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August 27, 2009

The Pointless Hot Air of P.Z. Myers

I usually take a mid-afternoon coffee break at this time of the day, but on days that I don't I'm going to start taking a bit of a blogging break. So today's topic: P.Z. Myers' relentless verbal battle against God and religion.

P.Z. Myers is a biologist at my fine institution, the University of Minnesota. I admit that I do not know much about his scholarly work, but trust that he's an accomplished scientist and so I do not wish to belittle his intelligence. Nor do I wish to belittle atheism, either: it's a belief system like any other, and I think that people are free to believe what they wish. If they choose to not believe in God, that's perfectly understandable and even defensible (and I write this as a Lutheran).

What I find to be hilariously pathetic, however, are Myers' incessant and cantankerous articles insisting that not only does God not exist, but that believers must be morons (or, at least, people who are otherwise completely incompatible with reason and intelligence --- insert your favorite pejorative). The latest entry in this nauseatingly long series is entitled "Baby Bear's lament".

Now again, I do not mean to dismiss Myers' intelligence: that would be stooping to his same low-level game. All I mean to state in this blog entry is simple and brief:

What's your point, Dr. Myers?

Myers wastes tons and tons of electrons (a shame, as a scientist) raging about religion, and carefully crafting arguments about it, that are completely obvious and require no such verbosity to assert. Take the very definition of faith: "based on spiritual understanding rather than proof". And believe: "accepting (something) as true; feel sure of the truth; think or suppose." Myers writes blog entry after blog entry asserting that a belief in God is ludicrous because no matter how much he challenges people of faith, no one can provide any proof of God.

Well, duh, Dr. Myers. Review the definitions above. Repeat.

Faith and belief are indeed inherently devoid of evidence. So why does Myers spend so much time raging against language? The words and concepts speak for themselves. So he continues to ask for something that he cannot possibly get.... and yet he blames the believers, like it's their fault!

Now granted, people who believe certain things can sometimes mystify me, too. Take, for example, the belief that radishes are food. I do not believe that radishes taste good, and thus have no faith in them as a food source for me. I'm sure Dr. Myers could provide ample scientific evidence to the contrary. And, perhaps, Dr. Myers even believes that radishes taste good! But would his scientific evidence convince me to believe that radishes taste good? No. Does me not liking radishes make me an idiot? I hope not. Would Myers' liking of radishes be superior in any way to my dislike of them? I don't think so.

You might very well be thinking that comparing God to a radish is unfair and overly simplistic, but I disagree. At a basic level, there is nothing different between believing in the two. A radish lover and a radish hater might disagree with each other irreconcilably, but one is not more or less intelligent than the other. Nor are they more or less intelligent than a scientist who might use evidence to bolster the claims of either the believer or non-believer: the scientist is using another language and framework to discuss the radish in a way that is completely irrelevant to both people's beliefs.

Which is why, despite Myers' relentless writings against God and religion, he accomplishes absolutely nothing in the process. He is merely pointing out the obvious, over and over again: religious people cannot justify their faith, nor prove that God exists.

Just look it up in the dictionary if you don't believe me.