As we know by now, Gnu activist Jerry Coyne has no tolerance for dissenting viewpoints. So it is of no surprise that Coyne lashes out in anger when he received the following email:
Good afternoon. I have come across your lecture where you extensively address not only theology but morality at length. Do you have any training whatsoever in theology or philosophy?
What are your qualifications in these fields? I have searched extensively to see if you are one of the leading figures in these fields of study and have not come across anything so far.
Please point me to the right place so that I can understand why you are an expert in the history of philosophy.
Professor of Philosophy
This must have enraged Coyne, as he replied on his blog:
Such passive-aggressive snark! I didn’t answer this flea, of course, as it’s a waste of time. He would just try to continue the exchange, and, with such rudeness, he doesn’t deserve a response. But I’m putting up the email here so that the commentariat can address his implicit argument in the comments. I’ll then just send him the link.
It’s amusing to see an antireligious activist who is cashing in on a movement that mocks religious people complain about “rudeness.” Not only does Coyne hypocritically complain about “rudeness,” but he demonstrates his hate by referring to the philosopher as a “flea.” In fact, his whole “response” is to get his hateful readers to respond to the philospher as a “flea.” Of course, there is nothing new about the New Atheist movement engaging in name-calling and mocking, so let’s look more closely at some of Coyne’s other claims.
One of the most common attacks on non-theologians who criticize religion is that we aren’t professional theologians, or that we haven’t fully marinated ourselves in the tedious lucubrations of people like Duns Scotus or Tertullian. This, of course, is basically an ad hominem argument, dismissing criticisms of religion based on the writer’s perceived lack of credentials.
Not so fast. It’s only an ad hominem if one does dismiss the criticism solely on the basis of lacked credentials. If one proceeds to point out the problems with the criticisms first, it is perfectly appropriate to bring up the lack of credentials, especially if they help explain the origin of the flawed criticism.
In fact, reader Dhay showed how this was done just a few days ago. Begin by reading this.
And, as you know, I spent over two years reading this stuff, so it’s not like I’m thrashing about blindly in the muck of theology.
A whole two years? Look, there is no evidence for this claim, but I’ll accept it on faith. Coyne receives no points for “reading this stuff.” What matters is how he read it. Did he read it with an open-mind or closed-mind? Did he read to understand another point of view or for the purpose of debunking another point of view as part of his upcoming book? If it is the latter, all we have is disconfirmation bias, not scholarship. And given that Coyne is an activist trying to sell books to members of his movement, I think it quite reasonable to expect his “reading” will entail cherry picking and misrepresentations in a way that will help sell books. Time will tell.
The refutation, of course, is simple: a lack of professional training in an area doesn’t mean that your statements about that area can be completely disregarded.
True. But the problem is that Coyne will be promoting himself as Professor Jerry Coyne from the University of Chicago as part of his book promo. Yet when it comes to the topic of his book, Coyne comes to us as a self-educated layman. In fact, he does not even come to us as one who shares the values of academia, as can be seen when he once declared:
What about the many of us who feel that the best thing for science—and humanity as a whole—is not respectful dialogue with evangelical Christians, but the eradication of evangelical Christianity?
The book is part of an eradication objective, written by a self-educated activist who is part of a modern day hate movement.