I just finished Jerry Coyne’s new book “Faith vs. Fact”. It was a great deal of fun to read, even though I know, and have used, most of the arguments in it. Dr. Coyne does an excellent job of stating a premise, carefully defining terms, and then proceeding to support it with evidence, likely a habit gained from writing research papers. One of the parts I liked best about it is the plethora of quotes presented, a fair number that I had not encountered before. I would recommend it to anyone who wants to have one quick resource on how to respond to theist claims of evidence and to accomodationist claims that there are no real conflicts between science and religion. Each claim and excuse is carefully dissected and addressed. Dr. Coyne does an admirable job of showing how pussyfooting around the contradictions and baseless claims of religion does no one any good in clear straightforward language, and with no apologies for showing the emperor has no clothes at all. In addition, there’s almost thirty pages of notes and references, something I love for any nonfiction book.
I’d like to make an offer to any of my theist readers that if they agree to read “Faith vs. Fact”, I would agree to read a book of their recommendation. We could both then discuss the books. Of course, a discussion will quickly reveal if the books were actually read or not.
As I was reading this book, I have been discussing religion with some of its adherents. Over at the HessianWithTeeth blog, Hessian wrote about how many Christians want to tell non-Christians “just believe”. A Christian, Skinbark, came on to say that other Christians are wrong for saying that and that “real” faith depends on “solid understanding” of this person “God” because the bible said so. This is a good example of the problems that Dr. Coyne explores when comparing faith with fact, especially when it comes to what faith means to a believer and what “God” means to a believer. Christians cannot agree whether they want a “person” as their god, intimately involved with every aspect of their lives and having definable goals and desires, or the vague deity that can’t be pinned down. Unsurprisingly, when asked why other Christians didn’t agree with them and where exactly did the bible say understanding was important, Skinbark responded in that time honored fashion, accusing anyone of asking questions to not be truly interested in the answers, so they don’t have to provide any.
Not surprising at all that fact and faith are incompatible. :)
Just noting that Pussyfoot is doing anything but pussyfooting around, considering the expression of Marc Antony the Bulldog