In his provocative new book, evolutionary biologist Jerry A. Coyne lays out in clear, dispassionate detail why the toolkit of science, based on reason and empirical study, is reliable, while that of religion including faith, dogma, and revelation leads to incorrect, untestable, or conflicting conclusions. Read more...
In his provocative new book, evolutionary biologist Jerry A. Coyne lays out in clear, dispassionate detail why the toolkit of science, based on reason and empirical study, is reliable, while that of religion including faith, dogma, and revelation leads to incorrect, untestable, or conflicting conclusions.
Coyne is responding to a national climate in which over half of Americans don t believe in evolution (and congressmen deny global warming), and warns that religious prejudices and strictures in politics, education, medicine, and social policy are on the rise. Extending the bestselling works of Richard Dawkins, Daniel Dennett, and Christopher Hitchens, he demolishes the claims of religion to provide verifiable truth by subjecting those claims to the same tests we use to establish truth in science.
Coyne irrefutably demonstrates the grave harm to individuals and to our planet in mistaking faith for fact in making the most important decisions about the world we live in."
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2015-03-23
- Reviewer: Staff
Coyne (Why Evolution Is True), an evolutionary biologist at the University of Chicago, defines his position perfectly clearly: “Religion is but a single brand of superstition..., but it is the most widespread and harmful form of superstition.” From this starting point, he describes the nature of scientific investigation, focusing on its reliance on evidence and the tentativeness of its conclusions, and contrasts it with religion’s reliance on faith. Religions, Coyne argues, “make explicit claims about reality,” which “must, like all claims about reality, be defended with a combination of evidence and reason.” He builds a strong case that no such evidence exists for the claims he describes, discussing ways in which religious doctrines have negatively affected public policy and scientific advances in areas such as vaccinations and stem cell research. Though interesting, Coyne’s overarching conclusion—that science and religion must be incompatible—is not persuasively articulated on a number of grounds, and he suffers from the same kinds of poor sociological thinking as his “New Atheist” peers, mistaking problems of politics for those of religious belief. By equating virtually all religious believers with fundamentalists, Coyne draws far too narrow a picture of religion, demonstrating science’s incompatibility with one part of the religious spectrum but not across all of it. (May)