1. says

    Russell’s mad at me for including his blog. I hope you guys know that I was just joking around.

    PZ, I’m going to bother you soon about your blog. I want to include it in a paper that I’m writing for the upcoming political science conference. I better learn how to spell it properly before then.

  2. says

    I’m not mad at all — I think the fact that I picked an incomprehensible, unspellable, unpronounceable name for my blog is part of my charm.

  3. says


    Congratulations on making any top ten list, and more so for being one of the best science sites around. So I’d like to offer some criticism that I can’t seem to fit in anywhere else, and this post seems as good a spot as any.

    Bouquets: This is a great science site for a number of reasons: excellent content; good analysis; competent commentators; no compromises on the philosophy of science; support for other scientists, even if you don’t agree with their conclusions. You, and others, are unrelenting in fighting the attempts at the infiltration of ID/Creationism into mainstream science and science education. You are steadfast in opposition to having the content and process of science being informed by faith and religious doctrine.

    Brickbats: In my view, there is an extreme attitude that sees religion and personal faith as the enemy, not just when they attempt to inform science. There seems to be an especially harsh, and unnecessary, criticism of other scientists who otherwise might do good work but profess belief in supernatural dimensions that guide the world or their work. Generally, the criticism focuses on the faith component as being purely emotional and not rational or reasonable. I don’t think one can make the case that emotions and subjectivity are the necessary antitheses of reason and science. If a scientist does good science, and then professes that he sees God in his work, why do we villify the believer? He would deserve villification if he votes to alter school curriculum to reflect his personal faith, but not otherwise.

    I agree with Daniel Dennett, and others, who feel we should research religion as a natural phenomenon. As a social scientist, myself, I think this is justified and potentially a very fruitful field. But, I question Dennett’s underlying premise that, should we find religion to be purely a natural phenomenon, then we can dispense with religion as a set of emotional illusions and salvage the human time, energy, and mental powers for more worthwhile pursuits. Put in other words, now that we know it’s purely a natural phenomenon governed by evolutionary and adaptive principles, we can agree to dispense with it and denigrate the diehards who are ruled by their emotions.

    When believers dictate to our schools, our politicians, our philanthropies, and our scientists, then we should be mightily determined to expose them and thwart their intrusions. When believers profess a personal faith that is, for them, informed by their understanding of science, then we should be more respectfully indifferent and not feel they must be denounced for abandoning reason for emotion. My personal view is that no one should question any person’s faith. We might even find it possible to rejoice that someone has found their own access to enlightenment.

  4. says

    PZ Myers: Picking a piece of jargon for the blog name was a good thing for another reason it guaranteed at least one thing that I could learn from it when I found it.

    Norman Costa: I assume you already are aware of the quite extensive field of the sociology of religion, no?

  5. says

    Keith Douglas:

    Thanks for taking note of my comments. Yes, I am aware of the extensive field of the sociology of religion. I am familiar with a few pieces. My focus is on an unnecessary and gratuitous hostility to religion, as a general rule. I concede there are self-described ‘religious’ people and ‘sacred’ instititions that may, from time to time, deserve a good tongue lashing for how they act and what they say.

  6. Steve LaBonne says

    “I concede there are self-described ‘religious’ people and ‘sacred’ instititions that may, from time to time, deserve a good tongue lashing for how they act and what they say.” For example, all of them.

    “My personal view is that no one should question any person’s faith.” That’s a truly outrageous statement. I have no desire to interfere with anyone’s practice of his or her faith so long as they make no attempt to infringe on my liberty. To say, however, that I must refrain even from forming an opinion of their beliefs is impudent. Who put you in charge of delimiting what can legitimately be questioned?

  7. says

    Steve LaBonne:

    I did not proscribe the forming of opinions and legitimate (or even not so legitimate) questioning for you or anyone else. I may not have been clear enough. My criticism concerns the knee-jerk hostility to a believer who simply says, “I believe.” I have lots of opinions on professions of faith and the conduct of religion. However, I do not question (meaning confront or attack) the validity of an individual’s profession of faith. I might question faith or religion in a detached way, but I do not villify the believer because he choses to profess. You and I are closer in our views than you might think. I’m riled very easily when ‘people of faith’ impinge on my liberties, or my access to experimental IVF, or restrict my tax dollars supporting much needed stem cell research. The only thing I am in charge of is my own personal view which you quoted appropriately.

  8. Steve LaBonne says

    If one is convinced that “believing” is a bad thing for the individual and a worse thing for humanity, it is simply a failure of intellectual courage and even a dereliction of intellectual duty to keep that opinion to oneself out of timorousness. God knows, if you’ll pardon the expression, that the believers feel no need to keep THEIR opinions to themselves, quite the contrary.

  9. dribble says

    Dear Norman Costa

    Would that have any relationship to the “unnecessary and gratuitous hostility as a general rule” of most Christians in the good ole US of A (the homeland of tolerance and freedom)to atheists?