Free speech and free attention »« 2013

Comments

  1. fullyladenswallow says

    Hi Tracie. Thank you so much for posting the video so quickly! This is great! Each time you and Matt would have a point to make, a commercial would start. Ahhh! Now I can go back and review. A good show, even tough it was 1.05 phonecalls.

  2. says

    I liked the moral discussion by Shane. There are atheist that state that only atheist are more rational/intelligent than Christians but This caller shows that he doesn’t understand the difference morality and right and wrong.

    Morality isn’t always some absolute thing.

  3. fullyladenswallow says

    The levitation (not really floating) thing was kind of interesting. It reminded me of some documentary where a small group of meditation students (Buddhists perhaps?) were practicing some sort of technique which involved assuming the lotus position, meditating for a time then “hopping” forward on their folded legs without the use of their hands or arms. While it looked rather odd to see them all begin to “butt-hop” like popcorn in a skillet, it also looked to be a rather pleasurable experience. It seemed as though the physicality enhanced the mental state since the all seemed smiling as they performed this movement.

  4. says

    Loved the last-ditch dive into Ray Comfort scripts at the end. I wonder if he’s satisfied now.

    Just another theist who didn’t’ realize he had painted himself into a corner.

  5. sebastian says

    Did Shane really say what I think I heard him say at the end? If he gets his morality from a god, that god is doing a terrible job.

    Tracie, it was your beautiful problem of evil redux that sealed it, I guess he said what he said while still being groggy from that knock-out.

  6. says

    Shane was a good caller. In the end I think he meant like “if something bad happen to someone we cannot judge god for that for if god doesn’t interfere he might have good reasons”. I think Matt overreacted on that one. Shane made a reasonable argument in that fictional case “maybe the girl was evil.”

    And Matt with his debate with the orthodox priest, I don’t want to take the side of the priest, but he didn’t put out of his hat “gulag” and “porno”. If I remember well it was directly leading to that all his talk, Maybe Matt was surprised, I wonder why though. The priest argue that human can be moral, that it is all in human kind, even atheists. But when we speaks about human it is vs animal. he argued that what makes a human human it is the sparkle of divinity inside all humans, but some don’t nourrish that sparkle then human become animal and far from their divine sparkle. Why he brought porno? well he said before that if you want to be grasp more your divine side you most be nourrished by spiritual and deep food, like reading Dostoievsky one week after that, you are more human (for him, it includes growing the divine sparkle in you), but if you watch porno for one week after that you are killing the divine sparkle in you, you deshumanised yourself becoming like a wild animal…(was about the same for his gulag’s argument, that he didn’t only finish with that but advance that topic much earlier in the debate).

    Anyway, human too human :D

  7. tonysnark says

    Tracie said: “If I could stop a person from raping a child, I would. That’s the difference between me and your God. He watches and says ‘I’m shutting the door on you, go ahead and rape that child and when you’re done I’m going to punish you’. If I did that people would think I was a freakin’ monster”

    Shane’s reply: “You portray that little girl as someone who’s innocent and she’s just as evil as…”

    So there you have it. God lets little children be raped because they are evil and they deserve it.

    Christians think they corner the market on morality and only they can truly be moral, but there is no act that their God can commit, or stand idly by and watch, that is so horrific that they won’t excuse it. Rape, murder, genocide or slavery, they are all in the Bible and they have all either been ordered by God or God has stood idly by and allowed them to go unpunished, and to a Christian they are all excusable given the right circumstances.

    Those of us who think rape is immoral and can never be justified – we’re the immoral ones.

    Those of us who think that slavery is wrong and has always been wrong – we’re the immoral ones.

    Those of us that think the slaughter of entire families, of entire populations, is wrong and can never be excused – we’re the immoral ones.

    BTW Christians, don’t bother coming back and telling me that God values free will so much that’s why he will allow rapists to rape and kill children. What about the free will of the child not to be raped and killed? That is what rape is, the denial of another person’s free will. God apparently values the free will of rapists more than that of innocent children. There are serial rapists who have managed to commit rape more than a hundred times. God evidently valued the free will of the rapist over the free will of the victim every single time. But then, according to Shane the victims must have deserved it anyway. Whether the rapist deserved to be allowed to rape and rape and rape again without God spoiling his splendid fun doesn’t come into it.

    Matt really deserved that cheer when he said “Goodbye, you piece of shit!” and hung up on his ass.

  8. fullyladenswallow says

    A last-ditch, personal attack. When all else fails, go for the jugular. Quite pathetic, Shane.

  9. says

    Shane was a good caller. In the end I think he meant like “if something bad happen to someone we cannot judge god for that for if god doesn’t interfere he might have good reasons”. I think Matt overreacted on that one. Shane made a reasonable argument in that fictional case “maybe the girl was evil.”

    I’ll have to go ahead and disagree with you there.

    On the first bit about God – sure. If he’s incomprehensible, he’s incomprehensible… but that’s begging the question as to whether he exists, and whether that level of morality that is beyond us actually exists. I don’t think begging the question makes for a valid point. We have to go on the understandings that we have.

    On the second bit…

    One of the things we tend to do while assessing whether an action is moral or not is doing a tally of sorts. We go through all the harms and benefits to all people who might be affected.

    For instance, raping a person is harmful to that person, and therefore wrong.

    You could say that imprisoning a person is harmful, and therefore wrong – and it is. If the “evil” person is dangerous, and was harming others, preventing that harm to others is good, and outweighs the harm – so our society deems that jails for dangerous criminals is a good things.

    It doesn’t matter how “evil” the girl is. Rape doesn’t do anything to better the situation, so it cannot be justified. The idea that “she’s evil so therefore it’s okay to rape her” is not compatible with basic secular morality.

  10. gshelley says

    That was hard work. The argument from morality was full of holes when CS Lewis used it in Mere Christiantiy (and probably before) and is still full of the same holes. It always amazes me that people who push it can’t see it has the same flaws as the argument from first cause, ie that they are wanting to create an exception for their god, without any actual justification, in this case, that if he says something it is automatically moral and we don’t even need to question it. It also amazes me that they don’t even think on the consequences of this (though William Lane Craig is pretty well known for actually doing this) and that is means that their morality is just as arbitrary as any other morality – if gods says don’t murder, it is immoral to murder, if god says murder “those people” it is immoral not to murder them.
    Still, at least it is a little better than the more simplistic form, which tends to go “If god didn’t say raping babies was wrong, then it is only wrong because we say so, which would be just horrible, so god exists”

  11. tonysnark says

    Really, that’s a reasonable argument? Children get raped because they deserve it? It’s not just “that one example”. For the purposes of discussion that one example stands in for every rape that happens. That’s the whole point of the example. God is supposed to be all-powerful, he could stop each and every instance of rape if he wanted to, but clearly he doesn’t.

    BTW, you say that by watching porn you become like a wild animal. I am curious – how many wild animals can you name that watch pornography? How can watching pornography make one less human when the ONLY animal that watches pornography is human?

    What utter nonsense you talk.

  12. says

    >Shane was a good caller. In the end I think he meant like “if something bad happen to someone we cannot judge god for that for if god doesn’t interfere he might have good reasons”. I think Matt overreacted on that one. Shane made a reasonable argument in that fictional case “maybe the girl was evil.”

    We did address this with the caller. I explained to him that his moral assessment is all he has to act upon. And I noted that his religion has him asserting things he thinks appear evil are good. And my unanswered question was: “How did you decide it was good, if you can’t trust your moral judgment?” In the example above, he has a moral personal assessment that says “this is wrong,” and absolutely zero argument or reason to think it’s good. And if he can’t judge god, then the only thing he can do is go with his own moral instinct. That’s all he has.

    1. I think this is wrong and should be stopped.
    2. God may have some reason he wants this done–but f*ck if I can understand it.

    To simply obey without reason is to throw morality out the window. If he goes with 2, he loses any right to claim he is a moral agent. If all the data points to “immoral” action–I have no justification for choosing to believe it’s moral and I just don’t comprehend why. The only defensible conclusion is #1. Even if 1 is wrong, it’s the only defensible, reasonable conclusion based on what you’re faced with.

  13. tonysnark says

    “If god didn’t say raping babies was wrong, then it is only wrong because we say so, which would be just horrible, so god exists”

    That’s a terrible argument, I agree. It bears further examination. Why do Christians think it’s “just horrible” that raping babies is wrong only because we say so? Because Christians believe human beings are fundamentally broken and corrupt, and given half a chance without God’s supervision we would all come around to the idea that raping babies is excellent fun! There is no room for human compassion or empathy for one’s fellows in this view of the world, there is only “do as you’re told, or else!”. And they think they are so spiritual. It’s kinda sickening.

  14. says

    On a related note – the whole “absolute morality” argument about “is it always wrong to rape a baby for fun?” relies heavily on definitional confusion.

    I think it’s always wrong to rape babies for fun, however, I don’t think it’s absolutely wrong.

    The reason why the argument is so dishonest is because it’s a loaded question. My above statement makes me sound like a monster. For me to say “I don’t think it’s absolutely wrong” sounds like I’m saying that there are instances where it’s okay to rape a baby for fun. The argument is more about cajoling and shaming than about a intelligible argument.

    To say that something is “absolutely wrong” denotes some kind of fundamental rule of the universe, like the logical absolutes or laws of physics. If some species/people out there do think it’s okay to rape a baby for fun, then it’s not an absolute anymore, now is it?

    It may sound like a contradiction when I say “I don’t think it’s absolutely wrong, but I think it’s always wrong”, but it’s really not.

    That’s because my morality is based on “harm=bad, benefit=good”, and under those premises, raping babies for fun is always wrong… but that’s hardly establishing an absolute axiom.

  15. tonysnark says

    Shane made a reasonable argument in that fictional case “maybe the girl was evil.”

    I don’t agree, and I am surprised to hear you say it. Surely the point of the example was that it is representative of rape in general. Let’s say that particular girl was evil. What about the next rape victim, or the one before, or the one after? Are they all evil? Do they all deserve it?

    It’s not just a hypothetical issue, victim blaming is a huge problem as I know you know. The latest example is Fr Piero Corsi, who said said in a Christmas message posted on the door of his church: “How often do we see girls and mature women going around scantily dressed and in provocative clothes? They provoke the worst instincts, which end in violence or sexual abuse. They should search their consciences and ask: did we bring this on ourselves?” And we have seen it time and time again in the run-up to the last election.

    I think it’s incredibly despicable how theists are so willing to throw the victims of such an atrocious criminal act under the bus just so they can lavish undeserved accolades upon their imaginary friend. And to top that, they go on to claim that only they have the key to a true morality!

  16. says

    I’d point out that the argument is brilliant.

    If you say that raping babies for fun isn’t absolutely wrong, then you’re a monster and they dismiss anything you have to say.

    If you say that raping babies for fun is absolutely wrong, then clearly that has to come from some moral law giver, and therefore God.

    It’s entirely vapid and dishonest, but if there’s anything creationists are good at, it’s lying.

  17. tonysnark says

    I think this whole objective/subjective thing needs to be examined more closely. The existence of beings that are capable of suffering and of compassion is an objective fact. The fact that certain actions reliably cause suffering is an objective fact. If I pour hot oil on William Lane Craig, is he going to claim that his pain is merely subjective and has no objective reality? I don’t think so. Likewise, my feelings of empathy may be subjective, but the fact that we all (those of us with a properly functioning brain) have a specific piece of neural circuitry which mirrors the feelings of other people in order that we should empathize with them is an objective fact. The fact that specific situations reliably trigger that circuitry in certain broadly predictable ways is also an objective fact. The notion that any society that, for example, promotes the raping of babies is not going to last is also based in objective reality. There’s plenty of objectivity in the real world upon which to base a morality, I should think.

  18. jdog says

    Shane made a reasonable argument in that fictional case “maybe the girl was evil.”

    Perhaps you’d be so good as to explain to us what crime any person could have committed that would reasonably warrant being raped as an official punishment for the crime?

  19. 42oolon says

    Shane was bringing a poorly presented version of the morality argument. Maybe this show is a good opportunity for Matt or a guest to do a brief recap of the theists’ best version and why it is wrong?

    One problem in Shane’s apparent argument is a false dilemma between accepting either an god based morality or moral relativism. He goes wrong when he equates objective morality to God-derived morality.

    Despite Matt’s videos and both hosts repeatedly explaining how objective moral positions can be derived with no need for a deity, he could not hear them. His logic was so warped that he actually suggested that children who are raped may be evil. This a the sick speculation from the terrible “everything happens for a reason” nonsense.

  20. 42oolon says

    I agree there seem to be three positions here: 1) subjective morality (it feels right to me) 2) objective morality (I think this is right and I can demonstrate it to you in a way that you and all others will agree, unless you take an absurd moral relativist position, eg human well-being is not the fundamental basis for morality) and 3) universal morality (there are certain perfect moral principles and a perfect moral position for any situation). It is confusing for everyone when theists conflate label 3 as 2.

  21. Andrew Schlesser says

    kind of a dull kick off… anybody who calls in and says they start with 5 premises and then a conclusion, it’s bound to be a big fail. It took 20 minutes for him to explain his ideas and i couldn’t get much out of it. especially when at the end he just starts acting like a child.

  22. Curt Cameron says

    On a related note – the whole “absolute morality” argument about “is it always wrong to rape a baby for fun?” relies heavily on definitional confusion.

    I think it’s always wrong to rape babies for fun, however, I don’t think it’s absolutely wrong.

    Here’s my soapbox about “absolute” morality: morality is simply our opinion about what we should do. An opinion cannot be absolute. If someone asks me whether it’s “absolutely wrong” to rape babies for fun, I just point out that an opinion can’t be absolute, but yes, in my opinion, it’s wrong to rape babies.

    If you hold fast to the morality = opinion point, you avoid all those problems that theists keep trying to bring up.

  23. says

    Yes, I thought that as well later–what could a child have done that would make someone say “I think the just response is raping that child”?

  24. says

    Definitely more succinct than my version.

    In regards to being “moral relativism”, it depends on what that means. My version is more explicitly tied to evolution/survival instinct… which one could argue makes it relative to that.

    When they say “moral relativism”… a better label might be “moral arbitrariness”, because that’s the implication they keep harping on.

    Theistic morality is relative to what God wants.

  25. 42oolon says

    Her great-great-great…grandmother disobeyed God and ate some fruit. Apparently we all deserve hellfire for that!

  26. 42oolon says

    By moral relativism I mean the position that all morality is subjective and no one has the right to impose their subjective moral opinions on others. Usually this is in a cultural context, eg ‘in that culture female circumcision is deemed moral based on a very different history and the values of that culture. Just because in our culture we have the opinion that it is immoral, does not give us the right to impose our moral opinions on others.’

  27. says

    I just think he made a reasonable argument to defend his god and Matt calling him piece of shit for that was disproportional. The conversation before that was going really good, that is why I think he was a good caller.

    the weak point of the caller, it seems he vogued between a calvinist god and a god of free will. I am not sure though that If his god is a calvinist god, then he can’t talk about a human morality, for anyway human are all depraved in that theology, so man cannot be moral at all. in the case that man have free will, then his god is a monster.

    in those debate between theists and atheists, the problem of what moral is, one pointed out to an owe (to a god?) and the other to the well being of the human.

    “It doesn’t matter how “evil” the girl is. Rape doesn’t do anything to better the situation, so it cannot be justified. The idea that “she’s evil so therefore it’s okay to rape her” is not compatible with basic secular morality.” Well calvinist would say that god is over good and evil or he has greater plan for her on a big picture.

    Anyway, Jasper, I don’t get how christian can get their morality conduct from the bible. I was willing to ask the caller, if he read that: “is it moral to drink alcohol?” Seems for him, it is not but in some places the bible advocate to be drink of alcohol…and usually calvinist drink alcohol and it is moral for them.

  28. says

    First point, check my answer to Jasper.

    Second point, again I am nor an advocate of orthodox or calvinist, I just try to be fair. If you saw the debate between Matt and the orthodox priest (do you need the link, I can search it for you?). The orthodox priest would probably argue that you are right, animals don’t watch porn, what makes human different is that they have a “divine sparkle”. So human (for him) can be led by his animality and divinity, but has both in him.

  29. says

    “How did you decide it was good, if you can’t trust your moral judgment?”
    Ya, I was delighted when you brought that up on the show! :)

    I wrote more exactly what I thought on the answer to Jasper up here, the guy was skating between a god over good and evil,a calvinist one and a god of free will. But still I appreciated that caller, he was polite, nice, has good defense and questions on the topic of morality.

    Anyway that guy did his best, not a reason to be called piece of shit by M. Btw, It is not the caller who brought that delicate subject of a girl’s rape….

    Happy new year, can wait to see 2013 with AE show!

  30. says

    Calling the caller a piece of shit was more a rhetorical point – he wasn’t. It’s supposed to be a splash of cold water to the face – but that’s confrontationalism for you.

    I agree that within the contexts of their different concepts of morality, they may think they have good arguments, but I’m more concerned about reality than arguing within their doctrines. For instance, I don’t see the Calvinist position as being relevant, let alone “good”. Their position may earn that status if they can defend it with reality.

    What made everyone’s monocles pop off their faces was that you seemed to be suggesting that the argument , of whether the girl was evil or not played a role in whether it was okay to rape her, was a good argument.

  31. 42oolon says

    Ericvon,

    Do you really think there can ever be a reasonable argument that could justify a decision to allow rape when it is in your power to avoid it?

    Tracie’s point was that Shane believes his god does this, and is also moral (and presumably omni-benevolent). When he was confronted with this contradiction he began to engage in a terrible kind of cognitive dissonance resolution that relies on the the worst kind of misogyny, i.e. the victim of rape is somehow deserving. Matt was right to aggressively nip that in the bud and call him out for it. If it was not the end of the show and Shane had not repeatedly mis-characterized what the hosts were saying, they might have given him the chance to back down. In the circumstances, this was the right thing to do. Good for Matt!

  32. says

    Again, I am not a christian but a christian would argue that because their god knows everything he must know stuff that you don’t know. In be raped might lead to better thing for her in the future that she wouldn’t have made otherwise, or prevent hardest harm that she might have caused, or etc….But I guess they would argue more about “changing her fate for the good”…

    Anyway as I mentioned to Jasper here “the weak point of the caller, it seems he vogued between a calvinist god and a god of free will. I am not sure though that If his god is a calvinist god, then he can’t talk about a human morality, for anyway human are all depraved in that theology, so man cannot be moral at all. in the case that man have free will, then his god is a monster.”

  33. 42oolon says

    ericvon,

    If you do not accept Shane’s position you should probably just stop speculating on how he would defend it. Any positive consequence of the rape may be achieved without the rape by a omnipotent being.

  34. says

    Do you really think there can ever be a reasonable argument that could justify a decision to allow rape when it is in your power to avoid it?

    To clarify what we mean…

    One could make a “good argument” as to why the stupid eagles didn’t just fly the people all the way to Mordor in Lord of the Rings. The problem is, this argument means nothing outside of this context. It’s fantasy.

    So when you say they make good/reasonable arguments, to us that means here in reality… not within their worlds of insanity.

  35. says

    Well I think I said it was a reasonable argument, in opposition of sreaming stuff and say people are going to hell, etc, etc. He was a good caller in that sense.

    The subject of girl’s rape was a delicate one and he answered the best he could with his knowledge, but it is not him who brought that up….I guess Matt was tired of him and wanted to wrap it up…

  36. says

    You can call me Eric,

    Well it is a puzzle for me as much as you that problem of evil if a god exists, I am just trying to understand the christian position…

    I don’t speculate about how he would defend the rape, he just repeated stuff from calvinist and baptist free willist…

  37. says

    Okay. so when you say “reasonable”… you don’t mean that the argument was logical, rational and supported by evidence… you mean he was being calm and not-yelling.

  38. says

    well wasn’t the caller who advance the rape of the girl. I am pretty sure his answer would have been the same about a boy or a grand-ma. I think Matt was tired to talk to him and knew the guy response in advance and that he could hang up on him in making people applauding…was a bit demagogic, in my opinion

  39. says

    Ya I meant he tried intellectually to justify why is that can happen with his god, without making appeal to emotions…

    Of course, he hasn’t no evidence to argue that way nor evidence from that god or a god to exist.

  40. Tim H. says

    That sounds exactly like a demonstration that’s been given by the Transcendental Meditation movement started by the late Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. If they enjoy doing it, great, but it isn’t paranormal, moderately athletic people who’ve never studied TM can replicate it, and it is advertised with the profoundly misleading term “Yogic Flying.”

  41. Curt Cameron says

    By moral relativism I mean the position that all morality is subjective and no one has the right to impose their subjective moral opinions on others

    All morality is opinions, and opinions are subjective, sure.

    However, not all opinions are equal. There are some opinions that are universal enough that we make laws based on them, and we as a society quite obviously do have the right to impose those opinions on others (I say “obviously” because we plainly do those things).

    I think that’s one of the theists’ ploys – they say that morality can’t be an opinion, because all opinions are equally valid. They’re not.

  42. Curt Cameron says

    Sorry, I screwed up the quoting there. Let me try again.

    By moral relativism I mean the position that all morality is subjective and no one has the right to impose their subjective moral opinions on others

    All morality is opinions, and opinions are subjective, sure.

    However, not all opinions are equal. There are some opinions that are universal enough that we make laws based on them, and we as a society quite obviously do have the right to impose those opinions on others (I say “obviously” because we plainly do those things).

    I think that’s one of the theists’ ploys – they say that morality can’t be an opinion, because all opinions are equally valid. They’re not.

  43. Lauren says

    Shane is confused about what Freedom of Speech really is. Freedom of speech is about freedom from government persecution. It is NOT freedom of speech in all aspects of life. It is not freedom from consequences either. If I walked up to my boss and told him that he was a fat jerk and I hate him, he has every right to fire me on the spot. I can’t claim freedom of speech. I would say that the acid that is spewed by the WBC is immoral but they have Freedom of Speech in that they are allowed to say their disgusting rhetoric in public without the police stopping them because the police office does not like what they are saying. But that does not mean that what they say is moral or that allowing them to speak it is moral. It is the law.

  44. Kazim says

    I read somewhere that male turkeys can get excited by, and try to mount, wooden models of female turkeys. The reader is cautioned not to feel too superior, since male humans get excited by pictures. I guess that’s kind of like turkey porn, although humans are still the ones that manufacture it.

  45. says

    Additionally, if we don’t know what that god knows, the god might have a wicked motive. This is the problem. The disclosed information points to an evil act: Raping a child. And without more information, there is no *reason* to believe it’s good. Even saying “this god knows all” would not indicate, necessitate, or lead toward in any way, a conclusion that the god has benevolent motivations toward humans or this child.

    And *responsibility* dictates I must have good reason for acting/not acting in this case. If I don’t act, my reason is: I saw what appeared to be evil, but accepted it as good, even though I cannot explain how it’s good.

    If I do act, I can provide good reasons–the same reasons any of us would save the child. After supplying those reasons, if I’m wrong and there really was some justification that stuns me, the fact is I still did the right/responsible/reasonable thing in that circumstance. If I were called upon to justify why I intervened, I’d see my reasons as solid, even if I admitted I’d thwarted something really good. I’d easily stand there justified and saying “Here is what I saw. I reacted as anyone would have, exercising compassion and a desire to stop apparent harm. And the reason this was good was not apparent and not revealed to me, so I did what seemed right at the time.”

    Frankly–anybody who would condemn someone for that is wildly crazy. “Of course you would stop the child rapist–you didn’t know about the secret good motive, and you were trying to help.” What is wrong in that?

    But “You didn’t stop the child from being raped, even though you thought that was the right thing to do, because you just guessed there might be a good motive for it that nobody had shared with you?”

    My response to that is a hearty “WTF? Are you an idiot?!”

  46. says

    Additionally, as was pointed out earlier, the Christian who argues this is part of god’s plan either has to demote god to non-omnipotent or assert god chooses plans that cause harm to people over those that don’t. An omnipotent god could achieve the exactly same desired results using a plan where no child was ever raped.

  47. says

    @heicart

    “assert god chooses plans that cause harm to people over those that don’t.”

    Ya, you totally describe the god of the old testament with the “elected people”, same god concept in calvinism.
    Would be interesting that you invite a calvinist scholar to justify rape in the show. This is a really important issue.

  48. robertwilson says

    At the end of the show Matt noted he will be in San Diego. I’m thinking of heading down from Irvine (Orange County) and if anyone else in the area is considering going, let me know! I might take the train down and see what it’s like, haven’t actually been to SD since moving out here.

  49. says

    I’m not sure the baby-raping points are really necessary. I suppose you could say it’s opinion, sure. But in whose opinion is it NOT wrong to rape babies? If you could find that person, then we have a constructive conversation. Otherwise it goes nowhere and it ends up a nice undergraduate seminar between the guys.

  50. rodney says

    I thought Shane was a terrible caller, and not just because of his excusing of child rape. By the end, he was so addled and pathetic at arguing that the condoning of child rape wasn’t really even surprising to me, it was just another in a long line of idiotic things he said. Frankly, Matt let this call go on at least 15 minutes too long, and that’s if I’m being generous. Please, if the caller is as thick in the head as this moron, just hang up on him and move on to the next caller, don’t let them wast almost the whole episode.

  51. Lord Narf says

    By the way, isn’t this the same guy who called in a couple weeks ago, who yelled incorently into the phone, despite being put on hold repeatedly, because Matt dared to say that the Catholic Church is a corrupt, evil monstrosity?

  52. Lord Narf says

    Oh, I’m sure they’re blissed out of their minds on endorphins, but that doesn’t make what they’re doing and what they’re claiming any less bullshit and dishonest.

  53. says

    I just finished reading a book about the Eichmann trial in Jerusalem by Hannah Arendt. Her account of the trial was considered to be very controversial in its time, but she made a compelling argument on the ‘banality of evil’. She found Eichmann to be surprisingly unremarkable. Behind the glass, on the chair of the accused sat no monster – as one would expect, considering he oversaw the deportation of possibly millions of jewish people into death camps – but a lowly bureaucrat. No wild eyes, no violent outbursts, just a boring, unintelligent, little man. He was really just dilligently following orders, without any kind of ethical, moral considerations. To be sure, Hannah Arendt pointed out that this fact did not excuse his actions, and she agreed with his execution as the only possible penalty. But her assessment convinced me that mere thoughtless people are capable of the worst crimes.

    By submitting to the authority of their religion, followers frequently demonstrate that they have no sense of morality, or – if they had any sense of morality – they would not act on it (since their god ‘knows better’), which amounts to the same as the former. This disconnect is even more dangerous when their religion compells them to act immorally. – The followers happily oblige, and we have all seen the results.

    This is why callers who clearly lack morality are unsettling to me, even when they appear hapless and almost incapable of forming any rational argument. They always remind me of the probability that there are likely many thousands of them out there, possibly in positions of authority.

  54. Lord Narf says

    You sick little monkey.

    What’s Lynnea going to say when she sees the search suggestions that pop up in your browser? ^.^

  55. Muz says

    No, but he did suggest it was maybe the little child’s fault she was being raped. Which even for a thought experiment is pretty terrible.

  56. Lord Narf says

    I don’t agree, and I am surprised to hear you say it. Surely the point of the example was that it is representative of rape in general. Let’s say that particular girl was evil. What about the next rape victim, or the one before, or the one after? Are they all evil? Do they all deserve it?

    It’s not just a hypothetical issue, victim blaming is a huge problem as I know you know.

    I don’t know if I would call this victim blaming. This is one of those Christian fall-backs. We’re all corrupt, evil, fallen, not worthy of God’s love. The fact that he loves us anyway is just evidence of how good and amazing he is!
    It’s not so much that the victim of a particular crime is responsible for what happened to her, as much as the entire human race is vile and worthy of whatever bad happens to us in this life.

    It makes me kind of sick, when I think of some of the fundie parents who impress this kind of worldview into their children. There was some video that I heard Matt commenting on, in an NPR episode, in which he saw some 11 or 12 year old girl crying in “joy” about how wonderful God is to love such a worthless reprobate like herself.

    How can they not see how much more reassuring a pitiless, impersonal universe is? We didn’t necessarily do anything to deserve what happens to us. It’s just life, and sometimes it sucks.

  57. Lord Narf says

    Heh, wow. Awesome article. That reads like something from Cracked.com.

    I don’t know if I’d go so far as to call it useless, though. You never know where you’ll pick up important clues, in behavioral studies.

  58. Muz says

    This was a ripper. Tracie’s “So if you can’t rely on your own moral judgement how do you know your god is moral?” was rather sweet. It’s interesting he didn’t leap to “Because he says so” as an answer (well, I guess he did, but half heartedly). Perhaps he saw that would be completely unsatisfactory, which means there might be hope for this guy yet. Or he’ll go off and adopt presuppositionalism (as mentioned, he sounds like a Calvinist so…)

    What always fascinates me about this kind of debate is it always turns on the absolutes. The question is essentially “Atheists don’t have god as a moral absolute, so what is your moral absolute”. But it’s never framed so and it takes X amount of time of them going “Well it can’t be rationality; well it can’t be nature/science; well it can’t be the law!” to work that basic assumption out. No Moral absolute = no morality at all, to them. They are one and the same. I usually end up just wanting to shake them; “THERE ISN”T ONE!! THERE DOESN”T NEED TO BE ONE!” “Oh so it’s moral relativism” “NOO! THAT”S AN ABSOLUTE! IT”S SITUATIONAL IT”S PROCEDURAL, IT”S PROGRESSIVE!”
    I have to keep a lot of soft things on hand to throw at the screen.
    Anyway, it’s interesting the idea that any notion must account for itself at any moment through all time, past and future (even if it changes at a later date), to hold any real authority, and god is the only real way to do that. It’s a curious pickle that runs right through western culture and philosophy. I wonder if it can ever be truly unseated.

  59. Lord Narf says

    Again, I am not a christian but a christian would argue that because their god knows everything he must know stuff that you don’t know. In be raped might lead to better thing for her in the future that she wouldn’t have made otherwise, or prevent hardest harm that she might have caused, or etc….But I guess they would argue more about “changing her fate for the good”…

    Even if I was a Christian, I’d call bullshit on that sort of argument. What about the people who are tortured for a long period of time, then die and are buried in a hidden grave and never found or missed? Even if the goal of God’s plan was to effect a change in someone else’s life somehow, an omnipotent, all-loving God could surely come up with a better plan.

  60. Muz says

    Yes, I picked up on his use of ‘depraved’. The subtlety is worth knowing about. But I still think Total Depravity is ‘piece of shit’ monstrous too.

  61. Lord Narf says

    Nah, man. This sort of call is what the show is for. What would you rather have had them spend the time on, an atheist calling in to give Matt a hummer? I love Matt and Jeff, but I have more sense than to call in an slobber all over them for 5 or 10 minutes.

    You occasionally get an atheist calling in with a subject that really causes a good discussion. More often, it’s pointless and not very enlightening. This guy called in and presented the theistic side, in an argument that covered all sorts of ground and gave people something to examine.

    I think it ended in a great place, too. All but the most brainwashed theistic viewers had to be able to see what a fucked up, immoral conclusion that divine command theory made this guy come to. Perhaps it will make some of them think and get themselves a bit more disentangled from their religious conditioning.

  62. Lord Narf says

    I don’t know that I would say the best show to date. Have you watched the entire archive? There are some damned good ones in there.

    I’d agree that it’s the best show in the past several months, though. We’ve had a few that were kind of aimless and bland.

  63. Lord Narf says

    Yeah, you get this a lot, from conservatives. Freedom of speech also means that we get to point out that you’re a tool.

  64. says

    ya, I should have say “a christian counting that god loves everyone even the sinners and has a plan for you”.
    that god anyway we don’t find it in the bible. the god we find in the bible is all loving, omniscient and omnipotent
    only for, about his “elected people”, for the others he is all hate, all ignorant and all indifferent. if you are not in the chosen category of people? tough luck…

  65. codemonkey says

    Every argument about divine command theory, about moral absolutism, or about moral objectivism is actually a disagreement about a very fundamental logic rule. AFAIK Hume explained it best. When proponents make those claims, somewhere in the argument, they go from 1- this is how the world is, a factual description, a scientific description, a demostrable description, a falsifiable description, to 2- this is how we ought to behave. It’s called the Is-Ought problem, the Is-Ought distinction, Hume’s Law, but in essence it’s simply the rejection of the Naturalistic Fallacy. In short, it is not an allowed form of argument to say that “because the world has this particular factual description, we ought to behave some particular way”. That is just not an allowed move. Every proponent of divine command thoery, moral absolutism, and moral objectivism makes that move. In each one they say there is a privileged demonstrable fact about the universe which somehow informs us how we ought to behave. This is simply not true.

    I am disagreeing with both positions, that of Matt (and effectively Sam Harris), and the position of Shane. You cannot derive an ought from thin air, nor mere material facts about our shared reality. You must have an unjustified starting point, aka some moral axioms.

    My current fad for describing my moral axioms are “we ought to act in a way to increase the happiness and self determination of everyone”. (Of course, that’s still a woefully inadequate description. See Mill’s On Liberty for more details [though I disagree in small part there too].) Matt and Sam Harris call this “well-being”. However, once we agree to this starting point, then science takes the rest of the way, exactly how Matt and Sam describe. We can use science to evaluate the efficacy of plans at achieving desired goals. Once we identify the goals, science does the rest.

    IMHO my little thesis here is a very important point to make, one which sadly I never see made. It really is the crux of the matter.

    PS: Some understand “moral relativism” to mean “anything that’s not objective (whatever that means)”. Others understand “moral relativism” to mean “the idea that you should not interfere nor judge the internal affairs of another culture when those affairs coincide with the consensus of that culture”. I am not a moral relativist by definition 2, and I reject moral objectivism and absolutism as ill-defined. I am a moral relativist by the first definition because I say that nothing can bridge the is-ought gap.

    PPS: The simple fact is that evolution can sufficiently explain human behavior. Shane has a very naive understanding of evolution. He thinks that evolution cannot explain why we have a feeling of immorality about affairs between complete strangers. It can. Evolution doesn’t take the “cleanest” way out, sometimes because other ways are evolutionary cheaper, and sometimes just dumb luck and path dependence. It’s perfectly plausible that evolution found it “best” to give us a general sense of fairness which applies to both the interactions between strangers and ourselves, and the interactions between strangers and other strangers. Perhaps it was cheaper that way to instead try to differentiate between matters that concern us and matters which don’t. There is a lot of information on this topic, and a lot more explanations, hypotheses, theories, evidence, etc., and I am but a novice.

  66. Lord Narf says

    PPS:

    Yeah, I know just enough about evolutionary psychology to be dangerous, but I know a hell of a lot more than Shane. We can learn and do know a lot about how morality develops within social species. You also need to understand a lot of what you can pick up from Dawkins’s more science-y books, along with those of several others.
    Most people who don’t understand evolution think that survival of the individual animal is the driving force. There are plenty of things we see which make no sense, if that’s your idea of Evolution. Hell, most people haven’t even gotten that far in their understanding of Evolution, because they’ve only learned about it from their Creationist preacher or someone similar.

  67. AngelDaisyChains says

    I LOVED when Tracie asked Shane how he knew his god was a good moral agent when Shane himself had discredited his own ability to judge moral issues, and she pointed out that deciding God was a good guide IS a judging a moral issue! His confused pregnant pause was like an atheist haiku. After that he just chased his tail but I he had to know the rug had been yanked out from under him.

    But yeah, the second he backed himself into declaring all of humanity as filthy and deserving of abuse, to the point of implying the little girl in his own emotional blackmail attempt, set up to evoke feelings of protection, was actually deserving of rape when it suited the purposes of his argument, he’d utterly lost. In a flash he went from appealing to outrage over her lost innocence to suggesting she was deserving of it. I joined in that groan from the studio audience. Probably the most blatant instance of theistic “say anything” apologetics I’ve ever seen. Sooner or later, Shane will be ashamed of the low he sunk to in desperation to shield his imaginary friend from the “flawed” morality of real human beings.

  68. sonorus says

    What kind of moral being wouldn’t stop a child from being raped. Surely children being raped cry out to anyone who will hear. Why doesn’t any supernatural being intervene? Wouldn’t you? If you had the power to smite armies, wouldn’t you smite the ever-lovin’ crap out of rapists? Claiming that the child somehow deserved it for being “evil”? How is a child evil? Not picking up their toys? It’s a despicable argument. the other one frequently heard is “well, we just don’t understand God’s plan” or some variation on that. What kind of plan includes raping, torturing or murdering children? I have called people out on this one many times and they just shut down. Even they know there’s no defense for this.

  69. sonorus says

    What on earth could a child be or do that warrants being raped and tortured and then killed as many little girls were in Darfur? What could they possibly have done or thought to justify that?

    If you think this is a good argument you are immoral. Period.

    As for the divine spark, please provide evidence that such a thing exists.

  70. sonorus says

    All morals are relative. Situations often call for exceptions. When pressed on specific answers almost everyone makes exceptions in certain circumstances. Is it okay to kill someone? No. Is it okay to kill someone who is about to kill someone else? Of course it is. The situation dictates the morality.

  71. sonorus says

    Some people seem to have the idea that freedom of speech entitles them to an audience and a publisher. They think that it’s a violation of their rights if you delete something they posted on your facebook wall. They think it’s a violation of their rights if you criticize what they said. This line of thinking is epidemic. You only have the right to say something. You can publish whatever you want so long as it’s your printing press (or equivalent). You don’t have the right to force anyone to listen or read what you have to say. You have no more right to publish your ideas on my facebook wall than I have to insist the New York Times publish my letter to the editor.

  72. says

    I typically shy away from addressing anything atheist-related in my Facebook feed, because religious relatives, but that RawStory article definately got a “like” from me.

  73. says

    That’s the thing, Angel, you pull them off script. Indoctrination is about dictating these scripts to children and having them “memorize” what they believe. They think it’s internal beliefs for justified reasons, but really it’s just something they’ve memorized and been drilled with so often it “seems” real to them. When they stick to their scripts, or encounter people who don’t question it much, it works. But the moment someone outside those scripts begins asking questions that are off the script, they don’t know their lines anymore. And at that point they’re flying solo and blind and having to ad lib–something that only really works when the believe if yours and you understand your good reasons for holding it. This is why you hear those silences–it’s literally like putting data into a computer that it isn’t programmed to process. Their brains are locking up and trying to find some way to “fit” this new query into what they have been taught–but this area has not been covered. And they say wild things without much thought, because they’re trying to reconcile reality they have failed to incorporate with their indoctrinated scripts. What comes out is often bizarre and extreme.

  74. says

    First of all, best show in a very long time. Extremely fun to listen to, and it was great to hear a theist caller get backed into a corner and hung up on so spectacularly. Matt’s final line (“I was a better Christian than you when I was a Christian…and I still am”) was exceptional.

    Notice that one good thing about this caller is that when things started to get heated with Matt in the middle of the call, the caller backed down and didn’t escalate the argument. This let Matt cool off and allowed the conversation to continue to its wonderful climax. And Tracie, of course, was great as always. Kudos, guys, for a great call.

    I have to say that a major problem with these kinds of discussions is definitional. Theists and non-theists seem often to use the word “morality” to talk about entirely different things. Theists frequently use the word to mean some absolute standard of conduct that is binding on all individuals, regardless of situation. Non-theists are usually talking about the set of actions in any given circumstance that is most conducive to certain values (usually values they share with the rest of society). As a result, “debates” over “morality” usually consist of people talking right past each other.

    I would underline the “is-ought” problem, pointed out above by codemonkey. The entire notion of “ought” deserves closer scrutiny than it usually gets. What does it mean that we “ought” to do something? We might *like* to do certain things. We might *like* the kind of world produced by doing certain actions. We might *prefer* to act in such-and-such ways (and *prefer* that others act in such-and-such ways). But “ought”? I don’t think there is such an animal, at least not one that we can sufficiently reason our way to.

    As a result, I describe myself as a moral nihilist, though I think my positions are fairly close to those expressed by many of the hosts of TAE. In essence I call myself a moral nihilist because I don’t think moral claims (that is, “ought” statements) are anything more than expressions of individual values and preferences.

    Now certainly I agree that there are objective standards for determining whether given acts are in accord with certain values or goals in specific situations and that, in that specific and well-defined context we can objectively determine the “best” action or actions for expressing those values or goals (just as there are objective standards for evaluating which conclusion or conclusions best follow from a set of premises).

    But that’s not the same things as “ought.” Perhaps, as an example, we can conclude that in the context of our shared values to live in an orderly society, it is objectively demonstrable that randomly and routinely stealing from stores is not conducive to expressing that value. But that’s simply a fact, an objective statement of what “is.” There’s no way, logically, to make the jump to, “Well, then I ought not do it.”

    Now certainly, I’m overwhelmingly likely not to *want* to steal randomly and routinely, for a variety of reasons (including, but not limited to the fact that I generally do want to act in ways conducive to the values I’ve imbibed from society). But I don’t see much benefit in telling myself that there’s some “ought” preventing me from doing a particular action. I prefer to see situations as accurately and objectively as possible.

  75. sonorus says

    That kind of “moral relativism” sounds like the “prime directive” from Star Trek. Only problem with that is that they broke the prime directive over and over again, usually with good reason. I do think we (by we I mean Europeans) made some mistakes by imposing our big bag of bullsh*t on other cultures. We didn’t necessarily improve them or make them more moral by insisting that they discard their own beliefs and traditions and accept ours. At the same time I don’t think that we should stand by and watch people commit horrible acts and then pretend that it’s moral NOT to intervene.

  76. aths says

    Normally I get mad when Matt gets angry and insults the caller. But his time, it was justified.

  77. rodney says

    By the time Matt finally hung up on him, I would have preferred even a Matt from Oslo call. I had high hopes when the call began, but within ten to fifteen minutes, it was clear that Shane just wasn’t equipped to hold a conversation on the subject, and was not bringing anything to the table, zero, zilch. When Matt said he wasn’t very keen on the call, I was hoping he was going to finally hit the release button, but unfortunately, he let the idiot drone on until the end of the show. If the show was still 90 minutes, I would be more forgiving, but with only an hour, they need to cut off a caller if they’re obviously not up to holding up their end of the conversation.

  78. Lord Narf says

    I had high hopes when the call began, but within ten to fifteen minutes, it was clear that Shane just wasn’t equipped to hold a conversation on the subject, and was not bringing anything to the table, zero, zilch.

    How many theists are equipped to hold a conversation on the subject? This guy was great for demonstrating the failings that pretty much all theists have, when it comes to morality.

    If the show was still 90 minutes, I would be more forgiving, but with only an hour, they need to cut off a caller if they’re obviously not up to holding up their end of the conversation.

    And I feel the exact opposite, for the same reasons. With only an hour-long show, we have less time to spend putzing around with atheists who are calling in to complement the show and should spend more time on calls like this.
    Do you think they even had another theistic caller in the queue, who would have something more interesting and important to talk about?

  79. Lord Narf says

    Yeah, I know. Matt and Tracie suck. They need to do a better job of lining up those callers. Slackers.

  80. rodney says

    “This guy was great for demonstrating the failings that pretty much all theists have, when it comes to morality.”

    But it was demonstrated within the first fifteen minutes, at about that point, Matt said he wasn’t too keen on the call, and I was right there with him.

    “Do you think they even had another theistic caller in the queue, who would have something more interesting and important to talk about?”

    I don’t know, but I would have liked to have found out, the call that took up most of the show certainly never went anywhere.

    “Matt and Tracie suck.”

    I think they’re awesome! Too awesome to waste so much time going in circles with such a clueless caller. I wish Matt had followed his original instinct and dumped the call.

    But hey, you dug it, and I didn’t, I think we’ll just have to leave it at that.

  81. 42oolon says

    Moral relativism is a radical position which few accept. This is why theists like Shane try to create the false dichotomy as he did in the show: either you are a moral relativist (its just an opinion and who are you to say your opinion trumps mine…?) , or you accept there is “objective morality” (a true moral position that is independent of our subjective opinion). Folks like Shane think that by rejecting moral relativism, we are forced to accept a theistic objective morality exists. He will then try to get atheists to agree that we do not know the source this “objective morality” even though we accept and apply it. Shane will then say “the source is God!”

    My point is, that this is indeed a false dichotomy. There are other sources of morality: genetics and reason. We often have intuitive feelings to protect and support members of our community and family. We can also consciously recognize certain virtually universal values such as human well-being and freedom and fairness. These are objective in the sense that they are not subjective opinions, but can be demonstrated to others by reference to axioms. They are not perfect or absolute or universal, which is the kind of morality theists think they have discovered. Theists seem to be the only ones who think we need perfection and absolute truth.

  82. says

    But it was demonstrated within the first fifteen minutes, at about that point, Matt said he wasn’t too keen on the call, and I was right there with him.

    Then you and Matt were wrong on that point. Yes, the call dragged at times, but the end (and I don’t just mean the name-calling) was worth it. The point of the calls isn’t to merely identify who is going to be an idiot and then move on. A big part of the show is the lay out the theistic arguments like fillet fishes (or however the phrase goes).

    This was a great example, and they did a great job exposing the rotten and incoherent core of this Argument from Morality, which atheists get constantly. Everyone who watched all the way through are now more informed and enlightened. The point was the make an example of the caller.

    It’s not like the show gets a lot of great callers. Do we really need to hear from Matt from Oslo again? Or how about another atheist who wants to talk about some discussion a friend of his is having with a theist on Facebook? There will always be more shows, and when we can get a call with potential to fully explore, we should.

  83. Kazim says

    My only criticism was that they could have redirected the conversation to theistic morality faster and demonstrated its bankruptcy that much sooner. That was where the conversation really blew up. Prior to that it went in circles a bit dealing with moral dilemmas and such, which are interesting but have little bearing on whether it’s theistic or atheistic morality. But if they had kept the beginning of the call and hung up early, we would have missed out on the good stuff.

  84. here be Name says

    Great show, great episode. Amazing perfomance by both Tracie and Matt. Apart from the last, desperate and I don’t think intentional remark, Shawn seemed like a sincere interlocutor, willing to learn.

  85. says

    This is actually episode #795 instead of #793. The video is labeled as #795 during the intro and it’s correctly numbered in the archive, but the number in the link to this page is wrong. (The episode numbers are increased every week, regardless of whether or not there was a show.)

  86. mike says

    I certainly would not refer to this show as “a dull kick off” and I am kind of confused by this comment as well as comments from other posters, eg.rodney, who think Matt & Tracie should have hung up on Shane earlier to get to other theists with “better arguments” Exactly what better arguments are there? All of the theists claims are riddled with contradictions, inconsistencies, and logical fallacies!

    There are no good arguments, that’s why we are atheists! Great show, guys, Tracie- once again you brought it to a whole other level and backed Shane into a corner, and Matt-glad you didn’t hold back and you let your emotion show through with that last insult. As Matt has stated before, ridiculous statements should be subjected to ridicule, and I would attest that a disgusting comment like the one from Shane deserved a disparaging reply.

  87. says

    Also, did you notice that Shane’s voice went up an octave every time you knocked him off-script? I really hope he listens to this show. Who knows — if he realizes that the atheists were making sense and he wasn’t, there might be some hope for him!

  88. davecampbell says

    My favourite quote of the whole 45 min call –

    24:55 – “Freedom of Speech, Man. Second Amendment.”

    (’cause that’s the First Amendment. Second Amendment is all about guns and stuff.)

  89. Jonathan Parsons says

    I think you are confusing two different senses of objectivity and subjectivity here. The terms can be used both metaphysically and epistemologically.
    To say that a statement is “objectively true” means that its truth-maker–the state of affairs that to which the statement refers–is a mind-independent state of affairs. By “mind-independent” I mean that the state of affairs does not depend upon the activity of any mind. Now, to say that a statement is “subjectively true” means that its truth-maker is mind-dependent; the state of affairs DOES depend upon the activity of at least one mind. So, if there are any such things as subjective truths, all of them are dependent upon the activity of at least one mind. Therefore, if there are no minds, then there are no subjective truths.
    Epistemologically the terms refer to the sort of access we have to certain facts. To say that a fact can be known objectively just means that there is some methodology of gaining knowledge about that fact that is–in principle–available to every knower. That means that objective knowledge is not privileged knowledge.
    However, “subjective knowledge” is privileged knowledge; it is the sort of knowledge that the one who knows it has privileged access to. For example, if you were to ask me the question “how did you feel when you saw your wife walking down the aisle on your wedding day?” your ability to know that fact–if there is such a fact–depends entirely on my revelation. There is no objective methodology available for you or anyone else to gain this knowledge.

  90. Jonathan Parsons says

    Now certainly I agree that there are objective standards for determining whether given acts are in accord with certain values or goals in specific situations and that, in that specific and well-defined context we can objectively determine the “best” action or actions for expressing those values or goals (just as there are objective standards for evaluating which conclusion or conclusions best follow from a set of premises).

    But that’s not the same things as “ought.” Perhaps, as an example, we can conclude that in the context of our shared values to live in an orderly society, it is objectively demonstrable that randomly and routinely stealing from stores is not conducive to expressing that value. But that’s simply a fact, an objective statement of what “is.” There’s no way, logically, to make the jump to, “Well, then I ought not do it.”

    Now certainly, I’m overwhelmingly likely not to *want* to steal randomly and routinely, for a variety of reasons (including, but not limited to the fact that I generally do want to act in ways conducive to the values I’ve imbibed from society). But I don’t see much benefit in telling myself that there’s some “ought” preventing me from doing a particular action. I prefer to see situations as accurately and objectively as possible.

    I think it is fairly easy to define “ought.” In the most general sense a person ought to perform a certain action if a person would be justifiably blameworthy for not performing the action. On that understanding, I have a couple of questions:

    1. If a person flippantly believes something that is objectively false, are they justifiably blameworthy? Would this person be under some obligation to change their beliefs?
    2. Is any person ever justified in passing judgment on another person’s actions?

    I would argue that if you answer “yes” to either one of those questions then you can not consistently be a moral nihilist.

  91. Psycho Gecko says

    davecampbell,

    Obviously he was referring to a combination of the 1st and 2nd amendments which gives people the right to shoot their mouths off.

  92. Psychopomp Gecko says

    Sorry, didn’t mean to use the shortened version of the name.

    davecampbell, he was obviously referring to the combination of the 1st and 2nd amendment which allows people to shoot their mouths off. It also protects our Freedom to Spitball.

  93. PhilBone from Europe says

    You have to remember that, at the very beginning, it was presented as if the Maharishi’s adepts were ACTUALLY levitating !
    They simply distributed to the press… snapshots taken at the exact time were these “leaping frogs” were at their highest point in the air, thus seemingly “flying” above the ground, and said : “See ? With transcendental meditation, people could get rid of the law of gravity ! !”
    The whole hoax blew off as soon as someone broke the plaisanterie by publishing MOVING picture instead of (intentionally) deceiving STILL pictures !
    What a joke…

  94. PhilBone from Europe says

    When confronted with that kind of evidence, lots of believers —from ALL mythologies, would it be christianity, judaïsm or islam— would answer : “Oh well… “god” has created the Universe and so on, “he” is, for sure, all-powerful, all-compassionate, ubiquitous, “he” sees everything etc… So, he COULD intervene to stop man-made atrocities at once, BUT, in his great wisdom, he gave man the responsibility of his own acts, even the worst ones !”

    That the pitiful way they escape the contradiction between an “all-compassionate god” and a monstrous freak that leaves unarmed poor creatures who, however, “he” created “in his own image”…

    That’s what i call the highest degree of hypocrisy !

  95. PhilBone from Europe says

    Hey, you people ! Are you asleep when you write such commentaries ??

    Then wake up !

    I can’t believe my eyes when i see these jesuistic, circling arguments going on running about such HORRIFIC approaches like : “is it worth considering that a priest, referring to the “words” of his own god, could be entitled to express doubts about the evilness of that poor raped girl ?” etc…

    It reminds me of those byzantine theologians who were discussing about the sex of the angels… while Byzantium was under siege by the Ottomans (although i know that it is a legend : it’s just a comparison !).

    I suspect there isn’t any feminist girl around in this thread, otherwise, she would have shaken the hell out of you !
    RAPE IS A CRIME ! Point blank ! No matter what religion “denies”, “accepts” or “justifies” it ! Under NO circumstance, could a person be the object of philosophizing to speculate if this act could be justified (or not) regarding the state of “evil” coming from the person being raped ! !
    EVEN if the little girl was a hundred times more wicked that the famous “Regan” character in The Exorcist, NO THING could justify her being raped !

    And the argument that i read somewhere higher up —i know that it was a devil’s advocate stance— about that raping her, in “god’s” mind, could maybe “better” her in her future life… is just a puking sick (counter)-argument… when you know the ravages done to women by such an event for the rest of their entire existence !
    Just imagining that a theist could even envisage such a non-sens for the defense of his “god”… i tremble at the mere thought of it.

  96. PhilBone from Europe says

    On the contrary ! In the so-called “new testament”, we have that nice fellow —Herod the great if i remember well— who orders ALL babies in his kingdom to be butchered… just for the sake of ensuring that a certain, specific baby couldn’t rise to kingship in his place, when he’d be grown up ! !
    I will probably encounter one of those famous “Godwin points”, but it reminds me of that order given by “nacht und nebel” authors, to kill even the babies… “’cause, one day or another, they will grow up” !
    That’s the kind of nice, paradisiac stories which can be found ALSO in the”new” gospels…
    Q.E.D….

  97. PhilBone from Europe says

    All along these posts, commentators have argued about “how to deal with morals —up until now ‘dominated’ by religions— while being a true non-believer…”.

    Could it be possible for us atheists to try to develop a COMPLETELY DIFFERENT approach to these topics, by envisaging them from a THIRD point of view ???
    Roughly, we are talking about a dichotomy which goes like this : “Either, one falls into “morality” (which is usually branded as a “good” thing), either one falls into “IMmorality” …which is universally deemed as “bad”.
    I didn’t see, in any post on this thread, someone talking about A-morality !
    I am perfectly aware that, in ‘common language’, the substantive ‘amorality’ and its adjective ‘amoral’ are utterly pejorative.
    But the matter is that, otherwise, we are doomed to talk for the rest of eternity about “what’s moral or immoral”… without ever having a chance to reach a consensus on these two qualificatives ! !
    In anthropology —and even more in ethology— it is a platitude to say that something “immoral” in one given society is frequently “moral” in another one.
    Without going as far in SPACE as to Papuasian or Yanomami tribes, …just, let’s have a look, thru TIME, into our own societies : before 1973, when the (US) American Psychiatric Association voted to remove homosexuality from Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, so-called “pervert” behaviours were branded IMMORAL…
    In such a short period of time until today, most Western countries, by and large, changed dramatically their “morals” towards such a societal topic.
    Conclusion : what is considered IMmoral some day, can be accepted as MORAL… twenty years later —and still subject to death penalty somewhere else !
    Who is wrong ?
    Who is right ?
    Relativism leads nowhere…
    As atheists, we’re supposed to rely on REASON rather than on sentiments, emotions or subjective approaches, when it comes to topics that can be objectively discussed, aren’t we ?
    My opinion is that, by letting ourselves being stuck in a limey pond like the moral / immoral everlasting debate, we actually fall into a trap !
    It seems to me that Nietzsche —the very philosopher who first proclaimed that “god is dead” !— wrote extensively about this “amoralistic” approach…

    An interesting working line, i think, instead of trying to determine if something that humans do is “RIGHT” or “WRONG” —which, as we have seen, is and endless debate—, would be to try to determine if … it works or not !
    Maybe, on this basis, it might be easier to agree on some objective results !
    For example : let’s say that it is neither wrong or right to assassinate one’s grandsons for fun
    (= A-morality)..
    How to deal about that ??
    Well… We just have to think about what would happen if everybody was free to do such a thing without encountering any opposition from society (i.e.: the “law”).
    Shortly enough, the chain of generations would grow thinner and thinner… up to the point that any society would ineluctably vanish into past history !
    In other words : it’s not “right” nor “wrong” to assassinate one’s grandsons for fun… it’s just that, in the long term… IT SIMPLY DOESN’T WORK !
    No need of morals, morality or any deity’s “commandments” to universally understand such a thing and, consequently, regulate, in an effectively viable manner, human behaviours !
    Of course, this is just a hint…

  98. Lord Narf says

    Herod is a villain, in the Bible. The book isn’t endorsing his behavior.

    If you want to assert the behavior of a Biblical character as being endorsed by the Bible, you need to go with someone held up as virtuous or a prophet of Yahweh. There’s so much horrific behavior by virtuous people and specifically commanded by God; there’s no reason to go with bad examples, like this.

  99. Lord Narf says

    Even with the spread of videos showing exactly what they’re doing, they still make all sorts of insane claims. Apparently, they’re getting much more airtime than they would be getting without their mystical levitation defying the laws of gravity. It’s pretty freaking lame.

  100. PhilBone from Europe says

    By quoting that ‘Herod’ batch, far from me, of course, to imply that the new testament would ADVOCATE that killing all babies in a kingdom is a nice thing to do !
    I was just responding to Hellboundallee, who reminded us that nowhere in the bible “god” said that raping babies was wrong.
    Unfortunately, it is usually assumed that the OLD testament is THE place in the bible, where all these horrible stories about somebody massacres an entire nation, or where a general killed all women and babies..

    My message was to point out that, in the NEW testament too, there ARE horrific stories TOO, and not only fairy tales about love and compassion…

    I would add that these episodes are written in a book which reach the hands of very young, brainwashed children, which is not a very cool way to attract them towards the premises that underlie the so-called “christian good news” —unless you think that all those video game into which the winner is the one that kills the maximum folks… are of no importance concerning the children’s vision of life, of course…

  101. says

    You write: “I think it is fairly easy to define “ought.” In the most general sense a person ought to perform a certain action if a person would be justifiably blameworthy for not performing the action.”

    Well, I don’t think you’ve really defined it, except to put it in terms of another vague and possibly circular term, “justified blameworthiness.” What does it mean for something to be “blameworthy”? What does it mean for the blameworthiness to be “justified”? If you’re to avoid circularity, then the answers need to be something other than, “something that ought not be done.”

    I get the feeling that “blameworthy” here just means “stuff most of us don’t approve of.” And if that’s all you mean by it, fine, but there’s no kind of ultimate obligation here,and I feel the word “ought” is at best deeply misleading. There’s just some stuff a lot of us don’t approve of. Nothing compels anyone not to do it, though they may well desire not to do something that the rest of us won’t like.

    You ask: “1. If a person flippantly believes something that is objectively false, are they justifiably blameworthy? Would this person be under some obligation to change their beliefs?”

    No. No person is ever under any kind of obligation to change what they believe in, though I may well think they’re being foolish and try to convince them of that.

    You ask: “2. Is any person ever justified in passing judgment on another person’s actions?”

    Depends on what you mean by “justified”? Is a person *capable* of passing judgment on another person’s actions? Sure. But that judgment doesn’t have any kind of binding power (unless, of course, that person bands together with other people who make similar judgments and create a legal system that outlaws certain actions…).

  102. codemonkey says

    One. Your post is largely semantic word games that doesn’t really merit further attention.

    Two. Will you act in a way that furthers the happiness and self determination of everyone? Will you promote everyone else acting in a way that furthers the happiness and self determination of everyone? Can you agree for conventional discussions that we ought to act in a way that furthers the happiness and self determination of everyone? Yes, you are right from a perspective of “pure logic” than it’s an arbitrary individual preference. If you’re on board with me, then there’s nothing further to discuss.

    Moreover, I argue that, as a matter of facts, most people are already on board. I think there are very few legitimate divine command theorists nor amoral self asshats aka psychopaths. Most people who praise biblical morality make their argument from desired consequences, e.g. heaven. Imagine posing the following hypothetical to a divine command theorist fundie: “Suppose heaven didn’t exist, and there was no afterlife, but the rest of your beliefs were true. Would you still do what god said?” inbefore “I refuse to answer any hypothetical questions.”

  103. says

    “Nietzsche —the very philosopher who first proclaimed that “god is dead” !—”

    Nope, that is a common mistake though. Like people thinking that the people in middle-age tought the earth was flat, when they tought it was round.

    The first to say “God is Dead” is Luther in a hymn, then it is often used in Hegel’s work and then in Nietzsche’s. Nietzsche use the “God is Dead” to mock Hegel (and probably Luther in extra).

  104. Scott Benton says

    It seems redundant to say you would stop a child from being raped, but it’s apparently okay with some people.

    I thought it was interesting how quickly Matt hung up on this one. No second thought, just bang.

  105. PhilBone from Europe says

    Well my dear Eric… It looks like you took the Luther affair… just the way ’round compared to what SEEMS to have actually happened —that is, of course, if we follow the many sources that have transmitted the hereunder anecdote up to our times.

    Or better, it seems that, if anybody on record ever pronounced this famous phrase, it would rather be Luther’s WIFE, Katharina von Bora who did it, but… certainly NOT as a proclamation of an actual fact !

    The story goes that Luther had a very deep despair period at one point in his life. Worried to see him in such a state, his wife, one morning, came down from the upstairs bedroom, all dressed in black. Shocked, Luther asked her why did she dress in such manner. Then she answered : “YOU look as if god is dead ; so I want to mourn with you !”. (Which, they say had the opposite result to boost Luther back into having renewed confidence into his own ‘new’ creed.

    So, you will agree with me that this woman has certainly not PROCLAIMED the death of god, but simply used the sentence, on the contrary, to assert that it COULDN’T be dead !

    Nieztsche, thus, remains the first to have shouted it out loud as a “historical” statement…

  106. says

    Well of course Luther in his hymn his “God is Dead” has not the same meaning as Nietzsche’s, that is why I added Hegel as an intermediate. Hegel took and redifined the “God is Dead” from Luther to it seems attack Kant. And then in Tolle Mensch Nietzsche seems to take the “God is Dead” to represent Hegel’s mocking Kant (or Nietzsche mocking Hegel), sort of. But of course Nietzsche after redifined also the “God is Dead” to make it a literal statement, but it was a description of what Kant has done, not a wish from Nietzsche as many portrayed it.

  107. Edgardo says

    I am a theist with no religion, but I watch the Atheist experience regularly. This is the first time I read about the “problem of evil”. I really don’t think there is a problem. Most people commenting seem to think that the supposed omnibenevolence of God implies that he must prevent evil. I’ve always conceived God as “all-good” because he does not commit evil acts himself (which suffices to consider him good). And I also happen to think that free will could not exist if God prevented people from doing evil. Therefore, since I believe a person’s morality is completely independent from others’ actions I do not see this a problematic.

  108. Lord Narf says

    I am a theist with no religion, but I watch the Atheist experience regularly.

    Ummm, how does that work? From which source do you get your concept of your deity, if you have no religion?

    This is the first time I read about the “problem of evil”. I really don’t think there is a problem. Most people commenting seem to think that the supposed omnibenevolence of God implies that he must prevent evil. I’ve always conceived God as “all-good” because he does not commit evil acts himself (which suffices to consider him good).

    Then you don’t understand what omni-benevolence means. An omni-benevolent deity would stop evil from happening to others, not just refrain from causing it himself.
    If you’re in any way referencing the god of the Bible, then according to the holy book, he causes evil himself, as well. I guess there could be a truly benevolent deity concept that someone holds, but I’ve never heard one, once someone gets into detail about what their god does and wants.

    And I also happen to think that free will could not exist if God prevented people from doing evil. Therefore, since I believe a person’s morality is completely independent from others’ actions I do not see this a problematic.

    I think that one of the many things you’re missing is the difference between free will and free action. God could step in and physically prevent someone from doing something, without violating their free will. Denial of free will would be something like what Yahweh does to Pharaoh, in the book of Exodus, hardening his heart and making him refuse Moses’s requests.

  109. Edgardo says

    Ummm, how does that work? From which source do you get your concept of your deity, if you have no religion?

    It’s an eclectic concept I’ve drawn from various sources. I was raised as a Roman Catholic, but I do not believe in the God they do. That concept is under constant refinement.

    “Then you don’t understand what omni-benevolence means. An omni-benevolent deity would stop evil from happening to others, not just refrain from causing it himself.
    If you’re in any way referencing the god of the Bible, then according to the holy book, he causes evil himself, as well. I guess there could be a truly benevolent deity concept that someone holds, but I’ve never heard one, once someone gets into detail about what their god does and wants.”

    In my opinion omni-benevolence, like any other concept related to ethics is subject to definition, which can be entirely personal. Therefore, rather than failing to understand anything, I am simply not agreeing with your own definition, in any case. And yes, I agree, the God of the Bible causes evil himself, so he is not, by any stretch of imagination, omni-benevolent.

    The God I conceive is perfectly good because he does not do anything remotely evil himself. He doesn’t judge, reward or punish human beings either. He creates human beings (in a spiritual sense, I do not take the Genesis as true), loves them regardless of their deeds and helps those who want it achieve a self-defined notion of personal fulfillment. I can elaborate on this concept of God if you’re interested.

    “I think that one of the many things you’re missing is the difference between free will and free action. God could step in and physically prevent someone from doing something, without violating their free will. Denial of free will would be something like what Yahweh does to Pharaoh, in the book of Exodus, hardening his heart and making him refuse Moses’s requests.”

    I define the free will God grants broadly as:

    a) When faced with choice, we are free to choose anything we want without any intervention from him.
    b) God lets the consequences of our actions unfold without any intervention from him.

    “b” is essential, because part of being free is understanding that your actions have consequences for you and others. Under this definition, the example you use would not qualify as a free choice.

    Sorry for any mistakes, my handling of HTML is not good yet.

  110. Lord Narf says

    It’s an eclectic concept I’ve drawn from various sources. I was raised as a Roman Catholic, but I do not believe in the God they do. That concept is under constant refinement.

    So, you have one of those new-agey, unsupported concepts of god, based upon what you feel is right? Which sources have you pulled from?

    In my opinion omni-benevolence, like any other concept related to ethics is subject to definition, which can be entirely personal.

    No, omni-benevolence already has a definition, based upon etymology and common usage. If you’re going to twist the definition of an already-established word to the point of incoherence, then create a new word or concept. Otherwise, you’re guilty of a gross equivocation error.

    The God I conceive is perfectly good because he does not do anything remotely evil himself.

    *bzzzzt*
    Is your concept of god a creator god? If so, he’s responsible for not stopping evil things that his creations do, if you want an acceptable application of ‘perfectly good’. Anything less doesn’t fit the term.

    I can elaborate on this concept of God if you’re interested.

    Not really interested, no. My only real question is where you’re getting these ideas from, which you think justifies your belief in such a being.

    a) When faced with choice, we are free to choose anything we want without any intervention from him.
    b) God lets the consequences of our actions unfold without any intervention from him.

    “b” is essential, because part of being free is understanding that your actions have consequences for you and others. Under this definition, the example you use would not qualify as a free choice.

    So, what you’re saying is that you believe in a purely deistic god who never effects reality, after its initial creation?

    Your statement here is completely at odds with an earlier statement you made: “… helps those who want it achieve a self-defined notion of personal fulfillment.” Your second clause contradicts that. Any influence, positive (help, as you termed it) or negative violates you definition of free will.

  111. Jonathan Parsons says

    The definition isn’t circular at all, precisely because the conditions of justified blame will depend entirely on a specific ethical theory. All my point was is that my general definition of “ought” is one that almost all moral philosophers would agree upon. Furthermore, “circular definitions” aren’t problematic at all–in all synonymous definitions the definiens mean the exact same thing as the definiendum, yet they are perfectly appropriate to use. Circular arguments, on the other hand, are something different entirely.

    Secondly, you can’t say in one sentence “no person is obligated to change what they believe in” and then offer the possibility of “I may think they are being foolish and try to convince them of that.” For example, let’s say we are dealing with a person who beleives that the physical cosmos is only 10,000 years old. Clearly this belief is false. Clearly this person has the opportunity to investigate the truth of the matter and correct their thinking as a result. If a person fails to take advantage of the opportunity and continue to believe a falsehood, then this person is being–as you say–“foolish.” Well, to say that a person is being foolish is to make a value judgment on them for giving assent to a proposition that the person ought not to give assent to. So, you can’t make sense out of “foolish” if there are no such things as epistemic obligations. And if it is true that epistemic obligations are a subset of obligations simpliciter, you can’t believe that anyone is “foolish” and yet also believe that there are no such things as obligations.
    Furthermore, on your view I don’t see why you would want to waste your time trying to convince someone of anything. If there isn’t anything “wrong” with flippantly holding false beliefs, then it might be impossible to convince someone of anything. Even if a person holds logically inconsistent beliefs, the person has to believe there is something “wrong” with having logically inconsistent beliefs in order to change them!

    Lastly, you call yourself a moral nihilist and then say “. . . that judgment doesn’t have any kind of binding power (unless of course that person bands together with other people who make similar judgments and create a legal system that outlaws certain actions).”
    Well, if that is true then moral nihilism is false. The view you just described is a moral contractarian view–the idea that moral obligations are empowered by mutual agreement. And moral contractarianism is logically inconsistent with moral nihilism.

  112. Sanjeev K Sharma says

    Is there a list of other episode this “Shane” may have called on?

    IMHO he called in show 700 as Jason. The voice sounds similar to me and he poses as an atheist but keeps circling back to similar arguments.

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