Since when did the ham-handed approach become the smart approach?

Let’s consider the rationale behind Jerry Coyne’s self-image of being smarter than all theists simply because he is not a theist.

Coyne wrote:

And many public intellectuals—and virtually all accomplished scientists—are atheists. Why? Because there’s no credible evidence for God.

Let’s assume Coyne is correct about the public intellectuals and accomplished scientists.  We need only pose one more question to such people – what would you count as credible evidence for God?  Unless that question is answered, the “no credible evidence for God” position is nothing more than vacuous posturing.

So what would count?  As we have seen again and again and again, the only thing that would appear to count is some type of mind-blowing, mighty miracle that could not possibly be explained by natural law and science.

Coyne himself made this clear on March 18, 2014:

Indeed, tests of whether miracles occur (studies of the efficacy of intercessory prayer, investigations of supposed miracles like the Shroud of Turin, and so on) have always shown that God didn’t show up. But he could have: all he would have to do is, one night, to rearrange the stars in a pattern that spelled out “I am who I am” in Hebrew. Science would have a tough time explaining that one! There are innumerable phenomena that would, if verified, convince scientists that a god would exist. Sadly, none have occurred.

Ah, the LiteBrite demo! If God exists, He should have turned the stars into a huge LiteBrite screen and given us all a message. That would convince scientist Jerry Coyne. Or so he says.

But hold on. Not so fast there. Just how did scientist Jerry Coyne get from a cosmic LiteBrite demonstration to God’s existence? The only way to connect those dots is with the God-of-the-Gaps argument.  Which is why Coyne notes, “Science would have a tough time explaining that one! “ Coyne would interpret a pattern of stars that spelled out “I am who I am” in Hebrew as evidence of God’s existence only because science could not explain it.  Since science/natural law could not explain it, God must have done it.

Well, well.  Coyne’s atheism is built on the logic of the “God-of-the-Gaps” argument and assumes its legitimacy.  For without assuming the legitimacy of this argument, there is no way to get from any star pattern to evidence of the existence of God.

So, according to Coyne, what makes him so smart compared to theists is that he concludes there is no evidence of God because there are no Gaps.   If Coyne and the Gnus are so smart, how is it that they have yet to figure out their atheism presumes the legitimacy of the God of the Gaps logic?

There’s more.

It’s palpably and painfully obvious that religion is a human construct and that the tenets of different faiths are not reconcilable.

I would not dispute these are Coyne’s perceptions.  I would simply note it’s palpably and painfully obvious that New Atheism is built on the foundation of God of the Gaps logic: There are no Gaps, therefore there is no evidence of God.

The things that the faithful say they believe are simply ludicrous.

Again, more subjective impressions from Coyne.  I can match that by noting how ludicrous it is to insist there is no God because there are no universally agreed upon gaps.

Apart from assuming the “no Gaps, therefore no evidence for God” position indicates high intelligence, what else does Coyne have to offer?

Of course.

False analogies:

Look at it this way: if someone spent much of their lives worshiping Santa, elves, fairies, or even Zeus, and maintained in all seriousness that Santa delivers presents to Western children at nearly the speed of light each Christmas, you’d think they weren’t playing with a full deck. But somehow it’s okay if they do the same with Allah, Jesus, Muhammad, God, Vishnu, and the like. They can profess such stuff and still be considered “smart.” I can’t agree.

Comparing God to Santa or fairies is a false analogy.  Not because I’m assuming that God exists and the others don’t.  But because I recognize the fundamental difference between God (if He exists) and the others.  The existence of God has profound implications for the rest of reality.  If there is no God, we can conclude many other things about reality: there is no reason for existence, there is no purpose to existence, there is no good or evil apart from our opinion, there is no right or wrong apart from our opinion,  life has no value apart from our opinion, there is no free will, there is no life after death, etc.  The non-existence of Santa or fairies does not have such far reaching ripple effects.  While God (if He exists) would represent a reality “above and behind” our reality, Santa and fairies would simply be one more thing that is part of our universe.

While I am not be the smartest person around, it seems rather shallow and ham-handed to closed-mindedly insist there is no God because there are no gaps, while perceiving God as being in the same category as Santa Claus.

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12 Responses to Since when did the ham-handed approach become the smart approach?

  1. unclesporkums says:

    And where would these Stalinists be without their subjective name-calling?
    http://www.thegazette.com/subject/news/atheist-calls-on-holy-trinity-of-science-in-iowa-house-invocation-20170405

  2. Doug says:

    virtually all accomplished scientists—are atheists

    Right. Like Newton, and Faraday, and Kepler, and Pascal, and Maxwell, and Boyle, and Kelvin, and Leibniz. Hold on. That can’t be right. But Coyne would be hard-pressed to find the atheists sufficient to match the accomplishments of those scientists. And I don’t mean finding eight atheists to compete — no eight atheists have ever come close. I mean add up the scientific accomplishments of as many atheists as he can muster — and good luck to him.

  3. TFBW says:

    Science would have a tough time explaining that one!

    Science has a tough time explaining a lot of things, depending one one’s criteria for “tough” and “explanation”.

    The origin of life (abiogenesis) is an example. I’m sure Coyne thinks that science has explained this, despite the fact that nobody has ever reproduced the feat by any of the proposed mechanisms. Nobody has even come close. But hey, “nature diddit” qualifies as a scientific explanation in some circles. In fact, “nature diddit” is the scientific explanation in some circles — particularly those circles who say that the religious explanation is “god diddit”. Everything beyond “nature diddit” is just adding detail.

    Then there’s consciousness. Contemporary science doesn’t even contain the right kind of categories to explain it, so we wind up with two broad “scientific” approaches: either explain it away (i.e. it doesn’t exist), or assert that we’ll figure it out eventually. Coyne falls into the latter category, being confident that, “one day consciousness will be explained by reductive physical analysis.”

    So Coyne is evidently looking for a very particular kind of thing which can’t be explained scientifically — the sort of thing which involves a jarring interruption of the normal flow of nature, resulting in something which is conspicuously associated with God. The kind of thing that Richard Dawkins would attribute to hallucination or trickster aliens.

  4. Regual Llegna says:

    The most telling of all things about Coyne personal beliefs is in this pharagraph:
    “Indeed, tests of whether miracles occur (studies of the efficacy of intercessory prayer, investigations of supposed miracles like the Shroud of Turin, and so on) have always shown that God didn’t show up. But he could have: all he would have to do is, one night, to rearrange the stars in a pattern that spelled out “I am who I am” in Hebrew. Science would have a tough time explaining that one! There are innumerable phenomena that would, if verified, convince scientists that a god would exist. Sadly, none have occurred.”

    In this part:
    “convince scientists that a god would exist.”
    That seems very important pre-requisite for his own beliefs.

    Coyne New Atheist Mind ™: “I believe only what the people that claim they are scientists, the ones that don’t believe in God, say what is real, what have meaning and what is important in my life and the life of every other person that is not me.”

    He need that the scientists, the atheists ones, say that God exist to believe God existence. He is not responsible for his own beliefs, because for him his faith and beliefs are in hands of other people (atheists-scientists) that are the ones that tell to him what he is allowed to believe.
    * A worshiper of the views and beliefs of people that claim the title of scientists, with the pre requisite that they need to have the same ideological views that the worshiper to be worshipable.

    A repeat:
    CONEY FAITH AND BELIEFS ARE IN HANDS OF OTHER PEOPLE (ATHEISTS-SCIENTISTS) THAT ARE THE ONES THAT TELL HIM WHAT HE IS ALLOWED TO BELIEVE!!!
    WHAT HE IS ALLOWED TO BELIEVE!!!
    ALLOWED TO BELIEVE!!!
    He is simply not allowed to believe in God, not allowed by the ideology of other people with scientist title, not allowed by his peers (SJWs and social activists), not allowed by his own fan base and them not allowed by his own need of a breaking science proof to believe in God a the same time he believe that science can prove anything in existence, even God if he show him breaking science proof (coognitive dissonance).

    Extra: by comparing Jesus and Muhammed, Coyne, let his moral relativism loose. A non killer vs confess and proud killer are alike for Coyne, if this advance his agenda and make the “islamophobia” label of his mayority fan base (liberals) go far from him.

  5. unclesporkums says:

    Exactly. Latter can also be an excuse for why they dismiss Biblical accounts of Christ, petulantly remarking that the “miracles and stuff” were “PROBABLY” added later (no citations to back that claim up). And the imbecilic suggestion that the King James edition censored/added certain things. Despite the consistency of the Gospel records and non-Christian accounts. I’m also not trusting some guy whose anti-theist revelation consisted of him getting high while listening to the Beatles, but then again, I don’t expect standards from the Gnus, just hate.

  6. Ilíon says:

    TFBW:Then there’s consciousness.

    Indeed, there is. And, moreover, there is rationality, and agent freedom.

    Now, IF atheism *were* the truth about the nature of reality, THEN there can/could be no beings which are conscious, rational agents. Yet, there *are* beings which are conscious, rational agents; namely, ourselves. ERGO, atheism *cannot* be the truth about the nature of reality. ERGO, the *denial* of atheism is the truth about the nature of reality.

    TFBW:Contemporary science doesn’t even contain the right kind of categories to explain it, …

    And never will.

    TFBW:… so we wind up with two broad “scientific” approaches: either explain it away (i.e. it doesn’t exist), or assert that we’ll figure it out eventually. Coyne falls into the latter category, being confident that, “one day consciousness will be explained by reductive physical analysis.

    But, that latter category is just another way to deny that it exists. There are more steps involved, that’s all.

    Denying the reality of the Creator is *never* just that; it *always* entails denying the reality of our own selves.

  7. Ilíon says:

    And *that*, Gentle Reader — that denying the reality of the Creator-God logically entails denying the reality of one’s own self — is how you may know, without possibility of error, that God is.

  8. TFBW says:

    I’m trying to figure out what criteria distinguish Coyne’s demands from the more general “gap” designation, where “gap” is a thing which science “would have a tough time explaining”, to use Coyne’s own turn of phrase. I characterise him as wanting “a jarring interruption of the normal flow of nature, resulting in something which is conspicuously associated with God.” On further reflection, this looks like a fair description of stage magic: the whole point of magic tricks is that they look like violations of the normal flow of nature. Coyne wants a grand scale magic trick — a cosmic rabbit out of a hat. This is also a form of evidence that Dawkins explicitly rejects, precisely because it could be “a conjuring trick by David Copperfield”. Apparently Coyne thinks that a sufficiently grand display of stage magic will rule out all other possible magicians, whereas Dawkins doesn’t.

  9. unclesporkums says:

    This is why SO many of them will likely fall for the Antichrist and his counterfeit “Miracles” when he shows up.

  10. FZM says:

    So Coyne is evidently looking for a very particular kind of thing which can’t be explained scientifically — the sort of thing which involves a jarring interruption of the normal flow of nature, resulting in something which is conspicuously associated with God. The kind of thing that Richard Dawkins would attribute to hallucination or trickster aliens.

    I doubt that Coyne would be prepared to go into much depth about what exactly constitutes the normal flow of nature, or what a scientific explanation can/can’t involve. So more or less anything that is observed to happen can be considered a part of the normal flow of nature and a scientific ‘explanation’ can probably include things like brute facts; meaning ‘nature diddit’ explanations are in effect unchallengeable.

    For example, supposing that one night it looks like some stars spell out ‘I am who I am’ in Hebrew. Does the star writing remain in existence? For how long? If it disappears after a short time and the same event never occurs again only people around at that point and familiar with Hebrew will be able to observe it, and the improbability of the occurrence compared with the rest of what is experienced by everyone else will make group hallucination seem a more likely explanation than a miracle by God.

    If it keeps reoccurring in a predictable way, it can be explained as a manifestation of a mechanical, impersonal law of nature (or just chance, given the number of stars that exist) as opposed to any kind of divine intervention by a personal God. You could then argue that it may have been happening on and off for thousands of years and the development of Jewish religious belief was influenced by the existence of this natural phenomena, not the other way around.

    Finally, if an obvious ‘natural’ explanation for a phenomena is not available at the moment, you can argue that one will be available at some point in the future.

  11. Andrew says:

    Another thought on the LiteBrite demo: Maybe your personal criteria for belief in God are not important enough to Him to put on a light show for your benefit. Pearls before swine and all that.

    There’s evidence out there. Just as you can choose whether or not it is good enough for you, God can choose how he wants to respond to your choices. If we hypothetically allow that a god somewhat like the Christian god exists, do you really think “Hey, the evidence might be enough for a few million ignoramuses, but it wasn’t good enough for me” is going to impress him on the day of reckoning? The LiteBrite demo argument is fundamentally both arrogant and stupid.

    Incidentally, this is also the answer to the “one more god” argument. It’s consistent to say “The positive evidence for X is overwhelming (to me), and X necessarily negates Y1..YN, therefore I don’t care much about Y1..Yn.”. You also might have specific counter-evidence to Y3, Y12, Y64. But a lack of sufficient evidence for X,Y1..Yn doesn’t imply that W is true; you also need positive evidence for W that necessitates contradiction with X,Y1..Yn. To demand evidence from X,Y1..Yn that they don’t promise to give is, once again, simple arrogance.

    Turning the question around, what is the *positive* evidence for atheism that negates the possibility of existence of supernatural beings?

  12. Regual Llegna says:

    But at the end, if he receives proof of existence of God in a way that is impossible to identify by scientific methods, Coyne and the others gnus atheists, by his own admission (like Dawikins), will never believe that such imposibility is God or a product of God because then they will not be able to use their science to say that it is really God.

    Their paradox exits even without the miraculous event because the gnus atheists have the scientism ideology, so at the end of the day, they will never believe in any god or concept that their science can not prove (without cognitive dissonance, example: soul, mind, personhood, invisible particles, social constructs, socialism, the reasons of existence, etc.). For then any concept or ideology is lower than their views on what science is, because they beliefs systems include the idea that science explain everything that exist (this is the “Only True” ™ of scientism and what they give to the world as a group, that is the Dogma of Scientism their basis for the Truth, their ideologies, their thinking and views), they are in denial about the anything beyond or superior to their science and the possible limits of actual human sciences (that last is the one that hurt them more, cause them cognitive dissonance and cause their “nature diddit” response, because is the one that give them deep insight about their ideologies).

    What is worse, and probabily the reason why there is no really any atheist civilization in human history (created by a mayority of atheists and developed through history by a mayority of atheists):
    The info (because is only plain and simply: uncritial for the meaning of your life infomation) that the atheists as a group give to others groups of people is empty, meaningless for personal or social life and without objective or cohesive reason to be upholded in any really important way and valuable. And maybe for that they suck the life of humanistic philosophies or actual religious doctrines minus tradition or worship in order to have a goal, a full relativistic one in their atheism by the way, the later are usually the ones that call themselves *”pagan”, those people usually never know or pratice any actual pagan tradition or the name of the belief system wich they use to call themselves *”pagan”, they usually means “neopagan”, again without an actual name for their ideology and beliefs.

    * Pagan:
    http://www.dictionary.com/browse/pagan
    1. (no longer in technical use) one of a people or community observing a polytheistic religion, as the ancient Romans and Greeks.
    2. a member of a religious, spiritual, or cultural community based on the worship of nature or the earth; a neopagan.
    3. Disparaging and Offensive.
    (in historical contexts) a person who is not a Christian, Jew, or Muslim; a heathen.
    an irreligious or hedonistic person.
    an uncivilized or unenlightened person.

    Since no mainstream polytheistic religion, as the philosophical way of the romans and greeks exist any more. Pagan means simply, in modern times, “no mainstream religious group or follower of a minority belief system” (it is still a group of beliefs, practices and traditions).
    So those people fall into the “neopagan” category, that means worshippers of the nature. That will explain the overlap with the atheists people that are full naturalists, and will explain the clashes with the atheists that are in scientism, bacause the neopaganism is at the simply a group of those beliefs systems that the gnus atheists hate. But i bet that some people in those neopagan groups that give support to the gnus atheists will would throw the atheists under the bus if with that advance the idea that protecting the environment of Earth is the humanity ony/ultimate goal and reason for existence (i know some of these atheists that clash over the priorization of climate change and social groups vs space exploration and others scientific studies).

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