Don’t Be Fooledcriticized the University of Chicago’s Jerry Coyne for linking evolution and atheism and Coyne, in turn, wondered aloud if Hughes is in cognitive dissonance and is up to snuff as a scientist. There is plenty there to criticize but it is all a sidetrack. Don’t pay too much attention to such infighting because where it counts, Hughes and Coyne agree.
Hughes and Coyne are probably an excellent case study of evolutionary thought. They hold to different politics and have different views on religious belief, but they are both evolutionists and that means where it matters, they share the same religion.
Even a Buddhist and Baptist can share common beliefs, and while evolutionists come from all religious backgrounds and beliefs, those differences are all irrelevant. What matters is their shared religious beliefs that mandate evolution. They can argue all they want about peripheral matters, but they share the same core commitments.
Consider, for example, Coyne’s rhetorical statement that biogeography refutes creation:
If animals were specially created, why would the creator produce on different continents fundamentally different animals that nevertheless look and act so much alike?
Or consider Coyne’s metaphysical claims about how organisms would be designed and why this proves evolution:
What I mean by "bad design" is the notion that if organisms were built from scratch by a designer—one who used the biological building blocks of nerves, muscles, bone, and so on—they would not have such imperfections. Perfect design would truly be the sign of a skilled and intelligent designer. Imperfect design is the mark of evolution. ... the particular bad designs that we see make sense only if they evolved
Or again, consider how Coyne’s religious convictions leads him to the certain conclusion that only evolution can explain the appearance of species through time because that pattern is “far from random” and “no theory of special creation, or any theory other than evolution, can explain these patterns.”
Coyne’s goes on and on with his religious proofs in his book Why Evolution is True and in his presentations. Biology, Coyne repeats over and over, “makes no sense under the idea of special creation.”
These are religious claims not scientific claims. And when Coyne made such points at his recent talk at the University of South Carolina Austin Hughes readily agreed:
Earlier this month, University of Chicago professor Jerry Coyne presented the 2013 A.C. Moore lecture at USC on Evolution and Society, in which he defended the evidence for evolution by describing several well-chosen examples. Particularly effective was his examination of structures such as the vestigial hind limbs of whales, which would be hard to explain under any hypothesis other than the Darwinian theory of descent with modification.
Here Hughes affirms Coyne’s central point. Coyne and Hughes did not learn these truths from science. Such truths come from heartfelt religious beliefs.
We know evolution is a fact not from the science, but from our religion. From a purely scientific perspective evolution is a bust, but from our religious perspective evolution, in one form or another, is a necessary fact. Our theological truths require it.
And so what can we learn from this little spat? First, that the core theoretic of evolution is religious. Even evolutionists with otherwise widely differing religious viewpoints share these beliefs in common.
Second, that infighting amongst evolutionists over their other religious beliefs, such as atheism, is a sidebar. It is not relevant to evolution’s core theoretic.
And finally, that one should not be fooled by atheists who claim they have no religious beliefs. Atheism and religious beliefs are two different things. Coyne is an atheist, but he is quite literally a religious fundamentalist. Coyne does not believe in God, but Coyne holds a great many strong religious convictions about God.
Yes, there is a cognitive dissonance there (if there is no God then there is no basis for religious beliefs about Him) and Coyne’s criticism of Hughes is, as usual with evolutionists, a criticism of the man in the mirror.
And nor are the evolutionist’s religious arguments merely a dispassionate and objective testing of creationism and design ideas, to which otherwise the evolutionist does not hold.
This is the canard that evolutionists always use when confronted with their abuse of science. As Coyne put it:
the argument from imperfection — i.e., organisms show imperfections of “design” that constitute evidence for evolution — is not a theological argument, but a scientific one. The reason why the recurrent laryngeal nerve, for example, makes a big detour around the aorta before attaching to the larynx is perfectly understandable by evolution (the nerve and artery used to line up, but the artery evolved backwards, constraining the nerve to move with it), but makes no sense under the idea of special creation — unless, that is, you believe that the creator designed things to make them look as if they evolved. No form of creationism/intelligent design can explain these imperfections, but they all, as Dobzhansky said, “make sense in the light of evolution.”
Here the evolutionist does us the favor of contradicting himself not in separate talks or papers, but in the very same paragraph. Should we laugh or cry?
According to Coyne the design “makes no sense under the idea of special creation" and this "is not a theological argument, but a scientific one.” Coyne’s misrepresentations and sophistry are astonishing.
There are, in general, two problems with the evolutionist’s canard that their religious fundamentalism is not really religious after all, but merely a test of creationism. First, it is not a test of creationism. Every religious proof they use to refute creation and mandate evolution does not come from biblical creationism, or any other tradition, aside from their own.
You can trace the evolutionist’s arguments about what God would and wouldn’t do back to earlier thinkers. Evolutionary thought is based on a set of religious beliefs, from earlier centuries, that are unique to evolutionary thought. Evolutionists use the bizarre argument that they are merely testing creationism when their religion is all their own.
The second problem with the evolutionist’s canard is that if they are merely testing creationism then they are not helping their cause, as they claim. If creationism is false, then that does not aid evolution. All that is established is that a particular religious theory is wrong. Evolution would still be a scientifically unlikely idea.
If, on the other hand, God would never have created this world, as evolutionists claim, then yes, evolution in one form or another is the obvious conclusion. And therein lies the religion.
You see evolutionists are not making claims about creationism, they are making claims about God.
Such religious beliefs are well documented. They laid the foundation for and motivated evolutionary thought. And they are represented today in evolutionists such as Hughes and Coyne.
So don’t be led astray by evolutionary squabbles. And don’t be led astray by those evolutionists who are atheists. It is all a side show for, where it counts, evolutionists are in strong religious agreement.
[Edited for clarity]