Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Special Report: Religious people found to be religious

If you are into boneheaded commentary on the issue of science and religion, there are few better places  to get it than at biologist Jerry Coyne's blog (named after his book), Why Evolution is True.

Today's commentary is illustrative of Coyne's lack of insight and his almost complete confusion when it comes to the issue:
As for understanding whether there is a god, whether—if there is—there’s more than one of them (viz. Hinduism or the Christian Trinity), what is the nature of any god, and what he/she/it wants us to do, we know not one iota more than did Aquinas or Augistine [sic]. That is, of course, precisely what we expect given religion’s unworkable “ways of knowing,” which, in the end, come down largely to revelation. [Emphasis added]
Um, well, yeah. To say that the religious "way of knowing" is illegitimate because it comes down to revelation is basically the same thing as saying that religious way of knowing is illegitimate because it is religious--a highly uninsightful and frankly meaningless statement.

Is somebody supposed to be scandalized by Coyne charging that religious people are religious?

If the Christian claim that it is in possession of Divine Revelation is true, then why should it have any need for "progress in its understanding of its subject"?

And precisely how does Coyne know that there is no more known about God than from the time of Aquinas or Augustine? Is he familiar with the literature at all? Past posts wherein he recounts his unsuccessful attempts to understand theological writing don't offer very much assurance that he does.

Has he read Karl Barth? Has he read Hans Urs von Balthasar? Has he read David Bentley Hart? In fact, has he even read Aquinas and Augustine--than whom he claims no one knows "one iota more"?

Coyne's whole argument boils down to saying that religion is an illegitimate way of knowing because it isn't scientific. The assumption being, of course, that science is the only legitimate way of knowing. In other words the very conclusion of his reasoning is the assumption behind his argument.

That's called arguing in a circle. And the fact that Coyne engages in this fallacy on an almost daily basis doesn't do very much to justify his claim that scientists are rational and religious people are not.

1 comment:

Todd said...

The logical extent of materialism. Assume that God doesn't exist, and then act as though your investigations which conclude that He doesn't have actually proven it.