Religion, Something to Do on Weekends -- Or Knit.

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PZ Goes to The Mall of America

PZ Myers of Pharyngula got booted from the line of registered guests to see the movie "Expelled", a creationist production about intolerance towards religion. The movie's producer ejected PZ while the rest Myers family and his other companions, Richard Dawkins and staff, were allowed to stay. The "Expelled" movie producer said he allowed Dawkins to watch the movie because he was a 'guest to our country' and had probably 'flown a long way'. In this amusing YouTube video Myers and Dawkins explain what happened.

"Expelled" is a movie reportedly dubious quality that recently showed at the Mall of America. Dawkins, in typical form, calls the movie "shoddy", "boring", and "bad in every possible way", filled with "Lord privy seal" moments and attended by a completely "sycophantic audience." He calls the whole production "second rate in film-making and public relations", to which Myers suggests that "second rate" might be a tad complimentary.

PZ Goes To The Apple Store

Mild mannered PZ, albeit with a ferocious quill, appeared in the movie at the request of the filmmakers. Then for his contributions he was ejected. He whiled away some time in an Apple store blogging. Meanwhile, in the movie showing across the way, the helpful Myers explained that he wishes to increase science literacy and make religion a "side dish rather than a main course", something 'to do on weekends'. His tone is notably conciliatory, comparing religion to knitting, as in -- "we're not going to take their knitting' needles away".

His is a charming analogy. There is a 21st century knitting revival and as many religious people in the US as ever. I used Google's totally unreliable "Trends" to compare "religion" to "knitting" here, and if you squint carefully you can see an inverse relationship. (Either that no relation whatsoever or the two trend together.)

The Economics of Antediluvian Intolerance

Coincidentally, I'm reading Dawkin's "The God Delusion" now, along with "Christopher Hitchen's "God is Not Great". You've got to be impressed with how Hitchen's waves his pen around, regardless of what he says, and while Dawkin's book is milder, he has little tolerance for my tolerance or anyone else's. Serious books with bits of entertainment, and I'm sure good screedy profitable fun for the authors.

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Acronym Required wrote about science and religion in "Science Faith and Books", in "Dover: Science Prevails over Intelligent Design: Judge Doesn't Monkey Around", in "Evolution v. Not Evolution" among others. We looked at quests for fame and PZ Myer's reception for Stuart Pivar versus Lynn Marguis in "Science Fame: Million Dollar Minutes" and mentioned Hitchen's writing in "FISA: Turning Orwell On His Ear".

2 Comments

There are people arguing on other blogs that Myers/Dawkins are bad representatives of science because they bring controversy and publicity to the film. I have to agree with them. You seem to approve Myer's mocking of the film.

Thanks for your comment. Quickly. I don't "approve" or disapprove of Myers mocking of the film. He's chosen a stance for his own reasons and sometimes I find it amusing but I don't take too seriously. When organizations attempt to impose religion in schools I believe it's critical that people speak out -- he does. I don't think Myers "represents" science, or endangers it's public image anymore than I think that religion is undermining science.

Science can stand on it's own legs by now. So can democratic process. Most important are institutions and individuals (I'm thinking teachers but there are many other learning venues) who make science education engaging and therefore enhance public appreciation both of science's wonders as well as the complexities and challenges of associated policy.

I've read some of the discussions you refer to, where some people argue that one person's voice is more valid than another's in these meta discussions. To me, this seems as hidebound as arguing there's no place for religion in society. First, to my mind both are futile. As well, given how scientists try to get the public to accept uncertainty, some of their extreme positions strike me as especially unseemly -- they of all people should intimately know how much they don't know.

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