Edward Feser: Possibly the Worst New Atheist Book Yet – First Things

Biologist Jerry Coyne has managed to write what might be the worst book yet published in the New Atheist genre…

Coyne speaks repeatedly of “religion’s methods,” as if there were some common technique applied by scholastic logicians, Buddhist monks, and Appalachian snake handlers. The theology of Thomas Aquinas, Hindu nationalism, the cargo cults of Melanesia, Scientology—all of these and more are casually lumped together as examples of religion, as if the differences weren’t at least as significant as whatever similarities Coyne thinks he sees. This is like pulling random lines from a physics textbook, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Mary Baker Eddy’s Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, and an episode of Star Trek and then putting them forward as equally typical illustrations of “science” and of “science’s methods.”

Coyne’s own method, then, is to characterize religion however he needs to in order to convict it of irrationality.

From: Omnibus of Fallacies by Edward Feser | Articles | First Things

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5 thoughts on “Edward Feser: Possibly the Worst New Atheist Book Yet – First Things

  1. Nothing in Coyne’s years of writing about religion online could possibly have led me to predict that he would display a shallow, facile, even offensively ignorant view of religion and religions. Nothing.

    I’m not even sure this book needed to be read. It would have taken a miracle for it to be good, and given Coyne’s position on miracles…

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      • Been a long day, Trumwill?

        Par 1: Sarcastic!
        Par 2: Not so.
        Par 2, Second Sentence: Nice.

        I once or twice commented at Coyne’s blog, and even got into discussion – entirely polite! – with some of his commenters. However, I soon got moderated into the void for what I had thought was a rather indifferently objective description of one or another point of view, and decided not to return. He’s a prime example of one of those unintentional allies that your Chris’ beloved Berlinski (kidding!) promised to give a ram in sacrifice for gratitude.

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      • Full disclosure: I do have Coyne’s blog in my RSS feed, but I’m not a part of the commentariat.

        IMO, Coyne as a biologist is in pretty much the same position as Ben Carson as a neurosurgeon. Within his own sphere, he’s pretty much a demigod. Outside it, not so much. Coyne’s is a bit bigger than Carson’s (unfortunately for all of us).

        His deep thoughts on religion are no better than mine – and I’m a second-generation freethinker (albeit a graduate of an institution serious enough about religion that it had four superfluous ‘v’ substitutions in the motto). Probably worse, since I’m actually interested in the relevant history, while he (to quote likely 2016 Top Gear replacement presenter Sabine Schmitz, in a different context) “He… isn’t”.

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