Pharyngula

How sad

Paul Jones has died. I didn’t know him, or even know about him, until his obituary was sent to me, but it’s an utterly tragic life story. He was an ordained Baptist minister — there’s a waste of a life right there — and his death was ironic and futile.

He died of a heart attack, just as he was about to pray with a member of his Upper Room Fellowship. His last word was “Jesus”.

Someday I’m going to die, too, and I hope it is while doing something productive, and that I don’t go out with the name of an imaginary being on my lips. And in particular, it would be nice if my obituary would say something about the good things in my life, rather than babbling on about dedication to a superstition.

It’s a shame. Jones might have been a wonderful fellow, but all we strangers know about him is that he was “committed to expanding God’s kingdom” — that he had dedicated his life to a lie.

Comments

  1. #1 Ramases
    May 11, 2008

    PZ, I find this post in bad taste.

    The man has just died, his family are in mourning, you know nothing about him except the most basic information, and your comments are simplisticly judgemental in the extreme.

    And just because he was religious does not mean that he led a futile life. I’m an athiest, but I know of Christians, atheists, Muslims and religious Jews who have acted in humanitarian ways to help change lives for the better and make the world a better place. Being wrong about one thing does not make a life futile or wasted.

    I generally like what you post, but this one is a turn off.

  2. #2 Hephaestus
    May 11, 2008

    I must agree with Ramases. How a person chooses to spend his last minutes is his business, as long as everyone involved is a willing participant. Personally, I’d prefer to depart in flagrante delicto, but to each his own.

  3. #3 Doug
    May 11, 2008

    Ouch. PZ, I agree with what you’re saying, but the timing is not good. A human being has died; lets have a little decorum.

  4. #4 Gary
    May 11, 2008

    Posts like this are in bad taste. In the eyes of religious people, you’ve become almost a spokesperson for atheism. It harms the credibility of atheists when you pass judgment on dead religious people that you don’t know. I’m not sure why you made this post. What good could come of it?

  5. #5 UprightAlice
    May 11, 2008

    I should start boning-up on my last words now. Practice makes perfect, and I wouldn’t want to screw it up when my time comes. If I’m not careful “Jesus” may very well be on my lips, but not in the same reverent context as Mr. Jones.

    I’m thinking more along the lines of “The winning lottery numbers are 12… 41… 33… 7… 25… And play the kicker.”

  6. #6 Strakh
    May 11, 2008

    How utterly sad. Not merely this wasted life, but the fact that no one seems to remember Solon’s answer to Croesus.
    PZ is right. When we look upon this man’s life after his death, we see a futile waste of space and energy, for he spent his life perpetuating a lie.
    He did not make the world a better place, and the fools who believe the “works” done by idiot followers are worthy of praise need to refresh their minds with some history.
    Bad Taste? No, genuine regret over a life that may as well never been lived for all the good it will ever amount to.

  7. #7 BobC
    May 11, 2008

    Another liar for Jesus dropped dead. Good riddance.

  8. #8 MAJeff, OM
    May 11, 2008

    This is one of those toughies. I’m inclined to agree with the “bad taste” folks. I don’t have a huge issue taking on the legacy of folks like Reagan or Falwell or Pinochet when they died, but these are public figures and the issue of producing an honest history in place of hagiography is worthwhile. I just don’t see someone like this rising to that level. It’s not speaking at power, but being cruel.

    That being said, there is also the idiocy by which saying “Jesus” on his death bed is reported as some wonderfully miraculous thing. Dude said a word and died. That’s all. It’s like the crazy lady at the MA Statehouse a few years ago, walking through a crowd of us gay people, chanting “Jesus! Jesus!” as though her magic incantation would have some effect.

    Sarah Silverman got it wrong. It isn’t “Jesus is magic,” it’s “‘Jesus’ is magic!”

    It’s sad that people attribute such nonsense to that signifier, and it’s sadder that such nonsense is treated with such reverent respect in so many areas. Saw the same thing this morning on local news when a couple of idiots from Florida (of course) flew to Boston to have their child–now “a child of God,” according to the local reporter–baptised at Fenway Park.

    I think there’s an issue in the article, but PZ’s post seems to be lacking in any compassion for the survivors.

  9. #9 LanceR
    May 11, 2008

    I see the concern trolls are out in force this morning. Aren’t you twits supposed to be in church? Or kissing your mama and giving her those flowers you picked from the neighbor’s yard?

    PZ is expressing how tragic it is that this person died. Read for comprehension! It’s shame that his life has been devoted to spreading medevial superstition and bigotry. It’s a shame that his last words referenced a sun-god who never existed.

    Hear, hear, PZ.

  10. #10 Dan
    May 11, 2008

    Obviously, the obituary makes him sound as though he was quite a decent fellow, for the most part. However, whenever these preachers die and people start rattling on about their supposed good works, I’m always left to wonder whether those “good works” were the result of the person or the person’s fear of some ridiculous notion of eternal suffering?

    On the other hand, they also make it sound as though this guy was some sort of faith healing, dominionist fuckwit, and if that’s the case, he deserves to have his rotting corpse and reputation spit upon and booted around a bit.

  11. #11 Ray S.
    May 11, 2008

    It’s fascinating to me that other commenters have seized upon a couple lines about the deceased yet failed to notice that most of the content refers to how PZ would rather experience his own death. PZ has not cheered about Jones’ death, only observed that a man known at least locally for healing others through prayer was mortally stricken himself during that exact activity. Irony and futility is what you make of it I suppose.

    For those who think it’s not the content, but only the timing that matters, please educate us as to the appropriate amount of time that must elapse before comforting lies about the recently deceased can begin to be interspersed with the truth.

  12. #12 concern troll
    May 11, 2008

    Yup, this one was in bad taste. You’d be outraged if your spouse or child died and a google search under their name led to a discussion of a stranger calling them a poor, simple fool with a wasted life – even if it were true.

    You should have minded your own damn business on this one.

  13. #13 Nick in Tacoma
    May 11, 2008

    I don’t expect good taste from PZ’s blog. I expect commentary and discussion. Obviously he is doing a good job this morning. And, I believe, he is right on with this post. If the most important thing we can say about someone is that they spread their religion, then we a damning with faint praise. Paul Jones probably did a lot of truly good and selfless things in his life that actually helped people. Those are the items that create a real legacy. Sorry if Paul’s family and friends are hurt by the words of a blogger on the internet. If this is the case it may be because the truth is hitting a little close to home.

  14. #14 kid bitzer
    May 11, 2008

    i’d just say: it’s hard to tell.

    i’m not so worried about the bad taste, as about the unscientific jumping to conclusions.

    sure, a lot of religionists are ugly, deceitful fools.

    but then again, some of them lead admirable, decent lives, lives that any of us would consider examples of what fine specimens human beings can be.

    to my taste, those good lives would have been even better without the religious lies sprinkled throughout.

    but the fact that the life included some lies does not mean it was built on lies. it may have been built on genuinely admirable, human values–caring, trust, cooperation, commitment, loyalty, the enjoyment of beauty, the avoidance of cruelty and hate.

    we just don’t have enough info to tell about this guy. and probably never will.

    accordingly, i would not rush to judgement one way or another.

  15. #15 J-Dog
    May 11, 2008

    For all of you thant think PZ’s post was in bad tast… get a clue, get a life,. The guy was obviously a moron, and dideicated himself to a lie. You can put lipstick on the pig if you want to, but it’s still a pig.

  16. #16 Strakh
    May 11, 2008

    Ah, concern troll, at least you have the integrity to admit your name/vocation. Good for you. Now, even if you can’t get a crayon font, try to follow along, okay?
    PZ was given someone’s obituary, unasked for, and he gave an honest response: disgust over a life wasted promoting a fairy tale, a last word being an imaginary being whose very concept in society is as antihuman as anything ever invented, and then a wistful wish that his own life and last words will amount to more.
    He didn’t google it, it was sent to him, he gave an honest answer. People die, concern troll, and they are judged every single day. This turd died promoting shit that destroys life and human dignity on a scale hitherto unknown in human thought.
    And you consider it in bad taste to be sad about that?

  17. #17 J
    May 11, 2008

    I agree with PZ 100%, but I think he should probably delete this post out of sympathy for Paul Jones’ family.

  18. #18 PZ Myers
    May 11, 2008

    Those of you who think this is in bad taste: save your ire for the obituary. Practically all it says about the guy is non-stop praise for his commitment to Jesus; his wife and kids are practically an afterthought, and we know nothing about him except that he was a Baptist minister…and the bizarre and irrelevant fact that his last word was “Jesus”.

    Death also does not excuse stupidity in life. I’d be more impressed if the fellow had died while doing volunteer work in a soup kitchen, for instance, but praying? What a pointless last act.

  19. #19 silkworm
    May 11, 2008

    The guy didn’t just devote his life to a lie. He devoted his life to two lies. The first and obvious lie is the existence of God. The second and lesser known lie is that Jesus most probably never existed. There are several sites devoted to the Jesus-myth theory. Perhaps the most interesting is the theory of Joe Atwill that the gospels were a parody of the Jewish zealots who were defeated by the Romans in the Jewish War of 70-73 CE, and that the miracles of Jesus were based on the significant events in the campaign of general Titus during the war on the Jews in 70-73 CE. The “triumphal entry” into Jerusalem on a donkey by Jesus was really the triumphal entry into Jerusalem by Titus before he destroyed the temple. Atwill believes the crucified Jesus is none other than Eleazar ben Simon, the leader of the zealots during the Jewish War.

    Another interesting theory is that of Dan Unterbrink, that the crucified Jesus really represented Judas of Galilee, the founder of the zealot movement after the census of Quirinus in 6 CE. Unterbrink makes the interesting observation that while the death of his sons Simon and Menachem, and his grandson Eleazar, were recorded by Josephus, Josephus strangely never mentions Judas’ death, even though he mentions many important events in Judas’ life as founder of the zealot movement, leading to the suggestion thinks that the so-called Testimonium Flavianum – where Josephus mentions the death of Jesus under Pontius Pilate – was a rewriting of the crucifixion of Judas under Pontius Pilate.

  20. #20 Crake
    May 11, 2008

    I also think this was in bad taste, I’m hoping PZ is just parodying the IDiot view of an athiest. Had this man been someone like Jerry Falwell, I’d understand, but it seems PZ is jumping to conclusions here, or acting on prejudices

  21. #21 JayneK
    May 11, 2008

    I’m a Christian. If you should happen to hear that I have died while praying or speaking of Jesus, please do not feel sorry for me. I can think of few ways that I would rather die.

    May you live and die as you wish and respect that others will make different choices than yours.

  22. #22 Dutch Delight
    May 11, 2008

    Well, the obituary does explain he did something with computers too. But thats pretty much all. I don’t know who the intended audience is for this obituary is, maybe it’s not that strange if it was for some church publication.

    It’s still a cold and impersonal piece of text regardless, “guy died, praised jesus a lot, did something with computers, left a familiy behind and praised jesus a lot. Did i mention he died with the word jesus on his lips?”

  23. #23 Andrew
    May 11, 2008

    Yeah, it’s kind of a tough call. I guess I’d liken it to going over to a ten-year-old kid who’s father just died in Iraq, “Your dad died for nothing.” It may be true, but it’s rather rude to say it to the guy’s kid. This guy just died, and while you’re not saying “good riddance” or something actively malicious, I think it’s better just not to say anything at all–especially considering he’s not a public figure like Falwell, Dobson, Robertson, etc.

    I’d see no problem if it were said in the general sense of “clergymen waste their lives–even the ‘good’ ones are doing good things for false reasons,” or if the man is long dead, or something along those lines. For instance, I remember reading about the priest who originally calculated that the world began exactly in 4004 BC or whatever it was. His personal library apparently could give the ancient one at Alexandria a run for its money, and he sounded very brilliant–he was just unfortunately infected by the myopia of religion, so his intellect was wasted on a lie. But he died a few hundred years ago, not a few hours/days ago.

  24. #24 Mark B
    May 11, 2008

    You know, I’m an atheist, but I sometimes say ‘Jesus’ as a curse. Maybe he was in the process of saying ‘JESUS, that hurts!’ and didn’t quite finish.

  25. #25 J
    May 11, 2008

    Here’s an idea: Why doesn’t PZ simply edit his post to remove reference to the guy’s name?

  26. #26 J
    May 11, 2008

    PZ should simply edit his post to remove reference to the guy’s name.

  27. #27 PatrickHenry
    May 11, 2008

    Let us consider Isaac Newton. He wasted a lot of his life on alchemy and spiritual speculations. Yet it’s unquestioned that he accomplished a great deal of splendid work (when he wasn’t occupied by those other things). Similarly Patrick Henry (whose name I took for his “Liberty or Death” speech) was a devout man who probably spent a lot of time on religious concerns, yet he did much that everyone here would agree was valuable.

    I realize that this Paul Jones fellow was no Isaac Newton, or even a Patrick Henry. Still, I say we should let him be.

  28. #28 Hematite
    May 11, 2008

    CONCERN TROLL RIGHT HERE

    So this guy was a Baptist minister. Was he inciting violence against homosexuals? Advocating prayer instead of medical assistance? Teaching abstinance-only sex ed? Lobbying to teach creationism in schools? Bombing abortion clinics?

    I think PZ’s post is in dubious taste, mostly due to declaring this man’s life a waste. He was a small business owner and father of four, I imagine he did other things than oppress minorities constantly. Perhaps he could have achieved more. Without further evidence it sounds like he did kind things for the wrong reasons. What a monster.

    PZ can post whatever he likes and I don’t think he was wrong to post this. The wording could have been better, but it works as a spur to incite comment about meaning and death.

    BobC, J-Dog, Strakh. You are assholes. Just in case anyone has forgotten, atheism is merely a statement about lack of belief in gods. It is not a statement about our empathy, compassion or values and I am proud to have some unlike these pitiful examples of humanity.

  29. #29 Hephaestus
    May 11, 2008

    Okay, everyone here knows that the dearly departed’s belief in god was, at best, severely misguided. Dancing on his grave only reduces us to the level of Fred Phelps and the Westboro Baptist mob. Calling him a moron while displaying a lack of grammar and spelling skills does add a certain comedic flair to the discussion, but does little to make your point.

    As best I can tell, PZ found a random obituary this morning and decided to bitch-slap a corpse. Hey, it’s his blog and he can do what he likes. That might even be an untapped source of amusement for a new web site: trolling the obit columns of local newspapers and abusing the dead.

    Personally, I hope that when I depart people will focus on the short list of things that I got right and not the long list of things that I screwed up. Someone famous once said that whoever hasn’t fucked up should throw the first stone.

  30. #30 Arnaud
    May 11, 2008

    PatrickHenry,

    What if Newton’s – or Henry’s – more worthy contributions were all forgotten and they were only now remembered for their alchemy or devotion?
    Because that’s more or less what this obituary’s doing.

  31. #31 Larry Ayers
    May 11, 2008

    PZ, I agree with some of the other commenters — it was a tasteless post. Some of my best friends are Christians, as well as most of my relatives. I try to be tactful in my dealings with them. An analogy: if a friend has cancer, would you continually rub the fact in his/her’s face? It’s better to find some common ground; I resist conversion attempts and I really don’t want to convert others to my point of view. Life’s too short!

  32. #32 Abel Pharmboy
    May 11, 2008

    I’m the guilty one here in that I alerted PZ to this obit. My point to him was in the context of the NYT article a few weeks ago about people who died while blogging – therefore, “blogging kills.” I have nothing but sympathy for the family of Mr Jones (although I too would have loved to know about his service to the community in the name of Jesus) but the families of Messers Shaw, Orchant, and Malik had to endure the claims of death by blogging in one of the nation’s top newspapers. I saw little to no verbiage from the concern trolls toward those three families.

    John Paul Jones and ibiblio’s Paul Jones are so dense on Google search returns that chances are slim to nil that any family member would fall upon this post, unless they frequent sites of atheist scientists. But PZ is free to delete the man’s name if anyone thinks that might help.

  33. #33 Mark B
    May 11, 2008

    Well, at least he didn’t say ‘God damn America.’

  34. #34 J
    May 11, 2008

    Sam Harris said something to the effect that atheism is in some quarters rapidly becoming a cult. That pissed off a lot of people here, maybe because he hit so close to the mark. I think some of the tribalistic comments in this thread are proving him right.

    “Good riddance” — what a horrible and mean-spirited thing to say.

  35. #35 Peter
    May 11, 2008

    I don’t think this was in bad taste, do some research on Paul Jones, the guy was a obscurantist. You wouldnt think its in bad taste if somebody spent their entire life trying hard to convince people about fairies and then as he died he yelled ‘FAIRY!’ PZ is absolutely right. And to the PC brigade, if you don’t agree then don’t read. Also atheism has nothing to do with the nature of the post, people are so quick to generalize, label and attach it to something aren’t they. It goes like “I dont agree with the blog, blogger is an atheist, all atheists are insensitive”

  36. #36 V Profane
    May 11, 2008

    Bad taste? Please. If PZ waited a week, would it cease to be in bad taste? A month? A year?

    There are plenty of people who consider any questioning at all of religion to be in ‘bad taste’.

  37. #37 Mark B
    May 11, 2008

    “Good riddance” — what a horrible and mean-spirited thing to say.

    Well, PZ didn’t actually say that. A few commenters did, but only one appears to have said it in earnest, and it’s probably a troll. If you use quotes, you should say who you’re quoting.

  38. #38 GraceM
    May 11, 2008

    But if you delete his name how are you going to donate money to the memorial fund? “Our dear minister just died, now give us your money’ is in bad taste.

  39. #39 negentropyeater
    May 11, 2008

    PZ,

    in one year of reading Pharyngula, this is the only post I wish I hadn’t read (and your comment #18 doesn’t make it any better).

    Anyway, one out of the few hundreds I’ve read, Pharyngula is still the best…

    I guess this post will get quote-mined often. Is this why you wrote it ?

  40. #40 SebastesMan
    May 11, 2008

    I find it interesting that people find it in “bad taste” to speak of the dead with anything buyt reverence. It’s death, people, it happens. We’re all going to die and that’s the long and short of it. It seems to me that all the solemnity bs that people demand comes from religion. When I die, let my friends celebrate and my detractors celebrate all the more.

    As for having wasted his life, just think of all the energy an intelligent person could put towards furthering the understanding of the world and doing some concrete good if they didn’t spend their time espousing a fairytale.

    I’m with PZ on this one.

  41. #41 JayneK
    May 11, 2008

    A lot of people find comfort in their religion. The man’s religious accomplishments are probably the focus of the obituary because this is a comforting thought to the author and most, if not all, of his intended audience. These people are dealing with their grief the best way that they know.

    PZ, when you die, I expect you to leave behind people who love you and who will grieve. (Should you predecease me, I too would mourn.) It seems likely that many of these people will express themselves in godless terms and not seek comfort in religion and that this would be reflected in any obituarires they write. Suppose that Christian bloggers use your death as a platform to talk about their beliefs. Suppose they write about how tragic and futile your life was because you did not know God. What do you think of these hypothethical bloggers?

  42. #42 J
    May 11, 2008

    Well, PZ didn’t actually say that. A few commenters did, but only one appears to have said it in earnest, and it’s probably a troll. If you use quotes, you should say who you’re quoting.

    I didn’t imply that PZ said “Good riddance”, and I said earlier that I agree with the content of his post 100%. But yeah, I probably should say who I’m quoting.

  43. #43 Nick Gotts
    May 11, 2008

    Re The original Patrick Henry.

    “Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!”

    Patrick Henry was a slave-owner. Was there ever a bigger hypocrite?

  44. #44 Ale
    May 11, 2008

    It is difficult to approach death in a manner that is totally guaranteed to be found in good taste by everybody – such is the nature of things so emotionally charged. Religion has been practicing death rituals for milennia, and thus, we have grown used to them. The common customs of being “silent and respectful” in the presence of the dead, having a long(ish) mourning period before addressing issues relating to the decesaed, etc. are culture-specific and usually heavily embedded with religious practice.

    Of course, what is “good” or “bad” taste is also culturally defined, and considering one option as “good” and the other one as “bad” is just ethnocentrism.

    Interesting, how even scientific people can so easily lose all rationality and objectivity when it comes to cultural issues.

    Anyway, PZ: whether your post is in either good or bad taste is irrelevant. You read the obituary, and shared your feelings with the world. Thank you for this. I also find it sad that people give meaning to their deaths in terms of religion and religious values, but this is such deeply embedded that pointing it out is sure to offend.

  45. #45 Divalent
    May 11, 2008

    Nick Gotts: “Patrick Henry was a slave-owner. Was there ever a bigger hypocrite?”

    um, Thomas Jefferson?

  46. #46 Ted D
    May 11, 2008

    What is it with death that suddenly makes so many people hyper-sensitive? If it’s not wrong to point out that a person’s beliefs are silly while he’s alive, it’s no more wrong to do so after he’s dead, surely?

    And as I read the post, his beliefs aren’t even really the point. The point is that he died while doing something irrelevant, and the obituary seems to leave out anything of substance the man might have done. Surely that neglect with regards to the past should be rather atrocious to an atheist, considering that the memories the living have of the dead is all that’s left of them. And this particular man gets to be remembered for nothing of his own, he’s simply obscured by his religion.

  47. #47 Scott Hatfield, OM
    May 11, 2008

    Our thoughts for today are irony, taste and truth.

    1) Well, I agree that the circumstances of this man’s death are ironic.

    But, you know what? Most people who are at death’s door and are even partially cognizant of that fact say things that, when looked at from the outside, seem ironic. We live to die. What could be more ironic than that, and a bigger challenge to belief than that?

    2) If it was bad taste to respond to this guy’s life purely on the basis of his beliefs, it would certainly approach bad taste to reduce an individual’s entire life to the practice of his beliefs. But I think that, when looking at this obit, one should consider the target audience, which is to say fellow workers in evangelism. This was not, I think, what you will hear from his family and intimate friends.

    At the risk of giving offense, in all frankness many of you are ‘tone deaf’ to any such distinctions. This was just another opportunity for some of you to pile on religion and bash sincere believers for not holding your ‘enlightened’ views. I for one would never try to keep you from exercising your spleen in such fora, but don’t insult my intelligence by making excuses, or for labeling commenters who demur from taking your stand as ‘concern trolls’. I’m not concerned. I’m repulsed, because mocking the end of a fellow human being is vulgar, no matter what the guy believed.

    3) As for the truth, the idea that this fellow ‘dedicated his life to a lie’ is something that no one can possibly objectively know to be true. That statement, in and of itself, does not particularly offend me because I understand the context in which it was made. If one of us were to say this in conversation over coffee, I would listen and respectfully engage.

    But, as a very public addendum to a public obit, readily available on the Internet? This could be hurtful to the guy’s friends and family. I agree with a previous poster (#25) that PZ should consider removing his name from the post, but let the trenchant and provocative comments remain.

    Peace….SH

  48. #48 Mena
    May 11, 2008

    I see the concern trolls are out in force this morning. Aren’t you twits supposed to be in church? Or kissing your mama and giving her those flowers you picked from the neighbor’s yard?

    Why do you think that people who disagree with the taste of the post and who are expressing it without an insane rant belittling other people are concern trolls? This isn’t Uncommon Descent you know. People here are allowed to disagree with PZ.

    PZ is expressing how tragic it is that this person died. Read for comprehension!

    And here you go again. Everything you wrote up to this point shouldn’t have been posted if you want anyone to take you seriously. You aren’t impressing anyone, you sound like an angry jerk. Does mentioning that make me a concern troll too? (Look up and see what a concern troll is.)

    It’s shame that his life has been devoted to spreading medevial superstition and bigotry. It’s a shame that his last words referenced a sun-god who never existed.

    Hear, hear, PZ.

    Posted by: LanceR

    It is indeed a shame that people do earn a living from this stuff. What a waste of time and perfectly good resources. It’s not like a lot of it helps needy people or is used to spread peace. It seems like all they ever do is build megachurces and rant about gays or evolution.

  49. #49 Brian Faux
    May 11, 2008

    I`m relieved, I thought for a minute you meant Paul Jones from Manfred Mann

  50. #50 watercat
    May 11, 2008

    Definitely bad taste. So long as it’s still a free country we need to show respect for those we disagree with, unless they’re mean to others, and this post was just mean.

    “Do not do to others what you would not like yourself” –Confucius

  51. #51 spencer
    May 11, 2008

    #8:

    a couple of idiots from Florida (of course)

    Go fuck yourself.

  52. #52 Steve Reuland
    May 11, 2008

    I’d be more impressed if the fellow had died while doing volunteer work in a soup kitchen, for instance, but praying? What a pointless last act.

    Yeah, when I die of sudden cardiac arrest, I’ll make sure to have that moment carefully planned out. I’ll have a 24-hour soup kitchen on call.

  53. #53 PatrickHenry
    May 11, 2008

    Re #42 by Nick Gotts: “Patrick Henry was a slave-owner. Was there ever a bigger hypocrite?”

    Whoa, a bit of thread-drift here! Anyway, that was the way of the world back then. It was their world, not ours. Men like Henry, Jefferson, and Washington lived when they lived, and were respected by their contemporaries. I hope no one born 250 years after our own time sneers at us and our work because of some large shift in morality that may occur between now and then. It’s silly to imagine that if we lived when they did, we’d be better than they were.

  54. #54 SC
    May 11, 2008

    I hate this post. The larger point could have been made, and made better, without using this man’s death in a way that shows great insensitivity toward and a lack of compassion for his family and friends.

    My father was an athlete. I sat with him and watched a basketball game in the hours before he died. Along with celebrating the great things he did in every other area of his personal and professional life, much of his obituary and his memorial service, as he would have wished, focused on his athletic achievements. If someone had written something equivalent to this just after his death to make a point about how our culture is obsessed with sports and what a waste of time and energy this is (even if the larger point is true), it would have added immensely to our suffering.

    The obituary says that he had a wife and four children, counseled people, and supported charities. That the obituary of a Baptist minister should emphasize religious hoo-ha is not surprising, but it doesn’t make his a “waste of a life” or an “utterly tragic life story.”

  55. #55 Abel Pharmboy
    May 11, 2008

    Suppose that Christian bloggers use your death as a platform to talk about their beliefs. Suppose they write about how tragic and futile your life was because you did not know God.

    I’m not an atheist but I would argue that PZ’s obituary would include his atheist activism as only one facet of his life. I, for one, would include his decades of caring for and dedication to his students, using his notoriety in promoting scientific literary in the US and the world, and freely opening the Myers’ home to student gatherings and colleagues in need.

  56. #56 dan
    May 11, 2008

    I had to send y’all a link to this story about the poor congregats of a Tampa-area preacher that they say WAS LYING TO THEM!

    http://www.sun-sentinel.com/news/local/southflorida/sfl-flbpreacher0511sbmay11,0,5670948.story

    Sorry about the long link – I don’t know how to get the linkey embedded into a piece of text – not a smarty.

  57. #57 Alveno Kondyles
    May 11, 2008

    If there is no God, then whatever Meyers does could not be either good or bad. If there is a God then Meyers is bad, and not good! Since he opposes God! If there is no God then whatever Meyers does is useless, and has no meaning. If there is no God, but a person believes that there is a God, and lives accordingly, then he gives his own life meaning. The non believers (Meyers)life has no meaning. What he says has no meaning.

  58. #58 Ale
    May 11, 2008

    Alveno:
    Your very first sentence is wrong. I did not bother continue.

  59. #59 Katharine
    May 11, 2008

    I can see two avenues of thought here:

    1) This guy was a major dick in life. Usual respect for a normal dead person is not warranted here.

    2) This guy’s dead, regardless of what he did; he deserves respect.

    Now, my opinion is that we give entirely too much respect to dead people – they’re just hunks of meat, damn it – and, frankly, this asshole deserves all the criticism he gets, and I’m glad another idiot minister has croaked (because they genuinely are drains on the rest of the population.). At the same time, death sucks.

  60. #60 Arnaud
    May 11, 2008

    No! A proponent of the no-morality-without-SkyDaddy argument who misspells PZ’s name!
    What are the odds?

  61. #61 JayneK
    May 11, 2008

    “I would argue that PZ’s obituary would include his atheist activism as only one facet of his life.” -Abel Pharmboy in #54

    I would imagine that there are many people for whom PZ’s atheist activism is his most significant contribution. If one of these people rather than yourself wrote his obituary I would expect to see that as its focus.

  62. #62 Katharine
    May 11, 2008

    Alveno -

    You’re parroting the same argument about morality that every anti-atheist theist uses. Your argument has no support. Don’t post here again unless you can support your argument.

  63. #63 craig
    May 11, 2008

    “You know, I’m an atheist, but I sometimes say ‘Jesus’ as a curse. Maybe he was in the process of saying ‘JESUS, that hurts!’ and didn’t quite finish.”

    I was just gonna say, I’m sure there have been plenty of people who’s last word was “Jesus!” though perhaps not in the same context.

    Oh and by the way, “respect for the dead” is about as fucking idiotic a concept as that of religion. Might as well have respect for a fucking cheeseburger.

  64. #64 J
    May 11, 2008

    Now, my opinion is that we give entirely too much respect to dead people – they’re just hunks of meat, damn it – and, frankly, this asshole deserves all the criticism he gets…

    Only the less subtle individuals here think this is anything to do with “respect for the dead” or some similar abstraction. As I see it, this is about PZ running the risk of exacerbating the suffering of the dead man’s family.

  65. #65 Interrobang
    May 11, 2008

    It seems to me as though what PZ is objecting to is the tone of the obit, that has a sort of sentiment in it that I used to see all the time from the fundamentalist Christians with whom I went to high school, and which you could sum up essentially as, “Christian first, human being second.” If the person who writes your obituary completely subsumes your humanity into your religion, even if you’re a clergyperson, that’s appalling. It really smacks of what James Loewen called “heroification,” a process by which a person is made into a false paragon of themselves. My atheism doesn’t have the same underpinnings as PZ’s does, so the fact that this man has been made into a paragon of religion doesn’t in itself offend me, although I can see how it might. (It offends me in that the human somehow got lost.)

    Sam Harris said something to the effect that atheism is in some quarters rapidly becoming a cult.

    Sam Harris supports torture, so IMNSHO I’m personally inclined to think he’s so full of shit he squeaks.

  66. #66 JayneK
    May 11, 2008

    Alveno (re: #56),

    If there were no God, Myers would give meaning to his life in much the same way as “a person [who]believes that there is a God, and lives accordingly.”

    If there is a God (as I think), it seems likely to me that He would consider good Myers zeal for truth and his many good actions. Myers does not “oppose God”. One would have to believe in God to oppose Him.

  67. #67 dan
    May 11, 2008

    …And to comment on the post;
    I share PZ’s view that a life devoted to copying the xian meme is a wasted life in the bigger sense that religion is a waste of human energy. I think that a life spent promoting a lie is a waste, not only of that life, but the lives of all of the Human race.
    That’s how us New Atheists(TM) view religion.
    If this preacher was a faith healer, what were his stats? What was his healing average? Average? Below average?

    Also, about good works; I am sick of good works; why do I have to help the poor and the sick, is God busy?
    Obviously, if he is leaving it up to us.
    But if they are poor and sick, isn’t that part of the plan? who am I to mess with the plan.

    Sorry, rambling….

    I agree with PZ’s post.

    Dan (in Orlando)

  68. #68 freelunch
    May 11, 2008

    Criticizing people at their death is rarely productive. Few people who knew them are likely to want to focus on their failings or troublesome characteristics. The obit is a bunch of sappy, vapid religiosity that is an insult to the man in question. No one could be as simplistic as the author of the obit paints him. The author needs to get a richer life than this impoverished God, God, God nonsense that he has constrained himself to.

    I know many ministers. The teaching of religion is not their only undertaking in life. Much of what they do is good, even if you conclude that religion or the practice of religion as done in America is evil and not merely silly. I realize that many of the activities of religious organizations are harmful to society, but some are helpful, or, at least, ameliorate some of the damage that they may have directly or indirectly caused.

    Religious activity needs to be criticized when it is harmful, but I doubt that it is helpful to be focusing on a particular person at his death. Criticizing it directly at times when religionists are more likely to be open to criticism is more constructive.

  69. #69 andrew
    May 11, 2008

    “there’s a waste of life right there”

    I couldnt stop laughing when I read that. So sharp, and dead on.

    When I die, I want people to talk about my faults alongside my good traits. That would give a fuller view of who I was.

  70. #70 craig
    May 11, 2008

    “Only the less subtle individuals here think this is anything to do with “respect for the dead” or some similar abstraction. As I see it, this is about PZ running the risk of exacerbating the suffering of the dead man’s family.”

    Fuck you and your inflated sense of your own mental superiority. Is that too subtle for you?

    PZ didn’t put up posters in their home town. He didn’t write a letter to the editor of their local paper. He didn’t show up at the wake and call the guy an asshole.

    He mentioned it on the net. The family are pretty unlikely to know about it, except in the “search google” scenario you mention. The man was a public figure. Public figures elicit public comments. Which can turn up on google. Unless you expect public figures to never be criticized, we’re going to have to throw any criticism down the memory hole and scrub google, because their family members might do a google search while in mourning.

    The internet is global. Billions of people use it. People die every second. Dying is as routine as being born – coincidentally happens just about as frequently.

    What you are saying pretty much suggests that nobody’s death ever be discussed on the net – virtually everyone has loved ones, so far everyone seems to die eventually, many – perhaps dozens of people know how to google.

    Seems to me YOU are the one guilty of a lack of subtlety, not being able to differentiate between said wake and local paper, and the wider, relatively-unattached world, internet and populace.

    Black and white thinking. Good/bad, with us/against us, not pissing in the casket/having the temerity to discuss a public person’s death in public.

    The idea that a recent death cannot be discussed by complete strangers on the net in anything less than reverential tones lest relatives stumble along is fecking stupid.

  71. #71 Dave Carlson
    May 11, 2008

    PZ, with all due respect, you are in no position to judge whether this person’s life was a “waste.” Not everything needs to be viewed through culture war-tinted binoculars. I know it sounds shocking, but even those dreaded Baptist Ministers can do positive things with their lives, so says this atheist pastor’s kid. So get off your high horse and have some fucking compassion.

  72. #72 Dan
    May 11, 2008

    If there is no God, then whatever Meyers…

    Posted by: Alveno Kondyles

    I made it that far. It’s really not that hard to find several instances on this page where PZ’s name is actually spelled correctly, and I figure if you can’t find them, it’s usually a good indication that much of what you have to say will be pretty worthless.

  73. #73 J
    May 11, 2008

    He mentioned it on the net. The family are pretty unlikely to know about it, except in the “search google” scenario you mention. The man was a public figure. Public figures elicit public comments. Which can turn up on google. Unless you expect public figures to never be criticized, we’re going to have to throw any criticism down the memory hole and scrub google, because their family members might do a google search while in mourning.

    PZ’s readership is extremely big, and it’s not at all implausible that the dead minister’s family will eventually learn about this article. Also, PZ’s taking a shit on a dead person he doesn’t know anything about is hardly the best thing that could happen for the public image of both science and atheism.

    Most of your outpouring barely touches on anything I said. It doesn’t matter how common death is. There’s simply no need to mention the man’s name. Zero good will come of this.

    Fuck you too, by the way.

  74. #74 Alex Besogonov
    May 11, 2008

    “De mortiis, aut bene aut nihil”

    You may despise or pity the deceased. I’m perfectly OK with it.

    However, suppose that his wife or child reads this blog (not impossible, given the high Google pagerank of Pharynula). Do you want to add more grief to their sufferings?

    I think, you should stay silent about such things. At least for a while to let the time heal wounds.

  75. #75 tai haku
    May 11, 2008

    So this guy probably had family and friends who may read the above in the near future which, IMO, makes this unnecessary and mean-spirited attack a post of near-Phelpsian dickishness.

  76. #76 Steve_C
    May 11, 2008

    If you hadn’t noticed, PZ is was talking about his profession as the reason his life was a waste. He spent it spreading superstition and lies.

    He’s right.

    He also said he might of been a great guy.

    Bunch of whiney ass concern trolls.

  77. #77 negentropyeater
    May 11, 2008

    J,

    very well said. And if I may add, with the quantity of creotards always lurking around on this site and looking for every occasion to make atheists look bad, I guess the risk that PZ is running that the family will learn that a prominent Atheist Scientist blogger declared the life of their loved one a “waste of a life”, and his death “ironic and futile”, is increasing by every minute that PZ is maintaining this post online.
    But ok, it’s his blog, he knows what he’s doing.

  78. #78 craig
    May 11, 2008

    “PZ’s readership is extremely big, and it’s not at all implausible that the dead minister’s family will eventually learn about this article.

    Most of your outpouring barely touches on anything I said. It doesn’t matter how common death is. There’s simply no need to mention the man’s name. Zero good will come of this.

    The net is global. Everyone dies. Everyone knows people who die. It’s not at all implausible that references to ANYONE’S death on the net will eventually be found by their loved ones.

    My comment touches precisely on what you said. In your own lack of subtlety, you have in effect issued a proscription on discussing anyone’s death in a less than positive light on the net. EVERYONE dies, EVERYONE has mourners.

    And now you’ve broadened it – now you say “eventually” they might find it… meaning that its not only bad if they find it while grieving, but at ANY time.

    “Knowing someone who died” is probably in the top three of the most commonly shared human experiences. More so than “having had sex.”

    By demanding that the recent dead not be discussed unfavorably or mentioned by name lest people they knew stumble across it, you’ve actually demanded a wider-reaching form of control than those who don’t want discussion of sex on the next in case kids see it. You’ve actually ruled out a wider swath of human experience from discussion.

    Why not widen it a bit more? Being bereaved is not the only thing that causes people psychic pain… it’s not even always the worst. Maybe we should not mention ANYTHING on the net that might theoretically upset someone, somewhere?

    Here’s a subtlety for ya – the internet, though it comes right into your house, is not actually IN your house. And it’s not actually IN the house of the mourners.

    And here’s a mind-blower – though anyone could possibly read anything on the net, that doesn’t mean you should necessarily act as though everyone WILL.

    It’s an immense public and impersonal place that can come right into your house. You have to get used to that, mourners have to get used to that, people who have reasons to be upset about things have to get used to that.

    Everyone has the world’s largest library at their fingertips. Subtle is understanding that you might come across something that upsets you in that library.
    Unsubtle is demanding that the world’s largest library be edited to suit your own particular emotional needs.

  79. #79 Brandon
    May 11, 2008

    Who cares if this man dedicated his life to religion? He was not a hate monger or a snake oil salesman. There’s more to being a minister than, “God Jesus Heaven Hell Jesus.” Even if every word he preached was false (and that’s a big, unfalsifiable “if”), he spent his life making people happy. His life was no more a waste than the life of an actor or entertainer or motivational speaker. If anything, we should all strive to live like Paul Jones. We should all dedicate ourselves to improving the quality of life of those around us, even if that improvement can’t be seen under a microscope.

  80. #80 craig
    May 11, 2008

    Arguing against the point of a blog post is fine. Arguing against other commenters is fine. Disagreeing with PZ’s points entirely is fine.

    Saying “you should not have blogged this” is never anything but stupid. Go to stormfront where the racists are and take their arguments down, call them assholes, whatever – fair game.
    Say they shouldn’t have said what they said, and you’re just a dumbass.

    If you like the free exchange of ideas on the blog but disagree fully with the blogger’s point of view, fine. But to tell a blogger that they shouldn’t blog about what they do, that’s stupidity.

    Argue about whats on your screen, fine. Demand it NOT be on your screen – you have a fucking off button. You can write your own blog. You can go to others.

  81. #81 Paul Telesco
    May 11, 2008

    I’m a former catholic and now look at religion as a mental and emotional crutch for people who have had it pushed on them form an early age – it’s like drugs. They don’t realize that they can live without it.

    But simple human compassion – that’s what’s lacking in the blog post. Thanks a lot PZ. You manage to make non-believers look as uncaring about people’s deaths as the Right Moron Phelps. Is it any wonder the religious call atheists “inhuman”? It’s quite easy to hate – ask all the religions. And it’s a trait you seem to have picked up and taken to quite well.

  82. #82 jestdecerts
    May 11, 2008

    “this unnecessary and mean-spirited attack a post of near-Phelpsian dickishness.”

    I agree. You’re a very bright man PZ, but you’re in desperate need of a heart transplant.

  83. #83 J
    May 11, 2008

    Craig,

    I have no intention of reading that almost certainly ridiculous rant. Thanks.

  84. #84 Strakh
    May 11, 2008

    Craig:
    Oh, but I do, I DO respect my cheeseburger, its juicy goodness, its hearty taste, its beefy flavor…damn, now I’m hungry.
    Good posts, by the way.
    Kind of a losing battle,though, eh?
    Ya just can’t count the Marching Morons, ya know?
    (Kudos to the late great C.M. Kornbluth – who DID do something constructive with his life, you simpering wimps, unlike a certain Baptist Mininster…)

  85. #85 Rick T
    May 11, 2008

    This post and the comments reveal the pernicious respect for religion that permeates our society. It is an attitude that allows harm and damage to our society and yet we are all supposed to tip toe around issues that may cast an ill light on religion lest we offend. Even atheists can exhibit a respect for religious adherence which can be puzzling because of their total rejection of a God notion. It must be cultural.
    Another attitude that gets undeserving respect is wealth building both corporately and individually. We see it now in America as politicians feed at the teat of corporate enterprise and in return benefit these leaches with more tax breaks and subsidies. Yet we all know that this welfare system for the rich doesn’t benefit our society and this elimination of the middle class can only cause financial ruin for us all. Why does this happen? Because it is an accepted attitude that God blesses us, hard work is rewarded and it is good to enjoy pleasurable experiences. This supposes that if we are wealthy then God must be blessing us and that we must have worked hard to attain our status and that only opulent things can bring pleasure, all are misnomers.
    Seligman (2002) speaks of the the life of pleasure, the life of engagement and the life of meaning. The life of pleasure can be food, drink, and other indulgences. The life of engagement relates to work and family. The life of meaning involves devoting ones energies to purposes higher than oneself. As I have suggested the life of pleasure is valued in our society but we all know that there is more to life than our bank account and what we own. Yet society still values the concept of wealth and indulgence just as they value religious adherence.
    The life of meaning is also valued in word if not in deed. I think this preacher would have fallen into this category. He spent his life pursuing a purpose he thought to be higher that himself yet PZ’s point was that it was a purpose without meaning or the meaning was totally made up and imaginary.
    PZ then mentioned that he would like his life to be a life that values engagement. What beneficial work did he engage in? Whom did he love and support and who loved him in return?
    This is the elements of a well lived life. This preacher may have had this in spades but the emphasis in the obit was on the ideal, the imaginary, and not the stuff of real value. This was not mentioned at all. PZ’s point was that he would hope his life would not be remembered as being about this nonsense.
    I think it is a point well made about priorities and the harmful degree of respect that we in our society have towards ideas that have little or no value and in some cases are harmful to us.

  86. #86 dead santa
    May 11, 2008

    Today’s shocking news: Atheist considers minister’s life a waste. Minister’s family spends entire day searching the internet for bad things said about their loved one. Once beloved atheists now reviled by all; doomed to be tortured for all eternity.

  87. #87 PDXJim
    May 11, 2008

    The irony is that “concern troll” is clearly an oxymoron.

  88. #88 David
    May 11, 2008

    I find this post to be in bad taste.

    Criticizing the recently departed is, in my book, right up there with mocking the ill. Even if your criticisms are justified, it’s very uncivilized.

  89. #89 CalGeorge
    May 11, 2008

    I see absolutely nothing wrong with PZ’s post.

    An obit that focuses on glorifying someone’s idiotic faith deserves to be ripped to shreds.

    Becoming a minister and spreading bullshit about a fantasy God is not time well spent on this planet.

  90. #90 Etha Williams
    May 11, 2008

    IMO the fault here lies as much with the obituarist as anyone else. Though Jones was doubtless loved by his family and probably did a lot of good for them and for his community, the article barely mentions this. It’s a sad commentary on what modern culture values — faith above works, to the point that works go almost unmentioned. If I were a member of Jones’ family, the content of the obit (or lack thereof) would upset me at least as much as this blog post.

    That said, I think this post could have been a bit less personal, just out of compassion for the grieving family members.

  91. #91 Don
    May 11, 2008

    I read PZ’s post as critical of the obituary, how it reduced a man who might well have been ‘a wonderful fellow’ to nothing more than a believer in a particular religion. I didn’t see it as attacking the man himself.

    Some of the comments, however, are vile.

    …this asshole deserves all the criticism he gets, and I’m glad another idiot minister has croaked…

    This turd died promoting shit

    The guy was obviously a moron

    he deserves to have his rotting corpse and reputation spit upon and booted around a bit.

    Good riddance.

  92. #92 SC
    May 11, 2008

    Alveno @ #56 – That is precisely wrong. Here’s why:

    As long as humans have existed, we have had mores surrounding death and mourning – How do we deal with dead bodies? What rituals surround this process, and how do we behave then? How do we talk about people after they have died? How do we treat mourners? Because death is a universal experience, these mores existed long before the emergence of the Abrahamic faiths, and, worldwide, form a rich cultural tapestry.

    There is nothing in the Bible that says “Thou shalt not post on a public internet blog with a large readership that someone with a different worldview has wasted his life because much of it was lived in service to that worldview immediately following his death.” What the Bible does have to say about the mores surrounding death and mourning is surely contradictory and ambiguous and can be interpreted in any number of ways. So even if you claim to be following god’s word, you are in large part making much of it up as you go, whether you acknowledge it or not.

    Atheists, in contrast, realize that we are always in the course of defining our mores surrounding death and mourning, as we are doing here to some extent. We have an innate capacity for compassion, and frequently have experience ourselves in grieving. We have all of the past and present approaches to death from thousands of cultural traditions to study – horrific rituals (widow burning), innocuous rituals, and so on. We also have more recent psychological and sociological knowledge concerning the bereavement process. And we have the desire (most of us at least) to make the world a better place for ourselves and others.

    craig, it’s basically irrelevant here, but you don’t seem to understand what a public figure is. By your definition, almost any of us is a public figure, which would certainly make this useless as a legal term. Also, your points about the size and impersonal nature of the internet don’t support an argument that people who operate web sites have no moral responsibility for what they say on them. These features of the internet may make defining moral action a more complicated affair, but they don’t negate the need for it. And contributing one’s views to a public discussion of ethics is not the same as issuing a proscription or demanding censorship.

  93. #93 SC
    May 11, 2008

    If I were a member of Jones’ family, the content of the obit (or lack thereof) would upset me at least as much as this blog post.

    In my experience – and I don’t know how representative this is – the family of the deceased participates in the writing of the obituary, if not composing it in its entirety at least providing the content. I don’t know these people, but I would suspect that they were very likely pleased with the obituary, as the guy himself would have been. If there were any indication that the obituary writer had gone against their wishes, that would be very different.

    In any event, I don’t see the point in criticizing the obit itself (which doesn’t seem to be all PZ was doing). If it’s an isolated case, it’s hardly worthy of a blog post. If it’s supposed to be a representative example of a broader problem, it’s a bad choice, since everyone would pretty much expect a minister’s obituary to be heavy on religion. A content analysis of religion in obituaries, including changes over time, would be extremely interesting, but that’s not what he’s provided here.

  94. #94 Steve_C
    May 11, 2008

    Concern troll is not an oxymoron.

  95. #95 SirBlack
    May 11, 2008

    If the purpose of this blog entry was to make that point that people often focus too much on a person’s religousness and not enough on what the person actually accomplished, then fine. That’s a valid point, and it isn’t insensitive to use this obituary as an example.

    But in that case, was there really a need to throw in those digs at religion and this man’s belief in it?

    “He was an ordained Baptist minister — there’s a waste of a life right there”
    “and that I don’t go out with the name of an imaginary being on my lips”
    “he had dedicated his life to a lie.”
    Those add nothing to the above mentioned point. They’re just generic religion bashing.

    Furthermore, going beyond the context of just this blog entry, do any of you really consider the effects of such comments? To atheists, they’re little more than ego boosting. To relgious people, they’re unconvincing and probably insulting. And in both cases they’re USELESS. Actually, I should say less than useless because these kinds of statements can act to reinforce religious people’s biases that atheists aren’t just people who don’t believe but are people who hate religion.

    In the today’s culture where we are combating anti-sceince and fundamentalist rubbish, we should be trying to foster understanding between atheists and non-atheists, not making self-satisfying comments that only further the divide.

  96. #96 CortxVortx
    May 11, 2008

    Several of the comments dwell on how Prof PZ’s piece might distress the relatives of the deceased. Hmm… Doubtless they believe he is now dwelling in heaven at the right hand of God, looking down on his family (maybe even protecting them surreptitiously, a la “The Family Circus”), rattling around in his mansion, strolling the streets of gold… You get the picture (any of you brought up in a Babtiss church, anyway; unless you’re a post-millennialist, in which case you will surely burn in hell).

    So, why should the relatives care what PZ thinks? They’re deliriously happy that the guy has gone to his reward after so many years in this vale of tears.

    If they’re grieving, then obviously they don’t believe their own religious stories.

  97. #97 Etha Williams
    May 11, 2008

    Definition of a concern troll (from wikipedia):

    A concern troll is a pseudonym created by a user whose point of view is opposed to the one that the user’s sockpuppet claims to hold. The concern troll posts in web forums devoted to its declared point of view and attempts to sway the group’s actions or opinions while claiming to share their goals, but with professed “concerns”. The goal is to sow fear, uncertainty and doubt within the group.

    So if you’re calling yourself a concern troll, you probably aren’t. Unless the intent is to confuse people into thinking you’re not a concern troll by pretending to admit to being one…gah…reverse psychology…now I’m just confusing myself.

  98. #98 Crake
    May 11, 2008

    #93

    My sentiments exactly, this blog post is most uncharacteristic of PZ, I’m an atheist and took no offense but to a theistic reader his post would appear overly aggressive and reinforce the idea of the ‘militant atheist’.

  99. #99 Lelouch
    May 11, 2008

    “there’s a waste of a life right there”

    PZ I have to, respectfully, disagree with your wording, and forgive me other lurkers/readers, if my sentiments have already been expressed in an earlier post, but I need to share my own thoughts on this matter.

    I can spend my life building cheese sculptures or card houses, praying to Zeus or Mothra, studying biology or popular culture, and reading comics or academic journals, but in choosing one these options over another, my life wouldn’t be any more or less of a waste because its up to me give it meaning (you to give your life meaning). Even if I feel that religion is the biggest waste of time ever, I still cannot say that it is a meaningless act.

    Everybody gives their own life meaning with every word they say, with every act they do, and with every thing they feel and think. Nothing is meaningless, in a life where meaning is all up to us.

    OT: At my end, if i can, I would try to give a bellowing yell, “FREEEEEDOM!” (yeah, just like in Braveheart) because life, to me, is freedom, that is, the awareness of existence and the environment and the ability to act upon it all is freedom, and death is just the absence of awareness.

  100. #100 negentropyeater
    May 11, 2008

    In reading some of the comments, I get the impression that some consider compassion and respect for a family in mourning as religious notions. But not at all ! These are just some of those things that make us humane.

    And what does it change that the deceased was a baptist minister, still showing respect for his family in mourning does not mean that one shows respect for religion.

    Well you might say, nobody here really cares about the family, this is Pharyngula, we’re amongst us.

    But maybe campassion is something we experience to different degrees depending on our personalities and our own past experiences of having lost loved ones. For me, it’s just an automatic reflex, I just read this post and think as if I were one of the family members. And I react strongly against it. Others don’t.

  101. #101 BobC
    May 11, 2008

    All Baptist ministers make a living lying to children. The world is a slightly better place every time a Baptist minister drops dead. If some Christian morons are offended, that’s good. I’m sick of their breathtaking stupidity, their brainwashing of children, and their never ending attacks against science education.

  102. #102 David H
    May 11, 2008

    PZ Myers, a cephalopod-loving blogger and guide and mentor to many godless heathens, died Tuesday night during one of his many trips to the local soup kitchen to volunteer. Myers, 54, often told the story of how he once saw this tragic and shitty obituary of a Baptist minister, which was laced with kitschy sentiment and lacked any clear, reality-based accomplishments. Myers made it known that he did not want such an obituary by excessively berating the deceased man on his blog.

    Myers died of distemper, which he caught from hugging a seal, just as he was about to pour a ladle of soup into the bowl of a man muttering something about a time cube. Myers last word was “chowdah?” After his collapse many of the homeless patrons grew restless, and attempted to serve themselves, which lead to massive amounts of fail and required the intervention of local police.

    Since Myers death there has been a noticeable decline in bandwidth on the internet, and there are reports of people in supermarkets overhearing other patron’s conversations, stopping them, laying out 16-point essays on why they’re wrong, hurling expletives at them, and then following them inconspicuously all over the store waiting for a response.

    /just for fun

  103. #103 CalGeorge
    May 11, 2008

    If he’s up in heaven now, I wonder what he’s doing now. At this moment.

    Having a nap?

    Eating a burger?

    Talking to Jesus?

    Joking about the way he died with his deceased relatives?

  104. #104 Sudo
    May 11, 2008

    I’ve only been visiting this blog for a couple of weeks, but the tone of this post and the comments on it seem par for the course around here. Crapping on people who’ve just died or experienced some tragedy, merely because they are religious, only lends credence to the commonly-held belief that atheists are amoral assholes.

  105. #105 craig
    May 11, 2008

    “And contributing one’s views to a public discussion of ethics is not the same as issuing a proscription or demanding censorship.”

    I have no problem with people disagreeing with PZ, I am only quarreling with those who take the position “he shouldn’t have written this.”

    Saying something shouldn’t be written is bullshit. Let it all be written, then criticize the content.

    This whole thing reminds me of the time Matt Taibbi got fired for writing his list of the top fun things about the impending death of the pope. The outrage and disgust at that don’t bother me, but the politicians and others saying that he never should have written it, saying “I’m all for freedom of speech, but this goes to far,” etc. Is what got me.

    Disagree the content of the blog post, but don’t say it should not have been posted. If you want a blog with a different ethos, go create your own.

    As far as “public” officials go, maybe a man who stands in front of crowds giving speeches every week for his whole life isn’t public after all… but that doesn’t matter.

    Those who are saying it should not have been posted are still essentially arguing in effect that NO person’s death should EVER be discussed on the web by anyone if it could in any way be seen as non-positive. That an article in the paper should never be commented on with criticism if it involves praise for the recently deceased.

    That is a huge limitation on speech. Immense. And it’s bullshit.

  106. #106 John
    May 11, 2008

    Hey PZ, why die? I mean why not get a sub cellular resolution brain scan and have your consciousness simulated on a computer so you can disprove creationist claims from beyond the grave!

  107. #107 craig
    May 11, 2008

    “Criticizing the recently departed is, in my book, right up there with mocking the ill. “

    You know what criticizing the departed is? It’s TOO LATE.

    George W. Bush died today at age 85. His last words reported to be “bunny! kitty!” Fox News is lobbying for the moon to be carved into his likeness, and is running polls to gauge public opinion on possible sainthood.
    Don’t criticize Fox News’ position – Barbara and Jenna and the grandkids are in mourning.

    Compassion for mourners is one thing, but I get a touch of “respect for the dead” from your post too… that people who have recently died should be afforded respect.

    Bullshit. Yes, it’s perhaps hypocritical to criticize those after death who you were afraid to confront while alive, but other than that, criticizing the dead is FINE, albeit tardy.

    THEY WON’T CARE. They are DEAD. They are GONE.

    If they are deserving of respect, respect them while they are alive. If they are deserving of criticism, they didn’t suddenly become nicer when they died. They don’t NEED your respect any longer.

    Respecting the dead says nothing about the dead, says perhaps a little about respect for their survivors – but mostly respect for the dead is about those doing the respecting.

    When demanding respect for the dead, those demanding it at root really are demanding attention for themselves. Its about how THEY feel. Its about their OWN fear of death, their own illogical fear of what will be said about them after they die, about demanding that their own bullshit mystical feelings be taken into consideration.

    Which is certainly fine, to a degree, when they themselves knew and loved the deceased.

    When the demands come from complete strangers, its just a self-centered selfish demand that those strangers sensibilities be given top consideration.

    Strangers crying at Princess Diana’s death, strangers demanding respect for the deceased they personally never knew – its appropriating someone else’s tragedy or misfortune as an excuse to have your OWN ego be stroked, your own fears be calmed, your own uneasiness with death deferred to.

    And of course its also a great opportunity to use someone else’s life drama to inject a little into your own… to give you a chance to engage in everyone’s favorite hobby – being outraged and indignant.

    Life gives us so few chances to legitimately get to feel that wonderful, ego-boosting emotion of outrage and indignation. Sometimes you just have to go out looking for someone else to be outraged on behalf of.

    It’s really good to get to be outraged on behalf of the dead, dead you never knew. You can pose as moral and ethical, and there’s nobody who was actually involved around to say “hey, who the fuck are you?”

    Sport mourning.

  108. #108 Hank Fox
    May 11, 2008

    It seems to me that most of this post is devoted to criticizing the obit itself, for the way it seems to use this poor man’s death as a tool to sell religion. It turns him into a flattened cardboard cutout of man-as-churchgoer rather than showing him as an individual. The obit itself does him a supreme disservice – more than PZ’s words could.

    As for the rest …

    One of the disadvantages science and reason face is that it’s literally about a hundred times easier to pop off with an emotionally-engaging quip than it is to offer a intellect-engaging explanation.

    What follows is my attempt to NOT pop off. To explain some of what I think is going on here. Which means it will be long, and … well, just scroll past it if it gets too boring. If you read on, I’ll try to eventually get to the point.

    This will sound like bragging, but so be it: One of my advantages in life, and sometimes a big drawback, has been that I’m sensitive in the extreme to all sorts of subtle vibes that other people send out. (I hate the word “vibes,” but I’m gonna toss it in here as shorthand for something realer but harder to explain.)

    I like to think I can usually pick up what people are sending out. There very first time I saw George W. Bush on TV, during the 2000 presidential campaign, just watching him made my lip curl. Of course I was interested in what he had to say, but every bit of it was colored by the fact that my phony-sense kept tingling all the time he was on screen. Even when I actually want to buy something, a salesman on the spot will make me very uncomfortable, because I can feel the intent behind everything he says and does – the sales pitch might even be to my advantage, but it remains faintly predatory.

    One of the things I unconsciously look for in others is what I think of as their basic inner approach to people. It shows up in my own head as a sort of vector – a force steadily applied in a certain direction.

    Among others, there’s a push-them-away vector – a natural repulsion of people – that might come out as constant snarling or snapping. Then there’s a bring-them-together vector – a natural attraction TO people – that comes out as obvious affection, easy humor, confidence in the company of others, and even, often, love.

    Both traits are pretty hard to disguise, because each of these people has to make an effort to be otherwise.

    Attractors automatically demonstrate affection in every interaction with others, but they have to work at it to express criticality. It’s why doting parents have to take pains to develop the ability to discipline their children.

    Repellers can express anger and displeasure easily, because it comes naturally to them. They can cut you to the bone with a string of quick expletives, but they have to work at it to get along. They have to make an effort to display (feign) ease and pleasure in the company of others.

    It seems to me the “automatic” part for both comes out in physical expression of emotions, the “work at it” part often comes out in words. Because both have to consciously think about it, concentrate on it, to do it.

    Since we’re talking about somebody dying here: Fred Phelps and his ugly clan can show up at a funeral and be disgustingly hateful, and it’s EASY for them because they ARE hateful. Phelps is a nasty savage wearing human clothes, and he’s poisoned the rest of them, that sulfuric-acid daughter of his, for instance, (I can’t even imagine Phelps hugging his daughter in sincere affection, even once in her life) so that it would take an extreme effort for any of them to fake something that looked like affection. Their push-them-away vector is like a nuclear missile aimed at anyone not a member of their inbred little clan.

    PZ, on the other hand … Nothing he’s ever written makes me think he’s one of the repellers. And I mean exactly that: NOTHING. Even with my extreme sensitivity, I can’t find anything in him of meanness. It feels to me like he’s one of the bring-them-together people, and a damned strong one. I can’t imagine it would ever come naturally, automatically, to him to be mean. (Which means to me that anytime it looks like he’s being less than sweetness-and-light, it’s worth a second look to figure out if I’ve misunderstood what he actually intended.)

    Ah, but …

    Bring-them-together people, BECAUSE they care about others, are subject to anger, and no small amount of it.

    But because we all share the same language, and the same traits of mind, there are only so many ways to express things. Only so many words, only so many emotional nuances to attach to them.

    So people who hate people can be naturally snarky. But with practice, so can those who love them.

    In writing about religious whackjobs, and PZ frequently does, a great deal of pointed humor comes into it. Not because PZ’s a bad person, but because he’s a GOOD one, and pointed humor is one of the tools you use with others to get past the readers’ filters and get them thinking. But it’s also a tool you use on yourself to keep from screaming in rage and doing something drastic.

    Because, really, here are these bastards who: 1) wear a pious disguise, 2) are actually haters and destroyers of all things good, and 3) GET AWAY WITH IT.

    And they get away with it because most people are so blinded by the religion (or any programmed, automatic, unreasoning reaction) in their heads they can’t see what’s really there. To them, the vectors look exactly opposite to what they really are. A molester wrapped in the robe of Jesus looks like a lover of children, whereas a good person – even one of the former victims – who points him out looks like a destroyer of all things good. A mass murderer wrapped in a flag looks like the pinnacle of justice and good, while the person who criticizes him looks like an enemy and a traitor.

    That “programmed, automatic, unreasoning reaction” happens in most of us simply because we’re the type of beast we are. It’s something you fight on your own, and together as a group, to enhance the decency and get-along-ability of your greater society.

    But our propensity for “programmed, automatic, unreasoning reaction” is ALSO a tool used against us by certain others. If the predator (dictator? advertiser? priest? president?) can get you out of your reasoning mind and into your emotional one, if they pull the right triggers inside you, they can get you to buy, to kill, to torture, to offer your own life in long service or in sudden death – in devotion to THEIR cause and THEIR values.

    So here’s PZ, a Twain-esque commentator on the world we live in, and the sometimes genuinely-bad people who populate it. He says something about this poor guy who died, and if we don’t read it carefully enough, we hear snark. Which triggers our cultural rule: If you can’t say something nice about a guy who died, don’t say anything at all. Otherwise, you’re bad.

    The snag, I think, is that some readers are hearing “snark” where what PZ actually wrote is sincere. The title of the piece is not “What a stupid worthless asshole,” but a genuine expression of sorrow: “How sad.”

    PZ’s worldview (and mine) contains no slightest amount of respect for religion. Having read him here for years, I think he’d probably tell you he considers it to be probably the single greatest offender in triggering programmed, automatic, unreasoning reactions in people. It’s THE tool that predators throughout history have used to consume the lives of others.

    It’s not snark to say that the life of a person caught up in religion – both as a victim of it and then as a purveyor – is tragic. It’s respect for the immense promise of human life, turned to genuine sadness in the face of what actually happened.

    Finally, even if PZ HAD criticized the life of this man, that’s not automatically a mean-spirited act. If some car-thieving career delinquent dies in a crash while evading police, a lot of things might be publicly said about him that would hurt his parents and friends, but that would HELP others his same age, by warning them away from repeating his course.

    In this case, though, I don’t see any such criticism.

  109. #109 Steve_C
    May 11, 2008

    Sudo,

    HE WAS A MINISTER. Not merely religious. A great many people are merely religious and for the most part they aren’t an issue… unless of course they take part in a poll that supports some nonsense… then we mock and roll our eyes.

    Paul Jones was a minister. He spread the poison that is religion. He deserves no special respect. People die everyday, people who actually earned and deserve respect.

    Nothing in his obit said he did anything more than spread superstition. That’s sad.

  110. #110 JB
    May 11, 2008

    Followed advice from PZ. Read original obit and similarly struck by complete lack of any depth beyond the superficiality of a he helps a lot of people pray which seems to imply that he must be wonderful then. I cannot help feeling the main reason for this is the four links below, where we are helpfully invited to buy stuff.

    I expect that Paul Jones and I did not think in quite the same way, but if ‘Jesus’…’ were to be my last words, it is only because they were intended to be ‘… that hurt.

  111. #111 SC
    May 11, 2008

    Those who are saying it should not have been posted are still essentially arguing in effect that NO person’s death should EVER be discussed on the web by anyone if it could in any way be seen as non-positive.

    No, they aren’t – still, essentially, in effect, or otherwise. They are commenting on a specific instance, not making this sort of general proposal. Your claim is pure hyperbole.

    I still don’t understand why you understand someone’s stating that they don’t think it was right to write something as qualitatively different from any other form of criticism, but whatever.

  112. #112 Hank Fox
    May 11, 2008

    Crap.

    THE very first time I saw Bush on TV …

  113. #113 Nick Gotts
    May 11, 2008

    All Baptist ministers make a living lying to children. The world is a slightly better place every time a Baptist minister drops dead. – BobC

    Two obvious falsehoods in successive sentences – not bad. Many, probably most Baptist ministers believe the garbage they tell people. And some of them will undoubtedly do enough in the way of practical good to outweigh the bad effects of that garbage.

  114. #114 negentropyeater
    May 11, 2008

    Steve_C,

    Paul Jones was a minister. He spread the poison that is religion. He deserves no special respect.

    Can you understand that compassion and respect are shown to the family and friends of the deceased who are still in mourning, not the decceased himself. Obviously, he’s dead, gone, he cares no more.

  115. #115 BobC
    May 11, 2008

    #111: “And some of them will undoubtedly do enough in the way of practical good to outweigh the bad effects of that garbage.”

    And what would be good enough to outweigh the bad effects of brainwashing gullible children?

    Whether the moron Baptists ministers know they are lying or not, what they do for a living is repulsive. There can be no greater crime than brainwashing innocent children. Baptist ministers are worthless scum. They have caused more harm to this country than the 9/11 terrorists.

  116. #116 SC
    May 11, 2008

    Hank Fox,

    I appreciate your thoughtful post. But I don’t agree that a callous act – if this is that – can be justified on the basis that it’s inspired by a righteous anger, that it’s committed by someone who genuinely means well and is a good person, or that it’s intended ultimately to help people – either those who may be harmed by it or those who will merely benefit thereby.

    One of the best aspects of atheism is that it allows no sacred, higher missions in the name of which which our concrete acts can be rationalized. This goes for the goal of eliminating superstition. Our ends cannot justify our means. Our means are ends, and they define who we are.

  117. #117 Etha Williams
    May 11, 2008

    @#113 BobC –

    There can be no greater crime than brainwashing innocent children. Baptist ministers are worthless scum.

    Most of those Baptist ministers were brainwashed when they were innocent children, and there’s no sense or higher morality in rejoicing in their death. This is one case in which the forgive them, for they know not what they do adage may be in order.

  118. #118 J
    May 11, 2008

    Human beings are inherently savage, and you have to be very careful when mixing a “cause”, a banner around which to gather like militant atheism, with anything like the kind of vitriolic antipathy we’re witnessing here (not from PZ, incidentally). I interpret this thread as evidence that Sam Harris is maybe right: Maybe we shouldn’t so conspicuously define ourselves as atheists, if only for fear of the consequences. Philosophically, it’s a empty label anyway, as Russell was wont to point out.

    I don’t know why PZ just doesn’t remove the deceased minister’s name from his post. He can quite easily get his message across without having to point the finger at anyone in particular.

  119. #119 Crake
    May 11, 2008

    #113

    It’s this kind of hateful intolerance I was hoping the philosophy of atheism could have got us away from…

  120. #120 Kenny
    May 11, 2008

    The author of this blog has proved my point.

    People can be hateful against anybody if they are religious or an Atheist. It doesn’t matter.

    It doesn’t matter that they think they are using reasoning or not to justify their means.

    The author doesn’t even know this man and yet he basically says he is worthless with his life and what he believes. I find that kind of admition quite disturbing. However, it does nothing to prove my point.

    People on here say how Christians can be full of hate
    but the author of this blog that he can be full of hate and intolerant of other’s belief systems.

    This is a nice piece of someone who is extremely hypocritical and they just provided the proof of it.

    People in the last thread were saying oh how can reason kill Christians. Well it depends on how that reason is justified. You can use a Bible, or anything else like “The God Delusion”. It is all how it is justified.

    Well at least the truth is out now and now everyone can see how Athiests really feel and how full of hate some of them can be.

    I am bookmarking this thread so when atheists ask the question.

    How can Atheists be hateful? (Because they are based on reasoning and logic). I can just point to this thread and answer that question.

  121. #121 Nick Gotts
    May 11, 2008

    And what would be good enough to outweigh the bad effects of brainwashing gullible children? – BobC

    Saving people’s lives, perhaps? Also, it depends how effective such brainwashing is.

    Whether the moron Baptists ministers know they are lying or not

    If you don’t know you’re lying, you’re not lying. Try using words with something approximating their usual meaning, it really does make communication easier.

    what they do for a living is repulsive. There can be no greater crime than brainwashing innocent children.

    Er, raping them? Murdering them? I agree what they do for a living is repulsive, but having been brainwashed by Baptist ministers (among others) myself in childhood, I know full recovery is possible.

  122. #122 J
    May 11, 2008

    All this stuff about the minister living a lie is pure propaganda. He lived a falsehood, though not necessarily a lie. Full stop. Strange as it may seem at first glance, it really is possible for people to sincerely subscribe to (many of) the tenets of Christianity.

  123. #123 SC
    May 11, 2008

    Nick Gotts,

    I, too, am a survivor of childhood Baptist brainwashing (painful memories of “I’m no kin to a monkey…” still intact). Based upon my sample of two, I must conclude that Baptist children make the finest, most reasonable adult atheists :).

  124. #124 John C. Randolph
    May 11, 2008

    I’m just going to weigh in here with my support for PZ’s remarks. PZ didn’t go looking for it, someone sent the obit to him, probably to solicit his comments.

    The man was a preacher. He may have been an affable low-budget shrink, as the best people in his profession tend to be, or he may have been a Jerry Falwell hate mongering hypocrite, we don’t know. What we *do* know, is that he reportedly devoted his life to wishful thinking.

    -jcr

  125. #125 Matt
    May 11, 2008

    PZ,

    I, too, find this post in poor taste. By all accounts, Mr. Jones was a fine man. He did not force anyone to pray with him. As much as you may hate it, many people find comfort in religion. Mr. Jones did what he could to make them happier. How is that futile?

  126. #126 Kenny
    May 11, 2008

    >What we *do* know, is that he reportedly devoted his life
    >to wishful thinking.

    Got proof of that? I see a lot of people saying bogus things in here and some saying horrible things.

    You can’t prove God does not exist. So therefore, he could be right and you could be the one with wishful thinking.

    A lot of people in here can’t think logically. Oh they say they do, but they really don’t. Your Dawkins even thinks that God is a possibility. He says that it’s a small chance but there is still a chance.

    Again, you might be the one doing the wishful thinking and you would not know it until you die.

  127. #127 Steve_C
    May 11, 2008

    Is this really going to be reduced to apologists for religion???

  128. #128 Steve_C
    May 11, 2008

    Kenny,

    For christ’s sake shut the fuck up.

  129. #129 Brandon
    May 11, 2008

    Kenny: Great idea. I am saving this thread for when somebody says,

    “PZ Myers isn’t acting on faith, he’s just waiting for the evidence!”

    or

    “There’s no way atheists can be as bad as fundies!”

  130. #130 negentropyeater
    May 11, 2008

    Just did a quick count within the first 100 comments;

    35 +/-e commenters reacted somewhat negatively to PZ’s post
    23 +/-e commenters reacted somewhat positively to PZ’s post

    (remainder are repeat commenters, or neutral)
    (I don’t know what’s my margin of error, I’m getting ready for bed time, so be generous)

    Does demonstrate that Pharyngulites aren’t a monolythic group that systematically agrees with it’s squid-master !

  131. #131 Nick Gotts
    May 11, 2008

    SC@122 – thanks very much! Though mine were UK Baptists, who are (or at least were) less upfront with their lunacies than US Baptists, and my siblings and I were also subjected to both High and Low Anglicans. Sheer boredom and the occasional worry about hell were the worst parts of my experience, and looking back, I’m sure my parents sent us mostly to get a bit of time together on their own! By the time of their deaths a few years ago, my parents had dropped religion altogether, and my mother had requested a completely non-religious funeral.

  132. #132 Kenny
    May 11, 2008

    >For c*****’s sake shut the **** up.

    I think the posts needed to be answered.

    I really hope this thread is kept so that people
    can see the real face behind this “new atheism”.

    By the way, just so that nobody gets the wrong idea.
    I don’t hate atheists. I think they are miguided sure, but I don’t hate them. I just don’t like what they are trying to do in life. Well this “new atheism” is trying to do.

    We all know what Carl Sagan was like. We all knew that he was an atheist (well at least before his death anyway).

    However, he wasn’t trying to get relgion kicked out of life, he wasn’t trying to be intolerant to people who worship and he wasn’t trying to take their rights away to worship. That is what I see with this “new atheism”. He wasn’t an atheist that was a fundie. That is all I see here and that was not the case before 9/11.

  133. #133 Steve_C
    May 11, 2008

    Once again Kenny gets it wrong.

    Pray to what ever fairy tale you want.

    But don’t expect special rights to force it into public schools, governments and politics.

    We want a secular country where religion doesn’t DOMINATE the national discourse. One where a man like Huckabee would get laughed off the stage for being a creationist.

    It’s not our problem you don’t understand how foolish, insidious and down right fucking goofy religion, ALL religion, looks to us who are on the outside, and have a rational bone in our body.

    I don’t care if you find our tone coarse. Too fucking bad. You haven’t the slightest fucking clue of what we want to do in life.

    Don’t worry Kenny, the post will be saved. There’s nothing to be ashamed of here.

    Well, maybe your posts, they show how deluded and annoying godbots like you can be.

  134. #134 Liz
    May 11, 2008

    Label me a concern troll or whatever, I don’t care.

    I think judgment was way to premature here. What do we know about the guy? Very little. How do you summarize an entire life in a couple paragraphs? PZ himself said that it’s sad that we know so little about the person he was because the obituary writer felt the need to only focus on the man’s religion, but I don’t agree that his life was a waste.

    However he chooses to spends his life, and however he finds meaning in his life – as long as he does nor condones harm to others – it isn’t our prerogative to butt in and say “no, this was a useless way to spend your life – you’re just a waste.” This applies to anyone, alive or dead. (And I don’t think religion in and of itself can be qualified as ‘harm’ – religion is the excuse, not the cause)

    My first instinct was to agree with you, PZ, but after thinking it through, I decided that I have no right to judge nor dictate how another person lives, provided s/he does no harm to others. I concur with others who say this post was in bad taste, though I don’t think you should take it down, since it’s your right to say what you think.

    I wonder how many people here would vote for a bill that forbids the practice of religion…

  135. #135 J
    May 11, 2008

    Kenny, you’re a simple idiot who ought to at least read a standard statement of the New Atheist position (e.g. “The God Delusion” — read it properly, if you’re able) before mouthing off. Your posts are choc-full of tired old shit that’s been already answered thousands of times.

    Give it a rest and let the grown-ups finish their discussion. Your ignorant posts are a distraction from the real issue at hand here.

  136. #136 SC
    May 11, 2008

    I think the posts needed to be answered.

    You’re wrong. They’re ridiculous. Go away.

    Nick Gotts,

    Oddly enough, neither of my parents was a Baptist, or even particularly religious. They originally sent us to the church, they later admitted, to have some peace and time alone on Sundays. It had mushroomed into the full treatment of bible school, bible day camp, and bible sleepover camp (and for my sibling a “gospel academy” and Jack Van Impe crusades) before they fully realized how frightfully crazy these people were. Far scarier than in the UK, that’s for sure.

    I stand by my observation concerning quality, though, even if the proposed explanation for it didn’t quite hold up.

  137. #137 Etha Williams
    May 11, 2008

    @#126 Kenny –

    Your Dawkins even thinks that God is a possibility. He says that it’s a small chance but there is still a chance.

    I, too, think that there’s a chance — a very small chance — that some kind of god exists (likewise for the IPU, FSM, leprauchans, etc). But to believe in that which is very, very improbable rather than to acknowledge the more probable and evident possibility sort of defines wishful thinking.

  138. #138 Steve_C
    May 11, 2008

    Hey LIZ…

    Another one… PZ was reacting to the OBIT and said he didn’t know the guy or anything about him other than the accounts he read.

    But your “concern” is silly. I know the answer to your little “vote” question…

    Virtually none.

    Anyone else want to humor her?

    Just type a Y at the end of your comment if you would vote to BAN RELGION.

    Type an N to vote against a bill that would ban religion.

    N

  139. #139 Brandon
    May 11, 2008

    Am I the only person amused that Steve_C believes his attitude is actually convincing people of anything?

  140. #140 BobC
    May 11, 2008

    #121: “I agree what they do for a living is repulsive, but having been brainwashed by Baptist ministers (among others) myself in childhood, I know full recovery is possible.”

    I recovered from brainwashing from nuns, but my entire youth was wasted believing in nonsense. Most people never recover from it. Their entire lives are wasted. This is why I cheer the death of Baptist ministers and anyone else who makes a living destroying the lives of young children. I also cheer the death of Muslim terrorists. I don’t see a lot of difference between terrorists and ministers, and I noticed here in America the ministers are causing a lot more harm than the terrorists.

    Are liars for Jesus not liars if they don’t know they’re lying? Who cares? They are spreading lies, and I don’t excuse their behavior just because they’re stupid.

  141. #141 JayneK
    May 11, 2008

    “I really hope this thread is kept so that people
    can see the real face behind this “new atheism”.” #131

    My perspective is neither that of an atheist nor a regular reader of this blog. While I did not like PZ’s initial post, I formed a favourable opinion of atheists from the responses. Many people articulately expressed disagreement. This demonstrated both a diversity of views among atheists and a willingness among them to take a possibly unpopular stand. I found this admirable.

  142. #142 Etha Williams
    May 11, 2008

    @#134 Liz –

    I wonder how many people here would vote for a bill that forbids the practice of religion…

    Let’s find out.

    (Poll created by me, in response to this comment, today at 6:08 pm; it is not listed publicly, so the majority if not all responses will be from Pharyngula.)

  143. #143 LanceR
    May 11, 2008

    In my years on this planet, I have been in contact with a great number of people, of all religions and none, and I have found one truth threaded through the whole…

    There are very few liars who “honestly believe”. Liars for Jebus generally know they are lying. Like Kenny here… he got busted lying about the ACLU, and ran like a little girl rather than answer the question.

    So, Kenny? Were you lying, or not? And have you stopped masturbating yet?

    Inquiring minds (don’t really) want to know!

  144. #144 Logicel
    May 11, 2008

    I regard PZs post as being sensitive and empathetic. After reading comments regarding the perceived nastiness of it, I re-read it a couple of times, and it seemed even more sensitive!

    Sorry, but I don’t see anything nasty, mean-spirited, or ill-placed about this post. I am open to learning something about a deficiency on my part, but I like honesty, and this post is honest and completely in-line with the person that Myers presents on a daily basis.

    I regard concern for the negative impact that this post may have on loved ones of the deceased insulting to those loved ones.

    The first creative mental reaction I did when I first read this post, was to put myself in the shoes of the loved ones. If a similar post was written about my husband, but from a theist’s point of view, that his life was wasted because of his lack of religious belief, I would have a good laugh.

    How about the children of famous living people who see their parents’ names dragged about in the tabloids? From a few personal anecdotal experiences, those children seem to take it in stride. Geesh, humans are not that fragile!

    And to paraphrase other comments, the Net is big and impersonal, free speech is important, this blog does not speak for all atheists, just for Myers. I suspect that the ‘hatred’ some are saying are revealed by comments stating pleasure at Jones’ death are based on strong emotions tied to personal experiences (and under more personal circumstances such a background could be teased out, and the result would be more expressive, than executive).

  145. #145 Ale
    May 11, 2008

    it is pointless to engage “Kenny” – he is defined by his own confirmation bias. Add a false sense of moral superiority, a liberal dose of good old scientific ignorance and a sprinkle of prejudice and there you go – insta-fundie fudge.

    Kenny, there is no “new atheism”. There is no “after 9/11″. These are just arbitrary labels stemming from the simplistic and morally corrupt discourse where the “true” religion (meaning the religion of whomever is expressing this idiocy) is under attack. Religions playing the victim card is NOT news – it has been like this for thousands of years.

    Back to topic. PZ has an opinion regarding this guy. Some here think this opinion is well supported, others do not. Some think that he is being un-empathic, others do not. I think all these is beside the point.

    The true meaning of this man’s life is on the good he did, on the lives and brains of the people he leaves behind. The fact that he was a minister is irrelevant – he might have been a plumber. The fact that his last word is irrelevant – it might have been “caipirinha” or “helicopter”. It is irrelevant.

    What is not irrelevant is that what he did, how he felt, his story as a parent, as an entrepreneur, as whatever he was, is not there in the obituary. The smiles of his loved ones, the joyfulness of his successes, or any kind of information that I could have found meaningful is simply not there.

    Someone thought that he, as a man, was not important. That the important bit was a primitive story of an imaginary father figure, and the set of rituals associated with it.

    I can’t condone this utter disregard for the value of the human spirit. And, like PZ, i think this is sad.

    And N.

  146. #146 Ale
    May 11, 2008

    Etha,

    I am getting “Error: Permission Denied” from your poll. Is this just me?

  147. #147 Nova
    May 11, 2008

    J:

    All this stuff about the minister living a lie is pure propaganda. He lived a falsehood, though not necessarily a lie. Full stop. Strange as it may seem at first glance, it really is possible for people to sincerely subscribe to (many of) the tenets of Christianity.

    PZ wasn’t necessarily saying he was lying, just saying that his world view is supported by lying that doesn’t necessarily come from him.

    This post is perfectly fine! The irony is some people have said PZ shouldn’t pass judgment based on information he doesn’t know – that he shouldn’t jump to conclusions – the irony is that they are jumping to conclusions because his only judgment was that his life was wasted.

    Many have said that it is not necessarily wasted but a life as a preacher, spreading dangerous lies for money, he would have had to have done an awful lot to outweigh the drain he was and the damage he caused. I can’t believe the jumping to conclusions in that PZ even conceded at the end:

    Jones might have been a wonderful fellow

    so much for his great uninformed judgment.

  148. #148 Steve_C
    May 11, 2008

    I voted in the poll no problem.

  149. #149 Ale
    May 11, 2008

    Yep, I voted now. My bad – Firefox had gone cold turkey on cookies.

  150. #150 DingoDave
    May 11, 2008

    From the obituary:

    “Jones, 54, an ordained Baptist minister, often told the story of how he had fallen away from his calling to heal and evangelize. But in recent months his faith had been rekindled as he performed weddings, baptisms, and healing services and opened his home to anyone needing prayer.
    He died of a heart attack, just as he was about to pray with a member of his Upper Room Fellowship. His last word was “Jesus”. Dozens of friends were there, praying, supporting one another and sharing stories of how Paul had touched their lives and strengthened their faith.”

    The obituary described Paul as being a FAITH HEALER and evangelist, yet he died of a heart attack right in front of many members of his congregation, who were praying with him at the time.
    Does anyone else sense the deep irony in this?
    Maybe God was trying to tell his congregation something, or maybe his was simply another random and tragic death, which has regrettably left his loved ones bereft of a father, husband, and friend.
    Perhaps his sudden and tragic passing, will give some members of his congregation pause to stop and reflect on the validity of some of their beliefs.
    Then again, perhaps I’m being overly optimistic.

    By the way, I have always held a healthy suspicion of anyone who claims that they have been ‘called’ by the creator of the universe, to follow a particular life path. It strikes me as being the height of arrogance.
    In this man’s case he claimed that he had been ‘called’ to be both a faith healer AND an afterlife insurance salesman.
    While I’m no position to question the man’s sincerity, my experience has shown me that many of these so called ‘chosen ones’ actually display a kind of swaggering arrogance which is merely draped in a cloak of false humility.

  151. #151 Kenny
    May 11, 2008

    >Kenny, you’re a simple idiot who ought to at least read a
    >standard statement of the New Atheist position (e.g. “The
    >God Delusion” — read it properly, if you’re able) before
    >mouthing off. Your posts are choc-full of tired old shit
    >that’s been already answered thousands of times.

    I have read some of Dawkins book, but the problem is that it is so silly and so illogical that I can’t finish it. I cannot take something like that seriously. It is not rational at all (people here will say it is, but they want to believe that).

    I see nothing answered on here. Simple logic says there is a God and people have reported back seeing something after dying that is not a myth. Somehow you say it’s not rational and then procede to call me an idiot.

    Broken logic is not an answer. Ignorance is not an answer. I haven’t seen any answers on here. Just a bunch of made up baloney.

  152. #152 Kenny
    May 11, 2008

    > he got busted lying about the ACLU

    I didn’t lie about the ACLU, I said that was my opinion.
    I mean I saw wikipedia and the article and I see what’s going on in my local newspaper in the 21st century.

    I guess you didn’t catch what I posted. This is the third time posting this.

  153. #153 MAJeff, OM
    May 11, 2008

    Simple logic says there is a God

    Um, no.

  154. #154 Etha Williams
    May 11, 2008

    @#150 Kenny –

    Simple logic says there is a God

    Explain.

    people have reported back seeing something after dying that is not a myth.

    We’ve already addressed your silly NDE claims on this thread.

    And speaking of things we’ve addressed with no response from you…ready to ‘fess up about the ACLU?

  155. #155 negentropyeater
    May 11, 2008

    Logicel #143,

    I regard concern for the negative impact that this post may have on loved ones of the deceased insulting to those loved ones.
    The first creative mental reaction I did when I first read this post, was to put myself in the shoes of the loved ones. If a similar post was written about my husband, but from a theist’s point of view, that his life was wasted because of his lack of religious belief, I would have a good laugh.

    Do you honestly believe what you write ? Hey there’s a comment box on the obit, why not drop them something like :
    “Hello, I’m an Atheist and for me, a baptist minister is a waste of a life right there. Thought you might have a good laugh.”

    It seems to me that you are making a very common mistake, which is confusing compassion for empathy. What you are describing is empathy (putting oneself into another’s shoes). But in order to be compassionate, one has to try to understand the emotional state of another person which is generally different from us. This is why especially when these are people one doesn’t know, it is advisable to show a certain amount of restraint and kindness to those who are still suffering from the loss of a close relative.
    This has nothing to do with religion by the way, this is simply, what makes us humane.

  156. #156 Etha Williams
    May 11, 2008

    @#151 Kenny –

    I said that was my opinion.

    Saying something is your opinion doesn’t make it immune from critique or refutation, especially when it is based on a demonstrable falsehood. Just like saying something is your “faith” doesn’t do so either.

  157. #157 SC
    May 11, 2008

    negentropyeater,

    Nicely put. (pun intended)

  158. #158 Kenny
    May 11, 2008

    >The irony is some people have said PZ shouldn’t pass
    >judgment based on information he doesn’t know.

    Well the blogger made a judgement on a person without knowing him and then says how he wasted his life and then says that he that he had dedicated his life to a lie.

    So, how is it a lie if it is true? Has the blogger been there and come back from the dead to tell all of us. Well I know of several people who have and there is something there.

    A lie is that God does not exist. A wasted life is how some people have dedicated their lives for themselves and not for the good of the people.

    Love and helping people out are more important than how much money you make or what you are doing for a living. Showing love for other people and trying to help them out in anyway that you can can to make a difference in their life is more important.

  159. #159 Retired Maj
    May 11, 2008

    Oh, yes…and history has proven that atheists have NEVER inflicted any of the pain and destruction inflicted on humanity by the slue-brains who’ve abused religious concepts and principles. /sarcasm off

    Bog forbid we assess the sum of a person’s life by what they may actually have accomplished. It’s ever so much easier to compartmentalize, and then minimize, them. (“Oh, he did some good things; but he was a Bapstist/Democrat/Luddite/Conservative/ex-Boy Scout…etc., etc.,)

    Many of you are simply polarizing things further without addding anything.

    Admit it or not; the first principle for both theists and atheists is predicated on “faith” not demonstrable proof.

  160. #160 MAJeff, OM
    May 11, 2008

    A lie is that God does not exist.

    Evidence of the falsehood of the statement “god does not exist” please.

    And, no one hear would probably disagree about making life better for people, attempting to improve their lot in life and their experience of the everyday. Belief in a deity is wholly unrelated to that.

  161. #161 Kenny
    May 11, 2008

    >We’ve already addressed your silly NDE claims on this
    >thread.

    You didn’t address anything about NDE. There was just a bunch of guesses and you were making fun of me. I didn’t see anything addressed.

    It was more like “It must be chemicals!”, and then
    Well what about muslims that have an NDE.

    yeah, that’s really addressing it there.

    >And speaking of things we’ve addressed with no response >from you…ready to ‘fess up about the ACLU?

    Are you kidding me? If you can’t read then it’s your own fault. Not going to comment again. This is the fourth time that someone can’t read simple english. Time to call it quits on the Internet for you.

  162. #162 Etha Williams
    May 11, 2008

    @#160 Kenny –

    Are you kidding me? If you can’t read then it’s your own fault. Not going to comment again.

    You said it was your opinion.

    But it was an “opinion” based upon a demonstrably false claim.

    Can’t you at least admit that the basis of your opinion was a falsehood?

    Can’t you at least admit that much?

  163. #163 Kenny
    May 11, 2008

    >a liberal dose of good old scientific ignorance

    There is very little of science to be discussed on this blog. It is just a hatefest of ignorance from atheists who justify their ignorance with reasoning. How reasoning comes from ignorance is something of a mystery. I guess plenty of brainwashing from dawkins books will do that too you.

  164. #164 DingoDave
    May 11, 2008

    Kenny,

    Everyone is entitled to their own opinions, but not their own facts.

  165. #165 Eric Saveau
    May 11, 2008

    Suppose that Christian bloggers use your death as a platform to talk about their beliefs. Suppose they write about how tragic and futile your life was because you did not know God.

    You mean like they’ve been doing all along with regard to atheists?

  166. #166 cl
    May 11, 2008

    Dear Mr. Myers,

    In spite of what I think you do that’s good for science, I can also say as a student of the debate that its nature has discouraged me from wishing to return to your blog, and cast a serious glance on both your scholarly integrity and motivations (reinforced 100 times so by the comments of those who support you). I support unequivocally you and your commenters’ freedom to speak freely. I also feel you’ve been generally disrespectful, and done a disservice to yourself, atheism and science, that is, if you have any serious intentions of illuminating your opposition.

    There are some people who wish to figure the debate out unimpeded by polarization, dogma or emotionally-based contempt from either side, all three of which impede science and clear research. If anything, this post has just strengthened pre-existing theistic criticisms of people like yourself. How could a researcher who made a post such as yourself here today ever objectively look at any evidence, even IF there was incontrovertible physical evidence for God? If every conclusion on some matter pointed to at least the possibility that God existed, I don’t trust you could objectively process the results.

    Respectfully, in case it might matter, for me personally this post has instilled distaste and distrust for you, Mr. Myers, not unlike my distaste and distrust for Illinois representative Monique Davis regarding her unpatriotic words to Rob Sherman last month. Time may heal, although this typical but atypically candid glance into your motivations will have me continually suspicious of them influencing confirmation bias in your research or personal agenda in your extracurricular activities. Which should be of no problem to those who’ve already made up their mind to believe whatever you say.

    Then again, in your defense I suppose the most blatant frankness is, in actuality, much more fair to the results than if you disguised your bias, so who can say?

  167. #167 Steve_C
    May 11, 2008

    WHAT?

    That was just silly.

    And it didnt make sense.

  168. #168 Brownian, OM
    May 11, 2008

    How could a researcher who made a post such as yourself here today ever objectively look at any evidence, even IF there was incontrovertible physical evidence for God? If every conclusion on some matter pointed to at least the possibility that God existed, I don’t trust you could objectively process the results.

    Well, since no one has ever found any incontrovertible physical evidence for God in the four or five millenia that they’ve been looking, who cares at this point?

  169. #169 Etha Williams
    May 11, 2008

    @#162 Kenny –

    There is very little of science to be discussed on this blog.

    You have said in the past that you love science and came here to learn science, and you are now bemoaning how little science this blog has — so why do we never see you on threads like the recent Platypus genome post?

    It is just a hatefest of ignorance from atheists who justify their ignorance with reasoning. How reasoning comes from ignorance is something of a mystery. I guess plenty of brainwashing from dawkins books will do that too you.

    Let me correct this bit of hilarious projection so that it makes more sense:

    It is just a hatefest of ignorance from atheists Kenny, who justifyies their his ignorance with “reasoning.” How reasoning comes from ignorance is something of a mystery. I guess plenty of brainwashing from dawkins Christian books will do that too you.

  170. #170 MAJeff, OM
    May 11, 2008

    Well, since no one has ever found any incontrovertible physical evidence for God in the four or five millenia that they’ve been looking, who cares at this point?

    But…but…but…the shroud of Turin! Yeah, that’s the ticket. My wife, Morgan Fairchild, and I saw it a few years ago. Proof if there ever was any!

  171. #171 negentropyeater
    May 11, 2008

    Kenny,

    You didn’t address anything about NDE. There was just a bunch of guesses and you were making fun of me. I didn’t see anything addressed.

    That’s not true !
    http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2008/05/an_hour_of_radio_inanity.php#comments
    Read my lengthy comment #327, then spurge’s #328 and Etha’s #332 about van Lommel’s study of NDEs amongst people who have suffered a cardiac arrest which I found on one of the web sites that you had linked to.
    Of course, you had already dissapeared and didn’t even bother to check back.

    So, ounce you will have read our replies, mere politeness would be to give us your own observations. Fair ?

  172. #172 wowbagger
    May 11, 2008

    I can’t feel any anger at this man for his beliefs – only pity. He was just another victim who, like so many others, simply perpetuated the cycle. Because I was never a believer I can’t understand what it must be like to choose to give up a life of faith – but I’ve read the deconversion stories; it doesn’t sound easy.

    It is very human to give in to fear – and, from what believers say, to choose to live without a god (who they feel has ‘been there’ their whole lives) takes courage.

    Pity the man for his lack of exposure to contrasting views, for never being taught true critical thinking, for submitting to peer pressure – whatever his reasons were. Don’t hate him.

    Who knows, maybe he was trying to say ‘Jesus…is not real’ but died before he could get it out. I can’t imagine they’d print that, though.

  173. #173 BoxerShorts
    May 11, 2008

    “Simple logic says there is a God”

    Explain.

    “and people have reported back seeing something after dying that is not a myth.”

    No one has ever reported anything after dying. Fun fact: People who report NDEs didn’t actually die. You can tell, because they walk around and talk and stuff. People who actually die don’t do those things.

  174. #174 Kenny
    May 11, 2008

    >You have said in the past that you love science and came
    >here to learn science,

    I came to SCIENCEBLOGS to learn science. I came here and I saw that it was filled with ignorance rants so I stayed and tried to defend my beliefs.

    About the above, I have said this before. You are not very good at reading nor intelligent conversation.

    >Let me correct this bit of hilarious projection so that it
    >makes more sense:

    Re-wording of what I said still does not change the facts.
    Again, you are like a child who mocks a parent when they clearly don’t understand.

  175. #175 Steve_C
    May 11, 2008

    Unless they’re a zombie! MMMMM Brains. Jesus was a zombie!

  176. #176 MAJeff, OM
    May 11, 2008

    Again, you are like a child who mocks a parent when they clearly don’t understand.

    The lack of self-awareness is stunning.

  177. #177 Brownian, OM
    May 11, 2008

    I didn’t know you were married to Mrs. Fairchild, MAJeff. My downstairs neighbour is married to Lisa Marie Presley. He’s also John Lennon’s half-brother, Avril Lavigne’s father, and occasionally jams with Paul McCartney.

  178. #178 MAJeff, OM
    May 11, 2008

    I didn’t know you were married to Mrs. Fairchild, MAJeff

    She’s my beard.

    Oh, shit. I just ruined it.

  179. #179 BoxerShorts
    May 11, 2008

    “I stayed and tried to defend my beliefs.”

    How’s that working out for you? Making any progress?

  180. #180 Kenny
    May 11, 2008

    “Fun fact: People who report NDEs didn’t actually die. You can tell, because they walk around and talk and stuff. People who actually die don’t do those things.”

    Fun answer: Prove it. I see no proof at all. Just a bunch of silly fantasies like the above.

    I can make up a lot of stuff. However, real studies are going on and you might want to do some research and read some books of people who have died and met loved ones that they didn’t know existed.

    The only answer an Atheist knows is “denial at all costs”.
    denial and closed minds pretty much sums up this thread.

    For the hard to understand. I will be back later. If I did not answer your questions it’s because I have not seen them yet. If you don’t read this, do not expect me to answer.

  181. #181 Etha Williams
    May 11, 2008

    @#173 Kenny –

    I came to SCIENCEBLOGS to learn science. I came here and I saw that it was filled with ignorance rants so I stayed and tried to defend my beliefs.

    But given that this blog contains both posts decrying your superstitions and posts on general scientific matters, couldn’t you learn science and defend your beliefs? It seems that you are doing a lot of the latter and none of the former.

  182. #182 MAJeff, OM
    May 11, 2008

    But given that this blog contains both posts decrying your superstitions and posts on general scientific matters, couldn’t you learn science and defend your beliefs? It seems that you are doing a lot of the latter and none of the former.

    But he hasn’t been defending his beliefs. He’s simply been reiterating them, making truth claims with no evidence; simultaneously making accusations of closed minds while demonstrating a refusal and inability to deal with the scientific evidence and knowledge he claims to value.

    He’s a very silly man who is highly intellectually challenged.

  183. #183 BoxerShorts
    May 11, 2008

    “Fun answer: Prove it.

    Prove what? That people who aren’t dead didn’t die? Doesn’t that kind of prove itself? I don’t claim to be an expert logician, but it strikes me as a pretty good example of a tautological truth.

    Did you ever even read any of those articles listed in the links that you posted, such as this one? Don’t you hate it when your our sources work against you?

  184. #184 Scott Hatfield, OM
    May 11, 2008

    The idea that a recent death cannot be discussed by complete strangers on the net in anything less than reverential tones

    As someone once remarked, a thing can be lawful without being profitable. What, really, is gained in this discussion that could not have been gained by showing some discretion where the guy’s name is concerned? That’s all I’m saying.

  185. #185 SC
    May 11, 2008

    Oh, goodness. I know I told the irrepressible Kenny to get lost earlier, but he has won me over with unintended humor:

    - …met loved ones that they didn’t know existed

    - If you don’t read this, do not expect me to answer.

    !

  186. #186 CalGeorge
    May 11, 2008

    “A lie is that God does not exist.”

    If you can say that, you must feel an absolute, rock bottom certainty that God exists.

    So where’s the proof?

    And how do you know that NDE isn’t proof of the existence of Zeus and the Greek gods?

    That tunnel of light could be a portal to the land of shadows, where you eventually end up ferried across a river and judged by Hades, Aeacus, Minos, and Rhadamanthus.

    You idiotic religion is going to die like all the rest.

  187. #187 Dan S.
    May 11, 2008

    Oh, eww. What a horrible post.

  188. #188 Kseniya
    May 11, 2008

    OFGS – we’re not still entertaining Kenny, are we? Even after he pulled out the “reason kills christians” argument in his very first post?

    o.O

  189. #189 spurge
    May 11, 2008

    Kenny

    “denial and closed minds pretty much sums up this thread”

    No, projection is the key to your part in this thread.

  190. #190 negentropyeater
    May 11, 2008

    Kenny, the gift that keeps on giving…

    That’s it, Kenny reminds me of characters in the theatre of the absurd genre, like “the bald soprano” (la cantatrice chauve).
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Bald_Soprano

    That’s why he makes me laugh so much, just can’t resist.

  191. #191 Michael X
    May 11, 2008

    “Fun fact: People who report NDEs didn’t actually die. You can tell, because they walk around and talk and stuff. People who actually die don’t do those things.”

    “Fun answer: Prove it.”

    Um, what? Kenny, define dead. The statement you quoted seems to hold the answers and you seem to miss them, or you have a different definition of dead.
    But to be kind, lets be thorough. NDE means near death experience. Meaning almost dead. As opposed to actually dead. Opposed to as in ‘different from’.

    Do you like colors?
    It’s like a ball that is mostly red and slightly blue as opposed to ball that is all red. If someone said to me to prove that the mostly red thing wasn’t all red, I’d point to the blue part.

    Maybe the princess bride will clear it up for you.

    Miracle Max: See, there’s a big difference between mostly dead, and all dead. Now, mostly dead: he’s slightly alive. All dead, well, with all dead, there’s usually only one thing that you can do.
    Inigo: What’s that?
    Miracle Max: Go through his clothes and look for loose change.

    The moral of the story? There in no “alive” in all dead. And you’re not dead till all the “alive” goes away.

    Maybe it’s just that I’ve been away a while, and don’t know you to be worthless, so I shouldn’t be wasting my time trying to explain synonyms and antonyms to you, but here’s my shot at it. If you don’t get this, you won’t get anything.

  192. #192 Bride of Shrek
    May 11, 2008

    Hey Kenny

    If they really did die how come you persist in calling it a “Near” Death experience. Nothing “near” about it in that case is there.

    Gosh, very little warms the cockles of my heart like a good Kenny thumping but I have to go and study so I can’t stay around for the pounding. You go for it Pharyngulites, I’ll come in early tomorrow and clean the stains off the carpet.

  193. #193 DingoDave
    May 11, 2008

    “I WAS dead, but I got better!”

    Is there any kind of documented phenomenon called a ‘near newt experience’?

  194. #194 Sudo
    May 11, 2008

    However, real studies are going on and you might want to do some research and read some books of people who have died and met loved ones that they didn’t know existed.

    How does a person have LOVED ONES that they didn’t know existed? Doesn’t the term ‘loved ones’ usually refer to people that one knows?

  195. #195 Ichthyic
    May 11, 2008

    OFGS – we’re not still entertaining Kenny, are we? Even after he pulled out the “reason kills christians” argument in his very first post?

    can’t we just skip straight to the shakespearean insults?

    Kenny is a froward dizzy-eyed canker-blossom!

    an unwholesome decayed whey-face!

    a spleeny knotty-pated fustilarian!

  196. #196 Blind Squirrel FCD
    May 11, 2008

    Well, the cat’s off my lap so I can type now so I might as well weigh in with my 2 cents.

    The only thing I would change in PZ’s original post is “lie” to “delusion” in the last sentence. The man was a public figure, a way public figure, a faith healer. He has it coming IMHO.

    Etha @ 117

    Most of those Baptist ministers were brainwashed when they were innocent children, and there’s no sense or higher morality in rejoicing in their death. This is one case in which the forgive them, for they know not what they do adage may be in order.

    I can’t find it in myself to forgive them. Those ministers cause a lot of harm. They do evil. They generate guilt over harmless aspects of an innocent child”s behavior. I was a neurotic mess for many years and I am still healing after 61 years. It is difficult not to hate. Also their minions vote and influence policy. Child molesters also brainwash innocent children, and when the victims grow up and repeat the abuse, we judge them rather harshly, and don’t cut them much slack because of their previous brainwashing. At some rather arbitrary point we expect people to take responsibility for their behavior.

    Re kenny: Does anyone else marvel that the person who brings the least to this discussion manages to almost monopolize it?

    Oh, and N

  197. #197 Kseniya
    May 11, 2008

    Wow.

    However, real studies are going on and you might want to do some research and read some books of people who have died and met loved ones that they didn’t know existed.

    The hilarity of the last phrase has already been noted, but I’d like to ask a question about the larger issue.

    If thousands of people have had NDE’s, and NDE means they “have died” and have had experiences such as “[meeting] loved ones they didn’t know existed,” and junk like that, but came back to tell us about it… then that makes Jesus’s whole “resurrection” thing a lot less impressive, doesn’t it? He’s just another guy who had an NDE, along with those thousands of people who “conquered death.” Am I right?

  198. #198 BoxerShorts
    May 11, 2008

    I just searched Google Scholar, JSTOR, WebMD, and Lancet for articles on cases in which patients have returned to life after brain activity ceased. Guess how many I found?

    Hint: Starts with “Z” and ends with “ero.”

    You’d think that if it ever happened, it would be huge news, and medical journals would be all over it.

    But apparently not. The most significant possible phenomenon in medicine has been completely ignored by the professional medical community. Strange.

    So you see, Kenny, I tried to do my own research. I really, really did. But I came up empty-handed. So you’re going to have to help us out. Where can we find information on all these thousands of people who have miraculously returned from brain-death? I must insist that your citations be in the form of articles from scholarly scientific or medical journals. Just FYI: Failure to provide any will result in further mocking and ridicule.

  199. #199 Cherish
    May 11, 2008

    You know, if you bothered to read some of the comments to the linked obituary, you guys would realize what a bunch of jerks you are. He wasn’t just a minister, he was a businessman…and he donated a lot of time, money and computers to people in Cuba and Ecuador. The wasted lives are the ones picking on someone they’ve never met.

  200. #200 BoxerShorts
    May 11, 2008

    Oh, and I almost forgot. Kenny has ignored multiple requests to explain the following:

    “Simple logic says there is a God”

    Please elaborate. Failure to do so in a clear and direct manner will be interpreted as an implicit admission that you’re full of shit.

  201. #201 Kseniya
    May 11, 2008

    I predict further mocking and ridicule. Oh, and the gratuitous execution of millions of Christians by the power-wielding atheist majority, of course! *eyeroll*

  202. #202 Michael X
    May 11, 2008

    So he gave time, money and computers to people in Cuda and Equador, Cherish. And? Did Farrakhan not get many black youths off drugs? Does Hamas not give aid to muslim countries? Does that make any of them respectable, honest, truth promoting people?

    And if it doesn’t, then please remember he is being criticized for what he promoted as true. Not for his monetary charities. If the argument was that this guy never gave anyone anything then your argument would hold weight. As you can see, that isn’t the case.

  203. #203 Brownian, OM
    May 11, 2008

    Oh, and the gratuitous execution of millions of Christians by the power-wielding atheist majority, of course!

    Is it time yet? I’ve got my “Gays are people too!” lapel button all ready, the one that causes God-fearing Christians like Kenny to faint dead away.

    I wonder if there’s some way I can rig up some sort of head-mounted projector, so I can wipe out whole congregations at once?

  204. #204 Kseniya
    May 12, 2008

    Kenny is a seagull. I’m losing track of the number of threads he’s abandoned without answering any pertinent questions posed to him.

    I like the “head-mounted projector” idea. It resonates with the “flying robot with laser eyes” image I can’t seem to get out of my head.

    Oops, did I just say that out loud?

  205. #205 Martin Gamble
    May 12, 2008

    I agree with comment #21. I too would like to die while praying to Jesus.

  206. #206 Hematite
    May 12, 2008

    Cherish, only about half of us are jerks. I wish it were fewer, but atheism is hardly an exclusive club so there’s not much to be done about it.

  207. #207 Steve_C
    May 12, 2008

    Lame.

    I’d rather die right after having sex.

  208. #208 BobC
    May 12, 2008

    “He wasn’t just a minister, he was a businessman…and he donated a lot of time, money and computers to people in Cuba and Ecuador.”

    He wasn’t just a liar for Jesus. He was a generous liar for Jesus. Brainwashing gullible children with religious insanity was only his part time job. I still think the world is better off without him.

  209. #209 Etha Williams
    May 12, 2008

    @#201 Kseniya –

    Oh, and the gratuitous execution of millions of Christians by the power-wielding atheist majority, of course! *eyeroll*

    Hey, we all know atheists need the blood of Christians to paint their scarlet A’s. No other blood (nor red ink) will do!

  210. #210 Brian English
    May 12, 2008

    “Simple logic says there is a God”
    Goddit. QED. Simple.

  211. #211 shonny
    May 12, 2008

    Good on ya, PZ!
    People are always tip-toeing around when someone dies, but for what reason?
    Anybody religious snuffing it is definitely no great loss (well, none of us are really), but when a point is made of his silly last utterance, yes, it can safely be ridiculed!
    Wasn’t he going to a ‘better’ place anyway (snigger, snigger)?

  212. #212 PDXJim
    May 12, 2008

    Wikipedia entry notwithstanding, I stand by my original statement that “concern troll” is an oxymoron. However, I will concede the existence of concerned trolls…i.e. when their *cleverly* crafted offensive comments designed to spark a flame war are roundly ignored…..they become concerned.

  213. #213 Hematite
    May 12, 2008

    Nobody seems to have publicly dissected PZ’s post yet, so I’m going to take a stab at it (so to speak).

    Paul Jones has died. I didn’t know him, or even know about him, until his obituary was sent to me, but it’s an utterly tragic life story. He was an ordained Baptist minister — there’s a waste of a life right there — and his death was ironic and futile.

    This reads as extremely mean spirited. He was a minister, and died while ministering. This is an utterly tragic life story, a waste of a life, ironic and futile. That’s a lot of venom.

    He died of a heart attack, just as he was about to pray with a member of his Upper Room Fellowship. His last word was “Jesus”.

    Quote from the linked obituary. It’s worth an eye-roll for excessive Jaysusity.

    Someday I’m going to die, too, and I hope it is while doing something productive…

    Implication that being a minister is not productive, or possibly only that praying is not productive. This statement is easy to misconstrue if you expect PZ to be attacking the deceased, which is itself a justifiable reading at this point in the post.

    …and that I don’t go out with the name of an imaginary being on my lips.

    Merely a snide remark, but the tone of the post isn’t improving.

    And in particular, it would be nice if my obituary would say something about the good things in my life…

    Implication that Paul Jones’s family, business and gifts to charity as mentioned in the obituary are irrelevant.

    …rather than babbling on about dedication to a superstition.

    Finally a statement that attacks the obituarist rather than the deceased. This is more what I expect from PZ, the obituary is heavy on the ‘praise the Lord’ and light on the ‘he was a nice guy’.

    It’s a shame. Jones might have been a wonderful fellow…

    It would have been much more effective to say this in the beginning, before writing his life and works off as a waste based on a brief obituary which hardly mentioned what he might have done with his life apart from praying.

    but all we strangers know about him is that he was “committed to expanding God’s kingdom” — that he had dedicated his life to a lie.

    An attack against the obituary implying that we should have been told more about what Paul Jones did with his life – but PZ has already dismissed his life as a waste further up the post without considering that there might be more to it than the obituary mentioned, or even acknowledging the few non-religious items it did mention.

    So, the most sympathetic reading seems to be that 1) PZ doesn’t like the obituary because it diminishes the value of this man’s life compared to his faith, and 2) faith is a stupid way to spend your life anyway. That’s the kind of thing PZ writes about.

    It’s a hard interpretation to defend, particularly against readers who aren’t familiar with PZ’s normal topics of conversation. There is a lot of slagging off of faith in the post, which is unfortunately not easy to disentangle from slagging off the man himself.

    I don’t know anything about Baptists, but it sounds like this was a nice guy, a moderate Christian minister, who sadly had somebody from his church write his obituary. PZ launched off in “Ben Stein accuses scientists of causing original sin” mode which is understandable, but not good. This doesn’t sound like the same man who said religion should be something fun people do at the weekend.

    In summary, I think this post was poorly written.

  214. #214 cl
    May 12, 2008

    @ Steve_C,

    sorry my comment didn’t make sense to you. Yours all make sense to me.

  215. #215 Nick Gotts
    May 12, 2008

    Re #213. I pretty much agree with Hematite here. PZ is very much someone who speaks his mind, posts a lot of stuff, and occasionally, as here, comes across as insensitive or even crass. Fortunately, he’s a scientist, teacher and activist, not a politician, diplomat or spinmeister!

  216. #216 MH
    May 12, 2008

    Put me in the “this post was in poor taste” group too.

  217. #217 Malcolm
    May 12, 2008

    This man sounds like he was probably a nice guy. He seems to have gone out of his way to help others. Reading the original post, I think that that was PZ’s original point (Dr Myers is, of course, free to correct me here). The obit sent to him reduced this man’s life to nothing but God bothering.
    He was a man with a family, a man who did good deeds, a man of compassion, but all his obituary says is that he died with god on his lips.
    What a disgusting epitaph.

  218. #218 Cherish
    May 12, 2008

    Hematite wrote:
    Cherish, only about half of us are jerks. I wish it were fewer, but atheism is hardly an exclusive club so there’s not much to be done about it.

    Agreed. I’m just surprised that the half who are jerks aren’t using their superior grasp of logic to realize that they sound just as obnoxious as the religious zealots and just as distasteful to the folks who are neutral on the issue of religion.

  219. #219 BobC
    May 12, 2008

    Malcolm, he was a Baptist minister, a man who made a living lying about science and lying about religious stupidity. How many children did he help brainwash? He might have been a nice guy, but he is no longer ruining the lives of innocent children with god insanity. Good riddance.

    Cherish, people who are neutral on the issue of religion are part of the problem. 9/11 was religious, are you neutral about that? Attacks against science education are religious. Religious indoctrination, also known as child abuse, is religious. People like you who think the brainwashers should be respected are just as immoral as any religious fanatic.

  220. #220 JT
    May 12, 2008

    Wow, it’s amazing how many concern trolls obviously didn’t even bother to read the post.

    Hint: It would be much more believable if your comments actually followed from the post instead of from only the first four words of it.

    PZ was lamenting that a man’s life was reduced to nothing but a mention of an ignoble pursuit. He wasn’t calling the man’s life pointless, he was commenting on the fact that a pointless part of it was all that was mentioned. So, to all you concern trolls out there, in the future read before commenting.

  221. #221 khan
    May 12, 2008

    If I’m able to, I would like to die yelling: “ODIN”.

    Or maybe: “KAAAAAHN”

  222. #222 MAJeff, OM
    May 12, 2008

    folks who are neutral on the issue of religion.

    Who are these people?

  223. #223 Dennis N
    May 12, 2008

    Cherish seems to be one of the folks who feel we are “angry atheists” and should be more respectful. We cannot let other people decide what level of respect we have for them, because religious folks will not be happy until we are so respectful that we never criticize religion. Any criticism at all is disrespectful in their eyes.

  224. #224 FastLane
    May 12, 2008

    I agree that this was probably not the most productive post you’ve ever made, PZ, it’s not as bad as the concern trolls would have us all think.

    Item 1: Tu quoque(sp?) fallacy or no, it’s not hard to find many examples of cretinists doing much worse when a prominent scientist dies.

    Item 2: PZ is not saying anything personal about the man. He is simply commenting that this person’s choice of actions in life could have been much more poductively spent doing real helpful actions.

    To each their own.

  225. #225 Cherish
    May 12, 2008

    BobC – When so many proponents of athiesm speak so disrespectfully of anyone at all with religious beliefs (keeping in mind this is the majority of the population), regardless of how ethical or caring any particular individual with those religious beliefs may be, it actually seems a lot worse than some of the alternatives. In fact, it looks a lot like an effort to erode constitutionally protected rights, which makes it unpalatable to those who might otherwise agree with you.

    JT – A good journalist (well, even the bad ones) know(s) that once a reader has been offended by some opinion proffered by the writer, the reader is going to stop reading and that is the only thing they will remember. The reaction to his statement is completely unsurprising.

  226. #226 khan
    May 12, 2008

    Item 1: Tu quoque(sp?) fallacy or no, it’s not hard to find many examples of cretinists doing much worse when a prominent scientist dies.

    Indeed. I recall much ‘burning in hell’ commentary after Carl Sagan died.

  227. #227 Cherish
    May 12, 2008

    Re: #222

    Neutral on religion – aka live and let live. I really don’t care what religion (or not) a person is…I’m more concerned about how they treat other people. I dislike anyone telling me what I should or should not believe, and I think that goes for anyone. I can tolerate “witnessing” of any form (and yes, athiests witness just as much as the religious folk) if it is done with respect and an ultimate understanding that I get to choose what I believe and they leave me alone once I’ve made my position clear. Someone else will probably choose differently than me, and that’s their choice. Just because someone has made a different choice doesn’t make it wrong or a waste of time. I’m not going to tell them what to believe or how to act (so long as it is not illegal), and I would like the same respect for others.

    I don’t see the problem as religion, I see the problem as people being pushy and controlling. There are pushy and controlling people who are religious and athiest. So getting rid of religion will not get rid of the world’s problems. Having a nation where people respect others’ autonomy would probably go a lot further.

  228. #228 Andreas Johansson
    May 12, 2008

    I imagine “neutral on religion” would describe most people I know. What does surprise me is that someone neutral on religion should read Pharyngula.

    If they are deserving of criticism, they didn’t suddenly become nicer when they died.

    Oh yes they do. Dead people can’t actually do anything to annoy you. :p

  229. #229 Dennis N
    May 12, 2008

    Then we have much of the same goals, Cherish. But religion is contrary to the goals of live and let live. You can see this in its practice around the world. Religion seeks to grow and expand. Feeling you have an absolute truth only leads to troubles. People are pushy and religion is just their most powerful tool to push people around, so we should seek to end it with reason and rationality. No one here wants religion to be illegal. We had a poll about this the other day and we are overwhelmingly in favor of everyone’s right to believe what they want. We have too have the right to tear down their poor arguments. Religious belief is very hard to defend.

  230. #230 Dennis N
    May 12, 2008

    Apologies, I meant – We too have the right to tear down their poor arguments.

  231. #231 Kseniya
    May 12, 2008

    Cherish,

    So getting rid of religion will not get rid of the world’s problems.

    No, of course not (and, incidentally, just who is claiming that?) but it might do away with a few.

    Having a nation where people respect others’ autonomy would probably go a lot further.

    I certainly agree with that. However, I contend that most of the disrespect for others’ autonomy displayed in the public sphere here in the USA is coming from the religious (specifically, Christian) side, in the form of widespread attempts to further the Christianization of public institutions. I wouldn’t characterize the necessary and constitutionally appropriate pushing-back against these efforts to be a manifestation of the sort of disrespect to which you refer.

    In fact, it looks a lot like an effort to erode constitutionally protected rights

    Oh? “A lot”? To you, maybe. On what do you base this assessment? I see no advocacy for the erosion of those rights. Don’t confuse criticism of an idea or a belief with an attack on the right to hold or express that idea or belief. Generally speaking, atheists have an better understanding of what it means (or could mean) to hold a proscribed minority belief than do members of the corresponding majority. Myopia can be contaigious, though, I suppose…

  232. #232 Crime Minister
    May 12, 2008

    W.K. Clifford said it better than I ever could in his essay, “The Ethics of Belief”:

    http://www.infidels.org/library/historical/w_k_clifford/ethics_of_belief.html

    In my experience a lot of atheists (and scientists as well, come to think of it) became so precisely because they consider it *immoral*, or at least incomprehensible and uncomfortable, not to actively work towards a shared understanding of the object reality we all inhabit (the “Truth”, if you will). Implicit in their philosophical outlook is an enormous regard for honest attempts at making sense of it all however unpalatable the results might be.

    To actively work against the increase and spread of human knowledge seems inimical, even if the actions taken smack more of buffoonery (faith healing?!?) than anything more physical and overt. I’m sure that most people attacking the deceased realize that he was not as one-dimensional as his obituary made him out to be, but to be frank, the other aspects of his life are largely irrelevant to the topic of this post and they’re not being attacked in any case.

  233. #233 BobC
    May 12, 2008

    “So getting rid of religion will not get rid of the world’s problems.”

    Yeah, except for never ending religious wars, including two wars I’m helping to pay for right now. Also, getting rid of religious stupidity would end attacks against science education. Also, getting rid of religions would end the child abuse called religious indoctrination.

    Religions are good for nothing but violence and ignorance, so I will continue to cheer whenever a worthless preacher man drops dead.

    You know who’s worse than the idiot preachers? It’s people who think preachers should be respected. I will never respect preachers who abuse children with their insanity, and I have even less respect for people who think I should suck up to religious morons.

  234. #234 Dale Husband
    May 12, 2008

    This blog is about “Evolution, development, and random biological ejaculations from a godless liberal”.

    Say what you will about PZ Myers’ “bad taste”, but at least he’s consistent. If someone dies a Christian minister and you are an atheist, that’s exactly what you think. Imagine what many Christians will be saying when Richard Dawkins dies. “HE’S BURNING IN HELL!!!”

  235. #235 BoxerShorts
    May 12, 2008

    “Imagine what many Christians will be saying when Richard Dawkins dies. “HE’S BURNING IN HELL!!!”

    Either that, or they’ll claim he recanted and found Jesus on his deathbed.

  236. #236 bernarda
    May 12, 2008

    This post is accurate. I see that politically correct is now the form for some, like the disappointing post over at “Friendly Atheist”. OK, enough crocodile tears already;

  237. #237 David D.G.
    May 12, 2008

    He was an ordained Baptist minister — there’s a waste of a life right there — and his death was ironic and futile. … Jones might have been a wonderful fellow, but all we strangers know about him is that he was “committed to expanding God’s kingdom” — that he had dedicated his life to a lie.

    Heck, PZ, why stop there? Aren’t you going to go protest at the man’s funeral? [/sarcasm]

    Seriously, the only person I have known to be more shamefully tasteless and insulting than this in regard to a person’s death is Fred Phelps. And even if you’re a distant second, that’s still saying something. I’m not concerned about your insult to the deceased so much as your gross insensitivity to the feelings of his family and friends. Where is the empathy you have shown for the survivors of other deaths? Just because this man was not a murder victim does not mean that his family won’t grieve a loss. They deserve better treatment than your bile.

    PZ, I enjoy your blog posts, on the whole. Your writings occasionally are a little more acerbic than is to my taste, but for the most part I can be flexible about it and would not dream of criticizing. This post, however, was far beyond being merely curmudgeonly. It was just stridently, unnecessarily, kick-’em-when-they’re-down mean.

    ~David D.G.

  238. #238 pat
    May 12, 2008

    why the anger? dad not treat you too well when you were younger?

  239. #239 Etha Williams
    May 12, 2008

    #134 asked:

    I wonder how many people here would vote for a bill that forbids the practice of religion…

    In comment #142 I linked to a poll I had made asking this question.

    Results:

    4 – Yes (I would vote for such a bill)
    69 – No (I would not vote for such a bill)

  240. #240 Airor
    May 13, 2008

    That was a horrible post. That along the same lines as the a-holes who picket the funerals of homosexuals. His life was more than what you didn’t like about him. I’m ashamed of you today Dr. Myers.

  241. #241 spurge
    May 13, 2008

    “His life was more than what you didn’t like about him.”

    Way to miss the point sport.

  242. #242 John Phillips, FCD
    May 13, 2008

    Well, it has been interesting to see how many completely missed the point.

    By the way, for those of you worrying about this making atheists look even worse. Get real. most, or at least those with an axe to grind because of our lack of respect for their deluded belief system, have already dismissed us as immoral, god hating and fit only for damnation. Hell, we recently even had the head RC shaman in the UK accuse reason of leading to Nazi Germany, the holocaust and communist Russia, and he is supposedly a relative moderate.

  243. #243 Alveno
    May 22, 2008

    I need to apologize to some of you who thought that I was some type of evil individual for miss-spelling PZ Myers (Meyers) name. Apparently he is beloved by some. My evil was obviously a more hateful deed then committed by Myers against Jones. I was a little surprised by the support, a small college assoc professor receives from some of you. What has he contributed? I had heard of Coyne, Dawkins, Gould etc, by not Myers!

    I did some reading about Myers. I noticed that he stalked Behe, going (Myers) to a speech he gave after he wrote “Darwin’s Black Box”. Myers sat in the audience apparently seething while Behe spoke. He also tried to sneak into a private screening of the movie “Expelled”. He went to the film with Dawkins. Apparently he (Myers) likes to drop names. Oh by the way, didn’t Dawkins say in the movie, that life on this planet was planted here by extraterrestrials? Didn’t that genius Crick also say the same thing? Myers would like us to think that he wasn’t allowed into the movie (Expelled) because he was someone they were afraid of. I don’t think that was the case at all. It was simply because he wasn’t invited! Who knows how Dawkins got in, but Myers would like to make something out of that to. If Dawkins thinks that extraterrestrials planted life on this planet, then does Myers believe the same thing? Aren’t they chums, and colleagues ? I wonder who planted the Aliens? Truth and Logic has to be part of science, if so then aren’t the statements of Crick, and Dawkins ignorant and insane?

    Katharine, Commenter #62; A person ignorant in the area of logic, theology, and the biological sciences is She said to me ” Don’t post here again unless you support your argument” You would have to understand both the science logic, and theology to get my meaning. Maybe Katharine shouldn’t post anywhere until she gets an education? If your going to be an apologist for your belief then don’t embarrass yourself. Katharine since your statement indirectly accused he of being in error, then by conventions, you should have been the one to give a proof. Obviously you didn’t know that either! If you don’t understand true + false = false , and false + false = false, then you will never understand that you hold illogical positions.

    Jaynek, Commenter # 66,; Opposing the existence of God, is being anti God. As opposing Jesus is being Anti-Christ. A person can reasonable seem to be religious but still be opposed to God. Most individuals who call themselves Christian, don’t understand this either. Therefore it would be a waste of my time to explain it to you. Myers doesn’t give meaning to his life because he is on this earth by accident. He has no reason for being here. To have purpose, then there has to be a plan, and a planner. The universe came from nothing. The organic came from inorganic. It was all an accident. If your an atheist then there can be no absolute rights, and wrongs. Everything is subjective. The individuals who would give Myers credit for his actions, like friends, family, and colleagues also have no purpose for being. Their actions are meaningless, random, and arbitrary. Myers is here by accident, and those he looks to, who might give him purpose, are also meaningless. Meaningless + Meaningless = Meaningless. Myers doesn’t even believe in a false Creator, therefore he doesn’t even have an allusion of purpose. Which Jones had. From the atheist perspective.

    If there is no Creator, or Judge, then you might as well do whatever you want. Whatever gets you the farthest in this life! You are only nice to people, because you might be able to get something from them. As long as it doesn’t cost you to much. Without a God to command you, then you come to believe that you are a God. The other persons rights become meaningless to you. Whoever has all the power can alter the rights that you receive. Rights are subjective. Do you believe that if Myers had unlimited power, that he wouldn’t use it to emlinate those who disagree with him. Isn’t the only thing holding him back is fear of reprisal? To say other wise is illogical. Because without a lawgiver, and a judge, then there is no restraint.

    Love isn’t even a real thing either. Evolutionist would say that, love is the manifestation of the genetic desire for survival. Survival of the fittest, dog eat dog! Under these rules everyone is a threat to the individuals ( or genes) survival. Without God we are all just sophisticated animals, we are nothing more than a repressed Stalin, or Hitler. Interestingly at the very beginnings of the Aryan movement before Hitler, a slogan was used ” The best religion is truth”. Didn’t Myers say in his comments about Jones “Jones had dedicated his life to a lie”? Meaning Myers has dedicated his life to the truth. Truth is his religion (What he lives by), as it was with the Nazi’s. Myers truth today is not the truth he knew 20 years ago. It is changing (Subjective), as it is for all people. Some find the truth and then thru experience add to it. Some of coarse never find it.

    SC, Commenter # 92; You have me mistaken for some one else. Honest mistake! But I will answer one of you questions. A person doesn’t please the God of the bible by following a set of rules, and regulations. You should read the bible if your going to talk about it. The following is one of the many things that the bible says about death, or the dead.

    Luke 9:60-62 Jesus said to him, “Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and proclaim the kingdom of God.” 61 Still another said, “I will follow you, Lord; but first let me go back and say good-by to my family.” 62 Jesus replied, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.” NIV

    In the above verse there is a correlation with the story of Lot, and his wife.

    You state that; “Atheists , in contrast realize that we (you) are always in the course of defining our (your) mores”. You admit that my statement above is correct. Your mores are subjective, and change based on experience , and circumstance. If your views change, then that means that your views were wrong. When do you find the right views, if all is subjective. There is no truth if everything is subjective. Myers views are also subjective, and therefore without truth.