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Faith Versus Fact: Why Science and Religion are Incompatible Faith Versus Fact: Why Science and Religion are Incompatible by Jerry A. Coyne
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Faith Versus Fact Quotes (showing 1-30 of 66)
“Faith may be a gift in religion, but in science it’s poison, for faith is no way to find truth.”
Jerry A. Coyne, Faith Versus Fact: Why Science and Religion Are Incompatible
“Science and religion, then, are competitors in the business of finding out what is true about our universe. In this goal religion has failed miserably, for its tools for discerning “truth” are useless. These areas are incompatible in precisely the same way, and in the same sense, that rationality is incompatible with irrationality.”
Jerry A. Coyne, Faith Versus Fact: Why Science and Religion Are Incompatible
“The rational scrutiny of religious faith involves asking believers only two questions: How do you know that? What makes you so sure that the claims of your faith are right and the claims of other faiths are wrong?”
Jerry A. Coyne, Faith Versus Fact: Why Science and Religion Are Incompatible
“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 evidence, religion renders itself incapable of finding truth.”
Jerry A. Coyne, Faith Versus Fact: Why Science and Religion Are Incompatible
“My claim is this: science and religion are incompatible because they have different methods for getting knowledge about reality, have different ways of assessing the reliability of that knowledge, and, in the end, arrive at conflicting conclusions about the universe.”
Jerry A. Coyne, Faith Versus Fact: Why Science and Religion Are Incompatible
“Voltaire noted in 1763: “The interest I have in believing in something is not a proof that the something exists.”
Jerry A. Coyne, Faith Versus Fact: Why Science and Religion Are Incompatible
“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.”
Jerry A. Coyne, Faith Versus Fact: Why Science and Religion Are Incompatible
“We have already compared the benefits of theology and science. When the theologian governed the world, it was covered with huts and hovels for the many, palaces and cathedrals for the few. To nearly all the children of men, reading and writing were unknown arts. The poor were clad in rags and skins—they devoured crusts, and gnawed bones. The day of Science dawned, and the luxuries of a century ago are the necessities of to-day. Men in the middle ranks of life have more of the conveniences and elegancies than the princes and kings of the theological times. But above and over all this, is the development of mind. There is more of value in the brain of an average man of to-day—of a master-mechanic, of a chemist, of a naturalist, of an inventor, than there was in the brain of the world four hundred years ago. These blessings did not fall from the skies. These benefits did not drop from the outstretched hands of priests. They were not found in cathedrals or behind altars—neither were they searched for with holy candles. They were not discovered by the closed eyes of prayer, nor did they come in answer to superstitious supplication. They are the children of freedom, the gifts of reason, observation and experience—and for them all, man is indebted to man. —Robert Green Ingersoll”
Jerry A. Coyne, Faith Versus Fact: Why Science and Religion Are Incompatible
“All of this suggests that lack of religious belief is a side effect of doing science. And as repugnant as that is to many, it’s really no surprise. For some people, at least, science’s habit of requiring evidence for belief, combined with its culture of pervasive doubt and questioning, must often carry over to other aspects of one’s life—including the possibility of religious faith.”
Jerry A. Coyne, Faith Versus Fact: Why Science and Religion Are Incompatible
“If a thing is claimed to exist, and its existence has consequences, then the absence of those consequences is evidence against the existence of the thing.”
Jerry A. Coyne, Faith Versus Fact: Why Science and Religion Are Incompatible
“With the notion of a theistic god and a vernacular notion of “proof” in hand, we can disprove a god’s existence in this way: If a thing is claimed to exist, and its existence has consequences, then the absence of those consequences is evidence against the existence of the thing. In other words, the absence of evidence—if evidence should be there—is indeed evidence of absence.”
Jerry A. Coyne, Faith Versus Fact: Why Science and Religion Are Incompatible
“Religion is but a single brand of superstition (others include beliefs in astrology, paranormal phenomena, homeopathy, and spiritual healing), but it is the most widespread and harmful form of superstition. And science is but one form of rationality (philosophy and mathematics are others), but it is a highly developed form, and the only one capable of describing and understanding reality.”
Jerry A. Coyne, Faith Versus Fact: Why Science and Religion Are Incompatible
“Harmonizing religion and science makes you seem like an open-minded and reasonable person, while asserting their incompatibility makes enemies and brands you as “militant.” The reason is clear: religion occupies a privileged place in our society. Attacking it is off-limits, although going after other supernatural or paranormal beliefs like ESP, homeopathy, or political worldviews is not. Accommodationism is not meant to defend science, which can stand on its own, but to show that in some way religion can still make credible claims about the world.”
Jerry A. Coyne, Faith Versus Fact: Why Science and Religion Are Incompatible
“The chemist Peter Atkins correctly observed, “Natural selection was a revolution and a stepping-stone to fame; so was relativity, and so was quantum theory. The sheer thrill of discovery is the spur to greater effort. All young scientists aspire to revolution.” The same can’t be said for theologians (Martin Luther is a rare exception), who either bear their heresies in silence or aspire only to trivial reinterpretations of church doctrine.”
Jerry A. Coyne, Faith Versus Fact: Why Science and Religion Are Incompatible
“But the real reasons why scientists promote accommodationism are more self-serving. To a large extent, American scientists depend for their support on the American public, which is largely religious, and on the U.S. Congress, which is equally religious. (It’s a given that it’s nearly impossible for an open atheist to be elected to Congress, and at election time candidates vie with one another to parade their religious belief.) Most researchers are supported by federal grants from agencies like the National Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Health, whose budgets are set annually by Congress. To a working scientist, such grants are a lifeline, for research is expensive, and if you don’t do it you could lose tenure, promotions, or raises. Any claim that science is somehow in conflict with religion might lead to cuts in the science budget, or so scientists believe, thus endangering their professional welfare.”
Jerry A. Coyne, Faith Versus Fact: Why Science and Religion Are Incompatible
“My main thesis is narrower and, I think, more defensible: understanding reality, in the sense of being able to use what we know to predict what we don’t, is best achieved using the tools of science, and is never achieved using the methods of faith.”
Jerry A. Coyne, Faith Versus Fact: Why Science and Religion Are Incompatible
“What distinguishes knowledge is not certainty but evidence.”
Jerry A. Coyne, Faith Versus Fact: Why Science and Religion Are Incompatible
“religion is replete with features to help people fool themselves.”
Jerry A. Coyne, Faith Versus Fact: Why Science and Religion Are Incompatible
“Once again, the only sensible approach is tentatively to reject the dragon hypothesis, to be open to future physical data, and to wonder what the cause might be that so many apparently sane and sober people share the same strange delusion.”
Jerry A. Coyne, Faith Versus Fact: Why Science and Religion Are Incompatible
“But the most important reason to concentrate on religion rather than other forms of irrationality is not to document a historical conflict, but because, among all forms of superstition, religion has by far the most potential for public harm. Few are damaged by belief in astrology; but, as we’ll see in the final chapter, many have been harmed by belief in a particular god or by the idea that faith is a virtue.”
Jerry A. Coyne, Faith Versus Fact: Why Science and Religion Are Incompatible
“absolute scientific proof, but in the everyday sense of “evidence so strong you would bet your savings on it.” In that sense, we can surely prove that there’s no God. This is the same sense, by the way, in which we can “prove” that the earth rotates on its axis, that a normal water molecule has one oxygen and two hydrogen atoms, and that we evolved from other creatures very different from modern humans. With the notion of a theistic god and a vernacular notion of “proof” in hand, we can disprove a god’s existence in this way: If a thing is claimed to exist, and its existence has consequences, then the absence of those consequences is evidence against the existence of the thing. In other words, the absence of evidence—if evidence should be there—is indeed evidence of absence.”
Jerry A. Coyne, Faith Versus Fact: Why Science and Religion Are Incompatible
“I argue that in a world where people must support their opinions with evidence and reason rather than faith, we would experience less conflict over issues like assisted suicide, gay rights, birth control, and sexual morality.”
Jerry A. Coyne, Faith Versus Fact: Why Science and Religion Are Incompatible
“As for the claim that science is a kind of “faith” because it rests on untestable assumptions, depends on authority, and so on, this involves either a deliberate or an unconscious conflation of what “faith” means in religion versus what it means in everyday life. Here are two examples of each usage: “I have faith that because I accept Jesus Christ as my personal savior, I will join my late wife in heaven.” “I have faith that when I martyr myself for Allah, I’ll receive seventy-two virgins in paradise.” “I have faith that the day will break tomorrow.” “I have faith that taking this penicillin will cure my urinary tract infection.” Notice the difference. The first two statements exemplify the religious form of “faith,” the one Walter Kaufmann defined as “intense, usually confident, belief that is not based on evidence sufficient to command assent from every reasonable person.” There is no evidence beyond revelation, authority, and sacred books to support the first two statements. They show confidence that isn’t supported by evidence, and most of the world’s believers would reject them.”
Jerry A. Coyne, Faith Versus Fact: Why Science and Religion Are Incompatible
“Theology is a subject without an object. Theologians don’t study God—they study what other theologians have said.” The claims”
Jerry A. Coyne, Faith Versus Fact: Why Science and Religion Are Incompatible
“In an essay on the cognitive value of art, the philosopher Matthew Kieran argues that whatever truth inheres in painting and literature comes”
Jerry A. Coyne, Faith Versus Fact: Why Science and Religion Are Incompatible
“In an essay on the cognitive value of art, the philosopher Matthew Kieran argues that whatever truth inheres in painting and literature comes from”
Jerry A. Coyne, Faith Versus Fact: Why Science and Religion Are Incompatible
“I do not see in religion the mystery of the incarnation so much as the mystery of the social order. It introduces into the thought of heaven an idea of equalization, which saves the rich from being massacred by the poor.”
Jerry A. Coyne, Faith Versus Fact: Why Science and Religion Are Incompatible
“This is the same sense, by the way, in which we can “prove” that the earth rotates on its axis, that a normal water molecule has one oxygen and two”
Jerry A. Coyne, Faith Versus Fact: Why Science and Religion Are Incompatible
“In this way theology is not progressive but additive, and no consensus has developed about gods and their will.”
Jerry A. Coyne, Faith Versus Fact: Why Science and Religion Are Incompatible
“Were scientists to say what many of us feel—that religious belief is truly at odds with science—we would alienate these allies and, as many warn us, impede the acceptance of evolution by a public already dubious about Darwin.”
Jerry A. Coyne, Faith Versus Fact: Why Science and Religion Are Incompatible

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