In his USA Today editorial, Science and religion aren’t friends
New Atheist author Jerry Coyne makes this claim:
I’ve never met a Christian, for instance, who has been able to tell me what observations about the universe would make him abandon his beliefs in God and Jesus.
Now it is possible Jerry Coyne simply hasn’t met that many Christians. Or it’s possible that he didn’t wait around to hear an answer – or perhaps he is simply being disingenuous. Either way, the reality is he wouldn’t have to go farther than 1 Corinthians in the Bible to see that simply isn’t true. In the words of the Apostle Paul, one of the first Christians to write about his faith:
But tell me this—since we preach that Christ rose from the dead, why are some of you saying there will be no resurrection of the dead? For if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ has not been raised either. And if Christ has not been raised, then all our preaching is useless, and your faith is useless. And we apostles would all be lying about God—for we have said that God raised Christ from the grave. But that can’t be true if there is no resurrection of the dead. And if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ has not been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, then your faith is useless and you are still guilty of your sins. In that case, all who have died believing in Christ are lost! And if our hope in Christ is only for this life, we are more to be pitied than anyone in the world. – 1 Corinthians 15:13-19
So here Paul sets forward pretty straight forward falsification criteria – if it could be shown Christ didn’t rise from the dead then it wouldn’t make any sense to have faith in Him. In fact, someone who did would be only worthy of our pity, because they would be terribly deluded and wasting their life on false hope. In this Paul notably contradicts the notion that Christians don’t base their beliefs on that which can be neither proved nor disproved – long before Coyne got the notion in his head.
And as a Christian myself, I can think of any number of observations that would diminish my faith, if not cause me to abandon it all together. For example if life were to be shown to arise through ordinary unguided means, or to be common in the universe. Or if star systems supporting life, or universes capable of supporting life were demonstrated to arise regularly from unguided means, I would question my view of God. If human characteristics – spirituality, a self-aware personality and historical awareness were shown to ordinarily arise in nature, I would re-consider my beliefs. Like Paul, any number of facts could cause me to reconsider my fundamental beliefs in God and question my perceptions.
So it would appear either Jerry Coyne is horribly ignorant here or he is simply being deceptive to an audience that he hopes doesn’t know better – either way, like most New Atheists, he is simply wrong on the facts.