we are governed by physical determinism, you can search my blog to read why.

I have pointed out that materialists who assert that point of view and insist that other people convert to their way of thinking exhibit that they don't really believe that because if they did, they would believe that those who disagreed with them had no choice but to believe what they did and to disbelieve what they didn't believe.   Their asking people who don't believe that to violate the material causation in their brains that led them to believe what they did.  They, furthermore, demonstrate that they do not really believe it because their assertion that one physical state has a transcendent quality, that of rightness or correctness or of being good that is not a material quality of physical states and objects.   Jerry Coyne's entire public career as an atheist evangelist is at variance with his materialist-atheist-scientistic faith.  So is Pinkers' and every other materialit-atheist evangelist of their world view which cannot have those transcendent qualities if their faith is true. They demonstrate they don't really believe what they claim to, just about every time they open their mouths or put pixels online in their religious quest.


  1. I always like that home hoary chestunt that science promotes critique and religion only blind adherence. Usually promoted by people offended by Kuhn and wholly ignorant of theology. I.e., they have no clue....

    1. Not to mention the prophets. They should read what it says about the temple rites in Isaiah, for a start.

      Not to mention their other cannard, made by Coyne, himself, that religions don't agree with each other. Looking at his blog is like looking at excrement smeared wallpaper but I believe he said it, for probably about the thousandth time, within the past few weeks. If he didn't say it there, he certainly said it elsewhere.

      People wonder how I can write these things so fast, it's because their arguments are NEVER new. They're saying essentially the same stuff that Haeckel, McCabe and Moncure Conway were saying starting a hundred fifty years ago. And they were usually cribbing earlier atheists. Only they don't know that because they don't read the literature of atheism.

    2. Urban legends never die....

  2. Adding: I really had no clue how clueless Coyne is. There are people who study philosophy for a living, and yet Coyne sets himself up superior to all because he is blinded by science.

    Funny, in a rather sad way. Ignorance makes you know things other people don't, I guess.

    1. Coyne is one of the most febrile and juvenile at the same time. I've read many other even neo-atheists have come to find him a total jerk. I believe it was Phil Plat who said, if I recall it word for word, Jerry Coyne, he's 12.