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Aug 30 2010

Open thread about AE #672

We’ve received some pleas lately to have threads available to discuss the shows when they happen, so I’m going to try and grant that request. If you can’t see a thread started each week, feel free to drop a line to [email protected] asking for it.

I’m listening to the show right now, and I just finished with Denise the Christian caller hanging up on Matt. Good stuff. Want more. Our thanks to the person who taunted her into it.

92 comments

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  1. 1
    Justin B.

    This is one situation where I think Matt's anger got the better of him and he gave the caller an excuse not to focus on what the hosts were saying, but instead to switch tracks and get all 'offended' by the curse word. I realize he said he was tired and a bit cranky, but I think this is a case where they were providing good counter-arguments to the theist, and while Denise was probably unlikely to change her mind, some of the fence-sitters listening may have been able to hear some good counter-arguments to theistic views.

  2. 2
    A-Astrologist

    Did Denise say that she ran a facebook page? I can't find it. Anyone have a link?

  3. 3
    Kingasaurus

    The best part was listening to Denise agree to all of the logical premises, then reject the obvious and undeniable conclusion from those premises as "messed up."Wow. You couldn't have planted a fake caller who could have done a better job of proving your point than that.It's a great demonstration of how people are essentially incapable of thinking properly when they're into the cult that deep.There's something scary about people who have a warm fuzzy at an altar when they're down on their luck, and use that as an excuse to swallow all the bad ideas and ridiculous claims they're being fed by whatever cultural soup they find themselves immersed in. "B' never follows from "A" in that situation, but it's pathetic how many people are hoodwinked into believing that it does.I had a fundie co-worker like that, who actually thought their personal born-again experience actually led directly to the idea of biblical inerrancy. There's no way experiencing the one thing inside your head could possibly lead to the conclusion of the other thing in any universe that makes any sense. But he acted like it was the most natural conclusion in the world – based on nothing but his enablers in the church telling him so.

  4. 4
    Matt D.

    Oddly, you've never seen me angry.I didn't curse at her, I didn't call her names, I simply used a word that she didn't like and she used it as an escape hatch by feigning offense. She was in over her head and was looking for a way out.If I'd have remotely suspected that she'd use it as an excuse, I might not have said it…but I would have only been avoiding it in order to keep pointing out how stupid her arguments were. I'm able to do that without having her on the line constantly repeating "that's why he's called the savior" as if we're dullards.

  5. 5
    Guillaume

    I cannot wait to watch it.

  6. 6
    Gerrymander

    Was the logical progression even necessary? You probably could have simply asked "Do you believe God judges people before they go to Hell", gotten a "Yes" and saved 10 minutes…

  7. 7
    Hortan

    Yeah, I got the feeling that she felt cornered by your 'harsh' logic so she picked the easy and extremely cowardly way out by getting insulted by a four-letter word so she could hang up.

  8. 8
    Martin

    I understand your frustration but I think it was unnecessary. Having seen most of the shows I also know it is extremely rare. If anything I would have expected Jeff to drop the word :)It is somewhat ironic that this happened right after the "Don't be a dick" discussion. While I'm not offended by words and can see how this is no attack on the person and was used as a escape route, it seems to me this is exactly the type of example Phil & co have in mind. If a clip of this is shown out of context, it is definitely not helping the cause.

  9. 9
    Andy

    "I didn't curse at her, I didn't call her names, I simply used a word that she didn't like and she used it as an escape hatch by feigning offense. She was in over her head and was looking for a way out.This is basically what I was going to say in your defense.Denise was–I'm sorry–a little bit of a hard-headed dope, anyway. So she was offended by the F-word. Well, guess what Denise: You are not the only one who is capable of being offended. I find your inane, immoral beliefs offensive. It's like you guys always say on the show when Hell comes up: Infinite punishment for finite crimes?—that's patently offensive to any moral human being who is thinking clearly. It's far more offensive that the F-bomb. I mean, do we have to list all the things her religion advocates that are endlessly more offensive than "Fuck"? Give me a break.

  10. 10
    Kazim

    Rewinding the audio, Denise says:"I run a Facebook, it's called The Holy Bible Page, and one of the atheists kinda challenged us to call in, so I did."I found this, it's quite popular:http://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Holy-Bible/108553132502824?v=descI can't see any way to link it to Denise, anyone else want to try another one?

  11. 11
    Question Everything

    Anyone have a source on the "Split brain" story where one side believed and the other didn't? I would love to learn more.

  12. 12
    rrpostal

    I'm torn on this one. Firstly I must say the Denise was every bit as confrontational as any single word Matt could have said. She was just being as mule headed as she could possibly muster and had no intention of thinking logically. She was all about pointing out how dumb we were for not taking the life preserver. Never mind the water was put there specifically to drown us by the same being now throwing the preserver.But…and I almost dislike myself for this, I wish we hadn't thrown out the F bomb. I have teenaged daughters. Do we swear? Sure, occasionally. I'm not going to bust a seam about it. But I also think it's over use tends to lessen it's value and is often used as a lazy short cut by the unimaginative. I would never accuse Matt of either of these, but I must give the point to the theist. I just would not have broken it out in that case. There's still a part of me that enjoyed it, especially in context with the whole Dick-atholon we've been having. It's what I would often love to say, mind you. But the Denise jumped on the lack of civility and I must agree. Even though she was possibly less civil, no one will see it that way.She really did say some stupid things, though. Especially following every point up to the conclusion and then simply dismissing as if she doesn't require logic to make a point.Classic.

  13. 13
    Question Everything

    Source for the Split Brain talk:Here

  14. 14
    Andy

    It really is an important distinction that Matt's "cursing" at her was not done in an insult. He wasn't degrading her. He just used the F-word to express his exasperation. It's just a word. I think folks are reacting to the caller's reaction more than to what Matt actually said and how she said it. The fact that she got all flustered and melodramatically offended (couldn't you just picture her through the phone clutching her pearls and hoisting her wrist to her forehead?) doesn't automatically mean that her taking offense was warranted. My guess is old Denise gets "offended" by a lot of things that are benign. I guess I'm one of those skeptics who is hurting the cause–because I don't really give a fuck how many Denises are offended. Some people have programmed themselves to be offended by anything that isn't deferential to their worldview.

  15. 15
    MJ

    And here I thought some words were not allowed on American television… Don't those rules apply to public access?

  16. 16
    John K.

    Alas, I thought Denise was the best call of the show and Matt gave her the easy out by cursing.As experienced critical thinkers we know better than to sweat the colorful language and character attacks. It can be frustrating to play nice and dance around to keep the theist from playing their magic "Ad hominem card", but I think things would have been a lot more interesting if Matt had.Taboo words are lame in my opinion, but I find there is hardly any idea that I cannot express with out cursing. If Matt had said "Then why did you call?" instead of "Why the fuck did you call?" no meaning would have been lost and the conversation might have continued a bit. She had basically admitted her argument was logically invalid and I would have liked to see it broken down really simply to see what she would say when she could not evade it with "that's messed up".Matt does a great job and I don't want him to go anywhere. My only beef with the way he does the show is that he is actually a human being that gets frustrated and cannot show infinite patience.Get Jeff Dee back on the non-prophets when you start it up again.

  17. 17
    kennykjc

    I'm just surpised you can cuss on day time TV… although I dunno what rules you got going on there with that public access thing.That aside, I think you could have done better with Denise. I would have preffered you ask her why she thinks the benign act of belief or disbelief is something that's considered serious enough to send someone to eternal torture.And since most atheists could not sincerely believe even if they wanted to, are we REALLY sending outselves to hell?

  18. 18
    Sparrowhawk

    I almost said that I agree with Justin B. but…honestly if she really was looking for an "excuse" to get offended and hang up, she probably wasn't worth talking to anyway. And clearly she wasn't interested in having any kind of meaningful discussion. The whole "You're making me do this to you" thing is not only illogical but a hallmark of abusive relationships and she was totally missing the point.

  19. 19
    Nathan

    I do find it funny how curse words are 'dirty' or 'offensive'; however, being told I'm going to burn for eternity isn't?

  20. 20
    JD

    I think focusing on the topic of god and hell right off the bat might have set the position of implicitly agreeing to the premises that these concepts actually exist – at least in Denise's mind. Instead of dwelling on that topic it might have been better to simply reply that there's no indication that god/hell/etc actually exist. That really gets to the heart of the matter instead of some tangential point.For example when she said "what do you think happens when you die?" that would have been a good point to go into the concept of soul/spirit and why one would have any reason to believe that, or believe in God in general.Just my take.

  21. 21
    Hairy Chris

    The Denise call was rather amusing.WRT the first call (humour), I can state pretty much definitively that god isn't English. We can't talk for more then 30 seconds (in all situations) without talking bollocks.Oh, and we aren't so much secular as apathetic! ;-)

  22. 22
    Rhetoric

    It is a shame Denise was able to exploit the F-word for a retreat. Like most I believe if not that it would have been something else.Matt looked like he hadn't slept in 2 days and ran over a puppy on his way to the studio.I appreciate Matt doing the show even though he felt as he did.

  23. 23
    magx01

    A 'four letter' word leads her to hang up?I wonder if she would have the same reaction if said words were used in the midst of pro Jesus rhetoric. I somehow doubt it. Defense mechanism, anyone?

  24. 24
    Mark B

    Great going Matt, now we'll NEVER know why the fuck she called!But seriously, I found it hilarious when she asked why you were atheists and then asked if she could "get a word in edgewise" when you actually explained. After she threatened you with hell and called you ridiculous.

  25. 25
    Tammy

    I'm familiar with Denise on a few Facebook pages. She is quite nutty. Most of her posts involve the same circular logic and rigid adherence to dogma. I am not one bit surprised that she hung up on Matt. She "blocks" all the atheists on the pages that she frequents. Usually it is after she gets her ass handed to her in a discussion so she does the same thing…claims the person is rude or uncivil and blocks them.

  26. 26
    Ing

    This is why DBAD fails. Denise says out right that anyone who isn't like her deserves to have the most horrible horrible things done to them forever, but Matt is the rude and offensive one for referencing intercourse? I actually am glad that Matt let the F bomb dropped. It showed the contrast. She goes up to Matt and Jeff and says "You are disgusting and deserve to go to hell for spitting in the lord jesus's face when he throws you a life saver" and then calls THEM rude. Irony, doin it right.

  27. 27
    Michael Nam

    @Nathan: "I do find it funny how curse words are 'dirty' or 'offensive'; however, being told I'm going to burn for eternity isn't?"I was thinking the same thing. An expletive about fornication is pretty tame compared to being cool with a person being tortured for eternity. And not just a person…there are billions of people that don't follow her particular view of Christianity. That's a lot of torturing.

  28. 28
    Sue

    It was the best of calls, it was the worst of calls.(paraphrasing)Matt: If your god made hell and madethe rule sending people to hell then your god is responsiblefor sending people to hell.caller: That is so messed up.Matt and Jeff: Yes!Score!!! Excellent! I love it when they makeour point for us.(Although with my "Score" comment I'm being a dick by takingthis as a petty personal contest.)The threat of hell is extortion. Denying that is then specialpleading.Denise was a dishonest brainwashed propagandist.But then the F-bomb. Ouch.I don't buy the rationalization that it is "just a word","just a phoneme". Calling "fuck" just a word is like saying"In God We Trust" is just "ceremonial deism".Words have meaning. They do express reasonand they do express emotion. That "fuck" wasnot an expression of reason.There are such things as fighting words. "Fuck" is inthat family. The word "fuck" has been used inthe discourse preceding every barroom fight. I'm sure itis quite seldom used when helping children with their math homework.Matt's use was an expression of emotion. It might be argued that itwas an expression of "frustration" but I think an impartialobserver would have viewed it as anger.One thing I learned in my debates, if you get emotional youlose. It's a sign that your reason is not up to the task.And the bastard wins. Even if his argument failed, hemessed with your emotions.One doesn't have to get the one-up on every debater. The debateris not the judge. The audience is the jury. I hope and believethat a great number of Christians are in the audience. A great numberof Christians will acknowledge that they don't believe in hell.They would have been sympathetic with Matt… until heturned into a pottymouth.So, we had a mixed day.Overall… AETV is doing essential work.Everything I have written above is based on reason, evidence, andcritical thought. Therefore it is True.And if you disagree with me then why the fuck did you read it?xoxox Sue

  29. 29
    Bob

    Actually I'm glad Matt said this word at that point and that Denise didn't like it, forcing her to hang up.First of all, it's her problem if she's offended by a single tiny word, attributing it some kind of magical power, even when it's not used to curse her (and it's not like hell isn't worse than "fuck"). Maybe she took that more as an excuse to end the call than anything else. I mean, if a discussion should be stopped every time someone says an offending word, where would humanity be today? (That said, as often as possible we should try to abstain from using these words in the slight possibility that it might end an intelligent conversation, though it should not.)But my biggest issue with that caller was that she was not open to any idea, she didn't even seem to be able to understand what Matt and Jeff were telling her, even if the logic problem behind her belief was undeniable. If the discussion had went on, I'm sure it would not have been for long as she was probably only calling to tell atheists that they were going to burn in hell. I think she was preaching. Either her or the hosts would have been repeating themselves and nothing would have been accomplished in the long run.But I did enjoy the call while it lasted though, as I always enjoy theist callers who don't even understand (nothing is missing, they just don't understand, end of sentence).

  30. 30
    mmorten

    that call wasn't going anywhere. she would have repeated herself over and over again. as amusing as that call was the fact is that wasn't going to go anywhere she seemed remarkably closed minded and wasn't going to communicate. whether or not Matt swore about or at her was irrelevant.

  31. 31
    Dustin_Calgary

    I had a bit of a chat with Denise on the bible FB page after the call.I probably got a little bit too aggressive on my posts in there while staying pretty moderate I though which got me disabled from posting on public discussion pages for a day. Today I read about them flagging everyone that didn't agree, and since I talk a lot, I got banned fast.I think she was dealt with right and was just looking for a way out of the call. We almost got her to call back, then she said maybe next week, but I doubt it will happen.Kudos on the show guys, keep up fighting the good fight :D-Dustin

  32. 32
    penguinman

    I think the last caller's question :- what is more important : truth or happiness, is the crux of the belief in the supernatural for a lot of prople. As an atheist, I must accept the reality that death does really mean the end of everything; my thoughts and memories will all vanish at that instance. Like the vast majority of people, no one past my grandchildren (if I have any) will remember anything about me. My very existence will be quickly erased by the passage of time. Soon, it will be as if I never actually existed. Sure, I may leave behind a genetic legacy in my decendents, but all that is uniquely me, i.e. my consciousness, will be gone forever. In a larger timescale, there will even come a day when the last living thing on Earth will be roasted to oblivion by our dying Sun. Surely, the knowledge of our collective mortality is depressing. A lot of people I've talked to who hold on to theistic/supernatural beliefs (including my father), cannot accept this reality. For them, its much more comforting to believe that their essense will somehow be preserved, in an afterlife or reincarnated or whatever, after their physical demise. They will cling on to this belief despite all the evidence to the contrary. Sadly, I think those who hold a materialistic/atheistic worldview will always be a minority, because the truth is simply unbearable for most people.

  33. 33
    loventura08

    Denise didn't really want to have a conversation anyway. She was ready to hang up already and was just waiting for a dumb reason. TheoreticalBullshit has a great video on morality up right now on youtube. worth checking out, I think. PAYCE!!!

  34. 34
    Ptah

    Regarding Denise, my advice is: Don't take drunk callers.

  35. 35
    ernobius

    Glad to see that we've got a place to discuss the episodes.Nice show, I especially enjoyed Denise and victory-mosque-and-persecuted-Christians guy :)

  36. 36
    David McNerney

    The way I see it Jesus (apparently) took insults and abuse, a scourging and ultimately crucifixion and death – and yet he still didn't back down and take the easy option (Luke 23:35).He must be very sad that all it takes now is the word "FUCK" and capitulation is instantaneous.

  37. 37
    Robin Lionheart

    Yes, Denise seemed to be looking for a way out and seized on Matt's F-word as a way out. When people are losing an argument, they'll often play a "bad manners" card as an escape hatch.

  38. 38
    gaijin

    Yeah, I also have to say that I'm a bit disappointed about how the talk with Denise went because it was probably on of the best chances to convince many fence-sitters that their beliefs are ungrounded and also immoral. It was all going sooo well, you, guys, were clearly showing the caller how dumb her position on going to hell is (that we send ourselves to hell and not god) and then, bang!, she was gone.And it could have been so awesome:) She was really stubborn and confrontational but it was obvious that pure logic was going to literally demolish her and reduce her arguments to some irrational babbling…Oh well, maybe next time…

  39. 39
    JT

    You have to connect the dots here. The reason Matt can get away with swears on TV is because the controllers indeed have seen him angry. You have to read between the lines.

  40. 40
    Jeremy

    In regards to the (presummably_ Christian claim that their god does not send people to hell- if that is truely the case, then Hitler never sent anyone to the concentration camps and Stalin never sent anyone to the gulags. They all sent them selves when they went against the the wishes of these two.

  41. 41
    NulleFide

    Nathan:"I do find it funny how curse words are 'dirty' or 'offensive'; however, being told I'm going to burn for eternity isn't?"Pretty much exactly what I thought after the caller hung up. I find it just amazing how Christians NEVER think it's actually offensive to be told you're going to burn in hell for eternity. I personally find it incredibly offensive to be told this, especially in the nonchalant manner the caller said it. Dropping an F-bomb that wasn't even aimed at her was definitely not out of bounds for me. Maybe some people just need to grow up and be fucking adults about words. Although I do wish that hadn't happened at all so she would have stayed on the line longer. It did give her an easy out so she wouldn't have to stay on the phone and actually answer any of the questions she seemed to be having issues with. Though if you hadn't given her a reason to hang up she probably would have come up with another reason.

  42. 42
    Jolly

    I wonder if people using torture say the same thing, 'Just tell me what I want to hear and the pain will stop, around here they call me 'the Savior'.

  43. 43
    Petr Kudláček

    @Question Everything: May I just point out that the guy in yout link is a bit of a 'quantum new ager'? He is certainly very knowledgable and intelligent but whenever you hear the word "quantum" mentioned 80 times in the first 15 minutes you start to grow suspicious. After googling his name I find out that he starred in 'What the bleep do we know?' which is not the greatest show of reliability and several big shots in physics went on record to criticize his theories which seem to be disproven by calculations.

  44. 44
    Raymond

    JD said"Instead of dwelling on that topic it might have been better to simply reply that there's no indication that god/hell/etc actually exist."Could not agree less with the above comment. The call started with statement by the caller "I actually believe in a literal hell"Matt and Jeff took this premise and showed how "screwed up" it is even within the callers own worldview.To me this was big admission by the caller probably the most thoughtful thing she said during the whole call.

  45. 45
    Phil

    Not sure if it has been said or not, but I bet Denise hung up not because of the swear word, but because of the attitude she received on the show.I would agree that she deserves such an attitude, because she basically called into the show to tell you guys you were going to hell, and we all know that is Jeff Dee's big red button.However, if she had called in to the show when it was, say, Russell Glasser and Tracy Harris, I think the discussion would have been a lot more productive, and she would have been made a much better example of.In the end, her admitting that "that's messed up" was more than enough out of that call.

  46. 46
    Nathan

    @Michael Nam / NulleFideNonStampCollector on Youtube has a video poking at the whole 'offensive language' issue.http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uC91GYEumyAThat last caller, however … Persecution? Victory Mosque?

  47. 47
    Phil

    It has been said that the reason for the success of this show is that, in the past, callers like Denise would have the errors in their beliefs explained with great precision and patience.Lately, this has given way to blowing tops way early, and even though it has been repeatedly mentioned as detrimental in the past, it still happens :(Denise was a model caller. After all, every show it is said that is the sort of caller we want and usually do not get. So, a lot more time could have been devoted to explaining her faults (and, by proxy, the faults of many believers) as has been done to great effect in the past.I still think it was a good show and I hope to see a youtube clip soon with the "that's messed up" conclusion. :)

  48. 48
    Question Everything

    @PetrYeah, I realized that after watching the video. But I think the link is still good in case others wanted to see what they were talking about. Thanks for the follow up though :)

  49. 49
    Ing

    @PhilWhat sort of attitude SHOULD we give her? She's a nasty hateful person who thinks its fine to call up people and tell them they deserve to be thrown into a concentration camp after death. If we removed the mythology from it she would be right along side skin heads and neonazis for batshit insane bigotry.

  50. 50
    Rhetoric

    The only reason I found the f-bomb regrettable is because an important part of the show is to influence fence-sitters. Profanity may have caused some fence-sitters to close their minds to important points being made. Personally I was cheering FUCK YEAH!

  51. 51
    Mastema

    This is in response to what Martin wrote about the whole "dick" thing. ("…it seems to me this is exactly the type of example Phil & co have in mind.") This is not directed at Martin. I just came across something on Bad Astronomy that sheds a little light on the subject.According to Phil Plait, Matt swearing like that is perfectly acceptable. He posted the video of Penn and Teller's vaccination episode. Someone asked him if he was being a dick in what he wrote about the episode, and he had this to say, "I’m not being a dick. As I said in the talk, and in the subsequent posts, we need our passion and our anger. But I didn’t insult them, or use ad hominems or anything like that. Being forceful is not necessarily the same as being a dick."Matt didn't insult Denise or use ad hominems. He was just passionate. Clearly, he wasn't a dick according to Phil himself. If Phil ever decides to post a response to Matt's challenge, and brings up this incident as an example of Matt being a dick, Matt can provide the link to the comment.http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/badastronomy/2010/08/30/penn-and-teller-take-on-vaccines/#comment-295379

  52. 52
    Razzle

    Let's consult the bible to see if God sends people to hell.Luke 12 (4-5)“I tell you, my friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that can do no more. But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear him who, after the killing of the body, has power to throw you into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him.

  53. 53
    JD

    Raymond, the point you miss is that although Denise was soundly and amusingly contradicted in her statements, it was essentially over a theological detail. If she considers it at all she's apt to simply readjust her theology. My point was that by staying within the caller's worldview you might score some minor concessions, but nothing that's likely to affect the big picture. I still think it would have been more effective to bring up why anyone would believe in hell in the first place rather than try to make points within their theology.

  54. 54
    felix

    Never having been a believer, I can't quite grasp this: do people just breaking and denying a valid syllogism do this deliberately even though they understand the validity, do they unconsciously, reflexively do it to protect a preconception, or do they really simply not understand logic?From the relatively little I know of psychology, I'd say it's the second; repression of an uncomfortable thought, self rewarding by brain chemistry for preserving an opinion that already has a positive connotation.There must be a psychically painful 'BZZZZT' moment in the mind of the Denises, I think, when the valid conclusion bashes into the one they were certain to reach, so they refuse to acknowledge the result and press a mental 'reset' or simply make a wild leap. No wonder it's a favorite to claim that logic is contingent with God – it simply cuts away the possibility that any syllogism may reach an opposite conclusion.

  55. 55
    Jason Jarred

    (paraphrasing)Matt: "Is building a Christian church near the site of an abortion clinic a victory church?"Caller: "Not at all"Matt: "Then go away" *Fucking* hilarious. And a great way to end the show.

  56. 56
    Guillaume

    I listened to the call and I understand Matt's anger. He had been patient with her for long enough and her "arguments", which she was repeating over and over again, were appallingly dumb. The only problem with the F bomb is that she used it as an excuse to hang off, while I think they were burying her good with their arguments.

  57. 57
    Phil

    @Nathan +1, that is a great youtube channel! And the youtube link you posted is spot on.

  58. 58
    Thomas

    @FelixBill O'Reilly was on David Letterman once, and at one point Letterman said "I don't know where you are wrong, but I get the distinct impression that you are full of shit"I suspect that Denise was feeling similar. She may be taking the time to process this information, or she may have just passed it off as verbal chicanery.

  59. 59
    rrpostal

    @FelixI wonder the same thing lately. Actually it's becoming more interesting to me than the actual argument for their faith. Very rarely do I hear anything new from theistic ramblings, so it's really not that interesting. But they often are so detached from all possible problems within their thinking and don't follow their own thoughts through to a conclusion. That is interesting. Are they unable or unwilling?

  60. 60
    HarveyRequiem

    Denise, at first, seemed like a really potentially interesting call. That much is true.A minute or two into the discussion, however, it became pretty obvious that she wasn't really interested in discussion. She wanted to proselytize, nothing more. She made bold religious assertions and, when the hosts offered their thoughts and arguments about those assertions, she just kept repeating the assertions as if no argument had been made. And then accused them of repeating themselves. Of course they were repeating themselves–they asked you a question, and you pretended you didn't hear them!I don't even bother talking to people like that. They are simply not interested in discussion, only conversion, and anything you say will go in one ear and out the other, or else will be cherry-picked and tailored to fit their preconceived notions.From what I'm hearing on this thread, it sounds like she does this often anyway. She launches into a religious debate, gets creamed, and then flounces off with complaints about tone. Matt may have pretty much gift-wrapped her excuse for her, but I don't really believe it would have continued much longer without her fabricating some excuse. All Matt really did was save her the trouble.

  61. 61
    Kingasaurus

    It's extremely difficult (or near impossible) to get people like Denise to appreciate the logical problems and self-contradictory nature of their beliefs.The Bible actually says that God "throws people in hell," yet the actual words are either unknown to Denise, or deemed unimportant, or explained away in service of the idea that people "choose" to go there.It's preposterous, but the idea that it's god's fault (and will) that you're in a torture chamber is too much for her mind to handle.The mental construct she has in her mind called "god" would never do that to people – god loves us, right? So if something plain as day in the Bible contradicts that, the Bible needs to be ignored, downplayed, or the offending passage interpreted like a pretzel until the cognitive dissonance goes away.It's completely twisted.When it comes to either obeying logic and reason, or upsetting the applecart of their entire way of living, logic loses every time with these people.

  62. 62
    Jarahdai

    I've noticed a theists only tactic against reasoning is through emotion and they use circular reasoning to provoke a strong emotional response. For them, it is a victory. For us it is an annoyance.I am glad Matt released the F-bomb. I learned more when Denise was not interrupting and keeping Matt from making his point.

  63. 63
    Pombolo

    @Phil: "Lately, this has given way to blowing tops way early… "In most cases I don't think this is so, certainly not with Denise. Denise had avoided questions several times and clearly had no intent to engage with or respond to the points being put back to her. This eventually leads to people becoming frustrated. This is different from blowing ones 'top' early.It's something of a trend I keep noticing, that a spiritual believer can stonewall throughout a whole conversation – and nobody says anything. When, inevitably, the other person (skeptic or atheist) loses their temper – this is seized upon."Denise was a model caller."Nah, there have been plenty of Christians who call in convinced they are right, and are capable of responding to whatever AETV throw at them. Denise was determined not to back down from the very beginning."So, a lot more time could have been devoted to explaining her faults (and, by proxy, the faults of many believers) as has been done to great effect in the past."But that's exactly what they were doing – and she ignored it entirely. She accepted every single premise that Matt laid before her… then just swept it all away with frustrated petulance.These are not the ones to be polite to: politeness from us is just an invitation for Christians like Denise carry on in the same way.

  64. 64
    Sparrowhawk

    I went back and listened to the call this morning and I don't think it's fair to say that Matt was just being grumpy and shouldn't have cursed at her. Others have pointed out that he was being very very patient with her, and he was. If you go back and listen to Denise, she's very smug and strident in her manner of "discussing" with Jeff and Matt. She didn't know what she was in for. She just wanted to call up and present her horrible "Jesus is a life saver" argument and preach at them. I would have loved to have heard the conversation go on longer without Matt's F-bomb, but honestly, she was a really frustratingly smug lady presenting really tired and often-repeated arguments…heck, not even arguments…just bald assertions.

  65. 65
    Phil

    "How many of you no longer believe those things because someone got in your face screaming and called you an idiot?"I've thought over it again, and in this case I think Matt was indeed justified in blowing his top, losing his cool, whatever you want to call it.In the spirit of this open thread, I want to add some acutely applicable video content.Phil Plait – Don't be a Dickhttp://vimeo.com/13704095The above quote is from this video

  66. 66
    ALLSovereign

    If I told Denise that offended by the word "God", would she refrain from saying it? I'm offended daily by people wearing a Christian Cross. Will Denise help me ban them? I'm offended by churches on every street corner. Will Denise help me get the properties rezoned? Denise needs to grow up. However since she still clings to an imaginary friend I don't see her growing up any time soon.Perhaps Denise needs to go in her closet and think about it for a couple centuries.

  67. 67
    Thomas

    Listening to Denise's heartfelt and compelling calls of "That's why he's called THE SAVIOUR" and "He's not just MY God, he's EVERYONE'S GOD!" just puts me in a Patty Smith mood…"Jesus died for somebody's sins, but not mine."

  68. 68
    Tom Foss

    The thing I noticed is that Denise was clearly looking for an excuse to hang up before the f-bomb dropped–hence the "get a word in edgewise" comment. She expected a soapbox and a couple of rubes who would be impressed with her bumper sticker platitudes, and instead she got Matt and Jeff. She called them "ridiculous," said that rejecting Jesus was the "dumbest thing you could possibly do," but she got high and mighty over their incivility? Yeah, screw her and the horse she rode in on.

  69. 69
    Sue

    @Ing"What sort of attitude should we give her?" Rational, civil, and unshaken. Let her win the race to the bottom.@Guillaume"… I understand Matt's anger." (playing believer's advocate:) Of course. He's an atheist. Atheists are angry.Yeah, the F-bomb prevented Matt from exposing Denise's almost certain next fallacy: the special pleading that it is good/right/OK when God enforces torture.@Jarahdai"I've noticed a theists only tactic…" The tactics of dishonest theists are legion. (There are honest theists, e.g. Martin Gardner.) @Pombolo"Denise … had no intent to … respond…" No. She answered questions. She was difficult but she answered questions. She acknowledged that God created hell. She acknowledged that God made the rules. (And kudos to Matt for getting that far. He could have gotten farther.)"When, inevitably, the [atheist] loses their temper…" Whoa. No. Why should we get angry when someone is demonstrating their irrationality right in front of No God and everybody?(end of part 1……..

  70. 70
    Sue

    … part 2(Sorry, I didn't realize this was so long. But I hope you think itis worth posting.)".. petulance." No. When someone starts using sailor swears, whether it is about atheism or federal reserve policy, I sense that I am not dealing with an enlightened individual and that the conversation has deteriorated to an unproductive level."politeness from us is just and invitation for [theists to] carry on.." Let them. Let them carry on making asses of themselves. Let them win the race to the bottom. We are gaining the high ground. Secularism is on the rise. Kitzmiller v. Dover drove a stake in theocracy's heart. The recent Prop 8 decision drove it in harder.————–My two cents:Your typical theist only thinks one fallacy ahead. They will often admit one fallacy when they think they have the corresponding apology in their pocket. But of course the apology is also fallacious. Let them lay out and commit to the apology before pointing out its fallacy. Rinse and repeat.Let them lay out their whole string of apologies. Layout the whole string of fallacies without demanding the theist accept them. (The audience will decide for themselves.)If Matt had gotten to the mafia boss extortion analogy I believe Denise would have apologized that God tortures non-believers for "right" and "good" reasons. Then Matt could have countered citing the special pleading fallacy.There are honest theists. I've only encountered two. Their only honest argument is "I like this story. It makes me feel good." I say, Go in peace my friend (but don't try to convert my kids).xoxox Sue

  71. 71
    ribidons

    The religious are explicitly taught to argue in bad faith. It's why religious discussion has gone precisely nowhere despite thousands of years of activity. There's no policing and no accountability. They can run the gamut of rational fallacy from ad absurdum to wishful thinking with impunity — who the fuck (yes, who the fuck) is going to call them on it? In science, if someone makes a boneheaded claim, their paper gets filed under "birdcage fodder" and their employment may well get terminated. If some devout good-for-nothing pushes mushy-headed tripe at the pulpit, at worst, they'll get shuttled off to do outreach work. More likely, and especially if they were boisterous in their sermonizing, they'll attract a big fat flock of authority-seekers, join the regional circle of like-minded cajolers, and spend the rest of their working career drinking good bourbon and playing golf five-and-a-half days a week. The religious just love to wax philosophical about how those that lack a God lack a moral compass. Guess what? The people WITH a God demonstrably lack a moral or ethical compass, since what they have< amounts to a series of childish "because I said so" unqualified appeals to authority. Denise is like someone who came to play chess, lost five pieces in ten moves, then turned over the table in a huff when the opponent had the gall to say "you fucked up." That doesn't make her righteous; that makes her stuck-up, short-tempered, and outright craven — wasn't she supposed to be witnessing for a just god under attack? Ugh. Sorry to rant, but I just got out of a discussion with an intelligent design freak who, after about exactly twenty-five minutes of failing to make a solid point, gave me the "well, it's all just your belief" line and walked out with his nose in the air. Honestly, I'll say that the Denise conversation would have gone better without the "fuck." However, she's the one in the wrong here; a real advocate would have marched right on with renewed vigor after that. Really, I have very little problem with her taking offense; prima facie, civility's not an onerous request. My problem is with her taking her offense and walking out with it. In formal debate, a critique of language, form, or procedure is usually employed to gain breathing room and to get the other party to ratchet back their rhetoric, not to expedite a hasty exit from the room. It's a verbal parry, and as such, it's valid and useful so long as it's followed by a riposte or rebuttal of some sort. Even if she'd said, "let's all cool our heads and talk about this next week," she'd have actually taken some high ground — I don't think there's a lot Matt could have said to that, save, "lookin' forward to it." Except…well, now I'm beating a dead horse to death, after seventy others have had their say. In short, I hope she calls again. She automatically gets to claim to her flock that she has "reformed" the behavior of the hosts, because TAE hosts won't give her that particular opening again. She'll get plenty of advice back in her little enclave, if she doesn't ban or ignore everyone that tells her she could have done better. Heck, maybe she'll call in sober, now that she's aware (if not in a paradigm-shifting way) that she was on the track to quickly losing a very basic argument. Keep it up, TAE. I'm watchin' the next one live.

  72. 72
    ribidons

    The religious are explicitly taught to argue in bad faith. It's why religious discussion has gone precisely nowhere despite thousands of years of activity. There's no policing and no accountability. They can run the gamut of rational fallacy from ad absurdum to wishful thinking with impunity — who the fuck (yes, who the fuck) is going to call them on it? In science, if someone makes a boneheaded claim, their paper gets filed under "birdcage fodder" and their employment may well get terminated. If some devout good-for-nothing pushes mushy-headed tripe at the pulpit, at worst, they'll get shuttled off to do outreach work. More likely, and especially if they were boisterous in their sermonizing, they'll attract a big fat flock of authority-seekers, join the regional circle of like-minded cajolers, and spend the rest of their working career drinking good bourbon and playing golf five-and-a-half days a week. The religious just love to wax philosophical about how those that lack a God lack a moral compass. Guess what? The people WITH a God demonstrably lack a moral or ethical compass, since what they have< amounts to a series of childish "because I said so" unqualified appeals to authority. Denise is like someone who came to play chess, lost five pieces in ten moves, then turned over the table in a huff when the opponent had the gall to say "you fucked up." That doesn't make her righteous; that makes her stuck-up, short-tempered, and outright craven — wasn't she supposed to be witnessing for a just god under attack? (cont'd — if the first, unbroken one got through in spite of the error, then moderator, please ignore this post and the next)

  73. 73
    ribidons

    (from above)Ugh. Sorry to rant, but I just got out of a discussion with an intelligent design freak who, after about exactly twenty-five minutes of failing to make a solid point, gave me the "well, it's all just your belief" line and walked out with his nose in the air. Honestly, I'll say that the Denise conversation would have gone better without the "fuck." However, she's the one in the wrong here; a real advocate would have marched right on with renewed vigor after that. Really, I have very little problem with her taking offense; prima facie, civility's not an onerous request. My problem is with her taking her offense and walking out with it. In formal debate, a critique of language, form, or procedure is usually employed to gain breathing room and to get the other party to ratchet back their rhetoric, not to expedite a hasty exit from the room. It's a verbal parry, and as such, it's valid and useful so long as it's followed by a riposte or rebuttal of some sort. Even if she'd said, "let's all cool our heads and talk about this next week," she'd have actually taken some high ground — I don't think there's a lot Matt could have said to that, save, "lookin' forward to it." Except…well, now I'm beating a dead horse to death, after seventy others have had their say. In short, I hope she calls again. She automatically gets to claim to her flock that she has "reformed" the behavior of the hosts, because TAE hosts won't give her that particular opening again. She'll get plenty of advice back in her little enclave, if she doesn't ban or ignore everyone that tells her she could have done better. Heck, maybe she'll call in sober, now that she's aware (if not in a paradigm-shifting way) that she was on the track to quickly losing a very basic argument. Keep it up, TAE. I'm watchin' the next one live.

  74. 74
    Guillaume

    @Sue-"Yeah, the F-bomb prevented Matt from exposing Denise's almost certain next fallacy"That may be so, but Denise was blabbering the same cliché over and over again and after a while it gets tiresome and one gets impatient, especially since she was cutting the hosts systematically (and I think in bad faith) to repeat her credo. I find Matt's impatience perfectly understandable.

  75. 75
    Pombolo

    @Sue:"No. She answered questions. She was difficult but she answered questions."At the risk of sounding patronising, I fear you're being a tad naive. She answered the questions she found easy. But there came a Rubicon moment where she resorted to, as another put it, 'bumper-sticker platitudes'.Whoa. No. Why should we get angry when someone is demonstrating their irrationality right in front of No God and everybody?Because:1) Many ex-theists criticise their atheist friends for not having been forceful enough.2) Many people don't like being played for 'silly buggers' by having their input swept aside with repeated proselytizing.3) The 'let them make their own noose' approach only works if there are substantial fence-sitters listening in. Perhaps that was the case here. Often it is not.4) We're only human ;-P5) I did say "eventually" lose their temper – perhaps you have the patience to put up with predictable evasions… I'm afraid I don't.

  76. 76
    Raymond

    I was not gonna comment on the language issue BUTSue said"When someone starts using sailor swears….I sense that I am not dealing with an enlightened individual.."I am sorry that you like to jump to conclusions about people based on the fact that they use robust langauge.The claim that by not using the the full range of English vocabulary somehow shows that you are more enlightened, intelligent etc. always amuses me.Incidently Matt is a former navy man so he is no doubt well practised in the use of 'sailor swears'.

  77. 77
    Earl E.

    The conversation would have been over whether Matt said 'fuck' or not. She would have found some other excuse because she was defeated. This sort of tactic is so common, especially with text based debates. Here are some other common excuses used to run away by theists I have encountered.-You spelled a word wrong, that means you're wrong.-You wouldn't understand.-I just don't have time to explain it to you.-You're just being hostile.

  78. 78
    magx01

    @ Ing:"You are disgusting and deserve to go to hell for spitting in the lord jesus's face when he throws you a life saver" To be fair, the nutjob did answer 'no' when queried as to whether or not she thought they deserved hell. Whether or not she was being honest, I can't say for certain, but I only have her word…her crazy, crazy word…

  79. 79
    Mark B

    I admit that I was shocked when Matt swore at her, and I saw it coming when she hung up; mostly because, as has been mentioned, she was already looking for a way out of the conversation. It might have been better if she had bailed on her own, obviously defeated. Could Matt have handled it better? Yep. Could I have handled it better? A big Fuck No.But look at it this way; I think there is value in letting theists know when they are wasting our time. We need to let them know that we aren't obligated to sit quiet while they natter on and on about their nonsense, that there are rules to having a dialog, and that when they're talking about their beliefs they might want to keep in mind that there are those who don't agree with, and don't respect, their cherished assumptions.So what if Jesus died on the cross? So did Spartacus, and he was opposed to slavery…

  80. 80
    Ing

    Isn't dismissing people as uneducated and unintelligent because of occasional fucks just like dismissing them because they have a southern drawl? It's classism

  81. 81
    Hairy Chris

    @Mark B"So what if Jesus died on the cross? So did Spartacus, and he was opposed to slavery…"I like the way you put that!

  82. 82
    The Dimery

    Denise didnt realy have a reason for calling, and seemed very surprised at Matt and Jeffs intelligence! I got the impression she had never had her faith challenged before, she got in too deep and was looking for a way out. Matts use of the f-word was her perfect excuse for getting her ass out of there! Her arguments were BS and Matt and Jeff saw right through her immediately.

  83. 83
    Ing

    @magxo1It follows from the same "that's messed up tree" replace as the last step that GOd sends people to hell that GOd is just and thus anyone who goes to hell needs to go there. Thus only the deserving go to hell. Again because she doesn't' realize she's being rude is no reason to cut her a break and not inform her that, yes she is damn fucking rude.

  84. 84
    Ing

    Also for all the tone whining, they went easy on her…Jeff didn't make her cry.

  85. 85
    bill21843

    Let me preface this by saying that the f-word doesn't offend me, and I don't think Matt D is a dick.But when Matt dropped the f-bomb on Denise, that killed the conversation dead. Yeah, it was her fault the conversation ended, but you gotta understand who your audience is.If your goal is to get discussions going, you to lay off the f-bomb sometimes. I love you Matt but I think it would benefit the show if you chilled out a little.

  86. 86
    Vancha

    I don't think I've ever seen a better example on the Atheist Experience of someone noticeably and clearly experiencing the conflict between reason and faith in their mind.Denise was lead on a path from point A to point B, and upon reaching the destination and realizing where she'd been lead, you could almost hear the clang as her comprehension of the conclusion and her religious beliefs collided in her mind.It's not often we get to witness a religious person being forced to apply their reason to their faith, but in this instance we did, and the result was beautiful. You can pinpoint the moment where malfunction occured…That split second between Matt stopping talking and her exclaiming "that's so messed up!". They are the moments from which atheists are made.

  87. 87
    Ing

    "If your goal is to get discussions going, you to lay off the f-bomb sometimes. I love you Matt but I think it would benefit the show if you chilled out a little. "Denise killed discussion when she insisted on just preaching.

  88. 88
    Sue

    Episode #668. Time 0:08:15 to 0:09:45. AronRa:"… about being vitriolic with believers. I'm totally down with that. There is no reason to be hostile." …"The most outspoken advocates of … rational thinking, skepticism … are all ex-believers." …"Some peoples' minds do change." "The one you might be tempted to throw hostilities at right now might turn out to be an ally later on." …"Try to keep the vitriol down, because that very often may be the only thing holding them back from realizing that their position is unstable and not on solid ground."xoxox Sue

  89. 89
    Raymond

    Since this is an open thread about AE #672; Just a couple of interesting details about Kevin from the UK's call regarding what was said about English money.1."God save the Queen" is the national anthem and does not appear on the money.2.A picture of the Queen however does appear on one side of Bank of England notes.3. Charles Darwin appears on the reverse side of a £10 note.http://www.ucl.ac.uk/taxome/jim/Mim/darwin.html

  90. 90
    Aardvark

    That discussion with Denise was another big fail from the AETV crew. It wasn't that big a deal, so there was no real reason to swear. The entire conversation was yet another example where the Atheist Experience crew aren't being "dicks", theyre just failing co communicate effectively. When Denise claimed that atheists send themselves to hell, you both simply went "nuh huh", "yuh huh" at one another without really explaining anything. What you should've done is stepped back and say "ok so by what process do I arrive in hell due to my atheism…lets play a scenario. I'm an atheist, I don't want to go to hell. When I die, what's the process of things that happen to me?" Leading her down the logical road you can bring her to the point of cognitive dissonance and point at that and say "ah HA, there is the problem".This applies to many previous calls too. When someone disagrees with you, simply pointing out the truth sometimes doesn't cut it. If they fail to understand from your simple stating of something, you don't need to rephrase yourself a zillion times, you need to step back and go into things in more detail!The last time AronRa and Matt were on the show together, when the theists called in you both (but Aron in particular) gish galloped after gish gallop! It was painful to watch! Sure, you pointed out all these logical and moral inconsistencies in the bible. Look at this, look at this, look at this! Yes, we all know that you're right, and it may be effective at showing other viewers that this person is a fool, but you do nothing to help the person being gish galloped understand why they're wrong! Don't make a zillion points at them without hearing their reply. Look at what they've said, and break it down point by point, through a process that will ensure that they understand what you're saying. Do not go off onto tangents, that simply introduces possibilities to side track or add confusion.The Atheist Experience has been seriously frustrating me recently, so I hope you guys can turn it around.

  91. 91
    HarveyRequiem

    Well, the biggest part of such an exchange is to show the viewers of such an exchange why this or that is wrong. Rarely will you ever get through to the person you are actually talking to. They're invested in the conversation and trying to save face. Why work like crazy to get that to that one person you're talking to (with such a low chance of getting through to them) when by other methods you can show any number of believing audience members why this or that idea is wrong or messed up?You guys did good, and all Denise wanted to do was preach. She would have found some weak excuse to flounce away offended no matter what you did. And this is still the best atheist podcast EVAR!!!

  92. 92
    Pete

    This is a situation, like so many others, where a fundamentalist Theist uses the "offence" at someone dropping an F-bomb as an excuse to cower away from an argument where she is being cornered into throwing her hands up and saying "Believe what you want".I too would have liked to know why the F-Bomb she called, but given her Victorian attitude to simple words which only have the power to offend if people are weak-willed enough to allow them to, I doubt we'll ever get an answer to that, although I can speculate that she was trying to present an argument that might be convincing to more of the weaker-willed viewers of the show who might be convinced by such paltry "logic" as what she was trying to present.

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