Wednesday, 2 July 2008

PZ Says It Best

Science writer and outspoken atheist PZ Myers has written some incisive commentary on this interview with theologian Karl Giberson, about Giberson's book Saving Darwin: How to Be a Christian and Believe in Evolution.

I love PZ's writing. His sandblasting style is a wonderful antidote to the waffling treatment science tends to get in mainstream journalism. Having said that, I can understand how his passionate embrace of atheism and belligerent disdain for any sort of faith-based belief can put some people offside.

You might recall he was the one who got kicked out of a screening of Intelligent Design propaganda film Expelled earlier in the year, while Richard Dawkins was happily let in. If you read both of them, that's not hugely surprising.

In this latest analysis, PZ has written one paragraph which is simply one of the best summaries I've yet to read on why so many of us unquestioningly believe in religion.
Look at the bible as a pastiche, a collection of mutually and often internally inconsistent fragments slapped together for crude reasons of politics and art and priestly self-promotion and sometimes beauty and a lot of chest-thumping tribalism, and through that lens, it makes a lot of sense.

It does tell us something important…about us, not some fantastic mythological being. It tells us that we are fractious, arrogant, scrappy people who sometimes accomplish great things and more often cause grief and pain to one another.

We want to be special in a universe that is uncaring and cold, and in which the nature of our existence is a transient flicker, so we invent these strange stories of grand beginnings, like every orphan dreaming that they are the children of kings who will one day ride up on a white horse and take them away to a beautiful palace and a rich and healthy family that will love them forever.

We are not princes of the earth, we are the descendants of worms, and any nobility must be earned.

That chill you're feeling is the cold shower of reality. Sweet, isn't it?
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