How To Reclaim A Derogatory Nickname, with Michael Egnor

| 53 Comments

[Republished from Homologous Legs]

The Novellatron1 - the skeptical, alien-made robot also known as Dr. Steven Novella - has many detractors in the worlds of pseudoscience and antiscience, but none that I would call his nemesis: other than perhaps that of Dr. Michael Egnor, conservative Catholic neurosurgeon and ID proponent. Hmm, then again, maybe “nemesis” is too strong a word, and one that gives too much credit to Egnor. But he does seem to be the one person that keeps coming back for more slices of Novellatron pie, time after time, as unwise as that is.

Despite his fierce Internet battles with the Novellatron over dualism, neuroscience and, of course, intelligent design/evolution, Egnor never had a website of his own, instead using the resources of the Discovery Institute’s main blog, Evolution News & Views. Until now, of course.

So, I give to you: Egnorance. Yes, that is its name (and don’t worry about it wearing out). It has to be the single boldest attempt at derogatory nickname-reclaiming I’ve ever witnessed, based purely on the fact that the term can’t really be anything but a pun revolving around how ignorant Egnor is about many of the topics he passionately defends. He’s too conservative and middle-aged to be a hipster, so the ironic angle doesn’t work either. How perplexing.

Anyway, he’s in sparkling form over there, throwing out posts with rather alarming speed. (The speed almost gets me thinking about how he could possibly be keeping up with his professional career in surgery.) The usual topics are covered, including atheism, evolution, abortion, same-sex marriage and climate change: it’s all as you would expect from a pro-ID, arch-conservative Catholic.

I won’t talk in detail about anything he says (even though I easily could - there’s just so much to choose from!), lest I provoke his wrath and he writes something about me. Then again, would that be such a bad thing after all?

Good luck with reclaiming your writing’s nickname, Michael Egnor. Good luck. You’ll need it.

1. This is my nickname for Steve, and it is fast becoming his official nickname. It will be confirmed for certain when I go to TAM 9 next month, just you wait.

53 Comments

Personally, I leaned towards Eggnog as a pun on his name as it is thick, yellow and turns my stomach.

I’m sure this guy can be safely egnored. Unless Palin uses him as a science advisor if she is elected. Then we’ll have watch old Batman reruns with Vincent Price to get more good puns to use.

DS said:

I’m sure this guy can be safely egnored. Unless Palin uses him as a science advisor if she is elected. Then we’ll have watch old Batman reruns with Vincent Price to get more good puns to use.

I’ve never seen any of the Batman episodes with Egghead, but I must say that from what’s been commented on here, I’ve rather envisaged Egnor more as Burgess Meredith’s character.

Kevin B said:

I’ve never seen any of the Batman episodes with Egghead, but I must say that from what’s been commented on here, I’ve rather envisaged Egnor more as Burgess Meredith’s character.

Creationists seem to like sounding like comic-book villains anyway: Sneering! Taunts! Gloating! Smarm! Bluster!

Own it, Egnor, own it.

After all, you’ve earned it.

Glen Davidson

mrg said:

Kevin B said:

I’ve never seen any of the Batman episodes with Egghead, but I must say that from what’s been commented on here, I’ve rather envisaged Egnor more as Burgess Meredith’s character.

Creationists seem to like sounding like comic-book villains anyway: Sneering! Taunts! Gloating! Smarm! Bluster!

But what sound does one of Granville Sewell’s 2nd Law arguments make when it’s “flattened” by Jasen Rosenhouse or Mark Perak? 2LOT!!!!?

Kevin B said: But what sound does one of Granville Sewell’s 2nd Law arguments make when it’s “flattened” by Jasen Rosenhouse or Mark Perak? 2LOT!!!!?

Easy: “‘Tis but a scratch! A mere flesh wound! Come back here you coward, I’ll bite your knees off!”

mrg said:

Kevin B said:

I’ve never seen any of the Batman episodes with Egghead, but I must say that from what’s been commented on here, I’ve rather envisaged Egnor more as Burgess Meredith’s character.

Creationists seem to like sounding like comic-book villains anyway: Sneering! Taunts! Gloating! Smarm! Bluster!

Eggactly.

Hahahahahahaha.…a great Firday laugh !!!!

No-one has yet pointed out that he’s a leading advocaat for Intelligent Design.

Kevin B said: No-one has yet pointed out that he’s a leading advocaat for Intelligent Design.

Yes, but he has not yet reached the stature of Casey Leary or Denyse O’Luskin.

Might big shoes to fill. Or at least hip boots.

What’s next? A Luskin blog named “Attack Gerbil”?

If you “Darwinists” are so smart, which came first, the chicken or the Egnor?

Seriously, does anyone know where he stands on the age of life or common descent? Specifically does he think Behe (another “conservative Catholic” Michael at the DI) is right or wrong?

mrg said:

Kevin B said: No-one has yet pointed out that he’s a leading advocaat for Intelligent Design.

Yes, but he has not yet reached the stature of Casey Leary or Denyse O’Luskin.

Might big shoes to fill. Or at least hip boots.

Drinking champagne out of a lady’s slipper is sophisticated. Drinking eggnog out of a hip boot is definitely kinky.

Well, I don’t think anyone’s ever accused creationists of sophistication.

Unfortunately, they also lack the imagination to be kinky.

As wacko has the Egnorant One’s posts were on the DI website, on his own he has become completely unhinged. The man has no respect for facts or evidence. Is Michael Egnor still a DI shill, or is he out on his own full-time?

Still, Egnor’s blog posts are a wonderful source of hilarity. A couple of his acolytes are actually dumber than he is, so that just adds to the general sense of frivolity.

waldteufel said:

As wacko has the Egnorant One’s posts were on the DI website, on his own he has become completely unhinged. The man has no respect for facts or evidence. Is Michael Egnor still a DI shill, or is he out on his own full-time?

Still, Egnor’s blog posts are a wonderful source of hilarity. A couple of his acolytes are actually dumber than he is, so that just adds to the general sense of frivolity.

And of course the funniest thing about this is that he doesn’t understand just how hilarious he is! Guess he needs some kind of emotional release after spending hours in the operating room and teaching obnoxious medical students.

Well, I have to consider that Dr. Egnor is by all appearances a productive member of society who has helped many people, and he deserves to have some way of blowing off steam.

“But dang, man – why couldn’t you have got into stamp collecting, or fishing, or flying RC models?! What’s the attraction in being a troll?!”

I think I just found the perfect theme song for Mikey Egnor, Mikey Behe, Billy Dembski and Casey Luskin:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5EGSlwGiXTs

I think it’s appropriate since Casey with his rock star looks ought to be a backup guitarist in her band (Especially since she comes from a Xian family!).

Anyway, I could have sworn that Mikey Egnor, Mikey Behe, Stevie Meyer, Johnny Wells, Billy Dembski and Casey Luskin appear in this song’s official video:

http://www.funnyordie.com/videos/a1[…]-music-video

This guy is one of the dumbest people I’ve ever seen on the web!

http://egnorance.blogspot.com/2011/[…]jective.html

An atheist must argue that morality is wholly subjective, because if God does not exist, there is no source for moral law except for men’s opinions. This question is a defeater for atheism, because if atheism is true it renders all human relations merely relations of power, devoid of any objective obligations (honesty, non-violence, respect, etc). Even an atheist would deny that.

[Long omitted section]

When I first became a Christian, I feared rational refutation. I feared that there was a strong argument to be made against belief in God. I am no longer afraid. I am astonished at the weakness of the atheist arguments, not least on the question of the objectivity of moral law.

Of course the Moral Law is objective. Atheism is a willfully ignorant ideology.

What a contemptible liar he is! Actually, religion cannot be the source of objective morals either, precisely because they must still come from a God that can change them at any time. If morals were indeed objective and absolute, they couldn’t be changed even if God wanted to change them, and they would still remain even if there were no God. Egnor hasn’t so much argued against atheism as much as he has made himself look profoundly stupid!

An atheist must argue that morality is wholly subjective, because if God does not exist, there is no source for moral law except for men’s opinions. This question is a defeater for atheism, because if atheism is true it renders all human relations merely relations of power, devoid of any objective obligations (honesty, non-violence, respect, etc).

Egnor is right - up to a point. If there is no way to ground ‘ought’ in ‘is’ then all morality is subjective. But that’s as far as it goes. What he fails to point out is that the same criticism must also apply to God’s moral prescriptions. What makes His moral judgments any better than yours or mine? In fact, a lot of people would argue that, based on the evidence of the Bible - in particular the Old Testament, His judgments were a lot worse than ours. The fact that He is assumed to know a lot more than we do about the Universe makes no difference since we just agreed that ‘ought’ cannot be grounded in ‘is’. As for the claim of omnibenevolence, that is flatly contradicted by the OT accounts of His behavior.

In fact, what Egnor cannot admit is that the Biblical evidence for the existence of God is also the “defeater” for Christian claims about the nature of God.

TomS said: Euthyphro dilemma

That BS sure makes me glad I’m not a philosopher or a theologian.

TomS said:

Euthyphro dilemma

Thanks. I knew of the concept, but didn’t know what it was called.

Since you are one of the few who is as interested in the pseudoscience antics of ID as in its worldview would you know the answer to my question above about Egnor?

Paul Burnett said: That BS sure makes me glad I’m not a philosopher or a theologian.

Come now, Hume is dynamite.

However, though I am inclined to turn a blind eye to the eccentricities of religion, one of the lines I draw is is at theology. “Look, if you want to believe things on faith, there’s not much I can say about it, but faith by definition implies neither logic nor evidence – since if you had those things faith wouldn’t be required.”

Egnor: An atheist must argue that morality is wholly subjective, because if God does not exist, there is no source for moral law except for men’s opinions.

Sure there is: our values, instincts, and desires. And while these may not give us nice and simple solutions to all problems, they are sufficient to enable us to have gotten along for the last 200,000 years or so. To hear this idiotic argument from Egnor, one would think human beings were purely theoretical constructs instead of actual beings with an actual history of doing just fine with our subjective morals, complete with respecting the obligations Egnor claims don’t exist, and often with far better results than those who claim to have objective morals.

This argument more than any other can be defeated simply by attacking the basic premises. We don’t need objective morals, nor do we have to be able to defend the morals we have with any sort of objective rigid argument. Egnor’s argument is completely contentless blather.

Of course the Moral Law is objective. Atheism is a willfully ignorant ideology.

Aw geez this old gag. I like to come back and talk about traffic regulations. I mean, if there wasn’t an absolute basis for traffic regulations, wouldn’t anyone drive any way they felt like it? They’d just drive on either side of the street!

And so that argues for the existence of Kop, the god of traffic regulations.

There’s also the argument of comedy for the existence of the Hindu Monkey God Hanuman – one of the more popular of the Vedic gods, being unusual among gods in having a sense of fun – but that can be left as a exercise for the reader.

Is Egnor really responsible for the page? Maybe Egnor is going to use this blog to claim that he only wrote all the material supporting the intelligent design creationist scam to demonstrate how intellectually and morally bankrupt the whole operation was.

Of course the Moral Law is objective. Atheism is a willfully ignorant ideology

Of course Moral Law is not objective. If it were,it would be true for all times and all places. Are you arguing that it is still morally justified to stone to death rebellious children and adultresses?

And atheism is a willfully skeptical position as distinct from a willfully credulous position.

There are two, fairly obvious, subtexts to the concept of absolute morality:

1: “Our side knows the absolute morality and others do not. So we call trumps in the moral debate.”

2: “People who don’t accept absolute morality are immoral, and that means evil.”

Right. The old - there must be a god otherwise how could be possibly know how to behave - routine. Nonsense.

The same logic has been applied to government. If there is no god than the government cannot derive the right to rule from god, therefore there must be a god, otherwise how could we ever figure out a decent form of government.

Look, if you want to abdicate the responsibility for designing a working government or a rational moral code, go right ahead. But don’t use that as an argument for the existence of god. That’s just a lazy cop out. And if you don’t want to bother to learn any science, that’s fine. Natural selection will still act on you whether you understand it or not. Just don’t try to use that as an excuse for lying to everyone else about science. That would be egnorance. Seems like a pretty silly position for a physician, but there you have it.

And of course religious people, claiming morality straight from God, have always been sterling examples of moral behavior.

Torquemada.

Gott mit uns.

Salem.

Mountain Meadows.

et alii

One of the interesting less-obvious aspects to absolute morality is that it tends to reinforce the naturalistic fallacy.

After all, if there is an absolute morality to the Universe, then it should be reflected in the laws of nature. Unfortunately, it’s hard to think of any way to interpret that except as an endorsement of Social Darwinism – a notion that creationists are not going to like AT ALL.

When I think of “absolute standards of right and wrong” (or truth and falsehood) I mean standards that are equally applicable to all people, whatever their race, religion, color, nationality, gender, sexual orientation, or social class, without any double standard or discrimination whatsoever. THAT I can believe in and do insist on, but sadly most people who say they accept it only give lip service to that ideal and then egnor it (pun intended) otherwise!

“Gott mit uns”

Bob, you need to be more clear. Egnor and his acolytes don’t know that “Gott mit uns” was on every German WWII army belt buckle. In fact, I have one of those belt buckles here on my desk.

You had a good list though.

Egnor’s god is a bloodthirsty, warmongering, deadly, egomaniacal, wretched asshole. Good thing he/she’s just imaginary.

There is, of course, the possibility that Egnor’s God does not endorse warmongering, murder, or egomania, since it would appear that Egnor himself does not, whatever the latter’s views on evolution.

God appears to be protean, which is alone an argument against believing in Him. It passes belief that Egnor’s God is the same as, say, either Fred Phelp’s on the one hand or Martin Neimoller’s on the other. You might recall that Neimoller was the German who said, loud and clear, that God wasn’t with the Nazis, and ended up dying in a concentration camp for it. Maybe there’s something in the Jewish idea that God is the Ultimate. The Ultimate what? Everything.

In which case, God is also the Ultimate Self-contradiction. Well, if I am large and contain multitudes, what is He?

Omar Khayam: Myself when young did eagerly frequent

Doctor and Sage, and heard great argument

About it and about,

Yet evermore, came out by the same door that in I went.

waldteufel said:

“Gott mit uns”

Bob, you need to be more clear. Egnor and his acolytes don’t know that “Gott mit uns” was on every German WWII army belt buckle. In fact, I have one of those belt buckles here on my desk.

My father had one of those, too. That’s how I knew about it. He took it from a Nazi officer who eagerly surrendered to that American corporal so that it wouldn’t be the Russians who got him. That officer was a functionary at one of the small slave-labor concentration camps. My father had nightmares (literally) for the rest of his life about the people that he couldn’t save from that camp because they were in such a state of advanced starvation.

And that real nightmare was created by folks with God on their side, doing His work. Or so they claimed, and many probably believed.

Egnor said:

…because if atheism is true it renders all human relations merely relations of power…

As if the god scenario isn’t also rooted in power.

TomS said:

Euthyphro dilemma

Jason Lisle really takes this to an absurd extreme.

This latest “piece of logic” is based on his “Nuclear Strength Apologetics” series.

These ID/creationist characters often strike me as being in some kind of contest that involves coming up with the most absurd possible arguments against science and for sectarian dogma.

Who needs methamphetamines when they can destroy their brains with this stuff?

Mike Elzinga said: Jason Lisle really takes this to an absurd extreme.

Looks like fairly normal absurdity to me. Now the Conservapedia article on relativity – THAT’S extreme!

The obvious problem with “absolute” standards is that somebody has to decide what those standards are.

Giving authority of that sort to one person (or small group, even), produces a concentration of power.

That has side effects that most people don’t want.

Henry J said: The obvious problem with “absolute” standards is that somebody has to decide what those standards are.

Er, that’s not a problem. That’s the point of the exercise. It’s only a problem for everybody else.

A historical note: the motto ‘Gott mit uns” on German Army belts had featured since at least the First World War and I read somewhere (but can’t verify) that the tradition goes back to the Prussian army before unification. In short, it wasn’t a Nazi innovation, though that doesn’t take anything from the incongruity (to put it mildly) of it in the context of WWII.

Regarding absolute morality, it’s surprising how closely it resembles the prejudices and predilections of those proposing it.

See the Wikipedia article Gott mit uns

bplurt said: Regarding absolute morality, it’s surprising how closely it resembles the prejudices and predilections of those proposing it.

Funny how dat works, isn’t it?

One of the broader problems with the notion of absolute morality is the open question of just how moral humans are. It is hardly even cynical to observe that morality is often subject to self-serving interpretation, and that people who wear their morality on their sleeves are generally seen as up to no good.

TomS said:

See the Wikipedia article Gott mit uns

Interesting article, particularly in pointing out that the Waffen SS didn’t use that motto. AFAIK, anyone joining the SS had to renounce membership in a church. The Nazi regime had no problems invoking the gods as justification, but it did not like the idea of any competing source of authority; it was happy with churches if they supported Nazi policy.

I have heard that Hitler rather liked the idea of Japanese State Shinto: a religion under the control of the state that promoted the policies of the state. State Shinto was one of the first things the Allied occupation authorities shut down in Japan – “Shinto Directive” of 15 December 1945 or “ABOLITION OF GOVERNMENTAL SPONSORSHIP, SUPPORT, PERPETUATION, CONTROL AND DISSEMINATION OF STATE SHINTO”.

Whether or not an absolute morality exists is irrelevant. Every individual, having free will, chooses a morality to follow. That applies to atheist and theist alike.

“Every individual, having free will, chooses a morality to follow.”

You just HAD to say that, didn’t you?

What I found fascinating was the list of blurbs about his blog down the right side. There wasn’t a single positive one - he’s picked a selection of the most scathingly negative comments available. I assume he wears them as a badge of pride. Which is fine by me, if he wants to glory in his stupidity.

Jim Foley said: I assume he wears them as a badge of pride.

See from a different angle, it’s an exercise in mooning.

mrg said: State Shinto was one of the first things the Allied occupation authorities shut down in Japan – “Shinto Directive” of 15 December 1945 or “ABOLITION OF GOVERNMENTAL SPONSORSHIP, SUPPORT, PERPETUATION, CONTROL AND DISSEMINATION OF STATE SHINTO”.

Thinking far ahead, we need to start revising that document for the Post-Dominionist Theocracy phase of American government that will be upon us if the rethuglicans have their way.

First, let’s see if Nehemiah Scudder actually does win the election next year.

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This page contains a single entry by Jack Scanlan published on July 1, 2011 6:25 AM.

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