Science vs. theism: a debate with Kenneth Miller. Part II: Out of context

Today involves a bit of tidying up: I want to hook several red herrings that appear at the beginning of Ken Miller’s critique of my anti-accommodationist views, ‘Thoughts of an ‘Ardent Theist,’ or Why Jerry Coyne is Wrong, and call him out for taking a quote out of context.

Miller clears his throat as follows:

In one piece he [JAC] compared religious scientists who might defend evolution to “adulterers.” In another he argued that making a case for compatibility of science and faith was akin to peddling cancer by lying about the ill effects of tobacco. To Coyne, the pro-evolution arguments of religious scientists such as Francis Collins, George Coyne, or Karl Giberson are not only unwelcome, but downright dishonest. In his words, this is because “when one makes pronouncements about faith that involve assertions about science, the science always suffers.”

Right off the bat, Miller is trying to stimulate the reader’s antipathy toward me by saying that I compared religious people to “adulterers.”  What a horrible guy!  How could Coyne say such a thing! But let’s look at what I really said:

True, there are religious scientists and Darwinian churchgoers. But this does not mean that faith and science are compatible, except in the trivial sense that both attitudes can be simultaneously embraced by a single human mind. (It is like saying that marriage and adultery are compatible because some married people are adulterers. )

Do I really need to point out to Dr. Miller that I am not comparing religious scientists to adulterers? I am comparing the argument about compatibility of faith and science with an argument for the compatibility of marriage and adultery.  Please, Dr. Miller, let’s stick to the ideas and not try to smear someone with a false analogy.

And about the cancer and tobacco thing; here’s what I really said:

But despite their avowed commitment to not mixing philosophy with science, an important part of the NCSE’s activities is its “Faith Project,” whose director is the theologically trained Peter M. J. Hess.  This project appears to be devoted entirely to the philosophical position that evolution need not conflict with “proper” faith.   Among the pages of this project is Hess’s statement, in “Science and Religion”:

In public discussions of evolution and creationism, we are sometimes told that we must choose between belief in creation and acceptance of the theory of evolution, between religion and science. But is this a fair demand? Must I choose only one or the other, or can I both believe in God and accept evolution? Can I both accept what science teaches and engage in religious belief and practice? This is a complex issue, but theologians, clergy, and members of many religious traditions have concluded that the answer is, unequivocally, yes.

You can’t get much more explicit than this.  To those of us who hold contrary views, including the idea that religion is dangerous, this logic sounds like this:

We are sometimes told that we must choose between smoking two packs a day and pursuing a healthy lifestyle.  Many cigarette companies, however, hold unequivocally that no such choice is necessary.


Again, I think it’s clear that here I am comparing the logic of the science/faith compatibility argument with the logic of an argument touting the compatibility of  smoking with a healthy lifestyle.  That’s all.  No implication that religious people peddle cancer, or are engaged in similar nefarious activities!

Miller continues, but can’t manage to avoid misrepresenting my views. (Really, I’d rather discuss the issues instead of having to keep correcting the other side):

Coyne’s criticisms are significant because they apply to institutions, not just individuals, involved in the struggle to defend science. In particular, he attacks both the National Academy of Sciences and the National Center for Science Education for what he calls “accomodationism.” In Coyne’s lexicon, this is the misguided attempt to “show that it [evolution] is not only consistent with religion, but also no threat to it.” Accomodationism is a “self-defeating tactic” because it “compromises the very science” these organizations seek to defend. Apparently, NAS and the NCSE ought to change their ways, come out of the intellectual closet, and admit that only one position is consistent with evolution — a philosophical naturalism that requires doctrinaire atheism on all questions of faith.

Nobody who has read my thoughts on this issue, and who is interested in representing them fairly, could ever accuse me of asking scientific and educational organizations to tout atheism as the sole position consistent with evolution.  As I have stated repeatedly, my position with respect to organizations like the National Academy of Sciences and the National Center for Science education is this:  leave religion completely out of the discussion.  Do not, say I, take a position on the issue, either one of compatibility of evolution and faith, or the sole compatibility of evolution with atheism.  Don’t take any position on the issue — just sell evolution on its merits as a theory which happens to be true.  Or, if these organizations simply must say something, say this: some scientists feel that faith and evolution are compatible while others say they’re not.  Instead, these organizations present only one side: the view that scientists see faith and evolution as compatible.  And that, I think, is intellectually dishonest, though perhaps politically expedient.  (In the long term, I don’t think it is expedient.)

Want proof that this is my view? Go here and read this (written by me):

Am I grousing because, as an atheist and a non-accommodationist, my views are simply ignored by the NAS and NCSE?  Not at all.  I don’t want these organizations to espouse or include my viewpoint.  I want religion and atheism left completely out of all the official discourse of scientific societies and organizations that promote evolution.  If natural selection and evolution are as powerful as we all believe, then we should devote our time to making sure that they are more widely and accurately understood, and that their teaching is defended.  Those should be the sole missions of the National Academy of Sciences and the National Center for Science Education.  Leave theology to the theologians.

Everybody who has discussed these issues recognizes that this is my view — except for Kenneth Miller.  Has he not read my pieces?  Or is he trying to score debating points by distorting what I said?  It’s three for three so far in the latter camp, but there’s one more to go.  Miller says this:

Curiously, for someone so eager to defend Darwinian theory, Coyne never tells his readers that Charles Darwin was once asked the very same question — and that he gave a quite different answer. In an 1879 letter to John Fordyce, Darwin wrote: “It seems to me absurd to doubt that a man may be an ardent Theist and an evolutionist.” Absurd? Apparently this Darwin fellow must have been an accommodationist, too, at least by Coyne’s standards.

No theist himself, as he made clear in that letter, Darwin nonetheless realized that it was certainly possible for Christians to see the evolutionary process as consistent with their faith. As well he should have. His most enthusiastic proponent in the United States was the “eminent botanist” Asa Gray of Harvard. Gray, as Darwin knew, was a sincere and committed Christian, and Darwin was not about to reject Gray’s strong scientific and personal support. Nor did he find it dishonest or logically inconsistent.

Well, first of all I don’t adhere down the line to every opinion that Charles Darwin ever expressed.  Darwin said some pretty racist things, and he sometimes got the science wrong, too, as in his adherence to Lamarckian inheritance.  My opinions are my own.  But let’s look at the letter in question.  It really says this:

Dear Sir

It seems to me absurd to doubt that a man may be an ardent Theist & an evolutionist.— You are right about Kingsley. Asa Gray, the eminent botanist, is another case in point— What my own views may be is a question of no consequence to any one except myself.— But as you ask, I may state that my judgment often fluctuates. Moreover whether a man deserves to be called a theist depends on the definition of the term: which is much too large a subject for a note. In my most extreme fluctuations I have never been an atheist in the sense of denying the existence of a God.— I think that generally (& more and more so as I grow older) but not always, that an agnostic would be the most correct description of my state of mind.

Dear Sir | Yours faithfully | Ch. Darwin

What Miller has done here is to present the first sentence of this letter as evidence that Darwin was an accommodationist, but then lop off the rest of the letter, which shows that a) Darwin had a fluctuating opinion depending on what he saw as the definition of theism and b) Darwin himself was certainly not a theist.  As for whether Darwin himself saw faith and evolution as compatible, there’s no slam dunk here for Miller, either.  Darwin takes the straight scientific line of not being an atheist in the sense of not saying, “I know God doesn’t exist.”  Instead, he professes agnosticism, which for Darwin could mean either the idea that “I don’t know whether God exists,” or “I don’t see any reason to believe in God.”  Given the history of Darwin’s views on the subject, I think he probably adhered to the “I-see-no-reason-to-believe” school, especially after the death of his daughter Annie. Regardless, though, Miller has taken his quotation out of context to make it seem that Darwin did endorse a compatibility of theism and faith.  That’s not at all what I glean from the letter as a whole.

I can’t resist pointing out that here Miller is borrowing a favorite tactic from the creationist playbook: quote-mining.  All evolutionists who have been attacked by creationists know of this trick, and our antennae twitch furiously when we see a creationist use a quote from a scientist.  We always go back and look up the original quote, which is what I’ve done here.

As an interesting footnote, there is a historical parallel here with another favorite “mined quote” from Darwin that creationists use when attacking evolution, a quote that also raises and then defuses an “absurdity” claim.  It is this famous sentence that, say creationists, shows that even Darwin thought that the eye could not have possibly been produced by natural selection:

To suppose that the eye, with all its inimitable contrivances for adjusting the focus to different distances, for admitting different amounts of light, and for the correction of spherical and chromatic aberration, could have been formed by natural selection, seems, I freely confess, absurd in the highest possible degree. – Charles Darwin, Origin of Species, 1st Ed., p. 186.

All evolutionists know that this quotation is taken out of context to twist its meaning. The quote in its context is this (Darwin is showing that the eye could really have evolved by a gradual process in which each step was adaptive):

To suppose that the eye with all its inimitable contrivances for adjusting the focus to different distances, for admitting different amounts of light, and for the correction of Spherical and chromatic aberration, could have been formed by natural selection, seems, I freely confess, absurd in the highest degree. When it was first said that the sun stood still and the world turned round, the common sense of mankind declared the doctrine false; but the old saying of Vox populi, vox Dei [“the voice of the people = the voice of God “], as every philosopher knows, cannot be trusted in science. Reason tells me, that if numerous gradations from a simple and imperfect eye to one complex and perfect can be shown to exist, each grade being useful to its possessor, as is certain the case; if further, the eye ever varies and the variations be inherited, as is likewise certainly the case; and if such variations should be useful to any animal under changing conditions of life, then the difficulty of believing that a perfect and complex eye could be formed by natural selection, should not be considered as subversive of the theory.

In the very short introduction to his piece, Miller manages to misrepresent my views three times (and not subtle misrepresentations, either) and throw in  an out-of-context quote as well.  Is there any hope that we can have a meaningful argument?  Tomorrow we’ll continue with Miller’s claim that I have misrepresented him — by saying that he tries to inject faith into his scientific views.


56 Comments

  1. Posted June 17, 2009 at 1:21 pm | Permalink

    I do think some would read Coyne’s comparisons as Miller (mis)represents them, but I don’t believe he should have given his interpretation without the context. And not just the links, which many will not read.

    What struck me, as it did Coyne, about his comments on the Darwin quote was this:

    Darwin was not about to reject Gray’s strong scientific and personal support. Nor did he find it dishonest or logically inconsistent.

    Darwin didn’t find Xianity and evolution logically inconsistent? That’s only true in one sense, in that he ignores the question in the letter, begging off because it’s a large subject.

    Nonetheless, Dr. Coyne does not address one point that Dr. Miller was making, namely that Darwin seems an “accommodationist” in not taking on religion, in letting the question of “compatibility” pass.

    Is Darwin an accommodationist in Coyne’s terms, and if so, should Coyne say that he disagrees with Darwin and the popularizers of evolution in earlier times when they (as often was the case) ignored the question of compatibility of science and religion?

    I would say that the NCSE has no chance of ignoring religion, since religion drives anti-evolutionism. So, is the incompatibility of religious ideas of life’s “purpose” with evolution necessary to acknowledge (as the topic is raised), when the incompatibility of religious ideas of the “purpose of the cosmos” with the science of cosmology is rarely mentioned by defenders and popularizers of science?

    Ken Miller making a claiming of compatibility of religion with evolutionary science that almost always receives a pass when that assertion is made for every other science–when in fact neuroscience is probably the least compatible science with religion. Or, should the accommodation of religion with heliocentrism (of the solar system) be ignored, while Miller’s accommodation with evolution is targeted?

    Glen Davidson

    http://tinyurl.com/6mb592

  2. Aatish
    Posted June 17, 2009 at 1:38 pm | Permalink

    Ownage! I have to say that I am really enjoying these accommodation debates. It’s refreshing to hear such straight talk on a subject where people usually tend to equivocate (and Ken Miller and Chris Mooney seem to be no exception here).

  3. Posted June 17, 2009 at 1:45 pm | Permalink

    RE Darwin’s Views on the compatability of science and faith:

    http://www.darwinproject.ac.uk/darwinletters/calendar/entry-2814.html

    “With respect to the theological view of the question; this is always painful to me.— I am bewildered.— I had no intention to write atheistically. But I own that I cannot see, as plainly as others do, & as I shd wish to do, evidence of design & beneficence on all sides of us. There seems to me too much misery in the world. I cannot persuade myself that a beneficent & omnipotent God would have designedly created the Ichneumonidæ with the express intention of their feeding within the living bodies of caterpillars, or that a cat should play with mice. Not believing this, I see no necessity in the belief that the eye was expressly designed. On the other hand I cannot anyhow be contented to view this wonderful universe & especially the nature of man, & to conclude that everything is the result of brute force. I am inclined to look at everything as resulting from designed laws, with the details, whether good or bad, left to the working out of what we may call chance. Not that this notion at all satisfies me. I feel most deeply that the whole subject is too profound for the human intellect. A dog might as well speculate on the mind of Newton.— Let each man hope & believe what he can.—

    Certainly I agree with you that my views are not at all necessarily atheistical. The lightning kills a man, whether a good one or bad one, owing to the excessively complex action of natural laws,—a child (who may turn out an idiot) is born by action of even more complex laws,—and I can see no reason, why a man, or other animal, may not have been aboriginally produced by other laws; & that all these laws may have been expressly designed by an omniscient Creator, who foresaw every future event & consequence. But the more I think the more bewildered I become; as indeed I have probably shown by this letter.

    Most deeply do I feel your generous kindness & interest.—

    Yours sincerely & cordially | Charles Darwin”

      • Ichthyic
        Posted June 18, 2009 at 12:39 am | Permalink

        that all these laws may have been expressly designed by an omniscient Creator, who foresaw every future event & consequence. But the more I think the more bewildered I become; as indeed I have probably shown by this letter.

        Darwin was wrong about the mechanism of heritability, too.

        was there a point to posting this?

      • Posted June 18, 2009 at 2:48 am | Permalink

        A principle point of the discussion concerned what Charles’s Darwin’s views were on the compatibility of theism and evolution, and the relationship between science and faith. That being the case I thought people might be interested in reading what he actually wrote on the subject, especially given that all his letters and correspondence are all online.

        It is somewhat relevant surely?. I mean, for a start, one of his letters was quoted in Jerry’s post.

  4. Hempenstein
    Posted June 17, 2009 at 2:12 pm | Permalink

    Quote mining: Who’da thought Miller would be in the same boat as Garner Ted Armstrong? Sounds like someone chasing the Templeton Prize to me.

  5. NewEnglandBob
    Posted June 17, 2009 at 3:01 pm | Permalink

    Part II: The tuning up – the voice is hitting all the notes.

  6. James F
    Posted June 17, 2009 at 4:17 pm | Permalink

    Don’t take any position on the issue — just sell evolution on its merits as a theory which happens to be true. Or, if these organizations simply must say something, say this: some scientists feel that faith and evolution are compatible while others say they’re not.

    Lots of people ignore the merits of evolution as a theory because of a sense that it equals atheism, even if that is not the official line of their church. If you leave the evolution=atheism claim unchallenged you effectively give the creationists more sway over the middle-grounders. So yes, an evenhanded look at how scientists and others view the compatibility issue is in order, but it seems possible to do that and engage in outreach to those amenable to accepting evolution along with their faith.

    • Leigh Jackson
      Posted June 17, 2009 at 6:26 pm | Permalink

      Perhaps the AAAS and NAS could draw up a list of those churches whose doctrines are compatible with evolution and another for those which are not and explain why. Perhaps that would help sway the middle-grounders who won’t listen to their church leaders.

      • Posted June 17, 2009 at 7:30 pm | Permalink

        I really don’t think scientific organizations should be in the business of “drawing lines in the sand” between religious groups. Religions do that enough on their own. Instead they should *unite* people with the best understanding of science possible and a sense of wonder about our universe! You know, Carl Sagan style :)

      • James F
        Posted June 17, 2009 at 9:38 pm | Permalink

        Leigh,

        The NCSE already has a list of statements from religious organizations plus a link to the Clergy Letter Project, which has been accumulating official endorsements (e.g., the United Methodist Church, and if all goes well next month, the Episcopal Church). I agree with Brock’s point about not drawing a line in the sand. Instead, show some examples and leave the door open for others to join.

      • Leigh Jackson
        Posted June 18, 2009 at 2:30 pm | Permalink

        James, I am sorry to hear this about the NCSE. I hope you didn’t take me literally.

        If religious “middle-grounders” are not inclined to listen to their church leaders what good is there in the NCSE endorsing churches who endorse evolution?

        It isn’t the business of the NCSE to list the religious goodies; and by implication the baddies – the churches who are not on the list. The NCSE can explicity state why children should not be taught any form of creationsism in science class: because it isn’t science.

        Science doesn’t need the endorsement of religion. Nor should science be endorsing religion. The NCSE should be explaining to parents why children should be taught about evolution: because it is the foundation stone of modern biology; because its discovery is one of humankind’s greatest scientific achievements. No child in a civilised education system should not know about this. The NCSE should be silent about what churches say about evolution and be vocal in its endorsement of the right of children to be given the best possible education. Religion should not enter into the science class – that’s all the NCSE needs to say on the subject.

      • James F
        Posted June 19, 2009 at 4:03 pm | Permalink

        Leigh,

        First, the middle-grounders most likely attend churches where the subject of evolution is taken for granted and never brought up, and then when they get polled they shy away from supporting evolution out of ignorance and fears kindled by creationist neighbors. The NCSE is a treasure trove of information for people with all sorts of questions about evolution – more information is better.

        You agree that the NCSE can explicitly mention creationism; the second it does that it makes a statement about religion. The NCSE’s purpose is defense of evolution – it’s a battle that’s been won handily in the scientific arena and in the courts. In theory, the NCSE could just explain evolution and leave it at that. If it did that, it would cede the religious arguments to the creationists, especially the canard that it is impossible to accept both God and evolution. This claim is very easy to debunk without endorsing an exclusive list of religions, and without saying that compatibility is therefore the only proper view (although, clearly, there’s an issue about how they’ve presented the latter point). I’m glad that the NCSE utilizes an offense as part of its strong defense of evolution, and I hope that the “accommodation battles” will eventually improve and refine the NCSE’s message and strategy.

    • Explicit Atheist
      Posted June 17, 2009 at 10:28 pm | Permalink

      Between saying nothing and saying only that compatibility is disputed among scientists, there is the more active option of explaining empiricism. Done correctly, this can be non-partisan while also being a good guide for how to react to the conflicts with non-empiricist or phony empiricist attacks on science literacy.

    • Bruce Gorton
      Posted June 18, 2009 at 3:55 am | Permalink

      Actually, I don’t think that is the problem.

      The problem comes in with the accomadationists trying to claim that the two are compatable.

      You see, you have some Christians who have actually, you know, read the Bible, and they have read Genesis.

      Which makes sense because that is where the book starts.

      So they see the accomadationists claiming that there is no conflict with science in a very “Nothing to see here” tone of voice, it tweaks their bullshit detectors.

      And they end up throwing out the very valid and very good theory of evolution out with the piss-poor reasoning of the accomadationist stance.

      Hence thanks to the accomadationist approach good science has constantly had to win court cases, rather than being accepted such that you don’t get school boards trying to sell creationist claptrap in science classrooms.

      • Posted June 18, 2009 at 6:10 am | Permalink

        “You see, you have some Christians who have actually, you know, read the Bible, and they have read Genesis.Which makes sense because that is where the book starts. So they see the accomadationists claiming that there is no conflict with science in a very “Nothing to see here” tone of voice, it tweaks their bullshit detectors.”

        Well then maybe they should have their ‘bullshit detectors’ serviced. I mean Pope Ratzinger takes an allegorical interpretation of Genesis which doesn’t conflict with science and incorporates Evolution (aside from this rather vague business of en-soulment). These types of interpretations were popular among the early church fathers before a return to literalism in the Reformation, so it would be probably fair to say that Ratzinger is following the original methods of scriptural interpretation. I don’t think anyone would say that the Pope isn’t really serious about religion or that he is engaging in ‘piss poor’ theological reasoning.

      • Bruce Gorton
        Posted June 18, 2009 at 8:30 am | Permalink

        Lord Kitchener

        The Catholic Pope is in a position where, as was historically shown by Galileo, it is ill advised to contradict the scientific consensus in the long term.

        Particularly given that the Church caters to more people than the people of the US – where frequently there is in fact a higher standard of education.

        The US’ scientific community is in an entirely different set of circumstances.

        The scientific community is in a position where it is pronouncing on uncomfortable truths which it can demonstrate evidential support for, where you have creationists who take a literal reading of the Bible, and where the science does in fact contradict the readings of the religion these creationists are raised with.

        To say the two don’t conflict is utter rubbish. Specific interpretations of religion don’t conflict with scientific theories as they stand now, but those aren’t the only interpretations out there and scientific theory is not static.

  7. Posted June 17, 2009 at 7:23 pm | Permalink

    Jerry, you’ve got me on the edge of my seat waiting to read the rest of this! Seriously cool topic; I’m sick of the accomodationism.

    A couple months ago the “Inter-Religious” group on my campus had a small discussion on scientific and religious compatibility. I brought along your New Republic piece, ready to make some tough points. My two well-spoken Center For Inquiry pals in attendance also expected lots of fluffy NOMA crap. But surprisingly the other students there were pretty darn receptive! One girl especially was from a town where “almost everyone in [her] church” was a scientist or engineer (or in a nuclear family with one); her doubts were almost palpable. The others seemed to at least have a good sense of the allegory and symbolism in their holy books, and a sense of humor to boot!

    So maybe I got lucky, or maybe young men and women (at least at one research university) *are* actually finding value in science and sound reasoning.

    (And yes, for the record, Miller is awesome for his work in the Dover trial and his textbook publishing, but he needs to nail down his views and stop think they’re off-limits when he’s the one writing books based on them)

  8. Posted June 17, 2009 at 10:18 pm | Permalink

    It’s highly inaccurate to say that religion and evolution clash. God as a concept does not contradict natural selection, random mutation and such.
    The collision between religion and science (in any of it’s forms, not just evolution sciences) occurs in doctrines which create a dogma. Some forms of Catholicism dogmatically believe that the bible is true “to the letter”. Following that case is the young earth and it’s all downhill from here.
    There are many doctrines withing Christianity (and other biblic religions) which can wholly accept Judaism as true.

    • Posted June 18, 2009 at 5:56 am | Permalink

      “God as a concept does not contradict natural selection, random mutation and such.”

      You mean the correct concept of god–the one you believe in, obviously.

      Perhaps you could help us out by explaining what you think god can and cannot do and we’ll decide together whether or not She’s compatible with natural selection, random mutation and such.

      • Posted June 18, 2009 at 7:32 am | Permalink

        I’m agnostic, I don’t believe in any god.
        The concept of good is an omnipotent being of any kind. A sentient being with total understanding and control of our entire realm of existence (e.g. reality).
        I’m not saying there is (or there isn’t) such being, but that this definition is the framework behind any conceived god, and the basis to all doctrines.
        If you are a deist, the god you believe in doesn’t contradict evolution, if you’re Jewish – it doesn’t either. If you’re Catholic, it does.
        It does, not because it contradicts god as a concept, but because of a certain dogmatic system where the bible is the word of god, and god is infallible, and therefor it’s true to the letter.
        There is no refrain from believing in a god that created the universe in it’s physical form, in which we are nothing but a random phenomenon.
        Even people who believe god created us in is image, can argue that god used evolution to create us.
        As in, set all the stochastic properties of matter distribution to set in motion for us to be created since the big bang, not unlike a very fancy pool trick shot.
        It’s not a question of my personal belief, but of accurate definitions of god and religion.
        The entire debate behind this post concerns creationism almost exclusively, and yet the writing implies that it’s generalized over the entire scope of theology – which is flawed thinking in my book.

      • Posted June 18, 2009 at 9:34 am | Permalink

        Shai Deshe, I think you are deeply confused. First, look up Orthodox Judaism as an example of a prominent fundamentalist jewish movement.

        Also, any benign, omnipotent and omniscient creator being, which you presumptuously assert: “is the framework behind any conceived god, and the basis to all doctrines,” is, in a very fundamental sense, not compatible with a scientific worldview, most obviously because of the improbability of the miraculous. Either miracles are irrelevant or science is. You must choose.

      • Robocop
        Posted June 18, 2009 at 3:58 pm | Permalink

        “Either miracles are irrelevant or science is. You must choose.”

        Why?

      • Posted June 19, 2009 at 3:36 am | Permalink

        Orthodox Jews don’t believe in the bible to the letter. I don’t need to “look it up” as I live in Israel and I encounter them on a daily basis and often get to discuss religion with them.
        The only movements in Judaism that can be considered fundamentalist are Neturey Carta and the like, which represent about 5% of the orthodox community.

        “in a very fundamental sense, not compatible with a scientific worldview, most obviously because of the improbability of the miraculous.”
        That statement is mathematically flawed.
        You can’t assert that god is “improbable” as the entire mathematical structure of probability is based upon the premise that the space of possibilities is finite, once you discuss a concept which, by definition, every set of possibilities is a subset of, you run into a case in which the probability limit theorem is unprovable (or has yet to been proved, anyway). This theorem is fundamental to any kind of mathematics you refer to as “probability”.
        It’s a subtle mistake, easily made buy those who aren’t educated in higher mathematics and theoretical probability, but it’s still a mistake.
        Calling god “improbable” is a common rhetoric method, but it’s not based on any rigorous logic.
        But let’s have it your way and consider god as “improbable”.
        Whenever studying statistics the first thing that the textbook is trying to get to your head is the important realization that “improbable” doesn’t mean “untrue”. Even if you could mathematically prove that god is improbable, that would not prove that it doesn’t exist.
        An assertion that improbability and falsehood are equivalent will pretty much render statistics unusable.
        Either way, there is no contradiction.
        A contradiction is not about probability, it occurs when two truths collide, as in, when you can prove that “A” is true and “not A” is also true.
        As far as I know, there has never been any prove that the existence of god contradicts any of the findings of science, only the dogmas asserted by certain doctrines.

      • Oliver
        Posted June 23, 2009 at 8:08 am | Permalink

        I feel the whole discussion about compatibility misses the point. My opinion is that what really bugs scientists about the moderate religious is not that they claim religion can be adapted or interpreted in a way that makes them compatible with science, but rather that when it comes to finding truth (or wisdom) they demand ‘equal rights’ for religion.

        Scientific truths are insights gained by lengthy careful empirical study, which is usually a lot of work for a lot of clever people. And scientists are of course right to demand appreciation of their efforts.

        Religious truths on the other hand are more arbitrary and easier to gain. From the scientific viewpoint they are in the best case (assuming they do not contradict science) nothing more than pure speculation.

        I do not think that most scientist have a problem with such speculations as they are but rather with the claim that they are equal in worth.

        I think if the religious would point out that they are speculating when they actually are doing so would solve much of the problem. Unfortunately this is quite unlikely to happen as they feel religion should have a certain degree of authority and authority is better built on truths which are claimed to be solid.

  9. scott
    Posted June 17, 2009 at 10:44 pm | Permalink

    Jerry:

    I’ve read your book, and appreciate your time on all this. I have a question about the words, “Darwinist” and “evolutionist”. In my arguments with “religionists” and “creationists” (who are in my family) (I have a degree in ecology) I’ve always tried to correct them and say that the correct terms are “evolutionary biologist” and “scientist”.

    In other words, I feel like the special labeling of these ideas as “isms” and “ists” within the frame work of “science” is harmful to the overall discussion. As far as I understand it there is only one kind of “biology” and one kind of “science” on these questions.

    You seem to be quite comfortable using the term “Darwinist” and “evolutionist”, and I was wondering if you could do a post on your thinking about why you do this. I’d like to know if there is a good reason why I should refer to myself as an “evolutionist”, when I feel that my thinking is based on “scientific” ideas – which of course are consistent with the theory of evolution”.

    I’m sure you’ve thought about this, and it is too late to influence the choice of words in your book, but would you mind taking the time to help me understand why you use “darwinist” or “evolutionist” instead of saying “scientific”?

    Thanks for the great blogging, whatever passes as a ditto, from me, to you.

  10. scott
    Posted June 17, 2009 at 10:50 pm | Permalink

    Oh, jerry, I meant to say that BOUGHT your book … I’ve read it, but I also “bought” it.

  11. Posted June 18, 2009 at 12:29 am | Permalink

    There’s absolutely no need for ab hominem comments like this. Already this is an impassioned debate which has been weak on the actual science so far. I would rather we turned down the temperature so we could focus on the actual points of disagreement.

    • aloysha
      Posted June 18, 2009 at 12:50 am | Permalink

      Sorry, I’m not going to call a liar by any other name. Coyne blatantly misinterpreted Miller, and he knew that, that’s why he didn’t quote his material, or use Miller’s actual words.

      It wasn’t even stuff you can reasonably defend as a misreading.

    • Posted June 18, 2009 at 3:23 am | Permalink

      Yeah but let’s not feed the ‘ignorant theist who has to resort to flinging insults’ stereotype.

  12. Ichthyic
    Posted June 18, 2009 at 12:33 am | Permalink

    I want to hook several red herrings that appear at the beginning of Ken Miller’s critique

    Indeed. I was shocked to be drowning under the weight of all that fish.

    Who knew Miller was such an avid fishmonger?

    seriously, it was shocking to me to see such a poorly presented argument, given that I’ve seen the man present absolutely seamless arguments against creationism.

    just goes to show what cognitive dissonance can do to even the most intelligent of us.

    moral:

    don’t let religion do this to YOUR brain.

  13. Ichthyic
    Posted June 18, 2009 at 12:34 am | Permalink

    and you totally twisted what he said.

    as John Stewart would say…

    Whaaaa?!?

    who twisted WHO now?

  14. Hameer
    Posted June 18, 2009 at 6:06 am | Permalink

    Regardless of what type of God one believes in, regardless of all philososphical problems associated with believing in a particular notion of God, if it does not interfere with the findings of science regarding the natural history of the universe and regarding how the universe works, there is no conflict between Science and God. Hence NOMA stands logically consistent as a premise.

    • NewEnglandBob
      Posted June 18, 2009 at 6:42 am | Permalink

      Once again, Hameer, you spout complete and utter nonsense. Nearly every type of belief in a god interferes with the results of science. Your post is a non-starter.

      NOMA is still a failed concept, despite your failed attempts to justify it. Gould was just an accomadationist who was trying to placate others.

      Even Francis Collins criticised NOMA. ‘Rock of Ages’ is a superficial work that hardly anyone agrees with. Judaism, Christianity and Islam, in all forms practiced, conflict in hundreds of ways with Scientific observations, beginning with Genesis and all the way through their dogmas.

      • Hameer
        Posted June 18, 2009 at 9:13 am | Permalink

        Bob,

        What you and most radical atheists like Coyne et al fail to see is there are and WILL ALWAYS be billions of people who believe in some notion of God and their faith comes first and science second. Suck it up dude. Science has NO CHOICE but to ‘accomodate’ the majority if it wants to be respected. NOMA may be flawed in your eyes but to most agnostic and theists it is not and we can argue forever and will not agree. So live and let live radical atheists because you are the minority here and your arrogance will only hurt the progress of science. Steve Gould knew better.

      • NewEnglandBob
        Posted June 18, 2009 at 9:56 am | Permalink

        Once again, Hameer, you smear with outrageous nonsense. You act like a lemming. I suppose if most people jump off a cliff, you will follow just to be accommodating. Gould’s silly NOMA has hurt science considerably and your irrational illogic will continue to do damage.

      • Hameer
        Posted June 18, 2009 at 11:38 am | Permalink

        What Gould’s elegant NOMA has hurt is radical atheism, not science buddy. VIVA NOMA!

      • NewEnglandBob
        Posted June 18, 2009 at 12:28 pm | Permalink

        Hameer, now you are just behaving like a little child.

        Also, I am not your buddy and never will be.

        Too bad for you that most scientists have discredited NOMA as accomodationist cowardice. Many people believe that Gould lost it as he aged.

    • Joshua Slocum
      Posted June 18, 2009 at 2:36 pm | Permalink

      Hameer wrote:

      What you and most radical atheists like Coyne et al fail to see is there are and WILL ALWAYS be billions of people who believe in some notion of God and their faith comes first and science second. Suck it up dude.

      Really? You’re sure of this? There will always be billions of people believing in God? You know this because. . ? There’s no evidence at all, Hameer, that societies can become more secular (think of most of Europe)? None at all, huh?

      Science has NO CHOICE but to ‘accomodate’ the majority if it wants to be respected.

      Oh, you big toughie! You baddie! Honestly, I didn’t think it was possible for anyone who wasn’t 17, male, and hopped up on his adolescent hormones to write something that stupid. You ready to beat us up yet, or should we wait until after school so you get a bigger audience?

      So live and let live radical atheists because you are the minority here and your arrogance will only hurt the progress of science. Steve Gould knew better.

      I love it! “Live and let live,” yet we “radical atheists” have “no choice” but to accede to the majority you claim to represent. You’re a blazing idiot.

  15. Posted June 18, 2009 at 8:44 am | Permalink

    Being new to these blog discussions and understanding that for the advocates of science- never- to- be- intermingled- with- religion or faith, accommadationists are the worst of all to defend their case, I hesitate to bring up my point.
    Its an open door to state that reality comes to us through our cognitive system and that therefore it is truncated and encrypted. This observation has been made in ancient times but is still valid in our times, despite the sophistication of instruments developed to extent our horizon. We studied a naked-eye bare-hand world in the past and all we did was to discover the layers beneath and the layers above that original world. It did not change that world. We have obtained knowledge and have discovered laws, but it is still the same world that our brains appear to produce in response to our senses. However, nobody knows the real thing (hence, the real world) that triggers our senses. To equate the apple, that we see and feel, to the thing that makes us feel it and see it is a choice based on no logical rationale.

    So, indeed, I refer to Kant, Berkeley, Schopenhauer, Whitehead, Quine and others.

    I rephrased their insights in a formula, Or=B[R],
    where Or stands for observed reality, the very universe we live in and the very object of all our scientific endeavors, R for true Reality and B for our true Bodies. B is part of R and it performs a function on R, given by the brackets.
    One can deny B[R], which I consider non-scientific.
    One can equate Or to R, which is making one choice out of myriads of possibilities, for R and B can be literally anything as long as B[R] gives Or. Moreover it leaves B with a problematic role.
    Finally, one can properly conclude that nothing can be known of R and B, and B[R] for that matter, but that they are fundamental to our world. Here and now.

    What does B[R] do? It gives us time, space, matter and last but not least, consciousness. All that is Or. If one tries to understand neurological processes that would generate consciousness, one studies atoms, molecules, cells and tissues which themselves are already conscious representations. Or is in conscious space. The mystery of consciousness lies in B[R].

    My message is that we ought to accept that our very being in this very universe results from an unknown metaphysical reality. Of that reality (and of consciousness) absolutely nothing can be said scientifically, but, at the same time, neither can it be dismissed as irrelevant to the mystery of our existence.

    • NewEnglandBob
      Posted June 18, 2009 at 8:49 am | Permalink

      No soap; Radio.

  16. qbsmd
    Posted June 18, 2009 at 1:01 pm | Permalink

    I was just trying to find whether Dr. Miller had posted a response to this and discovered two things: his site is very difficult to navigate, and he uses comic sans occasionally (http://www.millerandlevine.com/km/evol/).

  17. Posted June 18, 2009 at 1:40 pm | Permalink

    I’m not troubled much by the discussion — interesting issues — so long as we all realize what side of the issue we’re on.

    As a Christian, I have to say that I long ago abandoned the idea that Christianity must be “proven” in any scientific sense, or that it can be. I don’t think much about belief is rational. P. Z. Myers has an inordinate fondness for pirates. Asking him to justify that fondness would be silly. Maybe we can study parts of his affinities scientifically — does his brain cause the release of certain chemicals that promote a feeling of pleasure when he talks like a pirate? — but in general we just accept that everyone has little peccadilloes, fondnesses, affinities, loves or passions, and we do not have a good explanation for why. Some people don’t like chocolate. So what?

    Well, there is a so what that we should be concerned about.

    Myers doesn’t insist that everyone share his affinity to pirates. He doesn’t insist that he has a right to insert essays about the virtues of Blackbeard, Bluebeard, Jean Lafitte, or Long John Silver, into history books or science books used as texts in schools. Myers is happy to refuse to claim that everyone must like pirates as he does. Myers is happy to avoid claiming pirates have virtues and that modern pirates off the coast of Somalia are merely misunderstood and should have a right to practice their piracy unhindered by realities of world trade, safety, manners, and so on.

    I don’t think it should be the duty of scientists to accommodate the views of religion contrary to science, in science teaching. The only great fault I find in Miller’s views, and this is minor, is that it suggests to the uninitiated that science should bend a bit to allow religious people to spout non-science in science classes. Not so.

    I’ve been much instructed by actions of Christian Scientists. They have succeeded in getting a few laws to acknowledge their existence, and to allow payments to Christian Science practitioners (their title for healers, where the rest of us would use physicians). But they stop short of insisting that their disbelief in germ theory be “accommodated” somehow in text books. They think it would be nice if everyone came to their religious views, but they’re not about to leap off of buildings in defiance of gravity to make the point.

    Fundamentalists are still a minority among American Christians, and a tiny minority worldwide. They shouldn’t get any more room than they are willing to grant to Christian Scientists, I think.

    It’s not the job of Einstein to make the universe conform to the odd views of Duane Gish, or Jerry Falwell, or the Pope. It’s the job of the latter three to explain why their faiths remain valid in the light of new knowledge, if they can.

    I agree with Miller that generally these are not issues for most devout Christians. As Gary Trudeau once noted in a comic strip, there are precious few creationists in cancer wards or infectious disease wards willing to deny evolution-based treatments that can (and do) save their lives. It may be enough for Christians to say we are blessed by God when cured; it is not necessary to invent an alternative explanation that avoids the stark reality that the antibiotic did the hard work.

    There’s enough mystery left in the universe to accommodate faith and lack of faith, without requiring that we repudiate the knowledge of antibiotics that saves the lives. Scientists don’t need to pause in their quest for new cures to figure out just where God intervenes. Let the religionists do the accommodation.

    Why wouldn’t everyone be happy with that?

  18. Anders
    Posted June 18, 2009 at 1:41 pm | Permalink

    I’m gonna throw my two cents in here.. in my view one of the most important words in this debate is Honesty, and if you will, its counterpart, Dishonesty. Science, the way I see it, is an never-ending quest for honesty, and not just in the casual not-exactly-lying sense, scientists are seriously, brutally honest. They dont even trust themselves, which is why every claim is tested, peer-reviewed and challenged at every opportunity. Honestly examining the world is the very core of all science. This is another reason I have a problem with the truckling to the faithful. Yes, Kenneth Miller exists, so does Francis collins, and so does numerous other excellent scientist who have found a way to reconcile their religious beliefs with evolution, and its completely fine that NAS or NCSE mentions these fine examples. But be Honest. Most people who accept the theory of evolution have a hard time squaring it with their traditional religious beliefs. Darwin himself included. In the letter posted above, he clearly says that this bothers him. And I think thats the case for just about EVERYONE who understands evolution in its fullest. The very fact that Miller has to write a book called “Finding Darwin’s God” is a testament to this fact: squaring Christianity and evolution is not exactly easy. Which is why MOST scientists give up their religious beliefs, and find them generally incompatible with the facts.

    So when these organizations, who are supposed to promote good science, again and again go out of their way to explain how there is absolutely no incompatibility between religion and evolution, they are being dishonest. And dishonesty to me, is the greatest crime you can do in science.

  19. Lotharloo
    Posted June 18, 2009 at 1:52 pm | Permalink

    Do I really need to point out to Dr. Miller that I am not comparing religious scientists to adulterers? I am comparing the argument about compatibility of faith and science with an argument for the compatibility of marriage and adultery.

    I believe it is better not to use such “explanatory” examples since they might turn inflammatory depending on how one reads the sentences. The sentence “except in the trivial sense that both attitudes can be simultaneously embraced by a single human mind” is much nicer and nails the argument precisely. And it can only be read one way; the way you intended.

  20. Anton Mates
    Posted June 18, 2009 at 6:27 pm | Permalink

    What Miller has done here is to present the first sentence of this letter as evidence that Darwin was an accommodationist, but then lop off the rest of the letter, which shows that a) Darwin had a fluctuating opinion depending on what he saw as the definition of theism and b) Darwin himself was certainly not a theist.

    That’s not at all what the letter shows, IMO. Darwin mentions the variable definition of theism only after he’s changed the subject from whether someone can be a theist and evolutionist, to whether he himself is a theist.

    In other words, he’s quite firmly accommodationist, then wavers on whether he himself should be called a theist or an agnostic, due to the hazy definition of theism. The only thing he says he’s certainly not is an atheist, although he’s obviously using that term (as Huxley did) to mean what we’d now call a strong atheist.

    Not that Darwin’s opinion on the matter holds any particular authority. But it seems to me that Miller’s presentation of that opinion is more accurate than Coyne’s.

    • Bruce Gorton
      Posted June 18, 2009 at 11:50 pm | Permalink

      Anton Mates

      Hardly. The whole thing is about how Darwin was ambivelant on God vs science given the evidence.

      Darwin does not just talk about his agnosticism, he puts forward his reasons for his lack of belief in God, and those reasons are based in his observation of the real world: AKA, science.

      The point is Darwin doesn’t actually come down on either side of the debate.

      • Anton Mates
        Posted June 19, 2009 at 5:28 pm | Permalink

        He doesn’t come down on either side of the debate about whether God exists. He comes down solidly on the accomodationist side of the debate about whether someone can believe God exists and yet fully accept evolution. (“It seems to me absurd to doubt…” is about as forceful as Darwin ever wrote.)

        Those are two different questions, and he addresses both in that letter.

        And yes, he does put forth reasons elsewhere for his lack of belief in God; he also puts forth reasons for his having belief in God, and those reasons are also based on observation: e.g., “I may say that the impossibility of conceiving that this grand and wondrous universe, with our conscious selves, arose through chance, seems to me the chief argument for the existence of God; but whether this is an argument of real value, I have never been able to decide.”

        Of course, he eventually decided that such theistic arguments didn’t have any real value; still, when he was a theist, he supported that with observational arguments. He was no fideist.

      • Bruce Gorton
        Posted June 20, 2009 at 7:57 am | Permalink

        Anton Mates

        :rolls-eyes: His ultimate reasoning for dumping his theism was his observation of the natural world. His use of evidence was not based on his views, his views were based on evidence.

        Before all the evidence was in he was a theist, however he switched to agnosticism as the evidence mounted against his former theism.

        Now, nobody here thinks you can’t be both religious and a scientist – that is what compartmentalisation is all about – the argument is as to whether religion is consistent with science.

        As Darwin’s personal argument shows, his view was that the evidence pointed away from his former religion.

        Which is to say that one needs to take the first quote as well as the second, to get his full view, which was undecided on the matter.

      • Anton Mates
        Posted June 20, 2009 at 6:12 pm | Permalink

        Bruce Gorton,

        Nothing you’ve said about Darwin’s religious views is in disagreement with what I’ve said, so far as I can tell.

        Now, nobody here thinks you can’t be both religious and a scientist – that is what compartmentalisation is all about – the argument is as to whether religion is consistent with science.

        Miller specified the way in which he is defining consistency re: Darwin’s support for it: That believers can honestly and without logical inconsistency accept both evolution and the tenets of their faith. If they can, it doesn’t really weaken Miller’s claim (or Darwin’s) if they do it through compartmentalization.

        As Darwin’s personal argument shows, his view was that the evidence pointed away from his former religion.

        But Darwin’s personal view of Christianity is irrelevant to his stance on consistency, unless he held that no one could logically maintain a different view. This seems very unlikely, given his writing that his own view was a question of “no consequence” to others, that theological question were “beyond the scope of man’s intellect,” and that views on the afterlife must be based on “conflicting vague probabilities.”

        Darwin’s sharpest criticism of Christian belief came, AFAIK, when he wrote that “the clearest evidence would be requisite to make any sane man believe in the miracles by which Christianity is supported,” with the obvious implication that there was no such evidence. But this has nothing to do with evolution.

    • Bruce Gorton
      Posted June 22, 2009 at 12:42 am | Permalink

      Anton

      “no consequence”

      “beyond the scope of man’s intellect,”

      etc…

      Darwin was well known for trying to avoid religious arguments because, to be blunt about it he didn’t want the shit. What he was doing with that phrasing was depreciating his personal judgement to cushion his views.

      However one cannot escape that in his personal judgement, informed by the evidence he had seen, with examples, he reasoned his agnosticism from the scientific evidence.

  21. articulett
    Posted June 19, 2009 at 1:34 pm | Permalink

    While science must admit that unfalsifiable concepts COULD be true, it’s time for honest believers to admit that the supernatural things they “believe in” are on just as shaky ground as the superstitions they readily dismiss.

    Science is the business of illuminating the facts that are the same for everyone no matter what they believe. The truth doesn’t need to be “respected” to still be the truth. We have a right as skeptics to sit those engaging in faith-speak at the children’s while dismissing their beliefs the same way they, themselves, would dismiss rain dancers, voo-doo practioners, and those who claim to speak to the dead.

    Unless a person can distinguish his invisible undetectable deity from the myriad of invisible entities he doesn’t “believe in”, he ought to expect skeptics to respond to his declarations with the same “respect” he’d give to the other “true believers” or supernatural specious claims. Although we can’t falsify the unfalsifiable, we can say there’s no more empirical evidence in support of Miller’s deity than there is in Scientology’s “engrams”, “thetans” and reactive mind. There is no more support for gods than there are for demons or a matrix scenario. But theists want their belief given MORE respect than such… without being able to provide evidence as to why. Their arguments in favor of their own beliefs could readily be used to support dogma they find absurd.

    If beliefs were kept private, then scientists wouldn’t have to worry about threatening a theist’s imagined salvation with pesky facts, false respect, or pointed observations regarding hypocrisy.

  22. articulett
    Posted June 19, 2009 at 2:15 pm | Permalink

    Evolution makes the Genesis story a parable. This puts Christians in the uncomfortable position of having to believe that Jesus died for a myth –or, perhaps, the crucifixion and resurrection were parables too?

    I understand why Ken Miller and others are doing their damndest to run around and avoid this faith crumbling conundrum. I was once in the same position.

    But it’s not the atheists’ fault that reality doesn’t quite square with the divine secrets Christians imagine themselves “in on” and “saved for” “believing in”. Perhaps there is comfort in the fact that science doesn’t lend support to ANY divine truths–not the Muslim belief that non-Muslims are destined for hell nor the fundamentalist belief that evolutionists are being tempted by Satan.

    Miller hears Coyne as shutting out religionists because that’s a lot easier than facing up to the uncomfortable cognitive dissonance required to claim that one is a Christian and an evolutionist. A person is free to believe what they want. And Coyne is free to share his opinions about those beliefs. This does not mean that he doesn’t welcome the scientific support of religious scientists. He just doesn’t like them trying to use science to lend an air of respectability to their supernatural beliefs.

  23. Posted June 22, 2009 at 10:51 pm | Permalink

    If anyone thinks that Darwin was an accommodationist that are not, with respect, following what the debate is about. Darwin was quite aware of the tensions between Christian doctrine and the more accurate image of the world coming from science. I don’t see any evidence that he went around in the public sphere trying to deny or smooth over the existence of these tensions (e.g. by a doctrine such as NOMA, or by a doctrine such as that religion is about a supernatural world that it may be describing accurately but is beyond the reach of rational investigation). That is sort of thing that is being complained about as accommodationism.

    There are different views about how the tensions should be resolved. Some of us think that they render many religious doctrines highly implausible. But we are merely asking the NSCE etc to be NEUTRAL about that and stick to the science. Neutrality in public is not the same as accommodationism.

  24. Brian P. Evans
    Posted August 13, 2009 at 11:55 am | Permalink

    While I agree that Miller was off in two of the three examples you mention, the first one regarding the comparison of accommodationists to adulterers was accurate. If you didn’t meant to compare the two, then why did you bring it up? If you didn’t think there was some sort of equivalency between them, then why did the word “adultery” come springing forward?

    Your comment states that “when one makes pronouncements about faith that involve assertions about science, the science always suffers.” Your other comment was to point out that two contradictory ideas can be held in tandem by a single person, using adultery as your example.

    Let us not be disingenuous regarding the connection: The concept of “marriage” heavily implies fidelity (and again, let us not be disingenuous and point out that there are couples who have “open marriages” as if that were a common understanding of what “marriage” means.) Therefore, adultery is a betrayal of that standard. In short, to engage in adultery means “the marriage suffers.”

    This is precisely the same concept you are bringing up with regard to accommodationists: That by engaging in accommodation, “the science suffers.” This is, after all, why you brought up the analogy: That people can profess to both doesn’t mean there is any rational way of reconciling the two.

    Now, I do suspect that Miller is trying to make the most of the emotional reaction to the term “adultery,” and that is a shame, but you were the one who brought it up. Miller is hardly saying that accommodationists are adulterers in the sense that they are literally engaging in sex outside of marriage. Instead, he is (correctly) pointing out that you are claiming that accommodationists are betrayers of a standard, but then hyping the emotional baggage that is connected to the word “adultery.”

    But you were the one who brought up adultery.

    If you didn’t mean it, you shouldn’t have said it.

    This is why the corollary to Godwin’s Law is that the first person to mention the Nazis loses the debate. It forces you to think: Is this really the best comparison that I can make to advance my argument? Of all the possible ways in which I could describe my point, do I really want to bring up something as emotionally laden with baggage as that?

    It’s your analogy, Mr. Coyne. If you didn’t mean to include everything that comes along with it (and yes, I know that no analogy is perfect), then perhaps you should have considered another comparison.


4 Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. […] poorly, and with little flair or reason or persuasive rhetoric, and they keep getting swatted down by those rascally loud “New Atheists. Excuse me if I’m starting to feel a bit cocky, […]

  2. […] Evolutionisten (Gläubige, welche die Evolutionstheorie anerkennen), Kenneth Miller. Coyne wirft ihm vor, seine Standpunkte falsch dargestellt zu haben, um ihn in ein falsches Licht zu […]

  3. […] Coyne (Response to Miller, part […]

  4. […] the Party- Science vs. theism: a debate with Kenneth Miller. Part I: Throat-clearing (by Coyne)- Science vs. theism: a debate with Kenneth Miller. Part II: Out of context (by Coyne)- Science and Religion are Not Compatible (by […]

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