Posts Tagged ‘atheist’

The following is a report from: http://www.realclearscience.com/articles/2013/04/24/the_very_strange_world_of_pz_myers_106516.html

PZ Myers is one of the world’s most famous science bloggers. Teaching at the University of Minnesota-Morris, he is a developmental biologist with a special fondness for cephalopods (e.g., squid). On his blog, Pharyngula, Dr. Myers pontificates on everything from politics and religion to, occasionally, his area of expertise.

For the uninitiated, Dr. Myers is an atheist. Atheism or agnosticism is quite common among scientists, especially biologists. But, the tagline on Dr. Myers’ blog (“Evolution, development, and random biological ejaculations from a godless liberal”) suggests he’s not the typical, run-of-the-mill atheist. Indeed, he uses his widely read platform to bash – in the most vulgar terms – any and all religion, particularly Christianity.

 
 

For instance, Dr. Myers compared religion to a tapeworm that is expelled from the body and flushed down the toilet. For good measure, he named the tapeworm “Jesus.” (See the 3:18 mark in the previous video link.) He also pierced a Catholic communion wafer with a nail and threw it in the garbage. And to prove he doesn’t discriminate, he also tossed in a few pages from the Quran.

It is not my purpose to argue with his opinion on religion. Dr. Myers is entitled to whatever beliefs he likes. But, as the cliché goes, he is not entitled to his own facts, and for a scientist, he gets an awful lot of them wrong.

Is religion as horrible as Dr. Myers claims? No, and only anti-religious bigots would claim otherwise. Research has shown that religious belief can have positive effects on mental and physical health, and evolutionary psychologists believe religion aided the survival of early human tribes. Thus, regardless of whether or not religion is actually true, it nonetheless provides personal and societal benefits.

But PZ Myers doesn’t stop there. He once boldly stated, “Scientists, if you’re not an atheist, you’re not doing science right.” But that is empirically untrue. A Pew poll found that 51 percent of the members of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) believed in a higher power. And, RealClearScience’s Ross Pomeroy took the argument one step further: He claims strict atheism is itself unscientific.

Strangely, Dr. Myers’ animosity toward religion also taints his understanding of historical fact. Apparently, he believes that Jesus of Nazareth never even existed, referring to him as a “legend, like King Arthur or Robin Hood or Paul Bunyan.”

Honestly, that sort of belief is on par with 9/11 trutherism. In an interview with theWashington Post, Bart Ehrman, an agnostic New Testament scholar, rebuked such claims as “sensationalist,” “amateurish” and “driven by an ideological agenda.” Those are harsh words coming from a person who doesn’t even believe the central tenets of Christianity.

Yet, Dr. Myers maintains his aggressive posture: “It’s simply bad history to invent rationalizations for an undocumented mystery figure from the distant past.” [Emphasis his.]

Actually, it’s bad history to disagree with the vast majority of historians. Open any comprehensive world history textbook, and you will definitely find Jesus in it.

Perhaps most dangerously, Dr. Myers is also a staunch opponent of circumcision, referring to it as “ritualized child abuse.” But that’s preposterous. Although the exact mechanism is unknown, circumcision reduces transmission of HIV and other sexually transmitted infections, and the American Academy of Pediatrics states that the procedure’s benefits outweigh the risks. Because the medical data doesn’t support his opinion, Dr. Myers’ opposition may be rooted in purely emotional or anti-religious grounds.

Dr. Myers has been given a tremendous gift: The ability and opportunity to communicate science to millions of people all over the world. Yet, instead of using his influence to promote science, he mostly uses it to attack those with whom he disagrees. Instead of showing that science is for everybody, he asserts that science is actually only for left-wing atheists. Instead of showing that science and religion can get along just fine – which is the majority view among scientists, anyway – he perpetuates the myth that there is a war between science and religion.

Even worse, instead of getting laypeople interested in science, he chases them off.

From this scientist-turned-journalist’s point of view, that is the absolute greatest offense of all.

 

Dr. Alex B. Berezow is the editor of RealClearScience. He holds a PhD in microbiology and is co-author ofScience Left Behind. Follow him on Twitter @AlexBerezow.

 

While watching a public debate between some theists and atheists, one of the atheists turned to the crowd and said, “Raise your hand if you’re an atheist.” After some hands went up he responded with, “Well, all your hands should be up because we’re all atheists. We don’t believe in any of the Greek mythology gods and demigods right? So we’re all atheists.” Wow, this whole time I was an atheist and I didn’t even know it!

Well, not exactly. The argument he makes is hardly airtight, considering it is guilty of two logical fallacies. The first fallacy is that of equivocation. The fallacy of equivocation is when the arguer uses a term in two or more different senses, which logically must be the same every time for an argument to work. The word in question is atheist. Atheism is defined as a rejection, denial or disbelief in deities, that there are no supreme beings. When the atheist first asks the crowd to raise their hands if they’re an atheist, the crowd responds based off the true definition of atheism. We have to assume this is expected by the atheist to prove his point. He then redefines atheism to mean rejection of any deities. Changing the definition from an absolute rejection of all, to a partial rejection of any, to prove we’re all atheists. His argument uses atheism in two different senses, hence the fallacy of equivocation. Ultimately, his later definition of atheism is incorrect. As said before, atheism is a denial of all supernatural beings. You can’t believe in one god, rejecting any other gods, and be considered an atheist. To believe in one deity at all renders you a deist, or non-atheist. The argument the atheist is making is really one between polytheism and monotheism, not deism and atheism.

The second fallacy raised here is one that always follows atheist’s attempts to compare Greek mythology to Christianity. That fallacy is weak analogy or false analogy; comparing two things that are not comparable. A typical argument made is that the Greek gods are obviously myth, so why do we believe in Christianity? How is Christianity any different? The fallacy is that the only thing Christianity and Greek mythology have in common is the supernatural, whereas every other detail is completely different. In other words, one cannot compare a polytheistic religion in which events and characters can’t be confirmed as historical that no longer has a following, to a monotheistic religion in which events and characters can be historically confirmed and has the largest following in the world. And that of course is a very broad description of both. The more one goes into detail regarding the two religions the more separate they become. At the end of the day, it is perfectly rational to analyze the two and determine that one is rational and the other not, and therefore, believe in one and not the other. Such, does not make one an atheist.

Reposted from: http://www.evolutionnews.org/2012/08/noted_atheist_p063451.html

 

 

“In September, Oxford University Press officially releases the hardcover version of a new book by renowned philosopher Thomas Nagel at New York University. It’s a bombshell.

Already available on Kindle, Nagel’s book carries the provocative title Mind and Cosmos: Why the Materialist Neo-Darwinian Conception of Nature Is Almost Certainly False. You read that right: The book’s subtitle declares that “the Materialist Neo-Darwinian Conception of Nature Is Almost Certainly False.” Nagel is an atheist who is not convinced by the positive case for intelligent design. But he clearly finds the evidence for modern Darwinian theory wanting. Moreover, he is keenly appreciative of the “iconoclasts” of the intelligent design movement for raising a significant challenge to the current scientific orthodoxy. In chapter 1, Nagel cites with favor the work of three Discovery Institute Fellows in particular:

In thinking about these questions I have been stimulated by criticisms of the prevailing scientific world picture… by the defenders of intelligent design. Even though writers like Michael Behe and Stephen Meyer are motivated at least in part by their religious beliefs, the empirical arguments they offer against the likelihood that the origin of life and its evolutionary history can be fully explained by physics and chemistry are of great interest in themselves. Another skeptic, David Berlinski, has brought out these problems vividly without reference to the design inference. Even if one is not drawn to the alternative of an explanation by the actions of a designer, the problems that these iconoclasts pose for the orthodox scientific consensus should be taken seriously. They do not deserve the scorn with which they are commonly met. It is manifestly unfair.

Refreshingly, Nagel is not taken in by one-sided efforts to evade the arguments of intelligent design proponents by stigmatizing their presumed “religious beliefs.” As Nagel points out, “the empirical arguments” offered by ID proponents “are of great interest in themselves.” It’s the evidence that matters, and it’s the evidence that demands a response.
Nagel goes on to say something that likely will really rile some defenders of Darwinian orthodoxy:

I believe the defenders of intelligent design deserve our gratitude for challenging a scientific world view that owes some of the passion displayed by its adherents precisely to the fact that it is thought to liberate us from religion. That world view is ripe for displacement….

Wow. Anyone who still believes that the weight of the evidence supports the Darwinian view, and that no rational person can doubt the Darwinian consensus, needs to read Nagel’s book.

Nagel is a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and recipient of the prestigious Balzan Prize for his work in moral philosophy. He has received fellowships from the National Science Foundation and the National Endowment for the Humanities, among other institutions. He is one of America’s top philosophers. Obviously, he also is a man of great courage and independence of thought.

Get ready for the book burning parties by defenders of Darwinian orthodoxy. I wouldn’t even be surprised if there is an effort to convince Oxford University Press to disown Nagel’s book. So you might want to get the book while you can.”