Atheism Darwinism Intelligent Design

Michael Egnor gets mail from Jerry Coyne

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Recently, Michael Egnor took issue with Darwinian evolutionary biologist Jerry Coyne’s question of who invented God. Now Coyne has replied:

In other words, ID itself refutes Egnor’s claim that God The Intelligent Designer cannot be sensed via an organ. The stupidity here (and I’m not pulling punches given that Egnor engages in name-calling) is to assume that a deity who is nonphysical cannot be apprehended through sense organs. If you’re a theist, that’s palpably ridiculous.

As for God giving us our “capacity for reason” specifically so we can know Him (do chimps know Him, too, since they have a capacity to reason?), that’s also ridiculous. If our capacity for reason gives us the “capacity to know immaterial reality and act on our knowledge”, then how come every religion has a different conception of immaterial reality? Egnor is a Christian; does he reject the Muslim belief that Jesus wasn’t the son of God but merely a prophet, and that Muhammad was given the true religion by Allah through Gabriel? Does he reject Hindu pantheism, or the animism of some tribes? Does he reject the thetans and Xenu-beliefs of Scientology?

Jerry Coyne, “Another breathtaking example of creationist Egnorance” at Why Evolution Is True

It’s too bad Jerry Coyne probably doesn’t want to discuss these matters seriously because they have been taken up that way elsewhere.

He refers to David Berlinski as a “biker.” At Berlinski’s age, that’s… admirable.

See also: If Darwinian biologist Jerry Coyne hadn’t existed, we would have had to invent him. We could end up with patent issues, never mind theological ones. So let’s be thankful we did not have to.

20 Replies to “Michael Egnor gets mail from Jerry Coyne

  1. 1
    clehrhoff says:

    Not much of an answer to Coyne.

  2. 2
    buffalo says:

    Ahhhh, not all religions are equally true. There is one that has the “fullness of truth”. One has to search for it.

  3. 3

    .
    When Coyne stops playing pitter-patter with his personal religious issues, and takes up the evidence of design on its unambiguous empirical terms; only then will he have actually provided something that ID needs to respond to. But he would never take such a risk.

    He’s a demagogue, and no one should expect him to be or do otherwise..

  4. 4
    PaoloV says:

    That’s a valid question:

    “If our capacity for reason gives us the “capacity to know immaterial reality and act on our knowledge”, then how come every religion has a different conception of immaterial reality?”

    I could add other similar questions:

    How come many people have different conceptions of differential and integral calculus, quantum physics, etc.?

    How come many people have different conceptions of the Holocaust, of the Apollo 11 mission, of the 2001-09-11 events in NYC?

    However, one important thing Jews, Christians and Muslims coincide is that the universe was made by God.

  5. 5
    ET says:

    Jerry Coyne:

    As for God giving us our “capacity for reason” specifically so we can know Him (do chimps know Him, too, since they have a capacity to reason?), that’s also ridiculous.

    Different levels of reasoning, Jerry. Chimps do not seem to engage in the abstract concept of mathematics. They most likely have not reasoned why the Sun goes away and comes back on a regular basis. Chimp reasoning seems to be limited to surviving, with brute force if nothing else. And even though that also pertains to some, many or even most humans, it obviously does not pertain to all.

    If our capacity for reason gives us the “capacity to know immaterial reality and act on our knowledge”, then how come every religion has a different conception of immaterial reality?

    Simple, Simon. We have not reached/ fulfilled that capacity and we are all still searching. It’s a real-life population genetic algorithm.

    There are many paths to the truth and variety is key to survival. That is not limited to genetics.

    (But methinks Dr. Egnor was talking about the capacity to know that there is an immaterial reality and act on that knowledge)

  6. 6
    AaronS1978 says:

    Coyne has an insultingly stupid idea of God and religion doesn’t he.

    He is just fantastically stupid And has a unbelievably sophomorish perception of these things

    Maybe instead of acting like he’s an expert on something he is most certainly not an expert at he should go talk to somebody who is actually an expert in the very thing that he criticizes oh wait that’s somebody he doesn’t respect a religious philosopher who believes in God like a priest or a rabbi

  7. 7
    bornagain77 says:

    As Jerry Coyne himself has made clear on several occasions, his materialistic Darwinian worldview itself has severely incapacitated his own ability to reason in a coherent fashion to begin with. For instance, Coyne explicitly denies the reality of his own free will,

    WHAT SCIENTIFIC TERM OR CONCEPT OUGHT TO BE MORE WIDELY KNOWN?
    Jerry A. Coyne
    Professor Emeritus, Department of Ecology and Evolution, University of Chicago; Author, Why Evolution is True; Faith Versus Fact: Why Science and Religion are Incompatible.
    Excerpt: Determinism
    A concept that everyone should understand and appreciate is the idea of physical determinism: that all matter and energy in the universe, including what’s in our brain, obey the laws of physics. The most important implication is that is we have no “free will”: At a given moment, all living creatures, including ourselves, are constrained by their genes and environment to behave in only one way—and could not have behaved differently. We feel like we make choices, but we don’t. In that sense, “dualistic” free will is an illusion.
    This must be true from the first principles of physics. Our brain, after all, is simply a collection of molecules that follow the laws of physics; it’s simply a computer made of meat. That in turn means that given the brain’s constitution and inputs, its output—our thoughts, behaviors and “choices”—must obey those laws. There’s no way we can step outside our mind to tinker with those outputs. And even molecular quantum effects, which probably don’t even affect our acts, can’t possibly give us conscious control over our behavior.
    https://www.edge.org/response-detail/27067

    Yet the denial of free will by Coyne an other Darwinian atheists undermines rationality and/or reason itself,

    Sam Harris’s Free Will: The Medial Pre-Frontal Cortex Did It – Martin Cothran – November 9, 2012
    Excerpt: There is something ironic about the position of thinkers like Harris on issues like this: they claim that their position is the result of the irresistible necessity of logic (in fact, they pride themselves on their logic). Their belief is the consequent, in a ground/consequent relation between their evidence and their conclusion. But their very stated position is that any mental state — including their position on this issue — is the effect of a physical, not logical cause.
    By their own logic, it isn’t logic that demands their assent to the claim that free will is an illusion, but the prior chemical state of their brains. The only condition under which we could possibly find their argument convincing is if they are not true. The claim that free will is an illusion requires the possibility that minds have the freedom to assent to a logical argument, a freedom denied by the claim itself. It is an assent that must, in order to remain logical and not physiological, presume a perspective outside the physical order.
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....66221.html

    1) rationality implies a thinker in control of thoughts.
    (2) under materialism a thinker is an effect caused by processes in the brain.
    (3) in order for materialism to ground rationality a thinker (an effect) must control processes in the brain (a cause). (1)&(2)
    (4) no effect can control its cause.
    Therefore materialism cannot ground rationality.
    per Box UD

    Jerry Coyne, via his Darwinian worldview, has even publicly stated that he believes he is a ‘meat robot’ and that his sense of self is a ‘neuronal illusion’:

    “You are robots made out of meat. Which is what I am going to try to convince you of today”
    Jerry Coyne – No, You’re Not a Robot Made Out of Meat (Science Uprising 02) – video
    https://youtu.be/rQo6SWjwQIk?list=PLR8eQzfCOiS1OmYcqv_yQSpje4p7rAE7-&t=20

    The Confidence of Jerry Coyne – Ross Douthat – January 6, 2014
    Excerpt: then halfway through this peroration, we have as an aside the confession that yes, okay, it’s quite possible given materialist premises that “our sense of self is a neuronal illusion.” At which point the entire edifice suddenly looks terribly wobbly — because who, exactly, is doing all of this forging and shaping and purpose-creating if Jerry Coyne, as I understand him (and I assume he understands himself) quite possibly does not actually exist at all? The theme of his argument is the crucial importance of human agency under eliminative materialism, but if under materialist premises the actual agent is quite possibly a fiction, then who exactly is this I who “reads” and “learns” and “teaches,” and why in the universe’s name should my illusory self believe Coyne’s bold proclamation that his illusory self’s purposes are somehow “real” and worthy of devotion and pursuit? (Let alone that they’re morally significant:,,) Read more here:
    http://douthat.blogs.nytimes.c.....oyne/?_r=0

    “What you’re doing is simply instantiating a self: the program run by your neurons which you feel is “you.””
    Jerry Coyne
    https://whyevolutionistrue.wordpress.com/2015/04/04/eagleton-on-baggini-on-free-will/

    Apparently Jerry Coyne’s ability to reason in a coherent fashion is so compromised by his Darwinian worldview that he is unable to see that “illusions are possible only for conscious minds.” As David Bentley Hart stated, “it is almost embarrassing to have to state it.”

    The Illusionist – Daniel Dennett’s latest book marks five decades of majestic failure to explain consciousness. – 2017
    “Simply enough, you cannot suffer the illusion that you are conscious because illusions are possible only for conscious minds. This is so incandescently obvious that it is almost embarrassing to have to state it.”
    – David Bentley Hart
    https://www.thenewatlantis.com/publications/the-illusionist

    Thus Jerry Coyne answers his own question as to why people have differing worldviews despite all of us having the capacity to reason. In so far as people are a-priorily religiously committed to their worldview being true, as Jerry Coyne himself is religiously committed to Darwinian evolution being true, people blind themselves to what reason has to say about their worldview.

    Only when we are able to dispassionately examine our own worldview with reason to see if it is indeed true, (or in Coyne’s case, to see if our worldview can even ground reasoning in the first place), and be willing to change our worldview if need be, will our ability to reason be able to overcome all of the inherent pride and prejudices that we all have in regards to our own worldviews being true.

    As should be obvious, such a dispassionate examination of one’s own worldview, by reason, to see if it is indeed true, is a rare ability among humans.

    In other words, reason itself although being very powerful in its own right as to bringing us a true vision of the world, is useless if people refuse, because of their inherent biases, to listen to what reason has to say about their worldview.

    Verse and quote:

    John 1:1
    “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God”

    What is the Logos?
    Logos is a Greek word literally translated as “word, speech, or utterance.” However, in Greek philosophy, Logos refers to divine reason or the power that puts sense into the world making order instead of chaos.,,,
    In the Gospel of John, John writes “In the beginning was the Word (Logos), and the Word was with God, and the Word was God” (John 1:1). John appealed to his readers by saying in essence, “You’ve been thinking, talking, and writing about the Word (divine reason) for centuries and now I will tell you who He is.”
    https://www.compellingtruth.org/what-is-the-Logos.html

  8. 8
    Barry Arrington says:

    Jerry does not even know how to ask the question properly. If he did, he would realize the answer to the question is in the question itself:
    What kind of being is the source of being?
    What is the potentiality of pure actuality?
    What is the contingency that resulted in necessity?

  9. 9
    EricMH says:

    Why have we had so many different scientific conceptions of matter if our mind can only access material reality?

  10. 10
    massam says:

    OT: can anyone give me some good sites debating darwinism and ID

    also some id sites too

  11. 11
    john_a_designer says:

    The following is something that I have shared on this site before which I think is relevant to the discussion here. It also brings us back from abstract concepts to real world empirical ones, which is the focus of ID.

    If Big Bang cosmology is true then the universe had a beginning. Furthermore, if we accept the standard model of the big bang, based on Einstein’s theory of general relativity, not only did the universe have a beginning but so did space and time. Therefore, based on what we presently know that there was no time (no before) the origin of the universe. So that empirically rules out any possibility of an infinite regress. In other words, there is no evidence that the universe always existed—yet logically something must have always existed. What is that something?
    Leibnitz argued that there are two kinds of being: (1) contingent being and (2) necessary, or self-existent, being. Contingent beings or things (books, ink, paper, planets or people, rocks trees and poison ivy etc.) cannot exist without a cause. By contrast, a necessary being does not require a cause. Everything we observe in the universe, including the universe as a whole, appears to be contingent. However, it is logically possible that whatever it is that caused the universe exists necessarily or, in other words, is self-existent. An eternally existing (or self-existing) transcendent being, does not require any other explanation because it is the explanation. To prove this simply ask yourself the question, ‘what caused the always existing something to exist?’ The answer should be obvious to anyone who considers the question honestly. Obviously, since it has always existed, it wasn’t caused by anything else, therefore, doesn’t need to be explained by anything else.

    The evidence from the “big bang” for example suggests that whatever caused the universe transcends the universe. Furthermore, if it is the cause of the universe it must, in some sense, have always existed. It must be eternal. Transcendence and eternality are attributes of what theists call God. So big bang cosmology gives us two thirds of what we mean by God.

    Theists also believe that God is personal. He has a mind and intelligence, volition and the ability to communicate with other personal beings. I would argue that for God to be the ultimate explanation (IOW maximally great) He must be personal. If the eternally existing, transcendent being is not personal then we are back at an infinite regress. Because whatever it was that caused the universe must have created it freely and intentionally. In other words, there wasn’t anything that caused God to create the universe. He created it simply because he wanted to.

    Does this argument prove that God exists? No it doesn’t. However it does offer a viable, logical and rational alternative to naturalism and materialism, as well as other world views, like pantheism.

    In his book, Not a Chance: The Myth of Chance in Modern Science & Cosmology, R.C. Sproul, outlines the parameters of logic on this question– whether or not the idea of a necessarily existing being is logically valid– as follows:

    “Logic requires that if something exists contingently, it must have a cause. That is merely to say, if it is an effect it must have an antecedent cause. Logic does not require that if something exists, it must exist contingently or it must be an effect. Logic has no quarrel with the idea of self existent reality [an uncaused cause or necessary being]. It is possible for something to exist without an antecedent cause. It remains to be seen if it is logically necessary for something to exist without an antecedent cause. For now it is sufficient to see that self-existence is a logical possibility. The idea is rationally justified in the limited sense that it is not rationally falsified. Something is rationally falsified when it is shown to be formally or logically impossible.” (p172-173)

    Again, I am not claiming that I can prove that God exists. My argument is really very modest. I am only arguing that (1) the concept of an uncreated, necessary or self-existent being is a logically valid and rational. And, (2) God as a necessary being is the best explanation why anything at all exists. The philosophical arguments for God’s existence are not the only reason Christian theists believe in God. Indeed, many people become Christians without even knowing about them.

  12. 12
    ET says:

    Thank you, JAD. That is a good answer to the infinite regress game. I will definitely be borrowing it as needed. 😎

  13. 13
    john_a_designer says:

    ET,

    You’re welcome to use it. However, please bookmark it so you can link back to the post above (#11). I want to make sure whoever you are debating gets full context.

    Ironically, none of our atheist interlocutors has ever even tried to refute my argument. I think I understand why (maybe.)

    It appears to me that most of them don’t understand the first thing about basic logic or have a clue how to make a logical argument. Apparently they think that just stating their personal opinion and/or making baseless assertions is equivalent to making an argument. Do they even understand the difference?

    But why should I even consider accepting their opinions and baseless assertions? I personally don’t accept non-arguments as arguments.

    I could speculate why they “reason” this way but I won’t. (They would probably be insulted.)

  14. 14
    Seversky says:

    To summarize:

    No one disputes the existence of intelligent design. We do it. But when we talk about ID here, we are talking about non-human intelligent design and we have no compelling evidence of its existence, unless you are proposing humans or their descendants from the far future travelled back to the distant past to create themselves.

    If there is only one true omniscient and omnipotent god then why are there so many different – and often incompatible – religions? That is a perfectly valid question and one which theists plainly have difficulty answering.

    Atheists are often accused of having a simplistic concept of religion that fails to grasp the subtleties and sophistication of true belief. Atheists believe that Christian apologists, for example, insult our intelligence by promoting versions of their faith which can only be sustained by purblind denial of the inconsistencies and contradictions that riddle their scriptures.

    The notion of free will is seriously undermined by the story of
    Peter’s triple denial of Jesus in the Bible itself. If an omniscient god knows that something will happen in the future then it’s not a question of probabilities, it will happen and there’s not a damn thing we can do about it. So what price free will?

    What is actually meant by free will? That’s not as easy a question as it sounds.

    Our senses only provide us with limited data about the outside world. We try to create models based on that data which we hope will lead us to phenomena we have not yet observed or whose existence we did not suspect. Billions of neutrinos are pouring through every square centimeter of our bodies every second as we sit here yet we are entirely unaware of them. We have no sense organs that can detect them. We would still be unaware of them if Wolfgang Pauli hadn’t suggested the particle to explain discrepancies between theory and the results of experimental observation.

    When Samuel Johnson was asked how we might refute Berkeley’s idealism, he kicked a stone and said “I refute it thus”. It wasn’t a refutation but the fact remains that our direct experience of the physical world is not changed one iota by our growing understanding of the truly weird nature of physical reality at the quantum level. A stone may not be made up of tiny particles of solid matter – neither may your foot – but if you kick one with the other it still hurts. If the state or nature of matter depends entirely on who is observing it, why should that be? If it’s all subjective, why is it we all see a red car if one drives by, why don’t some of us see a tabby cat or a pine tree?

    If the only way out of an infinite causal regress is to posit an uncreated, necessary creator, why not posit an uncreated, necessary universe? If there is no need of a creation event, there is no need of a creator.

    We have agreed that if there had ever been absolutely nothing, there would still be absolutely nothing. You can’t get something from nothing. The fact that there is something implies that there has always been something. This universe may have had a beginning but there must have been something there before

    The problem is that, whether you posit an uncreated, necessary creator or an uncreated, necessary universe or an infinite causal regress, you can’t get away from an infinity. Unless we’re missing something. Or maybe a whole lot of something.

  15. 15
    ET says:

    seversky:

    But when we talk about ID here, we are talking about non-human intelligent design and we have no compelling evidence of its existence…

    Of course we do and it has been presented. What we do NOT have is any evidence that blind and mindless processes could have produced said evidence.

    If there is only one true omniscient and omnipotent god then why are there so many different – and often incompatible – religions?

    The story of the Tower of Babel explains that.

    So to summarize- seversky is willfully ignorant and apparently proud of it

  16. 16

    .

    But when we talk about ID here, we are talking about non-human intelligent design and we have no compelling evidence of its existence

    This is the management of self-delusion; keep chanting a sacred mantra, regardless of how demonstrably false it is or your inability to intellectually defend it.

  17. 17
    anthropic says:

    Seversky, while on a whale watching tour in Alaska, I got to observe bubble net feeding, a fascinating coordinated strategy to maximize the whales intake of herring. Most whales haven’t learned this trick, as they are not born with it. This took non-human intelligence, which no one denies. So why deny that non-human intelligence & design are detectable?

  18. 18
    Ed George says:

    A @17, but when we talk about ID I don’t think we are talking about behaviour.

  19. 19
    ET says:

    Ed George:

    A @17, but when we talk about ID I don’t think we are talking about behaviour.

    Well, Ed, you never talk about ID because I doubt that you have any knowledge about it. That said, behavior is definitely part of ID and always has been. Living organisms behave the way they do because they were intelligently designed with that ability. The ability to change behavior is one of the most important aspects for survival.

  20. 20
    kairosfocus says:

    Sev, if there is only one true issue US currency, why are there so many counterfeits? Do the counterfeits prove there is no genuine article? Now, extend the linked ideas. KF

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