|Dr. Octopus, before he acquired|
the extra arms.
At the same time, PZ also passionately crusades against bigotry -- directed at women. He often attacks fellow male atheists for real or imagined sins of mysogeny, with ferocity of an intensity not unlike that he directs at Christians.
Recently, PZ tried to combine his two prejudices, by claiming that the chief moral problem with religion is how it encourages us to treat women:
"Whenever I hear that tripe about the beneficial effects of religion on human cultural evolution, it’s useful to note that the world’s dominant faiths all hardcode directly into their core beliefs the idea that women are unclean, inferior, weak, and responsible for the failings of mankind…that even their omnipotent, all-loving god regards women as lesser creatures not fit to be intermediaries with him, and that their cosmic fate is to be subservient slaves to men, just as men are to be subservient slaves to capital-H Him.
"David Sloan Wilson can argue all he wants that religion helped promote group survival in our evolutionary history, or that his group selectionist models somehow explain its origins, but it doesn’t matter. Here and now, everywhere, those with eyes to see can see for themselves that religion has for thousands of years perpetuated the oppression of half our species. Half of the great minds our peoples have produced have lived and died unknown and forgotten, their educations neglected, their lives spent doing laundry and other menial tasks for men — their merits unrecognized and buried under lies promulgated by religion, in cultures soaked in the destructive myths of faith which codify misogyny and give it a godly blessing.
"Isn’t that reason enough to tear down the cathedrals — that with this one far-reaching, difficult change to our cultures, we double human potential?"
Tear down cathedrals?
Like the octopus that is his totem, PZ Myers looks fearsome, but is actually a timid creature, in my experience. Were it not so, I might merely reply to all of this:
PZ! I CHALLENGE YOU TO A DEBATE! LET'S GO TO THE MAT OVER THIS VERY QUESTION: 'HAS CHRISTIANITY HELPED OR HURT WOMEN?'
In fact, I think I'll e-mail this challenge to PZ. But I doubt he'll will be willing to debate me publicly -- or even allow me to take him, and his thousands of disciples, on, in his own forum, with all the odds stacked in his favor. I'll tell what happened last time, another day.
But PZ's comments above bring up several initial observations to mind.
First, by "religion" PZ clearly has Christianity largely in mind. Thus, the evil that religion does to women is reason to tear down "cathedrals," not (per example) gudwaras, ashrams, synagogues, temples, or Earth God shrines in the fields of Guang Xi Province. This is also implied by the term "the world's dominant religions," of which Christianity is of course the most demographically prominent.
Second, it is a physical fact that women are, generally, weaker than men, in the most concrete sense of muscular power. Less literally, women are stronger in the sense that they usually live longer. Biology knows nothing of equality: this is a human construct, which generally arises from religious or metaphysical beliefs. It would be strange if a biologist, of all people, were to take strict gender-equality, or the idea that gender roles should be identical, for granted, as if it were some sort of a biological given.
Third, I'm sure PZ is very good at doing laundry. He's fond of water, familiar with sponges, at least scientifically, and has long practice in white-washing the absurdities and contradictions of his own on-line sect. So I'm sure he knows where the washer and dryer are at home, though of course I have no idea how often he uses them.
But if it were not for religion, does PZ seriously maintain that men and women would be domestically interchangeable? Does he imagine that, say, in the Soviet Union, after all religion was driven underground, and no macho man in the whole Evil Empire would admit to believing in God like the babushkas (grandmas), that suddenly men started doing the laundry? Or how about Japan, where men are very irreligious -- do they do half the domestic chores? (Pause for extended, in some cases bitter laughter from those who, like myself, have lived in Japanese and Soviet societies.)
If real world experience doesn't falsify PZ Myer's naïve conception of how relations between men and women would be in the absence of religion, what can?
Again, my claim is that the Gospel has liberated women more than anything else. I argue this from personal experience, from sociology, from history, and from the gospels themselves.
If all that is true -- and it is -- then PZ's attacks on Christianity are, in effect, also attacks on women.
I dare PZ Myers to debate me on this issue. I challenge him to carry out that debate in a fair, equitable, and open forum. (They say he can be civil in person -- I'm not sure I'm ready for that, but what the hey.)
I'll e-mail this challenge to PZ. The response I most expect will be silence, or else another unified chorus of vitriol and insults. But people grow, and perhaps we may hope that even PZ Myers may some day grow up and begin dealing maturely with the real world, and the genuine role the Gospel of Jesus has played in making it a whole lot better.
(And here on Myers' "response.")