Nat Geo blogger on religion: “Grow the fuck up.”

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Introducing Dr. PZ Myers:

A biologist and associate professor at the University of Minnesota, Morris, Dr. Myers is also the marquee talent at ScienceBlogs, which was recently acquired by National Geographic.

This week, Dr. Myers is in Dublin, Ireland, attending the World Atheist Convention (#wac11), and he’s tweeting:

Here’s his longer take at ScienceBlogs, which is now owned and under the editorial control of National Geographic:

The first panel (DPR Jones, Lone Frank, Richard Dawkins) at the Wotld [sic] Atheist Convention has got us off to a roaring good start. …

PZ Myers

The basic conflict raised was by DPR Jones, who expressed a rather pessimistic view that religiosity was an inevitable consequence of human psychology, and we’re not going to escape it….

Psychology is not an issue of inevitability. We grow and change all the time, and to suggest that one state is determined because we can developmental evidence for it is misleading. An example: there is a game that children play that palls for us adults. It’s called peek-a-boo. That one year olds can be naturally thrilled by hiding and reappearing  says nothing about adult behavior. Unfortunately, we live in cultures that have enshrined peek-a-boo as an act of reverence, that couples weekly peek-a-boo sessions with sociability, and tells everyone they’ll be horribly punished if they aren’t good at peek-a-boo. Don’t tell me it’s an inevitable aspect of human nature, because my response will be to tell you to just grow the fuck up. Some of us already have.

_____

Dear John,
Any thoughts
about a blogger in our Society’s editorial stable
who tells religious people “to just grow the fuck up”?

_____

Update: Another tweet from Dr. Myers:


  • Amad

    Dr Myer’s mocking style and arrogance is only cheered on by fellow atheists.

    To all others, it comes off as arrogant buffoonery (no offense to what his supposed ancestors)

    If atheists want theists to listen, then they need to drop the former needs to drop their attitude otherwise atheists sound like the new bullies in a kindergarten classroom who think they have just discovered how good they really are.

  • Amad

    Dr Myer’s mocking style and arrogance is only cheered on by fellow atheists.

    To all others, it comes off as arrogant buffoonery (no offense to what he believes are his ancestors)

    If atheists want theists to listen, then the former first needs to drop their attitude, otherwise atheists sound like the new bullies in a kindergarten classroom who think they have just discovered how good they really are.

    • Amad, 

      You seem to know Dr. Myer’s work far better than I do. But we can agree that his arrogance and profanity are an embarrassment. … Although his style might have been okay with the management of Seed Media, I have a hard time imagining that he’ll be given as much latitude by National Geographic, which now owns ScienceBlogs. 

      On a related note: I notice that SB hasn’t been visibly branded yet as a National Geographic property. Perhaps this is why? Maybe National Geographic figures it can keep Dr. Myers on board, let him do his thing & keep attracting his audience (and ad revenue), while NG hopes most folks will remain unaware of the ScienceBlogs-Myers-NGS relationship. We’ll see….

      Thanks for stopping by… and for your comment. 
      best,
      Alan

  • Anonymous

    Is it arrogant to call somebody insane who believes without evidence that the world was created and is secretly governed by reptile aliens?

    It is not, it is a fair assessment. Theists replace “reptile aliens” with “god”, that’s it. It’s just as insane as the reptile belief. While PZ Myers approach might be somewhat extreme and while it’s certainly not the be all end all approach to dialog, it does have its place. Ridicule can be a powerful tool to make people think.

    • Thomin – Ridicule is powerful, but I’m not sure it leads to constructive dialogue or makes people think. Often, it just makes them angry. Not good if you want to enlighten folks — but very clever if you want to draw a crowd. As Fox News figured out long ago, people will gather to watch a fight. 

      As for people being “insane” — believing in something without any hard evidence — we all rely on an invisible superstructure of belief that enables us to create free, open, and democratic societies. Where, for instance, is the empirical proof that something called “freedom of speech” exists? that it’s a universal human right? Seems like smoke & mirrors to me, and yet we can’t live without it.  

      That doesn’t stop some people from trying, of course. See my previous post about journalists who try to cover underground churches in China. Which begs this question: What would you say to the leaders of China’s Communist Party if they claimed the reason they persecute Christians is because @pzmyers says Christians are “insane”? 

      (Thanks for stopping by… and for your comment.)

      • Dale

        “Which begs this question: What would you say to the leaders of China’s Communist Party if they claimed the reason they persecute Christians is because @pzmyers says Christians are “insane”?”Well, that’s hardly likely is it? I doubt that China’s government is really led by what PZ Myers has to say.  Dopey question Alan.

        • Just realized I never replied to your comment, Dale. Sorry about the long delay…. 

          You’re right: China’s leaders will not be quoting PZ Myers anytime soon (I hope). But my point was more about the substance of PZ’s remarks — that believers are “batshit insane.” If they truly believe that religious people are crazy, isn’t the government doing everyone a favor by locking them up? … My concern is less about whether PZ gets credit for his criticisms, and more about the impact of his ideas. Thanks for stopping by…

      • NoxiousNan

        I’m ever frustrated when people assert that ridicule is not constructive.  What an erroneous assumption.  Ridicule wakes people trapped in their paradigms and allows them to consider other POVs.   Examples that spring to mind are the women’s movement bra-burning and homosexual’s anthem, “we’re here; we’re queer…,” both in-your-face ridicule of societal norms of their times.  For every puffed up and offended evangelical leader or tone patroller out there I’ve no doubt there are people already questioning their beliefs who become ignited and inspired by such ridicule as PZ Myers’.   Sure, our very humanity and societal foundations rely on faith in certain things.  That’s no argument for theism.  It would be far too time-consuming for each and every individual human to verify everything, everymoment.  Yes, I have faith the red light on the way to work will eventually turn green, but I do have the evidence of all the past times that it did just that.   Freedom of speech, and all of the rights written into the US Constitution (for example) are invented, and frequently do not exist.  There’s nothing empirical about it.  You can tell this just by looking at what happens when those rights are usurped…not much (at this writing, Obama maintains that it’s okay to illegally wiretap American citizens).  In the US children lose some rights every day when they walk onto school property, and they are restored again when they go home.  There are no universal human rights, though I would very much like there to be, and though we have written certain rights into laws which we can hope the majority of humans will embrace.  So, if you assert that belief without evidence is not insane of Muslims in their Allah, than you have to give the same deference to the guy who believes in the reptile aliens. Neither have evidence, but one has claim to his myth being a tad older than the other’s.  As any second child will tell you, you can only use the older so superior excuse for a handful of years.

        • NoxiousNan

          Yikes!  html crime!  It had paragraphs when I started.  Apologies.

          • Hi Nan – Good news! The High Court’s sentence for your HTML crime has been commuted! 🙂 Sorry for the delay in responding to your comment, which I’m just seeing now for the first time. (Not sure how I missed it 5 months ago.) 

            You make some good points, but I don’t think monotheists & believers in Reptile Aliens are variations on the same theme — unless, of course, you think PZ’s theism is the One True Theism. When he talks about religion, I feel like I’m listening to a guy who stormed out of Sunday School in 4th grade, and never went back. …  Imagine if PZ Myers sat down for a public discussion / debate with, say, Reinhold Niebuhr. I have a hunch the contrast would enable you to see PZ Myers in an entirely different light. 

            Thanks for your comment, Nan, and for stopping by.

  • Thomin – Ridicule is powerful, but I’m not sure it leads to constructive dialogue or makes people think. Often, it just makes them angry. Not good if you want to enlighten people — but very clever if you want to draw a crowd. As Fox News figured out long ago, people will gather to watch a fight. 

    As for people being “insane” — believing in something without any hard evidence — we all rely on an invisible superstructure of belief that enables us to create free, open, and democratic societies. Where, for instance, is the empirical proof that something called “freedom of speech” exists? that it’s a universal human right? Seems like smoke & mirrors to me, and yet we can’t live without it.  

    That doesn’t stop some people from trying, of course. See my previous post about journalists who try to cover underground churches in China. Which begs this question: What would you say to the leaders of China’s Communist Party if they claimed the reason they persecute Christians is because @pzmyers:twitter says Christians are “insane”? 

    (Thanks for stopping by… and for your comment.)

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