New Atheistland Watch: Bryan Appleyard Owns PZ Myers—Again!

I love Bryan Appleyard’s eloquent retorts to the blistering rhetoric coming out of New Atheistland. Here’s Appleyard today on PZ Myers’s scientism:

[M]ention intelligent design and the likes of Myers will be hurling abuse. But I gather from reading John Gribbin’s superb exposition In Search of the Multiverse that ID is, in fact, a perfectly respectable hypothesis among some physicists – the designer would not be a deity but a more technically advanced civilisation. So the world is ‘designed’ then? ‘No!‘ howls Myers; ‘Maybe,’ murmur the physicists. But there’s a bigger reason than that. Treating science as an ideology, an occasion for polemic and abuse, and anathematising those who dissent is profoundly unscientific. It is an attitude that will, in the end, damage not just science itself but science as a public institution. Science is, as Thomas Nagel put it, a ‘view from nowhere‘, it is a method, not a posture towards the world. It assumes – and, indeed, attains – the possibility of a superhuman perspective. As such, it is a profoundly admirable and magnificent achievement of the human intellect. But it is only one such achievement. When science aspires to be anything else – ideology, for example – it is prone to delusion, fantasy and intolerance. That is where we now are, a dangerous place where people set up web sites that abandon mere explanation and promote science as an ideology, as, in effect, an opinion held with such ferocity that all dissent must be crushed. This phase, I hope, will pass. But I am beginning to have my doubts.

About Santi Tafarella

I teach writing and literature at Antelope Valley College in California.
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4 Responses to New Atheistland Watch: Bryan Appleyard Owns PZ Myers—Again!

  1. andrewclunn says:

    Totally feeling this one. PZ rubs me all the wrong ways (no, no innuendo here) if only because he seems incapable of putting anything in place of the religion he disparages. Though I am loathe to admit anything positive regarding Buddhism, the reason many people in the west have turned to it, is because it allows for retention of those psychologically beneficial and character building aspects of faith, while being less dismissive of science (at least in it’s modern western incarnation, though that’s becoming less true all the time.) His is yet another world view requiring adults with firm foundations from other belief structures to convert, and can never suffice to serve a functional didactic role in child rearing, making it untenable as a world view unless other (more social aware) individuals come to its rescue, but seeing at how little PZ is offering up in the affirmative, I wonder if there’s very much there to salvage.

  2. santitafarella says:


    I read Myers retort that you linked to. The lion roars, huh?

    Sorry, I’m still with the calm Appleyard.

    Really, I’m so unimpressed by the way that Myers flings epithets. He speaks so sharply and emphatically. People who disagree with him are muddle-headed, and “awful” and have “scrambled eggs” for brains etc. It’s all so tiresome. Confidence men, however, have always been able to draw a following. But I wish that I was as certain of anything as Myers is of everything.


    • Appleyard may be very “calm” and very wrong. The “lion” may be fierce and still be right. BTW you are using the word “calm” here in a very odd way, as in the very first paragraph Appleyard call Meyers a “jerk”. What is that?
      Really, I’m totally unimpressed by the “calm” way Appleyard tosses nonsense. “ID is, in fact, a perfectly respectable hypothesis among some physicists” “Some” who may I ask? And so what, may I ask too? The Flying Spaguetti Monster is a respectable hipotesys as well, so what? may I ask again.
      Another point is that this Gribbin seems to be talking about the origin of the Universe. By ‘talking’ I mean engaging in a wild metaphisycal speculation, as NOBODY can claim to know anything about it. That’s ok, but this have nothing to do with the idea of ID Meyers usually engage against: the idea that life forms are the product of ID. This ‘hipotesys’ have been proved false, and this is what Meyers talks about, AFAIK.
      So what Appleyard is doing in his “calm” way is using a Straw Man, and an ad hominen to attack Meyers “ideology”.
      Appleyard confess to speak, in a very confuse (“calm”?) way, about things he doesn’t know about and doesn’t understand. And, when doing so, he doesn’t like to be criticized by people who knows and understands what is all about. To do that is to use “science as an ideology”.
      I fail to see how Science “assumes – and, indeed, attains –the possibility of a superhuman perspective”. I’m sorry but what is it new, “admirable” and “magnificent” in that?
      The problem here is not that Meyers uses Science as an ideolgy, but it is Appleyard who have an ideological view of what Science should be.

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