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PZ Myers Interview

PZ Myers, aka Pharyngula

Check out this insightful interview with Pharyngula conducted by my favorite Prince collaborator-turned-amateur astronomer, Michael Koppelman. If you've ever wondered stuff like, "What is life?" then get ready for the answers, jocko homo.

August 21, 2007 at 02:06 AM in Minnesota Stories, Science, Videoblogging | Permalink

Comments

Why was a scientist mostly talking about religion and morality???

Posted by: Terry Ann at Aug 21, 2007 10:21:27 AM

Umm, have you ever read his blog? It's about 5% science and 95% commentary on things like politics and religion.

Posted by: Michael at Aug 21, 2007 1:42:15 PM

Michael,

No haven't read his blog.
But I guess I'll leave religion to the theologians and science to scientist.

Posted by: Terry Ann at Aug 21, 2007 4:19:37 PM

Then you'll miss out on all the fun, Terry Ann!

Morality and religion are excellent topics of discussion for scientists, and humans of all stripes.

Posted by: chuck at Aug 21, 2007 5:14:53 PM

Good point, Chuck.
But aren't scientists suppose to keep up at least
an appearance of objectivity. To me when they delve into
religion and morality it is muddy water. And I'm not just
talking about just atheist scientists same goes for the ones
thinking they can prove God with science. How about just putting
the science out there and letting people draw their own conclusions?
And plus didn't Professor Myers talk about scientist trying to create
life in a lab. Sounds like that is a large task, perhaps, pontificating
about religion is not a good use of time.

Posted by: Terry Ann at Aug 21, 2007 5:48:06 PM

Other scientists are hot on the trail:

Scientists expect to create life in next 10 years

Posted by: chuck at Aug 21, 2007 11:49:22 PM

Terry Ann, that makes no sense. Scientists are people, too. They have every right to think about, discuss and publish thoughts on any topic they choose. In fact, the scientific method and scientific thinking are things sorely lacking in many debates. People seem to think they can have their own facts and can make ridiculous, unsubstantiated arguments and that we must respect those arguments if they are based on their "faith".

So we need intelligent debate from all sorts of people, especially scientists.

Posted by: Michael at Aug 27, 2007 12:29:23 PM

Michael,

Yes, like I said to Chuck... he had a good point.
I guess I was just be snotty...I apologize :)
I'm not sure what you are referring to when you say, "People seem to think
they can have their own facts and make ridiculous, unsubstantiated arguments."
If you could please be specific.

Posted by: Terry Ann at Aug 27, 2007 4:43:45 PM

I should also note that I think scientists, like Richard Dawkins,
actually do themselves a disservice when they use science to make the
claim there is no God and call the people who believe are delusional.
Because last time I checked God is a supernatural entity and science
deals in the natural and science has not proved (and will never prove)
either way the existence or non-existence of God. Like I said earlier
how about some objectivity from a community that is suppose to be, um,
objective. It might lead people to believe that scientist have an
agenda (by the way I'm not saying that I believe it does).

Posted by: Terry Ann at Aug 27, 2007 4:56:47 PM

Science can't prove the existence or non-existence of the Tooth Fairy either. Does that mean that you believe in the Tooth Fairy?

The objective stance on the issue you bring up is that there is no god. It's not a theory, its the utter absence of evidence that makes that "objective". So atheism is not religion, its not theology and its not philosophy. Its simply the recognition that there is no proof of your god or anyone else's god.

So the scientific agenda is only that we should judge things based on evidence.

That is not to say that people shouldn't believe in god. Faith is by definition not science and all people need to find their own way. But science does not have an agenda and atheism is not a philosophy.

On your question: I argue with people who say "I don't care what geology, biology or cosmology say, I know the Bible is true and that the earth is 6,000 years old". They are selecting their own "facts" and backing it up with unsubstantiated arguments from a ancient, simplistic and contradictory text. It is the antithesis of rational thought.

Posted by: Michael at Aug 28, 2007 2:48:14 PM

I believe the objective stance would not be not saying there is no god but
saying "I am a scientist and I'm just going to put my research out there
and let people come up with their own ideas." I know people interpret
information differently and let the public draw from them what they will
and not let the researchers insert their conclusions.

I really don't care how people label atheism, if it's a philosophical
stance or not. Whatever way you slice it or dice it is still a belief
system even if it is it defined by disbelief.

You're right science in itself doesn't have an agenda. But science is done
by people and humans do think and hold certain ideologies. Might I remind
you Charles Darwin was divinity school dropout before he ever published
his now famous scientific texts. I'm not saying that his research is not to be
trusted but just that he wasn't without a particular world view.

It is no surprise that the science community and religious groups are
often are at odds. They are both coming from different perspectives but that
doesn't mean they can't coexist in our hearts and minds. I don't believe
it is fair for anyone to claim that one can't be a scientists and simultaneously
hold religious views. Nor is it fair for some religious people to claim that you
can't call yourself a Christian or say that you still believe in the in inerrancy
the Bible if you agree that the Earth is more than 6,000 years. They are not
mutually exclusive.

Posted by: Terry Ann at Aug 28, 2007 4:49:15 PM

Sorry I took so long in the bathroom.
How are you two doing -- does anyone need more coffee?

Posted by: chuck at Aug 29, 2007 1:11:31 AM

Sorry, Chuck, if this conversation lasted
too long :)

Posted by: Terry Ann at Aug 29, 2007 9:05:57 PM

In his science research, I'm sure PZ is entirely objective and lets his work stand for itself. We're not talking about his research, we're talking about his opinion on social/political matters.

Atheism is not a belief system anymore than NOT believing in the Tooth Fairy is a belief system. Many people, for some reason, act as if religious belief and atheism are opposite sides of the same coin. They are not, they are different coins. You are an atheist, I assume, when it comes to Athena and Zeus. For some reason believers treat their belief system as if it was somehow different than the belief system that includes Zeus.

Yes, scientists can be believers and yes, no two believers seem to believe the same thing.

And yes, more coffee please Chuck!

Posted by: Michael at Aug 30, 2007 10:34:57 AM

We've moved on to scotch now. Mmmm, Lagavulin!

I'm really enjoying this exchange.

Posted by: chuck at Aug 30, 2007 12:24:04 PM

I guess my problem is that when someone is so vocal about calling a
group of people delusional (like Dawkins, whom I mentioned earlier),
ridiculous (like Myers did in the video) you're going to unnecessarily
polarize people towards you're work. I (and I am probably very wrong on this matter...
I'll concede that) have a hard time trusting anything a person does that who
openly attacks my religious views. Not that people can't be critical of
Christianity and other religions. That is what I love about this country
that we are free to think what we will. I'm just not for the hostility
of the discussion.

I have a degree in Journalism but I'm not currently not working (as you can tell by
the speedy responses). Journalists, we are told, are suppose to be objective.
I, however, am always talking about politics and religion on my blog. I don't know
if I could in good conscious accept a job anymore at any news outlet, unless, it
was in a opinion, political commentary capacity or I would have to delete my blog.

I know scientists (as are reporters) are just people like everyone and they have
cemented views (political, social, religious or non-religious) on the world.
But when dealing with 'facts' shouldn't that person try their hardest to not
let anything taint the appearance of being impartial. I don't know....just a
thought.

Posted by: Terry Ann at Aug 30, 2007 1:09:41 PM

I apologize for all the spelling errors in my previous comment.
Gosh, no wonder I haven't found a job.

Posted by: Terry Ann at Aug 30, 2007 1:28:59 PM