Saturday, July 04, 2009

Paul Zachary Myers: Cultural Warrior

PZ Myers decries "anti-science, anti-intellectual" culture

Speaking regarding a reported shortage of American post-graduate science students, University of Minnesota biologist accuses a rather vague culprit for the problem.

"The problem is we have a strong sub-cultural thread that is simply anti-intellectual, anti-science," says Myers.

"...In Germany, that kind of debate is considered trivial," Myers compared. "In the U.S., anti-intellectualism is not a trivial problem. We have a culture war that isn't happening in Europe."

Of course, it's extremely convenient for PZ Myers to note the existence of an alleged culture war. He, after all, is a dedicated cultural warrior.

Myers, as anyone knows, is a fierce advocate of atheism, and is among an extreme cabal of fundamentalist atheists who often attempts to argue that religion and science are incompatible.

He seems to overlook the fact that scientists as distinquished as sir Isaac Newton and sir Francis Bacon -- among many others -- considered their religious faith to be perfectly compatible with science.

(Although, to be fair, the Catholic Church didn't seem to consider science to be compatible with the religious faith of Copernicus.)

The United States, meanwhile, remains one of the countries in the western world with the highest per capita rates of religious observation -- although this has been shifted in recent years.

One would wonder what Mr Myers would have to say about this alleged "anti-science, anti-intellectual sub-cultural thread" if one were to ask him how he thought his attempts to decisively separate religion and intellectualism were questioned to his face.

That is, if he bothered to answer such a question. All too often he tends not to.

But the logical answer to this question is obvious: if tension between religion and science has really led to this alleged anti-science trend that Myers alludes to, one would have to consider Myers' efforts to stir up tension between religion and science to be at least partially responsible.

If there really is such a trend at all.

But PZ Myers would know full well if there's a cultural war happening in the United States. He's busy enough instigating and then fighting it that we can take his word for it.


  1. Copernicus lived over five hundred years ago, before the development of the scientific method.

    The Jesuits have been some of the biggest proponent of science. This idea that faith and science is incompatible is bunk.

    I suspect that many people of religious faith are turned off by the culture of science precisely because of the rampant culture of atheism.

    As a person in favour of fetal rights, I'm pretty gung ho about science, particularly biology. So are many pro-lifers. The more biological facts, the better. If I were rich, I'd love to fund more research into pre-natal biology and psychology.

  2. I think people of religion should embrace science full-heartedly.

    My personal opinion is that the argument that Genesis is simply a metaphor for processes such as evolution is a fully defensible theological argument.

  3. I think Genesis meant to communicate some truths that do affect science and history. For instance, it affirms that all humanity came from one pair, and that the universe had a beginning (although some scientists might agree with that...)

    That being said, I think that the scientific method is ultimately sound. Data is not the enemy.

    You have to have faith that science and faith will reconcile, even if a particular theory appears to contradict a religious tenet.


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