“We could best promote evolution…by concentrating on bringing Catholics and mainline Protestants into the “no religion” category! Ultimately, the best strategy to make Americans more receptive to Evolution might require loosening the grip of religion on our country…such secularism is possible and, indeed, occurring in the United States right now.”
The above citation is from an article entitled “Science, Religion, and Society: The Problem of Evolution in America,” in which Dr. Jerry Coyne, evolutionary biologist at the University of Chicago, has declared his own form of jihad on believers who refuse to display proper fealty to Coyne’s grand atheistic/scientific, and of course, Darwinian view of reality. Coyne has already gone on record and stated that anyone who questions the validity of evolutionary theory should not be allowed to teach science and certainly should not be accepted for any type of university level position.
I have no intention of getting involved in the debate about neo-Darwinian theory, I will leave that to people with the proper expertise; the purpose of this article is to expose the attitudes of materialistic scientists like Coyne, who in their atheistic zeal attempt to squelch free expression and the open exchange of ideas. Coyne asks his readers:
“Why do Americans hate evolution?…the answer seems pretty clear: religion…there is much evidence that America’s resistance to evolution is truly a byproduct of America’s extreme religiosity…evolution of course contravenes many common religious beliefs – not just those involving Biblical literalism, but those involved with morality, meaning, and human significance.”
What Dr. Coyne has written above is very misleading. Much of what he calls “America’s resistance to evolution” is not resistance to evolution at all. He himself quotes a study that found that nearly 40% of all Americans accept a “guided” evolution (theistic evolution). The problem is that this is not good enough for Coyne. He insists on an atheistic version of evolutionary theory; oddly enough, he insists that this ideological stance is the only scientifically valid version of evolution:
[Theistic evolution is] unscientific, since biologists see humans, like any other species, as having evolved by purely naturalistic processes. There’s a reason after all, why Darwin’s greatest idea was called “natural” selection.
It seems to me that this conflating of atheistic ideology and scientific data raises serious doubts regarding Coyne’s objectivity and credibility. It is clear that Dr. Coyne is not promoting Science, he is promoting Atheism and all that it entails. Coyne sees his role as being much greater than that of just a professor teaching a scientific discipline; he has donned the mantle of Atheologist and is spreading the good word wherever he can. It is for this reason that many Americans are justifiably antagonistic towards the worldview of Jerry Coyne.
The Declaration of Independence is not a Darwinian document
Americans in particular have good reason to be suspicious and resistant to the ideology that is espoused by aggressive proponents of the “New Atheism” like Coyne. (Since Coyne is Jewish, we’ll call it “NU?! Atheism.” For those who don’t get the joke, find an older Jewish person and they’ll explain it to you.) American democracy is built on, and inextricably bound to, fundamental religious principles. The Declaration of Independence states that “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness…We, therefore, the representatives of the United States of America…appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for rectitude of our intentions…solemnly publish and declare…with a firm reliance on the protection of divine providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.”
The entire Declaration of Independence and the moral dynamic that has driven the people and history of the United States for nearly 2 ½ centuries melts into incoherent nonsense in the context of an atheistic world view. Men are created equal as they stand in front of their infinite, transcendent Creator; they do not evolve equally at all! In fact, as pointed out by G.K. Chesterton, they evolve astonishingly unequal. Human beings can be endowed with unalienable rights by their infinite Creator; Darwinian evolution endows nobody and nothing with any inherent rights at all. America is built on the notion that we are accountable for our actions to a Supreme Judge. Darwinian evolution is built on the principle that the human being is to the shark, what the shark is to the cockroach – it is not accountability to a higher power that drives evolution; it is the pitiless, indifferent, and unrelenting pressure of survival of the fittest.
The façade of a “humanistic” atheism is only able to stand as long as one accepts the basic principle, as espoused by the Declaration of Independence – based on the opening chapters of Genesis – that every human being possesses infinite preciousness. Humanism ascribes dignity to human beings based on a religious principle, and when no one is looking, they simply subtract God from the equation, “pretending” that without God the concept retains a rational and philosophical basis. In fact, Jerry Coyne has declared that not only are there no objective moral truths in a godless/materialistic universe, but in a recent USA Today article he informed us that free-will itself is an illusion! We are, in fact, not responsible for our actions or decisions at all! This, of course, includes the decision to believe in God or believe in Darwinian evolution. It seems patently absurd for Coyne to argue so vehemently for his position if his audience’s beliefs – and his own for that matter – are determined, not by decisions based on arguments, but by causes and effects beyond human control. How Coyne reconciles this dilemma is beyond me.
American Democracy is based on the principle that all men stand equal before their infinite Creator.
Coyne is so determined to denigrate belief in God that he informs us that America is a “sick” society and that our “social dysfunction is associated with high degrees of religious belief.” He cites a study by one Gregory Paul that concluded that of 17 prosperous First World democracies, the United States ranked dead last in terms of Paul’s “Successful Societies Scale.” I have never seen the study and frankly it does not interest me much at all. Despite the fact that Coyne considers us to be “sick and dysfunctional,” perhaps he should consider the following: In the 20th century the world bore witness to the emergence of three of the most evil empires and ideologies in human history: Communist Russia and China, Nazi Germany, and Imperial Japan. In less than 70 years these three empires spawned incomprehensible amounts of human suffering and resulted in the deaths of close to 150 million people. To which country did humanity look to for salvation? Which country had the resources, will, and most important of all, the moral fortitude to fight in order to prevent the entire world from being enveloped in a dark cloud of evil? Yes, Jerry, it was the “sick,” “dysfunctional,” and “religious” land of the free and home of the brave; a nation that lives, fights, and dies by a Judeo-Christian moral ethic as so eloquently fashioned by our founding fathers.
In the 21st century the greatest evil that threatens mankind is a nuclear-armed radical Islam. Will freedom-loving people look to atheists in Denmark and Czechoslovakia to save them? Once again, mankind looks to the “dysfunctionally religious” United States of America to stand on guard. If last place on Gregory Paul’s “Successful Societies Scale” and a healthy skepticism about your version of evolution are necessary pre-conditions for being the guardians of moral decency and freedom for mankind, then these particular “badges of shame” are ones that I and almost all Americans will wear with pride.
Perhaps Dr. Coyne should consider the possibility that the most important realms of human thought, experience, and yearning, are areas in which Science has little or nothing to say, and in fact, are areas where Science may be completely irrelevant. In Part 2 we will examine Dr. Coyne’s article from the perspective of the actual scientific claims that he puts forward.
Rabbi Moshe Averick is an orthodox rabbi, a regular columnist for the Algemeiner Journal, from where this article is reprinted. He is the author of Nonsense of a High Order: The Confused and Illusory World of the Atheist.