Wednesday, May 01, 2013

Unhappy Atheist Alert: Jerry Coyne doesn't like the results of the recent poll of philosophers

Jerry Coyne is one of those New Atheist scientists whose lack of philosophical competence tends to manifest itself in a penchant for lashing out at the discipline of philosophy. It's one of those Gomer Pyle at the Sorbonne kind of situations, except Gomer isn't the type to blame other people for his ignorance.

Coyne, about whom we've had frequent occasion to comment, is probably still smarting from the intellectual beating he took at the hands of Christian philosopher Ed Feser a year or so back.

His most recent excuse for criticizing philosophy is a recent survey of philosophers that found a number of interesting things about philosophers opinions on major philosophical topics, and Coyne doesn't like many of the results.

Turns out most philosophers don't buy the idea that there is no free will. Coyne's response? "That doesn’t make me happy." Hmmm. Apparently Coyne didn't get the memo about the fact that philosophical rectitude is not determined by whether it makes atheists happy.

He is also displeased that 27 percent of philosophers believe the mind is non-physical. "That goes against everything that neurobiology has told us," he tells us, "and shows that not all philosophers are on board with science." Of course, neurobiology studies the brain, which is physical, and one wonders how, by studying the physical, one can say anything about the non-physical.

Whether the mind is physical or non-physical would necessarily involve you in philosophy, an art at which Coyne has shown, through repeated demonstration, in which he is incapable of engagint. And besides: There really aren't any scientists who believe the mind is non-physical?

The there's the matter of ethics. Coyne grumbles that the plurality of philosophers are deontologists (believers in a rule-based ethics) rather than consequentialists (a belief in which the consequences of actions determines whether they are right or wrong. He's not, he says, "wildly happy" with this result.

That's right. The result can't be right because the consequence is that it makes Jerry unhappy.

Paragons of rigorous logical thought, these New Atheists.

6 comments:

Singring said...

I agree with Coyne - and you will remember our discussions on the non-physicality of the mind, in which empirical evidence was provided that was never refuted.

Also, nice to see that 73% of philosophers called themselves 'atheist.

Only 15 % are 'theists'.

So no matter what nonsense they believe about the brain, metaphysics, morality or reality - they seem to be pretty unanimous that there is no God.

Seamus said...

"Turns out most philosophers don't buy the idea that there is no free will. Coyne's response? 'That doesn’t make me happy.'"

But surely he doesn't blame them? After all, they had no choice in the matter.

Thomas said...

"So no matter what nonsense they believe about the brain, metaphysics, morality or reality - they seem to be pretty unanimous that there is no God."

73% is unanimous? It's ironic that those who claim to think scientifically abandon all pretense of rigor when it comes to philosophical questions.

There's also the self-selection effect: many theists interested in philosophy will go into related fields such as theology and religious studies.

Lee said...

Paul said, "See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the elemental spiritual forces of this world rather than on Christ."

Anonymous said...

It won't be long before prosletyzing atheists start knocking on doors like Mormons and Jevohah's Witnesses. I'll try to be just as respectful to them when I say no thanks. If Singring shows up, I'll just tell him to fix the weather while he's got everything figured out.

heyman said...

Coyne can believe all he wants to that there is no God, I don't really care. But I do care that he spends most of his time trying to push his beliefs on everyone else and gets very angry when few agree with him. His hostility does not help his cause. Perhaps he should spend most of his time studying his profession--what the Univ of Chicago pay him to do. He is a philosopher wanna be.