Why P.Z. Meyer is Afraid

"Atheist Gothic"

Over at The Algemeiner, Rabbi Moshe Averick posted about the times he’s felt the wrath of P.Z. Meyer (which isn’t much of a wrath so much as it is a kid throwing a temper-tantrum in the middle of Toys R Us). The bigger issue that Rabbi Averick brings up is that atheists should really be embarrassed by the antics of P.Z. Meyer. After all, he openly calls people stupid, cusses out those who disagree with him, attacks the person rather than the argument (calling an argument “dumb” or “stupid” doesn’t really deal with the argument). One would think that atheists, who supposedly pride themselves on having a superior intellectual prowess compared to theists, would snub their noses at Meyer’s anti-intellectual approach to everything (including ID, where the argument Averick writes about, comparing ID to driftwood, is a weak argument).

Pictured: PZ Meyer Brute Squad

Yet, if you look to the comment section you’ll see that atheists not only aren’t ashamed of P.Z. Meyer, they’re in love with him and his tactics. Perhaps this is because Meyer released his brute squad on the website, but this begs the question of how his brute squad could be so big if atheists truly valued reason.

In fact, many of the comments go on to insult either the intellectual ability of Averick or just insult him as a person. But such tactics are becoming more and more common among atheists, to the point that one fears that if they were in the government they would be totalitarian oppressors, eradicating and removing the freedoms of anyone who is religious. After all, it’s not like fanatical secularism has cost the world millions of lives or anything. Of course, the greatest oppressor of the 20th century has been fanatics for secularism, which is what Meyer is, but we just haven’t learned our lesson.

At the core, however, what causes this blatant disregard for civility, understanding, and intellectual conversation? Certainly conversations can get heated or we can point to the ignorance of someone when speaking about an issue, but to start name-calling or using brute tactics in order to silent an opponent? Is that really intellectual? Other, more academic atheists, don’t seem to suffer from the same social disorder as Meyer does.

It’s not like disagreement should automatically cause people to be uncivil. For those who have kept up with my website, it’s no secret that I’m a conservative, orthodox Christian. Rabbi Averick and I would probably disagree on a few issues, namely the deity of Christ. Though I do not know Averick, I’d venture a guess and say that he and I could probably have a good discussion on the Deity of Christ (or lack of deity) without calling each other names or mocking the other’s belief. I could do this with a lot of Jews. I do have a few atheist friends where I could sit and talk to them about the existence of God without it ever turning into a series of ad hominem attacks. So it’s not as though disagreement itself requires us to insult those who disagree with us.

While I could point to certain philosophical underpinnings, I don’t think it would ultimately be helpful, for there are others who have the same underpinnings, but still act in a civil and respectable manner. So what is it that causes Meyer, Dawkins, Hitchens, Harris, and their followers to be just downright nasty towards those who disagree with them? It’s not just one thing, but a multiplicity of things; they have no reason to be civil, they don’t really know what they’re talking about (on a philosophical level), they live in a world that lacks proper mystery, but most of all, they’re afraid.

Now not all outbursts are due to fear. Sometimes they come from being frustrated (this is often the case for me) because the other side just isn’t getting it. Other times it may just be because it’s been a bad day. But when your entire career and style is based upon insulting others, it’s generally out of fear. So what do Meyer and the new atheists fear? Quite simply, they fear the rise of Christianity in academia.

Prior to the 1960s it wasn’t thought that one could be a committed theist, much less a Christian, and hold a spot in a philosophy department. While such people did exist, they generally held their beliefs as a matter of private views, something that couldn’t be proven or shown to be reasonable. But we now live in a post-Plantinga world; it is through the works of Alvin Plantinga, Richard Swinburne, and other early theists that in the modern age theism – in philosophy departments – is once again viewed as a reasonable position. Even Christianity, via our Roman Catholic brothers and their Thomistic traditions, is starting to make a comeback among the academic elite.

And this has the new atheists scared. They don’t understand how someone could believe in a “magic sky fairy” or a “flying spaghetti monster” and then declare such a belief reasonable. It’s because they don’t really understand theism, nor do they understand the arguments behind theism. And as is common among humans, when you encounter something you don’t understand, but are also afraid of it, you lash out at it. Look at how many evangelicals deal with Roman Catholicism (or alternatively how many cradle Catholics deal with evangelicals). Look at how many people deal with Muslims, thinking every single one is a terrorist, but also look at how Muslims from foreign lands deal with those different from them. When we don’t understand something, yet are afraid of it, we lash out against it.

The new atheists are no different. Sadly, though they pass themselves off as intellectuals, they really aren’t. They don’t understand the arguments behind Christianity or Theism even if they feign that they do. Rabbi Alverick is merely a proponent of a theistic system (Judaism) that ultimately isn’t understood by the new atheists, but in their minds theism has caused the Crusades, the witch hunts, Hitler’s Germany (yeah, they actually make that argument…tie that one to RABBI Alverick), and a whole host of other ills. In his BBC “documentary” Root of All Evil?, Richard Dawkins implies that religion and theism, specifically Christianity, is the root of all evil in the world. So when Meyer goes after Alverick, it’s no surprise that he attacks Alverick as a person and calls him stupid and cusses at him rather than dealing with the actual intellectual arguments that Alverick offers.

Keep in mind that these new atheists, most of whom lack training in philosophy (even Harris’ undergraduate degree in philosophy is laughable when comparing it to the multiple degrees from those he attacks), are calling “stupid” men and women who are some of the most respected names in the field of philosophy. Meyer has even gone after Francis Collins, who is one of the foremost experts on genetics and one of the most respected scientists of our time. Why? Because Collins believes in God, which is something that Meyer just cannot understand and doesn’t seek to understand. It’s far more comfortable to sit in a room full of one’s own ideas, lashing out at any different ideas, than to encounter and be challenged by opposing ideas. And that’s fine, no one is saying that Meyer and the new atheists have to leave their comfort zone, but stop passing it off as intellectual. They should at least be honest and admit that they’re an emotional overreaction to the inevitable; the belief in God will continue to exist and will never die out, because as a species we simply know better.

105 thoughts on “Why P.Z. Meyer is Afraid

  1. LOL!!!!!!!

    You know so little about what you’re talking about that you can’t even spell the guy’s name correctly!

  2. 1. His last name is Myers, not Meyers.

    2. You never bothered to link to his blog post. Someone who wants to get an advanced degree in Christian Ethics should know and value the importance of being fair and turning the other cheeck.

    3. Speaking of fairness, you condemn Myers for personal attacks, when this entire post is an extended personal attack. Would you care to address the issues he raised about Rabbi Averick’s ideas, which were the meat of what Myers wrote?

  3. Christians do not seem to be ashamed of their rude, name calling, threatening and irrational defenders? Especially the dumb ones. So what is your point?

  4. Joel you need to get a grip.

    Start with spelling PZ’s last name correctly.

    We understand the arguments behind Christianity and other forms of Theism, we just find them ridiculous, unsupportable and irrational.

  5. They don’t understand the arguments behind Christianity or Theism even if they feign that they do.

    Actually, Joel, a lot of atheists understand Christianity pretty well, having been raised as Christians and then having disenthralled themselves. You’re saying that most atheists just don’t understand Christians arguments. However, lots of atheists understand the arguments — they just reject them. In brief, we’ve heard it all before. Repeating it to us isn’t going to make us “see the light.” It’s amazing how many Christian apologists just can’t grasp that.

  6. Prepare to be schooled, Joel, by the educated and engaged “Brute Squad”. You’re out of your league with this topic, and you’ve created quite an ironic (and comical) ad-hominem attack of your own. Where are your actual arguments? What, exactly, do you dispute about Myers’ statements besides his perceived tone (which is often highly warranted, considering the nature of his critics)? Really, you haven’t said anything at all.

  7. Not going to address most of your points, although i do disagree with them, only the one about Richard Dawkins and the Root of All Evil. Richard Dawkins, in the foreword to the God Delusion states how the title for the documentary was not his idea and that he fought against it as he infact does NOT believe that religion is the Root of all Evil. A minor point to be sure but the fact that the man you are speaking about states exactly the opposite of what you claim is his position is clearly an error on your part and I hope you will update your article to correct this.
    Also, it is spelt PZ Myers, not PZ Meyer.

  8. You must not have read the post by Myers. He deals with the argument of the Rabbi, specifically giving the reasons that he thinks the complexity is evidence of design claim is bunk. You should also rethink calling someone a petulant child in a post about how bloggers should deal with the arguments and not attack each other personally.

  9. Quite apart from everything else wrong with this wretched screed, not even being able to spell properly the name of the person you’re attacking is not generally considered a hallmark of the careful and thoughtful writer. It’s P.Z. Myers (it’s in the first link you gave), not Meyer.

    If you’re genuinely interested in the reasons why people lose their temper and resort to insult, I suggest that you start looking a bit closer to home.

  10. I have read PZ Myers’ post in which he supposedly ignores Alverick’s argument and only does an ad hominem. Are we reading the same post? Myers spends the entire post explaining why Alverick was mistaken and he challenges his argument. True, Myers will throw crude words out on his blog, but to say that he is afraid of taking on arguments and only attacks the person is not true.

    Here is the post you seem to be referring to: http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2011/05/i_am_lectured_in_logic_by_a_ma.php
    True, some insults, but a heck of a lot of it is spent addressing the actual argument.

  11. “they fear the rise of Christianity in academia” – Damn straight, buddy! I sure do fear the return of the Dark Ages.
    I agree though that PZ Myers (one “e”) does get a little personal in his attacks sometimes, but if someone is trying to make an intellectual argument for believing in God then I think it’s justified. If someone isn’t trying to make that type of intellectual argument and just mouthing what they’ve heard, then I treat that person as someone who just doesn’t understand. I’ll leave the intellectuals for PZ and others to eat.
    These are my personal opinions only, and do not necessarily express the views of the almighty Pharyngulator.

  12. So what do Meyer (sic) and the new atheists fear? Quite simply, they fear the rise of Christianity in academia – well no – fear is not the right word to describe the mixture of derision and revulsion at the thought that baseless superstition and meaningless mumbo-jumbo has a place in academia or anywhere else where reason is supposed to hold sway.

  13. Brutal man. You could at least link back to Mr Myers’ site so that people can see what you are talking about.

    “And this has the new atheists scared. They don’t understand how someone could believe in a “magic sky fairy” or a “flying spaghetti monster” and then declare such a belief reasonable.”

    No, we understand just fine, it is delusion and special pleading because that person *wants* it to be true first and foremost. And yes, it is scary because it blocks rational scientific thought and leads to insane conclusions from otherwise smart and normal people.

    Thank you for continuing to evangelize atheism though by putting on display how nudely nude the emperor is.

  14. You’d best keep saving your money for that graduate degree in ethics. You’ve got a lot of learning to do.

  15. “Meyer has even gone after Francis Collins, who is one of the foremost experts on genetics and one of the most respected scientists of our time. Why? Because Collins believes in God,” – Joel

    This is simply a lie. Myers has attacked Collins for using his official position in science to proselytise, not for believing in God.

  16. Joel, if you could, would be so kind as to please explain these more sophisticated arguments for theism/Christianity for this poor, misguided atheist.

    After reading your ad hom attack of PZ, it’s clear that I am not well versed in these mysterious arguments. So, oh please, if you could make a quick run down for me I would gladly go over them with a fine toothed comb. Of course, I’ll probably refute fairly quickly, but it would be nice to have these mythical arguments laid out once and for all.

    Oh, and what’s this nonsense about no Christians in Philosophy? Foolish thing like that, as well misspelling a person’s name numerous times, and your unwillingness to link to the article you are critiquing followed by the irony of your article as a whole,simply makes you look like a laughing stock.

  17. This can’t be true, starting from the mispelled name. Nobody could be that stupid. The author must be an atheist mocking a christian!

  18. There are no intellectually respectable arguments for theism, let alone for the ludicrous drivel of doctrinally orthodox Christianity – all Plantinga and his ilk have done is take long-refuted arguments such as Aquinas’ cosmological argument and Anselm’s ontological argument, and substitute longer versions in the hope of hiding the question-begging. Dawkins explicitly said that religion is not the root of all evil – and it most certainly was behind the Crusades (where on earth do you think the name came from?) and witch-hunts. Hitler drew many of his ideas and methods either from Austro-German Catholic nationalism (see Derek Hastings’ “Catholicism and the Roots of Nazism”) or from Luther (author of “On the Jews and their Lies”, in which he advocated many of the Nazis’ measures against Jews). Hitler himself always remained officially a Catholic, and the vast majority of those who followed his orders and carried out the Shoah were Christians.

    Oh, and by the way, Christianity is haemorraging adherents at the rate of about 1.5 million per year in the USA. It’s not atheists who are, or have reason to be, scared.

  19. I’m wondering why nobody else mentioned this so I’m going to: Fanatical secularism killed 100 million people? Seriously?

    Secularism is the belief that government or other entities should exist separately from religion and/or religious beliefs.

    Atheism is the rejection of the various God claims by theists due to lack of evidence.

    How any of those, even taken to extremes, can be misconstrued to warrant genocide is completely beyond me. (Hint: it’s not possible.)

    The people that did kill millions used structures and brain washing similar to religion to spread ideologies. That was then used to facilitate genocide.

    This is all really obvious, yet still public “intellectuals” continue to make this argument. And you. Bad blogger. No cookie for you.

  20. “They don’t understand how someone could believe in a “magic sky fairy” or a “flying spaghetti monster” and then declare such a belief reasonable. It’s because they don’t really understand theism, nor do they understand the arguments behind theism.” If you need to believe in something ridiculous to understand theism, then theism has nothing useful to offer. That is why you’ve lost the argument.

  21. “The new atheists are no different. Sadly, though they pass themselves off as intellectuals, they really aren’t. They don’t understand the arguments behind Christianity or Theism even if they feign that they do.”

    Joel could you please share a couple of the best arguments behind Christianity? I’m genuinely interested in what arguments you find so compelling.

  22. Yet, if you look to the comment section you’ll see that atheists not only aren’t ashamed of P.Z. Meyer, they’re in love with him and his tactics.

    It may have something to do with the fact that we’ve actually bothered to read what he’s writing.
    You should try that.

  23. His name is spelled Myer, not Meyer.

    JOEL, instead of complaining about brilliant biologists and misspelling their names, how about some evidence for your childish idiotic religious fantasy called magical intelligent design creationism. Perhaps you could describe the magic wand your designer god uses. Also, what magic words does your fairy use when it makes creatures out of nothing?

    darwinkilledgod dot blogspot dot com

  24. ROFL!

    That is all and, as a critique, it is miles above what you’ve produced here, Joel. Why, I even spelled your name correctly!

  25. “It’s because they don’t really understand theism, nor do they understand the arguments behind theism.”

    You’re forgetting that a large percentage of atheists (AKA normal people) used to be god-soaked like you Joel. They understand the Christian fantasies perfectly.

    Please consider the advantages of not being an idiot. Try growing up. You probably threw out the Easter Bunny by now. Your magic god fairy is an equally childish idea.

  26. Christian Ethics? You’ve gone out of your way to prove that it is an oxymoron!
    Not all ideas merit respect. One cannot expect a NASA scientist to be challenged by a “the earth is flat” idea. One’ll be sent to the kids table after some spanking when the adults are discussing serious science.

  27. wow, for someone against personal attacks, that is nothing more than a long personal attack. Sorry you do not like PZ Myers but he is doing nothing more than help defend the world from religious nutters. Sorry you don’t like the term stupid, but how else can you descibe such daft arguments as the driftwood. Although daft I still find it not as insane as “a magic pixie in the sky did it.”

  28. “After all, he openly calls people stupid,”

    Did you read the post? When Myers says “they’re screamingly stupid”, he’s clearly referring to the questions to be given to him as “stumpers”, not the people.

    I’d note also that Myers always links to those he’s criticizing. You are not copying his modus operandi at all.

  29. “. . .they generally held their beliefs as a matter of private views. . .”

    Ah, what a lovely thought.


  30. Ah yes, “Deep Theology”. You must mean, “stuff we make up to cover the lack of evidence to support the claims of ancient tribesmen”

  31. Correction: PZ’s name is Myers (I wrote Myer).

    “most of whom lack training in philosophy”


    “most of whom lack training in bullshit”

  32. “he openly calls people stupid”

    That may or may not be true about PZ Myers. It’s definitely true about me. If I notice a person is extremely stupid I often call him a retard, especially if they’re trying to sell their childish magical intelligent design creationism.

    With religious stupidity and religious violence completely out of control, the time for being nice to religious idiots is over with. They deserve nothing but ridicule and contempt.

    By the way Joel, with all due respect, you’re a retard.

  33. Hey Joel – we’re at 33 responses at the moment, and every single one of them has called you out for:

    – somewhat dubious ethics (indulging in a ad-hominem attack while complaining that this is what P.Z. does to Rabbi Averick).

    – claiming sophisticated arguments for theism without describing a single one.

    – providing no link back to the original article.

    – being a tone-troll.

    Perhaps this site does get some credit for allowing comments from those who disagree with the author, but are you going to post a comment, or even another article, recanting this obviously flawed reasoning, or are you going to let this massive slap-down you’ve received here go unanswered?

    Just curious.

  34. Oh you commentators are soooo mean! Just because Joel missed a couple little points! The quality of his arguments here is just as good as any argument for theism, even if not expressed with all all the obfuscatory elegance of a Swinburne or Plantinga.

  35. So exactly how do you qualify as a person who can critique biology? You seem to just another Christian who is deluded.

    Somebody like Kirk Cameron who thinks he’s an expert on black holes but doesn’t understand that bananas were bred by humans rather than “designed” by god.


  36. hello

    Seems you are receiving attention from the Pharyngulites hordes.

    It is not a bad as it seems, a few of them may be sound angry, but really most of them just are having some fun.

    You may read the answer from P.Z. Myers to your post and check the issues.

    The point raised is not really philosophy, but theology.

    so the question is:

    Why we must take theology seriously?


    A) theology is based on the judeochristian concept of god. (I have never seen a theologian discuss the Buddhist of Hinduism polytheism).

    b) there is no proof of the existence of gods (plural… there are hundreds of concepts of gods) existence.

    Now, here is an important difference.

    Myers is a scientist. And science is based on observable reality.

    By proof, any scientist would ask for hard and verifiable data.

    To do that you need first a definition of gods that could yield verifiable predictions.

    The apparent incivility of the new atheist is just they have realized they need to shout in order to get attention.

    This is an example.

  37. Read Peter 2:1-22, Timothy 3:1-10 or Romans 1:16-32 to see examples of real hate for people who think differently. Yours is a religion of division that cannot stand atheists and apostates. Contrast that with secularism, which is the philosophy of inclusion, even of people who think very silly things.

  38. “God will continue to exist and will never die out, because as a species we simply know better.”

    Please don’t include me in that outrageous fantasy.

  39. Wow. You won’t even put your full name on this submission. I think that says it all.

    And you teach high school kids? For SHAME.

  40. Your religion conditions you perfectly to subvert the truth when it suits you. Your article is a textbook illustration of the cognitive dissonance humanity could do without.

  41. I’m afraid you missed the point of PZ’s article about Collins: If you start off with god doing supernatural things, then you can’t call the result natural or scientific. If it is supernatural, it just plain isn’t *natural*.

    Plantinga didn’t prove that an religion is reasonable, he showed that it was not absolutely impossible for an all powerful, all knowing, all-good being to allow babies to be tortured to death#, as long as you moderate your expectations of what the words good, powerful or knowing mean.

    # e.g., google “Baby P”

  42. “if atheists truly valued reason”

    That Rabbi has the opinion that a naturalistic origin of life from non-life is “impossible” and he implies that “therefore god did it”.

    Well, a large numbers of scientists who are working on that problem do not think that a naturalistic origin of life is “impossible” and they do not think that “god did it” should be considered scientific.

    And it’s not like scientists have not heard this same non-argument 1000 times in the last 20 years.

    Thus the rabbi is considered anti-science and anti-reason. So why not laugh at his silly opinion?

    “removing the freedoms of anyone who is religious”

    What a stupid thing to say!

    “talk to them about the existence of God”

    That rabbi did not talk about the “existence of God”. He said that life from non-life 4 billion years ago was impossible. That is anti-science ignorance due to his religious motivation.

    “respected names in the field of philosophy”

    They really ought to stop displaying their ignorance of science.

  43. Someone who bases their life on a book that any thinking individual recognises as fiction after reading the first ten words (“In the beginning god created the heaven and the earth”) is worthy of derision. Only the indoctrinated would even deign to believe that the first entity created in the universe is the earth. One would have to be seriously deluded to believe that creating the earth took five times longer than creating the rest of the universe. Your christianity is based on ignorance and campfire stories and only goes to prove that imagination can create more than Superman comics.

    Your christianity has nothing to offer to anyone not into wishful thinking, and wishful thinking is not the same as rational thinking.

    The Romans, Greeks, Egyptions, Aztec, Maya, Norse, Polynesians etc. ad nauseum had believers in their gods that would make many christians look like unbelievers. Their beliefs were wrong then, your beliefs are wrong now.
    Learn from history, not from spokespersons for superstition. We are entering an era where it is no longer necessary to fake belief in the ridiculous. We need not fear being burned at the stake or being drawn and quartered. What has happened to christianity in Europe is only the beginning. Get used to it.

  44. Sorry but theology (aka, bullshit excuses and rationalizations based purely on superstition) have nothing to do with the real world, what about providing solid persuasive evidence that god exists and it is your god, not pure special pleading, arm-chair psychoanalisis and ad-hominems.

    And no, we are not scared, what we have is repulsion and concern about what this fascist,bronze age myth does on society.

  45. You’re going for a degree in Philosophy of Christian Ethics?

    Odd, I didn’t know they handed out degrees for oxymorons…

  46. Honestly, I’ve yet Dawkins, Harris, & Hitchens be rude to anyone who didn’t deserve it. Even PZ is very civil except when people insist on being incredibly stupid or are outright rude.

    Dealing with creationist can be very frustrating.

    As for secularism. It’s the best option for any government. It’s not just freedom from religion, but freedom of religion. If secular, no believe system greater than any other.

    Also the link about the nonsense that atheism not religion is responsible for the atrocities of history is pure bollocks. Atheism has no dogmas, it doesn’t even mean people don’t believe in afterlives. It just means they don’t’ have imaginary friends which they would label gods.

    Hitler, Stalin, and most other leaders had fanatics (cults of personality) of their own. Hitler especially utilized catholocism and the antisemitism that was already firmly in place from that branch of nonsense to promote his agenda.

    Atheism does not nullify the value of life. It is not based off a book that contains murder, sexism, slavery, genocide, or any such orders from a patriarchy that demands blood and obedience. It just means we don’t have fictionally powerful overlords.

    Dinesh D’Souza is one of those people who deserve any possible insults.

  47. Although PZ may be a bit rough, he does address the arguments. I cannot help but think you either didn’t read his post, or are utterly clueless as to what he was saying.

    In addition, if you think arguments like “atheists don’t understand theism” is a viable argument you’re even more naive than most. A significant number of atheists are former Christians, myself included. I have also studied theology as well as science.

    You also like to belittle people you disagree with (i.e. Dawkins and Harris) and seem to be overly defensive of Christianity’s place in philosophy.

    If this is all you can manage for arguments in this debate, you truly are a lightweight and need to get back to your own studies.


  48. Firstly I agree with everything said above. Secondly you state “in the modern age theism – in philosophy departments – is once again viewed as a reasonable position. Even Christianity, via our Roman Catholic brothers and their Thomistic traditions, is starting to make a comeback among the academic elite.” I do not believe this to be the case. Please cite your sources or retract.

    Lastly you seem offended by name calling, why? When a child I was often called ‘four eyes’ because I wore glasses. This upset me until I realized there are only two categories of things people can say about me 1)The truth or 2)Lies . So if someone tells the truth about me (I did wear glasses after all) then why would I be upset. If on the other hand they we lying about me then that is equally irrelevant and meaningless to me. When we point out that a persons arguments are idiotic or completely unfounded or that their grasp of basic literacy is limited (such as is the case in your article above) we are telling the ‘truth’ as we perceive it. If we are lying or confused please address the issues raised. If you are not wearing glasses I will retract my ‘four eyes’ comment but you seem to have little or no interest in determining the truth. If you can prove us wrong go for it. If not then please shut up.

  49. Dave X: I’d like to suggest not using the word “supernatural” at all unless you can define it. In particular, are things supernatural by themselves, or is it only a description of our state of knowledge? For example, is radio communication supernatural? Was it ever supernatural?

    How about night-vision goggles?

    The question is, does it have a perceptible effect? If something has a perceptible effect, it can be studied. If something does not have a perceptible effect, it might as well not exist.

    If popes routinely lived longer than less holy people (with access to equivalent secular medical care), I’d think they might be on to something. But as it is, the experiences of religious people correspond really well to what we’d expect from psychology, cognitive biases, and self-delusion, and doesn’t correspond at all to the stories told about father-figures in the clouds on Mt. Olympus.

  50. You have mispelled his name (it’s Myers, duh!) and completely missed the point of his argument (which you don’t even mention in this awful awful blog post).
    Shame on you for not thinking your argument through before writing this verbal diarhea.

  51. Joel, your post makes absolutely no sense.

    1. You can’t spell his name right.

    2. Your post claims to be an explanation of why P.Z. Myers is afraid, failing to specify in the title what it is he is supposed to be afraid of. However, upon reading the article, not only do you fail to give an explanation of why P.Z. Myers might be afraid, but you also fail completely even to say what he is afraid of.

    3. You judge him for ad hominem attacks of others and do not offer any examples of such attacks.

    4. You seem not to have even read the original post by P.Z., which you did not even care to link to. I challenge you to take the original post by P.Z. and count the number of insults or personal attacks and post them here. Then take the number of sentences from the post that criticize Rabbi Averick’s arguments or that attempt to refute his argument. Then we can see an objective measurement of your claim that he “attacks the person rather than the argument”.

    5. You fail to distinguish between P.Z.’s blog, which is not intended as a serious medium for intellectual debate, and the actual debates and discussions that he has taken part in. To be fair, you should at least find some serious articles or debate/discussion transcripts and post them here too.

    6. If you are going to write a post defending anything intellectual, at least try to proofread it for spelling and grammar mistakes before you publish it.

  52. “Christian Ethics”… hmmm. I hope you will eventually learn that your Christian god’s only claim to fame is incessant bloody tribal warfare. Mighty fine for a band of nomadic goatherders from the armpit of the Levant, but totally inappropriate for the 21st century.

  53. “His interests lay in philosophy and theology”

    So where do your interests *lie* now?

  54. Well, Joel, as you can see from the comments above, you have posted a crockpot full of stupid.

    And where does someone with (presumably) a bachelor’s degree come off deriding the philosophical credentials of anyone. I guarantee you I know more about philosophy than you do. Of course you will know even less after studying at Liberty or Bob Jones.

    Really lame. Keep your mouth shut and be thought of as a fool, or open it . . .

  55. @ Monique: Maybe an alternate, less loaded term like ‘magic’ would be better. How about:

    As soon as one admits a bit of ‘beyond here there be magic’ obfuscation into an explanatory process, the rest of the explanation isn’t much of an explanation.

    Saying “we don’t know how (black box X) works but we can observe that it does (Y) when (Z)” doesn’t resort to magic, mysticism, or the supernatural, and still leaves you in the realm of the observable and scientific in the meaning that PZ was using in his criticism of Collins to which Joel objects.

    I’m not likely to read Collins’ book if it expands on thing like:

    “Collins believes that science cannot be used to refute the existence of God because it is confined to the “natural” world. In this light he believes miracles are a real possibility. “If one is willing to accept the existence of God or some supernatural force outside nature then it is not a logical problem to admit that, occasionally, a supernatural force might stage an invasion,”

    Heck, if one is willing to accept the existence of God or some supernatural force outside of nature, then it is not a *logical* problem to admit that, frequently, a supernatural force might hide your keys and cause microscopic fibers to sprout from your itchy bits.

  56. “In fact, many of the comments go on to insult either the intellectual ability of Averick or just insult him as a person. But such tactics are becoming more and more common among atheists, to the point that one fears that if they were in the government they would be totalitarian oppressors, eradicating and removing the freedoms of anyone who is religious.”

    I think other have touched on the (many) other failings of this blog post, so I’d like to focus on this comment. Specifically, if you are so concerned about freedoms (and/or rights) being eradicate how about these: “No person who denies the being of a God shall hold any office in the civil departments of this State, nor be competent to testify as a witness in any court.” Arkansas Constitution, Article XIX, Sec. 1 –or- “No person who denies the existence of the Supreme Being shall hold any office under this Constitution.” South Carolina Constitution, Article VI, Section 2. –or- “No person who acknowledges the being of a God and a future state of rewards and punishments shall, on account of his religious sentiments, be disqualified to hold any office or place of trust or profit under this Commonwealth.” Constitution of Pennsylvania, Article 1, Sec. 4 (this one is by far the best, Atheists, some Buddhists, Orthodox Jews, and Hindus need not apply for work in Pennsylvania’s government.)

    There are several more states who have verbiage of this nature in their constitutions. Now, I am aware that Article VI, Paragraph 3 of the U.S. Constitution explicitly outlaws religious tests, thereby rendering these laws pretty much unenforceable. However, that does not change the fact that they continue to exist, or that they are threatening to those of us who identify as such.

    Further, there is an ENORMOUS gap between insulting someone, or pointing out their essential ignorance of a topic, and curtailing their civil liberties. For you to make that leap marks you as some kind of raving lunatic with a limited grasp on reality and a irrational fear of those that are different than you.

    If you truly concerned about oppression and freedom I suggest you take a close look at who is writing discriminatory laws: I suspect you will find that it is NOT the Atheists.

    Oh, and BTW. There are many Atheists already “in the government,” and I am proud to be one of them.

  57. I almost feel sorry for you, Joel, on account of the, frankly, epic beatdown you’ve just received in the comments. Except you said this: “they live in a world that lacks proper mystery”.

    From the offhanded way you put that out there, you clearly don’t realize how insulting that actually IS to most of us atheists. I’d wager that, like most anti-atheists, you don’t really understand us at all, and, as such, your argument isn’t particularly useful. See, atheism (or, at the very least, “new atheism”) is ALL ABOUT mystery–and not in the theist sense of declaring “It’s a Mystery!” and then going “But no, not really, it was God again. Our God. Not yours. We know that even though it’s a Mystery.” That’s not really mystery. That’s–how shall I put this–“making shit up”. Atheism is all about first admitting you don’t know–that the mystery is real–and then following the evidence rather than providing pat answers.

    And, personally, I’m not impressed when theist say things about atheists such as, for example, “They don’t understand the arguments behind Christianity or Theism even if they feign that they do.” I used to get excited when theists claimed they had a solid, sophisticated argument that would stump us nonbelievers for good–maybe there was something I’d missed–or maybe, at least, I could challenge myself by working my way through it.

    I’ve been disappointed every time. The theistic arguments aren’t just weak, they’re downright flimsy. See, I’m nobody–I’m just a student, and I’m not really that smart. So if someone like ME can knock down your “best arguments” without even breaking a sweat, well, I don’t really know what to tell you.

    Why are we atheists angry? Because we’re really, really, REALLY sick of the fact that so many smart people like you still swallow the same old flimsy arguments.

    Also, you accused me of being a Stalinist. Not cool, man.

  58. This blog post is one hair toss short of another reality show starring Paris Hilton. It’s like a rat depressing a bar that gives the rat an electric shock, while complaining (if a rat could) that the scientist is “too afraid” to give him a reward.

  59. I don’t understand the tenets of Hinduism, Great Plains Native American religion(s), Haitian Voodoo, or Scientology. Do devout Christians feel obliged to understand them in depth before rejecting them out of hand? I would hope not — there’d be no time left for practicing one’s own (usually, parentally-imposed) faith. Few Christians make the effort to study Judaism, the faith of JC himself. So why is an atheist obliged to understand Christianity in order to reject it? As PZ says (over and over and over), the burden of proof is on the one asserting the theory. Science (including “Darwinists”) subject theirs to rigorous challenge and accept into the canon only the hypotheses that meet the burden. Religions, by definition, do not.

    1. Always a good point that these faith infected types seem to miss. What a marvelous coincidence when you are raised within a faith that you end up with that faith. It’s like when people with Herpes have children, what a suprise, their children often have Herpes. It won’t kill you, but it does restrict your options. Or at least it should…
      Just because you have been infected, does not give you the right to spread it around. However, as we have seen, it takes about the same amount of effort to spread a virus as a faith. Sigh, when will there be a vaccine?

  60. Oh please! most atheists in the US come from a Christian background and understand the arguments for Christianity as well as you. I’m one of them and reject Christianity (and religion in general) as a bunch of illogical mumbo-jumbo. Take your pick: logical reason based on scientific evidence or faith in something for which there is no evidence.

    And don’t fall back on the the usual Christian smokescreen of “there’s more than materialism” and “the great Christian thinkers have proven it with their mental gymnastics.” There isn’t any evidence that any logical person has ever seen. Show it to me (or better yet PZ and Dawkins) and we’ll follow you in a minute, but don’t waste our time with wishful thinking until you get there.

    Afraid? I don’t think so. We’re just fed up with Christians who proselytize mythology as a replacement for reality. And we’re waiting impatiently for this non-sense to die out — as it is in the developed world — take a look at the studies.

  61. Joel,

    Why do you (and other Christians) feel compelled to believe in something? What itch is this really scratching?


  62. To the commentors –

    Forgive my faithful servant, Joel, for not responding right away. He is too busy repenting of arrogance and a disposition to ad hominem attacks.

    Joel, repent and show love to PZ Myers. Afterall, isn’t that what I taught you?

    Don’t let me down, Joel! I sent my Son to save you!

    – God

  63. How dare you post that Dinesh D’Souza article and parrot his lies about the supposed “oppression” of atheism and secularism.

    Hitler was in no way an atheist or secularist, he frequently invoked god and claimed that his power and the rise of Nazi Germany were mandates from god. He was also against Darwinism and evolution and in favor of creationism, as evident by Hitler banning all of Darwin’s works in Germany. He also utilized Christian antisemitism to perpetuate the Holocaust.

    As for Mao and Stalin, while it is true that their regimes were atheist, their crimes are not crimes of atheism. They did not kill, torture, or commit genocide against anyone because of their non-belief in gods and religions. They committed those crimes against people they saw as threats to their hegemony and power and against those they saw as existential threats to their respective brands of communism. Thus, the crimes of Mao and Stalin are crimes of communism, Maoism, and Stalinism, not atheism.

    Conversely, all of the witch hunts, inquisitions, holy wars, terrorism (e.g. Northern Ireland, the Balkans, the KKK, the Lord’s Resistance Army of Uganda, etc.) and other acts of violence with which perpetrators use religion to justify are crimes of Christianity.

    You and D’Souza have virtually no credibility due to the lies and revisionist history you perpetuate. No one reading anything either of you write should part any credence to any facts you claim without some kind of overwhelming preponderance of legitimate and trustworthy sources backing up your claims.

  64. Prof. Myers is right in his critique of specified complexity. I’ll borrow from my comment in that thread.

    “Specified complexity” has been critiqued and that the proffered apologia are not effective. Of course, as a former student of Dembski’s, you ought to be familiar with what I’m about to point out.

    Wilkins, John S, and Wesley R Elsberry. 2001. The advantages of theft over toil: the design inference and arguing from ignorance. Biology and Philosophy 16 (November):711-724.

    Information Theory, Evolutionary Computation, and
    Dembski’s “Complex Specified Information” (2003).
    The appendix describes an application of the universal distribution to the idea of “specification”, which we termed “Specified Anti-Information”. In response to “Ivar” wondering why we would try to repair specification, I had this to reply:

    The existence of a minimal program/input pair that results in a certain output indicates that there exists an effective method for production of the output. Since effective methods are something that are in common between intelligent agents and instances of natural computation, one cannot distinguish which of the two sorts of causation might have resulted in the output, but one can reject chance causation for the output. We haven’t so much repaired specification as we have pointed out a better alternative to it.

    This leads me to a claim about Dembski’s design inference: Everything which is supposedly explained by a design inference is better and more simply explained by Specified Anti-Information.

    SAI identifies an effective method for the production of the output of interest. The result of a design inference is less specific, being simply the negation of currently known (and considered) regularity and chance. The further arguments Dembski gives to go from a design inference to intelligent agency are flawed. On both practical and theoretical grounds, SAI is a superior methodology to that of the design inference.

    An edited version of the 2003 essay was published in Synthese.

    Wesley R. Elsberry

  65. Joel,

    These aren’t ad hominem attacks. They’re not aimed at you as a person, just at your beliefs. Ridiculous beliefs deserve ridicule and that’s just what Christianity is … ridiculous belief. What you see in PZ and the other Gnu atheists is the new willingness among many to point out that the emperor has no clothes and to hurry this mythology into history where it belongs.


  66. hey joel

    you are very corageous. very corageous. the darwenist establishmnet is very opppoised to nay sayers. they can’t handle the truth of the scriuptures. trtuh cant be supppresed.
    joel stay stsrong. keep the faith.
    your a good christian apologest. have you read lee strobell?

    joel you should have a public debate with pz meyers. meyers cant handle the logic of chrsitendom.

    who else wants so see pz meyers vs. joel? respond if you want tosse a uniersety sponsored debate between meyeers and joel. joel ils the man.

    1. I have to admit that I would like to see a university-sponsored debate between Joel and PZ. It would promise almost as much unintentional comedy as a written debate between PZ and Ronnie B.

      P.S. All you demonstrate when you complain about PZ’s posts on Francis Collins is that he’s intellectually consistent and not cowed by arguments to authority. It’s a little hypocritical to complain about this when you don’t seem to regard PZ’s scientific expertise as a reason to shut up and accept what he says.

    2. $5 says that Ronnie b. is a troll meant to mock the intelligence of commenters that would agree with Joel.

      1. No deal, the spelling mistakes are a little bit too obvious, other than that a fine effort.

        ps Joel, have a good LONG look at the comments above, your hypocrisy and ignorance have been displayed for all the world to see, please check your sources in future!!

    3. “respond if you want tosse a uniersety sponsored debate between meyeers and joel.”

      I vote Poe. Too many misspellings to be real. But quite hilarious.

    4. Me like reed thing wit bad word usey, say God super. Yummy wen I lernt stuff me speshul. Yup. Oh look a squirrel…
      got to go now, cage fites on TV.

      Hey Ronnie, I call POE.

  67. I love how the majority of the critical comments are only about the issue of Myers’ name and most of the other critical comments include that point as their main thrust. It’s like PZ posted something about the issue on his blog and a bunch of his mindless fans came here to point that out in some impotent attempt to score points with him. Oh, look. PZ did post that and that’s exactly what the good little PZombies did.

    1. Are you sure?

      Count them… I only found 12 from 84 four responeses…

      Read them… they are not so mindless.

      I know Pharyngulites hordes sometimes may be a bit overenthusiastic, but mainly because they are a bit tired of having to repeat the same arguments over an dover.

      When the opponents keeps repeating the same nonsense, one can become a bit more emotional..

    2. Hmm seems that your definition of majority is a lot different than mine let see a majority of 84 would be 43 and is 12 larger than 42 or smaller, help me out here.

      More significantly no one here in the main article or the comments has made any effort to find any fault with the actual arguments made by PZ. That is our main point. Everything else is irrelevant .

    3. Honestly, did you actually read all or most of the comments or did you just skim them and pick up on the very few focusing on trivial matters like spelling?

      Take my first comment for example, I criticized Joel for perpetuating blatant historical inaccuracies and revisionist history that is the hallmark of conservative theists. Joel’s act of perpetuating these ideas himself AND citing an article from partisan hack Dinesh D’ Souza with similar material basically destroys any credibility Joel might have had to criticize anyone, let alone a scientific expert like myers.

  68. This is nothing but a diatribe attacking PZ personally. Wait..isn’t that what the author is criticizing PZ for? Interestingly, the author did not link the original blog because he knows that it refutes his own argument. I mean really? THis is how sad and desperate things have gotten with christians. They cannot win on arguments so they resort to kindergarten tactics. Complaining…and moaning…and complaining on how mean atheists are…waaaah.

    1. “they resort to kindergarten tactics. Complaining…and moaning…and complaining on how mean atheists are…waaaah.”

      Isn’t that what atheists do, too? Isn’t that what PZ did (and what sent you here)? Why, yes. Yes, it is.

  69. Why can’t he call idiots ‘idiot’? Don’t we call cows ‘cow’? Don’t we call racists ‘racist’? What’s wrong calling something by its name? Idiot comes from the greek ‘idiwtes’, which was the word they used to describe people who wereselfish, contemptable and stupid as they were more concerned with their daily personal affairs than they were of the good of the society. Later on, in the Middle Ages, it evolved to the current meaning, that is, ‘mentally incapable’ So, what’s wrong with calling those mentally incapable of understanding science ‘idiots’?

  70. When I stumbled upon the Pharyngula blog almost a year ago now, I also found that PZ Myers and many of the brainwashed fans who post on his blog to be snobby and extremely bigoted. Shortly after being banished by PZ Myers after much transphobic abuse (I am a transwoman) which even extended to one of the posters saying they wished I’d burn to death I was also falsely accused of, and subsequently condemned for, posting messages that were apparently ‘beyond vile’ on a blog that I’d never even heard of. I say ‘apparently’ because by the time I found the blog where I was supposed to have left these comments, the comments had actually been deleted. So I find myself in the somewhat Orwellian position of being accused, found guilty of and denounced for a ‘crime’ but not actually knowing what that crime was.


    Becky x

    1. Becky I am sorry that you appear to have been treated poorly on PZ’s blog while I find it hard to believe that you were being abused because of your being a transwoman I must ask you why you are posting that comment in this thread? This thread is discussing the Rabbi’s article claiming that PZ is afraid. Perhaps you made those post and perhaps you did not but so what (in this thread that is) ? Please relate your experiences and opinions to the subject at hand .

      1. On second thoughts though, Wendell I don’t think that my mention of how I was treated on PZ’s blog is really that irrelevant to Joel’s article. The willingness to condemn all too easily and to be of one mind; to find a common enemy is one of the characteristics of PZ’s brute squad that Joel is describing here. I think my experience on that blog is a good illustration of that – whether you think that I deserved it or not. And if PZ had actually stooped down to personally explain the ‘transvestite’ analogy that he made which I was offended by then this might have diffused things a bit.

        Yes, Joel discusses Rabbi Averick’s article claiming that PZ is afraid, but he also (particularly in the first part) writes about the viscious name-calling and ad-hominem attacks that take place on Pharyngula – which characteristically takes the form of a mob attack on an individual who is either the subject of one of PZ’s posts or is a visitor with whom they don’t see eye to eye.

        And I can assure you that I definitely DID NOT post any messages on Jeffrey D’s blog. Joel raises an excellent point: can you imagine if there was some sort of revolution and the people on Pharyngula got to run a country. Meethinks there would be plenty of people locked up for crimes they not only didn’t commit, but didn’t even now what they had done wrong in the first place – judged and condemned merely on suspicion. Isn’t that what the religious authorities whom New Atheists claim to be so different from used to do during the witchhunts of the 16th and 17th centuries?

  71. Well, if you’ve got time to take a look at the Pharyngula thread from which I got banned, Wendell there does seem to be at least some blatant transphobia there – but not from all commenters. I was referred to by some as ‘him’ and by others as ‘it’ and at the end PZ also mocked me in front of everyone else on the thread, more or less suggesting that I was really a man called Donald.

    It seems to me that PZ Myers’ followers are all-too-often the things that they denounce. They have a tendency to accuse anyone who dare criticize PZ of ‘ad hominem’ attacks yet they’re very often the biggest ones for repeatedly doing this to others.

    They also seem to share some similarities with religious fundamentalists too in that with many of them there are similarly no grey areas. For all their claims of being ‘godless’, it’s almost as if they worship PZ as some sort of substitute for God and anyone who dissents from his world view or – worse still – questions his character is seen as having committed something akin to blasphemy. They seem a pretty dogmatic sect and have a set range of favourite phrases or mantras that they constantly re-iterate in arguments – glib, neat little slogans if you will.

    For a site which prides itself on its left-leaning, liberal cred there is actually a lot of bigotry manifest in those threads. True that occasionally PZ Myers bans those who espouse blatant neo-Nazi ideology, racism, misogyny or homophobia on his threads – yet these tend to be one-off visitors to Pharyngula. Regular posters are allowed to ‘get away’ with much the same views so long as they couch them in politically respectable speak and qualify their Islamophobia, anti-Semitism, misogyny etc. by declaring themselves to be a progressive atheist. He possibly also fears alienating the regulars because he wants to maintain his popularity – and, therefore, tolerates bigotry from them but not from outsiders.

    There’s also much snobbery to be found there, too. There is the constant fetish for paper qualifications and the typical Pharyngulite seems to feel the need to relentlessly remind everyone else of their eminent academic credentials. I would guess that the need to constantly remind everyone of how clever they are is symptomatic of a certain degree of inner insecurity – which also goes much of the way to explaining the snobbery. A few months’ ago, I read in disbelief as a self-proclaimed history Phd told a visitor to Pharyngula that he found it highly suspect that a ‘mere’ construction worker such as him would be able to understand a concept that it took even a Phd genius like him several years to understand.

    Is the obsessive devotion to PZ Myers by some of his followers a manifestation of the cult of the personality? It does seem with some that they merely repeat his own words and thoughts in their own blogs. It’s almost as if it is much easier for some people to have someone else to think for them rather than to think for themselves. In that aspect, are such people really that different psychologically from the religious fundamentalists that in the same breadth they decry for mindlessly following the script?

  72. Sorry, I realise that some of what I’ve posted may be a bit off-topic here, but when Joel mentioned PZ’s ‘brute squad’ and the fact that some of them seem so uncritically in love with him that really rang a bell with me. Thanx for reading and considering my impression of PZ Myers and Pharyngula anyway.

      1. Many thanks for letting me comment, Joel. I found your post very insightful and get similar impressions about the mob mentality on Pharyngula – at least amongst a signficant minority of the regulars there. What do PZ and followers and his followers prove by being so aggressive and jumping down people’s throats so much – other than that they are the atheist flip side of religious fundamentalists who similarly rush to condemn people. Thankfully, there are as many people amongst both atheists and religious folk who are not like that and can debate and agree to differ without hurling obnoxious insults at each other. There are grey areas and so many things that science still cannot explain and in order to be honest IMO they should admit that. Nobody knows everything. Nobody is perfect. Not everything can be proven and not everything can be neatly labelled and conveniently boxed away on some laboratory shelf.

      2. With a first comment on that thread being:

        Do they award ‘associate professorships’ at the University of Minnesota for double-firsts in sectarianism and chauvinism these days? And if so, do the academic robes look something like this?


        … who in their right mind would call PZ unfair when he let her continue to post some 45 separate comments on that thread, when it would’ve been entirely reasonable to ban her from that very first comment?!

        Being a troll from the start, and getting upset when other commenters treated her like a troll, only makes Becky look bad and reinforces the point that PZ is *more* than reasonable with such people.

  73. Ok since no one is continuing this thread on the actual subject matter, lets just go with the Becky point of view.

    Becky certainly I cannot disagree with the fact that no one should be on the face of it treated as you report you were. The thing is that in the thread I have read and participated in on PZ’s site I do not see the rampant mistreatment you describe. I am particularly interested in your last couple of sentences above. You imply that people on PZ’s site have stated that they know everything and that there are no gray areas. I find that many on the site have science backgrounds and the scientists I have communicated with are always very careful to state that they do not have all the answers. Can you please indicate specific posts where you see this is the case so that i can be re-educated?

  74. OK Becky I have dropped my position that this subject is not relevant. And I certainly have no idea about the posts so I take you at your word. In my previous post I asked for examples of the PZians claiming to know everything as you state. Could you please provide such for me?

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