Hanging with the PZ

Got to see the famous evolution blogger PZ Myers speak at the Seattle Center this evening. (Sorry, unlike The Discovery Institute, the Pacific Science Center doesn't allow for recording devices.) As with most of the people in the Intelligent Design/Evolution debate, they can come across pretty cantankerous online (and I include myself in this description), but up front and personal they are not only human, but rather likable. PZ Myers is a brilliant man, with a love of octopi and evolution, and I enjoy a lot of what he has to say on his blog. But I quit reading it after a while, as he also loves atheism and to insult religion, particularly Christianity.

Myers' topics were evolution and biology and blogging. He spoke with respectful disagreement about Randy Olson, director of Flock of Dodos, previously brought to the Seattle Science Center in part by my friend Adrian. Olson is a biologist and film-maker who supports evolution, but feels like evolutionists have truth but not finesse on their side. His film is about how they need to do a better job of publicity- and sadly, the ID crowd has great publicity but little truth. Myers disagrees with Olson, but in my opinion, he misunderstood Olson's point a bit. But still, Myers ended up applying some of Olson's points, as he advocated that scientists need to be positive and exciting and passionate. I particularly liked Myers focus on the beauty of science over anything else. Biology is beautiful. His words reminded me of some of the best I've read on the subject in The Reenchantment of Nature by Alister Mcgrath and The Diversity of Life by Edward O. Wilson. Myers also gave me some great ideas for new books, like The Sandwalk Adventures, where a mite living in Darwin's eyebrow has to be convinced that Darwin is not God, but rather that evolution created the mite.

I got a chance to ask a question about Governor Jindal, on the short list for the VP pick for McCain. I'm trying to get the word out about how horrible this choice would be, as he is a strong supporter of ID. He's the Bizarro Obama- a person of colour, of immigrant parents, and a convert to Christianity- he's just working for the other side. So I asked Myers about Jindal, if we should be concerned with him on a national ticket, in Myers' opinion, or if this is more of a state matter. I was hoping Myers would take the bait to wax more eloquent on Jindal, but his answer was short and sweet- Intelligent Design is a concern at every level of government. However, it looks like I may have had some level of inspiration- Myers later posted a post on other aspects of Jindal's personality that he finds distasteful. (He's too Christian.)

After the Q&A I went up to greet the man, sharing that I really respected his work, and that we'd had some short arguments on Panda's Thumb. These were over the same topic that Myers discussed this evening- I and others in the audience and blogosphere feel that Myers and Dawkins' focus on atheism above all else turns people off to accepting evolution, just as many Literal Creationists turn people off to Christianity because they make it seem as if only Literal Creationism can be accepted if you're a Christian. Myers feels that religion is so dangerous, so evil, that it needs to be stopped, and this is more important than stopping evolution. I feel he doesn't give evolution enough respect, and, to use his words, evolution is far more beautiful than the philosophical negation of religion.


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