Salon reviews The Atheist Experience, gives us a thumbs down


Hey, good news everyone! The Atheist Experience got reviewed in Salon!

Well, okay, it was not the most complimentary review we’ve ever received.

Well, okay, it’s called “I spent a day watching AtheistTV — and it was horrifying”. The review was set up as a general overview of the new Roku channel from American Atheists, but it also devoted a plurality of its copy to describing scenes from our show, and the cover photo was of Matt and Jen.

salonreview

According to author Daniel D’Addario, “AtheistTV adheres to nasty stereotypes about atheism — smugness, gleeful disregard for others’ beliefs — to a degree that’s close to unwatchable.” Of AETV specifically, he complained that:

  • “Matt Dillahunty… needed no prompting to begin his show with the Biblical story of God asking Abraham to sacrifice his son Isaac.”
  • “there was… no sense that Dillahunty was bothered by people following the Bible for any reason other than that he thinks it’s nuts to rely on a book for wisdom and guidance.”
  • “‘If you know why your God is so stupid,’ he said, ‘feel free and call us.'”
  • “[I]t’s worth noting that Dillahunty repeatedly suggested he was dealing with a prank caller but refused to disengage and make time for a caller who might have done a better job of representing himself; it was more important to score rhetorical points off someone clearly not equipped to play.”
  • “…Don Baker pivoted from talking ‘Cosmos’ to introducing today’s topic: ‘…Christianity requires ignorance — and con games require ignorance too.’‘”

Then D’Addario shut the channel off, comparing it in the end to “a person shouting at you on the subway.”

Reading through these points again, I realize they are not so much direct criticisms of the show as they are (partly) accurate straight descriptions of interactions that do happen on a regular basis. Sure, a lot of it is out of context. I know what it takes to make Matt bring up the story of Abraham and Isaac, and I know why I would bring it up; I suspect it was done in the service of answering some question someone brought up about morality in the Bible. “Scoring rhetorical points off someone clearly not equipped to play?” We get constant accusations of this, no matter how many religious callers we receive, no matter how long they talk, no matter how good their credentials are as apologists. Many times people will email us to say that we obviously only take calls from Christians who don’t know what they are talking about… and then those same people will call in and become fodder for the next person with the same accusation. We take as many oppositional callers as we can get our hands on, and sometimes we hang onto dubious ones just because we don’t want to spend the whole show talking to people who agree with us.

Am I saying the show is beyond criticism? Of course not. Are we sometimes arrogant, gleeful, and smug? Oh yeah, definitely. I don’t say that with pride, I just acknowledge that it happens. Do we preach to the choir, as another viewer charged after reading this piece? That does happen.

Nevertheless, “horrifying” is an awfully melodramatic way to characterize a channel full of people expressing opinions in a way you don’t like.

D’Addario invokes Neil DeGrasse Tyson several times in this article. The subtitle of the piece is “The Atheist streaming network apparently learned nothing from Neil deGrasse Tyson’s success.” After a few paragraphs, he brings up Tyson in this way:

After the rally broadcast, in the final episode of “The Atheist Experience” I watched, both hosts recommended that viewers tune into “Cosmos,” on Fox. That show, starring the scientist Neil deGrasse Tyson, made the argument that the religious right had deleterious effects on the world by using concrete examples from history. The show also inspired awe by presenting something in which to believe — the majesty of the universe, the wonders of science. It wasn’t reacting to any doctrine; it was doing something all its own.

And that’s great, because I agree with Daniel that Tyson is doing a fantastic job with Cosmos. He is indeed a very effective science popularizer, and I’m glad Cosmos is on the air. However, it’s not actually true that Tyson wasn’t reacting to any doctrine — his show is most definitely needed at this moment in time as a counterpoint to the pervasive anti-science and anti-intellectualism that exists around the country. As my friend and fellow public atheist Adam Lee pointed out in another Salon piece, religious fundamentalists hate Cosmos no matter how gentle, soft spoken, and enthusiastic Neil might be about his topic. But Cosmos doesn’t devote any airtime to those fundamentalists, or their other critics, even though a spokesman for Answers In Genesis demanded (unsuccessfully) that the network should give them equal time.

Neil’s got an utterly one sided soapbox for promoting his message, and I say good for him. He is attempting to educate viewers about settled science, without bogging it down in any kind of “controversy” or some phony “teach both sides” mentality. Cosmos doesn’t devote any time at all to creationists, flat earthers, or global warming deniers. Preaching to the choir? Sure, he’s educating people who are inclined to like science. People who think science is a trick straight from the pit of hell, aren’t going to watch it except to complain.

So this single-message soapbox tone works for Cosmos. But you know what other show I love, that is also very effective? The Rachel Maddow Show appeals to my political opinions, and Maddow is totally confrontational. Her heated interview with Rand Paul on the civil rights bill was one of the best damn pieces of journalism I’ve seen in a while. When somebody is full of it, you take them down. It’s fine if you can deconstruct their claims with a polite yet geeky speech, cool graphics, some introductory math and pithy history lessons; but openly confronting those people works well too. Another of my favorite show hosts, Jon Stewart, makes his living by regularly confronting and ridiculing public assertions that don’t make sense. There is room in my entertainment schedule for both Cosmos and The Daily Show.

Here’s the thing: However much I may love Neil DeGrasse Tyson, he has stated on several occasions that he is not an atheist.  And that’s fine! He doesn’t have to like the label, and I have no wish to make him produce content that educates, entertains, and enriches people in a way that explicitly mentions atheism. But I personally am someone who embraces the label atheist. Therefore, Tyson can never fully represent me or my interests. I never expected him to, and I don’t require that of him. After all, I have a lot of different interests. I’m a left leaning political enthusiast, so I like watching Maddow and The Daily Show. I’m a gamer and a Starcraft fan, so I enjoy watching Day[9] get all enthusiastic and geeky about games I play. I’m interested in finance, which is why I listen to Planet Money and Freakonomics Radio. I loves me some science, so I watch Cosmos. And I like talking about atheism, so I’m glad there are atheist shows out there, and I feel privileged to get to host one sometimes.

You see, I don’t need all my entertainment to cover all my interests, but I want choices. Not everyone has the same taste as I do. I don’t watch football or other professional sports, but ESPN exists without giving equal time to people like me who might simply talk about our complete lack of interest in sports. I don’t listen to Christian talk shows, and I don’t agree with Christian talk shows, but I’m absolutely fine with the idea that there are extensive choices out there for Christians who want to listen to them. And they are extensive — Wikipedia informs me that there are at least thirty separate television stations which are devoted exclusively to round the clock religious programming. That’s actual broadcast TV, not some experimental new technological platform like Roku, that’s still just getting started trying to grab market share.

So: American Atheists has an atheist channel, the first of its kind. We’re on it. Daniel D’Addario seems to object to the fact that we directly invite and respond to claims that we find ridiculous, and we’re not always perfectly polite about it. Sorry. As a public atheist, I feel like there are legitimate problems with religious extremism that too often get swept under the rug by a general notion that you should smile and nod at everyone’s beliefs, whether they are justified or not. So I defend The Atheist Experience’s approach to religious dialogue, while still acknowledging that we could always improve.

I don’t necessarily think there is anything either wrong or horrifying about preaching to the choir from time to time. We hear all the time from atheists who feel like they just don’t have a voice in their day to day lives — they can’t tell their families about their opinions, they can’t speak up at work. Our religious neighbors feel free to promote their beliefs without a second thought, while offended outrage explodes any time atheists use even the most inoffensive possible means of expressing an opposing viewpoint. Atheist students who stand up for themselves are attacked and abused regularly. People who live in the Bible Belt often express their relief and gratitude that we talk about these issues candidly, so that they don’t feel like a lone voice in the wilderness anymore.

Our show is a special interest show. We have a point of view and we promote it. There are countless religious shows. There are very few atheist shows on any mainstream channel, even after the creation of Atheist TV. Yet even though we have a slanted show, it is by no means a one-sided one — we take callers precisely so that we do not present a program where atheists pat ourselves on the back about how much we agree, but instead can directly engage with people who disagree with us. There aren’t many other shows that will sit down and have a conversation over a disagreement for 15, 30, or occasionally even 60 minutes without hanging up and monologuing instead.

On balance, I’m glad this article appeared in Salon, because I do think that our show is small enough that the benefit of being mentioned on Salon greatly outweighs the harm that we’ll be perceived as rude. I’m not saying that to be snotty, as in “Ha ha, thanks for helping us, Daniel! Take that!” I’d like to think that we at The Atheist Experience do take criticism seriously and listen to suggestions. Sometimes we follow those suggestions and sometimes we don’t. But I don’t resent Salon for publishing this piece at all, because open dialogue is what we’re all about.

Also, Daniel, please feel free to call in any time and set a good example for those underequipped callers you mentioned.

Comments

  1. CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain says

    “Matt Dillahunty… needed no prompting to begin his show with the Biblical story of God asking Abraham to sacrifice his son Isaac.”

    Sure, a lot of it is out of context. I know what it takes to make Matt bring up the story of Abraham and Isaac, and I know why I would bring it up; I suspect it was done in the service of answering some question someone brought up about morality in the Bible.

     
    Audio: Episode #865 The Abraham Reason Apologetic (2014-05-11)
    Description: Jen disects a bogus apologetic submitted by an e-mail correspondent.
     
    (FtB Open Thread)

  2. says

    “Sorry. As a public atheist, I feel like there are legitimate problems with religious extremism that too often get swept under the rug by a general notion that you should smile and nod at everyone’s beliefs, whether they are justified or not.”

    Money line! Thank for the balanced viewpoint. Spot on. Big fan of the show.

  3. maudell says

    When I read that piece, I thought it sounded like the writer watched a different show. And that he did zero research (I think he referred to Don as a new co-host, for example).

    Really, there are plenty of legitimate criticisms one can make about TAE (and it’s not like you guys have a huge budget). I just think d’Addario was criticizing something else he has a problem with.

  4. says

    People who allude to this idea that there are “others out there equipped to play” have not looked. I’ve read at least 20 modern theology books and 20 more rebuttals to the terrible ones like “Is God a Moral Monster” (spoiler, he is but the author covers for him). I’ve hassled Frank Schaeffer and Tony Jones enough that they’ve asked me what my deal is, but they never respond to my actual arguments. I’ve broke bread with 3 pastors and had enough long conversations to know they got nuthin’. The answers may be longer, calmer and seemingly internally consistent, but they are no better than anything a fundamentalist might spew.

    At best they take some magical powers away from God to make him more palatable, then they’ll put him further out in the cosmos somewhere, more mysterious. They say it is about community, ignoring the data that shows it’s the people who already have friends in church who are benefiting, and that benefit is available in any group without the need to suspend reason. They’ll lament the lose of some source of morality, making no mention of how church does a better job of that than Sesame Street. They’ll usually cut off the conversation with some claim that I need to read some ancient historian or some Bultmann or something, which is no better than telling me to read my Bible and pray.

  5. John Iacoletti says

    Daniel D’Addario’s review was insipid. “The tenets of atheism”? “Decorated with infinity symbols”? LOL

    It comes off as being one giant concern troll. “Despite my own lack of religious belief”. Yeah, sure.

    But this is AtheistTV, it’s not Cosmos-TV, or Science-TV, or Wacky-game-show-TV” or “win-people-over-TV”. And yes, I thought of Jon Stewart too. Something tells me that the “entertainment reporter” wouldn’t be castigating Stewart for his mockery and scorn. But this person who “lacks religious belief” apparently thinks that religious beliefs should be sacrosanct and above scrutiny and criticism. I don’t even really believe that he actually watched for a day or even for 4 hours. Is AtheistTV really devoting 50% of their airtime to our show, or did D’Addario just get lucky when he decided to tune in?

  6. says

    Forgive me for being presumptuous, but I suggest you keep your wits about you when you listen to Planet Money or (especially) Freakonomics. They peddle a lot of crap, sometimes bordering on economic woo. Economics in general is one area that requires much more critical attention from skeptics.

  7. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    wearing a black Hawaiian-style shirt decorated with flames and infinity symbols

    Is there some hidden meaning here? I don’t get it. He’s describing a shirt. It’s a shirt.

    AtheistTV frames atheism as a perpetual reaction against a conquering force. And that reaction isn’t reasoned debate. It’s unattractive nihilism.

    “Nihilism”. He uses that word, but I do not think he knows what it means.

  8. houndentenor says

    I’m not that crazy of the shirt Matt was wearing that day either but it’s bizarre that the writer would think it was relevant to the evaluation of the content of an entire Roku channel. It also seems unprofessional to base a review of an entire channel on such a short viewing time. It wasn’t even a video featuring “best of” clips but a random sampling. Is this what passes for a review on Salon? Even by today’s abysmally low standards of journalism that seems shoddy.

    Also, does it really need to take this long to log onto the comments section every time? All the other sites I post on use Disqus and it’s so much simpler.

  9. Russell Glasser says

    Yes, I am aware. I find their stories interesting, but I take them with a pound of salt, and have read many rebuttals to their episodes. Same for This American Life. I’m a fan, not a dittohead.

  10. houndentenor says

    Economics is definitely not a science. It would be impossible to run controlled experiments to test macroeconomic theories. There are two many variables and every situation is unique. At best it’s a guess and not that reliable even then. Compare that to our understanding of planetary gravity which has allowed us to use gravitational fields of various planets to send man-made objects exactly where we wanted them to go. Those theories turned out to be accurate. The idea that it is settled science that a tax cut will do this or a spending increase will do that is not only unsupported by evidence, it’s absurd.

  11. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    Your understanding of science is too narrow. Economics is a science. A better way of putting it would be: There’s a lot more unjustified claims, pseudo-science, in economics than in particle physics. Even the good claims of economics are far less certain and justified than the good claims in particle physics.

  12. Monocle Smile says

    Yeah, this d’Addario guy seems to be aspiring to take up S.E. Cupp’s mantle of “self-hating atheist who acknowledges the superiority of religion,” because that’s the kind of atheist the public accepts.

    The criticism mostly revolves around AXP daring to have a backbone and actually take a strong stance that happens to not be the majority opinion.

    The “gleeful disregard for others’ beliefs” line got my goat. This guy praised a few Christian shows at the start of the article, and NOBODY disregards the beliefs of others quite like a televangelist.

  13. Athywren says

    wearing a black Hawaiian-style shirt decorated with flames and infinity symbols

    Is there some hidden meaning here? I don’t get it. He’s describing a shirt. It’s a shirt.

    It’s an evil shirt. Evil. Eeeeeevvvviiiilllll!!! *waves hands in the air fearfully*

  14. ChaosS says

    My take away from this article is that this guy lives on intellectual dessert. He holds up American Bible Challenge as a successful form of theistic outreach because it’s on his level intellectually. When it comes to meat and potatoes metaphysics (heavily seasoned with snark) he is not entertained and therefore you have failed.

    On the other hand… there actually may be some potential for an Atheist Bible Challenge show…

  15. says

    >Salon

    Well, there’s your problem right there. No, but seriously, this sounds less like a review by an unbiased third pary and more like someone who’s already got his arguments all picked out and just needs to find ways to support them.

  16. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    @Athywren
    Flames = Satan, sure. I thought of that originally. But where the hell does “infinity” come in? Like, I think he could have more easily commented on the dice on the shirt with its implied connections to Satan worshiping D&D players.

  17. says

    we obviously only take calls from Christians who don’t know what they are talking about

    That’s the only kind of christian there is, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise.

  18. Athywren says

    But where the hell does “infinity” come in?

    Weeelllll… infinity encompasses everything, right? And hell and satan, if they exist, are contained within the set of everything. Now, as we all know, hell and satan are both evil, and anything that contains evil is also evil, because associations. So! Infinity contains hell and satan, which are evil, and everything that contains an evil thing is evil, therefore infinity is evil. Evil. Eeeeeevvvviiiilllll!!! I mean, duh? :P

  19. jacobfromlost says

    I wondered why I missed the “infinity” symbol, lol.

    I think I’m “horrified” by the sloppiness of the article.

  20. jacobfromlost says

    Can someone paraphrase bullet point number two? I’ve read it a dozen times and it still doesn’t make sense.

  21. Athywren says

    I think what’s being said there is that it seems as if Dillahunty’s only objection to people following the bible is that it’s nuts to rely on a book for wisdom and guidance.

    I’m not sure why that would be a reasonable criticism even if it was accurate. Books are great, but relying on one for wisdom and guidance is a terrible idea. Take ideas and inspiration where you can get it, of course, but even books that claim to have been inspired by divine beings are fallible.

  22. corwyn says

    “Matt Dillahunty… needed no prompting to begin his show with the Biblical story of God asking Abraham to sacrifice his son Isaac.”

    So what exactly is wrong with bringing up a portion of the bible? This is a book that some people are claiming is written by, or inspired by, a supreme being. It should all, every word, be amazing. The fact that he thinks there are embarrassing parts to it, in itself, shows that to be a lie.

  23. pac1261 . says

    I think what it really means is that Daniel D’Addario is “not equipped to play” in the game of criticizing AtheistTV. Apparently hr didn’t try very hard to understand what he was watching – the only thing he managed to figure out is that Cosmos has better graphics.

  24. CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain says

    I figured it was about Pascal’s Wager, gambling over eternal hellfire.

  25. corwyn says

    Cosmos doesn’t devote any time at all to creationists, flat earthers, or global warming deniers

    Oh yes he does! If you listen closely and keep all the wacko phrases clearly in your brain, you can almost sense Dr. Tyson hearing them in his mind just before he shoots them down in flames. The program is very much aimed precisely at science deniers. He just doesn’t give them a voice.

  26. jonmoles says

    Of late Salon seems to be on an atheist bashing mission, employing “faitheists” to tell the New/militant atheists that they suck and are doing it wrong.

  27. L.Long says

    The thing I noticed is that they never stated that your points were wrong.It was nothing more than ad hominids. They never said you were wrong or that the callers really were really dim.
    They criticized in such a way that you can’t say they are wrong, but the underline message I got from the review is “whinney whinney whine sniffle we are xtians and we don’t like what you are saying and since you are not lying we can say much more….whine whine whine”

    Keep up the good work.

  28. xxxxxx says

    I agree with you, Russell, but to be truthful, Daniel D’Addario is also a very poor example of a journalist. His opening couple of lines demonstrates his poor journalistic skills right out of the gate. He opens with a non-sequitur —

    The Christian right has some things figured out. These days, Christian entertainment isn’t just the didactic “700 Club” — it includes spectacles as high-flying as History’s miniseries “The Bible” or as wacky as GSN’s “American Bible Challenge.”

    “Christian entertainment”, as he called it, does not equate to progamming the Christian Right has “figured out” let alone would even approve. If D’Addario had any clue about what kind of media the Christian Right actually produces (and, just to be clear, NONE of it will ever appear on The History Channel EVER, despite THC’s willingness to broadcast some of the most credulous and ridiculous shows on TV today) , the author would not have characterized their position on TV content as something they have “figured out.” In fact, most Christian Right programming is utterly batshit insane, even by most Christians standards, and no secular broadcaster would ever come near it, even if it were given to them for free (as a lot of it is). But such truths I suppose aren’t something that concerns Salon journalists these days.

    Moreover, D’Addario doesn’t even compare apples to apples. Roku is not Broadcast TV, nor is it Cable TV and thus he shouldn’t be comparing Atheist TV to these high-budget commercial ventures that are part of large media empires. Roku is far more comparable to the economic model found behind a Youtube Channel or a public access TV show like TAE — made by independent groups and individuals with very little capital and rarely used for profit. If this journalist had an ounce of integrity, he would have investigated Christian Public Access TV, or truly right-wing Chrsitian Youtube channels for comparion rather than attempting to contrast Atheist TV to, say, the History Channel. Again, just anothersign of how lazy this journalist is when it comes to doing proper research.

    Moreover, his reference to The History Channel as a source for “high-flying” Christian programming is simply eroneous. THC is not, and has never been, a religious media house, let alone a mouth piece for the religious right (as his opening paragraph implies). In fact it has produced a number of programs that would have fit right into the wheel house of “atheist friendly” programming — shows like “The Bible Unearthed” and “Banned from the Bible” come to mind immediately (and I know there are many other examples that I have not yet seen, but have seen references to in ads and on youtube over the years). But D’Addario simply drops the THC name as an example of a high-pruduction media producer in the quiver of the of the Religious Right due to its “christian entertainment” and ignores the fact that they have plenty of stuff that would likely give anyone on the Chrsitian right a coronary.

    Lastly, D’Addario only watched four hours before writing his piece. That also makes him a slacker.

    If this Salon piece is to speak for the talents of Daniel D’Addario, he is definitely a quintessential example of a hack journalist in every way and his presence as a witer for Salon drags down the reputation of the entire journal. And, again, I agree that some of the criticisms he raises about TAE are accurate — but he is still an awful journalist.

  29. favog says

    This is exactly the kind of push-back you pretty much have to expect when you’re doing the ACA’s job right. If you look at it that way, this may, in fact, be the most complimentary review you’ve ever received. Keep up the good work!

  30. Oz 3 says

    “…….it was more important to score rhetorical points off someone clearly not equipped to play.” If it answered the same question(s) other listeners were prepared to pose, or arguments they were prepared to make, then it was not scoring rhetorical points. D’Addario seemed predisposed to his conclusion.

  31. Blue says

    I’ve heard more than one caller start with the statement that you always choose people are aren’t good at apologetics, they always proceed to fail spectacularly at apologetics. Hopefully this article will flush a rew juicy ones out of the woodwork! I specifically listen to hear the sorts of conversations I wish I could have with Great Aunt Ethel at thanksgiving, whether it’s Matt going ballistic or Tracie philosophising them into oblivion or any of the other hosts doing their specific style.

    From listening to the show it seems that you will take a believer in preference to a non-believer, and if there’s no other believer on hold you’ll string along even a poor call. Didn’t Tracie and Russell disagree about this just this week? Russell hung up on the guy, and Tracie protested, because there were only atheists on the other lines. I appreciate this, it’s what I listen for.

  32. Blue says

    Yes, Salon has gone way way way downhill in the last couple of years. I used to read regularly, I never read any more.

  33. Ichthyic says

    . “Scoring rhetorical points off someone clearly not equipped to play?”

    Courtier’s reply.

    We’ve debated the “best” the xians have to offer, most often offered up is Plantinga.

    Presuppositionalism is a fail. If you are speaking to someone that doesn’t get that… stop. you’re wasting your time.

  34. Enoch Neebor says

    So stick to interfaith meetings if you prefer an environment where people lovingly stroke one another off.

  35. Muz says

    Seems like the usual sort of thing. It’s surprisingly prevalent. “I’m not religious, but…” followed by dismissal of public atheists as rude and crude and confrontational. Getting offended on behalf of jesus or the imaginary infinitely offendable little old lady in your head when you claim to care about neither.

    I felt the same for a while. Even quite mild counter-apologia or plain publicly admitted atheism struck me as somehow wrong and confrontational. The sense of not trespassing on the sacred, even if you don’t believe in it, can stick with you a long time. It’s very odd.

  36. cswella says

    I would say, like weather, economics is a science, we just don’t have the computational power to handle it yet.

  37. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    Compare allowing artificial monopolies vs breaking up the monopolies. When you break up the monopoly and create a better market, you should expect lower prices for the consumers and less profit for the producer(s).

  38. Matt Gerrans says

    Yeah, the idea that some ideas are “sacred” is a big problem. We need to somehow promulgate the idea that claiming ideas are “sacred” (whatever that means!) is a bad thing. It is only an attempt to insulate those ideas from close examination. If they are really selling “Truth” then there is no need to hide behind the protective carapace of “sacred.” Without that protection, it is clear that they are just dumb ideas, like talking snakes, people living inside fish for days, dudes “withering” fig trees, a child molester on a flying horse, invisible gold plates from the stars, hybrid animal-people, etc., etc., etc. It is no wonder they want to label these nutty and very silly beliefs so as to put them beyond critical examination.

    I’ve heard these guys called “The Three Interfaith Amigos” several times on NPR and come to the conclusion that these kind of people are just providing cover for their more fundamentalist “brothers.”

  39. Conversion Tube says

    Bad publicity is better than no publicity. Lets say thanks. Hopefully this will bring more theist callers to the show.

  40. Narf says

    Yeah, this d’Addario guy seems to be aspiring to take up S.E. Cupp’s mantle of “self-hating atheist who acknowledges the superiority of religion,” because that’s the kind of atheist the public accepts.

    Heh heh heh heh heh. That’s exactly what I thought, after reading half way through John’s comment. I was going to bring up S.E. Cupp, myself, until I scanned down to your comment.

  41. Narf says

    Hell, they had Matt Slick and Ray Comfort – professional apologists – call in, and it wasn’t much better. Matt Slick was a bit better at obfuscation than most callers, but Ray was actually a good deal less sophisticated than people like Andrew who called in last week. I don’t think Andrew understands his own arguments much better than Ray would, but it’s more interesting than listening to Ray repeatedly offer us a parachute.

  42. says

    Clearly, bringing up the problematic parts of the bible is just unfair. A proper atheist would focus only on those parts that sound uplifting and pleasant. If at any time a Christian can’t defend a proposition, the reasonable thing to do is change the subject and never bring it up again. Anything else would be… *shudder* …rude.

  43. says

    If they had cut off the caller, D’addario would simply have criticized them for shutting him down just as he was about to make his big point: Those dishonest atheists – silencing their critics and refusing to address the points raised.

  44. Cam says

    I was just watching show #879 and heard you talk about this post so I had to come read it. You are spot on, Russell. This sums up my current situation perfectly: “People who live in the Bible Belt often express their relief and gratitude that we talk about these issues candidly, so that they don’t feel like a lone voice in the wilderness anymore.”

    Anytime I even politely dissent with any discussion on politics, philosophy, current events, or really anything remotely controversial, it’s immediately obvious I am no longer welcome in the room. It’s such a one sided conversation down here that it’s refreshing to hear you guys fighting the good fight.

    I’ve volunteered to help AtheistTV improve their quality by assisting with any transcoding and video preparation because they really need help. We have to put our best face forward, but no matter how polished the channel is it will still be “offensive” to those not used to hearing any opposing viewpoints, but at least we’ll be as professional as possible.

    Keep up the good work!

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