Saturday, June 26, 2010


When Belief Lowers Your IQ

PZ Myers thinks a poll is "revealing."

Specifically, a poll at KTRH radio that reads:

BP has tried many ways to stop the Gulf oil leak. Is it time to give prayer a chance?

According to PZ:

A few people have written me saying I should go easy on those Christian praying for the Gulf — it's harmless, they say, it's just building social bonds, etc., etc., etc. Well, la-de-dah — they're delusional. I don't just mean the people praying, but also those making excuses for them. Somehow, it's OK to pretend that the Baptist getting down on his knees begging God to stop the oil isn't really asking God to stop the oil…he's just engaging in a social ritual to soothe his psyche, and we shouldn't disturb his emotional equilibrium.

Bunk. Believers believe. Quit pretending that they're all really just faitheists, because they're not.

So, naturally, PZ, being a good empiricist, thoroughly investigated the meaning of the poll ... such as reading the story entitled "Is It Time To Start Praying for the Gulf?" ... instead of just making assertions based on his belief in atheism, right?

Not so much:

Calling it a time to mourn the loss of both human and animal lives as well as the destruction of God's gifts, Saint Stephen's Episcopal Church in Houston held a prayer vigil for the Gulf, giving those in attendance a chance to seek divine intervention in coping with the worst environmental disaster in U.S. history.

Reverend Lisa Hunt told those in attendance Tuesday night "that as people of faith, we need to come together and acknowledge God's presence in the midst of the darkest night, the most fearful tragedy that seemingly knows no bounds."

Rev. Hunt also gave worshippers a chance to speak publicly about their fears and concerns over the gulf tragedy, with many saying they are worried what might happen if a hurricane were to strike the Gulf of Mexico before clean-up efforts are complete.

"We really wanted to give people a safe place to come and tell their stories, their grief and their anxieties," says Reverend Carissa Baldwin adding in times of need, its best for people to share their feelings with others.

One of the more emotional moments came when the congregation in unison prayed for the 11 oil workers who were killed when the Deepwater Horizon rig exploded April 20th.

Now, PZ might well still denigrate that kind of ... well ... communion, but it certainly doesn't support his rant.

But, in this instance, PZ doesn't seem interested in the truth, since it might contradict his belief.

BTW, the station did not appreciate being pharyngulaiated. They have pulled the poll off their site.
If you are going to criticise PZ for exercising his 'belief' perhaps you could be critised for exercising your 'belief' in rationality?

Or are we talikg about different beliefs?
If you are going to criticise PZ for exercising his 'belief' perhaps you could be critised for exercising your 'belief' in rationality?

I couldn't care less about PZ's beliefs or how rational they are (as long as they aren't hurting children or others non-consentors) ... if he didn't go around criticizing others for their beliefs and claiming that, unlike his, those beliefs are irrational/delusional. Once he does that, PZ's beliefs are fair game for examination, including how rational they are.

All pots may be examined for how black they are.
It is a stupidly phrased question, and PZ is right that action and prayer (whether petitional or communal) are not mutually exclusive. But that is Clear Channel's misstep, not that of any church, or any "faitheists." The idea that a media organ (even a conservative, Texan, one) should be considered to speak for a congregation is a thoughtless (or naive) error that anyone engaged in careful, truthful analysis would be careful to avoid. This is Limbaugh/Beck/Palin territory, not something that anyone who wants to be taken seriously should engage in. I would like pause for a moment in (atheistic) prayer that PZ will wake up to the error of his ways and start living up to his obvious potential as a smart, creative and empathetic member of society.
ps, kind of O/T but Just Another Deisidaimon Via Wilkins) is making wee wee on the metaphysical/methological naturalism distinction. He uses fancier language than Coyne or Moran, but it seems to come down to the usually positivistic refusal to admit that naturalists have a metaphysics, just like everyone else.
They may have a metaphysics, but they don't usually think much about it. Modern scientists are basically pedants (but they were not always this way). With tax accountant-like thoroughness, they methodically attempt to pin reality down to specific repeatable behaviors. And that makes many of them feel they have superior wisdom compared to non-scientists.
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