Friday, September 12, 2014

The Determinism of Jerry Coyne, PhD.

One of the most incisive and informative science websites on the Internet is Jerry Coyne’s The nature photos he posts are worth daily visits alone, and Dr. Coyne’s articles are personal, intriguing, and reflective. He is Professor in the Department of Ecology and Evolution, University of Chicago and has a PhD. from Harvard University.

But sometimes his views, such as his hard determinism, leave me scratching my brain. Of course, it seems Dr. Coyne would argue that my confusion, too, was determined by the points he was determined to make.

Consider this one by him about Oscar Pistorius, the Olympic star who murdered his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp;
Dr. Coyne states: “As someone who doesn’t think that Pistorius, or any other criminal, had any choice about their actions, and that the nature of any punishment should take that determinism into account, I need to think about whether premeditation makes such a huge difference. As I see it (and I know others will disagree), the laws of physics had already determined that Pistorius was going to murder his girlfriend that night. Would his plotting to kill her in advance be much worse than his having decided to do so on the spot?”


If everything and everyone is determined, no one has any alternative choice, then even Dr. Coyne’s question and the answers from various posters were already determined.

So what’s the point? (It was determined that I would ask that.)

This reflection, Dr. Coyne's article, the punishment of Pistorius are all being determined by the laws of physics as is everything else, on and on and on to the end of time. To misquote a famous bard, “A tale told by idiotic nature….”

That was also determined.

If so why does Dr. Coyne get so upset at religious thinkers, who he claims are irrational and dangerous?
Doesn't Dr. Coyne remember that he thinks no one has a choice?

So of course, not only do all crooks not have a choice, neither do religious individuals. Millions of them were determined by the laws of physics to be irrational and dangerous.

And Dr. Coyne was determined to oppose religious thinkers....

None of this computes in my mind, but then according to him, nature is doing this to me. It’s not my choice to think humans have choice.


Daniel Wilcox

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