I was bouncing around YouTube today when I started watching the beginning of Thunderf00t’s 3-part series about how feminism is poisoning atheism. A clip of PZ Myers showed him re-defining atheism as such:
Atheism is the radical notion that we should live our lives by the principles of reason and evidence – by science.
As I’ve said so many times, atheism is only descriptive. To say that it implies any ‘shoulds’ or ‘should nots’ is to clearly state that it is normative. PZ has had problems with this in the past. He believes that atheism has with it particular values, and his ‘reasoning’ is that atheists themselves all have values, thus atheism does, too. To see the fat idiocy of such an argument, one only need to replace atheism with another descriptive position such as, say, aunicornism: Aunicornist all have values, and so aunicornism also has values. Indeed, I can even define these values! (Surprise, they happen to be exactly the same as mine!) This is why we can say with confidence that there is broad-based agreement on a whole host of complex issues amongst people who do not believe in unicorns.
If PZ actually understood the difference between normative claims and descriptive claims, he would absolutely never make the asinine arguments he does. It’s quite clear that he has an impossible to respect motivation: He wants to impose his particular values on the atheist community at large. It’s wonderful that this will never work – since atheism is 100% descriptive and nothing else, there’s no way to approach his faulty goals without necessarily ostracizing a large number of atheists (sort of like the Republicans have done with their accusations of ‘RINO’ and demands for strict conservatism in the party) – but I do find it distressing that there’s someone out there supposedly on the side of atheists and causes commonly supported by Gnu Atheists who would so willingly attempt to destroy a community through wanton and intentional fracturing.
It’s a common practice of universities to offer its employees free or reduced classes. As a professor, it’s likely that PZ could take whatever course he wants without incurring any costs. I only hope that he finds the time to wonder into an introductory philosophy course. His creationist-level thinking is embarrassing and, worse, wholly detrimental.