18 April 2012
Not content with his role as self-appointed scourge of Darwinist heretics, Jerry Coyne has now declared a one-man war on religion.
Wait. Let me rephrase that.
Since it is by now abundantly clear that Darwinism is a very peculiar sort of science, and is in many ways more similar to an all-encompassing philosophical system or religion, what I should have said is:
Jerry Coyne has declared a holy war on theistic religions, in the name of his own atheistic religion, Darwinism.(1)
We lack a word in English for the sort of campaign Coyne and his New Atheist friends are conducting against Christianity. Technically speaking, “crusades” are conducted under the sign of the cross, and “jihads” are conducted in the name of Allah.
What do you call a holy war conducted under the sign of the fish with little feet? Darwinade? Ichthypodihad?
Let’s just say “holy war,” and leave it at that.
Professor Coyne declared his holy war—principally against Christianity—in an article just published online that is due to appear soon in the prestigious journal, Evolution. It’s called “Science, Religion, and Society: The Problem of Religion in America.”
It’s a pretty boring paper—basically just an exercise in amateur sociology, citing statistics from a number of studies that appear to be based on some dubious assumptions, together with Professor Coyne’s even more dubious reasoning.
So, let’s cut to the chase. The following remarkable passage contains the main conclusion of the paper:
After having taught evolution for years, we’ve [Coyne and his Darwinist colleagues] finally recognized where our real opposition lies: creationism is simply one of many symptoms of religion. It follows that naturalistic evolution won’t attract a majority of Americans until our nation becomes less religious. That, of course, is contrary to accommodationism [the idea that Darwinism and Christianity should peacefully coexist], which takes religion as a given. But one suspects that we could best promote evolution not by the BioLogos strategy of trying to get evangelicals to embrace a worldview they find repugnant, but by concentrating on bringing Catholics and mainline Protestants into the “no religion” category! (p. 18)
Remember, this overt call for scientists to do battle with religion is going to be published in one of the flagship journals of the academic evolutionary biology profession!
So, not only do Darwinists now feel they are entitled to promulgate their quasi-science as a metaphysical system that holds the key to all mysteries. Not only do they delight in shoving it down the throats of a skeptical American public by judicial decree. They now see it as their duty to enter into social and political combat with their main competing belief system, Christianity. All in the name of science!
This is a very strange development in the history of science.
Imagine that a federal judge had decreed that a particular cosmological theory had to be taught in the public schools, and that it would henceforth be against the law to “denigrate or disparage” the Big Bang theory.(2) A teacher could now lose his job for so much as mentioning the steady state theory in class, or for uttering the name of Fred Hoyle (left), one of its main inventors.
Then, imagine that a cosmologist wrote an article calling, not just for the mandated teaching of Big Bang theory, but for a war against Christianity because it taught a rival cosmology (actually, one not unlike Big Bang theory in many respects, but never mind that).
Finally, imagine that this cosmologist who wrote an article calling for a war against Christianity submitted his paper to a flagship journal of the academic astrophysics profession, say, General Relativity and Gravitation.
What would be the chances of the paper’s being accepted?
Not very good, I suspect.
Real scientists are content to let their work speak for itself. To be sure, they want to convince their fellow scientists they are right, but they don’t do it by resorting to court orders or declaring holy wars. They don’t feel like they have to suppress alternative beliefs at any cost.
What is it about evolutionary biologists that makes them feel it’s their duty to violate everyone else’s right to think for themselves?
What they should be doing is presenting their case in as persuasive a way as possible, and then letting the chips fall where they may.
If they manage to convince everyone else, fine.
If not, then they’ll just have to get over it.
After all, we live in a democracy, not a Darwinocracy.
Next: I’ll look at some of the other claims in Coyne’s paper.
(1) Lest anyone object that “atheistic religion” is an oxymoron, I should point out that Buddhism and Confucianism are well-known examples of religions lacking belief in anything like a personal God. Darwinism, as practiced by Coyne, Dawkins, and their ilk, is a religion in precisely the same sense as these more venerable systems of thought. It is a comprehensive, dogmatic, faith system that just happens not to include belief in transcendent beings.
(2) In his 2005 Kitzmiller v. Dover decision, U.S. District Court Judge John E. Jones, III, made it a crime to “denigrate or disparage” the neo-Darwinian theory of natural selection in the public school system.