Sunday, December 2, 2007

Capital "A" Atheism is a wonderful diversion for rational-minded folks. Something like 70 different scientists have individual blogs over there. Besides blogging on cutting-edge research implications, there are plenty of forays into history, politics, philosophy, and religion. In fact, "Pharyngula", the most popular blog over there, devotes more time ridiculing creationists and "intelligent design" proponents than actually talking about science. That's fine with me...the result is often very entertaining.

Another scienceblog that takes occasional swipes at creationists is "Respectful Insolence". A recent topic dealt with the definition of design. The accusation is that the ID crowd tosses words like "design" and "information" around without any rigorous, scientific definition of these terms. In jest, I posted the following....

You evilutionists are so smug and arrogant, thinking your opponents can't list the requirements for a definition of design

*Interchangeable parts. That's obviously a hallmark of virtually all known cases of design.

*We should see an excess of right angles, circles, squares, and the like. Structures like pistons fit with extraordinary precision in cylinders.

*Designed things have easily identified purposes. Cups are for drinking, cars are for going from place to place.

*Designed stuff is almost always labeled with patents, copyrights, logos, etc.

Eat that!

The joke, of course, is that while my response meets the challenge of defining design, it also tends to negate the notion that biological organisms are the results of conscious design.

Apparently, though, the ruse wasn't transparent enough. One response: Ever notice that anti-thinkers (oh, sorry, anti-evolutionists) frequently cannot even manage rudimentary grammar, orthography, or syntax? (to criticize my misspelling of "evolution").

Another response impugned my emotional stability: like ngong up there, they often seem very spiteful, angry and childish ('evilution' - doubt it's a Freudian slip, but rather an immature outburst, just like 'eat that').

These responses come from the bright sort of minds that are drawn to scienceblogs. For the folks above, I'm inclined to believe that their devotion to capital "A" Atheism, and their shark-like aggression to the faintest scent of creationism, dampens their powers of discernment. My post is knee-jerkedly seen to be a challenge to some folks' identities, not as the ruse it is.

On another occasion, I responded to a Pharyngula post regarding some truly pathetic anti-evolution e-cards: You atheists think you're so superior. I challenge you to develop an e-card of your own that is less creative than the ones you're mocking. Just try!

I was rather proud of that post. It's an odd challenge to imagine e-cards that are more mind-numbingly inane and amateurish than the ones you'll see on that site. Yet here's a response that followed: We've been challenged... by a xtian? Oh puleeze! "ken" needs to start surfing more than just the xtian and the porno sites! "ken", when you graduate from grade school to middle school, perhaps you will be old enough to comprehend what you think you know versus what you are being told to know.

Not only does the writer fail to see the sarcasm of my post, but he seems to be inciting the herd to react to my "challenge". Grab the pitchforks!

Run over to YouTube and search for "atheism". In addition to refutations of atheism, and some very erudite endorsements of it, you'll see plenty of snot-nosed teenage boys who seem to think that disavowing religion is primarily an exercise in machismo.

One final example. Daniel Dennett and Dinesh D'Souza recently debated on the subject of God's existence. Atheist blogs were rife with posts proclaiming D'Souza to be a moron. That's not what I saw at all. Given the absurdity of his position (the existence of an invisible, omnipotent, omniscient, supernatural Christian God to the exclusion of all others), I thought he did a fine job. He managed to put student questioners on the defensive in some rapid-fire give and take sessions. He rarely stumbled in his speech. Meanwhile, Dennett missed some rather glaring opportunities to go for the jugular (easy to say, of course, when you're not in the spotlight). And he mumbled a lot.

I must say, an identity based largely on the rejection of God(s) is a rather pathetic one. Be an atheist, take an occasional swipe at creationist ninnies. That's fine. But supplement that identity with...something else. And lighten up a bit in the name of maintaining a bit of rational, scientific objectivity!

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