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“Gnu” Darwinist Jerry Coyne attacks mathematician David Berlinski

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David Berlinski

Recently Jerry “Why Evolution Is True” Coyne launched, via his blog, an attack on mathematician David “Devil’s Delusion  Berlinski that we thought was, well, unhinged. Assailing Berlinski for his comments on the 20th anniversary of Phillip Johnson’s Darwin on Trial, he opined,

Yesterday, at the Discovery Institute’s News and Views site, Berlinski wrote “Majestic Ascent: Berlinski on Darwin on Trial,” a post apparently designed to fête the twentieth anniversary of Phillip Johnson’s execrable Darwin on Trial: the book that launched the ID movement. Johnson’s book is full of inaccuracies and lies (I use the word deliberately, because no honest scholar could make the claims that he did). And, sure enough, Berlinksi’s post is full of lies as well. I’m not going to analyze it in detail, but here are a few blatant misrepresentations.

First, a specimen of how incredibly pompous and awkward Berlinski’s writing is. Do not write like this! I think he’s trying to ape Gould’s style, possessed with a big vocabulary but lacking Gould’s wit and erudition.

Actually, if you want to learn to write well, study Berlinski along with your Strunk & White, and recognize Coyne’s screed for what it is – a classic in twisted envy.  One might  envy many sentences written by Berlinski, Johnson, and Gould – none whatever by Jerry Coyne.  It’s not much to ask, either, that the lit critic be a competent practitioner.

In “Jerry Coyne Hasn’t Understood a Word David Berlinski Said” (Evolution News & Views, November 21, 2011) Ann Gauger of the Biologic Institute replies:

Jerry operates in an adaptationist world, where evidence of variation is evidence, if not proof, of natural selection. When he sees a good adaptationist story or a series of fossils that paint a transitional picture, he doesn’t seem to consider whether or not the details are plausible. He mentions, for example, the whale fossil series as proof that transitions happened, but fails to consider the incredibly shrinking window of time available, or the enormous amount of genetic information that is required for the transition from terrestrial to aquatic whales to have occurred. Did it occur by natural selection alone? There isn’t enough time, as David Berlinski and Rick Sternberg realized long ago. But not Jerry.

Jerry also ignores the disputes over adaptationalism vs. neutral evolution. The question is whether natural selection is powerful enough to overcome genetic drift, so as to drive evolution in a forward direction, or whether we are a lucky accumulation due to the drift of numerous genetic accretions. Motoo Kimura, Michael Lynch, and Austin Hughes see the trouble. And so does David Berlinski. But not Jerry.

It is no dispraise of Jerry to say that he has tenure for not seeing the problem. There are thousands like him across the Western world. With the position comes a pair of No See spectacles, to be worn at all times when assessing the evidence.

The fact that Jerry’s specialty, evolutionary biology, doesn’t matter a whole lot in itself postpones the day people gain positions like his – and then just refuse to wear those blinders, oops, specs.

7 Replies to ““Gnu” Darwinist Jerry Coyne attacks mathematician David Berlinski

  1. 1
    Joseph says:

    Coyne, as with most evotards, is so clueless that he still believes that all alternatives to the theory of evolution argue for the fixity of species.

    Hey Jerry, it isn’t that natural selection doesn’t exist. It is that natural selection isn’t selection and is just a result, an after-the-fact assessment. And not only that there are usually more than one trait that can be varied that can be beneficial. Also there is more than one way to vary any one trait.

    But anyway Jerry, the lies are all yours, as is the ignorance.

    And I would post this on your blog but you won’t allow that because you are also a coward.

    BTW how is the search for the whale’s nostril moving gene coming?

  2. 2

    I posted there but Jerry Coyne didn’t publish:


    Enezio E. de Almeida Filho
    Your comment is awaiting moderation.
    Posted November 21, 2011 at 11:40 am | Permalink

    Jerry Coyne makes an ass of himself defending Darwinism!!! Go back to the lab or the classroom, man or get a real job!!!

  3. 3
    bornagain77 says:

    Coyne could be upset at Berlinski because he didn’t make ‘the prayer list’ at DI in Berlinski’s article:

    At the Discovery Institute we often offer an inter-faith Prayer of Thanksgiving to the Almighty for the likes of P.Z. Myers, Larry Moran, Barbara Forrest, Rob Pennock and Jeffrey Shallit.

    For Donald Prothero, we are prepared to sacrifice a ram.

    If its any consolation Coyne, and though I’m a nobody myself, I’m very grateful to God that you so clearly epitomize the sheer irrationality of atheism! 🙂

    Here is a song to show my appreciation to you:

    Natalie Merchant-Kind And Generous

  4. 4
    Joseph says:

    Coyne reference:

    A gene moving the nostrils of an ancestral whale atop its head, so that they become a blowhole enabling it to breathe while partly submerged, will become fixed.

    Let’s see- crocs, gators, etc., remain mostly submerged yet have nostrils at the tip of their snout.

    Pinnepeds and beavers also remain mostly submerged yet have nostrils at the tip of their snout.

    Yup, Jerry “just say anything” Coyne. Heck I would figure a mutation or mutations that gave whales grasping hands at the end of their limbs should have become fixed…

  5. 5
    gpuccio says:

    And I thought that I had seen all from darwinists!

    But Jerry Coyne criticizing Berlinski for how he writes is really beyond imagination.

    I can see only one small similarity between the two.

    I have often laughed with the greatest intellectual pleasure reading Berlinski.

    And, yes, I have may have sometimes laughed (but for completely different reasons) reading Coyne…

    Again, just a couple of quotes, now more relevant than ever, form Berlinski’s essay:

    ” Biologists such as Jerry Coyne, Donald Prothero, Larry Moran or P.Z. Myers are of the opinion that if they cannot win the argument, they had better not lose it, and what better way not to lose an argument than to abuse one’s antagonist?”

    “At the Discovery Institute we often offer an inter-faith Prayer of Thanksgiving to the Almighty for the likes of P.Z. Myers, Larry Moran, Barbara Forrest, Rob Pennock and Jeffrey Shallit.

    For Donald Prothero, we are prepared to sacrifice a ram.”

  6. 6
    Robert Byers says:

    I am a YEC creationist who insists marine mammals are land creatures who adapted to the empty seas after the flood.
    There are not transitions between whales and their parents on the dry land yet there are variety’s because of great diversity.
    A great wrong presumption has been that diversity was a later act when in fact its the first act.
    The amazon is just a poor example of this. it simply is still the way it was soon after the flood.

    Creatures easily changed back in the day to fill the earth as God commanded.
    dogs do have webbed feet.
    Not because they are in transition however.
    I’m sure fossils will be found of all marine creatures in different body types indicating different degrees between living on land and in the sea.
    Yet not from evolution.

    In all this all sides make a logical fallacy.
    If marine mammals did or did not come first from the land then it proves/disproves evolution.
    in fact its just a very special case.

    Evolutionists use marine mammals because no other creatures have evidence at all of having had important anatomical change for a different life.
    they persuade themselves on the hunch that if whales came from the land then evolutions true.
    Special case.

  7. 7
    Joe says:

    Hi Robert- FYI- there are other YECs who insist marine mammals survived the Flood-

    For example AiG says:

    The Ark did not need to carry every kind of animal—nor did God command it. It carried only air-breathing, land-dwelling animals, creeping things, and winged animals such as birds. Aquatic life (fish, whales, etc.) and many amphibious creatures could have survived in sufficient numbers outside the Ark. This cuts down significantly the total number of animals that needed to be on board.

    just sayin’…

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