Jerry Coyne’s Conversion To Atheism Had Nothing To Do With Science

It looks like Jerry Coyne’s conversion to Atheism had nothing to do with science. Here is an excerpt from the Chicago Tribune, 1/20/2008 [HT: Dhay

One of the more colorful scientific de-conversion stories comes from Jerry Coyne, a professor of genetics and evolutionary biology at the University of Chicago. It happened in 1967 when Coyne, then 17, was listening for the first time to the Beatles’ “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” album while lying on his parents’ couch in Alexandria, Va.

Suddenly Coyne began to shake and sweat. For reasons he still doesn’t understand, it dawned on him at that moment that there was no God, and he wasn’t going anywhere when he died. His casual Judaism seemed to wash away as the album played on. The crisis lasted about 30 minutes, he says, and when it was over, he had left religion behind for good. He went on to study how new species evolve, and found the Darwinian view of nature perfectly in tune with his abandonment of faith.

That Coyne’s conversion came from listening to the Beatles also means his conversion had nothing to do with reason or evidence and instead occurred because of some sudden, intuitive insight. Yet, to this day, Coyne tries to make it sound like he is an atheist because of reason, evidence, and science.

The most significant part of the story is that Coyne is like Dawkins and Myers – they all became atheists when they were teenagers. This means it was “adolescent logic” that led to their atheism. For example, having abandoned belief in God at 17, it’s safe to say Coyne has never given any serious, open-minded thought to God since he was 17. To this day, when he thinks about God and argues about God, he does so with the mind of a 17-year-old (or an adult trying to explain why a 17-year-old’s logic was right). And that explains why his arguments about God and religion are the arguments of an adolescent – demanding signs and magic while treating religious people, and those not hostile enough to religion, as if they are not part of the right clique.

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30 Responses to Jerry Coyne’s Conversion To Atheism Had Nothing To Do With Science

  1. I think there are a few flaws in your logic, here.

    I’ll agree that it seems readily apparent, from that story, that Coyne’s initial reasoning for his atheism wasn’t founded upon any thorough understanding of science. However, that does not– in any way– imply that “to this day, when he thinks about God… he does so with the mind of a 17-year-old.”

    When atheists claim that Christians acquire their beliefs as children, and therefore think about God with the mind of a child, I’m sure you (rightfully) object to this characterization. Why, then, would you think this is an appropriate line of attack against someone else?

  2. GM says:

    The fascinating (heart breaking) thing about these guys is their rage. They cannot for the life of them see the obvious theological conclusion that drives everything they say and do: Coyne will only believe in a god (whatever that means) that will permit a belief based on “I will assume (pursue to the ends of the earth) atheism until theism is stuffed down my experiential throat, on my terms.”

    When Dawkins makes his 15-foot Jesus-from-the-ground illustration of something that would not change his belief, he is a hair’s breath away from saying “I would deny God to His face.”

    Neither of those are Reason. Those are both theological constructs based on rage.

  3. Mark Plus says:

    So how do you explain people who grew up as atheists, and then stayed that way? I’ve met a few atheists like that, and to me many of them seem light-years ahead of the rest of humanity, almost like characters from an advanced civilization out of science fiction.

    In a way I feel jealous of them. They didn’t have time in their youth wasted on hearing foolish preachers warning them to “get right with the lord” because the end times could start any minute now, as I had to put up with while growing up in “rapture ready” Tulsa in the 1960’s and 1970’s. I could have spent that time learning more useful things.

    Ironically these preachers have probably died by now in the usual ways, without getting raptured. Funny how the actuarial tables still have a better track record of predicting the future than bible prophecy.

    Of course, growing up as an atheist solves one set of problems, but it doesn’t necessarily address other problems. Madalyn Murray O’Hair made a career of advocating sexual freedom, for example, and she says explicitly in her Playboy interview that she thought girls should start to have sexual relationships as early at 13, and boys as early as 15. Yet I have read and heard from multiple sources, including from a couple of guys in her American Atheists organization who knew Madalyn and her family, that her younger son, the atheist activist Jon Garth Murray, never had a sexual relationship and never moved out of Madalyn’s house, Madalyn’s atheist granddaughter Robin (Jon’s niece) lived with them right up through the time of their abduction and murder in 1995 by a disgruntled ex-employee and violent career criminal named David Waters, plus accomplices. From what I’ve read, Madalyn apparently managed to keep Robin from having sexual relationships as well.

    Now, you would think from Madalyn’s pronouncements about atheistic sexual fulfillment that anyone who grew up in the household of such a sex-positive mother or grandmother would have enjoyed a more sexually adventurous life than most people. What a letdown to realize that instead of living the dream of sexual self-actualization, Jon and Robin, the heirs of what many of Madalyn’s fans considered America’s first family of atheism, lived like sexually abstinent christians and probably died adult virgins.

    For some reason the atheists who still think highly of Madalyn don’t want to talk about the weirdness of her family situation and how far it diverged from her articulated philosophy.

  4. GM says:

    Well I think you highlight the false dichotomy of the simplistic “religion vs irreligion” in each of their broadest senses as objectively and automatically better, one over the other. The specific content of each matters very much as to their formative benefits. The reason that conversation is so tedious is because fundamentalists and the Gnus refuse to tolerate the concept that anything remotely resembling their “opponents” could possibly result in a productive member of society. Which is patently stupid.

  5. Kevin says:

    So wait. Atheists mock Francis Collins and say he converted to Christianity after looking at a waterfall, but Coyne is a rational man who converted to atheism after listening to the Beatles?

  6. Kevin says:

    Mark, I would be willing to bet that if there was a kid who grew up as an atheist and stayed that way, that they would probably not be a Gnu. That subset of atheists is typically driven purely by hyper-emotional hatred of religion, so I don’t see a lifelong atheist being irrational enough to be a Gnu. Unless their parents were,m I suppose.

  7. GM says:

    Kevin, I think it’s more than possible that the child of Gnu parents could rebel to a pretty serious degree. I would be fascinated to talk to Richard Dawkins’ daughter in 30 years. Not that I have any prediction as to what her views would be, at all, but when your dad is a highly controversial guy known for borderline antisocial behavior and a bombastic following, your worldview formation narrative is going to be the subject of interest.

  8. TFBW says:

    @Mark Plus:

    So how do you explain people who grew up as atheists, and then stayed that way?

    You have a real knack for irrelevant comebacks.

    I’ve met a few atheists like that, and to me many of them seem light-years ahead of the rest of humanity, almost like characters from an advanced civilization out of science fiction.

    I suspect this tells us more about you than about them, but if they’re really that amazing, do us a favour and persuade them to write a book or something. They might make a refreshing change from the I’m-so-rational-and-religious-folks-are-so-dumb rants we get from the celebrity atheists like Coyne (who, we now see, actually had a non-rational conversion experience while listening to the Beatles as a teenager).

  9. The Deuce says:

    For reasons he still doesn’t understand, it dawned on him at that moment that there was no God, and he wasn’t going anywhere when he died. His casual Judaism seemed to wash away as the album played on

    So the non-free-will-having meat robot attained deep knowledge about the ultimate nature of the universe through a mystical experience of divine revelation while listening to The Beatles, apparently. Well okay then.

  10. @ Mark Plus:

    “So how do you explain people who grew up as atheists, and then stayed that way? I’ve met a few atheists like that, and to me many of them seem light-years ahead of the rest of humanity, almost like characters from an advanced civilization out of science fiction.”

    All I can say is, you must read some pretty naff science fiction.

  11. Arti San says:

    At first I thought this blog was a parody of something. Is it? Starting from the intense (and frankly weird) obsession with Coyne and Dawkins, how do the sweeping generalizations about atheism follow?

    Are you a Roman Catholic? It seems that you are applying (perhaps projecting) the model of Roman Catholicism onto atheism. Roman Catholics have a pope who is able to speak infallibly on church teachings. Catholic dogmas must be accepted in order to call oneself Catholic. Not holding some dogmas is, literally, anathema (“If anyone says … let him be anathema”).

    None of that remotely exists in atheism, which is founded upon ideas, not upon the authority of certain individuals, much less upon specific Internet bloggers of your choosing. You seem to think that by hyper-focusing on a few individuals, you are proving or disproving something about atheism. Maybe read a book instead? If you focused on ideas instead of individuals, you couldn’t be so easily (and laughably) dismissed.

    Have you seen the documentary “Deliver Us From Evil”? It details the criminal — actually evil — actions of the Roman Catholic leadership in shuffling around pedophiles from parish to parish. Following your strategy of picking particular persons to speak for all of atheism, we could pick these Catholic leaders to speak for Catholicism, concluding that Roman Catholicism is evil. Does that sound reasonable to you?

    Note the stark contrast, however. On the one hand we have actual-authority-holding cardinals and bishops doing evil things. On the other hand, we have zero-authority atheist bloggers whose worst sins are saying things that you don’t agree with, whom atheists (and anyone else) are free to ignore or even chastise.

  12. TFBW says:

    Starting from the intense (and frankly weird) obsession with Coyne and Dawkins, how do the sweeping generalizations about atheism follow?

    This blog is not just a collection of random ramblings. It has a subject, and that subject is New Atheism — its façade of rationality, and its actual intellectual bankruptcy. This blog has an “obsession” with New Atheists like Coyne and Dawkins (among others) in exactly the same way that a text on ornithology has an “obsession” with birds. As for sweeping generalisations about atheism, you are reading those into the text. The subject is New Atheism: it follows that any generalisations in the blog posts should be considered generalisations about that narrow but noisy sub-species of atheism unless stated otherwise.

    As for the bulk of your comment, you basically attack Roman Catholicism in retaliation for a perceived attack on atheism in general, and I won’t be drawn into such a brawl. However, I will point out that this kind of rhetorical assault in lieu of rational argument is a typical New Atheist form of engagement: The God Delusion is chock-full of it, for example.

    On the one hand we have actual-authority-holding cardinals and bishops doing evil things. On the other hand, we have zero-authority atheist bloggers whose worst sins are saying things that you don’t agree with, whom atheists (and anyone else) are free to ignore or even chastise.

    Ah, yes, the “I’m rubber and you’re glue” gambit, which tries to establish evil by association rather than argue anything about the existence of God rationally. Well, Mr Rubber, I don’t see you availing yourself of the opportunity to ignore or chastise these people that you are so free to ignore or chastise: on the contrary, you’re taking the opportunity to snipe back at Roman Catholicism. By your own standards, how should we interpret that?

    Feel free to not answer that, by the way, because your tribal association is irrelevant at the end of the day. What matters here is quality of rational argument. Make a point and back it up with sound reasoning. All you’ve done so far is partake in a smear campaign against Roman Catholicism. That’s not reasoning: it’s political rhetoric.

  13. Dhay says:

    I’ll re-post in combined form two of my responses to the 5th June blog:

    1. Jerry Coyne, in his blog dated March 10, 2013, entitled “More woo and anti-science rants at TEDx” (See http://whyevolutionistrue.wordpress.com/2013/03/10/more-woo-and-anti-science-rants-at-tedx/), manages to communicate the profundity (or seeming profundity) of psychedelic states with consummate ease:

    When I was in college, a friend and I were—as was the custom in the Sixties—spending an evening under the influence of psychedelic substances. Suddenly I had a brilliant insight into the nature of the universe. Knowing I’d forget it, I wrote it down on a scrap of paper. After a while I went to bed, and when I awoke the next day I remembered the paper and reached eagerly into my pocket for it. On it was scrawled my eternal truth, which turned out to be this:

    “The walls are fucking BROWN.”

    Many who grew up in the Sixties have a story like this.

    So much for profundity.

    2.

    One of the more colorful scientific de-conversion stories comes from Jerry Coyne, a professor of genetics and evolutionary biology at the University of Chicago. It happened in 1967 when Coyne, then 17, was listening for the first time to the Beatles’ “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” album while lying on his parents’ couch in Alexandria, Va.

    Suddenly Coyne began to shake and sweat. For reasons he still doesn’t understand, it dawned on him at that moment that there was no God, and he wasn’t going anywhere when he died. His casual Judaism seemed to wash away as the album played on. The crisis lasted about 30 minutes, he says, and when it was over, he had left religion behind for good.

    Coyne might have been suffering from the effects of an excess of banana peel at the time – see his blog dated February 22, 2014 entitled, “Caturday felids: Catnip madness!”.

    Or Coyne might have been experiencing the effects (or after-effects, ie flashbacks) of LSD – his blog dated August 26, 2013, entitled, “I Want to Tell You”, tells us he was taking LSD in 1966 at age 16, “The song [on “Revolver” (1966)] came out when I was in high school and the psychedelic era was just reaching the East Coast. Imbued with drugs, romanticism, and the sense that I was a more complex person than I really was (psychedelics will do that), I thought the lyrics really spoke to me.”

    Or Coyne might not have been experiencing drug effects at all, but some sort of abnormal but natural temporary imbalance of chemicals in the brain, or (as Michael “The Believing Brain” Shermer would explain it) some sort of brain seizure – the sort of seizure Shermer implies Francis Collins experienced by the waterfall.

    Whatever: the important point is that the only difference between Coyne’s drug-perceived certainty that he had a “brilliant insight into the nature of the universe”, namely, “The walls are fucking BROWN”, and his surely equally hallucinated, “it dawned on [me] there was no God”, is that in the first, the strong sense of profundity evaporated; whereas in the second, his strong sense of certainty persisted, locked in, and became a lifetime anti-religious obsession.

    A lifetime anti-religious obsession based on what: on something of similar cause and profundity as his laughable LSD hallucination.

  14. apollyon911 says:

    Vox Day has noted that the majority of atheists appear to have become atheists during their adolescence, suggesting their understanding of theology, theism and apologetics stalled at the point of ‘conversion’.

    Based upon the arguments put forward by atheists, this explanation strikes me as very accurate.

  15. Arti San says:

    TFBW, I had assumed it was clear that when I asked “Does that sound reasonable to you?” the answer was “No.” Thus it wasn’t an attack of any sort.

  16. TFBW says:

    I take your point. Do you take the point about this blog being on the subject of New Atheism, or do you still think that the author is “applying (perhaps projecting) the model of Roman Catholicism onto atheism?”

  17. Arti San says:

    If the blog’s purpose is to lampoon New Atheism then it is pitifully ineffective because it merely snipes at particular Internet bloggers and the drama among them. It may even fail backward — it is as if an atheist is running the blog in order to convey the message that theists are unable to address the arguments for atheism, opting instead to focus on Internet personalities. I don’t know why efforts have hitherto been so comically misdirected — maybe the author(s) really believe that attacking individuals accomplishes something? It does seem that there is an operating notion of attacking authority, hence the comparison with Catholicism. Otherwise it is a peculiar personal obsession with Dawkins and Coyne, undermining the blog’s purported purpose by portraying the author(s) as kooks.

    If we concern ourselves instead with the arguments behind atheism, it’s not clear how “New Atheism” is very different from anti-religious sentiments expressed throughout history. The following sounds a bit like an excerpt from the God Delusion, but it was written over 200 years ago by Thomas Paine:

    “Whenever we read the obscene stories, the voluptuous debaucheries, the cruel and torturous executions, the unrelenting vindictiveness, with which more than half the Bible is filled, it would be more consistent that we called it the word of a demon, than the word of God. It is a history of wickedness, that has served to corrupt and brutalize mankind; and, for my part, I sincerely detest it, as I detest everything that is cruel.”

  18. Feli says:

    If there’s one idea I could implant in the head of every New Atheist, it would be this: Rejecting religion by itself does not constitute a rejection of theism. Thomas Paine (who is quoted above) heaped scorn on Christianity, but was, at the end of the day, a vocal theist (specifically a deist). Likewise with Voltaire and Thomas Jefferson.

    So therein lies one difference: An inability, due to a limited conceptual vocabulary, to make crucial distinctions. The earlier unbeliever could generally distinguish between religious issues and properly philosophical issues such as the existence of God, whereas the average New Atheist cannot. Old Testament writings are cavalierly lumped together with metaphysics, and so from the get-go, there is no proper carving of the conceptual territory. There’s no carving at all. It’s all “religion” to him, so long as it’s perceived to provide a buttress for “obscene” religious belief.

    And this leads inevitably to a very weird state in which he remains completely ignorant of philosophy while disparaging it all the same.

  19. TFBW says:

    It’s hard to address your comments because they are spoken from a certain perspective, and that perspective is the very problem that I am trying to address. Your comments presuppose that New Atheism presents rational arguments which are best addressed with rational counter-arguments — you refer to “arguments” for atheism twice in the previous comment. I wish it were so: I’d far rather be constructing rational counter-arguments, but instead I must invest my efforts in pointing out that the vast majority of things presented by prominent New Atheists are not rational arguments, even though they are presented as such. One can not construct a rational counter-argument until a rational argument has actually been given.

    New Atheism is distinct from both traditional atheism and traditional anti-theism in that it declares a monopoly on reason, and then almost entirely fails to use it, screening the actual lack of reason with the insistence that it is the only reasonable alternative. Whereas traditional atheists and traditional anti-theists have been satisfied to express the opinion, “ours is the better argument,” the New Atheist crowd go to the extreme of declaring the opposing positions to be anti-reason, anti-science, delusional, evil, pathological, or all of the above. (I hope I don’t need to cite examples, as this blog is replete with them.) This is not a conclusion they arrive at by means of reason: it is simply part of their propaganda, but always presented in a loincloth of “reason” which seems to fool the masses.

    As such, the principal thing that one is obliged to do in addressing New Atheism, is highlight their utter hypocrisy. This, no doubt, comes across as a personal attack, and is what you are taking exception to. If you can suggest a more polite manner in which one can effectively draw attention to the base hypocrisy of hypocrites, I’m all ears: I have no desire to be more offensive about it than is absolutely necessary.

    Another thing you assume is that the “arguments” for New Atheism can be addressed independently of the most prominent authors on the subject. Aside from the fact that those arguments are virtually non-existent, because it’s a movement based primarily on vitriol and propaganda, I’m really not sure what you expect of us in that regard. We don’t criticise prominent New Atheist authors and commentators like Dawkins, Harris, Stenger, Boghossian, et al, because we believe them to occupy a position of authority similar to the pope, nor is it because we wish to criticise atheism by attacking the worst examples of it. We target them simply because they are influential within the specific sect that we are addressing. People buy their books. They get press coverage. They get invited to be keynote speakers at atheist conferences and “reason” rallies. They are the de facto spokespersons in a field that has no de jure ones.

    People seem to be under the impression that these folks are behaving like rational scientists and arriving at scientifically reliable sorts of conclusions, and that is a spell we wish to break — if not among those who have already drunk the Kool-Aid, then at least among those who are considering it. We aren’t the only ones doing this. There are some perfectly sensible atheists out there who also line up the New Atheists for much the same criticism now and then. When they do, of course, they immediately get mobbed by the fanatical New Atheist rank and file, so it’s little wonder that they criticise sparingly — it’s entirely thankless, and motivated only by a desire to keep reasonable atheism distinct from the New Atheist cesspool. When an atheist criticises New Atheism, of course, it’s much more effective, because it can’t be framed as an emotionally-motivated attack on atheism. The exact same point from a theist can be, and usually is, summarily dismissed as sour grapes.

    Have I made my position clear? Has it changed your perspective? Is there some way I could have prevented this whole misunderstanding up front? Or are we still exactly where we were?

  20. Kevin says:

    You seem to think that by hyper-focusing on a few individuals, you are proving or disproving something about atheism. Maybe read a book instead? If you focused on ideas instead of individuals, you couldn’t be so easily (and laughably) dismissed.

    Many New Atheists are constantly quoting people like Dawkins, Harris, Coyne, Boghossian, etc. If it is easily established that these famous New Atheists are by all appearances unable to use reason to form or judge ideas – and this is very easily established – then what does that in return say about those who constantly quote them? The entirety of New Atheism can be dismissed as intellectually bankrupt so long as the most famous of their number are still being viewed as reasonable spokespeople.

    It may even fail backward — it is as if an atheist is running the blog in order to convey the message that theists are unable to address the arguments for atheism, opting instead to focus on Internet personalities.

    And those arguments are…what, exactly? One thing I’ve noticed about New Atheists is, being a group driven by emotional and irrational hatred toward religion instead of logic and evidence, they do not seem to grasp the difference between attacking Christianity and defending atheism as a coherent worldview. You can snipe at Christianity all the live-long day, and even score points against it, and atheism will remain completely illogical. You can destroy every religious worldview that has ever existed, and atheism will remain completely illogical. I’ve yet to see a New Atheist offer any compelling defenses of atheism as a worldview, which is unsurprising since, based on a decade of interacting with probably hundreds of them, I’m pretty well convinced that they are atheists because they hate religion and not because they actually understand any defenses of atheism.

    If we concern ourselves instead with the arguments behind atheism, it’s not clear how “New Atheism” is very different from anti-religious sentiments expressed throughout history.

    According to atheism.about.com, the term “new atheist” was coined by an agnostic/atheist named Gary Wolf, who apparently was not a fan of the aggressive, hyper-emotional, black-and-white antitheism of emerging writers like Sam Harris, Richard Dawkins, and Daniel Dennett. So if we are to question what is “new” about the New Atheists, we’ll have to ask nonbelievers why they created the phrase. And even if it’s a misnomer, it’s pretty well understood by most people familiar with the theism/atheism debate that New Atheists refer to the extremist atheists who are incapable of entertaining any thought about religion that isn’t negative. And that subset is what this blog is about.

    I assume Michael spends little time attacking arguments for atheism because New Atheists themselves can’t defend atheism, they can only attack religion due to their irrational views. As was stated earlier by TFBW, you can’t counter with rational argument unless a rational proposition has been presented to analyze. New Atheists don’t provide many.

  21. Michael says:

    I’ll agree that it seems readily apparent, from that story, that Coyne’s initial reasoning for his atheism wasn’t founded upon any thorough understanding of science.

    It’s not about a “thorough understanding of science.” His conversion had nothing to do with science, reason, or evidence.

    However, that does not– in any way– imply that “to this day, when he thinks about God… he does so with the mind of a 17-year-old.”

    Why not? Since the age of 17, Coyne has believed God to be a fantasy and has not given the topic any open-minded inquiry. If you stop taking any subject seriously, then your understanding of that subject is stuck at the level when you stopped taking it seriously. And this explains why Coyne’s arguments against God are the arguments a 17-year-old would make (like the demand to see a 900 foot tall Jesus).

    When atheists claim that Christians acquire their beliefs as children, and therefore think about God with the mind of a child, I’m sure you (rightfully) object to this characterization. Why, then, would you think this is an appropriate line of attack against someone else?

    You are confused. The transition from Christian child to Christian adult does not entail the Christian stop taking the topic of God seriously. I did not become a Christian until around the age of 20. And even I can say I no longer have my 20-year-old conceptions of God and the world.

  22. Michael says:

    Arti San,

    You should read and address the comments made by TFBW and Kevin, given they completely neutralize your complaints and criticisms. As for addressing arguments for atheism, the main argument is this: “There is no evidence for God, therefore God belief is not rationally justified. Therefore, those who believe in God are either ignorant, brain-washed, dishonest, or mentally ill.” I have addressed that argument from multiple angles, explained the errors, and no atheist has been about to come up with counter-arguments. You can click on the posts taggged “evidence” to see examples.

  23. Dhay says:

    That Coyne’s conversion came from listening to the Beatles also means his conversion had nothing to do with reason or evidence and instead occurred because of some sudden, intuitive insight. Yet, to this day, Coyne tries to make it sound like he is an atheist because of reason, evidence, and science.

    Contrast Jerry Coyne’s conversion with that of Francis Collins. Michael Shermer, in his “The Believing Brain”, Chapter 2, reports that Collins’ …

    “…journey from atheist to theist, which at first was a halting intellectual process filled with the internal debates scientists typically have with themselves when working on new ideas.”

    “The internal debates scientists typically have with themselves when working on new ideas” are rational, evidential and scientific, are they not. Shermer here confirms that Collins’ “waterfall” conversion experience was the final intuitive working-out of a long process of rational enquiry. Shermer’s jibe at Collins, that “smart people believe weird things because they are skilled at defending beliefs they arrived at for non-smart reasons”, arguably misses the mark where Collins is concerned.

    But it looks to be bang on the mark where Coyne is concerned.

  24. Dhay says:

    An update: Jerry Coyne’s original link from his blog to the original Richard Dawkins Foundation For Reason and Science (reason and science have apparently been dropped at the new RDF website), to an article there which detailed Coyne’s conversion experience — that link from Coyne’s blog recently stopped working; so I provided a link to a different article, on another website, containing the identical passage.

    I find that the original article linked to by Coyne is actually still there on the old RDFRS website, at http://old.richarddawkins.net/articles/2139.

  25. Dhay says:

    Jerry Coyne > “…shake and sweat…it dawned on [me] there was no God…”
    Coyne’s anti-religious obsession plainly originated in a hallucination.

    He’s a very obsessive character anyway: of the last 46 of Coyne’s blog posts — seven days’ worth — 15 have featured cats; and seven — one each and every day — have featured a cat speaking to him in Polish. Many of us like cats, but: this champion of reason and rationality — is he fully sane?
    http://whyevolutionistrue.wordpress.com/2014/08/22/friday-hili-dialogue-44/

  26. apollyon911 says:

    Autism? It seems to correlate with Atheism

  27. Kevin says:

    Oops. I have Asperger’s so I guess I’m not doing it right lol

  28. Dhay says:

    http://whyevolutionistrue.wordpress.com/2014/08/26/kings-college-london-comes-to-its-senses-deep-sixes-postgraduate-theology-curriculum/

    On the evidence of Coyne’s blog dated August 26, 2014, entitled, “King’s College London comes to its senses, deep-sixes postgraduate theology curriculum”, it is obvious that Coyne fully understands what is actually going on there: King’s College London – a university – has decided it can no longer afford to run all the courses it used to, and has economised by accepting no new entrants to its post-graduate courses in theology and ministry – or to a number of courses in other departments unspecified by Coyne or by his “The Tablet” source; the undergraduate courses in theology and ministry will be unaffected; those part-way through multi-year post-graduate courses in theology and ministry will continue to completion.

    The course professors have now found (better?) posts at prestigious universities elsewhere (and “The Tablet”, though not Coyne, quotes Kings College as assuring that alternative arrangements have been made to ensure adequate supervision of the post-graduate students affected.) With the exception of this very last minor point, Coyne tells us it all.

    But on the evidence of that same blog, Coyne is exhibiting severe cognitive dissonance and struggles to understand himself what he has explained so clearly to us.

    I think it’s called confirmation blindness: Coyne evidently wishes that all universities would “deep-six” (ie abolish) these courses – at a stroke, even mid-course, by the look of it – and has in his blog evidently decided, quite contrary to the evidence he himself presents, that King’s College has actually done so; then Coyne gets very confused by the clash between the clarity of his vision of what he wants, and which he just won’t accept hasn’t happened, and the (for him) inconceivable reality.

    Only in the daydreams of Jerry Coyne do the administrators of a reputable university in a civilised country even hear, let alone heed and act upon the anti-religious rantings of an obscure professor in a foreign country, and cancel courses at that professor’s whim. Only in Coyne’s daydreams has King’s College heard him, and “come to its senses.” Only in Coyne’s daydreams can the description “ostensibly made on financial grounds” be applied to the university’s decision.

    Only in the daydreams of Jerry Coyne will a university’s administrators experience such a violent revulsion to religion that they will tell students on multi-year courses, who have already undertaken one or more years of study, and incurred the considerable expense of course fees and student (living expenses) loans for those years, that their time and money has been for naught.

    Only in the daydreams of Jerry Coyne will a university’s administrators do the same to the surely much larger number of undergraduates studying those courses with them.

    Only in the daydreams of Jerry Coyne does a financial imperative become “ostensibly” (ie become not) a financial imperative – I think Alistair McGrath would have blown the whistle on that deception, if attempted; only in his daydreams is a decision taken on clearly stated purely financial grounds actually a strong and sudden reaction by the university’s administrators against the very idea that Theology and Ministry courses should be taught at university.

    Interesting: 44 comments on Coyne’s blog, and none of them show a better understanding than Coyne has. Perhaps they don’t understand either; perhaps they don’t want to show him up.

    Read Coyne’s blog and see if you agree with me that Coyne is living in a fantasy world.

  29. Dhay says:

    Jerry Coyne’s ‘Hili Dialog’ blog post dated 12 June 2016 includes:

    Lagnaippe: my favorite Get Fuzzy strip of all time, which I finally found:

    https://whyevolutionistrue.wordpress.com/2016/06/12/sunday-hili-dialogue-123/

    Tell you anything about Coyne’s fond remembrance of LSD usage? This is the man who remembers vividly which album was playing at the “moment” of his conversion, but evidently was too out of his mind to have any idea which track.

  30. hikayamasan353 says:

    I used to be a New Atheist myself when I turned 16, it happened right in Christmas, while listening to Jonathan Fin’s “There is No Santa Claus” and taking it too literally and seriously. Back then I was an active member of a website called Kidzworld, and many of my website mates were also militant atheists and thinking that by mocking religious people, science will advance (Mehta?), religion and science are incompatible and science is superior to religion (Coyne?), involving the “Santa Claus argument”, “God of the Gaps argument” and other fallacies and distortions in logic. This later became quite dramatic because of an argument with a Muslim girl, she explained everything delightful and positive about Islam, which only made me then trying to talk about Al-Qaeda (now ISIS), etc… Later, all this New Atheist position started being shaken by arguments from other atheists, let alone religious people, and it started fusing and transmuting into agnosticism, then deism, humanism, re-adopting spiritual practices such as Feng Shui, following the “question everything” approach and applying it to New Atheist agenda, trying to test/verify all spiritual practices and finding supporting evidence, all the supporting evidences I’ve found were usually anecdotal and personal but more evidence shall be expected (open-mindedness?), even trying to come back to Santa… while having some skepticism about him as well, but also about the “Santa Parents” theory too (it’s not just the parents but anyone can put gifts under the tree).

    A skeptic is a person who is curious and aware about the contradictions, inconsistencies and other weak spots in a claim, and uses them to test it, not an actively doubting, denying person who makes up claims to the contrary. Questioning and denying are two different things. It’s “Is it really so?” instead of “It’s not so!”. Note that the first is a question (?), while the second is an answer (!).

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