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Faith Versus Fact: Why Science and Religion are Incompatible
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Faith Versus Fact: Why Science and Religion are Incompatible

4.14  ·  Rating details ·  1,353 ratings  ·  140 reviews
We are living today in a genuinely frightening scenario: religion and science are engaged in a kind of war: a war for understanding, a war about whether we should have good reasons for what we accept as true. The sheer fact that over half of Americans don't believe in evolution (to say nothing of the number of Congressmen who don't believe in climate change) and the ...more
Hardcover, 336 pages
Published June 25th 2015 by Penguin (first published May 1st 2015)
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Amazingbollweevil Oh, it's much less silly than your question. Coyne doesn't "settle this like men." He puts astronomy, germ theory, evolution, modern medicine,…moreOh, it's much less silly than your question. Coyne doesn't "settle this like men." He puts astronomy, germ theory, evolution, modern medicine, telecommunication, chemistry, etc., up against the accomplishments of religion. It a bit like bringing an invisible knife to a tank battle. (less)
Richard Crowder Coyne is mainly concerned about "theistic religion," by which he means religions (chiefly Abrahamic) based on the idea of a personal god who…moreCoyne is mainly concerned about "theistic religion," by which he means religions (chiefly Abrahamic) based on the idea of a personal god who intervenes in human affairs. What he objects to is is not everything associated with religion, but specifically the readiness of people to believe without evidence, and to view such belief as a virtue. He recognizes that religion, broadly conceived, deserves study both for its psychological aspects and for its historical and artistic importance. But he cites evidence that the idea that we know what an intervening god wants can be destructive.(less)

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Tom LA
Nov 04, 2018 rated it did not like it
What can possibly go wrong when people who haven’t touched a philosophy or theology book for most of their lives get on the pulpit to talk about... philosophy and theology?

Well, that’s exactly what Coyne did here, galvanized by Richard Dawkins and some others who built a second career out of downloading their misunderstanding of philosophy and religion into the minds of the uneducated masses.

In a way that reminded me of the appalling documentary “Religulous”, Coyne’s definition of “Religion”
Diane Graft
Feb 06, 2015 rated it really liked it
I was fortunate enough to win an advance copy of Jerry Coyne's upcoming book, "Faith vs. Fact, Why Science and Religion are Incompatible", from Goodreads. Jerry Coyne is a professor in the Department of Ecology and Evolution at the University of Chicago, the author of the book "Why Evolution is True", and blogs copiously at his wordpress blog, likewise named "Why Evolution is True".

Spoiler - Fact wins! (Although, if you are familiar with Coyne's writing at all, that's not really a spoiler.
Dennis Mitton
May 23, 2015 rated it it was amazing
It's already happening. Coyne's Faith vs Fact is being panned as biased, curmudgeonly, and ignorant. It is none of these. Neither is it an atheist book. It is a book about knowing - epistemology - and how we can confidently and reliably know what is real.

Coyne argues that reason and the scientific method are the only methods we have to investigate, understand, and describe the world around us. These tools are based on observation, repeatability, and refinement. Faith offers something different.
Todd Martin
Oct 02, 2014 rated it it was amazing
There was a time when religious explanations of the world abounded: illness, weather, births, death, earthquakes, celestial events and more were attributed to a god or gods (the vestiges of some of these superstitions are still with us, such as when we say “bless you” in response to a sneeze to ward off evil spirits). Over time science has provided much better explanations of these natural phenomena and today religion’s explanatory power is increasingly relegated to ‘god of the gaps’ issues (at ...more
May 26, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Faith Versus Fact: Why Science and Religion Are Incompatible by Jerry A. Coyne

“Faith Versus Fact" is an excellent book that presents the persuasive argument that while faith and science compete to describe reality; science is the best tool to find out what is true about our universe. Evolutionary geneticist Jerry A. Coyne follows up his masterpiece of Why Evolution Is True, with an outstanding book of its own that clearly separates science from religion. This persuasive 336-page book includes
Matt Manry
*I received this book by winning a Goodreads giveaway.*

Jerry Coyne has a thesis: Science and Religion are incompatible. Now the real question is this: Does he show this?
Well, no I don't believe so.

This book is simply aimed at people who already accept the same conclusion as Coyne. Jerry Coyne does not approach this topic objectively or neutral. He is a New Atheist who has expressed his dislike of religion countless times (just go read his blog). While one must say that Coyne does bring up some
Kelly Newton
Aug 19, 2015 rated it really liked it
I'm not sure where even to start in my review of the book, mainly because all thoughts and opinions are highly variable based on emotion and experience. So, I'll start there. If I was anything going into this book, I was an accommodationist. I attended a conservative religious university that required statements of faith from its professors, but have never felt that my education there was lacking scientifically (my majors/minor were Psychology, Environmental Studies, and Religion). I was ...more
Oct 01, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This is the most cogent synthesis I have read so far about the failings of faith—NOT religion per se, but any kind of belief without evidence—as an alternative "way of knowing." Contrary to critiques from people who have probably not read the book, neither particularly strident nor judgmental. The book is particularly notable for its survey of a wide range of theological arguments and for its strong case that respect for "being a person of faith"—again, not religion per se—does measurable damage ...more
Ahsan Sharafuddin
Sep 12, 2015 rated it it was amazing
A lucidly written thesis by Professor Coyne, where he persuasively argues and clearly demonstrates why science and religion are thoroughly incompatible, despite some laughable attempts made by so-called 'experts'. Well-written, well-reasoned and engaging. Thoroughly enjoyed reading the book.
Nov 17, 2017 rated it it was ok
In the preface Coyne states his thesis clearly:

"My thesis is that religion and science compete in many ways to describe reality-they both make "existence claims” about what is real-but use different tools to meet this goal. And I argue that the toolkit of science, based on reason and empirical study, is reliable, while that of religion-including faith, dogma, and revelation-is unreliable and leads to incorrect, untestable, or conflicting conclusions. Indeed, by relying on faith rather than
May 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing
In Faith Versus Fact, Coyne successfully makes the case that science and religion are incompatible. The book is well researched well written. He supports his statements with thirteen pages of notes, fifteen pages of references, and the book contains a table of an index so you can easily revisit your favorite subjects. Like books I’ve read by Dawkins, Sagan, and Hitchens; this is another book I wish I would’ve had access to as a younger person, especially during my religion / science ...more
Alan Fuller
Aug 17, 2015 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I read this book to compare it to a couple of Intelligent Design books I've read recently. What surprised me wasn't the things that the two books disagreed on, but the things they actually agree on. Mr. Coyne asserts that ID is scientifically discredited. What reason does he give for that? "While intelligent design creationism does have religious roots, it is those very roots that have discredited it as valid science, for there’s simply no evidence for the claimed intervention of a teleological ...more
Scott Schneider
Jun 12, 2015 rated it really liked it
Jerry Coyne is definitely going to Hell, that is if Hell exists, which it probably doesn’t. His new book “Faith vs. Fact: Why Science and Religion Are Incompatible” should probably be resubtitled as “Why Religion is Contemptible.” It is a strong, provocative well-reasoned book that makes a very good case that science, being fact-based, is the only way to learn the truth about the world, while religion is faith-based and has no such grounding. He does a great job debunking the beliefs of most ...more
Radhika Shendye
Sep 16, 2016 rated it did not like it
Shelves: science, religion
While the author has some very good points to make about why science and religion are incompatible, the chapters lacked structure. He went back and forth over the same thing in multiple chapters which got boring. Secondly he used the argument that "because all scientists tend to be atheists, it supports my case" and went on explaining this for a long time. However, this is only a correlation and cannot be considered causation without better reasoning. All scientists could be atheists, and it ...more
Benjamin Atkinson
Not the most riveting intellectual journey I have ever attempted. Dr. Coyne like many of the New Atheists badly misses the point, at the same time he writes an error free, totally logical argument. The problem with men like him and Richard Dawkins, Lawrence Krauss, Christopher Hitchens, Sam Harris, etc. is that they forget that their whole lives are their best counterargument. Why is it so important to them to attack the inevitable straw man; fundamentalist three Abrahamic religions in their ...more
Oct 12, 2016 rated it it was ok
Shelves: junk
Weird science to feed the confirmation bias of the "believers" in none.

The first page is excellent. But that is the quotations page. Than there are a few pages about compatibility between faith and research. But to make it more appealing, the author calls it science just to blur the limits more. Whatever. Than I was lost in a sea of polls. Polls can be twisted. Polls are impersonal. People hide information from the pollsters for many different reasons and although on paper 300 to 6000 people
Daniel Hageman
"Science, construed broadly, is the commitment to the use of rationality, empirical observation, testability, and falsifiability as the only way to gain objective knowledge about the universe."

Probably one of the most direct books to emerge during the New Atheist movement..and probably a bit more relevant than even those published by the 'horsemen'. The specified focus on the incompatibility between science and faith makes this a worthwhile purchase for every believer and non-believer to have on
Wally Muchow
Aug 23, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This is a very worthwhile book to read if you are looking for arguments or reassurance that believing in science is the way to organize your life. The book is good at laying out the issues and why religion or faith is not successful way to organize society. Coyne covers everything from theological arguments to discussion of the damage religion can do to children or society. It is a powerful and easy to read book which should be force fed to every Republican in government.
Ernest Barker
May 19, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Coyne destroys religion with the use of facts. This books marks the beginning of the end of religion. He effectively shreds all arguments for a divine being that was responsible of the creation of the earth and all that is in it. It is a readable book and is a must for anyone that wants to understand evolution and the difference between faith and fact.
May 26, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: secularism
A good book, providing a helpful tour through key arguments against faith, and against compatibility between science and religion. Most of these arguments I've heard before, but Coyne does a good job of laying them out, including defining terms thoroughly. I liked the concept of "religionism" as presented here, and I liked the rebuttal to the "you can't prove a negative" canard.
Jun 18, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Comprehensive, lucid, and readable.
Bob Peterson
Jun 27, 2015 rated it it was amazing
If only everyone would read this book. It's simply the best in its class.
Joseph Stieb
Sep 15, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I found this (audio)book stimulating, engaging, and largely convincing. Coyne's book is really an argument against two beliefs/ideas: 1. Gould's non-overlapping magisterium principle (NOMA), the idea that religion and science have different purposes and don't conflict or making contending claims. 2. Science-religion compatibilism as two complementary ways of knowing about the world, a belief frequently pushed by the Templeton Foundation.

Coyne is ruthless but I think accurate in his theses. He
Jesse Rine
Sep 30, 2015 rated it it was ok
Trying to think of a book that went so far downhill, so quickly and without even a slight change in trajectory. The first two chapters were generally good, and I was thinking "3-4 stars for this book at this point". And then chapters 4 and 5 saw Coyne circle ever downward into cheap point-scoring, emotional rhetoric and surprisingly irrational (dare I say unscientific?) argumentation. In the end, an interesting initial discussion followed by a crash and burn into simple prejudice and preaching ...more
Eric Wojciechowski
Jan 20, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Years ago, I read Jerry Coyne's, "Why Evolution is True", and I felt that this was solid enough to put to rest the notion of Intelligent Design. But it's rather clear that having the facts, isn't enough. Even some people who should know better, rely on faith instead of just admitting, "I don't know".

"I Don't Know". These three words should be stressed to every child to carry into adulthood as acceptable utterances rather than running to a god of the gaps explanation. As scientific studies have
Fred Forbes
Jan 23, 2017 rated it liked it
Despite my religious upbringing (One grandfather a Baptist minister, the other an Episcopal minister and me raised Catholic) I seem to lack the "faith gene" and fall pretty firmly in the camp of logic and prove it category. Still, I have some great friends who are quite religious including some priests and ministers and find them to be quite erudite and intelligent and they find significant positive relevance to their lives.

For me, this book is certainly "preaching to the choir" in terms of
Jerrid Kruse
May 25, 2016 rated it it was ok
It's well written, but deceptively so. The arguments the author engages are the very same straw men he critiques Dawkins & others for taking on. He notes that Dawkins rails against the straw men of literalism, but then goes on to level his own attacks at what he considers the majority of believers (despite his own citation of 30% of believers holding such views).

Further, the analysis is focused on the incompatibility of the methods of the two disciplines, but the argument only serves to
Terence Condren
Jan 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Should be required reading in every high school

Well organized argument as to why faith cannot be used to understand truth and fact. Only science can do that because it is self correcting whereas faith demands blind adherence to conclusions that cannot be supported by any objective standard.
David Melbie
May 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: You know who you are.
Recommended to David by: Reference source
"Facts are stupid things." Ronald Reagan, Republican National Convention, 1988.
Mar 08, 2016 rated it did not like it
Early on in the book Coyne tells his reader that his principle aim in writing the book is that "when you hear someone described as a 'person of faith,' you see it as criticism rather than praise."

What then follows is a few hundred pages of criticism of "Faith". It is a hit piece typically lacking context, consistency, and accounting for contrary evidence. The tone of the entire book reads like Coyne was angrily pounding the keyboard in all caps. He even addresses this tone by assuring us that
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Jerry Coyne is a professor in the department of ecology and evolution at the University of Chicago. His concentration is speciation and ecological and evolutionary genetics, particularly as they involve Drosophila

His work is widely published, not only in scientific journals, but also in such mainstream venues as The New York Times, the Times Literary Supplement, and The New Republic. Coyne's
“Faith may be a gift in religion, but in science it’s poison, for faith is no way to find truth.” 6 likes
“religion could never be made compatible with science without diluting it so seriously that it was no longer religion but a humanist philosophy. And so I learned what other opponents of creationism could have told me: that persuading Americans to accept the truth of evolution involved not just an education in facts, but a de-education in faith—the form of belief that replaces the need for evidence with simple emotional commitment.” 5 likes
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