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Environment & Science

Is there a winner in the fight between science and religion? Dr Jerry Coyne says yes




Biology professor Jerry Coyne participates in a panel discussion during the New Yorker Festival on October 11, 2014 in New York City.
Biology professor Jerry Coyne participates in a panel discussion during the New Yorker Festival on October 11, 2014 in New York City.
Thos Robinson/Getty Images for The New Yorker

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Popular, contemporary atheists such as Richard Dawkins have prompted a backlash among some intellectuals who say there is some room for faith alongside science. In a new book, “Faith vs. Fact,” such intellectuals are branded as “accommodationists” who are irresponsible for protecting religious beliefs in the same breath as scientific principles.

From Galileo’s house arrest to the Scopes monkey trial religion and science have long butted heads – and the fight has sometimes led to imprisonment, murder and factually inaccurate textbooks. At this point, most scientists – and members of the clergy – say they’re willing to let bygones be bygones. Not Dr. Jerry Coyne.

The evolutionary biologist’s latest book “Faith Versus Fact” argues that not only are religion and science fundamentally incompatible, using religion to understand the world is straight-up dangerous. He says faith keeps people from questioning the world around them, and religious dogma leads to incorrect, untestable and conflicting conclusions.

We ask Dr. Coyne how he came to his hardline approach on religion… and what the harm is in having a little faith.

Guest:

Jerry Coyne, University of Chicago professor of Ecology and Evolution, Author of “Faith Versus Fact: Why Science and Religion Are Incompatible” (Viking, 2015).