Atheist activist Jerry Coyne has a new book coming out entitled, “Faith Versus Fact: Why Science and Religion Are Incompatible.” Coyne has thus officially embraced a fringe view among scientists. The extreme, fringe nature of this view can easily be seen from the simple fact that it is rejected by various mainstream scientific organizations, including the National Center for Science Education, the National Academies, and the American Association for the Advancement of Science. And this poses a serious problem for Coyne -if his argument that Science and Religion Are Incompatible is so powerful, why is it that the mainstream scientific community doesn’t buy it? Why is it that the majority of those who do buy into the Incompatibility Argument just happen to be the usual extremist anti-religionists who make up the New Atheist Movement?
Coyne has an explanation for the fringe status of his views.
Several years ago, he defended his views by attacking the scientific community:
This disharmony is a dirty little secret in scientific circles. It is in our personal and professional interest to proclaim that science and religion are perfectly harmonious. After all, we want our grants funded by the government, and our schoolchildren exposed to real science instead of creationism. Liberal religious people have been important allies in our struggle against creationism, and it is not pleasant to alienate them by declaring how we feel. This is why, as a tactical matter, groups such as the National Academy of Sciences claim that religion and science do not conflict.
My oh my. Did you catch that? Coyne publicly accused the National Center for Science Education, the National Academies, and the American Association for the Advancement of Science of being liars. According to Coyne, they really agree with him, but for “tactical” reasons, they say otherwise. That would be lying.
What’s more, not only does Coyne accuse the mainstream scientific community of being deceptive, but he even implies they are lying for money – “we want our grants funded by the government.”
Look, when you have to prop up your fringe views by accusing the scientific community of greed and lies, you ought to consider there are probably better explanations for the fringe status of your views.
I wonder if Coyne thinks his book will cause scientists everywhere to “come out” and join him and his New Atheist activists in their War on Religion. If so, he might want to consider another more likely outcome – it will increasingly isolate him from the mainstream and further blur the boundaries between New Atheism and crackpottery.