Jerry Coyne’s Book Gets Another Bad Review

From Publishers Weekly:

Though interesting, Coyne’s overarching conclusion—that science and religion must be incompatible—is not persuasively articulated on a number of grounds, and he suffers from the same kinds of poor sociological thinking as his “New Atheist” peers, mistaking problems of politics for those of religious belief. By equating virtually all religious believers with fundamentalists, Coyne draws far too narrow a picture of religion, demonstrating science’s incompatibility with one part of the religious spectrum but not across all of it.

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5 Responses to Jerry Coyne’s Book Gets Another Bad Review

  1. UpstateIslandersFan says:

    Ohhh, boy! Publishers Weekly is about to get “Sh!t-Coyned”.

  2. Dhay says:

    > By equating virtually all religious believers with fundamentalists …

    Ah, somebody else notices that scientist Jerry Coyne suffers from belief without evidence.

  3. Dhay says:

    I spot that at Amazon, the second review, dated 19 May 2015 and by ‘book lover’, stated:

    I was lucky to find an advance copy of this book at a used book store and finished it a few days ago.

    “At a used book store”! That’s review in itself. Someone who got an advance copy didn’t consider it worth shelf space, they have decided they will never want to re-read or look up any section of the book, not ever again. I would call that an unfavourable review.

    ‘book lover’ continues on to give a gushing review, but the second sentence of this little passage took my interest:

    I may be an atheist but I’m not a blind follower and would quibble with him over some details, but that’s par for the course. So-called sophisticated apologists (aka, intellectual morons) will cry foul on every other page (or every page depending on the reader) but too bad.

    So, for ‘book lover’, sophisticated apologists = intellectual morons.

    First thought: evidently ‘book lover’ hasn’t read Eric MacDonald’s blog posts on Peter Boghossian’s A Manual for Creating Atheists and on Islam, else he or she would surely have recognised their excellent intellectual quality.

    Second thought: ‘book lover’ has in effect summarised the so-called “Courtier’s Reply”, which dismisses “sophisticated apologists” (and “sophisticated theologians”) in a profoundly anti-intellectual manner and as if “sophisticated” meant stupid or moronic.

    The “Courtier’s Reply” should not be accepted as a reasoned or a reasonable reply, but as sheer, spiteful invective; it really says nothing more than ‘book lovers’ playground cat-call, “sophisticated apologists = intellectual morons.”

  4. Dhay says:

    In correcting the mangled link above I discovered the ‘used’ book was in fact a new book sold by a used book store which broke the normal embargo on selling before the official launch date. The correct link is:

    Another thought on the ‘Courtier’s Reply’. It’s effectively a declaration that they won’t believe it until they see it.

  5. TFBW says:

    Beware of biologists who invent names for informal logical fallacies. Be doubly wary of followers who parrot the term with even less understanding.

    PZ Myers invented The Courtier’s Reply in response to accusations that Richard Dawkins had not engaged any serious scholarship contrary to his position in The God Delusion. That is to say, he wrote on the subject as though no theist had ever thought to argue against those points. Dawkins does this simply because he dismisses the whole of theology (and anything related to the existence of God) as inherently vacuous. As such, he sees no need to bother with any “serious scholarship” on the subject — the term is an oxymoron when applied to anything God-related — so there’s no crime in refuting straw-men of his own construction instead.

    This state of affairs was so obvious that it became a near-ubiquitous element of any criticism targeted at The God Delusion. In labeling such criticism “The Courtier’s Reply”, Myers is doing nothing more than affirming his agreement with Dawkins’ original assessment that the whole of theist apologetics is utterly vacuous, and joining him in his refusal to engage intellectually with his ideological opponents. In other words, Dawkins begs the question of whether there is any substance to theism: he refuses to engage because he already knows (before engaging) that there can be nothing of substance in it. Myers simply thinks Dawkins was right to beg the question like that — and has the audacity to back it up by accusing his critics of fallacious reasoning.

    Like a lot of New Atheism, labeling some criticism as a “Courtier’s Reply” is just another way of dismissing arguments and evidence without actually engaging them, while maintaining the impression that one holds the intellectual high ground. This, in turn, enables the New Atheist to go on insisting that theists have no arguments or evidence in support of their position. Edward Feser calls it The Myers Shuffle.

    I’m not entirely sure how well it fits in to this discussion, but I’m struck with a similar idea which I call “The Duck’s Reply”. It goes like this.

    “So answer me this,” said the duck. “If this ‘rain’ that you keep going on about really exists, and it really is raining at the moment, then why isn’t my back wet?

    I’m sure I’ve never heard that before, yet it sounds so very familiar.

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