Comments

  1. Athywren - not the moon you're looking for says

    I don’t really have favourite hosts, but I always love the Matt & Tracie episodes. I’m looking forward to listening to the podcast on the way into work tomorrow – I would wait and watch, but it’s almost 10pm here in the U of K and I’ve got work tomorrow, so I hope it’s a good show, and good night. :)

  2. Bret Frost says

    Let us all pray that some nut doesn’t hijack the show to talk about nonsense that has nothing to do with god.

  3. Loover says

    spir·it·u·al·i·ty
    ˌspiriCHo͞oˈalədē/
    noun
    the quality of being concerned with the human spirit or soul as opposed to material or physical things.
    “the shift in priorities allows us to embrace our spirituality in a more profound way”

    How is this not consistent?

  4. Tim Pieper says

    I want to offer Brad the videos that Theoretical Bullshit (the YouTuber) did on the Kalam Cosmological argument. These include “I Kalam like I see em”, “On ethics of discourse and Causality”, and “William Lane Craig isn’t doing himself any favors” and “William Lane Craig and metaphysical Cherry Picking”.

    Those might be very helpful to him.

    I even made a playlist on my YouTube channel of Theoretical BS’s videos: https://m.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLkYjGll0E2OBmBZXQXRIi3HortnULCiZi

    Brad seemed to be arguing how I would’ve been arguing if I were a theist. I hope that TBS could give him something to think about.

  5. Dan says

    There’s something about the first callers voice, speech pattern, breathing, and him being very specific about where he’s calling from, that leads me to think it’s “Matt from Stone Church”… Or am I just being paranoid after binge watching episodes on YouTube?

  6. Meow Meow Meow says

    This is the first time I have watched live in over a year. Really enjoyed it. I kept finding myself admiring Matt’s wedding ring. 😀

  7. Bear Elemley says

    What a great show! Matt and tracie are so fantastic but as a team seem to me to be a great force against fallacious thinking. Thank you and to all that made the show possible. Let me know when you get to Bangkok.

  8. says

    had natalia the presence of mind to preface her discussion with the explanation that she was a non-spiritualist attempting to describe the practical function of so-called spiritualism in the lives of believers (to provide reassuring non-answers to the unknown), the conversation might have been more mutually beneficial. one doesn’t need to define spirituality to have that discussion. unfortunately she wasn’t prepared and what coherent observations she was able to share weren’t particularly profound or enlightening.

  9. says

    when ram attempted to use computers as an example where math may exist without being contingent on a brain, my first thought was: so what happens to the math if you disable the cpu?

  10. Chancellor of the Exchequer says

    Shout out to the bts crew for this week’s work!

    I don’t have any particular qualms this week, just a desire to use up data.

  11. Mark Wiens says

    The debate Matt had at the First Baptist Church the other day reminds me of the people that surround me in the Bible Belt town I live in.They are indoctrinated,don’t use intellect or reason,live inside a enormous bubble,and most of all,don’t acknowledge the absurdities of their claims.

  12. mi tortent says

    with the coke bottle matt demonstrated that actuality of him picking it up, not the possibility of it. how would he demonstrate that it is possible for him to pick it up without actually doing it?

  13. Conversion Tube says

    I find the shows where Matt and Tracie co-host to be the most spiritually satisfying shows. I should clarify, not in a burning lake of fire kind of way.

  14. habberschnapper says

    @mi tortent
    Actuality carries within it potentiality. So if you prove actuality you got potentiality for free. If you prove potentiality you would still have to show actuality. So Matt did show potentiality and actuality at the same time.

    The only way I can think of to show potentiality is to define a goal and show yo have all the requirements to attain the goal

    So Matt would just say he has working arms able to pick up things and there’s no obstacle between his arm and the bottle.

  15. says

    @mi tortent

    >with the coke bottle matt demonstrated that actuality of him picking it up, not the possibility of it.

    Please explain how showing you *can* do a thing does not cover showing it’s possible?

    If I say it’s possible to roll a six on a particular die, and you ask me to show you, and I roll it several times until a six comes up–you’re saying that is not a demonstration that it is, in fact, possible to roll a six on that die? How could it be accomplished if it weren’t possible? Being able to do something may actually be the most effective/convincing method of demonstrating something is possible to do.

  16. says

    >the quality of being concerned with the human spirit or soul as opposed to material or physical things.
    “the shift in priorities allows us to embrace our spirituality in a more profound way”
    >How is this not consistent?

    The caller used the term “consistent”–I’m not sure exactly what she meant. I merely say that either the term is used to refer to something demonstrable, and meaningful, in which case, we already have words to describe it, so why appeal to “spiritual” (for example, her idea of “emotionally satisfying answer”–just call it an answer you can live with–what does it add to call it “spiritual”–especially since different people and groups use different definitions for that word. It would seem to be adding confusion, not clarity.

    Above, unless there is a coherent definition offered of spirit or soul, that definition is not coherent. If I say “Spirituality represents that which is concerned with the human soul,” how is that meaningful unless we have some idea what a “soul” is? And again, it’s either understood as something already, in which case, we have words already–so why use one that comes loaded with so many subjective views and definitions dragging behind? Or it’s not defined/understood, in which case it adds confusion rather than clarity.

    Spirituality is that which is concerned with spirit/soul…but what’s spirit? What’s soul? I don’t know of any definition that is not as diverse as the number of people who hold such a concept. And when asked, many who say they have a concept lock up just like the caller when you begin to ask them about it in specific terms. Suddenly this concept evaporates into smoke as they begin to realize they’ve got nothing.

  17. says

    Regarding the source of the scratches being “supernatural”, we could flip it around.

    I ask, “how did the scratches happen?”
    “The natural.”

    It may turn out to be asshole cats that did it, which are included in “the natural” (by most nebulous definitions) but that doesn’t make “the natural” a coherent statement for a cause.

  18. Captain Joe says

    Sea~GA Monastery, a community church of secular spiritualism defines;
    Spiritualism: n, a label for the natural mysteries of life that are observable but unexplainable using our current methods for understanding of the natural universe.
    Related to; Intuition. Instinct. Intelligence. Consciousness.

  19. mi tortent says

    heicart

    “Please explain how showing you *can* do a thing does not cover showing it’s possible?”

    of course it covers it. i am talking about demonstrating it is possible without demonstrating it is actual. because that is what matt was asking for.

  20. mond says

    @19 Jasper

    The most interesting point of the scratches thing was that we were expected to treat the idea of the place where happened as having some relevance. ie a haunted field. It is totally circular; the scratches in a haunted field were caused by ghosts, how do we know ghosts did it? its a haunted field.
    I know ghosts were not mentioned as explanation by Matt or Tracie because they didn’t take the bait, but the caller did state that field was ‘a haunted field’ a couple of times.

  21. Monocle Smile says

    @mi tortent
    This is rather trivial to anyone who has taken a high school physics class. First derive a simple trajectory equation (based on our prior understanding) for a point mass on Earth given an initial velocity. Now do an experiment in reality with a few test cases and plot the results against your equation. Now you can use your equation along with the results to prove that it is possible for the object to travel distance X given initial velocity vector A even though you haven’t used that particular test case in an experiment. There are simpler examples, but this is the first thing that came to mind.

    The thing to notice here is prior understanding. We don’t just start with zero knowledge of anything when determining possibility. Knowledge grows and spreads and builds upon itself like a coral reef; it doesn’t just pop out of a vacuum.

    There’s also a major difference between epistemic possibility and logical possibility. The former is what we should care about, because there’s basically an infinite set contained within the latter. “Not logically impossible” doesn’t really move the belief needle for a proposition for any skeptic concerned about believing true things about reality, which is something that appears to escape virtually every religious apologist.

  22. funky chicken says

    On the guy saying a)”in that case, rocks are atheists” and b)”aren’t you agnostic?”:
    Matt should have pointed out that:
    a) The common usage of the word “atheist” (not atheism) is a *PERSON* who disbelieves or lacks a belief in gods. (see oxford dictionary, merriam webster and google – yes, google is relevant when talking about common usage.)
    b) The caller mentioned Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, however than encyclopedia has a long and intentionally narrow meaning for atheism which is used as technical termenology. It’s akin to using the scientific word for “nothing” when speaking colloquially. Atheism is commonly defined as a lack of belief and Pew research center shows most people who call themselves agnostic also say they “believe in a god or higher power”, so to incorrectly concede that Matt is merely agnostic as opposed to atheist (as though the two are mutually exclusive) is to obfuscate what is commonly understood by the words atheist, theist and agnostic. Common meanings for agnosticism include the belief that existence of gods is improvable and lack of knowledge/certainty about the existence of gods. So saying that Matt is an agnostic RATHER than an atheist is misleading.

  23. Mark Collins says

    Matt
    There is another way to view the possibility of things that are not yet proven. As a bayesian I would consider that anything is possible although some things are so improbable that they are not worth spending time on. ie. I would just reject things that I consider improbable without stating that they are not possible. Everything needs to be subjected to reasonable doubt and if continuously unproven considered improbable but not impossible.

  24. Mary P. Wakulik says

    I agree with you Dan! He likes to call in from time to time. It’s always painful to listen to hm.

  25. Monocle Smile says

    Finally watched the show.
    Sounds like Mike Licona was an absolute clownshow at the debate. Apparitions? Really? He might as well have screened an episode of Ghost Hunters, then concluded “therefore GOD!”

    Maybe it’s because Blake Giunta already stole his thunder, but it’s rather hilarious that Licona didn’t even present the case for the resurrection that he published in a book. Does he not believe his own bullshit?

    I have to hand it to Matt for going. I have no interest in meeting Licona or Lee Strobel or any of those goons. Maybe they’re perfectly nice in person, but I know too many slimy things about them to like them.

  26. Monocle Smile says

    Keith had me banging my head on my desk. What’s so hard about “if you can’t explain something, don’t make shit up?” This is critical thinking 101! Seriously, we need a critical thinking class in public education, because we’ve got lots of these credulous numbskulls running around.

  27. marx says

    I think the reason Matt debates people like Mike Licona is to convince the audience of logic and reason.
    Keep doing the SECULAR work MATT!

    I wonder if he convinced anyone?

  28. ironchops says

    I have heard the hosts on TAE say “…someone made a mean spirited remark…” What is that supposed to mean, that someone made a rude comment while drunk?
    It was possible and rational for man to obtain flight (manned glider) well over 5000 years ago. Man had all of the materials and the proof that it was possible. It was also possible for someone to build an ark sized boat/ship around that same time…even earlier.

  29. Monocle Smile says

    Another butthurt presup. Brad is boring.
    I don’t know what the fuck a “general god” is. Seems to be a trend these days; apologists glom onto this laughable label in order to avoid having to defend any particular property.

    Oh, this is Nick/Andrew from past weeks calling in yet again. This dude needs to stop bashing his face into philosophy books and go outside. Empirical inquiry. Pragmatism. Science. That’s how we learn about the reality we experience. We don’t learn about reality by wibbling and struggling to craft just the right sentence.

    When he asks about how Tracie can make her claim about planets, it told me all I needed to know. Tracie’s answer was spot-on, but Nick/Andrew/Brad has clearly never, ever set foot in a science classroom, or was not paying attention at all. He doesn’t understand a single thing about reality or how to learn about it. Otherwise, he wouldn’t ask such a silly question.

    And of course, he goes the Plantinga route. Wibble, wibble, wibble. He says he watched Matt’s video about ontological arguments, but clearly he’s just another cloned godbot, because he didn’t learn anything from it.

  30. Monocle Smile says

    Wow, Nick/Andrew/Brad was a total trainwreck. Give it a rest, guy with no friends. How does he even function? Matt took him to school, and despite being butthurt during literally the entire call and getting pretty much everything wrong, he should be thankful that Matt and Tracie had the patience to educate him. And of course, he hits bottom and starts digging when physics comes around. He keeps repeating William Lane Craig, who knows about as much about physics as my cat.

    Fine-tuning is dealt with well by Douglas Adams, but it gets even worse. It should be intuitive that inventing a ball of assertions merely for the purposes of “accounting” for a perceived problem and then pretending that said ball doesn’t need any support or evidence is laughable and dishonest. But this is pretty much the entirety of religious apologetics.

  31. Devocate says

    For the point about Matt ‘being a frequentist’, there is a good Bayesian refutation of the fine tuning argument which goes like this (from Richard Carrier):

    “When ~e = a non-fine-tuned universe, then P(~e|God) is more than 0. Just for illustration, let’s say it’s 60%, since there are so many better universes a God could make without the limitation of finely tuning obscure physical constants. So imagine for a moment that 60% of all the universes God could make do not require such fine-tuning. Thus, P(~e|God) = 0.60. But if P(~e|God) = 0.60, then it is necessarily the case that P(e|God) = 0.40, since P(e|God) is necessarily the converse of P(~e|God). And P(e|God) means P(fine tuning is observed|God). So on this illustration, fine tuning is only 40% expected on theism. It is by contrast 100% expected on atheism. Because P(~e|Atheism) equals flat out zero. If atheism is true, then there are no universes we could ever observe ourselves in that would not be finely tuned.”

  32. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    To Devocate
    I’m not necessarily disputing what you wrote. I will note that you seem to be relying on the proposition “I am a typical observer”, and if one is not careful about the exact meaning, then one can derive seeming absurdities quite easily.

    I am reminded of this talk by Sean Caroll
    > The Universe Is Not Ergodic | Sean Carroll

  33. Simon says

    If i understand aright, a group of friends went to a field and all turned out to have scratches under their shirts. Im afraid my first question would be “which of their mutual friends has long/sharp fingernails” and “why are they lying about having – er – slept with them”.

    Call me a cynic, if you like.

  34. RationalismRules says

    @Devocate #30
    It’s not a refutation at all. All this does is show that atheists have fewer possible universes than theists. It demonstrates nothing, and refutes nothing.

  35. Matthew V says

    Love your beard Matt.

    Please enable Youtube comments, there are very many atheists on youtube that encourage discussion.
    The solutions is more speech, not less speech.

  36. Athywren - not the moon you're looking for says

    @Devocate, 30
    Is there any kind of support for P(~e|God) being 0.6? Because, honestly, any argument that involves picking random numbers out of the air without a genuine reason for doing so kind of falls flat in my eyes. I mean, do we have a list of the possible universes a god could create? Even an incomplete one that gives us an idea of the ratios of those which appear fine tuned and those that don’t?

  37. Devocate says

    “Is there any kind of support for P(~e|God) being 0.6? Because, honestly, any argument that involves picking random numbers out of the air without a genuine reason for doing so kind of falls flat in my eyes.”

    Of course not. It is merely a demonstration of how the math works.

    ” I will note that you seem to be relying on the proposition “I am a typical observer”, and if one is not careful about the exact meaning, then one can derive seeming absurdities quite easily. ”

    No such assumption is being made. Merely that I AM an observer. Therefore, IF there is NO god, THEN I must live in a universe which is observers are possible, which is thus ‘fine-tuned’ for such observers. Under the Atheist hypothesis, ALL Universes with observers are fine-tuned to allow observers.

    “All this does is show that atheists have fewer possible universes than theists. It demonstrates nothing, and refutes nothing.”

    The confidence in the hypothesis for atheism is not reduced by the observation that the universe is fine-tuned, since that likelihood is 100%. While the confidence in the god hypothesis IS reduced by the observation that the universe is fine-tuned, since that likelihood is not 100% due to the fact that other universes are possible under that hypothesis. This is simple Bayesian analysis.

    Thank you kindly.

    p.s. Please note this is not MY argument.

  38. Athywren - not the moon you're looking for says

    @Devocate, 34

    “Is there any kind of support for P(~e|God) being 0.6? Because, honestly, any argument that involves picking random numbers out of the air without a genuine reason for doing so kind of falls flat in my eyes.”
    Of course not. It is merely a demonstration of how the math works.

    Then is there any support for P(~e|God) being >0? Is the number of possible universes which contain observers but are not capable of supporting observers where a creative god is at work actually at least one? I’m not denying that percentages exist, or that bigger percentages are bigger than smaller percentages, I just doubt the relevance of the argument the maths represent.

  39. RationalismRules says

    The confidence in the hypothesis for atheism is not reduced by the observation that the universe is fine-tuned, since that likelihood is 100%. While the confidence in the god hypothesis IS reduced by the observation that the universe is fine-tuned, since that likelihood is not 100% due to the fact that other universes are possible under that hypothesis. This is simple Bayesian analysis.

    it may be simple Bayesian analysis, but it does not refute the fine-tuning argument, because it does not address the fine-tuning argument.
    The fine-tuning argument is the claim that the observed fine-tuning of the universe makes it more likely to be god-based (theist position) than accidental (atheist position).

    Your/Carrier’s analysis does not address the relative probability of the positions – it considers the two positions entirely separately. “The confidence in the hypothesis for atheism is not reduced, but the confidence in the hypothesis for theism is reduced” tells you nothing about them relative to each other. On casual reading it seems like it does, but that’s actually just smoke & mirrors.

    In fact, the theist side of the analysis doesn’t even hold up on its own, because it is based on an unsupported (and, I argue, invalid) assumption:

    since there are so many better universes a God could make without the limitation of finely tuning obscure physical constants

    It sounds plausible, but that’s because it’s written persuasively, rather than clearly. Remove the emotive language (“better”, “limitation” “obscure”) and rearrange it for clarity, the claim becomes:
    “The number of possible god-created universes without fine-tuned physical constraints is greater than the number of possible god-created universes with fine-tuned physical constraints”
    This is simply not demonstrable.

    In fact, it seems to me the contrary is fairly easy to demonstrate:
    – For any given universe without fine-tuned physical restraints, call it ‘U’, the same universe could be created with the addition of fine-tuned physical restraints U(1), and by varying the fine-tuned restraints, multiple additional universes become possible U(2), U(3)… etc. all based on the single unrestrained universe. So for every unrestrained U, there are U(n) fine-tuned universes possible.
    [Full disclosure: I am no mathematician or physicist, so I am fully expecting to see the above ripped apart by someone more knowledgeable than I – bring it on!]

    There are good counters to the fine-tuning argument. This is not one of them.

  40. Devocate says

    ““The number of possible god-created universes without fine-tuned physical constraints is greater than the number of possible god-created universes with fine-tuned physical constraints”

    No,that is not the claim. The claim is that the number of possible god created universes without fine tuned constraints PLUS the number of universes with fine tuned constraints, is greater than just the number with fine tuned constraints. Which is true if the number of possible god created universes without fine tuned constraints >= 1.

  41. Devocate says

    “Your/Carrier’s analysis does not address the relative probability of the positions – it considers the two positions entirely separately. “The confidence in the hypothesis for atheism is not reduced, but the confidence in the hypothesis for theism is reduced” tells you nothing about them relative to each other. ”

    It does if you consider them a dichotomy.

    But that isn’t the point. The point is that fine-tuning is NOT EVIDENCE FOR a theistic hypothesis. Since it does not lend credence to that hypothesis. But it does lend credence to the atheistic hypothesis.

  42. RationalismRules says

    @Devocate #38 #39

    The claim is that the number of possible god created universes without fine tuned constraints PLUS the number of universes with fine tuned constraints, is greater than just the number with fine tuned constraints. Which is true if the number of possible god created universes without fine tuned constraints >= 1.

    I wondered about this when I wrote the previous response, because the wording can be interpreted either way. However, I concluded that the argument must be nonFT>FT, because if you’re arguing nonFT+FT>FT, then the corollary is nonFT+FT>nonFT, which means that observation of a non-fine-tuned universe would also reduce confidence in the god hypothesis, which makes no sense. You’re effectively saying “Any observation you make reduces confidence in the god hypothesis”.

    It does if you consider them a dichotomy.

    No, it still doesn’t. You haven’t quantified their original positions and you haven’t quantified the change, so you end up with no further information about their relative positions. You don’t even know whether the gap between them got bigger or smaller – all you know is that it changed.
    (Didn’t we address this last year in relation to a similar piece of numerical tapdancing from Carrier?)

    The point is that fine-tuning is NOT EVIDENCE FOR a theistic hypothesis.

    I entirely agree. I just don’t agree that the Carrier analysis demonstrates this.
    If your interpretation in #38 is correct, then the observation of either case reduces confidence in the hypothesis, which is nonsensical.
    If my interpretation in #37 is correct, then it’s based on a flawed premise.
    Either way, it don’t work.

  43. RationalismRules says

    @Devocate
    Earlier, I said:

    it does not refute the fine-tuning argument, because it does not address the fine-tuning argument.
    The fine-tuning argument is the claim that the observed fine-tuning of the universe makes it more likely to be god-based (theist position) than accidental (atheist position).

    There’s an even more important reason why this doesn’t refute the fine-tuning argument.

    Per your quote, Carrier’s argument says:

    It [fine tuning] is by contrast 100% expected on atheism. Because P(~e|Atheism) equals flat out zero. If atheism is true, then there are no universes we could ever observe ourselves in that would not be finely tuned.”

    This is simply false under the standard meaning of ‘fine-tuned universe’, from which the apologist fine-tuning argument comes.

    Per Wikipedia :

    The fine-tuned Universe is the proposition that the conditions that allow life in the Universe can only occur when certain universal dimensionless physical constants lie within a very narrow range, so that if any of several fundamental constants were only slightly different, the Universe would be unlikely to be conducive to the establishment and development of matter, astronomical structures, elemental diversity, or life as it is understood.

    How can Carrier claim that the atheist hypothesis requires that the physical constants lie within a very narrow range? What if we observed that the physical constants had a bigger range, such that they could be, for argument’s sake, 10% different without negating the formation of matter, life etc.? How would that not fit with the atheist hypothesis?
    What if their range was very broad? How would that negate atheism?

    You and I have debated this previously, and this is exactly the same problem as last time. The property that the analysis addresses on the atheist side is not ‘fine-tuning’. It would be better termed ‘naturalisticaly-life-supporting’, which is not by any means the same thing.

  44. RationalismRules says

    @funky chicken #25

    Pew research center shows most people who call themselves agnostic also say they “believe in a god or higher power”

    I’m intrigued. Do you have a citation we can check out?

  45. RationalismRules says

    @Mark Collins #26

    As a bayesian I would consider that anything is possible although some things are so improbable that they are not worth spending time on. ie. I would just reject things that I consider improbable without stating that they are not possible.

    I don’t see the value of this. If you have 100% Bayesian confidence that something cannot happen, why would you not label that ‘impossible’?
    If I ask: “could I cause our entire planet to disintegrate simply by jumping into a puddle”, the answer “it’s possible, but so improbable it’s not worth thinking about” is foolish. You’ve just robbed the word ‘possible’ of all meaning.

  46. RationalismRules says

    @Captain Joe #20

    Spiritualism: n, a label for the natural mysteries of life that are observable but unexplainable using our current methods for understanding of the natural universe.

    How would you determine that something is “unexplainable” using our current methods? It can be accurate to say that something is “currently unexplained”, but no-one can say what explanations will be found in future using the scientific method.

  47. RationalismRules says

    @phil #51
    Carroll packs more punches per minute than any other debater I’ve seen. Thanks for the link.

  48. Jose Padilla says

    There is no Matt from Austin Stone church. He was a hoax. Nobody can be that dumb twice. Great show as always guys. Thanks.