I have been very careful in my posts about the various disputes among the anti-ID folks not to make the issue a personal one. These are disagreements, clearly, and they’re not going to go away. But I have kept my focus exclusively on the validity and wisdom of our respective positions, not on the personalities involved. Sadly, PZ Myers cannot seem to do the same. In his post on the subject he sees fit to throw in several gratuitous insults, calling me “that sad panjandrum of the self-satisfied mean, medium, middle, moderate, and mediocre” as well as a “clueless non-academic” and various other things.
I’m not going to respond in kind, but I will note that this immediate turn to the personal attack is not a surprise to anyone who has seen the same behavior in private exchanges on this and similar subjects. I’ll also note that this behavior only confirms what I’ve been saying, that those on the “other team” are so fanatical and demand such complete fealty to their full agenda that anyone falling short of that is subject to personal attack. The historically inclined will note that this is very common behavior among extremists.
Let me also note the further irony that Myers claims to be the victim of mass misrepresentation by all of the folks who have chimed in to agree with me, yet his post is absolutely packed full of misrepresentations of what we’ve said about his position. For example, he asks:
What awful thing could Moran have said, on top of the usual pile of criminal sins of overt atheists so numerous they don’t need explanation, that would justify calling us “disturbing and dangerous” and “appalling and vile”?
But I didn’t call them either of those things. I did say that Moran’s reaction to the situation, specifically his argument that all college students who don’t believe in evolution should be expelled, was “disturbing and dangerous.” I stand by that opinion. And I did not say that I find Myers or Moran “appalling and vile”, I said that I find the authoritarian tactics they advocate appalling and vile. Surely that is fair comment. Disagree with it if you like, but don’t pretend that I was talking about them as people rather than referring to their positions.
Myers also accuses me of “placing Moran in opposition to improving science education:” I did no such thing. I’m quite sure that both Moran and Myers want very much to protect and improve science education. My argument has been that their anti-theist zeal clouds their judgement on how best to do that and undermines our efforts to do so in a number of ways. That argument has thus far gone entirely unanswered, primarily because they are too busy pretending I’ve said things I haven’t said.
He further claims that I have “erected this astonishingly black-and-white fantasy where there is this totalitarian group of atheists seeking world domination.” This is an absurd exaggeration. I haven’t said anything about atheists seeking world domination, for crying out loud. I’ve referred to their authoritarian tactics, and I’ve been specific about what those tactics are, but Myers is vastly exaggerating my position here.
But perhaps the most reality-impaired passage from his post is this one:
He’s saying that those “who want to divide the movement” are handing victory to the fundamentalists in a post where he and Ed are explicitly dividing the movement into two opposing “teams”. It’s a single sentence, Pat, and you are plainly committing the sin you damn Moran for! And “damn” is a mild term for the scorn Ed and Pat pour onto those who are less sanguine about the destructive influence of religion on our culture.
This is addressed to Pat Hayes. As I’ve noted already, I have not criticized Moran or Myers for “dividing the movement.” The movement is already dividedl; it always has been and it always will be. And there’s nothing wrong with acknowledging that. My argument is that his team has an entirely different goal than ours, and their pursuit of that goal undermines our ability to achieve ours (not because they don’t want to protect science education, but because they are focused so obsessively on getting rid of any religious position, even if those positions are strongly in favor of good science education).
Second, one can only note the irony (read: hypocrisy) of Myers feigning outrage at the “scorn” being “poured onto” him and Moran when, in fact, he is the one who has launched the personal attacks. And the absurdity of accusing me of not being sanguine enough about “the destructive influence of religion on our culture.” I spend an enormous portion of my time fighting against the negative influence of religion on our culture.
The difference between us is that I don’t think that religion is exclusively negative in our culture. Religion also motivates many good things along with the undisputed bad things it inspires. And for a great many people, their private religious views are simply of no consequence to me, nor should they be to him. We can fight against those negative aspects of religion without A) claiming that every religious person is an idiot or B) attacking every single religious person or group including those who are firmly on our side in the science education battles.