FTF1 PZ Myers – Scientists! If you're not an atheist, you aren't doing science right!

This entry is a  recap and review of PZ Myers’ Freethought Festival 2012 presentation as observed by me as an audience member. Shitty writing or misinterpretation of the presenter’s material is completely my fault. If you see any egregious errors or you think I got something wrong, please let me know in the comments or feel free to email me at bio_dork(at)hotmail(dot)com.  

With a level of maturity rarely seen in presentations of this type, PZ Myers from Pharyngula somberly and respectfully called all scientists to abandon superstition and set down their God beliefs.

Oh, I’m sorry. Are you experiencing déjà vu? As promised – a second viewing of the divine nipple tweak.

“Science is godless. Relgion is nonsense. ” These are the themes that ran through Dr. Myers presentation. Like JT Eberhard’s talk, PZ focused on the arguments and excuses that people give for believing in religion, but PZ focused on the rationalizations that religious scientists give to explain how they can be rational, critical, scientific method-using people and yet retain their religion.

According to a 1998 publication in Nature, a survey of members of the National Academy of Scientists showed that 93% of the most prestigious scientists in the United States do not believe in a personal god. PZ thinks this last 7% has some ‘splaining to do.

PZ knocks down the most common arguments he has run across from this population of people. Below is a sampling of the arguments and counter-arguments that he presented.

Some scientists are Christians. – But they do not use god in their science, and that they’re scientists doesn’t justify their god beliefs.

Some of the greatest scientists in history have been believers.  Isaac Newton was a crackpot – he believed in alchemy, bible prophecy, and the occult. But what do we remember him for? The REAL THINGS. Gravity, laws of motion, optics, calculus. The take home: science is lasting, and religion plays no part in that science.

Einstein – the believers who would claim him as their own always “forget” that he said this: “I do not believe in a personal God and I have never denied this but have expressed it clearly.”

Scientism! Yeah. Okay, there are some things that maybe can’t be explained or predicted by science. But this is a shitty argument. Being scientistic means I’m too logical, that I require evidence? And that’s a bad thing? What’s your alternative?

Science can’t explain love. We know that love is real, we experience it. It is a natural phenomenon, though.  It doesn’t belong on the religious table if it’s a natural phenomenon.

God is the sum total of all the laws of the universe, so all scientists worship god. God is in the stars and the cells. Prove it. And if god gets to be in the pretty stuff, he has to be in the ugly stuff too. And please tell me how this isn’t religionism (in response to cries of “scientism” being a fallacious way to think)?

God’s works are cunningly undetectable to science (quantum indeterminancy). God rigs the dice. = bending natural laws to explain stupid shit. And if they’re cunningly undetectable to science, how have you managed to detect the undetectable?

Religion is a natural part of the human mind. If this is true, why do we need to indoctrinate every new generation of children?

Religion will never go away, so accept it. Futility of effort argument. And just wrong. We’re seeing an increase in nones and a decrease in those with religion. Look at Europe! No religion = 50%

Without religion we’d still be living in the stone age. God increases health, prosperity, etc. Religion throws us back! Human sacrifices? Priestly classes that don’t contribute anything to society and only take? This is religion’s idea of health and prosperity.

Science does evil things. Death rays, nuclear bombs, eugenics, sexual revolution. Science has done way more AWESOME things than bad things (a short list). People do bad things with science, science isn’t inherently evil.

Scientists lack an objective morality. I derive my morality from humanist principles, not science! Science says what is, not what ought to be.

This was another fast-paced, humor-laced presentation that addressed a serious topic. I particularly enjoyed this talk because while I’ve heard PZ Myers speak at a number of events (it’s one of the benefits of living in Minnesota with the guy. The MN Tourism board actually lists this as a reason to live here), but it’s always on that boring science stuff when he’s in mild-mannered professor mode. I haven’t previously heard him go all fire and brimstone. Oh wait, he didn’t. Yes, Dr. Myers was sarcastic and irreverent, but he presented rational arguments. He backed up his opinions and jokes with reason. You know, the way scientists do. Well…93% of scientists anyway.

FTF1 PZ Myers – Scientists! If you're not an atheist, you aren't doing science right!
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21 thoughts on “FTF1 PZ Myers – Scientists! If you're not an atheist, you aren't doing science right!

    1. 1.1

      I’ve most often seen the word “nones” used in reference to those people who have answered “no stated religious preference, atheist, or agnostic” to religious identity surveys (e.g. the 2008 ARIS). “Nones” as a more generic term means people who don’t claim or participate in a religion or religious rituals.

    1. 2.1

      PZ was tongue-in-cheek calling the sexual revolution out because there are a lot of right-wing conservatives who blame science (Planned Parenthood! Kinsey! The Pill! Sex Education!) for the sexual revolution and the (again, tongue-in-cheek) moral downfall of America. PZ doesn’t think sexual liberation is an evil thing.

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