It’s Rude to Criticize New Atheists

Surprisingly, two people were able to post critical comments on the thread where Prof. Coyne promotes Raelian pseudoscience as science. Someone named “Dylan” posted the following:

The argument being made here is a straw man. The Catholic theological position in fact depends on all the physical evidence (accidents) being consistent with wheat, because it is the essence (in the case of bread and wine, “substance”) which changes. The position depends on a Thomstic-Aristiotelian metaphysical understanding of substance and accident which modern natural science doesn’t have the capacity for. If you want to argue the issue, you have to claim that the metaphysical language has no content, or, admitting the validity of metaphysics, challenge the position’s metaphysical cogency. It doesn’t take a faithful Catholic to recognize this, just someone who knows what he’s talking about.

Coyne’s response?

Thank you for telling us how this magic trick works. Now apologize for your rudeness, or you’ll never post here again.

How typical. His mind is so closed that he cannot bring himself to consider the mere possibility the Raelians are lashing out at a straw man. So he completely ignores the criticism and instead demands some apology….an apology for “rudeness.” Rudeness?! Yep, rudeness. New Atheists tend to be so thin-skinned that mild criticism of their beliefs is deemed “rudeness.”

Needless to say, we don’t see any more postings from Dylan. I’d speculate that Dylan never prostrated himself sufficiently enough for Prof. Coyne.

Y’see, the problem is not that Jerry and the Raelians were attacking a straw man. The real problem is that Dylan was rude to Jerry and the Raelians! In Jerry’s mind, it’s just rude to criticize him.

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15 Responses to It’s Rude to Criticize New Atheists

  1. TFBW says:

    I gather that Coyne considers it rude because the commenter had the temerity to imply that he doesn’t know what he’s talking about. And I gather that Coyne considers any argument built on a premise of something other than philosophical materialism to be a “magic trick”. A basic clash of ideologies, followed up with accusations of rudeness and hair-trigger ban-hammering. If this is what it means to be bright, I weep for the species.

  2. Rhaeyga says:

    Ridiculous. I have a rock here. When you say the words, “kalamazoo” it becomes an eagle. It won’t look like an eagle, and if you study it, it still looks like absolutely nothing happened but trust me, it became an actual eagle. Want to buy it?

  3. Tom Gilson says:


    Whether you can do that to a rock is inconsequential. The doctrine of transubstantiation does not depends on what can or cannot be done with dissimilar items in dissimilar contexts. To suppose it does is to demonstrate that you, like Coyne, have the unimpressive capacity to ridicule what you do not understand; which says a lot more about you and Coyne than it does about what you ridicule.

  4. Billy Squibs says:

    Not being A Roman Catholic I don’t feel the need to defend Transubstantiation per se. However, it is worth pointing, Rhaeyga , that you have not engaged with the metaphysical justification used to promote the doctrine. Now apologize for your rudeness, or you’ll never post here again.

  5. Crude says:

    As others keep saying – the key here is that the “Raelian Science”, ha ha, that Coyne used doesn’t even take aim at the actual Catholic belief. This is the atheist version of “if man evolved from monkeys then why are there still monkeys?”

    And Coyne knows it. But point it out and oh, so RUDE.

  6. Crude says:

    By the way.

    As a Catholic, I appreciate the fact that non-Catholics are speaking up here saying Coyne has this wrong. I try to speak up whenever protestant or evangelical, even YEC views are misrepresented by the Cult of Gnu.

  7. Rhaeyga says:

    Mike? Are you seriouslyfalling for this?

  8. Cale B.T. says:

    Rhaeyga, it really is as simple as Coyne spouting off about things he knows nothing about. Is that so implausible? I’m not a Catholic, but I can tell you your rock/eagle analogy is just a failure to understand what transubstantiation is.

  9. TFBW says:

    Falling for what, Rhaeyga? You seem to be discussing something quite tangential to the topic at hand. Look — here are the key points raised by the article.

    Someone posted a critical comment explaining that the experiment attacks a straw-man version of Catholic doctrine.
    Coyne responded by accusing the commenter of rudeness and demanding an apology under threat of banning.

    To this, you respond with a snarky remark about a rock that turns into an eagle while still appearing to be a rock. Okay, that could have been relevant if Coyne had done something else entirely, like respond by pouring scorn on Thomstic-Aristiotelian metaphysics — which the commenter practically invited him to do — but that’s not how it played out. As such, your comment is a complete and utter non sequitur: it parted ways with reality before you got to the first word. How about you come back to this reality and discuss events as they actually took place, instead of some alternative universe?

  10. Rhaeyga says:

    Im not speaking to any of you at the moment but ok let me ask the million dollar question , why does the conscrecrated wafer still has wheat dna when it’s the actual body of christ? Answer the question in such a way that i dont laugh at you

  11. Michael says:


    Why are you trying to change the topic? The topic is not whether Catholic doctrine is true. The topic is whether Jerry and The Raelians are attacking a straw man and why it is that Jerry is so hypersensitive to criticism. It’s rude to change the topic.

    As for questions, I asked you one in the other thread you abandoned: I’m curious about something – why do you, like Coyne, have so much faith in a Raelian web-posting?

    It’s rude to ignore my questions.

    Lucky for you, I am not as hypersensitive and authoritarian as Coyne, so I won’t try to force you to apologize with threats of being banned.

  12. Bilbo says:

    Hi Rhaeyga,

    I’m neither Catholic nor do I know much about Aristotelian/Thomistic metaphysics, so I can’t answer your question. However, I wonder if you could answer a question for me. Mike wrote,

    How typical. His mind is so closed that he cannot bring himself to consider the mere possibility the Raelians are lashing out at a straw man. So he completely ignores the criticism and instead demands some apology….an apology for “rudeness.” Rudeness?! Yep, rudeness. New Atheists tend to be so thin-skinned that mild criticism of their beliefs is deemed “rudeness.”

    Do you agree with Mike that New Atheists tend to be so thin-skinned that mild criticism of their beliefs is deemed “rudeness”?

  13. Dhay says:

    Let me quote Jerry Coyne, from the comments: “The Catholic Church may have said that it looks like a wafer and wine, but they never said anything about DNA”.

  14. Tom Gilson says:

    Rhaeyga, if the standard for discourse is, “Answer the question in such a way that i [sic] dont laugh at you,” then standards for logical reasoning are replaced standards of personal derision. The answer to your question has already been given to you in terms of Aristotelian-Thomistic metaphysics. The answer may or may not be logically defensible, but laughter is not the test. There are more (shall we say) intellectually responsible ways to express, explain, clarify, and support one’s position. You might take note of this if intellectual responsibility is something you happen to value.

  15. hikayamasan353 says:

    This “rudeness” reminds me of one of the guys I used to talk to, it was a New Atheist, and he was threatening to block me if I will not provide any evidence that Finnish are good people, and that religion/faithfulness does not directly influence IQ, while showing me that he “lacks” the quality to see himself as better, and that “everyone has a right to opinion and their own belief”. Although I wasn’t wholly familiar with Zuckerman’s meta-analysis on religion vs IQ studies despite the fact that I know that such studies were there and Zuckerman just analyzed some couples of them, some of my very good friends are Finnish and they are very nice people (ironically, that guy himself is Finnish as well). That guy even said that “most scientists are atheists” despite the overwhelming amount of evidence from the history of science that shows that many prominent scientists were not atheists, or if atheists – not in the modern New Atheist way. That triggered him to talking about IQ. However what I know about IQ is that an IQ as an intelligence measurement is just as a straightedge without a scale. The “zero” (starting point) of an IQ is always 100, regardless of who we are dealing with – mentally retarded or high-IQ society members like Mensa. That guy also said that “he took Mensa test and it was 136”. Firstly, to be eligible for Mensa you have to have your IQ 140+. Secondly, many IQ tests available online use pattern detection, arithmetic and set theory based tasks which are scored by the time needed to perform correlated with the given answer. Third, for a high-IQ society to be actually regarded as one, all members have to be re-tested regularly to ensure their actual status since the IQ changes with time. And the whole IQ method also lacks the etalon of what should be taken as the IQ=100. He even said that you can’t prove radioactive emission if you can’t see one despite the fact that that’s why Geiger counters exist. Even more ridiculous claim by him, that “science is a guess”. While some observations and experiments might have their own flaws, an observation and an experiment is something that is definitely not a “guess” – which is more based on intuition and ignorance as a gap that needs to be fulfilled, while observation and experiments rely on tangible, sensible experiences that fulfil the gap in the knowledge. After all that, there were a lot of ad hominem attacks and exactly what Coyne did.

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