Tuesday, August 12, 2008

PZ Myers: "Oh, it's not hatred. It's contempt."

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The atheist is PZ Myers, the University of Minnesota, Morris, biology professor who recently desecrated the Eucharist and has acted like an emotionally-arrested, fifteen-year-old punk who just slashed the tires of an elderly neighbor just for kicks. Myers was interviewed by Jeff Gardner for National Catholic Register, and revealed not only his contempt for Catholicism, which is well-known, but also for history, intellectual integrity and common decency:

That Myers has the equivalent of a junior high school education in religion is glaring. He understands little about the history and function of the Catholic Church and even less about the place of the Eucharist in the lives of Catholics. When I told him that many have laid their lives on the line to protect the Blessed Sacrament, he recoiled in disbelief, saying, “Really? People really do that!?”

This premeditated ignorance toward religion doesn’t seem to bother Myers, however. He is an empiricist and counts as “true” only knowledge that arises from experience.

“Religion,” he continued, “has been selling everybody a bill of goods for so many years; it’s about time somebody spoke up and said that it’s a load of nonsense.”

I decided to call his bluff. “Has Christianity contributed anything to humanity?” I asked him.

“Well,” he said in a matter-of-fact tone, “there is this general property of religion — it’s great at building community. Religion has been a good thing for many individuals; it has brought them together and given them comfort. But over all, religion … holds back humanity.”

What, I asked, about the Church’s role in founding the first Western hospitals, universities, banks and even many breakthroughs in science? He interrupted me, irate and incredulous:

“No, people made those contributions to Western Civilization.”

That the Church was involved in the very foundations of our Western culture is, according to Myers, irrelevant.

“That’s like saying,” he continued, “that because for so many years people got smallpox, smallpox is to be credited for all the virtue men have done.”

As I talked with Myers I was struck by an irony: For a scientist whose job it is to observe cause and effect, he has a poor understanding of the cause, Catholicism, and its effects on world culture. He does not see Christianity as an elevating force in the world, but rather as a strange superstition — akin to banging a pot to scare away the moon.

Perhaps this will help do away with one of the greatest myths of our time: that scientists are objective, ideologically-free, and intellectually-balanced people who care only about the facts. Not so. Not even close. They put on their pocket protectors one pocket at a time, just like the rest of us, and some of them, like Myers, are intellectually brilliant in this or that scientific discipline, but are completely clueless about nearly anything else, including basic respect and common civility. That we are shocked that Myers talks and acts as he does indicates that the joke is on us—except, of course, it isn't a joke. It is, I think, far more common than most people realize. Perhaps it's time we stopped buying the bill of goods sold by those like Myers who claim to be intellectually superior and scientifically objective while all they really want to do is gleefully slash our tires. Kudos to Gardner for helping expose this jerk. Carl Olson, Ignatius Insight HatTip to the Curt Jester
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