Jerry Coyne is trying to cash in on the New Atheist Movement by writing and selling a book that purports to show religion and science are incompatible. On Amazon, his book is described as follows:
In his provocative new book, evolutionary biologist Jerry A. Coyne lays out in clear, dispassionate detail why the toolkit of science, based on reason and empirical study, is reliable, while that of religion—including faith, dogma, and revelation—leads to incorrect, untestable, or conflicting conclusions.
In other words, Jerry Coyne has lost the ability to think like a scientist. The entire premise of his whole book is an exercise in cherry picking propped up by straw man argumentation.
First, the straw. Coyne exists in a cartoon version of reality where religion excludes reason and evidence. While there is great diversity among religious people, it is fair to say that the majority of religious people do not eschew reason and evidence.
As for cherry picking, Coyne sets up the cartoon reality by pretending that all of reality can be fitted into two tidy categories – science and religion. But as we know, human reality is much more complicated than that. For an obvious example, where does Coyne’s blog fit into the picture? Is his blog science? Or is it religion? Those of us who understand critical thinking will recognize Coyne’s blog is neither science nor religion.
Coyne is responding to a national climate in which over half of Americans don’t believe in evolution (and congressmen deny global warming), and warns that religious prejudices and strictures in politics, education, medicine, and social policy are on the rise.
Fear-mongering? But the same Jerry Coyne oftens brags about the inevitable death of religion and its influence. We have already seen that Coyne speaks out both sides of his mouth on this topic.
Extending the bestselling works of Richard Dawkins, Daniel Dennett, and Christopher Hitchens, he demolishes the claims of religion to provide verifiable “truth” by subjecting those claims to the same tests we use to establish truth in science.
More cherry picking. What would happen to many of Jerry Coyne’s beliefs if we subjected “those claims to the same tests we use to establish truth in science?” So why does Coyne think that only religious claims should be subjected to those test? Why does he sheild his own views from such standards?
Coyne irrefutably demonstrates the grave harm—to individuals and to our planet—in mistaking faith for fact in making the most important decisions about the world we live in.
Wow. Fear-mongering propped up with a sense of absolute certainty.
Okay, consider what we have here – straw men, cherry picking, fear-mongering, intellectual inconsistency, and a sense of absolute certainty about the truth. None of these traits belong in science and are, in fact, incompatible with science.
All of these leads to an irrefutable demonstration – Jerry Coyne’s book, “Faith vs. Fact,” is itself incompatible with science.