PZ Myers is Made of Win

So, after the Metro-State Atheists went through much stress and annoying bereaucracy stuff involving the student government, I got to see PZ Myers give an epic speech that was made of win!

After having heard the majority of my non-science teachers pussyfoot around having to say the “E word”, it was refreshing hearing somebody say that we shouldn’t avoid talking about evolution just because the creationist “has a big rock”.

Most refreshing was hearing somebody say that science and religion are in fact competing worldviews. One relies on faith, while the other asks for evidence. Now, that doesn’t mean that people can’t be compartmentalised and use faith in one situation to make them feel warm and fuzzy on the inside and science when they end up in an emergency room, but they’re really not the same.

PZ gave a very good summary of the present state of science education in our country, loaded with all those juicy statistics and stuff. He also pointed out that a certain vice-presidential candidate is a creationist and thinks that creation should be taught along-side evolution.

He then divulged his evil plan for when he becomes Emperor of the world by showing us a clip from Expelled with him saying that he wanted religion to become like knitting. But of course, after saying that quote a bunch of knitters (including myself… er… not really… I’ve knitted a few scarves and stuff) because upset that he had vilely compared their hobby to religion so he made a new analogy (and I will paraphrase and plausibly severely misquote him here)

I want religion to become like masturbation. Something that everybody does, doesn’t talk about it that much, doesn’t affect their lives… but it feels good and it doesn’t harm anybody…

I don’t want it to become a deciding factor for president of the United States though.

He then talked about the whole cracker incident and shared a few of the e-mails he had gotten from it, and as entertaining as it was to hear him tell the tale in person, I frankly felt he spent more time on it than he needed to… and I don’t think he tied it in to the talk very well. Actually, I still have no idea how it related to science education. I loved listening to it and all but…

Sorry, PZ. You’re still made of win. Just a touch of constructive criticism…

He ended with a quote from Lawrence Krauss…

I wonder which is more important: using the contrast between science and religion to teach about science or trying to put religion in its place?

He said “why can’t we do both?” And I agree. The better a person understands the scientific method, I’ll bet the more likely they are to apply it to everything.

Education needs to be about freethought. It needs to be about teaching kids skepticism and not telling them “apply this to everything! But not your religion.” We can’t make conclusions for them, but we can give them the freedom and the tools to get to their own conclusions… if they choose to use them.

So, in conclusion, when PZ becomes emperor of the world it’s not going to be that bad of a place. If you don’t like cephalopods, though…

Anyway, still a pretty awesome talk.

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12 responses to this post.

  1. Glad you got to hear him talk.

  2. That’s great! I only wish Brooklyn were on his schedule.

  3. OMG, is that PZ giving you a terrorist fist jab?

  4. Yes. 😀

  5. “Religion is like masturbation… kind of wanky.”

    “Religion is like masturbation… do it too much and it’ll make you blind!”

  6. Posted by Melmoth on September 14, 2008 at 7:44 am

    Splendid reading, and the terrorist fist bump cracked me up. Nice hat by the way. 🙂

    One question though: Who was there listening to our dear Minnesotan professor? Was he, in a manner of speaking, preaching to the chore, or where there some genuinely curious people in needing of persuasion?

  7. Most of the questions, I believe, were from Atheists. I think that the majority of the audience was from “the choir” although I do know that there were a few theists scattered about.

    I heard one after the talk say “I’ve never heard a professional Atheist talk before” and that made me wonder why I can’t be a professional flapper if you can somehow be a professional Atheist.

  8. Getting money out of not believing something …

    Think of the run away inflation! 😉

  9. Victor J. Stenger, Author of the New York Times best seller “God: The Failed Hypothesis” will be speaking in the Turnhalle at the Tivoli on the Auraria campus on November 10th from 1:00-3:00pm. The address is 9000 Auraria Parkway, Denver Colorado, 80217. Check out the abstract of his talk and a short biography below.

    GOD: THE FAILED HYPOTHESIS
    HOW SCIENCE SHOWS THAT GOD DOES NOT EXIST
    Victor J. Stenger

    NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER
    Abstract of Talk

    In my 2003 book Has Science Found God? I provided a critique of contemporary claims that science supports the existence of God and found them inadequate. In this book I go much further and argue that empirical science makes a strong case against the existence a God with the traditional attributes of the Judaic-Christian-Islamic God. My argument will not be based simply on the gross absence of evidence for God. Not only is there no evidence for God, I will argue that the evidence we have can be used to conclude beyond a reasonable doubt that this God does not exist. Not only does the universe show no evidence for God, it looks exactly as it would be expected to look if there is no God.
    God: The Failed Hypothesis made the New York Times bestseller list in March 2007. The paperback edition is now available, with a foreword by Christopher Hitchens and a new Postscript by the author.
    A SHORT BIOGRAPHY OF VICTOR J. STENGER

    Victor Stenger is adjunct professor of philosophy at the University of Colorado and emeritus professor of physics at the University of Hawaii (retired). He is a fellow of the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry and a research fellow of the Center for Inquiry. Stenger has also held visiting positions on the faculties of the University of Heidelberg in Germany, Oxford in England (twice), and has been a visiting researcher at Rutherford Laboratory in England, the National Nuclear Physics Laboratory in Frascati, Italy, and the University of Florence in Italy.
    Stenger spent forty years doing research in elementary particle physics and astrophysics during the golden age of those subjects. In his last project before retiring, Stenger collaborated on the underground experiment in Japan that showed for the first time that the neutrino has mass. The Japanese leader of this experiments shared the 2002 Nobel Prize.
    Victor Stenger has had a parallel career as an author of critically well-received popular-level books that interface between physics and cosmology and philosophy, religion, and pseudoscience. These include: Not By Design: The Origin of the Universe (1988); Physics and Psychics: The Search for a World Beyond the Senses 1990); The Unconscious Quantum: Metaphysics in Modern Physics and Cosmology (1995); Timeless Reality: Symmetry, Simplicity, and Multiple Universes (2000); Has Science Found God? The Latest Results in the Search for Purpose in the Universe (2003); The Comprehensible Cosmos: Where Do the Laws of Physics Come from? (2006); and God: The Failed Hypothesis. How Science Shows That God Does Not Exist (2007). The latest book made the New York Times bestseller list in March, 2007.
    Stenger maintains a popular Web site (a thousand hits per month), where much of his writing and the slideshow for this talk can be found, at http://www.colorado.edu/philosophy/vstenger/ .

  10. Whoops. I didn’t mean to post that here.

  11. Posted by Joy Wang on September 14, 2008 at 10:52 pm

    Hmm…PZ mentioned once that he might be giving a talk in Philly during the Year of Evolution thingamajig. *strokesinvisiblebeardpensively* But it’s really cool that you got to see him talk.

  12. […] you to check out posts that aren’t about Emma Watson and Richard Dawkins. Here’s one about blogger, PZ Myers. Here’s one about UFO nuts. Here’s one about creationists in science museums. Oh, and […]

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