He first takes note of a reference by the Pope to the Holy Spirit being one part of the Trinity, to which he responds:
Note that the Trinity is not an explicit claim of the New Testament, but a doctrine (now ironclad) made up by Church fathers from some questionable references in the New Testament. And it’s not accepted by many Christians (e.g. “Unitarians”, Christian Scientists, and Mormons). Once again, theology has just made something up. But I digress ...No, the Trinity is not explicit, but nature doesn't exactly announce in explicit terms that operates on evolutionary principles, but Coyne believes that. In the case of the Trinity, the assertions are clear and the inference is straightforward: The person of the Father is God; the person of the Spirit is God; the person of the Son is God; there is only one God; therefore, there are three persons in the one God. You can disagree with it, but you can't coherently quibble with the claims or casually dismiss the inference.
And someone please inform Jerry that the Unitarian, Christian Scientist, and Mormon churches are not exactly your paradigm Christian institutions. They reject every central tenet of the Christian faith. So on what grounds can anyone call them "Christian"? Because they claim to be? Historically, a Christian is someone who can affirm the Nicene Creed. These institutions reject it. This is not theological rocket science.
Does Jerry accept Scientology as science? It claims to be.
Coyne goes bumbling along, asking (on the basis of a yahoo.com report--yahoo being a well-known repository of theological scholarship) why the Virgin Birth and the Resurrection are "cornerstones of faith" while the Flood, Adam and Eve, and the parting of the Red Sea are not (answer: for the same reason that systematic circulation of the blood or that photosynthesis converts light into chemical energy or that tides are caused by the Moon are "cornerstones of science"--because, although they are scientific conclusions, they are not determinative of what is science and what isn't); why he accepts creation but does not reject evolution (answer: because not all evolutionary belief is Darwinian); and why he accepts some Biblical truths as literal and some as metaphorical (answer: because some Biblical truths are intended as literal and some are intended as metaphorical).
But I don’t see the Virgin Birth as such an unequivocal truth. Nothing really depends on that tale except the notion that Jesus was an extraordinary (i.e., divine) being. And by holding fast to such a ludicrous doctrine, the Pope is making things tough for his Church, and harder for adherents to accept its doctrine in an age of science.Naw. Nothing depends on it. Except the central claim of Christianity. That's all.
And as for making things "tough on the Church" because we are in the "age of science," Coyne can't name one discovery of science that makes belief in the Virgin Birth "tough." The Virgin Birth is a miracle, and, as I've pointed out, science, as science, can have exactly nothing to say about it.
Coyne says the Pope has "embarrassed himself." And he didn't even blush when he said it.
Did I mention that the Pope has more knowledge of history and theology (as well as the philosophy of science) in his little fingernail than Coyne has in his whole body?