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How to mismanage a call on live TV…

I knew we’d get feedback about one of the calls from yesterday’s show and I’d like to post a brief comment in order to avoid getting a ton of feedback.

There’s a serious problem with the phones. In short, there are many occasions where the caller simply cannot hear us when they’re talking. The studio’s Telos system is supposed to be full-duplex but most of the time it doesn’t work properly. There are several possible causes:

1. The audio system simply isn’t wired correctly (no mix-minus setup).
2. The Telos device simply isn’t adjusted correctly.
3. Some other part of the audio system is over-driving the Telos such that it can’t be adjusted correctly.
4. The device simply won’t work effectively at all times due to the nature of taking calls from all around the world on both land lines and cell phones.

I’m not an audio engineer, so I can’t say for certain, but we have the exact same device at my place for the Non-Prophets show and it took a great deal of tweaking to get it to work correctly (and it still acts up from time to time). We take a test call before every show and attempt to make sure that everything is working correctly…but we’re unable to identify the problem. (The test calls tend to work just fine.)

Yes, I’d happily pay for a real audio engineer to come in and fix the problems in the studio – but I’m not allowed to do that. We are, though, doing everything in our power (which may not be much) to get it fixed.

So, what happened yesterday? Well, the caller couldn’t hear us talking when he was talking. Jeff didn’t realize this and thought the caller was being rude (not much of a stretch when he called to talk about how dangerous “new atheists” were and then failed to support the claim at every point)…so Jeff got irritated. The caller responded in kind, and things spiraled downward from there.

At some point, I lost my cool and yelled at everyone to shut up. Sorry about that, luckily the compressor/limiter works and I doubt I blew out anyone’s eardrums.

What I should have done was just put the caller on hold, take a moment to explain the problems to everyone and work out a plan that would actually allow both of them to talk…but honestly, I was already sick of the caller’s dishonesty.

He had called in to claim that “new atheists” were dangerous. He shifted this claim, when it was shot down, to “reductionist materialists” were dangerous, yet the only danger he identified was a danger to his ability to be comfortable with ideas that departed from his own…followed by the tired old slippery slope claim that if we recognize that humans are “merely” matter and energy, then we’re no different from a rock and we must then toss aside our humanity.

He claimed to “know” that humans are more than matter and energy, because he’s somehow managed to discover that it’s impossible for us to “merely” be matter and energy and then he announced that he was a solipsist.

We hung up on him. A later caller wanted to clarify solipsism by defending philosophical solipsism (soft solipsism?) – which is, for me, a waste of time. That position is almost tautological (it’s flawed in ignoring logical absolutes) and largely irrelevant as it simply points out that we can only be absolutely certain about the self. Jeff and I had initially responded to the more colloquial usage of solipsism (hard solipsism?) that expands on this to establish a belief that only the self exists or is likely to exist.

In any case, I’d like to apologize to everyone, including Jeff, for losing my cool. We had an annoying caller, a problem with the phone (that I’ve been frustrated with for quite a while) and it all led up to a mismanaged call.

I’ll make more judicious use of the hold button and we’ll keep pushing for them to fix the phone system.

Comments

  1. says

    I didn't think Matt lost his cool at all. He was clearly frustrated with the caller but he still managed the situation very well.And let's face it. You can never appear to lose your cool when you have Jeff Dee sitting next to you waging his typical Jihad against human stupidity. :)

  2. says

    I used to think that presuppositional apologists were the most frustrating, batshit insane, and ultimately pointless people to discuss/debate anything with. I was wrong. The caller this post is about has now taken their place.It sucks about the audio issues, but I don't think the situation would have ended any differently had the technical issues not been a problem. He had his mind made up about what "new atheists" were all about, what would happen if they had their way, and nothing you or Jeff said would have made any difference. He insulted you guys and atheists in general several times with no provocation (as far as I could tell, but I've only listened to the show once).I am really puzzled about what he thought the threat was, and maybe some of the other readers have a better idea of what he thought was so scary. Was he afraid that science would show that the mind simply is what the brain does (mind-brain monism)? We have no good evidence of dualism (aside from NDE's, which I would consider absolute horrible evidence), and an ever growing mountain of good evidence to the contrary. If scientific evidence for a soul, or any god, or that Jesus really was resurrected came in, I would have to change my views on those matters. Why would finding out how the mind truly works take away his ability to defend himself, unless he what he meant that it would make it harder for himself to justify his position, much like a young earth creationist arguing against all the evidence we have from all areas of science that say a 6,000 to 10,000 year old earth is impossible? To me, it seems like he was more interested in sticking to his dogmatic views than pursuing truth.Maybe he was worried that he would be forced to have his consciousness "uploaded"? I can't imagine Jeff or any other transhumanist making that mandatory for other people if it were a possibility. If people like that idea and want to do it, how does it harm him? I think Jeff had a good idea of what his objections were, but simply didn't like the language that Jeff used to describe it, so he labeled it as a strawman.I thought he was close minded, and an asshole. On one hand, I wish you had hung up sooner. On the other, it was kind of like watching a train wreck and I had to know how it turned out.

  3. says

    I'm surprised that you guys don't tell people, as they are queued up on the phone lines, about the phone issue: at least they would then know to pay attention to how continuously they are talking.As I said in the chatroom last night – that was a classic YouTube moment in the making.

  4. says

    Jeff did not want to listen to the callers actual "problem" but instead kept on screeming "dude" all the time. I must say I am a bit dissapointed, but sometimes you really have to let the caller speak his mind and let him in the discussion. Just saying "let me talk on my own show" threathening with pushing the button on the callers ass is offputting. Cut the "dude" dude!

  5. says

    I was in the process of listening to the podcast when I made my previous post. Low and behold, a later caller mentions presuppositional apologetics.FYI, Matt, you do have experience with presuppositionalism. TAG is an excellent example of presuppositional apologetics. Basically, they try to claim that some feature of human understanding (logic, morality, science, consciousness, etc) cannot be accounted for by atheism/naturalism, but they can be accounted for by theism.William Lane Craig, who has repeated the same tired, failed arguments time and time again for the past 30+ years, advises his students to stay away from this line of apologetics because presuppositionalism in its entirety begs the question by assuming that which it attempts to prove. Your reaction to the caller who brought this up is correct.Coincidentally, the old school presuppositionalists have some great writing on why history can NEVER be used to justify the beliefs that evidentialists like Craig would like people to accept. Pit the two together and they do a pretty good job of refuting each other.Sorry. I don't mean to derail the conversations. Just thought I'd point this out.

  6. says

    Yeah the both of you simultaneously saying 'You're a solipsist?' was the best part of the whole show. I wish the pre-show guy had been on the show itself, that was a pretty good call overall.

  7. says

    Yes, my favorite part of any show from the last few months is when you both cried in unison "YOUR A SOLIPSIST??!!" I nearly crashed my car!

  8. says

    I was wanting you guys to give him a bit more room to talk about what he thought the threat was. It didn't make sense – uploading? He thought we would be forced to upload ourselves into a computer if reductionists got their way?Who exactly is advocating for forcing people to be uploaded? This sounds like crazy talk and I would've liked to hear him be given more rope with which to hang himself. (Or to explain that what he was saying wasn't what he meant.)But then he went on with the "novel" BS. Hard to take him seriously after that. Two people learn a language, with words representing concepts. Then they talk to each other (or one writes something for the other to read) using those language tools, and the concept is communicated. This doesn't require a ghost in the machine at all, and it pushes the boundaries of silliness to even entertain that as a serious argument.The solipsism was just the icing on the absurdity cake with this guy.

  9. says

    Like many other people I struggled to understand in what context the 'new atheists'[sic] are a danger to the caller.It sounded as though he was concerned that if we could be convinced that our brains could be uploaded into a machine then we would all do it. This would then lead to our minds being 'lost' because of dualism.As someone with a close family member with frontal lobe dementia I am convinced that mind and personality are what the brain does. Change the brain and you change the mind.There is no ghost in the machine.

  10. says

    The look on Matts face when the guy mentioned trees was priceless :) And he said it in such a provocative way "Tree. Tree, Matt Dillahunty! Tree." what was that about? Almost as if he knew about the significance of "trees" in the shows history.I think it's fair to say that even without technical difficulties you would have lost your temper with that guy sooner or later. Personally I would have hung up on him right after: I can read novels. Therefore materialism is wrong.

  11. Admin says

    I just heard it and didn't think it was that bad. I'm not convinced that an audio problem was causing the caller to talk over you. It pretty much sounded like any passionate argument I've ever had. People talk over each other at some points.I think you guys handled that call about as well as you could have, considering that the guy never did define the imminent danger y'all pose.

  12. Wired For Sound says

    The caller's argument boiled down to "science must never be allowed to explain the mind, because if it does, then everything can be described materially, and that's dangerous because it leaves no room for my Deity."

  13. says

    If you put them on hold, can they suddenly hear your voices in their ear?If so, I say make liberal use of it…it would make for better discussions than everyone talking over each other and nobody making any points. If nothing else, let 'em talk…give them enough rope to hang themselves.

  14. says

    "Like many other people I struggled to understand in what context the 'new atheists'[sic] are a danger to the caller.It sounded as though he was concerned that if we could be convinced that our brains could be uploaded into a machine then we would all do it. This would then lead to our minds being 'lost' because of dualism."Ok now I see it. Ok so if we had the ability to upload minds into new bodies or become Foglites or the like this guy would be against it because of dualism. I think he's the bigger danger than New Atheists. New Atheists aren't proposing a dualism that falls to The Razor, and he is actively seeking to keep immortality from us for his insane religious reasons. Fuck him…when my body starts to fail I want to be uploaded into a nanite cloud damn it!

  15. says

    I don't think Matt needs to apologize at all. I know I would have hung up on him once he said "new atheists." What the hell is that anyway?But at least it was insanely hilarious when I screamed out "A solipsist?!" along with Matt and Jeff.

  16. says

    It seems like you guys have alerted some underground solipsist community – I never knew they were so common. I had a friend in high school who thought solipsism was pretty cool after seeing the matrix (although he probably wouldn't have known the word). I could only ever appreciate it as a clever sci-fi premise, not as actual philosophy.It's certainly fun listening to you argue with solipsists, so I hope you don't hang up on them too quickly.

  17. says

    Matt and Jeff,I had lost patience with the call long before you did, even taking into account the terrible phone issues.As soon as the caller admitted his problem was with reductionist materialism, or some imagined horror, or the thought others might think differently the he does he lost the debate. No longer was it about atheism (the rejection of theistic claims), but some other philosophical position. At that point his assertion the "new atheism" was the issue fails.That said, while I enjoy a good, reasoned debate, controversy makes good entertaining television.

  18. says

    I was disappointed by the way you handled the call but on the other hand I'm glad you realized it just went wrong. I think it was the good old case of assuming the caller's position before he makes his point. He wasn't able to explain his point clearly and then you two jumped in, kept interrupting him over and over. I felt sorry for him because even when you raised your voice he was still trying to explain calmly and didn't loose his cool (until the very end of the call). I wish you had given him a little more time to get his stuff together and make a point. It was just a week ago when you blogged about the 'no theist on the show' situation and now when one calls you get infuriated by the fact he thinks that atheism is dangerous (gasp!) and cut him off without giving him space.

  19. says

    I'm pleased to see Matt address this. I was disappointed in that segment as well, and thought the frustration at that call colored the tone of the entire show.I know this is the worst armchair/monday morning quarterbacking, but I was wishing that the hosts would let the guy explain what the hell he was talking about; I'm not that familiar with trans-humanism as an actual philosophy (but as a sci-fi fan I'm aware of most of the freakier concepts out there) so I was curious as to what the hell "uploading Grandpa" meant. The way he was talking it sounded like an involuntary storage of excess people, not a last-minute process to save a person's personality from dying. It sounded to me like the kind of caller that you let hang himself with his own rope. And eventually he did.

  20. says

    I read this post before i even had a chance to hear the show and when i did actually listen to the call it didn't strike me as the absolute disaster that i had imagined it to be from reading. I think you guys actually handled it very well and it seemed like the caller was really the problem, more so than the phone system. "You're a solipsist?!" That cracked me up… Love the show.

  21. says

    Have to agree with Matte and Sacrilegium, callers get talked over a lot on the show. I'd like to hear them speak their minds a bit and not have every word laughed at, criticized or jumped on. Give em a bit more rope to hang themselves with, there's no shortage. We're fully aware of most of the guy's on the show points of view, it'd be good to let the callers get their points across before ripping them to shreds. I understand the frustration, though. :)

  22. says

    I was out yesterday and came in during the call after the one that is the topic of this call.I only went back to hear the part of the show that I missed because of this post. And I feel that because I got to hear Matt's take on what happened before I actually saw it myself, I got a unique look at the situation.Matt, I understand why you want to apologize for yelling at everyone and for not explaining the problem with the sound, but I don't think you did anything wrong outside of that. Also, those two infractions are inconsequential in that I don't think they changed the scope of the conversation in any measurable way.Why? That guy was a dick. Not only that, he spent all that time beating around the bush.I feel no remorse. The pwnage was just.Maverik713

  23. says

    There is something supremely ironic in saying that I, the caller, am dishonest, when the hosts of *The Atheist Experience* expend generous amounts of effort in obfuscation. Yes, it might seem strange to persons reading this blog or watching the heavily edited clip of my call on youtube that I conflate atheism with reductionism, but that's only because you have gone to such pains to ensure they don't understand why I conflate the two. In fact, the first portion of my call, in which I state that the current crop of atheists betray underlying assertions by proposing that they are able to judge an explanation of God by some materialist criteria, clearly explains why the discussion cannot begin with a defense of God, but rather must begin with consideration of our differing interpretations of reality. I am surprised, Matt, that you take issue in this blog when you did not in the initial discussion. I'm not sure, but it seems a little "dishonest" to me. Equally strange is that you have conveniently left out portions of our conversation in which you essentially concede that science is not fundamentally skeptical. One starts to get the impression that a propagandist is trying to present a discussion shorn of those portions that are highly problematic for his pet issue. I believe New Atheism, of which I believe you are a part, is merely an attempt at institutionalized ridicule. When Sam Harris suggests that belief in God should be regarded in the manner we regard belief in a still living Elvis (that is to say that it should be regarded with scorn), he is merely suggesting we stop considering the issue. Aside from some barbed rejoinders, Harris and his fellow horsemen don't offer a compelling case of why belief in God is tantamount to belief in Elvis, and what they end up accomplishing with their fetishism for the more lurid aspects of the Pentateuch is merely a demonstration of their unfamiliarity with the source material. Harris even goes so far as to say one cannot find in his local bookstore a less useful book than the Bible, that is, of course, unless one happens to find Plato's *The Republic* with its heaps of murdered babies, communal brothels, and public square phalanxes–what Nabokov amusingly called a "Germanic regime of militarism and music." Of course, the bizarre aspects of *The Republic* do not indict reason, just as the bizarre aspects of the Bible do not indict divinity. This is a fundamental distinction that Hitchens fails to make when, in his debate with Al Sharpton, he disregards his conflation of divinity with dogma by saying something to the effect of: because the logical refutations of theism have been presented elsewhere, he is not obliged to summarize them and that "[he] would put [his] guys against [Sharpton's] guys anytime." My point is that so-called New Atheists generally fail to address the issues central to the discussion and find it sufficient to merely laugh at the opposition, all while pretending that their materialistic premises are universally adopted within the nebulous and ill-defined community of respectable thinkers, and, thus, by fiat the public should just hop on the bandwagon. (continued in a subsequent post because of length restrictions)

  24. says

    (continued) Generally, when a so-called New Atheist is confronted with someone other than the pliant and doe-eyed dumbasses they imagine to constitute the opposition, the result is open hostility. I think it is fair to say that I did not perfectly present my arguments, but I also think it is fair to say that this is to be expected under the constant, clearly and repeatedly stated threat of being hung up on, in the intentionally unnerving situation in which the hosts yell at the caller, whom they condescendingly call "dude," and dealing with hosts constantly interrupting you while prohibiting you from doing the same because, after all, it is "their show." I think the climax in the high hilarity of my call comes when you flatly accuse me having made up the word "scientism," a misunderstanding that most dictionaries can remedy. The call concludes, of course, with you hanging up on me for daring to discuss something you clearly do not understand, which is, ironically, a form of severe skepticism–not something you'd expect from a self-described skeptic. But then, we'd already established you weren't really a skeptic.Thus, we encounter the danger of New Atheism and *The Atheist Experience*–the reckless and monstrously idiotic ineptitude. My favorite clip of your show is from episode #548 and entitled "can time be infinite?" What I find interesting and hilariously representative is not whether the caller or the host is right, but that you Matt Dillahunty keep blurting out, in a sort of incompetent Tourette's, that it is just an application of Zeno's paradox. I find this especially funny because it is apparent you do not understand what Zeno's paradox says. The caller's example deals with the infinite; Zeno's paradox deals with the infinitesimal. Zeno's demonstration of the infinitesimal occurs within a clearly defined distance in which there is a beginning and an end. The halfway mark Zeno discusses can only be determined within a system clearly defined by point A and point B. Ask yourself: what is half of infinity? The answer is, like infinity itself, without rational value, which is to say their is no final value in an infinite set. The caller's point is that infinity is not practically achievable, and this is not a hotly debated point. Is he right? I cannot be sure. But I am sure that Zeno's Paradox is not applicable. The reason Zeno's paradox fails is because the measurements eventually become so impractically small (say, for instance, the breadth of a hydrogen atom) that Achilles cannot move at all without achieving several magnitudes of the halfway point. The difference: the caller is talking about infinity by addition, and you are confusing it with infinity by division. The irony is, of course, that in your defense of an infinitely existing universe you presuppose the finite limits of Zeno's Paradox, and you conclude the call by, unsurprisingly, hanging up on the caller and again insisting on your execrable misuse of the paradox. This sort of dishonesty typifies your show. You questionably invoke some recondite concept and, without understanding it in the least, you pretend, like Hitchens, that because someone in the past supposedly refuted a point, you don't have to. Again, the irony is that the recondite concept had nothing to do with what you're talking about. You get away with this only because, on the whole, your audience lacks the sophistication to tell the difference.Perhaps you should change the name of your show to "Demonstrable Idiocy."With Love,The Solipsist

  25. says

    Okay, now look at the post this guy just made.I haven't even read it yet, so I have nothing to say about the content of it(yet).The length of his post is one of the exact reasons why people like him need to be cut off sometimes. Matt has clarified this many times, and I share his view that if you start talking and 1/4 of the way through what you are saying you have made numerous fallacious arguments are false assertions, then you need to be stopped right there. We can't have a conversation that is built on falsehoods, and as rude as it might be, cutting someone off if they make a false statement is really the only practical way to handle it. Trying to go back and refute each falsehood one by one is confusing and doesn't work.If he didn't make so many wild assertions and machine-gun confusing terms and overly verbose statements, maybe he wouldn't get cut off every couple of seconds.And it's my personal opinion that he just likes to hear himself talk. His thoughts fly back and forth and they seem like an attempt to either impress/intimidate others with his "intelligence" or confuse the listeners into submission.Charles says: Due to an insufficient amount of cellulose in proportion to overall comestible intake, I have been incapable of any feculent evacutory procedures.everyone else: I'm constipated.

  26. says

    So, Mr. Solipsist, what actually is the reason you think the "new atheists" are dangerous? In the call, Jeff summarized what he understood you to be saying (and his understanding was the same as mine), but you said that wasn't it. After the call went downhill, it never got explained.So can you explain it? Maybe you can start with why Jeff's summary wasn't right and where you differ with that.

  27. says

    I was wrong. This guy has large quantities of 'grande' language but little content. For my personal amusement, I went through his wall of text and tried to destill points out of that bloated mess. For your amusement I'm posting them here:1) Matt is dishonest because he edits important parts of the show out of the video's (not true)2) We should have established our definitions of reality (one good point in a sea of BS)3) New Atheism is wrong because it's proponent's did not do the research and do not address the point (no actual reason *why* it is wrong or what the point is)4) Plato's The Republic is just as bad as the Bible (LOL)5) Matt hung up on me, waaah, waaah! (in about 200 words)6) There is no final value in an infinite set (are you trying to say that an infinite set is infinite? gasp!)Needless to say that even these points are not *really* points. Good that you didn't let him rant on your show.

  28. says

    Mr. Unicorn, I am not surprised that one of our very modern atheists has seen fit to comment on my comments without having read them. You cannot understand how aptly this demonstrates the content of what I wrote. I must thank your for your help. Of course, like a good literalist, you will, I suspect, point out that you said you weren't actually commenting on them and only ominously suggesting that you would at some undisclosed point in the future and merely pausing for a moment to ridicule my verbosity because, like anyone who has attended junior college knows, the law of Strunkian style proves we should omit needless words, which really means we shouldn't use adjectives and adverbs, a concept that clearly demonstrates that hacks like Shakespeare, Coleridge, and James fall short of the literary genius of E.B. White.

  29. says

    I really love when tracie writes a multi-part blog reply. They are interesting, insightful and contribute well to the subject in hand. Its a petty that can't be said about charles. He uses a lot words in and says very little :-(

  30. says

    @The Invisible Pink Unicorn-"And it's my personal opinion that he just likes to hear himself talk"Not only your personal opinion: I share it.What Charles/ctrusk here does and what he did in the show (and I am glad I have so far only watched the edited version, as his "reasoning" was confused at best), is simply name-calling and strawmen argument, sugarcoated in heavy and pedantic verbosity. As James Bond said: "N'enculons pas les mouches". Anyway, what's the danger of "new atheism", or atheism? Can't we freely question and criticise religion? I think Charles is asking us to shut up, and the excuse is that we don't understand theist's logic.

  31. says

    So Charles, you make some compelling points but I think you are missing something important and highly relevant to the discussion, which is simply this:You're an asshole.No, wait, don't misunderstand this as some sort of ad hominem to avoid addressing the central issue, because that is the central issue. You really are an asshole. Factual point of evidence that is strongly related to the issue at hand.Look, you wrote in here trying to salvage some shred of your dignity by claiming that Matt and Jeff were hostile to you because you are not, and I quote, "the pliant and doe-eyed dumbasses they imagine to constitute the opposition." But if they hung up on you just because you were an asshole then that kind of undercuts this argument, wouldn't you say? So let's review the call, which I have just been listening to for the first time.Your first sentence at 23:55: "I'm doing well, thank you for taking my call."Your third sentence at 24:05: "The purpose of my call is because I'm terribly disturbed about what I perceive as the danger of new atheism… a real material danger." Right here in this thread, you said "New Atheism, of which I believe you are a part…" I'm going to assume that you had already arrived at this conclusion before you called in, so connecting the dots, we see that you called in to say that you believed the people you were talking to were dangerous.Now I don't know what social circles you run in — based on your speech mannerisms and the incidental fact that you are an asshole, I'm guessing that it is very few. I'm just giving you a heads up that among typical human beings, when a stranger walks up to you and one of the first few things he says is "Hey, you're dangerous," that usual colors the tone of the resulting conversation as hostile. Once you start off on that foot, you've scrapped any pretense you have towards being a poorly treated martyr.Now, an especially polite person might overlook the slight and listen to you for a while, although that is certainly not guaranteed. Yet, in fact, that is exactly what Matt and Jeff did: responded in a reasonable, measured tone for several minutes. If you actually had any interest in being perceived as an intelligent, thoughtful person raising logical points — instead, of an asshole, which is what you are in actuality — you would have picked up on this cue and responded in the same tone.Instead, within less than two minutes from being connected, you described what you take to be their point of view as — and again I quote — "structurally deceptive" and "vacuous," and then you characterized a consistently stated viewpoint as something that they "continually parrot." All this before the guys you are speaking with have raised any substantive disagreements at all. It wasn't until several more minutes of dealing with your unbelievably condescending attitude that anyone started to raise their voice.As far as I can tell, your objection here is that you were treated rudely. I beg to differ, my good sir. "Rude" is insulting your conversational partner's intelligence, making broad generalizations about large swaths of people, making hysterical allusions to some sort of perceived tangible "threat" from them which you somehow failed to articulate even now… and then expecting to be treated with kindness.On the contrary, I think even Miss Manners would agree with me that when dealing with such persistent, childish, petty, self-inflated pomposity, the most apropos rejoinder one could counter with is the following, and this comes from the bottom of my heart:Go fuck yourself, asshole.

  32. says

    @ctruskWe share the same reality. Our biases color how we interpret reality. Our senses can be deceived. Our reasoning can be faulty. That's why it helps to have a method to remove our biases as much as possible. The scientific method has proven itself to be a reliable way to gain knowledge about reality time and time again. If the scientific method or some other method using "materialist criteria" is so woefully inadequate to "judge an explanation of God," then please tell us what that criteria that is.I know of no supernatural methodology that produces reliable results that can be independently verified. Using science, every time we have discovered the answer to a question (i.e. Where does lightning come from? Do demons cause disease?), we have found mindless natural forces. If a supernatural being has any effect in the natural world, we should be able to detect those effects. If your god does not interact with the natural world, how do you know it exists?

  33. says

    Charles, Charles, Charles. What am I going to do with you? Well, first let me warn you. You are(intentionally or not) on the verge of putting in a serious bid to be the next Patrick Greene. I'm not going to rehash the story, as it has been done more times than I can count and I don't want to waste any of my ass-kicking energy on a dead horse when I can just focus it all on you. The real thing you need to realize is that Patrick Greene is one of our own. Yup, the guy who has been receiving emails from the shows viewers for nearly two years for being a complete dumbass and then making it worse by being a douchebag about it is an atheist. In case you don't realize the signifigance of that statement, allow me to clarify. First, we have no allegiance to a particular group. We have allegiance to a search for the truth. Second(and most importantly) is the relentless attack that you might receive from this hornet's nest if you continue to poke at it.Now realize that there is a subtle difference between something being clever and something being practical. Would you like a demonstration? Okay then. Your attempt to diffuse the force of my argument by suggesting that I have no argument, when in fact my argument was that your argument was unnecessarily long(something which I had discerned simply by skimming through it) was clever. However, it was not practical because even with your ineffectual attempt at flustering me failing you describe precisely the point I was making. Allow me to close by making the distinction between being verbose and being articulate. When your ability to connect together a string of words can cause the average person to be impressed with you, you are articulate. When your attempt to use as many large words as possible is spotted by even the dimmest of wits, and it is clear that you are affecting an air intelligence, you are verbose.Maverik713

  34. says

    "… the current crop of atheists betray underlying assertions by proposing that they are able to judge an explanation of God by some materialist criteria,… "MEDIC!Despite the dripping condescension of the call, Charles doesn't even understand the difference between belief and knowledge. When atheists "judge" an explanation of a god, we judge whether we *believe* it or not. We do not make any claim as to whether or not it is true. It is for each individual to discern what their criteria for belief is."… clearly explains why the discussion cannot begin with a defense of God, but rather must begin with consideration of our differing interpretations of reality."No. If you want to convince another person that something is true then you need to show that your claim matches the OTHER person's criteria for being real. IT has nothing to do with "differing interpretations of reality".Though I suppose for a solipsist there is nothing more comforting than the cul-de-sac of your own skull.

  35. says

    Haven't listened to the show yet, but…solipsist? Can someone explain to me why Mr. Charles is so offended at being mistreated by what he believes to be figments of his imagination? It's pretty pathetic when you can accept a worldview where even your imaginary friends can't stand you.

  36. says

    Because several of you are asking me questions, and because several of you are accusing me of rambling, I'm not sure I can respond in a manner that will satisfy you all. I will try my best by discussing a post that summarizes what someone thinks I was saying. The summary is as follows:1) Matt is dishonest because he edits important parts of the show out of the video's (not true)2) We should have established our definitions of reality (one good point in a sea of BS)3) New Atheism is wrong because it's proponent's did not do the research and do not address the point (no actual reason *why* it is wrong or what the point is)4) Plato's The Republic is just as bad as the Bible (LOL)5) Matt hung up on me, waaah, waaah! (in about 200 words)6) There is no final value in an infinite set (are you trying to say that an infinite set is infinite? gasp!)My corrections are as follows:1. Matt is dishonest because he pretends that I unjustifiably conflate New atheism with materialism, when, in fact, I state quite plainly that we can't start with God or atheism because their consideration presupposes mechanisms by which to judge them. And the mechanisms REPEATEDLY offered on the show are naturalistic or materialistic mechanisms. At the time I said this, Matt offered no objections. Matt is dishonest because he keeps insisting that I claim (and I quote) "to know that humans are more than matter and energy," when what I claimed is to know that there are non-material things for which the materialistic framework cannot account, simply because they cannot be reduced to material components. The example I used of the novel, which was conveniently cut from the clip on youtube, and in which Matt repeatedly tries to muddy the waters of the conversation by baiting me into explanations of thought, proposes that novels cannot be as discrete and irreducibly complex entities discussed in terms of particles; therefore, materialism or scientism isn't a sufficient framework to consider all things. The act of communication considered as a process isn't sufficiently represented as what Matt called "a brain-state" because one "brain-state" doesn't take into account the other participating brain. So Matt wanted to exile the novel to the misty realms of abstraction, a sort of inferior existence that doesn't warrant much discussion beyond labeling it as such. I, like most people, do not think we should stop discussing novels because science cannot consider them directly, but only indirectly or peripherally as what each participant experiences physically in the brain. I disagree with Dawkins when he says science has primacy in all realms of inquiry, which is to say when he advocates scientism. More importantly, I think Matt and other New Atheists are dishonest when they pretend that their anachronistic materialism, which predates even romanticism, is somehow the uniform opinion of all persons who are not stupid. You know why this is so ridiculous? Because serious refutations of materialism were made as early as the 19th century, and because ultimately we have to regard the precious object of materialism with the same suspicion that Matt wants to regard the novel with. More simply said: one cannot empirically justify empiricism. Of course, from here there are problems of naturalistic fallacies, which is applying materialism to metaphysical claims…. The problem here is that I cannot adequately explain how ridiculous it all is without explaining two centuries of literature. The conversation isn't amenable to a discussion board, or even a television show, or even the New Atheists' attempts at "serious" literature. Besides, isn't it easier to just make fun of me?

  37. says

    (I am not trying to refute material science. I am not saying that science is wrong. I am saying that when one considers a novel, one does not consider it in terms of material or science. Again, I am not saying that science is wrong, but that science can't–and shouldn't–be used to consider everything. This is to say I am arguing against what is called "scientism"–a word that Matt dishonestly accuses me of making up.)2. You acknowledge the importance of this. But I don't think you acknowledge the insidiously disingenuous nature of requiring that I begin any discussion about atheism or God with logical explication of God. It is trickery at its worst to try and get the opposition to concede the whole argument before it has even begun. The disagreement is not one that can be hashed out with "proof" or "evidence" of God. Once one presumes the materialist position–in which all things are reducible to physical components–one cannot even begin to consider what is generally described as a non-material entity. The argument generally goes something like this. I believe in a non-material entity called God. Haha, God doesn't conform to my experience of the material world; therefore, you lose, moron. This sort of thing is highly idiotic and highly deceptive.3. New Atheism is wrong because it can't even identify the disagreement.4. One finds parts of *The Republic* to be as repugnant as parts the Bible. This fact indicts neither reason nor God. You seem to have missed my point entirely on this one.5. Matt hung up on me for claiming a position of severe skepticism, which I find incredibly hypocritical for someone who pretends to prescribe skepticism.6. I think you understand part of my point. The part you don't understand is that Matt Dillahunty was arguing against this on the show and using Zeno's paradox to justify his opinion, when Zeno's paradox has nothing to do with the discussion. For the record, Matt up on that guy too.

  38. says

    You know how when you read the written word, you "hear" the words in your head?I try to read Charles' posts and all I hear is "DUUUURRRRRRRRR!!"True story.

  39. says

    @ctrusk: What's up with you and youtube clips? Ffreethinker had to cut the video heavily because it was simply too long. From your posts we can see why…Regardless of whether or not he should have done that (I don't see a reason why not) he has nothing to do with the Atheist Experience. He is simply a fan of the show as we all are. I don't think Matt even watches that."severe skepticism" solipsism is not useful tool in an intellectual discussion.

  40. says

    You're being weasely here. The more detestable elements of the Bible are certainly an indictment of specific conceptions of the divine, namely those held by Jews and Christians, and since when is 'The Republic' considered a comparably authoritative text for reason?Mick.

  41. says

    Is solipsism not just the ultimate argument from ignorance?I know nothing other than my mind is.Therefore, I can spout any old codswallop and your materialist view has no validity…yeh! Mr charles wins.

  42. says

    ctrusk wrote:Matt is dishonest because he keeps insisting that I claim (and I quote) "to know that humans are more than matter and energy," when what I claimed is to know that there are non-material things for which the materialistic framework cannot account, simply because they cannot be reduced to material components.Matt's paraphrasing seems to be exactly the same thing that you are claiming. What's the difference between "to know that humans are more than matter and energy" and "to know that there are non-material things for which the materialistic framework cannot account, simply because they cannot be reduced to material components"?It sounds like you two agree about what your beliefs are!

  43. says

    Matt's paraphrasing seems to be exactly the same thing that you are claiming. What's the difference between "to know that humans are more than matter and energy" and "to know that there are non-material things for which the materialistic framework cannot account, simply because they cannot be reduced to material components"?About 68 percent fewer syllables. Glad you asked?

  44. says

    I'm going to refrain from the debate about the debate.Charles, imagine this:A gust of wind knocks over a bottle of ink, spilling its contents onto the ground. It just so happens, in its extreme unlikelihood, that the ink falls in such a way that it forms the characters t-r-e-e. A native English speaker walks by later that day, observes the spill, and thinks about a tree.How many minds are at work, here?

  45. Admin says

    For the last 4 weeks or so, you guys have been receiving some really strange calls from people who have taken so many philosophy courses that they can no longer function in the real world or make a coherent argument. They should put warning labels on those philosophy classes.

  46. Admin says

    I have a request for this guy. Many of us don't want to read through your wall of text and big words, including a lot of complaints about the call itself, to try to get to this point. So here is my request. Please explain, in a single post of no more than 5 sentences (and preferably words that are sometimes found outside of philosophy classes), how "new atheism" is dangerous, and about the "horrors" you say it would create.Please keep any attacks against other users, or discussion of Sunday's call to another post.

  47. says

    @Admin: As a person who took too many philosophy classes, I resent that remark. Most of us make it out alive and able to function.Other people who study philosophy take it in, but do not digest it, and thus regurgitate whole cloth ideas which they have not considered critically.But none of that has to do with being so self-centered and *ahem* solipsistic that you can't speak a complete sentence without condescension. I don't know where you learn that, but I'd be the first in line to burn it down.

  48. says

    Admin,I would be happy to discuss the dangers of New Atheism if your request represents a concession to my earlier posts. But somehow I suspect you're trying to avoid "the wall of text" because it contains problematic issues like, for instance, reading, which does not seem to be the strong suit for New Atheists. Funny how New Atheists can't stop talking about the virtues of education and reason until education and reason seem to contradict their conclusions; then it's just plain old populism directed against those crazy philosophy students.Mr. Admin, have you ever wondered why a University does not consist solely of an engineering college?

  49. says

    Yes, yes, we're dumber than you, Charles. Of course we are — we all exist in your head, so we can't very well be smarter, can we? So please explain to us figmentary plebs, in plain English and a short post, the thesis of your point. I assume that you honestly want us to understand your point and aren't simply trying to sound smart and use flowery language to make it impossible to suss out that you don't have anything approaching a coherent argument. Assuming you honestly want to help us understand your argument and concerns, please explain simply, and briefly. One paragraph, common English. Once we're all on the same page, it will perhaps be easier to follow your more advanced line of thinking.

  50. says

    Charles, I suspect strongly that you are not in fact capable of explaining what you find so horrifying about New Atheism. You were unable to do so on the show, and you have failed so far on this post. Are you capable of articulating your position, or are you going to continue with scattershot attacks against atheists who weren't even part of the discussion?

  51. says

    "I would be happy to discuss the dangers of New Atheism if your request represents a concession to my earlier posts"COMMUNICATION: YOU'RE DOING IT WRONG.

  52. says

    "Mr. Admin, have you ever wondered why a University does not consist solely of an engineering college?"Because if it did, nobody would ever get laid and the campus radio station would be 24/7 Monty Python audio clips and prog-rock albums.Now, back into it…Charles,You seem to be repeating the old mistake of confusing pre-suppositional with methodological naturalism.I do not see anyone here – Kazim, Matt, Jeff, Unicorn, me, whoever – slamming his fist down and declaring There is nothing apart from the material! Metaphysical claims are inherently, categorically false!We hold, as atheists and skeptics, that there is no good reason to accept metaphysical claims without evidence.To those saying otherwise – that there are souls, spirits, "God" or whatever? Fine, we answer. Prove it.Like the tide, the response rolls back: Ah, that's just the trap you materialists love to spring. You say "Prove it" but the only proof you will accept is that which conforms to materialist standards of evidence. Since metaphysical claims cannot, by definition, provide that, it's a rigged game!Rigged game? As opposed to what? Permitting immaterial evidence? How would that work, exactly? "I had a metaphysical experience! What, you don't believe me? Look, I have metaphysical proof…"Methodological naturalism (that is, 'science') is the only means of inquiry that has ever provided enduring evidential validity and efficacy. It makes only the most bare essential, inescapable assumptions and self-corrects according to openly comprehensible feedback.Matt (and others) do not bristle at the term 'scientism' because they've never heard or don't understand it; they know exactly what it is: a oleaginous attempt to recast science from method to mantra, from process to policy, by those whose claims cannot win in the court of evidence and thus seek to burn the courthouse down.I also wonder what point you think your "novel" example proves. Yes, Moby Dick is more than certain formations of black ink marks on paper. That is, if someone reads it. Left in a room with my dog it's exactly just black ink on paper – or perhaps a chew toy.Had Melville never heard the story of the Essex, or not penned the tale for other reasons, it would never have been. There would be no Platonic narrative-idealized Moby Dick floating out there in some manner of mystical aether.Do you claim otherwise? Then prove it. Ah, but now we're back to the whole evidence thing. Hey, what can I say? You know how tricky we New Atheists are.

  53. says

    "ts. Funny how New Atheists can't stop talking about the virtues of education and reason until education and reason seem to contradict their conclusions; then it's just plain old populism directed against those crazy philosophy students."Um, buddy. Philosophy's dark secret. A LOT OF THEM ARE ATHEISTS. SHHH don't tell no one. Also a lot of them think your ideas are what we would get if the feces produced by skunks could themselves deficate. "Mr. Admin, have you ever wondered why a University does not consist solely of an engineering college?"They need to provide classes that give Football players an excuse to attend? My SO is a master in English (those novels that are magik yo you) and my BF is a philosophy guy. both agree you're too dumb to realize how stupid you are. Jeff wasnt rude enough to you.

  54. JJR says

    Plato's *The Republic* with its heaps of murdered babies, communal brothels, and public square phalanxes–what Nabokov amusingly called a "Germanic regime of militarism and music."And Bertrand Russell also felt the author of The Republic, Plato, was kind of a (proto)fascist mo-fo, and I agree; though he said so in the midst of Nazi German bombs raining down on his country, which could have colored his views a bit at the time. What's your point?Oh, This?Of course, the bizarre aspects of *The Republic* do not indict reason, just as the bizarre aspects of the Bible do not indict divinity.Perhaps not to you, making you one of the "sophisticated" theologians, but what of, say, the great unwashed who regard The Bible as the inerrant word of of a just and loving God? …and who moreover are neither interested in nor moved by your more "sophisticated" view of Divinity?Perhaps if *they* actually paid attention to just how f*cked up the Bible is they might have second thoughts. We can only hope, anyway. And that is why we atheists hammer these points.Perhaps you want to say the Bible doesn't describe your idea of God so what it says is irrelevant to you. Fine, but this is also what Muslims, Hindus, et. al. also say.Moreover, among the Ancient Greeks, I always liked Democritus better anyway.I believe New Atheism, of which I believe you are a part, is merely an attempt at institutionalized ridicule.Actually it is partly a call to ridicule of institutions, namely religious ones.Re: your point about novels.Ok, so we study novels using Literary analysis. Fine. Do you actually believe Literary analysis is actually useful for anything beyond studying literature, i.e. physical reality around us? Maybe if you've read way too much Postmodern theory and taken a few too many bong hits you might think so, but I sure don't, and I'm a former LitCrit guy myself.

  55. says

    "I believe New Atheism, of which I believe you are a part, is merely an attempt at institutionalized ridicule."As far as I can tell what NEW Atheism is is the meme of informing people like Segan, Carlin, Einstein, can now go by the label Atheist.

  56. Martin says

    …what I claimed is to know that there are non-material things for which the materialistic framework cannot account, simply because they cannot be reduced to material components.Okay. So how, exactly, do you know this? What evidence do you consider, and how do you consider it? I think your point about Moby Dick was capably dealt with by George, but perhaps you could give some more succinct examples.

  57. Admin says

    "I would be happy to discuss the dangers of New Atheism if your request represents a concession to my earlier posts.But somehow I suspect you're trying to avoid "the wall of text" because it contains problematic issues like, for instance, reading….."Well, I did take some philosophy in university (got through Atlas Shrugged, which is strange for an atheist who has problems reading), but anyway….. no buddy, I am not conceding anything regarding your posts. I am saying that I didn't read them because I have little interest in some sniping between you and the AE crew about the way the call was handled.And you utterly failed to make your point during the call on the show, so I'm giving you another chance to clearly, and without complication of bitterness towards AE, make your point.Please, pretty please, make a special post for me. 5 sentences, plain English. How are we dangerous, and what horrors do you speak of? I'm beginning to suspect you don't actually know. You dodge it every chance you get.

  58. Admin says

    "Mr. Admin, have you ever wondered why a University does not consist solely of an engineering college?"I'll go to the unemployment centre today and ask the people in line.If you're going to respond to this shot, please make it a separate post from the 'explanation of your point' post.

  59. says

    From what I heard in the program, and from what Charles has put down here, I suspect at least part of what he tried to say will be better understood after reading Douglas Hoftadter's "I Am a Strange Loop".And yes, there's more to humans than matter and energy, with no need to appeal to the supernatural. For one thing, language makes it possible for there to be immaterial "things" which are not supernatural.I'm puzzled by the fact that no theists have tried to turn Gödel's theorems to their favour – you know, truth does not entail provability, that sort of thing. They must be really stupid.For what it's worth, I'm a radical agnostic.

  60. Admin says

    I'd like to withdraw the comment about philosophy leading to the unemployment line. Especially in this economy, it was insensitive. I officially retract and apologise for any offence caused.

  61. says

    As briefly as possible (I'm done reading this, though Charles is welcome to e-mail me if he's interested in a real conversation):If you saw a clip on YouTube, those are posted by fans. Neither myself nor anyone involved with the show posts or edits clips. We post the entire show, warts and all, in both audio and video formats. You don't get to accuse me of being dishonest for something I had nothing to do with.Your novel example (pun intended) is an equivocation. Define 'novel' and your imaginary problem vanishes.Let's say that I conceive of an alien creature that no one else has ever thought of and I have attach a label to that particular concept, I'll call it a Gasjraleen Prazzdom.If I never tell another person about it, the 'creature' is simply a concept – a physical brain state (or, more accurately, a collection of interrelated brain states).If I then write down a detailed description of this creature, the concept still only exists as that collection of brain states. That concept doesn't exist on the paper. What is on the paper is a collection of symbols that can be used to create a similar concept to another person who understands those symbols.If you are such a person and you read that description, your brain now holds a concept. It's different from the concept in my brain but, if we've successfully made use of our shared understanding of other concepts (language) then your concept is probably sufficiently similar to mine that we may now refer to both concepts as Gasjraleen Prazzdom.How many Gasjraleen Prazzdoms exist? Well, that's entirely dependent on the definition. If we're asking how many physical creatures that we associate with the concept labeled Gasjraleen Prazzdom, the answer is either none, or unknown (I suppose it's possible that this fictional creature I 'invented' actually exists on some distant world, but I doubt it).If were asking how many Gasjraleen Prazzdom concepts there are…there are currently 2, mine and yours. That number increases with each new person who is presented with the concept. None of these concepts will be absolutely identical, but many of them will be virtually indistinguishable.The concepts, though, exist as physical brain states…one for each brain. If we all cease to exist, the concept(s) no longer exist. So:A novel is the a linguistic representation of fictional narrative. Whether it is a physical, printed and bound book or the physical, digitally stored data or some other physical means of storing this linguistic representation doesn't matter…it's a novel and it's physical.When I read it, the story exists as a collection of conceptual brain states. The same is true when you read it.The fact that we use the same word (novel) to describe 3 (or more) different, physical things is simply a matter of efficiency…it does not make the three things equivalent and this is why your entire point boils down to an equivocation fallacy.It's simply quicker to say, "I wrote a novel" and "you read my novel" than it is to say "I stored a linguistic representation of a conceptual story on a transferable medium" and "you, by virtue of understanding the same language, generated your own conceptual story from the linguistic representation of my conceptual story".The novel isn't the story, it's the means of communicating a story. The story exists as a concept in the brains of individuals.Your assertion that there's something more, something non-physical that exists, is wholly unsupported. It's simply a confusion about subjects caused by the sloppy nature of language and thought.

  62. says

    JJR,I can only regard your post as a "text" which privileges one epistemic-narrative hegemony in need of deconstruction so as to de-power its recursive, faux-analytical gaze.So there.(Insert quote from some French weirdo nobody actually reads – Foucault, Derrida, Lacan, doesn't matter.)

  63. Admin says

    "Your assertion that there's something more, something non-physical that exists, is wholly unsupported. It's simply a confusion about subjects caused by the sloppy nature of language and thought."Tree! Tree, Matt Dillahunty, tree!

  64. says

    Matthew Dillahunty,"Gasjraleen Prazzdom" is Product Identity and protected intellectual property of Hasbro & Wizards of the Coast and as such, your unlicensed use represents a violation of copyright.Cease and desist. Also, send us a bag of money.On second thought. Keep your money. You'll need it to repurchase everything when 5th Edition arrives.Sincerely,GeorgeFromSomeNYLawOffice

  65. says

    What I find so interesting about the claim that a materialist worldview will lead to us losing our humanity, or our regard for human rights, is that, when we look back through history, so many pious societies have regarded the "other" as if they were of material worth only. Slavery is still thriving today – people actually buy and sell each other as property. In the 18th and 19th century, some very theistic Americans owned other humans they treated as chattel. Only recently in the history of Christianity has it been believed that women have souls. Before Shakespeare's day, we gals were considered material beings only. This is no result of "new atheism," if such a thing exists. In fact, anecdotally speaking, non-believers tend to value human life and individual rights immensely. And as someone who's used antidepressants to get her through some tough times, I'm glad that we can improve our emotional reactions to the world through drug therapy. To me, the reality that our thoughts and feelings having a chemical basis does not demean them, or our experience of life, at all. You might as well be creeped out by mirrors because they reflect your physical, not your spiritual, self.

  66. says

    To the people who cry, "Don't reduce me to neuro-chemistry!" I say fine, what are your thoughts and memories then? Because if they're not something physical, material happening in the brain… what are they? It's not as if we have a lot of different possibilities.Why can't people just face that we are part of the natural world, and not some faerie-dust sprinkled special creations? I even run into atheists who cannot let this go. It's the final fig leaf of mysticism; the last desperate hold on supernaturalism.

  67. says

    As far as I'm concerned, the New Atheists have been here all along. If we atheists have become more vocal in recent years, it's in response to the overt abuses and incursions of superstitionists into the public arena, such as (in no particular order and I'm sure there's others from England and Europe besides):–Dover v. Pennsylvania–Danish Mohammed cartoons–9/11–Catholic Church's obstruction of justice –non-assimilating Moslem communities in Western countries demanding special treatment–8 years of George W. Bush's religious lunacy.–Ben Stein and "Expelled"Atheism is a *rejection* of claims. If there's been a lot more public, vocal, and vociferous objection that you've noticed, it's because there's so much in the past several years that's objectionable. That's IT.

  68. Wired For Sound says

    "You are not a beautiful and special snowflake!"Don't take the snowflake metaphor away from us, you rotten materialist!

  69. Ron Strelecki says

    I think this comes down to "thoughts are magic"? or thinking about thoughts is magic? Or sharing your thoughts on thinking about thoughts is magic? Or writing down your thoughts on thinking about thoughts and sharing them with someone else who likes to think about how thinking about thoughts is magic? This is just a "God of the Gaps" argument hiding in equivocation. Or is it that novels are magic? You damn new atheists are forcing magic to hide in verbiage so complex that even I can't understand it inside my own head? Is that the argument?Or is the argument that the demand that there actually be an argument is an unfair argument? This is just special pleading. Please, don't shine the light of reason on my secret train set, that's where magic happens! And martyrdom, which I am happy to participate in. This guy is building a cross of words to nail himself to, and he's welcome to it.I find it interesting that he referred to the "ghetto of perception" (oh, you materialists are trapped in this useless veil of tears! Come fly with me to the magic world!) as the "ghetto of conception" in the original call. Not sure what to make of it, if anything, probably a slip of the tongue in a heated conversation.

  70. says

    ING's comment about most philosophers being atheists reminded me of this survey: http://philpapers.org/surveys/results.plIn almost every category, atheists are a clear majority. Can you guess what the only philosophy specialty with a theist majority? Religion. I imagine some philosopher's picked "other" because perhaps they are die hard agnostic types, don't feel qualified to answer the question, or they are deists and consider a deist god to be VERY different from a theist (personal) god.It's interesting to see how your own views match up.

  71. says

    @Ron SI thought he was arguing that anything without material composition is magic (or transcends the material, or some such B.S.).I suppose this would include intangible things like heat, electricity, thoughts, symbols, sessions (or any state that can be held by a device), etc…

  72. says

    (continued)When asked to give the material explanation of the mind and the means by which logic is extrapolated from the object described, Michael Shermer rattled off a laundry list of physically descriptive minutia concerning a brain and went on to suggest that all those aspects of human character we generally hold dear–love, altruism, mind–were practical responses to a hostile environment that indirectly helped our ancient ancestors procure and cook a cabbage. (He saw fit not to answer the second half of the question.) The odd part, though, is that Mr. Shermer chose to answer the question at all, rather than just giving the questioner a cabbage. The extreme strangeness of the crypto-Freudian ideology that has been termed by some "evolutionism," is that it cannot present its case without partaking of that thing it wishes to disprove: meaning.Of course, there's zero chance that New Atheism can corrupt the academy. Already, it has been largely panned as insufficient, incoherent, and slightly idiotic. But the problem is that New Atheists aren't trying to convince academics. *The God Delusion*, *God is Not Great*, *Letter to a Christian Nation*, and, yes, even *The Atheist Experience* do not address the academy. These aren't rigorous inquiries in the slightest. These are little more than tracts addressed to the public at large. The public isn't generally as well informed as the academy, so it's not as likely to laugh at the New Atheist claims that all "smart" people stopped believing in God years ago, that the entirety of academia is on board with their half-clever, half-reasonable, half-true pabulum, that the best response to claims about God is jeering. New Atheism is not an ideology, but a political platform headed by pragmatists who claim to be skeptics.And there we have it; the mask is ripped off. A New Atheist no more than that lowliest of creatures–a pragmatist, a slave to "commonsense," impervious to any theoretical subtleties, even those regarding science. The danger with "commonsense" is, like Nabokov says, that "everything is comfortably cheapened by its touch." Sort of like what you did in your ludicrous explanation of the novel.

  73. says

    Shorter Charles: "Nuh uh, because I said so."Having listened to the call, Matt, I don't think you needed to apologize at all. You kept your cool way better than I would have, and hung up right when I think Charles had run in enough circles. Plus it was funny.

  74. says

    I'd applaud profusely if TAE dealt less with theology, in favour of unambiguously dealing more with in-your-face politics, and fuck what academics say. But you seem to get your kicks out of talking endlessly about gods. Well, it's your show and your fun, I suppose.

  75. says

    "And there we have it; the mask is ripped off. A New Atheist no more than that lowliest of creatures–a pragmatist, a slave to "commonsense," impervious to any theoretical subtleties, even those regarding science."Yeah, Russel was right, You're an asshole. Dude, you are not just wrong but fractially wrong. You don't understand science or reason. Seriously, no one likes you. We all thought your ideas were stupid, but now that you've gone on at length I think I can say at least for myself, that I know you're stupid and I now personally dislike you. Your argument is nothing but "YOU STUPID STUPID MINDS" and crack pipe bullshit. WE aren't disagreeing with you because we're too dumb to understand, we disagree because you're wrong. Seriously not one person thinks you've made a single good point here. Which is more likely, that you're so much smarter than us and we play with our own poop, or that you suck at communicating and/or a class A moron. My sincerest hope is that you have yet to and never will reproduce. Seriously you give this "On your show, you asked me how love was more than "a chemical fever"–not that you expected an answer, as evidenced by your failing to pause so that I could speak. But let me answer you now. Love is "a star to every wandering bark, whose worth's unknown although his height be taken."thinking it to be a real response? Really? And you call US philistines. Seriously? Hey know why I'm right? Because "Logic is the start of wisdom". See that's my evidence. Spock said it and it's poetic like so it's true. DUUUUUUUUUUR. You're answer sucks so much, that I doubt you have ever fucking been in love. Seriously, go get laid. Make a withdrawal from the bank if you have to, actually dealing with real people will do you good. And there we have it; the mask is ripped off. A sophlicist is no more than that lowliest of creatures–a narcissistic, arrogant dunderhead, slave to the sound of their own voice, spewing out vomit and bile and mistaking it for poetry. Someone too dumb to know what a book is and too sure of himself to do anything but label research that disagrees with him as dangerous. Impervious to any and all empirical realities, especially those regarding science.

  76. says

    "(continued)When asked to give the material explanation of the mind and the means by which logic is extrapolated from the object described, Michael Shermer rattled off a laundry list of physically descriptive minutia concerning a brain and went on to suggest that all those aspects of human character we generally hold dear–love, altruism, mind–were practical responses to a hostile environment that indirectly helped our ancient ancestors procure and cook a cabbage. (He saw fit not to answer the second half of the question.) The odd part, though, is that Mr. Shermer chose to answer the question at all, rather than just giving the questioner a cabbage."*hands the asshole a cabbage* Shove it up hard buddy.You've written over 30 lines of text and it's all one sentence. How the hell do you call us philistines when you're apparently so devoid from human reality you can't even talk to another person. Go read Elements of Style and come back to us when you're functionally literate.

  77. says

    I listen to the podcast for this show (not the tv version). Over and over I get displeased about how one of the host yells and talks down to many callers. I am talking about the host who was going to be a priest (I am not sure what his name is). I understand that our theist friends are not always the best debaters – most of the time they know nothing. But most of the time there is no reason to yell at them. As a listener who wants to analyse the discussion, focusing on that host's yells prevents me from thinking about the subject. Please be mindful of that. Plus you sound as like a better debater when you keep you cool. On the other hand, the other hosts are great at managing their temper. Just my respectful opinion.Jorge

  78. says

    Charles says"Of course, there's zero chance that New Atheism can corrupt the academy. Already, it has been largely panned as insufficient, incoherent, and slightly idiotic."Thats right folks, Dawkins will not be winning an Oscar anytime soon.(seriously – argument from authority or what?)

  79. says

    As someone who greatly enjoys William Blake's poetry — and somone who also would never dream of using that poetry as an accurate guide to the universe — I'm genuinely puzzled by Charles' argument.Poetry is…evidence that love is more than a chemical reaction? Or that minds are more than brain activity? How so, exactly?It seems like you're confusing the subjective feeling of love with a discussion of what it actually *is* — those are two different questions.What I find amusing about this whole thread is that underneath Charles' command of vocabulary lurk the same empty arguments from ignorance that we've seen countless times.As to his argument on the show, it's still not terribly clear what the "danger" of New Atheism is. Apparently, if I'm hearing him correctly, he fears that once people start believing that humans are merely physical beings, it "naturally follows" that people will be treated like objects by those in power. It's the ol' "atheism leads to bad things" argument, and as usual, there are two glaring things wrong with it:First, you cannot derive negative consequences from atheism, or materialism for that matter. Matt pointed this out and attempted to get Charles to explain how he got from the "is" to the "ought," and Charles responded by changing his argument: now, all of a sudden, his point was no longer that bad things "naturally follow" from materialism but rather that "there [would be] no ought" in a materialist world (i.e. if everyone believed in "reductionist materialism," there would be no morality and nothing to stop bad guys from doing bad things). Obviously, though, any bad things that would occur under such a scenario would not "naturally follow" from atheism or materialism, as Charles initially attempted to claim. They would follow from the actions of the people doing bad things (and, equally obviously, the fact that most people in the world today are not reductionist materialist does nothing to stop bad things from happening). Furthermore, many would argue that morality is indeed possible in a godless universe, but we can save those arguments for another time.Second, the consequences (or supposed consequences) of a position have nothing to do with whether or not the position is true. Even if it could be proven that "New Atheism" would absolutely lead to atrocities, it would not be a logical argument against the truth of the position that there are no good reasons to accept god claims.In short, Charles' argument fails on every single level. How thoroughly unsurprising. Incidentally, it would be nice to hear Charles address Matt's careful explanation of how the novel can be accounted for without reference to supernatural things.–Los

  80. says

    It seems that Charles made two assertions with this last argument:1. "New Atheists are not academics"2. New Atheists are "Slaves to practicality".1. Atheism is not an academic field. We simply do not see evidence for what religious people come up with. When theists invent a new argument, or discover new evidence, then atheists will respond. Until then, don't expect new ways to say "the burden of proof has not yet been met". 2. We are slaves to relevance. This entire discussion is about your assertion that there is a world that we refuse to acknowledge, because it cannot in any way be detected in our world. If it does not manifest in any way, if it cannot be detected, if it is completely indistinguishable from the imagination, then how is it relevant? Not only that, but how can your opinion be anything more than a wild guess? If you would like to contemplate unfalsifiable hypotheses that can in no way affect any of us, and are statistically unlikely to be true, then how does that make you better than anyone here? How does that even qualify as "knowledge"?

  81. says

    I am not sure if anybody will ever bother reading me this far in the comments (I sure can't be bothered to read all of them), but I happen to be a literature specialist, I thought I would bring my two cents. Not sure if it's relevant, but I don't like when people like Charles here use literature as an example, apparently knowing zilch about it. Okay, so here it is: in literary interpretation, there is technically no notion of falsiability, no way to prove without the shadow of a doubt that a theory or an interpretation on a text is wrong, inacurate, whatever. That said, the worth of a literary interpretation is relative to the amount of evidence and the quality of the argumentation.Oh, and like for philosophers, there are many writers who are atheists.And, on a side note, what's all this about love? If anything, science, history, arts and what have you pretty much showed that the feeling was much more complex, much more subtle than any religious texts has described it.

  82. Admin says

    "Which is more likely, that you're so much smarter than us and we play with our own poop, or that you suck at communicating and/or a class A moron."That is indeed the problem! Charles is so out of touch with reality that he has become unable to communicate his ideas to other people. He is a shitty communicator, which is why nobody on this thread seems to know exactly what he means when he says we're dangerous, or what horrors we'd create. He has had PLENTY of time, both on the show and in these threads, to communicate his point, and has failed. He also failed to take my challenge to briefly summarise his point.Perhaps he thinks his point is too complex for a summary. If he does think that, he's a poor communicator and/or thinker. Here Charles, I'll summarise gravity in 5 sentences or less:Gravity is one of the fundamental forces of nature. It is the force of attraction between 2 or more objects with mass. Its strength increases as the mass of the objects increases, and decreases as the distance between them increases. It is also dependent on a constant called, 'G', whose value has been determined experimentally. Relativity describes gravity as masses bending the actual space-time around them.There. Now, you summarise your point, CLEARLY! The fact that you have not is enough to tell me that you've got nothing except a fucked-up head full of esoteric bullshit.

  83. Martin says

    Charles,Your eructation of masturbatory self-flattering rhetoric is noted.Now will you quit playing dodgeball already and answer the fucking question: How exactly do you "know that there are non-material things for which the materialistic framework cannot account," and what is the standard of evidence you employ?

  84. says

    I think that Chuck's arguments are not that his beliefs are intellectually superior to the "New Atheists", but more of a class thing. Y'know Matt says "Love is a chemical fever" and Chuck responds sneeringly, "How absolutely vulgar. Why, just the other day this very dear friend of mine, oh you wouldn't know them, said that he thought that love is 'a star to every wandering bark, whose worth's unknown although his height be taken*.' Now, in the world that I live in, which is both material and nonmaterial (and wholly imaginary if he's really a solipsist) so it's better, we judge things as relevant by how pretty they are, so mine wins. Not that you'll ever understand that."Matt (or anyone) might then say "Prove it" and Chuck would shake his head sadly and say "That's the sort of thing that keeps you from being invited to the parties I go to, where I meet these wonderful people who are all better than you OR your friends, who I know even less than you and I don't care if I ever do, and that wonderful rubs off on me so there."Matt might then say "Whatever. I think Plucker's is open. Email me" and walks away. The demented shouts of "You're just afraid to argue in front of all these people (who all agree with you already and think I'm a douchebag [which I do, by the way])! Run away!!"That you are a Troll of the first water is beyond any doubt in my mind. The pseudo-intellectual mumbo-jumbo that you've been slinging around here like an incontinent spider monkey aside, you refuse to even present an argument at all! I mean, CASE DISMISSED much?You want anecdotes? I used to work at a main branch public library (so I've seen more books than you so I win. Kidding) in it's Sci Tech department. We'd get these dudes in regularly who would order a cart-load of US Meteorological records in the form of hard-bound volumes or some such thing and sit there reading through them for hours, day after day. "Serious stuff" you're thinking. Maybe. But these guys were all twitchy bums with B. O.; My thinking on the subject was "He might know a lot about weather records, but I think I'll keep my umbrella".I bet you know where I'm going with this. Yes, Chuck reminds me of those guys. And if it wasn't for the fact that he was such a bloated forum whore I might have some sympathy for him.Keep it up Charles. I've got the Department of Homeland Brain Uploaders on speed-dial, and they'll come and jug your fucked up noodle faster than I can say "Kentucky Fried Chicken".*It's interesting that you quote a passage that describes Celestial Navigation, a very scientific process. And "his height (can) be taken" because it's been MEASURED and RECORDED. It also proves that science can be poetic, at least to me. But what do I know?Ciao

  85. says

    several things.A) Chucky's voice…comic geeks will get this, but I can't read him as anything other than Superboy Prime. Whiney guy who bitches at others for ruining'his' reality. B) We need to get Jeff to comment again, as I kind of want to hear his full defense of transhumanismC) Someone has to read excerpts of Charlie outloud on the show, it'll be hillariousD) I think Charlie called in before when Martin? was on. I remember the Philistine comment.

  86. says

    "Keep it up Charles. I've got the Department of Homeland Brain Uploaders on speed-dial, and they'll come and jug your fucked up noodle faster than I can say "Kentucky Fried Chicken"."Charlie doesn't have to worry about the uploading…the machines will naturally reject him "no signal detected, check your local cable or wireless service"

  87. says

    Charles, I've never seen someone use so many words to say so little. The only point you've made is "all y'all are fucking retards." Not once have you tried to state what you know, how you know it, or what danger the new atheists actually pose. I don't think you know anything.You are the equivalent of an old porn star who has been in the business so long that they've forgotten what it's really like to have a relationship, climax in a normal amount of time, or climax without jerking themselves off for 4 hours while the rest of the crew breaks for lunch and lounges around the pool.Has it ever crossed your mind that people like Dawkins weren't trying to change academia? Maybe, just maybe they might be pushing for social change instead? Surely someone of your towering intellect figured this out. Atheists like Michael Martin and Graham Oppy are doing what they do inside academia. The problem with academia is that what happens in academia rarely leaves academia. All of academia could be the reductionists that you fear for whatever reason, and it still wouldn't have stopped 19 men from flying planes into buildings a few years back because they thought it would please their god.In the social arena, Dawkins and the "new atheists" are making progress. The movement is not a failure, but a success.If the world of academia is THE battleground where ideas should be fought, as you seem to suggest, do your part and submit papers for peer review in philosophy journals. If you disdain the general public so much, what the fuck were you doing calling a public access show run by volunteers? You're a hypocrite.Please make a point. Just try to justify your position. Enlighten us. If you can't, then shut the fuck up and go mentally masturbate elsewhere.Sincerely,Figment of your imagination

  88. says

    It's not always wrong to cut callers off. Sometimes it's a little rude but I don't think the hosts were here. Remember the show last year where the guy from Florida was trying to argue that we can't judge God because he uses a different standard, and Matt was trying to reply "Yes we can." And later said basically "Your God is a dick"?At one point Matt had to cut the caller off. The caller said "please let me finish my point" then Matt responded "No! No! No! You don't get to finish preaching. Especially when I've objected to everything you said". As stated earlier, when someone is just hurling a bunch of asinine assertions and fallacies that person needs to be cut off. A lot of them are just trying to throw a bunch of shit at the wall in the hopes that something will stick.

  89. says

    Thus spake Zarabluster: You can go on pretending, if you like, that questions about the nature or existence of God are amenable to the practical penetrations of a microscope. You can keep acting surprised when it turns out they are not.And here we have the problem of materialism: it cannot account for meaning. Ya know, Chuck, I really wish you'd just come right out and say, "I'm a mystic." Seriously. Just say the words. I. Am. A. Mystic.There. Was that so difficult?I do have question for you. Ready?You acknowledge, I presume, that there was a time on this word before humans existed.For millions upon millions of years no sentient, self-aware creatures walked this world, looking about in curiosity, amusement, wonder and fear at what they beheld. None. Not one.During all that time… next to which the duration of our species is but an eyeblink…What did it mean?If materialism cannot account for meaning, then please account for it using something else. What is the non-materialist meaning of a T-Rex eating a Triceratops, or the latter eluding him to live another day and eat some more plants?What is the non-materialist meaning of the K-T extinction event that wiped them all out and cleared the stage for such as we?Had it not happened, what would the non-materialist meaning of a world still brimming with colossal saurians be?Let's hear it.

  90. says

    Charles wrote:When asked to give the material explanation of the mind and the means by which logic is extrapolated from the object described, Michael Shermer rattled off a laundry list of physically descriptive minutia concerning a brain and went on to suggest that all those aspects of human character we generally hold dear–love, altruism, mind–were practical responses to a hostile environment that indirectly helped our ancient ancestors procure and cook a cabbage. (He saw fit not to answer the second half of the question.)So by "the second half of the question" do you mean "the means by which logic is extrapolated from the object described"?Maybe Shermer didn't answer it because it makes no fuckin' sense! I think you need to spend less time thumbing through your thesaurus and more time actually thinking about how to say what you want to communicate, and in fewer words. Like everyone else has said, you suck at communication.

  91. says

    You know Charles, I wasn't going to reply to your needlessly-verbose and arrogant-sounding comments, but after reading through each painful one, I feel compelled to clarify something for you…I don't like you. As a matter of fact, I STRONGLY dislike you. I've never even met you, but judging just by the endless river of verbal diarrhea that came out of your mouth on the show and your excessively long and condescending comments, I already feel you are a reprehensible person who is not worthy of my respect or compassion.You've stubbornly refused to clarify exactly what a "New Atheist" is, despite repeated pleas for you to do so. As far as I know, the definition of the word "Atheist" is the same now as it has always been … it's simply a person who lacks belief in a god or gods. I'm also going to assume that since you called into a show named "The Atheist Experience", that it's a label you apply to anyone who regards themselves as just a plain old "atheist". If I may be so forward as to venture an educated guess, I think you just slapped the word "new" in front of "atheism" and then capitalized both, so that you could use it as a new buzz word to incite fervor among other like-minded, anti-atheist bigots you might associate with. I also think that you did this deliberately, so that a more gullible mind might read the term and think "New Atheism … OMG NEW WORLD ORDER!? THEY WERE RIGHT!" At least that's the impression I got, judging by your bat-shit crazy ideas about what reality and evidence are.Allow me to clarify something for you that I don't think anyone else has touched upon yet … atheism is a NEGATIVE position. It does not define who or what a person IS … it only defines what they LACK, which is belief in a god. That is where the definition of atheism ends. ANY other beliefs or ideas that an atheist individual might have fall outside that definition, and are therefore NOT A PART OF BEING AN ATHEIST. Atheists are a disparate group of people united ONLY by their lack of believe in a god or gods. Two people who define themselves as "atheists" could hold other beliefs, views, or opinions that are the polar opposites of each other. That being said… (Continued…)

  92. says

    (Continued from previous comment…)I lack belief in any god or gods, so I suppose I fall into your "New Atheist" category. You start right off with the implication that "New Atheists are dangerous. You are a New Atheist. Therefore, YOU are dangerous!" I don't know about the other good folks on this forum, but I found that sentiment extremely offensive. Who the hell are you to say such a thing? You've never met me, or even spoken to me before today. I'm sure you've never met the other folks here that you label as "New Atheists" either. What gives you the right to make assumptions about who and what I am, what I believe, and how I think? Do you really think that telling me I'm "dangerous" is going to make me the least bit willing to listen to your half-baked absurdities? I think Matt and Jeff were right for hanging up on you. Did you really think you could insult them both, and then expect them to sit there quietly while you (ineptly) attempted to explain exactly WHY you find them both so repugnant?I also find your writing style to be extremely annoying. There is a reason that the KISS (Keep it Simple, Stupid!) rule exists in writing, and I've never found a more fitting example of who to apply it to than you. And, contrary to your ignorant statement, KISS DOES allow for the use of descriptive language, like adjectives and adverbs … it just affords very little tolerance for the overly-verbose, pedantic, and misleading writing style of assholes such as yourself!I'm not even going to bother telling you why I think what YOU believe is bullshit, since you've made it clear that you are not interested in hearing my (or anyone else's) thoughts or having any sort of productive debate. You only want to accuse me and other atheists of being the cause of all the problems that are hopelessly beyond your feeble means to control.I find it rather comical how you accuse Matt of being dishonest. It's clear from your comments who the dishonest one is. Take your "New Atheism" and shove it, asshole!

  93. says

    Mac,Charles also seems to confuse profundity with obscurity.Note, for example, this little gem: the law of Strunkian style proves we should omit needless words, which really means we shouldn't use adjectives and adverbs, a concept that clearly demonstrates that hacks like Shakespeare, Coleridge, and James fall short of the literary genius of E.B. White.White's point was that one should communicate in the most effective manner possible.In most cases, especially those of persuasion or instruction, be clear and direct. Don't guild the lily.This is esp true when dealing with complex or very technical subjects. If the material has an inherent 'learning curve,' don't burden the listener further with a needlessly baroque prose style.On the other hand, if we're talking about poetry, fiction, sonnets, song-writing, polemics, devotionals, etc. then different rules apply. With a romantic poem, say, gilding the lily is very much in order.A simple principle, yet he misses it by a country mile.

  94. says

    George,I agree with you whole-heartedly, good sir.I wouldn't presume anything about his knowledge now, given how hopelessly stupid I believe he is, but surely he must know that the rules of creative writing are different, when composing poetry? Men like Shakespeare were Wordsmiths … they were remarkable in how they could use language and vocabulary like colors on a paintbrush, to paint a beautiful picture in the minds of their listeners and readers.While it's certainly encouraged to be creative and descriptive in essays and the like, the rules are JUST A TAD different. If you are going to use obscure (or, as I like to call them, "Big") words, they need to be used in a context that allows the reader to deduce its definition. We certainly have it easier nowadays, where you can have a complex and difficult article open in one browser tab, while having Dictionary.com or Thesaurus.com open in another tab. People a century ago weren't so fortunate.What really irks me about Charles' writing is his excessive use of "Big" words. There are often two or three in every sentence, making context deduction of the definitions of his word choices almost impossible. His grammar structure sucks to, often using run-on sentences or entire paragraphs to say what could have been said in a single sentence fragment.My mother is an English teacher, and she's always taught me to be as clear and concise as possible in whatever I'm saying or writing. Language's purpose is to allow easy verbal and written communication of ideas and thoughts. I've taken this to heart. People who pervert and abuse language in order to accomplish the exact opposite … to make their points difficult to grasp or to give the illusion of inflated intelligence … I find to be very disingenuous.

  95. says

    I've read all comments up to 5/13/2010 3:03 AM, and I respectfully submit that many of you here have diametrically missed several of Charles's points. No wonder he makes no sense to you. There are many other things apart from jokes, sarcam, irony and poetry that can be missed – and it's always a bit sad.The viciousness of some attacks here on Charles are disturbing. It's like he's become the scapegoat for Matt's and Jeff's mistake in cutting him off before he'd had a fair hearing. And they both KNEW it was a mistake as soon as they cut him off. I was listening on the audio feed, and I could *HEAR* their embarrassment. Charles's obscurity just makes it morally very easy for them to let the wolves come and thrash him to pieces.I'm not a theist OR a deist; to me the Bible/Koran/&c god is a bad joke; so I'm not very different from you guys. But again, I suspect a better perspective on a lot of what Charles's been trying to say can be found in Hofstadter's books on Gödel and consciousness.

  96. says

    "The viciousness of some attacks here on Charles are disturbing. It's like he's become the scapegoat for Matt's and Jeff's mistake in cutting him off before he'd had a fair hearing. And they both KNEW it was a mistake as soon as they cut him off. I was listening on the audio feed, and I could *HEAR* their embarrassment. Charles's obscurity just makes it morally very easy for them to let the wolves come and thrash him to pieces."I don't like the term but..>Concern troll==you. Seriously did you see the show or read what Charlie says. He says nothing in sentences that would steal C-3PO's breath. If he had a fucking point beyond non-sequitors "Love is more than physical because Poets exist" and "TREES" and "You are philistines and scum" then we'd have something to respond to. Seriously, I was gonna be kind and give you the benefit of the doubt but nah, fuck you too. Someone calls in calls everyone dangerous moronic butt sniffers and then babbles on proving himself to be a psuedo intellectual twit and you blame the hosts. Are we sure you're not charlie? *squints*

  97. says

    "Are we sure you're not charlie? *squints*"Ing,The world has nearly seven BILLION people, and at least MILLIONS of differing worldviews. Then ONE person speaks and another ONE on the other side of the world sees SOME of his points, and you think they might be the SAME person?HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHALearn this: our minds don't live in villages any more. Get rid of the small-village mentality. (I've been saying that to believers for a decade. Never thought I'd be saying it to an atheist. You're evidence that atheism is spread all across the board of human intelligence. One more reason for TAE to focus more on politics than philosophy.)

  98. says

    "I think that Chuck's arguments are not that his beliefs are intellectually superior to the "New Atheists", but more of a class thing."+1 most strenuously!That perfectly sums up my estimation of the way Charles has conducted himself.I was going to explain how I could understand his summary of Matt's latest contribution, that I could see that was how it looked to him. When you read the rest of Charles' posts though, you realise that it doesn't matter how any atheist here conducts themselves: Charles has decided a priori that he is correct. He has, as Martin pointed out, STILL not answered the original question. This is him shrouding himself in his class-fuelled martyr complex.Which is also why I think Permafrost is indulging a bit too much in 'knight in shining armour' syndrome. You have read all those posts… and you think that people are unfair to Charles!? Have you noticed his evasions, mixed with ribald insults? Sure, he is now getting insults back, but it sounds like you deafened yourself to his conduct, and then switched on your concern when he got some of his own behaviour thrown back at him.

  99. says

    Hi Permafrost,I'm not a theist OR a deist; to me the Bible/Koran/&c god is a bad joke; so I'm not very different from you guys. But again, I suspect a better perspective on a lot of what Charles's been trying to say can be found in Hofstadter's books on Gödel and consciousness.As a big fan of Douglas Hofstadter in general, and GEB in particular, my opinion is that if Charles is trying to claim the mantle of Hofstadter's thoughts on mind and matter, he is failing. Badly. A lot of what I understand now about the philosophy of mind and self awareness originated from read GEB and "The Mind's I" as a kid.While Hofstadter would be the first to agree that you can't just see the mind as a sum of its physical components and nothing more, he systematically dismantles the idea that there is anything dualistic or supernatural about the workings of the mind. As I recall, Hofstadter himself wrote the commentary at the end of Searle's essay, "Minds, Brains, and Programs," after reprinting in "Mind's I." This was the essay where Searle introduced the concept of the "Chinese Room" in order to "prove" that a mechanistic physical process carrying out the same functions as a brain cannot be considered sentient. Hofstadter's response dismantles Searle's ideas and defended the idea that, yes, a mechanistic process can ultimately produce intelligence as an emergent process.It's also worth noting that Hofstadter collected and annotated the essays in "Mind's I" in collaboration with philosopher Daniel Dennett, who is himself one of the so-called "New Atheists" of whom poor Charles seems to be so terrified. (Dennett, incidentally, has been a fixture in philosophy for some thirty years, and has a lengthy CV of publications in academic journals. This makes him a walking counterexample to Charles' nonsensical claim that atheism has no foothold in contemporary academic philosophy.)

  100. says

    Hi, Kazim.I didn't say D.Hofstadter might be Charles's background; I said DH sheds some perspective on what C has said. I guess C has some intuitions that, given the right literature, could ultimately lead him away from the "theism and deist inclinations" that he professed in the show. But let me leave it at that. Consciousness will always be a tricky subject to TALK about (that is, "to use *language* in human interchanges about").Thank you for your response.

  101. says

    I'm going to have to strongly disagree with many of the comments stating that Charles is wrong. You see, in order for someone to be wrong, they have to actually say something.Permafrost, since you claim to understand what Charles' point is, could you please outline it for me? At best, he sees materialism as a "real threat," though, one that he concedes is "not possible."

  102. Martin says

    …many of you here have diametrically missed several of Charles's points.Charles has made points? When? Perhaps none of us could be bothered to wade through the morass of all his self-congratulatory playground snark to get to them.I'm still waiting for a simple answer to my simple question.

  103. says

    Perma, Charles has his chance, during the phone call, to make his case – such as it is. He had another chance here. Indeed, he could write again and clear the whole thing up.I don't know the man personally, and neither like nor dislike him. I react to him based on what he says and my reaction is as follows:He presents himself as a defender of Truth & Beauty against the cold, mechanistic reductionism of the dreaded New Atheism. [ There! See that? His position summarized in one sentence vs his endless palaver. EB White, thou art avenged. ;) ]The presentation fails because, simply, he comes across as a pseudo-intellectual clown.His attempts at erudition read as those of an incoherent, condescending poseur name-dropping and blowing smoke in the hopes of masquerading his own confusion.He is also, pace Kazim, a clinically-diagnosable asshole.Perma, it is not the case that we are dog-piling on Charles because he took a contrary position or rubbed the show hosts the wrong way. I am a political Conservative of a very old school. I may well be the most rightward-leaning person listening to TAE and posting on this blog. And I can tell you, there is no ideological litmus test here. I'm sure I write things which piss Martin, Kaz, et alia off to no end and I expect them to let me have it accordingly when I do.I have never, and I mean never, encountered any kind of Loyalty Oath to be taken in order to be part of TAE's audience or blog commentariat.Charles was hostile and insulting from the get-go (listen to the call again). The hosts put up with it for awhile, trying to get to his point, before giving up. So he comes here and, again, brings the attitude. Only this time we're waiting for it and hand it right back to him.That's the story.

  104. Martin says

    Well, George, when you write things we disagree with, we can have intelligent conversation between men, which is a slightly different thing than dealing with some prat engaging in self-validating poo-flinging. (And a political conservative of the "old school" is far different from the know-nothingism and nihilism that has redefined conservatism these days. But that's another topic.)

  105. says

    "since you claim to understand what Charles' point is, could you please outline it for me?"Sorry, I won't be new meat for you all, especially since they're not my points. I merely tried to help you with some perspective.Part of what prompted me to write was that I was very surprised indeed at the spate of vicious ad hominems as a reaction to a few er… "insulting" generalized words by Charles; I was particularly surprised that the reaction came from atheists, who we all know are not averse to slinging it around. In contrast to Charles, I think I couldn't be less solipsistic that by believing in what Salman Rushdie says in his book, Midnight Children: "Most of what matters in your life happens in your absence." When someone calls me names and stuff, I either laugh at him or ask him to explain himself (and I listen…). I can only be hurt by insults I can't hear. It's a policy I respectfully recommend.

  106. Martin says

    I was very surprised indeed at the spate of vicious ad hominems as a reaction to a few er… "insulting" generalized words by Charles…Note that there are a lot of us and only one Charles. He walked into a popular atheist hangout and acted like a big ol' dickpenis. Try, sometime, walking into a crowded pool hall popular among Latinos, shout a racial epithet at the top of your lungs, and marvel at how the response somehow seems to be exceedingly vicious in proportion to your few insulting, generalized words.While I'm here, it's evident we need another refresher as to what an ad hominem is and what it's not. Simply saying something insulting, like "You're an idiot" is not an ad hominem (particularly when the target of the remark is in fact being idiotic). An ad hominem is an attempt to dismiss a person's argument based on something about their character that is irrelevant to the discussion at hand, like, "What the hell would an auto mechanic know about the Civil War anyway?" or "Well, I'd expect that kind of woolly headed liberal thinking from an egghead Ivy League Yankee Jew!"Now, the personal attack can be a fallacy as well. But if a person is saying dumb things ("Women belong in the damn kitchen!" "The New Atheists are going to destroy us all!") and you point out that they're a rank shithead for saying something so dumb, that's not an ad hominem, nor — I would argue — even an inappropriate personal attack.

  107. says

    "Sorry, I won't be new meat for you all, especially since they're not my points. I merely tried to help you with some perspective."Then why did you bring it up? "I won't tell you because you'll be mean". Great, you're a coward. If you don't have the balls to back up what you say, and don't care enough to defend it then shut up.

  108. Wired For Sound says

    "His attempts at erudition read as those of an incoherent, condescending poseur name-dropping and blowing smoke in the hopes of masquerading his own confusion."More specifically, in the hopes of masquerading his own lack or erudition. A common, transparent ruse of asshats like Charles. Charles, randomly tossing out $50 words isn't going to impress anybody if they never converge into something resembling a proper sentence.

  109. says

    What!? George from NY is a political Conservative of a very old school.Appropriate action must be taken(-Raymond removes George from his christmas card list-)That'll learn 'em.

  110. says

    Martin,What you've actually been saying is that if atheists as a group are not talked to within clearly defined parameters of vocabulary, ideology, conciseness and logic, then they are perfectly entitled to lose their cool and react like a hysterical, baying, cussing mob. It's a free country!The voice of reason indeed.I've learnt a lesson here, truly, and I'd better shut up: I don't want the wolves to scapegoat ME now. :•)I'll go on listening to your show, but now I know you a little better.—–Ing,Sorry, but I don't make a living out of going through other people's misunderstandings point by point. Giving them clues is all I have time for.

  111. says

    "What!? George from NY is a political Conservative of a very old school.Appropriate action must be taken(-Raymond removes George from his christmas card list-)That'll learn 'em."Annoyingly, as I spend more time on liberal forums I find myself understanding where George comes from more and more.

  112. Afterthought_btw says

    One statement comes to mind from hearing Charles, and reading as much of what he said that I can stomach. I know other people have said something similar, but I feel it will be therapeutic to write it myself:Appearing erudite is different to memorising a lot of long words – it also includes being able to formulate sentences in as efficient and intelligible a manner as possible.

  113. says

    Perma,…react like a hysterical, baying, cussing mob. Oh, come on. You have led a very sheltered life if our treatment of Le Chuck strikes you thus.Has it wholly escaped your notice that even those harshly critical of Chas would give him a fair hearing, would he only shelve his attitude and present his case straightforwardly? Perusal of the thread will show a number of places where Karl was presented with specific, on-point, NON-hysterical challenges to what he was saying – or appeared to be saying.Yes, the knives came out once we realized what we were dealing with, but Carolus Soplisus had his chance and – here's the kicker – HE STILL DOES.He could silence us all with a clear, power and coherent rebuke of the aspersions case against him.I'm not holding my breath, though. And I have a feeling you aren't either.

  114. says

    @ PermafrostI would not have given Charles the flaying I did if it were not for the fact that I had first criticized the AETV show hosts for the way they handled his call. Charles then proceeded to accuse them of editing clips on YouTube, lying, calling Matt a "mediocre propagandist" and saying that he was afraid to debate him publicly. In short, making me feel like a fucking idiot.And, what J. Juniper said.

  115. says

    Yeah, I stand by my statement that even if Perma is someone else it is not an unreasonable guess that he's a sock puppet. …I'm thinking not though as Perma is apparently familiar with the period.

  116. says

    "Ing,Sorry, but I don't make a living out of going through other people's misunderstandings point by point. Giving them clues is all I have time for"Well thanks for taking the time to come off your ivory tower and come on down to give a nugget of wisdom to us philistines. How blessed we are that you would flick the kernels from your feces in the general direction of us unworthy wretches. One day I hope to be as pompas as you. Now quick you best return to up on high! Lord knows the universe is shaking at it's foundations without you to helm it and show people the err of their ways!

  117. says

    Permafrost: "Sorry, I won't be new meat for you all, especially since they're not my points. I merely tried to help you with some perspective."I always wonder what is behind this kind of attitude. There seems to be a role/cliche that is attractive to some people, whereby someone portrays themselves as the more moderate voice which pops its head in to a discussion to say little more than: "… just sayin'."If you aren't willing to point out the very things you claim people have missed, then can you in full honesty say "I won't be new meat for you all, especially since they're not my points"?You're hardly helping with perspective when you say little more than 'What Charles said… +1'It sounds like those 'middle-grounders' who always seek to portray themselves as immune from the extremes of an argument. Their position is basically 'I can see that which the rest of you have missed'. It seems to be little removed from Permafrost's: 'I can see how you have all missed the points: but I choose not to highlight them to you"

  118. says

    Pom,Yes, spot-on. It's a combination of rhetorical sniping and back-seat driving that allows you to insulate yourself from criticism while criticizing others.A similar trick is known as "Debate Cop;" calling others out on fallacy X, assumption Y and logic error Z but never putting your own cards on the table to come clean about where you stand.

  119. says

    Come on, Pombolo, it's not that at all. I merely pointed out that there is a perspective some people missed. There have been too many responses, and too much said. I'd have to spend hours sorting out points missed and points taken. All I've been hoping is that people who have responded to C might look over their responses and compare them point by point with what he said/wrote. And if those people can't see what they got wrong, then nothing I could say would help. I'm not saying C is right, mind you, but his points help bring underlying complexities to the surface – and I pointed to Hofstadter as a token of that complexity. Nothing will be resolved or gained in this discussion. In the end, we'll just put it down as a bad half-hour. And that comes from leaving politics out of the picture. I think A.C.Grayling might agree with me: religion may have all the transcendental value believers claim, but on THIS planet it's politics. Every time atheists talk philosophy or theology, they're in effect granting to religion the importance it thinks it has.

  120. says

    "A similar trick is known as "Debate Cop;" calling others out on fallacy X, assumption Y and logic error Z but never putting your own cards on the table to come clean about where you stand."Oops… I think I may actually be guilty of this on a couple of occasions in the past.Remind me to slap myself the next time I do it.

  121. says

    Permafrost said"All I've been hoping is that people who have responded to C might look over their responses and compare them point by point with what he said/wrote."Part of the problem is that Charles is not communicating in an accessible way. He has been criticised for his style which he seems to value over content.I am a computer geek and I am often get asked for help/advice from friends and family. If I took a leaf from charles book then I could litter my responses with jargon and gobbledegook. The may make me feel like king smartass but it would help noone.

  122. says

    Perma, Religions are sets of ideas. People act on their ideas.Therefore, religion matters in this world.In fact, given the brute reality of this worldly realm and the likely unreality of any metaphysical ones, I'd hold the here-and-now consequences of religions as having FAR more import than their theological dimension.

  123. says

    Unless they are hemming and hawing and basically not composing sentences, there's no reason to cut them off. I understand that sometimes you wish to stop them at the exact time you disagree. But then show them the same right of stopping you. Sadly in many cases, conversation is a two way street. The times I find myself wishing the person would shut up are usually not the people trying to espouse their bad reasoning without interruption. This guy could have been given some more rope and made his noose quite nicely and stepped into it without any need to interrupt. In general I think you guys are a lot better at "TV conversing" than when you first started. Matt used to treat his dump button like a kid who could take it away and not play if someone struck him the wrong way. Not that I would be any better mind you.

  124. says

    Holy crap, somehow I missed the "special guest" and left my last post as if it was still a discussion about the handling of a call. The funny thing is that I've spent an hour reading every single comment and I still don't have any better clarity on what the call was actually about. None. All I have deciphered is that Charles does not like the group and the group does not like Charles. Then Permafrost comes in claiming to be Mr agnostic (in relation to the argument I mean) with some keener insight into Charles's assholishness. But he's mum on the vital info also. So now two people refuse to share information everyone is pretty much begging for whilst haughtily mocking from on high.

  125. says

    George,That's exactly my point. On this planet, if atheists do NOT believe any of the transcendent claims of any religion, then they as a group SHOULD hold that the deep reason believers assemble, organize themselves and proselytize can ONLY be political or, by their social nature, have immediate political effects. Instead of this, we get atheists such as those on TAE discussing theology, fending off supernatural claims and memorising Bible quotes. WTF? Of course, they're limited by the quality of the callers; but when they get one who makes a sweeping political statement vaguely having to do with threats of mind control by future totalitarian regimes, instead of letting him vent his politics and THEN shear him, they just cut him off when he calls himself a solipsist, WTF? One more chance to bring politics clearly to the fore goes down the drain due to Matt's trigger-happy finger. It's ironic Patrick Greene should have been mentioned earlier in this thread, because if what he wanted was not to counteract subdued Christian political strategies, I don't know what was.Back to TAE, the Trinity is a ridiculous idea isn't it? Wow, how stupid Christians are. I can't believe anyone could be so stupid. Gosh, what stupidity. Trinity! Bronze-age three-in-one. Laughable, isn't it?

  126. says

    RRP,First, nice icon. Push the button, Frank!Second, I also re-read Herr Karl's comments – and listened to his side of the show call again – and could not discern anything beyond a smug pose of self-congratulation.Methinks a similar thing may well be in play with Perma's "if you don't know I'm not going to tell you" responses.

  127. Ron Strelecki says

    This thread is evolving into a different, but fascinating conversation. I love it when that happens. The Original Caller (tOC) was employing a rhetorical technique I dub "You just don't get it". This technique is used by theologians and "Cool Kids" alike. It works like this: Make a vague statement that could mean just about anything. When your interlocutor tries to make sense of it, say, "No… You just don't get it." This puts tOC in a position of "authority" because the interlocutor is trying to understand what tOC is saying but "just doesn't get it." Dee continually tried to restate the callers propositions in a manner that made sense, to which tOC continually replied, "No.. no… no…" There is no way to "beat" this rhetoric (no matter what you say you "just don't get it"–you aren't a "cool kid"), and Jeff and Matt retreated to a similar rhetorical stance: STFU.This playground rhetoric illustrates the difference between authoritarian communication goals and rational communication goals. It also illustrates a problem the hosts have referred to repeatedly on the show.First is the communication problem. Authoritarians communicate to establish rank, and give orders. The first order of business is who is in charge. The second order of business is stfu and follow your orders, peon. "Truth" is of little concern in the Authoritarian worldview. The "truth" is what the leader SAYS it is. The main concern of the authoritarian is to dominate, by whatever means, the stage. The concern is a show of dominance to the audience. Seize the high ground, establish dominance, dispatch orders.This plays into the problem the hosts have pointed out. Since reason has no place (or a limited place) in the authoritarian communication style, they seek to dominate. If your opponent uses big words, use bigger words. If your opponent cuts you off, cut him off. If your opponent says, "Will you let me finish?" you say, "right back at ya, pal!" Once the authoritarian mode is kicked off, it is all but impossible to retreat to a rational mode of communication (where actual exchange of information is possible). It is how FOX news operates, Rish Lumbaugh, Sarah Palin, and so on…The goal of tOC was bowl over opponents and dominate and put on a puffed up show. Reason is simply irrelevant. He is trying to display "strength" or dominance. The hosts in this situation must attempt to bring the conversation back to reason, but it is contrary to the authoritarian to "grant" this. Once the authoritarian "seizes the high ground", he has no reason to retreat to reason. This is because he has no interest in a reasoned conversation. His goal is establish rank.Sensing this intuitively, the hosts have established a protocol for dealing with authoritarians over time. Do not allow callers to bowl through faulty premises or illogical arguments. They simply aren't going to allow blowhards to try and dominate the channel of communication.

  128. says

    It is how FOX news operates, Rish Lumbaugh, Sarah Palin, and so on…[CONSERVATIVE DEFENSE SYSTEM *ACTIVE*]I'm no fan of Faux News, but I need to put in that the other (Left) side readily employs the same tactic.Ok, back to the topic at hand…[CONSERVATIVE DEFENSE SYSTEM *INACTIVE*]

  129. Ron Strelecki says

    Good point George. What I am thinking of is a matter of authoritarian versus let's say… non-authoritarian communication styles. It is certainly possible for the political Left to employ authoritarian political tactics, and very easy for anyone at all, no matter their political cast to employ authoritarian communication styles. The political left has a slightly different flavor of authoritarian communication. I have found that Lefties use authoritarian styles when they retreat to their own bodies or selves. The "you can't tell me about my body/feelings/disease/addiction/etc…" style of argument. And in this way, say the HuffPo's medical coverage is very authoritarian, by way of example. And of course, "Political Correctness" is often horrifyingly authoritarian in its methods and styles of discourse.It is easier to see the faults of the opposition, I suppose, so thanks for alerting me to my unbalanced set of examples. Although it is my feeling, that the Right is definitely better at, and more willing to use authoritarian communication styles than the Left, by far. But that may be incidental rather than structural in nature. And there are certainly plenty of people on the Right who are capable of information exchange, and Leftists whose concerns are domination.Everyone seems sensitive to situations in which they are being lead into a rhetorical trap. There's the "answer the question… it's a simple question" rhetoric that comes up quite often on TAE. Once the conversation goes into the area of winning and losing, it is going authoritarian. And it has to, it is unavoidable somehow. If no attempt is made to establish real truth, then you end up with a non-committal wash. Everyone "respects" everyone else's "perspective". And all that amounts to is two boxers in their corners waiting for the next round.

  130. says

    *brain shorts out a little*Wow…I need to get a life, I just read the entire comments section. All of it. Oy…So far as I can determine, Charles is a self-righteous prig who cannot deal with, or grasp, criticism. Just about every one of his points has been refuted, save those that are so utterly nonsensical as to be meaningless.I do love the fact that he keeps falling back to his claim that solipsism is valid because it's "utter skepticism." …it's also completely useless.Even if we agree that there is no mechanism by which to judge certain questions (such as the existence of a supernatural being), that leaves us in the position of not being able to make a determination, and thus accepting the base state (which, in the case of god is atheism, as there would be no reason to assume otherwise). That part of his argument is just a tarted up reiteration of "well you don't have any proof that god DOESN'T exist, so that means it's just as likely that god does!"Oh, and Kazim, when I read your post that ends with "Go fuck yourself, asshole," the first thing that ran through my mind was: And Russell off the top rope…OOHHHHH!!!!

  131. says

    Ron,Ok, fair enough.(Pulls ConDefSys plug out of the wall.)Your comments on authoritarian discursive modes reminded me of an old divinity school joke:A theologian is a man who studies that which does not exist.A bit much, perhaps. But one could fairly compare his job to being an ichthyologist on the planet Arrakis.When people find themselves having (or desiring) to defend a position for which there is no good supporting evidence, certain communication styles invariably occur – such as the one you highlight.At this point in my life, my view of religious apologia has gone beyond skepticism into weary contempt. I'm not irked by them employing this or that rhetorical trick to make their case – but there is nothing else.Religious apologia is the ouroboros wyrm of epistemology. Rhetoric is the entirety of the message. "I'm being clever to show you how clever I am." It's like a vertically-integrated marketing agency without any product to sell beyond advertisement itself.What does this have to do with Charles' call? I dunno. Just felt like venting…

  132. says

    On this planet, if atheists do NOT believe any of the transcendent claims of any religion, then they as a group SHOULD hold that the deep reason believers assemble, organize themselves and proselytize can ONLY be political or, by their social nature, have immediate political effects. They could be delusional and sincere despite the non-truth of those beliefs. Id explain all about it more and how you're wrong, but I'm not going to give you the satisfactions of becoming your punching bag.

  133. says

    "They could be delusional and sincere despite the non-truth of those beliefs."This has no bearing on what I said. Please let me make MY point clearer for you.From an ATHEIST's perspective, the ONLY reason you can possibly find for belief-based social activities (assembling, organizing and proselytizing) is to do grassroots politics; and this is EVEN if believers are delusional OR sincere – because the way each believer relates to the supernatural necessarily happens at the individual level, not at the social level. So if YOU as an atheist do not believe their supernaturalistic claims, you MUST assert a down-to-earth, behavioural, realistic, objective explanation (not for their personal beliefs but) for their assembling, organizing and proselytizing.The atheist's base position should be that an individual may believe whatever strikes his fancy, but the moment he links up with others of the same persuasion the resulting association automatically becomes a political stance, and should always be attacked at that level – not at the philosophical, theological or logical level. But because the latter is exactly TAE's usual level, what happens is that when a call (such as Charles's) has clear political underpinnings, the show hosts (and the rest of you) miss the politics and squander the opportunity of using the call to their favour.

  134. says

    The atheist's base position should be that an individual may believe whatever strikes his fancy, but the moment he links up with others of the same persuasion the resulting association automatically becomes a political stanceNo it doesn't. It could be social, emotional, or out of obligation to family. It could simply be because it makes him/her feel good. Although political effects are a possible outcome, it isn't automatic at all. Not even proselytising is automatically political if all they are doing is telling people they should repent (or whatever). It doesn't become political until they start trying to impose their views by political means.It may even be possible that the most common result is indeed political in nature, but this 'ALWAYS MUST ONLY' stuff is just plain wrong.

  135. says

    "So if YOU as an atheist do not believe their supernaturalistic claims, you MUST assert a down-to-earth, behavioural, realistic, objective explanation (not for their personal beliefs but) for their assembling, organizing and proselytizing."They share a delusion which tells them to do those things. There's no political motive involved per say. They don't need a supernatural reason to ACT like they have a supernatural reason. Their beliefs ARE the objective explanation for their assembling, organizing, and proselytizing. How is this even a question? They believe something, so they act like they believe it. "The atheist's base position should be that an individual may believe whatever strikes his fancy, but the moment he links up with others of the same persuasion the resulting association automatically becomes a political stance, and should always be attacked at that level – not at the philosophical, theological or logical level."A) Fuck you, you don't get to tell me what *I* should hold as my base position. If you can argue it fineb)No, because there are believers who don't act politically. There's no reason to politicize someone calling in saying "Jesus done gone healeded my diabetus!". Ray Comfort has plenty to object to and politics need not enter it. Since atheism isn't any positive statement, there is no atheist political stance so how the fuck could you even argue that. No, the issue is clearly philosophical and intellectual and the political is the level atop that. The political is people acting on their philosophical and intellectual stances. Going to the root is the correct way. C) Also NOW you explain your points? now you're willing to be a chew toy? What changed?

  136. says

    Pauk,My conception of the word "politics" is broader than that. You're looking at it at the individual level, where personal emotions and duties prevail. But any two people get together and they'll start doing politics, regardless of their reason for associating. Two people lost together in a desert, with only one canteen of water, deciding whether to go south or north are already doing politics, that is, negotiating their future. Include a third person and you'll have a party of two against a party of one. A Baptist teenager deciding whether or not to befriend a Pentecostal teenager is doing politics. It's everywhere.

  137. says

    "They share a delusion which tells them to do those things. There's no political motive involved per say. They don't need a supernatural reason to ACT like they have a supernatural reason. Their beliefs ARE the objective explanation for their assembling, organizing, and proselytizing. How is this even a question? They believe something, so they act like they believe it."Ing,Take Pavlov's experiment. A dog can be conditioned to believe that a bell ringing means there will be food available. The bell rings and the dog starts to drool. Two dogs could even start a fight after hearing the bell. Following your train of reasoning, they don't need actual food to ACT like they have actual food, so their belief is the objective explanation for their drooling and fighting. Here's what's wrong with that reasoning: *YOU* know there's no food, and you know the bell is being rung by Pavlov; therefore the objective explanation for the drooling and fighting is Pavlov's manipulation, not the dogs' beliefs. Looking at the facts from the dogs' perspective will take you nowhere.Pavlov here is like human politics: it makes people do things believing they're doing them for other reasons. The objective reason is ALWAYS the political aim of amassing the greatest number of people under a cause, no matter what that cause is. Looking at religion from the believers' perspective will take you nowhere. Do you mean to say that if today a completely new religion is born, with different but equally preposterous claims, then tomorrow atheists will be discussing one more set of philosophical and existential pros and cons, and so ad infinitum? How many new bells and new religions will it take before you realize there are Pavlovs and political motives behind it all?"What changed?"The subject.

  138. says

    " Do you mean to say that if today a completely new religion is born, with different but equally preposterous claims, then tomorrow atheists will be discussing one more set of philosophical and existential pros and cons, and so ad infinitum? "Since the key issue is that faith is a stupid way of getting information, no it's the same issue that people aren't thinking critically. Besides there are entirely apolitical sects such as the Amish that are still as dumb as any other.

  139. says

    any two people get together and they'll start doing politics, regardless of their reason for associating.Then your definition of 'politics' is, in my opinion, too broad. It starts to lose meaning when you can basically call any interaction between people politics. If we were to use this definition, then how could you possibly complain about TAE approaching theist claims philosophically? Because, as you say, as soon as they start interacting with a theist (even if they are discussing philosophical things) they are interacting 'politically'!Seriously. I'm thinking there is some kind of kriss-krossing going on in your definitions or something.The objective reason is ALWAYS the political aim of amassing the greatest number of people under a cause, no matter what that cause is. Looking at religion from the believers' perspective will take you nowhere. Do you mean to say that if today a completely new religion is born, with different but equally preposterous claims, then tomorrow atheists will be discussing one more set of philosophical and existential pros and cons, and so ad infinitum?Well, yes. As long as people make these claims, and believe them to be true, then it doesn't really matter if they're being unwittingly 'politicised' by the religion-machine, it is still valid to approach their belief philosophically and thereby cut out their particular cog. If they realise their belief is flawed, they may abandon the machine. Clearly this isn't the only approach to take, but it is effective at times (yes, on the individual level).I fully support a political approach (my narrow definition) to this as well, but it is not the only approach. The goals may be the same (to reduce the presence/power of religion) but the task involved in political attack is no less difficult in actuality. I'd suggest that we should be approaching it both ways. Different people are better suited to different approaches, TAE (in particular Matt D) are good at the philosophical approach because they know their bible… what is wrong with doing this? If it doesn't interest you as much, that's fine. But personally, I like that they vary their approach from episode to episode, sometimes they approach things on a political level and talk about church-state separation and particular causes, other times they discuss the philsophical side. It makes for a varied and interesting show.

  140. says

    "I'm thinking there is some kind of kriss-krossing going on in your definitions or something."It may be because I'm not limiting the definition of politics to "government politics" or "party politics". I hinted at this when I half-defined politics as "negotiating for the future". All politics is a negotiation between two or more parties in order to decide how to allocate resources for the future. The parties bring to bear mainly three things: their interpretation of the past, their assessment of the present, and their own interests. The parties can be just two people deciding whether to go south or north in a desert, or it can be a couple deciding whether or not to go a birthday party. So politics doesn't start when two people meet; it starts when they have to decide something jointly. This includes most of what we do with other people, and I grant it is a somewhat Frenchy 1968-ish definition, but there you are.My beef with the way calls are handled on the TAE show is that the hosts fail to recognize that most of the calls have a political bent (in both the narrow and the broad sense) most often motivated by fear of the future. Often, the hosts themselves will wander off into a philosophical or theological wilderness while failing to recognize their own political motivations and the importance of *insisting* on their bid for a completely secular dispensation.I grant it's a lot of fun to go into that wilderness, and I'd be the last person to get rid of it OR tell the hosts what to do in their own show. I'm just suggesting that the very raison d'être of the TAE show could be brought to the fore more often, and kept clearly in mind while responding to callers like Charles.

  141. says

    Perma,Just to clear something up…Is it your position that the actual, specific doctrinal and truth claims of a given religion don't matter, or are irrelevant to its social impact or the behavior of its adherents?

  142. Ron Strelecki says

    Why is Reductionism Rude? asks Katja Grace on her blog "Meteuphoric". She highlights many of the objections to what is called "reductionism" (I think "reductionism" is the most absurdly misused term–at least as it is used commonly–especially when considering that the alternate hypothesis to so-called simplistic reductionism is, "God did it, now shut up!" I've never understood how refusing to even attempt to understand something is somehow to be seen as honoring it.).

  143. says

    George,I wouldn't go so far as the second part, though the first part is certainly a taunting question. One of the points put forward by atheists is that broadly speaking one's religion is an accident of birth – meaning it's geo-politically determined. Therefore, if most people tend to go along with the specific doctrinal and truth claims which are prevalent in their environment, then it doesn't really matter what those claims are for people to uphold them, as long as they fit into a human-scale narrative (because if all religion is an attempt to rationalize the world, to fit it into a system, then there's no place for a belief that doesn't sound minimally plausible in the middle ground where we exist). So I tend to answer that the specific doctrinal and truth claims of any given religion don't matter as long as those claims are able to bond people together as political forces. (On the other hand, it does matter what those claims are specifically: for instance, I cannot imagine a show like TAE in a "Muslim" country. But all this does is to reinforce the interpretation that each religious doctrine does have its own political consequences.)But I guess you're not really asking me about that aspect. You're actually asking whether I think there's no practical, political use in atheists' publicly questioning and attacking those claims. Again I tend to answer no, there isn't, though it's a lot of fun. My point is, if you do not believe those claims, then your explanation to why they exist HAS to be mundane, and you have to attack the source reason(s) for why they are made in the first place, as well as their expedient political use. Any group of people will grab hold of any minimally plausible abstraction within its grasp if it helps preserve its unity and further its mundane goals; but while the group confuses the abstractions themselves with the group's mundane goals, it's a big mistake on the atheists' side to confuse them too. Science in general and Darwin's theory and its behavioural consequences in particular have been demonstrating that the mundane IS the norm, and it should be obvious by now that interpreting a believer's claims on their face value will rather confirm their relevance than serve to debunk them.On TAE show, instead of fishing for logical contradictions in the way believers explain themselves (that is, instead of just *responding* to supernatural claims), the hosts could propose thought experiments through which the callers’ underlying political and social motivations are brought to the surface, and then look at those according to their acceptability or desirability in a democracy.

  144. says

    You're actually asking whether I think there's no practical, political use in atheists' publicly questioning and attacking those claims.You're squishing practical and political together there. It doesn't need to be political to be practical (even by wide definitions). I don't think question was necessarily about a 'practical political' purpose, but any purpose at all.You're talking about people as groups or demographics, and as such political purpose is probably the only thing you can see, but groups are made up of individuals – and when you're talking to one person, rather than addressing them as a group then there is a very clear purpose in addressing the points that they think are important. If those points are philosophical/metaphysical rather than political in nature then it may well be a big waste of time to go around arguing about consequences (political outcomes) of the beliefs.Again, the obvious purpose is to address an individual's perspective, not the perspective of the group he/she belongs to. There is usually a vast difference between the two, as to how people rationalise their beliefs rather than how they actually came to believe them. After all, you can't go back and change how they were brought up.

  145. says

    On TAE show, instead of fishing for logical contradictions in the way believers explain themselves… the hosts could propose thought experiments through which the callers’ underlying political and social motivations are brought to the surface……And if those personal motivations are used instead of addressing the caller's claims, then that would be an ad hominem.

  146. says

    Looks like I got to the party a few days late — just heard the call on my way to work and did the spit take at the "you're a solipsist?!" bit.As a reductionist transhumanist, let me outline what I think the caller was getting at. Even though there's no point engaging with him this particular argument is at least worth thinking about, if only to see how best to refute.I think this is what he was presenting:1. There are souls and therefore mind uploading only creates a zombie-like creature that mimics your behaviour without the real "you" being present.2. Evil philistine reductionists like Ray Kurzweil create mind uploading technology and convince billions to upload themselves, shedding their bodies.3. However because of #1, this will effectively be the greatest mass suicide in history. Although those who have not uploaded themselves will now know it there is still a fact of the matter and if there is a soul they are likely to have killed themselves.4. Therefore, hey presto, reductionist materialism is dangerous.

  147. says

    Charles, for someone with such illusions of grandiosity and intellectual superiority, you sure do one FUCK of a good job not being able to grasp the fallacious nature of generalizations.You're also a dick.

  148. says

    Mag,Now that remark is a logical phallacy.Ahem.aNad,Spot on recap. Again, you cover in just a few plain sentences what Chuckles could not make clear in all the paragraphs he wrote.

  149. says

    I thought this was the most epic call I've ever seen on AETV, with the most facepalms. So I just had to transcribe it. If you're interested, here it is. If not sorry for flogging the dead horse!

  150. says

    Great work, aNadder.Along with my other criticisms on how this call was responded to, I think that when C said he was a solipsist, the fair response from the hosts should have been to ask him what HE meant by 'solipsist'; there's more than one definition, and only one of them would merit that reaction from M & J.

  151. says

    I finally caught up and listened to the episode. "You're a SOLOPSIST?!" from Jeff and Matt in tandem has to be the single greatest moment I have heard on TAE. Absolutely freaking hilarious.

  152. says

    Charles is a walking talking example of the Dunning-Kruger effect…The Dunning–Kruger effect is a cognitive bias in which an unskilled person makes poor decisions and reaches erroneous conclusions, but their incompetence denies them the metacognitive ability to realize their mistakes.[1] The unskilled therefore suffer from illusory superiority, rating their own ability as above average, much higher than it actually is, while the highly skilled underrate their abilities, suffering from illusory inferiority. This leads to the situation in which less competent people rate their own ability higher than more competent people. It also explains why actual competence may weaken self-confidence: because competent individuals falsely assume that others have an equivalent understanding. "Thus, the miscalibration of the incompetent stems from an error about the self, whereas the miscalibration of the highly competent stems from an error about others

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