Coyne: AAAS and Swamidass in WIRED Article

[@moderators: Coyne comments on the article we first discussed here: Peaceful Science Covered in Wired Magazine]


Interesting. How do you interpret this post from Coyne?

One of the comments mentions you.


Posted October 8, 2018 at 10:40 am | Permalink

I found this statement in a post by Swamidass:

“We find that Adam and Eve could be genealogical ancestors of us all, less than 10,000 years ago in the Middle East, de novo created, without parents. As surprising as this may sound, these confessions are entirely consistent with evolutionary science.”

Need anything more be said?

Frankly, I agree with Coyne. Is AAAS a science organization or an organization with a mission to reconcile Christian faith with science. Is AAAS going to go to Jewish centers and Islamic centers with a similar messages of science/faith compatibility? How about the Hindu’s and the Jehovah Witnesses, they need to know about science also. If an individual like you wants to do such efforts, that is fine but not an organization like AAAS which is a secular 501c non-profit science education organization. Is science neutral on the question of whether God(s) exist or not. I think this taints AAAS. If my professional organization, IEEE, tried to do the same thing regarding electrical engineering, I would be a voice in opposition.

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Yes it is going to these other faiths too. Didn’t you know?

It is not on a mission to reconcile Christian faith with science, but to promote the best science in all contexts.


Sure, let me know when you are going to Iran and Saudi Arabia with your message of “Jesus loves science”.

Isa. They call Him Isa.

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Silly. We are not talking about me, but about AAAS. They don’t promote Jesus or the Christian faith. Rather they are trying to be good ambassadors of science in all contexts they can.

Anti-evolutionism is common in Islam and I’m sure AAAS would engage with Muslims here in the US whenever there is an opening.

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I think it would be best for AAAS to stick with its mssion statement:

My work with AAAS has been tightly aligned with these missional goals:

  • Enhance communication among scientists, engineers, and the public;
  • Promote and defend the integrity of science and its use;
  • Strengthen support for the science and technology enterprise;
  • Provide a voice for science on societal issues;
  • Strengthen and diversify the science and technology workforce;
  • Foster education in science and technology for everyone;
  • Increase public engagement with science and technology;

Then why would your PERSONAL religious beliefs ever come up in such work? As science is neutral on the existence or non-existence of God. If I were doing such work, my atheism would never be mentioned.

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They are an excellent way of building common grounds and trust, especially in the context of conflict. Good ambassadors build common ground and open doors for others behind them.

I am a Christian. We found common ground and built trust together. They opened their doors to hear from several non Christian scientists about their scientific work, partly due to this new found trust. This is exactly how it is supposed to work.

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And an excellent way to apostatize your brand of Christianity under the guise of science education.

I’m putting forward impeccable science and a genuine confession of faith. I can justify this from 100% scientific AAAS values or alternatively from 100% Christian values. Starting from either point, I should be doing precisely the same thing. I am loyal to both communities, and only a fool would kill a mocking bird.

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3 posts were split to a new topic: Does Evolution Allow for De Novo Creation?

@patrick I also want to emphasize that I always am clear about what “science says” versus what I personally as a scientist confess. You know this too.

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I’m sure you are.

I have no problem with your 100% Christian values. They are perfectly aligned with my 100% atheist values of secular humanism. So thank you for bringing my atheist values to these Christian institution under the guise of science education. It is a good strategy. I am sure that several of the students will see the light and affirm atheism based on their own critical thinking after your talk. Thank you for all your help in science education.


On the places we agree, they are also Christian values my friend. There is no deception on my end, and I do not think it will lead too atheism.


This is the comment I just left on Coyne’s blog post. Hopefully it passes moderation, and I might make minor typo edits here:

Hello Dr. Coyne.

Thank you for the thoughtful article today. These are issues of very high importance. I see legitimate concerns arising both in your article and in some of the comments. I was merely interviewed for this article and did not control the final text. So it seems worthwhile to flesh out a few key points, that hopefully expose some places of common ground.

First, regarding Dawkins. I have a great deal of respect for Dawkins. He is NOT equivalent to the Westboro Baptist Church. He is most certainly not “satan.” I work with atheists as my colleagues every day as a scientist. They are brilliant, hardworking, honest, moral people. I hope that better bridges can be built so that atheists are no longer demonized in religious communities.

Second, regarding my quote about the “appearance” of common descent. Like everyone here, I believe life looks like it evolved because it DID evolve. The rhetoric here was designed to create space so that evolution skeptics could approach the evidence without having to agree with it from the get go. This sensitivity was so infuriating to anti-evolutionists at the Discovery Institute, that they promptly assaulted in on the ENV blog (Stunning Evidence for Common Ancestry? S. Joshua Swamidass on the Chimp-Human Divergence | Evolution News). The back and forth on that was entertaining. In the end, I do not present anything but the best evolutionary science, as would be agreed upon by scientists like Coyne, Miller, Dawkins, Moran, and most other secular scientists (maybe not Shapiro though), but I do attempt to do so in a non-combative rhetoric.

Third, regarding Peaceful Science and the quote about Adam and Eve. My site is just a personal blog, but also has a forum ( There are several scientists of all sorts there, including many secular/atheist/agnostic scientists. It is not a parochial challenge to mainstream science. In no way does science demonstrate that Adam and Eve are real or were de novo created. The quote about Adam and Eve makes sense if you read the 2004 paper in Nature by Rohdes on common ancestry. In that quote, I am explaining a thought experiment on Adam and Eve, based on our scientific understanding of genealogical (not genetic) ancestry. If I made any scientific errors on those points, I intend to correct and retract them immediately.

Finally, regarding Concordia reaffirming Six Day creation. That is not what AAAS affirms (of course not) nor what I affirm. Nor is it an accurate statement about what happened in the denomination. What I can tell you is that there is an increased openness to mainstream science within this denomination. This is good thing for all of us, though it will take time to work out.

Science depends on broad public support, both prevent conflicts over science textbooks and to support its funding and adoption. I am now a tenured professor, but I began this work early in my career before I was tenured. I did this because we live in a fractured society, and it is in everyone’s benefit to find way to a common society of mutual tolerance and honesty. Science, I am certain, could be a place of common ground. This, at least, is what I hope for and what I work for now.

I hope this reduces some of the real concerns that have been raised here. Thank you for your interest in my work.
AAAS continues its incursion into accommodationism and theology – Why Evolution Is True