How do you resolve the question of suffering? Why do so many people suffer for no apparent reason? Does anyone who doesn’t believe in Jesus go to hell? If it’s “free will”, why are we made so poorly in the first place?
Do you think homosexuals are evil? Is the bible literal? Do you think that committing genocide is OK (the flood)? Do you think evolution is false? How do you reconcile contradictions in the Bible? How do you see revelation, do you think the world is going to end and Jesus is going to come back? Should women be silent and obey men? Is polygamy OK or not?
Why do you believe in a god? Why do you believe specifically in the Christian god? Why is Christianity different than the thousands of other faiths that are incredibly similar?
Do you believe that government should be secular or faith based? How do you feel about capital punishment? Was Peter right or was Paul when it comes to the question of following the old laws? Can you wear cloth of mixed fiber? Is slavery OK, because the bible says that it is?
How can a god who is so constantly described as being jealous and having other human foibles and flaws also be described as perfect? How can he commit genocide and destroy cities and people in wrath and also be all-loving and good?
Where did Cain’s wife come from? Was it incest all the way down the ages? Do you think the earth is 6000 years old, like Bishop Usher said?
Why did Jesus kill the fig tree? Why is Judas condemned for doing the one thing absolutely necessary to lead to Jesus’ resurrection?
Do you agree with the church’s policy of torturing and killing Jews? Do you agree with the church’s support of Hitler? Do you agree with the church’s murder of innocent women accused of witchcraft? Do you believe in witchcraft? How do you think the guy who owned the pigs felt when Jesus infected them with demons and drove them off the cliff?
Why do you think the texts included in the New Testament are true and the ones excluded are not? Have you read the lost gospels, have you read the early gospels, have you done any historical research on the origin of the books in the bible? Why would God send his son to a place with a bunch of illiterate desert people instead of to the Chinese?
Do you think it’s reasonable to kill dozens of children for making fun of a bald guy? Is killing all innocent firstborn in Egypt reasonable? Is rape acceptable? Why does Jesus say he will return in the lifetime of his followers?
How can anyone with one of these horrible, painful, easily broken and incredibly gross human bodies possibly believe in “intelligent” design? Everyone’s body sucks. They get sick, they fail, they get old, they get flabby, with hair in places you don’t want, and often no hair in places you do want, it’s easily poisoned, depressed, scarred, destroyed, and doesn’t last very long. Add to that the millions of common diseases that make people miserable — allergies, asthma, diabetes, cancer, heart disease — and the minor irritations we face almost daily — bad vision, imperfect hearing, imperfect memory, itches, aches, indigestion, heartburn, constipation, sore feet, smelliness, and moodiness — how can anyone believe in a good god?
I have no camera, but I do have an iMac. Apologies for any legibility issues, it says, “Notice: No Squid! This is Bullshit! PZ Myers.”
That’s the Gideon Bible what I stole and kept because it was green. I stole it because that’s generally my MO in hotels, but I didn’t throw it away because it was green and I didn’t have a Bible to
desecrate reference. I got it signed because I had the brilliant idea at midnight when talking to a friend who was super jealous he couldn’t go.
I’ll probably do a separate post about the whole conference thing, but the dinner was really neat. Firstly, there was someone else wearing the Squid vs. Noah shirt, and there was a very cool and interesting guy from Anchorage/Irvine/England who was wearing lime green. I have forgotten his name. There was also Phil Zuckerman and a cute blonde guy in glasses, who were sitting a bit down the table but occasionally joined in.
But dinner was really cool because it was basically just hanging out with some really interesting smart people who enjoyed snark. And I learned new things about PZ. We hit a broad range of topics but I’ll give the highlights.
We talked about his experiments with zebrafish. Apparently fish in captivity are really dumb, and fish in the wild are really clever. I’m not sure how much to talk about because apparently some jerkface stole something about the zebrafish experiments from PZ’s blog and published it so I don’t want to spoil anything. Suffice to say we spent a long time talking about zebrafish and it was pretty interesting.
We talked about Neanderthals. I asked how do we decide that Neanderthals are a different species from us since we could interbreed, to which PZ gave the witty reply that they are all dead, that’s how. I’m fond of Neanderthals because they had red hair.
We talked about the Uncanny Valley and the creepy proportions of the Shroud of Turin. And how the fingers look like they’re made of rubber. Funny Alaskan said they were tentacles, and I made a jab about Onanism with tentacles for fingers and PZ drifted into a reverie for a moment or two.
I got to be directly catty about the comments in favor of the genital nicking on the part of pediatrics. I feel often that my comments are fairly ignored over there, which isn’t that big of a deal, comments seem mostly about hearing yourself talk anyway, but it was nice to feel heard on the issue.
I found out PZ’s opinion on Andrew Sullivan (nuanced), Episcopalians (relatively OK with), men hijacking any thread about women to make it all about them and their issues (aware of), Dr. Who (for), Macs (for), Linux (against!), PZed (against!), Australians (arrogant bastards insist on saying PZed), and steak (medium).
I also got to see the cover of his upcoming book which apparently needs to be written. I give the cover a B+. It has tentacles, an elephant and a great deal of purple, but it doesn’t have PZ and there’s something weird about the color scheme in general. I suggested he get a quote from Trophy Wife TM and if that happens I’m just going to go ahead and claim credit right now.
I never quite figured out what he was vaguely irritated with Michael Shermer for. Michael Shermer, by the way, looks eerily like Jonathan Pryce and has a weird arrogant swagger to him that is both compelling and a bit unsettling. He was super nice when I talked to him and I got his newest book, so nothing personal there, just an observation.
I also saw PZ at lunch where he said he knew what his grandmother’s face looked like when she orgasmed, made fun of Utah and Mormons, and laughed heartily at my True Stories About Atheism. I made my mother’s friend cry when I told her I was an atheist. Hysterically she asked, “Don’t you want to get married and have a family?!” I told my ex-Catholic mother when she was taking me to college that I was atheist and she said, “I’m so disappointed you don’t believe you’re going to Hell. Wait, that came out wrong.”
There was lots more and I don’t remember it right now, but if I think of it, I promise I’ll add it. It was totally worth the money. And not just for PZ but for the other interesting people who also wanted to have dinner with PZ. It was all very snarky and civilized.
I forgot to ask him if he’ll do a bit appearance in Bible Con, my script making fun of Christians and atheists, if it actually gets made.
EDIT: The rest of the story: https://ashleyfmiller.wordpress.com/2010/05/11/ocfa-conference-2010-where-i-met-pz/