Jerry Coyne

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The atheist Jerry Coyne speaking at a 2013 atheist meeting entitled The Amazing Meeting (TAM). TAM is an annual meeting.

In 2011, Coyne said about atheist meetings which he attended that they had an air of self-congratulation.[1] He also indicated about atheist meetings: "But to me the speakers and talks have often seemed repetitive: the same crew of jet-set skeptics giving the same talks."[2]

Jerry Allen Coyne (born December 30, 1949) is an American professor of biology at the University of Chicago in the Department of Ecology and Evolution.

He is an outspoken evolutionist and atheist who is known for his commentary on intelligent design theory. Since World War II a majority of the most prominent and vocal defenders of the evolutionary position which employs methodological naturalism have been atheists and agnostics.[3]

Coyne is widely seen as being part of the New Atheism school of atheist thought which is a form of militant atheism in terms of its rhetoric. Since 2011, New Atheism has seen a marked decline within the atheist movement in terms of its prominence (see: Decline of New Atheism).

Commentary on Jerry Coyne's statements against religion

See also: Rebuttals to atheist arguments and Atheism and arrogance

Ross Douthat wrote in The New York Times about Coyne's unreasonable attacks against religious belief:

One of the problems with belonging to a faction that’s convinced it’s on the winning side of intellectual history is that it becomes easy to persuade oneself that one’s own worldview has no weak points whatsoever, no internal contradictions or ragged edges, no cracks through which a critic’s wedge could end up driven. …right now its vices are often found in a certain type of atheistic polemicist, and in a style of anti-religious argument that’s characterized by a peculiar, almost-willed ignorance of why reasonable people might doubt the scientific-materialist worldview.

...Coyne is a prominent evangelist, suggesting that its view of the cosmos — a purposeless, purely physical universe, in which human life is accidental, human history directionless, and human consciousness probably an illusion — is at odds with its general political and moral posture (liberal, egalitarian, right-based, progressive) in ways that make the entire world-picture ripe for reassessment or renovation.

...For a man who believes in ‘a physical and purposeless universe’ with no room for teleology, Coyne seems remarkably confident about what direction human history is going in, and where it will end up. … I can’t imagine a permanent intellectual victory for a worldview as ill-served by its popularizers as atheism is by Jerry Coyne.”[4]

Chris Stedman serves as the Executive Director of the Yale Humanist Community at Yale University.

Fellow atheist Chris Stedman says of Coyne:

Treating others as unwilling subjects of psychoanalysis is toxic to discourse, and it’s something I see many atheists take part in too frequently. The most recent example comes from Jerry Coyne, though it’s hardly limited to him. In a new piece, Coyne asks, “Why are faitheists so nasty?” and writes:
They’re not angry at New Atheists; they’re angry at themselves—for being unable to believe in a God that they know doesn’t exist. And they’re angry at that God for not existing. They just take it out on us.

To start, you can’t chalk anything in psychology up to something so simple as “they’re just angry at themselves and taking it out on us.” Furthermore, Coyne’s thesis is not only completely at odds with my own personal experience—“faitheists” on the whole seem to prioritize a cooperative approach and rarely seem to respond in kind to the personal attacks some “New Atheists” heap on them—but it also goes against the only scientific evidence on the topic that I’ve seen.[5]

An irony of Coyne's railings against religion is his insistence that atheism is not a religion, despite the evidence that it is a religion (see: Atheism is a religion).[6]

Coyne's book Why Evolution is True

See also: Evolution as a secular origins myth and Evolution and Cases of Fraud, Hoaxes and Speculation

Throughout his book Why Evolution is True, Coyne abuses the term evolution, defining it in multiple ways and equivocating it (See also: Atheism and the fallacy of equivocation).[7] In addition, he shows a poor understanding of the creationist/creation science position.[8]

Coyne and his view that the universe is meaninglessness

See also: Atheism and meaninglessness and Atheism and inspiration

Coyne admits the meaninglessness of the universe as an implication of an atheistic evolutionary worldview, but then insists that we can create our own subjective meaning and marvel at the intricacies of nature (see also: Atheism and meaninglessness).[9]

Jerry Coyne's commentary on atheist meetings within the atheist movement

In 2011, Jerry Coyne said about the atheist meetings which he attended that quite a few of the talks were lame.[10]

See also: Atheist hypocrisy

Numerous atheists have declared that the "atheist movement is dead" or that it is dying (see: Decline of the atheist movement).[11] In 2019, a writer at Freethought Blogs wrote: "Last month I looked at some postmortems of the atheist movement...".[12] See also: Morale of the atheist movement

Division is widespread among atheists (see: Atheist factions).

Atheism tends not to create community and most atheists are apathetic (See: Atheism and apathy and Atheism and loneliness). As a result, most atheists do not attend atheist meetings or atheist conferences.

In 2011, in a blog post entitled Are there too many atheist meetings?, Coyne said about atheist meetings which he attended:

But to me the speakers and talks have often seemed repetitive: the same crew of jet-set skeptics giving the same talks.

...a few things bothered me, most notably the air of self-congratulation (which I excused on the grounds of enthusiastic people finding like-minded folks for the first time), the “fanboyness” directed at some of the famous atheists (they hardly let poor Richard alone, and I’m not sure he liked that!), and the lameness of quite a few of the talks. Again, how much new can you say about atheism?[13]

However, in 2013, Jerry Coyne spoke at an atheist meeting with the self-congratulatory title of "The Amazing Meeting".[14] The Amazing Meeting is an annual meeting and perennial speakers at the Amazing Meeting include Penn & Teller, Michael Shermer, James Randi and Phil Plait. In addition, the website of All American Speakers, a buyers agent, has a form for requesting Jerry A. Coyne as a speaker.[15] See also: Atheist hypocrisy

At the 2013 The Amazing Meeting, Coyne gave a talk entitled Faith is Not a Virtue which focused on the supposed incompatibility of science and religion, despite the fact that studies show that the irreligious engage in more superstitious thinking and the significant contributions that Christianity has made to science (see: Irreligion and superstition and Christianity and science).[16] In addition, in his talk Faith is Not a Virtue Coyne also avoided the large body of historical and other social science data regarding the immoral actions of the atheist population (see: Atheist population and immorality and Atheism and mass murder and Atheism and morality). Furthermore, Coyne said in his talk that there being various sects of Christianity is evidence that Christianity is false (Despite the fact that there are many schools of atheist thought which frequently quarrel with each other (see: Atheist factions) and that atheists/agnostics frequently argue about the definition of atheism).[17]

See also

External links


  1. Are there too many atheist meetings? by Jerry Coyne
  2. Are there too many atheist meetings? by Jerry Coyne
  3. The Confidence of Jerry Coyne by Ross Douthat, The New York Times, January 6, 2014
  4. Why atheists (and everyone) should leave psychoanalysis out of their disagreements by Chris Stedman
  5. Faith is Not a Virtue - Jerry Coyne TAM 2013 - video
  6. Jerry Coyne and the “Fact” of Evolution by Kyle Butt, Apologetics Press
  7. Why evolution need not be true: A review of Why Evolution is True by Jerry A. Coyne Viking Penguin, New York, 2009, reviewed by John Woodmorappe
  8. Why evolution need not be true: A review of Why Evolution is True by Jerry A. Coyne Viking Penguin, New York, 2009, reviewed by John Woodmorappe
  9. Are there too many atheist meetings? by Jerry Coyne
  10. The ghost of atheist past, Freethought Blogs
  11. Are there too many atheist meetings? by Jerry Coyne
  12. Photograph of Jerry Coyne speaking at the atheist meeting entitled The Amazing Meeting
  13. Request Booking Info on Jerry A. Coyne -
  14. Faith is Not a Virtue - Jerry Coyne TAM 2013 - video
  15. Faith is Not a Virtue - Jerry Coyne TAM 2013 - video