The Worst Atheist Book?

Philosopher Edward Feser wrote a short review of Coyne’s New Atheist book:

Faith versus Fact is some kind of achievement. Biologist Jerry Coyne has managed to write what might be the worst book yet published in the New Atheist genre. True, the competition for that particular distinction is fierce. But among other volumes in this metastasizing literature, each has at least some small redeeming feature. For example, though Lawrence Krauss’s A Universe from Nothing is bad as philosophy, it is middling as pop science. Christopher Hitchens’s God Is Not Great was at least written by someone who could write like Christopher Hitchens. Though devoid of interest, Sam Harris’s Letter to a Christian Nation is brief. Even PZ Myers’s book The Happy Atheisthas at least one advantage over Coyne’s book: It came out first.

You can read the rest HERE

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24 Responses to The Worst Atheist Book?

  1. Bilbo says:

    Feser’s style here reminds me a good deal of G.K. Chesterton’s. Fun to read.

  2. Worst of a sorry lot too.
    Hitchens conceded defeat to Lennox.
    Hitch is all conjecture with a great voice and oratory.
    And like almost all new atheists, adolescent discourse is all they’ll bring.

  3. Dhay says:

    > Biologist Jerry Coyne has managed to write what might be the worst book yet published in the New Atheist genre.

    Now what was it that Coyne said about Eric MacDonald back in 2012, at the time when Coyne was just starting the MacDonald-guided philosophy and theology studies which should have made Coyne’s Faith versus Fact an informed critique of philosophy and theology. Ah, yes:

    As usual, Eric takes a subject on which I’ve already posted and does a much better job than I did. I’d like to attribute this to the fact that he was an Anglican priest for many years, and thus knows a lot more about religion than do I, but I’m forced to conclude that he’s also a deeper thinker. But that’s okay, because I—and all of us—can benefit from reading him. And, after all, I’m a biologist whose knowledge of religion and philosophy was acquired on the side.

    https://whyevolutionistrue.wordpress.com/2012/08/12/eric-macdonald-on-accommodationism/

    What I especially savour in that Edward Feser blog post which drew his blog readers’ attention to his First Things review of FvF, is the opening comment, made by Jerry Coyne’s former philosophy and theology tutor, Eric Macdonald:

    Wonderful demolition of Coyne’s book. I’ve been telling Coyne that this is what he has been doing for so long that I’ve lost count of the times that I have regaled him with similar criticisms. Coyne is completely out of his element in philosophy.

    Coyne’s work is, I’m afraid (not speaking of his biological specialty) simply a mare’s nest of contradictions, failure to define his terms, and simple ad hominem abuse. I am told that he acknowledges me in his intro. Well, trust me, if he takes responsibility for his failures, they really are all his!

    http://edwardfeser.blogspot.co.uk/2016/01/review-of-coyne.html

    Utterly damning comments indeed, and a total distancing of himself from Coyne by the tutor who evidently thinks Coyne has failed to learn his lessons and has flunked his exam thesis (the book); the man who Coyne has openly acknowledged as superior in knowledge of religion and philosophy, and also in depth of thinking, has condemned Coyne’s book and (outside of his speciality, Biology) Coyne’s thinking abilities.

  4. Dhay says:

    Having written that short critique of Jerry Coyne’s inability to even define and use his terms consistently in FvF, Edward Feser has now provided a critique (Debased Coynage) of Coyne’s treatment of Alvin Plantinga’s “evolutionary argument against naturalism” — which argument Coyne simply doesn’t understand, and which in addition Coyne mixes up with an entirely separate argument:

    Fourth, for some bizarre reason, Coyne seems to think that the EAAN is related to Calvin’s notion of a sensus divinitatis or innate awareness of God (pp. 178f.). He quotes a line about the sensus divinitatis from a passage from Plantinga that has nothing to do with the EAAN, runs it together with material that is concerned with the EAAN, and presents Plantinga’s argument as if it were fundamentally concerned to show that our cognitive faculties can be reliable only if Calvin’s sensus divinitatis thesis is correct. This is either embarrassingly dishonest or (more charitably) embarrassingly incompetent. Either way, it is a travesty of Plantinga’s position.

    That was number four of “six major problems just with Coyne’s brief treatment of a single argument.” And then there’s Coyne’s reliance on dictionaries instead of familiarity with his terms and how they are used:

    Another example of Coyne’s laughable standards of scholarship is his method of repeatedly citing the Oxford English Dictionary whenever he needs to define some key term (“religion,” “supernatural,” etc.). The absurdity of this procedure can be seen by imagining someone writing a book on chemistry (say) and relying on OED or some other dictionary of everyday usage in order to define the key terms. … Now, philosophy and theology too use many terms in technical senses that do not closely correspond to ordinary usage. Hence it is no less absurd to write on those subjects while relying on a dictionary of ordinary usage for one’s characterization of the key ideas of those fields. But that is exactly what Coyne does.

    http://edwardfeser.blogspot.co.uk/2016/01/debased-coynage.html

    Finally, “there is Coyne’s account of scientific method”, which account “Even the most militantly atheist philosopher of science would regard … as laughably naïve and dated.” And “Coyne’s knowledge of the philosophy of science is staggering in its nonexistence. His glib appeal to “laws of nature” manifests little awareness of how philosophically problematic the notion is, and zero awareness of the debate over the issue that has been conducted in contemporary metaphysics and philosophy of science.”

    There’s a lot more, and worth reading. And for those willing to dive into the voluminous Comments, those by pck are particularly interesting in explaining what Feser is getting at regarding just how naïve and philosophically problematic are Coyne’s views on the scientific method and the philosophy of science.

  5. tildeb says:

    The ‘Feser and those drones who go along with his ongoing crusade to misrepresent New Atheists and vilify them thinks he has scored a bulls eye with this review. He hasn’t. He has missed the target entirely.

    Once again, we see the critics of New Atheism narrow their vision to pin pricks and focus on definitions with which they can find some disagreement and then expand that disagreement to the size of the actual thesis under review as if this were central and fatal to it. It’s not. It’s a typical tactic used to divert. And the admirers of the philosophically sophisticated critics ironically keep falling for it. Any first year undergrad would be failed for not understanding why this is so problematic to producing a legitimate critique. It’s a way to avoid reading comprehension… a specialty of the ‘Fesser when it comes to New Atheists.

    But the ‘Fesser doesn’t care about any of that. He’s out to vilify by hook or by crook not because the thesis Coyne offers is weak (it’s not) but because it has been put forward by a New Atheist. That is the Great Sin for which the ‘Fesser will never forgive.

    Coyne’s intention with the book – his thesis – is not to define religion in all its thousands upon thousands of forms and substances to earn the ‘Fesser’s official stamp of philosophical approval. That is something he has yet and in all likelihood never will grant to anyone who is a New Atheist not because of any lack of merit but because of the ‘Fesser’s own inherent bias and need to protect what he thinks of as his turf. He defends this by attacking and labeling any New Atheist as too philosophically unsophisticated to have any merit at all. Mind you, that doesn’t stop the ‘Fesser from using his own understanding of science without apologies to the likes of a Coyne or Dawkins or Krauss to function in his daily life but hypocrisy has never been something the ‘Fesser sees as a fault if its his own. He reserves that philosophical right to judge and condemn the use of common philosophy by New Atheists but of course won;t hold himself to the same standard when it comes to science. He obfuscates this duplicity by pretending it’s philosophically justified. It’s not.It’s a word game the ‘Fesser plays. That’s why he’s such a flea.

    Surprising only the the ‘Fesser, Coyne’s lack of writing to appease this intolerant bigot and attempt to gain his philosophical approval is not the point of the book. Never was. How shocking to the ‘Fesser’s sense of self worth. The ‘Fesser can’t imagine why any New Atheist would see him for the flea he is, trying to gain position and readership beyond his bubble-wrapped philosophical world of expertise only by sucking the metaphorical blood of any published New Atheist. And the ‘Fesser’s admirers can’t understand why anyone might take issue with the ‘Fesser’s biases and diversionary tactics.

    Well, here’s why.

    Criticizing Coyne’s thesis on this basis of what the ‘Fesser offers in his smear job is really nothing more than a mundane and secondary philosophical quibble. Note that the ‘Fesser never, ever, allows theology – a subject without an object, let’s be very clear – to be held to a similar philosophically sophisticated standard. No, that’s reserved for New Atheists. the ‘Fesser has his own malicious standard for them and a crew of dull and obtuse followers who can’t think why that different set of standards matters nor why a secondary quibble about a word definition is not central to the book’s thesis. All and again the ‘Fesser is offering is to turn the intense dislike and envy he keeps burnished for the New Atheists into a criticism that is at best intellectual pablum knowing it shall be eagerly consumed with lip smacking delight by those who think the offering is rich in nutrition.

    It’s not.

    The problem is that the quibble does not do what the ‘Fesser thinks it does: skewers the book’s central thesis. In fact, the ‘Fesser avoids tackling that almost entirely… except where he repeatedly smears it by association to the quibble he has determined matter so very, very much. And that’s why I say he’s missed the target entirely.. but I wouldn’t expect any fan of the ‘Fesser to note such a trivial yet glaring problem.

    As for Eric Macdonald, his headlong dive into believing in scientism and adherence to believing in other kinds of knowledge without being able to back either up against withering criticism was his ticket into becoming a pet of the ‘Fesser… not for merit but for appearance’s sake. After all, the ‘Fesser demonstrates that any enemy of my enemy, and all that. This ‘book review’ by the ‘Fesser is about as useful a critique as pretending a critique of the colour selection of a book’s cover determines its written quality.

  6. Dhay says:

    @tildeb

    I look forward to seeing your criticisms repeated in the comments on Edward Feser’s blog, the link to which is in my previous response. He is well capable of defending his views, so I’ll leave you to him.

    If I were to write a satirical response mocking the style and content of the response you have just given, I don’t think I could do better than to reproduce your response as it stands.

    *

    I see your own blog includes an entry entitled “Why does reality suffer from Islamophobia?” and starting:

    Reality suffers from Islamophobia because that’s the only way Islam is both a religion of peace and the koran is the perfect word of god. By reality offering us compelling evidence that this duo is in practice incompatible means that reality is the problem and this is because it suffers from Islamophobia. [My emboldening.]

    https://questionablemotives.wordpress.com/

    Apart from being incoherent, this anthropomorphises “reality” and shows a very strange conception of it, something which I see is rife in your responses in the More Bad Science and Bad Theology from Sam Harris thread. Michael summed it up nicely:

    Sorry Tildeb, you are not the Spokesperson for Reality. You are not Mr. Reality. Reality did not talk to you and tell you what to say to us. You come to the table with opinions about reality. Your opinions. You disagree and, for some reason, want to make it look like it’s “Reality itself” talking and not you.

    https://shadowtolight.wordpress.com/2015/12/13/more-bad-science-and-bad-theology-from-sam-harris/#comment-11609

    It will be interesting to see where you go next. Did you overlook my strong criticism of Sam Harris? (See https://shadowtolight.wordpress.com/2015/12/16/new-atheists-fading/#comment-10766)

  7. Kevin says:

    Wait, Feser is an intolerant bigot but Coyne isn’t? Gift that keeps on giving.

  8. Crude says:

    I look forward to seeing your criticisms repeated in the comments on Edward Feser’s blog, the link to which is in my previous response. He is well capable of defending his views, so I’ll leave you to him.

    Defend them against what? A voluminous panic-screed written by a diehard fan? Tilly spends paragraphs saying ‘Feser doesn’t like New Atheists! He even makes fun of their mistakes GRRRR! And MacDonald is a stupid dummy traitor – forget that Coyne praised him and even learned at his knee once!’

    Feser and company would laugh and dismantle him. Which is why Tilly is staying far, far away from there.

  9. tildeb says:

    Ah the infamous Crude. Of course, I should have known you’d be attracted to the rich carrion scent of moldering misrepresentations of New Atheists.

  10. Michael says:

    Tildeb: The ‘Feser and those drones who go along with his ongoing crusade to misrepresent New Atheists and vilify them thinks he has scored a bulls eye with this review. He hasn’t. He has missed the target entirely.

    Ah, yes. The New-Atheist-As-Victim routine. I don’t see any evidence of Feser being on some crusade to misrepresent New Atheists.

    Once again, we see the critics of New Atheism narrow their vision to pin pricks and focus on definitions with which they can find some disagreement and then expand that disagreement to the size of the actual thesis under review as if this were central and fatal to it.

    Er, the narrowed pin prick vision only happens to be……reading the book title.

    Faith Versus Fact: Why Science and Religion Are Incompatible

    If Coyne is to explain why science and religion are incompatible (in exchange for money), critical thinking and common courtesy dictates that he define these words so prominantly displayed on the book cover – “science,” “religion,” and “incompatible.”

    From Feser’s review, it is apparent that Coyne made some token effort at doing this, but then Feser demonstrates Coyne’s efforts are saturated with logical fallacies. No wonder teldeb is so distressed and feels the need to lash out at Feser. Gnu atheists often get agitated when someone highlights the irrational nature of their leaders’ arguments.

    He’s out to vilify by hook or by crook not because the thesis Coyne offers is weak (it’s not)

    He is? Let’s consider the one such example of “vilification.” Feser writes:

    But to be fair to Coyne: He doesn’t always use the term “religion” in this idiosyncratic way. And that’s the problem. He has no consistent account at all of what religion is. On one page, he will tell you that Jainism is not really the sort of thing he means by “religion.” Forty pages later, he’ll offer Jainism as an example of the sort of thing he means by “religion.” If the views of some theologian are clearly compatible with science, Coyne will assure us that what theologians have to say is irrelevant to determining what is typical of religion. But if a theologian says something that Coyne thinks is stupid, then what theologians have to say suddenly becomes highly relevant to determining what is typical of religion. When churchmen refuse to abandon some doctrine, Coyne tells us that this shows that religion is dogmatic and unwilling to adjust itself to modern knowledge. When churchmen do abandon some doctrine, Coyne tells us that this shows that religion is unfalsifiable and desperate to adjust itself to modern knowledge. It seems Coyne also missed that lecture in logic class about the fallacy of special pleading.

    Standard Coyne argumentation as far as I can tell. Now, note that tildeb makes no effort to show that Feser is wrong. The way tildeb defends his leader is to a)ignore the point that Feser raises and b) lash out at Feser. This is classic ad hominem. Is anyone surprised that a Gnu atheist would employ logical fallacies to defend a book saturated with logical fallacies?

    BTW, the thesis that Coyne promotes is ridiculously weak. It is, after all, a rehash of old Soviet propaganda. Perhaps tildeb should ponder why Coyne’s book was a flop and has not been promoted by anyone outside the tribe of Gnu.

    Coyne’s intention with the book – his thesis – is not to define religion in all its thousands upon thousands of forms and substances to earn the ‘Fesser’s official stamp of philosophical approval.

    Given that Coyne wrote a book whose title promises to explain why religion and science are incompatible, Coyne has the obligation to define his terms. Tildeb’s excuse is nothing more than a cop-out.

    Criticizing Coyne’s thesis on this basis of what the ‘Fesser offers in his smear job is really nothing more than a mundane and secondary philosophical quibble.

    Feser points out the logical fallacies employed when Coyne paints targets around his arrows. Tildeb, being unable to refute Feser, evades the issue by posturing as if it is irrelevant.

    The problem is that the quibble does not do what the ‘Fesser thinks it does: skewers the book’s central thesis. In fact, the ‘Fesser avoids tackling that almost entirely.

    This is a silly complaint. Given that Coyne’s thesis is premised on a mismash of definitions propped up with logical fallacies, any attempt to tackle it would be like trying to tackle jello.

    Look, as noted before, the “central thesis” of his book is a restatement of old Soviet Union propaganda. This is not surprising. When it comes to his book, Coyne does not come to us as a scholar or scientist. He comes to us as an apologist and activist. As Jerry Coyne once wrote, “Our writings and actions are sincere attempts to rid the world of one of its greatest evils: religion. ” The “central thesis” of the book is an attempt to enlist science as the cultural ally in his quest to “rid the world of one of its greatest evils: religion.” It appears that Coyne began with this agenda and then, like any good apologist/activist, crafted his “thesis” to deliver.

    One last thing. Through his 800+ word comment, tildeb repeated refers to Feser as “the ‘Fesser.” What’s up with that? It’s somewhat amusing that tildeb, who is quite sure that Feser is out to purposely misrepresent the New Atheists, doesn’t even know how to spell Feser’s name.

  11. Crude says:

    Ah the infamous Crude.

    The one and only.

    Here’s tildeb. He’s not infamous – quite unknown, in fact.

    Of course, I should have known you’d be attracted to the rich carrion scent of moldering misrepresentations of New Atheists.

    The carrion scent is that of the New Atheist movement itself, sir. How’s atheism+ doing, by the by? Are you pro- or anti-? I need to know which side of the religious schism you happen to find yourself.

    Hold on now, that’s a pointed question. You don’t deal in answering those. Instead, let’s watch you deal with hundreds of words angrily, furiously insisting everyone is wrong, wrong, wrong… but not actually, ya know – providing an argument or evidence.

    What’s that they say, about that which is claimed without evidence?

  12. TFBW says:

    tildeb said:

    Of course, I should have known you’d be attracted to the rich carrion scent of moldering misrepresentations of New Atheists.

    Speaking of misrepresentation, I find myself in a quandary of sorts. On the one hand, I could exclude tildeb’s ranting from my mental model of “things which are characteristic of New Atheists”, writing him off as a hanger-on member of the peanut gallery, and let my low view of New Atheism stay as-is. On the other hand, I could include his argument-free, chest-thumping tribal ranting in my sample set, and let my view of New Atheists be adjusted down accordingly.

    Do you consider your comments here to be up to general New Atheist standards, tildeb, or not? Better still, is there some other self-identifying New Atheist following along who would like to explicitly own or disown tildeb’s activities?

    Michael said:

    It’s somewhat amusing that tildeb, who is quite sure that Feser is out to purposely misrepresent the New Atheists, doesn’t even know how to spell Feser’s name.

    I’m not sure whether to consider that interpretation more charitable than mine. Mine is that tildeb knows exactly how to spell it, and substituting “Feser” for “the ’Fesser” is just a routine example of the sorts of cheap shots that New Atheists employ when posting comments. It’s a deliberate corruption of the original, intended as cheap psychological warfare: a means to throw their own disdain and ire into sharp relief. The Discovery Institute, for example, is standardised as “Disco ‘Tute” in New Atheist hate-speech. This is part of the reason I identify so much of this ranting as “tribal” — it’s war-cry stuff: pure psychology, and quite the antithesis of reason.

  13. tildeb says:

    The thesis Coyne offers us – not that anyone here seems to care very much what it might actually be – is about the effects of incompatible methods of inquiry – faith in the religious sense broadly construed versus fact in the scientific sense broadly construed – that he shows to reliably and consistently over time produce contrary empirical claims about reality … not just with compelling claims well supported and demonstrated by scientific explanatory models that produce applications, therapies, and technologies that seem to work for everyone everywhere all the time but between religious models themselves that produce… well, consistent and reliable pernicious effects when used as justifications for policies and procedures. If one is concerned in the least about what is the case, then this examination of methods should be of interest. Of course, to such faitheists as yourself, you don’t care about any of that if it diverts you from your ongoing quest to malign New Atheism and its spokespeople.

    The ‘Fesser doesn’t ever address this thesis (because he doesn’t care about what is the case any more than you parroting apologetic spokespeople do), nor the indisputable pernicious aspect of acting on faith-based beliefs as if reasonable and justified, which is why his review is a piece of intellectual shit and a smear job demonstrating not his concern for what is the case or even for what ought to be the case when ‘properly’ done with his version of sophisticated philosophy leading the way but just another tedious and tendentious exercise of drive by smearing aimed at all things and everyone associated with New Atheism… a ‘hobby’ he’s been doing since 9/11 trying to piggyback upon the NA’s literary successes with his parasitic and malicious drivel.

    That you buy into this vindictive and childish garbage and promote it without exercising appropriate critical examination is indicative of your malicious motives. There is nothing of value any New Atheist can say that you will not first snidely dismiss out of hand and then pat each other on your metaphorical backs for sticking to the malicious agenda… an agenda that has been repeatedly demonstrated to have no concern for either accurately defining what New Atheism is (and why it’s important to both understand and support even if, or supportive of, religion itself) or figure out what those New Atheists who write about it are actually saying to achieve real goals in the real world to real positive effect.

  14. Doug says:

    @TFBW,
    For your entertainment, there are a number of self-identifying New Atheists following along who would like to explicitly own tildeb’s activities here.

  15. Doug says:

    @tildeb,

    New Atheists who … achieve real goals in the real world to real positive effect.

    Oh! Please – please! – if you choose to actually back a single one of your assertions up with evidence, let it be this one? please?

  16. Crude says:

    The thesis Coyne offers us – not that anyone here seems to care very much what it might actually be – is about the effects of incompatible methods of inquiry – faith in the religious sense broadly construed versus fact in the scientific sense broadly construed

    Okay, Tildo. Let’s stop right here.

    ‘Faith in the religious sense, broadly construed versus fact in the scientific sense, broadly construed.’

    The rest of your post is just posturing about how Coyne so -totally- makes all this clear and no one ever, ever, gets it right.

    So, here’s your big chance, Tildo. School us. Start with explaining how Coyne defines ‘Faith in the religious sense, broadly construed’ and ‘fact in the scientific sense, broadly construed’. Define these terms, in either Coyne’s words, or your own.

    After all, you wanted us interested in “Coyne’s Central Thesis” and you insist no critic is getting it right. So, let’s dance.

  17. Kevin says:

    Tildeb,

    I have not read Coyne’s book, so I can objectively comment on neither the book nor Feser’s review. (By the way, his name is spelled F-E-S-E-R, in case accuracy means anything.)

    What I do know is that A) faith is not a form of inquiry, so if Coyne is attempting to make that argument, like so many failed attempts from his fellow New Atheists, then he has already failed with his book; B) having read other writings from both Coyne and Feser, I estimate that Feser is far more knowledgeable than Coyne, who commonly comes across as having no idea what he’s talking about once he strays from his area of training; and C) your accusation about how we will snidely dismiss anything from a New Atheist is a dead-on description of how New Atheists treat Christians’ beliefs.

    I can’t speak for anyone else who comments on this site, but my opinions of the NA movement have been shaped by years of hatred, mockery, insults, automatic dismissals, and barges full of fallacies that I received while trying to talk with them. This is why I no longer consider them an intellectual movement, but rather a group of anti-religious bigots driven by negative emotions.

    People far smarter and more knowledgeable than you find God belief to be completely rational, so your blanket dismissals and references to what “reality says” are humorous at best. Nor have you even started to make a case for atheism being a rational position, let alone anti-theism. That you believe New Atheists are working for positive change is laughably absurd. But you’re more than welcome to make a case for your beliefs, with Michaels permission of course. Your attempts at dismissing all religious ideas as irrational have failed completely since we’ve all seen them before countless times, so you might do better attempting to justify the New Atheist movement or makin the case for atheism as a more rational position.

  18. Michael says:

    The thesis Coyne offers us – not that anyone here seems to care very much what it might actually be

    Oh please. Coyne has been babbling on and on about his “thesis” for years on his blog. It’s a simple-minded variant of the warfare perspective where Coyne is making yet another play to draft science into the anti-religious agenda. The thesis he proposes rests on cherry-picking, straw man argumentation, and the sneaky manipulation of definitions. It is Soviet propaganda in a cheap tuxedo. You can appreciate that I am right about this by the simple empirical fact that his book, outlining his thesis, was a flop. It has gained no traction outside the community of Gnus who share his agenda. This tells us his “thesis” is agenda-dependent. Since mainstream scholars and scientists don’t share his perspective of religion as being the Great Evil in need of Eradication, they have no reason to overlook all the logical errors and sloppy thinking that are the foundation of his thesis. So how do you explain the very limited appeal of his thesis? Is there a conspiracy to ignore the Mighty Thesis?

    – is about the effects of incompatible methods of inquiry – faith in the religious sense broadly construed

    Since when did religious faith become a “method of inquiry?”

    versus fact in the scientific sense broadly construed

    Are you invoking the crackpot logic of dumbing down the definition of science so that it is just the application of reason + evidence? Crackpots cling to the word science, but when they speak of science, they mean science “broadly construed.” It’s their way to try to disguise their metaphysics, agendas, and arm-chair philosophy as “science.”

    – that he shows to reliably and consistently over time produce contrary empirical claims about reality … not just with compelling claims well supported and demonstrated by scientific explanatory models that produce applications, therapies, and technologies that seem to work for everyone everywhere all the time

    But it’s not “the scientific sense broadly construed” that produced applications, therapies, and technologies that seem to work for everyone everywhere all the time. It’s something called physics, chemistry, and biology, guided by experiment.

    This is why it is so important for Coyne to define his terms. When it’s time to cite the successful track record of science, we’re talking the hard sciences and their total embrace of the experimental approach. But when it comes to spouting off the New Atheist agenda, now we strip the definition of all rigor and invoke “the scientific sense broadly construed.” Classic crackpot maneuver. You may embrace it, but my love of science compels me to reject it.

    If one is concerned in the least about what is the case,

    This from the guy who traffics in stereotypes, criticizes blog entries he doesn’t read, and argues with the non-existence Martin. You are in no position to judge, tildeb.

    then this examination of methods should be of interest. Of course, to such faitheists as yourself,

    So now I am faitheist. Me thinks tildeb is reasoning as follows:

    All who criticize New Atheists are evil.
    Faitheists criticize New Atheists.
    Michael criticizes New Atheists.
    Therefore, Michael is an evil faitheist.

    you don’t care about any of that if it diverts you from your ongoing quest to malign New Atheism and its spokespeople.

    Er, no. What I do is employ critical thinking to assess the propaganda of a socio-political movement known as New Atheism.

    The ‘Fesser doesn’t ever address this thesis (because he doesn’t care about what is the case any more than you parroting apologetic spokespeople do), nor the indisputable pernicious aspect of acting on faith-based beliefs as if reasonable and justified, which is why his review is a piece of intellectual shit and a smear job demonstrating not his concern for what is the case or even for what ought to be the case when ‘properly’ done with his version of sophisticated philosophy leading the way but just another tedious and tendentious exercise of drive by smearing aimed at all things and everyone associated with New Atheism… a ‘hobby’ he’s been doing since 9/11 trying to piggyback upon the NA’s literary successes with his parasitic and malicious drivel.

    So we’re back to the evil “‘Fesser.” That tildeb still can’t figure out he is misspelling Feser’s name tells us tildeb doesn’t care about what is the case. And after pointing out that tildeb fails to engage Feser’s review (probably because he never bothered to actually read the review) and instead defends Coyne’s logical fallacies by invoking another logical fallacy, what does tildeb do? He doubles down.

    That you buy into this vindictive and childish garbage and promote it without exercising appropriate critical examination is indicative of your malicious motives.

    Are you still talking to Martin? Look, I have written several blog entries that critically examine Coyne’s incompatibility thesis and found it to be……..childish garbage. And I’m not alone, tildeb. The only ones who are impressed by the thesis are Coyne’s fellow culture warriors. Or have you failed to notice that?

    There is nothing of value any New Atheist can say that you will not first snidely dismiss out of hand and then pat each other on your metaphorical backs for sticking to the malicious agenda…

    So we are supposed to praise Dawkins for routinely calling religious people “faithheads” and nod in agreement when Coyne asserts that it should illegal to raise children in religion, right? Is that what has you so upset?

    an agenda that has been repeatedly demonstrated to have no concern for either accurately defining what New Atheism is

    I have defined it. It is a modern day anti-religious movement that is driven by hate.

    (and why it’s important to both understand and support even if, or supportive of, religion itself)

    So how do you explain the fact the mainstream scientific community does not support New Atheism? How do you explain the fact that there are many atheists who do not support New Atheism?

    or figure out what those New Atheists who write about it are actually saying to achieve real goals in the real world to real positive effect.

    It’s easy to figure out what those New Atheists are saying. Coyne himself could not be more clear:

    “Our writings and actions are sincere attempts to rid the world of one of its greatest evils: religion. ”

    Coyne also made it clear when he wrote:

    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 sooner that religion goes away, the sooner these ills will abate.

    PZ Myers is just as clear:

    You, my brothers and sisters in atheism, are a fierce, coordinated hunting pack — men and women working together, and those other bastards have cause to fear us. So let’s do it: make them tremble as we demolish the city of god.

    New Atheism is defined by its own rhetoric. And you think it malicious for us to notice it.

  19. Dhay says:

    Michael > You can appreciate that I am right about this by the simple empirical fact that his book, outlining his thesis, was a flop.

    The paperback edition comes out in May. Perhaps that is why it has recently been possible to buy the hardback edition in the UK (from Amazon, selling for The Book Depository and shipped from the UK) for as little as £12.66, or for slightly less again when shipped from the US from American suppliers.

    Or has it been remaindered.

  20. Dhay says:

    In his blog post dated 28 September 2014 and entitled “My take on NOMA: an old book review”, Jerry Coyne reproduces his 14-year old draft — the published version has vanished into electronic ether — of his critique of Stephen Jay Gould’s book Rocks of Ages: Science and Religion in the Fullness of Life. The opening passage — notionally about Gould’s 1999 book, though it surely applies to any book by older scientists on philosophical subjects, then and now — stood out for me:

    Like everyone else, scientists have midlife crises, but ours do not generally involve red sports cars. Rather, we are seized by the urge to forsake our daily tasks and embrace one or another of the great metaphysical problems that have engrossed philosophers and theologians throughout the ages. The result is often a big book dealing with the human condition. So common is this tendency that it has acquired a name: philosopause. Unfortunately, philosopausal tomes are often amateurish, fated to become the dustiest items on the library shelves. After all, a lifetime spent driving a taxi is probably better preparation for tackling the great questions of humanity than is a lifetime spent peering through the microscope.

    https://whyevolutionistrue.wordpress.com/2014/09/28/my-take-on-noma-an-old-book-review/

    ‘Nuff said.

  21. Dhay says:

    Jerry Coyne’s book title is Faith vs Fact, so the title declares the book is about facts; actually, it contains rather few facts: there’s a few quoted in passing, such as that the mass of a proton is 99.86% of the mass of a neutron, the seeming bulk of the few facts being poll results on who thinks what. The book actually discusses not faith and fact, but faith as a method of arriving at knowledge — it isn’t, did Coyne really need two and a bit years to discover that? — compared with scientific methodology as a method of arriving at knowledge.

    Coyne is a Philosophical Materialist and Determinist — his book might perhaps have been better entitled Faith vs Determinism.

    Interestingly, and in contrast with Peter Boghossian’s book and writings, there’s no emphasis on Epistemology — nor even an entry for Epistemology” in Coyne’s index. After Coyne’s two and a bit years of intensive study of philosophy and theology — well, as intensive as you can get in your spare time after working at a full-time job and prolific blogging about cats, boots and the many things which have pushed his buttons — after such a lot of effort, you would expect Coyne to show some awareness of issues in Epistemology, and of the philosophically rational basis of (or rational justification for) the methods of science.

    “Popper” is in the index, but when you look up the passage you find it’s about science providing means but not motive for us to kill each other; that is, it’s got nothing to do with Epistemology; there’s no “Kuhn”, no “Feyerabend”, not even eg (a scientist with a history of awareness of the philosophical issues, including using Leibniz’s ‘Principle of Sufficient Reason’ to guide his work) “Smolin”. The book’s an epistemological desert.

    In a book discussing what are or are not correct methods to arrive at truth, a book promoting scientific methodology, you would expect a discussion of Epistemology; or at least an awareness that there is such a thing as Epistemology.

  22. Ryan says:

    Dhay: In a book discussing what are or are not correct methods to arrive at truth, a book promoting scientific methodology, you would expect a discussion of Epistemology; or at least an awareness that there is such a thing as Epistemology.

    From the title of the book I would assume that the entire book would be an exploration of epistemology. Perhaps Coyne realized that epistemology is a very complex subject that wouldn’t allow him to come to his simplistic black/white view of faith/fact, so he discarded it in favor of… well whatever the book is about.

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