Reading list for atheists »« FTBCon is coming

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  1. says

    Hey Adam in Hiltonhead, I became an Atheist largely because I became a parent. It wasn’t the only thing, but it gave me the motivation to reconcile my beliefs with reality.

  2. jdon says

    Islam dude was sort of making a circular argument.

    The Qu’ran is true because Mohammed never lied. How do you know Mohammed never lied? Well he never lied in the Qu’ran.

  3. MontrealUrbanist says

    Regarding Mike from San Diego’s reading list request:

    I’d like to recommend The Moral Landscape by Sam Harris. An absolute must-read for anyone interested in secular morality.

  4. says

    It’s nice to see that the caliber of Muslim apologists is about on par with Christian ones. Now if only we could get them trying these arguments on each other.

    It’s curious that he said that Jesus never lied… so when Jesus said that the only way to heaven is through him, he wasn’t lying? Shouldn’t the caller be converting?

  5. jdon says

    I’d hazard a guess he’d say that was someone else lying about/misinterpreting what Jesus said.

  6. Paul Wright says

    That Muslim guy was throwing out so many fallacies I thought my head was going to pop. I liked the end of the call though where Matt demonstrated that by this guys crazy logic anyone you don’t know could potentially have never lied. Hopefully that gave him pause for thought.

  7. dutchdelight says

    Muslims will usually contend that the bible was corrupted, and among other things, that it used to specifically say that Mo was going to be the next prophet.

    The only problem with that is that there are copies of new testament texts that pre-date islam, and big surprise, those don’t mention Mo anywhere (nor do they mention JC never lying).

  8. says

    If the Bible was corrupted, how would we know that Jesus said anything he said, and therefore, whether he lied? It sounded like the caller was starting with a premise that prophets don’t lie.

    It’s interesting to listen to calls like that, because it doesn’t sound like he’s ever really worked through the “hidden premises” his worldview is built upon. He’s never applied any critical thinking, and thus never realized that there were conflicts.

    It’s interesting, because this is how one can believe with so much confidence that one’s world view is correct, even if, under any kind of scrutiny, it immediately falls apart.

  9. dutchdelight says

    Anyone who takes the concept of prophets seriously is likely to have never critically examined their beliefs.

  10. Lord Narf says

    You think their apologetics have stagnated from all of the time spent dominating theocratic nations?

  11. dutchdelight says

    Their apologetics used to be geared towards christians and animists (or polytheists as they call them), since those were the minority faiths in the middle-east and elsewhere.

    Since the religion came more into contact with secular westerners, a lot of focus is spent denouncing how terrible the west is in terms of morals. Example; several salafists told me the things like “did you know there are orphanages on every streetcorner ’cause of all the out-of-marriage kids in Europe?” Yea, i know, these people have no clue about birth control apparently (or Europe, even if they live there).

    The other prong is islam as a scientific religion (yea really), ’cause the koran, well it predicted every modern invention don’tcha know. It seems a lot of that stuff was the work of one Maurice Bucaille and then got picked up as a worthwhile strategy. Worth to look up if you’re interested in that sort of thing.

    The attempts to pretend science is in the koran are pretty funny usually, i’ve seen one webpage that claimed a particular verse informs us that distant galaxies are blue, which was triumphantically demonstrated with an image inset of a blueish galaxy and lots of praise to their god.

    I guess that works on anybody who’s never seen pictures of galaxies. It’s one of those things that tells us more about the miniature universe the author inhabits then anything else.

  12. John Nugent says

    Wow. If I had known there was going to be a show on Failure of Faith, I would have called in…

    I don’t know if Don covered this at the top (I can’t get the player on the website to do more than continuous buffering, so I have to piece together clips from YouTube), but let’s see what you think. Special thanks to Thomas Jefferson, for giving a form of the argument…

    Let us presume for a moment, for the sake of argument, that the Christian God exists…

    If God exists, He grants us our peculiar talents.

    The ability to Reason is a peculiar talent.

    The ability to Reason is the single talent, which places humans above the rest of the animal kingdom.

    Therefore, the ability to Reason is the greatest talent given humans by their Creator.

    If God grants a talent, He expects the recipient to use it.

    As the ability to Reason is the greatest talent given to humans, from the above, God expects humans to use the ability to Reason.

    Faith is defined as the subjugation of Reason in the face of an falsifiable claim. If one can “know” something, faith becomes superfluous.

    Faith is, therefore, the denial to use a talent, granted by God.

    God expects humans to use talents, He grants.

    Therefore, Faith is an open act of disobedience toward God.

    And one can go on, that if God commands Faith, then God is commanding disobedience (sin).

    Therefore, if disobedience is a hellworthy sin and not having Faith is a hellworthy sin, it’s a lose-lose situation. LOL

    Anyway, thought you’d enjoy that.

  13. John Nugent says

    By the way, about the reading lists…

    What is your opinion of Israel Finkelstein’s “The Bible Unearthed,” which seeks to prove, if I recall, the OT as a 6th Cent. BC political document, designed to combine the gods of Israel and Judea into one, in order to easily combine the nations into one.

  14. Lord Narf says

    Only UStream, unless someone posts it to YouTube. The ACA doesn’t do anything with it.

  15. says

    No, unfortunately, the post-show stuff is very brief, and doesn’t get recorded because the crew is breaking down everything in the control room at that time.

  16. says

    Was just able to sit and listen to the show *waylaid by hubby shortly after rushing off the thread* but, oh yeah, *FACE PALM!* Bob made my head hurt because he appeared to not even comprehend the nature of how one comes to a rational hypothesis about any given thing. Simply claiming prophets do not lie is meaningless…what I find sad is that people who can be reasonable in numerous ways seem to be at an absolute loss of –LOGIC– when they interject GAWD into the equation. I applaud Matt for the amount of time he spent talking to the dude. And what was that Hilton Head dudes name again–Oh Emm Gee! He was just combative and his arguments were infantile at best, just downright stupid at worst. I wondered for half a second if he was trolling until I realized I have met waaay too many folks who display that particular brand of kind of idiocy. He is so wrapped up in being pissed off at the mere idea of an Atheistic position that he even tried to sarcastically assert we don’t believe in things like Christian Music , Hope or Love–typical dehumanization so he can continue to grasp his security blanket…numerous expletives spring to mind.

  17. says

    Precisely, which is why he mumbled “this is getting us no where” before hanging up. What was Bob hoping to achieve? Did he think that hat once he told Matt Mohammed and Jesus never lied that every one in the studio was going to rush off and become Theists? Why do such folks believe a simple assertion equals evidence or truth?

  18. says

    John, I also find the History Channels Bible based documentaries interesting as well (bearing in mind that it is TV while watching of course–lol)l. Some shows like MYSTERIES OF THE BIBLE EXPLAINED I think it’s called, seems to lean towards the believer side of things, but the origins of and politcal intrigue of the bible and religion as a whole is always fascinating … Not a big TV watcher so forgive me if some of the titles are bungled…

  19. says

    why he mumbled “this is getting us no where” before hanging up

    That got me too.

    It’s a pretty strong indicator that he wasn’t registering that his arguments were feeble and unsupportable (or he just didn’t care). It was more like a frustration with the very idea that he had to go through these motions with us – the question of epistemology… that he already knows the correct answer, and it’s just a question of saying the right things to get us onboard, and these questions from the hosts were nothing but word games to wiggle out of having to acknowledge the “truth”.

    Presuppositions makes one do strange things.

  20. says

    Cause we are all just aware that Gawd is truth; that’s why there is only ONE book to reference, only ONE universal religion–only one shcool of thought and absolutely no dissention in… the…ranks…wait a minute….

  21. Danny the Infidel says

    You talked a bit about State Churches and the problem with it.
    As you may know here in Sweden we had a State Church from the 16th century up until January 1, 2000.
    That meant the King (later the parliament) was the head of the Church and that also the parish priest was one of the kings representatives in the parish.
    Up until 1866 the priests had direct representatives in the parliament, was exempt from tax and not until 1910 the mandatory tithing was abolished.
    If you wanted to move from one parish to another you needed the approval of the parish priest and he had to fill in a paper that you could give to the priest in your new parish, and in this letter it said what sort of person you where, or rather what sort of person the priests thought you were.
    The parish priest also had to go around to every household to control peoples reading skills and their knowledge of the Catechism.
    After the creation of a public and mandatory school in Sweden, the parish priests were often the head of the local school board.

    From 1598 until the 1860ies there was no religious freedom in Sweden, however from 1741 Anglicans and members of Reformed Churches was tolerated, from 1781 also Catholics and in 1782 Jews were allowed to live in Sweden without converting but was only allowed to live in Stockholm, Göteborg and Norrköping.

    From 1726 until 1860 there was a law against having religious gathering in your home and first in 1773 Swedish citizens where allowed to leave the Church of Sweden, but only if they joined and other officially approved Christian Church.
    Not until 1952 a Swedish citizen where allowed to not be member of a state sanctioned religious congregation and it was not until 1977 you could build monasteries without government approval.

    Up until 1991 the church was responsible for the census, and if you wanted profe of your identity to get a driver’s license or passport you first had to get a paper from the church telling that you were you.
    The church is still responsible for the keeping of cemeteries and the workings around it and can therefore take a “burial tax” from everyone paying tax in Sweden.

  22. Danny the Infidel says

    Oh, and to be King (or Queen) of Sweden you must still be a member to the Church of Sweden.

  23. Wayne says

    I guess this explains why so many Swedes escaped and came to America. Slightly less bureaucracy.

  24. Kodegadulo says

    I’ve been a rationalist and non-believer for decades. I grep up in Indiana but I live up in the Boston area now. You’d think liberal Massachusetts would have a sizable atheist community. But as near as I can tell, we don’t have anything like what you’ve got down there in Austin. I’m jealous! Anyway I just discovered this website a few days ago, and I’ve been devouring and all the podcast videos. Kudos!

  25. Lord Narf says

    That’s one of the amusing issues you get, in this country. In much more liberal areas, you get a lot more atheists, but they feel no need to organize, on the local level, usually. People who aren’t feeling religious oppression in their daily lives are good.

    You get larger atheism groups in the urban, more-liberal areas of religiously-soaked states. You have a high enough population density to get a good group together, and you have enough religious pressure coming from all of the nuts around you that you want someone you can relate to.

  26. says

    The first caller didn’t explain himself well, but I know what he’s talking about, as I’ve thought of similar conclusions. I’ll try and explain off the top of my head:

    He’s not talking about “you” as in your ego being eternal, but “you” as in consciousness itself. Your ego would be a single subjective perspective of this INSTANCE of consciousness, that you’ve given a name and identity to. But “you” are just an INSTANCE of consciousness, much like “World War 2″ is an instance of a war.

    Imagine you take a James Bond film, and you take a pair of scissors and cut out EVERY frame of film which doesn’t have James Bond on it. When you watch the film, will you ever NOT see James Bond? No – James Bond will exist at every point in time. James Bond won’t ever NOT-exist, as there won’t be a single frame that he doesn’t exist on.

    Now look at the universe from the perspective of consciousness. From the perspective of consciousness, consciousness always exists. (obviously) The places and times without consciousness (rocks, trees, the moon, a far away galaxy, etc) are essentially the frames which have been “snipped out” of the film. They essentially DON’T EXIST. Only the perspective of consciousness exists. Even if all life goes extinct and only evolves again in a billion years or in another universe, all that in-between time essentially DIDN’T EXIST. It wouldn’t matter if consciousness spent 5 seconds not-existing, or 500 trillion years. These times are EQUAL in that they are NOTHING. They are the frames “snipped out”. No one experienced them.

    I can summarize like this:

    1) You are an instance of consciousness, much like “World War 2″ is an instance of war. Your ego isn’t you – it’s a mask. It’s your hair colour, it’s your favourite food, it’s how you grew up. I’m not the same person that I was when I was a child, and yet I never died. My ego is different, but I still live. You are consciousness; not an ego state.

    2) Consciousness is eternal from the perspective of consciousness, which is (objectively) the only “perspective” which there could ever be (by definition!).

    ∴ You (consciousness) are eternal, and it’s impossible for you (consciousness) to ever not-exist from ANY perspective.

  27. ptolemy says

    I love watching “The Atheist Experience” and would like to get some feedback on my hypothesis for the historical Jesus, specifically the parallels with Ptolemy XV (Caesarion). Caesarion was also called the son of god AND king of kings! There weren’t too many historical figures with those titles in that region at that time.

    Caesarion was the son of Cleopatra and Julius Caesar. The special title of “King of kings” refers to him being the combined legacy of Alexander the great soter/savior, the Ptolemaic Pharaohs, and Julius Caesar. Caesarion was THE son of god, the ONLY biological son of the deified Julius Caesar. Cleopatra and 3-year-old Caesarion were staying at Caesar’s villa in Rome when Caesar was assassinated by members of the senate in 44 BCE. Mark Antony was Caesar’s 2nd in command, the Master of the Horse. After Caesar’s death, Antony was one of three triumvirs with ultimate control over the Roman Republic. Is it just coincidence Christianity quickly spread in the precise geographical region controlled by Mark Antony (triumvir and military dictator of the eastern mediterranean) immediately after he proclaimed Caesarion was king of kings? Google the “donations of alexandria” to see a map of Caesarion’s kingdom.

    Did early Christians really believe a poor unknown carpenter’s son was divine? Or was early Christianity more likely a resistance to Rome’s coup d’etat of Caesarion, an allegiance to the king of kings and descendant of Pharaohs who built great pyramids, after which Octavian (Caesar’s adopted nephew) became the 1st Emperor of the Roman EMPIRE?

    Any thoughts? Doesn’t this hypothesis explain some of the mysteries about Christianity? Did Caesarion or possibly his son/heir live in exile around the Sea of Galilee? Since we don’t know who Cleopatra’s mother was, is it possible Caesarion inherited some Hebrew DNA? Why were the earliest Christian (Nazarene) manuscripts written in Coptic/Greek instead of Aramaic/Hebrew? If Jesus was really a Jew from the house of David, why was Jesus rejected by the Jews? Why does it seem like the early Christians were mostly gentiles trying to woo the Jews by adopting their customs? If the earliest Christians were really Jewish, why the fuss over the long-held tradition of circumcision? Why was it so important for Christians to believe Jesus was resurrected/resuscitated? And why are their names and titles so similar?

    Jesus = Messiah/Redeemer = Savior/Soter
    Christ = good/anointed Prince/King/Pharaoh/Caesar
    Jesus Christ = Savior King = Soter Caesar = Ptolemy XV (Caesarion) or his son/heir

  28. ptolemy says

    “how would we know that Jesus said anything”

    That’s a curious detail that seems overlooked by believers. I can easily imagine a King or Pharaoh having scribes to record his words, but poor illiterate carpenters don’t usually have scribes following them around recording everything they say.

  29. MarkusT says

    Why the hell did Matt used the “were you there” argument with the Muslim caller?

  30. Lord Narf says

    That’s something I sometimes hear out of confused believers, who often haven’t even read much of their own Bible. A lot of them think that Jesus actually wrote stuff or that his exact words were written down by his followers, as they wandered around, instead of 30 to 50 years later, as is the case.

  31. says

    Because 1) comment threads on YouTube aren’t conducive to intelligent conversation; 2) they’re a pain the ass to moderate and YouTube has an inordinate number of spammers and trolls; 3) we provide better — and better to moderate — forums, both here and on our Facebook page, for commenting on each show, for which we always post an open discussion thread (like this one).

  32. says

    Hear hear Martin!!!!!!!!!!! I am glad you disbaled them once more–if not to send the message that was needed, and “rights” whiners need not apply.

  33. says

    And, yet, as you know Danny, Sweden and Denmark and Norway are some of the most secular coountries in the world currently, and have been for the better part of the 1900′s, because while we have state religions, there is a clear separation between Church and State, and while *traditionally* people are members of said church, they are so, for the same reason that Jews consider themselves Jewish, even though they’re very often *not* theists or deists, it is a cultural thing.

    These laws, and rules, have lead to people not having religion forced down their throats, and religion not being a main focus of ones identity, simply because of the assumptions and cultural understandings of how religion is taught.

    As an example, in Denmark, you’re taught comparative religion and religious history in elementary/primary school, from 4th to atleast 7th grade, and at around 13 years of age where you’re given the choice of being confirmated or not, everyone in Denmark pays 1% Church taxes, however this means that Churches have no need of prozeltyzing, since they get money from the state, people are born in Denmark, and automatically members of the Danish Church if their parents are, which they can choose to leave at any time, simply by going to the local town hall or church parish. But more than that, people don’t *go* to church, people don’t *generally* get raised religiously, but rather with a secular explanation of things, in regards to both, Sex, Alcohol, Drugs, and Law Breaking. In general, the social stigmas, with regards to personal freedoms, sexual orientation, and other things, are. Simply put, compared to the US, lightyears ahead. Now, I’ve lived in Denmark, in Scotland and in the US (3 Years in Rural Arkansas, and a Year in Central PA.) And quite frankly, Denmark, and Sweden, even with these rules and laws, are the most secular countries in the western world, for a reason, and part of that reason is the way that having a state religion has blunted the teeth of religion in general by making the need for a religion to go out and “recruit” unnessecary leaving people to live lives, their own way.

  34. Marcia Everett says

    My comment is not for this particular show. Would like to know how to hear it when its on. And I would recommend finding a way to move your callers along.

    I think atheists should have a church. It is obvious that too many of us are stupid out here, especially when it comes to a logical debate. Maybe you should wear a Spock outfit when you talk to people.

    I think it is unfair that theists can use a tax free structure to further their beliefs. I think atheists should be able to do the same thing. In fact I think it is imperative.

    People need to gather amongst like minded people occasionally, it gives them comfort. It is especially necessary for former christians. We like to sing and hear sermons and put our kids in indoctrination rooms (LOL) and have guest ministers.

    It is, I think, a good idea for atheists to have everything the religious have including political muscle. I believe the numbers are there and they don’t know where to go.

    And since schools are not teaching logic, its time that atheists did.

  35. Lord Narf says

    My comment is not for this particular show. Would like to know how to hear it when its on. And I would recommend finding a way to move your callers along.

    It’s only on TV in the Austin area. You can find information about their UStream channel on their website, http://www.atheist-experience.com/.

    You can only do so much to move a caller along. Often, they only have one or two theistic callers per show, and the point of the show is to interact with people like that. It’s hard to tell where a theistic caller might be going with the call, until 5 or 10 minutes in, sometimes. Theistic arguments tend to run around in circles.

    Hosting a show like this is more art than science.

    I think it is unfair that theists can use a tax free structure to further their beliefs. I think atheists should be able to do the same thing. In fact I think it is imperative.

    Most atheist organizations are tax-free, nonprofit organizations. They just qualify for them more honestly than religious organizations. The problem with the religious exemption is that religions get the exemption automatically, without demonstrating that they’re actually doing a damned bit of public good. Plus, religious nonprofits don’t have to open their books to outside scrutiny. That’s a recipe for corruption.

    The solution is to do away with the religious exemption entirely, not abuse it ourselves. We’ve got the moral high ground here. Let’s not give that up.

    People need to gather amongst like minded people occasionally, it gives them comfort. It is especially necessary for former christians. We like to sing and hear sermons and put our kids in indoctrination rooms (LOL) and have guest ministers.

    There are humanist churches all over the place. Those are pretty much exclusively nonreligious. Some atheists join UU churches, as well.

    I don’t find it at all useful, myself, but some do. For me, 18 years of weekly Catholic mass was quite enough.

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