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Apr 16 2012

Open thread on episode #757

Have at it.

[Edit by Russell:]

After the main show ended, Jeff said to me that this was one of the weirdest shows he’s ever done.  I can’t really disagree, and it’s pretty unusual that we wound up with so many calls in a row about Eastern religions.  I suppose it was kind of a refreshing change from our show being all Christianity all the time.

88 comments

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  1. 1
    Jeff

    You’re taking away people’s hopes and dreams that they might be tortured for eternity for what they do with their genitals! Shame on you! Shame on you all!

  2. 2
    atheistthaigirl

    It’s too bad Nishan from Thailand wouldn’t stop talking over Jeff and Russell about fucking Buddhism without a point.

    I’m curious, is that the first caller from Thailand?

    -Russell: “Wait, so you can’t convince me that god exists unless I agree with you conditionally that god exists? Is that what you’re saying?”

    -Bobby: “Not conditional, unconditional.”

    1. 2.1
      Jasper of Maine

      I hate that.

      My first question to that scenario is “how do I know it’s not a hallucination?”. If I were to reproduce the steps to see what they’re seeing, I’m still left with that question, as we haven’t done anything to distinguish the claim from hallucination/delusion.

      I don’t have to take mind altering substances or contexts to prove that my coffee mug exists.

      I don’t have to believe my coffee mug exists to get evidence that my coffee mug exists.

      Show me the coffee mug exists, and I’ll believe you.

      1. TerranRich, Yet Another Atheist

        Bobby: “But I drink tea…”

    2. 2.2
      Walter

      To be fair to the callers, the ‘talking over’ is sometimes the fault of the phone system TAE uses. While talking, the caller cannot always hear the hosts start talking. By ‘the phone system’ I mean the connection all the way through to Thailand — Skype, cell phones, etc. This is not always the case, of course, especially when the host has not finished speaking before the caller pipes up. However, the hosts have that handy-dandy ‘hold’ button which they can use to mute the callers. I would prefer that to repeated shoutings of ‘shut up!’ or the equivalent.

  3. 3
    Max Entropy

    Two Buddhists and a Hindu walk into an Atheist bar…

  4. 4
    Jasper of Maine

    The Buddhist caller, “Join us because we conflict with reality the least”, sort of reminded me of my mother.

    She seemed to go through a stage where she believed that I wanted to believe in a god, but just couldn’t because there were too many issues – so her attempts revolved around trying to convince me that science and god didn’t need to conflict, etc.

    My sister asked once why evolution couldn’t be true but God simply played a role in it.

    No no, you people are asking the wrong questions. The correct question is “What is true?” and you follow the evidence to that answer. They’re thinking about things backwards.

    1. 4.1
      martin waddington

      That’s what always happens with theists. They start from the conclusion and then decide what they are going to accept on the basis of whether it can be interpreted to fit.

      1. Walter

        I think you both have this slightly wrong. In that sutta Buddha (or someone writing in his name) was talking about ways to affect your inner states, where the only evidence is your personal experience. In the Lotus Sutta he (or someone writing in his name) was asked what will happen after death and he says essentially ‘when you are in a burning house, you don’t ask what will happen when you get out’. I agree with the caller from Thailand that Gautama was encouraging everyone to be a skeptic.

        1. Jasper of Maine

          If the evidence is subjective, it’s very poor evidence.

          Even if I were to have a “personal experience”, my first steps would be to attempt to objectively verify what I think I experienced.

          Otherwise, I may as well have had a hallucination.

          1. Walter

            When you take your car to the store you are generally happy to think that you got to the store when you start putting groceries in your basket — it could be a hallucination but you do not try to get objective evidence. Strict solipsism is the end result of your line of argument. The only way out is to accept ‘practical evidence’. If the claim is that practice X can make you happier, then the first test is ‘am I happier?’. One could measure oxytocin levels, seratonin re-uptake values, blood pressure, brain wave frequency spectrum — but none of those results would affect whether I am feeling happy or not. Some of that work is happening, which may shed some light on how the practice affects our biochemistry.

          2. Jasper of Maine

            When you take your car to the store you are generally happy to think that you got to the store when you start putting groceries in your basket

            Yes, and those would be objectively confirmable events.

            it could be a hallucination but you do not try to get objective evidence.

            Do you know what objective and subjective mean? The visiting of the grocery store would be the objective evidence that the store exists.

            Conversely, what you’re speaking of is “evidence” that occurs completely in the mind – which is entirely subjective. Objective evidence can independently corroborate that what I think isn’t just all in my mind.

            That’s where objective evidence blows subjective evidence out of the water, in terms of value.

            Strict solipsism is the end result of your line of argument.

            Not even remotely – in fact, my point was the 100% exact opposite of solipsism – to bring the so called “evidence” out from the mind and into the real world.

            The only way out is to accept ‘practical evidence’

            You mean “standard evidence” as in meeting the standards that determine whether an asserted piece of evidence is worth a damn? You mean the entirety of the epistemology foundation that your computer and cell phone are based upon, as well as the rest of science?

            That “practical evidence”? Yes, actually, that’s what I’m advocating.

            If the claim is that practice X can make you happier, then the first test is ‘am I happier?’

            Okay, if your claim is really this superficial, then I’m not sure why I’m arguing with you about it. The discussion was whether there’s any merit to the more supernatural claims of this meditation. Whether it makes you happy doesn’t mean that the claims are true.

            If that’s the only part that concerns you, then have fun, but we wouldn’t accept that the happiness is an indicator that it’s true any more than we’d accept that Christianity is true because it makes people feel happier.

            That’s where the subjectivity of it is a failure of evidentiary value. We aren’t concerned about the mundane claim that meditation can make you happier. Taking a nap can do that too.

            Most of us are fine with meditation – but once one starts asserting woo about it, that’s when a line is crossed.

            One could measure oxytocin levels, seratonin re-uptake values, blood pressure, brain wave frequency spectrum — but none of those results would affect whether I am feeling happy or not

            Actually, yes, those can be measured as objective correlations to happiness. That’s part of what psychiatric drugs do – is address imbalances of chemicals in the brain that can cause depression or bipolar issues.

            Some of that work is happening, which may shed some light on how the practice affects our biochemistry.

            Yes, similar to how taking a power nap can affect your biochemistry too.

  5. 5
    Petruza

    Isn’t a discussion forum more fit for this?

    1. 5.1
      Jasper of Maine

      Nope

      1. Petruza

        Okeyp

    2. 5.2
      Muzz

      Yes, but they’re so 2001. The internet must move on to ever more ugly and impractical conversation tech like facebook, blogs and twitter because What will people think?!
      (nothing to do with the show, just my usual swipe at the whole internet)

      1. Petruza

        LOL

  6. 6
    Max Entropy

    I agree with what Jeff Dee said on the live stream after the TV show was over: that was a very weird show. I liked it, though, because some of the callers were different from the norm. It was refreshing to hear some conversations about Buddhism and Hinduism instead of the usual “Jesus, Jesus, Jesus”.

  7. 7
    Tomasz R.

    Concerning Islam: this 80 or so percent of moderates is it’s necessary survival mechanism. If it only generated dangerous types it would be banned already.

    So the complete mechanism of conquest of the world is following: fundamentalists do the actual job of killing infidels, implementing Sharia etc. If this work results in a backlash – then moderates are put on display to prevent proper punishment to islam from occuring (“you can’t ban islam – look – here are moderate people who believe it”).

    So basically we should be looking at the worst outcomes that a given regilion or ideology produces, not on averages or best cases. It dosn’t matter even if 99% is OK when 1% is going to kill you.

    This is normal in other circumstances. If there is for example a deadly contamination of 10% of so food from a given factory then the normal procedure is to ban whole production of this factory until problems are sorted out.

    And problems with ISlam are never going to be sorted out, as there are direct instructions to kill there, and Muhhamad said he was the last prophet, thus blocking possibility of meaningful reform.

    1. 7.1
      sosw

      No, all you did by singling out Islam specifically was that you are incapable of objectivity on the matter.

      The fact that a majority of muslims are moderates proves that the content of the religion doesn’t inherently prevent reform. Muslims, just like Christians, pick and choose which doctrines to abide by. Despite no changes in scriptures, Islam’s radicalization is a fairly recent phenomenon – more specifically, Islamic nations are more oppressive than they were in the middle ages. This seems more a factor of social, political and cultural factors than anything inherent in the religion.

      It’s stupid to blame all muslims for the radicalization of some. If there were a religious hierarchy that all muslims were subject to, then it would make sense to ban it.

      There are, of course, some sub-sects of religions that are tightly controlled organizations with oppressive doctrines. They often are “banned” in one way or another.

      The only (somewhat) significant religion I know of where this applies to the entire religion is Scientology, which is justifiably banned in some countries.

      The largest hierarchical religious organization by far is, of course, the Roman Catholic Church. Why I don’t lump it in with Scientology is because most Catholics pick and choose church doctrines just as much as other Christians, and the control of the RCC applies mostly to their officials. Of course due to massive influence due to control of funding, their ability and willingness to cover up crimes, not to mention their monopolization of missionary work combined with harmful propaganda (no condoms), they are almost certainly the most harmful religious organization in the world.

      There are, of course, radical Islamic organizations, many of which are justifiably classified as terrorist organizations. Most of them are tiny. There are also moderate ones.

      Unless you suggest banning all religions that have some harmful sects (which would certainly include all Abrahamic religions and many if not most others), you’re just showing your irrationality by singling out Islam.

      1. Tomasz R.

        > It’s stupid to blame all muslims for the radicalization of some.

        Reading comprehension: I blamed moderates only for preventing the banning of Islam. The generation of deadly fanatics is an inherent feature of Islam, because of which it should be banned (practice, worship, following, spreading and indoctrination of children – you cannot practically ban belief or giving information that there is such religion). And it’s moderates that make it difficult to achieve such goal.

        >The fact that a majority of muslims are moderates proves that the content of the religion doesn’t inherently prevent reform.

        The content of Islam (the most popular sunni version) prevents reforms. Moderate muslims simply don’t follow religion fully (check Sam Harris for this – he claims these are fundamentalists who actually read scriptures).

        > the Roman Catholic Church [...] they are almost certainly the most harmful religious organization in the world

        That’s unfair. You should normalize harm per number of ACTIVE members, or number of priests, or revenue. Catholic church should look to be in the middle in such comparisons.

        Besides many harmful ideologies – like Islam – are not organizations, so searching for harmful organization won’t show you the full danger.

        > No, all you did by singling out Islam specifically was that you are incapable of objectivity on the matter.

        “Singling out” is a part of method of thinking called “analysis”. If you have thousands of topics in a single post, you won’t get much results.

        And when it comes to me – no, ideologies should not be banned by names, but by features. If a religion gives instructions to kill or persecute then the practice, spreading of it, popularizing it, advertising it, creating and maintaning organizations practicing it should be banned.

        Belief itself is a different beast. You can believe in existance of a god giving such instructions the same way that we believe in the existance of a bloody dictator who has a great power – we don’t worship him and don’t follow his orders.

      2. Tomasz R.

        >There are, of course, radical Islamic organizations, many of >which are justifiably classified as terrorist organizations.

        That type of thinking leads to wrong conclusions. In many regions (eg. Egypt, Pakistan) fundamentalists are MAJORITY, and they support islamic killing of apostates or adulterers and similar acts. What differentiates them from “terrorists” is only a lazines and a lack of initialtive – terrorists want to work hard for the case of islam on their own, using their own ideas and plans, while your statistically typical fundamentalists relies on a theocratic government to further the case of islam, rather than trying to take initiative himself.

        http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/gnxp/2011/02/egypt-vs-indonesia-in-attitudes/

        So you mistake laziness and lack of initiative for moderation.

        1. Cassie

          Ah no, not laziness a lack of desire to do that.

          As opposed to the west, we have plenty of desire to bomb innocent men, women and children because of people like you who promote the anti-islam ideology. No laziness here. White phosphorous leaps to mind, children who haven’t even been born yet will suffer horrible defects due to this chemical being dropped onto the land, all because they are muslims.

          A good example is the oslo terrorist, news sources actually reported he was muslim and arabic, they leapt to the assumption that he must be as he killed innocent people! But it turned out it was a white christian.

          You further the idea that terrorists are arabic and evil and white people are morally superior. Racist shit.

          As for the guy who said Islam should be banned because it promotes hatred and murder, the point is not all muslims and not all muslim sects do promote anything of the kind.

          1. Ingdigo Jump

            Reading comprehension: I blamed moderates only for preventing the banning of Islam.

            Oh yeah they’re so irrational to want you to stop that. Christ, what an asshole.

          2. Tomasz R.

            Simple question: should muslims be allowed to PRACTICE the following instruction from their holy book:

            “When the sacred months are over, slay the idolaters wherever you find them. Arrest them, besiege them, and lie in ambush everywhere for them.”

            If you say NO to this question, then you are in favor of regulating the practicing of religion according to some (most likely) secular norms.

            Which may ultimately lead to banning of the most violent religions, but only after the taboo that religions require special respect is over. Regulation by modern governments typically leads to overregulation, so there would be a long list of detailed rules what gods can and can’t instruct their believers to to.

            If you say YES to this question, then you are in favor of allowing genocide, as some group of true believers is going to follow this instruction.

          3. Russell Glasser

            Should Christians be allowed to practice the following instruction from their holy book?

            “If a man has a stubborn and rebellious son who does not obey his father and mother and will not listen to them when they discipline him, his father and mother shall take hold of him and bring him to the elders at the gate of his town. They shall say to the elders, ‘This son of ours is stubborn and rebellious. He will not obey us. He is a profligate and a drunkard.’ Then all the men of his town shall stone him to death.”

            I’m assuming the answer is no, so does it follow that you wish to ban the Christian religion?

          4. Tomasz R.

            Reply to Kazim:

            >Should Christians be allowed to practice the following instruction from their holy book?
            [...]

            No.

            > I’m assuming the answer is no, so does it follow that you wish to ban the Christian religion?

            General procedure would look like this: regulations that limit what gods or religious leaders can instruct people to do come out, are published. So religons have some time to adapt. Many will – by deleting forbidden fragments of their scriptures (by a decree of a leader or by decision of a commiette, or by getting new divine revelations, that say these lines are just a description of history, their gods have changed since then and now are compatible with the law). My bet would be that a Roman Catholic Church would adapt easily, as then never had problems with forging information or forgetting about their god’s words (eg. the graven images commandmant). In protestant realm there’s a huge diversity – some fundamentalist churches would perish, being unable to accomodate new laws, some would simply make new bibles with some books cut, some added (eg. gospels other than basic 4) or use “this is just a description of history, now the god’s laws are different” trick.

            Sunni islam has no such flexibility, the violence, wars and persecutions are integrated in the system.

          5. Russell Glasser

            Sunni islam has no such flexibility, the violence, wars and persecutions are integrated in the system.

            That was the most transparent moving of goalposts that I’ve seen on THIS thread, at least. Originally you were complaining about the fact that moderate Muslims were preventing Islam in general from being banned. To justify this, you said that Islam is guaranteed to produce extremists because terrible, dehumanizing stuff is written into their book.

            Christianity has terrible, dehumanizing stuff written into their book too, but you aren’t complaining that you’re unable to ban Christianity as a whole. Instead, you narrow your focus and claim that you were just talking about Sunnis. But Sunnis aren’t the moderates that you claimed were keeping the religion alive in the first place.

            It sounds to me like you want to ban Islam because some Muslims are extremists, but you don’t want to ban Christianity because not all Christians are extremists.

            So religons have some time to adapt. Many will – by deleting forbidden fragments of their scriptures (by a decree of a leader or by decision of a commiette, or by getting new divine revelations, that say these lines are just a description of history, their gods have changed since then and now are compatible with the law).

            Yeah. Right. Let me know when your bill to force all Christians to edit and rewrite their Bibles to suit your tastes hits Congress (or Parliament, or whatever is the case in your region). I’m sure it will pass with no complaints whatsoever.

          6. Tomasz R.

            Clarification about Islam: by various estimates 75-90 percent of Muslims are Sunni. The second one is Shia version 10-20%, but it’s mostly local – Iran, Iraq, Kurdish territories. Then there are tiny, tiny minorities, like Alawites – that US is just trying to destroy in Syria (from Wikipedia: distinct Alawi beliefs include the belief that prayers are not necessary, they don’t fast, nor perform pilgrimage, nor have specific places of worship).
            The sentence “Instead, you narrow your focus and claim that you were just talking about Sunnis.” doesn’t make much sense, because if you talk about Islam you most likely talk about Sunni version because of the numbers and the worldwide presence. It’s a version based strictly on scriptures and written traditions, which makes it inflexible, as these cannot be changed, as well as added. Organizationally – they are distributed, bound ideologically – by goals, values and methods, the groups support each other and , even network with each other. There’s even a bottom up process of promoting people to religious positions. That’s why fighting a specific organization, like US does in a war on terror leads to a total failure. You need to attack the ideology as it’s the glue that holds the whole distributed system together.
            Shia is based on listening to religious leaders as the ones responsible for interpreting word of Allah, so it has slightly more flexibility, but as of now it’s even more violent than Sunni version – no chance for quick improvement.
            Clarification about Christianity: there’s no such thing as “Christianity as a whole”. Various numerically important churches and doctrines differ from each other to the point that some denominations claim that other denominations are not christian. Only some of doctrines of a group called Christianity (hardcore protestant denominations) are critically dependand on Bible, that contains the verses you contested. A good example of a denomination that is not critically dependant on Bible is Catholicism. Catholicism is about a large bureaucratic, commercial organization called Catholic Church, which is the only one authorized to interpret the words of god, and even has an infallable pope to do so. A follower doesn’t need to know o read words of god by himself, just obey the priests and church writings. And for many years now the official words of church are not about war and violence.
            Catholicism has multitude of new revelations (most famous in Fatima), and new objects of cult like saints. So any ban on following , sprading, advertising or pushing on children the violent paragraphs of the Bible (or even cutting them off completely, or even replacing the Bible with some “History of jesus and mary” book) would most likely not lead to that much problem for Catholicism.

          7. Tomasz R.

            Concerning dangers:
            The role of government is to protect the citizens of it’s country. The current state of affairs in which the government ignores dangers of religions generating violence is a pathology. The proper response is fighting the ideologies that contain istructions to cause violence and destruction to the people the government is obliged to protect.
            The basic human right is supposed to be the right to live. Governments are obliged to protect it. You cannot protect it if you allow spread of religous ideologies that explicitly instruct to kill, promise reward for that, advertise such behavior as moral and teach the stuff tto cidlren.
            What’s more – the govenrment fails to enforce the freedom of religion if it allows the relgious ideologies that threaten apostates with death.
            Concerning regulation:
            Eliminating pathologies has never been interpreted as a lack of “freedom”. If a government withdraws a dangerous product from the market (eg. lithium batteries that blow up) it’s not a violation of economic freedom. The ban on dangerous religions should thus not be interpreted as lack of religious freedoms, as long as safe ones are allowed.
            Concerning moderates and their role:
            Moderate communists were crucial in the fall of communism (Gorbatchov, Round Table Talks in Poland). Without their support for the system the thing might still keep going on like in North Korea. In Poland we even have a ban on communist organizations in the Constitution, that was put in by the votes of post-communists. Basically these people were smart enough to relaize that their system is wrong, change their name and ideology to a normal left-wing one.
            In case of Islam opposite is happening. Islam works by generating that include: “sword”: fundamentalists, that actually follow the scripture and thus lead holy wars angainst infidels, kill apostates and blashphemers and a “shield” of moderates whose role is protect islam from aftermath of the attack with the “sword” by softening the impact.

        2. Jasper of Maine

          The reason Christianity isn’t as barbaric anymore, like Islam has a tendency today, is because they were domesticated by secularism.

          Once the reason for terrorism is removed – poverty, hopelessness, totalitarian dogma – it’ll stop.

          No one ever protested that things were going well.

          ..although, Christianity is regressing a lot lately.

          1. Cassie

            Christianity is absolutely barbaric and it is more barbaric than islam.

            White people spread their religious views throughout the world often at the end of a gun. More innocent muslims have been murdered because as the west is heavily christian it is easy to sell the lie that muslims are violent extremists.

            Fact is there are more christian terrorists than muslim ones.

          2. Jasper of Maine

            I essentially agree.

            My point was that here in America, at least, we can, for the most part, live side by side with Christianity, and be 99% safe from their barbarism. It simply isn’t allowed (for the most part).

            The goal should be to bring Islam into the fold so they can be pacified as well, and hopefully in the long run, through a secular culture, allow for more of them to be better educated and escape.

            Islamic culture hasn’t been given that opportunity yet, quite the way that Christianity has been dragged into a better condition.

  8. 8
    Muzz

    It was bit of a clunky conversation, but I think the Thai guy was trying to develop some round about points that Buddhist and Eastern Philosophy generally is pretty darn interesting. It’s really introspective, way before the Existentialists, and doesn’t have any of that god business muddling things up (well, kinda).

    It is rather curious, not to mention Monty Python-esque that Buddhism is this huge branching system of faiths around a guy who it seems is basically telling people not to do that sort of thing in the first place.

  9. 9
    Ishikiri

    I’m kind of surprised that no one brought up the work of Sam Harris. While dismissing the metaphysical claims, he’s talked at some length about how Buddhism has some good insights on consciousness.

    1. 9.1
      Russell Glasser

      I found that part to be a disappointing and misguided anticlimax to an otherwise pretty good book.

      1. Ishikiri

        I assume you’re talking about The End of Faith. Sure, maybe it wasn’t quite fitting, but was he wrong?

        Another good article of his on the subject is “Killing the Buddha.”

  10. 10
    Zengaze

    Haven’t seen the show yet, waiting for it to go up. But buddhism is better dressed bullshit, monotheism is bullshit for boneheads. Buddhism is bullshit for eggheads.

    Yeah I know that is a hugely over simplified sound byte, but it essentially conveys the reality. Buddhism in the west appeals to woo heads who think they’re too smart to be woo heads.

    Buddhism in the east in all its forms as full of cultural dogma, and completely nutty claims as Christianity is in the west. The dalai lama for example is viewed by the Tibetan people as effectively a god. Now you say, but Buddhists don’t believe in gods, or more accurately, tibetan Buddhists believe in a god realm but they are not the same as the gods of monotheism, and yes you’d be right, but for all intents and purposes the bodhisattva is a living god, the dalai lama is viewed as a bodhisattva, and worshipped by Tibetans as such. Mr dalai doesn’t really like people in the west being to familiar with this, because it may prevent us acheiving enlightenment. This level of knowledge may be a barrier to your spiritual progress, because you have to be ready to receive it. (read well enough indoctrinated) Sound familiar to anyone?

    1. 10.1
      Hairy Chris, blah blah blah etc

      Pretty much. It (if I heard it right) basically boiled down to the guy saying that it was less bad than the Abrahamic religions…

      Which is nice.

      1. Zengaze

        The first Buddha if he actually existed, which is about as relevant as whether Socrates actually existed gave us some great advice for living a contented life,

        if we all followed his advice we’d still be living in mud huts. Buddhism is another “have no thought for the morrow” enemy of modernity. If I could have said one thing to the Buddha it would have been “yeah sittin on your fat ass holding the moon without holding it is great, I like getting stoned too. But it doesn’t cure kids of cancer, so give this world one MD over a million Buddhas, thanks very much”.

        1. Ingdigo Jump

          Buddhism is the pants wetting fear of living life as a human being.

          1. Zengaze

            Yep, being a human is a waste of time unless you are spending it trying to escape the curse of being born in your next life.

    2. 10.2
      Ishikiri

      Again, not to be a total Sam Harris shill, when you strip out the unjustified claims about nirvana and reincarnation, Buddhism has some good things to say about the nature of consciousness, moreso than anything in the Abrahamic tradition. Things like insight meditation can have real benefits for things like clear thinking and dealing with stress.

      As with anything, it’s a matter of approaching it with a skeptical mind, and not being all Deepak Chopra about it and thinking you can make all kinds crazy claims about reality.

      1. Ingdigo Jump

        lighting a joint may be just as good for stress…and smells less like bullshit.

        Seriously when you strip the bullshit away it isn’t Buddhism, it’s quiet/nap time.

        1. Muzz

          In terms of philosophies of the personal and of the mind I find it has a certain amount in common with Aristotle’s conception of happiness. It’s a rigorous self awareness towards a certain inner peace, rather than being completely reactive and competitive.
          Because it is fairly well described and has a seemingly broad relevance to human life it’s a lot more interesting than the scanty and fragmented words of jesus.
          It’s true people latch onto it because people like subjecting themselves to systems. It’s got all that metaphysical language and terminology that is given power just because someone wrote it down, etc. But there’s some reading of it telling you that ultimately you don’t need it. Which is interesting.
          Definitely worth including in the canon of philosophy for consideration at least. Lao Tzu and Confucius also interesting dudes.

        2. Ishikiri

          No, because despite what you might think, there are proper techniques for meditation. I should have added that it’s a valuable way to understand your own mind and what it is to be alive and conscious.

          There’s nothing wrong with a joint or glass of wine, either.

          1. Ingdigo Jump

            There are proper ways of meditation…as declared by Buddhist tradition.

            Yes very scientific -_-

            A glass of wine a day may help with health, catholocism is still useless.

          2. Ishikiri

            There are proper ways of meditation…as declared by Buddhist tradition.

            Yes very scientific -_-

            Just because it comes from tradition doesn’t mean it’s wrong, that’s like the reverse of an argument from antiquity.

            But there’s no shortage of scientific research on the subject either.

          3. Ingdigo Jump

            Actually I consider that if it came from something whose fundamental dogma is antithetical to human life, it probably isn’t very useful for humans. I’m funny that way.

          4. Zengaze

            Andrew you’re missing the point that meditation doesn’t come from Buddhism. Or Hinduism, or any other ism.

      2. Zengaze

        Buddhism is unfortunately viewed as benign philosophy in the west, mainly due to ignorance. It’s the same way that the Chinese think Christianity is all about love.

        In reality core teachings in Buddhism are very very damaging to society and human advancement. For example karma, which Buddhism stole from Hinduism directly supports the existence of the caste system in India. If you don’t know how abhorrent the caste system is you need to research it,. It also teaches that a victim is as responsible as the perpetrator for a crime committed against them.

        The myth that Buddhism is generally a positive force in the world needs to be dispelled.

        1. Ingdigo Jump

          Buddhism also basically says the good parts of the material world are not worth the suffering so you should give up those good parts of life. Which is why I say it’s basically panphobia. basically a dog will eventually die and make you sad so sacrifice all the happiness you might get/bring to a dog so you won’t be sad later. It’s inhuman.

        2. Ishikiri

          Sure, but I would put forward that those persist due to dogma and people not approaching things critically.

          I’m not saying that Buddhism as a whole is good, just that it has some good things in it. The same holds true for Abrahamic traditions, though arguably less so.

          1. Zengaze

            What good things in it would you like to keep?

          2. Ingdigo Jump

            Those things are CRUCIAL to buddhism. They are the 4 noble truths! It’s the entire point of the religion.

          3. Ishikiri

            What good things in it would you like to keep?

            I think the meditative traditions are worthy of study.

          4. Ingdigo Jump

            So the meditative traditions to escape Karma and purge yourself of those filthy filthy filthy DESIRES are worth studying…you know for secular reasons

          5. Zengaze

            I think meditation is worth study, and more. But it has nothing to do with Buddhism or any other belief system. Do you really believe people didn’t meditate on their environment/ existence in what we now call the western world, before they were aware that people in the east were doing it? Or do you think the eastern forms have some special voodoo that makes it special.

            Anything else you’d like to keep, or are you going to realise the stuff you like from these religions were more than likely not created by these religions but were adopted into them, quite like Christianity adopted morality and then claimed it created it.

          6. Ishikiri

            April 17, 2012 at 12:02 pm

            I think meditation is worth study, and more.

            Okay then.

            But it has nothing to do with Buddhism or any other belief system. Do you really believe people didn’t meditate on their environment/ existence in what we now call the western world, before they were aware that people in the east were doing it? Or do you think the eastern forms have some special voodoo that makes it special.

            Anything else you’d like to keep, or are you going to realise the stuff you like from these religions were more than likely not created by these religions but were adopted into them, quite like Christianity adopted morality and then claimed it created it.

            This I find unduly condescending. I thought I had made it clear that I don’t accept any notions of magic. The concept of meditation was purloined by Hindus and Buddhist, and if you want to dismiss the fact that so much of it was fostered by Hindu and Buddhist thinkers as ENTIRELY incidental, then fine.

          7. Zengaze

            I must do. The reason for it is that meditation holds nothing supernatural! It is nothing more than being aware of oneself, and attempting to understand what oneself is. That’s it! The term meditation holds so much baggage, and multiple interpretations, that I think it’s best to dump it, and opt for a cleaner more honest term. How about contemplation, there’s no spirit guides insinuated in that term, or the possibility of levitation.

            Do not take this as an argument from authority, but I have sat with the dalai lama, I was instructed by thich nhat hanh. I sat on my ass morning and night for five years, I devoured texts, and sat through days of teaching. And I gained the same amount of insight into existence as one night I stood on a cliff top at sunset, leaning on a car with others who had been stopped by the scene, and marvelled at the beauty of the cloud formations on the horizon of the Atlantic ocean. Or the emotional emptiness in the aftermath of horror which left me without words and brought with it it’s own peace, that I felt, and witnessed in the eyes of my comrades one dawn where mortality and the fragility of life was exposed.

            The mistake is made when you think there is a special recipe to meditation, that yields special results.

          8. Muzz

            Would you call it something as vague as being aware of oneself though? I’m not into it but it seems like they might have hit upon a fairly specific kind of brain exercise that can…do…something, that might be good. We don’t quite know what yet.
            Some casual and secular partakers I’ve spoken to can only really come up with horrid machine metaphors for it like purging the cache, cycling the system empty, flushing the tubes. Apparently that’s the best we can do for the moment.
            It isn’t that it’s magic or special but like any exercise it takes practice and technique to get the most out of it.

        3. Zengaze

          The best term I’ve heard used for it is mindfulness. In other words being in the present rather than the past or the future, and therefore valuing each moment as it passes. Are there benefits to this? anecdotally I can attest that it does improve concentration, reduces the need for sleep, makes sleep more restful, improves listening skills, and more. But sitting meditation is just a formalised form of something a lot of people do in their day to day lives without even realising it. That is appreciate the moment, and not worry what is past or what is to come.

          People who claim meditation holds some secret formula shout and point to studies which show reduced stress levels/ increased activity in the centres of the brain that deal with compassion in Buddhist monks. That’s great, but I would like to see those studies extended to include people who surf from morning to midnight, to Christian contemplatives who sit in silence studying the bible for twenty years, to random individuals who say their way of life whether it be a farmer or a fisherman brings them ultimate peace and contentment. Do you see where I’m going with this? Sitting on your ass In formalised meditation doesn’t hold some secret reward that can’t be unlocked any other way.

          Then there are the claims that the meditative tradition has given us insights into neurological processes which are being confirmed now by scientific study. Woohoo, thinking about things can lead to,discoveries which are later confirmed by study. That’s a revelation. What about the insights which are proved to be completely off the mark? Confirmation bias confirmation bias confirmation bias.

          1. Muzz

            Oh absolutely. My only interest is in whether meditation can be refined into something more specifically useful as per a cognitive psych technique or something (although they’re kinda vague too).
            You think it’s not worth the bother, is that right?

            I have encountered talk about it from non faithful people (I’m fairly sure, anyway) who found it outside their usual experience and difficult to get the hang of. But once they develop some technique they found it had some benefit. No grand claims of enlightenment or anything. Just the sort of things you were saying.
            Isolating some sort of mental technique for creating those states and seeing what they do is an interesting idea, is all.

          2. Zengaze

            I think studying anything which could lead to potential management of illnesses like depression is of huge value. What we have to do is identify the common denominator.

            What I am hugely wary of, is the claims that go along with meditation. That it unlocks some higher level of consciousness that reveals truths about the physical world and the conscious mind. This is the same thing as the divine revelation nonsense we see from the abrahamic traditions. “I know because god revealed it to me”

            Buddhist woo is good at pseudo science and that’s why I think we have to be very very wary of it.

          3. Muzz

            Then I think we agree.

  11. 11
    Mark

    Excuse me, but what does this have to do with vikings?

    1. 11.1
      Mark

      That made my day, Russell.

    2. 11.2
      Ingdigo Jump

      Vikings of Saturn sounds like a Doctor Who, no?

  12. 12
    aleksanderadamkiewicz

    That guy that wanted you to accept that god exists before he would explain anything:

    “If I would remove all of humanity from this planet and replaced it with another sentient race, then they would also discover god, proving that the god-concept is mind-independent!”

    I was screaming at my screen:

    What? Would those new sentient beings not have a MIND?
    How would that prove that the god-concept is mind-independent?
    If the god-concept was mind-independent, we would see the concept pop up -without- a mind!
    I.E. Rocks would develop religions.

    1. 12.1
      jacobfromlost

      Indeed. Another problem is that the caller ASSUMES the “god idea” in every human’s head is the same. It’s not.

      You don’t even have to remove all of humanity and replace them with some other sentient race. All you have to do is compare individual humans, different groups of humans, etc, and observe that when they SAY “god”, they don’t all mean the same thing.

      The way some theists get out of that obvious problem (and it must be obvious if even some believers have recognized it’s a problem) is to simply assert that “everyone knows” there’s a god, which brings with it a whole list of more obvious problems, such as 1) some people say they don’t know any such thing, 2) some people say they know a god exists that is contrary to the god “everyone knows” exists, 3) plenty of evidence is available historically to demonstrate many diverse cultures had beliefs contrary to the god “everyone knows” exists, and 4) all of these people behave in ways contrary to those who “know” a particular god exists and have no reason to lie about their various positions.

    2. 12.2
      Ingdigo Jump

      Didn’t we already do this test? I mean you can’t really say a Japanese Kami is the same as a Abrahamic God.

    3. 12.3
      N. Nescio

      Wow, was that guy irritating. I wish they’d muted him after the first time he deliberately preached over Jeff trying to respond. Dude sounded like a presuppositional apologist who thought he was more clever than he actually was.

      “Well if I come up with this convoluted reason to flip the burden of proof onto non-believers…therefore God!”

      Or something.

    4. 12.4
      mike

      Wow, thats so true, I guess the fact that I totally disagree with most everything Bobby said made me miss the fact that he’s replacing human minds with other minds to show that a god concept is mind independant! How ridiculous! I think this Bobby guy’s mind is brain independant.

  13. 13
    CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain

    Caller:

    Believe if you try it by yourself and you feel it works for you…”

    From an article at Science Based Medicine:

    Aristolochia is an herb that has been used for thousands of years in many cultures for many indications, such as child birth, weight loss, and joint pain. It is both “natural” and ancient. It is also a powerful nephrotoxin – it causes kidney damage.

  14. 14
    Zengaze

    Okay just watched the show, and the hosts did a great job, and they’re right the reason eastern mysticism gets a pass from most western atheists is because it doesn’t negatively impact us in our day to day lives. And secondly most of us don’t really know jack about it, and have accepted common memes that it isn’t really a religion, or it’s quite philosophical and therefore must be of intellectual value. People who like knowledge tend to fall into this trap.

    I’ll deal with Buddhism, as that’s the one I’m most familiar with. Primacy is put in Buddhism on escaping the cycle of rebirth, according to Buddhism we all are doomed to be reborn again and again as various entities not limited to this realm until we achieve enlightenment, escape the cycle and ascend. So life is the Buddhists version of the Christian hell, and you got to earn your way out of it. This is mainly done through sitting on your backside and not really giving a shit about reality (que Buddhists claims that I don’t understand, and need more time sitting on my backside not giving a shit about reality to understand).

    Just think about that for a second, life is to be escaped from, thats a worthwhile teaching to inculcate in the minds of children. Couple that with a central, core teaching in Buddhism of karma, ask a Buddhist to explain karma to you is like asking a Christian to explain the trinity. Karma is basically fatalistic, it’s the universe at work in your daily life dictating everything from whether you get that job, to whether you are born as a slug the next time round. So if you are born a slave be thankful for it karma has dictated this, and is likely the consequence of accumulating negative karma in previous existences. By accepting your slavery and using its trials to liberate your mind (because that’s where real bondage exists) you will likely have a good rebirth the next time round. If someone punches you in the mouth, that’s karma too, you may have punched him in the mouth in another existence, so it’s for your benefit, that’s one less piece of negative karma in your jug.

    I could go on and on and on but I’ll finish with this, do you know the statues of the laughing Buddha, the fat one? Know why he’s fat, because he’s a good teacher, and therefore gets given a lot of food. I like to think the reason he’s laughing is because of all those stick thin dumbass villagers slaving in the fields all day to keep him fat.

    When you study Buddhism, the striking similarities between Christianity and it are striking, they are just dressed differently, I’d say they’re better disguised in Buddhism. The dalai lama (the poster boy for Buddhism in the west) shows his true colours in relation to the Han migrations into his native Tibet. He’s in opposition to it as he reckons it is destroying the Tibetan culture, his enlightenment for all beings face slips on this one, and he shows his tribal nature. This isn’t a statement in support of the Chinese occupation of Tibet, but recognise this, the people of Tibet were enslaved by Buddhism, feeding the parasites in their golden towers who promised them a better life next time round in exchange for all the rice and labour they provided.

    1. 14.1
      Ingdigo Jump

      I could go on and on and on but I’ll finish with this, do you know the statues of the laughing Buddha, the fat one? Know why he’s fat, because he’s a good teacher, and therefore gets given a lot of food. I like to think the reason he’s laughing is because of all those stick thin dumbass villagers slaving in the fields all day to keep him fat.

      Actually i think he’s fat because he’s a appropriated Chinese fortune+mirth god.

  15. 15
    danielmallett

    So at the end of the live feed Jeff is zipping up his pants and putting his belt back on. Look, I’m all for self-love, but there is a time and a place. I’m not sure that live TV is it.

    1. 15.1
      adamfuehrer

      I was wondering what the deal with that was.

  16. 16
    Ehryk

    I take issue with the statement ‘phobias are by definition irrational.’ In current vernacular (or clinical psychology contexts) perhaps they are mostly irrational, but is arachnophobia irrational when you have a Black Widow spider on you? Thanatophobia (fear of death) is quite rational. Fear is not by definition irrational when the object of your fear is likely to occur.

    While I think it may be unwarranted to be just ‘islamophobic,’ based solely on their race or color or ethnicity, I reserve the right to be ‘phobic’ of things that threaten my survival. I’d be ‘christianophobic’ if I was an abortion doctor. I’d be ‘agrizoophobic’ if I was alone in the wild.

    That being said, I think a healthy amount of ‘islamophobia’ comes naturally and is justified from even vague awareness of the Qu’ran’s teachings in combination with the actions of a non-negligible segment of the muslim population. If you are an apostate, you are sentenced to death in Sharia law (among many other things). Not only is death more prescribed in their scripture than in the Torah/Bible, more than just a few crazy followers of this religion in particular WILL DO IT.

    It’s not ‘just those fundamentalists.’ It’s not ‘just those crazies.’ 47% of Turkish citizens support suicide bombing CIVILIAN TARGETS in justification of their faith. To argue that islamophobia is unjustified in all contexts is an inaccurate portrayal of their scripture and actions of their populous based on it.

    Source for statistic (and a great read for anyone who says islam is a religion of peace): http://pewresearch.org/pubs/26/where-terrorism-finds-support-in-the-muslim-world

    1. 16.1
      carollynn

      “phobia” – I do not think it means what you think it means.

      If a black widow spider is on you and you fear being bitten, you can be rationally afraid of it and still be able to act in such a manner as to save yourself from a spider bite.

      If you are unable to leave your house and carry a can of spider death spray with you at all times that you spray into every corner of every room as soon as you walk into it because a spider MAY be there and if you collapse into a puddle of hysterical screaming, crying and shaking if you encounter so much as a picture of a spider… then the fear is irrational.

      Most people would rather be alive than dead, but they can usually can live life and do things that make them happy and keep death in the distance. If someone fears death so much that they are unable to be happy or do normal, everyday things they would like to do for fear they will die, then that is an irrational fear of death.

      Simply having a transitory episode of fear is not a phobia.

      1. Cassie

        What Carollynn said. Phobias and fear are two different things, you conflate the two.

        Not all fear is irrational but some is and we call that a phobia.

        1. colubridae

          Islamophobia is wrong,
          But fear of islam is justified.

          There are quite legitimate reasons for fearing islam.
          (see above, endless websites, and evidence)

          What is being done is to use the word islamophobia to subtly imply that any fear of islam is unacceptable.

          As to carrollyn most people accused of islamophobia don’t leave the house with a can of anti-muslim spray…

          1. Cassie

            No, fear of terrorists is justifiable and islam doesn’t have a patent out on that, the west commits more crimes of terrorism than muslims do.

            Fear of islam is just racism in disguise.

          2. tcsf

            Fear of Islam is not racism in disguise. This is because some Islamic practices, such as stoning and beheading, are frightening. What is happening to Hamza Kashgari is meant to frighten others into silence. On the other hand, Wikipedia defines ‘racism’ as “the belief that inherent different traits in human racial groups justify discrimination”. Glad I could clear this up.

          3. Ehryk

            Oh please with the racism nonsense. If you keep attaching that term to not-racism, it will lose any meaningfulness. Here’s a definition: http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/racism .

            The religion of islam spans multiple races, countries, and cultures. There are american muslims, european muslims, asian muslims, middle eastern muslims, african muslims, australian muslims, etc. etc. Need we go through the list? I dislike the beliefs of them ALL.

            If you wanted to attach an -ism word to it, it could be called faithism or religionism or fundamentalism. You can advance the argument (if you like) that holding these sentiments has parallels to racism, but you’ll need to get over a large stumbling block:

            Race is genetic, you’re born with it, and unless you’re Michael Jackson with gobs of money for plastic surgeries, it isn’t changed in your lifetime. Faith/Belief/Religion is a CHOICE, and it can be cast off or changed many times throughout a lifetime.

            From there, you’re on shaky ground. Is it like racism to hate/fear dictators? Murderers? Rapists? How about hating idiocy/ignorance? How about hating racists or racism? At some point it is justified to dislike/hate/fear people who make certain choices, actions, or statements that are abhorrent to you. I choose islam as one of mine, and it has nothing to do with race.

          4. Cassie

            “This is because some Islamic practices, such as stoning and beheading, are frightening.”

            This has nothing to do with Islam and everything to do with an oppressive and repressive regime. As others have pointed out christians are different not due to their religion but due to the differing political climate. Islam is just an excuse just as christianity has been the excuse for horrific violations of human rights.

            “On the other hand, Wikipedia defines ‘racism’ as “the belief that inherent different traits in human racial groups justify discrimination”. Glad I could clear this up.”

            Yes people attribute this terrorist thing to the arab religion. Even though white people do more harm to arab populations than arabs do to white populations.

            For example the norway terrorist because he is white and christian is not called a terrorist he is called a serial killer. White people and christians can’t be terrorists!

            Denying that islamophobia is linked to racism is absurd in the highest degree. It ignores the millions, tens of millions of muslims and arabs that just want to get on with their own life.

            There is nothing scary about islam and nothing scary about christianity, what is scary is what these religions are used to excuse sometimes.

            “The religion of islam spans multiple races, countries, and cultures. There are american muslims, european muslims, asian muslims, middle eastern muslims, african muslims, australian muslims, etc. etc.”

            Yup but for some reason it is only the arabs who are profiled and targeted. It is only the arabs who are asked if they are terrorists. It is only the arabs who are called terrorists throughout the media. Seeing a pattern yet?

            “Race is genetic, you’re born with it, and unless you’re Michael Jackson with gobs of money for plastic surgeries, it isn’t changed in your lifetime. Faith/Belief/Religion is a CHOICE, and it can be cast off or changed many times throughout a lifetime.”

            I am referring to the race not the religion. Hating on islam is just a manifestation of looking down upon arabs and yes racism. They can change their religion but they will still cop islamophobia simply due to their skin colour. Just like black people can have good paying jobs but still cop profiling about them being thieves or whatever.

            “From there, you’re on shaky ground. Is it like racism to hate/fear dictators? Murderers? Rapists? How about hating idiocy/ignorance? How about hating racists or racism? ”

            No, no, no, no and nope.

            “At some point it is justified to dislike/hate/fear people who make certain choices, actions, or statements that are abhorrent to you. ”

            Sure is, and I dislike the choices you made to become islamophobic and racist.

  17. 17
    adamfuehrer

    Here is Bobby’s facebook page. Just in case you hate yourself and there isn’t anything blunt to hit yourself with.
    https://www.facebook.com/pages/RADIO-SUBZEROBOB/104853300105

  18. 18
    Suttonrgj

    A man may lead a horse to the water, but he cannot make it drink.

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