Why Was That Published?!!

There is very little difference between a New Atheist activist and a Social Justice activist.  Consider atheist activist Jerry Coyne.   He is such a snowflake that it won’t be long before he starts demanding trigger warnings when certain topics come up, namely, any published article that is either a) critical of atheism or b) supportive of religion.  Consider just the latest example – a pro-religion article appeared on the Aeon website and this clearly offended Snowflake Jerry:

I believe I’m back on solid ground again with this post about the Templeton Foundation (in this case, the Templeton Religion Trust) and their incursion into Aeon magazine, a secular site devoted to “ideas and culture.” What we have here is an article by Manini Sheker whose work apparently wasn’t underwritten by Templeton—which would mean that Sheker was supported by the organization—but where the magazine itself apparently got money from Templeton to publish a dire piece touting the benefits of Catholicism.

Oh, oh.  If there is one thing that triggers militant snowflake atheists it is the mealy-mouthed Templeton Foundation.   I don’t have the time to go through Coyne’s standard talking points, but I’d like to highlight his conclusion:

And how did Templeton get its sticky fingers in here? Who were they paying to get this article published? We don’t know. Shame on Aeon for publishing such tripe!

My.  “Shame on Aeon for publishing such tripe!”  That one sentence gives us great insight into the real Jerry Coyne – he is a closet member of the Regressive Left.  For those words were spoken like a true social justice warrior.  In other words, the author should have been deplatformed.  Her words should not have been published.

Anyone who truly values free speech would not be pounding the table like that.

Anyway, given Coyne’s leanings toward the Regressive Left, it should not surprise anyone that he is so approving of Karl Marx:

spreading religiosity is a way, as Marx realized, to get people to accept a problematic status quo: religion, as he said, is an “opium of the people”.

For the record, I have never in my life argued that some anti-Christian or anti-religious article “should not have been published.”  And I don’t consider Marx to be any type of expert or authority on the topic of religion and culture.

This entry was posted in Jerry Coyne, New Atheism, social justice atheism, Uncategorized and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

26 Responses to Why Was That Published?!!

  1. Dhay says:

    “… Aeon magazine, a secular site devoted to “ideas and culture.”

    The “Support Aeon” footer which popped up when I followed the link declares that:

    Aeon is a registered charity committed to the spread of knowledge and a cosmopolitan worldview. Our mission is to create a sanctuary online for serious thinking. No ads, no paywall, no clickbait – just thought-provoking ideas from the world’s leading thinkers, free to all.

    There’s nothing there in Aeon magazine’s self-description about it being even secular, and certainly nothing there about the site being secular in the ‘a euphemism for atheism’ sense.

    Jerry Coyne has once again demonstrated his poor reading comprehension skills.

  2. Dhay says:

    One of Jerry Coyne’s commenters pointed out that Aeon’s search facility brings up 16 articles funded by the Templeton Foundation:

    … when you type “Templeton” into Aeon’s search engine you are taken to 16 articles that all bear the same acknowledgement at the end. Templeton may be out of line here, but to say that “Templeton poisons Aeon magazine with Catholic dogma” is a bit of a stretch since–according to the disclaimer at least–Templeton is explicitly excluded from “editorial decision-making” or “content approval.”

    I’m not quite sure I believe that. It may not tell them which article to publish, but I bet the articles you looked up are about religion or religion and science. Templeton wouldn’t just give them a pot of money and say “Here, this is for your magazine” and that’s it.


    That “I bet the articles you looked up are about religion or religion and science” just about sums Coyne up. Three of the articles are Pure Physics, with no connections to religion whatsoever. But why should Coyne look at the evidence when prejudice will yield his favoured answer.


    I find that under the ‘Philosophy of Religion’ tag, there’s 37 articles; under the ‘Religion’ tag, as many as 88 articles. There’s religious-themed articles under other tags, too.

    However could Coyne delude himself that Aeon magazine is a “secular” site?

  3. Dhay says:

    When Chelsea Clinton, heir to the Clinton throne and probable future Democratic Party candidate for President of the USA, was recently interviewed at the Clinton Foundation (“a vast but discreetly unadvertised expanse of midtown Manhattan office space”) by The Guardian she told their reporter at the end, and presumably as the bottom line, of the interview:

    “I think one of the big mistakes,” she continues, “was, for so long, we focused on tolerance, which I just think is insufficient. People tolerated casual misogyny, but casual misogyny is maybe the gateway drug. We have freedom of speech, which I do think is hugely important – and yet people thought you couldn’t dispute hateful things, because they’re like – well, it’s freedom of speech. Well, freedom of speech doesn’t mean there is freedom of consequences.

    “Sure, you should not be in prison because you said something racist. But you also shouldn’t be able to run for president. And yet here we are.”


    According to Chelsea Clinton, someone who’s racist shouldn’t be allowed to become president; they shouldn’t be allowed to become president because they shouldn’t be allowed even to run for president.

    Now there’s wishful de-platforming for you.

    (Gosh, if only Barack Obama had banned Donald Trump from running, her mother Hillary Clinton could now be in power, Chelsea’s own succession more or less assured — instead of it being Ivanka next.)

    With such shocking disregard for freedom of speech, such shocking disregard at a high level of the Democratic Party’s plutocracy, Jerry Coyne should be instantly seizing on this on his blog, severely critical, championing free speech. I hope he does.

    It’s breaking news (from yesterday), so it’s a bit early as yet to comment on Coyne’s response — or lack of one. I thus look forward to seeing that Coyne post soon; or if not, I look forward to commenting on its absence.

  4. Dhay says:

    In his blog post dated 05 June 2018 entitled “Alan Lightman spouts accommodationist nonsense on PBS” Jerry Coyne once more gets inordinately agitated about those he calls ‘accommodationists™’:

    Lightman apparently had a quasi-religious experience gazing at the stars while lying in a boat, much like Francis Collins’s epiphany when he saw a frozen waterfall. Gazing at the cosmos, Lightman says that he “found himself falling into infinity”, feeling “connected to something eternal and ethereal—something beyond the material world.”

    Well, yes, many of us feel that way, although of course our emotions and awe are not “beyond the material world,” but simply neural reactions produced by a combination of our genes, our experience, and chemicals in our synapses. Such feelings are, of course, no proof that there’s anything beyond the material world, any more than the hallucinations produced by psychedelic drugs—like my young hashish-fueled vision of a blue dragon descending from the sky above the Nepalese Himalayas—proves things like the existence of blue dragons.


    Blue dragons! Odd, I never thought hashish – cannabis resin – was a psychedelic drug.

    Two things here: firstly, the young Coyne was evidently quite often out of his head on psychedelic drugs, which makes me think the Sgt Pepper album ‘there’s definitely no God’ experience which so imprinted itself on the young Coyne’s mind, so imprinted he often appeals to it half a century later, was quite possibly, even probably, a drug-induced hallucinatory experience.

    The second is guru Sam Harris’ trying to persuade his followers that they should take LSD, because that’s how they will get a taste of Buddhist experience which they otherwise would take years of boredom to achieve – or perhaps more likely half an hour of boredom followed by, “Well, that didn’t do anything for me”, followed by abandonment of meditation in favour of something, anything, more interesting. I observe that if the effects taking LSD are similar to those of long-term practice of Buddhist meditation, the converse applies: the effects of long-term practice of Buddhist meditation are like those of taking LSD – drug-induced hallucinatory experiences.


    For the young Coyne, spending an evening under the influence of psychedelic substances was “customary”:

    That reminds me of a story that I may have told before. When I was in college, a friend and I were—as was the custom in the Sixties—spending an evening under the influence of psychedelic substances. Suddenly I had a brilliant insight into the nature of the universe. Knowing I’d forget it, I wrote it down on a scrap of paper. After a while I went to bed, and when I awoke the next day I remembered the paper and reached eagerly into my pocket for it. On it was scrawled my eternal truth, which turned out to be this: “The walls are fucking BROWN.” Many who grew up in the Sixties have a story like this.

    I don’t deny that taking drugs can be a valuable way of expanding one’s consciousness. It was for me, for it reinforced my view that each of us is simply a small atom of animate matter in a very large universe …


    Somewhere Harris comments that mystics coming out of their mystical experiences each interpret the experience in terms of their religion – I cynically doubt that Harris is the sole mystic who doesn’t do that, the sole mystic to get it bang-on objectively right, it will apply to him, too – and that applies to Coyne, who interprets his drug-induced mystical experience – the experience which is important to him, the biggie at any rate – in terms of his atheist-reductionist view “that each of us is simply a small atom of animate matter in a very large universe.”


    The “blue dragon” story is new, told now for the first time on Coyne’s blog; he’s referred to the “the walls are fucking brown!” story more than once, including when he took a previous shot at Andrew Brown, another of those ‘accommodationists™’ he finds so offensive:

    The worst part is the last two sentences, where Brown touts “what spirituality might reveal.” What does he mean? Does it reveal truths about the universe? If so, what are they? Or do they reveal things similar to what my own “spiritual” experience of taking LSD in college showed: the Big Truth that “the walls are fucking brown!”

    So do tell us, Mr. Brown: what IS there to see when we adopt the spirituality you’re touting?


    Hmmm, if the “spiritual” experience of taking LSD is just “spiritual” (assuming the quotation marks denote “so-called”, as is usual, though if not I’ve no idea what they do denote), then why should Sam Harris’ urgings to take LSD to taste spirituality be (on Coyne’s view) nothing but urgings to taste the ‘fucking brown walls’ and ‘blue dragons’ which Coyne is so scornful of.


    That last quotation continues:

    You are probably asking yourself, “Professor Ceiling Cat, why do you bother attacking this mushbrained columnist?” My answer is the same one that George Mallory gave when asked why he wanted to climb Mount Everest. The difference between Mallory and me is that I wind up on top.

    And for those British readers who ask this question, I respond with my own: “Why haven’t you people gotten rid of Andrew Brown yet?”

    Which demonstrates nicely that Coyne, the guy who is always banging on about how essential free speech is, and how a speaker should not be banned, de-platformed or otherwise prevented from presenting their views by people who find the views offensive … “Why haven’t you people gotten rid of Andrew Brown yet?” … that Coyne is (and long has been) an enthusiastic advocate of de-platforming people whose views he himself finds offensive. It’s one rule for students, another rule for emeritus professors, evidently.

    Coyne is offended even by (or especially by) ‘accommodationists™’, by people who are surely the mildest of inoffensive moderates, by people who are hardly likely to be considered by any reasonable person to be causing ‘harm’ or perpetrating ‘violence’; what a snowflake Coyne shows himself to be.

  5. Dhay says:

    That last Jerry Coyne quotation is delicious:

    You are probably asking yourself, “Professor Ceiling Cat, why do you bother attacking this mushbrained columnist?” My answer is the same one that George Mallory gave when asked why he wanted to climb Mount Everest. [“Because it’s there.” – Dhay] The difference between Mallory and me is that I wind up on top.

    With one hand Coyne effortlessly attacks and defeats another of those hated ‘accommodationists™’ – “I wind up on top”, he declares, he wins – in his own opinion, in his own mind.

    That must be true, because Coyne declares it so.


    The master exponent of ‘I won because I declare I did’ is Sam Harris. Harris is a keen student of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and Mixed Martial Arts, in which it is impossible to kid yourself you have won a bout when you haven’t, and for the simple reason that you lose consciousness, break a bone, suffer soft tissue injury, experience excruciating pain, or “tap out” to stop the agony and the fight by indicating your defeat. When you’ve lost, you and your opponent both know it. Oh, and it’s binary, one wins, one loses, there’s no ambiguous middle result (as happens in, say, debates.)

    Harris regrets that debates aren’t like that and that his opponents never “tap out” when Harris thinks they should have, when Harris thinks he has won and the opponent lost.

    Funny, he seems to think he wins every time, a 100% win rate, and that’s odd indeed on the BJJ/MMA metaphor.

    It’s probably true to say that to achieve competence in BJJ/MMA you need to have suffered defeat – sometimes excruciatingly painful defeat – 10,000 times or so; (that’s a ball-park figure, feel free to substitute your own better estimate); there’s no known shortcut, and even when fully competent you will lose sometimes. If Harris’ debates were to follow the BJJ/MMA pattern – as Harris suggests they should do – Harris should by now have a long history of debate losses and a slowly improving success rate. But he wins 100% of the time, and always has done — he would have us believe.

    Harris doesn’t seem to accept he’s lost even when he’s had a thrashing (eg from Noam Chomsky), he declares himself the debate winner, or that it wasn’t a debate but a discussion, anything but a loss, he declares a win every time (or it wasn’t a contest so he couldn’t have lost.) Which tells me that Harris is as self-deluded as the Aikido master his blog shows (in embedded video) getting defeated ignominiously, in mere seconds, when he comes up against a real opponent.

    It doesn’t escape me that Harris has moved from the early formal debates to chat-show type podcasts.


    Coyne doesn’t like the journalist, Andrew Brown:

    Here’s the format of a typical Brown piece.

    I. Simple declarative sentences outlining his topic.
    II. A bunch of waffling and incoherent prose that have nothing to do with his topic.
    III. A conclusion that doesn’t have to do with his topic but sucks up to religion or attacks atheists.

    Indeed, that’s the format here:

    Odd, how what Coyne says of Brown could be said of Coyne, it’s Coyne’s format, too. Item II. which claims Brown writes incoherent prose is worth a laugh: what exactly is “a bunch of” prose? That looks grammatically incorrect, and even should he sort out the unfortunate mixture of singular and plural remains incoherent.

    And since when has Coyne understood his opponents instead of stretching them on his Procrustean Bed into what he wants to attack – quite often he seems utterly muddled, shooting off at a tangent on some topic of his own imagination.

    With that in mind, Item III. is easily re-written in turned-around form to apply to Coyne’s conclusions, his conclusion in that same blog post and in many others.

    Coyne criticises Brown, yet lacks the self-awareness to see he has the failings he accuses Brown of.


    Another keen BJJ/MMA student with the Harris/Coyne attitude is Peter Boghossian, who declares that one or other of his absurd re-definitions of faith are combat-winning moves.

    Er, no.This Aikido master has no clothes.

  6. Dhay says:

    The vociferous free-speech and anti-deplatforming advocate Jerry Coyne has posted about that totally wacko Canadian couple who, when appearing at a court hearing to decide whether their children should be removed because of the adults’ “family violence and mental health”, communicated in tongues in court with the stuffed lion toy they had acting as their lawyer. Coyne reports that:

    The judge found the parents unfit and ruled that the child should remain in foster care. Eventually, this could lead to its being adopted. It should be; people like the ones above are unfit to be parents.

    Well, I can certainly agree with Coyne on that, though deciding such questions is always for a family court to decide having regard to the children’s best interests.

    But lookee here:

    If they had been less demonstrative, of course, the kid would still be with them. And that’s the real tragedy of such situations: you can fill your kid’s head with all kinds of lies, fantasies, and false nonsense, but as long as you don’t make a public scene, that’s fine. There should be a law forbidding that brainwashing.
    [My emboldening.]


    The vociferous free-speech and anti-deplatforming advocate Jerry Coyne advocates using one (fortunately) rare couple with mental health and violence issues as a paltry excuse of a reason to silence the free speech of ordinary, normal and reasonable Christian parents — who are currently the norm in the USA — and to deplatform Christians in their own homes.

    Hypocrite. Free speech should always be allowed, however hateful its recipients may find it — except when it is Coyne himself who is doesn’t like what’s being said. Then any flimsy excuse will do to prevent “brainwashing.”


    What was Coyne washing his brain with when he had his Sgt Pepper album revelation. He says it was a “moment” (which might be a bit of writer’s licence) but has never let his readers know, and probably doesn’t know himself, which track or even which side was playing at that “moment.”

    Hashish in sufficiently high dosage can reportedly induce hallucinations, though for a thoroughly distorted sense of time it probably had to be LSD or another truly psychedelic drug.

  7. Dhay says:

    I forgot to add: there should be a law forbidding that brainwashing.

  8. unclesporkums says:

    The mask has slipped off so many times, they’re not even bothering to reapply it.

  9. RobertM says:

    @Dhay- Which track of Sgt Pepper was playing? It doesn’t matter, man, it’s like they all flow into one another, man, like the river flows to the sea man, it’s like they’re the Beatles but they’re like this other band too at the same time and we’re fixing a hole where the rain gets in, dig that man, it’s like cosmic awakening and she’s leaving home after living alone, after they filled her head with all those lies and false nonsense man, and I’m leaving home cuz THE WALLS are F’n BROWN man! Dig it and then it’s like there’s a song, and then there’s like another song inside that song, and then there’s this groove and it just, like grooves and Grooves and F’n GROOVES MAN! And it’s getting better all the time man, like… CRANBERRY SAUCE…

  10. Kevin says:


    I read your post and subsequently started shaking and sweating, and concluded that I shouldn’t have eaten Taco Bell. Taco Bell proves there is no god.

  11. unclesporkums says:

    That only seems to reinforce my belief in the Almighty, as TB is actually my favorite restaurant and I’ve never had any stomach or otherwise problems from eating there. Guess I have a cast-iron stomach. But staying on topic, yeah Coyne is still a bigoted bully.

  12. Dhay says:

    This is from a stderr blog post on drug use by military personnel:

    The good news is that they say “we never did it when we were on duty” which I totally believe. Not that it matters, much, the effects of LSD are pretty serious and you can be disoriented for days. Any of you who have taken prescription antidepressants that alter your serotonin or dopamine levels, you have some idea how it feels to have your neurotransmitter levels shifted around – well, if antidepressants are sort of twiddling the dials, LSD rips the faceplate right off the machine and reaches in and jiggles stuff around; it’s not gentle and it has memorable moments. I am not happy at all to hear that people who literally have a finger on the button are messing with that stuff.

    The footnote commenting on those ‘memorable moments’ looks particularly relevant to the vividness of Jerry Coyne’s Sgt Pepper ‘moment’, both at the time and half a century later:

    “Memorable moments” – I believe that the famous ‘LSD flashbacks’ are memories that get laid down in your mind with tremendous clarity; there is a relationship between amphetamines and an increase in the vividness and rapidity with which memories are laid down. Well, LSD flashbacks are like that, by a factor of several.


  13. Dhay says:

    Jerry Coyne never lets up ranting at the Templeton Foundation, he takes every opportunity to have a go at it. Looking at his 21 August 2018 blog post entitled “Here we go again: a Templeton-sponsored conference designed to “expand” evolutionary biology”, where he says:

    What we have in this program, then, is a group of overly ambitious people, instantiated in the “Extended Evolutionary Synthesis” site (see below), who keep writing papers and having meetings touting their unevidenced theories, hoping that by sheer force of verbiage they’ll hijack modern evolutionary theory.

    As for “balance”, there isn’t any in this conference: I see no critics of these buzz-topics on the program (they could, for example, have chosen the eminent critics [names.])


    Hmmm. The Templeton Foundation evidently wants to stimulate and develop new ideas, whereas Coyne (and Richard Dawkins also) is vehemently opposed to anything that isn’t the old ideas. There’s no reason why the Templeton Foundation should invite the old guard to re-present the old ideas, it’s trying to stimulate and develop new ideas. Looks like Coyne doesn’t even want them discussed, or if they are, wants them immediately squashed.

    And this page gives … and the names of the speakers (I know of only one of them, but of course I’ve been out of active science for a while):

    There’s ten speakers, one of whom is from Helsinki, one is from Germany, and eight speakers are from Coyne’s USA; but he only knows of one, despite retiring only three years ago (on 30 September 2015), he’s already out of touch.

    I am minded of Max Planck’s famous comment that:

    “A new scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents and making them see the light, but rather because its opponents eventually die, and a new generation grows up that is familiar with it.”

    Or there’s the paraphrased version: “Science advances one funeral at a time.”


    But I fully expect that until he dies Coyne will remain a vociferous opponent of new ideas, even of the idea of developing new ideas.

  14. Dhay says:

    One very reliable triggerer of Jerry Coyne’s ire is the Guardian‘s Andrew Brown; if you put “Andrew Brown” in Coyne’s Search box and click Find you’ll currently get all of sixty-four results:


    Coyne’s 25 September 2014 blog post entitled “Andrew Brown: the low-hanging fruit of atheism” rants on and on against Brown again, and has this interesting bottom line:

    You are probably asking yourself, “Professor Ceiling Cat, why do you bother attacking this mushbrained columnist?” My answer is the same one that George Mallory gave when asked why he wanted to climb Mount Everest. The difference between Mallory and me is that I wind up on top.

    And for those British readers who ask this question, I respond with my own: “Why haven’t you people gotten rid of Andrew Brown yet?”


    That’s an interesting last paragraph. The first question I have is, just who does Coyne mean by “those British readers”: does he mean his own blog’s British fans; does he mean British The Guardian readers? The next is, just who does Coyne mean by “you people”: does he mean one of the just-mentioned two groups, or does he mean the British people as a whole?

    It would be very odd indeed if Coyne were to believe it possible for his fans, or for The Guardian‘s readers, or for the British people to kick Brown off of his column; only his Editor-in-Chief can do that; Brown’s continuing to this day as Religion Correspondent testifies both that the The Guardian reading public have a keen interest in Brown’s articles — in Coyne’s comments below ‘Coel’ reports 1600 The Guardian reader comments on this one article — and that Brown and his read-drawing power have the Editor-in-Chief’s continuing support.

    Whatever, I am driven to conclude that either Coyne is a hopelessly naive fantasist about (whichever group of people he’s referring to) being able to achieve what they cannot achieve, the sacking of Brown … or Coyne is calling for Brown’s assassination.


    (Though I suppose Coyne might be an idiot prone to typing out the first thing that comes into his head and without thinking about it.)

  15. unclesporkums says:

    But remember kids, things would be a lot better if we were all atheists.

  16. Dhay says:

    And now, a “Why Was That Not Published?!!” from Jerry Coyne, complaining in his 20 April 2019 blog post entitled “WordPress and the Pakistani government censor my site again, removing a “blasphemous” quote—from the Qur’an!” that the Web Analysis Team of the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority had complained to Coyne’s host, WordPress, that a[n illiterate, it’s “Qur’an”] meme (which Coyne included in a 2016 blog post) showing a charge by scimitar-wielding Arab cavalry and saying “SLAY THE UNBELIEVERS WHEREVER YOU FIND THEM – QU’RAN 2:191” – the Team had complained it was:

    … extremely Blasphemous and … hurting the sentiments of many Muslims around Pakistan. The same has also been declared blasphemous under Pakistan Penal Code section …


    Which content WordPress duly removed from view in Pakistan (only) from Coyne’s 2016 post:


    Coyne was most indignant:

    The curious thing is that what they blocked—on the grounds of blasphemy—is a quote from the Qur’an! And, as far as I can determine, the quote is pretty accurate.

    And to prove the quote’s accuracy he quotes no fewer than seven translations of this one verse, and concludes:

    So the quote is pretty accurate given that these versions say “Slay them wherever you find them”, and “them” clearly revers to disbelievers or unbelievers. What we have, then, is an Islamic government declaring that the words of the Qur’an are blasphemous!

    The meme is a crude bit of anti-Muslim bigoted hater propaganda, anti-Muslim bigoted hater propaganda which Coyne criticised the Huffington Post’s criticism of the meme back in 2016 as “it’s not garbage!”, and which he vigorously defends and himself promotes now in 2019.

    Coyne’s got it wrong, it’s not the words of the Qur’an which are blasphemous, it’s the message of the meme which is blasphemous – that is, it twists and distorts the meaning of the Qur’an’s words to their opposites – and which is offensive to Muslims. In the meme itself, the words and picture, the message is plainly that Muslims are a bloodthirsty lot commanded by Allah to wage unprovoked war upon all non-Muslims everywhere and to kill them all.

    But no, you can only reach that conclusion by selective reading out-of-context, deliberately selective reading; it’s not an accurate representation of the verse in context, it’s a crude bit of anti-Muslim bigotry, a crude bit of hater propaganda.

    My Pickthall version of the Qur’an – Coyne uses it for one of his seven quotes of 2:191 so I can be sure he has access to it – has this for the verse and context:

    2:190 Fight in the way of Allah against those who fight against you, but begin not hostilities. Allah loves not aggressors.

    2:191 And slay them wherever ye find them, and drive them out of the places whence they drove you out, for persecution is worse than slaughter. And fight not with them at the Inviolable Place of Worship until they first attack you there, but if they attack you (there) then slay them. Such is the reward of disbelievers.

    2:192 But if they desist, then Allah is Forgiving, Merciful.

    2:193 And fight them until persecution is no more, and religion is for Allah. But if they desist, then let there be no hostility except against wrongdoers.

    2:194 The forbidden month for the forbidden month, and forbidden things in retaliation. [I had to check a commentary here – Dhay.] And one who attacks you, attack him in like manner as he attacked you. Observe your duty to Allah, and know that Allah is with those who ward off (evil).

    My rough-and-ready paraphrase and understanding:
    2:190 – Fight only if you have to, do not start a fight, Allah commands Muslims not to be aggressors.
    2:191 – (Reversing order.) If attacked, even then do not attack your opponents at the shrine at Mecca unless and until they attack you there.
    Fight hard until you have repossessed what the invading attackers dispossessed you of.
    “Disbelievers” tells readers that these verses refer to the agressors being people who are seeking to kill, persecute and dispossess Muslims, to a Holy War initiated by non-Muslims against Islam and Muslims.
    2:192 – If the aggressors stop their war, persecution, dispossession, Allah commands peace, forgiveness, mercy.
    2:193 – Fight hard while you must, then when the aggressors stop punish only the war criminals.
    2:194 – Don’t fight in the three annual Pilgrimage months – unless attacked.
    And finally, (to re-phrase it in Biblical terms) it’s to be “An eye for an eye”, not over-the-top retaliation and punishment. As Allah commands.

    In summary, far from confirming the meme’s (and Coyne’s) message that in Surah 2:191 Allah commands Muslims to initiate aggressive murderous warfare and slaughter of all non-Muslims everywhere and everywhen, the verse and context commands Muslims that they should not initiate warfare but may and should defend their borders and selves using limited and proportionate force against religious war initiated against them; and should cease their defence once the aggressors stop their aggression, persecution and dispossession and withdraw.


    What lessons can be drawn from Coyne’s blog post? The obvious one is that in promoting and strongly defending this meme (and, in an in-your-face up-yours to Pakistani Muslims, reproducing the offending meme on his blog yet again) Coyne is promoting and strongly defending bigoted anti-Muslim propaganda.

    And he’s such a bigot himself that he sees nothing wrong in that.

  17. Dhay says:

    In August 2017 Jerry Coyne told us what an expert on religion he had become:

    I spent over two years reading theology, beginning with scripture and progressing through “folk theology”, as exemplified by C. S. Lewis, to the “sophisticated” lucubrations of people like Alvin Plantinga and David Bentley Hart. And the deeper you dig, the more bullshit you find. It’s excreta all the way down. Sophisticated theology provides no more evidence for God than does C. S. Lewis or children’s books on Christianity. There is no “there” there. And yes, I’ve read the entire Bible and Qur’an, and some Hindu theology, as well as part of the Book of Mormon (I couldn’t finish it).


    Coyne evidently claims extensive knowledge of religion and its texts – and presumably claims deep understanding also, seeing that he’s read and felt able to dismiss as “bullshit” and “excreta” the ““sophisticated” lucubrations of people like Alvin Plantinga and David Bentley Hart.”

    Yet despite reading “the entire Bible and Qur’an”, and despite acquiring advanced theological skills (or not, if you read the increasingly despairing and increasingly acidic comments of ‘Uncle’ Eric MacDonald, his tutor for his directed reading), Coyne doesn’t have a clue how to approach understanding the Bible.

    The principle that to understand a brief passage – in my house thermostat manual, in novels and plays, in the Bible and Qur’an, in [multiply examples here] – you must read it in its context is very basic, very basic indeed. That’s not sophisticated™ theology, it’s arguably not even theology, it’s basic commonsense. It’s very quickly learned by experience, and reflecting on how quickly it’s learned tells me that Coyne has evidently made no attempts at understanding Biblical or Qur’anic passages, for if he had made minimal attempts to understand such passages, gained even minimal experience of doing so, it’s inconceivable he could blunder into making such a schoolboy howler as ignoring context.

    But he did make such a schoolboy howler – see my response above; so QED; that howler tells me that Coyne’s self-proclaimed expertise in matters religious is mere bluff and bullshit, excreta.

  18. Dhay says:

    In a 11 July 2019 blog post Jerry Coyne complains that “Twitter starts censoring speech, beginning with speech about religion.” I’m sure there’s a lot of grey areas, but I note that one of the four templates quoted for by Coyne for Tweets (and their Tweeters) which will henceforth be banned there’s:

    [Religious Group] are viruses. They are making this country sick.


    That’ll be a blow for some prominent New Atheists.

  19. unclesporkums says:

    Waiting for them to post the same about pro-Christian/ speech being censored under the same circumstances.. I’ll wait. “Freedom for me..”

  20. Dhay says:

    In his 05 January 2020 blog post entitled “Panpsychism makes a sneaky return” Jerry Coyne quotes from Julian Baggini’s unimpressed review of a recent book by Philip Goff:

    If we could be persuaded of the truth of panpsychism, Mr. Goff says in his final chapter, it could transform our worldview. Realizing that we are all part of one, single conscious universe could make us less egotistic and less concerned about death. The planet would have a greater chance of surviving the climate crisis if we grasped that we are not apart from nature but fully in it.

    This section of Mr. Goff’s argument warms the heart more than it persuades the mind. . .


    What comes to mind is that with suitable modifications Baggini’s words are also applicable to Coyne. Let’s see:

    If we could be persuaded of the truth of No-Free-Will, Mr. Coyne repeatedly tells us, it could transform our worldview. Realizing that we are all puppets each dangling on the strings of our genes and our environment could make us more compassionate and less concerned about criminals. [Pad out with the usual Coyne waffle.]

    This section of Mr. Coyne’s argument warms the heart more than it persuades the mind. . ./

    Yep, looks applicable to me.

    Or substitute Sam Harris for Coyne.

  21. Dhay says:

    I have no interest in going into the detail of Jerry Coyne’s 10 February 2020 blog post entitled “A physicist and science popularizer osculates the rump of faith”, it’s a typical ‘triggered’ Coyne rant; it’s the title that caught my eye.

    Coyne is a biologist who includes “Readers’ wildlife photos” and explanations of evolutionary science topics on his blog; Richard Dawkins is a biologist who became, via his books and professorship, a science popularizer; PZ Myers is a biologist who popularised octopuses and now spiders; and all three are New Atheists/Atheism+.

    Much of what these three do publicly could well be titled “A physicist and science popularizer osculates the rump of New Atheism/Atheism+”.

    With small modifications we could add in Steven Pinker, Robert Sapolsky, and quite a few others. These science popularisers also osculate the rump of New Atheism/Atheism+/anti-theism.

  22. Dhay says:

    Oops: in the third paragraph should be:

    Much of what these three do publicly could well be titled “A biologist and science popularizer osculates the rump of New Atheism/Atheism+”.

  23. Dhay says:

    In an 11 February blog post entitled “A philosophical red flag”, which criticises the ideas and book of the panpsychist philosopher Philip Goff, Jerry Coyne likens panpsychism to a religion:

    [The book] hasn’t convinced me so far that matter is somehow conscious, and yet there seem to be a fair number of people who buy into what is essentially a form of religion, since there’s no evidence for panpsychism, its propositions are bizarre, and yet the belief remains fervent. (Some of its adherents, like Goff, also claim that their theory, like religion, vouchsafes us a new form of reassurance and joy.)


    Let’s look at Coyne and his ideas through the prism of his own words: there’s no evidence for no-free-will, its propositions are bizarre, the consequences and benefits – does Coyne allege a “form of reassurance and joy” following no-blame? – of everybody believing in no-free-will are nebulous and unspecified; and yet Coyne’s belief remains fervent, he’s an evangelist.

    If you think that the laws of physics rule out free will, do read and evaluate Verbose Stoic’s 10 February 2020 long, thoughtful and (as usual) excellent post, “Do the Laws of Physics Rule Out the Paranormal?” – the arguments of which generalise to any “The laws of physics rule this out”:


    And I can’t tell you how many angry and nasty emails and comments I’ve gotten from people who revile me for criticizing panpsychism—all of which convinces me even more that it’s a form of religion. Many of these comments and emails strikingly resemble those I get from religious believers who damn me for going after faith.

    I note that some Shadow to Light posts receive angry and nasty replies from triggered people who revile Michael (the blog owner) for criticising atheism ** : by Coyne’s thinking, that should convince him and us that atheism is a form of religion.

    ( ** And others who revile Michael for criticising SJW-ism, so by Coyne’s lights SJW-ism, too, is a form of religion.)

    Coyne’s own blog post is itself nasty, and in particular it reviles “panpsychotics”. Self-aware Coyne ain’t. (Is Coyne – by his own lights, again – a New Atheist psychotic?)

    And one of the signs of a desperate faith is the claim that belief in your faith is spreading.

    Coyne delights in the hypothesis that as countries worldwide become wealthier and living conditions improve there will be a corresponding decline in religiosity and rise in atheists. Read that last quote again.

    Hemant Mehta is constantly banging on about the decline in Christian affiliation and the rise in the Nones, so add him in with Coyne.

    Coyne then takes umbrage at a sentence of Goff’s: “An increasing number of philosophers and even some neuroscientists are coming around to the idea that [panpsychism] may be our best hope for solving the problem of consciousness.” This is apparently woo because:

    You hear the same kind of claim from Deepak Chopra and from Rupert Sheldrake:

    No, I don’t think Goff’s using the same form of wording as Chopra and Sheldrake makes anything Goff says woo; besides, Goff’s “increasing number”, “best hope” or both might be factually true – Coyne doesn’t claim it isn’t – in which case Coyne’s objection amounts to: trigger words! Bang!


    Here’s the able Verbose Stoic writing on Coyne’s confused criticisms of a Bernado Kastrup – Kastrup is probably not a proponent of panpsychism, but a triggered Coyne took him to be one and let loose at length:

    When Jerry Coyne comes across an idea that he hates in a field that he doesn’t normally follow, he tends to become obsessed with it, posting more and more about the topic with more and more certainty that those he opposes are muddled or just plain wrong. This is of course even the case when they clearly know more about the field than he does and he isn’t that educated on it. He was able to sit in a car with Dan Dennett and still come away with misconceptions about what compatiblism — in the free will debate — actually says. His latest obsession is consciousness, as he came across a few essays or papers on panpsychism and mustered Patricia Churchland and others to oppose it, and he continues that in a post about an article by Bernardo Kastrup, which is provocatively titled “Consciousness Cannot Have Evolved”.


    I think that describes Coyne nicely.

  24. Dhay says:

    In his 16 February 2020 blog post entitled “Even more on panpsychism” Jerry Coyne has yet another go at philosopher Philip Goff and his recent book advocating for panpsychism. He finds ammunition in a public exchange of letters between Goff and philosopher of science Massimo Pigliucci, parts of which he quotes. Coyne’s opinion – for what it’s worth, for Coyne is a lousy philosopher – is that Pigliucci “pretty much takes Goff apart.”

    I’m a lousy philosopher, too, so I’ll limit myself to an observation on one small part:

    [Coyne] I applaud the empiricism in the quote below!

    [Pigliucci, replying to Goff] Finally, you are not actually giving any evidence for panpsychism, you are simply arguing a priori that it must be the best explanation. But as I wrote last time, I believe first philosophy died with Descartes: we can’t arrive at firm conclusions about how the world works by simply thinking about it. We need evidence. Which means that we need science.


    Compare and contrast this view with that written by Richard Dawkins – apparently declaring that he is prepared to accept a theory that has no direct evidence supporting it, it’s simply the best (ie “so simple, so beautiful, so compelling”) explanation – at the end of the penultimate chapter of his book, “The Ancestor’s Tale” on a subject matter he first wrote about in “The Selfish Gene”, he’s thought it through over decades, it’s his carefully considered opinion:

    There are many other theories [of abiogenesis] that I have not gone into. Maybe one day we shall reach some sort of definite consensus on the origin of life. If so, I doubt if it will be supported by direct evidence because I suspect it has all been obliterated. Rather, it will be accepted because somebody produces a theory so elegant that, as the great American physicist John Archibald Wheeler said in another context, “… we will grasp the central idea of it all as so simple, so beautiful, so compelling that we will say to each other, “Oh, how could it have been otherwise! How could we all have been so blind for so long!” If that isn’t how we finally realise we know the answer to the riddle of life’s origin, I don’t think we ever shall know it.’

    It has never seemed satisfactory to me that a theory should be accepted based on its ‘elegance’, or that it is somehow the “best” or best explanation – though these are excellent reasons to posit the theory as a working hypothesis and to keep working on it; but I’ll content myself with pointing out that the views of Coyne and Pigliucci contrast sharply with those of Dawkins and Goff.

  25. Dhay says:

    Two responses above I quoted Verbose Stoic’s comment that:

    When Jerry Coyne comes across an idea that he hates in a field that he doesn’t normally follow, he tends to become obsessed with it, posting more and more about the topic with more and more certainty that those he opposes are muddled or just plain wrong. This is of course even the case when they clearly know more about the field than he does and he isn’t that educated on it. He was able to sit in a car with Dan Dennett and still come away with misconceptions about what compatiblism — in the free will debate — actually says.

    I’d say that VS was clearly of the opinion that Dan Dennett is one such who clearly knows more about the field of free will than Coyne does and that Coyne isn’t that educated on free will.

    In his 26 April 2020 blog post entitled “A very short story on (the absence of) free will” Coyne tells his readers:

    People like Dan Dennett argue that if we fully grasp determinism, society will fall apart because we’ll become apathetic and refuse to get out of bed. This, of course, is not true. I got out of bed this morning and am busy writing this.


    So, is Dennett muddled or just plain wrong, or does Coyne’s refutation or “refutation” of Dennett instead reveal that Coyne doesn’t know the field, isn’t that educated on it, and doesn’t fully grasp determinism.

    Coyne never tires of claiming wonderful benefits that would result from the general public fully grasping determinism (or fully believing in it, anyway, in the way that the public believes in quantum mechanics without actually fully grasping it), yet I remain unclear what those benefits are and how Coyne reasoned his way — if he ever did — from Coynian determinism to the benefits he claims.

  26. Dhay says:

    Above, I commented on two of Jerry Coyne’s drug experiences, as revealed by him in his blog:


    He’s enlarged very slightly in a 13 May 2020 tweet:

    Jerry Coyne @Evolutionistrue
    I had a similar drug-induced “revelation” in the 60s. While I was having hallucinations & revelations, I hit upon a profound truth. It was so profound that I wrote it on a piece of paper and put it in my pocket. When I read it the next day, it said, “The walls are f*cking BROWN.”

    [Responding to a quote of William James, who had described a man who knew the secrets of the universe when drugged — nitrous oxide in his case — but forgot them on coming to. One day he wrote down the secret, which turned out to be: “A smell of petroleum prevails throughout.”]


    The slight enlargement is — we knew pretty much all of this long ago — that Coyne treats “hallucinations & revelations” as normal effects of tripping.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.