Tuesday, August 4, 2009

"He doesn't keep it to himself."

Here is the most recent tidbit of bigoted lunacy from PZ Myers:
We aren't interested in what public officials do in their free time. They can have whatever legal hobby they want, they can favor whatever private rituals they want, they can associate with any non-dangerous group on their weekends that they want, whether it's going to church or gathering to watch football.

So what's different about Collins? He doesn't keep it to himself. He is openly and avidly evangelical, brags about adding religious messages to NHGRI announcements, and recently built a high-profile website that promotes evangelical Christianity. I don't mind a Christian in charge of the NIH, but I do object to a missionary, especially one who has said some awfully stupid things about science, being put in control of such a large chunk of our country's science budget.
Before going any further, what the frak is this crap about "adding religious messages to NHGRI announcements"? For those who don't know, NHGRI stands for the National Human Genome Research Institute, which Francis Collins was head of from 1993 to 2008. When the first complete human genome had been sequenced by the NHGRI under Collins' leadership, two years ahead of schedule and under budget, apparently Collins had the temerity to make a reference to God at some point during the celebrations.

I have yet to track down exactly what it was that Collins is supposed to have said, and PZ Myers provides no quotation, nor any kind of citation as the basis for his "accusation". Nor did Sam Harris make any mention of this supposed theological faux pas in his NYT Times OpEd piece attacking Collins' nomination. This is the closest thing Myers, Harris & Co. have to any concrete evidence that there is some "danger" in allowing this religious fanatic be the NIH Director. He might mention God!!!

(This is a very serious issue for New Atheists, by the way, because they get very confused anytime they hear a scientist express any kind of religious belief. They apparently have very low tolerance for self-induced cognitive dissonance.)

Apparently the New Atheists have been scrambling to come up with something, anything, to try to distract attention away from the fact that they have now taken a very public position against one of the most basic principles of democracy: freedom of religion. This is the best they can do. I am sure that within the next couple of days someone will manage to find a copy of the dreaded mention of God and once we see the exact quote in context, there will be no there there.

But what really bothers Myers is not that Collins' might have, once, in his 15 years of work on the Human Genome Project, let slip that he believes in God without first taking his lab coat off. What bothers Myers is far more sweeping than that. Religious scientists are, in Myers' way of seeing things, supposed to skulk about as if they had a terrible, dirty secret to hide. After all, it's bad enough that there are religious scientists in the first place, but must we sit idly by while they "openly and avidly" flaunt their disgusting beliefs in public? Why, oh why, must they "insist on publicly harmonizing their faith with science". Have they no shame?

In other words, PZ Myers is just a garden variety bigot. If he could, he would rid the world of people he disagrees with. But, for now at least, he feels that he cannot accomplish that much, so he merely insists that they keep it to themselves!

PZ Myers wants us all to know how open minded he is. He assures us: "I don't mind a Christian in charge of the NIH." He just doesn't want any uppity Christians, that's all. I keep waiting for him to tell us that some of his best friends are Christians.

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