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Last religion post for the week: Jerry Coyne on religion

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File:A small cup of coffee.JPG Drat, just when I (O’Leary for News) complained that the new atheists had given up threatening each other with legal action, raising cain about genome mapper Francis Collins, or starting hoo-haws in elevators, this item turned up in the In Bin: Jerry Coyne in The Scientist :

But while science and religion both claim to discern what’s true, only science has a system for weeding out what’s false. In the end, that is the irreconcilable conflict between them. Science is not just a profession or a body of facts, but, more important, a set of cognitive and practical tools designed to understand brute reality while overcoming the human desire to believe what we like or what we find emotionally satisfying. The tools are many, including observation of nature, peer review and replication of results, and above all, the hegemony of doubt and criticality. The best characterization of science I know came from physicist Richard Feynman: “The first principle is that you must not fool yourself—and you are the easiest person to fool. So you have to be very careful about that.”

Feynman should be the one threatening legal action. It’s hard to believe he would want his name used in the context of say, if peer review is working, why all the retractions today? What about, just for example, the Columbia prof whose widely cited paper was based on data that seem to have been made up?

Was that a case of collective self-fooling? Who knows? The main thing is, waving pom poms for “science” is no help.

Coyne goes on:

In contrast, religion has no way to adjudicate its truth claims, for those claims rest on ancient scripture, revelation, dogma, and above all, faith: belief without sufficient evidence.

Actually, “religion” has a number of ways to adjudicate its truth claims, and here is just one:

The idea that basing decisions on evidence is unique to science is also bunk. Businesses do it all the time. For that matter, most Christians, if you asked them why they describe themselves as such, would say that it is the evidence for what Jesus has done for them and others.

And they wouldn’t be necessarily wrong: Religious people tend to be happier and healthier.

Why are students going into debt for education from sources like Coyne?

Okay, now back to our real work shortly.

See also: Wow. Catholic Darwinism goes nuts. A mass for Darwin. Or is this a joke?

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9 Replies to “Last religion post for the week: Jerry Coyne on religion

  1. 1
    Dr JDD says:

    Ahh Yes, always nice to hear the materialists harp on about “truth” and in the following breath admonish a belief system that cannot and does not select for truth therefore is self-defeating.

    This is highly ironic in the Christian sense as these so-called “new” atheists arrogantly portray their philosophies and world views as novel and intellectual yet fail to realise their arguments are as old as Christianity itself. After all, was it not Pilate who said to Jesus “What is truth?”

    As it is written – “nothing is new under the sun.”

  2. 2
    dl says:

    This has always bugged me:

    “faith: belief without sufficient evidence.”

    Its my understanding (and I’m certainly open to correction) that the word “faith”, used in the Bible, was basically a term that referred to legally binding contracts. For example, I have “faith” that I will be paid next week. I don’t KNOW it for certain, but I have good reason to believe it. Its not belief without evidence, or even belief without sufficient evidence. Its belief based on reasoning and experience.

    A

  3. 3
    News says:

    dl at 2: That is how I understand “faith” too. It has been the basis of my business for fifty years.

    Of COURSE one looks for evidence. But after a certain point, it comes down to faith. Does one trust the documentary evidence? The evidence of one’s senses?

    If a person really believes they can’t trust their interpretation of any of that, they ought to put their affairs in the hands of a trustee.

  4. 4
    bornagain77 says:

    as to:

    “But while science and religion both claim to discern what’s true, only science has a system for weeding out what’s false.”

    And, despite what Coyne’s emotional attachments may be, science has weeded out his religion of atheistic naturalism:

    When we remove the artificial imposition of the materialistic philosophy from the scientific method, (methodological naturalism), and look at materialism and Theism side by side, Theism is shown to be the true philosophy:

    1. Naturalism/Materialism predicted time-space energy-matter always existed. Theism predicted time-space energy-matter were created. Big Bang cosmology now strongly indicates that time-space energy-matter had a sudden creation event approximately 14 billion years ago.

    2. Naturalism/Materialism predicted that the universe is a self sustaining system that is not dependent on anything else for its continued existence. Theism predicted that God upholds this universe in its continued existence. Breakthroughs in quantum mechanics reveal that this universe is dependent on a ‘non-local’, beyond space and time, cause for its continued existence.

    3. Naturalism/Materialism predicted that consciousness is an ‘emergent property’ of material reality and thus should have no particularly special position within material reality. Theism predicts consciousness precedes material reality and therefore, on that presupposition, consciousness should have a ‘special’ position within material reality. Quantum Mechanics reveals that consciousness has a special, even a central, position within material reality. –

    4. Naturalism/Materialism predicted the rate at which time passed was constant everywhere in the universe. Theism predicted God is eternal and is outside of time. – Special Relativity has shown that time, as we understand it, is relative and comes to a complete stop at the speed of light. (Psalm 90:4 – 2 Timothy 1:9) –

    5. Naturalism/Materialism predicted the universe did not have life in mind and that life was ultimately an accident of time and chance. Theism predicted this universe was purposely created by God with man in mind. Scientists find the universe is exquisitely fine-tuned for carbon-based life to exist in this universe. Moreover it is found, when scrutinizing the details of physics and chemistry, that not only is the universe fine-tuned for carbon based life, but is specifically fine-tuned for life like human life (R. Collins, M. Denton).-

    6. Naturalism/Materialism predicted complex life in this universe should be fairly common. Theism predicted the earth is extremely unique in this universe. Statistical analysis of the hundreds of required parameters which enable complex organic life to be possible on earth gives strong indication the earth is extremely unique in this universe (Gonzalez). –

    7. Naturalism/Materialism predicted it took a very long time for life to develop on earth. Theism predicted life to appear abruptly on earth after water appeared on earth (Genesis 1:10-11). Geochemical evidence from the oldest sedimentary rocks ever found on earth indicates that complex photosynthetic life has existed on earth as long as water has been on the face of earth. –

    8. Naturalism/Materialism predicted the first life to be relatively simple. Theism predicted that God is the source for all life on earth. The simplest life ever found on Earth is far more complex than any machine man has made through concerted effort. (Michael Denton PhD) –

    9. Naturalism/Materialism predicted the gradual unfolding of life would (someday) be self-evident in the fossil record. Theism predicted complex and diverse animal life to appear abruptly in the seas in God’s fifth day of creation. The Cambrian Explosion shows a sudden appearance of many different and completely unique fossils within a very short “geologic resolution time” in the Cambrian seas. –

    10. Naturalism/Materialism predicted there should be numerous transitional fossils found in the fossil record, Theism predicted sudden appearance and rapid diversity within different kinds found in the fossil record. Fossils are consistently characterized by sudden appearance of a group/kind in the fossil record(disparity), then rapid diversity within that group/kind, and then long term stability and even deterioration of variety within the overall group/kind, and within the specific species of the kind, over long periods of time. Of the few dozen or so fossils claimed as transitional, not one is uncontested as a true example of transition between major animal forms out of millions of collected fossils. –

    11. Naturalism/Materialism predicted animal speciation should happen on a somewhat constant basis on earth. Theism predicted man was the last species created on earth – Man (our genus ‘modern homo’ as distinct from the highly controversial ‘early homo’) is the last generally accepted major fossil form to have suddenly appeared in the fossil record. (Tattersall; Luskin)–

    12. Naturalism/Materialism predicted that the separation of human intelligence from animal intelligence ‘is one of degree and not of kind’(C. Darwin). Theism predicted that we are made in the ‘image of God’- Despite an ‘explosion of research’ in this area over the last four decades, human beings alone are found to ‘mentally dissect the world into a multitude of discrete symbols, and combine and recombine those symbols in their minds to produce hypotheses of alternative possibilities.’ (Tattersall; Schwartz). Moreover, both biological life and the universe itself are found to be ‘information theoretic’ in their foundational basis.

    13. Naturalism/Materialism predicted much of the DNA code was junk. Theism predicted we are fearfully and wonderfully made – ENCODE research into the DNA has revealed a “biological jungle deeper, denser, and more difficult to penetrate than anyone imagined.”. –

    14. Naturalism/Materialism predicted a extremely beneficial and flexible mutation rate for DNA which was ultimately responsible for all the diversity and complexity of life we see on earth. Theism predicted only God created life on earth – The mutation rate to DNA is overwhelmingly detrimental. Detrimental to such a point that it is seriously questioned whether there are any truly beneficial, information building, mutations whatsoever. (M. Behe; JC Sanford) –

    15. Naturalism/Materialism predicted morality is subjective and illusory. Theism predicted morality is objective and real. Morality is found to be deeply embedded in the genetic responses of humans. As well, morality is found to be deeply embedded in the structure of the universe. Embedded to the point of eliciting physiological responses in humans before humans become aware of the morally troubling situation and even prior to the event even happening.

    16. Naturalism/Materialism predicted that we are merely our material bodies with no transcendent component to our being, and that we die when our material bodies die. Theism predicted that we have minds/souls that are transcendent of our bodies that live past the death of our material bodies. Transcendent, and ‘conserved’, (cannot be created or destroyed), ‘non-local’, (beyond space-time matter-energy), quantum entanglement/information, which is not reducible to matter-energy space-time, is now found in our material bodies on a massive scale (in every DNA and protein molecule).

    As you can see when we remove the artificial imposition of the materialistic philosophy (methodological naturalism), from the scientific method, and look carefully at the predictions of both the materialistic philosophy and the Theistic philosophy, side by side, we find the scientific method is very good at pointing us in the direction of Theism as the true explanation. – In fact it is even very good at pointing us to Christianity:

    General Relativity, Quantum Mechanics, Entropy & The Shroud Of Turin – (video)
    http://vimeo.com/34084462

    Related quotes:

    “In science’s pecking order, evolutionary biology lurks somewhere near the bottom, far closer to phrenology than to physics. For evolutionary biology is a historical science, laden with history’s inevitable imponderables. We evolutionary biologists cannot generate a Cretaceous Park to observe exactly what killed the dinosaurs; and, unlike “harder” scientists, we usually cannot resolve issues with a simple experiment, such as adding tube A to tube B and noting the color of the mixture.”
    – Jerry A. Coyne – Of Vice and Men, The New Republic April 3, 2000 p.27 – professor of Darwinian evolution at the University of Chicago

    “The central argument of my book is that intelligent design—the activity of a conscious and rational deliberative agent—best explains the origin of the information necessary to produce the first living cell. I argue this because of two things that we know from our uniform and repeated experience, which following Charles Darwin I take to be the basis of all scientific reasoning about the past. First, intelligent agents have demonstrated the capacity to produce large amounts of functionally specified information (especially in a digital form). Second, no undirected chemical process has demonstrated this power. Hence, intelligent design provides the best—most causally adequate—explanation for the origin of the information necessary to produce the first life from simpler non-living chemicals. In other words, intelligent design is the only explanation that cites a cause known to have the capacity to produce the key effect in question.”
    Stephen Meyer

    Stephen Meyer – The Scientific Basis Of Intelligent Design – video
    https://vimeo.com/32148403

    “In so far as a scientific statement speaks about reality, it must be falsifiable; and in so far as it is not falsifiable, it does not speak about reality.”
    Karl Popper – The Two Fundamental Problems of the Theory of Knowledge (2014 edition), Routledge
    http://izquotes.com/quote/147518

    It’s (Much) Easier to Falsify Intelligent Design than Darwinian Evolution – Michael Behe, PhD
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_T1v_VLueGk

    The Law of Physicodynamic Incompleteness – David L. Abel
    Excerpt: “If decision-node programming selections are made randomly or by law rather than with purposeful intent, no non-trivial (sophisticated) function will spontaneously arise.”
    If only one exception to this null hypothesis were published, the hypothesis would be falsified. Falsification would require an experiment devoid of behind-the-scenes steering. Any artificial selection hidden in the experimental design would disqualify the experimental falsification. After ten years of continual republication of the null hypothesis with appeals for falsification, no falsification has been provided.
    The time has come to extend this null hypothesis into a formal scientific prediction:
    “No non trivial algorithmic/computational utility will ever arise from chance and/or necessity alone.”
    https://www.academia.edu/Documents/in/The_Law_of_Physicodynamic_Incompleteness

    Verse and Music:

    1 Thessalonians 5:21
    but test them all; hold on to what is good,

    Evanescence – My Heart Is Broken
    http://www.vevo.com/watch/evan.....WV41100052

  5. 5
    wallstreeter43 says:

    It’s incredible the hypocrisy and dogmatism that is being shown by these atheist/materialists . What’s even more incredible is that they believe that they can actually fool anyone into believing this garbage lol.

    They must be using the old hitler adage of “if yup repeat the lie long enough they will eventually believe it ” .
    It worked for hitler but it doesn’t seem to have the same staying power coming from atheists . Maybe they need a slicker spokesperson .

    Fidel Castro anyone ?

  6. 6
    tjguy says:

    Atheists get a lot of mileage out of a miscaricature of what faith means. It is often presented as believing in something even though there is no evidence. Faith can be that. We call that kind of faith “blind faith”, but the disciples did not have blind faith in Jesus. They lived with Him; they observed Him; they saw his miracles; they heard his teaching; they experienced Jesus in a way that none of us ever can in this life.

    There are times when God calls us to believe in spite of the way things appear. When crossing the Jordan River, the priests had to put their foot in the raging waters trusting that God would protect them. The waters stopped and they, along with all Israel, walked over on dry land. All they had was God’s command to do that and a history of finding God to be trustworthy.

    But most of the time, we are not called on to exercise blind faith. Jesus told the crowds that if His words are not enough reason for them to believe Him in John 6, then they should believe because of His works. His works were meant to back up His claims. God gives us plenty of evidence to back up what He says.

    The Bible is a historical book. A quote from an article on Answers in Genesis: “Unlike many world religions, Christianity’s origins are not shrouded in an unwitnessed, mythical past.” [https://answersingenesis.org/jesus-christ/resurrection/resurrection-no-doubt-about-it/ I think this is a very important point! It can be verified! It didn’t happen in secret. No other religion is so tied to history or anywhere near as verifiable as Christianity.

    The resurrection is a case in point – read the above article to learn more! The disciples believed not only because of Jesus’ amazing wisdom filled authoritative teaching and wild claims, but they experienced so much and saw so much. They certainly did not have blind faith!

    God gave us the Bible so we too could know what happened back then. I do believe that our faith is not based on as much evidence as their faith was because we are not able to see and experience what they did, but we still have their written record as well as their faithful sacrificial life which they lived which shows their faith was genuine. No one knowingly lives, suffers, and sacrifices their life for a lie.

    We also have the added benefit of seeing how God has changed the lives of many people over the centuries. James and Paul and the disciples were simply the beginning. We have experienced that in our own lives, and we have seen God change the lives of friends and acquaintances as well. We have heard many testimonies of what God has done as well. So we know God is still changing lives today.

    No, the Christian faith is not a blind faith, or at least, it doesn’t have to be because there is evidence to back up at least some of what we believe. The rest – promises about the future, heaven, etc. – we take by faith based on the trustworthiness of what we can test, experience, and verify.

    When the Bible says we are saved by faith, it is not referring to a mere intellectual agreement to certain historical or theological facts, but an active trust in God to save us, a dependence on Him as opposed to our own efforts. Intellectual assent to certain truths is certainly necessary, but biblical faith is more than that. That alone is not enough. Faith is believing in Jesus, but also a trust in Jesus as opposed to self or anyone/anything else, to save us.

  7. 7
    Robert Byers says:

    Thats not right. Revealed religion by definition weeds out untruth by anything in opposition to the revealed religion. the bible claims to be a witness. So it is unless someone says its lying and proves it.
    A conclusion from religion has weeded out error.

    by the way. Science only weeds if they do it right. its really people doing the weeding. Science is just a methodology.
    Science does not weed away evolution because the weeders are not intellectually competent.
    where is the science behind evolution?? WHERE???

  8. 8
    kairosfocus says:

    F/N: While some do equate faith with blind unreasoning belief or trust, in fact all worldview foundations force us to address the options, (a) infinite regress [absurd], [b] question-begging circularity or [c] a finitely remote set of first plausibles that define a faith-point that is reasonable.

    The last requires that the view is rooted in start-points that have stood significant comparative difficulties evaluation on factual adequacy, coherence and balanced explanatory power [neither simplistic nor an ad hoc patchwork.]

    Cf, discussion here: http://nicenesystheol.blogspot.....u2_bld_wvu

    I further suggest that evolutionary materialist scientism — which Coyne et al obviously champion — is inherently self-referentially incoherent, self-falsifying and therefore (despite its confident manner pose) irrational. The core challenge can be put in a nutshell by citing Haldane’s longstanding challenge:

    “It seems to me immensely unlikely that mind is a mere by-product of matter. For if my mental processes are determined wholly by the motions of atoms in my brain I have no reason to suppose that my beliefs are true. They may be sound chemically, but that does not make them sound logically. And hence I have no reason for supposing my brain to be composed of atoms. In order to escape from this necessity of sawing away the branch on which I am sitting, so to speak, I am compelled to believe that mind is not wholly conditioned by matter.” [[“When I am dead,” in Possible Worlds: And Other Essays [1927], Chatto and Windus: London, 1932, reprint, p.209.]

    And while Coyne et al will hasten to dismiss this point, in fact it has never been adequately answered by evolutionary materialism advocates.

    Further, as I recently argued here at UD, on the strength of issues of being, roots of being and linked questions of our being under the government of OUGHT, a generic ethical theism is already a reasonable worldview stance.

    Going further, putting the weight of one’s soul on the foundation of the Christian gospel is also a reasonable stance, within the circle of ethical theism.

    Therefore the rhetoric of Coyne et al fails, fails utterly, fails in ever so many ways, and is patently disrespectful and tendentious.

    Someone with that level of education, surely, should recognise that a loaded redefinition of faith joined to superficial selectively hyperskeptical dismissals cannot be good enough.

    KF

  9. 9
    Silver Asiatic says:

    Browsing my local Barnes & Noble store science shelves … hey, there’s Jerry Coyne’s Faith vs. Fact: Why Science and Religion Are Incompatible … I guess when Jerry preaches his religious views, it’s “true science”, not a ‘pseudo-science’ like ID, right?

    [Jerry should get very upset that his philosophical views are cataloged in science. Maybe protest B&N.]

    That must be right because just down the shelf is “The God Delusion”.

    If every atheist writes a religious book like these, we could have an entire collegiate science program dedicated to God.

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