Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Bureau for Better Atheists issues advisory on Jerry Coyne

Once again, we here at the Bureau for Better Atheists (BBA) are having to set aside our other important work (such as trying to find Richard Dawkins a competent barber) to deal with Jerry Coyne.

As we have mentioned before, the BBA is devoted to improving the quality of atheists by dealing with a problem that is reaching crisis proportions: the increasing intellectual deterioration of atheists. An increasing number of atheists are questioning basic historical facts and setting out in the apparently unfamiliar terrain of philosophy.

Our file on Coyne, a prominent evolutionary biologist, now occupies a whole cabinet. In fact, we are thinking of hiring a full-time staff member devoted solely to Coyniana. It is atheists like Coyne who make opposition to atheism that much more tedious and unchallenging.

Anyway, Coyne is now contesting the idea that religion had a prominent role in the rise and development of science. This is just one of the eccentric views being promulgated by modern atheists who either a) don't know the history of science; b) have issues with truth generally; or c) are functionally illiterate.

Coyne says:
All progress in science, whether ancient or modern, came from ignoring or rejecting the idea of divine intervention. Even if theories were inspired by thoughts of God, they were substantiated or disproven by tacitly assuming a godless universe—that is, by employing methodological naturalism. 
Ah, methodological naturalism. Does he mean the methodological naturalism that originated in the 12th century with Adelard of Bath, who believed that reason did not in any way conflict with Christian faith? That methodological naturalism? If you want to maintain the discredited theory of the inherent conflict between religion and science, it's probably not a good idea to use an idea developed by someone who completely disagreed with that theory.

Coyne continues:
Religion has of course also repressed the search for knowledge. Not only do we have the cases of Galileo and Bruno, but also the active discouragement of the use of reason by many church fathers, especially Martin Luther, who made statements like this: “Reason is a whore, the greatest enemy that faith has; it never comes to the aid of spiritual things, but more frequently than not struggles against the divine Word, treating with contempt all that emanates from God.” And freethinkers like Spinoza were regularly persecuted by religion (Judaism in his case.)
Yes, and governments have repressed knowledge. Is government, then, inherently anti-science? And what about males? Most of those who have repressed science have been males. What is it about these males that makes them so anti-science? In fact, now that I think about it, human beings seem to be the culprits. Have you ever noticed how many of the people who have hampered the progress of science are human beings?

And since when is Martin Luther a "church father"? I don't know anyone, including Luther fans, who call him a "church father." "Protestant reformer" yes, but no one even remotely familiar with history calls Luther a "church father."

In addition, Coyne apparently forget (or never knew) that both Galileo and Bruno were Christians. And why is the Church how tried to hold Galileo to the standards of proof a bad guy? Galileo didn't have adequate proof of his theory (which wasn't completely correct anyway, since it presumed the circular orbit of planets, which Kepler had already shown to be false, among other things). The Church (which Galileo was a voluntarily member of) didn't allow Galileo to assert that his theory was true because he hadn't proved it. The Church had no problem with the propagation of Copernicus' theory as a possible explanation of the data and, in fact, most of the Church was accepting of some heliocentric view.

He goes on:
The major achievements of science, including relativity, evolution, and modern molecular biology, were achieved by non-theists.
I have only one thing to say: Gregor Mendel (Augustinian friar. Mendelian genetics named after. Salvaged evolutionary theory from sole reliance on natural selection. Check it out.)


Thomas Vaughan said...

You might add one more thing to say at the end: Georges Lemaitre. (The Catholic priest and relativity theorist who initially developed what we now call the Big Bang theory of cosmology.)

Emma said...

'Salvaged evolutionary theory from sole reliance on natural selection. Check it out.'

Explain this to me, Martin.

How did Mendel 'salvage' evolutionary theory from 'sole reliance on natural selection'?

Thomas M. Cothran said...


Non-Darwinian evolutionary processes such as gene drift and gene flow.