Jerry Coyne’s Evidential Demands

According to Dhay:

Looks like like in FvF Jerry Coyne has updated what he would count as ‘Gap as evidence’; I quote this from Nick Peters’ Facebook page for 26 June 2015:

So on pages 118-119, Coyne tells us that he too could be convinced of the Christian God? Oh. Well this is nice. What could it take?

“The following (and admittedly contorted) scenario would give me tentative evidence for Christianity. Suppose that a bright light appeared in the heavens, and, supported by winged angels, a being clad in a white robe and sandals descended onto my campus from the sky, accompanied by a pack of apostles bearing the names given in the Bible. Loud heavenly music, with the blaring of trumpets, is heard everywhere. The robed being, who identifies himself as Jesus, repairs to the nearby university hospital and instantly heals many severely afflicted people, including amputees. After a while Jesus and his minions, supported by angels ascend back into the sky with another chorus of music. The heavens swiftly darken, there are flashes of lightning and peals of thunder, and in an instant the sky is clear.

If this were all witnessed by others and documented by video, and if the healings were unexplainable but supported by testimony from multiple doctors, and if all the apparitions and events conformed to Christian theology—then I’d have to start thinking seriously about the truth of Christianity.”

LOL. You should check out Dhay’s commentary. Y’know I’ll be commenting soon. 😉

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10 Responses to Jerry Coyne’s Evidential Demands

  1. Ratheist says:

    I would tentatively conclude that Christianity is true until I heard God say something unbelievably inane like homosexuality is a sin, then I’d be convinced it’s just some highly advanced race of pranksters.

  2. Kevin says:

    Would your statement hold true if I replaced homosexuality with promiscuity? If not, why?

  3. Ratheist says:

    What creator of reality would declare such behavior between consenting adults a crime worthy of punishment akin to that of a murderer or a rapist? So yes it would hold true, she may have an opinion on it, but to declare it a punishable sin is ridiculous. This situation is sort of like that Star Trek movie where even the true believer in the end was like “wtf” when “God” asked to bring the star ship closer and got mad after Kirk asked what God needed with a star ship. It just doesn’t make sense.

  4. TFBW says:

    That’s a highly developed theory of morality you have there, Ratheist. “It makes no sense to me, therefore it’s wrong.” Am I missing any of the nuance?

  5. Dhay says:

    Interesting contrast: for Jerry Coyne, something unbelievably inane is required as evidence for, rather than against.

  6. Kevin says:

    Since you are (according to your first post) talking about Christianity, which bases its theology on the Bible, could you please cite the passages that indicate God is female, as per your second post? I will be able to better appreciate your grasp of Christian morality if you can demonstrate your knowledge in this other area that you seem certain of.

  7. Michael says:

    I would tentatively conclude that Christianity is true until I heard God say something unbelievably inane like homosexuality is a sin, then I’d be convinced it’s just some highly advanced race of pranksters.

    Illustrating the subjective aspect of evidence.

  8. Dhay says:

    Nick Peters has now addressed this section of FvF at his Deeper Waters website, in his extensive review of Jerry Coyne’s book; this is Part 3, there’s already a Part 4, and no doubt there will be more.

    Peters comments specifically on Coyne’s passage, quoted above, as follows:

    “Please note that this is tentative to him. He could still be wrong he thinks even after something like this. What are we to get from this? For one thing, it means Coyne is closed off to evidence. What it would take for him to get to consider the truth of Christianity is not to look at the evidence for Christianity such as the classical theistic arguments or the historical case that Jesus rose from the dead. No. Those won’t work. What it would take is an experience. That means that whatever argument I come to him with minus the experience he has already decided will be ignored. Is this really a rational way to explore evidence? This even after he says we do not assume naturalism a priori? This after trying to tell us that we should go with the evidence?

    At the bottom, he says to turn it around and ask religious people what it would take to make them abandon their faith.

    Well that’s easy.

    For theism, you would need to refute the classical theistic arguments and give a better explanation for reality than theism and at the same time give a disproof for theism. Without a disproof, we just have agnosticism. For Christianity, you’d need to give a better case for the rise of the early church than the proclamation that Jesus rose from the dead. Do you have a better way to explain the data? Note my position depends on the evidence. Coyne’s depends on an experience.”

  9. apologianick says:

    Thanks DHay. Nick Peters here for all who don’t know. The entire review is up now and each page of it has links to the other pages.

    Unfortunately, this is the same kind of stuff I see from atheists nowadays. Peter Boghossian has taken a page from Lawrence Strauss and said that he’d need all the stars in the sky to spell a message from God and everyone sees that in their own language and even then it would not be conclusive. We could all be experiencing a mass delusion.

    Michael Shermer has meanwhile referred to touchdown Jesus, such as Jesus coming down during the halftime show of the Super Bowl and doing something spectacular.

    Such people are not open to reason and evidence. They’ve already decided no argument will convince them.

    These people honor reason with their lips, but their hearts are far from it.

  10. Dhay says:

    Here’s a snippet from an unfavouable review of Jerry Coyne’s Fact versus Fideism, by fellow professor of evolutionary biology Austin Hughes:

    Coyne goes on to assert that, since religious statements purport to tell us something true about reality, they are scientific hypotheses and deserve to be treated like any other scientific hypotheses. Coyne repeatedly equates making truth claims with stating “empirical hypotheses” or “empirical claims,” a rhetorical bait-and-switch that is central to his critique of religion.

    What Coyne means by an “empirical claim” can be gleaned from what he has to say about the scientific method. As regards the philosophy of science, Coyne is a follower of Karl Popper; he views falsifiability as the hallmark of an empirical hypothesis and (in agreement with most practicing scientists) the attempt to falsify hypotheses as the ordinary activity of empirical scientists. However, even though Coyne claims that religious statements are empirical hypotheses, he holds religion to an entirely different standard. Though Coyne is a Popperian falsificationist when it comes to science, he is an old-fashioned verificationist when it comes to religion.

    “Bait-and-switch”; “double standard”: how does one get “incompatible”, except by using a common standard; and if a common standard is not used, what is the value of Coyne’s “incompatible” claim.

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