Show #821 Russell and Tracie — Open Thread


I was asked by a viewer if I would discuss the treatment of gays in Iraq, on today’s program. I did some research, and I’m not sure there is too much to say. “The treatment of gays in Iraq is not acceptable by any standard,” would pretty much sum it up. I plan to mention it, but really it’s just one more drop in the ocean of religious harm. In summary, they are considered morally deviant, and the laws aren’t exactly clear on whether or not they are “allowed” in Iraq or protected at all, or much, from things like honor killings, bashings, and the like. It’s more of the same. And if simply adding “Iraq” to the list of places where religion makes it utterly suck to be gay–then I’m happy to announce that publicly. But outside of detailing some pretty horrible specific cases, I think that gets the point across.

Comments

  1. Monocle Smile says

    Kalam again? Has this not been beaten with large hammers Mario-style enough times?

    The first premise fails right out of the gate. Making truth claims about the properties of “all things” or “everything” is dishonest and invalid. End of Kalam destruction.

    Sometimes I want to play Theist Bingo during these shows.

  2. Lord Narf says

    With a huge dose of Argument from Ignorance, at the end, which would stop them dead at a deistic god, even if the rest of the argument worked.

  3. Monocle Smile says

    Wow, I’d win so much money with Theist Bingo right now. Michael goes from the bullcrap “personal experience” line to “minds are non-physical” to the naturalistic fallacy…I’m laughing my ass off.

  4. Lord Narf says

    Same here. I’m not sure UStream will be particularly happy with the connection I’m on right now.

  5. Lord Narf says

    Can’t wait to see this one, after it’s posted. Sounds like they got a live one.

  6. says

    To talk about a brainless mind makes about much sense to me as suggesting that there’s this computer program that doesn’t run on any computer, but does manage to run anyway.

    I don’t understand why it’s such a big deal that sentience can be the product of a biological computer. Gorillas don’t have a problem with the sense of self. Their problem is that they don’t get that other creatures have their own sense of self, with access to their own private information (Theory of mind). Anyone who’s worked with animals will detect the “clues of being” from them. They just suck at communicating it.

    For being accused of being closed minded so much, merely for just being an atheist, I sure do find myself open to possibilities more-so than my apologist counterparts. I just insist that possibilities are supported by evidence before accepting them as true.

  7. Raymond says

    This may be a stupid question, but what is deistic god. The word “god” implies intelligence, which doesn’t follow from Kalam.

  8. says

    As a member and group service representative , and delegate to the international convention of a local AA group , I came to no longer believe in a “higher power ” or god ! I went in search of a” god of my understanding” , and as of now I have not found a good reason to believe in any god ! I am still sober ( surprise ) and doing very well !! I am very open about being an atheist , and still get asked to speak at local aa groups, as long as i don’t discuss my non belief ! lol lol I have declined these requests . i firmly believe that addiction recovery can be obtained through secular means ! I would like to let any members of aa having “faith issues ” know that it can be done ! you are not alone !!

  9. says

    My hubby is a Diest and in its simpliets for, they largely believe that a god of some kind can exist–just not one that interacts with humans or care about what happens to us. Many founding fathers were Diests. IMHO Diest are atheists who simply refuse to give up the god claim.

  10. Raymond says

    I have this friend, who happens to be a physicist, who believes in god. I keep asking her why she would believe in something that she can’t test. She says that it’s just untestable. I tell her that’s a cop-out.

    This is probably the thing that gets me more than any other. Believers will admit that their supernatural world can’t be tested, but don’t seem to realize that that means they can’t possibly know anything about it. It seems so simple to me, I just don’t understand how someone could be so obtuse.

  11. Raymond says

    Then deism doesn’t follow from Kalam either. We have infinite examples of things without intelligence forming from things without intelligence without guidance from an intelligence. Therefore even if we accept the premises of Kalam, an intelligent being doesn’t follow.

  12. Lord Narf says

    No worries. It’s kind of a big, fuzzy, cluster-fuck of concepts. Check out http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deism if you want a confusing mess.

    What is traditionally meant by deism, nowadays, is a creator god who doesn’t interfere with the universe. It’s basically the ultimate, exclusive first-cause. You could say that the deistic god rested on the 7th day, and he’s still in the middle of a good nap. It’s a god who hasn’t done anything since starting the ball rolling.

  13. Lord Narf says

    But is that creating something without intelligence, or forming without intelligence? When theists say create, they specifically mean ex nihilo. We’ve got potential creation ex nihilo, in the form of virtual particles, but you may want to watch throwing around ‘infinity’ like that. :D

  14. unfogged says

    Nothing follows from Kalam. Even if the premises weren’t just unsupported assumptions the conclusion is only that something caused the universe as we know it to ‘begin to exist’. You can’t jump from that to an eternally existing intelligence unless you already believe that in which case the argument is even more pointless. It is another kind of wedge strategy… if the atheist will admit that logic demands something outside the universe then the theist can shoehorn in their god and claim it must be true unless proven wrong.

  15. Lord Narf says

    And Kalam ends with a deistic god. It doesn’t justify getting to a deistic god, but the argument … rambles on and stumbles over a dozen logical holes, before claiming that it got to a deistic god.

    You have to take that little leap there. The point I was making is that even if every premise was sound, and there weren’t the huge holes that theists ignore, it still doesn’t even end in their theistic god. Of course the fact that the argument is neither sound nor valid means that it doesn’t get to the deistic god, but if it was valid and sound, it would.

  16. says

    Precisely, just had a convo with my normally open minded hubby who, after I pinned him down, admitted that the god he believes in is not logical and just maybe he just wants to be illogical and he has that right. *sigh* Even he doesn’t believe in the modern concepts of what god is, but has decided to essentially make one up that exists outside of space and time and can’t be understood. by the human mind…yeeeeaaaah.

  17. Lord Narf says

    unfogged

    You can’t jump from that to an eternally existing intelligence unless you already believe that in which case the argument is even more pointless.

    I’ve seen versions of the Kalam that wedge intelligence into the premises somewhere. It’s just flat assertion, but it’s there.

  18. Lord Narf says

    It is another kind of wedge strategy… if the atheist will admit that logic demands something outside the universe then the theist can shoehorn in their god and claim it must be true unless proven wrong.

    Which is where it turns into the classic Argument from Ignorance, like I was saying further up.

  19. Raymond says

    Well ex nihlo is hogwash from either side of the coin. No skeptic/naturalist would believe in ex nihlo because such a thing couldn’t be proven (we don’t know anything about what happened before planck time). No theist/deist could believe in ex nihlo because their god exists. For the rest, they probably have not thought much about absence of existence, so it depends on which angle they come from. No matter where you stand creation ex nihlo is a red herring.

    Infinite is appropriate in this particular situation because as long as time goes on, my statement holds. Also, we know that these things are happening at all scales, in all places, everywhere in the known universe. The fact that, as far as we know, the universe is infinite makes my statement correct.

    I find your distinction between “create” and “form” interesting. Could you please explain?

  20. Lord Narf says

    Yeah, I like to bring this up, when arguing with liberal Christians. Once you’ve abandoned damned near everything in your Bible, including most of the Ten Commandments, all of the Old Testament myths, half of what Jesus says … upon what the hell kind of evidence are you basing anything you think? Because you’ve sure as hell destroyed the authority of the Bible, and without that irrational argument from authority, what reason do you have for believing any of this crap?

  21. says

    About the DOMA decision. SCOTUS struck down section 3 only. States still do not have to recognize marriages from other states, but the federal government now has to recognize marriages issued by the states (and one assumes by other countries). There’s a catch though involving federal law. In some federal programs the law states that the couple has to be legally married (so as long as you have the license, you’re fine). For others (Social Security benefits, for example) the law states that you have to be legally recognized as married in the state in which you live. We’re not sure what will happen with that. The IRS requires that you file in the same status (married, single) on both state and federal forms. No one seems to be sure what that means for couples that married in Iowa but now live in Michigan. Can they file jointly or not. The government is already recognizing gay couples for immigration purposes, so there’s that. But there’s a lot to be sorted out either through changes in the law or in further legal challenges.

    I don’t blame you for being confused about the ruling, Russell. It IS confusing and I’ve been following it closely and I had to dig to find out what the actual implications would be.

  22. Raymond says

    I guess it must be something in my makeup, but I just cannot accept something that can’t be justified. This drives my professors crazy, since I am always demanding proof for the topics they teach. People who decide they don’t care about the truth drive me nuts.

  23. Raymond says

    I’m probably a bad person, because I am most certainly not tolerant of untruth or unjustified truth. I can’t even hang out with people who accept lies as truth because they are to lazy to find the truth.

  24. says

    Me either, another thing I can’t accept is how normally intelligent folks can accept things that have no rational basis.

  25. says

    I have a question about Kalam.

    Okay so I suppose the big bang (or whatever happened) had a cause of some sort. We don’t know what that was. It’s a big leap from that go god.

    Also, about time. My understanding is that time begins with the big bang. In that case, “before” has no meaning, so wouldn’t that mean that whatever “caused” it was outside time and space since there was no time and space “before”? I think I’ve created multiple logic problems already. Help! Someone who understands physics? Please!

  26. says

    Why did he bother with Kalam? That’s clearly not why he believes. If he has a personal story that at least might be interesting. It doesn’t really convince someone who didn’t have the same experience, but at least it explains why he believes instead of a lot of pseudo-philosophical nonsense that isn’t convincing even to him.

  27. unfogged says

    There was a point in the show where they started delving into mind-body dualism and Russell recognized that the caller did not want to accept that minds require brains because of the implications for the existence of a soul. I think that point needs to be stressed more with theists because at the bottom of many of the arguments are just desperate attempts to justify believing because with god they are cared for and live forever while without god it is a harsh universe and death is final.
    That’s not usually pleasant to contemplate but no matter how much they’d like the mythology to be true it just doesn’t make sense without actual evidence. I was sorry to see the point get lost. The hosts did bring up the fact that the Kalam argument is not what made the caller believe but I wish they had driven home the fact that the caller liked the argument because it seemed to support what he wanted to believe and not because it actually proved anything.
    (Recognizing, of course, that Monday morning quarterbacking is one hell of a lot easier than being in the actual game!)

  28. says

    I know, my hubby and I steer clear of too many theological debates because of this, but the more I hunker down in atheism, the more he seems to obstinately claim that a god of some sort CAN exist and so long as it is probable, he can believe in it, illogical or no. BUT he is an amazing human, a great dad–a loving hubby so–I can’t throw the baby out with the bathwater for a difference in outlooks.

  29. Lord Narf says

    Raymond

    Infinite is appropriate in this particular situation because as long as time goes on, my statement holds. Also, we know that these things are happening at all scales, in all places, everywhere in the known universe. The fact that, as far as we know, the universe is infinite makes my statement correct.

    One issue … I don’t know that time is infinite. It might be. Hard to say, if we’re working with a multiverse or something similar. If our universe isn’t a closed system, all bets are off.

    Also, you might want to clarify your language a little. The way I read it is that there are infinite types of things that demonstrate creation from non-intelligent causes. I think the way you meant it, judging from your response, is that there are infinite instances of creation from non-intelligent causes.

    Then we run into the issue of creation and forming.

    I find your distinction between “create” and “form” interesting. Could you please explain?

    The way it’s meant in the Kalam argument, and the way we’re talking about it here, creation is bringing things into existence. When we ‘create’ something, as we normally say it, we’re pushing around bits of matter into new structures to do things that it didn’t previously do. That’s not what theists mean when they’re talking about creation. They’re referring to ex nihilo.

    Forming is a differentiation word that I use to clarify the equivocation fallacy that theists almost always employ. It’s one of Ray Comfort’s favorites. “A painting has a painter; a building has a builder. So, Creation must have had a creator!”

    No, Ray, just … no.

  30. unfogged says

    The Heicart Corollary to the Kalam Cosmological Argument:
    1. Things that cease to toast have a cause.
    2. My toaster has ceased to toast.
    3. My toaster was affected by a cause.
    4. Gremlins!

  31. Lord Narf says

    Eh, if she’s cute enough, I can find reasons to tolerate her for a while. :D

    Couldn’t form a long-term relationship with someone like that, though.

  32. says

    I think the hosts pretty much nailed that one – it’s to try to legitimize what he came to believe for otherwise irrational reasons.

    It’s not abnormal. I think we all do it to some degree on all sorts of things… like if we buy a camera that was really too expensive, and we bought it on the spur of the moment, we try to retroactively validate the purchase in our minds.

  33. Raymond says

    For starters, we don’t know anything that happened before planck time, ≈ 5.39106 × 10^−44 seconds after the big bang. So we do not even know if time existed before that or not. Too much, in my opinion, has been made out of the time thing. It just makes things more confusing. The important thing to know is that the rules that bind out universe together — gravity, strong and weak nuclear force, and electromagnetism — seem to break down as we get closer to planck time. All matter was in a super dense, super hot singularity so nothing even existed as we know it. Atoms didn’t even exist. It was so hot and dense that atoms couldn’t form. As we get closer to planck time even sub-atomic particles couldn’t form (protons and neutrons). So we can make hypothetical guesses based on the current trends, but since all the rules we know don’t apply, it’s all speculation.

    As for time, who knows. Einstein made his predictions about how time and velocity are intertwined, but since we don’t know if there was movement at the big bang, we can’t know if time exists. Bear in mind that all the PHYSICAL rules of nature break down as we approach planck time, but time is subject to relativity naturally. So really the answer the question of “is there time at the big bang” is really “we don’t know and cannot speculate.”

  34. unfogged says

    Congratulations, taking responsibility for your own actions and behavior is not always easy. Have you looked into any of the secular alternatives to AA?

  35. Lord Narf says

    Ohhhhhhhhhhhhh. Alcoholics Anonymous. I thought you meant you were a representative of American Atheists, for about the first half of your message. Too many overlapping group acronyms.

    Have you looked into the Secular Organizations for Sobriety?

  36. Lord Narf says

    Well, they’ve got to come up with something other than “The Bible is the true word of God, and I believe it with all my heart!” They know that their real reasons for believing are emotional and irrational. When they speak to skeptics, they have to pull from more philosophically-minded apologists, because they know that if they were honest, they would be shot down in 10 seconds.

  37. Lord Narf says

    I don’t do that, but I’m probably more self-abusive than most. I tend to revel in my failures.

  38. Raymond says

    “One issue … I don’t know that time is infinite.”

    I think it’s fair to say that scientists have come to realize that our universe is expanding more rapidly as time passes. Very soon (a couple billion years from now) we will pass a threshold where the present mass of the universe no longer has strong enough forces to keep the universe from expanding forever. We will never rebound to another big bang event. So while it’s impossible to say what exists outside the universe or what will happen 10^100 billion years from now; it is fair to say that for all intents and purposes, time will continue to go on forever.

    Also the difference between infinite INSTANCES or an infinite TYPE of events is highly dependent on definitions. For instance, I would say that rain falling on sand would create mud. I would say that a steady stream of water on sand would form a hole (or a trough). The water, the sand, the mud, and the hole are not intelligent and are guided by gravity, not an intelligence. So in this way, I would say there are an infinate types of events (atoms, molecules, asteroids, etc). Of course this would be unconvincing to a theist/deist. So for purposes of talking to believers, yes I would go with instances. In my own understanding, I think both are accurate.

  39. says

    it’s all speculation.

    That’s what gets me about these discussions. They don’t seem to get just how extreme and bizarre the context of the Big Bang is… and that our regular everyday notions about how reality work fly out the window. If we’re talking about causality, you’d think time going to shit would sort of throw a wrench in the works.

    It’s this idiotic “common sense” crap, that science is continually proving to be wrong.

  40. Raymond says

    The sun ceases to toast sometime in September around here. Does that mean that gremlins broke the sun?!!!!

  41. Monocle Smile says

    Nailed it. Of course, this makes me wonder if this approach is intentionally aimed at giving the appearance of legitimacy rather than actually trying to convert people.

  42. Lord Narf says

    So while it’s impossible to say what exists outside the universe or what will happen 10^100 billion years from now; it is fair to say that for all intents and purposes, time will continue to go on forever.

    What about Heat Death or a Big Rip scenario?

  43. says

    Not the typical idiot that calls in. He was actually rather intelligent. He was trying very hard to defend an argument that I don’t think even he found all that convincing.

  44. says

    Good point. Advertising is actually based on the fact that most of our decisions are emotional and then we rationalize them after the fact. Start looking at how ads are structured and you’ll see what I mean. there will be the emotional appeal first and then some sort of statistic or other quasi-logical statement to make it seem like buying something makes sense.

  45. Raymond says

    My understanding of “Big Rip” is that at some finite time in the future, the lack of forces holding the universe together (caused by there being too great a distance between objects) will cause all matter to disintegrate into its constituent parts. I cannot even come close to understanding this or its implications except that, in this case, even if time is based on movement, there is no indication that movement will cease. Thus my original statement is true.

    Heat Death is an interesting thought. I suppose the answer would lie in the question “if nothing moves, does time pass.” I am not as smart as Einstein so cannot comprehend the relative nature of time. So I would answer yes. Time will continue, and is thus infinite; even though it will be meaningless in that situation. If you believe that time ceases to pass when the universe and all its constituent parts reach absolute zero, then time must necessarily be finite. Though I would argue that we are talking perhaps trillions of years in our future, so is it really any different from infinite for all intents and purposes?

  46. says

    But that’s the thing, my hubby always presented himself as a non-believer, even making fun of my past as a Christian. He once told me “I was smart enough not to buy into that shit when I was growing up” He used to get drug to church by his parents when he was a boy. It wasn’t until I became a full fledged atheist that he tended to defend the god position with Deism. But then, he thinks atheists are arrogant pricks (he’s also a southern male and I think he just defacto sides with southern politics and ideals even if they don’t firmly align with own beliefs (seen him do this with non rleigious ideas as a knee jerk response)..wouldn’t want to be found agreeing with a liberal. So, I think in the end, he is just being intellectually dishonest.

  47. Lord Narf says

    I think it’s more to make their opponents stop trying to rely on rational argumentation. Hell, the presuppositional argument is more blatant about it than most apologetics. Throw enough bullshit at someone, and they might give in and be open to your real preaching.

    All real evangelism happens on the warm, fuzzy level. They just have to try to break you down to that level. The New Atheism movement has come as a bit of a shock to them. They haven’t had to deal with such a high percentage of people educated in the basics of logic, until maybe the past decade or so. They’re doing a poor job of adapting.

  48. Lord Narf says

    “if nothing moves, does time pass.”

    Actually, the answer to that is no. Motion is time.

    More to the point of the discussion we’ve been having, if there’s no motion, then nothing is being formed.

    Though I would argue that we are talking perhaps trillions of years in our future, so is it really any different from infinite for all intents and purposes?

    YES!!!
    Heh heh heh heh heh.
    Yes, there’s a huge difference between trillions of years and infinity. There’s a huge difference between any finite number and infinity. There’s an infinite difference, actually.

  49. Lord Narf says

    Meh, a bit of hypocrisy. Fun fun. Oh well, as long as he functions logically, on the daily things, I guess.

    I could never seriously date someone who isn’t a liberal, myself. But then I guess I’m on the more conservative end of the gender spectrum, so I have better odds of finding a liberal at the other end.

    I swear, I would totally have to be a lesbian, if I was female.

  50. Raymond says

    Yes, I know there is an ACTUAL difference between a trillion years and infinite years. That’s why I said “for all intents and purposes.” Humankind will cease to exist trillions of years before the universe reaches a state of absolute zero, so for any conversation we could have as humans, a trillion years IS infinite since we will never get there.

    As for motion is time, I actually don’t know if I agree with that. My profs and I fight about this often. I contend that while motion marks the progress of time, time itself is independent of movement. It’s not much different because passage of time that cannot be marked by some type of movement is meaningless, but I think there is a distinction.

    Einstein be damned. Big names have no influence on me, only facts. And in this I don’t feel there are sufficient facts to make the claim. All of the studies I have read are based on perception and thus are subject to the same flaw that prompted this claim in the first place. Human perception of time flow does not equal actual time flow.

    I believe that, like every force in the universe, time is all about scale. If you are studying atomic interactions, everything you are studying is in nano-second or maybe microseconds. For that scale, an hour lasts 10^12 units of time for you. So then we perceive one hour as we do, but to perceive what an hour feels like to someone existing at that scale we multiply 1 hour x 10^12. That’s 4.380 x 10^9 years, or 4.380 x 10^6 millenia or roughly a million millenia. So did time actually change, or did our perception of time change. It is my contention that only our perception of time changes while time continues oblivious to our perception.

  51. says

    I am still pondering why you haven’t been snatched up yet, open minded male who is in touch with his feminine side :-) Can only guess you are choosey–which is a GOOD thing mind you.

  52. Raymond says

    That’s what I love about physics. It is so much more straightforward than politics:)

  53. says

    Maybe we should start running bets on what kind of arguments we will run into each week based on thier apologetics title (Kalam, Pascal, Presuppositional, etc., etc., .) hey–mama needs a new pair of shoes…lol

  54. says

    Hum, well, I will say he did sound smartified and all but, like many extremely reasoned theists, finds himself lost in a sea of irrationality.

  55. says

    lol i can see the confusion lol and yes i am a member of a secular recovery group ! we have just started it here ! and believe it or not there is AAA atheist alcoholics anonymous but just a watered down version of the original ! prefer rational recovery , just seems to work better for me !!

  56. says

    Most theists live in a world in which they never hear any dissent from these kinds of arguments. He was completely unprepared for what were standard replies to Kalam if he’d ever bothered to read any of them. He didn’t have any idea that there were any responses to that or any of the other “proofs” for god. He struck me as the kind who at least is going to think about what was discussed. I have no idea what happens after that, but a lot of us used to be like that guy so it was worth the effort imho.

  57. says

    The situation for gay people in large parts of Africa and the Middle East is horrendous. Russia as well. In fact there could be a real problem in next year’s winter games as any promotion of homosexuality is now a punishable offense under Russian law.

  58. Raymond says

    Thanks for the back and forth Narf. I love talking about theoretical physics. This has been the most fun conversation I’ve had online in the past . . . ever. My profs get exasperated with me too, but I do not accept anything because someone has said it. I require enough evidence to satisfy my curiosity before I accept anything. All due respect to great minds, but they are human too. And who’s to say I might not become a great mind someday.

  59. says

    In the same boat my friends and often called close minded because of it. Hogwash it is. The continued quest for informaiton is the very ideal of open mindedness.

  60. RealityCzech says

    At 10:15 I breathed a sigh of relief. Maybe I’m just too conservative but I strongly oppose nonconsensual gay marriage.

  61. says

    Thank you for mentioning the atrocities in Iraq today, Tracie. I hope you won’t mind if I plug one of my book reviews.

    http://www.amazon.com/review/R3DZ5CPEMTFKWV/ref=cm_cr_pr_cmt?ie=UTF8&ASIN=1607081628&linkCode=&nodeID=&tag=#wasThisHelpful

    “Nothing Sane About Him

    Turek begins by regaling his audience with a tale about a young friend who came out as gay to his parents. Initially hostile and indignant, their attitude gradually moved to one of acceptance. The individual in question dies of AIDS in his 30s. Somewhat perplexingly, Turek blames this tragic and premature death on the acceptance he received. One can only infer that Frank would prefer his friend to remain miserable and in denial instead. I suppose the high rate of gay teenage suicides either eludes him or is not worthy of consideration. In any case, such acceptance would have made life easier and more fulfilling for the LGBT individual.

    So, after a brief introduction designed to palliate his raw hatred for the LGBT community, Turek launches into a surfeit of wild accusations and baseless slander. Here’s just a sample:

    – Placing the blame for the collapse of past civilizations on their rejection of natural marriage. I can only posit that the embrace of Christianity’s imperialist doctrines and warmongering was too close to home (not to mention intellectually honest) for Turek to give passing mention to.

    Clearly, his veneer of compassion and calls for civilized debates based on truth ring utterly hollow.

    The lion’s share of Turek’s sources come from conservative think tank The Heritage Foundation. With the basis for his “facts” coming from such a biased political action group, one cannot help but shake their head at the irony with which the author accuses some of his opposition of being firmly entrenched against the facts and reality of the issue.

    On page 35 he accuses a third of homosexuals of being child rapists (based on statistics from the Family Research Council, and extreme right-wing think tank and a Southern Poverty Law Center-designated hate group). What he fails to mention is the inconvenient fact that the vast majority of child rapists either have no attraction to adults of either gender, or identify as heterosexual. Moreover, it is generally easier for men to have access to young boys, as parents tend to be more protective of the fairer sex.

    The mudslinging doesn’t stop there. He accuses liberals and those who stand for marriage equality as being opposed to “natural marriage.” Yet he cannot produce a single example of these militant liberal campaigners fighting to make opposite-sex marriage illegal.

    The only liberal he mentions is David Blankenhorn, who, during California’s recent Prop 8 trial, recanted his former position (namely, that children require both a father and a mother to be well-adjusted). Research into the vastly heightened scrutiny that adoptive parents (whether gay or straight) has been shown to lead to better outcomes for the children (at least on some measures). Psychologist Michael Lamb has published several studies on this issue, and has testified that no child would be aided through outlawing same-sex marriage.

    Turek also insults all single parents via his assertion that both genders are required. So why doesn’t he start clarion calls for all available heterosexual couples to annex the care of children currently raised by single parents? In actuality, the most thorough studies have shown that having same sex parents does not harm children, and in some cases, can outstrip the outcomes that would occur in opposite-sex households (US National Longitudinal Lesbian Family Study: Psychological Adjustment of 17-Year-Old Adolescents, published in the American Journal of Pediatrics). The conglomeration of these findings also disprove the accusations he levels on page 20 and 21, in which the lack of a father is claimed to be the ONLY reason why such children suffer from increased suicide rates, juvenile delinquency and lives of crime.

    Consistency is clearly not one of Turek’s strong suits. In his introduction, he freely concedes that homosexual feelings are not a choice. One would logically conclude (and hope that Frank would do the same) that homosexuality, therefore, is not a choice. This should be a tautology, but the connection (or perhaps simply the intricacies) is lost on the author. Yet on pages 74 and 75, Turek cites NARTH (a repeatedly discredited and proven harmful “treatment” organization) as evidence that sexual orientation change is possible. What actually occurs is brutal repression and/or celibacy. In the case of bisexual individuals, the “change” is made easier to bear via their versatile natural attractions.

    Claims that gay marriage would reduce marriage rates are also rife in his book. They are also groundless. The marriage rate in the Netherlands began falling in 1970, whereas same-sex marriages were recognized by the government in 2001. To draw a causal link between the two is specious at best. Spain’s falling marriage rates during the 2005 to 2011 timespan can be more accurately traced to the inordinate and abrupt rise in unemployment (9% to 22%). Among the under-25 crowd, it more than doubled, from 19% to 47%. This is the other side of the story that Frank hopes his readers will either gloss over or ignore entirely. For a more thorough statistical analysis, the Box Turtle Bulletin blog has a wealth of data.

    Turek’s case for how same-sex marriage will hurt everyone generally (a blatant appeal to selfishness) begins on page 52. I will tackle them one-by-one.

    1. Gay marriage will increases tax rates to compensate for marriage tax breaks given to gay couples.

    – So what? If, as Frank claims, 4% of the LGBT population (4% of 5% or so) marry, the tax benefits will hardly be noticeable. The author also fails to consider the productivity and mental health benefits that will clearly follow if gays and lesbians are no longer required to live sham lives and marriages. Moreover, the more married couples there are, the more unmarried individuals will be required to subsidise their taxes. Why isn’t Frank calling for everyone to marry less, or for these tax breaks to be revoked?

    2. Social security taxes will be increased (or benefits decreased) to fund payments to widows and widowers of gay couples.

    – The author’s anti-equality stance could not be made clearer with this statement. Also, the productivity gains and medical savings mentioned above would more than compensate for this.

    3. Medical premiums will increase as gay marriage will lead to more homosexual behaviour leads to higher rates of HIV/AIDS, colon cancer, hepatitis etc.

    – Evidence? Frank’s (decidedly dishonest, deceitful and deceptive) word. If he’s so concerned about unsafe sex and polygamous sex among the LGBT community, he should be encouraging them to get married. With current policies in place, there are no incentives to remain faithful to a single partner.

    4. Employee benefits will fall as corporations are required to cover homosexual partners.

    – An extension of Frank’s initial three points, and refuted by the gains in productivity and reductions in medical expenditures.

    5. Gay couples will be given preference when seeking to adopt children as they cannot procreate.

    – Given the studies mentioned above, this could well be seen as a positive. By encouraging paternal instincts, familial attachments and responsibilities, gay couples would become less likely to engage in risky activities.

    Turek asserts, with no evidence, that children will also be treated as trophies. This is clearly refuted by the studies shown above (trophies would not be showered with love and affection. They would be confined so the parents could gaze upon them and bask in their arrogance and pride), although such a bizarre claim does not even warrant a cursory refutation. He also provides no reason as to why this insult would not equally apply to any couple who adopt children.

    6. Children will be indoctrinated in schools to accept gay and lesbian behaviour as morally equivalent to heterosexual behaviour.

    – Good. Perhaps we can finally move out of the Dark Ages on this issue and do something about the breathtakingly stratospheric LGBT suicide rates.

    7. Workplace indoctrination akin to point 6.

    – So reducing harassment and fostering respect for all employees is somehow undesirable? Frank, you deserved to lose your consulting gig for Cisco and Bank of America.

    8. Churches, mosques, synagogues and other places of worship will be forced to hire homosexuals.

    – Religious freedom does not include the right to discriminate against others on the basis of sexual orientation. Would you be perfectly happy if divorced individuals were verboten in your congregation?

    9. Free speech and religious rights will be curtailed.

    – Wrong. The only things that will be made illegal will be the incitement of violence and unconstitutional discrimination. Catholic charities are meant to serve all of society. If they refuse to do so, and hold their anachronistic doctrines over the well-being of orphans, then they reveal their onerously pernicious prejudices and inverted priorities.

    10. More big government.

    – Utter nonsense. This is Orwellian doublespeak at its most obvious. More freedoms and rights are synonymous with governmental intrusion, at least according to Turek’s tawdry imagination. A further leap of logic is revealed when he claims that governments will be required to step in to mend the societal harms induced by same-sex marriage (a claim that requires a strong foundation, which is conspicuously absent).

    Facts were left behind on the copyright information page. The rest of the book consists of little more than unctuous, baseless diatribes and strenuous mental gymnastics and leaps of logic.”

  62. RealityCzech says

    Frank Turek is a tool, no doubt. FWIW, the book he co-authored “I don’t have enough faith to be an atheist” strenghtened my atheistic stance and was pivotal in beginning my transition toward skepticism. I found the index to creationist claims, AETV, and Non Prophets while searching for criticisms to the views presented in that horrendous book. Glass half full.

  63. kuku says

    I was looking forward to a robust discussion on the Supreme Court hearings on DOMA and Prop 8 and I have to say that I was really surprised at how unprepared you guys were on that topic. It’s pretty big news! I assume it was covered in Austin and also that you guys get CNN. There was a lot of confusion even though you had like 1 1/2 weeks to familiarize yourselves with the rulings. Love the show but this time I was disappointed.

  64. otrame says

    Check out Steve Shives’ YouTube series about that horrible book. It is the latest in his series “An Atheist Reads….”. He goes through some of the popular apoplgist crap in detail. Very interesting stuff.

  65. Robin Brown says

    Exactly right.

    The idea that some basic syllogism containing our ordinary-language concepts of “time”, “causality”, “beginning”, “existence” and “the universe” is going to tell us anything meaningful about planck-time cosmology is just ridiculous.

    If we have learnt anything about the early universe, its that our usual common-sense notions of things like this are not going to be right.

  66. says

    The main point of the Kalam/first cause style of argument is really just that our understanding of causality is flawed. As I see it, the whole thing is basically just a reductio ad absurdum, explaining why there’s something very wrong with our notions of cause and effect; if you follow the chain back, you have to either postulate an infinite regress or you have to have something that isn’t caused.

    The Kalam version is basically just an ad hoc attempt to avoid the obvious self-contradiction in the simpler version. It doesn’t escape the central problem; that something supposedly exists which wasn’t caused by anything else. That’s still a violation of normal, every-day causality.

    I find it much simpler to just admit that our notions of causality are only really valid within the normal scope of our lives and that when it comes to universal origins, our simple-minded, “common sense” ideas don’t mean squat.
    If we want to know what really happened, we need the precise methods of evidence-based science, not pseudo-philosophical speculations based on antiquated ideas and a deficient understanding of reality.

  67. says

    For most of our history we didn’t understand how the sun worked. People couldn’t imagine what could have been burning for so long without burning out to create the sun’s light and heat. There was a cause for this and it wasn’t magic or a supernatural force. We just didn’t understand how it worked until the the last century. Something caused the universe as we know it to be this way. Natural forces of some kind that we don’t yet understand, acted in such a way to create the results that we are now beginning to understand. None of that requires intelligent design or supernatural intervention.

  68. RealityCzech says

    I found that much later and it was amazing thanks for the recommendation though! in general I avoid YouTube when I’m researching ideas so it never occurred to me to even check there after I read the book (well, most of it). I recognized a half dozen logical fallacies cropping up in the first chapter and I think I googled something like “Christian logical fallacies” and found the index to creationist claims.
    I’m an intelligence analyst so I was informally familiar with logical fallacies (i.e. my experience & training addresses avoiding them) but I didn’t know their names apart from “ad hominem” and ” non sequitur”. In my line of work you may not know the names of ad populum, confirmation bias, and argument from ignorance, but you don’t get far in my field if you’re unable to spot them.

  69. says

    postulate an infinite regress

    Frankly, I’m not sure what the problem is with an infinite regress… something that has to do with “getting to now”, as though time is this thing that moves… like there’s a playhead travelling along the timeline.

    I like to think of the timeline in terms of an audio magnetic tape – like a cassette tape (hopefully I don’t date myself too much). This tape has a beginning and and end, but all the “events” that are recorded on the tape exist at the same time (for lack of a better way of putting it). We only get the illusion of “time progressing” if we run this magnetic tape, beginning-to-end, through a playhead… but that doesn’t make the events before or after where that playhead is currently playing stop existing.

    If we were to take the two ends of that magnetic tape, and extend them outward infinitely, that wouldn’t make the events that we were examining magically disappear.

    The only problem is this notion that time has a “playhead” that’s travelling “from the beginning to the end of the tape.” Instead, if all events on the timeline exist hyper-dimensionally “at the same time”, there’s no problem.

    My 1-hour ago self is probably wondering why it’s now, at the same time my 1-hour-from-now self is wondering the same thing, and depending on how obsessive I am, hyperdimensionally, I may be wondering the same thing at ever point along my lifetime, never realizing that “now” is an illusion of how our brains work (successive chemical reactions).

    We’re like the 2D organisms only perceiving the 3D objects as 2D crossections… except we’re 3D organisms perceiving the 4D object (the universe) as 3D crossections in time.

    I don’t know how true any of that is, but I’d say this notion that it just can’t be an infinite regress because “we’d never get to now” is relying heavily on more common sense potentially ignorant justifications.

  70. jacobfromlost says

    Lord Narf: Actually, the answer to that is no. Motion is time.

    Me: Motion is not time. Space-time is a single phenomenon and is a consequence of gravity/relativity. Since there is no “absolute rest”, since space-time is relative, and since time and space are not absolute, then time is not motion (at least no where near the intuitive, everyday sense that people automatically think of when you say “time is motion”).

    I think this is how theists end up thinking Kalam makes sense. They apply absolute time to all of existence, and then claim that time began in time because they are imagining Newton’s Absolute Time and Absolute Space apply to all existence. But they don’t even apply within our universe!

    If Absolute Time and Absolute Space were valid in all of existence, and “time was motion”, then Kalam would be a rock solid argument. You would of necessity need a supernatural agent to start all the natural world because without it, you would have an infinite regress. The problem is that the very idea they are hanging their hat on, the Big Bang, doesn’t really say time had a “beginning”, but rather an earliest edge (we say “beginning” out of convenience’s sake because we have no good word for it). To have a beginning of anything, it has to be a beginning IN TIME–so to claim TIME had a beginning is in essence to say that “time had a beginning in time”, which is a category error.

    It’s analogous to saying that the north poll is the “beginning” of all two dimensional coordinates on the earth. If you were two dimensional being and prone to thinking all of existence was two dimensional, you might make the mistake of thinking that there must be something north of the north poll from which all two-dimensional coordinates spring. And you’d be totally wrong. You just didn’t understand that the two-dimensional surface of the earth is a consequence of other dimensions. That consequence ISN’T more two-dimensional coordinates “north of the north poll”, just as “before time” isn’t more time before time “causing” time. And since you need time to HAVE “cause and effect” at all, you CAN’T have the very quality “cause and effect” being CAUSED to exist any more than you can have coordinates north of the north poll CAUSING the north poll and all other coordinates south of it to exist.

    Space-time in our universe, and thus cause and effect in our universe, are just a consequence of more natural phenomenon we don’t fully understand yet. We do, however, understand it well enough to say that “cause and effect” cannot be caused the way we use “cause” within space-time. That’s a category error, just as a clever two-dimensional being would be correct in saying he’s not sure how the two-dimensional system of coordinates on the earth can stop at the north poll, but claiming there are more coordinates North of the North Poll is clearly wrong. (He might even do experiments traveling around the earth to discover a third dimension since traveling in one direction brings you to your starting point.)

  71. sigurd jorsalfar says

    In my experience, people believe, first and foremost, because they want the comfort of believing there is life after death. All other arguments for the existence of god are then tacked on as rationalizations. I doubt there is anyone who (a) does not believe in, or is unconcerned with the existence or non-existence of, the afterlife, and yet (b) feels the need to believe in a creator god.

    I’ve found this same thing to be true with the few deists I have encountered. Push hard enough and they’ll admit that their deist god has some sort of afterlife cooked up for them. I have yet to meet a person who is a staunch deist on creation and yet believes there is no afterlife. If anyone here has encountered such people (for real) I’d be interested in hearing about it.

  72. Lord Narf says

    Depends what you mean by ‘snatched up’. I’m in a relationship, just not married nor likely to become so in the immediate future.

  73. Lord Narf says

    Ah, is that the guy whose voice appears in the middle of Anthony David’s song, God Said?

    The clip is at 1:28.

  74. jacobfromlost says

    LykeX: The main point of the Kalam/first cause style of argument is really just that our understanding of causality is flawed.

    Me: You hit the nail on the head. The “Prime Mover” argument originates with Aristotle, and although a lot of his thoughts were good first steps toward better ideas, we’ve moved so very far beyond them that invoking a First Cause argument is rather silly–as silly as doctors consulting Aristotle’s biological ideas of hot, cold, wet, and dry to try to cure cancer. No one would give such a suggestion a first or second thought, but the “Prime Mover” thing gains traction because most people don’t understand what time or space is while SIMULTANEOUSLY being absolutely sure that they do know what they are from everyday experience.

    LykeX: and that when it comes to universal origins, our simple-minded, “common sense” ideas don’t mean squat.

    Me: Bingo.

    LykeX: If we want to know what really happened, we need the precise methods of evidence-based science, not pseudo-philosophical speculations based on antiquated ideas and a deficient understanding of reality.

    Me: The more I read on this topic, the more I think that we are conceptualizing the supposed “problem” in the completely wrong way. I’m not sure the Big Bang is something that “happened” per se, but simply IS (and in a much smaller part of “Existence As A Whole” than we imagine). Krauss thinks it is possible that the physical laws of our universe may only turn out to be an “environmental science” such that they could have been anything (although he doesn’t like that idea). I’m not sure what the answer is, but it takes no imagination at all for me to imagine a state of natural existence that is not dependent upon space-time nor “cause and effect” as we observe it, and that our space-time bubble (and perhaps many others) sprang from it naturally. In fact, this state of existence may simply be what “existence” is. If so, it is uncaused and has no relationship to space-time that we would recognize as “time”, and so there just isn’t any problem at all.

    Tracie made a very good point about thinking of existence and “nonexistence”. The theist argument seems to want to say that the universe is all of existence, and that existence can’t come from nonexistence…so a supernatural agent must be a creator that created existence.

    But existence (in whatever form) cannot be “created”. Even the theist would say god existed when he created the universe. But when you switch out “universe” with “existence”, you can see the problem. If god created EXISTENCE, he did so while not existing (because if he existed while creating it, he wouldn’t have created it as he already existed). If god DIDN’T create existence, then he is just another being within existence like the rest of us. In either case, the creator god idea seems either impossible, or far less impressive than believers want to make it (a naturally existing being making a universe out of natural principles we just don’t understand and then trying to trick us into thinking he is in charge of all existence).

  75. dragon says

    Monocle Smile:

    The first premise fails right out of the gate. Making truth claims about the properties of “all things” or “everything” is dishonest and invalid. End of Kalam destruction.

    Even worse, they misuse the “Everything that has a beginning of its existence has a cause of its existence”. One that I did not notice being pointed out here.
    And that is:
    When humans talk about the making of physical things (as opposed to ideas), and all kinds of evidence that we observe of the beginnings of existence, we are really discussing the rearrangement of matter and energy. We are not talking about creation from nothing (ex nihilo).

    Suns begin their existence when interstellar molecules group together. Water is made when hydrogen and water combine into a molecule under certain conditions. Human bodies are made of multiple molecules rearranged by biological processes and the molecules keeping swapping out as we breathe, eat, etc. When we discuss the ’cause’ of matter appearing from energy, it is a higher order rearrangement, but it is still a rearrangement.
    Humans do not make cars from nothing. We extract, purify, melt, mold, reshape, fasten, paint, and program.
    Humans do not make pancakes from nothing. We combine enriched flour with baking powder, eggs, milk, and oil and then initiate a chemical reaction on our stove.
    Humans do not make gamma rays from nothing. We arrange unstable elements in ways that will result in those decay products.
    Snowflakes are made from crystallization of water molecules. Waves in our lakes are made from wind or water movement.

    The observations closest to experiencing ‘ex nihilo’, such as the quantum vacuum ‘nothing’ (re: A Universe from Nothing), are extremely rare. Indeed such observations also do not provide/identify a demonstrable cause. And hence are contrary to Kalam’s first premise.

    Not even concepts or ideas, truly come from nothing. They are the products of our past experiences applied in novel ways. So I can learn that 2+2=4 and I can apply that to physical world applications and even expand on it to understand e.g. Calculus. But in the physical world anything I do to express 2+2=4 is a rearrangement of existing matter or energy.

    Hence we can not apply our experience of rearrangement of matter/energy to extrapolate to ex nihilo. That must be a completely different process that is not yet understood.

    So the Kalam first premise is exactly the opposite of all observations. Or to put another way, Kalam under the corrected premise must lead to realization of a rearrangement of matter/energy, not creation ex nihilo. And hence, can not possibly lead to an eternal immaterial being. It can only lead to a conclusion that some matter/energy existed beforehand and was rearranged into the Big Bang.

    Note: I am not saying the conclusion is actually that, only that the corrected Kalam can only lead to the conclusion of rearrangement. I personally will not speculate on what happened before Planck time as that data is not available.

  76. Korben says

    Not just *a* god. The 3×1 Christian god (or whatever their god is). How they come to this conclusion, I have no idea (neither do they, apparently, but it doesn’t matter).

  77. Korben says

    Sorry my reply was meant for 3.2 above “Okay so I suppose the big bang (or whatever happened) had a cause of some sort. We don’t know what that was. It’s a big leap from that go god.”

    Feel free to move my comment up (or delete altogether).

    Thanks

  78. says

    I found the cable networks coverage woefully incomplete. If you want a full discussion of the implications of the of the decision, the public access program GAY USA did a full hour and it took that long to get through all the issues. They had on two attorneys very familiar with the case both of whom had read the decision. I still find people confused about what SCOTUS did and didn’t do in both decisions and I think this is that the mainstream media did it’s usual shallow and not at all thorough coverage. Of course we can get every last minute of a trial, but if you want to know what’s going on in ways that may actually affect your life you really have to dig for news these days.

  79. says

    “Cause” is probably not the right word. There is an explanation for how something happened. Maybe even a why. That’s what I meant. That still doesn’t mean that something with consciousness flipped a switch and made it happen which is what theists are claiming in the “first cause” argument.

  80. John Kruger says

    It really is not as super profound as a lot of people make it out to be. It is just that without any matter or motion, the passage of time becomes pretty incoherent. Think of a universe with absolutely nothing in it. Then think of it 10 minutes later. Now 100 years later. There isn’t anything to mark or measure time, so 10 minutes is the same as any other unit of time. Once you get matter, then you can get motion, then time can start to make sense.

    Time is pretty weird for humans to think about in a broader sense, since we only experience it in a very narrow way. The Theory of Relativity has a lot of weird implications for time on a galactic scale that really make no sense to us since we never move any relevant fraction of the speed of light.

  81. Raymond says

    Well you know what the solution to that is . . . extending life. If we can figure out how to extend our current life indefinitely, people wouldn’t have to be scared to face death anymore.

  82. Lord Narf says

    Yeah, there was almost nothing to actually learn from A Purpose Driven Life, but it was fun watching Steve repeatedly freak out at all of the vile things said in the book. All of the other series actually present theistic arguments and demonstrate what’s wrong with them and how to address them.

  83. Lord Narf says

    Wow, that is watered down. I suppose the drinks are also watered down to the point that you can’t even feel the alcohol, huh?

  84. Raymond says

    @jacobfromlost

    This is a reply to your response to Lord Narf in 3.1. It’s getting too long up there.

    In your response you seemed to indicate that space and time are separate “things,” but inextricably linked. You reject the notion of “absolute time” in favor of Einstein’s relativity. But I wonder how the concept of absolute time feeds into the Kalam argument. If anything, it’s relativity that feeds Kalam.

    With absolute time there was no beginning to time. There was only a period where the motion of matter did not mark the passing of time. Time is meaningless in this view, like you later stated, but still passes.

    With relativity, time had a definite starting point when the first motion of matter marked the passage of time. Since time is relative, it didn’t exist before that.

    As you may have read in my response, I hold that relativity is about perception independent from absolute time.

    What say you?

  85. sigurd jorsalfar says

    Extending life indefinitely is precisely the solution religion thinks it has come up with.

  86. says

    I am just glad Steve is doing this series cause I swear I don’t think I could withstand the loss of brain cells reading this crap myself (I have so few left as it is)…listening to I DONT HAVE THE FAITH TO BE AN ATHEIST now–so many lulz…

  87. jacobfromlost says

    Raymond: In your response you seemed to indicate that space and time are separate “things,” but inextricably linked.

    Me: They are a single “thing”, as it were. They are not separate the way we think they are from everyday experience.

    You: You reject the notion of “absolute time” in favor of Einstein’s relativity. But I wonder how the concept of absolute time feeds into the Kalam argument. If anything, it’s relativity that feeds Kalam.

    Me: I disagree.

    You: With absolute time there was no beginning to time. There was only a period where the motion of matter did not mark the passing of time. Time is meaningless in this view, like you later stated, but still passes.

    Me: I’m not aware of a definition of “absolute time” that goes by that definition. I was going by the definition that Newton used. “Absolute time” would be constant everywhere, and also be called “duration”. We know that is false. “Absolute time” also does not EXCLUDE a beginning (the “absolute” in absolute time indicates it is constant and the same everywhere). Newton was a big believer in god, and thought that even after discovering how the heavenly bodies move, we could never know how they got to those positions in the first place (he was wrong there, but the argument is analogous to modern theist arguments).

    You: With relativity, time had a definite starting point when the first motion of matter marked the passage of time.

    Me: Time is not the motion of matter. That would be absolute time.

    You: Since time is relative, it didn’t exist before that.

    Me: That’s not why time didn’t exist before that. Time didn’t exist before space-time because space-time, gravity, matter, and energy are all linked and define each other without our space-time bubble.

    You: As you may have read in my response, I hold that relativity is about perception independent from absolute time. What say you?

    Me: I’m using the standard definitions of absolute time and relativity. I’m not certain what you mean by perception, but relativity isn’t about perception. Relativity is the verified fact that space-time changes depending on your position and speed to something else, and there is no “absolute rest” in “absolute space” in which to assert a mere perceptual discrepancy.

  88. Lord Narf says

    Yeah, I encounter that problem with apologetics books, myself. Usually, after 2 or 3 chapters, the layers of bad arguments based upon bad arguments have become so thick that they no longer have anything approaching a rational foundation. I can almost never get more than a third of the way through one.

  89. Lord Narf says

    I explicitly have free reign to sleep with other girls, if I chose to do so. Thus, if I found a cute enough, nice enough religious nut, I could put up with the religious nonsense for a while, as I said a ways back up there.

    I doubt I’ll ever take advantage of my license, but it’s there if I found someone who was fun to play around with.

    In reality, I doubt I would actually sleep with a Christian, Muslim, or Jewish girl, because I’m not sure I could respect myself, afterward. Maybe a new-agey, spiritual nut. At least then, I wouldn’t be sleeping with a hypocrite who would try to convert me to Christianity and try to shame me for the sex we were having.

  90. says

    Ahhahaha, I see–I see. Did the open relationship thang mahself, found it had its pluses and minuses. Prefering monogamy now for a host of reasons. In an attempt not to completely hijack this thread, I will steer it back towards Diesm (LOL). Of all the so called faiths, I can give Deism a bit more street cred. Diests are willing to accept the idea that god doesn’t give a shit about us, and are but one step away from agnosticsm which more often than not evolves towards the atheist mindset…:-)

  91. Lord Narf says

    Yeah, deists would be more reasonable to live with, at least. You can’t actually derive a damned thing from deism. You fail in skepticism, if you’re a deist, of course.

  92. jacobfromlost says

    To say a god of some sort “can” exist is to say it is possible, not probable.

    But I don’t see how it is even possible, much less probable. The only way we get to a “possible” god is to water down the definition so much that my neighbor Bob could qualify. THEN you could say “god is possible”, but why call Bob a god?

  93. generik says

    What I usually ask theists about Kalam is that if I grant all the premises and say that there was a cause to the beginning of the universe, what makes it more likely that the cause is a supernatural one in favor of a natural cause, and how do you know that? I have yet to get a straightforward answer.

  94. Raymond says

    I think, as you stated, we need to bang out some definitions. I feel that in the case of this definition, accuracy is more important than popular opinion. The implication of absolute anything is that it is true all the time and everywhere. Like absolute truth, something that is true everywhere, all the time. When talking about time itself, one simply has to look at the past and the future and accept that there is an arrangement of the constituent parts of the universe at any point in time. While a sequence of “freeze frames” only makes sense in terms of it’s temporal proximity to another “freeze frame,” the very fact that there are an infinite number of points between 0 and 1 along the timeline means that there is a truth unmeasured.

    I agree that, because of the limitations of biology and the existing natural laws of our universe, absolute time doesn’t do us any good. We experience things in relative terms. The laws of this universe dictate that time dilates as your velocity increases. But we know that these laws were borne from what happened before planck time, since we have already determined that all the rules break down as we approach planck time. So we must look beyond the rules we know to see if some underlying truth can be revealed.

    It is time that is the key to understanding the possibilities that lie outside our current knowledge. Without time, in some form, everything else is meaningless. You suggest that the fact that any single thing can have two distinct locations, makes time. Not the movement of that object, but the fact that one object occupies different space. Thus the relative nature of time as we know it. But for our conversation, this poses a problem. If everything existed as a singularity at the big bang (as is suspected), and there was no space, there was no time, then an independent causative agent had to have begun the process of forming our universe. In fact an independent agent would have had to make the stuff our universe is made of. I would not posit that such an agent possess intelligence, but relativistic beginnings demand a causative agent. That is the nature of relativity.

    If a time and space exist independent from the unformed rules of our current universe (at the big bang), we don’t have to deal with this problem. Do we end up with infinite regress? Possibly, but we can’t rightly speculate (yet). We would have to suppose that some sort of space existed in which the components of this universe existed, because the expansion after the big bang took place in space. So it’s fair to say that space in some form existed before the big bang. Since we can make a case for the existence of space before the universe was created, so too can we make a case for the existence of time before the big bang. And any time that existed before the rules of relativity were initiated, would not be subject to the rules of relativity. This separate realization of time would continue on without regard to the rules of our universe. Thus an absolute time exists.

    I understand the contention that our universe is subject to the laws of relativity, but it is widely accepted that, outside the reality we experience, the laws are different. In fact, I think that given what we know of the big bang, a time independent from relativism is demanded.

  95. says

    Can anybody find recordings of the TWL charity pod/hangout/video-athon mentioned on the show? I don’t see anything on YT or VL or their website…

    Here’s a Stone Age rendition of Kalam:

    One rock fall, then more rock fall, MAGIC MAN push first rock!

  96. Aaroninmelbourne says

    Kalam is easy to destroy because it tries to generalize within-universe to not-universe. An easy example is to replace it with the “light in the basement” where no knowledge of other forms of light or things outside a basement is known:
    1. Every instance of light emanates from a light bulb
    2. Light must come from a light bulb
    3. Therefore, there must be an original light bulb from which all light emanates
    4. That light bulb must be spaceless, timeless, immaterial and good (*snark*)

    The argument fails for exactly the same reason the Kalam fails: you cannot just go around using A to make conclusions about not-A. We cannot use the fact that windowless basements need light sources such as electric bulbs to decide that light sources elsewhere such as our sun must therefore be a sentient light bulb. We cannot use rules from the universe to talk about things that are not-universe.

  97. says

    Hello! I dabbled in deism at one time. It’s sort of like being a good swimmer, but being afraid of the deep end of the pool. Alicia probably hasn’t shown you this, but Tracie did a little demo with three jars, a set of real dice and a set of deist dice. Enjoy!

  98. Lord Narf says

    That light bulb must be spaceless, timeless, immaterial and good

    … and manufactured from virgin steel-wool.

  99. Hairy Chris, blah blah blah etc says

    His chapter-by-chapter reviews are fantastic. The poor guy must have sacrificed a lot of hours and IQ in doing this. Well worth a sub.

  100. Lord Narf says

    Yup, I’ve been following him for a few months now. I’ve listened to his reviews of each of the books at least twice. I listen to them in the background, while writing, after the first time of listening to each video.

  101. says

    What I found darkly amusing, is how the normally laid back if sardonic Steve would start losing his shit by the end of the chapters…i don’t know how he holds on for as long as he did, but even at his saracastic best he was contained and dare I say, respectful. HOW did he do it?. I would throw the books unapologetically out the window half way through…

    Next up — The Case For Christ…

  102. says

    While I go through the tedious aspects of setting up animations (before the fun part of seeing them come to lfie–hours upon hours of work…meh) I put on headphones and listen to Steve. His voice is so soothing and his mannerisms are wonderful (when I glance at vid). I hope he soons surpasses TJ Kirk in popularity–he deserves the spotlight a bit more as Shives agruments are well thought out and compelling.

    Speaking of Amazing A–he did a CNN interview not too long ago and was “amazingly” contained:

  103. Lord Narf says

    Yeah, that guy is not who I want representing a position I hold, on nationwide TV. I mean, there are far worse; we could have Patrick Greene on TV stations everywhere, being interviewed, again … if he’s still an atheist, this week.

    TJ isn’t anywhere near my top 10, though.

  104. jacobfromlost says

    You: I think, as you stated, we need to bang out some definitions. I feel that in the case of this definition, accuracy is more important than popular opinion.

    Me: Sure, but I am surprised you don’t seem to be aware of the definitions from the scientific tradition.

    You: The implication of absolute anything is that it is true all the time and everywhere.

    Me: To say “absolute time” is true “all the time” is a bit of a category error, which is part of the problem. Moreover, Newton is the one who defined Absolute Time, and you are adding things onto the definition that he did not.

    You: When talking about time itself, one simply has to look at the past and the future and accept that there is an arrangement of the constituent parts of the universe at any point in time.

    Me: Mostly. Relativity complicates things a bit.

    You: I agree that, because of the limitations of biology and the existing natural laws of our universe, absolute time doesn’t do us any good. We experience things in relative terms.

    Me: Ok, I see the problem. You are confusing Newton’s category of “relative time” (time measured by humans through the imperfect means of moving objects) with Einstein’s Relativity. They are not the same thing. Since Newton believed that god created the universe, I’m not sure he considered whether Absolute Time began or not, but both are certainly possible when a creator god is proposed. Moreover, as I said, Newton very famously said in his Principia that we may never be able to know how the heavenly bodies got to their current positions (because he believed it was inexplicable scientifically as god put them there). It’s not a huge leap from that idea to the idea that Newton probably thought that Absolute Time was either created by god, or never ending–and that neither one violated the fact that absolute time existed (in his mind).

    You: The laws of this universe dictate that time dilates as your velocity increases.

    Me: Not just time. SPACE-TIME. Space changes as well. (That is the very reason your GPS’s work!)

    You: But we know that these laws were borne from what happened before planck time, since we have already determined that all the rules break down as we approach planck time.

    Me: It may be a misnomer to say what “happened” “before” Planck Time. It may be as erroneous as asking what is North of the North Poll–a misconception of the nature of one aspect of reality. Not all of reality is the two dimensional surface of the earth, so there just isn’t anything north of the north poll–the north poll is just a consequence of the two dimensional surface of the earth existing in other dimensions. Likewise, it seems that asking what was “before time” may be the same kind of category error.

    You: So we must look beyond the rules we know to see if some underlying truth can be revealed.

    Me: The “rules” are simply the model we create of reality based on all the evidence. We can’t really say anything beyond that except hypotheses that may or may not be currently testable, and may or may not be real.

    You: It is time that is the key to understanding the possibilities that lie outside our current knowledge. Without time, in some form, everything else is meaningless.

    Me: Again, I get the sense that you are falling back on the idea of absolute time, or at the very least Newton’s “relative time”, and trying to graft that onto Relativity. They are not even in the same ball park. Moreover, it is quite easy for me to imagine a state of existence that has nothing to do with space-time in the way we experience it within the universe. In fact, the evidence seems to indicate just that very thing (time as we think of it isn’t a necessary part of existence).

    You: You suggest that the fact that any single thing can have two distinct locations, makes time.

    Me: Absolutely not. That’s not what I said AT ALL. Relativity tells us that we can’t measure time at all without some reference point, and that each of those reference points measure different “space-times” depending on their speed relative to each other. (This is NOT an easy concept, as speed is directly connected to time; yet it has been confirmed to be true.) It is not limited to TWO “distinct” locations. It is relative to ALL locations within the space-time bubble (and the locations THEMSELVES are also relative, which is to say they don’t absolutely exist the way Newton would suggest, despite the fact that he said it would be impossible to measure absolute space because we could never know if any particular object was at “absolute rest” in that absolute space or not).

    You: Not the movement of that object, but the fact that one object occupies different space.

    Me: Absolutely not. Movement is not time. That is what Newton would call “relative time”. That has nothing to do with Relativity. In simple terms, Newton’s “relative time” would be the closest humans could ever come to measuring absolute time (he thought “absolute time” was constant everywhere, and simply called “duration”; this is the everyday concept of time everyone has, and it is wrong; I am not just asserting it is wrong as there are not just the famous experiments from 100 years ago that proved it, but the modern world depends on relativistic differentials to function; our technology wouldn’t work without it–cell phones, the internet, communication satellites, GPS’s, dozens of other things).

    You: Thus the relative nature of time as we know it.

    Me: No. That’s NOT Relativity.

    You: But for our conversation, this poses a problem. If everything existed as a singularity at the big bang (as is suspected), and there was no space, there was no time, then an independent causative agent had to have begun the process of forming our universe.

    Me: No. Since Relativity is true, and “cause and effect” can only occur in space-time, then you CAN’T have space-time being caused! It’s the same category error a two dimensional being would be making by saying that there are points north of the north poll from which all other known/observed coordinates come. It’s a misunderstanding of the nature of reality. The fact that the north poll can exist (without any points north of it) is a consequence of other dimensions. The fact that our space-time universe can spring from a singularity is a consequence of quantum mechanics (at least that is what all of our observations so far indicate).

    You: In fact an independent agent would have had to make the stuff our universe is made of. I would not posit that such an agent possess intelligence, but relativistic beginnings demand a causative agent. That is the nature of relativity.

    Me: No it isn’t. You are getting the definitions confused.

    You: If a time and space exist independent from the unformed rules of our current universe (at the big bang), we don’t have to deal with this problem. Do we end up with infinite regress? Possibly, but we can’t rightly speculate (yet).

    Me: We know more about this than you seem to be aware of.

    You: We would have to suppose that some sort of space existed in which the components of this universe existed,

    Me: A second ago you invoked the “singularity”. A singularity has no space and no time (at least not in the sense you are invoking), and is infinitely curved.

    You: because the expansion after the big bang took place in space.

    Me: No. The expansion WAS OF SPACE. This is why I think you need to read more about this. You are again invoking Newtonian Absolute Space at worst, and Newtonian Relative Space at best. Neither of these 300 year old concepts (if we are very generous and ignore Aristotle) relate the the Big Bang because the Big Bang must involve Relativity (which has nothing to do with Newtonian ideas of space).

    You: So it’s fair to say that space in some form existed before the big bang.

    Me: No it isn’t, as the singularity had no space-time (not in the way that would allow for “space” and “time” the way we think of them). That’s what “singularity” means.

    You: Since we can make a case for the existence of space before the universe was created, so too can we make a case for the existence of time before the big bang.

    Me: We can’t make a case for either.

    You: And any time that existed before the rules of relativity were initiated, would not be subject to the rules of relativity. This separate realization of time would continue on without regard to the rules of our universe. Thus an absolute time exists.

    Me: No, it doesn’t. All you are saying is “if” something existed, then it existed. But we know what the thing we call “time” around us is, and it isn’t absolute, and is integral with space, mass, gravity, etc. They all define each other and depend on each other for existence at all. To simply declare that without relativistic space-time, absolute time would exist is a very weird assertion and contrary to all the evidence.

    You: I understand the contention that our universe is subject to the laws of relativity, but it is widely accepted that, outside the reality we experience, the laws are different.

    Me: Sure, but “outside” is used metaphorically there. There is no “outside” space, and space is not “Absolute Space” as Newton defined it. I can explain that more if I need to as well.

    You: In fact, I think that given what we know of the big bang, a time independent from relativism is demanded.

    Me: Ok, now I know you are conflating Newtonian Relative Time with Relativity. I would suggest a reading of Aristotle, (perhaps Galileo also), Newton, and Einstein, at least in relation to their ideas of time and space so that you can get a handle on how those ideas have changed.

    Aristotle’s Physics, Book V-VIII.
    Newton, Principia (read the Scholium)
    Einstein, “Relativity: The Special and General Theory”

    I would also recommend reading Hawking’s “The Grand Design” before tackling Krauss’s “A Universe from Nothing”.

    The first two above are only a few pages. The Einstein book is about 100 pages, but worth it. Once you have a handle on all of those, THEN take on the modern stuff so you can see what the evidence is, and how you are erring by inserting Newton’s Relative Time.

  105. thogosha says

    I define myself differently. Than I’m being defined.
    I’m inline more with { http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Agnosticism }. In the strict sense, however, agnosticism is the view that humanity does not currently possess the requisite knowledge and/or reason to provide sufficient rational grounds to justify the belief that deities either do or do not exist. So, my natural reaction to any claims of absolute ” I know” is to be advocate for the contrary.
    Thus, I gain the label of being for the other side and all the arrangements that follow.

  106. says

    If you think humanity can’t know, then that implies that you don’t know and don’t believe in some god, so you’re an atheist in my book. See here:

    http://wiki.ironchariots.org/index.php?title=Atheist_vs._agnostic

    Basically, unless you hold a belief in god, you’re an atheist, whether you know for sure (nostic) or not (agnostic). Not many rational atheists will claim absolute knowledge that some type of god can’t exist. But, it is a lower bar of knowledge to hold a nostic position that Thor, Zeus, Jehovah, Allah, Krishna, Superman, Xenu, etc, etc, don’t exist.

  107. says

    Tracy’s impeccable logic and perfect concrete, real world examples totally shreds Michael’s pretentious nonsense! Wow! It’s like nuclear annihilation!

  108. unfogged says

    The definitions of theist/atheist and gnostic/agnostic as given on the Iron Chariots page and explained by the AETV hosts make a great deal of sense but they aren’t the definitions that I grew up with or that I’ve ever heard used anywhere else. “Atheist” always meant the denial that a god exists while “agnostic” meant that you were undecided on the proposition (whether you thought it was possible or impossible to know was a different question). “Gnostic” was only the name of an obscure Christian sect if it was used at all.
    Many people don’t seem to find it easy to distinguish between “I don’t believe that there is a god” and “I believe that there isn’t a god” so trying to explain the distinction between a gnostic atheist and an agnostic atheist usually results in a lot of blank stares. They usually get it eventually but it is going to take a long time to make these more precise definitions generally known.

  109. thogosha says

    HA, I did read the article and I’ve already had this discussion / argument of self-definition. I see the post as a lawyers attempt to redefine an instance to grow numbers as being a fact. I don’t see the necessity to go as deep into definitions as that page. But, I can see how one might want those detailed pursuits as a part of a scientific description.

    Based on the postulates you use from that page I see how you can conclude an Atheists definition. However, I reject the idea of not knowing as an absolute to disbelief. I stand more on the idea of “not knowing” issues simply — I don’t not know without making a stance. I understand the relation ship with those postulates in math such as (-1) * 1 = -1. Meaning as you define :: no statement of believe = Atheists. But, I reject the conclusion.

    http://wiki.ironchariots.org/index.php?title=Agnosticism

    Positivist agnosticism is a philosophical position stating that there can be no proof either way that a god does exist or does not exist . Non-positivist agnosticism is the state of holding no particular convictions with regard to the existence of god(s).

  110. says

    It seems to me that the standard practice is to allow people to define for themselves what they believe. We do this with political parties, or people who adhere to an economic model and other things as well as religious beliefs. Atheists, then, should be allowed to define atheism. Of course theists will define it differently, because it’s to their advantage to define it in a way that suits them even if it doesn’t accurately reflect what atheists actually believe (or don’t believe). No group would be happy with someone else creating a strawman and falsely attributing to them. No theists of any sort would be happy if we defined their beliefs in a way that didn’t accurately represent what they believed.

  111. says

    There are also agnostic theists. I know quite a few well educated people who believe but admit that there is no evidence to support their beliefs.

  112. Tallon says

    Omg I love Tracie she’s so good at arguing. I wish she was on the show much more frequently

  113. says

    They already think that atheisst are all loud mouth brutes so yeah. not the best representatvie for our ideals. As I’ve said, I can agree with a lot that Kirk says, just questioning his delivery. Shives would have been my first choice of Atheistic YT commentators.

  114. says

    I “became” an atheist myself when I came to the full realization that I do not believe in any gods. I think My hubby holds on to the probabilty that a god can exist a lot strongert than I so, in a way, he may be more truly agnostic than I ever was…

  115. says

    She’s exceptionally good at coming up with the perfect analogy for any argument. I’m not sure how she does that. It’s a special talent, I suppose, like perfect pitch.

  116. Lord Narf says

    thogosha

    HA, I did read the article and I’ve already had this discussion / argument of self-definition. I see the post as a lawyers attempt to redefine an instance to grow numbers as being a fact.

    It’s not our fault that the theists often mis-characterize the atheistic position as one of absolute certainty. Agnosticism and gnosticism are also dependent upon contexts. I consider myself agnostic on the general question of the existence of any god, and I consider myself gnostic on the question of the Abrahamic god and almost all other god concepts with which I’ve been presented.

    In both cases, though, I identify myself as an atheist, because it’s the term that answers the question that is being asked, about whether or not I believe in a god.

    In the strict sense, however, agnosticism is the view that humanity does not currently possess the requisite knowledge and/or reason to provide sufficient rational grounds to justify the belief that deities either do or do not exist.

    It largely comes down to what you consider the more important question. If someone asks you if you believe in a god, saying you’re an agnostic is an evasion of the question. It’s a yes/no question. If you lack a belief or reject the claims of theism as unsupported by evidence, you’re an atheist, by definition.

    However, I reject the idea of not knowing as an absolute to disbelief.

    Like Houndentenor said above, there are agnostic theists out there. They’re the primary reason why I find it useless to identify myself as an agnostic. Many theists will assume you mean that sort of agnostic, when you use that term by itself. If you identify yourself as an agnostic who doesn’t believe in god-claims, it narrows things down for them.

    If you wish to hide behind the more vague term, to soften your dealings with theists, I have no problem with that. We all have to decide how out of the closet we wish to be.

  117. Barefoot Bree says

    I think he was trying to answer that question (“why bother with Kalam”) at one point, but unfortunately several people were talking at once, and his reply got lost. It was something to the effect of: if you (atheists) don’t believe a god CAN exist, it’s no use bringing up my personal reasons for believing the specific god that I do, so let’s establish the possibility of god first using this argument. Of course, that argument for the possibility of god failed. But I don’t think that was a bad approach for a theist (or anyone) to take over all. Let’s see how the general landscape looks, and see if there’s even any grounds for the tiniest bit of agreement.

    Of course also, even if an overarching landscape argument for the possibility of god WAS agreed upon, the moment you get into details of which god, fails start to sprout like dandelions.

  118. Raymond says

    I don’t know why you keep insisting that I read up on this. I am a physicist (or I will be next year). This is what I do. If you feel compelled to comment on my points, I ask that you read the entire post first. I might just address your point later in the post.

    1) You said that talking about the space that existed before the big bang is a misnomer because the expansion of space is what happened at the big bang. I thought you might make this error. I insist that some form of space existed in which the singularity existed. The big bang was an expansion of the matter, antimatter, and space-time of this universe. All the constituent parts of this universe. True space doesn’t have any parts. The space we talk about colloquially when discussing space-time is not really space at all, since it is comprised of so much “stuff.”

    What I am talking about is a place void of properties. A really bad example (but the only one that pops into my head) is a blank sheet of paper. Ignoring of course the physical properties of the paper itself, just imagine the blank piece of paper as a concept. Our popular understanding of space (when used as space/time) is like an off-white paper. It has distinct properties (color), but we would still say it’s a blank slate. What I’m talking about is a perfectly white paper. There are no properties present except its existence. That’s probably the best I can describe it.

    2) Your contention that “before planck-time” is a misnomer is flawed. Very slightly, but flawed nonetheless. You liken it to the north pole analogy, so I will utilize that too. The north pole is not planck time, it is the big bang. Therefore the analogy is that planck time is 3cm south of the north pole. If we cannot see what is happening inside the ring, but we see a trickle of water crossing the barrier; we can make an educated guess that the stream starts inside the ring (we can eliminate other alternatives since we can see around the entire 3cm radius ring). Though any statement about how the stream started would be speculative, since we can’t see inside the ring (we cannot even discount water fairies because what exists within the 3cm ring does not have to follow from what we understand from this universe).

    3) I have to laugh because you are using an argument from ignorance to “prove” your point. Throughout your response you continually accuse me of talking about absolute time. Well thank you. That is exactly what I am talking about. I have repeatedly said that I understand that we are constrained to the physical and biological limitations impose upon us by the universe in which we live. But the reason I may or may not be wrong has nothing to do with relativity. Of course we think of relativity is the only way things work. That’s all we’ve experienced. We have no way to test anything that isn’t subject to the effects of relativity. But suggesting that just because those rules are in place here and now means that there can’t be any other way, is just an argument from ignorance. It’s no different than getting to the big bang and assigning god.

    4)I’m not entirely sure why you think I don’t understand the concept of time based on temporal proximity. I thought that I illustrated that I understand the concept, but apparently I’m wrong. Since I’m not about to write a dissertation about my understanding of relativity, you are just going to have to take my word that I do understand Einstein’s relativity (at least the physicists who taught me the concept seemed content that I understand it). I just happen to think it’s not the whole picture (and might, in fact, be wrong). It might be that you feel I don’t understand relativity because I disagree with it, but that is simply not the case. I am just not influenced by big names. I feel that ideas stand and fall on their own merits, rather than who said them.

    Let me see if I can sum up our claims in a couple sentences. You think that time doesn’t exist if there isn’t a reference point. I think that time is irrelevant if there isn’t a reference point.

    I am not trying to argue that I have some great idea that is going to turn our understanding of physics on its head. These are all theoretical ideas that exist in a “place” and “time” that are, by definition, beyond our ability to measure. I just make no assumptions about what happens in a “time” and “place” outside our understanding.
    I think that, like the river flowing from the north pole, we can make certain guesses; but it is strange to suggest that the rules that apply in our universe (relativity), also apply when they no longer apply (the big bang). That is why I think your argument is silly.

  119. Raymond says

    But just look at the way the entire presentation was put together. “No religious affiliation” = atheist. Not true. One apologist, one reverend, against one atheist. Unbalanced. They had to ensure that the “religious” position was cemented by choosing an atheist who comes across as loud and grating (no offense intended to the amazing atheist). And even though he did an admirable job of being more reserved during the interview, they made sure to play a bit of him being loud and waving his hands. This piece could have been done so much better by someone who didn’t have a religious agenda.

  120. Raymond says

    That’s why I specified “our current life.” I don’t want to get lumped in with those loons.

  121. says

    Completely agreed, save the nuclear annihilation analogy. Tracie is more like a ninja that sneaks up on Rambo, distracts him briefly, and leaves the ordinance he packing on the ground in front of him completely disassembled, all done faster than Rambo can randomly blow up an enemy outpost.

  122. says

    Frickin looove Tracy. Whenever I see her I am like “YES! Someone is gonna get torn a new one with logic…” LOL. I want to see her in a live debate and I sincerely feel sorry for her opponent–like–maybe I’ll give them a hanky prior to the event… A Matt /Tracy match up–furgitaboutit…wrestlemania couldn’t come up with a scairer, unbeatable pair.

  123. says

    Oh, I agree. I have used her arguments to stump many an opponent. My favorite one was used against an avid animal lover who was saying he feels animals are superior to humans. She asked him if he woudl shoot a bear if he saw him eating a human. The man mumbled that he would…She then asked him if he would kill a bear for eating an antelope–the silence was GOLDEN as the trap felll HA HA!!!!!!!!!! Now, I love animals too but some folks take their ideology a tad bit far to a realm of misanthropic dishonesty. So glad she was able to showcase that argument so effectively. Yes, Tracy is the queen of this kind of thing.

  124. says

    Exactly. It fails to differentiate, for example, theists who don’t ascribe to any particular religion. I’ve met a lot of those. Or the “I’m spiritual but not religious” crowd, whatever the hell THAT means.

  125. thogosha says

    We are simply debating over semantics and classifications in relations on how I define myself.

    I stand by the firm postulate “In the strict sense, that humanity does not currently possess the requisite knowledge and/or reason to provide sufficient rational grounds to justify the belief that deities either do or do not exist.” Given that statement, I believe its unfair to demand a yes/or no to the question. I believe the pursuit of the idea “Maybe” leaves me “OPEN”. {{{ Knowing I will get blasted for using the term “OPEN”. }}} I use the word to express my willingness to explore the idea. I’m not using it to stamp declared “Atheists” as not being OPEN.

  126. Lord Narf says

    Umm, you haven’t watched her long enough, then. She gets irate.

    What about Russel and Don? They come across more calm, to me, than Tracie does.

  127. thogosha says

    From the few show, I’ve seen over Alicia’s shoulder or overheard.

    My opinion is that most of the dudes on the show are either an a$$ or just about themselves over debating. Tracie seems to have consistently knew when to continue debating and when to quit. Seem to hold up well under duress and mostly cannot be baited into an wasteful argument by the callers.
    Her ability to take complex concepts and dull them down for larger consumers is a talents few on the show seem to have.

    But, that is my opinion.

  128. jacobfromlost says

    Raymond: I don’t know why you keep insisting that I read up on this. I am a physicist (or I will be next year). This is what I do. If you feel compelled to comment on my points, I ask that you read the entire post first. I might just address your point later in the post.

    Me: I suggested it because you were getting Newtonian Relative Time confused with Relativity. If you are going to be a physicist someday, you need to know the difference, lol. (I won an academic paper in an advanced class on this nearly 20 years ago, so if you want to try to pull rank, I can do the same, lol.)

    You: 1) You said that talking about the space that existed before the big bang is a misnomer because the expansion of space is what happened at the big bang. I thought you might make this error. I insist that some form of space existed in which the singularity existed.

    Me: I know you insist that. Where are you getting this from?

    You: The big bang was an expansion of the matter, antimatter, and space-time of this universe.

    Me: Why isn’t matter still expanding? And please cite your source for this. Where are you getting the idea that matter is expanding? I’ve never heard this idea before.

    You: All the constituent parts of this universe. True space doesn’t have any parts. The space we talk about colloquially when discussing space-time is not really space at all, since it is comprised of so much “stuff.”

    Me: Please cite what “true space” is and where you are getting this idea.

    You: What I am talking about is a place void of properties. A really bad example (but the only one that pops into my head) is a blank sheet of paper. Ignoring of course the physical properties of the paper itself, just imagine the blank piece of paper as a concept. Our popular understanding of space (when used as space/time) is like an off-white paper.

    Me: Space-time is no where NEAR our popular understanding of space nor time. Most people have no conception of space-time whatsoever, and just assume absolute space and time are real.

    You: It has distinct properties (color), but we would still say it’s a blank slate. What I’m talking about is a perfectly white paper. There are no properties present except its existence. That’s probably the best I can describe it.

    Me: It sounds like you are making things up. Where are you studying to be a physicist? I’m going to verify your story, LOL. Just kidding.

    You: 2) Your contention that “before planck-time” is a misnomer is flawed. Very slightly, but flawed nonetheless.

    Me: I said MAY BE a misnomer, as physicists are still trying to find out.

    You: You liken it to the north pole analogy, so I will utilize that too. The north pole is not planck time, it is the big bang. Therefore the analogy is that planck time is 3cm south of the north pole. If we cannot see what is happening inside the ring, but we see a trickle of water crossing the barrier; we can make an educated guess that the stream starts inside the ring (we can eliminate other alternatives since we can see around the entire 3cm radius ring). Though any statement about how the stream started would be speculative, since we can’t see inside the ring (we cannot even discount water fairies because what exists within the 3cm ring does not have to follow from what we understand from this universe).

    Me: I’m still waiting for the flaw.

    You: 3) I have to laugh because you are using an argument from ignorance to “prove” your point.

    Me: Not at all. Read Krauss’s book. (I’m surprised you haven’t read it, being a soon-to-be physics student and all. lol)

    You: Throughout your response you continually accuse me of talking about absolute time. Well thank you. That is exactly what I am talking about. I have repeatedly said that I understand that we are constrained to the physical and biological limitations impose upon us by the universe in which we live. But the reason I may or may not be wrong has nothing to do with relativity. Of course we think of relativity is the only way things work.

    Me: You’ve totally lost me. You are confusing all the definitions again, then making assertions about them out of left field. I didn’t say relativity was the ONLY way things work. I’m saying when we talk about TIME, what we are referring to IN OBSERVABLE REALITY is space-time and it is contingent on relativity (and the existing universe around it) to exist at all! That is all I’m saying. To posit an absolute time OVER TOP of observable space-time is not something any physicist has ever suggested as far as I am aware. How would you test for an “absolute time” underneath space-time? How would you differentiate the two? Please cite those who have (because I suspect you are making things up again).

    You: That’s all we’ve experienced. We have no way to test anything that isn’t subject to the effects of relativity. But suggesting that just because those rules are in place here and now means that there can’t be any other way, is just an argument from ignorance. It’s no different than getting to the big bang and assigning god.

    Me: I’m not saying “there can’t be any other way”. I’m saying referring to “time” as something other than what we demonstrably see it to be is completely unwarranted. The argument from ignorance is to say, “We don’t know, therefore absolute time and space that is totally unobservable and totally unrecognizable from anything else, lol.

    You: 4)I’m not entirely sure why you think I don’t understand the concept of time based on temporal proximity. I thought that I illustrated that I understand the concept, but apparently I’m wrong. Since I’m not about to write a dissertation about my understanding of relativity, you are just going to have to take my word that I do understand Einstein’s relativity (at least the physicists who taught me the concept seemed content that I understand it).

    Me: I don’t believe you.

    You: I just happen to think it’s not the whole picture (and might, in fact, be wrong).

    Me: We know it isn’t the whole picture. We have evidence. What have you been doing in class all day? Making paper airplanes?

    You: It might be that you feel I don’t understand relativity because I disagree with it, but that is simply not the case. I am just not influenced by big names. I feel that ideas stand and fall on their own merits, rather than who said them.

    Me: Ok. What are the MERITS of your ideas? So far I see none. (“Merits” in this context–a scientific context–would be evidence. Where is your evidence?)

    You: Let me see if I can sum up our claims in a couple sentences. You think that time doesn’t exist if there isn’t a reference point. I think that time is irrelevant if there isn’t a reference point.

    Me: I don’t know what either of those statements is supposed to mean, so I can’t “think” either one of them.

    You: I am not trying to argue that I have some great idea that is going to turn our understanding of physics on its head. These are all theoretical ideas that exist in a “place” and “time” that are, by definition, beyond our ability to measure. I just make no assumptions about what happens in a “time” and “place” outside our understanding.

    Me: Do you make any judgments WITHIN our understanding? That’s all I’m doing.

    You: I think that, like the river flowing from the north pole, we can make certain guesses; but it is strange to suggest that the rules that apply in our universe (relativity), also apply when they no longer apply (the big bang). That is why I think your argument is silly.

    Me: What university is this again? I’m writing this down.

  129. says

    And even when Tracy gets upset she still manages to somehow, keep her cool so to speak. Saying that however, I still love everyone one the show! They all rawk!

  130. Lord Narf says

    Establishing terms is one of the most important parts of a debate/discussion. Don’t dismiss it. If people are using words in different ways, they’ll just talk past each other all night.

    It’s important, particularly when even dictionaries are inconsistent. Take the Merriam-Webster. It defines atheism:
    1. archaic : ungodliness, wickedness
    2. a: a disbelief in the existence of deity
    2. b: the doctrine that there is no deity

    Yet, the only definition for atheist is:
    one who believes that there is no deity

    You’ve got inconsistency of definition, even within the same freaking dictionary. Between definitions, they eliminate the broader application … specifically the one in use by most atheists today and the organized atheism movement.

    I stand by the firm postulate “In the strict sense, that humanity does not currently possess the requisite knowledge and/or reason to provide sufficient rational grounds to justify the belief that deities either do or do not exist.”

    We’re not even arguing that point. We’re saying that it’s irrelevant to the theism/atheism question.

    First off, absolute certainty is a useless standard to aspire to. You’ll never reach it, if you’re being honest with yourself.

    Second, you’re ignoring the two, separate questions. There’s the global question about the possible existence of anything that we would call a deity. Then there are specific god claims. Like I said earlier, I’m a firm atheist in regards to any claim of a god that would be recognizable as the Abrahamic god. In the global claim, I hold a slightly softer position, although only just.

    Given that statement, I believe its unfair to demand a yes/or no to the question.

    I think you’re misunderstanding what a yes and no answer mean. Theism/atheism is not asking, “Do you think a god exists, or do you think a god doesn’t exist?”

    There are two separate questions, because there are two separate propositions. Do you think a god exists? Do you think a god doesn’t exist?

    A theist would say yes to the first question. An atheist would say no to the first question.

    A theist would say no to the second question, but an atheist could say either yes or no to the second question. An atheist is free to reject both propositions as unsupported by evidence. It’s a-theism, not un-theism. Atheism is defined only by the rejection of the first proposition. Those who answer yes to the second proposition are a subset of the atheism category, often called anti-theists or strong atheists.

    It’s basic etymology. Compare it to moral/amoral/immoral. The a- prefix works the same way in application to the theism question.

    I believe the pursuit of the idea “Maybe” leaves me “OPEN”. {{{ Knowing I will get blasted for using the term “OPEN”. }}} I use the word to express my willingness to explore the idea. I’m not using it to stamp declared “Atheists” as not being OPEN.

    No, “maybe” means you’re refusing to answer the question. Rejecting the proposition that a god exists does not mean that you’re shutting yourself off to ever being convinced. It means that with the evidence you have so far, the proposition has not been proven to be true. If you can’t say that, yes, you have an active god belief, then your answer to the first question is no.

  131. mike says

    @kuku I am not disappointed at all on their “coverage”, I mean the subject of same-sex marriage is not exactly an atheist issue, its only relevant due to the fact that the majority of the opposition comes from religion. If you want an in-depth discussion, then like you said its big news and I’m sure CNN and others are discussing it at length.

    I’m not being insensitive here, I’m all for gay rights, I’m from Canada where we’ve had marriage equality for yrs now, its just I watch the show for callers-its only an hour now so they need all the more time for callers!

    Also the show now has a global audience now so an issue such as this, while big and important in the U.S. does not affect enough people worldwide to go into it in great detail.

    Just sayin’

  132. Lord Narf says

    Yeah, that’s the way it works, most of the time. The default position on a given freedom should be to allow it until there is sufficient reason to restrict it. The “atheist position” in politics is usually just to oppose those trying to impose their religious crap on the rest of society.

  133. malignor says

    Regarding Kalam
    – premise 1: Broken completely. The only matter, energy, time or space which we’ve seen CREATED has come with and/or without a cause. The only causality we’ve seen is in regard for change and transformation, not creation.
    – premise 2: Unproven statement with no backing. We’ve not seen farther back than a certain state of the universe, so we can’t claim anything whatever.
    – premise 3: Since 1 and 2 are already broken, this is moot.

  134. says

    I’m open to evidence that could change my core beliefs. All of the evidence I’ve seen so far for a god has been sorely lacking (C’mon, not even one confirmed amputee being healed?). With a host of intelligent, capable, honest god-believers trying their hardest and failing to come up with any evidence that even comes close to matching the extraordinary level of their claims, I think the only reasonable position is to not believe.

  135. says

    Yeah, but I do think some ppl fail to accept the atheistic lable for fear of seeming as dogamtic or closeminded as fundamentalists, they do not understand what the atheist position is.

  136. says

    True, nothing like those with dogma and closed minds to drag those who disagree them down to their level. If demanding evidence is dogma, I’ve got a bridge I’m looking to sell.

  137. jacobfromlost says

    I don’t really agree with you about the dudes, thogosha, but I do think a variety of rhetorical responses/approaches helps…and Tracie’s style is one not seen enough on the show. (Tracie and Jen made a good team and their call with “Mark” was great…even though he turned out to be an atheist troll.)

    I would suggest watching the episode with Lynnea Glasser (Russell’s wife): watch?v=ba3MLoYP4QU

    She had a very smooth, inviting, and eviscerating style that I thought was very refreshing. I suggested to Russell several times in the chatroom to encourage her to appear again, but I guess it was just a one time thing. I don’t remember if another host cancelled or something on that show.

  138. says

    Oh, I love each one of them for their particular brand of debating style — I enjoy Jeff Dee for hsi direct, passionate fire and Matt for his aggressive yet scholarly, fact finding approach–Russell can be very kewl and even–too even sometimes, hell, I’d be ready to kill some of those callers. Jen is such a sweetheart man; very careful and intellectual yet approachable in her debating style…Martin is a bit on par with Jen in that way…crap, I KNOW I may be leaving some folks out and I apologize. A fellow fan/watcher had a better list than mine but you get the point I hope. The cast is well rounded with a bevy of styles, but Tracy and Matt are my biggest faves….I was tickled when I got to call in to the the show and speak to them …. highlight of my day.

  139. Thogosha says

    Don’t know the other member by picture or name. I just keyed in on the one I like and paid attention.

  140. Corwyn says

    It is a way of cheating at argument poker.

    They are betting that they have an argument that will convince you. If the argument stands, you are required to give up your atheism. If the argument fails, they AREN’T required to give up their theism. Simple as that.

  141. Lord Narf says

    I pointed that out, over in the other, related thread, “Why don’t I find Kalam Cosmology compelling?”

  142. thogosha says

    HA……. Well, I would say no affect what so ever. When I was on TV for all to see I dressed for the event.

  143. says

    For me atheism is neither a core belief or a “world view”. Perhaps skepticism is. Atheism is just a label that allows me to answer the question “do you believe in god(s)?”

  144. says

    Yes. they want to make lack of belief into just another irrational belief system. Worse, then want to treat science as if it is a religion that can be believed or not on personal preference.

  145. says

    There were some others that you can find on youtube. I always liked Ashley. I guess he has moved on to other things, but I always found him very good at dealing the the callers. It’s good that the show has a deep bench of co-hosts. I like Matt but it would be bad if the success of the show were dependent on him or just one or two others.

  146. says

    I agree–it is the balance that makes it such a strong show and reveals the nuances ( faces) of atheism. we’re all just human folks, not monsters.

  147. Shane says

    After listening to the show, i was a little surprised that ‘Brave New World’ didn’t come into the discussion with the last caller. Seems to be exactly what he was talking about.

  148. Nokkelanimimerkki says

    Only thing I say here is; I liked your youtube channel and your program a lot, but re-directing commenting to “free” thought blogs, by disabling youtube comments, made me pull the plug from subscribing your channel. Good luck atheist experience show. I won’t be generating traffic to this social media any more than absolutely necessary.

  149. says

    Well, you’re entitled to your own reasons for doing things, even if they are stupid and poorly thought-out. Perhaps if you were able to articulate a reason why you think the YouTube comments section is a better forum for in-depth conversation than the comments section here, which is far easier to moderate to block spam and trolls, then we might be inclined to consider your opinion thoughtfully. Not that we’d act on it, but we’d at least let you express it, despite whatever conspiratorial scare stories you’ve been indoctrinated with regarding FtB.

  150. Lord Narf says

    Umm, why does he think you would care? You’re interested in talking to people who are looking to have a genuine exchange. That means a fairly organized blog comment-format, not YouTube’s troll forum. If he prefers the shout-fest of YouTube, he can go yell at people on The Amazing Atheist’s videos.

  151. says

    Good for you. However, some of us think that proper discussion might occasionally require more than 500 characters. For us, this is a much, much better venue than youtube. Youtube simply isn’t designed for anything remotely like serious discussion of a subject. The formatting of the comment threads, the character limit, the over-abundance of trolls and spammers; this all goes together to form an environment conducive to one-liners and the occasional “LOL good job”.

    Seriously, what did you have to say that absolutely needed to be said on youtube and couldn’t be said in a comment here?

  152. says

    For example, my comment above clocks in at almost 600 characters and it’s a pretty short one. For any serious argument, people routinely write a page or more, to make their point.

  153. Nokkelanimimerkki says

    Okay, adding this:

    Blocking youtube comments is the main reason. Jumping the religious/creationist bandwagon and blocking _all_ comments just isn’t the way I like to see you do it.

    If you think there is too much trolling then don’t bother with the youtube comments at all (If I remember correctly there is an option to stop emails from video comments). Just let the trolls troll there. What bothers a troll more, not being able to troll at all or let one troll and NOT getting any reaction to it? Besides the youtube comments are kind of “self moderated” as intellectual people mark idiotic comments as spam (Like I do, although I don’t count myself as an intellectual person).

    Laters

  154. says

    Blocking youtube comments is the main reason. Jumping the religious/creationist bandwagon and blocking _all_ comments just isn’t the way I like to see you do it.

    And yet, here you are, magically commenting on the video.

  155. mike says

    @ jacobfromlost Interesting discussion, you raise some good points and show that as much as we know about the ‘beginnings’ of the universe, there are still so many unanswered questions. None of the research and data point to any ‘god-like’ being and for theists to invoke such just complicates things unnecessarily.

    @ Raymond You might want to actually listen to your profs instead of arguing with them and read the books that have been suggested to you, a lot of your ideas are baseless, they seem like just pure assertions

  156. Lord Narf says

    I’d rather the theists find their way here, where we can have an actual discussion with them. The whole point of the show is outreach to the non-atheist community, after all.

    I don’t really care about what will bother a troll. Why would you give a damn about hurting the trolls’ feelings? :D

  157. says

    What is the difference between commenting on youtube and commenting here? What a stupid comment. It seems like a perfectly sane and rational decision to me.

  158. says

    Astonishing, right? With open comment threads that always appear on at least two other platforms — this blog and our Facebook page — it would seem that we are not, in fact, blocking all comments. And coming here to comment presented no difficulty to the person complaining that it somehow presented a difficulty.

  159. thogosha says

    In my Opinion. The show is not really an outreach for theists.

    Well, I’ll say the show is more for Atheist, and a support group for ex-theists on a road to being an atheists. If an individual is questioning {His/Her} theists beliefs, its a great show {When Tracie is on} to watch. The show presents arguments and allow the viewer decide on where he or she is. Don’t for one second believe if a devout Christian, Islamic, or Hindustan shows up you will change them or see your point of view through “logical” argument. Not going to happen no more than Atheists becoming an theists through logical debate.

    Hummm, Maybe I will declare myself a Natural Mathologists. Weekly worship will consist of solving complex calculus equations. Only by learning and solving math can one get closer to the true meaning of the universe.

    Well, I guess I will stick with being truely Agnostic.

  160. Lord Narf says

    You’re quite wrong. There are people who used to call in as theists, trying to make arguments in favor of their god, who have been brought over to the atheist side.

    You’re messing up definitions again though. Outreach does not mean changing theists into atheists. Outreach means communicating with the mass of theists around us and explaining to them what we really think, since all that most of them have ever been told about atheists is the non-stop lying that they hear from their fundamentalist preachers:
    We worship Charles Darwin as a god; we’re all depressed all the time, which is why we can’t see the light of God; we worship Satan; we know that God really exists, but we just want to live a life of sin …

    The primary purpose of the show is to communicate with theists and explain to them what we really think. The fact that the actual content shifts with the people who actually call in doesn’t change the purpose of the show … which is community outreach.

    Watch the episodes from before 2008, before it became such a big thing on the internet. It was all local calls, from almost all theists. The theists asked questions and presented arguments, and the hosts explained why they disagree. It was all about getting the information out there. The occasional handful of people who are broken out of their religious mindset, because of the show, is a nice bonus, but that’s not the point of the show.

  161. says

    I found the show very useful in the process of accepting that I didn’t believe. I can’t speak for others or whether or not “outreach” to any particular group has been successful, but plenty of us found the show looking for someone to counter the arguments we always hear and reaffirm what we had already figured out. Perhaps we were no longer technically theists, but we certainly weren’t confirmed atheists at the time we found the show. It provides a highly useful service, and not just for those who are already atheists.

  162. says

    I really don’t get the objection.

    A theist and an atheist are standing outside, trying debating. The weather starts to drizzle, and it looks like it’s about to start pouring.

    The atheist says, “Hey, let’s go into this bar, out of the rain and have a drink. That’ll be a better venue to continue this discussion.”

    The theist says, “WHY ARE YOU CENSORING ME”

  163. says

    Precisely, we have the ability to comment. Whiners are just pissed they cannot get their way and comment where they wish. This is TAE’s show and this is the way the CHOOSE and desire to set things up. Do freeze peach cry babies think that only THEIR rights are the ones that matter. DEAL with it people.

  164. says

    Matt has often said that he prefers Theists to call in and even admonished us not to call in so often so more of theists can get through. TAE not only wants to discuss who Atheists are but to actually talk to theists and examine faith.

  165. says

    Yet, you somehow managed to make a comment here–so uhm–yeah. I don’t get people who think like you do. You don’t get t your way so you sulk, exhibiting the same behavior of the very groups you mock. In the real world, we don’t always get what we want and other folks rights to do things the way they want to are just as important as yours.

  166. says

    Your ability to comment has not been taken away–you have not been censored. Your freedom of speech has not been violated, in fact, here you are getting the opportuntiy to bitch. Only your ability to comment in a specific forum has been removed. Cry me a frickin river. Most of the christians who disable comments do not invite atheists to have open minded discussions elsewhere, in fact, if you go to a theist blog or forum you are shouted down or quickly blocked and removed. No one is being censored just because they can’t wallow in the shit of youtube comments (as Lord Narf said, if you want that, go to the nasy minded slur contest on Amazing Atheists videos)–they just moved the comment venue elsewhere. Crybabying about the fact doesn’t alter the fact that they have the right to do it and in my opinion, has sounds reasons for it. I get to post as much as I like here and so long as we all make nice, we can continue to disagree and explore ideas. How in the heck can you have a real conversation with theistic trolls who shouts crap at you like “Shut up N**er t c*nt* ” at you? Intelligent debate cannot be had there. There is nothing constructive about YT comments, it is just a venting ground. This forum is far more productive. The reality is, you’re just pissed off you can’t get your own way on someone elses channel. Besides, why all the grandstanding? You could have very well unsubscribed and never said a word. This is just an infantile attempt to bully people into making a decision you would prefer they make, even if it something they do not wish to do. Arrogant much?

  167. says

    In regards to spamming down trolls, if you are a free speech purist, aren’t you supposed to be protecting the free speech of even those idiots? Also, many common sense comments are spammed down as well–example–if you go to one of T J Kirks anti-feministic videos, any woman who presents a logical, non bombatic counter argument is spammed down by the woman hating jerks who don’t want a woman’s voice to be heard. In other words, the spam option is a censoring tool that can work both ways.

  168. Lord Narf says

    While at the same time … well, have you seen Ken Ham’s Facebook page? They always delete anything that is in any way critical of their position or refutes their nonsense … any links to real science sites, for example.

  169. Lord Narf says

    Yeah, they specifically keep two of the lines open for theistic callers. If they already have the first few lines full with atheists, and you’re an atheist calling in on one of the reserved lines, they’ll dump you, in favor of hopefully getting a theist. And the theistic callers will be taken first, almost always, unless an atheist has something very important to say.

  170. Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden says

    I’m very late to this party, but just watched the episode (or, really, listened during housework) and I am not particularly surprised that Tracie & Russell had problems with the questions around suicide, but I can still be disappointed that it didn’t get a better treatment.

    Neither of them ever really broke out of the suicide-as-a-response-to-depression model. They tried to imagine if someone was just “not interested” in life continuing without depression as they understand it, but this is, in fact, a common experience of depression. Many people experiencing depression learn to dissociate, to numb. It can then feel as if one is living a life in which one has no interest, but without the negativity of depression. Merely the lack of positive experience…though that lack of positive experience goes on day after month after year.

    But what of other models of suicide altogether? What if you are not motivated by dissatisfaction with your life and it’s negativity/lack of positivity?

    What if you live in the Sahel and are guaranteed $100 million for your 300 villagers to split if you kill yourself?
    What if the offer is made to anyone in the village and no one particularly wants to be the sacrifice so a lottery is held and your number comes up?

    Can you rationally want to commit suicide to provide financially for essentially everyone you know, for essentially as long as you can imagine their descendants needing such funds?
    Can you rationally not be sufficiently motivated by the opportunity but agree that your number came up fair and square and the neutral selection process combined with the money does provide sufficient, rational motivation?

    What if you live under tyranny? What if you have rational reasons to believe that your suicide will, like Mohamed Bouazizi’s, have some non-trivial chance of sparking a better life for your entire nation?

    What if you live in the US in Utah as a queer, crippled mormon of color under a government that we don’t consider tyrannical per se, but that (to you) is deeply intertwined with a deeply racist, sexist, heterosexist, ableist religion. If you see a non-trivial chance of inspiring a velvet revolution against harmful ideology, can you be rationally motivated to kill yourself while being healthy psychologically and being free of unusual pain or a reduction of life expectancy? Can you do it rationally when you’re 17? Can you do it rationally when you’re 85? Does your age matter? Does it matter if you have seen changes in the Mormon church over your lifetime?

    It seems that you assumed that there is no such thing as a hopeful suicide. Doesn’t the example of Mohamed Bouazizi make neglecting a hopeful suicide a pretty consequential oversight?

    What about culturally expected suicide? Could an 18th century samurai rationally commit suicide, or would the samurai have to be mentally ill to do so? Does it matter that the failure to commit suicide would frequently mean your family loses its aristocratic rank and be doomed to poverty as far as you could foresee? Does it matter that Japanese culture of the time had an ideological attachment to the idea that suicide under the right circumstances demonstrates good character?

    What if you had the opportunity to save the life of a Mozart or [Freddie] Mercury or Hildegard or Hypatia? What if you had the opportunity to save all at once by donating a kidney each to two, a heart to another and a liver to another? What if you were in no way ill, but were 67? What if you wanted to do it and were in no way ill but were 6 or 7?

    I hope you come back to the ethics of suicide at some future point. I think it is quite obvious that suicide can be rational even when not terminally ill. When you would be willing to commit suicide is not a measure of when it would be rational to commit suicide.

    in particular, I would like you to address suicides of hope.

    Thanks so much for your work.

    CD

  171. says

    Bravo for a well thought out response. Heck, in modern Japan, suicide is covered by insurance, so it is not unheard of for a male head of household to commit a honor suicide to enable his family to be well taken care of. Suicide is still a very taboo subject In American culture; it is a very difficult for many to talk about. Well, save for those who want to use the topic as a means to an end. William Craig and his ilk loooove to toss around suicide, claiming that Atheist kill themselves in droves! Interestingly, I tried to commit suicide twice when I was a Christian–not small attempts either but I won’t get into gories. As an atheist, I have better life satisfaction, so I don’t entertain the thought, even when old whisps of despression creep in. In defense of the hosts however, they could very well be in a bucket full o’ trouble by seeming to treat the topic casually. You know us heathes are heartless and may even be telling folks that suicide is a good thing. Very tight rope to walk.

  172. Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden says

    @Alicia:

    Yeah, but I really got the vibe that they simply weren’t grokking what might motivate a healthy person to consider suicide rationally and decide in favor.

    I don’t have a problem with them simply saying, “I’m not going to touch that topic, b/c liability” or whatever. I don’t even have a problem with them saying, “I’m not going to touch the topic b/c I don’t feel I understand it so don’t have anything intelligent to contribute.” I won’t be shocked or that sad if they never come around to the topic again. But this space for discussing the show kind of cried out for someone to take on the question that they couldn’t answer.

    I *hope* that they read the comment and think about it. It would be nice if they had something more considered to say on another show. But it’s their show and it is ultimately better if they stick to things were they have something valuable to say. If they don’t have time or desire to reflect on this issue, I get it. But it feels weird for the show to consider an issue important enough to spend a bunch of minutes on, but not important enough to come back to.

    So I’m hoping that this space can serve for a coming back if the show itself never gets another chance…and if the show does get another chance, maybe some of the thinking that (I hope) will show up here might be an inspiration and/or education useful to whoever takes the topic on when it comes round again.

    Me personally, I don’t think suicide is a good thing, just like I don’t think abortion is a good thing. Rather, I think it’s a good thing for individuals to control, as when others have power over these decisions tragedy ensues.

  173. Lord Narf says

    I have similar experiences, only without the part about having ever bought into any of what the religious sorts were shoveling. I would never kill myself, no matter how low in the cycle I get with the bipolar disorder. Death means nonexistence, as near as we can tell. No matter how bad I feel, at any given moment, it’s still better than nonexistence, for as long as I can manage to put that off.

  174. Lord Narf says

    I don’t even have a problem with them saying, “I’m not going to touch the topic b/c I don’t feel I understand it so don’t have anything intelligent to contribute.”

    That statement was in there, hidden in all of the rambling. They offered several disclaimers, then rambled on for a bit, anyway.

  175. says

    @ Crip…I feel yah–I am pro-choice but not necessarily pro-abortion…wouldn’t have one or personally advocate having one, but I will also never take away the choice. Suicide is a worthy topic that should be addressed by a moral society, so yeah, I do hope they tackle it on a later show–if only to give fodder to atheist who meet Craig bots that think we are so unhappy that we jump of bridges by the hundreds. @ Narf Christianty and the wierd crap attached to it only served to pummel me into a depression stupor that I did’nt leave until I got rid of religion altogether…but yeah, it is no kind of answer–at least, not in my case. If I had managed to off myself I wouldn’t have met my hubby whom I adore or have my wonderful kids–

  176. Bunny Mellon says

    Michael is using terms and words he has no true understanding of. All he is doing is justifying his ignorance and need to believe in a “God’

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