New Atheist Leader Tries to Defend the Raelians. Take 2.

Tulse continued with his/her gentle criticisms:

Jerry, I hate disagreeing with you, but I would suggest it is prudent to be cautious about research reported in a journal with a very clear bias, and that reports on other research that is clearly less supportable and more religiously informed, like the “study” on Raelian “baptism” reported in the same journal. Should we take the latter study just as seriously?

And who is on Scientific Raelian‘s editorial board? Who selects its reviewers? Does it even do peer review? There is absolutely no information on the website that provides any details like these, as one would expect from a legitimate scientific journal. Without those, the “study” is nothing more than a blog post, and hardly counts as publishing scientific research. We rely on proper peer review by other experts to catch errors — without such review, this kind of report seems worthless to me, equivalent to much of the “work” done by the Discovery Institute.

In any case, my larger point was that, even if this research were reported in Nature and impeccably peer-reviewed in a transparent fashion, it isn’t testing the hypothesis under contention, since the Catholic Church has (quite sensibly) never claimed that the actual material in a consecrated wafer detectably changes. Yes, this is a very silly notion, but it’s not the claim that is tested by the “study”. As such, even if it were a completely legitimate piece of scientific research, the conclusion it draws is unwarranted.

Coyne responds:

Yeah, and it’s prudent to be cautious about research published in PLOS ONE, where they simply see if the methods are kosher and don’t worry too much about the results (or the psychology of the investigators). As far as I can see, the authors’ methods are fine, unless you think they’re committing fraud.

Whoa! Coyne won’t say one critical word about the Raelian website, but attacks a mainstream scientific web journal?! So is Coyne seriously trying to say that PLOS ONE is no more reliable than an website maintained by antievolutionary cultists?

As for Raelian “baptism,” I’d have to look at the study. You’re simply dismissing the study because it was done by Raelians.

Tulse was not “simply dismissing the study because it was done by Raelians.” Tulse pointed out there is no evidence the “study” was peer-reviewed and the “study” was posted on an unreliable Raelian website. Raelians can do all the research they want. But if they want it to be recognized as science, they need to submit it to a mainstream scientific journal for peer review.

BTW, there was no baptism study. The Raelians simply cited someone else’s work as support for their kooky ideas about their DNA being recorded by aliens during their baptisms.

Yes, it may be biased, but I don’t see any fundamental flaws in the DNA work done above.

I have shown there to be fundamental flaws, so we ought ask why it is that a Professor in the Department of Ecology and Evolution at the University of Chicago can’t see them.

The Catholic Church may have said that it looks like a wafer and wine, but they never said anything about DNA, so this puts the final nail in the coffin.

Huh? That the Catholic Church never said anything about DNA underscores the pseudoscientific essense of the Raelian “research” that Coyne promotes. If the Catholic Church never said anything about DNA, then why is the “research” built around the assumption that the Catholic Church predicts consecrated wafers should have human DNA?

And did I say that this counted as peer-reviewed scientific research?

Yes, he did. Coyne promoted the web posting as a “published paper.” He promotes a Raelian publicity stunt as “research.” He refers to the posting on the Raelian apologetics site as “science.” Yes, Prof. Coyne has been promoting and treating the Raelian publicity stunt as science.

This discussion is over. The post was meant to be lighthearted but also to underscore the Church’s waffling in the face of palpable counterevidence. You’re turning it into a source of controversy because it’s not “real” scientific research.

LOL! This discussion is over.

Ya knew it was comin’. Since Coyne doesn’t have the intellectual firepower to defend his claims he shuts down the conversation. It’s his #1 defense tactic.

What’s interesting is the the antiscience undertone that runs throughout Coyne’s comments. To prop up the Raelian publicity stunt, Coyne not only takes a shot at PLOS ONE, but notice how he scoffs at the suggestion the Raelian stunt is not “real” (scare quotes are his) scientific research because it is not published in the scientific community.

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4 Responses to New Atheist Leader Tries to Defend the Raelians. Take 2.

  1. J.P. says:

    As Tulse pointed out, Coyne and his mates show they don’t know a word about what they try to contend and thus they are not qualified. And actually that’s the final nail in their coffin.

    By the way, it seems he has a rather fundamentalistic and ignorant view of Catholicism (“The Catholic church […] never said anything about DNA”).

  2. Bilbo says:

    So is Coyne contemplating becoming a Raelian…you know, so he can express all that spirituality that Sam Harris says is so important?

  3. darrenk says:

    Wow. The gnu’s really don’t like reading, eh.

    “I answer that, It is evident to sense that all the accidents of the bread and wine remain after the consecration. And this is reasonably done by Divine providence. First of all, because it is not customary, but horrible, for men to eat human flesh, and to drink blood. And therefore Christ’s flesh and blood are set before us to be partaken of under the species of those things which are the more commonly used by men, namely, bread and wine. Secondly, lest this sacrament might be derided by unbelievers, if we were to eat Our Lord under His own species. Thirdly, that while we receive Our Lord’s body and blood invisibly, this may redound to the merit of faith.”

    Thomas Aquinas. (2009). Summa theologica. (Fathers of the English Dominican Province, Trans.). Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

  4. TFBW says:


    The gnu’s really don’t like reading, eh.

    It’s not that the Gnus don’t like reading: I’m sure they love reading stuff that they agree with. In Coyne’s case, I think it’s more accurate to say that he doesn’t care to know any of the actual details, whether by researching them himself, or having people provide carefully worded explanations as comments on his website. This is because his purpose is not to understand, argue against, or criticise Catholic doctrine, but to mock and ridicule it. Accurate knowledge of the subject is entirely optional when all you want to do is jeer at it. He is blatantly uninterested in factual details because he has no interest in them or need for them: he’s just leading the anti-theistic faithful in a daily two-minutes hate.

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