Martin Thomas Cothran, apologist for Intelligent Design creationism, takes Jerry Coyne to the woodshed for criticizing a book he hasn’t read.
Consider Coyne’s recent article, "The ‘Best Arguments for God’s Existence’ Are Actually Terrible," which appeared in the New Republic. The article takes the form of a refutation of the arguments in David Bentley Hart’s new book, The Experience of God: Being, Consciousness, and Bliss. Coyne admits that he has not actually read the book, but nevertheless concludes its arguments are unsound. He claims that Hart’s conception of God is "immune to refutation," and therefore that "Hart’s argument fails …."
Yet, if you actually read Coyne’s article, he comes right out and says he’s not discussing the book, but the ideas that other fans of Hart have promoted, and the general theological approach to defending god-belief. Coyne even promises to read Hart’s new book to see if there are any new arguments in it, which I think is a terrible mistake. When will we learn? We’re constantly told that this book or that book is the very best argument for god ever made, and then we read it, and it’s awful and the same old noise.
So I visited Martin Cothran’s restaurant, and told him to give me the best thing on the menu.
PZM: That is quite possibly the worst ham sandwich I’ve ever tasted. It’s inedible. Give me a minute, I have to go rinse my mouth out.
MC: That is not just a ham sandwich; it is a specially spiced sandwich ala Ken Ham. We take a slice of cheap lunchmeat and spread a layer of runny yellow feces from a diarrhetic baby on top. But yes, you’re quite right, it’s terrible. It’s a bad sandwich. Here, let me get you the best meal in the house…
Gah, that’s even worse! What the hell is that?
MC: That is Plantinga’s Deep-Fried Dog Doody. Delightful mouth feel, crunchy on the outside, gooey in the center. But I understand, really, it’s a miserable excuse for a snack. I shouldn’t have given it to you. Here’s something that is simply delightful, I’m sure you’ll agree…
<sprays countertop with the gritty contents of his first spoonful> Take it away, take it away, I can’t believe I put that in my mouth!
MC: What? That was Karen Armstrong’s Homestyle Catbox Casserole! Everyone loves it. But then, it’s comfort food for the masses, I can understand how a discerning palate like yours would find it unsatisfactory. Here, I have something far more refined…
Wait. No. That reeks. I can’t even get within 10 feet of that slimy mess.
MC: I understand. It’s Anselm’s Ontoexcremental Pudding, and it is an acquired taste. We take thousand year old outhouse samples from an English monastery, let it ripen while passing philosophers make sporadic additions to it, and when it reaches a particularly high aroma, serve. It’s a poor excuse for a dish, much too old and much too overdone, and rather patently absurd. Of course you don’t like it. But I’ve been saving this next treat for a special customer…
No, just no. <Spits out unpleasant brown wad into his napkin>
MC: Ooops. That really is just the straight, undistilled stuff, Poop Tartar, from a recipe I got from Al Mohler. Baptist cooking isn’t to everyone’s taste, I understand. I should have known! You’re a scientist! I have exactly the thing for you!
Hmm. Looks like a cookie. <nibbles delicately at the edge> Ick. Tastes like shit.
MC: Exactly! It’s an Intelligently Processed Cow Pie! We take shit, run it through a cuisinart until all the texture is gone, pour it into a very sciencey beaker, and then microwave it until it’s a hot, bubbling, tarry goo, then we pour it onto a greased cookie sheet and bake it until we have a solid, perfectly circular disk of uniform shit! It’s very high tech. But you want character in your food, not just the same old thing you get at the Science Commissary, right?
A chocolate milkshake? Finally, something I can enjoy? <pause, then gagging/wretching noises<
MC: Lennox’s Fecal Frappé sometimes has that effect. Dreadful stuff. Apologies. I really should have served you the greatest dish in my entire restaurant from the very beginning. Try this delicious dessert, and bon appetit!
<plunges spoon into large quivering blob, it explodes, splattering the interior with flecks of slime and an impossibly vile stench.>
MC: Amazing, isn’t it? Hart’s Fart Pudding is one of our most expensive treats: we start with just the tiniest amount of prime poop, and then we whip and froth it up into this delicate airy confection with the voluminous gasses expelled from the digestive tract of a long-winded philosopher. Too light? Perhaps you would like to try some of our chewy D’Souza’s Dung Rolls…?
PZM: Uh, you know…do you have anything that doesn’t have shit in it?
MC: Well, there’s Miller’s Mud Balls, those don’t have much shit in them. Or Hedge’s Revenge. Spicy!
PZM: I think…I think maybe I’ll just pass on everything.
MC: What? That is an unethical position! How can you reject a meal without first tasting it? Every item on my menu is better than every other item on my menu, and I can keep churning out new shit recipes all the time. You have to shut up and keep shoveling!
PZM: Bye. I’ve learned enough.
MC: McGrath’s Mierda? Nürnberger Nuggets? Stone’s Scheiss Soup? Garrison’s Gut Goo? You can’t leave until you’ve tasted them all! Coward! You’ve only tasted the weakest of my fabulous foods!
Oh, no. It’s another Cothran, but the stupidity of the younger is indistinguishable from that of the elder.