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Difference between revisions of "Debate:Did PZ Myers Cross the Line?"

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Revision as of 06:09, 11 July 2008

Debate.png This is a Debate page.
Feel free to add your own spin on the story. Please keep it civil!
Information icon.svg This debate was created by SirChuckB (from Template talk:According to).


Did PZ Myers cross the line by insulting the Catholic rite of communion?

This headline is considered to be misleading and controversial my some.

Page content moved from Template talk:According to

I think PZ was a bit overly obnoxious about the whole thing, but in general I agree with him. From the perspective of any truly rational person, it is a cracker. One laden with symbolism, but still a cracker. I think religion needs a kick in the pants every now and then as a sort of reality check. Yes, the papists will take this more seriously than a stolen Cheez-it because, according to their subscribed beliefs, it is, in fact, Jebus himself. This whole incident should at least remind Catholics what it is they allegedly believe if they hold true to church dogma. I can't be sure, but I'd wager if you were to ask a statistically relevant sample of casual Catholics if, when taking the Eucharist, they are actually really eating the physical body of Christ, or just a cracker than represents him, the majority would say it's a ritualistic symbol (and even if they didn't say it, I bet they'd still believe it). Nevermind that 400 years ago people killed each other in large numbers over that question, and it was one of the major things that differentiated Catholics from some other denominations. Incidents like this sort of drive the point home.

It reminds me a bit of the Mohammad cartoons last year (or whenever it was). Those cartoons were, in a way, necessary. Muslims need to realize that a large number of people out there not only disagree with their beliefs, but think they're kind of dumb. Eventually they have to learn to deal with this, as most other religions have, at least to an extent. Yes, this Eucharist controversy brought out some of the crazies in the Christian world, and while some did threaten Myers' life, let's face it, no one is going to kill him. (The internet just makes sending death threats way too easy these days.) When those Mohammad cartoons were printed, people did die. The Muslim world has to learn to get indignant when their beliefs are insulted, but keep that indignation in perspective. Protest, make a big fuss, change the names of some pastries, but don't kill people. High profile insults to people's beliefs are necessary every now and then, just so people can learn to deal with them. DickTurpis 19:41, 10 July 2008 (EDT)

I think the true problem with this whole debacle is that when you truly beleive something, anything, strong enough, it becomes an obsession. If you're a true beleiver, you can't see from an outside view. Christian, Muslim, Scientologist(sp?), Jev. Witness, anything. You feel so strongly that when someone doesn't beleive in what you do, and therefore mocks it, it's nature to become defensive. In my observations, I've seen that just about every religion has a persecution complex and thinks that whole world is out to get them... this is just one more representation of that. SirChuckBDMorris for new Jinx! 19:57, 10 July 2008 (EDT)
I get that, and I understand people getting defensive, but getting offensive (violence, and threats thereof) is where people need to get a grip. Events like this can be useful for reflecting on one's beliefs, though I think PZ Myers' approach was not so conducive to rational reflection. I think his approach could have been better. DickTurpis 20:01, 10 July 2008 (EDT)
I agree with that, but you have to see that to these people, when you offend them, they think death threats are within the realm of acceptable. Remember, they're following a book that advocates the death penalty for everything from percieved blasphemy to disrepecting parents.... 20:23, 10 July 2008 (EDT)
As I have remarked elsewhere, saying that the Eucharist is just a cracker is just as effing stupid incorrect as saying that your collection of family photographs is just little pieces of coated paper. Or along similar lines, that the original copy of the Declaration of Independence is just a scrap of old paper with some ink scratches. This is simply wilful ignorance, and I would frankly have expected much better from a PhD. --AKjeldsenCum dissensie 20:24, 10 July 2008 (EDT)
I really think those are completely invalid comparisons, to me the crackers would be more closely linked to the little plastic flags you buy at walmart on the fourth of July. Mass produced, mass distributed, mass consumed...yea there is some symbolic meaning behind it but in the end it all washes out in pomp and circumstance. Regardless of any assumed symbolic meaning, you have to admit that the reaction of the theist was completely absurd. tmtoulouse harass 20:32, 10 July 2008 (EDT)
[edit conflict] I'd have to disagree, at least to an extent. If we're talking about original physical copies of photos or the Declaration, then we're dealing with unique, irreplaceable objects. Destroying, damaging, or doing likewise to them is much different than a cracker the likes of which has been seen millions of times before and will be seen millions of times again. However, if we're talking about digital copies of photos or a transcript of the Declaration of Independence, then I'm in a bit more agreement. No one should be upset by anyone deleting a photograph from a hard drive or tearing up a copy of the Declaration of Independence. I know some people take these religious rituals very seriously, but I really think they should keep them in proportion. DickTurpis 20:36, 10 July 2008 (EDT)
These are rather difficult subjects, gentlemen at this website, and it is a little late in the evening for me to go into an in-depth discussion about them, but the fundamental issue here is what happens to a set of objects when they are consistently exposed to certain ritualized acts by a community with a shared set of ideas about what it is that happens through these acts. Specifically, the objects are imbued with a symbolic meaning that in the eyes of this community transforms them from everyday objects into objects of ritual. In this regard, there is no difference between the Eucharist and, say, the bones that a shaman might use to commune with the spirits and perdict the future. The outsider who does not understand the acts of ritual that are being performed might say that "they're just chicken bones", but this would be wrong - for the members of the shaman's community, they have, because of their significance for the ritual, been transformed from dinner left-overs into highly significant ritualized objects. In exactly the same way, the moment that the Catholic priest consecrates the host through the word-acts of the ritual, that particular host ceases to be "just a cracker" and starts being an object of ritual.
Please note that I'm not talking about theology here. The exact reason why the community attaches this significance to the ritualized object is less relevant in this context. What matters is that the ritual happens, and that for a lot of reasons, this ritual changes the meaning of the ritualized object, and that is basically an anthropological and/or a sociological question.
Now, again, I realize that these are not simple matters, but they are very well described in the anthropological literature, and I must admit that it bothers me a great deal that otherwise highly educated people like Myers and Dawkins apparently do not see the need to try gain a basic understanding of the matters involved before they pretend that they have something of value to say about them. To me, this speaks of a disdain towards other branches of academia than their own, the natural sciences. That is something that in my opinion has no place at all in these circles, although I suppose it is nevertheless, and regrettably, quite widespread. --AKjeldsenCum dissensie 21:14, 10 July 2008 (EDT)
Your offering a description of a phenomenon that I agree is widespread and happens cross-culturally. But just because something does happen doesn't mean that it should happen or that it is good when it happens or that it is right. The near worship of inanimate objects is a product of a system of belief and thought that I think is ultimately harmful. It is why I am very luke warm about things like the atheist "out symbol" of Dawkins. tmtoulouse harass 21:24, 10 July 2008 (EDT)
Do you realize what you are saying, Trent? That we should be more rational with our feelings? Is that even humanly possible? Star of David.png Radioactive afikomen Please ignore all my awful pre-2014 comments. 21:44, 10 July 2008 (EDT)
Well post age 23 +/- a year............yes. tmtoulouse harass 21:45, 10 July 2008 (EDT)
Although I "appreciate" AK's point (I guess), I find his examples wanting. Roughly 1 billion crackers are blessed and cannibalized each week, right? At least, that's how many Catholics there are, and they do it every week, right? The comparison to the shaman and chicken bones almost unmakes the point. Could an "outsider" or potential mocker get their hands on them? Be handed them? I doubt it. The emperor, in this case, has no clothes. Whatever significance is attached to the individual experience of the cracker eater, to the rest of us they are indistinguishable from "normal" crackers. The reaction of certain hard-line loudmouthed Catholics is the issue, not whether said cracker is or was truly the embodiment of a 2000 year old Jew. The reaction was way over the top, and unbecoming of Western Civilization. "We are offended and disappointed, dismayed and saddened" might be appropriate. "We hope he understands how he has hurt our feelings", appropriate. Calling it a "hate crime", totally out of proportion. IMHO. ħumanUser talk:Human 21:49, 10 July 2008 (EDT)
Oh the "hate crime" thing was classic. I mean, I believe that a prerequisite for something being a hate crime is that it is first and foremost a crime. Not swallowing a cracker someone has given you doesn't quite cut it. DickTurpis 21:56, 10 July 2008 (EDT)
Human, as I pointed out in my blog post, I agree with you completely with regards to that. My issue was with PZ Myers calling it "just a cracker". Regardless of any zealots acting outside the bounds of human decency, the cracker still has value. Star of David.png Radioactive afikomen Please ignore all my awful pre-2014 comments. 22:14, 10 July 2008 (EDT)
I think that once it left the confines of its ceremonial environment it ceased to be the physical body of Christ and returned to simple crackerhood. ħumanUser talk:Human 22:31, 10 July 2008 (EDT)

Feelings... whoa whoa whoa, feelings...

What gave it value in the first place were the emotions people invested in it, which die a lot harder than Christ. Star of David.png Radioactive afikomen Please ignore all my awful pre-2014 comments. 23:14, 10 July 2008 (EDT)
Brother, you have no idea what I'd do to a man for a Cheez-It. DickTurpis 23:18, 10 July 2008 (EDT)
*slyly* Would you liquidate a few pests for me for a box? Star of David.png Radioactive afikomen Please ignore all my awful pre-2014 comments. 23:20, 10 July 2008 (EDT)
"the emotions people invested in it" - at this point we are arguing over hurt feelings - that's what emotions are, right? Hurt feelings lead to death threats? ħumanUser talk:Human 23:26, 10 July 2008 (EDT)
Regarding "hurt feelings": (My thanks to you for opening up the thread from a debate about the Eucharist to a more general discussion on the value of feelings. Proceed to be pwned.) Congratulations on belittling the entire human experience, Huw! In acknowledgment of your disregard for the human condition, you are hereby awarded the Heartless Bastard Award by every rape victim, oppressed minority, and abused child in history! After all, we all know that what makes the crimes they suffered wrong is a bunch of abstract philosophical concepts, and have absolutely nothing to do with something as silly as "hurt feelings". Star of David.png Radioactive afikomen Please ignore all my awful pre-2014 comments. 23:45, 10 July 2008 (EDT)
Regarding death threats: *tosses eloquence out the window* Read the fucking disclaimer at the end of the fucking post! Star of David.png Radioactive afikomen Please ignore all my awful pre-2014 comments. 23:45, 10 July 2008 (EDT)

(unindent) That's a pwning? I don't get it... I read the thing three times and still can't quite figure out your main point... what exactly are you arguing? SirChuckBDMorris for new Jinx! 23:50, 10 July 2008 (EDT)

Don't diminish the moment, Chuck. Let me bask in my own conceit a while longer. Star of David.png Radioactive afikomen Please ignore all my awful pre-2014 comments. 23:56, 10 July 2008 (EDT)
Wow, you missed that one, RA. If someone says to me "your truck is ugly" my feeling might be hurt (it's pretty). If they blow it up, or cut the brake lines, that's an issue. Your examples all involve actual physical damages (stick and stones...), not just "hurt feelings". ħumanUser talk:Human 23:57, 10 July 2008 (EDT)
(edit conflict)My point was that real human suffering is defined by feelings hurt, and by belittling "hurt feelings" in general Human also belittled the real suffering experienced by people. Star of David.png Radioactive afikomen Please ignore all my awful pre-2014 comments. 00:05, 11 July 2008 (EDT)
Yes, but you failed to make that point in any clear way. And, no, I define "real human suffering" as far more than hurt feelings - physical injury, deprivation, etc. ħumanUser talk:Human 00:21, 11 July 2008 (EDT)
However, one must admit that the most damaging aspect of crimes such as rape or child abuse are the psychological damage it does, which lasts far longer than the physical aspect. To merely call such damage "hurt feelings" is not doing it justice, they are both emotional distress. DickTurpis 00:31, 11 July 2008 (EDT)
Stop sign.svg

This conversation is about to go badly downhill, inevitably ending in comparisons to Hitler, and hurt feelings all around.
Stop now. Step away from the keyboard.
Go pet a jerboa, or milk a goat.

"...hurt feelings all around..." Just realized how ironic that is. DickTurpis 00:03, 11 July 2008 (EDT)

00:04, 11 July 2008 (EDT)

Going to ignore the template and plunge right in.... I agree with Human. There is a strong difference between a rape, opression etc and this issue. Had the student stolen the faucet the baptismal font, or walked off with a big crucifix, I would agree with you... However, All he did was violate the unwritten rules of the church. I would also like to point out that according to many churches and conservatives, hate crimes don't exist. They are simply liberal tools to stop religious leaders from preaching. So why do they scream hate crime? Because there is no law against what he did.... if they get it classified as a hate crime, they can push for prosecution... How hypocritical can you get? SirChuckBDMorris for new Jinx! 00:10, 11 July 2008 (EDT)