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Faith Versus Fact: Why Science and Religion Are Incompatible First Edition Edition

4.3 out of 5 stars 186 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0670026531
ISBN-10: 0670026530
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Faith Versus Fact: Why Science and Religion Are Incompatible by Jerry A. Coyne
Faith Versus Fact
The popular new release from Jerry A. Coyne. Learn more | See author page
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Editorial Reviews


Praise for Faith Vs. Fact

“[N]one make the case for the final divorce of religion and science, with permanent restraining orders against harassment and stalking of science by religion, better than Coyne.”—Ray Olson, Booklist (starred review)

“An important book that deserves an open-minded readership.”—Kirkus Reviews

“Many people are confused about science—about what it is, how it is practiced, and why it is the most powerful method for understanding ourselves and the universe that our species has ever devised. In Faith vs. Fact, Coyne has written a wonderful primer on what it means to think scientifically, showing that the honest doubts of science are better—and more noble—than the false certainties of religion. This is a profound and lovely book. It should be required reading at every college on earth.”
—Sam Harris, author of  The End of Faith, The Moral Landscape, and Waking Up
“The distinguished geneticist Jerry Coyne trains his formidable intellectual firepower on religious faith, and it’s hard to see how any reasonable person can resist the conclusions of his superbly argued book. Though religion will live on in the minds of the unlettered, in educated circles faith is entering its death throes. Symptomatic of its terminal desperation are the ‘apophatic’ pretensions of ‘sophisticated theologians,’ for whose empty obscurantism Coyne reserves his most devastating sallies. Read this book and recommend it to two friends.”
—Richard Dawkins, author of The God Delusion 
“The truth is not always halfway between two extremes: some propositions are flat wrong. In this timely and important book, Jerry Coyne expertly exposes the incoherence of the increasingly popular belief that you can have it both ways: that God (or something God-ish, God-like, or God-oid) sort-of exists;  that miracles kind-of happen; and that the truthiness of dogma is somewhat-a-little-bit-more-or-less-who’s-to-say-it-isn’t like the truths of science and reason.”
—Steven Pinker, Johnstone Family Professor of Psychology, Harvard University; author of The Better Angels of Our Nature

Praise for Why Evolution is True

“Outstandingly good . . . Coyne’s knowledge of evolutionary biology is prodigious, his deployment of it as masterful as his touch is light.”
—Richard Dawkins, The Times Literary Supplement

“Coyne is as graceful a stylist and as clear a scientific explainer as Darwin himself (no mean feat) . . . one of the best single-volume introductions to evolutionary theory ever.”

“The joy Coyne takes in his work is evident on every page, whether he’s offering a bone-by-bone analysis of how dinosaurs evolved into birds or describing how docile Japanese honeybees have come up with their particularly incendiary defense against marauding giant hornets.”
San Francisco Chronicle

“[Coyne] makes an unassailable case.”
New York Times

“In nine crisp chapters . . . the respected evolutionary biologist lays out an airtight case that Earth is unspeakably old and that new species evolve from previous ones.”
Boston Globe

“Coyne’s book is the best general explication of evolution that I know of and deserves its success as a best seller.”
—R.C. Lewontin, New York Review of Books

“I recommend that Mr. Coyne’s insightful and withering assessment of evolutionary studies of human psychology and behavior be taped to the bathroom mirrors of all those (perhaps especially journalists) inclined to be swept into excited announcements of What Evolution Shows About Us.”
—Philip Kitcher, The Wall Street Journal

“With logic and clarity, Coyne presents the vast trove of scientific evidence that supports Darwin's theory.”
Cleveland Plain Dealer

“It’s always a pleasure to tell people about a wonderful book, especially when the subject of the book is of universal and critical importance. Evolutionary geneticist Jerry A. Coyne has given us such a book. . . . A book that may change the way you look at things—if you dare.”
The Huffington Post

“In this 200th anniversary year of Darwin’s birth, Why Evolution is True ranks among the best new titles flooding bookstores.”
Christian Science Monitor

Why Evolution is True is the book I was hoping would be written someday: an engaging and accessible account of one of the most important ideas ever conceived by mankind. The book is a stunning achievement, written by one of the world's leading evolutionary biologists. Coyne has produced a classic—whether you are an expert or novice in science, a friend or foe of evolutionary biology, reading Why Evolution is True is bound to be an enlightening experience.”
—Neil Shubin, author of Your Inner Fish

“Jerry Coyne has long been one of the world's most skillful defenders of evolutionary science in the face of religious obscurantism. In Why Evolution is True, he has produced an indispensable book: the single, accessible volume that makes the case for evolution. But Coyne has delivered much more than the latest volley in our "culture war"; he has given us an utterly fascinating, lucid, and beautifully written account of our place in the natural world. If you want to better understand your kinship with the rest of life, this book is the place to start.”
—Sam Harris, founder of the Reason Project and author of the New York Times best sellers The End of Faith and Letter to a Christian Nation

“Scientists don't use the word 'true' lightly, but in this lively and engrossing book, Jerry Coyne shows why biologists are happy to use it when it comes to evolution. Evolution is 'true' not because the experts say it is, nor because some worldview demands it, but because the evidence overwhelmingly supports it. There are many superb books on evolution, but this one is superb in a new way — it explains out the latest evidence for evolution lucidly, thoroughly, and with devastating effectiveness.”
—Steven Pinker, Harvard University, and author of The Stuff of Thought: Language as a Window into Human Nature

“For anyone who wishes a clear, well-written explanation of evolution by one of the foremost scientists working on the subject, Why Evolution is True should be your choice.”
—E. O. Wilson, author of The Social Conquest of Earth and Letters to a Young Scientist

“I once wrote that anybody who didn't believe in evolution must be stupid, insane, or ignorant, and I was then careful to add that ignorance is no crime. I should now update my statement. Anybody who doesn't believe in evolution is stupid, insane, or hasn't read Jerry Coyne. I defy any reasonable person to read this marvellous book and still take seriously the "breathtaking inanity" that is intelligent design "theory" or its country cousin, young earth creationism.”
— Richard Dawkins, author of The God Delusion

About the Author

Jerry A. Coyne is a professor at the University of Chicago in the Department of Ecology and Evolution, where he specializes in evolutionary genetics. His New York Times bestseller, Why Evolution Is True, was one of Newsweek’s “50 Books for Our Times” in 2010.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Viking; First Edition edition (May 19, 2015)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0670026530
  • ISBN-13: 978-0670026531
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.1 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (186 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #86,104 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
More than anything, this book is a guide to the scientific method. That believers will interpret it solely as a polemic against their various religions is wholly because, by so expertly laying out fundamental scientific principles and contrasting them with religious "ways of knowing," Jerry Coyne denies religion the legitimacy of science. Although he will no doubt be scorned for ignoring "sophisticated" theology and lumping all believers together with the most rabid of fundamentalists, Coyne actually reserves much of his text critiquing the claims of various strains of liberal theology, the sort in which God speaks in the still, small voice of quantum indeterminacy, illustrating how such presumptions fall afoul not only of liberal believers' own scripture and doctrine, but also the scientific method itself. This is an amazing, gripping book, and the only negative thing I can say about it is that it was not published when I was younger.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Faith Versus Fact: Why Science and Religion Are Incompatible by Jerry A. Coyne

“Faith Versus Fact" is an excellent book that presents the persuasive argument that while faith and science compete to describe reality; science is the best tool to find out what is true about our universe. Evolutionary geneticist Jerry A. Coyne follows up his masterpiece of Why Evolution Is True, with an outstanding book of its own that clearly separates science from religion. This persuasive 336-page book includes the following five chapters: 1. The Problem, 2. What’s Incompatible?, 3. Why Accommodationism Fails, 4. Faith Strikes Back, and 5. Why Does It Matter?

1. Professor Coyne is a persuasive writer. Well-written and well-reasoned book. Engaging and accessible.
2. A great topic; why science and religion are incompatible.
3. Great use of logic, history, reason and facts to persuade the audience at an accessible level.
4. A quote fest, “The good thing about science is that it’s true whether or not you believe in it by Neil deGrasse Tyson”.
5. Clearly states his main thesis. “…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.” “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.”
6. Makes a very strong case that there are very clear differences between science and religion. “Science and religion, then, are competitors in the business of finding out what is true about our universe.
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Mr. Coyne tries to cover all the bases in showing that science is rational and relies on provable facts about human existence whereas religion is based on unproven and unprovable stories in ancient tomes. Therein lies the problem, convincing the religious that just because theology doesn't make sense in a hundred different ways, they need to give up their 'faith'. Religion has been big business for centuries, handed down generation after generation, wont go away quietly just because of facts and reason.

He goes into many different areas: accommodationism, morality without "God", scientific and religious culpability in worldwide disasters, how faith healing and withholding medical care because of certain religions is child abuse, etc. But my favorite is his explanation of how a negative can be proven "the absence of evidence--if evidence should be there--is indeed evidence of absence" (pg. 203). Also "religion is to science as superstition is to reason" (pg. 258), perfect. In short, a very readable logical thesis, but I fear he's "preaching to the choir" (NOT the church choir).
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Format: Hardcover
It's already happening. Coyne's Faith vs Fact is being panned as biased, curmudgeonly, and ignorant. It is none of these. Neither is it an atheist book. It is a book about knowing - epistemology - and how we can confidently and reliably know what is real.

Coyne argues that reason and the scientific method are the only methods we have to investigate, understand, and describe the world around us. These tools are based on observation, repeatability, and refinement. Faith offers something different. Faith-based reality is built on ancient texts, clerical and personal ideas, and feelings. Coyne points out the importance of how the two worldviews tackle errors. In science, we re-evaluate. We check against new knowledge. We ask for expert insight. We change our minds. Piltdown Man might be the greatest hoax ever foisted on science but we admit to being fooled. The textbooks have been changed. Not so with faith. Faith begins with answers and looks for evidence. When the evidence doesn't fit it is changed. Maybe a 'day' means a billion years? Maybe radioactive decay constants aren't constants after all?

Coyne writes at length about what he calls accomodationism or an agreeable nod between the two worlds. This is the philosophical home for most people. Terminal cancer kills unless god intervenes. A few fish would never feed a crowd unless Jesus blesses them. Coyne argues that faith has nothing to offer fact. Must it be all or nothing? Coyne says yes. Are there 'better' or more informed religions? Coyne says no - they are all dueling fantasies. Certainly there are learned and urbane theists but their contribution to science is the same as the blood-letting shaman. Coyne doesn't dismiss faith out of hand. He invites theists of all ilk to present their case.
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