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New atheism: Jerry Coyne on John Gray on Richard Dawkins

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Will this be the first atheist ziggurat?

The New Republic has allowed Coyne to repackage his attack from his blog on John Gray’s attack on Richard Dawkins.

Here’s John Gray on Dawkins at The New Republic:

Among these traits, it is Dawkins’s identification with Darwin that is most incongruous. No two minds could be less alike than those of the great nineteenth-century scientist and the latter-day evangelist for atheism. Hesitant, doubtful, and often painfully perplexed, Darwin understood science as an empirical investigation in which truth is never self-evident and theories are always provisional. If science, for Darwin, was a method of inquiry that enabled him to edge tentatively and humbly toward the truth, for Dawkins, science is an unquestioned view of the world. The Victorians are often mocked for their supposed certainties, when in fact many of them (Darwin not least) were beset by anxieties and uncertainties. Dawkins, by contrast, seems never to doubt for a moment the capacity of the human mind—his own, at any rate—to resolve questions that previous generations have found insoluble.

Here’s Jerry “Why evolution is true” Coyne on John Gray:

It is “hard to resist the thought that a knighthood is Dawkins’s secret dream” only if you’re constantly carrying a burden of dislike for the man (I’m reminded of the story of the two monks). This is pure and invidious speculation on Gray’s part. And yes, it’s unconscionable that Darwin was never knighted, but I’ve never seen any signs that Dawkins thinks himself deserving of a knighthood. If you told him that he thought he should be as eminent as Darwin, Dawkins would just laugh at you, for he regards Darwin as the greatest biologist of the last two centuries, if not of all time. If one is psychologizing, one might as well speculate that Gray simply has an overwhelming hatred for atheists (in fact, one could say he has a self-hatred because he seems to be an atheist who wants to believe but can’t), and takes that out on Dawkins.

See also: This time, it’s PZ Myers and Sam Harris facing off at Twitter.

Is new atheism imploding? A friend wants to know if the News desk has scorecards handy. Says he can’t keep up.

Sorry, no, we prefer Saturday night hockey. It is faster, cleaner, more honest, and much safer:

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7 Replies to “New atheism: Jerry Coyne on John Gray on Richard Dawkins

  1. 1
    Dionisio says:

    … prefer Saturday night hockey. It is faster, cleaner, more honest, and much safer

    🙂

  2. 2
    bornagain77 says:

    as to:

    “If you told him that he thought he should be as eminent as Darwin, Dawkins would just laugh at you, for he regards Darwin as the greatest biologist of the last two centuries, if not of all time.”

    Darwin is hardly the “greatest biologist of the last two centuries, if not of all time.” In fact. Gregor Mendel, who lived at the same time as Darwin, is certainly far more important to biology than Darwin ever was. Mendel was an Austrian monk whose experiments and study of cross-breeding of plants laid the foundations of the gene theory and our understanding of modern genetics, (and whose work contradicts Darwin’s notion of unlimited plasticity). His foundational work in genetics is certainly of far more scientific value that Darwin’s unsubstantiated ‘just so’ stories ever were or are.
    In fact, I fervently believe that Darwinism, with its blind alleys such as ‘vestigial organs/junk DNA’ arguments etc.., has done far more harm to biological science than good, and as such, when history is finally written for biological science, and a true appreciation for the unfathomed complexity of life is achieved, Charles Darwin, and those who blindly followed his footpath for the last 150 years, will be looked upon with even greater scorn than we now have for the alchemists of yesteryear.

    “Charles Darwin said (paraphrase), ‘If anyone could find anything that could not be had through a number of slight, successive, modifications, my theory would absolutely break down.’ Well that condition has been met time and time again. Basically every gene, every protein fold. There is nothing of significance that we can show that can be had in a gradualist way. It’s a mirage. None of it happens that way.”
    – Doug Axe PhD.

  3. 3
    Eric Anderson says:

    I’m still trying to find something foundational that Darwin contributed to biology. Almost everything of substance in The Origin has turned out to be wrong or misplaced. That doesn’t mean Darwin wasn’t a smart guy. He was a gifted writer and rhetorician. And we cannot forget the fact that we have 150 years of additional scientific knowledge under our belt and are viewing his ideas in hindsight. He did not have those advantages. But the pedestal he is regularly placed on has far more to do with his rhetorical and philosophical impact than anything of scientific import. The portions of biology he got right are trivial; what he proposed that was not trivial was not right.

  4. 4
    roding says:

    UD has become my go to place for all the bad things that atheists do! Just love all the gossip.

  5. 5
    bornagain77 says:

    Eric, Darwin got something ‘trivial’ right in biology?

    Even this ‘lesser-known’ hypotheses of Darwin’s was recently shown to be wrong,,,

    Old Idea About Ecology Questioned by New Findings – April 2014
    Excerpt: One of Charles Darwin’s lesser-known hypotheses posits that closely related species will compete for food and other resources more strongly with one another than with distant relatives, because they occupy similar ecological niches. Most biologists long have accepted this to be true.
    Thus, three researchers were more than a little shaken to find that their experiments on fresh water green algae failed to support Darwin’s theory ,,,
    “When we saw the results, we said ‘this can’t be.”‘ We sat there banging our heads against the wall. Darwin’s hypothesis has been with us for so long, how can it not be right?”
    The researchers — who also included Charles Delwiche, professor of cell biology and molecular genetics at the University of Maryland, and Todd Oakley, a professor in the department of ecology, evolution and marine biology at the University of California, Santa Barbara — were so uncomfortable with their results that they spent the next several months trying to disprove their own work. But the research held up.,,,
    The scientists did not set out to disprove Darwin, but, in fact, to learn more about the genetic and ecological uniqueness of fresh water green algae so they could provide conservationists with useful data for decision-making. “We went into it assuming Darwin to be right, and expecting to come up with some real numbers for conservationists,” Cardinale says. “When we started coming up with numbers that showed he wasn’t right, we were completely baffled.”
    http://www.livescience.com/452.....f-bts.html

  6. 6
    bornagain77 says:

    of related interest to Darwin being wrong,,,

    “The embryos of the most distinct species belonging to the same class are closely similar, but become, when fully developed, widely dissimilar.” This is,,, “by far the strongest single class of facts in favor of my theory.”
    Charles Darwin – Origin of Species (1859), Letter to Asa Gray (1860)

    Yet, Darwin was completely wrong with his ‘strongest single class of facts’,,

    There is no highly conserved embryonic stage in the vertebrates: – Richardson MK – 1997
    Excerpt: Contrary to recent claims that all vertebrate embryos pass through a stage when they are the same size, we find a greater than 10-fold variation in greatest length at the tailbud stage. Our survey seriously undermines the credibility of Haeckel’s drawings,
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9278154

    Failures of Evolution: Phylogeny Recapitulates Ontogeny – video
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qv1TyS09nLM

    Haeckel’s Bogus Embryo Drawings – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ecH5SKxL9wk

    Icons of Evolution 10th Anniversary: Haeckel’s (Bogus) Embryos – January 2011 – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lAC807DAXzY

    also of interest, Darwin’s finches are another fable,,,

    Back to School to Learn about the “Darwin’s Finches” Icon of Evolution – Casey Luskin – September 22, 2012
    Excerpt: Frank J. Sulloway of Harvard University showed that, really, Darwin was hardly influenced by finches and scarcely observed their feeding habits. He did not correlate their diets and beaks; in fact, Darwin collected too few specimens to determine whether any finch species was unique to each island. He did not even keep track of where he picked up every specimen. Really, no finch species was unique to any one island. Unfortunately, some teachers and writers remain unaware of Sulloway’s historical findings.
    (Alberto A. Martinez, Science Secrets: The Truth about Darwin’s Finches, Einstein’s Wife, and Other Myths, pp. 95-96 (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2011).),,,
    It looks like Jonathan Wells has been vindicated once again. It would be nice to think that someday biology textbooks will be amended accordingly.
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....64601.html

    The Grants (who studied Darwin’s finches) made a long presentation at Stanford in 2009 on their work. It is available for all to see on the internet. In it they give the game away. All the so called Darwin finches can inner breed. Doesn’t happen much but it does happen and they have viable offspring that reproduce. Here is the link:

    Darwin’s Legacy | Lecture 5 – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IMcVY__T3Ho

    To save you some time. Start at about 109:00 and follow Rosemary for a few minutes till at least 112:00. Then go to 146:30 and listen to Peter. Before this is the inane prattle by two of Stanford’s finest who do not understand that the Grants are saying that the whole evolution thing is a crock.

    Darwin’s Finches Show Rule-Constrained Variation in Beak Shape – June 10, 2014
    Excerpt: A simple yet powerful mathematical rule controls beak development, Harvard scientists find, while simultaneously preventing beaks from evolving into something else.,,,
    We find in Darwin’s finches (and all songbirds) an internal system, controlled by a non-random developmental process. It is flexible enough to allow for variation, but powerful enough to constrain the beak to its basic form (a conical shape modulated by scaling and shear) so that the rest of the bird’s structures are not negatively affected. Beak development is controlled by a decay process that must operate at a particular rate. It’s all very precise, so much so that it could be modeled mathematically.,,,
    The very birds that have long been used as iconic examples of natural selection become, on closer examination, paragons of intelligent design.
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....86581.html

    As if that was not bad enough,,

    Darwin ‘Wrong’: Species Living Together Does Not Encourage Evolution – December 20, 2013
    Excerpt: Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution set out in the Origin of Species has been proven wrong by scientists studying ovenbirds.
    Researchers at Oxford University found that species living together do not evolve differently to avoid competing with one another for food and habitats – a theory put forward by Darwin 150 years ago.
    The ovenbird is one of the most diverse bird families in the world and researchers were looking to establish the processes causing them to evolve.
    Published in Nature, the research compared the beaks, legs and songs of 90% of ovenbird species.
    Findings showed that while the birds living together were consistently more different than those living apart, this was the result of age differences. Once the variation of age was accounted for, birds that live together were more similar than those living separately – directly contradicting Darwin’s view.
    The species that lived together had beaks and legs no more different than those living apart,,,
    ,,,there is no shortage of evidence for competition driving divergent evolution in some very young lineages. But we found no evidence that this process explains differences across a much larger sample of species.,,,
    He said that the reasons why birds living together appear to evolve less are “difficult to explain”,,,
    http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/darwi.....on-1429927

  7. 7
    bornagain77 says:

    OT: Biological Information – What is It? 10-11-2014 by Paul Giem – video
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JjrJbC4SnpU

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