Twisted history

Alex Berezow and James Hannam systematically dismantle a post by atheist evolutionary biologist, Jerry Coyne, who manages to get nearly every one of his claims about science and religion wrong. Example:


If you think of science as rational and empirical investigation of the natural world, it originated not with Christianity but with the ancient Greeks, and was also promulgated for a while by Islam.

Berezow and Hannam:

This is only half-true. Science is a lot more than just reason and observation. You need experiments too. For example, the Greeks, following Aristotle, thought that heavy objects must fall faster than light ones. It takes two seconds to disprove that by an experiment that involves dropping a pebble and a rock. But for a thousand years, no one did. There didn’t seem to be much point in testing a theory they already thought to be true. That’s probably why the Greeks were so good at geometry, as Dr. Coyne notes, because progress in mathematics is largely based on reason alone.

I’ll further point out that Aristotle — hero of humanism and champion of reason — was wrong about just about everything in terms of science, and the acceptance of his model of an eternal geocentric universe in particular held back progress in science for nearly two thousand years. Until it was revolutionized by a bunch of Christians.

Read the whole rebuttal.

The authors have not addressed all of Coyne’s claims, as, they have pointed out, there is “an impressive amount of error and misunderstanding [in] a very small space.” He certainly manages to cram a lot of error into the following unaddressed point:

If religion promulgated the search for knowledge, it also gave rise to erroneous, revelation-based “scientific” conclusions that surely impeded progress. Those include creation ex nihilo, the Great Flood, a geocentric universe, and so on.

By all appearances, the universe was created ex nihilo. Physicists have struggled to explain the origin of the universe in a way that avoids an ex nihilo creation event, without success. As this Reasons to Believe article points out, the Bible mentions a worldwide flood, not a global flood. A Great Flood, as described in Genesis, that wiped out all of human and animal life in the Mesopotamian region — the entire known world at the time — is scientifically plausible. And, geocentric theory began with the ancient Greeks. I suppose you could say that since the Greeks were religious, religion is therefore responsible for geocentric theory, but that would be a gross oversimplification. And, anyway, as Coyne is lumping this in with other biblical conclusions, one can reasonably assume he’s pinning this one specifically on Christianity. But, as we all know, Aristotle was responsible for promulgating the idea, which was later elaborated upon by Ptolemy. Yet, the erroneous notion persists that Christians were to blame for this faulty cosmology. As with the Galileo and Bruno affairs, this is the result of atheist myth-making.

The more commentary I read from atheists, the more I’m convinced that these self-styled champions of fact and reason are anything but.