I Post a Reply to Jerry Coyne and Now I Am Blocked from Commenting on His Blog

I am used to this kind of behavior from some Christiana apologists, but not from fellow atheists. When I attempted to post the following comment on his blog post, alerting his readers to the fact that Coyne had unintentionally misrepresented my argument, I learned that I have been blocked from commenting on his blog.

Dr. Coyne — Thanks for your article and your interest in the argument. I don’t think you’ve fairly represented Draper argument, however. I will explain why in detail on my blog here.

I find this truly baffling. I find it hard to believe that Coyne can’t take criticism, so I re-read my article to see if there was anything offensive. The only item I could find which might even potentially be offensive was this.

Since Coyne is a professional biologist, not a philosopher, he is no more qualified than a professor of English literature, sociology, mathematics, or any other non-philosophical discipline to pronounce the philosophy of religion dead as a discipline, which is to say that he has zero authority at all on the topic. The philosophy of religion may or may not be dead as a discipline, but, if it is, that is for philosophers to determine, not fisherman, plumbers, or even people with doctorates in biology or mathematics.

It occurs to me that this might have come across as condescending and, even worse, as suggesting that people outside of a discipline don’t have the right to comment on a discipline. For the record, I do think Coyne and other non-philosophers have the right to comment on the quality of argumentation in the philosophy of religion. My point was rather different. My point is that non-philosophers do not have philosophical expertise, so the opinion of non-philosophers, including Coyne, provides no evidence at all for the claim that the philosophy of religion is dead. In other words, there is no logically correct argument from authority for the claim that the PoR is dead when the “authorities” are actually non-authorities.
I have reworded the original blog post as follows.

Since Coyne is a professional biologist, not a philosopher, he is not an expert on philosophy. Like any other non-philosopher, he has the right to state his opinion regarding the quality of argumentation in philosophy as a whole or a sub-disciple of philosophy, such as the philosophy of religion. But his opinions do not carry the weight of an expert, so it would be fallacious to make the following argument from authority: Jerry Coyne thinks the philosophy of religion is dead; therefore, it’s dead. While some arguments from authority can be logically incorrect, this one is not. Non-philosophers do not have philosophical expertise, so the opinion of non-philosophers, including Coyne, provides no evidence at all for the claim that the philosophy of religion is dead. In other words, there is no logically correct argument from authority for the claim that the PoR is dead when the “authorities” are actually non-authorities. The philosophy of religion may or may not be dead as a discipline, but, if it is, that is for philosophers to determine, not non-philosophers.

I’ve also emailed an apology to Coyne, but in the meantime I’m still blocked and, more troubling, Coyne hasn’t issued a retraction of the misrepresentation of in his blog post. I’ll write another update if/when Coyne decides to respond to me, update his post, or unblock me.

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