Pharyngula

More money than sense

This loon, Gerry Rzeppa, has made a challenge to Richard Dawkins. All Dawkins has to do is show up on a stage with Rzeppa, listen to him read from his children’s book for about ten minutes, and answer one simple question…and Rzeppa will hand over $64,000 (if he even has it). I don’t think Dawkins should do it, since it’s like taking advantage of the mentally deficient, but then…

I read the book. Yeesh. You’d have to pay me more than that to get me to sit through that Vogon poetry again.

Comments

  1. #1 Siamang
    April 10, 2008

    Vogon Poetry is right.

  2. #2 Matt
    April 10, 2008

    I don’t know what’s harder to read, the story or the font itself. Besides, if this guy’s question is so profound, so wonderful and so life-changing (especially after reading a little rhyming book that doesn’t actually answer any questions as to the nature of life), why doesn’t he just post it on the internet for free and change all of our lives? Why would he have to pay us to convert us to his beliefs? This guy’s doing it all wrong! He should really take a look at Scientology…

  3. #3 Braxton Thomason
    April 10, 2008

    I love the implication that if a man doesn’t believe in God, he won’t be sad when his wife dies.

    Yeah.

  4. #4 labert
    April 10, 2008

    Couldn’t finish the book; a pile of nonsense. One wonders what insightful and penetrating question he expects will once and for all show Dawkins how sinfully wrong he is :). Must a good one, like . . “Don’t you see now? It’s all so clear!”

    feh.

  5. #5 Jackie Stone
    April 10, 2008

    I got an email from Rzeppa about this. After reading the story and being thoroughly confused about what exactly the point he was trying to get across was, I sent him an email asking about the question he wanted to ask Dawkins. I knew he probably wouldn’t tell me but I figured it couldn’t hurt to ask. Here was his response:

    Jackie, Jackie.

    You know I can’t reveal the question until the big moment. It would take all the fun out of the thing! And it would put a premature end to all of the beneficial searching, pondering, and discussing that is the whole point of the affair.

    But I’ll tell you what. If you can discern the question ahead of time, I’ll send you a free autographed copy of my little book immediately after the show. Even if you don’t want it, you can sell it on ebay as a collector’s item!

    Gerry

    Haha…a collector’s item…

  6. #6 Matt
    April 10, 2008

    I apologize for the double-post, but I have one further problem with this guy’s book. He claims it’s better because it has pictures, and it rhymes.

    As a side note, I shall now write all further research papers in pentatonic verse and include graphs only in silhouette.

  7. #7 Jim RL
    April 10, 2008

    Could this guy open up his challenge to some grad students? Geez, I’d listen to whatever schlock he wanted to spew for $64K. I would like some assurance that he has it, though. I should send him my contact info in case Dawkins has too much class or sense to show up.

  8. #8 uknesvuinng
    April 10, 2008

    Vogon poetry is only the third worst in the universe, and the second is that of the Azgoths of Kria.

    The first worst has bounced around between various Earth-based authors, but I think Rzeppa has just secured that spot so well that the badness of this poetry will ripple backward through time, causing all the various tellings of HHGG to agree on at least this point.

  9. #9 Milo Johnson
    April 10, 2008

    Mr. Dawkins, if you accept, just remember that it’s “42.”

  10. #10 Tosser
    April 10, 2008

    Maybe if the Expelled guys can’t use their current cell video, this guy could do some silhoutte animation for them.

    Here’s a Vogon poetry generator:

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/cult/hitchhikers/vogonpoetry/lettergen.shtml

  11. #11 Jason Failes
    April 10, 2008

    Damn, I’m missing all the fun.

    I can only see the front cover of his book when I click on the links. Is it overwhelmed by Pharyngulic traffic? Is it because I’m in Canada? Is anyone else having this problem? Am I the lucky one?

  12. #12 alex
    April 10, 2008

    i read this awful, awful book ages ago when i saw a link in the adds on uncommon descent (yeah, one of many terrible links from a terrible site).

    mayhaps the question will be “what do you think of my magnificent beard, Richard?”, followed by an awkward silence and much eye-contact-evading.

  13. #13 danley
    April 10, 2008

    I can’t even read this bullshit. Maybe his question is about the font. There must have been a designer for anything that terrible to exist.

  14. #14 Michael
    April 10, 2008

    Doesn’t his domain name http://www.rzeppa-vs-dawkins.com/ alone give Dawkins grounds enough to sue the 64K out of the guy?

  15. #15 Liesele
    April 10, 2008

    PLEASE stop making me snort coffee on my keyboard.

  16. #16 Paul Johnson
    April 10, 2008

    He should really have invested in better bandwidth

  17. #17 Matt
    April 10, 2008

    I hereby submit my poem, hopefully it will ease the pain of reading that awful book.

    See, see the wise sky
    Marvel at its big orange depths.
    Tell me, Jessica do you
    Wonder why the your mom ignores you?
    Why its foobly stare
    makes you feel ugh.
    I can tell you, it is
    Worried by your fgchuougljk facial growth
    That looks like
    A soda.
    What’s more, it knows
    Your plunk potting shed
    Smells of algae.
    Everything under the big wise sky
    Asks why, why do you even bother?
    You only charm crayfishs.

    (Thanks for the vogon poetry generator link!)

  18. #18 gir
    April 10, 2008

    “Are you ticklish, Richard?”

    http://www.funnyordie.com/videos/e8e4424115

  19. #19 Rene
    April 10, 2008

    I think “some of the parts” of this guy’s brain are missing.

  20. #20 DwarfPygmy
    April 10, 2008

    answer one simple question

    OOH, I know the question…

    How do you explain PYGMIES + DWARFS!!!???

  21. #21 freelunch
    April 10, 2008

    So, PZ, have you ever managed to slashdot another site before?

  22. #22 Carlie
    April 10, 2008

    Wait, wasn’t $64,000 the exact amount of the jackpot on the Pyramid game show? Dawkins’ category will be: Things that Make No Sense.

  23. #23 Mike Haubrich, FCD
    April 10, 2008

    No, he shouldn’t make a large file .png his homepage.

    Design git.

  24. #24 steve8282
    April 10, 2008

    If he comes to my house I will only give him a Beer and a steak but he won’t have to sit through that Shite!

  25. #25 Epinephrine
    April 10, 2008

    Wow, 6,400 Truth Tickets would offset a lot of stupid. But it’s a deep, deep pile of stupid, and I don’t know if it’d make that big a dent.

  26. #26 freelunch
    April 10, 2008

    Are there many people who have their entire website in .gifs?

    I don’t know which is worse, the poetry or the time it takes to get to the next vogolicious verse.

  27. #27 Dahan
    April 10, 2008

    Hmmm, seems to be pharyngulized.

  28. #28 Eliza
    April 10, 2008

    My question to this fellow is: You say one is never alone as long as he or she is known. Am I I wrong to interpret this as known in the Biblical sense?

  29. #29 PZ Myers
    April 10, 2008

    I think the verb is “pharyngulated”. And yeah, I’ve done it a few times before.

  30. #30 MikeM
    April 10, 2008

    Somewhere out there, somewhere in the world, Digital Cuttlefish is composing his response.

    I can’t wait for this somewhen.

    I liked the word, “somewhen.”

    “Somewhere and somewhen.”

    Ouch.

  31. #31 Wes
    April 10, 2008

    My Vogon poem after plugging in some Jebus-sounding words to the vogon poem generator:

    See, see the holy sky
    Marvel at its big gray depths.
    Tell me, god do you
    Wonder why the Christian ignores you?
    Why its foobly stare
    makes you feel resurrected.
    I can tell you, it is
    Worried by your nogloid facial growth
    That looks like
    A the meaning of life.
    What’s more, it knows
    Your Shunt potting shed
    Smells of Holy Spirit.
    Everything under the big holy sky
    Asks why, why do you even bother?
    You only charm jesuss.

  32. #32 Braxton Thomason
    April 10, 2008

    “Pharyngulated” sounds deliciously naughty.

  33. #33 Rave
    April 10, 2008

    I’d actually like to see Dawkins accept and put all the money directly towards the RDF or some other charity. Perhaps he could use it to distribute free copies of his books :)

  34. #34 Coyote
    April 10, 2008

    Whoever gets post #42 in the comments, better do something special!

  35. #35 Janine, ID
    April 10, 2008

    Smells of Holy Spirit.

    Smells like holy spirit?
    I smell a big hit!

  36. #36 Jack Chastain
    April 10, 2008

    My goodness – I have a fibre link – and that thing took minutes to load. OK – I KNOW it doesn’t matter how fast I am, if the far end is a drizzle, but still….

    I have not seen anywhere yet that indicates Richard has to ANSWER the question – and assuming that that is implied, that the answer has to be something this loon accepts.

    There is a tiny church locally that serves jerk chicken on Saturdays. I LOVE jerk chicken, and have said “I can put up with a hell of a lot of preaching for some good jerk chicken.”

    I am tempted to modify that to “I can put up with an awful lot of idiotic doggerel – for $64,000.”

    There is always the possibility that his major intestine will, in a desperate attempt to save mankind, leap through his throat and strangle the guy….

    JC

  37. #37 John C. Welch
    April 10, 2008

    Would it kill him to use legible script?

    I guess while his mother was dispensing soap box knowledge, she forgot, “Oh, and always write legibly, so you don’t look like a git”

  38. #38 Holbach
    April 10, 2008

    I know what the demented slimeball will ask Dawkins: “What is the genus of the slime that is hiding in my freaking beard?

  39. #39 Don
    April 10, 2008

    Poor guy. He seems willing to pay his life savings to be noticed by RD.

    Surely he can’t imagine it will happen? Or imagine that, if it did, it would generate enough sales of that pious piffle to make back his stake.

  40. #40 NicM
    April 10, 2008

    I hope Dawkins takes the challenge for a few very simple reasons. One, he can offer the money to a worthy charity that could definitely use it. Two, if this guy really thinks he’s going to stump Dawkins into a stunned silence or admission of the divine, then the disappointed look on his face when Dawkins gives him an eloquent rebuttal will be the viral video hit of the week. Three, it will inevitably draw yet more interest to what Dawkins has to say and make one more self important, pompous religionist look stupid. I say go for it R.D.!

  41. #41 missus_gumby
    April 10, 2008

    I’d accept the challenge. He does not stipulate that there must be a correct answer! Whatever the question is, I would answer: “I don’t know”. Sweet!

    Mind you, I suspect that Richard is reasonably wealthy and that an extra $64,000 (£32,000) would make no difference to his life at all.

    missus_gumby

  42. #42 MikeM
    April 10, 2008

    “Always wash behind your ears”

    Now that’s a wise mother.

  43. #43 MikeM
    April 10, 2008

    (Sorry, Coyote. I didn’t do it on purpose. Honestly, I didn’t.)

  44. #44 Justin
    April 10, 2008

    I wouldn’t even stand next to this guy for 64 grand. That website is creepy as hell.

  45. #45 Brian Tani
    April 10, 2008

    Perhaps it would be something as “Are you still beating your wife?” type of question.

    I don’t trust the whole “Come, I’m a friendly person, I have writen a children’s book… here…. take some money, I don’t mind, but follow me.”

  46. #46 Evolved Rationalist
    April 10, 2008

    This loon e-mailed me about his book, and he sent me a second e-mail about my blog’s tagline and remarked that fossils don’t show evolution after all.

    If only he would give *me* the money instead of RD….

  47. #47 Brian Knoblock
    April 10, 2008

    Carlie @ #22: Actually no ‘Pyramid’ was for $64k. There were $10k, $25k, and $100k variations. You’re thinking of the rigged $64,000 Question from the 50′s. (Rigged until Dr. Joyce Brothers took them for the full $64k when they wanted to off her weeks earlier.)

    As for if this guy has the money, here’s the solution: the person (Dawkins or whomever this dude wants to challenge) sits in a chair in the middle of the stage, listens to whole thing, they wheel out the $64k in stacks of $20s, dramatic music in the background, then they get asked the question to which they immediately get out of the chair, grab the money from the table and take off.

    Or answer his question only if he gets to listen to ten minutes worth of their poetry.

  48. #48 Bad
    April 10, 2008

    I’m confused: does the book have more than just the first page? I couldn’t get the arrows to work to turn the page.

  49. #49 ennui
    April 10, 2008

    “So, Dawk, do you like gladiator movies?”

  50. #50 Janine, ID
    April 10, 2008

    Bad, it takes a loooonnnngggg time for the page to turn. I have been reading this thing for the last half an hour. As well as hitting different blogs while waiting.

  51. #51 dwarf zebu
    April 10, 2008

    Ooo, silhouettes and some in grayscale, too, brilliant! Not.

    Actually, it looks like bad cut & paste from some religious-themed clip art book.

    I didn’t understand the use of the tomb imagery with text indicating a burial. A silhouette hole in the ground wouldn’t be that difficult, surely. To draw or understand.

    All in all, it’s insufferable tripe. And yet, I can’t seem to look away. I’d say it’s like a car wreck, but I don’t have any trouble not looking at one of those. This must be worse…

    He seems real proud of himself for being the Dr. Seuss of the bizarro world, though.

  52. #52 Holbach
    April 10, 2008

    Hello, my name is Gerry Zcrappa and I would like you to meet the vermin in my beard; but before I let them devour you I will ask you just one question, and if you answer it correctly I will not puke on you and let the maggots reduce you to a pile of shit. Can it get any worse than this?

  53. #53 MikeM
    April 10, 2008

    Bad, #48:

    It’s just unbelievably slow, mostly because of its design.

    For the record, I would NEVER write one of my web pages as all-.GIFs. Jesus Monkey, that’s hideous.

    All .gif + getting Pharyngulated = Holy crap, this is slow.

    PS: I really like your blog.

  54. #54 miller
    April 10, 2008

    Well, if Jesus appears in children’s fiction to make some Creationist arguments, he must be real!

  55. #55 Carlie
    April 10, 2008

    Argh. Another complaint about the slowness here. Why would Jesus have a hooded black cape? I thought that was Death.
    The rhymes don’t even measure up to a Hallmark card. What a load of tripe.

  56. #56 CarrieP
    April 10, 2008

    “I love the implication that if a man doesn’t believe in God, he won’t be sad when his wife dies.”

    That’s funny, because it’s exactly the wrong way around. A Christian is the one who wouldn’t/shouldn’t be sad if his wife died.

    No one can say it better than Shakespeare, so I’ll let him explain:

    Clown: Good madonna, why mournest thou?
    OLIVIA: Good fool, for my brother’s death.
    Clown: I think his soul is in hell, madonna.
    OLIVIA: I know his soul is in heaven, fool.
    Clown: The more fool, madonna, to mourn for your brother’s soul being in heaven.
    –William Shakespeare, “Twelfth Night

  57. #57 Jason Failes
    April 10, 2008

    Finally, got through it.
    It turns out I WAS better off before.

    A brief review:

    -The father’s characterization is nothing like any secular parent I have ever met or heard of. The only thing I can think of that would explain his outburst is if his wife’s beliefs had led directly to her death, say by refusing medical treatment such as a blood transfusion. (However, more likely it’s just the author telling us what atheists are like, again)

    -The box picture looks like the “face” on Mars. Is he trying to illustrate the human tendency to find patterns where none exist?

    -I can’t help but note that the world does not work that way at all. There are no mystical strangers with glowing puzzle pieces helping out mourning children.
    What does it say when you have to make up things that never happened to defend spiritual entities that never existed?

    -The guy with the hammer is just stupid. He might as well have put him in a blank room with the title “Atheist’s Reward”. It doesn’t work that way.

    -”but I think you’ve had enough” Truer words have never been spoken, but then he continues!

    -Isn’t the mourning process about coming to accept the passing of a loved one and learning to live without them? This book attempts to do the opposite, to make sure you never deal with their passing and never accept that they are gone.

    As an aside, I’ve always wondered how much further along life-saving and life-extending biotechnology would be if we were not influenced to procrastinate by various myths that deflect the fear of death by telling us we don’t really die.

  58. #58 Shane
    April 10, 2008

    $64,000 is cheap for the kind of publicity this guy would get. I think even being on this blog is more publicity than he deserves.

  59. #59 Colin J
    April 10, 2008

    There’s 1/2 hour of my life I’ll never get back.

    I’ll answer the damn question.

    Cut me a check.

  60. #60 chaos_engineer
    April 10, 2008

    Jason, are you using Firefox? He’s using some custom Javascript that only works in Internet Explorer.

    Here’s the executive summary: (1) He correctly shows that you can’t quickly produce a detailed picture of a human face by generating shapes at random. (2) He correctly shows that you also can’t quickly produce such a picture by using a flawed genetic algorithm. (The “mutation” part of the algorithm works, but the “selection” rule is broken and just selects shapes at random.) (3) He falsely assumes that you can’t generate a detailed picture of a human face using a functional genetic algorithm. (4) Based on the faulty assumption in (3), he argues that detailed pictures of human faces must all be intelligently designed.

    He also seems to think that atheists are immoral brutes who break everything they can’t understand. I’m not sure where he got that idea from. All the atheists I know are pretty easygoing; but maybe he hangs out with an unusually low class of atheist?

    Based on this, I believe his question is going to be, “Do you know where I can meet some atheists who are decent human beings, and who will be friends with me if I don’t preach at them too much?” Dawkins ought to be able to help him find an answer, and Rzeppa will be a lot better-off, even after giving away the $64,000.

  61. #61 gir
    April 10, 2008

    “Richard, does this smell like ether to you?”

  62. #62 Alverant
    April 10, 2008

    I haven’t seen the challenge, but does it say anywhere about if Dawkin’s answer has to be correct? And if so, who judges if his answer is correct? This whole thing sounds like a trap to me.

  63. #63 Alex
    April 10, 2008

    64K may not be a lot for RD, but I’d be glad to take that man’s money. I’ll even stand there and accept Jesus (or any deity, really) as my lord and savior. Does the 64K include travel expenses?

  64. #64 JasonG
    April 10, 2008

    This book reads like the demon spawn of a threesome between Dr. Seuss, Grunthos the Flatulent, and Ray Comfort. And to cap it off, it loads with a speed eclipsing only slightly that of continental drift.

    I count myself lucky that I made through only 15 pages of this inanity–any further exposure, and I might have had to gnaw off one of my own legs to survive.

  65. #65 Doug
    April 10, 2008

    I say Dawkins should do it. There is apparently no requirement that the question be answered correctly. The nutter could ask his question and Dawkins could respond with something like, “Maybe.” Then he could use the money and provide everyone in the audience with a free copy of The God Delusion.

  66. #66 Yud
    April 10, 2008

    Wow, as a survivor of numerous creative writing classes, I have to say that’s one of the worst poems I’ve ever read. He makes every amateur poetry-writing mistake in the book. Plus, the whole thing is rather creepy.

    The best part was his portrayal of “the maker” as a creepy guy with a big beard, carrying a big stick and wearing a black hooded cape who hides in sheds to ambush little boys. And then give them math lessons. And then “make baby boys” with them.

  67. #67 Emmet Caulfield
    April 10, 2008

    As a side note, I shall now write all further research papers in pentatonic verse and include graphs only in silhouette.

    Many years ago, the author of an automatic haiku generator wrote a lengthy technically-detailed article (3 or 4 pages) about it for The Perl Journal, written entirely as a sequence of haiku. It was quite incredible.

  68. #68 Janine, ID
    April 10, 2008

    I finally completed that thing. The main point is that everything is made made of thoughts of the maker. Everything survives because it is in his head.

    Deep. Profound.

    There is also something about a blindfolded fool who tosses tiles. I think that is supposed to be about atheists. Also, atheists do not cry when a loved one dies.

    (I have just tried to force my head through a wall.)

  69. #69 Peter
    April 10, 2008

    Although I suppose I’m an atheist, I guess I’m a pretty wimpish one: What I would ask a really muscular atheist, is:
    “how do you comfort a child whose mother has died?”.
    I think I would dissemble, lie, and tell the kid she’s gone to h…
    Peter.

  70. #70 Joe
    April 10, 2008

    I agree with comment #40….I think Dawkins should take him up on this challenge and then donate that money to a worthy charity.

    $64,000 is enough for a several students to get their geology field camp paid for, or for some students to get to a Biology/Geology conference.

    Go for it Dawkins!

  71. #71 Sastra
    April 10, 2008

    You know, I wouldn’t be surprised if Rzeppa’s $64,000 mystery question is supposed to be something along the lines of “Will you now accept Jesus Christ as your personal savior?”

    If Dawkins says “No,” then the writer owes him no money, because Dawkins didn’t answer the question correctly, now, did he? Tsk, tsk.

    If Dawkins says “Yes,” however, then Rzeppa would be more than happy to give him $64,000, figuring that sales of his sad little book will subsequently skyrocket (which is probable) and he himself will become an evangelical hero.

    Don’t forget that a lot of Christians really do believe in the magic power of God and His capacity to work miracles. All rational evidence to the contrary aside, Rzeppa could very well be anticipating the second scenario — with the penitent and humbled atheist professor sinking slowly to his knees in surrender. It would make such a very good story, you see — and Rzeppa has probably been living very happily for a long time in the religious Story Land inside his own head.

  72. #72 Tom Foss
    April 10, 2008

    This is ripe for parody. I hope I’m able to do it before Cuttlefish :).

  73. #73 dwarf zebu
    April 10, 2008

    Ack! It keeps getting worse, and now he’s using the tomb icon for the shed!!

    the awfulness, it burns! And yet, I STILL can’t look away…

    “The maker said that glistenings won’t stick to things of clay”

    ????

    “Look for boys with sense enough to come in from the rain.”

    Guess we’re not looking for the kid to get married…

  74. #74 Carlie
    April 10, 2008

    Wait, did the tiles somehow turn into a real baby? Why say that the tiles were dead? I’m so confused. And did that whole thing come down to “As long as we remember someone, they’re not really gone”? Because that’s a pretty humanistic stance to take, and pretty much the opposite of “They’re in heaven looking down on you”.

    Oh, I had my game shows messed up. I knew it was 64 something.

  75. #75 ndt
    April 10, 2008

    I’ll answer the question for $640.

  76. #76 Jason Failes
    April 10, 2008

    “how do you comfort a child whose mother has died?”

    As with adults facing a loss, children need social support more than anything else.

    Trying to help the whole family cohere tightly at such a time is, I think, far more important than any kind of narrative to explain what happened to mommy.

    If questions are persistent, I would settle for “I don’t know”, and a brief explanation of how people don’t come back here to say what’s next, and leave it at that.

  77. #77 H.H.
    April 10, 2008

    For everyone who thinks Dawkins should simply show up, answer the question, and collect the money, just remember that it probably won’t be that easy. Kooks love issuing challenges. Getting them to pay up is the problem.

    I’m reminded of the time Alfred Russel Wallace set out to collect a 500 pound bet issued by a flat-earth kook. He successfully proved the Earth was curved, was declared the winner of the wager by an appointed judge, then spent several decades being harrassed by the kook who refused to accept the decision. From wiki: (http://tinyurl.com/6kl4zr)

    The judge for the wager, the editor of Field magazine, declared Wallace the winner, but Hampden refused to accept the result. He sued Wallace and launched a campaign, which persisted for several years, of writing letters to various publications and to organizations of which Wallace was a member denouncing him as a swindler and a thief. Wallace won multiple libel suits against Hampden, but the resulting litigation cost Wallace more than the amount of the wager and the controversy frustrated him for years.

    So while it may seem like easy money, it’s usually best to ignore these types of “challenges.” It’s not worth the grief they bring. Kooks are not capable of being intellectually honest–otherwise they wouldn’t be kooks.

  78. #78 michaelf
    April 10, 2008

    I thought the take home message was: as long as someone thinks about a person they will remain alive. Not clear what happens if we no longer remember… perhaps eternity is only a couple of generations… longer if you are famous.

  79. #79 Richard Wolford
    April 10, 2008

    Rzeppa: So Richard, tell me, what is the air-speed velocity of an unladen swallow?

    Richard: What do you mean, African or European?

    Rzeppa: I don’t know that!

    *whooshing sound as Rzeppa is whisked away*

    *Dawkins wheels money offstage*

  80. #80 Chris
    April 10, 2008

    Some people, they, have too much time,
    Yet still foist dreck upon others,
    This shite is not worth a dime,
    Run! Go warn your mothers!

  81. #81 MissPrism
    April 10, 2008

    ‘Ksake. An earwig could write better than that.

    My mother, many years ago
    Was eaten by a bear
    But Father was an atheist
    And so he didn’t care.

    I didn’t read the rest of it,
    But I suppose I might
    If you paid me all that money
    And you redesigned your site.

  82. #82 George
    April 10, 2008

    The inane aspect of this is that any simpleton can make up a question that has not clear answer and then simply state that the answer is wrong so you don’t win. For example, “what is the meaning of life?” Beyond the aforementioned 42, there are as many answers as people to answer.

  83. #83 Ginger Yellow
    April 10, 2008

    I don’t really care about the wonks of Richard Dawkins, nor do I want any onions. What a strange man.

  84. #84 Dave W.
    April 10, 2008

    I got into a longish email conversation with Rzeppa some months ago, and at the time I got the impression that Rzeppa considers his book to be a “mirror” for the person who reads it. As such, he expects the faithful to read it and say, “what a wonderful and inspiring work!” while atheists will read it and say, “what a pile of crap!”

    For some reason, he also seemed surprised to find exactly the sort of reactions he expected. He seemed to think that that said something deep and profound about the book, when all it really means is that if you write nonsense with a theme, those who agree with that theme will react favorably, and everyone else won’t (see Deepak Chopra, Ann Coulter and William Dembski for more examples).

  85. #85 Goatboy
    April 10, 2008

    Firstly, never accept the first offer, so make him up it.

    Secondly, ensure the money is on the table for the appearance, not some as the prize for the ‘right’ answer.

    But that’s only if you’re even thinking of touching the idea with a ten foot barge pole.

  86. #86 idahogie
    April 10, 2008

    “Glisterings?” Is that a word?

    I did like the part where the kid kicked the Maker in the knee. But that’s the only part I liked.

  87. #87 ice9
    April 10, 2008

    I kind of like it. The lines mainly scan, and if you excuse the cheap metrics, there’s some rudimentary balance, motifs that recur (though rather ponderously), and a building sense of narrative. It’s a nice piece of composition when you consider his audience’s parameters for poetry and their low tolerance for abstraction. The font and graphics are also appropriate for his genre. It wasn’t long ago that a cursive font was the height of innovation. Though I’m pretty sure that’s a typo on about 40 where it appears to say “glisters”–unless that is an acceptable hybrid of glitter and glisten. The fool tossing random tiles and demanding “selection” from passersby is a focused but effective metaphor, again considering the requirements of an audience with unassailable certainty and no curiosity. He sneaks in some language play, probably quite revolutionary by the standards of his audience who are impressed by “sonshine” no matter how many times they see it. He has created an alternative and somewhat innovative analogy for a clientele who equate creativity with anarchy, and though it’s occasionally derivative it is at times downright complex, though that may be accidental. I think it’s the best hidebound christianist doggerel I’ve read in a long time.

    ice

  88. #88 Vitis01
    April 10, 2008

    My immediate impression after struggling to the end was that the analogy is flawed. Science organizes the tiles in a methodical orderly fashion. Religion dumps the pile out and says “There’s a baby there and if you don’t see it then you (pick your poison) don’t believe strongly enough, don’t know God, need to have your head chopped off.”

  89. #89 stillnotking
    April 10, 2008

    I dunno, the part where the narrator kicks God in the knee is pretty cool. Other than that, meh.

  90. #90 ac
    April 10, 2008

    of course the challenge is unwinnable. i think the mistake is in calling gerry intellectually dishonest. if anything, this is sort of sad. oh hai dawk! i haz 64k. i can haz recognishun? it’s the nasty virulent twittishness of ben stein et. al that i find really objectionable. i just sort of get the sense that this is a sad man with an atrocious beard desperate for someone to notice him. if anything, pity him.

  91. #91 wintermute
    April 10, 2008

    That was clearly not a picture of a baby boy; it looked more like a bear to me. And given that it was just a mosaic (and not a very good one, at that), why did the kid get so upset about it having been hit with a hammer? Why refer to it as “dead”?

    Also, I’m pretty sure the moral of the story is that god only appears indoors, during a rainstorm.

  92. #92 pedlar
    April 10, 2008

    Though I’m pretty sure that’s a typo on about 40 where it appears to say “glisters”–

    Uh, no.

    “All that glisters is not gold;
    Often have you heard that told.”

    Merchant of Venice. Act 2. Shakespeare, ya know.

  93. #93 JJR
    April 10, 2008

    I couldn’t make it past part 1…

    “There’s nothing here but what you see”

    I can’t see Gamma radiation, but I know I don’t want to be anywhere near it, at least not without a lot of lead between me and it. ;-)

    “No one’s ever seen a thought”

    Some neuroscientists might beg to differ on that.

    …And fine, yeah, we honor the dead by “keeping them in our thoughts”…part of why most of us try to live a decent life, be fair to our fellows, etc. It seems to be psychologically important for us to be fondly remembered after death. Bill Hicks has been dead for over a decade, yet I still fondly remember him, and thanks to YouTube, can still see him, preserved in time, from the high point of his career. He probably has more fans now, thanks to the Internet, than he had, numerically speaking, when he was alive.

    I still fondly remember my grandparents–all deceased now. There’s nothing diminished in appreciating those memories by not believing they’re up in some magical place waiting for me even now.

    The narrator’s dad is supposed to be the stereotypical “angry atheist”, as imagined by theists, I suppose.

    I recall I once told my once-and-future theist Ex-wife, back when we were still a couple, that I accepted the concept of “Soul” only in a strictly poetic since, meaning losely something like the union of one’s integrity, one’s personality, history, experience, one’s experience of self and other’s experience of yourself, etc. and that I did not believe it survives bodily death, since it’s a construct of a very real, material brain at work.

    I was trying to be generous, and she was in an agnostic funk at the time. But she never could accept my concept, always insisted the view that “the soul” was REAL, crudely manifest, literal spook-in-the-machine, etc. As she drifted back toward theism, I finally had to break things off…mainly because she was a control freak but also because we were increasingly simply incompatible because our world views were so out of synch with each other.

    Anyway, to compare the book with Vogon poetry is an unfair insult to Vogons ;-)

  94. #94 BlueIndependent
    April 10, 2008

    That’s supposed to make Dawkins quiver in shame? It made me recoil in revulsion.

    The only reason it takes “10 minutes” to read this thing is because A) it reads horrendously with such a convoluted font, and B) this person appears to have managed to make two colors, black and white (mostly), load slower than any other human being yet. Apparently he’s never heard of GIFs or PNGs. Is it just me or did each page take a minute to load? Another is it just me, or did they not take 3D models of humans, pose them, then black them out in an image editor? Those look like masked out 3D models. And these people want to talk to me about “Intelligent Design”, when they can’t even design a damn web page that simple?

    But the message is the usual fair. A magic being appears to show some gullible, impressionable kid how life really is, while refusing to explain his magic. The being talks in indirect references and vague puzzles. It’s all very ominous and rather perverse. Without the deific status implied upon the caned man, one might think this was a situation in which a child was about to be abused. Shed in the back yard? A mysterious man with a cane that prods a young boy with stories and puzzles in the privacy of a shelter away from parental supervision?

    But this “writer” betrays his cause. After all, prodding critics with prize money basically means you have a price, and if said critic can come up with a pretty story, however sufficently true or false, to convince you, then you’ll buy it. So, you’re basically communicating that you’ll believe anything if your twisted predetermined logic can be shifted in another direction. You’re also doing it for self-reassurance, because you have no intention of listening to logical explanations, and are instead looking for answers self-respecting man could give, let alone support: a 100% flawless argument for the existence of everything, with the added weight of having to define a set of morally absolute rigors used to define civilization itself.

    I wonder if the $64,000 was his advance from a publisher for “writing” this “book”.

  95. #95 Thomas Byrne
    April 10, 2008

    And the $64,000 question… Did you like it Richie? Please. Please tell me you liked it.

  96. #96 Rey Fox
    April 10, 2008

    Dawkins: I am flattered by your offer, but I think that I might collect the advance on my next book instead. I’m rich, beyotch!

  97. #97 craig
    April 10, 2008
  98. #98 Rick at shrimp and grits
    April 10, 2008

    Jason, are you using Firefox? He’s using some custom Javascript that only works in Internet Explorer.

    Like #11, I only get the initial picture with illegible text scrawled off to the side.

    I guess it’s a good thing that both Linux and Firefox are keeping me safe on the Internet. :)

  99. #99 Thomas Byrne
    April 10, 2008

    It only has 7 reviews Craig and I’m sure 4 of them are him.

  100. #100 WRMartin
    April 10, 2008

    I’m fairly certain the answer is one of the below:

    Life is like a tray of tiles.
    An old fool and his tiles are soon parted.
    It’s all in your head.
    If you smash a tile mosaic of a child with a hammer it will break.
    Ankle biters grow up to become knee kickers.
    Brain cancer lives in the head.
    Burning chips ruin the nachos.
    Chip mosaics grow up to be children.
    Zombies are made of thought.
    Beware of boys in sheds, wearing capes, carrying sacks and holding canes. And never ever go in the shed when it’s raining.
    Always obey the first promise to your mother: “To keep myself from foolishness”, which probably meant not to waste my time reading (waiting for the next page to load, mostly) this. Dear god (no, I don’t care which one – just pass this on to whomever) please make stupid things more painful.

    Did I win?

  101. #101 TheFeshy
    April 10, 2008

    My (least) favorite part is this:

    Somehow (even Father knew) the maker could appear anywhere and anywhen to choose a volunteer

    Why is it that so many xians think that deep down, atheists believe? Is it that crazy whale story, where when things go bad on the boat with Jonah the sailors turn and say “well he’s your god, you fix it!” as if they believed all along?

    Also, if someone else chooses you for a position, how are you a volunteer again?

    Terrible book.

    Still, marketing genius. Even pretending to have $64,000 has gotten him a ton of hits.

  102. #102 Tom Foss
    April 10, 2008

    Here’s my version of the first page; I think it fits better with the “illustration”:

    Mother was a cultist
    Who worshipped Shiva’s bride
    She knelt and chanted “Kali ma!”
    Then reached for my insides.
    Performing psychic surgery
    Was Mommy’s fav’rite art
    First she took my tonsils out
    And then she stole my heart.

  103. #103 noncarborundum
    April 10, 2008

    It’s way better in Klingon:

    ghaHvaD vay’ vIlay’ ‘e’ qap SoS
    (qaStaHvIS HeghDaj nungpu’bogh jaj)
    jIDoghchoHbe’meH jIvang ‘ej
    jIHemchoHbe’meH jIyep neHpu’

    That’s the first half of the first page. For the 64 grand I’ll translate the rest.

    peHos!

  104. #104 Alethias
    April 10, 2008

    It is either a trap, or he’s rich. I’m voting for trap.

    An example of the type of trap it could be: “Mr. Dawkins, in order to prove that intelligence isn’t necessary for design, explain to the audience, without using your extraordinary faculties of intelligence, how this book could have come about without being intelligently designed. If you do that, you win the $64,000″. If Richard answers the question, he’s using his rational faculties, and thus violating the terms of the question. If he refuses to answer, that is taken to validate the question and invalidate everything that Richard Dawkins has written.

    Probably a bad idea for Richard Dawkins to accept a challenge such as this, based on the possibility of such a dishonest trap, but that is of course for him to choose.

  105. #105 Pocket Nerd
    April 10, 2008

    Rzeppa’s question will be “Who would win in a fight between Unicron and the Death Star?”

  106. #106 noncarborundum
    April 10, 2008

    Oh, shoot.

    peHoS, not peHos.

    There, I fixed it before David M. pointed it out.

  107. #107 Rudy
    April 10, 2008

    Firefox (Windows) seemed to load it ok for me.

    At first glance I thought they might have been Penrose
    tiles, which would have been cool. But no, just tiles.

  108. #108 Justin H.
    April 10, 2008

    Well, on the one hand all he has to do is answer the question. He doesn’t have to give the “correct” answer, just an answer.

    On the other hand, he has to sit through a full-scale assault on both his intelligence and English poetry.

  109. #109 Cephus
    April 10, 2008

    If Dawkins was in the area, and the loon agreed to put the $64k into a secure account before the reading, I don’t see why he shouldn’t do it. If nothing else, $64k is a lot of beer money. My only fear would be going through all the nonsense and then having the loon not have the money to begin with.

  110. #110 DaveX
    April 10, 2008

    The way I see it, the whole book is building to the (rather lame) idea that god MUST exist, because someone is thinking of god. So he’s going to ask Dawkins if the thought of God is real, and then declare god is real. LAME

  111. #111 TheShaggy
    April 10, 2008

    I think the verb is “pharyngulated”. And yeah, I’ve done it a few times before.

    Dang you, PZ. I totally decided to comment here and coin that term, but you went and already knew about it. Curse you and your merry ilk!

    Anyway, his book may be in an easy to read font, but his website certainly isn’t. I had to read the ord “ponderously” fou times before I figured out what the hell was written. I didn’t get to the end of the poem due to lag, but from the sounds of things, Rzeppo is saying “Hey! Existentialism is good!”

    I also think that Dawkins should accept the challenge, for the sheer amusemnt of defeating a creationist who looks like Charles Darwin.

  112. #112 theShaggy
    April 10, 2008

    And I will blame my keyboard for missing a few letters, but will blame the whiskey will surely (not) drink later for spelling his name wrong.

  113. #113 Lee
    April 10, 2008

    The whole thing is really… sad.

    Easy to read my butt.

    The font and stories alike! really.

    I started laughing out loud in the middle of class at what Rzeppa has written.

    Also- I think the ultimate conclusion is that Dawkins needs to add pictures* to his book, so that small children’s brains can grasp at his oh-so difficult concepts.

    *by pictures I mean blocky silhouettes that are sure to grab any child’s attention.

  114. #114 bigjohn756
    April 10, 2008

    It really should say ‘Burma Shave’ at the end of each page.

  115. #115 Marcus Ranum
    April 10, 2008

    I bet he’s gonna ask something that no nutter has ever thought of before. Like:
    “Look how perfectly designed the banana is for the human hand!!! Did you think about that, laddie?”

  116. #116 Tony KW
    April 10, 2008

    You just have to answer it? You don’t have to give the right answer?

  117. #117 MH
    April 10, 2008

    Is Gerry Rzeppa Nigerian? Richard, don’t give him your bank details!

  118. #118 eric
    April 10, 2008

    He keeps talking about not getting caught in the rain. Maybe he just violently dislikes the pina colada song.

  119. #119 Luke M
    April 10, 2008

    On an only tangentially related note, are you aware that the poems of Emily Dickinson can all be sung to the tune of “The Yellow Rose of Texas”?

  120. #120 Moggie
    April 10, 2008

    #86: Arthur? Arthur Dent, is that you?

  121. #121 Tom Foss
    April 10, 2008

    #118:

    On an only tangentially related note, are you aware that the poems of Emily Dickinson can all be sung to the tune of “The Yellow Rose of Texas”?

    Also, “Amazing Grace.” And the theme song to “Gilligan’s Island.” On those mercifully rare occasions now when I hear “Amazing Grace,” I always chuckle a little, inserting the castaways into it.

  122. #122 Protesilaus
    April 10, 2008

    Why does everyone see atheists as a–holes (Not sure if I can swear here)? I seriously don’t understand this. So many times we can be called pretentious and unmoving, heartless, and all of that and it is accepted as if it is true.

  123. #123 Tulse
    April 10, 2008

    you aware that the poems of Emily Dickinson can all be sung to the tune of “The Yellow Rose of Texas”?

    Yes, indeed — this was one of the many things I learned from Babylon 5 (one other thing was “if you aren’t sure your series is really going to go for five years, for chrissake wrap it up properly at four, and don’t continue to pump out crappy low-budget movies”.)

  124. #124 Michael Scott
    April 10, 2008

    I could see him stumping RD only if his big question is “What the hell is my point?”

  125. #125 MikeM
    April 10, 2008

    #101: I’m imagining your lyrics sung to a country tune.

    Can’t you just imagine Buck Owens belting it out? I can, and it’s even funnier now.

  126. #126 Jonathan Rothwell
    April 10, 2008

    The question is “deal or no deal?” and I claim my £5 and autographed block of tinder.

  127. #127 Kyle W.
    April 10, 2008

    Read it in less than 10 minutes? My ass. That font made it take twice as long.

  128. #128 Paul Lundgren
    April 10, 2008

    Fucryinoutloud…

    I’d want that $64k in a guaranteed bond, Dr. Dawkins. Anybody with a beard a bird could nest in obviously can’t afford a razor blade.

  129. #129 craig
    April 10, 2008

    “It only has 7 reviews Craig and I’m sure 4 of them are him.”

    Well, since anyone here can read it online (and many of you have, didn’t load for me) it’s perfectly legitimate for you to review it on Amazon, right?

  130. #130 Monado, FCD
    April 10, 2008

    I’m using Firefox and a home cable connection and notice no delay flipping the pages – so I guess it was just 9,000 Pharyngula readers all hitting it at the same time.

  131. #131 Monado, FCD
    April 10, 2008

    The tile image is a blank-faced doll. I suspect it’s the one that some fellow dug up in his back yard and tried to sell to the Smithsonian as a rare fossil.

  132. #132 Monado, FCD
    April 10, 2008

    The first page sounds almost as if it were cribbed from the (1935?) Book of Popular Verse, some of which I quite like. But it goes downhill from there.

  133. #133 John the Skeptic
    April 10, 2008

    “What . . . is the air-speed velocity of an unladen swallow?”

  134. #134 Carlie
    April 10, 2008

    I’m guessing the question is “OK, Richard, now that I’ve got you here, have you stopped beating your wife?”

  135. #135 Muzz
    April 10, 2008

    In his design ‘parable’ (I guess), he evokes pareidolia and does it by taking a pre existing picture and photoshop filtering it.
    Seeing stuff that’s not there and working the logic backwards in one potent metaphor; he’s got the methodology down for a career in creationist science if this poetry gig doesn’t work out. And the facial hair to appear on seventies shows hosted by Leonard Nimoy.

  136. #136 falterer
    April 10, 2008

    Another Bit of the Same Old…
    by falterer

    I tried to read your silly screed,
    but found it quite a muddle.
    As God said, in your garden shed,
    you are a jigsaw puzzle.
    The part, I’m sure, amiss from your
    “completed” jigsaw head
    is ‘twixt two ears, or, I fear,
    somewhere else instead.

    You evidence your ignorance
    of “The Blind Watchmaker”
    by basing the analogy
    of your “maker-hater”
    on the actual parable
    Dawkins therein discredits.
    You must confess, Mr Rzepp,
    you haven’t really read it.

    This oversight, though not slight,
    is not your only bummer.
    Forget this trash, use your cash
    to quickly hire a plumber!
    For when you flush your detritus,
    things must get pretty whiffy,
    ’cause if God gets the garden shed,
    the devil’s in the privy!

  137. #137 Cuttlefish, OM
    April 10, 2008

    I read the whole thing
    Please tell me I’m not like that
    I’d just as soon quit

  138. #138 Vogon Captain
    April 10, 2008

    Oh freddled gruntbuggly,
    Thy micturations are to me
    As plurdled gabbleblotchits
    On a lurgid bee.
    Groop, I implore thee, my foonting turlingdromes
    And hooptiously drangle me
    With crinkly bindlewurdles,
    Or I will rend thee in the gobberwarts with my blurglecruncheon,
    See if I don’t!

  139. #139 Eric
    April 10, 2008

    I’m sure it’s some sort of scam, where Dawkins will have to answer the question to the unmeetable satisfaction of Mr. Looney Tunes.

    But I still think he should do it… and donate the money to a children’s fund for those born with birth defects. You know… the ones that god doesn’t have time for.

  140. #140 skyotter
    April 10, 2008

    no, Cuttlefish, you’re nothing like that

  141. #141 Hypatia
    April 10, 2008

    On his “mean mean father who wouldn’t cry at the funeral” schtick, I remember not crying at my mother’s funeral. That wasn’t because I’m an atheist, that’s because I was holding myself together. If I started to cry I would have collapsed entirely.

  142. #142 Mooser
    April 10, 2008

    Rzeppa? Didn’t he invent some sort of universal joint? It was like a CV joint, but used a rubber “spider” instead of steel balls in grooves which allowed angular transmission of rotation without the varying speed through each rotation which typifies the Hooks joint.

    Jeez, I think the earliest IRS Porches used them.

  143. #143 Physicalist
    April 10, 2008

    Cuttlefish: I didn’t read it (call me a coward), but I can still assure you that you’re nothing like that.

  144. #144 kw
    April 10, 2008

    Cuttlefish:

    “Trojan eohippus” alone raises you far, far above this mediocrity.

    Nice haiku, too.

  145. #145 qedpro
    April 10, 2008

    I’d really like to see this kook part with the money but its unfair to expect a sane person to sit thru that drivel.
    I read until I couldn’t take anymore of that childish jaunt thru Delusionland.

    you know what kills me about this is the implication of an atheist not crying when somebody dies. We all know that’s total bullshit, but here’s my problem. Why should a christian cry? according to them the person is not dead, just on some sort of extended vacation. If christianity is true, we should all be celebrating somebody got cancer or was raped and murdered. Its god telling then, they’ve been chosen. It should a party when someone dies – like something out of Logan’s Run.

  146. #146 Matt
    April 10, 2008

    #142
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alfred_H._Rzeppa Different Rzeppa. I certainly hope for the engineer’s sake that they’re not related.

  147. #147 Moggie
    April 10, 2008

    The question will be “if I give you $64k, can you get me a part in Dr Who?”

  148. #148 falterer
    April 10, 2008

    What? His name is RzeppA? Well, that plays merry hell with my rhyming scheme (#136)…

  149. #149 Master Mahan
    April 10, 2008

    I never thought I’d miss Comic Sans. Otherwise, I’m sure children will really go for this book. Kids hate colors, right?

    There is one thing to love about that monstrosity, though. It’s so bad, that by page 22, the silhouette shepherd man appears to be seriously contemplating shooting himself in the head.

  150. #150 David Marjanovi?, OM
    April 10, 2008

    It does sound better in Klingon. Notably, words like qaStaHvIS give an Old Persian flair to it, I think. (Scroll to the end of the page.)

  151. #151 David Marjanovi?, OM
    April 10, 2008

    It does sound better in Klingon. Notably, words like qaStaHvIS give an Old Persian flair to it, I think. (Scroll to the end of the page.)

  152. #152 Eric in Hiroshima
    April 10, 2008

    Rzeppa posts a lot on the Amazon discussion forums. He uses the same kind of approach there: pretending to ask a question that he doesn’t really want the answer to, because he thinks the pondering is good for us. It also allows him to avoid saying anything concrete. e.g. “Why are you asking me about evolution? I was just asking about random permutations in a computer simulation?” That kind of disingenuousness.

    He made a lot of money by writing a software program several years ago, and since then has devoted his time to growing facial hair and being smug about his religion. So he can afford the money.

    So far all his arguments on other forums have been variations of the old standards: the Cosmological Argument, the Where-did-Morality-come-from-if-there’s-no-Sky-Daddy Argument, stuff like that. There is no reason to think that his Magical Mystery Question for Dawkins would be any different.

    I asked him why he couldn’t just say what he had to say in simple declarative sentences. He said the rhymes and pretty pictures [sic] are nicer.

  153. #153 True Bob
    April 10, 2008

    Well I for one couldn’t make it go, thankfully.

    And Cuttlefish, my guess would be that you two are on opposite ends of a spectrum. You ROCK! (Care for some Blockbuster coupons?)

  154. #154 DrJKL
    April 10, 2008

    I wouldn’t subject anyone to this basic and contrived excuse for a pseudo-story, much less a child who hasn’t built up a resistance to the mind-numbing inanity contained within.
    Poorly attempted puns and oddly inserted wordplay lead me to suspect that this book (and now the challenge) is designed to get the author’s name out there, while not making him seem completely shallow in the process, rather than an authentic attempt to reach either children or the devout.
    It seems to me that the font, which on the surface seems to simply be a poor judgement call, may, in reality, be intended to distract the reader from the incidentally depressing nature of this work caused more by the content choice, or lack thereof, than by any actual story telling ability or effort put forth by Rzeppa.
    In regards to the challenge, I think that it is quite a bit to ask of any sane, hearing individual to subject himself to a reading of this without some sort of defence or damper. Perhaps Dawkins could attend the meeting after a few adult beverages to help cope. Another strategy involves attempting to contract an inner-ear infection of some sort, but that seems to be only slightly preferable to listening to a man this dense drivel on for 10 minutes.
    In all seriousness, I think that this is a good opportunity for the side of reason to show some (brace yourself) good faith. As long as the question isn’t followed up by an explosion and doesn’t involve an antidote of some sort, I do not think that this is something that we as a community should immediately write off. Perhaps the money could be donated to a good sceptical organization of some sort or even a worthy charity to show our compassion. (Think about it: Religious nut pays $64,000 for the chance to meet Richard Dawkins. Dawkins funds research, cures cancer FTW)
    In any case, I can’t think of any major reason that Dawkins shouldn’t accept this generous opportunity to make some easy money, save that it would make the religious see this fool with a rhyming dictionary as on the same level as a brilliant scientist.

    P.S. Does Dawkins get to sit on Rzeppa’s lap?

  155. #155 Mooser
    April 10, 2008

    Thanks, Matt! For straightening me out on that. I guess the joints with a rubber “spider” were even earlier in design.

    Let us now observe a brief moment of rememberance and appreciation. If it wasn’t for good CV joints, we would all be riding in cars with swing-axles, and that’s not good. And today’s front-wheel-drive cars (and AWD, for that matter) would not be possible without CV joints.

    Funny how that awful scientific process works so good for everything except biology, isn’t it?

  156. #156 Samwise
    April 10, 2008

    There has to be a trick here. Some Smullyanesque word game he plans to play (not that I credit him with that much cleverness – I doubt he came up with it, if it does actually guarantee no payout). If there’s a requirement for Richard to answer, then it can be so convoluted that any response indicates a refusal, even “That is a very silly question.”

  157. #157 Etha Williams
    April 10, 2008

    You might say, “There is a God,”
    Until your voice is hoarse;
    But I would have to ask you:
    What about the PYGMIES and the DWARFS?

  158. #158 Etha Williams
    April 10, 2008

    You might say, “There is a God,”
    Until your voice is hoarse;
    But I would have to ask you:
    What about the PYGMIES and the DWARFS?

  159. #159 Emmet Caulfield
    April 10, 2008

    I did like the part where the kid kicked the Maker in the knee. But that’s the only part I liked.

    About a Maker’s thigh-length too low, if you ask me.

  160. #160 CortxVortx
    April 10, 2008

    Gahh! That font! Worse than Comic Sans.

    Fitting that his challenge is unreadable in both senses of the word.

  161. #161 cory
    April 10, 2008

    da-DAH da-DA da-DAH da-DA
    da-DAH da-DA da-DAH
    da-DAH da-DA da-DAH da-DA
    da-DAH da-DA da-DAH

    It reads like a looooong greeting card. He can’t even make it to pentameter!

  162. #162 Holydust
    April 10, 2008

    This is so effing disgusting. Just another crazy nobody thinking he can make himself famous by issuing an empty public challenge someone like you or Prof. Dawkins.

    Pathetic, transparent, and loony to boot. When will these Creobots learn that not everyone gets to be a poet just because they understand the basic concept of rhyme?

    Oh yeah — because birds of a feather flock together to awful writing under the protective awning of religion.

    The book itself is just the most God-awful prose (no pun intended). You can tell he was just using a rhyme dictionary. You can’t use words like “vale” and “’bout” in the same book.

    Idiot. Hire someone to write your lunatic drivel for you next time.

  163. #163 Holbach
    April 10, 2008

    Vogan Captain @ 138
    Funny stuff there!

  164. #164 Stephanurus
    April 10, 2008

    Is Dawkins required to give the “correct” answer, or just any answer? Does Dawkins really need $64,000? If not, I propose that he delegate the poor graduate student who posted an earlier comment here to stand in for him and answer the question. What are the best candidates for the question?

  165. #165 impiri
    April 10, 2008

    The book itself is not the best,
    But worse things I’ve beheld;
    And hey, the prize can buy eight thousand
    Tickets to Expelled

  166. #166 MH
    April 10, 2008

    Cuttlefish #137: “I read the whole thing
    Please tell me I’m not like that
    I’d just as soon quit”

    As far as poetry is concerned, Gerry Rzeppa is the anti-Cuttlefish.

    And for anyone thinking of reading it, don’t bother. It has no redeeming features; it’s just pathetic.

  167. #167 MH
    April 10, 2008

    Eric #151: “Rzeppa posts a lot on the Amazon discussion forums. He uses the same kind of approach there: pretending to ask a question that he doesn’t really want the answer to, because he thinks the pondering is good for us.”

    There’s a poster on the richarddawkins.net forum that’s like that. His name is doug. He’s vacuous, pretentious, and very, very tiresome. Come to think of it, doug could very well be Rzeppa.

  168. #168 Holydust
    April 10, 2008

    If Dawkins laughs in his face, he gets to act like he’s somebody and proclaim that he was scared. If he goes on stage with the guy, Rzeppa thinks he’ll win because he’ll make some amazing point — no matter what Dawkins says in response.

    You can’t win with loonies who believe in sky people.

  169. #169 UprightAlice
    April 10, 2008

    And yea the Lord appeared unto me from betwixt the Garden Weasel and the bless-ed corner where Mouser begat Clover, Booger, Tippy, and Kee-Kee. He smelt of lawn-clippings and Raid.

    “You doubt me and my Works,” He spake, waving a -er- rake — a holy rake, to be sure. “All of thy questions are answered in this!”

    And thusly He rendered unto me Games Magazine Presents Pencil Puzzlers #3

    “Particularly,” He spake again, “the rebus on page 42.”

    And, lo, a-sudden the Lord took His leave, along with $500 worth of tools, and my lawn mower.

  170. #170 Matt
    April 10, 2008

    #151
    Luckily John Allen Paulos covers all those arguments in irreligion – so I have to give him props for making what is essentially a handbook for dealing with cooks (It’s only 150 pages or so). PZ posted about it a while back and it really is a good read, so I don’t feel bad saying that if you plan on getting into arguments with IDiots you should pick it up.

  171. #171 k9_kaos
    April 11, 2008

    I suspect the offer will be just as bogus as Kent Hovind’s $250,000 offer to “prove” evolution.

    Here’s how I imagine it might go:

    Rzeppa begins reading Dawkins his little story. Shortly after he starts reading the “Second Part”, Dawkins slowly slumps down in his chair, closing his eyelids.

    Rzeppa: “The End.”

    Rzeppa: (turning to Dawkins) “Richard… Richard! Are you awake?”

    Dawkins: “Yes.”

    Dawkins: (leaping to his feet) “HA! GOTCHA!!!”

  172. #172 themadlolscientist
    April 11, 2008

    @ #60: I’m using Firefox, and it worked fine for me………

    ………unfortunately………..

    Next to that piece of saccharine sanctimonious slush, the average Vogon sounds like Shakespeare.

    Pleh pleh pleh!

  173. #173 Dark
    April 11, 2008

    In the immortal words of Ford Prefect, “Nnnnnnnnnnyyyyyyyuuuuuuurrrrrrrggggggghhhhhhh!”

    I think if Dawkins ignores the offer, he should open it up to the general public. I’m sure most of the commenters on this blog would be happy to participate for a meager $10, $64k offer not necessary.

  174. #174 Cheezits
    April 11, 2008

    Dawkins should give the guy all the attention he deserves, ie, none at all. Playing games set up by loonies just gives you loony cooties.

  175. #175 Badger3k
    April 11, 2008

    #134 – a “blank-faced doll”? I couldn’t stomach more than 3 pages of that eye-straining feces dump, but since I just found out who Dawkins wife is, the image that comes to mind is the Autons (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Auton for those who may not know). Maybe not precisely that, but maybe close?

  176. #176 Laplace's Demon
    April 11, 2008

    I have to say I LOLled the hardest at the “Maker’s” infantile and blatantly obvious mathematical error (10^n instead of n!). Not sure if you biology types sympathize.

  177. #177 Bride of Shrek
    April 11, 2008

    “Next morning I went to the shed and
    found the Maker happy as can be,
    I stomped around the shed a bit
    and kicked him in the knee”

    Should have aimed for the knackers son, a good right punt to the goolies will knock the smart arse right out of anyone, immortal saviour or not.

  178. #178 wanglese
    April 11, 2008

    What a moron.

    He’s just putting out the “challenge” so he can appear to be as IMPAWTANT as Dawkins. The truth of the matter is that he’s just a blip, and not worthy of debate.

    Funny about whackjob loons like this. They are unimportant, unrecognised, and silly. They desparately seek to be recognised, and desparately need to feel IMPAWTANT.

  179. #179 palindromebeta
    April 11, 2008

    ‘the maker could appear anywhere and anywhen to choose a volunteer’

    Doesn’t just that sum up Christianity: ‘it is the most important thing in the universe that God gave you free will … now choose exactly what [according to the particular demands of this subset of his believers] God wants or he will send you to hell to be tortured for all eternity’.

    Who, in the real world, ‘chooses volunteers’? Why … stage magicians who’ve planted stooges in the audience who know it’s all a trick but want to con the locals.

  180. #180 John Phillips, FCD
    April 11, 2008

    Cuttlefish, no comparison at all. Your poetry I always await with delicious anticipation and devour with relish, with his I couldn’t get past the second page. Your poetry is a shining beacon in the dark, his poetry is the dark.

  181. #181 Planet Killer
    April 11, 2008

    I have a question for PZ Myers. Why do you have to be an ass. There is no reason to be that way dude.

    I am glad we have the intelligence of a bunch of kids and call people names and label them as morons.

    Do all pro-evolutionary (aka Atheists) have to be douchebags? That is a lot of what I see all the time on here. I guess I am not that impressed with this logic.

  182. #182 wazza
    April 11, 2008

    Having to deal with questions from idiots makes us that way

    go to the bottom of EXPELLED for a case in point

  183. #183 biochemist
    April 11, 2008

    Dudes, I’d be scared to go up on stage with that guy. Could get violent

  184. #184 Bride of Shrek
    April 11, 2008

    Planet Killer @ #180

    “Do all pro-evolutionary (aka Atheists) have to be douchebags?”

    Well no, for us it’s a purely voluntary thing, however for creationists its a compulsory state, a prerequisite if you will.

    “I am glad we have the intelligence of a bunch of kids and call people names and label them as morons”

    Nah, we reserve the word moron for wankers such as yourself who use the word “Dude” like they’re still living in the 80′s.

    “I guess I am not that impressed with this logic”

    I shall never sleep well again, knowing that you are unimpressed with us.

  185. #185 paragwinn
    April 11, 2008

    “Richard Dawkins, for $64,000, which character from the movie ‘Young Frankenstein’ claimed to have had an intimate relationship with the late Baron von Frankenstein? You have 30 seconds….”

  186. #186 wazza
    April 11, 2008

    Hey, I use the word “dude”!

    Don’t group me in with that guy!

  187. #187 AllanW
    April 11, 2008

    ‘Hey, I use the word “dude”!’

    Aw man, that is so uncool. But don’t get uptight about it just chill-out.

  188. #188 dan
    April 11, 2008

    we miss you, Douglas.
    Your gorgulplatput gives no rest

  189. #189 wazza
    April 11, 2008

    Indeed, Allen

    Be righteous to one another…

  190. #190 Strakh
    April 11, 2008

    Awwww, didums feewings get hurted, Planet Killer?
    Ooo have such a big boy’s name, aren’t you tougher than that?
    Your ignorance is disgusting and your arrogance is appalling.
    IDers have NO evidence for ANY claims, just like ALL religions. Yet they make the same claims over and over and over and over and over……
    After over 50 years of listening to the SHIT pouring out of their mouths, I no longer give a damn about their feelings, beliefs or emotions. They MUST either produce their evidence or shut the fuck up.
    If that offends you, GOOD. After years and years and years of politely listening to the morons defecating out of their mouths and respectfully offering iron clad evidence that was ALWAYS dismissed because it wasn’t from “the Bible” I have ZERO respect for ANY of them.
    They have been proven wrong EVERY single time they have tried to ‘prove’ their ‘goddidit’ and yet Rzeppa still has the unmitigated gall to write a book so piss poor it isn’t fit to be used as toilet paper and YOU’RE offended when the mouth breather gets put in his place.
    Cry me a river, ‘dude.’ And while you’re at it, poor little baby, grow up.

  191. #191 Bride of Shrek
    April 11, 2008

    Wazza & Allan W

    Ok yu two can play out your Bill & Ted adventures.

    We’ll overlook the fact you both use “dude” because we really do like you. Kind of like how I still love my mum even though she inists on wearing a kaftan. Wazza I can forgive, living in the 60′s timewarp that is New Zealand.

  192. #192 wazza
    April 11, 2008

    We must look so advanced to those living in the 50s timewarp of Australia…

  193. #193 Bride of Shrek
    April 11, 2008

    Hey Wazza

    Completely OT but had the “dude” out to spray for redbacks today. Millions of the buggers but none in the bog! The wonders of indoor plumbing.

    Did you know, its official, Australia and NZ have the greatest number of synonyms for “toilet” than anywhere else in the planet? Sob.. I feel so proud and so should you. I’m off to the “thunderbox” to reflect on our heritage.

  194. #194 Planet Killer
    April 11, 2008

    “Cry me a river, ‘dude.’ And while you’re at it, poor little baby, grow up.”

    Before you tell me that I should grow up, maybe you should try reading your own post. I shouldn’t really have to make a comment. It is all pretty much right there. You hung yourself.

    ID is not science. I don’t think anyone here says that.
    I just view evolution as pretty much the same with some so called evidence behind it. This so called evidence sure has a lot of baggage behind it.

    This is where I take evidence, put my own world view on it and ship it out as science. Notice how all the scientists are atheists, it’s a clue that there is a reason for that.

    Did the evidence drive the scientists to be atheists? I just don’t believe that. They were already an atheist to begin with and that is going to taint everything.

    Anyway, forgive me. I just do not believe in what everyone tells me. I would rather test the theories and see the results myself.

    Science changes, but scientists with a single world view isn’t going to change much of anything. An agenda is an agenda if you want to admit to it or not is a different story. I don’t trust people that much and honestly I think Dawkin’s is into more recruiting than any real science. I could give a rats ass if he has a degree or not. He has a bias therefore any evidence he finds is questionable.

    This is where I say that even if a magic formula shows that evolution is wrong, there is a God and all that magic fairy dust you will not find Dawkin’s changing his tune nor will anyone here admit it. They will always provide to find away around this by trying to explain some BS way from their tainted world view.

    That is why it is completely useless. Human kind knows so little yet human kind is somehow so arrogant about the little they know and yet they always find a way to insult someone who doesn’t fall in line with the borg way of thinking. You must believe in the way we do and we have science backing it up, you are a moron… etc…

    I guess I was ment to think for myself and not be a borg. oh well…

  195. #195 MercuryBlue
    April 11, 2008

    Nobody’s noticed this yet? “Questions. Just like a little child.” That right there is our problem, folks. They think anybody who still feels the need to ask questions is mentally a child, and thus, if adult, mentally deficient!

  196. #196 MercuryBlue
    April 11, 2008

    Planet Killer: not all scientists are atheists. Nor are all theists cdesign proponentsists. And the thing about science is that the only thing we’re dead certain of is that some questions (such as how did the planet get such a diversity of life) have only one answer for everyone, and that that answer is discernible by looking at the world, thinking up ideas, and testing those ideas, and only the ideas that don’t fall apart under testing are held on to.

    Also, if you don’t believe ID and you don’t accept evolution, what do you think is the answer to the question of how did the planet get such a diversity of life? And if it’s that you’re a young-earth creationist, I’m gonna laugh at you and at your so-limited idea of what you undoubtedly claim to be a limitless God.

  197. #197 Bride of Shrek
    April 11, 2008

    Planet Killer

    “Anyway, forgive me. I just do not believe in what everyone tells me. I would rather test the theories and see the results myself:

    No worries lad, I, and a few thousand before me, have a theory that parachutes are necessary and humans can’t really fly. Don’t take our word on that- go test it yourself.

    Really chum, if you are truly an honest person you’d realise that statement was so ridiculous it isn’t funny. Rejecting a few thousand years of science because you haven’t personally performed the experiments yourself is a little arrogant.

    Next time you turn on a light, don’t believe that bulb is really lit up. I mean it was an EVIL SCIENTIST that performed the intial experiments. But please, don’t take my word on that, live in darkness until you’ve invented, and performed the experiments yourself.

    I’m tempted to call you a fucking tosser right but, until someone else calls you it I feel unable to perform my own experiment on their theory and agree with them.

  198. #198 Stanton
    April 11, 2008

    ID is not science. I don’t think anyone here says that.
    I just view evolution as pretty much the same with some so called evidence behind it. This so called evidence sure has a lot of baggage behind it.

    This is where I take evidence, put my own world view on it and ship it out as science. Notice how all the scientists are atheists, it’s a clue that there is a reason for that.

    Intelligent Design is not science because it has no evidence, AND because it can not explain anything, AND because its proponents have absolutely no drive to use Intelligent Design to do any science in the first place.

    Evolutionary Biology is a science because it HAS EVIDENCE, and because scientists can use it to EXPLAIN biological phenomena, AND scientists can use it to do scientific research.

    If you hadn’t already put out your eyes, you would realize that all of the evidence points towards the Theory of Evolution being true, and that not all scientists are atheists.

  199. #199 Jason Failes
    April 11, 2008

    Planet Killer wrote:
    “I have a question for PZ Myers. Why do you have to be an ass. There is no reason to be that way dude.”

    http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2008/04/dragooned_and_disgusted.php#comments

    There you go.

    And as for myself, evolution didn’t make me an atheist, at least not by itself.

    The more I learned in all fields of science (quantum physics, nuclear physics, stellar evolution, organic chemistry etc), the more indications I found that the universe is self-developing, and the idea of an external (let alone human-like) creator seemed not just superfluous, but strange.

    It also helped that each and every particular human-made religion makes false truth-claims, false predictions, and contains anachronistic moral structures, so each could be safely ignored.

    As for the mockery, well, note that no one here is making fun of how far off Nordic mythology wound up being, because that religion had the good sense to up and die.

    Cdesign Proponentists and other peddlers of woo believe things that are no less incorrect, yet they are persistent, political, loud, logic-proof, evidence-proof, and want to spread their insanity to others, including all of our children, in a public school setting if they could have their way.

    If you look at the speakers for science a generation ago, you have a series of fine gentlemen (and some gentle ladies) meekly describing scientific knowledge and bending over backwards (NOMA) to not step on religion’s toes.

    And it didn’t work. Logic didn’t work because they were logic-proof. Evidence didn’t work because they’re evidence proof. Evangelical America rose up and took over, and every day, somewhere, we’re fighting fundamentalists who haven’t read the constitution just to swim against the current and prevent an all-out backwards slide into medieval-ism.

    So, now we mock, and laugh, and point out every logical error, every quote mine, every incorrect fact, every problem with each particular religion, every nasty lying strategy of the Discovery Institute and Expelled, every stupid thing over-pious representatives and school-board officials say.

    And yes, as we are laughing, we will call morons morons, and idiots idiots.

    Because now the reality-based community is rising, and we are no longer satisfied only out-evidencing you, and out reasoning you, yet losing the PR war.

    We are going to mock you out of existence. A generation from now, kids will be embarrassed by their ghost-fearing parents, and they should be.

    Prepare to lose all the respect you never deserved.

  200. #200 Sonja
    April 11, 2008

    So Gerry Rzeppa is a Dualist. Dawkins should have a easy time of it — he’s already covered the arguments in his book.

  201. #201 Amanda
    April 11, 2008

    About the baby made of tiles: according to Yvonne Perry’s review on Amazon, “The face is that of the author’s son. He was born to him by his wife when she was nearly 60 years old. That in itself is a mystery–a miracle to remind us that anything is possible to those who think it is. ”

    I wonder if this is true…

  202. #202 Carlie
    April 11, 2008

    ****Buzz******

    Frau Bleuuuccccchhhher! Do I win?

  203. #203 Carlie
    April 11, 2008

    “The face is that of the author’s son. He was born to him by his wife when she was nearly 60 years old. That in itself is a mystery–a miracle to remind us that anything is possible to those who think it is. “

    If the way his wife got pregnant is a mystery to him, then there may be some unfortunate truths in that family somewhere.

    Hey, PK – being a hard-core fundamentalist denialist about everything that exists on the planet is just as stupid as believing everything you hear. Yes, some things are real.

  204. #204 RamblinDude
    April 11, 2008

    If you look at the speakers for science a generation ago, you have a series of fine gentlemen (and some gentle ladies) meekly describing scientific knowledge and bending over backwards (NOMA) to not step on religion’s toes.

    And it didn’t work. Logic didn’t work because they were logic-proof. Evidence didn’t work because they’re evidence proof. Evangelical America rose up and took over, and every day, somewhere, we’re fighting fundamentalists who haven’t read the constitution just to swim against the current and prevent an all-out backwards slide into medieval-ism.

    So, now we mock, and laugh, and point out every logical error, every quote mine, every incorrect fact, every problem with each particular religion, every nasty lying strategy of the Discovery Institute and Expelled, every stupid thing over-pious representatives and school-board officials say.

    And yes, as we are laughing, we will call morons morons, and idiots idiots.

    Because now the reality-based community is rising, and we are no longer satisfied only out-evidencing you, and out reasoning you, yet losing the PR war.

    We are going to mock you out of existence. A generation from now, kids will be embarrassed by their ghost-fearing parents, and they should be.

    Prepare to lose all the respect you never deserved.

    Just thought it needed repeating.

  205. #205 Lee Brimmicombe-Wood
    April 11, 2008

    Before you tell me that I should grow up, maybe you should try reading your own post.

    Maybe you should try reading yours.

    I just view evolution as pretty much the same with some so called evidence behind it. This so called evidence sure has a lot of baggage behind it.

    ‘So called’ evidence? Why ‘so called’? Evidence is evidence and should be taken on its own merits.

    This is where I take evidence, put my own world view on it and ship it out as science.

    The ID crowd like to pull that trick but real scientists tend to be called on it if they do.

    Notice how all the scientists are atheists, it’s a clue that there is a reason for that.

    Untrue, but let’s not stop you while you’re on a roll.

    Did the evidence drive the scientists to be atheists? I just don’t believe that. They were already an atheist to begin with and that is going to taint everything.

    Ah, a conspiracy theorist.

    Anyway, forgive me. I just do not believe in what everyone tells me. I would rather test the theories and see the results myself.

    Well, I certainly don’t believe what you just told me. And I see no reason to forgive you. I tend not to forgive paranoids. Mainly because it increases the paranoia.

    However, if you need to test everything yourself to verify the facts, you are going to have a very hard life. You need to trust some folks on some things.

    Do you require a smoking gun, to be present as an eyewitness before you accept any evidence? On that basis we’d never get a jury to convict of anything.

    Science changes, but scientists with a single world view isn’t going to change much of anything. An agenda is an agenda if you want to admit to it or not is a different story. I don’t trust people that much and honestly I think Dawkin’s is into more recruiting than any real science. I could give a rats ass if he has a degree or not. He has a bias therefore any evidence he finds is questionable.

    Well I don’t trust you in the slightest.

    However, I can see how someone who is defensive about their faith would find this a convenient and comforting belief. “Everyone has an angle, and therefore I have no need to believe anyone.” In effect you have shut yourself down to enquiring thought, while at the same time accusing others of being closed minded. There’s precious little reason or logic to this, but then you are neither reasoned nor logical.

    This is where I say that even if a magic formula shows that evolution is wrong, there is a God and all that magic fairy dust you will not find Dawkin’s changing his tune nor will anyone here admit it. They will always provide to find away around this by trying to explain some BS way from their tainted world view.

    This is just another way to tell atheists that they are arrogant zealots. Which appears to be an act of projection by a religionist who cannot comprehend that skepticism might come from a desire for truth and not dogma.

    That is why it is completely useless. Human kind knows so little yet human kind is somehow so arrogant about the little they know and yet they always find a way to insult someone who doesn’t fall in line with the borg way of thinking. You must believe in the way we do and we have science backing it up, you are a moron… etc…

    I guess I was ment to think for myself and not be a borg. oh well…

    Then when are you going to start thinking for yourself? All I see above is an almost nihilist rejection of others’ views; a kneejerk response to ‘arrogant’ scientists and freethinkers. Particularly to the robust kind of atheists who hang out here and are unafraid to point out that fuckwits are, indeed, fuckwitted.

    Good day.

  206. #206 Stanton
    April 11, 2008

    As for the mockery, well, note that no one here is making fun of how far off Nordic mythology wound up being, because that religion had the good sense to up and die.

    It didn’t so much as die, as it was killed by Christianity, its adherents converted, its monuments defaced and defiled by Christians, and its old legends transcribed before being put on a shelf to be forgotten.

  207. #207 Jason Failes
    April 11, 2008

    True enough, Stanton. Thanks.

    (I had the same thought, but that post was getting long enough as it was)

  208. #208 Chris Blanchard
    April 11, 2008

    I’ve been involved in conversations with Rzeppa on-line. He’s kind and gentlemanly, but also (and I say this with all the respect in the world) crazier than a bedbug; he considers Theology to be the only “true” science, and all our “naturalistic” sciences to be subsidiary to that. He has implied that he does not accept Evolution, the Big Bang, Quantum Physics, or Relativity, and he doesn’t even really trust medical science all that much. It’s not just that he’s stubbornly wrong, it’s that a scientific-minded individual can’t even find enough mutually agreed-upon concepts and definitions to communicate with him in any meaningful way.

    But, as far as I can tell, he’s made himself a small fortune in computer software, so he almost certainly DOES have the $64K. He may be a loon, but I see no reason to suspect he’s a liar as well.

  209. #209 Jack Rawlinson
    April 11, 2008

    What a pile of twaddle. I suspect the author is trying to say something about his personal need to cling to the design argument. He says it in a very obtuse and badly written way – presumably in the hope people will mistake these characteristics for profundity and wisdom. Ha ha. They’re a depressing type, this breed.

  210. #210 apk
    April 11, 2008

    Here’s a cynical, and probably accurate, scenario:

    1. I’ve created this treacly book that will get read by, at most, 10 people. Damn.

    2. I need to generate publicity about my book.

    3. I challenge Richard Dawkins to listen to my book and answer one question. He gets $64,000, which I consider a worthwhile investment in advertising.

    4. Sales go through the roof!

  211. #211 Andy
    April 11, 2008

    Ouch. That story was so bad, I think it gave me cancer (but, hey, at least my atheist friends won’t be sad when it kills me).

  212. #212 hen3ry
    April 11, 2008

    I worry about how best to respond to people like Planet Killer. He has already decided that, because you do not agree with him, anything you say must be a lie. What can you do in a situation like that? Or is the only option to point and laugh at the stupid? I suppose it comes down to the audience. I will never convince him, as all the evidence I can present is immediately discounted, but can I convince onlookers that he is an idiot? I realise that this is probably an impossible situation to resolve generally, and that past experience seems to show that being very nice, and refraining from aforesaid pointing and laughing has not lead to the best results. The best I can think of is to just do whatever comes naturally to you. If you like, point and laugh. If you don’t, don’t. I fear that it will make no difference to Planet Killer, and those like him, and the lack of dissembling can only endear you to any audience. However, even this is not a final answer, and I welcome any better ideas from those with more experience.

  213. #213 Ann
    April 11, 2008

    “And, lo, a-sudden the Lord took His leave, along with $500 worth of tools, and my lawn mower.”
    Thanks, Upright Alice! This cracked me up. I was sidetracked by that Planet Killer guy’s ranting for a few minutes, but I re-read your comment for another laugh. I just love the thought of someone petty thief hiding in the shed and pretending to be benevolent.

  214. #214 UprightAlice
    April 11, 2008

    Thanks, Ann. I always thought “Jesus stole my lawn mower” would make a great t-shirt.

  215. #215 skeeelz
    April 11, 2008

    Why do I have the scary suspicion that the question is going to be something like “Do you fear going to hell?” And that it will be asked at the end of a gun? These nutters just creep me out.

  216. #216 Patricia C.
    April 11, 2008

    Ding-it Bride of Shrek! Thats the second time you’ve made me snort perfectly good sangria all over my keyboard.

  217. #217 Matt
    April 11, 2008

    Rzeppa’s probably a fairly intelligent man, especially if he has made a small fortune for himself on software (could anyone link to it, if possible?); the problem is, and I have seen this with Computer Scientists (I don’t want to generalize so somebody PLEASE prove me wrong!) that they tend to formulate a view on something and stick to it. Rzeppa’s taken this to the extreme and blocked out or rationalized anything that disagrees with his delusion, and at this point, it really is a delusion. If he disagrees with so much of science why the FUCK is he a Computer Scientist? Quantum Mechanics and electronics are far more difficult to understand and observe than evolution. I am continually astounded by the people who enjoy the benefits of modern life without realizing just how much these benefits depend on science (and sometimes shakier foundations than evolution – medicine is a good example due to the pure amounts of Quackery that compound the actual science, like Chinese Traditional Medicine).

    It’s amazing how many connections you could draw with the devoutly religious and a schizophrenic; seeing and hearing imaginary people, living in a world within their minds… The sad thing is that, for the most part, those who believe in God and are as “pious” as Rzeppa are choosing their mental illness. The way I see it, religious people are in a box, one that they cannot see due to the nature of the box. However, through careful observations and logic one can infer the presence of the box, and remove one’s self from it. Most people are happy in the box, though, because it gives you some nice air conditioning and Fox News.

  218. #218 BlueIndependent
    April 11, 2008

    unclefeydris.com – website about recipes for evverything

    “Did the evidence drive the scientists to be atheists? I just don’t believe that. They were already an atheist to begin with and that is going to taint everything.”

    Right, because Dawkins was never raised Christian, nor I, nor PZ, nor half the posters here. I’m not a scientist either. Sounds like you’re wetting your shorts over the fact that the luster on the supposed sacred nature of Christianity is little more than a well-promoted shell game.

    “Anyway, forgive me. I just do not believe in what everyone tells me. I would rather test the theories and see the results myself.”

    Nobody’s asking you to believe. In fact, it’s better that you not. But you apparently have rejected all of the theories and results. It’s already there. And are you a scientist? If so, what field? What degree(s)? What are your theories and the experiements you plan to conduct? How do you plan to have your work reviewed? I’m guessing you will lift nary a pinkie in doing your own research.

    “Science changes, but scientists with a single world view isn’t going to change much of anything. An agenda is an agenda if you want to admit to it or not is a different story. I don’t trust people that much and honestly I think Dawkin’s is into more recruiting than any real science. I could give a rats ass if he has a degree or not. He has a bias therefore any evidence he finds is questionable.”

    You seem to miss the fact that scientists are studying the natural world, which I guess in a way would be what you describe as a “single world view”. Your assumptions would therefore be largely incorrect about them, since the world is teaching them along the way, and their theories and work change to meet those natural discoveries. So realy, it’s the real world dictating things, not scientists. As for bias, well, it’s like an a**hole: everyone has one. Your statement about scientists is one nobody would aargue with. Where people would take issue is that scientists actually have to break their biases to be respected; you apparently have no compunction about remaining obstinate. Have fun learning.

    “That is why it is completely useless. Human kind knows so little yet human kind is somehow so arrogant about the little they know and yet they always find a way to insult someone who doesn’t fall in line with the borg way of thinking. You must believe in the way we do and we have science backing it up, you are a moron…”

    Cry me a river. Scientists know and practice the idea that we know so little. Read their works much? By contrast, the leaders of religion pay mere lip service to humility. You certainly are no example of the term, at least by what you post. You are simply extremely upset that science is worth a damn to humanity and it’s future, whereas religion is not. Stupid ideas get insulted. What about that do you not understand? If parents try performing exorcisms on their sick child rather than taking them to a doctor, they deserve to be called ignorant and stupid. That goes for people that still think GWB is a prophet sent from a god, or that aliens seeded the Earth ages ago. If you want your idea to be taken seriously, pony up. If you don’t have evidence, then shut up and let inquisitive minds make your life better.

    But the arrogance of accusing the scientific community as being borg-like. Few utterances could be as absurd. So much of the world still believes in religion, probably in the 90th percentile range, and you have te unremitting gall to say scientists are borg-like? Are you trying out for stand-up or something? Nothing is more borg than driving your ass to church every Sunday to sit there and be preached to.

    Go ahead and keep adding to the country’s level of ignorance. We thank you so kindly for your selfless service.

  219. #219 Mooser
    April 11, 2008

    What is Dawkins “recruiting” for? I am an atheist (almost) but I love ritual and music. If there was an atheist “church” I would be first in line at every service.

    I myself have tried it. I went to a church, dropped my pants, told God to “suck it” and threatened Him with even worse sexual abuse. The chicken-hearted Diety didn’t do shit! Not even a spark, let alone lightning!

    He’s either not there, or He’s a coward.

    My contention, which is constantly being borne out, is that a huge majority of people who claim to believe in God- don’t. Oh they enjoy the perceived advantages of religion, but they 1) have no idea, really, of what their religion calls on them to believe, and 2) simply do not believe it themselves.

    It’s not worth arguing with people like that. Their basic mode is one of complete dishonesty, combined with a willingness to take advantage of any benefit playing that game (I believe! I believe!) can bring them.

    The I-believe-in-God game is, I am sure, related to the same process by which every guy who knocks up some girl he’s been going out with suddenly starts telling you how he has always longed to be a father. After which he leaves the mother, and getting child support payments is harder than pulling teeth. Same game.

  220. #220 Fire Ant
    April 11, 2008

    #198
    “As for the mockery, well, note that no one here is making fun of how far off Nordic mythology wound up being, because that religion had the good sense to up and die.”

    Jason, that was fantastic. Unfortunately, there is so much money to be made by perpetuating organized religion, I think that it is here to stay. You could show followers of any faith healing church James Randi’s expose of those frauds, but it won’t make a difference. And, like I said, there is so much money to be made (tax free) by any charismatic leader for this to die a quiet death.

  221. #221 Lee Brimmicombe-Wood
    April 11, 2008

    I worry about how best to respond to people like Planet Killer. He has already decided that, because you do not agree with him, anything you say must be a lie. What can you do in a situation like that?

    I honestly wouldn’t worry about it. He cannot be reasoned with. It would be a waste of effort on someone so nihilistic.

    I doubt he even realizes the utter absurdity of whining at his enemies for their close-mindedness in the same breath as dismissing all science as the product of bias and all evidence as tainted. It’s a highly sectarian worldview. He has disappeared up his own fundament.

    I vote for telling Planet Killer to slough off the clown shoes and grow up. But I have a low tolerance for the wanton buffoonery of god-botherers.

  222. #222 Keri Hulme
    April 12, 2008

    This has given my evening a wonderful boost-good arguments playing out and some excellent sites to go visit…I’m not a scientist, I’m a poet, so will make a couple of contestable statements:

    1: science is the best tool our kind of humans have so far invented (well, we start off with shaped rocks, move on to cooking…)
    2: religion – of every kind, including our initial (I think) animism – is the worst explanation of any/every-thing- we’ve so far invented (well, we start off with some kind of hallucinogenes, shamanic drumming/whatever, move on to massacres…)

    The ‘poetry’ of Mr Rzeppa is kindergarten stuff and his disturbed wee book should be
    buried in the internet cladgie-

    kia ora n/n Keri (a happy atheist.)

  223. #223 Zarquon
    April 12, 2008

    Wow. Keri Hulme.

  224. #224 wazza
    April 12, 2008

    The real Keri Hulme?

    Wow, even a philistine like me has heard of Keri Hulme…

    If she says it’s crap, it’s crap

  225. #225 Raiko
    April 12, 2008

    Oh, really, I can’t take it! I tried to read it, but barely got past the second part. Those rhymes are horrible.

    Really, asides from the blatant falsehoods, and the strong notion that he’s going to ask something Dawkins has thoroughly treated in The God Delusion already anyway, what’s with that horrible sense of poetry?!

  226. #226 flashbazzzbo
    April 13, 2008

    He’s going to ask Rich if he has change for a hundred thousand dollar bill….and,well,you know…

  227. #227 haw haw
    April 14, 2008

    #113: Easy to read my butt.

    I’m amazed you were able to write so legibly on your own butt.

  228. #228 Dan
    April 16, 2008

    If it is legitimate, like the money is already paid into an escrow account, it may be tempting for Dawkins to transfer it directly to the RDF’s coffers. Still Dawkins is a superstar while this guy looks like a nut… it may just turn into some circus etc. and not worth it.