Tuesday, May 05, 2009

P. Z. Myers suffers for us all

My life exposure to Terry Eagleton is some baffling enthusiasm once expressed by a brother, never followed up by my reading the guy, and a couple of lectures on TV Ontario, that REALLY baffled me, refuting any notion, as far as I could see, that this guy had half a brain.
Poor P.Z. Myers, confronted with some aviation challenges, made the very brave commitment to one of Eagleton's recent excrescences, and paid the price.
The whole story is worth the read. Some key moments:
I've read a smattering of Eagleton before, and the words "brisk, funny and challenging" or "witty" never came to mind, and the review actually gave no evidence that these adjectives were applicable in this case.

The lectures I saw on TV Ontario would cause noone to reach for words like witty, brisk, challenging, etc. Mind-numbing is more like it.

That last quote is an amusing revelation of exactly how little Eagleton knows about science. His "fact" of a "well-evidenced" influence of the full moon on human behavior has been investigated — it's the kind of claim about reality that's relatively easy to check. Surprise: the evidence for it is extremely weak and anecdotal, and analysis of such things as police reports has found that the "fact" isn't.

But let us not get bogged down in the trivial details like evidence — I'm sure Terry Eagleton would agree that that misses the grand point he is making, which is completely independent of facts or reason, and represents a Greater Truth unhampered by those footling requirements. His claim is that the atheists are criticizing a version of religion he finds disagreeable and not at all like his version of religion. Ditchkins has made the ghastly error of failing to write The Eagleton Delusion or Eagleton Is Not Great or Letter to an Eagleton Nation. His irritation at this omission is essentially the driving force behind this entire book.

P.Z. Myers' sacrifice should be recognized by many of us who have no reason now to read Eagleton's book (books?!).
Thank you, P.Z.!


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