Friday, July 25, 2008

My response to Prof. Paul Z. Myers hateful acts against Catholics and Muslims

You may or may not have heard of atheist biology professor Paul Myers of the University of MN, Morris in recent weeks. He made headlines after requesting on his personal blog for stolen consecrated hosts to be sent to him so that he could desecrate them. Of course, many Catholics were outraged and Dr. Myers has gotten an earful, ranging from prayers for his soul to violent threats. Mark Shea offers a good discussion of the situation here.

Well, yesterday the man followed through on his twisted exercise in kindly showing the intolerant masses of superstitious idiots (a.k.a. anybody who believes in God) who's king of the universe. He desecrated a sacred host, defaced the Koran and tossed them in the garbage taking a picture to share on his blog. Somehow we're supposed to see now that that this little "cracker" has no power. Thanks man! Like I thought it would melt your eyeballs like the Nazis in Raiders of the Lost Ark or something!

Anyways, as a Catholic and a graduate of the University of Minnesota, I don't think this guy should go on lecturing and doing research. What PZ Myers has done is analogous to calling for people to disrupt services at a synagogue to steal the Torah and send it to him so that he could spray paint swastikas all over it. To Catholics, it's that bad of a sacrilege. Surely if a professor were to publicly call for such an anti-Semitic act he would be justly fired. The same should go for a hateful act done against Catholics.

Here is my letter I sent last night to all those people in the U of MN chain above Prof. Myers. If you feel so inclined, please write your own version and send it via the email addresses provided at the bottom (no threats, though!):

To President Robert Bruininks, Chancellor Jacqueline Johnson, Dr. Roland Guyotte and Dr. Michael Korth of the University of Minnesota and U of MN, Morris:

I am writing in regard to the recent actions taken by Prof. Paul Myers of the U of MN, Morris. As reported on his blog on July 24, 2008, he has taken pages from the Koran and consecrated hosts (presumably stolen from a Catholic Church), deliberately defaced them and publicly ridiculed in the most hateful manner those who hold these objects to be sacred symbols of their faith.

I am an alumnus of the University of MN Institute of Technology and currently teach high school physics in Plymouth, MN. I am also a Catholic who is deeply insulted and pained by these hateful acts of bigotry accomplished by Dr. Myers. I am ashamed that such a man is tarnishing the name of my alma mater. I will not donate to your esteemed institution unless and until Dr. Meyers is disciplined. I am also disinclined to recommend the science programs at UMN, Morris to our seniors. It seems to me that a man so filled with distain toward people of faith would be incapable of treating my students with respect.

To clarify, I do not think that Dr. Myers should be punished for his atheistic beliefs, but rather for his public incitement of theft and hatred toward people who believe in God. This despicable conduct reveals a man unworthy of our public trust to educate young minds who are interested in the pursuit of scientific knowledge.

Mr. Dan Fisher
B.S. Physics, 2002
Univ. of MN, Institute of Technology

President Robert H. Bruininks,
Chancellor Jacqueline Johnson,
Dr. Roland Guyotte, Interim Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs and Dean,
Dr. Michael Korth, Chair of the Division of Science & Mathematics,
Professor Paul Zachary Myers,


Non-Believer said...

I highly doubt PZ "stole" the crackers from a church. Have you ever even been to Morris? Everyone knows everyone, so if he went to a church there, we'd hear about it. Plus, you can buy the crackers online, it isn't that freaking hard...
I think it needs to be let go, what about all the persecution people of Pagan faiths get from people of Christian faith? That's pretty bigoted in my opinion...

Dan said...

No, he asked other people to steal them for him, and specifically asked for "consecrated communion wafers" not just the hosts you can get from any religious supply store:

Can anyone out there score me some consecrated communion wafers? There's no way I can personally get them — my local churches have stakes prepared for me, I'm sure — but if any of you would be willing to do what it takes to get me some, or even one, and mail it to me, I'll show you sacrilege, gladly, and with much fanfare. ... If you can smuggle some out from under the armed guards and grim nuns hovering over your local communion ceremony, just write to me and I'll send you my home address. (emphasis added)

Can you be more specific about the "all the persecution people of Pagan faiths get"? I certainly don't support Christians sneaking into Pagan ceremonies, stealing their most sacred object and holding it up to public vandalism and scorn. If there were a university prof hell-bent on doing this I'd want him fired too.

Matt said...

You know that Myers is looking for any excuse to paint himself as a martyr. I don't disagree with anything you wrote, but I might focus more on encouraging his superiors to repudiate his actions and to say that "academic freedom" does not extend to doing spiteful hateful things.

Matt said...

So the UMM chancellor has severed the link between the university website and Myers' blog, affirmed that his views do not reflect UMM's, and used general terms to say that such behavior is "reprehensible".

This situation reminds me of televised car chases in California, and really goes back to the ancient Herostratus problem. If people would stop paying attention, then such things would stop happening. Here's an undistinguished biologist teaching at an undistinguished college (not that there's anything wrong with being such a person; I may be myself someday). How does he get fame and riches? (And don't doubt he has the latter.) Not by being wiser or smarter or more articulate than the general population, but by being more outrageous. And his outrageousness is rewarded by the publicity he is receiving.

What alarms me about today's society is not the drift towards secularism but the rising polarization. We reward radicals, whether left or right (Coulter, Savage, etc), to the expense of sober-minded common sense and a spirit of toleration and constructive conversation. Well, enough rambling from me.

Dan said...


Yes, I agree that calling attention to things of this nature can exasperate the problem, like getting really upset when your kid throws a tantrum. Most of the time it should be ignored.

You'll notice I don't link to Myers blog. I verified the outrageous posting but don't want to drive traffic to his site. I felt in this instance my response carried some weight, as a UMN alum, Catholic and science teacher. Hence, the letter. I won't be visiting his site again.

Regarding polarization, I'm not sure it's ever been any better. History is just as filled with just as much radical rhetoric shouted from one side straight over the heads of the other. I become more and more convinced that conversions, whether they be religious or otherwise, really take an act of grace for us to open our minds for just a moment and really hear each something that doesn't fit our worldview. I think there's very little point in debating Myers but very great hope in praying for him.

Anonymous said...

Dan, Thank you for standing up for Jesus and His church. He promises if you stand up for him He will stand up for you to the Father. God Bless you.