Gulf Hagas

I went for a hike yesterday in what I suspect is the most beautiful part of Maine.

Following along the Pleasant River, Gulf Hagas is a spectacular stretch of protected land just south of Baxter State Park. Just about every turn seems to have a viewpoint, each one more dramatic than the last. In fact, I couldn’t help by stop for a little extra than normal at each one, adding quite a bit of time to what was purported to be a 5-6 hour hike (which I would normally do in 4-5).

At Screw Auger Falls (that ever so common name for waterfalls throughout Maine, it seems), the water was dark, surely cold, but appeared just deep enough to justify a jump. So naturally I had to do it. And yes, once within the darkness, it was excruciatingly frigid. It got no better the second time in.

This is one of those places where I literally said “wow” out loud so many times, I’m actually hesitant to post about it. It’s popular enough as it is (part of the Appalachian Trail goes through it) and I like my trails deserted, but it’s hard to resist talking about it, if even only as an excuse to post pictures.

Yes, that is me. Yes, I am clothed.

I unfortunately didn’t bring my own camera, so my choice of what to upload is limited. However, another person did bring her camera, so more pictures will be forthcoming (and without me in them).

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Giberson gets it before Maloney

Karl Giberson is one of those insufferable BioLogos accommodationists who loves to make up stuff about New Atheists. He has recently offered up a sort of apology for his crappy rhetoric. This comes after Dan Dennett pointed out that his attacks make him a fibber for faith.

As I reflect on the various exchanges [via email with Dan Dennett], I see no evidence that religious believers are standing on any higher moral ground. The vilification of the New Atheists is accompanied by caricature, hyperbole, misprepresentation (sic) and a distinct lack of charity.

On the Answers in Genesis site, to take one example, Ken Ham published a report about the atheist that Christians love to hate entitled “Dawkins Ranting in Oklahoma.” The audience was described as “mind-numbed robots,” and Dawkins’ ideas were sarcastically dismissed as communications from “an extraterrestrial.” Anti-evolutionary religion sites across the Internet make similar claims. But not all the charged-up rhetoric is on the lowbrow backwaters of the Internet. A passage from the 2007 book “Oracles of Science: Celebrity Scientists versus God and Religion,” compares Richard Dawkins to a “museum piece that becomes ever more interesting because, while everything else moves forward and changes, it remains the same.”

Alas, I have to confess to having authored the museum metaphor. It was a cheap shot and, while hardly the cheapest of all possible shots, it was probably about as cheap as could reasonably sail past the staid editors at the venerable Oxford University Press. Certainly my co-author, the late Father Mariano Artigas, would have objected to anything less charitable.

Confession, they say, is good for the soul. So Dan, I was a faith fibber. Sorry about that.

My only hope is that this doesn’t get confused as a call for unneeded civility. I always like to see substantial, cutting arguments that address issues; Giberson didn’t always do that, instead making up whatever about an entire group of diverse individuals who aren’t even held together via a common philosophy. But I think he could have let his language soar, a la Hitchens or Dawkins or Myers, and not been charged as a Faith Fibber by Dennett.

I have to confess that the temptation to ridicule one’s debating opponents is all but unbearable, especially when playing street hockey on the Internet, where one must shout to be heard. In the past few months I have tried hard to come up with clever rhetorical attacks on Jerry Coyne, Sam Harris, PZ Myers and countless others whose ideas I was supposedly challenging. PZ once wrote the following about me, which I thought was pretty clever: “I will have no truck with the perpetuation of fallacious illusions, whether honeyed or bitter, and consider the Gibersons of this world to be corruptors of a better truth.” Of course, I responded to his evangelistic assault on me by calling him “Rev. Myers” in an essay on Salon.com. And so it goes. (I recommend against verbal swordfights with PZ Myers — you can’t win.)

If only his rhetoric could soar to such levels.

But notice his use of “Rev. Myers”. My, oh my. Who else has done that?

Dear “Reverend” PZ Myers,

How fitting that, three hundred years later, the witch trials continue. If you recall, it was the herbalists that were burned then as well. Your flock has spoken to me, Reverend Myers, with the shrieking common to all fundamentalist cults. I believe if you check you will find that fundamentalism involves a closed mind while doing science requires an open mind. It also involves a thing they call research.

Yes, yes. Christopher Maloney.

Now I understand why Maloney refers to me as The Maine kid with an English degree who can’t read: his writing reads like a child’s and maybe he’s looking for (made-up) excuses why everyone else does so much better. Honestly. Aside from the fact that he has qualified that an English degree is unable to read (which I suppose is true), his rhetoric is about as strong as his medical background. But then he’s taken all sorts of homeopathic classes. Maybe that explains why the strength of his responses are so diluted?

At least Giberson has figured out how the Internet works.