I get email…and an exercise for the readership

So I got this email. I think it’s sincere. Can you answer it?

Dear PZ,

I’ve lurked since forever at Pharyngula, and wanted to ask so many questions, but feared ridicule and contempt. I wish there were room for folks like me at FTB.

I’m what you could call an extreme agnostic, and to the bone, a secular humanist. To keep peace in the family, I do not advertise. But here it is…I still find myself, in moments of extreme stress, essentially falling back on the “prayer” release.

As in, “Dear God, if you do actually exist, and you are not actually an irrational, misogynist, kill-happy sociopath, could you please do something about X?”

How does a non-believer get past this NEED to do something, anything…when there really is nothing that can be done at all?

Thank You for your time.

She also sent a picture.


There should be room for people in transition to full-blown raging atheism, especially for people with an appreciation of the tentacle esthetic, so let’s try to do better, ‘k?

But my answer to the question would be…don’t worry about it. I’m not going to judge someone’s atheistical purity when they’re lost in despair or fear, and I can sympathize with someone who wants to reach out to someone, anyone for help, and is so desperate that they’re even calling on imaginary help. It’s a reflection of how we are brought up, not our intellectual capacity, and of our current straits, not our rationality.

Speaking for myself, I was cured by cynicism. That imaginary help never answers, and it always seems to be real world people who do right by me (which also says that maybe one way people could be cured of this belief is if other people did a better job of helping). I don’t call on a god for the same reason I don’t call on the Blue Fairy or Optimus Prime — I’m pretty dang sure they’re not going to show up. They’re fictional characters.

But if you’re in trouble, and you whisper a little prayer, and some atheist overhears…they should be more focused on helping you out of your trouble than chastising you for a common cultural tic. If they aren’t, they’re a bad human being and you should just ignore them.

It’s Baturday!

I’m in Austin, Texas this weekend, hanging out with Matt Dillahunty and Beth Presswood, and it’s bats, bats, bats all day long. I’m giving a talk about bat evolution this afternoon (theme: so what if there aren’t many fossils?), and then we’re going on a bat cruise to watch the swarm of Mexican (don’t tell the Republicans) Free Tailed Bats launch themselves into the twilight skies. Also, somewhere in there will be Texas barbecue. I don’t think that will have much bat in it.

While I’m distracted, watch the pretty bats fly.

How can you call him a racist? He says he isn’t!

For some strange reason, this tirade by a guy laying out his criteria for a girlfriend reminds me of Pat Condell and his friends.

I am NOT racist. Just because I don’t like the appearnce of black people does not make me racist. Just because I don’t like a particular painting, does not mean I dislike the medium of Art as a whole!

But I will say this, Blacks do make up the majority of the inmates in the prisons in the country.

And I think it’s White people that make up the majority of white collar executive types of positions in America. Probably more Whites are 1 percenters than there are blacks.

When I think of all of the classical composers like Mozart etc that were pure genius, I don’t recall many of them being Black.

This is the 1st black president we’ve had so far and look what a horrible job he has done.

So in the grand scheme of things, it appears the scales are tilted in favor of Whites being the superior race, after all we weren’t the ones that were enslaved workinf cotton fields for 40o years..

Just pointing out that history seems to show whites as always rising to the top and dominating all other countries and cultures and taking what they want and doing as they please, being the dominant, most powerful, most intelligent race….

I’m not saying I personally believe whites are superior to blacks, I am not a scientist, and I have not studied it to any great depth…

Just pointing out some observations.

But, again, for the millionth time, I may be a jerk, but I’m not a racist, there’s a big difference.

My best friends are black and I have no hatred for them.

If you follow the link, you’ll also discover that he is not a sexist pig, nosir, not him.


It has come to pass that we are working with the Stevens Community Humane Society again, which means that they have foisted another hell-beast cat upon us to house.

This is she.


She is a young beast, all black with a white patch on her chest. She is very curious and there has been a little problem with getting her to sit still — she’s got our whole house to explore so she’s rushing about all the time. She will occasionally jump on me with her claws and bump her head against my chin while making curious throbbing noises — I think it’s the sound of the millstones of Hell grinding souls to a pulp, or something.

We’ve been closing the bedroom doors tightly at night to prevent her nefarious pouncing — I think she has evil plans — but by day, we might have to collude. My cunning brain and her predatory energy…we could take over the world, if one of us doesn’t stab the other in the back.

I am calling her Satanique. The humane society gave her the name Ivy, which you might prefer if you’d rather cloak her true nature. If you’d like to break up our wicked partnership before our plans reach fruition, or if you think you need a partner in crime of your very own, contact the Stevens Community Humane Society. Tell them you want the black-furred agent code-named Ivy that is holed up in the Myers safehouse. They might be able to arrange something.

The inconsistency of Hamza Tzortzis

This is an interesting clip of Tzortzis first rebuking Lawrence Krauss for his lack of an objective morality in admitting that there are certain conditions under which he could not condemn incest, and then, in a different debate, Tzortzis defending sex with children and rationalizing the lack of a taboo in the Qu’ran against it.

It’s so hypocritical, and so lacking in a rational morality. Krauss’s argument has a clear foundation in mutual consent and a lack of harm; we should not prohibit private actions of consenting adults that do not cause harm to others.

Tzortzis tries to claim that the Qu’ran uses similar principles in accommodating sex with children, by claiming that it should only be done when the child is physically and emotionally ready. But he ignores the concept of consent, and in fact flouts it when one of his points in favor of some cases of child marriage is that the father was willing to give away the child. And of course he doesn’t bother to mention the disturbing fact that he’s not discussing cases of kids exploring their sexuality together (I suspect he’d be dead set against that), but of grasping old men taking ownership of little girls and using them as sex toys.

OffTopic: Monitors


This is the experimental OffTopic thread. These may pop up sporadically as a non-judgmental alternative to the Thunderdome to discuss issues that might otherwise sidetrack another discussion. This time around, the subjects are…derailing, monitors, and suggestions for thread management (how appropriate for the first one!). This is not a place for angry argument, but for productive feedback and conversation.

Status: Lightly Moderated