Coyne on Bryan’s Myth, vs Reality

Jerry Coyne discusses the Bryan College issue.

Bryan College forces its faculty to swear to historical existence of Adam and Eve

Coyne is not only a *real scientist* but also a guy willing to address the arguments of those with whom he seriously disagrees, to the point of reading the books of creationists and Christian apologists, for example, and responding to them in detail. (I don’t know how he finds the time!) He is not an ‘accommodationist’, as that term is used to imagine that science and religion are in any way compatible; the same reasoning that leads to scientific conclusions leads to the only reasonable conclusion that the existence of any kind of traditional ‘god’ is exceedingly unlikely. (Some reasonable commentators disagree, like Phil Plait, though perhaps only as a ploy to the public to not reject science, as if you can have it both ways; I am on Coyne’s side in this.)

Re: Adam and Eve. As Coyne has discussed before, modern genetic analysis shows that the human race, given its present genetic diversity, cannot have derived from a group anytime in the past few million (let alone thousand) years smaller than some 2250 individuals. Which is not 2. Which is to say, the idea that humanity derived from literally *two people*, Adam and Eve, is a myth; the evidence of the world contradicts it. And this rather undermines the entire basis for Christianity to the extent that Adam and Eve embody original sin and therefore the need for redemption by Jesus.

Naturally, the faithful have various ways of trying to reconcile these conflicts, as Coyne describes in this post. Though as he remarks,

These theological gymnastics don’t convince anybody who isn’t wedded to the Christian mythos at the outset.

Some Christians just double down and insist on the literal Bible, and somehow dismiss science and evidence and rationality altogether in favor of dogma, and this is what Bryan College is now trying to enforce. Tellingly, it is many of the students – the younger people – who are objecting to this latest action. Ultimately, Coyne is optimistic (moreso than I am):

Bryan is fighting a losing battle, but it will be a long battle. These vestiges of superstition, and blind adherence to it, will eventually disappear as America becomes more secular. There will always be Biblical literalism, but I’m confident it will slowly wane. But it will wane not with the changing of minds, but over the dead bodies of its adherents, as the older generation dies off and the younger, exposed to secularism and doubt on the internet, begins to ask questions. (It’s telling that it is the students of Bryan who are the biggest protestors.) I am patient, for I know this change won’t happen during my lifetime. But I also know that in one or two centuries, Adam and Eve will be regarded as we now regard Zeus and Wotan.

This entry was posted in Atheism, Culture, Evolution, Religion. Bookmark the permalink.