Perhaps you remember Karl — I ripped into an interview he did a while back. Well, “ripped into” is probably the wrong phrase — I pointed out several things I thought were quite good, and then tore up his sectarian defense of Christianity, his blind obeisance before the Christian bible, and his mangling of what other scientists have said about religion. It must have rankled — he now gripes that “Myers doesn’t seem to like me” and has slapped together a nice bit of hackwork that is the lead story on Salon. And clumsy hatchet job it is.
Here’s his opening:
PZ Myers is a true believer, a science crusader with the singled-minded enthusiasm of a televangelist. A biologist at the University of Minnesota at Morris and a columnist for Seed magazine, Myers has earned notoriety with his blog, Pharyngula, in which he reports on new developments in biology and indiscriminately excoriates those he views as hostile to science, a pantheon of straw men and women that includes theologians, journalists and churchgoers. He is Richard Dawkins without the fame or felicitous prose style.
Then he recounts the tale of the “Great Desecration”, but without any of the context, not bothering to mention the hideous history of the Catholic response to rumors of desecration, and not even mentioning Bill Donohue’s bullying tactics. Oh, and then he compares me to Jonathan Edwards, misrepresents his own interview — he only “suggested that science doesn’t know everything,” which “got [him] condemned to whatever hell Myers believes in” — and claims that atheists like me, Dawkins, Atkins, and Dennett are just practicing a new religion. Over and over again. He goes on at length with this strange claim that we are pushing science as a replacement for religion.
But let’s assume for the moment that this is possible — that science can be canonized, moralized, transcendentalized and politicized into a replacement religion, with followers, codes of conduct, celebrated texts and sacred blogs, houses of worship, “saints” of some sort and inquisitors of another sort. And let’s suppose that it’s possible for this new religion to move out of the ivory towers of academia, where it lives now, to take its place alongside the other “world” religions, attracting hundreds of millions of adherents drawn from the main streets of the world and all walks of life. What would this new religion be like once it became institutionalized? After all, if religion fills a genuine human need, something has to fill the hole created by its passing — something that appeals to billions of people.
He babbles on quite a bit about this bizarre fantasy that we’re trying to replicate the silly superstitions and rituals of his idea of religion. Sacred blogs? Saints? This is just foolishness of his own invention. Right there in the critical post I wrote, I said plainly, “Gould and Dawkins do not claim that evolution as a religion, or that it should be treated as one, and neither do I; that would be ridiculous, since if I were equating the two, that would mean I think people ought to grow out of their absurd faith in evolution.” In the desecration post, I plainly said that nothing should be sacred. Giberson read those, apparently, and then decided that I really meant the opposite.
It’s funny how he provides these botched descriptions of what I said, but doesn’t bother to actually link to it, where it’s rather obvious that his version is misleading and dishonest.
Oh, and I’m not one of the saints. Here’s my role.
And we have inquisitors like Myers to ferret out heretics and martyr them on his Web site when they appear.
Man, my criticism of his ideas must have really burned, that he would now compare me to inquisitors and his own state to martyrdom. Hint to Karl: Catholic inquisitors tied people to stakes and literally set them on fire. Writing in dissent about someone’s ideas does not really compare very well. I might add that historically, Christians murdered Jews by the thousands for imaginary desecrations; I tossed an unpalatable scrap of bad bread in a garbage can. Any comparisons he wants to make will not flatter religion.
In order for many of us to truly feel at home in the universe so grandly described by science, that science needs to coexist as peacefully as possible with the creation stories of our religious traditions. I share with Myers, Dawkins and Weinberg the conviction that we are the product of cosmic and biological evolution, that Einstein and Darwin got it right. But I want to believe that, through the eyes of my faith, this is how God created the world and that God cares about that world. Does this belief, shared by so many of our species, make me dangerous?
No, Karl, it makes you foolish. The eyes of your faith are delusions fostered by tradition and dogma, there is no evidence for your god or that he created anything, and there sure as heck isn’t any evidence that your imaginary friend cares about us.
It also makes Salon look foolish, that they would put an article written by someone with a patent grudge front and center.