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Jerry Coyne weighs in against Steve Meyer in Newsweek

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Caspian noted that Steve Meyer, author of The Return of the God Hypothesis, had a recent piece in Newsweek on that theme.

Darwinian evolutionary biologist Jerry Coyne was less than thrilled:

Meyer has managed to con the right-wingnuts at Newsweek into publishing the article below, which list three scientific discoveries that, says Meyer, point directly to God. They’re apparently the subject of his new book (published by HarperOne, the religious wing of Harper), Return of the God Hypothesis: Three Discoveries that Reveal the MInd Behind the Universe. If you go to its Amazon site, you find it highly lauded by those looking for any reason to believe in God. Since that is most Americans, these books usually get high ratings and sell respectably.

But,in truth, Meyer’s “Discoveries” have been long known, and have been debunked insofar as there are more plausible, naturalistic, and non-Goddy explanations for all of them.

Jerry Coyne, “Stephen Meyer in Newsweek: Three scientific discoveries point to God. As usual, his claims are misleading.” at Why Evolution Is True (July 15, 2022)

Coyne couldn’t prevent it but he can at least trash it. We like this state of affairs.

You may also wish to read: Jerry Coyne fires back at Egnor and Luskin. Having stated that he wouldn’t engage in a dialogue (which he would presumably be doing if he responded), Coyne conceded shortly afterward that “I may be forced by the laws of physics in making a few remarks.” And he makes more than a few. But he presses on: “one more before I grow ill.” Physics is a harsh master.

9 Replies to “Jerry Coyne weighs in against Steve Meyer in Newsweek

  1. 1
    EvilSnack says:

    He believes there are “right-wingnuts” at Newsweek? Just exactly what is this guy smoking?

  2. 2
    bornagain77 says:

    Jerry Coyne starts off his ‘rebuttal’ of Meyer’s Newsweek article by saying that the Genesis account of creation is just ‘a big mess’, and also that “It’s a stretch to harmonize this with what we know of the Big Bang,”

    But alas for Coyne, the creation account in Genesis, and in the Bible in general, (and when holding the ‘Days” to be long periods of time), holds up to scientific scrutiny. As Dr. Ross notes in the following lecture, “if you’re curious about how Genesis 1, in particular, fairs. Hey, we look at the Days in Genesis as being long time periods, which is what they must be if you read the Bible consistently, and the Bible scores 4 for 4 in Initial Conditions and 10 for 10 on the Creation Events'”

    ,,, ‘And if you’re curious about how Genesis 1, in particular, fairs. Hey, we look at the Days in Genesis as being long time periods, which is what they must be if you read the Bible consistently, and the Bible scores 4 for 4 in Initial Conditions and 10 for 10 on the Creation Events’
    – Hugh Ross – Latest Scientific Evidence for God’s Existence – 2014 video – quote from approx. 55 minute mark

    Reasons Forum: Putting Genesis to the Test – Dr. Hugh Ross – 2018 video

    As well it is important to note that ONLY the Bible was correct in its prediction for a completely transcendent origin of the universe. Atheistic Naturalism certainly did not predict a completely transcendent origin of then universe. Moreover, none of the other ‘ancient’ ‘holy’ books in the world predicted a completely transcendent origin of the universe. Only the Bible got it correct. Some later ‘holy’ books, such as the Mormon text “Pearl of Great Price” and the Qur’an, copy the concept of a transcendent origin from the Bible but also include teachings that are inconsistent with that now established fact. (Hugh Ross; Why The Universe Is The Way It Is; Pg. 228; Chpt.9; note 5).

    The Most Important Verse in the Bible (Genesis 1:1) – Prager University – video

    (Genesis 1 – Transcendent Origin) Scientific Evidence For God’s Existence (Hugh Ross) – 17:00 minute mark – video

    The Uniqueness of Genesis 1:1 – William Lane Craig – video

    Shoot, the late Austin Hughes himself, shortly before he passed away, pointed out to Jerry Coyne that Jerry Coyne’s challenge “to give me a single verified fact about reality that came from scripture or revelation” was satisfied by the Big Bang itself.

    Faith, Fact, and False Dichotomies – Austin L. Hughes – 2015
    Excerpt: Coyne issues the following challenge to his readers: “Over the years, I’ve repeatedly challenged people to give me a single verified fact about reality that came from scripture or revelation alone and then was confirmed only later by science or empirical observation.” I can think of one example, which comes from the work of St. Thomas Aquinas (whose writings Coyne badly misrepresents elsewhere in his book). Based on his exposure to Aristotle and Aristotle’s Arab commentators, Aquinas argued that it is impossible to know by reason whether or not the universe had a beginning. But he argued that Christians can conclude that the universe did have a beginning on the basis of revelation (in Genesis). In most of the period of modern science, the assumption that the universe is eternal was quietly accepted by virtually all physicists and astronomers, until the Belgian Catholic priest and physicist Georges Lemaître proposed the Big Bang theory in the 1920s. Coyne does not mention Lemaître, though he does mention the data that finally confirmed the Big Bang in the 1960s. But, if the Big Bang theory is correct, our universe did indeed have a beginning, as Aquinas argued on the basis of revelation.,,,

    Next Coyne takes issue with Penzias’s quote,

    “My argument,” Dr. Penzias concluded, “is that the best data we have are exactly what I would have predicted, had I had nothing to go on but the five books of Moses, the Psalms, the Bible as a whole.”
    – Dr. Arno Penzias, Nobel Laureate in Physics – co-discoverer Cosmic Microwave Background Radiation – as stated to the New York Times on March 12, 1978

    First off, Penzias is not alone in noting the correspondence between Big Bang cosmology and the Bible,

    “Certainly there was something that set it all off,,, I can’t think of a better theory of the origin of the universe to match Genesis”
    – Robert Wilson – Nobel laureate – co-discoverer Cosmic Microwave Background Radiation
    – Fred Heeren, Show Me God (Wheeling, Ill.: Daystar, 2000),

    “The question of ‘the beginning’ is as inescapable for cosmologists as it is for theologians…there is no doubt that a parallel exists between the big bang as an event and the Christian notion of creation from nothing”
    – George Smoot and Keay Davidson, Wrinkles in Time, 1993, p.189. – George Smoot is a Nobel laureate in 2006 for his work on COBE

    “Now we see how the astronomical evidence supports the biblical view of the origin of the world. The details differ, but the essential elements in the astronomical and biblical accounts of Genesis are the same: the chain of events leading to man commenced suddenly and sharply at a definite moment in time, in a flash of light and energy.”
    – Robert Jastrow – Founder of NASA’s Goddard Institute – ‘God and the Astronomers’ – Pg.15 – 2000

    Secondly, Coyne tries to refute Penzias’s observation about the consilience between cosmology and the Bible by appealing to, of all things, Darwinian evolution,

    “(Penzias) apparently never read the “five books of Moses”, because the creation story is absolutely contradicted by evolution, for which we have tons of evidence. (I wrote a book about that.). That’s why creationists and their subspecies Intelligent Design advocates fight against evolution. If Penzias’s statement is correct, he was a theological ignoramus.”
    – Coyne

    First off, appealing to Darwinism to try to refute cosmology is a huge non-sequitur on Coyne’s part. Shoot, Coyne himself honestly admitted that Darwinian evolution is “far closer to phrenology than to physics”.

    “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

    Secondly, Coyne falsely claimed that there is ‘tons of evidence’ for evolution.

    “Tons of evidence’?, Jerry?, Really???

    To be blunt, that specific claim from Coyne is a flat out lie. There is ZERO real-time empirical evidence for evolution. ZERO!!!

    Not one bacteria has ever been observed morphing into a new species of bacteria,

    Scant search for the Maker – 2001
    Excerpt: But where is the experimental evidence? None exists in the literature claiming that one species has been shown to evolve into another. Bacteria, the simplest form of independent life, are ideal for this kind of study, with generation times of 20 to 30 minutes, and populations achieved after 18 hours. But throughout 150 years of the science of bacteriology, there is no evidence that one species of bacteria has changed into another, in spite of the fact that populations have been exposed to potent chemical and physical mutagens and that, uniquely, bacteria possess extrachromosomal, transmissible plasmids. Since there is no evidence for species changes between the simplest forms of unicellular life, it is not surprising that there is no evidence for evolution from prokaryotic to eukaryotic cells, let alone throughout the whole array of higher multicellular organisms.
    – Alan H. Linton – emeritus professor of bacteriology, University of Bristol.
    – per times higher education

    Rapid Evolution of Citrate Utilization by Escherichia coli by Direct Selection Requires citT and dctA. – Minnich – Feb. 2016
    The isolation of aerobic citrate-utilizing Escherichia coli (Cit(+)) in long-term evolution experiments (LTEE) has been termed a rare, innovative, presumptive speciation event. We hypothesized that direct selection would rapidly yield the same class of E. coli Cit(+) mutants and follow the same genetic trajectory: potentiation, actualization, and refinement. This hypothesis was tested,,,
    Potentiation/actualization mutations occurred within as few as 12 generations, and refinement mutations occurred within 100 generations.,,,
    E. coli cannot use citrate aerobically. Long-term evolution experiments (LTEE) performed by Blount et al. (Z. D. Blount, J. E. Barrick, C. J. Davidson, and R. E. Lenski, Nature 489:513-518, 2012, ) found a single aerobic, citrate-utilizing E. coli strain after 33,000 generations (15 years). This was interpreted as a speciation event. Here we show why it probably was not a speciation event. Using similar media, 46 independent citrate-utilizing mutants were isolated in as few as 12 to 100 generations. Genomic DNA sequencing revealed an amplification of the citT and dctA loci and DNA rearrangements to capture a promoter to express CitT, aerobically. These are members of the same class of mutations identified by the LTEE. We conclude that the rarity of the LTEE mutant was an artifact of the experimental conditions and not a unique evolutionary event. No new genetic information (novel gene function) evolved.

  3. 3
    bornagain77 says:

    Moreover, as if that was not bad enough for Coyne, not even a single protein has ever been observed morphing into a completely new protein with a new function.

    “Enzyme Families — Shared Evolutionary History or Shared Design?” – Ann Gauger – December 4, 2014
    Excerpt: If enzymes can’t be recruited to genuinely new functions by unguided means, no matter how similar they are, the evolutionary story is false.,,,
    Taken together, since we found no enzyme that was within one mutation of cooption, the total number of mutations needed is at least four: one for duplication, one for over-production, and two or more single base changes. The waiting time required to achieve four mutations is 10^15 years. That’s longer than the age of the universe. The real waiting time is likely to be much greater, since the two most likely candidate enzymes failed to be coopted by double mutations.

    Again, to be blunt, Coyne’s claim that there is ‘tons of evidence’ for evolution is simply a flat out lie. There is ZERO real time empirical evidence for evolution. ZERO!!!

    Coyne then goes on,

    The naturalistic alternatives to the Big Bang for the origin of the Universe involve a number of theories that you can find here, here, here, and in other places. Now there’s little doubt that the Big Bang occurred; the question is whether this is how our present Universe began, and whether there are other universes originating in similar (or other) ways. The alternatives include a pure quantum fluctuation (“nothing is unstable” as Krauss noted), Brane models, and eternal inflation, in which different universes are created at intervals (the “multiverse”).,,
    – Coyne

    Coyne is right. Atheistic Naturalists, ever since Einstein’s ‘biggest blunder’, have desperately been trying to find a ‘work-a-round’ to the Big Bang for a long, long, time. Yet, all of their imaginary conjectures, trying to ‘explain away’ the Big Bang, have all, ultimately, failed.

    In the following video, Stephen Meyer explains exactly why each model that naturalists have put forth fails.

    Stephen Meyer Discusses the Big Bang, Einstein, Hawking, & More

    Next Coyne pins his hopes on Sean Carroll to try to refute the fine-tuning of the universe.

    “Sean Carroll gives five arguments in favor of naturalism and against the theistic argument for God from fine-tuning”
    – Coyne

    Yet, Luke Barnes has found all of Sean Carroll’s arguments against fine-tuning to be wanting,

    Has Sean Carroll Refuted the Fine-Tuning Argument? (1 of 5) – interview with Luke Barnes

    Next Coyne appeals to ‘bad design’ to try to refute intelligent design,

    (just taking humans, the recurrent laryngeal nerve, the swelling of the male prostate, and so on), show that the designer was not intelligent.
    – Coyne

    The ‘bad design’ argument against intelligent design has a long history. Charles Darwin himself used it. First off, its main flaw is that it is a theologically based argument, not a scientifically based argument.

    Is Your Bod Flawed by God? – Feb. 2010
    Excerpt: Theodicy (the discipline in Theism of reconciling natural evil with a good God) might be a problem for 19th-century deism and simplistic natural theology, but not for Biblical theology. It was not a problem for Jesus Christ, who was certainly not oblivious to the blind, the deaf, the lepers and the lame around him. It was not a problem for Paul, who spoke of the whole creation groaning and travailing in pain till the coming redemption of all things (Romans 8).

    Secondly, Coyne’s specific ‘scientific’ example that the recurrent laryngeal nerve is, in particular, a clear example of ‘bad design’ has been refuted,

    Medical Considerations for the Intelligent Design of the Recurrent Laryngeal Nerve – Casey Luskin – October, 2010
    Conclusion: Clearly, the RLN is performing many jobs, not just one. Its “intended function” is much more than simply innervating the larynx; and the larynx is in fact innervated directly, exactly as ID-critics say it should be.,, The argument against intelligent design of the RLN has collapsed.

    Again, Darwinists have a long history of claiming something was poorly designed only to find out later, via the scientific evidence itself, that they were wrong in their presupposition.

    Evolution’s “vestigial organ” argument debunked
    Excerpt: “The appendix, like the once ‘vestigial’ tonsils and adenoids, is a lymphoid organ (part of the body’s immune system) which makes antibodies against infections in the digestive system. Believing it to be a useless evolutionary ‘left over,’ many surgeons once removed even the healthy appendix whenever they were in the abdominal cavity. Today, removal of a healthy appendix under most circumstances would be considered medical malpractice” (David Menton, Ph.D., “The Human Tail, and Other Tales of Evolution,” St. Louis MetroVoice , January 1994, Vol. 4, No. 1).
    “Doctors once thought tonsils were simply useless evolutionary leftovers and took them out thinking that it could do no harm. Today there is considerable evidence that there are more troubles in the upper respiratory tract after tonsil removal than before, and doctors generally agree that simple enlargement of tonsils is hardly an indication for surgery” (J.D. Ratcliff, Your Body and How it Works, 1975, p. 137).
    The tailbone, properly known as the coccyx, is another supposed example of a vestigial structure that has been found to have a valuable function—especially regarding the ability to sit comfortably. Many people who have had this bone removed have great difficulty sitting.

    Vestigial Organs—Evidence for Evolution? – Dr. David Menton – July 7, 2014
    Excerpt: In 1893 the German anatomist Robert Wiedersheim expanded Darwin’s list of “useless organs” to 86. Listed among Wiedersheim’s “vestigial” organs were such organs as the parathyroid, pineal and pituitary glands, as well as the thymus, tonsils, adenoids, appendix, third molars, and valves in veins.1 All of these organs have been subsequently shown to have useful functions and indeed some have functions essential for life.

    Thus, given its history of failure, I would call Coyne’s appeal to the theologically based ‘bad design’ argument to be, to put it mildly, ‘scientifically problematic’.

    Coyne then finishes off his suppose ‘rebuttal’ of Meyer’s article by saying belief in God is slipping in America because, “People simply have grown up and stopped believing fairy tales.”

    Might it be too obvious to point out to Coyne that, since he has not one shred of real-time empirical evidence that Darwinian evolution is actually true, that he himself is guilty of believing in ‘fairy tales’? Or as the late Stephen Jay Gould himself once honestly admitted, evolutionists themselves are guilty of believing in a ‘just-so stories’.

    Sociobiology: The Art of Story Telling – Stephen Jay Gould – 1978 – New Scientist
    Excerpt: Rudyard Kipling asked how the leopard got its spots, the rhino its wrinkled skin. He called his answers “Just So stories”. When evolutionists study individual adaptations, when they try to explain form and behaviour by reconstructing history and assessing current utility, they also tell just so stories – and the agent is natural selection.
    Virtuosity in invention replaces testability as the criterion for acceptance.

    “… another common misuse of evolutionary ideas: namely, the idea that some trait must have evolved merely because we can imagine a scenario under which possession of that trait would have been advantageous to fitness… Such forays into evolutionary explanation amount ultimately to storytelling… it is not enough to construct a story about how the trait might have evolved in response to a given selection pressure; rather, one must provide some sort of evidence that it really did so evolve. This is a very tall order.…”
    — Austin L. Hughes, The Folly of Scientism – The New Atlantis, Fall 2012

    Perhaps Coyne should take his own advise and grow up and stop ‘believing fairy tales’?


    2 Corinthians 10:5
    Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;

  4. 4
    AaronS1978 says:

    Does any other then crap exit Jerry’s mouth?

  5. 5
    Fasteddious says:

    Coyne writes, “there are more plausible, naturalistic, and non-Goddy explanations for all of them.” OK, what is a plausible naturalistic explanation for any of the following?
    – the big bang (and please do not pretend the multiverse is an “explanation”)
    – the origin of life (but view Dr. Tour’s videos before pretending there is an explanation)
    – the Cambrian explosion (without vague Darwinian “just-so” stories)
    – human consciousness (with focus on “more plausible”, whatever that means in this context)
    Coyne has bluster, mockery and a wide audience of true believers, but little more it seems.
    As I like to say, ID replaces several science mystery explanations (AKA science of the gaps, or just “magic”) with one ontological Mystery with all its collected evidence.

  6. 6
    Silver Asiatic says:

    Here’s Jerry on the “more plausible” explanation for the origin of the universe:

    If the Big Bang did occur, which seems likely since we have tons of evidence for it, then that shows only that the Universe began, not how it began. If you say, “God did it,” that stops all research on how the Universe began, and it’s not an answer, just a fill in for “we don’t know” based on people who want to believe in God. Finally, the Bible is a really lousy description of how the Universe, the Earth, and then life on Earth came to be.

    “We don’t know how the big bang occurred but we’re 100% certain that God does not exist and plus, I don’t like the Bible”.

  7. 7
    AaronS1978 says:

    The idiot really doesn’t understand science, it’s all about asking questions, and obviously the only reason why he answered the way he did was because he doesn’t like the idea of God as an explanation

    If God did it, how did God do it? Wallah! the re-search continues

    Jerry shouldn’t be a teacher, he’s a buffoon and it’s embarrassing that he’s been allowed to teach at the level that he has for so long, he calls himself a scientist and yet he can’t ask a simple question

  8. 8
    zweston says:

    Where have all the darwinist crusaders gone? As stated… you can tell the strength of the position by the weakness of the objections raised.

  9. 9
    ET says:

    Jerry Coyne does not have any scientific explanation for our existence.

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