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Feser Demolishes Coyne


In a few short paragraphs here.  For some reason the phrase “epic smackdown” keeps coming to mind.


Professor Coyne's argument in Faith vs. Fact is premised upon a flawed definition as belief without evidence. In fact, the Bible is full of examples of people asking God for a sign, so that they could know that it was He Who was addressing them (Judges 6:17; 2 Kings 20:8; Isaiah 7:11-13; see also Deuteronomy 18:21-22). With regard to Hebrews 11:1, the individuals named in Hebrews 11 genuinely believed that they had actually talked with God, and furthermore, the author of Hebrews says that the people of faith whom it praises did actually see the things that they were promised, even if it was only “from a distance” (Hebrews 11:13). I critiqued the logic of Coyne's case in my post, Faith vs. Fact: Jerry Coyne’s flawed epistemology (July 12, 2015). vjtorley
Praeambula Fidei: Thomism and the God of the Philosophers Mung
Christian Faith, imo, forms a continuum with Christian knowledge. This latter can take various forms. The Shroud of Turin provides historical and scientific evidence of the highest calibre. Since Emile Zola and another, modern day personage of note, whose name, unfortunately I forget, refused to believe in miracles, after witnessing one, and having claimed, beforehand, that it, alone, would constitute a 'clincher' for them, it seems scarcely a matter for wonderment that the Shroud's multiple Miraculous features should be dismissed by partisans of the fanatical, secular-fundamentalist cult of scientism. However, there is a life-long interplay between this Christian faith-knowledge continuum and the secular faith-knowledge we take for granted all the time, e.g. knowing the lights will come on when we switch on the lights in our house. Axel
Dick, absolute certainty is not in our gift, including for Mathematics after Godel. So, what we seek is not faith instead of reason, or reason in the place of faith, but instead a reasonable faith. KF kairosfocus
Faith is not belief despite the lack of evidence. It's belief despite the lack of certainty or proof. Dick
its a contention over facts in origin contentions. its not faith verses facts. Thats just a profiling of faith as being opposed to facts proven by human beings who say they proved it with science. faith includes revelation but in origin issues modern creationism is about using science to prove facts and disprove claimed facts of opponents. There is no escaping this is a conflict of proving ones case. One or both sides have not proved their case but one or both are claiming they have and they other side is dumb or blind or what!! No proof has been made that a single fact in the bible is wrong. YEC says this. No proof has been made there is no creator OR no evidence of a creator in nature. ID says this. The others say they have proof for evolution etc and proof for no proopf of a creator or proof of no creator. Somebody is wrong! Probably we are all careless in our proofs but someone is more! 15 years will tell. Robert Byers
Faith is evidence of things not seen. Science is faith based. Mung
Seversky (et al), I cannot but notice your remarks on what faith is so commonly perceived to be, and think it advisable to note for record. First, I actually have a problem with the tendency to take Heb 11:1 out of immediate and wider context -- which leads to a misunderstanding of what faith (pistis/ the Amen principle) is. (It is material to note that Heb is likely written by Apollos or Barnabas, definitely of what can be called the Pauline circle.) Here is Heb 11:1, cited with its immediate context (cf. link to STEP interlinear on ESV):
Heb 11:1 Now faith is the assurance (title deed, confirmation) of things hoped for (divinely guaranteed), and the evidence of things not seen [the conviction of their reality—faith comprehends as fact what cannot be experienced by the physical senses]. 2 For by this [kind of] faith the [a]men of old gained [divine] approval. 3 By faith [that is, with an inherent trust and enduring confidence in the power, wisdom and goodness of God] we understand that the worlds (universe, ages) were framed and created [formed, put in order, and equipped for their intended purpose] by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things which are visible. 4 By faith Abel offered to God a more acceptable sacrifice than Cain, through which it was testified of him that he was righteous (upright, in right standing with God), and God testified by accepting his gifts. And though he died, yet through [this act of] faith he still speaks. 5 By faith [that pleased God] Enoch was caught up and taken to heaven so that he would not have a glimpse of death; and he was not found because God had taken him; for even before he was taken [to heaven], he received the testimony [still on record] that he had walked with God and pleased Him. 6 But without faith it is impossible to [walk with God and] please Him, for whoever comes [near] to God must [necessarily] believe that God exists and that He rewards those who [earnestly and diligently] seek Him . . . [AMP]
As wider context, cf:
Rom 4:3 For what does the Scripture say? “Abraham believed in (trusted, relied on) God, and it was credited to his account as righteousness (right living, right standing with God).” . . . 5 . . . to the one who does not work [that is, the one who does not try to earn his salvation by doing good], but believes and completely trusts in Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is [b]credited to him as righteousness (right standing with God). Rom 10: 8 But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart”—that is, the word [the message, the basis] of faith which we preach— 9 because if you acknowledge and confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord [recognizing His power, authority, and majesty as God], and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart a person believes [in Christ as Savior] resulting in his justification [that is, being made righteous—being freed of the guilt of sin and made acceptable to God]; and with the mouth he acknowledges and confesses [his faith openly], resulting in and confirming [his] salvation. 11 For the Scripture says, “Whoever believes in Him [whoever adheres to, trusts in, and relies on Him] will not be disappointed [in his expectations].” 12 For there is no distinction between Jew and Gentile; for the same Lord is Lord over all [of us], and [He is] abounding in riches (blessings) for all who call on Him [in faith and prayer]. 13 For “whoever calls on the name of the Lord [in prayer] will be saved.” . . . . 17 So faith comes from hearing [what is told], and what is heard comes by the [preaching of the] message concerning Christ. [AMP]
In short, faith is well founded heart-felt, intelligible trust in God -- the ultimately trustworthy per canons of ethical theism in the Judaeo Christian tradition (focussed on the gospel of Christ) -- in accord with the reliable word of God, primarily communicated in Scripture and by sound preaching or teaching. It is founded on a theistic worldview that understands God to be The Good, The Creator-Sustainer, Lord and Saviour. The One who is there and is not silent and whose trustworthy Word is to be taken implicitly as grounds for warranted, credibly true belief. That is, knowledge that then leads to the response of acknowledgement, belief, trust and heart felt, enlightened conscience guided action. Which in the first instance includes a wholehearted acknowledgement of, godly sorrow for and decisive turning from wrong to right. That is, repentance manifested in fruitful discipleship marked by an ever increasing flow of life that balances love, truth spiritual power and moral purity/holiness. Faith, grounded on such a foundation, is evidence of what is hoped for, and a deposit in the heart guaranteeing receipt of what one does not yet see. Or even -- by dint of the limits of physical senses -- cannot see. (We can start with mindedness and the many invisible entities that Physics, Mathematics, Chemistry, History and Law, Economics etc have to address, For instance if an alternative is foregone, how can we discuss the opportunity cost of what was eliminated by virtue of not being chosen, save by faith in real choice and consequences, etc?) Such, is anything but the sort of blind, mindless leap that the modern caricature would substitute, having dismissed the historical weight of gospel and scripture and disregarding not only the testimony of the 500 but of millions ever since of the sort of God-wrought transformation that gives high confidence in God in accord with the authentic scriptures. (Cf here as a beginning.) On ethical Theism, the same Ep Rom is quite direct and challenging in an age where many believe belief in God is at best an ill founded commonplace notion and presume that atheism or agnosticism have the better of the case:
Rom 1:18 For [God does not overlook sin and] the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who in their wickedness suppress and stifle the truth, 19 because that which is known about God is evident within them [in their inner consciousness], for God made it evident to them. 20 For ever since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through His workmanship [all His creation, the wonderful things that He has made], so that they [who fail to believe and trust in Him] are without excuse and without defense. 21 For even though [d]they knew God [as the Creator], they did not [e]honor Him as God or give thanks [for His wondrous creation]. On the contrary, they became worthless in their thinking [godless, with pointless reasonings, and silly speculations], and their foolish heart was darkened. 22 Claiming to be wise, they became fools, 23 and exchanged the glory and majesty and excellence of the immortal God for [f]an image [worthless idols] in the shape of mortal man and birds and four-footed animals and reptiles. [AMP]
In effect, the teaching is that we instinctively know God is real but may culpably suppress it. That reality of God is manifest in the world without and from our own heart, mind and conscience within which, fairly responded to would confirm to us the soundness of ethical theism, opening the way to respond to the genuine voice of God through the gospel. That is why we are without excuse when we insist on putting up a substitute, a false picture of reality that distorts the testimony of creation and the testimony of heart, mind and conscience. We can start from that we find ourselves responsibly free and under moral government in a world that is a unified, orderly, evidently contingent (thus not self-explanatory) whole governed by laws which are in significant part intelligible. Where also, we will readily see that we can neither prolong chains of warrant forever nor resort to arbitrary circles of reasoning, so are forced to assess finitely remote start points of reasoning taken on trust amidst comparative difficulties. That is we all have worldviews with faith-points. The issue is in what we repose faith, why, and with what reasonableness. So yes, science and mathematics, too are inextricably entangled with faith-point commitments. Coming back, we must be responsibly and rationally free or else the project of reasoned inquiry to truth and right collapses. Where blind matter and energy interacting per purposeless forces and chance occurrences, cannot ground responsible, rational freedom. That is, evolutionary materialist scientism is self referentially incoherent and self -falsifying. We hardly need to point out that the older pagan appeal to images made to look like men and beasts, and to stories linked to such has long since fallen of its own weight. The cosmos is credibly contingent with a finitely remote and fine tuned beginning that sets it up for cell based life. That life is full of language based codes and linked processing, communication and control systems. It is full of information rich, functionally specific complex organisation and embeds code using von Neumann kinematic self replication interlocking with encapsulated, smart gated molecular nanotech using metabolic automata, the living cell. The logic of being tells us that that which has a beginning and/or is composite and contingent, has a cause; is not self-explanatory. Further to this, there is non-being, which has no causal capacity; so, were there ever utter nothing, such would forever obtain. But a world is. That points to a root of reality that is a necessary, independent, self explanatory being. Something inherently foundational to the existence of a world at all. Something adequate to the physical, biological, intellectual and morally governed world in which we find ourselves as responsibly free and rational, contingent beings. After centuries of debates, we are back where Paul was c 57 AD: the only serious candidate necessary being that fills the bill is the inherently good creator God, a necessary and maximally great being worthy of loyalty and the reasonable service of doing the good in accord with our evident nature. That may be hard to swallow, but it is in fact readily seen to be so by simply comparing the main alternatives on the table. (The flying spaghetti monster or the like parodies don't even begin to pass the serious candidacy test -- they would be composite combinations of separate antecedent components -- i.e. inherently contingent -- and so cannot be necessary beings.) The what is faith question indeed goes to the heart of the matter, and leads to a very challenging outcome. KF PS: White captcha screen of death; workaround. kairosfocus
Seversky: So would this be considered an adequate definition of “faith”? Yes and no. According to the text, faith is evidence. This is in direct contradiction to the meme that faith has something to do with a lack of evidence. Faith itself is evidence. What is faith evidence of or for? Faith is the evidence for "things not seen." Does science incorporate faith? Absolutely. Ergo, science and faith are not in conflict. Mung
Mapou @ 12: All politics is local. The New Atheist rails against "Christian Fundamentalists" because the people he tosses into that box are the ones that he perceives as most likely to obstruct the life he wants to live. EvilSnack
So would this be considered an adequate definition of "faith"?
Question: "What is the definition of faith?" Answer: Thankfully, the Bible contains a clear definition of faith in Hebrews 11:1: “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” Simply put, the biblical definition of faith is “trusting in something you cannot explicitly prove.” This definition of faith contains two aspects: intellectual assent and trust. Intellectual assent is believing something to be true. Trust is actually relying on the fact that the something is true. A chair is often used to help illustrate this. Intellectual assent is recognizing that a chair is a chair and agreeing that it is designed to support a person who sits on it. Trust is actually sitting in the chair. Understanding these two aspects of faith is crucial. Many people believe certain facts about Jesus Christ. Many people will intellectually agree with the facts the Bible declares about Jesus. But knowing those facts to be true is not what the Bible means by “faith.” The biblical definition of faith requires intellectual assent to the facts and trust in the facts.
I'm not sure if Feser really pointed it out but Coyne uses "religion" and "faith" interchangeably, as if they were the same thing... I don't care what kind of definition he came up with for both faith and religion, but they are just not the same thing like microevolution and macroevolution are not the same thing... Apparently, some new atheists; Polish Jews turned atheists, have written the intro to the book and the first chapter. I still blame Coyne for not being able to distinguish those two different terms and his editor for allowing this flawed theme to dominate most of his book... I really begin to believe that the publishing house had an overstock of paper, or got it for free, and that is why they published this lousy book... http://www.amazon.ca/Faith-Versus-Fact-Religion-Incompatible/dp/0670026530 BTW: Maybe Larry Moran could use the same publishing house to have his Junk DNA book published too? It can't get any worst than Coyne's... Or can it? J-Mac
I must admit atheists are lame ducks, and they seem to have about the same logic as a stick. Thoughtfulness is also absent. Andre
What's with Darwinism's unholy infatuation with fundamentalist Christianity? Could it be because they are two sides of the same coin? It's the work of the devil, I know. :-D Mapou
Excellent mike1962
Did Coyne also prove that he's a very poor theologian? New Atheists are very good at proving that. EvilSnack
That was the funniest review I've read in a while. A brilliant demolition job by Ed Feser. Jerry Coyne is never going to live this one down. vjtorley
Like with some American Idol contestants, you feel sorry that someone close to him didn't take him aside and tell him he's making a fool of himself. William J Murray
Biologist Jerry Coyne has managed to write what might be the worst book yet published in the New Atheist genre. True, the competition for that particular distinction is fierce. LoL. So true. Mung
Reading Coyne trying to do something as simple as defining his terms is like watching him play tennis with himself. And losing.
lol. That was a fun read. Thanks for posting it. tragic mishap
Here is a funny cartoon which at the heart of Coyne's science and where ID actually adds to science as opposed to being anti-science. ID is on the lonely road to the right. https://pbs.twimg.com/media/CZK5hBRUsAANYpd.png jerry
That article is quite specific about the contradictory nature of Coyne's book. That he ends up attacking "Bible Belt christians" is no surprise as they tend to be outspoken about their faith and I don't see anything wrong with that. I like people like that. I would love to see him debate John Lennox and his very kind style. I suppose Coyne wouldn't debate someone like Lennox, but it would be interesting to watch. This review won't make any difference to his followers though as #2 News has pointed out. People that only agree with their own and never look at other views if they aren't complementary. Of course that is a human trait that can apply to any of us if we are not careful. jimmontg
"Reading Coyne trying to do something as simple as defining his terms is like watching him play tennis with himself. And losing." Heh. Phinehas
Re Coyne's Faith vs. Fact tract: "In short, when all the qualifications are in, it seems that Coyne’s paradigm of “religion” is Bible Belt creationism. Apparently, he was absent the day his college statistics class covered the notion of a representative sample." A puzzle: Coyne could have written a book bashing those people, sold lots of copies, and got favourable reviews. One wonders why he felt he needed to talk nonsense about Jainism. His core market doesn't care. News
Could someone tell First Things that light grey on white is hard to read. Separate subject: A friend of mine who knows of my interest in science and religion passed along this link to an online course on science and religion being conducted by Catholics in Spain. Maybe some here will be interested: http://www.scienceandfaithbcn.com/en http://scienceandfaithbcn.com/en/curso/el-curso/59 jerry

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