Immersion and Gaps

It was only a matter of time. Following the lead of other New Atheists leaders, it looks like Jerry Coyne has finally decided to cash in on the New Atheist movement:

Today I fly back to Chicago to begin teaching evolution to undergraduates, and I’ll also begin writing the book that has immersed me so deeply in theology over the last year. This almost certainly means that I’ll have to reduce the volume of my posts here, but, as Maru says, “I do my best.”

Imagine that! Who saw this one coming? Between all the constant postings and out-of-town talks, Coyne has spent a whole year immersed in theology. Not just immersed, but deeply immersed. Regardless of all this immersion, it is safe to say that Coyne has not been immersed as a scholar. Or an objective inquirer. Or an objective observer. As a New Atheist activist, his immersion would be saturated with disconfimation bias, with an eye to selling his book to the New Atheist community.

There is some more good stuff from the same posting below the fold.

Coyne speaks of his Gnu adventures:

Another critic, an engineer, was clearly an exponent of ID, and raised the perpetual question of abiogenesis—of the origin of life. The question is always the same: if science can’t explain how life originated, then how can evolution be right?
My answer, too, never varies: yes, we are not yet at a full understanding of how life began, but we are making progress (RNA world, etc.), and I predict that within 50 years we’ll have created life in the lab under realistic prebiotic conditions.

My, now that’s a brave prediction. Long after Coyne will be dead, science will have created life in the lab under realistic prebiotic conditions. I’m not sure why it’s 50 years instead of 20. Or 30. But there must be some mighty scientific thinking in there to reach such a specific prediction. But I have one question. What if the prediction turns out to be false? Is there any consequence to getting the prediction wrong?

But then it gets even better:

That won’t prove it happened that way, but will at least dispel creationist and ID assertions that it could not have happened at all. The engineer’s argument is the standard god-of-the-gaps one, and I added that even if science never could explain the origin of life, he would have to show how the putative God who really did it was his own Abrahamic god rather than, say, a space alien, Zeus, or Wotan. As Hitch used to say, he “still has all his work before him.”

LOL! Coyne, who regularly builds his atheism on the god-of-the-gaps approach, complains when a creationist engineer likewise embraces the god-of-the-gaps approach.

Given his response, there are at least two questions atheists like Coyne should address:

1. If science never could explain the origin of life, sure, the engineer would have to show how the putative God who really did it was his own Abrahamic god rather than, say, a space alien, Zeus, or Wotan. But wouldn’t it also mean atheism was false?

2. Refresh my memory. Explain again the type of data that counts as scientific evidence for the existence of God.

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7 Responses to Immersion and Gaps

  1. Bilbo says:

    1. Nah, coulda’ been space aliens.
    2. 900 foot Jesus.

  2. Bilbo says:

    Often have I tossed and turned, unable to sleep, wondering what we should make of a 899 foot Jesus.

  3. ChazIng says:

    And what of 899.9999 ft? Anyway, Coyne still needs to show how cascaded mutations lead to beneficial functions and information addition.

  4. Michael says:

    Often have I tossed and turned, unable to sleep, wondering what we should make of a 899 foot Jesus.

    LOL! You keep cracking me up.

    Maybe that would be good enough for agnosticism?

  5. Bilbo says:

    Not long ago Coyne admitted that he didn’t know the difference between epistemology and metaphysics. I’m really looking forward to what he has to teach us about theology.

  6. Michael says:

    The theology angle is probably for a chapter or two. I’ll bet the book looks like this:

    Lament the fact that most Americans don’t accept naturalistic evolution and blame it on religion.

    Argue that religion and science are incompatible.

    Respond to “sophisticated theologians”

    Blame religion for dysfunctional society.

    Call to action (with snipes at accomodationists)

  7. TFBW says:

    Darn it, Bilbo. Now you’ve got me wondering what conclusions we should draw if a 900-foot not-Jesus turns up. Seriously, what if it’s a 900 foot Charles Darwin? What then, eh?

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