Jerry Coyne Trounces John Haught in Debate

I had a look-see at the University of Kentucky symposium that almost wasn’t posted on the Internet (because John Haught initially refused).

I can’t blame Haught for his reluctance because Jerry Coyne cleaned his clock.

Here’s the link to their talks.

Coyne concluded his presentation with the following quote from Christopher Hitchens:

What can be asserted without evidence can also be dismissed without evidence.

About Santi Tafarella

I teach writing and literature at Antelope Valley College in California.
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4 Responses to Jerry Coyne Trounces John Haught in Debate

  1. JD says:

    You have overestimate Coyne’s performance.

    But its funny that whenever William Lane Craig defeats an atheist in a debate, it is simply dismissed as not important or due to Craing being a better debater, etc.

    Now, all of sudden the debate is of great importance.

    Gimme a break.

    • santitafarella says:


      I don’t know where you got all this from what little I said. Coyne, like the boy who notices that the emperor has no clothes, dismantled the pretenses of a theologian otherwise used to polite deference. Coyne regards theology to be no more worthy of serious consideration than astrology. That’s what galls Haught. Coyne wants evidence for propositions. Haught can provide none. That’s the significance of the exchange.


  2. Peter says:

    I watched the debate and I think Coyne lost. The problem with Coyne is that of arrogance. His debates are just full of assertions. For example, he says that angels do not exist, as though just stating that is in some way evidence against them. It is so easy to win a debate against Coyne since Coyne provides no evidence for his assertions. He appears frustrated and downright angry that others do not share his point of view,

    • Santi Tafarella says:

      I agree with you that Coyne is not inclined to foreground his metaphysical premise: strict naturalism. He tends to presume it without much explicit defense. But he’s a biologist, not a philosopher.

      The application of strict naturalism in science has been extraordinarily successful in tackling perplexing questions over the past several centuries. Supernatural explanation, by contrast, has long been in intellectual retreat. Few, for example, attribute weather phenomena to gods or devils anymore. As such, if you are going to posit the existence of, say, angels, it’s incumbent upon you, not Coyne, to provide evidence for their existence. It’s fair of Coyne to dismiss their existence absent evidence.

      If one claims a house is haunted, it’s not up to others to disprove the claim by providing evidence against it; it’s up to the claimant to provide evidence that ghosts actually exist and are acting in that particular house.


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