Sample clip of my debate with an
atheist on the issue of morality.
Find the whole debate at this link
The Massimo Pigliucci vs. PZ Myers Fracas (with a little Michael De Dora thrown in), part 1
Welcome to our world Massimo Pigliucci, welcome to our world.
It seems as if Massimo Pigliucci has just discovered that PZ Myers is a chronic besmircher and launches into illogical rants against anyone and everyone with whom he disagrees. Massimo Pigliucci seems to have noticed this because one of his colleagues, Michael De Dora, is the most recent of PZ Myers’ targets.
Well, welcome to the blunderful world of being in PZ Myers’ crosshairs.
PZ’s post reads like it was written by an intemperate teenager in the midst of a hormonal rage. Among other things, he calls De Dora “witless,” “wanker,” “wishy-washy,” and “sloppy-thinking”; he accuses Michael of engaging in “cowardly intellectual dishonesty” and of using a “quisling” approach…
If PZ thinks that this sort of language belongs within any thoughtful writing about rational discourse, he really needs to look up the dictionary definitions of rational, thoughtful and discourse. Then again, it is precisely this sort of theatrics that apparently makes him so popular, as nothing gets people’s attention on the internet so much as shouting as LOUDLY as possible, regardless of the vacuity of what one is actually saying.
And speaking of content, what was so witless, wanky, wishy-washy, and witless about De Dora’s post? Oh, he dared question (very politely, and based on argument) one of the dogmas of the new atheism: that religious people (that’s about 90% of humanity, folks) ought (and I use the term in the moral sense) to be frontally assaulted and ridiculed at all costs, because after all, this is a war, and the goal is to vanquish the enemy, reason and principles be damned…
In yet another example of his sledge-hammer approach to discourse, PZ states that De Dora’s contributions in several recent writings have been “notable only for their fuzziness and willingness to accommodate any nonsense from religious BS artists.” If by fuzziness one means subtle reasoning, well PZ can certainly not be accused of that. But nothing I have seen written by Michael in any way “accommodates” religious nonsense, on the contrary, he is very clear in his rejection of religion in general and creationism in particular. It is the principle of Church-State separation that is at issue, as well as the ethics of insulting people’s beliefs for the sake of scoring cheap rhetorical points with one’s own converts…
“Somebody says the universe appeared magically a few thousand years ago, I guess that has to be a valid answer on the test question, ‘How old is the universe?’. To actually state that it is about 14 billion years old, and make such an answer a necessary part of the student's grade...why, that is philosophy or theology, and not to be discussed in science class.”
Wow, I counted at least four gross mistakes in just this one paragraph, a pretty high rate for a self-appointed defender of evidence-based rationality: 1) in the course of this discussion De Dora never said or implied that young-earth creationism is a valid answer to a test question; 2) he has also never argued that a student who gave that answer instead of the scientifically grounded one should somehow get a pass; 3) Michael has never said that this is a philosophical or theological issue (PZ is referring to a different statement by De Dora, about the epistemological boundaries of science, see comment above, but that statement cannot reasonably be construed in the way PZ unreasonably construes it); and 4) of course these issues should be discussed in a science class (here I do disagree with Michael), but no discussion is helped in the least by referring to what half of your students deeply believe as “myth.”…
But this to me represents the latest example of an escalation (downwards in quality) in the tone and substance of the discourse on atheism, and I blame this broadly on the rhetoric of the new atheism (the only “new” aspect of which is precisely the in-your-face approach to “reason”). With few exceptions (mostly, Dennett), what we have seen in recent years is much foaming at the mouth, accompanied by a cavalier attitude toward the substance, rationality and coherence of one’s arguments. And now we have seen a new low consisting of childish insults to a fellow atheist and writer who is clearly fighting the same battle as the rest of us.
A few points of interest:
nothing gets people’s attention on the internet so much as shouting as LOUDLY as possible, regardless of the vacuity of what one is actually saying…the ethics of insulting people’s beliefs for the sake of scoring cheap rhetorical points with one’s own converts…
Indeed, PZ Myers’ blog is on scienceblogs but it is, in reality, an anti-Christian support group (see Pseudoscienceblogs.com). This is that which has fueled PZ Myers’ rise to cyber-stardom (see PZ Myers and Pavlov's Monkeys).
This reminds me of a scene in the movie “Anchorman - The Legend Of Ron Burgundy” in which Brick Tamland (played by Steve Carell), the slower witted of the bunch, attempts to join the others in complaining to the boss:
Champ: "It is anchorman, not anchorlady! And that is a scientific fact!"
Brick: "I don't know what we're yelling about!"…
Brick: "Loud noises!"
the principle of Church-State separation
For some odd reason some people insist on going on and on about the principle of Church-State separation which have nothing to do with the USA’s Constitution. The Constitutions contains the Establishment Clause that prohibits the government from establishing an official religion. The concept of Church-State separation derives from letter written by Thomas Jefferson.
This is the same President of the USA Jefferson who, deist or not, attended Christian church services at the Capitol Building—something for which he would now be sued or impeached. Apparently, modern atheist activists think that they understand Jefferson better than Jefferson understood Jefferson.
now we have seen a new low consisting of childish insults to a fellow atheist and writer who is clearly fighting the same battle as the rest of us
Indeed, this is the ethic of the take no prisoners-friend or foe atheist for whom atheism has gone beyond positively affirming God’s non-existence without evidence (as PZ Myers is fond of doing) whilst refusing to debate the issue (as PZ Myers is fond of doing) and becomes a worldview that is dogmatheistic (as PZ Myers is fond of affirming) and demands absolute adherence—thus saith PZ.
Michael Shermer, no mind mannered atheist himself, has also begged, and been ignored, by the New Atheists when he attempted to reason with them.
In the next segment we will further consider the point about PZ Myers being likened to “an intemperate teenager in the midst of a hormonal rage” and the “theatrics that apparently makes him so popular.”
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