8/1/08

PZ Myers Said That Scientific Thinking Has a Corrosive Influence on Religious Belief

DJ Grothe interviewed Professor PZ Myers as can be heard here in an interview entitled, “Science and Atheism in the Blogosphere.”

Let us survey some of the exchange.

To read/Or not to read


At 4:30 into the interview:
DJ: “What’s most important to you: advancing atheism or advancing the public understanding of science – or are they kind of one in the same for you?”

PZ: “They are inseparable.”

Let us pause here for a moment. This is Prof. Myers’ premise: science is not simply about observation, reproducible experiments and concocting theories but it is about getting rid of God, it is about atheist activism.

The statement above is directly followed by this exchange:
DJ: “You’ve suggested quite a few times that the more you know about science the more likely it is that you are gonna end up an atheist.”

PZ: “Yes, that’s, that’s what we know from the statistics of people going into science. That science has a great corrosive influence on religious belief. It isn’t always going to destroy religious beliefs, of course. There’s, there’s a number of fairly prominent scientists who are religious. But in general, most people, when they get training in the scientific method and start applying it in the lab and start applying it in their real life experiences, find themselves questioning religion a lot more.”



DJ: “Yeah, Jonathan Miller had that study out a few years ago, you know, countries in Europe, people score higher in science literacy therefore, they were more accepting of, of evolution, more naturalistic. But, the University of Buffalo recently had a study, oh I think just in the last year, that suggested that it was a chicken and egg sort of thing. That people who were already kind of skeptical and secular ended up choosing to go into the sciences rather than the other way around.”

PZ: “Yes I, I can see it working both ways. That’s not earth shaking news either, I don’t think. If you’re into religion you are going to be steered away, by your own interests, from science. So there’s, there is a self selection going on. But still, you know, we, we want more scientists right? We want more people thinking critically and skeptically about the world around them, it’s something that we want to encourage lots more people [sic].”

Well, we appear to be at a stalemate as regards the chicken and egg. Certainly, people may become atheists after coming into the sciences and becoming more erudite than thou. But it could also be that people who were already skeptical and secular go into classrooms such as Prof. Myers’ in order to learn science or biology but they have atheism smuggled into their classrooms in the guise of science or biology. See my essay Protecting the Science Classroom.

At 7:22 into the interview:
PZ: “I think we are getting new recruits, I, I get emails all the time from people who are saying, ‘Well thank you,’ you know, ‘this whole thing has lead me to be more self-aware, and criticizing, in coming to the conclusion that yeah, I’m an agnostic or I’m an atheist.’”

DJ: “It’s the kind of coming out story that Richard Dawkins reports a lot of people recounting when they read his book ‘The God Delusion.’”

PZ: “Oh yeah, yeah…”

It is interesting that they mention Prof. Dawkins since I was instantly reminded of the interview between he and Ben Stein in the movie “Expelled.” Prof. Dawkins asserted that people feel liberated and relieved when they realize that God does not exist. Mr. Stein asks him how he knows that, he is after all speaking with an empirical scientist. Prof. Dawkins responds that he receives letters from people to that effect. To which Mr. Stein states that there are some 8 billion people in the world and asks, “How many letters do you get?” Whatever statistically insignificant amount of letter or email either of the professors receive, this certainly constitutes a biased sample coming, as they do, from people who are motivated to contact them in order to either thank them, or buddy up to them, or congratulate them, etc. Besides, a thief may feel elated when he does not see any police officers in his general vicinity, so what of it?


At 8:31 into the interview:
PZ: “If you’d asked me when I was twelve-years-old I would of said, ‘Yeah, I’m a committed Christian’ and all this kind of thing. I wasn’t born again or anything silly like that.”

I do not want to make my following statement of greater scope than it can handle yet, Prof. Myers is yet another in a very long line of atheists who rejected theism as children based on a childlike intellect and a childlike tendency, particularly teenage tendency, towards rebellion against authority. God, being the ultimate authority, must be done away with. This is one way in which atheism is a consoling delusion: it is the delusion of absolute autonomy and lack of ultimate accountability. Prof. Paul Vitz presents a very interesting lecture about atheism and rebellion: The Psychology of Atheism. As Prof. Vitz states it, “…for every person strongly swayed by rational argument [in favor of atheism], there are countless others more effected by non-rational psychological factors.”

At 17:44 into the interview:
DJ: “Just think of that phrase that you just said, ‘corrosive influence of scientific thinking,’ imagine what, what, what a fundamentalist could to with that. Ah, you know, PZ Myers himself said that scientific thinking has a corrosive influence.”

PZ: “On religious belief, yeah. And, you know, if they threw that in my face what would I say? Say, ‘Yeah, it sure does [laughter].”

This is why I, with my tongue firmly ensconced in my cheek, gave this essay its title. Let us contextually tie this statement back to his previous statements regarding “most people, when they get training in the scientific method and start applying it in the lab and start applying it in their real life experiences, find themselves questioning religion a lot more.”

At 18:30 into the interview:
“I actually don’t see even now how anyone can find the explanations in the book of Genesis at all satisfying as explanations for the real world. I meant it’s, it’s ‘God did it,’ said eight times, nothing more…look at the book of Genesis and you should be asking lots of questions about it.”

Prof. Myers appears to be making a category mistake in that he seems to be asking the Bible to tell him things that the Bible is not meant to explain. In my essay PZ Myers Complements Christianity I pointed this out with regards to him ripping a page out of the Bible because it did not meet his criteria. He seems to demand scientific minutia from books that are not meant to provide it.
In my essay “In the Beginning…”: the Lucky Guess, I point out various scientifically accurate statements that the Bible makes about astronomy and cosmology. Thus yes, when you look at the book of Genesis you should be asking lots of questions about it. And the fact is that some of the greatest scientists that have ever lived, scientists who invented the very fields and methods of science, did ask questions in order to ascertain how God’s creation functions.

At 19:03 into the interview:
DJ: “You’re position about science leading to atheism is fundamentally at odds with the National Academies of Science [and?] the AAAF. They say, for instance, that evolution is perfectly compatible with religion.”

PZ: “And they’re, they’re a little deluding themselves, yeah.” [he believes that those statements are “pure political pandering”]

What is really at issue here is what we mean when we say “evolution.” We may mean the observation of living organisms changing. We may mean telling tall tales about how things could have happened long, long ago based on out particular worldview. Or we could mean the inference that God does not exist (see my essay Do You Believe in Evolution?).

At 24:11 into the interview:
DJ: “But don’t parents have a right to teach their children what they believe to be true without a professor undermining certain deeply held beliefs?”

PZ: “Why should they have that right? I mean, we’ve got a social contract right? And what we are trying to do is raise lots and lots of people who are going to be functioning members of our society. And it’s in, in my personal self-interest that the children of evangelical Christians grow up to be productive members of society. Now, it’s not my interest to say they have to abandon their faith or anything like that. But if their faith is such that it’s obstructing their ability to contribute to science and technology, engineering and all these good things in our society then yeah, we have an interest in saying, ‘No, you shouldn’t be doing that.’”

As for the attitude that many atheists have that parents should not have a right to teach their own children that with which the atheist disagrees, I will point you to my essays: Teach Your Children Well and Daniel Dennett’s One Way Street of Censorship.
Overall, this statement by Prof. Myers may be indicative of just how high up and isolated in his ivory tower he dwells. The overwhelming majority of citizens of the USA are Christians and Christians have always been the majority. Thus, to presume that at any time in its history American Christians have not been functioning members of our society is to view the world through murky atheistic glasses. Evangelical Christians are not only productive members of society but active in the fields of science, technology, engineering etc. they just do not make the illogical inference of atheism from their fields of research.

What Prof. Myers statements boil down to is an argument from authority: scientists are really smart and most of them are atheists therefore, atheism is true and if you study science and become really smart you too will become an atheist.


Had your fill of PZ related tales? No! Check these out:
PZ Myers and Pavlov’s Monkeys

PZ Myers - The Desecration Delusion

PZ Myers Complements Christianity

PZ Myers - Transubstantiating from Scientist to Neo-Atheist Activist

20 comments:

  1. A little dense are yah? here- I'll spell it out.

    Science is a method for exploring and explaning our world.

    Religion is a method for exploring and explaining our world.

    Science has a higher accuracy rate than religion.

    As science explains things the religious explanations falter and the arguments become less convincing.

    Further more, scientific thinking spreads- testing ideas and checking to insure that they are true.

    Now, I know you aren't atheists, but if you accept that science paints an accurate picture of reality than you will ALWAYS try to advance it. After all, the truth has nothing to hide. And you will attempt to advance science because it would favor you- you are right after all...

    As for "smuggling in atheism"... if the study of reality reflects atheism so much that an objective look at reality supports it... you have a problem.

    Of course, scientists aren't perfectly objective, but when the majority of scientists are DIFFERANT than the mainstream, they are probably right- after all, they spend their time studying these things. It IS there field of expertise.

    As for "feeling realived"... no he hasn't performed a massive statistical study. That would be helpful to prove his assertion. As it is he only has personal testimonies. However "finding no police man"... God is EVERYWHERE. Do I have to remind Christians the tenants of their own faith? This isn't escaping the police- it is finding what you did wasn't a crime in the first place.

    And a child shall lead them. More to the point children happen not to be indoctinated and ask questions no one else does. Most of the time they are stupid questions. However, occasionally they ask important ones.

    And religion? It can't answer them... even though it claims it can. Why did God create the universe is my favorite, followed by theodicity.

    As for non rational arguments and rebeliousness... need I remind you you just lambasted Dawkins for not using a survey? In this case you have no data points whatsoever. The hypocricy is stunning.

    You are familiar with the criteria that if a prediction can only be assertained in hindsight it is too vague to have been valid?

    You are familiar with evolution and the fossil record? It is complete, but there is no reason to believe the processes were differant in the past. Default view and you assert it is wrong for no reason- in fact you call the default a "worldview". Unless evidence is presented otherwise the default is the most rational view.

    Do we let kids learn demonic possession theory? No. The fact is that kids are not capable for decidning what to think for themselves- why do you think the first priority for the communists was education? Why do you think the most fanatical wing of the Nazis were the young who fought on after the fall of the Reich? Kids are easy to brainwash.

    As for obstructing our ability to do science... lets look at history shall we.

    US- Nazi scientists, wealthist nation on Earth, most technologically advanced, worships high tech solutions, well developed

    USSR- 1/3 ravaged by war, millions dead, many in the gulags, poor, developing, etc.

    Now which got into space first? The Soviets! And why did they do it? Our science education was crap- in fact it was so bad because evolution was BANNED in several states.

    As to scientists knwoing more...
    ...
    ...
    ...
    Only in America. Okay, let me put this simply. Many scientists spend their whole lives devoted to their particular field. They study what other people have produced constantly and try to be first to a discovery. Wheter in it for money, knowledge or fun, they all understand a few truisms- knowledge is power, cheating is the worst sin imaginable, be cautious and slow and, of course, show evidence.

    In short, they may or may not be smarter than you (they are as a whole, but that is neither here nor there) but they are DEFINATELY right more often.

    It is the stupid American screed against elitism. Well, guess what? They are better than you- they have spent years studying the subject, constantly test their beliefs and have contributed to society.

    In short, they are the elite. Deal with it.

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  2. Actually, Sammy. Let me spell it out for you.

    Science tells us about the physical world and does not tell us about values or how one should act or what sort of Philosophy one should believe.

    PZ and others like him are trying to preach a non-God ideology (or more precisely, Metaphysical Naturalism), which is against what science is supposed to be used for.

    Religion works alongside Philosophy to tell us how things should be and how certain things are valuable while others are not. It also tells us how we should live. It also only addressed questions that are OUTSIDE of the material realm.

    Your dogmatic Scientism is no different than Young Earthers trying to smuggle their views into the scientific method.

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  3. "Let us pause here for a moment. This is Prof. Myers' premise: science is not simply about observation, reproducible experiments and concocting theories but it is about getting rid of God, it is about atheist activism."
    Odd how getting involved in observing things that God isn't involved in leads to a philosophy that doesn't involve the God that isn't involved, isn't it?

    "But it could also be that people who were already skeptical and secular go into classrooms such as Prof. Myers' in order to learn science or biology but they have atheism smuggled into their classrooms in the guise of science or biology."
    I've never been in a class where atheism was "smuggled" in. All the science classes (as well as other courses, from math to typing) I've attended never mention the God that isn't there or the fact that He isn't there. Nor have I been in classes that "smuggled" in supernaturalism. The most that happened, at least in my meagre experience, is that God isn't mentioned, which is appropriate in public school classes (with the minor exception of Comparative Religion courses, as well as History class, but mentioning religion is a requirement for such things).

    "Besides, a thief may feel elated when he does not see any police officers in his general vicinity, so what of it?"
    That's a poor analogy. Atheism isn't a criminal act. Not believing in something that isn't there is not comparable to stealing something that is.

    "God, being the ultimate authority, must be done away with."
    No. God, not being there, probably isn't there. Parsimony is much simpler that trying to fit the hypothesis of an interventionalist God in to a world without one.

    "This is one way in which atheism is a consoling delusion: it is the delusion of absolute autonomy and lack of ultimate accountability."
    This is one way in which (Christian) theism is a consoling delusion: it is the delusion of a perfect being in charge (who happens to sound exactly like your inner voice, believes everything that you believe, and therefore backs up your voice with His), and ultimate accountability for the bad people (including those, good or bad, who had the audacity to not believe the right thing, but excluding the bad people who believed the right thing, essentially redefining "bad" as "not me") as well as a way, indeed the only way, to cheat the inevitable.

    "Let us contextually tie this statement back to his previous statements regarding "most people, when they get training in the scientific method and start applying it in the lab and start applying it in their real life experiences, find themselves questioning religion a lot more.""
    Questioning things in the lab leads to questioning things in life? How is that bad? Incidentally, this didn't used to be a problem. Naturalism started out as people with varying degrees of faith looking at the natural world to catch a glimpse of how God worked. As they kept digging (sometimes literally, others metaphorically), they discovered that He worked in ways that made it appear that He wasn't involved at all (worse, He worked in a way that conflicted with the book that He helped write). Compartmentalization or a reinterpretation of their concept of God occured for some, while others concluded that His absence meant that He probably wasn't there.

    "Prof. Myers appears to be making a category mistake in that he seems to be asking the Bible to tell him things that the Bible is not meant to explain."
    Did you tell Ray Comfort this? How about the boys from AIG? What about the people behind A Beka?
    For some, when the Bible is right, it's a science manual or literal history. When it's wrong, it's metaphor or allegory.
    Discoveries over the past few hundred years have turned a lot of the Bible's science/history from the former to the latter.

    "What is really at issue here is what we mean when we say "evolution." We may mean the observation of living organisms changing. We may mean telling tall tales about how things could have happened long, long ago based on out particular worldview."
    ...and the evidence. Real world beats book. If God is working through evolution, then He is doing His darndest to look like He's not doing anything at all (and if He is, then a 3-O'd god, instead of the way that He said He did it, decided to say He did it one way quickly, but instead used a fabulously inefficient and cruel method over a few billion years, blindly, just to get to us, anthropocentrically speaking). Biology courses would be much different if He was measurably involved:
    "And He mixed genes in many members of a species,
    And He did make them sometimes copy themselves incorrectly,
    And yea those changes, when resulting in neutral or improvement for
    species in their niches, did mix and combine across populations over many generations,
    And truly those changes did change the population over forty generations,
    And some populations did divide by distance and could no longer come together to know each other.
    And so it came to pass that the last generation was most different from the first,
    And the last could no longer lay with the first, and know them, and still produce the next generation.
    And the separated populatons too, did change differently as His most Holy (Super)Natural Selection did put different environmental pressures on different groups,
    And different mutations were (Super)Naturally Selected and did spread across populations,
    And they too, over forty generations, found that they could no longer
    know those whom they earlier could know, back when they knew them.
    And He looked upon His work and saw that it was good.

    Note that you shouldn't take the mentions of "forty" as literal. Crazy things happen when you take Bible math literally. Also, if it was a Pentacostal biology class, the second half would be in tongues. Biblical evolutionary biology hymns, however, would suck. It's tough to rhyme or maintain meter when you're using terms like homo sapiens sapiens and horizontal gene transfer, particularly when the original text was mostly in Hebrew and Greek or Latin. In a way, this is why there are so few catchy jingles about microscopes.

    "As for the attitude that many atheists have that parents should not have a right to teach their own children that with which the atheist disagrees, I will point you to my essays: Teach Your Children Well and Daniel Dennett's One Way Street of Censorship."
    He isn't saying that you can't. He's saying that you shouldn't (y'know, at the end, where he says "we have an interest in saying, 'No, you shouldn't be doing that."). You do have that right. What you don't have is the right to dictate what science is. You can teach your kid whatever you want at home (or in private school). If you want to teach your kids that God did it in six days six thousand years ago, that "kinds" beats evolution, that the Flood explains the geologic column, that's fine with me (after all, if Jesus took it literally, why shouldn't you?). If you want to teach it in a non-literal or partly-literal manner, that's fine with me as well. What you teach your kids in your own home is none of my business.
    That what science teachers teach your kids in public schools potentially conflicts with what you teach them at home isn't their problem. It's yours.

    "Evangelical Christians are not only productive members of society but active in the fields of science, technology, engineering etc."
    The ones that compartmentalize or reinterpret their image of God when necessary, yes. Then there are the Duane Gishs, Henry Morris' and Ken Hams (and the sizeable minority of the population that believe as they do, including a disturbing number of primary/high school science teachers) of the US that instead add in supernaturalism to explain things that appear to have happened naturally, discarding most of our 14 billion years to make the 6,000 years fit, and/or great swathes of what we've learned about how things do work to make it fit how God says they do.

    "...they just do not make the illogical inference of atheism from their fields of research."
    Is it logical to conclude that the sky is not paisley if every time you take a sample by looking up it is not paisley? Pending evidence to the contrary, yes.

    "What Prof. Myers statements boil down to is an argument from authority:"
    Pot, meet kettle. Myer's pot, at least, is evidence-based and reality-centric, if bearded and curmudgeonly. Get a bunch of scientists together, present the same data to them, and they should reach a similar conclusion (more and more similar with more complete data. Less so with fragmentary data, which is why chemistry is more homogenous than quantum theory). Present personal revelations and arguments from personal experience to a bunch of theologists and you get a bunch of different religions. Science is consistently close enough, based on the available data, and subject to change, a fact which competent scientists admit.Religion is consistently wrong, a fact that competent theists only admit about religions/sects/denominations/personal interpretations other than their own.

    "...scientists are really smart and most of them are atheists therefore, atheism is true and if you study science and become really smart you too will become an atheist."
    If the real world leads to atheism, then the study of the real world will inevitably lead some to that. That's not the real world's problem.
    That's yours.

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  4. "As for obstructing our ability to do science... lets look at history shall we.

    "US- Nazi scientists, wealthist nation on Earth, most technologically advanced, worships high tech solutions, well developed

    USSR- 1/3 ravaged by war, millions dead, many in the gulags, poor, developing, etc.

    Now which got into space first? The Soviets!"

    ***USSR 1/3 ravaged by war, millions dead, many in the gulags, poor, developing, etc... DUE to the oppresive regime rooted in atheistic/marxist "might makes right" and the censorship they placed on Christianity/religion in general (something which you and other neo-atheists seem to be anticipating in the same degree as Pre-millenial Christians are anticipating the Rapture) and the millions killed, quite frankly, in the name of atheism

    To quote your own words, in relation to Soviet rule during their time:

    "...they are the elite. Deal with it"

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  5. Science tells us about the physical world and does not tell us about values or how one should act or what sort of Philosophy one should believe.

    Yes, and what examining the physical world has told us is that there is no reason to believe in god because a mythology book you believe blindly, says so. Religion makes a mockery of the advancements we have achieved through science, and is nothing more than dead weight as the rest of society tries to drag you along into the 21st century.

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  6. M,
    One problem for religion and philosophy, though, its that it CANNOT conflict with what we know empirically. You can talk about stuff all you want, you just can't conflict with the facts.

    Positing positions that conflict with evidence just makes a person look...well...stupid.

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  7. yes, I know science is not about morality... like for example the discovery that if you have the nice man in a lab coat tell you to, you will shock strangers to death...

    That would be morality, now wouldn't it?

    Science doesn't do morality because morality, by definition, does not have a justification. If it did it would be intelligent self interest.

    "Non material world"? First off, this cannot be defined because such a definition would be inately contradictory (just like God or supernatural). More to the point it falls victim to Occum's Razor.

    And you commit the error of equivocation, comparing me to young earhters because... I insist that if there is no reason to believe something exists than we should treat it as not existing.

    In short, a principle you use except when dealing with religion.

    As for outside the material realm... what religion are you? I am genuinely curious given that such a belief is the opposite of all religions. You know- the part where God creates the material realm (if that ain't interaction, I don't know what is) and the miracles and divine inspiration...

    I could go on, but it is quite clear you have no idea what you are talking about.

    To sum it up you are accusing scientists for being dogmatic... because they insist on evidence. You are familiar with the fact evidence, being part of reality, allows us to understand reality, right? Or do you believe evidence has no value whatsoever? In which case, why do you believe anything?

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  8. It is the stupid American screed against elitism. Well, guess what? They are better than you- they have spent years studying the subject, constantly test their beliefs and have contributed to society.

    In short, they are the elite. Deal with it.


    Thank you for laying out the details of your polytheistic religion and just who your gods are.

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  9. Skinner,

    As a member of the "elite", I can tell you first hand that science cannot answer all questions. It is very good at studying the repeatable naturalistic phenomenon but to paraphrase Stephen Jay Gould....science simply cannot comment on whether God exists.

    Also, there were two studies done on the elites....one at the beginning of the 1900's and one toward the end of the 1900's. According to the study, roughly 40% believe in God, 40% do not, and 20% don't know. So over the course of 100 years, the percentages did not very much among the elite population.

    I very much appreciate being a part of this elite population. I think it is the best job in the world. I get to study God's work first hand... at least the biological parts (I am a molecular biologist / biophysicist. Unfortunately because of people like you, many of us have lost our humility.

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  10. "One problem for religion and philosophy, though, its that it CANNOT conflict with what we know empirically. You can talk about stuff all you want, you just can't conflict with the facts. "

    Science itself completely relies on something which it cannot empirically test: Uniformity of Nature. Scientists have FAITH in the uniformity of nature since they cannot measure it empirically.

    Without faith in the uniformity of nature (itslef something very heavily inclined towards being an impossibility if there is no God, as no God = Randomness, not Uniformity) science cannot conduct one single experiment.

    ""Facts from science are open to change. Read up more on the philosophy of science, and radical theory change.

    And yes, science has revealed some religions and religious beliefs and philosophies to be false, however science has also revealed that Christianity is in no conflict with science itself. Read "Language of God" by Francis Collins, Director of the Human Genome project and also a Christian

    God Bless

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  11. "To sum it up you are accusing scientists for being dogmatic... because they insist on evidence."

    1. Only when scientists are themselves dogmatic in areas they don't understand. See R. Dawkins and his awful strawman breakdown of Christianity in "The God Delusion"(he severely lacks comprehension in philosophy, history, theology, yet writes like he is a master of them all)

    2. Even when evidence is heavily in favour of postulating a Creator, scientists (usually neo-atheists) deny it beacause of their own dogmatic beliefs.

    God Bless

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  12. Admitting there are people who are smarter and more experienced than me and I should listen to their opinions is polytheism? WTF? Have you forgotten THEIST that is the entire basis of your religion?

    As for the Soviets, they killed the best and the brightest. Asked to many questions. And the devestation was caused by war- Stalin purged a good many of his citizens, but the destruction and other desolation was due to the war.

    Seriously though, you continue to bury yourself into a hole. The Soviets where goddless atheists which helped hold them back in science and they they had a psycho dictator who killed millions... but they beat us in the entire space race except getting to the moon. First satilite, first space station, first man, first women, first eta, first lunar probe, etc.

    Giving more examples of how they were hobbled just makes my example more clear- religion and science don't mix well. Communism and science don't either, but for space they do fine.

    The US education system was terrible in the 40s and 50s. And state control works exceptionally well for such an enterprise. The free market still can't do it.

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  13. Jules,
    I don't know where you got your figures. Have you heard of a thing called Google? A recent study of the National Academy of Sciences clearly showed that 72.2% of members express no belief in any supernatural (atheists). The trend is most decidedly away from non-belief for the elite who look at the universe. If you include those that do not believe in an active, involved god (deists), it leaves only 7% of the NAS that believes in a theistic god. I believe that mathematicians represent the highest level of theistic belief in that population. Biologists and cosmologists, (etc) that actually look at our universe are almost universally non-believers.

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  14. Mr Patel "Science itself completely relies on something which it cannot empirically test: Uniformity of Nature. Scientists have FAITH in the uniformity of nature since they cannot measure it empirically."
    This may hinge on which definition of faith you're using. Is it faith as in "belief without proof" or is it "confidence or trust"?
    Drop an apple. Drop it again. Drop it once more. Is it faith in the first sense to believe that if you drop the apple yet another time, it will once again fall, or is it the second?
    Now carry that out over the whole universe. NaCl on Earth is salt. It has been every time we've looked at it so far. It's a reasonable assumption that NaCl on Mars is salt, too. If it turned out that NaCl on Mars results in gummi bear or Tuesday, then we'd have some learnin' to do. To some degree this has already happened, with quantum mechanics (where the really small operate by different rules) and getting close to absolute zero (where matter starts to "forget" that it's made up of particles and starts acting like waves, if memory serves).

    "Without faith in the uniformity of nature (itslef something very heavily inclined towards being an impossibility if there is no God, as no God = Randomness, not Uniformity) science cannot conduct one single experiment."
    Why does "no God = Randomness"? Is a godless electron any less negatively charged than a theistic one? Do Islamic protons face Mecca?

    "...See R. Dawkins and his awful strawman breakdown of Christianity in "The God Delusion"(he severely lacks comprehension in philosophy, history, theology, yet writes like he is a master of them all)"
    Keep in mind that your "strawman" is someone else's cherished and Holy Truth (while your Truth is their heresy).
    Sure, he's not attacking your version of Christianity, with its smartness and its higher criticism and not taking literally the bits where biblical Truth conflicts with natural truth (except for possibly Adam/Eve and maybe the Flood), but his "strawman" of crass biblical literalism is quite a popular one these days. He's not attacking your argument (whatever that may be). He's attacking the YECs. Odd how that a zoologist would attack the version of a religion that attacks his whole realm of science, eh? Once they're done with biology, they'll go after the geologists next! Later, the astronomers! Then, you'll be complaining that science popularizers of geology and astronomy are, in the New New Atheist books that they'll write, themselves attack the very real "strawmen" that are attacking them.
    (note that it's been a while since I read The God Delusion and, while the memory has faded, it was also never particularly clear in the first place. All I remember is him mostly bouncing the bad creationists arguments that are no better now than they were a hundred years ago...but that still get used anyway)

    "Even when evidence is heavily in favour of postulating a Creator, scientists (usually neo-atheists) deny it beacause of their own dogmatic beliefs."
    Science doesn't default to majik when it doesn't understand something. That's theology. Theology's a fine way to discover new, exciting and conflicting ways to save your immortal soul, but it's a terrible way to find out how things work. Science, meanwhile, is good at learning how things work (and providing predictive theories that help fill in the blanks), but is awful at measuring souls or detecting gods.

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  15. They are better than you- they have spent years studying the subject, constantly test their beliefs and have contributed to society.

    To suggest (wrongly, I might add) that scientists are better human beings simply because they study science is the single most idiotic argument from authority that I've ever seen.

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  16. fvthinker,

    My stats are from scientists overall, not a specific subset of scientists.

    Also, when comparing to a specific subset of a population you run the risk of a chicken or the egg phenomenon.

    The members of the National Academy of Sciences may be more atheistic but did they become atheistic because of science or did they become scientists because of their atheism?

    Maybe you should consider all stats instead of picking one's that only adhere to your preconceived notions.

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  17. 1. PZ Myers believes that atheism and science are inseparable.
    2. PZ Myers teaches science.
    3. Therefore, PZ Myers teaches atheism.

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  18. I meant better at their subject. Scientists commit crimes like the rest of us- although they probably have lower rates of emberrlement.

    Given that subjects cover a huge amount of information and certain techniques (scientific method, skepticism, etc) they also tend to be better at avoiding fallacies.

    They are generally smarter- the degrees aren't easy to get. It is similar to how the military is smarter than the average American- they refuse to let the bottom 20% in.

    As for this
    1. PZ Myers believes that atheism and science are inseparable.
    2. PZ Myers teaches science.
    3. Therefore, PZ Myers teaches atheism.

    1 is wrong. PZ believes science shows that atheism is correct. He doesn't teach it as that would imply talking about it.

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  19. Mariano: Until you have evidence to the contrary, you should probably assume that he teaches science the same way most other teachers teach it, by not mentioning the gods that aren't involved. In the very least, this saves a not inconsiderable amount of time. This freed up time can then be spent teaching science. It's win-win.

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  20. Samuel Skinner;
    I stated, “1. PZ Myers believes that atheism and science are inseparable.”
    You respond, “1 is wrong. PZ believes science shows that atheism is correct. He doesn't teach it as that would imply talking about it.”
    Yet, in the very post about which we are commenting PZ Myers is asked:
    “DJ: ‘What’s most important to you: advancing atheism or advancing the public understanding of science – or are they kind of one in the same for you?’”
    And PZ Myers answers:
    ”PZ: ‘They are inseparable.’”
    Ergo, “1. PZ Myers believes that atheism and science are inseparable” is precise.
    Please go to PZ Myers’ blog and argue with him on this point, please correct him personally.
    aDios,
    Mariano

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