Atheism Culture

If Jerry Coyne is to succeed as an atheist activist, he should research his gripes better

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Why Evolution Is True

If Jerry Coyne is to succeed as an atheist activist, he should research his gripes better.  To judge from his blog, one sometimes isn’t sure whether Jerry “Why Evolution Is True” Coyne is an anti-religious activist who moonlights as an evolutionary biologist or the reverse. Here, in “Can species arise in a small space?,” he writes on sympatric speciation, and sounds like he knows what he is talking about. One could account for that fact by assuming that he is an evolutionary biologist.

But then here he has his say on an American prayer rally for “a nation in crisis”, conducted by (surprise, surprise) a U.S. prez hopeful. (Re “nation in crisis,” if you don’t know what the man from Texas is talking about, google Standard & Poor …). Coyne opines, re the platform party:

These people don’t seem to realize that even among religious Americans, there are many who don’t worship Jesus. But of course who ever won an election by catering to Muslims, Jews, or atheists?

Coyne needs to get out more. When it comes to catering to people, “Muslims, Jews, or atheists” are not a charming set of triplets. For the record, the Toronto School Board is actually turning publicly funded schools into “sharia” schools, where students, Muslim or otherwise, are compelled by law to attend (if they live in the neighbourhood and can’t afford private school.) Also, here.

There is no pretense whatever that Jews, atheists, or Christians are to be treated equally with Muslims. Few who follow these types of developments would be at all surprised if that is happening in American centres.

Which makes it all the more ironic when Coyne informs us,

This [rally] is, of course, a prelude to Perry’s likely bid for the Republican nomination for president. It was opposed by the Freedom from Religion Foundation, which filed (and lost) a court complaint that Perry’s participation in a religious rally violated the First Amendment.

Huh? The First Amendment was intended to protect people’s right to organize and attend a prayer rally – or not. If these Texas atheists are confused about that, one wonders how they would react to the sharia schools, when one emerges into view in their enlightened district in the US.

Will they cite the First Amendment in a situation to which it clearly and obviously applies? Guesses?

Anyway, Coyne should bone up on the current situation if he wants to talk about religion.

7 Replies to “If Jerry Coyne is to succeed as an atheist activist, he should research his gripes better

  1. 1
    Mung says:

    It’s almost as if Coyne is crying out in prayer, “God save us from the Christians!”

  2. 2
    woodford says:

    Sure, of course citizens have the right to assemble, to worship, hold rallies etc. But the complaint by the Freedom from Religion Foundation was that in this case Perry did not act as a private citizen but in his capacity as Governor of the State of Texas, hence the concern of violating the First Amendment. He did not sufficiently differentiate his own role as a private citizen from that of a state-elected official.

    http://ffrf.org/uploads/legal/A1229380.pdf

    For example, promotions for the event involved the use of the official seal of Texas. And of course this event was promoted exclusively from and for a particular religion. Perhaps people would look at this event differently had Governor Perry attended a Muslim or Buddhist event.

  3. 3
    News says:

    Thanks for clarification re Perry. Of course, who but God would give them much credit? 😉 Seriously, this is a somewhat unusual too-close relationship between church and state (= it’s Texas, so …) But a too-close relationship between one of the two religions you mention and the state is increasingly common. Any idea why we don’t hear much from “skeptics” about it? Or do we, and it missed the radar?

  4. 4
    nullasalus says:

    If Jerry Coyne is to succeed..?

    Coyne’s modest success with ‘atheist activism’ has largely been built on him perpetuating myths and being a blowhard with little content. Researching his gripes would probably be a detriment – his target audience alternately doesn’t care about accuracy, or wouldn’t know it if it smacked them in the face anyway.

    It’s a little like hearing ‘If this man wants to succeed as a demagogue, he’d better learn to explain his opponent’s views more charitably’.

  5. 5
    woodford says:

    But a too-close relationship between one of the two religions you mention and the state is increasingly common. Any idea why we don’t hear much from “skeptics” about it? Or do we, and it missed the radar?

    That’s a good point. Just out of curiosity, I went to the FFRF web site to see if there are any law suits involving that particular religion. There are not, but that may be because in the US at least (where the FFRF operates), there hasn’t been a need for litigation yet. But I feel sure that the FFRF would not have any issue doing so if and when the need arises.

    Nullaslus – I found your comment to be quite unfounded – whatever you may think about Dr. Coyne, his posts on his blogs are quite in-depth and full of content. Your comment comes across as little more than an ad hominem, and a rather mean-spirited one at that.

  6. 6
    nullasalus says:

    woodford,

    Nullaslus – I found your comment to be quite unfounded –

    Please. Coyne is, as far as ‘atheist thought’ goes, exactly what I labeled him as: A blowhard who largely gets by on parroting things he doesn’t understand, and perpetuating myths. If you read his writings on religion and atheism and think otherwise, I suggest the problem lies with you, not me.

    Your comment comes across as little more than an ad hominem, and a rather mean-spirited one at that.

    Mean spirited? Boo freaking hoo. Coyne regularly behaves like a horse’s ass when it comes to discussing the beliefs of religious people, but dismiss him for the hack he is and his admirers need band-aids for their boo-boos.

    And ad hominem? Are you another one of those people who throws around terms like that without bothering to read up on what they actually mean?

  7. 7
    Mr.Chris says:

    Coyne didn’t bother to respond, but Ed Brayton did: http://scienceblogs.com/dispat.....usions.php

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