PZ Myers and Hubris

Atheist PZ Myers, who has an extremely popular blog, a fact which continually surprises me, has made a comment in this blog entry that shows he is the modern embodiment of Satan’s war on God.

After describing the book of Genesis as a “little scrap of piss-poor poetry that half this country wants to make the backbone of our science curriculum,” Myers links to this YouTube video and continues:

somebody has tried putting the actual creation story as revealed by modern physics into the same kind of portentous, simple language that even a Mesopotamian goat-herder could understand, the point being that if a god had chosen to tell primitive people how the universe came to be, he/she/it could have done so in just as awe-inspiring a way as the false myths we’ve got.

Before we get to the comment that inspired my post, let me dissect this statement. First, he assumes that his god, science, has everything right. For Myers, epistemology begins and ends with science, that is all there is and all there ever will be. Then, he makes the assumption that ancient people are stupid with insulting comments like “even a Mesopotamian goat-herder could understand” and calling Genesis “false myths.” It is unthinkable for Myers that the Bible may actually be right. So much so that at the beginning of the presentation he is blogging about, he literally tore the Creation Story right out of Genesis.

As if I haven’t already demonstrated the hubris of PZ Myers, the final comment on this entry takes the cake: “It’s rather neat that modern scientists know more than God.” What unbridled pride! And I think we all know what happens to the proud (Prv 16:5, 18).

About Cory Tucholski

I'm a born-again Christian, amateur apologist and philosopher, father of 3. Want to know more? Check the "About" page!

Posted on June 7, 2008, in Apologetics, Bible Thoughts and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 8 Comments.

  1. Given that whoever wrote (or ‘inspired’) the Bible seems to have had no awareness at all of the Universe outside of what could have been have been observed with the naked eye in the first centure, I don’t think it’s too much of a stretch to say that modern scientists do indeed know more than God.

  2. “…he is the modern embodiment of Satan’s war on God.”

    I think you are giving him too much credit, Corey. He’s a professor at a glorified community college with an attitude problem; nothing special there.

  3. First, he assumes a priori that his god, science, has everything right.

    Can you please tell me what you mean when you use the term ‘a priori’ in this article? My understanding of an ‘a priori’ assumption doesn’t fit in this context.

    I cannot say for certain what Myer’s a priori assumtions are, but I am very sure that his stance on the validity of science is not assumed a priori – in fact, I am very highly certain that he would establish his stance on the validty of science in terms of a posteriori resoning.

    I would be so bold as to presume that the only a priori assumptions Myers relies upon in his stance on the validity of science would be the belief that there is an absolute Truth in nature, and that the measure of human knowledge is based on the proximity of our imperfect understanding of nature to this – perhaps ultimately unknowable – Truth. This a priori stance is common to both theology and material science.

    I would also be so bold as to presume that Myers’ a posteriori reasoning on the validity of the scientific method would be based on the empirical results of the scientific method as it relates to the pursuit of Truth – which is the very essence of a posteriori knowledge.

    Now, that’s a lot of bold presumptions, but I think them not implausible – and we can always drop in an email to PZ Myers and check. So in light of my reasoning, I’ll ask you again:

    Because it sounds to me like you’ve performed a superficial reading of Kant (or worse – Dinesh D’Souza) and have picked up on the rather erroneous idea that you can throw around the concept of ‘a priori’ and get away with the most banal of attacks on a person’s intellectual honesty. In light of that, what exactly do you think a priori means?

  4. Vitaminbook,

    I doubt that modern scientists know more than God. God is all-knowing. Modern scientists will readily admit that they don’t know everything.

    Odgie,

    You might be right. I’m not wrong about his pride, but he is really just a little man with a big chip on his shoulder.

  5. Ubiquitous Che,

    I looked up the word a priori and it didn’t mean what I had taken it to mean. The paragraph in question actually reads better without the word in it, so I changed it.

    I would be so bold as to presume that the only a priori assumptions Myers relies upon in his stance on the validity of science would be the belief that there is an absolute Truth in nature, and that the measure of human knowledge is based on the proximity of our imperfect understanding of nature to this – perhaps ultimately unknowable – Truth.

    The absolute Truth for the scientist most often stops and rests with nature alone. See, for the theologian, that is only half of the Truth, called general revelation. Special revelation, the Bible, is used to glean the rest of the Truth. My guess is that Myers starts and ends with naturalism and never gives special revelation a second thought. I think that is an incorrect approach to the world around us.

    I’ve edited my piece and removed a priori from it. Suffice it to say that it didn’t mean what I thought it meant and let’s leave it at that.

  6. I’m actually kind of impressed about how gracefully you dropped the ‘a priori’ thing. I find it unusual that someone arguing from your position should accept criticism so elegantly. Kudos.

    That said, I still disagree with you. 😀

    See, for the theologian, that is only half of the Truth, called general revelation. Special revelation, the Bible, is used to glean the rest of the Truth.

    The thing about special revelation is that any of us – be it you, a learned theologian, or myself – are subject to two serious flaws when recieving it.

    Firstly, we have to interpret it – and by definition, our interpretation will be imperfect becuase exactly the same word can mean slightly different things to different people. This is a well-documented fact about the evolution of languages.

    The second problem is that we have no way of distinguishing a special revelation from an inspired forgery that is feigning to be a special revelation. It seems almost banal to state this in it’s tautological form, but it is a valid point nonetheless: If a forgery of a special revelation was compiled that was good enough to fool you, you could not be sure of this based on that revelation on it’s own. You would need something else to validate it – so you fall back again on what you have called ‘general revelation’.

    It is the case that ‘general revelation’ has shown, time and time again, that the Bible is very, very probably a politically-motivated work of Man – not a divine work of God.

    Disclaimer: I know I’m coming over very adversarial here, and it’s not my intent to attack you personally. It’s just that this is an interesting topic to me, I relish good arguement, and I get the impression that I don’t have to fight you with the kid’s gloves.

    If you want me to just drop the issue and leave it be, that’s fine – I’ll respect your wishes. But it’s just not in my nature to let go of a potentially rewarding argument that easily. 😀

    I’m looking forward to your response.

  7. I doubt that modern scientists know more than God. God is all-knowing. Modern scientists will readily admit that they don’t know everything.

    It’s odd how little of that infinite knowledge made it into the Bible, isn’t it?

  8. I think one point here is that compared to ancient peoples we have far greater knowledge about the world and the universe, of which much thanks goes to stealthy scientific inquiry over more than two thousand years. As time goes on and we become more informed the idea of god & the tales supposedly from him/it just appear to be less and less viable. This is why the pursuit of knowledge has always been discouraged by religions (seen in the story of Eve). The truth about ‘god’ was always going to be realised by people one way or another.

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