Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Jerry Coyne can't help himself

Jerry Coyne is upset that Francis Collins the head of the NIH has the temerity to take advantage of that pesky First Amendment to discuss, on his own dime and his own time, his religious beliefs.

Regarding Francis Collins’s latest volume, Belief: Readings on the Reason for Faith, Coyne writes:
Even though Collins is now director of the National Institutes of Health, the love of Jesus is still welling up inside him, like an oil well that can’t be capped.  It’s produced another gusher.
I was under the impression that when Collins came aboard as NIH director, he was going to give up the public religious proselytizing, or at least his tendency to tell everyone that science proves the existence of God.  I was wrong.
You are not just wrong, you are also a liar, neither of which is news. Collins is not arguing that science proves God. He is arguing that there is a rational basis for his faith. That is quite a different matter.

You write "Even though…" as if you expected that his becoming the director of the NIH would quench the "love of Jesus" within. Why would you think so? What does one have to do with the other? Dumb.

Coyne writes:

And to those who say that he has the right to publish this sort of stuff, well, yes he does.  He has the legal right.  But it’s not judicious to argue publicly, as the most important scientist in the US, that there is scientific evidence for God.  Imagine, for example, the outcry that would ensue if Collins were an atheist and, as NIH director, published a collection of atheistic essays along the lines of Christopher Hitchens’s The Portable Atheist, but also arguing that scientific evidence proved that there was no God.  He would, of course, promptly be canned as NIH director.
What to say? Here is a peculiar admixture of the idiotic, a namby-pamby atheistic persecution-complex (we atheists never get to have fun, everyone hates us!) and false-analogy distortion. Coyne’s hypothetical martyr  should be fired if he argued that the evidence proved there is no God—because that would demonstrate scientific illiteracy.

Coyne truly is a nasty piece of work—the image of a jackal springs to mind. Collins does not even come close to arguing that science proves the existence of God. If he did, then I’d agree with Coyne, he should be fired. What Collins is actually arguing, in effect, is that Christians should embrace science because it affirms rather than threatens their faith. This is the unpardonable sin that makes the small-minded Jerry Coyne so blood-vessel-popping upset, that gets his fists clenched into tiny balls of self-righteous indignation—that someone, somewhere has the gall to disagree with his dogma and to argue for the compatibility between science and Christianity. 

That is what Collins is doing, primarily for an audience of believers. He is not arguing that science proves God. Coyne is lying

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