January 22, 2014
The Bureau for Better Atheists (BBA) today sanctioned Internet atheist P.Z. Myers for doing exactly what he was criticizing the BBA's Martin Cothran for in a post on the belief that there is life on other planets. "This is just the kind of atheist we have to deal with on an almost daily basis," said Martin Cothran, spokesman for the group. "Our goal is to improve the low quality of atheists so that we can have an intelligent argument with them. Myers, needless to say, has remained impervious to improvement."
The BBA has had to put Myers on probation before for what it called "sheer boneheadedness," but today's formal censure came after Myers got several things completely wrong in his attack on this post today in which he charges Cothran with getting several things completely wrong.
Cothran's post had simply applied the most common criterion used by atheist scientists to demarcate science from non-science, and pointed out that, under this criterion, the belief that there is life elsewhere in the universe is no more falsifiable than belief in the Flying Spaghetti Monster, a satirical fiction developed by atheists scientists to discredit belief in God.
Cothran pointed out that Myers' post was titled: "It takes a creationist to pack so much wrong in so little space" despite the fact that Cothran is not a creationist. Then, in his opening paragraph Myers says:
Apparently, Martin Cothran believes that there is no life elsewhere in the universe, and that this unimaginably vast emptiness is evidence that a god created us. I don’t understand the logic, but then I don’t understand most of his weird leaps in this post on how life on other planets is like believing in the Flying Spaghetti Monster.But that was not Cothran's argument. "Nowhere in the post did I say that there was no life on other planets, which is why, in our censure, we recommended that Myers find an English interpreter." Cothran's argument was not that the belief that there was life on other planets was wrong, only that it it didn't meet the falsifiability criterion and that, if that was the case, then under that criterion it had no more claim to be science than believing in the Flying Spaghetti Monster.
"Myers not only got my position on creationism wrong--as well as my position on life on other planets--he also somehow got the idea that I was in favor of Popper's falsifiability criterion when, in fact, the whole reason for making my remarks was that I don't believe the falsifiability critierion is a proper method of demarcation." Cothran said that Myers "disagrees with all the things I didn't say, and, agrees with the things I did say but hasn't figured out I said."
He said the fact that Myers actually agrees with him on this issue has caused him to go back and reassess it just to make sure he right, but only after, he said, "I've had a strong drink."