Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Religion: PZ and Me

There is a reason why PZ Myer's blog, Pharyngula, was named the top science blog of 2006 by Nature. It's darn good and on my daily reading list. Today I had the pleasure of meeting PZ when he came to NDSU to present a talk entitled, "Accommodation isn't enough: why scientists need to speak out against religion".

He started his talk discussing the poor arguments against religion:
  • Science has NOT disproven God - it is silly to make that argument
  • Atrocities done in the name of religion - there are certainly atrocities done by atheists as well as many good deeds done in the name of religion. This is a very weak argument.
He then presented even worse arguments for religion:
  • Scripture - it is not validated
  • Morality - both religious and non-religious may be moral or immoral
  • Consolation - use religion to console, fear of death
  • Inspiration - Bach could be argued to be inspired by religion. Sure, but was he inspired by God or did that come from himself. PZ had a great comeback for this one - "Have you ever listened to Christian Rock these days?"
  • Non-overlapping ideas - Religion and science can't mix.
PZ then went on to discuss why we should oppose religion, particularly extremist religion. He makes a case for why it should not be a basis for public policy or governance. He discussed a bit of the books by Ken Miller and Francis Collins.

He did have a funny "top 10" list of why Religion is Just Like Pornography. It was amusing and you can read all the details on his blog.

I think the highlight of the talk was his statement:
"Religion has been granted an exalted, priveleged position in our culture. What it deserves is laughter."
We had a nice discussion after the talk, but certainly nothing as heated as I epected. I guess the religious nutjobs stayed away from this one.

1 comment:

GraemeAnfinson said...

I have read his blog as well. Smart man. That would have been nice to hear