Coyne Toss – Atheism, History and the Discovery Institute

Jerry Coyne is going to be speaking in Poland. Now this is a pretty big deal, because Poland has an anti-Blasphemy law.

However the Discovery Institute thinks that’s a bad thing. And what ensues is a complete rewrite of reality and a fitting insight into the delusion of the modern creationist movement.

I am astounded that this is even happening, but what I’m told is a fairly large nationwide TV station will interview me tomorrow morning (Monday) at about 9:30 a.m. The show is called Good Morning, Poland, and the amazing thing is that they want to talk about — atheism! – Jerry Coyne

It’s astonishing because Poland still has Blasphemy laws. Unlike it’s neighbour in the Czech Republic, Poland is still rather Catholic as places go. Where you can be jailed and fined for saying something like “I think Catholicism is a completely made up religion and there is no Jehovah”. Something that is core to Atheism.

And they wish to talk about it. Which indicates discourse and conversation. That’s a good thing.

Jerry is under the delusion that he’s going to teach the Poles something they don’t know about atheism. The Polish people have a long, intimate experience with atheism. 

I Ctrl+Fed Atheism on that wikipedia page. Funny how there was none.

Blasphemy laws are terrible. I’m sure Jerry agrees that it shouldn’t be illegal to discuss the strengths and weaknesses of any idea, anywhere, anytime.

Yes, but the problem is the “ideas” of the Discovery Institute have no strengths apart from being easily understood because “It was Magic” is a lot easier to understand (If you believe in magic that is) than the scientific process that is Evolution. Hell, one’s a text book and the other is just 3 words.

In Poland, criticizing God will get you into trouble. In America, criticizing Darwin will get you into trouble.


We don’t follow Darwin’s Theory Of Evolution Any More. It’s out of date. Evolution stands without Darwin. No, what gets you in trouble is the insistence by the Discovery Institute to insert Jesus and Jehovah into science and thereby create a generation of people who accept divine intervention as a valid scientific process and as fact. We may as well tell them that cars work by trapped demons which is why we call it an Infernal Combustion Engine for all the sense that would make. Anything that hastens the creation of the cargo cult of the Adeptus Mechanicus cannot come soon enough as I wish to live in the Grim Dark Future of a particular British Science Fiction Universe where everything (and I Mean everything) is covered in Skulls.

And I assume this is a reference to Kent Hovind. Kent Hovind went to jail because he effectively stole money from the Government and by extension the people of the USA. Tax Evasion is a Crime You Know. It’s also anti-Biblical since “Thou Shalt Not Steal” is a commandment and Jesus also said “Render unto Caesar”. So not only was Kent “crocoduck” Hovind bad at basic science he was also bad at basic mathematics and just all around bad. No amount of Jesus will change that.

You can criticise Darwin. However you cannot Criticise a Scientific theory using unproven Magic and expect us to take you seriously. The Discovery Institute is willing to trade the education of your children and their futures in science and indeed America’s future as a leader in science for “More Jesus”.

In America, indoctrination in Darwinism, atheism’s creation myth, is obligatory for public school kids. They can’t opt out.

Because it’s science. Evolution is as hard a fact as gravity.

I think Gravity is caused by the Gravity Fairy. The heavier you are the more the gravity fairy loves you. Now some shapes attract the gravity fairy and some shapes don’t. That’s how objects fall.

But Avi! What about in a vaccuum. To which I say “You fools! Don’t You Know the Gravity Fairy Needs Oxygen to Breathe?”

That is what the Discovery Institute wish to teach. Evolution is only a myth to those who think we are the product of weapon’s grade levels of incest and that T-Rexes eat leaves.

What they fear is a basic education in science. And to portray themselves as a victim they hide behind concepts they wish to crush. I will say this.

If the USA had a proper education system, where science teaching was taught to rigorous standards then I would have NO QUALMS about bringing intelligent design into a classroom discussion on biology. Because I know what happens when you start playing science around religion. But it doesn’t. The rigour of science education in the USA varies according to school and in some places is so poor that teachers cannot explain their own material. In that realm of ignorance lurks creationism. However? I learnt ID in my science class.

It took 10 minutes and we cut it to pieces using science. What you would do is create more atheists.

But I will only ask that you teach Science in your Church. It’s only fair that if you are allowed to bring the Church into Education that we must bring Education to the Church.

I actually am a big fan of the Royal Institute’s Christmas Lectures. They are beautiful pieces of science for the masses. I would like to do something like that. Bring ID to a public and just demonstrate the science and prove ID as incorrect. But I also want kids to learn how the human immune system works so that they don’t fall for quacks as easily. I have a lot of wants and wishes it seems.

The main thing obstructing secularization in Poland is the Polish people’s memory of the last time Poland was secularized.  

Yes, because the secular nations of Europe are horrible places where we force people into Gulags.

Oh wait.

The problem with the Communist Invasion of Poland was that it established a dictatorship of absolute power and dictators are always repressive irrespective of what gods they chose to believe.

Atheism isn’t a taboo subject in Poland. It is discussed continuously. The history of Poland from 1945 to 1989 is the history of atheist rule in Poland. 

Sigh. Unlike the Discovery Institute I am aware of “a lot of History”. The joys of a traditional wide education.

Do you think people in Poland were more free under the gospel of the Roman Catholic Church under the various Kings and Emperors who ruled? Do you think those people could question their King? As for religious freedom? There is a reason why anti-semiticism was so rife or even anti-protestant sentiments.

I am afraid the Discovery Institute basically live in a rather twee fantasy of thinking like Sanza Stark (obviously Pre-Midway through First Book). Where she bought into the idea of Knights being chivalrous and protecting peasants rather than being “Shiny Bastards Who Nicked All Your Food”. They think Catholic/Protestant Europe was some sort of paradise rather than a bleak serfdom.

Atheism is a “gospel” now? The Poles will be interested to learn what aspect of their half-century experience with atheism was “good news.”

No. It was their half a century experience with totalitarian people. It’s just handy to call them atheist.

Nazis were big into rocketry. Prior to that it was the Chinese and Indians and then the British. Therefore we must not use rockets to go into space because it’s a Pagan invention used by Nazis.

Communism has some useful ideas. I just think collectivisation should be done voluntarily by worker’s cooperatives and unions and standardisation rather than stealing stuff from the rich outright. I think Communism Failed because like all revolutions it requires someone who is truly selfless.

I have no doubts about this but sadly, Gandhi’s Death Was Probably A Good Thing For India. See Gandhi was an amazing person, but he had some poor ideas. He was a good freedom fighter but a terrible statesman. Pacifism would not have saved India from the Empire of the Rising Sun. Pacifism would not have kept India together. His insistence on “Village” economics has been tried before. In Cambodia and China. Great Leap Forward and Cultural Revolution? HAH! That’s not how things work.

No, his death probably saved India from looking like a lot more like Africa and put it on the path to being more like China in development. Nehru was a statesman despite being part of the same “Non-Violent movement” , he understood the value of development over Gandhi’s ascetic values. India’s revolution succeeded because it had men who were willing to step away from the reigns of power. The USA’s revolution succeeded for roughly the same reason but was a lot more “totalitarian” if we include the Native Americans and Slaves.

That was Communism’s problem. It’s main revolutionaries were terrible statesmen and didn’t know how to step back. Nehru actually looked at the world’s constitutions along with Dr. Ambedkar (yes both of these men were atheists. And one was a Brahmin and the other Untouchable) and drew up a constitution that borrowed the best ideas out there. Communists in the USSR and China had no such person who had that insight and willingness to hold power in that way.

To grasp power but to give it up and keep the revolution for the people. India may have strayed a lot since then from it’s secular ideals, but at it’s core was this message of being “for the people”.

Ambedkar and Nehru were enthralled by the US constitution so much so that they enshrine secularity in the first few lines of the constitution. India is DEFINED as secular with no state religion despite being based on British Law.

What does this have to do with the question?

If Lenin thought like Nehru and to be fair both were Socialists (Marxist versus Keynesian) then Lenin would have enshrined a secular constitution where the people had power rather than merely utilising the existing power structure of absolute rulership.

Here are some suggested questions for Professor Coyne: 

  • “Could you please describe the state of political and religious freedom in Poland under the half-century of atheist rule?”

I fail to see how having no gods leads you to think that the means of production must belong to the nation. That’s just an economic theory of poverty. Of a “reverse” Randian idea. Communism rose due to the excess exploitation of workforces in Europe. When worker rights improved, Communists quietly went home.

  • “When atheists and Nazis divided Poland in 1939, why was it that Polish refugees tended to flee from the half of Poland occupied by atheists into the half occupied by Nazis?”

Because they didn’t know what would happen  after that? Hindsight is 20/20 after all.

People feared the communists because no one likes to think that they are poor. It’s why poverty striken Americans keep voting for tax breaks for the rich that they will NEVER get and cutting of social nets that help them the most. Too poor to paint, too rich to whitewash.

  • “From 1945 to 1989, atheists who ruled Poland committed crimes against humanity on an historic scale. Why should Poles welcome the re-emergence of atheism in their country, given that contemporary atheists won’t even admit the crimes atheists committed just a few decades ago?”

The crimes committed were not because of atheism but because of totalitarianism. 

Atheists commit crimes for reasons that are understandable. Stalin’s was for POWER. Stalin sent people to the Gulags because he feared they were planning to destroy him.

And why stop at that particular year? Why not go back and look at the totalitarian rule of Christians?

A Polish Priest who’s sermons were broadcast on the Secularly Run Radio Free Europe (WHOOPS!).

He was assassinated by Polish Secret Agents and the Communist Regime not because he was a priest but because he was criticising the state. His death was treated as martyrdom and divine and it’s rather tragic that human bravery is ignored and attributed to imaginary beings. He had to be assassinated because he couldn’t be jailed as the Catholic Church had amnesty for it’s priests in Poland.

Unlike the various other Polish freedom fighters he fought alongside who didn’t have a Fr. in front of their names who got to rot in Prison.

Oh  and funny thing is he was “Anti-Communist” in the sense that he was Anti-These Communists. He had no qualms associating with the Solidarity Movement which was mainly made up of work unions.

Work Unions are “Collectivist Bargaining and Standardisation” and are “as communist as Saturdays, Children’s Education and Anti-Child Labour Laws”.

  • What famous Pole said ‘Being an atheist . . . means not knowing the true nature of created reality but absolutizing it, and therefore “idolizing” it…'”? 

I don’t know who said that. And it wasn’t a very intelligent one if he said that. I am assuming it’s a “he” because religion’s been at the forefront of not letting women speak since pointed rocks were the sidearm of choice.

John Paul the II was also pope during the rise of HIV and AIDS in Africa and pushed for a series of lies and local hogwash about the diseaase resulting in an extra 20 MILLION sufferers of HIV who are invariably at this point going to die. So let’s not assume that John Paul the II was all good. He was human pretending to be perfect and so his believers had to ignore the imperfections and that cost lives. 20 Million lives.

Of course being an atheist means fetishising reality. I mean this is a tautology. Reality is the only thing we have. Not paying attention to it requires living in a fantasy.

If you think the true nature of reality is in a 2000 year old book that thinks it is the sum total of all human knowledge then you are deeply incorrect. A single bacteria can tell you more about the way the world works than the entire Bible. This same Catholic Church of Infallibility burned men at the stake for claiming the Sun was just a ball of fire and feared a universe where the Earth was not the centre.

And you are telling me that despite that infallibility and incorrectness, John Paul the II is somehow right?

Then I have the corollary. Christians think the entire world was created solely for them in the same way that the Eiffel Tower was built solely to hold up a flag.

  • “When Pope John Paul visited Poland in 1979 after 34 years of atheist rule, millions of Poles chanted ‘My chcemy Boga!‘ What does My chcemy Boga mean, and why were they chanting it?”

“We want God”. Because people who go to see the Pope tend to believe in Catholicism? I mean if the Sai Baba had showed up to the USA people would be chanting Hindu things in the crowd.

And what they meant was that they wanted freedom to practice a religion. I have no qualms about freedom to practice your religion. IF and only IF everyone is free to practice their own religion and your religion does not hurt or harm others in it’s practice.

So you can sit in your Church and pray to Jesus and Jehovah all you like but you have to let the GLBT live in peace and not stop the Muslims from praying in their Mosque. And vice versa.

For a discussion of the impact of atheism on Poland that will resonate with the Polish people, perhaps Jerry should conduct the interview in the town of Katyn. There is, or once was, a charming forest nearby.


Only the Discovery Institute thinks that’s an argument in Poland of all countries.

Totalitarians are bad irrespective of what gods they  chose to or not to pray to. Does the Discovery Institute think Oliver Cromwell was some sort of “nice” man because he was a Christian? Or that the massacres of the Crusades didn’t happen? No, they just conveniently ignore them.

And I have just 3 words for the Discovery Institute and I am sure they will twist and turn and change reality in order for it to fit their narrative of poor persecuted Christendom. And these are words etched into the hearts, minds and history of Poland.

Arbreit Macht Frei


  1. Enkidum says

    Your gravity fairy argument is completely flawed. Gravity works fine in a vacuum. Therefore, uh, god is real, or something.

  2. says

    You are right on the money here.
    I was born and raised in the Communist Poland, until I was 20 (and I moved to NY in 1990, as the free Easter Europe was emerging). Atheism and communism were considered to be equal then, and the right wing politicians and the Catholic Church would still want the Poles to believe in this nonsense.
    However, it was not true then, that most of the people who actively, or inactively supported the communist regime, were Catholic (or otherwise religious) and their support came not from the religious (or their lack) convictions, but from a simple conformism.
    The work “atheist” is still a somehow, dirty word in Poland, but thankfully, this is changing.
    The stupid anti-blasphemy law is an unfortunate sign of a continuous influence the Catholic Church has in Poland, but hopefully it will change.
    Speakers, like Jerry Coyne, can only help in this endeavor.

  3. F [is for failure to emerge] says

    Jerry is under the delusion that he’s going to teach the Poles

    I wonder how they know that. I suppose it is actually a convenient foil to direct all this hogwash at Coyne, as if he’s in charge of what the Polish folks who invited him, and who will interview him, will ask. What the DI is doing here really, is telling Poland that Poland is too stupid to know what they should know after being ruled by a communist dictatorship. Coyne isn’t a damned missionary here, he’s a party guest.

  4. Rich Woods says

    It’s notable that Poland has lurched from left-wing authoritarianism to right-wing authoritarianism in barely a generation. Whatever the overt religious display at any point might be, it’s almost like there’s an underlying ideology driving discrimination, demonisation and exclusion…

  5. Rich Woods says

    @Al Dente #5:

    A group of fundamentalist Christians are giving the “atheism is a religion” lie again.

    Surely not!

    At this point I feel compelled to admit to holding the following beliefs: I am an aunicornist, an ahomeopathist, an apixieist…

    …these and a million others are my strongest, most heartfelt beliefs. I worship at the temple of each of my beliefs, day in, day out. I shall surely attain Heaven/Nirvana/Elysium/NaturalNews/etc when I die.

  6. Knight in Sour Armor says

    You had me at Adeptus Mechanicus… of the FTB bloggers you are the biggest nerd of them all, and I love every bit.

  7. oursally says

    Atheism isn’t a religion, but communism is:
    Holy books – check
    Worship of mummified saints – check
    Large caste of non-working priests – check
    Persecutuion of unbelievers and apostates – check

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