Posts Tagged ‘religion’

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.

 

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This is a re-post from: https://matthew2262.wordpress.com/wp-admin/post-new.php

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To illustrate what theories other than Darwinian evolution do when they’re worn out and ready to die, our reader John in Kansas City, MO, had this comment on Casey’s article “For Intelligent-Design Advocates, Lessons from the Debate over Continental Drift“:

I graduated with a degree in Geology in 1962. My historical geology book that had a 1960 copyright explains that there are two things all scientists agree upon, one is evolutionary theory and the other is geosynclinal theory. The latter is the idea that mountains emerge from offshore troughs that accumulate tons of sediments and then snap like a rubber band to throw up giant mountain chains. I recall visiting the Rocky Mountains on a geology summer camp in Wyoming in 1962 and observing a part of the Lewis Overthrust, which seemed quite inconsistent with that theory.Ten years later the entire paradigm changed because of the overwhelming evidence supporting plate tectonics.

Why hasn’t the same kind of evidence thrown out random mutation and natural selection? The answer is that evolution deals with a religious issue — where do we come from and what is the nature of life, while the cause of physical systems like mountains does not. It makes no religious difference whether mountains come from shifting plates or geosynclines. It does make a religious difference if life comes from mind rather than matter.

Here is the quote from the book. I still have it on my shelf:

The geosynclinal theory is one of the great unifying principles of geology. In many ways its role in geology is similar to that of evolution that serves to integrate the many branches of biological sciences. The geosynclinal theory is of fundamental importance to sedimentation, petrology, geomorphology, ore deposits, structural geology, geophysics, and practically all the minor branches of geological science. Just as the doctrine of organic evolution is universally accepted among thinking biologists, so also the geosynclinal origin of the major mountain ranges is an established principle in geology.[Thomas Clark and Colin Stearn, The Geological Evolution of North America: A Regional Approach to Historical Geology, p.43 (Ronald Press, 1960)]

Theories come, theories go. Except when, having exceeded their natural lifespan, they cling to a false life that keeps them out of the grave and moving about but still desiccated, cadaverous and weary, a kind of undead version of a scientific idea. If it were a character in horror and fantasy literature, Darwinian evolutionary theory would be called a lich.

In Salem, Massachusetts some very heinous events took place in the years of 1692 and 1693. Namely, the execution of 20 people (and the death of 5 more not by execution) for being witches. To Christians this is a blot in our history. To Atheists and other critics of Christianity this is a historical event that is frequently brought up to showcase the plagues of religion on our civilization. But whether you’re Christian or not, much of what the lay person knows about the Salem witch trials are actually incorrect or at best heavily exaggerated.

What we refer to as the “Salem Witch Trials” was actually a series of trials and hearings in the counties of Essex, Suffolk and Middlesex, Massachusetts. Hundreds of people were convicted and imprisoned, of which nineteen were hanged, one oddly crushed with large stones, and five additional died in prison. There are many myths about the trials that are indeed false; the witches being burned alive, that hundreds/thousands were killed or that all the accused were women, all of which being folk lore and not based in fact.

When people look back at the Salem Witch trials they incorrectly think it was all about religion. That Christianity is responsible for the tragic event. But the only thing Christianity had to do with the trials is that the people (both accusers and victims) were Christian. That’s it. A historical study of the event reveals there to be serious social, psychological, and political contributions that lead to this event. Religion’s role in this event can only be considered a role if recognized as irresponsible or misused religion. To examine that, we have to ask what the Bible says about the issue.

Here is where we seem to find a great divide between the Old and New Testament. The Old Testament speaks of killing witches and sorcerers in Exodus 22:18and Leviticus 20:27. But then we see in the New Testament that when Paul was confronted with scorers and witches they burned their books and confessed their sins (Acts 19:19). In Acts 8:9 Simon the sorcerer is rebuked by Peter, but not executed. And yet both Paul and Peter were Jews that knew of the OT scripture. So why didn’t Peter or Paul kill the witches as the OT instructs.

The Laws given in Exodus and Leviticus were for the nation of Israel, a theocracy. During this time, the witches and sorcerers in the surrounding lands were not what we think of today when we think of witches. They were in fact very inhuman, often sacrificing infants among other immoral acts. So this law was obviously for the best interest of the nation of Israel. However, Israel would fall from power over time, and during the era of Jesus and the Apostles there was no entity that could carry out such laws. Such laws simply no longer applied. And with the life, death and resurrection of Jesus we were from that point on free from the old laws and instead reconciled through God’s grace (Romans 6:14).

The manner in which the trials themselves were carried out was also unbiblical. The trials were rife with mass hysteria, slander and gossip. There was no substantial evidence presented to convict the accused, and that which was presented was strictly circumstantial and hearsay. The victim of course could not be trusted since witches were liars anyways, right? All the trials and the people that took part in them were guilty of denying the Bible’s teachings in their actions. It is obvious that these “Christians” were certainly not following the teachings of Christ.

“Nothing in the New Testament would condone killing a witch or sorceress. But devout Christians who settled Massachusetts in the 1600s were bent on preserving a pure religion, and they were willing to exile- and, in a few cases, execute- people who would not confirm.”

-J. Stephen Lang, Religious Author

Yet this historical event remains the one of the bread and butter examples for critics who want to demonize Christianity overall. They often miss the point that there has, are and always will be self-proclaimed Christians that do very un-Christian things. But their actions do not render Christianity harmful IF Christianity does not command it, which we find the Bible does not in this case. Besides, for every one event in history in which Christians did wrong, I can find ten in which non-Christians did worse; for example the Chinese PRC, the Soviet mass murders , or the Mao Zedong regime. So it really doesn’t prove anything accept that all men and women are sinners and in need of God’s grace.

 

References:

http://www.gotquestions.org/Salem-Witch-Trials.html

J. Stephen Lang, “1001 Things You Always Wanted To Know About the Bible,” (Barnes & Noble, Inc. New York:NY 2010) Pg. 107