This is in regard to the Pharyngula thread where PZ Myers bashes Ken Miller. I think it’s been made clear by Bill and Denyse what’s a bad atheist. In reading the comments on Myers’ screed a person named “plunge” demonstrates what a good atheist thinks and relates it to science. Plunge asserts he is an outspoken atheist but he sure sounds like an outspoken agnostic to me. I find it a little irritating that atheist and agnostic are commonly conflated because that throws me into the atheist camp when in reality I am simply unsure one way or the other – in a no man’s land between theists and atheists.
Anyhow, Plunge correctly (in my opinion) asserts that science is agnostic. What the scientist should say while wearing his labcoat (vs. his Sunday-go-to-meeting clothes) is: God may or may not exist but I know of no way to objectively measure or test God’s existence so as a scientist I cannot say one way or the other. Even PZ Myers in a comment says he respects Plunge’s opinion but doesn’t agree with it. Maybe there’s hope for Myers yet.
“Claims that gods do not exist or do not interfere in natural processes, and that we must base our interpretations on an assumption that events occur by the action of natural phenomena, however, have been the essential operational basis of all of science, and that has worked incredibly well.”
Plunge in response:
You’re confusing things here. You are trying to conflate the principles that delimit the scope of science with the idea that those principles are themselves proof of anything. We carefully stake out the territory of science to what we can see and detect and test because it would become pure nonsense if we did not (and DOES become pure nonsense in the hands of religious people who try to introduce god into their equations). But that doesn’t mean that science “makes the claim that god does not exist.” You aren’t going to find that declaration in a science textbook, because it’s neither necessary nor supportable.
I’d like to further comment on the critical difference between objective and subjective in regard to science & religion. I, and presumably Ken Miller and many of you, have subjective evidence of God. We feel a connection with a living God that is at once undeniable and
irrational non-rational. This is subjective evidence and I cannot convince an unbiased observer with it. For my part I can’t even convince myself that the feeling weighs more towards one particular organized religion than another. Science is ideally all about objective evidence such that all observers can agree upon it regardless of their subjective experience.
Now to why I mention Nick Matzke. I don’t know if Nick is an atheist, agnostic, or theist but he at least recognizes PZ Myers as a bad atheist and it’s just too irresistible not to point out the problems in NDE paradise (friction amongst its adherents). I will just quote Nick with no further explanation:
PZ, you’re a great guy, but I think the only thing that would make you happy is if everyone submitted to your personal metaphysical beliefs. Ken Miller is correct that theists should argue against atheism, not mistarget science or evolution. You just don’t seem to get the distinction between science and metaphysics.
PZ, I respect you greatly for your contributions as a scientist, evolution educator, and effective foe of creationism. But if you’re going to be bashing Ken, would it not be worth comparing you two in these categories? Isn’t there a good chance he would come out ahead in all three?
Posted by: Nick (Matzke) | September 9, 2006 06:22 PM