Friday, March 30, 2018

Jerry Coyne's Blog: a great finding and a greater disappointment

As a non religious person with views on both sides of the political divide, I initially found Jerry Coyne's blog to be a great beacon of hope. He is very brave in his writings, in my opinion, by questioning hot topics on both the right and the left. Reading of his blog posts made me an immediate fan, but as I read more, that beacon of hope turned into a disappointment when I started noticing a subtle intolerance for other people's views hidden under a spotty cover of fairness.

It is refreshing to read someone on the left taking on issues that would cost people on the right their jobs, their friends, family, or loosing his own leftist blog audience. 

Jerry Coyne makes a clear and important distinction between the liberal-left and what he calls the regressive-left, yet he tends to lump all conservatives in the same category without clear distinctions of its many subgroups. Despite of his blunt generalization of conservatives, he even sides with them on some issues, or when they are unfairly targeted by the regressive-left.


He often provides very good insights and sharp criticisms that would be hard to find in the main stream media encompassing the extremes of the Huffington Post and those of Breitbart's. This is the great value of his blog, and my goal, with this initial blog post, is to reignite my hope for his blog by pointing the many recurrent flaws in it, some of which he apparently falls for knowingly. 

The following is a screen shot of a recent blog post. It presents us with a good example of Jerry Coyne's flawed arguments.
In the post, he criticizes a conservative writer for suggesting that "Atheists find meaning in life by inventing fairy tales."  As an atheist, I am not immune to this criticism. I might even believe in 'fairy tales' right now and not be aware of them (but I do check for their existence with an unknown level of success). But for someone who is not on the left and with truly independent views on both sides, I think Jerry Coyne fails to comment on this criticism of atheists' 'fairy tales' fairly. 

Atheists do create 'fairy tales' to fill in some long held and established sets of beliefs that are discarded when the idea of an almighty God and creator goes out the window. This is specially true because there are millions of atheists, and no atheist 'Pope' yet to provide guidance, despite the subconsciously self proclaimed 'spiritual leader' role of a few notable ones like Richard Dawkins; whom I stop following on twitter thanks to his bias and self righteous style.

I myself have had some beliefs that I am now amazed that even I subscribed to them in the past. And if I have any still, it would be a greater mistake to close my mind to the possibility of their existence while pointing them out on others, or to think that my fairy tale fantasies are superior to that of others.

But Jerry Coyne does not directly debate the argument that atheists do create their own 'fairy tales' because he would certainly fail. Instead, he digresses by criticizing the author for other unrelated views in an apparent attempt to smear the individual by associating him to Hitler(yes, the wrongly over played Hitler-Nazi card from the left to the right). 

The Federalist piece on 'atheism and fairy tales' is written by Richard Weikart. Jerry Coyne instead criticizes Weikart for his belief that Darwin's theories influenced Hitler in his other writing "The Death of Humanity: and the case for life and Hitler's Religion".

Jerry Coyne rushes to defend atheism by pointing out a study by Robert J. Richards that concludes 'unequivocally' that Hitler was not Darwinian ("Was Hittler a Darwinian?").** If Hitler were indeed Darwinian and consequently atheist, and if that were a problem, why not defend Darwinism for its association to other tyrants such as Lenin or Stalin?

It does not matter that Darwinism has been adopted by despots and killers like Hitler, Lenin or Stalin. Darwin's purpose was different, and he and his theory are not to be blamed for its twisting by some despots, but selectively dissociating atheism/Darwinism from some murderous despots and not others is a big omission.**

Jerry Coyne's flaw is that he is trying to dismiss the conservative writer's assertion that Atheist can indeed come up with 'fairy tails' regarding the meaning of life by discrediting or criticizing an unrelated writing of Weikart. Yet that attack led to the following question: isn't Marxism and its derived versions of Leninism, Maoism, Socialism, Sanderism and progressive-Liberalism a fairy tail of biblical proportions? Yes it is. 

Jerry Coyne's flawed arguments are compounded by entertaining the possibility that atheists can also believe in 'fairy tales' that are superior to religious ones by writing the following: 
And, in the end, yes, the invented meanings and purposes of those atheists who are humanists—most of us—are superior to a blind adherence to ancient dogma that brooks no dissent or reason. Jerry Coyne 
His supremacy, borrowed from his own poor word choice, which I know has a hideous association when used in the context of race and Hitler, is not entirely misplaced. I do think that atheists who are scientifically trained have had the benefit of improving their beliefs with the help of the scientific method, a greater dose of critical thinking and by learning from the historically documented flaws of religious beliefs, but Jerry Coyne must also be aware of his own possible wrong beliefs before he points the finger to others.

Jerry Coyne  also  dismisses those who point out his flaws by deleting dissenting views in his comment section. He has blocked me from posting on his site, and he also threatens others for pointing out his 'echo chamber' in a way that only Jerry Coyne considers snarky.  This can be read in the following screen shot:
Atheists have filled the void of religious beliefs with others of many different kinds, some good, some bad. Marxism influence in history is by far the worst, most tragic and biggest atheist fairy tale.

Pointing out junk and fairy tales from left and right is what attracted me to Jerry Coyne's blog, but he needs to be aware of fairy tales he ignores if he wants to restore my hope in his blog. He could start by no excluding himself from criticism from others. It would certainly improve the quality of is outstanding blog.

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** I am aware that I use atheism and Darwinism as if they were synonyms which is not always the case, but in this post, I am referring to Darwinians who are atheist, the other kind deserved at least one separate blog post.