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« Bad Science | Main | P. Z. Myers Must Be Fired »

July 23, 2008

Comments

Matheus

May God have mercy on him, and on our rotten culture, in which a moron like him is accepted as a university professor.

BillyHW

As word of this gets out, in order to prevent more copycat crimes of this nature, perhaps the U.S. bishops should impose an immediate ban on reception in the hand, or rather, withdraw the permission they give for reception in the hand. It would be the eminently reasonable thing to do.

David B.

I wonder if he'll recognize a kindred amorality in the form of a character in The Dark Knight...

David B.

...Not that Joker is akin to this clown.

Jenny Z

Such a shame. God have mercy on him.

Clavem Abyssi

"In the world you will have trouble, but take courage, I have conquered the world."

Chad Myers

The worst/saddest thing about hateful ignorant people is that they usually end up hurting themselves more than anyone else.

The Masked Chicken

I have just read his blog post. Very sad. The really sad thing is that if he had sat down, shut-up, and really tried to figure out what was going on in the case of Webster Cook, he might not have overreacted as he did.

Webster Cook was raised Catholic, but did not know enough as a Catholic (if he were not a practicing Catholic then why was he attending Mass and with a friend) to understand the sacredness of the Eucharist? Really? Just exactly what kind of foolishness was the boy trying to pull? He didn't understand that one is not allowed to keep the Eucharist and carry it back to one's seat? How many examples must he have had in his life of adults safe-guarding the Eucharist? I do not think that he can possibly plead ignorance, unless his education as a Catholic has been so remiss as to constitute a Canonical offense.

Either Cook must claim to be extraordinarily misinformed or he had a malicious intent. Either way, he has violated one of two types of behavior for an educated person (which he is supposedly in college to become):

1) Cook has failed to learn even the basic tenants of a religion, which in simplest terms are accessible to a seven year old (the age of first communion) and yet he claims to be worth of the intellectual rigors of college. If this is so, then P. Z. Myers is betraying his mandate as a university professor by supporting a true act of ignorance. If it were ignorance, by definition, it could not have been a reasonable act, so Myers is supporting negligence in education as well

or 2) Cook had an ulterior motive in trying to take the Eucharist, in which case P. Z. Myers seems to be supporting a boy who has not learned even the basics of charity within a university community.

This whole affair has nothing to do with the Eucharist. It has to do with responsible behavior of a student - a Catholic student - one who, until he formally defects, is still subject to the disciplinary laws of the Church, including correction for misconduct. Myers has re-framed the issue to make it seem to be about the Eucharist, but in reality, it has to do with the sad state of affairs with regards to a large number of students attending college, today, who are culturally inept, as well as the decay of civility in society, in general.

This is my conclusion after examining what I know of the facts.

I was so tempted last night at about 2:00 am to get up and post this on Myers site as an expert in cultural studies. I simply would have told him that he is a poor student of culture if he can jump to conclusions without having all of the facts and substitute a red herring for the real issues of the situation. Essentially, he has acted as an expert in a matter for which he has no expertise: what happened in the Webster Cook case. The Eucharist was an irrelevancy.

He would have flunked my course. I would have challenged him on what he knew of the facts in the case (something no one has done, yet) and tried to draw him back to the real issues. He would have quickly demonstrated his ignorance and been ignored.

I did not think that he would suffer to be told that he is not a professor of everything and that in areas of which he has no expertise, he should wait for those who are charged with accessing the facts to make a determination. I do not have all of the facts as well, but anyone who studies culture, be it sociologist, anthropologist, or historian, has to learn to think from within the culture before making any conclusions about the activities within the culture, either for those accused or the accusers.

Maybe those closest to the situation should have sent him a polite e-mail telling him to shut up until he knew all of the facts in the case. I think he still does not, but now he has changed the issue, successful, to one of his choosing. The best thing we could do, if we could stand it, is to ignore him. He has a right to speak, but ignorance should only be heard once.

The Chicken

The Masked Chicken

That should be:

The really sad thing is that if he had sat down, shut-up, and really tried to figure out what were going on in the case of Webster Cook, he might not have overreacted as he did.

The Chicken

Mike

Despite the fact that he is tenured, I would suggest contacting the department at the university. This is clearly a "hate crime".

Here is the staff of the department:
http://www.morris.umn.edu/academic/science/Biol_faculty_staff.html

The division office is available at: 320-589-6300
The biology Discipline Coordinator is at: (320) 589-6324

Biology Discipline Coordinator
Division of Science and Mathematics
University of Minnesota, Morris
600 East 4th Street
Morris, Minnesota 56267

The UMM Code of Conduct is at http://www1.umn.edu/regents/policies/academic/Code_of_Conduct.pdf

Section 3 specifically calls for community members to "be respectful, fair, and civil", and to "avoid all forms of harassment, illegal discrimination, threats, or violence."

Paul Myers clearly indicates on his blog that he is a member of the faculty at UMM. I would have to think at least some of them would be embarrassed.

Suzanne

Just a few weeks ago a lady in our parish dropped a part of the Eucharist on the floor. It startled me (I was praying and I tend to try to look down to the ground--can't close my eyes with 5 kids). I looked up and saw her mashing her fingers together. I whipped up (with baby in tow) and followed her to her pew and told her to immediately consume the Eucharist. She said, "OK, OK!" in a rude manner and she opened up her hand. There was my Lord, crumpled. She hastily consumed the Eucharist. I ran back to the Deacon to explain that a part of our Lord was lying on the floor. He was shocked as was the Extroadinary Minister of the Eucharist.

After Mass, I told the priest what happened and he sort of blew me off and said, "Oh, Mrs. Jones is ill." There have been other abuses, so now we drive hours to assist at the Extraordinary form of the Mass, because I just can't take it anymore. Most people around here look at the Eucharist as a metaphor and not Jesus, body, blood, soul and divinity.

We shouldn't be surprised at this blatant abuse if it is happening in our own parishes.

The Masked Chicken

Dear SDG,

I read your posts on Myers blog. My hat's off to you. I could never stand that type of immaturity. Emotions are running high and there are too many people on both sides making wild assertions. The discussion, if you want to call it that, in the comboxes, makes me sad that the Internet was ever opened to the chattering masses. Call me elitist, but I remember when the Internet used to be a special privilege for thinkers, not an outhouse of the mind.

The Chicken

Mary

Out of the depths I call to you, LORD;
Lord, hear my cry! May your ears be attentive to my cry for mercy.
If you, LORD, mark our sins, Lord, who can stand?
But with you is forgiveness and so you are revered.
I wait with longing for the LORD, my soul waits for his word.
My soul looks for the Lord more than sentinels for daybreak. More than sentinels for daybreak,
let Israel look for the LORD, For with the LORD is kindness, with him is full redemption,
And God will redeem Israel from all their sins.

Tim J.

The World Wide Web - also known as the Disinformation Superhighway, where it is *impossible* that one could hold any view so bizarre that they won't find a significant number of people in total agreement.

The Internet - confirming you in your delusions since... well, since Al Gore created it.

Tom Simon

The discussion, if you want to call it that, in the comboxes, makes me sad that the Internet was ever opened to the chattering masses.

Yeah, it was so much better in the days when riff-raff like Jimmy Akin weren't allowed on the Internet, because it was reserved for deep thinkers with academic appointments, like . . . er . . . P.Z. Myers.

Excuse me a moment, won't you? I think I hear my mind boggling.

Cj

I wonder how the Muslim community will react to the desecration of the Koran, if PZ Myers truly has done what he claims to have done.

Sadly, Catholics seem harder to get riled up (in justified anger). I call for an official petition to have PZ Myers fired. Is anyone up to drafting such a petition?

David L

I will pray for him!

Pax Christi!

CT

I've decided to return to comment participation. If you haven't already, please note the withdrawals of criticisms I indicated in the previous comment thread.

SDG, I noticed a conversation between you and one Emma which caused me to realize something that perhaps Emma herself did not realize.

It is fine for Catholics to ask non-Catholics to be, if it is not too inconvenient for them, respectful of Catholic sensibilities and to allow Catholics to do their thing in peace. (Both are obviously relevant here; if this were the "theft" of a non-consecrated brick that was on church property, there would not be the same kind of reaction)

But then Catholics or the Catholic church should allow for certain non-Catholics to have their sensibilities respected and be able to do their thing in peace.

But the Catholic church doesn't support that. The Catholic church doesn't support allowing for non-Catholics who see pornography as a benign or even good having their sensibilities respected and being allowed to do their thing in peace. Perhaps individual Catholics support that, but the official church, in the catechism 2354 states that civil authorities should make pornography illegal -- and the way "pornography" is defined it would make a whole lot of stuff illegal. Interestingly the catechism doesn't say civil authorities should make prostitution illegal, perhaps because IIRC Aquinas opined that it should be legal. Vatican officials have opined it should be illegal however. And I'm sure that many church officials would feel the same way with regards to certain forms of dancing. But if the church is to give as it asks to receive -- being able to her thing in peace -- then it should allow those entertainers and patrons to do their thing in peace.

To argue that it is apples and oranges because pornography, prostitution, and venues of dancing (so called "gentlemen's clubs") are harmful to society whereas the Catholic church is beneficient to society is not helpful when the very people you are asking in this situation to respect Catholic sensibilities and allow the church to do its thing in peace include many who think that the church is harmful to society -- so are these who think the church harmful then justified in having the same persecutory approach to Catholic activities as the church or its officials have towards pornography, prostitution and venues of live adult entertainment?

If the church is to protect her own rights, she needs to adopt a new civil theory that sees the freedom of persons as fundamental, and any goal that freedom directs itself to as never so important as to warrant a diminishment of that freedom.

Mary Kay

The university official who made the statement that Myers' link was removed from the university and who expressed the expectation of civil interaction was Chancellor Jacqueline Johnson.

Eric Johnson

Hi

I'm an old friend of Jimmy's who reads this blog off and on. I'm a liberal, maybe even a socialist tho not in any doctrinaire way, and I'm deeply, deeply skeptical of any organized religion, yada yada. That said, I find Dr. Myers actions puerile and deeply offensive, and i wanted to write and offer a note of sympathy and empathy to y'all here. In a world where people starve, where workers are routinely denied living wages, where wars ravage people's lives, and where people of varying faiths and beliefs can and do work together to reduce suffering, THIS is his contribution? It's pathetic really, and part of why i'm writing this is that i refuse to cede the definition of "liberal" to childish and hateful people like this. Maybe there are folks on your side of the political fence you feel the same way about? Maybe so.

As far as being smart enough to be a university professor...there are many different ways of being "smart" and it only takes one kind to succeed in the academic game, which is probably how it should be. There are lots of dumb smart people in my department. Myers' problem isn't intelligence, which is a mercenary quality at best, it's (as far as I can tell from reading his blog) a stunted and narcissistic ego, a desperate need to be noticed, and lack of empathy for other human beings. I understand that what most of you deeply believe means that this isn't something that can be ignored, but really, that's what i wish I could counsel that you do. It's what he deserves.

Inocencio

I for one am very glad that CT is still reading this blog and the CCC. Hopefully he will began to understand what the Church actually teaches even if he rejects it. It would be nice if CT could grasp that the Church does not change its teachings to match the times, its teachings are meant to rescue every age from itself.

SDG God bless you for jumping into that forum of filth and being a wonderful example of a lived faith in a depraved society.

Take care and God bless,
Inocencio
J+M+J

Johnny Dollar

Thanks for that polite yet forced response, CT. I find it interesting that when faced with this juvenile and blatantly mean spirited piece of political theater your default response is to cast about for reasons why Catholics should be denied basic standards of common human courtesy in the public square.

Look, I just want to point out that this is a piece of bread we are talking about. He is not desecrating the American flag--the American flag actually stands for something that would improve the countries in AIDs-ridden Africa, unlike Catholicism--but a legally obtained half-cent wafer. Only religion could have grown adults all up in arms over the welfare of a cracker.

Mary Kay

Eric Johnson, thank you for your comments, they are greatly appreciated.

Jimmy, if Myers has desecrated the Eucharist, there should be a tidal wave of response. Even if he hasn't, his ten days of taunting require a response. He's acting like an out-of-control child who needs to learn there are consequences to his actions.

Mary Kay

The university is in the diocese of St. Cloud, MN and the bishop there is a Bishop John F. Kinney.

Just covering all bases, now waiting to see what details show up.

The Masked Chicken

Dear Tom Simon,

You wrote:

Yeah, it was so much better in the days when riff-raff like Jimmy Akin weren't allowed on the Internet, because it was reserved for deep thinkers with academic appointments, like . . . er . . . P.Z. Myers.

I take it you were not around in the early days of the internet. Jimmy could have posted to any number of theological bulletin boards, but the sort of nonsense P. Z. Myers has on his blog (outside of the biological material which is within his range of competency) simply did not have a place until about 1989 or so, when the alt. groups began to be formed on Usenet. This was a precursor to the explosion that would begin in 1993 when AOL opened the Internet to everyone.

Before that, if P. Z. Meyers tried to post this stuff on a regular bulletin board, I almost guarantee that he would have been strongly disciplined.

The Chicken

The Masked Chicken

italics off

The Masked Chicken

off, I say

The Sadly Absent-minded Masked Chicken

It seems the combox and I are having a bit of a tiff. Why couldn't typepad have a GUI for HTML tags for us absent-minded types? On the other hand, I just discovered that I have a text editor that will put in all HTML tags for me, so hopefully, this will happen much more rarely. If this doesn't work, would somebody. please, rescue this poor bird from italics prison?

Matheus

Dear Sadly Absent-Minded TMC

Don't suffer anymore! If your browser is Firefox, get the BBCodeXtra extension. I learned about it right here through a comment. It allows you to do all the fancy HTML trickery with one or two clicks only. And if you don't use Firefox, it's a good reason to start using it!

Tim J.

"Look, I just want to point out that this is a piece of bread we are talking about."

No, YOU are talking about a piece of bread. WE are talking about the body of Christ.

"He is not desecrating the American flag--the American flag actually stands for something that would improve the countries in AIDs-ridden Africa, unlike Catholicism"

Huh? You just lost me, there. How do flags help prevent AIDS? Perhaps the failure rate of flags is less than that of cheap condoms, though. What do I know?

"Only religion could have grown adults all up in arms over the welfare of a cracker."

Apparently Myers is positively obsessed with our "crackers", and he has no religion at all. His militant anti-religion has him half crazed because he can't stand the thought of anyone believing something he doesn't. Nice guy.

Tom Simon

I take it you were not around in the early days of the internet. Jimmy could have posted to any number of theological bulletin boards, but the sort of nonsense P. Z. Myers has on his blog (outside of the biological material which is within his range of competency) simply did not have a place until about 1989 or so, when the alt. groups began to be formed on Usenet.

Jimmy could have posted to theological bulletin boards — if he had had Internet access to begin with; this was not so easy to arrange. P.Z. Myers certainly would have had access if he wanted it, and would not necessarily have been disciplined for posting rubbish. The history of flamewars long antedates the institution of alt.*.

In short, the good old days you pine for never existed. Excluding 99% of the population from internet access, as you seem to be suggesting, would not increase the civility of discourse, and might not even increase its intelligence.

Mary Kay

In a brief moment totally unPC, I'd say Myers is the one who is crackers.

The Masked Chicken

Dear Matheus,

Thanks for the recommendation. It looks nice.

Dear Tom Simon,

I guess we will have to disagree at this point because my recollection of the Internet (going back to 1986 or so) was that, while flaming did occur, the more tightly-knitted community structures, plus the existence of a well-established netiquette on bulletin boards and early Usenet tended to stop flamers fairly quickly and the discussions, in general (there were exceptions) tended to be more civil. Perhaps I just visited the more genteel boards, so my recollections may be biased, but it surely would be nice to have a kinder, gentler Internet, sigh. In any case, whether more or less users would help the Internet, I am glad for the ones who post, here.

The Chicken

BobCatholic

No surprise here, he did nothing but mirror worship throughout that blog post.

I wonder if he'd feel the same if people were to desecrate that he holds dear? Oh sure, he'd whine like a baby and tell us how intolerant we are.

Mirror worship screws up the mind. This is a fact, proven time after time. This guy is the poster child that proves this fact again.

Mary Kay

CT, sometime we'll have to have a discussion of natural law and relativism versus an objective truth.

Matchu

Why are they always college professors? Good Lord.

Christopher

Folks, I have been struggling with a great deal of anger regarding the desecration that has taken place. Please don't allow this whole sad episode become an occasion of sin for you. We don't want to let the bad guys win.

Vivat Jesu,

Christopher

Tim J.

"I wonder if he'd feel the same if people were to desecrate that he holds dear?"

You might be at a disadvantage, there. I don't expect he holds anything that dear.

Woodrow

My reaction to this is great sadness. It saddens me to think of what Prof. Myers did to our Lord. It saddens me to see so many people on the Prof.'s blog agreeing with the mean-spiritedness he showed. It saddens me that Catholic responded in kind on his blog. It saddens me that many of his commenters accused the Church of things She's not guily of. It saddens me that many of his commenters accused the Church of horrible sins She is guilty of. It sdaddens me to know that, human nature being what it is, the evil in Prof. Myers' heart lurks in my heart, too. May we remember, even in the midst of our hurt and anger over what he did, that we are called to love and serve Prof. Myers in the Name of Jesus.

MaryH

He doesn't know it, but his actions fortify our belief that Jesus died for our sins and gives himself freely and without price. Some say that is the "disappointment" of the incarnation. We so want God to be powerful in a different way. The pain we feel is purgative; it helps our view of God to correspond to the truth and character of Love. These are tough graces.

Steve

Why are they always college professors? Good Lord.

It wouldn't be so bad if the guy was just an atheist. But this guy is certifiably bonkers. What's also troubling is the relative silence from acedemia. I wonder just how many other professors are as wacked as PZ.

It gives me yet another reason to mistrust the establishment, and something more to think about when deciding where (or *if*) to send my kids to college.


gaspar schott

Dear Chicken,

That's "tenets," NOT "tenants" of a religion. A common mistake.

gs

BobCatholic

>You might be at a disadvantage, there. I don't expect he holds anything that dear.

His reputation among his seKKKularist buddies is one thing. He's doing this stunt for their applause.

I'm sure there are other things, but I'm not going to look for them.
You know what they say about wrestling pigs: Don't wrestle pigs -
you will get dirty, and they like it.

David B.

Seeing SDG speaking sensibly, followed by the illogical, irrational, hate-filled squeals of his opponents is a good example of how these rude people will willingly shoot themselves in the foot.

I wonder if they realize how alone they are in that hate-filled dimension? How separate they their are even from those that may sometimes agree with them.

Sleeping Beastly

Chicken,
I kind of like the egalitarian nature of the internet, even if it does mean I need to wade through a lot more garbage to find the good stuff. I find enough sites like Jimmy's, and avoid the ones like Pharyngula, and I'm a pretty happy camper.

Also, when posting here, I always preview before posting, which helps me avoid missing slashes and italicizing threads. Were it not for the [Preview] button, I'd make a bigger mess of the comboxes than you ever have. 8]

Josh Miller

Christopher says: Folks, I have been struggling with a great deal of anger regarding the desecration that has taken place. Please don't allow this whole sad episode become an occasion of sin for you. We don't want to let the bad guys win.

Of course, a little righteous anger is a justified emotion, so long as it doesn't lead us too far toward hate.

I find Myers to be amazingly juvenile, like so many of his counterparts who grew up in that era. Remember, his is the generation where people did stupid things to make a point, versus engaging in civil discourse with a desire to arrive at a civilized conclusion.

The only thing PZ Myers' little stunt has proven is that he's a very angry, very confused individual.

BobCatholic

Boy, a lot of people are posting comments in this mirror worshipper's blog. I wonder how many more times he's going to have to start new threads? :)

Eric Johnson

" 'Why are they always college professors? Good Lord.'

It wouldn't be so bad if the guy was just an atheist. But this guy is certifiably bonkers. What's also troubling is the relative silence from acedemia. I wonder just how many other professors are as wacked as PZ."

Well, here i have to stick up for academia a little. Although he is a tenured professor, he's not acting as an agent of the school and not claiming to, and as deplorable as I find his actions on a human level, he's not exploiting the strength of his institutional to attack a vulnerable minority. He's picking a fight with one of the most powerful institutions in the Western world. Your church will survive this and long outlive him, and many of his colleagues ( some of whose feelings I'd surmise are similar to my own) are likely just rolling their eyes and staying out of a fray that they feel they don't have a stake in. My own response has alot to do with reading your responses here and getting a feeling for the hurt that he's causing each of you as people. Those of us who aren't looking into a window like this are more likely to feel that he can be a hateful idiot in the public square if he wants to. It's touchy because intellectual freedom requires that some idiocy is tolerated, and even a certain amount of hatefulness (or at least anger) as long as it isn't directed along lines that mirror an existing power imbalance.

And, he isn't, I think, bonkers. He's a little man with a grudge and a megaphone.


"It gives me yet another reason to mistrust the establishment, and somethi"ng more to think about when deciding where (or *if*) to send my kids to college."

You know, I heard almost this exact same sentiment yesterday from a friend of ours, although I think that she'd consider your church and your culture part of the "establishment." And, tho it's really none of my business, while we're conversing i'll say the same thing to you that I'd say to her: it's unfair to deny your kids the oppourtunity to evaluate the world for themselves and come to their own beliefs through being exposed to and evaluating for themselves (with whatever guidance you can make available to them of course) the range of human thought. Strong convictions are built through an engagement with the world. Just my opinion.

Sleeping Beastly

CT,
You wrote:
I've decided to return to comment participation.

Good to see you again!

If the church is to protect her own rights, she needs to adopt a new civil theory that sees the freedom of persons as fundamental, and any goal that freedom directs itself to as never so important as to warrant a diminishment of that freedom.

Your first mistake is to assume that, because the professor has desecrated the Eucharist, he has somehow infringed on our free practice of religion. He has done no such thing. We are still as free to practice our faith as ever we were.

By the same token, the Church can teach against pornography (and even teach that civil authority ought to restrict it) without infringing on anyone's freedom of expression. The Church has been teaching that for quite some time, and onanists are as free to purchase pornography as ever they were.

Under American law, no one has broken any laws.

Under Professor Myers' understanding, the Church has committed the crime of making people stupid.

Under the Church's understanding, the professor has sinned and endangered his soul.

Just because the Church's teachings are not the same as those of the Constitution does not mean she is being inconsistent.

Sleeping Beastly

Incidentally, CT, the Church does have a theology (and consequent civil theory) that sees the freedom of persons as fundamental. Where you and she differ is likely on the definition of freedom. See CCC 2339 for a brief example of the Catholic understanding of freedom. See part 3, chapter 1, section 1, article 3 for a more in-depth look.

kmerian

Jimmy, actually, no don't respond to this. Do not give this man the attention he craves. He is an associate Professor at a small insignificant University who is now in his 15 minutes of fame. Don't prolong it. Just, ignore him.

Kasia

And, he isn't, I think, bonkers. He's a little man with a grudge and a megaphone.

I think that is a fair and accurate assessment.

Steve

Eric,

In all seriousness, if anyone considers the catholic church as part of the existing establishment, they can't see very clearly. Our culture vehemently rebels against what the church teaches.

And, it's not so much that I want to deny my children experience (except for experience that comes in the form of mortal sin,) rather, I'd prefer to not fork over umpteen thousands of dollars to anti-christian supporting establishments in order that my kids be force fed the ravings of petty egomaniacs like Meyers and his lemming disciples.

Margaret

Given the incredibly low intellectual level of discussion taking place at Myers' site, among self-proclaimed Brights, I think we need to start referring to them as Lite Brites... :-)

The Masked Chicken

Dear Gaspar,

Thanks. Yes, its tenets. Stupid spell-checkers - they should know what I mean :)

Dear Sleeping Beastly,

I sometimes use preview, but I've been having problems with the back button in Firefox wanting to re-paste data and not letting me go back to the original edit page (which is sometimes easier to read than trying to re-edit on the preview screen with its intense and distracting green screen), so I gave up using it for a while. My recent spate of tag-you're-it problems has caused me to seek other solutions.

Dear Matchu,

Professors are supposed to...profess, but sometimes they forget that they are only supposed to do so in their area of expertise. If P. Z. Meyers wanted to call me crazy for calling a zebrafish a camelfish (is there such a thing?), he might be justified, but in these sorts of cases, professors are usually (not always!) more tolerant with beginners.

When professors starts to speak in areas outside of their expertise, they are no more reliable than anyone else. I know next to nothing about economics. If I go on a rant about the economic policies of President X in country Y, you can probably ignore me. When I tell a student not to mix compound X with compound Y, or that he better not integrate from minus infinity to plus infinity to solve a differential equation, he'd probably better listen, because in the first case, the experiment might blow-up and in the second case, the equation might blow-up, too.

That said, there is such a thing as common knowledge and common sense, which, presumably, most people have and we can use them to make generally correct comments in general areas. Theology is not an area of common knowledge. Everyone may have more or less access to that form of theology which we call the Natural Law, but not everyone (most people, in fact, without the aid of grace) can process it properly. I have no idea what P. Z. Myers's knowledge of theology is, but he does not seem to process the dictates of the Natural Law (such as respecting other's beliefs) very well.

In other news, Webster Cook, the young man whose actions started all of this, was recently impeached by the student senate. His counter-claim against the campus Church was dismissed.

The University has been somewhat vague in their response, at least to my mind.

The Chicken

Thomas

Against my better judgment, I went to look at his desecration of the Eucharist, and instead of being filled with anger, sadness, or even disgust at his treatment of the Lord, I was filled with this immense pity.

I was one of those people once. After a pious Catholic childhood, I spent my youth and early adulthood vacillating between angry atheism and half-arsed agnosticism.

My encounter with the Spirit was unrequested, unearned, and unwanted. I began my journey back to faith by reading great amounts of atheist writing and theory, utterly trying to resist the grace that was offered to me. I didn't want the Spirit, but I got it anyway.

There's a reason it's called irresistible grace. And people like Myers and his cheering section haven't been given that gift. I don't know why they haven't. I don't know why some are called and others aren't. It's a profound question. Who is called, and why? I can tell you merit has nothing to do with it.

My life would have been "simpler" without faith, I'm sure. That's why this notion that Christians (and other theists) are unthinking drones who have never pondered questions as deeply and seriously as the self-proclaimed "brights" is so risible. I have never meant a militant atheist who wasn't utterly convinced of two fallacies: 1) that the believer has not encountered, considered, weighed, and decided upon all the major arguments against faith and 2) that choosing faith is somehow the "easy" or "simple" answer. I don't even try to convert atheists, but I do make an effort to dash these two lazy and idiotic assumptions whenever possible.

Note to atheists: you know that killer argument against God/Jesus/Bible/Church that you love to whip out like a jackknife? Augustine and Aquinas and a thousand other brilliant men and women over 2,000 years already thought of it, and already answered it. We are heirs to the largest body of philosophical and theological thought in history. Go ahead and assume we have an answer.

I, personally, would like to see us let this whole thing fade away as the childish bit of schoolyard bullying it is. Jesus has suffered worse, and warned us that we would as well.

I'm not even sure that outrage is the proper response. We have gained so much, and they have not. I know for a fact that they are incapable of recognizing their own poverty, because I didn't recognize it when I was in poverty. We have found the Truth, and it was not an abstract set of ideas or organizing principals or scientific theories: it was the heart of a Man, broken for us.

I cannot tell you how hard that was to accept. I cannot tell you how glad I am that I accepted it.

Kasia

Bravo, Thomas.

Though I confess myself still stuck waffling between anger, disgust, and sadness.

--No, YOU are talking about a piece of bread. WE are talking about the body of Christ.--

Ding, ding, ding. And we have a winner. Silly me. I forgot who I was talking to. You Catholics see Jesus on wooden doors and cheese sandwiches.

bill912

Wow! Another (anonymous) anti-Catholic bigot! His mother must be so proud!

Skygor

May the heart of Jesus, in the Most Blessed Sacrament, be praised, adored, and loved with grateful affection, at every moment, in all the tabernacles of the world, even to the end of time. Amen.

SDG

I think a more apt description of PZM at least as regards this incident -- or rather the general tenor of his postings surrounding it -- would be that he is the Bill Donahue of atheism.

CT, let me say I appreciate your civility and even keel, especially after my fling with PZ's blog. That said, it's hard to believe you're serious sometimes. (Your comments in the last thread on pornography, for example. I'm sure you're smart enough to deconstruct your own sophistry, if you felt like it.)

I'm no fan of Donohue's, but Donohue is a pragmatist who is happy to get along with anyone -- Protestants, Jews, Muslims, atheists, anyone -- if they are willing to get along with him. He doesn't go around declaring how stupid other groups of people are. His sole concern is what he considers unacceptably offensive behavior, not points of view he disagrees with.

Also, while Donohue is always ready with a provocative rhetorical counter-example -- had Myers desecrated only a host, Donohue might well have asked why he didn't also desecrate a Koran -- Donohue would never condone anyone actually carrying out such actions.

Sleeping Beastly

Thomas,
I know exactly what you mean about irresistible grace, and I agree 100%.

Glenn Dallaire

Here is the message I emailed to the University president:
I respectfully request that Mr. P.Z. Myers be immediately terminated for his actions of desecration of the Eucharist and of Islamic religious texts. These actions are a grave violation of respect for religious beliefs and practises, and should not be tolerated in a State institution. History has shown that acts of violence such as these towards Religion should never be tolerated, as the effects of such actions encourage even graver acts of hatred and intolerance.
Sincerely,
Glenn Dallaire

c matt

Call me elitist, but I remember when the Internet used to be a special privilege for thinkers, not an outhouse of the mind.

Outhouse of the mind - what a brilliant way to put it!

c matt

I have never meant a militant atheist who wasn't utterly convinced of two fallacies: 1) that the believer has not encountered, considered, weighed, and decided upon all the major arguments against faith and 2) that choosing faith is somehow the "easy" or "simple" answer.

Excellent point. Choosing faith is somehow supposed to be the easy answer - what a load of crock. As if choosing to to do what you want whenever you want because there are no eternal consequences is sooooooo hard.

Tony Sidaway

c matt, as an atheist I agree that atheism is by far the easier path. An intelligent person unencumbered by the notion that some preconceived notions are unchallengable because they are sacred has an easier time because he does not need to engage in a continued struggle to reconcile the sacred superstitions with the evidence he gathers through experience and study.

On the other hand, I see the theist's choice as, in some sense, an abdication of responsibility. This really only applies to highly intelligent theists, in my opinion, who I believe are capable of questioning the sacred dogma but choose not to do so. In certain societies, this has obviously been the easier road. Even now, in America, it would be difficult for an open atheist to achieve high public office. In that sense, clinging to the bosom of the church and declining to ask unwelcome questions may be seen as the easy option.

Sleeping Beastly

Tony,
You wrote: On the other hand, I see the theist's choice as, in some sense, an abdication of responsibility. This really only applies to highly intelligent theists, in my opinion, who I believe are capable of questioning the sacred dogma but choose not to do so.

Not considering the possibility that such intelligent theists may have already questioned sacred dogma and come to the conclusion that it is correct? We have stacks and stacks of books written by just such people.

CT

As if choosing to to do what you want whenever you want because there are no eternal consequences is sooooooo hard.

So if there were no eternal consequences you would just "do what you want whenever you want" with moral wantoness?

This and an article I read in the conservative Catholic publication The New Oxford Review years ago is illustrative of the nature of religion or a religion in particular. If Catholicism is "the true religion" it ought to inspire people to love for a motive other than "eternal consequences."

I will not be governed by what some being(s) with great power may or may not do to me upon death. I choose to be governed by the desires of my heart and I find that the desires of my heart do not consist in what you have insinuated as to your own. The desires of my heart are to be beautiful, to love beautifully, to receive in charity, and to embrace my whole being, including the joys of the body.

@SB

Not considering the possibility that such intelligent theists may have already questioned sacred dogma and come to the conclusion that it is correct?

SB, today in analytic philosophy the best that the theists can come up with as regards the existence of God are arguments that while valid are not argued as sound (for example Plantinga's modal ontological argument where he admits he cannot establish its soundness) and "reformed epistemology" where belief in God is taken to be a "basic belief" akin to the beliefs that form the epistemological foundation in foundationalism. A lot of it is very defensive in nature. On the problem of evil, Plantinga's disproof of the logical or metaphysical argument from evil is disputed by some (his disproof involves some rather strange ideas such as transworld depravity) and even theists admit the difficulty in giving a defense against certain kinds of evils (like an innocent fawn dying a cruel death in a forest unwitnessed by man -- a "fawn" again as last time someone was unaware of the definition, is a young deer)

BTW, theistic philosophers have abandoned the notion that an infinite regression of causes has a technical incoherence and instead have resorted to The Principle of Sufficient Reason or the metaphysical claim that an infinite past is incoherent due to the impossibility of having traversed it.

A lot of substantial advances in logic which is now a branch of mathematics has been made since the days of Aquinas and Augustine ... so the person who seems to think that they are the pinnacle against which it is unreasonable to think that anything from today would stand is misinformed.

Sleeping Beastly

CT,
I really didn't understand a single thing you posted up there. This may be a good indication that I am not one of the highly intelligent theists mentioned by Tony Sidaway, and so am excluded from his criticism.

Tony Sidaway

Sleeping Beastly | Aug 1, 2008 8:59:59 PM: Not considering the possibility that such intelligent theists may have already questioned sacred dogma and come to the conclusion that it is correct? We have stacks and stacks of books written by just such people.

If they have questioned the sacred dogma and emerged with evidence sufficient to support it, I look forward to their publication of this evidence, which will revolutionize both theology and science.

Plausibly a Ruse

I don't have any place to correct the record as the thread in which what seemed to me to be a false aspersion against PZM has been closed. I believe it only fair that PZM be able to correct the record or for someone, not PZM, to correct it out of justice and charity for PZM.

Someone had written:

"Yet Myers put a filter on his comments to eliminate any references to Catholicism or other views differing from his own. Whose site values and really practices free speech?"

AFAIK and my knowledge may be lacking here, but the only "filter" Myers placed was a restriction on spam. Some persons, purportedly Catholic, were copying and pasting long prayers or papal writings, generally without any commentary whatsoever. While copying and pasting such prayers or papal writings may be considered appropriate in some Catholic communities, in most communities that would be considered spam. It's not its Catholic character that caused any restriction peculiar to Catholic things. Copying and pasting anything, particularly long things, without any commentary or engagement of it, is in many fora considered rude and spam. So Catholics who started doing a virtual Rosary at PZM's blog would have been engaging in something judged -- rightly -- to be spam. I am unaware of any censoring of any opinion of a Catholic character expressed in some intelligent fashion (i.e. not just a post consisting entirely of copying and pasting w/out engagement). Meyers also had an email filter that did filter based on content but that was for his email, not the commenters on his blog. Perhaps that fact somehow got morphed into the falsehood you perhaps innocently you expressed here.

Tim J.

I don't have enough faith to be an atheist.

http://www.amazon.com/Dont-Have-Enough-Faith-Atheist/dp/1581345615

Plausibly a Ruse

I assume you have read that book, Tim. What was most striking to you about it?

As for myself, I think atheism construed as the proposition that there is some finite* upper bound to the greatness** of things in the actual world is demonstrably false. Atheism construed as the proposition that there is nothing in the actual world such that it is obligatory to configure one's life in a certain way around it as exemplified in certain religions is not demonstrably false.

*finite here meant in the absolute sense, inclusive of the transfinite, even though it may have a mathematical character that is generally termed "infinite" today. I think it is easy to show that the proposition, that atheism so construed would be true relative possible world, is false since it is always possible for something to be greater than something whose greatness is of a finite character. More difficult, but IMO, still achievable, is showing that this fact entails that atheism is false in the actual world. That atheism so construed is false doesn't give one a result as grant as Plantinga's modal ontological argument whose premises Plantinga acknowledge includes at least some that are not evidently true. It doesn't even entail that a thing of infinite (again meant in the absolute sense) exists or is even existent in some possible world. Just as one can construct a model (in the model-theroetic sense) that satisfies the proposition (suitably expressed) that there is no finite (meant here in the modern, not absolute sense) bound on the cardinality of sets even while it satisfies the proposition (suitably expressed) that there is no set of infinite (meant here in the non-absolute, modern sense) cardinality, one can also do that with respect for cardinalities in general. Metaphysically, the same tenor of reasoning is at work and can actually be formalized with mathematical relations that would respect which things are greater than other things (even if no quantities are involved in that metaphysical relative greatness). If one were to combine this argument with an argument (unsound in my view) that an infinite (in the absolute sense) collection of things cannot obtain then one would arrive at the existence of a thing with greatness of (absolutely) infinite character. I believe an argument distinct can be made for an absolutely infinitely great thing but involves the premise that something inherent in a mereological sum is at least as great as any one of its parts. As you can anticipate, this would entail that the mereological sum of all things has inherent in it greatness at least as great as any finite (in the absolute sense) degree of greatness. But then that greatness cannot be indexed to any finite (in the absolute sense) degree since if it were then there would be a mereological part of a greater degree of greatness contradicting the premise. Thus it must have a degree of greateness that is not finite and also greater, i.e. an infinite (in the absolute sense) degree of greatness. In case I wasn't clear, this analysis hinges on an ontological committment to any mereological sum being if you will, "more than the sum of its parts" such that any mereological sum has as a whole a certain degree of greatness (as opposed to being great only in relation to its parts with a manifold array of degrees of greatness). So for example, a particular car, a particular bird would be a sum and that sum would have a certain degree of greatness as a whole at least equal to each of its parts. Without that assumption, the argument of course fails. The argument would also of course envision the absolutely infinite to be something inherent in (not in the parts of but in the actual whole) that is the mereological sum of all things. I don't have any philosophical argument for this, but I incline to identify it with the form of that whole, as though the whole universe were one living organism whose form is the absolute infinite.

**I omit a qualification here for brevity.

Some things similar to some aspects of what I wrote is addressed in a fine book:

www.amazon.com/Ontological-Arguments-Belief-Graham-Oppy/dp/0521039002/

which has been praised by William L. Craig who is perhaps alone among Christian apologists in being able to at least somewhat deftly engage analytic philosophy. It is a shame that no one else (besides persons who are more philosophers than apologists such as Plantinga) is of that caliber and apologetic work particularly in Catholic circles is limited to more popular engagement. It has also been praised by Brian Davies, O.P. and the Canadian Catholic Review. While it is expensive, it is well worth it and is available, generally for free, through inter-library loan which networks libraries all across the nation and even sometimes internationally.

Mary Kay

Ruse,

you're a bit quick to accuse others of expressing falsehoods:
but the only "filter" Myers placed was a restriction on spam....I am unaware of any censoring of any opinion of a Catholic character expressed in some intelligent fashion (i.e. not just a post consisting entirely of copying and pasting w/out engagement). Meyers also had an email filter that did filter based on content but that was for his email, not the commenters on his blog. Perhaps that fact somehow got morphed into the falsehood you perhaps innocently you expressed here.

Here is an excerpt from Myers' blog on 7/26/08, less than a week after he deliberately provoked:

I'm still getting way too much repetitive crap, though. Yes, people, I know you're offended. You don't all need to tell me. If I had time to reply to each one of you individually, I'd simply tell you to tough it out — I'm offended by you, but none of us have a right to not be offended. So let me just tell you collectively: I've heard that message, and the message that you'll pray for me, and the message that I'll be going to hell, and the message that you think I need to be sent to jail or an asylum, and I don't care what you think, so put a sock in it already. OK? OK. I've now got a bunch of filters in place that trash mail that mentions certain common keywords (hint to people legitimately attempting to contact me: try not to sound too Catholic), so there's not even the point of harassment to your continued volleys. You can all stop now.

Placing a filter to trash keywords is not the same as eliminating “spam” even if one considered lengthy words equivalent to Myers’ actions.
Again, this reinforces all the points made about Myers earlier: his double standard, his violation of societal norms, his knowingly and deliberately acting in a way to intentionally provoke and cause pain and subsequent inability to deal with the consequences of his actions.

My point was that Jimmy graciously allowed, and for the most part, commentators on this blog were far more civil with viewpoints differing than their own while Myers simply shut out differing viewpoints. Clearly, who is better at valuing free speech?

Plausibly a Ruse

"I've now got a bunch of filters in place that trash mail that mentions certain common keywords (hint to people legitimately attempting to contact me: try not to sound too Catholic)"

Mary Kay, I tried my best to correct the record without casting any aspersion on your character and yet consistent with my authentic expression of truth as best I understood it. I am sorry that that effort was not more clear to you.

You referred to a "filter" on "comments" on PZM's blog. What you have quoted from PZM above are "filters" with respect to "MAIL", i.e. his email. I suggested in my post that you were somehow confusing one with the other and it appears that that suggestion was correct. I hope now that sets the record straight and I hope also that God graces you with the humility to make compensation, be it only moral, to PZM.

Mary Kay

All emphases in my 7:25pm post today are mine.

Mary Kay

Ruse, it makes no difference whether it's an email or a comment on his blog. The only person who needs to make compensation is Myers.

Plausibly a Ruse

Mary Kay, you may or may not have a legitimate point as regard criticism of PZM's personal choices as regards his email account (you should keep in mind that during this time he received thousands of emails and even apart from this time he receives many individuals; his blog has been featured in some popular science publications and praised therein).

My only intention was to point out a factual inaccuracy. Perhaps you just misspoke -- which is just fine in and of itself -- but when people refer to a "site" in relation to "comments", with said site in this case referring to PZM's blog, they tend to assume by "site" you mean just well, the website on the World Wide Web, the actual blog and don't include PZM's personal or professional email account as some extension of the "site."

May I ask:

(1) For what does Myers need to make compensation?
(2) Is it possible to make physical compensation?
(3) If not, what would the moral compensation consist of?

The reason I ask is that if a Catholic desecrates the sacred species, then moral compensation may include the saying of a prayer, or perhaps prayer before the exposed sacrament (if one is Roman Catholic; exposition is not a practice proper to the East, Latinizations notwithstanding). But all these things seem to presuppose belief in certain Catholic religious beliefs. One could hardly make moral compensation to God if one did not believe in God.

IMO, the primary concern if any, should be the good of PZM, not the good of ourselves, not the civil rights of ourselves, not the fair treatment of our religious sensibilities, but the good, temporal and spiritual of the person, PZM. Jesus action in the temple is IMO a good example of that; there his primary concern was not in any sin against himself, against God, but in the spiritual well being of those he was chastising. Nothing we do can perturb the divine. PZM may have perturbed us but our call as Christians is to bring peace to PZM not to condemn PZM for how he perturbed us.* We are to orient ourselves in our very being to the other, to God and neighbor in God. Any orientation to our own selves is disordered. If authentic love could be ordered to self, then the Trinity would be problematic as the nature of love as not being able to obtain in a single person is part of the theological insight in Catholic patrimony into the Trinity. Authentic love of one's self can thus exist only in relation to another. We take care of ourselves not in some wishing of good upon ourselves but in the treasuring of the gift we have received from God which gift is our own very selves, us as hypostases and us in our natures. So authentic self-love is ordered in that treasuring of one's very being and self as gift. I do not see how such then can be squared with say thousands of posts piling criticism upon criticism of PZM or moreover with a demand that one ought to be properly loved by PZM. The spirit which is itself divine gift of love between father and spirit is described in scripture in this way: "not by might nor by power, but by my spirit"; let us approach PZM not with the might of sharpened words nor with the power of threats to his livelihood or professional career, but rather with acts such as sending PZM a letter like:

"This book helped me see that atheism was false. Here's a copy. I hope you have a chance to read it."

That kind of simplicity and kindness is more effective to effect good in a person. I am presuming of course that such is your desire.

*"peace" here means more than an absence of commotion; it means a harmonious flourishing. "perturb" is placed in that context.

The Masked Chicken

I have nothing to say.

The Chicken

SDG

I have nothing to say.

Wisdom! Let us be attentive!

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