Why are years based on Jesus? A history lesson »« ReasonCon Materials Going Public

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  1. rodney says

    Kind of wish that last caller had gotten on earlier. Not sure if he was on the level, but sounds like it might have been a fun call.

  2. CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain says

    When the Dark Ages is cited as evidence of stunted culture, some time should be made to mention what “Dark” means, and whether those centuries in fact are dark.

    • Robert Smart says

      Ill tag this on to the end of your response, but this primary aimed at Dons use of the Dark Ages as a failure of Christianity.
      There are many religious failures, but I no longer think of “the Dark Ages” is one of them.

      I think your quite right to choose the wiki reference for the various uses of the term dark ages, especially when it elaborates that the modern use of the term is primary in reference to the lack or historical records for that period.

      I remember a comment from Dan Carlin on Hardcore History, where he talks about this event, and how its a “hated” term by many historians, as its a very European Centric view point of world history.
      Generally speaking the period of the “Dark Ages” is a result of the collapse of the Roman Empire.

      I would like to recommend to Don the following podcast,
      (I actually recommend this to anybody reading as its a thoroughly enjoyable, interesting podcast cover the growth then decline of Rome.)
      http://thehistoryofrome.typepad.com/the_history_of_rome/

      If you don’t have the time to listen to it all then at least the last episode (from the 10 minute mark on wards) gives a synopses of the various systemic problems within Rome leading to the collapse of the west.

      The last episode
      http://thehistoryofrome.typepad.com/the_history_of_rome/2012/05/179-the-end.html

      I key point to take away is that Rome had a lot of issues in the end, and while religious conflict was part of it, it is not “1″ reason for the fall.

      Now in saying this, the actions of the church through this period is deplorable, and serves as a large example of how bad things can be in a theocratic state dealing with religious conflict.

      And I concede that you could equate the church as a primary cause of the “The Dark Ages” but only so far as stating that the church actively suppressed external record keeping / historical accounts and was so intertwined with maintaining existing institutions of power

      Anyway I hope Don does review these boards, as the above podcast is something I think he would enjoy.

      • adamah says

        Yeah, I cried a tiny tear when I heard Don’s failure of Xianity prologue (think of that PSA spot that featured the Am. Indian paddling in the canoe who shed a tear seeing polluting of his native land).

        Google for “myth Hypatia” and there’s strong evidence that the creation of the current version is based on Gibbon’s reading of Voltaire’s creation, it’s likely as made-up history as the legend of Jesus, except an atheist version.

        It just goes to show the beliefs we should most challenge are those we’d most like to be true; that goes for believers and atheists alike. We come off as hypocrites blasting Jesus on the basis of lack of evidence when such atheistic myths are known to be questionable, but propagate and persist nevertheless within the atheist community.

        Obviously Don is not a historian, but there’s a great responsibility when presenting information to others to at least consider that there may be another side to the story, and to dig a bit deeper.

        That said, I thought the show was great overall, and really enjoyed the way Don and Matt offered different approaches and perspective to callers, working as a team.

      • says

        I heard Don’s main theme as “what did Christianity do when it had the power of the Roman Empire”. The cause of Fall is debatable, I think he would agree. He was accurate in his statement that Constantine passed a law of religious tolerance that included Christians, then 50 later Emperor Theodosius made laws declaring only one specific type of Christianity would be tolerated. That set the philosophy for 1,000 years.

        • adamah says

          Yeah, Lausten, I’m not buying it.

          Unfortunately, Carl Sagan reinforced both myths in his Cosmos series, repeating the memes that not only did Xians kill Hypatia for religious (vs political) motives, but also blamed Xians for book-burning and destruction of the Library of Alexandria. BOTH are highly-questionable suppositions which don’t comport with the available historical evidence, as discussed eg:

          http://armariummagnus.blogspot.com/2009/05/agora-and-hypatia-hollywood-strikes.html?m=1

          (There’s an interesting discussion in the comments section, as well references to the historian (Maria D) who researched and wrote on the topic.)

          Now sure, we can trot out the believers’ defense that while it may not be technically true, the moral of the myth is what matters, serving as a cautionary tale against religious fundamentalism. Of course, we’d blast believers for trying to pull that kind of logical fallacy to justify their errant thinking in defending the myth of Jesus (it’s an “ends justify the means” argument). Sorry, but what’s good for the goose is good for the gander, ie the rules of rationalism should apply equally to all.

          Adam

          • says

            Note I did not mention Hypatia or the library. My understanding is that history is not well proven, so I don’t comment on it. That Don got that wrong or not does not change his theme or the general proof from history that combining the Romans with the Catholics was a disaster for Western Europe. There were many other book burnings and destruction of other buildings that is documented and not refuted. Look up Theodosius I and II. Look up the evidence of the lack of iron smelting after the 4th century. Look for any contributions to literature or architecture from then until hundreds of years later. Why weren’t there any?

        • adamah says

          Lausten said-

          There were many other book burnings and destruction of other buildings that is documented and not refuted.

          Then those who care about seeking truth and maintaining intellectual integrity would want to rely on verifiable facts, using THOSE other examples you mentioned as the basis of our arguments; we would not rely on easily-disproven secular myths (such as the two discussed in the segment) unless we’re just looking for reasons to be easily-dismissed.

          Make no mistake: I obviously agree on the conclusion that Xianity (and religiously in general) tends to squelch free thought and scientific inquiry to varying degrees, primarily since Abrahamic religions value faith over evidence; Houston, we have a fundamental problem!

          But my point is that you cannot fight against religious irrationality by simply countering with a different flavor of the same irrational thinking, i.e. relying on emotionally-driven decision-making vs relying on the evidence, letting the conclusion arise FROM the evidence, and allowing the desired conclusion filter which evidence we look at. Otherwise, we’re not as rational as we’d like to tell ourselves that we are.

          My deduction to rationalism explains WHY I’m an atheist (amongst other things): I’m not sure other atheists can say the same? That’s why I can say if compelling evidence were presented right now to indicate God was real, my dedication to rationalism would FORCE me to believe in Him, and I’d be a more-faithful, more-righteous follower of Christ than even the pope, making him look like a wanna-be! That comes up when theists says I’m an atheist because I want to sin: no, it’s because I’m a rationalist. I’d LOVE for a God to exist, since I can now lower, pray longer, adopt a humble air, etc. along with the best of them!

          But until God makes His existence known, though, I remain a skeptic for the claim.

          Remember, skepticism for a claim should be DIRECTLY proportional to our DESIRES for the claim to be true, since we all carry biases that cannot be eliminated, only mitigated by always remaining cognizant of their existence. Most people get it ass-backwards, and don’t question the beliefs they MOST should be challenging.

          Rephrased, the claims we should be MOST skeptical of are NOT the ones we’d seek or want to disprove, but the ones that are our “pets”, the ones we don’t want to reject. The ones we’re most likely to defend vehemently and emotionally are the ones most needing questioning, since we’re often more emotionally-invested in them.

          For some, it’s not all about logic (hard to fathom, but some people actually don’t require logical consistency in their lives!), but about emotional content, HOW their beliefs make them FEEL. Hence believers are facing a loss of their ‘security blanket’, and it’s why “losing one’s religion” is such an emotionally-traumatic upheaval in someone’s life.

          Adam

          • says

            You’re getting too wordy for me to deal with. This is simple. Don may have been inaccurate with some of his facts. If you would like to contribute, then help him with that. Instead you ramble on about how destructive it is. You haven’t provided anything to correct the facts, you’ve just claimed they’re wrong. Even if you are right, it’s not helpful.

        • adamah says

          Lausten, I provided a link above to an excellent intro on the topic, but readers are going to have to actually read it and burn up some of their precious stores of brain glucose to think for themselves. If they can’t be bothered to do that, then they deserve what beliefs they end up with….

          FWIW, after wracking my brain and trying various search terms on Google, I found the name of a book I read a few years ago, “Galileo Goes to Jail (and other myths about the conflict between religion and science)”, published by Harvard Univ Press. It’s a collection of articles written by various experts in the field, and it’s HIGHLY RECOMMENDED reading, as it covers many topics of interest in such discussions (eg Einstein’s deceptive references to “God”, Bruno’s execution, etc). They have an article on the Hypatia myth, with all articles written by credible historians/scholars reflecting modern consensus opinion, all presented in an unbiased manner that’s written for the layperson.

          Adam

          • says

            Sorry, I missed your link. Now I’ve read it, I’m sorry I wasted my time. It is ridiculous to defend anyone for burning them at the stake, regardless of their crime, and certainly not a crime of being wrong about whether or not there are creatures on other planets (Bruno). And I’m less concerned about Hypatia’s science than I am about St. Cyril’s henchmen dragging her into a church and skinning her. How can you defend that? Why quibble about why they did it. It still shows Christianity was off the rails.

            Here’s a quote from Augustine, one of the church’s most famous, who has much to do with destroying the idea of “being curious” or of even discussing theology. He says heretics, by which he means people who disagree with his version of Christianity, should be “severed from the world by death”. In case you think I’m taking it out of context, here’s a fundamentalist website trying to defend it. http://www.tektonics.org/af/bogusq.php.

          • adamah says

            The hallmark work on the life of Hypatia and the “destruction of Library of Alexandria was carries out by Xians” myth was written by Czech Historian Maria Dzielska.

            Btw, I found the relevant excerpt online from the “Galileo Goes to Jail” book, the complete article discussing the relationship between the early Xian church and scientific inquiry:

            http://www.thedivineconspiracy.org/Z5241S.pdf

            Point being, it’s easy to create hyperbolic straw-men, perpetuate myths, etc, but facts should matter; there’s enough legitimate targets in that environment without needing to resort to myths, since as I said, it just isn’t effective in the long run; you can’t win by fighting fire with fire (well, THAT expression just isn’t true: those who fight forest fires will often intentionally set a series of small ‘back-fires’ to deprive the uncontrolled wild-fire of its fuel). ;)

            Adam

          • says

            I skimmed the excerpt, thanks again. But I’m wondering, did you read it? A lot of seems to support what I’m saying. Did you read the part where Augustine talks about the “disease of curiosity”? How much more anti-science do you want?

          • adamah says

            Holy Hell, Lausten: read the post above, where I said we need to present verifiable evidence that supports the claim, and changing the cited evidence at the last minute is a sign of desperation and grasping at straws, a debating FAIL. It’s shot-gunning.

            Going into a debate armed with disproven evidence and myths is clearly over-reaching, and a SURE way to have your ass handed back to you in a sling, only to be edumacated (sic) by the other side who’s done their homework.

            Point being, there’s PLENTY of OTHER evidence to cite to demonstrate that science and faith were at odds (and ‘science as a handmaiden of faith’ is not over-reaching, but readily admitted by the honest opponent), and it’s high-time to put the myths of Hypatia and ‘Xians burned the library of Alexandria, ushering the Dark Ages in’ to bed. It NOT true, and makes atheists appear foolish and worse, not willing to evaluate the evidence when we demand that Xians should respect.

            If you don’t grasp that, then I don’t know how else to explain it to you…

            Adam

          • says

            First, you need to decide what you’re saying. I don’t think Don said “ Hypatia and ‘Xians burned the library of Alexandria, ushering the Dark Ages in’” so I never tried to support that statement. And I don’t know what cited evidence I changed. So chill. I wrote the rest of this before I saw this tirade of yours.

            I appreciate what you’re trying to say, but let’s look at the burden of proof. There is plenty of evidence for religion expressing preference for its dogma over science, in the present as well as past Roman law, doctrines and councils. You have said some things about how some of the facts are misrepresented. To me, it doesn’t matter if Galileo was in a dungeon or house arrest in a castle, he still was told not to teach the evidence he saw.

            You could try to prove that some religion had a positive influence on the growth of modern science, but I don’t know how. I see that only in the most general sense, which only shows that religion has always been a placeholder, a way to explain the gap between what we know and what mystifies us.

            On Lindberg’s Myth #1. When proposing his theme, he makes generalizations “..Tertulian, Basil, and other like them were continuously engaged in serious philosophical argumentation, borrowing from the very tradition they despised.” Where is the footnote, the quote for this? What science did advance?

            Augustine’s idea that “The classical sciences must accept a subordinate position as the handmaid of theology and religion – the temporal serving the eternal” seems unworkable to me. Putting religion over science is not much of an improvement to saying religion suppressed science. The scholars who were using the “handmaiden formula were doing so to avoid the wrath of the men of the church and to get the funding from that sole source of the time.

            No other force “offered more encouragement”, because those other forces had been pushed out of Christendom. You have to look to the Muslim world in the 8th to 10th century or the Far East or what was happening just before in Greece or immediately after the Reformation for actual comparisons of encouraging science.

          • adamah says

            Lausten said-

            First, you need to decide what you’re saying. I don’t think Don said “ Hypatia and ‘Xians burned the library of Alexandria, ushering the Dark Ages in’” so I never tried to support that statement.

            First, you need to work on your basic comprehension skills and/or pay closer attention to what you’re watching, since that WAS the entire message of Don’s speech.

            At 11:00, Don explicitly blames the burning of the Library of Alexandria on Xians, which is a disproven myth (historians think the Library had long-since been destroyed).

            At 12:00, Don blames the murder of Hypatia on Xians fueled by religious convictions (ie killing her for her dedication to science), since Don characterises Hypatia as the “first martyr for science”. Sorry, but that’s not what the available evidence indicates.

            Thus I have to ask: did you even WATCH the show? If so, how could you miss those statements? And if you missed that, then WHY are you even commenting on the topic, when you clearly didn’t pay close-enough attention to grasp the basic message?

            Despite your use of disclaimers and ‘weasel words’ (saying, “I don’t think”), you deny what any old fool (atheist and theist alike) can verify with their own eyes, as if ‘tin-manning’ (the flip-side of straw-manning, where someone misrepresents another’s argument to make it easier to defend) offers any kind of valid rhetorical defense.

            Yes, book-burning is a practice historically-associated with Xians, but the Library of Alexandria is NOT an example of it. The supportive evidence needs to fit the specific charge, and in the case, its doesn’t: that’s a FAIL.

            (The Archimedes example of delayed development of calculus MAY be valid, but it’s persuasive power is now undermined (and it need to look into it, now) by the two prior myths, as it’s about credibility.)

            It would seem self-evident as to why provided examples need to be valid (and not myths), but if not, maybe someone else can attempt to explain it to you: I’m not interested in chasing you around as you constantly move the goalposts, change the topic , etc. It’s embarrassing enough when theists engage in that intellectually-dishonest style of debating, but even moreso when it’s coming from those on the team of rationalism.

            Adam

          • adamah says

            Ps “burden of proof” doesn’t mean what you seem to think it means, so you might review the concept.

          • says

            You went to all that trouble, but don’t see the difference between your quote and what Don said? I’ve agreed from the beginning that Don was wrong about what he said about Hypatia. But you’re wrong for saying that disqualifies his entire argument. You’ve avoided almost all of my points that are non-Hypatia related. You spend a lot of time name-calling and making standard insults that are commonly found on forums. I’m starting to get bored. I made a couple attempts to find agreement and build on some common ground, but that apparently is not your thing.

          • adamah says

            Lausten said-

            I’ve agreed from the beginning that Don was wrong about what he said about Hypatia.

            You DO realize readers can check the truth of your statement by reviewing the thread above, right?

            But you’re wrong for saying that disqualifies his entire argument.

            You’re flat-out wrong, and that’s a “tell” you’re not as familiar with the rules of logic as you probably should be (same goes for your use of ‘burden of proof’ phrase above, when you should’ve used a phrase like ‘evidentiary value’ to convey a sense of the relative worth of evidence, and NOT who bears the burden (obligation) to provide evidence).

            Fact is, if someone fails to provide valid evidence (and myths need not apply) to support their assertion, their entire argument IS insufficiently supported, and it FAILS, EVEN IF the conclusion is actually true! That’s the entire point of a debate: participants need to provide sufficient evidence to support THEIR position.

            Your not understanding that basic rule of logic likely explains why you’re continuing to defend an indefensible position… It’s not MY rule, but an accepted principle of debating.

            And although you or I may be predisposed to agree with Don’s assertion, it’s likely based on OTHER evidence we’ve encountered before, since those myths are KNOWN to be rhetorical ‘duds’, impotent and ineffectual to PROVE the claim made; worse, they may back-fire on someone who utilizes them.

            (Review TAE episode featuring Tracie Harris’ explaining why intuitive reasoning leads to potentially-fallacious conclusions; the episode was called something like, “But it just makes sense to me….”)

            Now OF COURSE I agree with the premise that Xianity places faith above everything else, including logic and reason: the Bible (eg the words of Jesus, the Grand Poobah hisself, further elucidated by Pauline writings) makes that point perfectly clear!

            There’s no denying it, and Xians wouldn’t disagree: they are even commanded to preach this basic premise of Xianity that human salvation comes thru FAITH in Christ (ie faith in Jesus’ ability to offer salvation to mankind, where believers are told to humbly ask God for the ‘gift’ of faith, allowing them to believe in Jesus’ redemptive powers).

            I even agree with the slightly-stronger statement that such a faith-based attitude has tended to retard scientific progress throughout history, even to the present day (ever heard of the Ken Ham’s Creation Museum, dispensing science misinformation daily?).

            However, that’s trickier to support: holding a doctorate in bio, I’ve studied the history of science and know many counter-examples exist, with many of the greats of science/biology who professed belief (Bacon, Newton, Mendel, plus many others).

            HOWEVER, the available evidence doesn’t support the stronger claim the Middle/Dark Ages can be blamed on Xianity, alone (as Don readily admits in the video), and the specific examples he cited didn’t support whatever assertion the listener can dream up, since it really doesn’t matter: the supportive evidence he offered was worthless to support his claims, and has no evidentiary worth to support ANY claim you can extract from the video, since those ‘facts’ have long-ago been shown to be myths. Don was over-reaching, pure and simple, making a stronger claim than the evidence permits.

            It’s time to put these two myths to rest and not rely on them.

            (I’m looking into the “Archimedes Palimpsest” example he cited, which once again, is highly-suspect, if only based on valid objections raised in the comments section of this article:

            https://www.sciencenews.org/article/prayer-archimedes

            Using Archimedes as a specific example of the retarding effect of religion is questionable, since it relies on making assumptions as to the motives of scribes which ultimately are circumstantial and unverifiable. Read some of those rabid comments, if you don’t believe atheists are susceptible to mob-mentality and group-think, too).

            NOW, is this horse sufficiently flogged, well-past the point of death?

            Adam

          • says

            Going a little crazy with the logic. You went from, my argument failed, even it was right, to my argument is indefensible. I haven’t presented a full and complete argument because I immediately determined you were unreasonable. I’m glad you are making some attempt to find agreement, finally, but I don’t agree that Newton professing believe is a logical connection for you at all. You’re the only one who is flogging a dead horse here. So, go ahead, I find it entertaining and every ten thousand words or so, you provide something worth looking in to. You might try reading Richard Carrier’s entry in The Christian Delusion or A.D. 381. Sorry, no online equivalents for those.

          • adamah says

            Lausten said-

            I’m glad you are making some attempt to find agreement, finally….

            Huh? Where’d you ever get that mistaken idea? I’m not “seeking agreement” (what, so we can all sing Kumbaya around a campfire?), but only seeking TRUTH, what actually IS. I could care less about what others choose to believe, esp if they’re not seeking to minimize their ‘junk’ emotionally-driven beliefs that simply make them feel better (that goes for atheists and theists alike).

            but I don’t agree that Newton professing believe is a logical connection for you at all.

            Cool….

            Where’d you get the mistaken idea that I’m interested in your conclusions, or that we’re engaged in a debate on the subject of the relationship between science and religion?

            (Even just the topic of Newton’s religious beliefs is a lengthy discussion, and the topic overall is HUGE).

            This forum is primarily designed for discussing the show, and the forum software is not conducive to such a lengthy discussion (as the formatting goes to hell after so many replies). That’s assuming I were even willing to engage further….)

            Adam

          • CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain says

            @adamah:

            I could care less about what others choose to believe

            It’s “couldn’t care less”.
             
            Video: David Mitchell – Dear America (3:24)

          • adamah says

            Sky captain said-

            It’s “couldn’t care less”.

            I love being told by non-omniscient beings what I actually meant?

            Actually, I COULD (and probably SHOULD!) care less about what other people believe, since like the old saying, ‘you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t force it to drink’ (or in the case of people, force them to think as we do).

            And how would my ‘not caring less’ appear to an outside observer? Perhaps as not bothering to respond, thus writing them off as not worth wasting one’s time (and don’t let my response to you go to your head, lol)…

            Adam

          • Narf says

            No Adam, the phrase, as you mean it, is “couldn’t”. Look through the grammar of the situation.

            You’re trying to say that you don’t care about it, right? As in, you care so little about it that it would be impossible to care less than you do.

          • says

            Or put another way.

            If you care about something 0.1%, or care about something 99.9%… in both cases you could care less. .. because each is more than zero. The statement doesn’t have a lot of meaning.

          • adamah says

            Narf said-

            No Adam, the phrase, as you mean it, is “couldn’t”. Look through the grammar of the situation.

            You’re trying to say that you don’t care about it, right? As in, you care so little about it that it would be impossible to care less than you do.

            Et tu, Narf? Are you able to crawl into my head and determine what I actually meant, telling me what I intended? ;)

            As I explained above, I AM able to care less, becoming apathetic to the point of writing off further discussion as a lost cause/wasted breath, etc). We see an example of that regularly on TAE when hosts hang up on callers, etc: that’s their “breaking point”, when they cannot care less. But since I’m still responding, I apparently DO still care enough to at least repeatedly attempt to explain the point….

            As I explained above, my NOT caring less would typically be manifested by not bothering to respond (and being that I’ve clarified now, I dare say anyone who still doesn’t get my point would warrant a non-response, likely being either too dense to get it, or intentionally feigning density, or simply too lazy to read prior posts and/or comprehend).

            As Jasper said, the expression is rather meaningless, since both words (“could” and “couldn’t”) obviously carry opposite meanings, and while “I couldn’t care less” is used as an idiom to convey frustration, that requires inserting the reader’s interpretation of intent into the literal words, and that’s potentially a flawed assumption.

            (Of course, disproving another person’s statement of OPINION or their internal thinking processes is damn-near impossible, requiring evidence of acting contradictorily to their stated opinion.)

          • Narf says

            If that’s the way you actually meant it, then you need to clean up the surrounding statements in that paragraph. Your clarification just changes it from a grammatical problem into a contextual problem.

            And you’re really surprised that I jumped in when it turned into an argument about semantics? Really? :-D

          • CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain says

            @adamah:

            that requires inserting the reader’s interpretation of intent into the literal words

            aka communication
             

            the expression is rather meaningless

            You’ve wasted an awful lot of words and effort trying to justify your use of a rather meaningless expression.
             

            disproving another person’s statement of OPINION or their internal thinking processes is damn-near impossible

            Where’d you get the mistaken idea that anyone is interested in your opinion or your intent?
            This forum is primarily designed for discussing the show, and the forum software is not conducive to such a lengthy discussion.

          • says

            Adam: “Huh? Where’d you ever get that mistaken idea? I’m not “seeking agreement””

            I see, you came here for an argument, and perhaps to dish out some abuse, but I’m here for dialogue. I’ll try going down the corridor to room 12A.

  3. Monocle Smile says

    Hope that pastor at the end calls back.

    “Why do you believe the Bible?”
    “I’m not prepared to answer that question.”

    LOST MY SHIT in my car. I don’t care if he was going for presuppositionalist bullshit; that “pastor” needs to read 1 Peter 3:15 again. My troll-trigger has gotten less sensitive as I’ve listened to the show because there are real people that uninformed and bad at arguing, which is why I hope he calls back.

    • says

      I love that his reason for thinking that the burden of proof wasn’t on God’s existence was a premise that itself had not met the burden of proof.

      It just goes right back to that idea that the theological position is a large, complex web of unsubstantiated, undemonstrated claims used to “support” other unsubstantiated, undemonstrated claims.

    • Hope says

      Me too, Monocle. I hope he was a troll, because someone actually being that clueless as to why he believes in something as life-changing as a religion, especially when that religion is his livelihood, would just sadden me greatly. I don’t have that much of a problem with people believing in God(s) as long as they’ve at least thought hard and long about it and can justify it at least somewhat. But just believing something like this for no reason whatsoever, not even a series of bad reasons? That’s just intellectually… for lack of a better term, sinful.

      I hope he calls back so we can find out if he was being serious or not, and if he was, what reasons (if any) he’s come up with in the meantime.

  4. CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain says

    @Matt (38:33):

    There’s a 19th century book called Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds… and I should remember the author’s name but I can’t.

    Charles Mackay
     
    Article: Wikipedia Summary
    (with link to Project Gutenberg’s full text at the bottom)

  5. Frank Sterle Jr says

    Re: my essay, “Prey for the Unanswered Prayer,” earlier this year …

    I’m not a “Christian troll[er]” nor much of a ‘Christian’ either. Rather, I was strongly attracted to your website by persistent pop-ups of “One Minion’s Opinion” during my search-engine scans because one of your regulars, who was repelled by my observations/opinions in the original version of the same essay on prayer. In fact, he felt repelled enough to copy and paste to your website blocks of its text from a local metro-daily’s blog site in order to dissect and critique it before all of your site’s already-more-than-converted users.
    My posted essay (on this site) included an observation of mine that supports atheists’ collective cynicism towards humungous “Christian” institutions (I use quotation marks because ‘Christian’ should be defined as being Christ-like through practicing his teachings, something apparently rarely done). This especially applies to such giant institutional entities as the Vatican and Roman Catholicism—absolute power [eventually/imminently] corrupts absolutely—though I’ve observed that the majority of Protestant denominations are not much, if any, better.
    Politicians, like Stephen Harper, who profess to be practicing Christians but behave almost 180 degrees to the contrary, frustrate and anger me to the point that I post haste turn the TV channel or news-print page lest I absorb too much of his double-speak and non-Christ-like behaviour.
    That same said post also noted that some of the best humanitarians that I’ve met or heard about were/are atheists or at most agnostics who’d make better examples of many of Christ’s teachings than too many “Christians.” Contrarily, some of the worst human(e) beings that I’ve met or heard about are the most devout practitioners of “Christian” theology.
    Unlike so very many on your site, I’m open to any plausible possibility—including evolution as well as atheistic existentialism, though the latter to an admittedly very small single-digit-percentage-point degree.
    The annoying aspect about dialoguing with atheists on hostile sites such as this one is that, being so closed-minded to theistic possibilities, there’s no purpose in black sheep such as myself in even briefly joining your throngs to comment. Ask yourself, what ‘proof’ would suffice to open your mind to the possibility of the actual existence of a theistic entity/creator? Some atheists may think up something fantastic (e.g. the night sky suddenly lighting up on Easter Sunday morning), but if it were to happen, would it not likely be dismissed as perhaps the work of some master of mass illusions, like David Copperfield, trying to fool you all into switching sides on this perhaps greatest of major issues.
    Furthermore, your site is overwhelmingly dominated by a socially dangerous all-or-nothing, either/or mentality, like that I had observed during the OJ Simpson trial: Everywhere I turned my ears or eyes—in the entire media spectrum, ‘around the office water cooler,’ etcetera—it was either “I think Mark Fuhrman planted the bloody glove” or contrarily “I think OJ’s guilty.” I thought that there couldn’t possibly be such narrow-minded perspectives as I listened to or read the uncompromising stupidity. When I’d ask or volunteer my view, that both ‘options’ were most likely true, I received but bewildered expressions.
    Established Atheism is quite like the ardent theologians of old—both sides are not truly ‘open minded’ but more toward being potentially dangerous if translated into physical power, such as with the Dark Ages inquisitions.
    The same could also be said of some academics specialized in various fields of expertise. Blind skepticism seems to be the sometimes arrogant name of their unrelentingly stubborn game. A good example of such are the willful closed-minded reactions toward the countless accounts of clinical or ’near death’ experiences after which the briefly deceased can relate in detail factors of their corporeal setting about which they in ‘no logical manner’ could’ve been cognisant … There should be a limit to the extent at which ‘rational explanation’ and coincidence can be persistently, foolishly utilized to dismiss so many accounts of the paranormal seemingly for the sake of dismissal.*

    • says

      Unlike so very many on your site, I’m open to any plausible possibility

      We are too. Being rational, we require actual evidence before believing it. I am open to the possibility of a god.

      For some reason, because a person doesn’t just automatically and uncritically accept whatever is said without supporting evidence that therefore that person is “closed minded” and “closed to possibilities”. It’s bizarre.

      The annoying aspect about dialoguing with atheists on hostile sites such as this one is that, being so closed-minded to theistic possibilities, there’s no purpose in black sheep such as myself in even briefly joining your throngs to comment.

      Continuing from the above, it’s easy to rational from the foregone conclusion that we’re “closed minded”, to explaining away why one was completely unable to meet even the most rudimentary burden of proof… and therefore, there’s an excuse to bail out.

      Do you think we need to hear about the strange notions of theists just one more time? We’ve heard it all before. If you have something new to add, like evidence, let us know. Otherwise, I agree – there’s no purpose to the discussion.

      I am frustrated by empty and vacuous assertions and claims. In that sense I am hostile – and rightly so. We have cancer to cure – a galaxy to explore, etc, to waste on just one more undemonstrated unevidenced unreasonable delusional claim.

      Ask yourself, what ‘proof’ would suffice to open your mind to the possibility of the actual existence of a theistic entity/creator?

      None – I already accept that possibility. Do you even understand the people whom you are talking to? It doesn’t sound like it.

      Some atheists may think up something fantastic (e.g. the night sky suddenly lighting up on Easter Sunday morning), but if it were to happen, would it not likely be dismissed as perhaps the work of some master of mass illusions, like David Copperfield, trying to fool you all into switching sides on this perhaps greatest of major issues.

      I’d disagree with them. Many god definitions have been specifically engineered, over the years, to be specifically undemonstrable and unfalsifiable. It’s unfair to ask what would prove an intentionally unprovable claim.

      Furthermore, your site is overwhelmingly dominated by a socially dangerous all-or-nothing, either/or mentality, like that I had observed during the OJ Simpson trial:

      …. what? What are you talking about? Can you cite an example? Did you write this for another site?

      Established Atheism is quite like the ardent theologians of old—both sides are not truly ‘open minded’

      I’d love to know what you think “open minded” means, because I’m pretty sure we already fit the common definition. I am open to you demonstrating a god to me. You just actually have to define it, and do it.

      but more toward being potentially dangerous if translated into physical power, such as with the Dark Ages inquisitions.

      Do you actually think we’re totalitarian and have any inclinations towards violence and oppression? Where did you get that from? What did we (as in this group here who you are addressing) do that caused you to think we had totalitarian/violent inclinations? Or is that just your bigotry?

      The same could also be said of some academics specialized in various fields of expertise. Blind skepticism seems to be the sometimes arrogant name of their unrelentingly stubborn game.

      Because people won’t uncritically accept your unevidenced claims doesn’t make them “blind skeptics”. Can you cite one example of evidence provided that should have convinced these “skeptics”?

      A good example of such are the willful closed-minded reactions toward the countless accounts of clinical or ’near death’ experiences after which the briefly deceased can relate in detail factors of their corporeal setting about which they in ‘no logical manner’ could’ve been cognisant

      Is this the example for the above? Again, we’re open to the supernatural elements being demonstrated. The failure of the proponents to do so isn’t our problem.

      Whenever the examples are actually brought up, they’re either completely uncompelling, with much more reasonable explanations available, or were blatantly made up.

      Your inability to avoid common logical fallacies, execute a proper methodology to mitigate human error and bias, and apply critical thinking does not make us “blind skeptics”. It makes you epistemically inept.

      There should be a limit to the extent at which ‘rational explanation’ and coincidence can be persistently, foolishly utilized to dismiss so many accounts of the paranormal seemingly for the sake of dismissal.*

      You’re right. NDEs don’t even come close, though. The rational explanations, even when it comes to a rudimentary coincidence that needs the null hypothesis to be falsified, aren’t ruled out. What we get is the stellar reasoning skills, such as “well I can’t imagine how else this could happen” or “IT JUST CANT BE A COINCIDENCE”

    • Monocle Smile says

      Yeah, not reading that.

      For the record, you might want to tone down the implied smug self-aggrandizement next time. And use paragraph breaks.

      I WILL say that these “countless NDEs” involving out-of-body experiences haven’t actually been formally confirmed by properly controlled experiments. If you’re referring to Sam Parnia, he’s just a blowhard who bullshitted for a while and still hasn’t released the AWARE project results several years after the deadline. In fact, researchers at my alma mater have conducted studies with rats disproving one of his base assumptions about the activity of a dying brain.

      • says

        Indeed. Most of it is anecdotal, where we have no ability to confirm the happenstances, or to see whether the people learned of key information previously, but forgot they learned it, for instance.

        It amazes me that this would be his example of “blind skepticism”, when it’s really so pathetically unsupported that a minimal amount of skepticism would do away with it within a heartbeat.

        Where are the controls, double blind trials, or peer review checking that the methodology behind the studies isn’t prone to biases or errors?

        If nothing has been done to mitigate human error, biases and logical fallacies, why should I think that it’s anything other than bursting at the seams with human error, biases and logical fallacies?

        A rudimentary Bayesian analysis would tear this to shreds. The whole concept of NDEs requires fleet of assumptions about the nature of the universe, none of which are validated as true – for instance, do we have ANY examples of minds that operate separate from a physical brain (whether biological or mechanical)?

        This basic assumption of OBEs/NDEs is totally unprecedented in terms of any kind of demonstration, and is thus incredibly far fetched.

        So what we’re left with is choosing between two things, within the interim of further evidence:

        1) Unprecedented, unevidenced, undemonstrated claims about reality that violate the rest of known reality are true.

        2) They’re a combination of incredibly common biases, logical fallacies, imagination inflation, priming, reporting errors and common coincidence.

        So far, we have zilch to bring the plausibility from #2 to #1.

    • says

      Ask yourself, what ‘proof’ would suffice to open your mind to the possibility of the actual existence of a theistic entity/creator?

      It would be good if prayers to this theistic entity/creator actually worked. The most damning evidence (in my mind) against the existence of god that there is no common attribute of god that theists can agree upon, beyond the deistic “prime mover” you’ve just painted, which means there is no common experience that humans can have with this god. Tell me how experiencing this “god: isn’t at least as common as how we experience water?

      Established Atheism is quite like the ardent theologians of old—both sides are not truly ‘open minded’ but more toward being potentially dangerous if translated into physical power, such as with the Dark Ages inquisitions.

      What is “Established Atheism”? Do you see atheists trying to inject “Under No God” or “In No God We Trust” into government? Atheism isn’t a ideology or a philosophy, it’s the result of an rational examination of the assertion “God Exists”. Atheists are human, just like theists, so I agree that an established, dogmatic form of Atheist Religion (not sure how that would work) probably would have the same results as Theistic Religion, but that’s why atheists are almost uniformly against any such thing.

    • says

      You might not be a raving fire n’ brimstone fundamentalist, but I’m afraid your competent spelling and civil demeanour don’t compensate at all for the raft of logical fallacies and caricatures of atheism and skepticism on display in that comment. Seriously, I didn’t detect anything approaching reality in your description of atheists or organised atheism, from your mischaracterisation of what atheism entails or your fantasies about “Established Atheism”.

      Your bafflegab about NDEs can be dismissed until something other than the biochemistry of a failing brain can be demonstrated to be in play. The fact that many people appear to think almost dying is some a far-out and groovy trip to fucking Candyland is an argument from popularity and not evidence of anything.

      Furthermore, your site is overwhelmingly dominated by a socially dangerous all-or-nothing, either/or mentality…

      And your post is so strewn with misunderstandings so egregious I think I could be forgiven for thinking they’re intentional and designed to provoke. The fact is that where the actual question of “Does a god exist” is concerned (without delving into the deeper questions e.g. “what kind of god and with what abilities?”), the actual answer is either “yes one does” or “no one doesn’t.” It’s the same if you’re discussing the existence of anything, whether pixies or the Higgs boson.

      Our answer to “does the Christian god exist” isn’t “he definitely doesn’t”; it’s “there is no reason to think he does” or “he almost certainly does not,” or a similar, non-absolute, non-declarative variation. However, the usual follow-up to either of those answers is “but one might.” Speaking personally I’m open to the possibility of literally anything existing or being true – however, without some kind of evidence beyond anecdote or Scripture or warm fuzzy feeling at sunset, without some kind of prior plausibility, without even some kind of rational argument, I’m going to spend precisely zero time even contemplating somebody’s spiritual notion. Sure, the planet could be resting on an infinite pillar of enormous turtles; sure, the ancient god of some raping, pillaging Hebrew warmongers could have spoken the Universe into existence 6000 years ago or wound it up and let it go 13.8 billion years ago; sure, we could all be brains in vats collectively hallucinating, but until somebody presents evidence for same or a single convincing argument that doesn’t rest on logical fallacies or “well, it COULD be true” or “well, there has to be SOMETHING”, my belief – that is, my acceptance of a proposition as being true and factual – will be withheld. Justifiably.

      Jasper of Maine covered the bulk of my other objections and my various raised eyebrows; let’s just say I concur and that I await your response (that is, if you are something beyond a hit n’ run commenter).

      • says

        And just let me reply to myself by saying: if you don’t like hostile responses, perhaps a good way to avoid them would be to NOT roll up somewhere and start making erroneous, false and offensive assumptions about who people are, how they think, what they believe and why they don’t agree with your unevidenced pet notions of the workings of the universe.

        In fact, the best way to avoid hostility would be to first ask questions about at least of those things when you encounter a new group of people instead of, right off the bat, presuming to tell everyone who they are based on some ridiculous archetype you’ve constructed (likely via rafts of false information).

        • Monocle Smile says

          Yeah, it’s one thing to poke the dragon. But when you kick it in the eye, don’t whine when you get burned.

    • corwyn says

      Unlike so very many on your site, I’m open to any plausible possibility

      So when was the last update you did on your confidence in the proposition that a god exists?

      I did one after reading your post. You will be no doubt sad to learn that my confidence decreased (a very tiny amount). This is exactly the opposite of a closed mind, I reassess with each new piece of evidence. But if ardent supporters of the proposition are unable to muster the thinnest piece of positive evidence, that in itself is negative evidence.

    • adamah says

      Jasper took all the meat off dem’ bones, but I’ll bite on this:

      Frank said:

      Ask yourself, what ‘proof’ would suffice to open your mind to the possibility of the actual existence of a theistic entity/creator?

      Oh, I dunno: I suppose regeneration of a limb might do it?

      But on the other hand, God had better do it pronto before humans figure out the secret to cellular regeneration as found in salamanders and other reptiles, and “steal His thunder”. Why do I say that?

      In Jesus’ time, the crowds were depicted as being impressed by Jesus’ performing miracles and providing signs by eg curing leprosy, where Jesus supposedly healed a handful of individuals by laying on of hands and forgiving their sins (since Jesus was an ardent believer in the ‘sin theory of disease’ ie sins cause disease; he claimed to be empowered by His Father to forgive humans of their sins, and hence the physical manifestation disappears IF the person has strong enough faith to believe in Jesus’ power to forgive sins vs taking a few birds to the Temple High Priests).

      Unfortunately that’s not just going to cut it today, since the widespread use of oral antibiotics means doctors have permanently cured MILLIONS of patients with leprosy by using a short-course of inexpensive oral antibiotics. A typical modern eye surgeon cures more cases of “blindness” (due to cataracts, retinal disease, etc) than Jesus healed in his entire 3 yr preaching ministry.

      Adam

      • C.B. Evans says

        I’ve picked up some very useful quick-hit points I make to believers from listening to the AE podcasts. Among them:

        1) An all-knowing, all-powerful god knows *precisely* what evidence would persuade me to believe in it, has the power to show me that evidence at any time. But there’s a problem: If that’s so, but I never see that persuasive evidence, then god isn’t really all-benevolent, because it doesn’t *want* me to be persuaded and in fact, has chosen to let me go to eternal torture (per Christian theology).

        2) People then may haul out the “hidden god” and “free will” apologetics. According to those arguments, god can’t show its power—i.e. provide the evidence that would persuade me?—because it would infringe on my “free will” to choose to believe. Balderdash. As I’ve heard (I think) Russell say, satan was made fully aware of god’s immense powers in just about every way imaginable, yet he still had the free will to rebel.

        3) The “peekaboo god” argument I find very persuasive. The god of the Bible is incredibly liberal with its demonstrations of supernatural powers before Bible-era people who, lacking rational scientific explanations that we have available to us for many seemingly “magical” phenomena, were predisposed to accept them as miracles and evidence of god. Strangely, in our era, when knowledge has made us (well, most of us) less credulous about supernatural claims, this same god supposedly “shows itself” only in the most minor of ways. You know, we don’t get the sun stopping in the sky, walking on water, talking animals, healing “withered” limbs and so on. Maybe the occasional Jesus on a tortilla or three people out of 142 surviving a plane crash. Small ball. So this god seems to have it reversed.

        One can only conclude that if this god exists, it certainly is not interested in seeing all its human creations “saved,” and therefore is a malign thug.

        Thanks, AE hosts, for these handy tips!

    • says

      Saying someone is not “open minded” contains two fallacies. First, it is special pleading, there is something about what you have to say that deserves more attention than what others have said. Second, it is an ad-nominee, that there is something wrong with my mind that it does not allow your ideas to be heard. Often, as is the case here, the “closed minded” accusation doesn’t even come with the expression of the ideas, so I can’t even evaluate them.

  6. C.B. Evans says

    @Frank Sterle Jr re NDEs:

    There are, of course, many, many non-supernatural potential explanations for so-called NDEs. That of course is where faith comes in: People who seem to believe these incidents must be explained via supernatural means.

    http://infidels.org/library/modern/keith_augustine/HNDEs.html

    (I’m always fascinated, by the way, by people’s assertions that they “died for three minutes” or “died on the table” and so on. They manifestly did *not* die, by virtue of the fact that they are now alive. I suppose they could number themselves among the few humans “raised from the dead” by Jesus, the apostles and so on, but that’s a whole other question.)

  7. K'Sennia says

    I was raised in a fundamentalist kJV only church and we were taught about the dark ages as proof of the evils of the Catholic church and were taught out of books like Foxes book of Martyrs where we learned about the millions of true Christians that the Catholic church slaughtered who wouldn’t go along with their evilness.

    I’m not any type of Christian now but I still cringed when listening to Don speak as if the Catholic church represented all Christians and all Christians during that time period were Catholic and were evil. The church killed anyone who wouldn’t go along, but there were people who called themselves Christian who were not like that and they suffered just as much as any of the pagans, possibly were lumped in and called pagans.

    If what I was taught was true, of course. I was taught a whole lot of stuff that turned out to be bullshit so maybe that was too, I don’t know. But it bothered me nonetheless to hear about it as if you went to that time period all Christians, evil monsters, all non Christians innocent victims. The world was such a bloody and violent place back then and still is in a lot of ways.

    You give any group absolute power and they do and will do the same thing no matter what their group stands for. I don’t think you can use the atrocities of the Catholic church as blanket proof of the evils of Christianity since that church only represents one faction. They are certainly a very large and powerful faction, but talk to anyone that I was raised with or many other protestants who will tell you that was the Catholics, they are evil, we’re the true Christians. Yada yada yada.

    Look at Russia. For a while they decided to be Atheist and kill and torture Jews and anyone who was religious and anti government. Now they’ve decided to embrace one church and torture and kill the gays and anyone who seems to American.

    I mean if anything all that stuff is proof of the reality of sin and why the church is able to use that to guilt so many people. You look at the stuff that we humans are capable of doing to one another when given the opportunity, and from there you could go right into an argument for how our sin natures proves the Bible. T

    The sin thing used to be one of the proofs that I would use for myself when I was slowly losing my beliefs. That and Noah’s ark were the only proofs of the Bible I could find. *I have no idea if the Noah’s ark thing is real or not though* Oh and the book I used to read that had scientific proofs of the Bible that aren’t really if you actually understand science but I didn’t, of course, and still barely do.

    Okay, I’m rambling now. Sorry, Mostly I just wanted to say that because I’d been taught those things for so much of my childhood and hearing you speak about the dark ages without mentioning them just really bothered me so I needed to write something about it.

    • corwyn says

      You should probably do some research to find out what parts of what you were taught are true.

      But to clear up a simple factual issue. The term ‘Dark Ages’ applies to a time period before the Reformation, and thus before the King James Version was even written.

      • K'Sennia says

        Hey Corwyn,

        You don’t happen to have an IMDb account under this name do you? I lurk on there a lot and I think there’s a Corwyn on there. Just curious.

        And yes I probably should do my own research. I’m not intelligent anyway, but whenever I try to write something that sounds intelligent when I have only fragments of feelings and no sure facts I’m going to sound even dumber than I maybe am.

        It may be that I’m correct in wanting complete accuracy (although that could take forever) TAE tends to generalize more than specialize because if they tried specializing each answer to each specific xtian cult that had ever existed they wouldn’t get anywhere.

        I think it was more I just have this programming in my head and I kept wanting to hear something that specifically addressed that stuff but I’m likely never going to get that because the show is about Atheism not refuting Ruckman/Gipp etc.

        But you grow up your whole being brainwashed into seeing the history of the world in one specific way and it’s amazing how much it messes you up and screws with your head. I have Aspergers anyway, so my head is already screwed up, but the childhood indoctrination only made me worse. Who knows if I’d been given a real education instead of being taught lies who knows where I would be now or what I could do.

        And yeah, maybe if I Google I can find someone who refutes that stuff specifically.

        I finally heard the tale of Gilgamesh on Cosmos. I didn’t mean that I thought the flood story was true, just that when I was still an xtian I’d heard that people had seen and photographed Noah’s ark on Mt Ararat, and then I read this xtian novel that revolved around that. I was just curious if xtians completely made the story up or up if it was reasonable that there could be some boat up there for some natural reason.

        But again, I guess I should google it. :)

        And I don’t actually believe in sin either. It’s a man made construct used to control people. I don’t know what my point with that was really? *sighs*

        I’ll go back to lurking now and will let the smart people keep talking. :)

        • corwyn says

          I didn’t mean to imply that you are unintelligent. Rather, that many people who have been indoctrinated, need to find things out for themselves. Me just saying it doesn’t help. Good luck.

    • says

      But Don didn’t say that. He agrees with you, that when anyone gets that much power, they’ll do terrible things, even Christians. The argument that the Roman Catholic Church persecuted Christian sects that they disagreed with is not evidence that those sects were right. Look at what happened when the RCC weakened and Luther and Calvin gained power. There was a war called the Thirty Years War.

      RIght after that, Newton finished Archimedes work. That is not a coincidence to me. Newton had the freedom to study whatever he wanted because The Peace at Westphalia had provisions for religious tolerance. Kings could no longer do whatever they wanted and say God commanded it. The Pope could no longer tell the Universities to not teach reason.

  8. says

    @K’Sennia Here’s a short and much simplified answer to your question.

    In the very early days (say 100-325), there *were* many different versions of Christianity. There was no central authority to tell people what was scripture and what wasn’t, whether Jesus was just a man or divine & just pretending, whether the creator god of the Jews was an evil imposter who imprisoned souls in a bodily form, or whether he was identical to Plato’s Good, whether Jesus was a Messiah for Jews or for everyone.

    For about 150 years beginning with the council of Nicaea in 325, the less powerful groups were muscled out and an orthodoxy was established. There were a few heretical Christian sects that popped up now and then (the most prominent being Catharism, which you might not recognise as strictly Christian), and there were fights/schisms amongst the orthodox Christians over certain doctrines (e.g iconclasm, filioque) but overall, from about 500 (about the time when Arianism, the last major rival to orthodoxy died out) to about 1500 (with the rise of Protestantism and the Fall of Constantinople in 1453), Christianity was pretty much a monolith* (barring some regional differences in emphasis and saints’ cults/adoption of local Pagan customs, continuation of earlier Christian traditions and power structures etc.). The one church–the Orthodox Catholic Church–split linguistically from early on into two halves, Latin in the West, Greek in the East, did draw further apart, especially politically (somewhat, though not as dramatically doctrinally) in the 11th century (the Great Schism).

    *when compared to the pre-Nicene and post-Reformation periods

    Oh. And Noah’s Ark? A Sumerian myth. In the earlier version the guy’s name was Utnapishtim & he is saved from a deluge sent by the King of the Gods by another god (Enki).

    • K'Sennia says

      Interesting. Thanks Ibris. :)

      I had never heard of Catharism before.

      I just googled Noah’s ark on Ararat and am now on wikipedia.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mountains_of_Ararat

      I’d known about all the other flood stories but didn’t realize that the ark resting on ararat was also stolen from other places. I also learned that whenever religious groups go up there in search of the ark they always find it. “giggles”

      Just more pulpit myths being shattered. Thank You!

      • says

        Hey K’Sennia. It’s a shame that you were brainwashed with all that stuff–bad history as well as bad science. I’d be happy to answer any questions you have, if you prefer to “chat” with a person via email rather than Google and search Wikipedia. Or if you’d like some book recommendations. You can reach me via mdn0333 at the gmail thing.

        By the way, do you ever hang out at Libby Anne’s blog, Love Joy Feminism? I ask because she’s also a homeschool graduate and she talks a lot about that culture.

  9. Hope says

    I laughed when I heard that the Christians used to refer to everyone else as pagans. Apparently the Christian school I attended for my last two years of high school is still stuck in the Dark Ages, literally, because many of my teachers did the EXACT same thing. Everyone who wasn’t a Christian was a pagan to them. It made my head spin every time. Muslims are pagan. Atheists are pagan. Buddhists are pagan.

    You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

    • K'Sennia says

      Christians schools are horrid. I was home-school using a Christian curriculum, which is almost as bad, and then forced into attending one year of high school in an ACE school.

      My church always used “Lost” instead of pagan, though they did refer to anyone who didn’t believe exactly as they did as devil worshipers.

      • Hope says

        That’s another good one! Yes, I worship the devil. Who I don’t believe exists. Makes PERFECT sense!

        Also at that school: a chemistry teacher who told my class that evolution can’t be true, because, and I quote, “A dog can’t give birth to a cat!” I wish I had been more confident and knowledgeable about evolution then, because if I heard someone say that now, especially someone who is supposed to be a science educator, I would shut that down real quick.

        • K'Sennia says

          If you want a giggle there’s this great book by Bill Schnoebelen that you can get through chick publications. And he claims that he was a male wiccan priest turned Satanist turned Mormon turned Catholic Priest Vampire. He would subsist on the wine/blood of Jesus from communion rather than kill people. What’s sad is I believed it once.

          That science teacher you had would probably believe it too and use it as proof of the dangers of Halloween and absolutely everything else not sanctioned by the Bible.

        • Hope says

          I just looked him up. I swear I have seen him somewhere before! Any ideas?

          Speaking of Halloween, that reminds me. My school didn’t do Halloween, it did Reformation Day. Some of my classmates joked that one of our protestant school’s “patron saints” was Martin Luther (the other being C. S. Lewis… My senior year I was assigned to read three of his books, plus I read his autobiography for extra credit). When one of my friends was in middle school there, he ran for some student government position and for some reason did a drawing of the green goblin from Homestar Runner’s Halloween shorts (this cute little guy –http://www.cs.utah.edu/~swilde/hsw/goblin.PNG) on his poster. Probably because he was in middle school. They made him take it down because it was demonic. -_-

          Ooooooh the memories!

          Such thread jacking…

          • K'Sennia says

            Well Bill does look a bit like Gandalf, maybe you’re thinking of Lord of the rings?

            And interesting on Reformation Day. That is one adorable demon. “giggles”

            We just stayed home and handed out tracts to the trick or treaters.

            Although I think when I was in High school we had an activity at church and watched this hilarious movie on people in hell.

            If you feel bad about thread jacking we could always continue in email, if you wanted. :)

            ksenniav @ gmail.com

  10. says

    When it comes to the evidence for NDEs/OBEs, I think a good analog is crop circles.

    We agree that the crop circle phenomenon occurs… but we also note a lot of evidence that many/most of them are man-made. You are saying that they’re caused by aliens, therefore, aliens exist.

    Many people struggle with the basic concept of what it takes to produce good evidence, sufficient enough to demonstrate a claim. There’s a difference between demonstrating that the phenomenon exists, and demonstrated an asserted causal mechanism to the phenomenon.

    When we ask you to provide evidence that crop circles are caused by aliens, what typically happens is that you provide additional examples of crop circles – and little more making the alien connection.

    But the crops are gently folded down, and not broken, like trampling feet would make. How could this be done if it wasn’t by a UFO? You’re just being closed minded.” – is along the line of arguments we get.

    Each example that’s brought up is either easily explained by non-magic/non-aliens, or the stories just don’t check out…. and we’re still left without that evidence connecting them to aliens. Further, the alien explanation violates much more of known reality than the idea that regular people are making them.

    Providing 10,000 more examples of crop circles doesn’t accomplish demonstrating that humans weren’t involved.. 100,000 more doesn’t accomplish this… because you’re demonstrating the wrong thing.

    With NDEs, we’re mostly given just additional examples of dubious claims claiming that the experience occurred. We get that – we accept people are experiencing something. I think we have a helmet that can trigger the experience on demand, actually.

    What we lack now is the solid evidence that indicates that there’s a brainless mind floating around, somehow with retinas that can pick up light too, that are perceiving reality… breaking everything we know about physics and biology… so that they can learn facts that could have been learned beforehand.

    I’m sorry – that isn’t blind skepticism to reject the extraordinary claim. That’s just not being horribly gullible.

  11. Joe says

    Just to stay you need to stop the studio audience ‘laughing’ – that is not good and undermines the callers.

  12. Marc Locher says

    • Peggy says

      What part of Ohio? Actually, there are quite a few of us…all over the state. You might try MeetUp to find an atheist/agnostic/non-believer meet up.

      • Marc Locher says

        Thanks Peggy, I am about 10 miles north of Springfield. I have looked into MeetUp, which is how I became aware of Freethought Dayton and Ohio Atheist in North East Ohio. I have gone to some of the Dayton group’s meetups and enjoy them, but with the distance involved for most of their meetups, I find it hard attend them as often as I would like. Would like to find or possibly start something in Springfield.

  13. Rob Sheehan says

    I’m so glad I didn’t give up on this show, because that “I wasn’t prepared to answer that” guy last Sunday had me rolling. He was for real. These preachers, etc., live in such bubbles. There’s a priest at my parents’ church who always says he wishes people a merry Christmas because HE celebrates Christmas and doesn’t celebrate Hanukhah or Kwanza, as if the reason for wishing someone else something is to make the wisher feel good.

  14. Niels Kloster says

    Factual errors annoys me. Matt may have been referring to something else but I’m guessing he wasn’t talking about Greek mathematicians. Excerpt of a mail to the show:


    Belief base on number of believers.
    Basing your belief on how many others believe it is something we all do a lot and often without realizing it. It is mostly on subject that we feel are less important. We do that because it is reliable in many aspects. If I’m not quite sure what to vote then taking some average of the people i count as friend probably gets me close to what I would have decided on my own. If all my friends hate my tattoo design then odds are higher that if I get it anyway I won’t be happy with it a few years later. It is also reliable in many aspects that is not purely opinion if they have not been duped. It’s probably not irrational to think the church has been powerful enough through the centuries to dupe a lot of people…

    FLAT EARTH.
    “GO READ A BOOK”? I UNDERSTAND THE FRUSTRATION BUT HE ACTUALLY ASKED THE SAME QUESTION WHICH WAS IN MY HEAD. THE MOVE FROM FLAT-EARTH WORLDVIEW WAS QUITE GRADUAL. MANY DISAGREED WITH COLUMBUS BUT THAT WAS BECAUSE HE WAS WRONG. YOUR TURN TO GO READ A BOOK OR MAYBE JUST GOOGLE :)

  15. Philip Wagner says

    Is there an index to all of Don Baker’s “Failures of Christianity” talks? Even just a list of the episode numbers would be helpful.

  16. Philip Wagner says

    Admiration for Matt and Don. I sometimes think I could do your job on the show. However, in all honesty I wouldn’t have known where to start with Monroe, yet you handled the call with an honesty and sensitivity I would not have been able to match!

  17. Johan Modin says

    As an educated historian I must strongly object on your description of “The Dark Ages” (and of the crusades and the Roman Empire, etc), although I agree on the main principle that state and religion doesn’t mix very well for numerous reasons…

  18. Sid Whittaker says

    Who said the DARK AGES are over…
    In the future, historians could look back and lump the whole lot from 1000AD to 3000 AD as the dark ages…
    It all depends how long it takes us to, globally drop this idea of Religion..Until then the Dark ages of Religion will carry on.
    For our time period will be so small and insignificant in relation to the years that humanity lives on this rock.
    Humans of 20,000AD will hopefully know nothing about us.

    • CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain says

      @Sid Whittaker:
      “Dark ages” is a term historians use for periods about which few records survive to the present. It’s generally associated with the collapse of civilizations… or more optimistically, of insufficient digging.
       
      Religious institutions no longer have a monopoly on the distribution of information. Today, intellectual property.laws are kind of a threat: if a publisher or media conglomerate decides to sit on content, it can disappear. Even so, there’s plenty of culture littering the planet. Archaeologists sift through ancient peoples’ garbage, and we produce a lot.
       
      The book “The World Without Us” points out a trend, over the centuries, of using media with ever-decreasing lifespans (trading robustness for versatility). That could lead to a rapid loss of information if we stopped maintaining libraries, the internet, etc. Stone, bronze, and ceramics persist longer.
       
      On the other hand, it’s far easier to reproduce bytes and paper for archival.

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