Sunday, July 17, 2016

Blow Faith Right Out of the Water!

Faith Versus Fact: Why Science and Religion Are IncompatibleFaith Versus Fact: Why Science and Religion Are Incompatible by Jerry A. Coyne


Jerry A. Coyne is an evolutionary biologist and popular blogger. In this book, Faith Versus Fact: Why Science and Religion are Incompatible, Coyne both takes a defensive position that science is the best way of knowing something and an offensive position in claiming that faith is worse than useless - it's harmful.
Coyne begins by defining his view of the terms faith, fact, science, religion, incompatible, natural, supernatural, accommodation, scientism and other terms pertinent to the his argument. He takes care to point out what he is and is not claiming in this book. Readers who disagree with his stance cannot throw in red herrings of claiming that Coyne is making claims that he is not.
Coyne then argues that playing nice and being an accommodationist is an undefensible position that ultimately causes more harm than good. He is careful to unload his ammunition on religion only where religion makes claims about the world we live in and unsubstantiated claims about the ones we don't live in, but that religionists think we will live in "in that sweet by and by." Is he fair? I think so. Again, he is not attacking all aspects of religion, so given his focus, he is (in my opinion) right on the mark.
Coyne then unloads on natural theology and makes the case that scientism is a defensible world view. I must admit that before reading this part of the book, I found scientism too far reaching and even indefensible - largely though arguments made by Massimo Pigliuci, but Coyne has turned me around. Until something demonstrably better comes along, I'm on board the scientism train.
Coyne's closing argument is all about why this issue even matters. From the miseducation of people about evolution, health, morality, politics and the progress of science and society, Coyne trashes faith and extols evidence, reason and the methods of science.
My personal takeaway is that I've been too much of an accommodationist and am no longer hesitant to defend scientism. If you want a defensible position for abandoning faith, Coyne offers more than enough ammunition to blow it right out of the water. A most enjoyable read. I highly recommend it!

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