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Open thread on episode #860: Does Christianity need suffering?

In my reading about the “Spirituality in Healthcare” debates, I have started reading books from proponents. I’ve already read a number of articles on both sides of the issue, including more than a handful of articles published in peer reviewed journals covering claims of evidence, and also expert opinion pieces. But now it’s time to dig into the motives, ideas and points that are being made in the more in-depth way that books supply. To me, books are where authors speak in a personal voice about their honest, and to some degree, personal perspectives on these topics.

I have a number of books in my reading queue, but one proponent who comes up repeatedly—a juggernaut of research articles, books, and text books (for spirituality/religious courses now incorporated at the good majority of medical schools in the U.S.)—is Harold G. Koenig, M.D.

Koenig is no hack. He’s got the sheepskin to be able to take on healthcare as a topic. His background and credentials could never be labeled as sub-par. But the reason we offer “blind” studies, is precisely because we have to understand that even well intentioned, well educated people can, without realizing, be biased.

“Faith & Mental Health” is not intended for the lay public. In fact, in the beginning of the book, Koenig lays out precisely who this book is for:

This book is for mental health providers, public health service planners, researchers, university or medical school faculty involved in the training of mental health practitioners, and other health professionals who desire to understand better the role of religion as a resource (or liability) for those with emotional or metal problems.

I was encouraged by the parenthetical, but after reading more, I became less so. So far, liabilities have been mentioned, but not recognized. If they are ever recognized, I’ll share them here on the blog, but so far cataloged religious abuses and liabilities described in the book have been ignored or diminished, while innate human attributes—such as kindness, empathy, compassion and willingness to help others—seem to all be credited to religion (even though they are innate to humans, and seem to be demonstrated in other social species as well).

Just to supply a few examples for clarity, what follows are summaries of two stories Koenig presents, and how he interprets them:

Koenig tells a tale of a community in Gheel, Belgium in the 13th century. In his own words, the community, which took mentally ill people into their homes (he calls this the origin of foster family care) was motivated by “religion”—not by innate human qualities of compassion, humanity or love: “The motivation of the people here was again religious, an act of Christian charity.” He says they believed that “if we take care of these people and treat them as family members, we will be rewarded in the hereafter.”

There are a few issues here:

First of all, Koenig suggests the reason they helped was to gain a reward. But we have no way to know if, without the religious bribe, they would have still helped out of core human attributes, such as love, compassion and concern for community. What if we could go back in time and take the promise of heaven away—and they were still willing to help? I have often helped people who needed it—with no expectation of a reward. If I were a practicing Christian, is there any reason to think I wouldn’t still help because I’m simply a human being endowed with those motivations? Is the fact that the church expresses an offer of heaven, and I believe it’s real, honestly evidence that this is what is motivating me to behave decently? Since many people do behave decently without religion, I am not prepared to agree that it is the religious bribe making Christians decent human beings. I suggest they may actually be decent humans—religious affiliation or not. I see no logical justification for assuming religion as the motive, rather than being a basic, decent human being. In fact, in Koenig’s next story, we see a tale of many, many Christians, with that same promise of reward, refusing to help someone in need. It appears some Christians help others, and some do not. This seems very similar to how people who aren’t religious also behave—some are helpful, some are not. The reward of heaven, then, appears to not make much difference in the end to how people behave, at least in these examples.

Please also notice that Koenig notes the promise of reward—but what is glaringly missing is the threat of punishment and hell that the religion also imposed upon those who did not comply with church dogma. If we are going to use religious doctrine as motive, and list the incentive of heaven, can we then dismiss the threat of being tortured in the never-ending torment of hell?

In Koenig’s telling of this tale, a martyr was said to have been killed nearby, and a shrine to this martyr/saint (Dymphna) was thought to have magical healing powers. As a result, people began taking their mentally ill friends and relatives to the shrine for healing. And he describes this, “The local hospital was soon overflowing with chronic sufferers who were often left there, sometimes chained to trees near the shrine.”

So, here I absolutely see religious motivation at work, but nowhere does Koenig condemn this or call it a religiously inspired “liability.” Mentally ill people, chained to trees, and abandoned by their caregivers in a strange location—because the church spun a yarn that it was a magic place. This is fully upon religion.

But somehow, religion isn’t blamed, but is credited with the reality that people in the town had to figure out what to do with a flood of people being brought to their community and, literally, left to die, and so did the only human thing: They helped them. I very much hope that the majority of humans don’t need to be told to help someone they find tied to a tree and left to die. But I’m sure they do need to be convinced that a particular location has magical properties before they would think to abandon loved ones in such a vulnerable, dangerous, and precarious situation.

The next tale that stunned me was Koenig’s own experience—right out of his own case files. He describes a patient he calls “Sally,” who is mentally ill and very religious. She contacted Koenig to ask if he could find some community/social support options for her, and he asked why she wasn’t using her church connections—which is a logical question when a patient is very religious. It turned out her minister had met with her a few times, but he seemed to not have enough time for her, and she needed to find more available resources. Her congregation was about 1,000 members strong, but she wasn’t able to find anyone willing to meet with her twice a week to just be a friend (although they seemed to have abundant time to devote to the youth, they had less time for the elderly and ill.)

Koenig began making calls to find support that matched her leanings. He says, “I thought it would be a snap to locate someone to help her, someone eager to minister to this poor soul who was a committed Christian.” He describes the months that went by as religious person after religious person either ignored his requests or passed him off to yet another religious person or religious resource that put him off. He even tried outreach to groups outside the state, he was so discouraged. Again, he says “Here I was, a well-known and respected psychiatrist with many, many contacts in the Christian community. If I was having this much trouble, I couldn’t imagine how difficult it would be for Sally to find support on her own.” Finally one older woman, from a local church (remember the outreach was all inside the religious community, so whoever ultimately was found to help was going to be religiously affiliated) offered to befriend and support Sally. The volunteer wasn’t a pastor, religious counselor or leader—just a person who attended one of the churches he’d contacted. She was the person who finally stepped up to show basic, human compassion.

When Koenig asked others about this situation, he found a number of issues that impeded finding help for Sally, including that “some judge the person with emotional or mental problems, blaming them for their condition. Many people are just plain scared of making contact with a person who has severe and persistent mental problems, afraid of the unpredictability of entering into such a relationship.” To be fair, this sort of trepidation to befriend a person you don’t know who has mental health issues, isn’t something limited to churches—although blaming people for their ills is key to Christianity (if not for The Fall, mental illness would not even exist, and this is before we get into the more direct blaming concepts found in the Old Testament and modern prosperity gospel).

This dismal fail to assist Sally is a tale offered in a set of several stories, about which Koenig, in his Summary, says, “these cases illustrate how individual persons and communities of faith can help those with emotional and mental problems bear their burdens, which is a major focus of this book.” [Emphasis mine.]

It makes me wonder if Koenig and I are reading the same stories. What I took away was that people can be easily convinced to abandon their loved ones to die by religion’s spurious claims—and without common human decency from those left to clean up that mess, they’d be perpetrators of negligent homicide, directly inspired by religious miracle claims. And when a person with mental illness needs help, the church leadership is suddenly unavailable, and one has to canvas congregations for miles to finally find the single decent human being willing to extend herself to just meet with someone twice a week. And, remember, this is with a promise of heaven and threat of hell.

According to Koenig, these are among the stories of “help” the faith community can offer.

But most disturbing of all, so far in the reading, was a passage where Koenig considers how mental illness may be god’s way of teaching us how to love. He is careful to not mention “god” directly, but a careful reading reveals he’s not saying simply that we can learn about love and compassion by helping others. He’s saying that is actually why people suffer. To be fair, he’s “asking.” But it’s in a clearly “JAQing Off” mode. They are statements posing as questions. So, for example, when he asks “Many see it as a cruel stroke of fate. Or is it?” He is rather asserting that something like mental illness is not simply something that occurs in the lives of some and not others, but that it is actually orchestrated in some way for a purpose.

The passage from Koenig, below, reminds me of a conversation I had with a woman who told me about her extreme sexual abuse suffered for many years as a child. She has a religious relative who told her that she is such a wonderful person today—and suggested that the abuse was for the best—as it resulted in inputs that have made the woman that wonderful person. It was god’s intent to use the abuse to help her become the person she is today. The woman wrote to me to say she had worked hard to overcome the trauma, and that she is proud of the person she is today—and that who she is, is rooted in all of her past, like everyone else. But she didn’t quite know what to tell this relative in response, because the comment was so horrifying to her, and she didn’t quite know how to express it or how to identify the problem that was nagging at her.

I offered, “Perhaps next time she tells you that your extreme sexual abuse was all for the best, and intended to help you become a wonderful person, you should reply by saying ‘Oh, I agree. I think we should ensure that all children are aggressively sexually abused for that very reason.’” The fact that someone was able to work through pain and trauma, and become a functional, and maybe even happy, human being, is a credit to what that person was able to accomplish, but not to the abuse. What of people who die by suicide after being sexually abused? Or are killed by their abusers? How did it help them improve their lives? But ultimately if sexual abuse helps people become better people, then we should rethink our laws against sexual abuse, and perhaps begin a promotional campaign? Please understand that sexual abuse does not help people. The fact is, she is a wonderful person in spite of that abuse, not because of it. And it’s thoughtless to suggest that a person should view being horribly violated and assaulted as some sort of blessing in disguise or silver lining. And with that, I bring you the passage that I found most shocking:

By emotional problems I mean short- or long-term struggles with depression, anxiety, or other difficulties with mood or happiness. By mental illness I mean schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and other long-term psychoses or severer personality disorders. Emotional problems and mental illness trap people in prisons of fear, despair, confusion, and loneliness…Those afflicted with these conditions did not choose them…more likely it is their genes, childhood experiences, or severe adult trauma that have thrust them onto these precarious, painful paths. Many see it as a cruel stroke of fate. Or is it?

What if having such a life meant something else, something not completely senseless but rather was evidence for—and I say this a bit cautiously—a type of unique “calling”? Is it possible that those with mental illness provide others with the opportunity to care, to love, to reach out to them, an opportunity that otherwise would not exist? What if their pain caused people of faith to sacrifice their comfort and smug way of life to reach out and minister to them? Who, then, would really be the receiver of ministry and who would be the giver? Could those struggling with mental illness serve as beacon lights illuminating the “narrow” way to real life that few ever find? Could they be pointing the way for people of faith and others to follow, so that the care, love and service provided to the mentally ill by them would demonstrate to the world the best of what it is to be human? Would that be possible without the help of those with mental illness, without their pain? Does this mean that religious congregations need persons with mental illness in their midst in order to be fully functional, caring communities? It’s worth thinking about.

Might such a calling for those in mental distress require the experience of suffering and pain in order to give these “wounded healers” the insight and compassion necessary to truly help others with similar afflictions, a special kind of training that prepares them to really know, to really understand what others are going through? For those who must live day in and day out with the demon of despair, who must bear the heavy burden of mental anguish despite the best treatments that modern medicine can offer, this “calling” is indeed a tough one.

I suggest that if mental illness is such a boon to our society, perhaps we should stop trying to cure it—as that is antithesis to society’s best interests. As Koenig says (by way of “JAQ”), “Could they be pointing the way for people of faith and others to follow, so that the care, love and service provided to the mentally ill by them would demonstrate to the world the best of what it is to be human? Would that be possible without the help of those with mental illness, without their pain?” He literally says that “the best of what it is to be human” may not even be possible without other people suffering with mental illness. Why would we want to lose that? Followed to the logical conclusion, we’d stop trying to cure the mentally ill immediately. In trying to cure these people, we are operating against humanity’s best interests, if we adopt Koenig’s explanation.

Koenig and I agree about one thing—however, we likely have different reasons. When Koening “asks,” “Does this mean that religious congregations need persons with mental illness in their midst in order to be fully functional, caring communities? It’s worth thinking about,” I fully agree this is worth thinking about. I think about it quite a lot, in fact. It’s not uncommon for the church to actually work against family and social interest in order to propagate harm that they then use as evidence of a fallen world—or as Koenig unwittingly notes, justification for their existence. Simply put: They need suffering, and this bias often conflicts with truly robust efforts to end it.

The most obvious example of their inability to see their counterproductive efforts is when they denounce abortion, while simultaneously opposing accurate and thorough sex education, access to birth control, and even arguing against condom use. Not only is the only solution they will accept abstinence, but they fight viciously against any attempts to implement solutions that would allow anyone to operate successfully outside of their religious teachings—teachings which, coincidentally, create suffering by compounding the problem of unplanned pregnancies—a problem they then use as the springboard to justify a need for people to do things god’s way, because if we practiced abstinence, we wouldn’t have this problem they have greatly inflamed. And it doesn’t matter to them that “abstinence” has proven a dismal failure throughout all of human history. All that does matter is that they need people who do not comply with their religion to suffer for it—because they need this suffering, as Koenig notes, “to be fully functional, caring communities.” In fact, it allows them to appear to be caring—while propagating immense social harm. I would add, in fairness, religious people are generally just like everyone else in that they most often desire to do the right thing. But their innate humanity and their biased need to protect, promote, and create justifications for their religion are far too often at cross purposes. Another well documented and overt catalog of this type of pervasive harm coming out of a misguided religious impulse to “help,” can be found in Hitchens’ analysis of the work of Mother Teresa.

I don’t expect the lay Christian to see the contradiction, any more than I expect Koening to understand how he sounds to someone who doesn’t listen with the same religious bias.

Comments

  1. says

    they need this suffering

    If only psychiatrists took a Hippocratic oath.

    What strikes me about his analysis (among other things) is the heavy availability bias. These anecdotes, throughout history, are selected from a consistently overwhelming majority of the human population who were religious. There’d be few purely secular examples to choose from.

    It’d be like saying that you’re more likely to win the lottery if you’re Christian, because when we look at the history of American PowerBall winners, most are Christian… not realizing that only 1/6th to 1/10th of those playing are non-Christians.

    Combine that with his chronic failure to distinguish between causal mechanisms, and attribution-by-association, and he’s come away with a very warped idea of how religion contributes.

  2. says

    I’d also point out that, even now, we’re struggling with secular therapy. We have organizations like the the Secular Therapist Project, to try to even provide any secular alternatives, not because secular sources are incapable of providing help, so much as the therapists face stigma and loss of business, if people find out they aren’t godly.

    So again, secular assistance is heavily under-represented, and not because it’s ineffective.

  3. CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain says

    His [background and credentials] could never be labeled as sub-par.

    Broken link.
     
    Author: Amazon – Harold G. Koenig

  4. unfogged says

    I see two ways of looking at the need to sustain suffering. It can be promoted, as Koenig appears to, as a way to bring out the best in others. It falls back to the old canard that you can’t have good without evil to contrast it with. The all-knowing, all-loving god has determined that the best way to make some of his creation behave better is to torture another subset of it. Makes perfect sense.

    The other view is even more cynical. Religions need suffering in order to have a threat to hold over the heads of the flock. “There but for the grace of god go you… so you better support us or else.” I’m not claiming it is explicitly planned that way but on some level they know that relieving suffering would relieve the need for anybody to believe.

    No matter how you look at it, without the religious bias it is a heinously immoral system and it always amazes me how believers can twist their understanding to make excuses for it.

    By the way, I think you mean you have a reading “queue”.

  5. jacobfromlost says

    So by the doctor’s logic, it’s a good thing that polio is re-emerging in the world.

    Also, why are we trying to cure cancer again? Just asking a question. :-)

  6. says

    This reminds me of a time when I was in church and the minister was talking about how it’s our responsibility to tithe so that the church would be able to provide for the less fortunate. The only problem I have in that statement is when I help the less fortunate or give I don’t do it out of obligation or to give some superstitious deity credit, I do it because it’s the right thing to do.

  7. says

    Well, it’s just the tip of an analysis. I’m still just reading the introduction. I was going to wait until I had read more to post anything, but became concerned about the fact that if I had this much trouble just with the introduction, by the time I get to the end, I might have 20 blogs’ worth of material. I had the same problem with Richard Sloan’s book that I discussed last time I was on. I waited until I got to the end of the book, and then felt overwhelmed by all the things I wanted to cover. Now I have to go back–at some point, and read that material again, in order to then start researching each aspect that caught my attention that I felt merited further investigation. That’s why, with this book, I thought it might be best to post as I get sufficient ideas together to post. That way, eventually, I will have an archive of material all relating to this issue–although it will build more slowly. In fact, had I done this with Sloan’s information, I might still be posting midway through his book. It’s such a tremendously huge topic.

  8. reverendrobbie says

    I’m poorly read in philosophy, so please correct my novice opinions I’m about to provide, but whenever I read the gospels, I can’t get it out of my mind that Christianity is a stoic philosophy. There are some excellent lessons I’ve found in my limited reading of stoicism, but one theme throughout the philosophy seems to be acquiescence to one’s socioeconomic position. In Christianity, this serves both to reinforce the power of the oligarchy and to provide a downtrodden class that can be exploited for conspicuous altruism. The far right’s bragging rights for their soup kitchens are bolstered by their attempts to eliminate competing government programs that could better support the poor.

    Since Christianity and the motivations of Christians vary nearly as much as the U.S. population, it’s hard to say whether Christianity actually needs suffering, but I feel it’s safe to say that much of the religion at least benefits greatly from suffering. I also think it’s safe to say that many of Christianity’s constituents, consciously or not, seek to perpetuate suffering for their own pride and political and economic power.

  9. says

    There’s a third perspective, popularised by CS Lewis. Accepting that the Problem of Evil is irrefutable as it stands, he redefines love and goodness into a paternalistic regime that requires misery and torture to “correct” fallen human beings.

    Following that “reasoning,” we should inflict as much misery on humans as his agents.

  10. louis cyfer says

    i am always blown away what a dimwit russell is. this s not meant as an insult, just an observation. he is repeatedly unable to articulate what a theory means, and what the difference is between a theory and a law, and he seems to be caught off guard each time these questions comes up. he also has no idea what agnostic means, which he again demonstrated on this show. you’d think that after so many failures on this, he’d actually look these things up. he also constantly misunderstands what callers are saying, he is just unable to pay attention. he gets confused, or is just plain wrong.
    the caller who said that he can no longer pray with his wife to support her, because he is now an agnostic (russell goes on to say agnostic means he is not sure that he believes, which is not what agnostic means, it is not a middle ground between believing and not believing, it addresses knowledge), then russell says he still doing the praying thing even though he is faking, when daniel was very clear on that he is no longer doing it. his whole point was calling about what to do because he can’t do the praying anymore.
    russell is just not particularly bright, which in itself would not be a problem, except it is such a big contrast against the intellectual abilities of the other hosts and co-hosts. tracy, matt and jen usually bail him out, but when he is on with don, it is usually a complete disaster. don’s intellect is on a similar level with russell, and for this reason they struggle against theists. although don will usually spend most of his time reading from notes he wrote, but this is very difficult to listen to as don can barely read aloud. he also gets sidetracked and distracted very easily.

  11. says

    the caller who said that he can no longer pray with his wife to support her, because he is now an agnostic (russell goes on to say agnostic means he is not sure that he believes, which is not what agnostic means, it is not a middle ground between believing and not believing, it addresses knowledge),

    My impression was that he was adapting to what the thought the caller’s language/definition was – so that he could simply bypass a trivial question of which set of definitions were being used, and try to address what the caller’s more important question was about. He was paying attention, and you weren’t.

    Overall, you don’t appear to have watched much of the show, as misunderstandings in communication are quite common from all the hosts. That’s the nature of human communication. Whether one is misunderstanding a caller is more often a function of whether the host thinks he/she knows what’s about to be said, and tries to jump ahead to save time.

    I’m sorry, but you’re coming across as someone who simply has a particular ax to grind with a specific host.

  12. says

    I would add as well that Don and Russell are the two hosts who were raised secular. In some ways this is an advantage, because they are more likely to see apologetic arguments immediately as odd. But it’s a disadvantage in the sense that if you’re raised in it, you have a bit of capacity to understand what the caller means,and also predict where they would be going, and what the potential land mines are. So where Don/Russell sometimes have to actually work through the mines, someone like me–if a fundamentalist calls, might immediately know what scripts are expected, and, so, what NOT to say in response.

    I did also note the “agnostic” statement while I was sitting there, but like Jasper, I took it as shorthand. It can be hard to respond to people and chat on the fly–it’s not like written debate or dialog where you can go back and edit. Sometimes I have said things in these calls that I honestly don’t even remember saying–where I thought I had expressed X, because that’s what I *meant* to say, but really it came out something other. Once I was describing the Earth’s rotation around the sun, and I actually told a caller that the sun rotates around the Earth. I know, obviously, that’s wrong–but that’s what came out.

    Also, I have the easy job of being co-host–so I’m not also responsible for keeping up with the notes coming in from the studio and watching the call list and so on. I mean, in the end maybe I’m off the mark, but I would, just as an exercise, go read some of Russell’s blog post as a comparison to how he might seem on the air, and see if there’s not a difference. But ultimately each of us is going to like/dislike certain styles of presentation or the way some people handle the live dialog more than others. So, I’m not going to argue that someone should/shouldn’t alter their preferences in this matter. But I do want to just note those things that sometimes the audience doesn’t consider fully as factors that distract, and live conversation vs. internet exchanges.

  13. AlexC says

    I must say that I was utterly dissapointed by this weeks show. Not nearly enough callers! I thought this was a “LIVE CALL-IN SHOW”? No? Then call it something else like “WEEKLY LIVE 40 MINS OF BORING RAMBLING AND THEN A FEW CALLS SHOW”. You are dropping the ball here! There are plenty of shows featuring rambling hosts discussing topics amongst themselves that barely anyone else find interesting. What usually makes your show great and unique is your caller’s questions and your answers. This week featured only two or three and then “sorry we’re out of time”. You should have said “sorry we wasted everybody’s time with other stuff instead of taking calls”. Damn, I’m a bit angry it seems. I just wish this won’t be a trend and that you focus more on the calls. One of my favourite parts of the week is listening to your show. Please don’t kill it for me.

    Alex

  14. jdoran says

    Someone whose writing approaches the unreadable due to a failure to employ capitalization or coherent sentence structure (possibly to avoid being recognized as a former poster?) doesn’t have much room to call people a dimwit.

    It’s also simply not all that useful to argue over definitions, for a couple of reasons. First, whether it’s true to the etymology of the word or not (and it isn’t), one meaning of the word “agnostic” is now “neither believes nor disbelieves in a deity” because that’s how a significant portion of the English-speaking population now uses the word. A dictionary isn’t a proscriptive collection of word definitions, it’s a descriptive one. Whether we like it or not, the most commonly-used definition of “agnostic” is now identical to one of the definitions of “atheist”. Frankly, any atheist likely to nitpick over the usage of those words is also likely an antitheist.

    Second, when dealing with words where we (as atheists experienced in communicating with theists) already know significant amounts of ambiguity exist, why are we letting ourselves get sidetracked into arguments about how we think other people should use these words? It’s a red herring. Ask for their definition and stay on target. For example, if the theist you’re talking with wants to call all beliefs “faith”, then don’t stall the discussion, adapt! Ask how we can distinguish between “reasonable faith” (such as believing the earth and sun will do the same thing in the morning as they have every morning) and “unreasonable faith” (such as believing Nessie exists).

    Often, I suspect theists of deliberately using controversial definitions in order to derail and control the discussion (though that’s not relevant to the call from the “agnostic”). When I simply accept their definition and continue on with my arguments using their words, most of them react as though they’ve been pulled off their script.

  15. says

    I just wish this won’t be a trend and that you focus more on the calls.

    Do you realize that this trend is 15 years old? It wasn’t uncommon for them to spend 45-60 minutes on topics, before the show was cut down to an hour. Using half the show for topics is normal.

    rambling hosts discussing topics amongst themselves that barely anyone else find interesting.

    This is an “I am the world” fallacy – where you assume that because you feel that way, everyone else must also.

    If you feel the show is wasting your time, feel free to not waste your time.

  16. kestra says

    I found Tracie’s presentation fascinating, well-researched, and thoroughly presented. The past few years, I have become more and more aware of the unsettling influence religion has on medical care, from Catholic hospital networks refusing to offer comprehensive contraceptive and reproductive care, to the insidious ways that religious concerns are inserted into private medical decisions like in the Schiavo case, or the way basic public health information is willingly and even eagerly withheld from young people based on Protestant prudery and virginity cults. This is just one more upsetting example, and I’m glad Tracie brought it up.

  17. Russell Glasser says

    As Tracie eloquently said earlier this morning (and thanks, Tracie):
    “But ultimately each of us is going to like/dislike certain styles of presentation or the way some people handle… dialog more than others. So, I’m not going to argue that someone should/shouldn’t alter their preferences in this matter. But I do want to just note those things that sometimes the audience doesn’t consider fully as factors” what interests a particular cohost and what kind of unique insights they can bring to the table.

    The show is an hour a week, but in all seriousness, there are hundreds of episodes to choose from. Some hosts like to take as many calls as possible and some audience members prefer those shows. Some hosts like to read or research a topic, and some audience members prefer that. I’m sorry every episode can’t make you happy every week, or if you think of any particular contributor as dumb. (Hello!) But we’ve got a diverse audience and we do the shows that we like doing.

  18. AhmNee says

    I’d like to second Kestra’s sentiment. I actually re-watched the show this week just to listen again to Tracie’s discussion.

  19. says

    Actually, you are miscounting calls. I had access to the switchboard visual, and it was more than 2 or 3. Note some all-caller shows only do 2 or three–and we actually made it through several. And we devoted HALF the show to calls. I don’t think you are familiar with TAE. In the past–for MOST of the existence of the show–it was routine for us to have “topics.” We did 30 minutes of topic, and one hour of calls. After the time slot was cut to 1 hour, many of us stopped doing the informational segment (and sorry you find information presentations boring–sorry for you, I mean). If I had my way, we’d have more information and interviews–with people who are actually offering information that isn’t readily available to our audience. “God forbid” you might learn something.

    Also, when we cut the show to an hour and lost the presentation segment–we got many letters of complaint.

    >Please don’t kill it for me.

    Bear in mind, we don’t do the show “for you.” We do it for the community at large. Everything other people do, is not always about you.

  20. AhmNee says

    i am always blown away what a dimwit russell is. this s not meant as an insult, just an observation.

     
    This seems to be closely related to saying, “I’m not a racist but …” and then going on to say something incredibly racist.
     
    “I don’t mean to insult you, but I’m going to be insulting none-the-less.”

  21. Monocle Smile says

    That Carl guy started off okay, then got really, really annoying. What was his point?

    The last caller’s voice and speech patterns seemed familiar…maybe a caller from a while ago.

  22. meow meow meow says

    Louis, don’t take this personally because, it’s just an observation but, you’re an A-hole.

  23. Russell Glasser says

    Yes, well, you don’t see quite a number of new commenters each week who DON’T get through moderation. ;) For the record, I let the “Russell is dumb” guy through myself.

  24. rodney says

    As an atheist and a comic book geek, one of my favorite episodes was the deconstruction you did of Batman Begins. Maybe you could pick a Marvel movie and do something like that again.

  25. Phazez says

    @ouis cyfer, I feel like you’ve walked into the big kid room and are amazed that they don’t know how to paint with their fingers. Normally, I wouldn’t bother trying to educate you, but I feel like you need help on how to proceed with any further discussions in order to save us all from your continued ignorance.

    Top of the list, would be, as other commenters have pointed out: grammar. The use of capitalization, indentations, and proper spelling are the hallmark of good writers. Those who know how to effectively break the rules can use these breaks from the norm to enhance their point, but a novice like yourself should really stick to the rules as to do otherwise shows a laziness to communicate with your reader. You’re expecting them to do the hard work of interpretation when a simple Shift+key stroke would do the trick. I tell all my beginning writers to think about not just what you want to say, but why would your readers want to read it? Truly, think about it. Why do I care what you’re saying especially when you have no care as to my experience as a reader?

    Next is the understanding of words in context. People often use the word “agnostic” as a term of middle ground, regardless of it’s true meaning. Very similar to how people who no nothing of politics often call themselves “Libertarian.” Therefore, Russell and Matt and Tracy and Jen and Don have to consider not just the technical meaning of the word, but it’s colloquial use. To do otherwise diminishes the conversation to a word definition lecture which is BOOOOOOORRRRRRING and exceptionally unnecessary to those of us who both understand its technical meaning and its contextual meaning. Nothing says, “I don’t really know what I’m talking about” more than harping on definition versus understanding.

    Lastly, starting a post with an insult disguised as feedback is childish and completely unhelpful. It shows a strange sense of entitlement to something that is in no way yours; the content of the show. As a matter of fact, I wondered if maybe your girlfriend left you for Russell or he easily showed you up in an argument or something. Why is your self confidence so diminished as to obsess on the host of a show in this way instead of the topics being discussed? It makes you out to be silly and stalkerish rather than anything resembling “adult-like.”

    For all of our sake, please consider feedback on this thread an opportunity to grow as a person and save us all from the embarrassment of ignorance. Thanks!

  26. meow meow meow says

    I thought that was what you meant but, thanks for the clarification anyway.

  27. meow meow meow says

    Since there were already reasonable responses I thought I would just parrot the name calling so he could see, without any reasonable argument to get in the way, why what he said was silly at best. Completely unnecessary but, ‘I’m rubber, you’re glue’ didn’t work in this context so… :)

  28. bigwhale says

    I’d agree that Russel and Don are my least favorite pair. I don’t think intellect has to be what the difference is. It takes a special kind of skill to be a good host and answer questions on the fly. And I’ll point out how highy I reguard all the hosts, so it’s a high bar to clear. If I met either of them in person, I’d probably be impressed by their intelligence, but it’s a different thing to put yourself out there and be both informative and entertaining.

    It really may be that they were both raised secular, as Tracie points out. What I most often dislike about Russel and especially Don is that they sometimes think a quick one-liner will shred the theist. When someone who was a theist knows there are many rationalizations and ways to get around what is actually in a particular bible verse, or that a concept of God can be more nuanced than they give it credit for.

    I do like Russel’s writing, though, and both have good moments on the show, too. But, yeah, when they are both hosting, I do feel like something is missing.

  29. Tawn says

    “russell goes on to say agnostic means he is not sure that he believes, which is not what agnostic means, it is not a middle ground between believing and not believing, it addresses knowledge”

    I think Russel knows this, its mentioned enough on the show. The manner in which Russel said this also gives it away.. the thing is, Russel is trying to pry what the caller means when he uses the word agnostic. This is the common lay understanding of the word.. especially to someone recently de-converted.
    Russel could hardly launch into a tirade explaining what Agnosticism actually means when the caller is upset about the relationship with his wife – which was the crucial matter, rather than definitions and terms.

    Maybe Russel could have returned to correct this point, but I guess the conversation had moved on.

    Perhaps you should exercise your own intellect a little and understand the context of the conversation and pick up on the subtle mannerisms that give away what people are actually thinking.

  30. Tawn says

    Or just watch the ones where Martin is co-host.. he usually likes to go straight to calls! ;)

  31. Tawn says

    Agreed, I’d be happy with a whole show of Tracie articulating her thoughts on various issues. She is so incredibly level headed about things that it seems hard to believe she was ever taken in by religion.

    Have you also noticed that when we have a ‘caller-heavy’ show there seem to be a lot of troll calls. Cutting this down is not entirely a bad thing.

  32. J.D. says

    So probably no one cares that much about my take but I like the variety in the episodes. I really enjoy Tracie and Don’s stuff because they touch on both current and historical issues pertinent to atheism/Christianity/other related topics- and usually there’s some back and forth with the hosts and the callers on the topic as well. I also enjoy the Martin/Jeff Dee (I MISS YOU, JEFF!) style of Russian roulette with callers all episode. I think it’s good to switch it up.

  33. AlexC says

    You may very well be right as I wasn’t actually counting the calls. I think you are missing my point though. The actual number of calls isn’t as important as the time devoted to calls in my opinion.

    Yeah I have only been listening to the show in the one hour format. Although I have probably gone through about a hundred episodes by now. It sounds like the earlier format had a better structure for mixing information presentations and call-ins. Too bad the time slot was cut down.

    It’s a bit presumtious to assume that I would in any way be opposed to learning something and to assume that TAE would be my only source of knowledge. I enjoy learning things, but that doesn’t mean that I borrow all books if I go to a library or that I have great interest in all your topics. Some of them, maybe even most are very informative and very well delivered. I just don’t like that they take up time from the segment that I truly enjoy, namely the call-ins.

  34. says

    Everyone should know that it’s perfectly normal to have a person who believes they’re the son of god and that they can move mountains with their supernatural force known as faith. The first thing as a psychiatrist I would be questioning would be the sanity of people who believe in the supernatural or those who believe they are supernatural.

  35. azhael says

    Tough.
    The world doesn’t revolve around you or your tastes. As you can see there are plenty of other people who do enjoy Tracie’s or other co-host’s pressentations so i would say TAE is doing a pretty excellent job of combining the two in their limited time slot. I will agree that some of the presentations haven’t sparked my interest and i have fast forwarded past them on occasion. Other times, they have been some of the most interesting, best pressented topics i’ve seen in any show.

    Speaking of presumptuous, though, you take the cake for assuming that anybody gives a fuck that you want the whole show to be just calls and seem to think that you get to make demands on that respect on a show that is entirely free and the product of an organization of people who volunteer their time and effort. Grow up.

  36. azhael says

    Shit, for some reason my post didn´t show up as a reply to Alex’s latest post, but that was obviously the intention.
    Sorry.

  37. AlexC says

    I am not making any demands, just voicing my opinion. Shame on me for that, and shame on me for thinking that anybody cares about what I say. I guess that I am under the delusion that this show cares about providing enjoyable content to its viewers? Confuses me then that this show is broadcasted at all if the people making it doesn’t care what their viewers think.

  38. azhael says

    “I thought this was a “LIVE CALL-IN SHOW”? No? Then call it something else like “WEEKLY LIVE 40 MINS OF BORING RAMBLING AND THEN A FEW CALLS SHOW””
    “You should have said “sorry we wasted everybody’s time with other stuff instead of taking calls”.”

    Yeah, no demands.
    There is a difference between voicing your opinion that you prefer the show when it is calls only, which is fine, and quite another to chastise a group of volunteers for not making their free show exactly how you want it to be.
    They do care about what their viewers think which is why they try to offer variety despite their very limited resources to produce a show that appeals to a broad audience.
    The very fact that you would imply that not listening to your demands very poorly voiced opinions only reenforces the impresion that you are a whiny little self-centered baby.

  39. azhael says

    That should be:
    “The very fact that you would imply that not listening to your demands very poorly voiced opinions means they don´t care about what their viewers think only reenforces the impresion that you are a whiny little self-centered baby.

  40. says

    I guess that I am under the delusion that this show cares about providing enjoyable content to its viewers?

    They do care. That’s why they’re listening to us, as well as you. Your opinion doesn’t trump everyone elses’. The universe doesn’t revolve around your whims.

    Keep in mind that a issue in keeping the show going is that those who are volunteering must want to continue. The hosts casting aside their motivations for coming on the show, for the sake of pandering one one portion of the audience – who are apparently more important than everyone else – is going to sap that motivation.

    But thanks for your opinion. It’ll be factored in with all due weight it merits.

  41. says

    It’ll be factored in with all due weight it merits.

    And incidentally, I don’t mean this sarcastically or snidely. You’ve given your “survey response” and it’ll be factored into the bigger picture as a sample point.

  42. John Kruger says

    Flinging insults and commenting on intelligence, putting forth obvious things for people to correct like poor punctuation and being a definition lawyer, and focusing on a person rather than content? My troll sense is tingling.

  43. doublereed says

    I don’t think he’s saying that religious people get better healthcare than nonreligious. His claim is way more vague and nonsensical than that. Availability Bias would only apply if he was doing a more concrete comparison.

  44. AhmNee says

    I totally understand your ire as the show is produced specifically for you.
     
    /sarcasm

  45. AlexC says

    If you want to interpret my statements as demands, then you are of course free to do so. However, I am sure that both of us agree that I am in no position to make any demands. I was only hoping to provide feedback, which I thought was welcomed.

    It is pretty obvious that we have different opinions of the show, that you are satisfied whereas I am not. However, I fail to see how my unsatisfaction makes a whiny self-centerd baby.

  46. AhmNee says

    However, I fail to see how my unsatisfaction makes a whiny self-centerd baby.

     
     

    I must say that I was utterly dissapointed by this weeks show.

    BORING RAMBLING

    You are dropping the ball here!

    Please don’t kill it for me.

     
    Yeah. How on earth could anyone have arrived at that conclusion.

  47. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    Sadly, no. It is possible on that argument that everyone needs a different amount of suffering to “grow fully”. My usual retort is to bring up the existence of that one woman who was kept in her basement since birth and raped daily by her father for decades, never leaving the basement – ever. I then ask the other person to look me in the eyes and tell me that it’s possible this woman needed that kind of suffering in order to “grow fully”. I haven’t had one be able to do it yet.

  48. corwyn says

    It’ll be factored in with all due weight it merits.

    Actually probably not. Humans tend to weight complaints less heavily when they are written in a nasty, insulting, confrontational tone. It is likely that AlexC is hurting his cause (if it is what he claims). It is far too easy for people to equate ‘jerk’ with ‘wrong’.

  49. Carl_from_Berkeley says

    @Monocle Smile: Thanks, I think.

    I actually had several points, but most of them were not expressed. It was actually much more difficult to discuss than I had expected. There was an echo in my telephone so I kept hearing my own words overlapping the words of the hosts so I had to ignore any sounds up to about 0.5 seconds after I finished speaking. I do not know if there is a work around for that, or if it is just a part of working in a studio. Also, I knew that we were coming to the end of the show, so I was expecting to get cut off at any moment, and it was difficult to formulate an argument given that constraint.

    But since you asked, the points I was trying to make were:
    1) Since we already establish limits on posthumous bodily autonomy based on inconvenience (e.g. place my ashes on Everest), or nuisance (e.g. place my corpse on the roof of my suburban home to dessicate), cost, or legality, there is no case for absolute posthumous bodily autonomy.
    2) Given that there should be no absolute expectation of posthumous bodily autonomy, when we are presented with a moral dilemma (e.g. should a fetus be allowed use of a corpse, and should a fetus be allowed egress) we should weigh the benefits and costs to all parties.

    From there, I was going to make the case for a specific instance wherein society should favor the interests of a living human over the wish of a dead human. And I had some good hypotheticals! (even if I am just saying so myself)

    I never heard a direct answer to my hypothetical scenario of a full-term dead pregnant woman who refused to allow a C-section. My understanding of Tracie’s response was that she would expect the courts to intervene and decide one way or the other, but that she would favor the wishes of the deceased and refuse the fetus egress.

  50. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    I was part of this discussion a while ago. I think to start in this conversation, you need to say that you’re in favor of forcing everyone to be an organ donor on death. Don’t make it optional.

    For me? Honestly, it sounds like a good idea at first glance. I’m undecided only because of the possibility of perverse incentives with forced organ donations.

  51. thebookofdave says

    I was actually surprised that Russell never mentioned that. Episodes 29, 30, 34, and 69 were devoted to this topic. The Doubtcasters never pass up an opportunity to give this dead horse another beating.

  52. thebookofdave says

    Am I the only one who noticed the occurrence of place names being mangled? Maybe the switchboard crew had an unusually challenging session. Redondo. Poughkeepsie. Sometimes you just spell it like it sounds.

    I’ll climb down from the pedant soapbox to note one other feature that made this episode stand out from the pack: the lack of trolls calling in to prank the show. I didn’t miss those guys.

  53. Monocle Smile says

    I never heard a direct answer to my hypothetical scenario of a full-term dead pregnant woman who refused to allow a C-section.

    It was dismissed because that’s goddamn ludicrous. I don’t know how you can possibly think your “hypotheticals” are remotely realistic. Also, as you already pointed out, we already have limits on posthumous autonomy, so good luck getting a doctor to abstain from performing a C-section in that case.

    I was going to make the case for a specific instance wherein society should favor the interests of a living human over the wish of a dead human.

    That WAS addressed. For the record, a nonviable fetus is not legally a “living human,” so I’m not sure where society is ever valuing the wish of a dead person over the interests of a living human. And if you’re forced to throw a million qualifiers in there to make a case for an extremely narrow set of fringe circumstances, that should tell you something.

    Of course, if you’re planning to argue that full human rights are granted at conception, you should be clear about this so I can properly dismiss such hogwash.

  54. Furface says

    @Jasper

    If only psychiatrists took a Hippocratic oath.

    Actually they do. Psychiatrists are MDs and take it routinely. Whether they observe it consistently is an open question.

  55. Carl_from_Berkeley says

    It was dismissed because that’s goddamn ludicrous.

    So, is that a “yes” or a “no” on the moral question of the posthumous C-section?

    For the record, a nonviable fetus is not legally a “living human,”

    It’s not legally a person; I never said it was. But biologically it is living, and biologically it is human, therefor it is a “living human”.

    Furthermore, the legal status is not relevant because this is a moral issue. Morals should inform our laws, not the other way around. An immoral act does not become moral just by virtue of being legal; similarly, a moral act does not become immoral just because it is illegal.

    Of course, if you’re planning to argue that full human rights are granted at conception, you should be clear about this so I can properly dismiss such hogwash.

    I stated the points that I wanted to state. Assuming further is a strawman.

  56. Monocle Smile says

    So, is that a “yes” or a “no” on the moral question of the posthumous C-section?

    I answered this. Read again. And stop thinking your hypotheticals mean shit.

    Furthermore, the legal status is not relevant because this is a moral issue. Morals should inform our laws, not the other way around.

    You’re missing the point that morals are far more malleable than laws and are able to make finer distinctions. That’s because there are no lawyers involved with morals. I find reducing a woman’s “living” body to an incubator is immoral, but apparently you don’t.

    I stated the points that I wanted to state. Assuming further is a strawman.

    You could clarify, but apparently you’re only interested in smugly bitching about cases that evidently don’t happen.

  57. Monocle Smile says

    Forgot about this:

    But biologically it is living, and biologically it is human, therefor it is a “living human”.

    You don’t get to be pedantic about this while whining about my implication that you think life should legally begin at conception. Also, the woman in the case you brought up was also a “living human.” She was no more brain-alive than the fetus. Yet you have no problem trampling on her rights or the power of attorney granted to her husband.

  58. Carl_from_Berkeley says

    So, is that a “yes” or a “no” on the moral question of the posthumous C-section?

    I answered this. Read again. And stop thinking your hypotheticals mean shit.

    You claimed it was ludicrous and you answered what you expected a doctor would do, but you didn’t answer the moral question. I’ll stop thinking my hypothetical example has value, when you stop giving it traction by refusing to answer it.

    You’re missing the point that morals are far more malleable than laws and are able to make finer distinctions.

    I never missed that point. You brought up legality of human-being-ness, not me. I’m trying to talk about morals and empathy.

    I find reducing a woman’s “living” body to an incubator is immoral, but apparently you don’t.

    please don’t use quotation marks to imply irony. Just say the word that you mean, please.
    She was dead, but her biological processes could be sustained with machines.
    Also, your use of the word “reducing” is humorous because it is clearly emotionally charged. Having your body used posthumously is only degrading if it is not heroic or conscientious.

    You don’t get to be pedantic about this while whining about my implication …

    No one is whining. You implied a fallacious argument, so I corrected you.

    Also, the woman in the case you brought up was also a “living human.” She was no more brain-alive than the fetus.

    Okay, maybe our definitions of “living” are different. But, a person on life support is commonly referred to as “brain dead” for the sake of simplicity but they are not actually “living”. But contrariwise, a fetus, despite being on a form of life support via its placenta is not brain dead and is actually living. You can verify this by waiting a while and asking them a question; the one that answers is alive.

    Yet you have no problem trampling on her rights or the power of attorney granted to her husband.

    Okay, finally, we get back to the moral question. I believe that in a moral dilemma we need to weigh the costs and benefits to the interested parties and to society. You apparently believe that the right to posthumous bodily autonomy outweighs the right of a fetus to live; I disagree because I feel far more empathy toward a living human than a dead human. I also feel that the rights of a husband or next of kin to grieve are far surpassed by a living human’s right to use the corpse.
    And since you brought up survivor rights, what if the next of kin decided that it was in his/her best interest to cease life support? What if the next of kin were not the father of the child? Is it the survivor’s right to determine the fate of the corpse, or does society have an obligation or means of advocating for the fetus?

  59. Monocle Smile says

    But contrariwise, a fetus, despite being on a form of life support via its placenta is not brain dead and is actually living.

    I’ll put aside the rest for now, since this is the relevant point.

    I dispute this claim. The EEG doesn’t form until 24-26 weeks, so the brain of a fetus (at least the one in the story) is no more alive than that of a brain-dead woman on life support. I feel very, very little empathy towards something that doesn’t have a brain with basic function, let alone sentience. Once the EEG kicks in, the fetus is almost always viable anyway, so a delivery can be made. And none of this “what if she refused a C-section in her will” bullshit unless you can actually identify a case where this happened. Yes, the doctors should ignore that if the fetus is viable. Are you happy, or are you going to demand more answers to insipid questions? I mean, what’s the point of making me answer here? I’m a pragmatist and generally don’t give a shit about “thought experiments.”

    Having your body used posthumously is only degrading if it is not heroic or conscientious.

    Do I really need to identify the glaring slippery slope here? I mean, baby farms are only the start. We’ll start seeing cases where comatose women get impregnated in shady manners (through the will of parties other than the one with power of attorney) just to keep their bodies alive.

    You apparently believe that the right to posthumous bodily autonomy outweighs the right of a fetus to live

    Is it the survivor’s right to determine the fate of the corpse, or does society have an obligation or means of advocating for the fetus?

    That first part is extremely oversimplified and leaning towards straw man. It really depends on what you mean by “fetus” for the same reason we make distinctions on when abortions are legal. Your language is extremely sloppy, which is why during the call, you had to continue adding qualifiers to the point of nonsense.

    Speaking of which, this is quite literally an abortion debate; consent is just one step removed and given to the survivor rather than the potential mother. The survivor gets to make the call on terminating the pregnancy; whether that’s an abortion or delivery depends on the viability of the fetus, which is influenced by the length of pregnancy.

    Finally, we live in a country full of people who rage out of their minds for “the rights of the unborn” only to give less than half a shit about that child once it’s actually born. And that’s reflected in the system. I don’t find it moral to force a child to be born for the sake of ego-stroking.

  60. thebookofdave says

    A source of unending amusement is listening to them collectively sigh and tell us they are going to explain it to us one more time, but this is the very last time (and this time, we mean it)! You can imagine the shrugs and slow eyerolls going around. Yes, I also replay these podcasts.

  61. Monocle Smile says

    I will acknowledge that you’re coherent and your objections have a much more solid foundation than those to which I’ve become accustomed. I find that they sacrifice pragmatism for idealism and use sloppy terminology, but typically there are far more serious problems. You get credit for that.

  62. Robe76a says

    As a student of nursing I find your observations really interesting and to the point. I find most of the textbooks on nursing have the same problems. This and the super religious nursing professors makes it almost impossible to maintain a serious face when trying to practice my profession and take it seriously.
    At the hospitals we have nurses that don’t understand what’s science, religion, ethics, legal concepts, health sciences, nursing procedures, critical thinking and just feel superior to everyone else because they have a respectable profession mandated by their god.
    In contrast we have doctors that are well prepared and know how to separate religion and personal beliefs from practicing health sciences. Most express their problems with religion when it comes to helping a client who’s religion is causing the denial of treatment or procedures that are recommended.
    I just don’t understand why the different standard of education for the nursing career. I understand it doesn’t have to be as detailed of a knowledge as a medicine doctor would have, but come on some of these nurses know their bible but don’t even know basic anatomy.

  63. AhmNee says

    Finally, we live in a country full of people who rage out of their minds for “the rights of the unborn” only to give less than half a shit about that child once it’s actually born. And that’s reflected in the system. I don’t find it moral to force a child to be born for the sake of ego-stroking.

     
    To add to what Monocle cites here since we have slid to abortion debate, there is the hypocrisy of “saving” these potential fetuses at the cost of a woman’s bodily autonomy, which I see as little more than a particularly vulgar form of slut shaming. When it seems that anti-abortion advocates could care less about similar potential fetuses destroyed, as I understand it, in far greater numbers at fertility clinics.
     
    Has anyone ever been able to give a coherent defense for that particular cognitive dissonance?

  64. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    @AhmNee
    Hardcore Catholics can. Fertility clinics are frowned upon the same way for exactly that reason. So are condoms. Taking this kind of thought seriously is scary.

  65. brishadow says

    And sometimes you don’t spell it how it sounds! lol There isn’t a person living here who pronounces Poughkeepsie with “KEEP” , it is universally pronounced as “KIP” . ;) The operators corrected the misspelling anyway.

    The Soapbox is now unoccupied.

    B

  66. says

    >Given that there should be no absolute expectation of posthumous bodily autonomy, when we are presented with a moral dilemma (e.g. should a fetus be allowed use of a corpse, and should a fetus be allowed egress) we should weigh the benefits and costs to all parties.

    Agreed. And the fetus offers no compelling case for not respecting posthumous bodily integrity.

    In fact, we have that same scenario with organ donations. If you are NOT an organ donor–it is not allowed to harvest your organs. We do NOT say “But people will die if they don’t get organs–and so your posthumous bodily integrity must take a back seat to saving the lives of others.” And this scenario would not change if the person in need of your organ/s was your own dying child.

    So, I fail to see how “someone will die if we respect your directives about your dead body” is any argument for disrespecting those directives. In situation after situation where someone will die without blood or tissue donations, we don’t allow people to be harvested–even to save lives–after they are dead.

    If you are arguing that we SHOULD do that–then this goes beyond the issue of the woman in the news item to an overall shift in our entire mode of dealing with after-death directives as a society.

  67. says

    > I guess that I am under the delusion that this show cares about providing enjoyable content to its viewers? Confuses me then that this show is broadcasted at all if the people making it doesn’t care what their viewers think.

    As I noted earlier “you” are not “the viewers.” You are one viewer. We get mail voicing all sorts of preferences. It’s the fact that you think your personal perspective represents reality for everyone else–that is the problem. You made it clear that it’s not just that you don’t care for the topics–it’s that you don’t think we should do them, because *you* don’t care for them. As though it’s simply beyond your ken to imagine that other people might not share your personal opinion.

    I don’t know if that helps you see the problem, but until it sinks in, your replies will continue to be nothing more than talking past others who don’t share your views.

    The show isn’t ‘for profit’–it’s put out by an educational foundation–and is intended to educate. It is a “live call in show”–but it’s ridiculous to think that we can’t have topics AND live calls. Are you that unimaginative? We discuss issues to bring to light the thoughts and experiences of atheists–primarily for the benefit of theists; although we sometimes also tailor the topics for an atheist audience.

    It isn’t that we don’t *care* what you think as a viewer. It’s that you don’t seem to realize you aren’t the ONLY viewer. The fact that all shows take calls, even the ones with topics, and that a number of shows have *all* calls, shows that we DO cater to the folks who like calls. Your complaint then, is that you don’t expect us to cater to ANYONE ELSE or do ANYTHING ELSE, because YOU only like the calls. Do you understand we have other viewers who don’t share your view? Or is this still something that just flies over your head?

  68. says

    >Please don’t kill it for me.

    Nicely quoted, AhmNee…even if we end up killing it for others…as long as Alex gets the show of his individual dreams every time.

  69. Monocle Smile says

    Thanks, Tracie. You portrayed the proper contrast I failed to address.

    Carl is targeting a fringe hypothetical that likely has no reflection in reality, but his question goes toward a much, much, MUCH larger topic, which is posthumous “rights.” This is akin to questioning our current implementation of freedom of speech by constructing a Rube Goldberg-esque scenario where something I whisper to a co-worker leads to a drive-by shooting across town.

    This is probably an interesting conversation to have, but Carl approached it in the worst way possible. Carl, if you read this, you need to understand that even situational ethics can’t live in a vacuum. You can’t come out with this idealistic, feel-good “laws should reflect morals” and yet ignore how the legal system actually works.

  70. kestra says

    I don’t think you understand *why* a woman would decline to have a C-section: it seriously precludes the possibility of ever having a vaginal birth, it deprives the infant of the benefits of a vaginal birth, which imparts some immunities and stimulate the immune system due to the bacteria present in the birth canal. It is a much more invasive and risky operation than vaginal birth, and leaves far more noticeable scars.

    A woman with a nearly-full-term pregnancy who is injured in such a way that her heart and lungs still function, BUT she is brain-dead AND her fetus has not suffered major injury or death as a result of what injured the mother, THEN the woman’s original birth-plan is already completely compromised AND her reasons for objecting to a C-section are likely moot BECAUSE she is dead, AND her husband or immediate relatives have the legal right to make medical decisions on her behalf.

    I am a woman, and I have filled out a Living Will directive, and it specifies that even in the event of pregnancy, I wish my body to be allowed to die with my brain UNLESS there is a good chance of delivering a HEALTHY child AND the pregnancy is in the third trimester. That is a pretty reasonable, specific directive. Any woman who has had enough forethought to create a Living Will document will have considered this issue and decided what SHE wants. And any woman whose birth plan excluded a C-section but who became brain-dead WITH a viable nearly-full-term fetus, well, a birth plan ISN’T a Living Will, and the decision lies in the hands of others who may or may not have access to that birth plan anyway.

  71. Carl_from_Berkeley says

    @kestra
    I actually did know all of that. My only contention would be that the medical field’s views on VBACs are much more favorable in recent times.

  72. Carl_from_Berkeley says

    there is the hypocrisy of “saving” these potential fetuses at the cost of a woman’s bodily autonomy, which I see as little more than a particularly vulgar form of slut shaming.

    I don’t even know what slut shaming is, but are you making the contention that anti-abortion advocates are zealous enough to commit murder while shouting for the rights of the unborn, yet secretly their motive is anti-fornication or misogyny? Maybe that is true, but I do not know how you would know that. Instead of assuming so, maybe you should just take them at their word.

  73. Monocle Smile says

    yet secretly their motive is anti-fornication or misogyny? Maybe that is true, but I do not know how you would know that.

    There’s some data on this (or just check out which other positions anti-abortion politicians hold), but it’s an inevitable conclusion of Christian theology…and the overwhelming majority of anti-abortion advocates are such because of their religion. These are also the same people who strongly oppose comprehensive sex education. The decrees of theology are all about absolutist principles, not about how humans actually behave or how reality works. Following them results in a superiority complex and little else.

    It’s not really a secret. When questioned about this, “pro-life” individuals typically stammer without an answer or come out and self-righteously lecture about the evils of sex.

    You don’t know what slut-shaming is? That’s a bit concerning.

    If the so-called “pro-life” crowd was NOT “secretly” anti-fornication and misogynistic, we would never be having these discussions because given their numbers, we’d already have comprehensive sex education everywhere and easy access to contraception. Abortion is a symptom of other societal issues, not some evil act that begets other evil acts.

  74. Carl_from_Berkeley says

    But it’s an association fallacy to claim that their motivation for being pro-life is actually a cover for their Christian viewpoint. Surely there is a Buddhist pro-lifer out there. And there are secular pro-life organizations.
    How about instead of attributing them motives, instead deal with each problem as it comes along and argue the premises as stated?

  75. Carl_from_Berkeley says

    But contrariwise, a fetus, despite being on a form of life support via its placenta is not brain dead and is actually living.

    I’ll put aside the rest for now, since this is the relevant point.

    I dispute this claim. The EEG doesn’t form until 24-26 weeks, so the brain of a fetus (at least the one in the story) is no more alive than that of a brain-dead woman on life support. I feel very, very little empathy towards something that doesn’t have a brain with basic function, let alone sentience. Once the EEG kicks in, the fetus is almost always viable anyway, so a delivery can be made.

    But your level of empathy clearly is not tied to the current state of brain activity, because prior to EEG the two levels are equal. The difference is that one of the EEG levels is constant, and the other is growing. I favor the one that is growing over the one that is absent and will always be absent.

    And none of this “what if she refused a C-section in her will” bullshit unless you can actually identify a case where this happened. Yes, the doctors should ignore that if the fetus is viable. Are you happy, or are you going to demand more answers to insipid questions?

    Thank you for clarifying your position.

    I mean, what’s the point of making me answer here? I’m a pragmatist and generally don’t give a shit about “thought experiments.”

    Having your body used posthumously is only degrading if it is not heroic or conscientious.

    Do I really need to identify the glaring slippery slope here? I mean, baby farms are only the start. We’ll start seeing cases where comatose women get impregnated in shady manners (through the will of parties other than the one with power of attorney) just to keep their bodies alive.

    I thought you didn’t like thought experiments? I don’t know what a “baby farm” is, but I do not believe that your examples can be shown to logically follow from the position that a non-viable fetus can postpone cessation of life support for a dead mother.

    What I meant by my word comparison is that labeling something with an emotionally charged descriptor does not make it good or bad. My organs being harvested is either conscientious or degrading depending on the context, but the action is identical.

    You apparently believe that the right to posthumous bodily autonomy outweighs the right of a fetus to live

    That first part is extremely oversimplified and leaning towards straw man.

    Not an intentional misstatement, thank you for clarifying your position.

    Speaking of which, this is quite literally an abortion debate; consent is just one step removed and given to the survivor rather than the potential mother. The survivor gets to make the call on terminating the pregnancy; whether that’s an abortion or delivery depends on the viability of the fetus, which is influenced by the length of pregnancy.

    In general then, why should the next of kin get to make that determination? What interests of the next of kin supersede those of the fetus? Aside from a slippery slope argument, I do not see a rational reason for a next of kin having a greater right to use the corpse than a non-viable fetus.

    I will acknowledge that you’re coherent and your objections have a much more solid foundation than those to which I’ve become accustomed. I find that they sacrifice pragmatism for idealism and use sloppy terminology, but typically there are far more serious problems. You get credit for that.

    I’m coherent and my arguments could be worse … I’ll settle for that. Thank you. And thank you for the discussion.

    I do not feel that I have used “sloppy terminology”. I have tried to be very precise. Could you please clarify?

    Carl is targeting a fringe hypothetical that likely has no reflection in reality, but his question goes toward a much, much, MUCH larger topic, which is posthumous “rights.” This is akin to questioning our current implementation of freedom of speech by constructing a Rube Goldberg-esque scenario where something I whisper to a co-worker leads to a drive-by shooting across town.

    I’m sorry you did not like my hypothetical example, but I put a fair bit of thought into it and I thought it effective in that it provided a clear contrast between the competing rights of the humans involved and elicited three different stances on the appropriate moral response. I have not given my call a third listen but I do not recall adding a “million” qualifiers; my recollection was that I only made the single clarification to preclude the posthumous C-section.

    This is probably an interesting conversation to have, but Carl approached it in the worst way possible.

    So much hyperbole!

  76. Carl_from_Berkeley says

    Given that there should be no absolute expectation of posthumous bodily autonomy, when we are presented with a moral dilemma (e.g. should a fetus be allowed use of a corpse, and should a fetus be allowed egress) we should weigh the benefits and costs to all parties.

    Agreed. And the fetus offers no compelling case for not respecting posthumous bodily integrity.

    Okay, then where do we go from here? Any suggestions? In this thread we have three different views on the relative worth of a fetus versus the rights of posthumous bodily autonomy. And in society there are far more than three.

    Regarding mandatory organ donation, well it seems like a simple question of costs and benefits but I haven’t actually decided. I’m trying to think whether I agree that the two are truly analogous. One distinction seems to be the issue of time, wherein the organ donation is a permanent gift, but the life support is a temporary condition.

  77. AhmNee says

    Kestra,
     
    Unfortunately, your information is very old. A C-section does not prevent women from giving birth vaginally any more. Hasn’t for decades. My ex wife had my daugter by C-section and has had 5 naturally since. The very next one was breech. And this was in the early nineties.

  78. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    @Carl
    Sorry to burst your bible. Almost all people who hold to anti-abortion in the US are that way because of Christian cultural influence. We’re not making an association fallacy. We’re asking them.

    From what I’ve heard, most of those so-called secular anti-abortion organizations are veneers for religious organizations. Sorry that I don’t have evidence on this offhand.

    But really, you cannot hide in the false sense of security that there are people who hold to your position without your crazy religious beliefs (or similarly crazy beliefs).

  79. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    One distinction seems to be the issue of time, wherein the organ donation is a permanent gift, but the life support is a temporary condition.

    Life itself is finite. I don’t agree with your phrasing.

  80. houndentenor says

    That’s the basis of Mother Theresa’s entire ministry. She provided a place for poor sick people to suffer. It was noble for some reason for them to do it. She flew in a private jet to the top specialists in the world when SHE got sick. But there was no attempt to get the best medical care for the people to whom she “ministered” or for that matter to help people in the slums of Calcutta get out of poverty. This idea that suffering is good for the soul has been peddled for centuries, mostly by rich powerful people trying to convince poor people that they were better off that way. No thanks.

  81. houndentenor says

    And how much of that tithe actually went towards providing for the less fortunate? I wouldn’t mind the method of the results were really to use that money to help other people, but most of that money is going to be spent on running the church, not on feeding and clothing the poor in the community.

  82. says

    According to Je$u$ in Mark 10:17-25 it would be all that one has. This bible passage also demonstrates how Je$u$ holds the wealthy to a higher standard then he holds himself to, which is discrimination against the wealthy. So according to the bible if you’re a X-tian and you are also wealthy then the only way you can get into heaven is if you sell all that you have, give to the poor and follow Je$u$. If this doesn’t sound like a cult, then I don’t know what does.

  83. azhael says

    You are affording a non-sentient fetus rights that not even fully developed adults have. Re-read Tracie´s post. Noone, not even your own adult children have a right to your body unless you specifically consent to it. Are you or are you not ok with that? If you are, then your entire hypothetical and your fetus discussion is done..period…ANYTHING else means that fetuses have more rights than actual people, which is fucking ridiculous. If on the other hand you are not ok with that and you think that bodily autonomy is trumped by bodily dependency, then you are in for a seriously fucked-up, nightmarish situation.

  84. Monocle Smile says

    I don’t know what a “baby farm” is, but I do not believe that your examples can be shown to logically follow from the position that a non-viable fetus can postpone cessation of life support for a dead mother.

    It’s blatantly obvious what I mean by “baby farm” given the discussion.

    The example I gave HAS ALREADY HAPPENED, and the law doesn’t even reflect your preference. Imagine what will happen if it does?

    http://www.nytimes.com/1996/01/25/nyregion/woman-29-still-in-10-year-coma-is-pregnant-by-a-rapist.html

    I do not feel that I have used “sloppy terminology”. I have tried to be very precise. Could you please clarify?

    It’s mostly about you using the term “fetus.” You almost never clarify the stage of pregnancy or whether it’s viable or not. These are essential distinctions that define my positions.

    why should the next of kin get to make that determination? What interests of the next of kin supersede those of the fetus?

    The next of kin is a person and the fetus (again, here’s some slop in your case) is not. This is easy. You’re trying to claim that it’s always in the best interests of a fetus, regardless of circumstance, to be born. And I can’t in any way agree with this position.

    I do not recall adding a “million” qualifiers; my recollection was that I only made the single clarification to preclude the posthumous C-section.

    So you’re forgetting that you had to a construct a scenario where a full-term pregnant woman was injured and brain-dead, but somehow the fetus was undamaged? And then when solutions were presented, you started weaseling? And how you STILL can’t come up with an actual case in which this happened and the full-term fetus was aborted?

  85. samuelclemens says

    I’m curious about the issue of agnosticism. I was listening recently to the call by Faith, especially when she asked the hosts if they believed Jesus is existed. The hosts answered (I think it was Matt) “well, I don’t know.” I think there are some issues where belief isn’t even decided. I’ve personally been thinking about whether I believe jesus existed, and I’m really not even sure what I believe. There is simply too little evidence. I think there may have been a jesus around the time he was supposed to have lived, but claims about a life of a person named jesus have little to no evidentiary support. What do you all think? Is there a reasonable definition of agnostic that would apply in cases like this? I’m unsure if I have a belief about the existence of jesus.

  86. samuelclemens says

    I love learning about “spirituality” in health care. I don’t know what it means either. I am a medical student, and it is very concerning to me that medical professionals think that this is an issue that is relevant to patient health. I’m especially concerned with psychiatric diagnoses. These diagnoses are already arbitrarily defined, and considering spirituality as a parameter doesn’t seem relevant. Health care teams (the model most hospitals use) should better define the roles of practioner, especially the roles of physicians. Physicians already have a bias towards inflated understanding of the human body without presuming to evaluate undefined parameters.

  87. Narf says

    This is one of those cases where you have to go back to definitions. Agnosticism is never a valid response to a question of belief. It’s a statement of the quality of your belief or disbelief … a modifier. It only becomes appropriate after the first question is resolved.

    In pretty much every case I’ve heard of, when someone responds, “I don’t know,” when asked if they believe something, the correct answer is actually no. We have this problem with the common use of language in which a lack of the acceptance of a proposition is conflated with the acceptance of the negation of the claim.

    Personally, I hold a neutral, negative position on the question, rejecting both positive claims. I don’t believe that Jesus existed. I also don’t believe that he didn’t exist. I reject both claims as insufficiently supported, although I’m doing a good bit of reading on the subject right now, as my 84 hour/week work schedule permits. I haven’t looked into the arguments against the existence of a historical figure upon which the Jesus myths were based, nearly as much as I would like to.

  88. samuelclemens says

    Fair enough. I guess if pressed I would say that I hold no belief in the existence of jesus. I’m just interested in that the initial response to “Do you believe Jesus existed?” was “Well…I don’t know.” There is some ambiguity in these issues, especially in cases of little evidence. I think the god issue is a little easier than jesus, given the absence of evidence perhaps indicating evidence of absence.

  89. Narf says

    You hold no positive belief. Important distinction.

    The Jesus question and the Yahweh question both get a lot easier if you get into certain distinctions. Do you believe in a Jesus character who did X, Y, Z, and was raised from the dead? THAT guy, I’m sure never existed.

    Same with the God question. When dealing with any Christian out there, you just have to keep asking for a few more characteristics. It rarely takes more than a minute to hit your first gaping logical-contradiction.

  90. unfogged says

    The problem I have with a question like “do you believe that Jesus existed?” is that it can be interpreted in multiple ways. If the questioner is actually asking “did Jesus exist?” then the answer is “I don’t know”. If the questioner is asking “do you believe the claim that Jesus existed?” then the answer is “no”. The same is true for the negation of both questions. I don’t know that he didn’t exist and I don’t believe the claim that he didn’t exist.

    I generally prefer to rephrase questions asking “do you believe X” to “do you accept the claim that X is true” and get “belief” out of the discussion because it is just too nebulous to pin down. I can believe that something is possible, or even likely, without believing that it is. I believe that it is possible that a Jesus existed, I even lean toward it being likely that there was a person that the myths were built around, but the evidence isn’t solid enough yet for me to believe he did exist.

    The courtroom analogy can be useful here. If the matter of the existence of a historical Jesus is being decided by a preponderance of the evidence then ruling in his favor may be reasonable. If the decision is based on belief beyond a reasonable doubt then he loses. If the matter before the court is believing the supernatural claims then he loses no matter how low the bar is set because the only evidence for that is multiple hearsay which has no value.

  91. Sadako says

    Narf’s points are good, and why I start my response with ‘I don’t know’. ‘I don’t know–do you mean ‘Do you believe in Jesus Christ, the Messiah and the Son of God’, or do you mean ‘Do you believe there was a rabbi named Yeshua bin Yosef who lived during the first century CE’? ‘Cause it’s a solid no on the first one, and a ‘We have no contemporary evidence to suggest that such a man existed, so I would not be justified in believing that such a man certainly DID exist, so my answer has to be ‘Because I don’t know if Rabbi Yeshua bin Yosef existed, I have to say that I have no belief that he DID exist, and will continue to hold that position until such a claim has evidence, and will continue to withhold belief regarding any supernatural powers such a person may have had until evidence for the supernatural is presented’.’

    But getting a theist to sit through all that is difficult.

  92. Narf says

    Yeah, semantics can be really freaking important … well, I was about to say, “at times,” but they’re usually important and people just refuse to acknowledge it.

    As for your rephrasing of everything that comes at you: this can be a very important step, when arguing with the religious. Religious people, particularly spiritual types, often abuse the English language and are deliberately vague and equivocate like mad.

    On the subject of your last paragraph … yeah, there’s so much freaking obfuscation, on the part of religious apologists. After making the whole spiel that supposedly demonstrates that there absolutely was an historical Jesus, apologists jump straight to, “Okay, since we know that Jesus existed; then looking at the Gospels, which are absolutely accurate, as we’ve just shown …”

    Whoah, whoah, whoah, whoah, whoah. Two separate claims there, buddy, and two significantly different degrees of claims. The claim that there was someone upon which the stories are based is an order of magnitude difference from, “The Gospels are historically accurate.” Yet, apologists move seamlessly from one claim to the next, without acknowledging what they’re doing.

  93. Narf says

    ‘Do you believe in Jesus Christ, the Messiah and the Son of God’,

    “Are you ready to get saved now?”

    ‘Do you believe there was a rabbi named Yeshua bin Yosef who lived during the first century CE’?

    Will you say this prayer with me now and get saved?

    ‘We have no contemporary evidence to suggest that such a man existed …’

    But, I feel Jesus … so you’ll accept him into your heart now, right?

    ‘Because I don’t know if Rabbi Yeshua bin Yosef existed …’

    “But you can know if you accept him into your heart and feel the love of the Holy Spirit.”

    But getting a theist to sit through all that is difficult.

    Hell, man, getting them to sit through it is only the first part, since they won’t really listen, even if you can get them to sit still. :-D

  94. AhmNee says

    I think Hitchens was personally anti-abortion but pro-choice for others. Didn’t believe he/we could make that decision for others.

  95. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    A sample size of one an argument does not make. Especially when I use weasel word likes “almost [all]”.

  96. says

    I am an Emergency Medicine physician in a busy hospital in the suburbs of the Twin Cities. I have been practicing for over ten years now and, on average, I see something like 2200 to 2400 patient visits per year. So you add that up and that is over 20,000 for my career so far. And I can tell you, with absolute certainty, that the religious do not subscribe to the “noble gift of suffering theory” when it comes to themselves or anyone that is close to them if they are in pain, under duress, and medicine can help. It is not surprising that the religious would use mental health as a field where they feel they can offer benefit where traditional medicine has failed. Our understanding and treatment of mental illness does indeed lag behind other specialties for a number of reasons. One is that the brain is much, much more complex than bone or heart. And so brain dysfunction manifests in complex behavior such as bipolar or schizophrenia and treatment is very imperfect. The other reason mental health lags is because compared to heart disease and cancer, there is very limited resources. But in reality, the argument that suffering should be treasured as a gift should apply no less to those with fractured femurs, dislocated hips or acute heart attacks. If suffering is a “gift”, why not argue that we should withhold treatment for those with acute myocardial infarction? Surely the pain the patient feels as heart muscle dies gives him (assuming a male patient) and his family the opportunity to connect and express their love and support! And if he survives with only 15% of heart function remaining, how wonderful it will be to him and his family as he struggles with an oxygen tank to cross from one room of the house to the other that they are there to wait on him in his infirmity! Or if he dies with the acute injury, how blessed it will be for his family to reach out and support each other in their loss! This sounds absurd because it is. When the religious come to see me, and they or a loved one is in pain, they want it to stop. And they demand it to stop with all of the tools I can command. And I have yet to see the parents of a mentally ill child not desperate for help to stop their suffering. They do not rejoice in it. That is the smug and ignorant consolation the religious tell themselves when unjust and unnecessary suffering persists in the world and cannot be reconciled with their idea of a just universe with an all powerful and loving god.

  97. Sadako says

    Yeah, usually before I’m halfway through, they’re on their knees praying for my poor lost soul and wondering what church must have ‘wounded me so badly’. lawl

  98. Narf says

    I don’t normally mention to them that I was a Catholic altar boy for 5 or 6 years, because then they’ll know what happened to me that put me off of priests.

  99. corwyn says

    I still think that using numbers instead of words removes all this useless fumbling around.

    Q: Do you believe that Jesus (the man) existed?

    A: I have -15 decibans (~2.5%) confidence in that proposition.

    Q: Do you believe he resurrected from the dead?

    A: I have -110 decibans (1 in 100 Billion) confidence in that proposition.

    This doesn’t leave the believers any wiggle room in terms of what they can do next. In order to change your mind they have to provide a given amount of evidence.

    [And if anyone wants to claim that most people won’t understand confidence levels in decibans: Yes! that is precisely the point; now I have a teachable moment. I can teach them some rationality methods which they can then use to try to convince me about their deity. Win-win.]

  100. Carl_from_Berkeley says

    @EL
    I enjoyed your response.

    Sorry to burst your bible. Almost all people who hold to anti-abortion in the US are that way because of Christian cultural influence. We’re not making an association fallacy. We’re asking them.

    It is an association fallacy.
    You just don’t understand what association fallacy means.

    From what I’ve heard, most of those so-called secular anti-abortion organizations are veneers for religious organizations. Sorry that I don’t have evidence on this offhand.

    And you are not going to let a lack of evidence dissuade you.

    But really, you cannot hide in the false sense of security that there are people who hold to your position without your crazy religious beliefs (or similarly crazy beliefs).

    Which of my religious beliefs are crazy? Again, be bold! Don’t let a lack of evidence slow you down!

    @Monocle
    Christopher Hitchens called unborn humans “candidate members of society” and stated that society should have some interest in the issue of them having rights. But you can listen to him yourself.

    The point though is that Monocle made an association fallacy when trying to divert the discussion into the irrelevant topic of Christianity.

    I still do not have a good response for the other two arguments (I.e. mandatory organ donation, and consideration for when the conception follows rape).

  101. Narf says

    Would be nice, but most humans are just as shitty at grasping numbers as they are with words.

    Anyway, I don’t think it would particularly help, since they evidence they provide is still shitty, and they’d just lie about the numbers. Hell, they already do that, with arguments demonstrating that evolution can’t be right because of [insert bullshit mathematical proof]:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8E3Bkh3mBkg

  102. Narf says

    Yup, word salad … and poorly written word salad, at that. If you’re going to write in a language in which you’re not fluent, get it translated by someone who is fluent. And for Christ’s sake, don’t use an auto-translator.

  103. says

    Dr. Koenig is 100% correct about his theory. My mental and physical condition have improved the moment I started to believe in the Flying Spaghetti Monster. I no longer have to worry about going to see a doctor or go to the hospital all because of my religion. Let it be known from this day forward that Dr. Koenig has scientifically proven that no one needs any modern medical care and all one needs to be healthy is to have a religion.

  104. Monocle Smile says

    No one actually made an association fallacy. Look in the mirror.

    I really don’t give a shit what Hitchens said. Why should I? He appealed to the same hazy “future of value” bullshit put forward by Secular Pro-Life folks that gets arbitrarily cut off somewhere between sperm and zygote.

    People quote Hitchens and hold his words in high regard because of the merit of the words themselves, not because of who said them. I realize this is a foreign concept in religion.

    I’m not sure if you’re religious, although I’m asking you now. I would not be surprised, though maybe you’re ashamed of this due to your rabid attempts to cut out that area of discussion despite its relevance.

    The motives here DO count, because I openly admit I’d be much more open to the idea of more restrictions to abortions if we lived in a society that had top-notch sex ed everywhere, low teen pregnancy rates, easy access to all contraceptives, a high-demand, low-supply adoption system, and better financial aid for single mothers. But we don’t have any of that. I made this rather clear before, and you ignored it all.

  105. Narf says

    That last paragraph is a huge deal that often gets left out. When we have a powerful group trying to restrict anything that reduces the odds of getting pregnant, the option to take care of an oops, after the fact, becomes even more imperative. I would still be completely pro-choice, but the anti-choice arguments become even more idiotic in the light of the current social reality.

    But these shitheads want to make it even more difficult to access even the most basic birth-control pills, because … y’know, sluts and their whore pills.

    And Carl, there’s no association fallacy there. You’re full of it. He’s merely pointing out that the huge, powerful correlative-link between religiosity and an anti-choice stance is indicative of something, and you’re full of it, insisting that there’s not even an association there.

  106. SaulAtheist says

    I suggest you all make small queue cards for your points, you think out loud if you don’t, you take too much words and too much time, I think you’re not using the time efficiently enough is you “monologue” for several minutes, make a short version previous in your queue cards to read it and then get to the point fast.

  107. SaulAtheist says

    Also tell your techs to normalize the audio, the sudden spikes of voice hurts my ears.

  108. says

    Oh but funding the church /is/ helping the less fortunate is it not? I would cringe, but as a former Christian I know there are some who would defend these viewpoints to their last breaths.

  109. SaulAtheist says

    Audio normalization is 1 of the oldest technologies in existence, even old equipment should have it, at least something basic that cut spikes.

  110. Narf says

    It isn’t a technical matter. They’re only allowed to screw around with so much, because it’s station equipment. The often-dodgy call quality is a result of that sort of thing. There are many things with the phone system that they simply aren’t allowed to mess with.

    If you go back to the old episodes that were filmed on Matt’s couch, the general audio quality was quite superior to that in the studios. There are just many advantages to using the Austin Public Access system, so they’re staying with that for now.

  111. mariarose says

    This was my immediate thought as well… “Mother” Theresa’s “Ministry”!!! My daughter recently remarked that I am the only person she knows who has a problem with Mother Theresa, but in my mind, the facts of her work, and the facts of the religion/philosophy that has made it possible/admirable, are completely inescapably atrocious.

  112. Mixo Lydian says

    Well done! I agree, it’s a compartmentalization: god lovingly allows suffering in the world to help us grow (or for a mysterious but good reason), while we will do anything to prevent this “benevolent” suffering from happening to us or our loved ones. Thank you for your service to the community, which is actually designed to reduce suffering.

  113. Julie Paterson says

    I find this whole topic extremely disturbing. Mother Theresa was of the same mind – she allowed sick people to suffer, because that is what jesus did, ad she wanted to ‘study’ suffering to come to a ‘better understanding’ of it. Unbelievable cruelty, yet she is worshipped as a saint! Religion seems to promote suffering rather than alleviate it. Sick, the whole thing!

  114. says

    See page 9 for a pie chart breakdown of church budgets:
    http://www.christianitytoday.com/special/ycresources/pdf/exec-report_churchbudgetpriorities.pdf

    “Salaries and wages comprise the largest expense in church operating budgets at 38%. A distant second is
    building at 12%. The remaining 50% is almost evenly distributed among other expenses ranging from 3%
    to 8% of church operating budgets.”

    I find it ironic that most churches are only used for a few hours per week. Why pay for a building that you hardly use?

    Also, the idea of tithing comes from the tribe of Levi being required to not work, and to serve God in the temple. This is approximately 8% of the Jews, why is the payment to the pastor so little? (based on the bible)

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  1. […] In my reading about the “Spirituality in Healthcare” debates, I have started reading books from proponents. I’ve already read a number of articles on both sides of the issue, including more than a handful of articles published in peer reviewed journals covering claims of evidence, and also expert opinion pieces. But now it’s time to dig into the motives, ideas and points that are being made in the more in-depth way that books supply. [Read more] […]

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