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Get the popcorn

November 26, 2006

One of the Answers In Genesis people has contacted PZ Myers asking for “an intelligent debate” over naturalism vs. creationism..  This isn’t just going into the lion’s den; it’s putting your head into the lion’s mouth and poking the big cat with a cattle prod.  Myers has asked his readers to hold back for a while and let the fellow have his say.

But the guy wanted no “childish attacks” so when he says something phenomenally stupid, we aren’t allowed to say so or he’ll pout.

Notice that I have removed Pharyngula from my list of daily favorites.  This is due to the fact that Myers regards ALL people of faith as idiots and says so, loudly, at every opportunity.  While I agree with him on many things, I think this is bad strategy and besides, I know many counterexamples.  Also, as a civil society we will be sharing the country with theists – a majority – for a long time.  Pharyngula is still linked in the side bar under ‘Science and skepticism’, though.  You don’t necessarily let an attack dog into your living room but there are times when they do come in handy and Myers is good to have around for people like this guy from AIG.

Categories: Science & Technology
  1. November 27, 2006 at 01:41 | #1

    Not surprisingly, I hold much the same opinion of Pharyngula (and the often-amusing, but increasingly irritating J-Walk)—folks whose opinions I respect, but who insist on being so in-my-face strident in their anti-theism that makes it difficult for me to enjoy the other, more interesting things they have to say.

  2. November 29, 2006 at 22:44 | #2

    I’m not fond of tarring groups of people with a broad brush.

    I make no secret out of my disdain for religious belief and my hostility against organized religion. At the same time, I see no need to extrapolate from my opposition to religious belief to the group of religious believers. It has never mattered to me what anybody actually believes in – most people could articulate or communicate this in any case. What matters to me is what people do with their beliefs, real or purported.

    By the way, I absolutely, positively loathe atheist forums – as opposed to something like SEB, which happens to be an atheist’s blog, a small, but subtle distinction. The lack of god belief in and by itself does not imply a sufficient commonality of interests…

    As to pharyngula, I’ve long given up on the comments. I can adjust for PZM’s bias, but that’s about it.

  3. Prup (aka Jim Benton)
    December 3, 2006 at 01:07 | #3

    I have not only removed PZ from my RSS feeds, but have put him on my list of blogs I will not read.  His personal attack on Ed Brayton (Dispatches from the Culture Wars, Positive Liberty) because Ed, rightly, points out that
    creationism v evolution and
    theism v atheism
    are two distinct fights, and PZ’s attacks on theistic evolutionists as not REALLY being on the right side did it for me.

    I am definitely an atheist but I much prefer people like you, and like the crew at Debunking Christianity, who are uniformly polite, give believers their say, do not assume all Christians are fundamentalist nut-jobs, and who know enough theology to destroy the arguments of theists.  (I may be unfair to PZ in saying this, but sometimes it appears that ‘the only thing he knows about Christianity is that he’s agin’ it.”)

  4. December 3, 2006 at 12:08 | #4

    I went back to Pharyngula to find the article about Ed Brayton. Myers sure rips into Brayton, but if he links back to the source I can’t find it. Bad form.

    Personally, I’m willing to go so far and say that theistic beliefs and acceptance of the scientific method can only be reconciled by a strict and somewhat irrational compartmentalization. However, there is no reason that I could see why a theist can’t be a damn good scientist.

    Creationism vs. evolution and theism vs. atheism are indeed two different battles. They are obviously related, although many creationists are intellectually dishonest enough to refuse to acknowledge that transparent fact.

    The way I see it, religion is a both a tool and a weapon. It can be wielded by believers and unbelievers alike. The real enemy is our tribal nature – evolution tunes us to a world that is long gone and from the perspective of our genes, we may as well live on an alien planet. We are functional, but poorly adapted.

    Where I disagree with Dawkins, Harris, and others is that their attacks against religious beliefs miss a profound connection. Seen through the lens of evolutionary principles, exactly how is an all-out attack against religiosity supposed to work? If we ever get people to ditch irrational religious beliefs, we have to marginalize the religious meme in the meme pool…

  5. December 3, 2006 at 12:45 | #5

    Seen through the lens of evolutionary principles, exactly how is an all-out attack against religiosity supposed to work? If we ever get people to ditch irrational religious beliefs, we have to marginalize the religious meme in the meme pool…

    LOL! well said.  Here is Brayton’s post about the whole thing.

    I’d love to know what PZ thinks is the good of attacking people who agree with him but are too reasonable for his tastes?  Or for that matter of attacking people who disagree with him in principle but value secular education and believe their religion belongs in church?

  6. December 3, 2006 at 14:40 | #6

    I have long held the set of vocal commenters on Pharyngula to be braying asses; as a result of reviewing the long thread DOF kindly linked to, I’m engaged in a broader re-evaluation.

    In fact, I agree with a point that Consi made repeatedly on a few occasions. If you want to win this war – keeping creationism out of public schools – you need to win over whoever is undecided, make a play for the opposition’s moderates, and take a stand against opposition’s core constituency. Pissing on everybody who does not unreservedly agree with you is definitely not the way to go.

  7. Prup (aka Jim Benton)
    December 4, 2006 at 10:07 | #7

    Fo one of the best discussions of this, and certainly the funniest, check out today’s “Respectful Insolence”
    where Orac involves his running character, the Hitler Zombie, in the war.

  8. December 4, 2006 at 15:20 | #8

    That was funny…

    Perhaps one day PZM and others will understand the difference between appeasement and Realpolitik. I’m not holding my breath.

  9. December 4, 2006 at 18:18 | #9

    Thanks for that link Prup!  I just read it and it’s good to laugh about something that would normally depress me.

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