This post was about an atheist facing death, and it is inspiring. This one is about an atheist blowhard – an evolutionary biologist who seems determined, so far as I can see, to collapse in the ruins of Darwinism. Some excerpts from Jerry A. Coyne’s “Religion in America is on the defensive” (USA Today, October 11, 2010):
Atheist books such as The God Delusion and The End of Faith have, by exposing the dangers of faith and the lack of evidence for the God of Abraham, become best-sellers. Science nibbles at religion from the other end, relentlessly consuming divine explanations and replacing them with material ones. Evolution took a huge bite a while back, and recent work on the brain has shown no evidence for souls, spirits, or any part of our personality or behavior distinct from the lump of jelly in our head. We now know that the universe did not require a creator. Science is even studying the origin of morality. So religious claims retreat into the ever-shrinking gaps not yet filled by science. And, although to be an atheist in America is still to be an outcast, America’s fastest-growing brand of belief is non-belief.
As neuroscientist Mario Beauregard and I demonstrate in The Spiritual Brain, materialist explanations have utterly failed in explaining the human mind. They continue to fail even as I write and you read, with one limp speculation after another.
Soft! There is ancient evil about:
But faith will not go gentle. For each book by a “New Atheist,” there are many others attacking the “movement” and demonizing atheists as arrogant, theologically ignorant, and strident.
Well, if so, you just heard from Exhibit 1.
It gets better:
Science operates by using evidence and reason. Doubt is prized, authority rejected. No finding is deemed “true” – a notion that’s always provisional – unless it’s repeated and verified by others. We scientists are always asking ourselves, “How can I find out whether I’m wrong?”
To that, I can only reply Climategate, which made clear that a number of key climate scientists were willing to manipulate the system. And in the age of Signature in the Cell (Harper One, 2009), Expelled (about attempts to suppress findings that contradict atheist materialism) did not help the new atheists’ image.
My favourite lines are
And this leads to the biggest problem with religious “truth”: There’s no way of knowing whether it’s true. I’ve never met a Christian, for instance, who has been able to tell me what observations about the universe would make him abandon his beliefs in God and Jesus. (I would have thought that the Holocaust could do it, but apparently not.) There is no horror, no amount of evil in the world, that a true believer can’t rationalize as consistent with a loving God. It’s the ultimate way of fooling yourself. But how can you be sure you’re right if you can’t tell whether you’re wrong?
Well, if one does not believe that one’s mind has an independent reality, one cannot tell whether anything at all is right or wrong. After all, if morality is all about survival of the fittest, then there is no morality, only survival of the fittest.
The funniest part is this:
Out of 34 countries surveyed in a study published in Science magazine, the U.S., among the most religious, is at the bottom in accepting Darwinism: We’re No. 33, with only Turkey below us.
The United States put men on the moon, mapped the outer planets, and generally leads in science. And it is more religious than other countries. So, if religion makes a difference, bring it on.
The real lesson is that leading nations lead. They can lead in both science and religion. There are nations out there having a fit about both.
More on the new atheism (atheism on stilts):
The new atheists: Santa’s sleigh came and went, and never gave them what they needed
Salvo 7: Just released edition features batty bioethicists, suckered scientists, senseless psychologists …
(And we don’t mind sayin’ it either.)
Imagine no Religulous
Also just up at The Mindful Hack, my blog on neuroscience and spirituality issues:
African religion: Begin by trying to understand
Media and religion: If people cannot safely say what they think, what effect can media have?
Christopher Hitchens: Attempting the good death without God
Branded but stranded? How seriously does Generation Y really take brands?