John Pieret reads Jerry Coyne so you don’t have to. He notes that Coyne’s experience at a moderate church reading group sounds awfully accommodationist, and it does!
Of course, “accommodationist” is a highly mutable term, so I’m sure Jerry will say he isn’t really, and the label doesn’t really matter. The important thing is that Coyne’s experience seems to have planted at least a little doubt in his mind about the need to undo all religion. There’s a lot in there that I can agree with, and I’ll have another post about that shortly.
But rather than bridge from snark to praise, I’ll just note this from Coyne’s opening. He is invited to speak about his book Why Evolution Is True at a reading group for a Methodist church in downtown Chicago:
It always turns out that these discussions, when not rigorously guided away from the topic of religion, always wind up dealing with science and faith. That’s been my experience talking not just to laypeople, but also to college and high school classes.
As you read that, bear in mind that Coyne has, for years, criticized NCSE for having anything to do with religion. Religion, he’ll insist, has nothing to do with science, and a science education group shouldn’t talk about religion. It has never been clear what he expects NCSE to do in exactly the situation he describes, or why NCSE ought to “rigorously guide” discussions “away from the topic of religion” when that’s clearly the issue underlying attacks on evolution education.
That’s fine by me, for thanks to the Gnu Atheists religion is on many people’s minds, and I welcome the chance to speak my mind. Besides, I’ve given elebenty gazillion talks on my book and it’s boring.
Hey, he said it, not me.
Also, it’s because of gnu atheism that people in church are thinking about religion? Are gnus now arguing that religion is withering on the vine, and only through their strenuous efforts can we return discussion of religion to the public square?
Anyway, he says some things that are good and right later on, and we’ll get to that in a little while.