Comments

  1. Mary Ellen Warner says

    Please turn off the live chat. It is filled with hate speech, filth and is completely not helpful. This blog here is where people have a long history of mostly sincere, intelligent attempts to communicate about the video. Having the live chat running is now making this such a negative, trashy, unintelligent experience. The chat comments run by so fast that there is nothing helpful and only negative. I’m an atheist in the SF Bay Area. Please keep your presentation as much in an intelligent environment as possible.

  2. Murat says

    Uber’s call was fun. He used a different variation / mish-mash of some known paths while sincerely trying to advocate his belief. I expected Matt to push a bit on the obvious connotation to “Uber”s own name when he pulled the language card to define / undefine God.

    I never used Uber. I prefer cabs.

  3. Wiggle Puppy says

    I’m virtually certain that Uber is “Cougar Man” from a few months back, the one who Tracie got frustrated with and eventually hung up on after he said a bunch of vague and meaningless stuff. (Tracie: “So god is VERTICAL??”) The intervening time has apparently not helped him sharpen his ideas.

  4. says

    47:12
    Jeff: Mind if I try another example?
    Matt: I guess, there’s, like, five more lines and I see people scratching their eyeballs from abstract stuff that has absolutely NOTHING TO DO with the purpose of the show you called in to.

    Jeff: Ok, yeah, so, particle physics….

    Lol, that was funny. Jeff should have just quit while he was ahead. I liked his call though; he pointed out one of the few things I think Matt is wrong about.

    I disagree with Matt when he says, “Something should not be viewed as possible merely because its impossibility hasn’t been demonstrated (and to do so would be fallacious).” I think that the lack of knowledge of impossibility completely defines epistemic possibility; something is (epistemically) possible (in other words, “possible” for all we know) precisely because we don’t know that it is impossible.

    I see epistemic possibility as an extension of logical possibility. In classical logic, a statement is logically possible if it is not logically contradictory. So possibility in this sense is defined solely on the idea of contradiction (which is almost universally a no-no when talking about logic). Similarly, epistemic possibility is based on contradiction, but it is restricted to our knowledge. Given a set of truths, we should be able to determine things that are contradictory and therefore conclude it is impossible. If there is no contradiction, then it is possible, given our understanding. Something that we epistemically find possible could in fact be logically impossible, only because we weren’t given the truths that lead to the impossibility.

    So in this understanding, it would not be fallacious to say “because we can’t show (a type of) God to be impossible (given everything we know to be true, which may or may not actually be the case), God is possible”. Obviously some people will take issue with this by saying the definition of possibility is too broad in this sense and that it could lead to absurdities, like “it’s possible that I can fly because we can’t prove its impossible”, but I think the concept of possibility should remain in the realm of mathematical/logical order, which philosophy often delves in. Really, what Matt is arguing is that we should only be arguing about probability, because that is what really matters in reality, not whether something is logically possible, given our understanding (an understanding which may also be flawed). It’s perhaps better practice in a pragmatic sense, but I think it is faulty logically to then redefine possibility for that purpose only.

  5. Monocle Smile says

    @Gerard
    No surprises that you’re fascinated with “not impossible.” Good job on the failed flounce, by the way.

    Really, what Matt is arguing is that we should only be arguing about probability, because that is what really matters in reality, not whether something is logically possible, given our understanding (an understanding which may also be flawed). It’s perhaps better practice in a pragmatic sense, but I think it is faulty logically to then redefine possibility for that purpose only.

    So…why should anyone give a fuck about an idea when its best, most defining attribute is “not demonstrated to be impossible?” There are basically infinite ideas in that category. Once again, this is just a vehicle for you to posture in meaningless fashion. What are you hoping to accomplish?

  6. says

    @Monocle Smile
    Yeah, so, I’m just not gonna respond to you (besides this) ’cause I find it kind of dumb, put simply. Post whatever you want though, I’ll read it.

  7. Monocle Smile says

    @Gerard
    You’re going to find that very few people will want to engage with you if that’s really your attitude. This isn’t your party.

    You’re only 18, so you do have time to stop being a little shit, but I have a feeling that your friends weren’t rough enough on you growing up, which explains the hollow condescension and snide whining.

  8. Wiggle Puppy says

    @ Gerard: Once again, you’re over-analyzing things to an extreme degree. The only reason Matt brings this up at all is to refute theists who think that their deity is possible (and often probable) because science hasn’t proven that it doesn’t exist (which is often a function of the fact that the deity is too ill-defined to even investigate to begin with). When Matt talks of “possibility” in this way, he isn’t “re-defining” anything; it’s obvious that he’s using it as a shorthand for “epistemic possibility.” I’ve heard him say multiple times that he doesn’t care about logical possibilities, because they tell you nothing about what is true or likely true, and I’m inclined to agree.

    TL;DR: You keep trying to bring up objections to things the cast says by way of tortured over-interpretations of tangential points. Stop. Think bigger!

  9. says

    @Wiggle Puppy #7

    I shouldn’t have said “redefine”, as I was saying it in reference to my own understanding of possibility. But I don’t agree with Matt’s understanding of epistemic possibility, and it’s hardly a tangent. He said it’s “fallacious” to say that “because we don’t know if something is impossible, it is therefore possible”, and he’s also made this as a point in his argumentation in previous calls, and that is quite the opposite of what I understand. I also don’t think it does refute the possibility of a theist’s deity in all cases (that doesn’t really matter though because then rather than asking about possibility, you ask about likelihood, which is more important). Of course, I don’t know that much about the topic so if I made an error somewhere I’d like to know. But so far it seems the only error I’ve supposedly made was digging too deep, which I’m not convinced is even a bad thing. That’s literally the point of philosophy.

  10. says

    @Wiggle Puppy #7

    I shouldn’t have said “redefine”, as I was saying it in reference to my own understanding of possibility. But I don’t agree with Matt’s understanding of epistemic possibility, and it’s hardly a tangent. He said it’s “fallacious” to say that “because we don’t know if something is impossible, it is therefore possible”, and he’s also made this as a point in his argumentation in previous calls, and that is quite the opposite of what I understand. I also don’t think it does refute the possibility of a theist’s deity in all cases (that doesn’t really matter though because then rather than asking about possibility, you ask about likelihood, which is more important). Of course, I don’t know that much about the topic so if I made an error somewhere I’d like to know. But so far it seems the only error I’ve supposedly made was digging too deep, which I’m not convinced is even a bad thing. That’s literally the point of philosophy.

  11. mi tortent says

    @gerard moledo
    “something is (epistemically) possible (in other words, “possible” for all we know) precisely because we don’t know that it is impossible.”
    and something is impossible because we don’t know that it is possible?

  12. mi tortent says

    uber should press charges for assault at least or even murder. because that was as bad a beating as i have seen. i don’t think he survived. his brain got fried, and he even admitted to it.

  13. Monocle Smile says

    “What convinced you the earth tilts on its axis?”
    “I don’t know that it does.”
    *Matt struggles to prevent brain from exploding inside his skull*

    I’m not convinced Uber was for real. He knows the tilt angle with respect to the equatorial plane, but says he doesn’t even know that Earth is round. Doesn’t seem like an honest caller.

  14. Monocle Smile says

    I appreciate Tracie dropping bombs on callers who dump a truckload of apologetics on AXP’s doorstop that didn’t even convince them of their god beliefs.

    Uber didn’t have much brain to break. What a catastrophe of a call.

  15. Bear Lemley says

    My favorite two hosts! Thank you for helping the species with the mind virus!
    With the first caller, I eased into my disbelief with my mom starting when i was twenty. Right about the same time that I told the first non family member that I did not believe in gods or the supernatural. With my mom, I told her that “I was wondering where heaven was in the universe” or that I was trying to think about how the supernatural could exist. I kept a sense of discovery going. This caused her to start reading more about the lack of scientific proof of the supernatural. Years Later this would lead to open discussion about my lack of belief which lead her to pry free of myth and religion.

    I’m so glad Matt and Tracie where on the show for Jeff’s call. what a mess.

    Uber… you need more treatment. LOL

    thanks again!

  16. Joe says

    Two things. First, when Matt started to talk about how things are not possible just because they’ve not been shown to be impossible on the show I practically jumped for joy because I’ve been saying that for YEARS. I’ve written so many comments, blog posts, emails, etc. about that and for so long it felt like I was the only person in the world who understood that. I’ve had so many atheists argue with me on that. Like so many. I’ve even written comments about that on AETV videos and this very blog. I’m not sure what made Matt reconsider his position on that but I’m so happy he did. Because I specifically remember several shows where he did in fact say that anything is possible and possible does not mean true. I remember it because it really used to frustrate me when he did say it. Only the second part of that is logically sound, however. I can’t tell you how happy I am that others are finally coming around to that. And no, I don’t care about epistomology or philosophy or any of that. I just don’t. It’s just people talking about crap that doesn’t matter as far as I’m concerned.

    Secondly, I always think I hear Matt saying Star Of India is on “Wes Anderson Lane.” I can’t be the only one hearing that, right?

  17. Joe says

    I think this might help people who have trouble with the near death thing. Specifically about people seeing things that are relatively similar. Dennis the Menace is a comic strip we all probably know about. But did you know that THE SAME DAY of its first publication another strip about a mischievous little boy in a striped shirt was published in the UK? Can you guess what that other strip was called? That’s right. It was called Dennis the Menace. This is not an urban legend. This is a fact. And the two strips were created independently of one another. This was not plagiarism. This has been proven again and again.

    The point is we’re all part of the same world, exposed to the same or similar cultural references, and our brains are for the most part very similar. I have a hobby some of you might be familiar with. I like to imagine how I would cast various movies and TV shows based on source material I like. I did one for Star Trek before the 2009 movie was announced and decided my choices for Spock and Sulu would be Zachary Quinto and John Cho, respectively. I also thought of Michael Chiklis as The Thing, Alexander Siddig as Ra’s Al Ghul, Kevin Spacey as Lex Luthor, and Vincent D’Onofrio as The Kingpin. All of those eventually happened in real life. Now, am I a psychic or am I just someone who knows about the same actors as real casting agents and has thought about how I would cast these things that eventually really did happen? Years and years ago I also thought Ben Affleck would be a good Batman, though I don’t really care about that one since many people had the same thought. I like to think I’m pretty good at this. I don’t think there’s a reason to say God is sending me these messages or anything else. I think it’s far more likely I just happen to have some talent here.

    These things are not magical. They are perfectly mundane. Kind of cool, I think, but explainable and obviously based on experiences many of us share. Some are more remarkable than others but there is no reason to believe some supernatural explanation is warranted.

  18. says

    will god’s existence ever be as demonstrable as the inverse-square law of apologetics? being that the range and intensity of gish-galloping performed by a believer is inversely proportional to the square of the amount of empirical evidence and sound reasoning presented …

  19. RationalismRules says

    @Gerard
    Matt is correct, you are not. It all turns on the word “is”.
    To simply say that something “is” possible is not the same as saying it is epistemically possible. Epistemic possibility (“for all we know X is possible”) translates to “may be possible” in normal-speak.
    .

    “because we don’t know if something is impossible, it is therefore possible”

    is a fallacy.
    .

    “because we don’t know if something is impossible, it may therefore be possible”

    is true.
    .
    You cannot declare something to be possible simply because we do not know either way. If A is possible, it is not impossible. But we have just said we don’t know whether or not A is impossible. So you are taking the statement “it is not known whether or not A is impossible” and using it to create the contradictory statement “A is not impossible”.
    .
    It comes down to precision in language. If theist callers said “a god may exist” there would be no issue, but because they say “it’s possible”, trouble ensues.

  20. vitalem says

    It seems to me like a lot of Christian (or “Christian”) callers are trying to get the Atheist Experience people to implicate themselves in illegal activity.
    Like – the guy there – UBER from Florida.
    He was practically begging Matt to tell him to pour chemicals on his skin.
    If Matt told him to – then he did – and he hurt himself – they could try to sue.

    Just saying – They use dirty tactics.
    He’s already a troll – using the name Uber – and saying he sees God when on mushrooms – when really – you realize you ARE god when you’re on Mushrooms. Troll Confirmed!

  21. ShadowStarshine says

    @Gerard Moledo,

    I’m with you on this one. I’ll get to my example on why I agree down below but first:

    @Monocle Smile

    “You’re only 18, so you do have time to stop being a little shit, but I have a feeling that your friends weren’t rough enough on you growing up, which explains the hollow condescension and snide whining.”

    Seriously? Just a straight out Ad Hominem? Beyond rude, it’s just lazy.

    This object is a rock and not a rock. Here’s a statement we can say is impossible.

    A Sasquatch left behind these giant foot prints. That’s a statement we can’t say is impossible (despite its horrid plausibility).

    Now we could say it’s also not possible, or we could say it’s possible. If you take the view that it can’t be called possible, but that later evidence (say, actually FINDING a sasquatch) now makes the footprints made by it an actual possibility, then the previous statement has somehow crossed over from not being possible to being possible based on evidence.

    But is that what possible means? No, not really. That’s what good belief is about. That’s what probability is about. That’s not what possible is about.

    Possible:

    able to be done; within the power or capacity of someone or something.

    If something has the ability to cross over from not being possible to being possible due to, say, new information, then it was always possible, as that would be within the power/capacity of the concept.

    If you say that possible in that sense is a near useless term, I agree! I couldn’t care less about what’s possible. All that matters is what is worth belief.

  22. valendr0s says

    Uber. He is the perfect example of somebody believing things because it’s easier.

    I have a sincere belief that there is a significant portion of the human population that believe things based on ease rather than any kind of reason. Their parents or friends or coworkers are all believers, they don’t care one way or another, so it’s easier to just nod along and say they believe too.

    I wish there was a good way to quantify these kinds of believers. I feel like instead of the U.S. religious demographics 22.8% unaffiliated, and 70.6% Christian. I feel like from my personal interactions with people that it would break down into like… 22% unaffiliated, 40% Christian believers, 30% Christian “go along to get along, I don’t care if its true or not, but my parents condition their love on my belief in their sky-daddy believers”.

    And these same people would flip to whatever religion is “winning” in their culture. I’d suggest there are plenty of people in the low-religious nordic countries that are just going along with non-belief because that’s the easiest path for them in that culture.

  23. Monocle Smile says

    @ShadowStarshine
    I’m guessing you’re in the dark here. Gerard has been involved in 3 or 4 previous threads and has become increasingly petulant and dishonest. My response was not out of nowhere.

  24. Monocle Smile says

    @ShadowStarshine
    Also, there’s a difference between logical possibility and epistemic possibility. Matt talked about this at length during the call.

  25. Chancellor of the Exchequer says

    @#1(Mary Ellen Warner): The chat is optional, also considering the posters there are probably regulars to utube, the filth is to be expected.

    They could just get mods for the chat though.

    Anyway. . .Gerard is with us again, *obligatory acknowledgement.*

    R u a hunter? Cuz yuh sure is trigger happy.@#22(ShadowStarshine.)

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

    I forget which caller it was, but what is it with people and trying to speak in logical notation? Seriously, people, that’s for making your ideas quick and easy to read for those who are initiated in the language of logic. When you’re talking about it, you can just use your mouth words. Not only do they not bar the uninitiated, they’re infinitely simpler for oral communication purposes. Why fuck around with letting p equal q when you can just express the idea?
    Blargh.

  27. Wiggle Puppy says

    @ Shadow Starshine #22: Yes, Gerard often says a bunch of off-the-wall things and then refuses to honestly engage with objections, instead deflecting to incredibly pedantic discussions of definitions and such instead. For example, on the blog of the March 12 show, he explained that he came to theism in part because he noticed flaws in atheist arguments, and then stated that he accepts cosmological arguments because they just kind of intuitively make sense to him. When people patiently pointed out the flawed reasoning inherent in both positions, he provided long explanations of very tangential points along with self-righteous statements like you see here (“my only problem is that I’m digging too deep!”). So this isn’t the first time these long posts have generated annoyance.

  28. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    To Gerard
    Yes. The hosts generally don’t differentiate well between “epistemically possible” and “physically possible”. In short, epistemics is about “there are many conceivable worlds where the rules are different in each world; which world am I in?”. The second question is “I am in one particular world; in that world, according to the rules of that world, is X permissible?”. Those are subtly different. It may be that some thing is epistemically possible, e.g. we lack information about it, but it may also simultaneously be actually physically impossible. I think Tracie was the to start this trend of the hosts exclusively interpreting “possible” as “physically possible”; Yes, this annoys me too, but I’ve largely gotten over it.

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

    @EL, 29
    I think it’s less that they don’t differentiate well, and more that epistemic possibility is utterly meaningless to the questions being raised on the show. Also, if you give theists an inch of epistemic possibility, they have a habit of asserting a mile of physical possibility, so it’s really best not to let them have that inch. Make them demonstrate that their case actually is true, rather than argue from “you can’t prove it’s not true” to “therefore it necessarily must be true.”

  30. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    To Athywren
    Meh. I still think that this causes some needless confusion, and the hosts could handle it better by being clearer communicators, such as you suggest. I like Richard Carrier’s phrasing: the “possibly, therefore probably” fallacy. Loosely, the retort could be: “Ok, so it’s possible. I grant that. However, it still could be extremely unlikely to be true, and you’ve done nothing to convince me that it’s anything but vanishingly unlikely to be true. All of your work is still ahead of you.”

    Again, I must emphasize that this is a minor complaint.

  31. ShadowStarshine says

    @Wiggle Puppy and @Monocle Simile

    I don’t know the guy, so you may be right about his general attitude. However, I’d say that is entirely the reason of fallacies. You can engage in conversation with someone who is wrong 9/9 times, but that doesn’t make them wrong about the 10th thing. Every claim/argument should be judged on his own merit and I don’t see why, if you think he’s not worth your time, that insulting is better than ignoring.

    I also don’t think being pedantic is a bad thing. My best realizations and debates with people online have been careful examinations of how each other uses a word and what it means to them, and I’ve found a lot of success of gearing both mine and my opponent’s closer to a concise definition (usually, whatever the dictionary says, but sometimes towards something more colloquial) has had the best effect.

    I found Matt’s argument of the difference unclear of the two uses of possible, but I was able to look up the distinction online. One is possible based on our current knowledge, one is based on knowledge that may exist, but we don’t yet have. I can get on board with that, but that raises another issue:

    When a theist, or, someone who feels “electricity in a field” which is the call that brought this up says “Is it possible it is supernatural” I don’t think a fair answer is “No.” It’s no in one such usage of possible and yes in the other such usage. To me, it is vital to bring up the distinction because this is the exact area that the person calling is having difficulty, trying to get from possible to likely and it’s important to show that while something can be logically possible, it’s not worth belief or consideration. I think just saying no would add to the confusion.

  32. Monocle Smile says

    @ShadowStarshine

    I don’t know the guy, so you may be right about his general attitude. However, I’d say that is entirely the reason of fallacies.

    I don’t know what this is supposed to mean. At no point did I say that Gerard is wrong because he’s a little shit. He’s being a little shit regardless.

    You can engage in conversation with someone who is wrong 9/9 times, but that doesn’t make them wrong about the 10th thing. Every claim/argument should be judged on his own merit and I don’t see why, if you think he’s not worth your time, that insulting is better than ignoring

    Sweet, so now I’m getting crapped on for trying to engage honestly with someone despite already ramming my head into a brick wall several times in the past. There’s really no winning here, is there? Gerard is clearly able to think, but there’s a thick wall of bullshit preventing that from happening.

    Notice that Gerard responded with snarky dismissal despite my attempt to engage. Why is none of your ire directed toward him? I didn’t start the poo flinging.

    When a theist, or, someone who feels “electricity in a field” which is the call that brought this up says “Is it possible it is supernatural” I don’t think a fair answer is “No.”

    Well, it’s a good thing that AFAIK, AXP’s response every single time to this question has been “I don’t know,” not “no.”

  33. ShadowStarshine says

    @Monocle Smile

    The conversation started with him stating that he disagreed, and his reasons why he disagreed. Your first response to him was #5, which starts with “I’m not suprised” and “Good job” and guessing at his reasons for posting with “Once again, this is just a vehicle for you to posture in meaningless fashion. What are you hoping to accomplish?”.

    His response was that he wasn’t going to bother responding to you. Am I surprised? No. I don’t know either of your histories, I’m giving neither of you the benefit of the doubt, but if I come into a conversation and see one guy go “I disagree with X because Y” and the other respond with bunch of malicious useless verbage, there is no way you would get me on your side. Even if you were my friend.

    And after that you respond:

    “You’re only 18, so you do have time to stop being a little shit, but I have a feeling that your friends weren’t rough enough on you growing up, which explains the hollow condescension and snide whining.”

    Which is something someone trying to take the high road is probably never going to bother writing. Your friends weren’t rough enough on you? Who says that? Someone being a complete jerk.

    “Well, it’s a good thing that AFAIK, AXP’s response every single time to this question has been “I don’t know,” not “no.””

    Well, then perhaps you should rewatch that episode, because that was his exact answer when asked “Is it possible?”. I’m aware Matt and I think everyone else takes “I Don’t know” position over hard atheism, that’s why that call stuck out so much to me myself and I understand why someone phoned in for it.

  34. Monocle Smile says

    @ShadowStarshine
    Okay, buddy. Go ahead and act like every conversation exists in a vacuum. Let me know how well that works out for you.

    Which is something someone trying to take the high road is probably never going to bother writing

    Ask me if I give a shit.
    I didn’t force Gerard to post here. He’s choosing to post in a public forum, and I’m not going to show someone who isn’t a newbie any kid gloves, especially when Gerard has done his absolute level best in past threads to hide behind a wall of obfuscation and repeatedly set himself up as superior to…well, everyone.

  35. ShadowStarshine says

    @Monocle Smile

    It’ll work out fine for me, since it lets me evaluate arguments and not the people making them.

    “Ask me if I give a shit.”

    I won’t, because you don’t. Which is too bad. And because of that, I think I’m going to join him in dismissing you from further conversation.

  36. RationalismRules says

    @Gerard Having re-listened to the call I need to revise my earlier post #20. I was wrong to say “Matt is correct. You are not.” Matt did get it wrong about epistemic possibility, and you are correct that lack of knowledge of impossibility logically leads to epistemic possibility.

    However, I stand by the rest of my post. It comes down to language. When a caller says “it is possible”, the AXP hosts’ response “we don’t know that” covers natural/physical possibility without excluding epistemic possibility.

  37. Chancellor of the Exchequer says

    Quoting stuff:

    (greaterthansign)blockquote(greaterthansign)[textyouwishtoquote](greaterthansign/)blockquote(greaterthansign)

    i.e: (text here)

    All with no dots.
    @ShadowStarshine.

  38. Chancellor of the Exchequer says

    ^messed that one up. *tombstone*

    blockqoutewordshereblockquote

    With the “less/greater than” signs on each side with a “/” for the final code word.

  39. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    To Chancellor
    You can use html escapes to show other people how to use it:

    Example (excluding accidental typos):

    quoted text goes here

    <blockquote>quoted text goes here</blockquote>

    &lt;blockquote&gt;quoted text goes here&lt;/blockquote&gt;

    &amp;lt;blockquote&amp;gt;quoted text goes here&amp;lt;/blockquote&amp;gt;

    Further:
    http://www.freeformatter.com/html-escape.html#ad-output

  40. RationalismRules says

    @Chancellor
    Like this:
    <blockquote>wordshere</blockquote>

    (Showing off my limited knowledge of html, which someone helpfully explained to me in a previous AXP thread)

  41. Mesopotamie says

    God is power and logic, in short, god is a programming language. Guess I’m no atheist anymore.

  42. Chancellor of the Exchequer says

    @#42(EnlightenmentLiberal & #43(+#44) RationalismRules:

    Thank you both, I’m too newb to function.

  43. Monocle Smile says

    @Chancellor
    There’s a bit of humor when the guy who claims to only evaluate arguments instead of people refuses to engage with someone because of reasons unrelated to argumentation.

    All I ask is for people to be honest and engage openly. When they don’t, I eventually employ ridicule. Why this is such a tall order, I’ll never understand.

  44. Kilindi Iyi says

    If Uber was sincere, he sounded like someone who perhaps only recently had a “‘shroom” experience, as he claimed. He was probably reluctant to admit it, because of course I’m sure he didn’t take the legal route to try these things. My advice to you, Uber, is do your research and mull over your experience a little more, then call back when you can articulate what you’re attempting to convey. Terence McKenna, Aldous Huxley, Alex Grey, etc. are all very articulate speakers on the psychedelic experience. I definitely recommend you look into their work.

  45. Chancellor of the Exchequer says

    @#46(Monocle Smile):

    It’s because when you go in, you go IN and more than enough people focus on that, than anything else at that point.

    I like your posts though(the ones with ridicule have a special place in my petty heart.)

  46. Pathetic Atheist says

    Please turn on the live chat. It is filled with the maximum diversity of thought and is completely helpful. This blog here is where people have a long history of mostly sincere, although sanctimonious and bigoted attempts to communicate about the video. Please keep your presentation in a space available to all to contribute rather than just for those that think they are better and more intelligent than other people.

  47. Monocle Smile says

    @Pathetic Atheist
    Anyone can post here. You’re here posting. We just have rules here. Or would you rather hordes of trolls and flamebots drown out productive discussion? Have you never participated in the UStream chat?

    Personally, I think this just a bad excuse to complain (dishonestly) about the blog regulars or the blog itself. Try being less butthurt. Might help.

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

    “The maximum diversity of thought” is found on the live chat channel of a fairly niche (ex?) public access American tv show? I suspect there’s some confusion over terms here, whether that’s what “maximum” means or “diversity of thought,” I can’t be sure, but there’s definitely confusion.

  49. says

    It’s kind of a self-reinforcing issue.

    The “diverse thought” people don’t comment here, so they assume they see the lack of other “diverse thought” people as a sign that they can’t comment here, so they don’t comment here, so they assume…

    The only thing that’s stopping this from being an “open forum” are those who are too closed minded to simply come here. Apparently, we can only have “maximum diversity of thought” that is “completely helpful”, if, and only if, they’re not debated.

  50. tonyinbatavia says

    Apparently, we can only have “maximum diversity of thought” that is “completely helpful”, if, and only if, they’re not debated.

    Holy damn, but that’s a great catch, Jasper.

    Christ, these asswads demand complete-and-total, unfiltered access to any venue they want to firehose-diahrea upon but then whine like babies whose pacifiers were just ripped out of their mouths because folks in those venues actually challenge their shit. That’s some weak-sauced, weak-kneed, Lilly-livered, pitiful-assed behavior, ain’t it?

    I also like the part where they slipped in that we here are bigoted. Bigoted? Bigoted. Yep, they said bigoted.

    Though, to be fair, they are right about the sanctimonious part. It’s quite easy — near effortless — to be sanctimonious when you’re dealing with dishonest fucks like that.

    Now, Pathetic Atheist, did you actually have some worthy, helpful thoughts about the video to add? You are perfectly free to contribute them here, in this forum. Or, what? You can’t handle the thought of other sharing their diverse thoughts about your thoughts? Heh. There’s real irony there.

    Pathetic Atheist? That right there is a well-earned moniker. Seriously pathetic. Add sniveling, cowardly, sorry even.

  51. says

    About the “possible / impossible” caller around the half-hour mark. Allow me to distill what I think was his main point to Matt:

    “””
    Matt, when the average person says “it’s possible” what they actually mean is “we don’t have reason to believe it’s impossible”. It’s a colloquialism that doesn’t happen to mesh well with modal logic.

    And you (Matt) could stand to be more sensitive to that fact during conversation. You’re occasionally too eager to grab for the “you’d have to demonstrate that it’s possible” response. Sometimes you can just nod and move on.

    Of course, there are times when this discrepancy leads callers to wrong conclusions, and then feel free to hit them over the head with it.
    “””

    That caller obviously has a formal background in math or philosophy or computer science. The problem is that Matt doesn’t, so they were speaking on different wavelengths. (I found that out the hard way, as I once tried to convince Matt over e-mail that he was granting too much importance to the three ‘logical absolutes’. I started out too technical and kind of blew it.)

  52. Monocle Smile says

    @Michiel
    The show is about beliefs and theistic claims. There is zero need to get pedantic about an unrelated topic. Frankly, I’m baffled as to why that caller even phoned in. I could get on a soapbox about religious apologists and why philosophical topics are popular among them, but I’ll save that rant for later.

    What’s even stranger is how you first defend “it’s possible” by describing its usage as a colloquialism, then defend the caller by saying he’s hamstrung by Matt’s inferior education. That doesn’t sit well with me.

    And you (Matt) could stand to be more sensitive to that fact during conversation. You’re occasionally too eager to grab for the “you’d have to demonstrate that it’s possible” response. Sometimes you can just nod and move on

    I disagree. Every single theist will use this to argue dishonestly down the line, or just cop out into a “my god is possible, so shut up, atheists” one-liner. Matt’s just nipping this in the bud, and Tracie’s down with it, too, given her past shows involving dice rolls.

  53. mond says

    I for one love being part of the Metropolitan Liberal Atheist Elite who gets access to this forum.
    I am not just some random guy who watches the show and occasionally comments …honest.

  54. says

    @Monocle Smile:

    > The show is about beliefs and theistic claims

    Mainly, yes. But they often discuss philosophical topics that are tangentially related to that. The nature of belief and knowledge in general, logic, rationality, the universe, biology, etc. I don’t think this call was out of place.

    > Matt’s inferior education

    I didn’t say or imply anything of the sort. What I said is that they have different backgrounds, and were speaking past each other. They were, in essence, speaking different languages.

    > Every single theist will use this to argue dishonestly down the line

    Overgeneralize much? There are plenty of people, theist and otherwise, who’re not being dishonest when they use “possible” in its colloquial sense. I’ve heard Matt use “possible” in that sense too, when he’s not specifically in ‘logic mode’. (Though I’d be hard-pressed to demonstrate this on demand.)

  55. Monocle Smile says

    @Michiel

    The nature of belief and knowledge in general, logic, rationality

    Yeah, you’re going to push me up onto my soapbox now.

    I think that all of that shit is utterly irrelevant to theistic claims. I am fully convinced that religious apologists have known for a very long time that they have jack shit to back up their claims. Zero, zilch, nada. Thus, instead of dazzling with genius, they baffle with bullshit. They can’t produce empirical evidence, so they attack empiricism and epistemology itself. They can’t provide a valid and sound argument, so they attack logic itself. This is how movements like presuppositionalism form.

    Why don’t any of those topics ever come up with discussing economics, for example? Can you imagine a presuppositionalist during an economic debate? “My opponent can’t account for the laws of logic, therefore his defense of Keynesian economics is invalid because he can’t know anything.” Such a person would be laughed at and tossed out of the debate for misconduct. It’s so transparently obvious to virtually all observing parties that apologist tactics are first-order bullshit except in the case of religion. That is the only topic where intellectual scorched-earth tactics are not only accepted, but taken seriously by academics! Matt’s said this before, but theologians aren’t “god experts.” They are “experts” in nonsense uttered by other theologians. That’s it. There’s no substance.

    In conclusion, while I understand that philosophical topics are bound to be a part of the show, I don’t see a point in being pedantic about the difference between logical possibility and epistemic possibility when it comes to extraordinary claims, because one of them doesn’t actually matter. If someone says “anything’s possible” when the situation at hand is mundane, then clearly they don’t mean precisely those words and it’s fine. But when someone says “anything’s possible” when talking about anything remotely related to the so-called “supernatural,” I am perfectly okay with someone taking them to task for it.

  56. mond says

    @57 MS

    I think you have hid the nail on the head.
    Forget god of the gaps, they are arguing god of the ambiguity (of concepts and language).
    Instead of precision many a religionist will wallow in vague concepts, equivocation and faux technical sounding language. Even the basic concepts are all over the place comprehensive wise.

    Is outside space and time coherent?
    What does spiritual mean?
    Is god “all” powerful or maximally logically powerful?
    Etc….

    There is an almost endless list of pseudointellectual bullshit which is used to obscure the fact that there is nothing of real substance being offered.

  57. Joe says

    A little off topic relative to those discussed relating to last week’s show — but I just wanted to thank the God loving theist of the world, thank you for your God allowing kids to get cancer like in this story:

    http://www.11alive.com/news/this-cancer-stuff-sucks-you-dont-have-to-fight-anymore/431440654

    Oh but yes how according to the lyrics of the popular Christian song your “God is an awesome God he reigns / From heaven above with wisdom, power and love”.

  58. huepix says

    What is wrong with the idea that god is just a word to encompass everything?
    Seems to me that atheists have a personal idea of god, which they deny, then refuse to define it, then require the other to define it, then deny that definition.
    What is the atheist definition of god?

  59. DanDare says

    Something is actually impossible or actually possible.
    If something is actually possible it may actually be so or actually be not so.
    If something is actually possible it may be known to be possible or it may not be known to be either possible or impossible.
    If something is actually impossible possible it may be known to be impossible or it may not be known to be either possible or impossible.
    If something is actually so it may be known to be so or it may not be known if it is so or not so.
    If something is actually not so it may be known to be not so or it may not be known if it is so or not so.

    I think that is the complete set of sets.

  60. says

    @DanDare:

    If something is actually possible it may actually be so or actually be not so.

    I didn’t intend to go there, but now that you bring it up: You’re saying that something be “not so” and still be “possible”. Does that seem right?

    More to the point: Is there really a definition of “possible” that’s different from “true”, and still maintains Matt’s distinction from “not proved to be impossible”?

    Tracy has used a dice example in the past, so let’s use that. I have two standard dice in a cup. I ‘throw’ the dice but keep them covered with the cup.

    [1] Is it possible I threw a 20?
    [2] Is it possible I threw a 12?

    To [1], we can readily say “no”. We know the nature of standard dice. To [2], I believe the official answer was “yes”. But why isn’t it: “No, it’s just not been proved to be impossible.” Can someone explain the difference for me?

    Because: If I lift the cup, and the dice show a value of 4, do you still say it’s possible I threw a 12? Probably not, for the same reason we said no to [1]: we know too much about the state of these dice; we’re looking right at them and they show a 4. But thinking back to before I lifted the cup (but after I threw), was it really possible then I threw a 12, knowing now that I actually threw a 4?

    Can we square this circle?

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

    @Michiel Helvensteijn, 60

    I didn’t intend to go there, but now that you bring it up: You’re saying that something be “not so” and still be “possible”. Does that seem right?

    It is possible that I am wearing boots.
    I am not wearing boots.
    Are you actually suggesting that the second statement implies that the first is false?

    I think the problem you’re coming up against is that you’re asking whether it’s possible that something that didn’t happen happened, and not whether it was possible for something to have happened other than what did happen. It is not possible for me to have been wearing boots while not wearing boots (unless you count wearing a boot on one foot while not wearing a boot on the other as such) but it would have been a trivial matter for me to have put boots on.
    The fact that the numbers on your dice add up to 4 does not mean those dice could never have come up as 12, it simply means that they didn’t.

    For the record, I think I have a slightly nerdy definition of standard, because you have a fair chance of rolling 20 with two standard dice as I understand it.

  62. says

    @Athywren:

    It is possible that I am wearing boots.
    I am not wearing boots.
    Are you actually suggesting that the second statement implies that the first is false?

    Of course.

    It may be more intuitive if I give the contrapositive of that statement (which is logically equivalent):

    I am wearing boots.
    It is impossible that I am wearing boots.
    Are you actually suggesting that the second statement implies that the first is false?

    Yes, I am. If you disagree, I’d like to know your definition of “possible”.

    For the record, I think I have a slightly nerdy definition of standard, because you have a fair chance of rolling 20 with two standard dice as I understand it.

    Alright, we’re rolling 2d6.

    I think the problem you’re coming up against is that you’re asking whether it’s possible that something that didn’t happen happened, and not whether it was possible for something to have happened other than what did happen.

    No, I meant exactly what I said. Please take my words literally. I’ll take responsibility later if I made any typos.

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

    @huepix

    What is wrong with the idea that god is just a word to encompass everything?

    Nothing really, but we already have a word for everything (“everything“) and the word “god” has baggage because of millennia of religions telling us all about the things that this word for everything who has a personality and occasionally children wants from us.

    What is the atheist definition of god?

    There isn’t one. We’re not asserting the existence of a god.

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

    @Michiel Helvensteijn

    It may be more intuitive if I give the contrapositive of that statement (which is logically equivalent):
    I am wearing boots.
    It is impossible that I am wearing boots.
    Are you actually suggesting that the second statement implies that the first is false?

    The impossible being true is not logically equivalent to the possible being false.

    Yes, I am. If you disagree, I’d like to know your definition of “possible.”

    A state that means something can happen, or exist, or be true.
    I’d like to know your definition, if that’s alright?

    No, I meant exactly what I said. Please take my words literally.

    I did. What you said implies that you’re asking whether it’s possible that something that didn’t happen happened, and not whether it was possible for something to have happened other than what did happen.

  65. Monocle Smile says

    @huepix

    What is wrong with the idea that god is just a word to encompass everything?

    The word “god” has never in history been used to describe “everything” aside from a few contemporary new-age woo monkeys.
    The word carries a ton of baggage. There’s no religion on the planet that uses “god” in that sense. There are a couple of people, but no religions. You’re contorting a word and then blaming atheists for some reason. I don’t really get it.

  66. says

    @Athywren:

    OK, let’s first get the boots thing out of the way. I misread your original statement as “Are you actually suggesting that (the second statement implies the first) is false?” That’s not what you said, so my contrapositive thing doesn’t work.

    However, let me try to rewrite your statement (minus “Are you actually suggesting that”) while preserving its meaning. Let me know if I mess up:

    [1] It is possible that I am wearing boots.
    I am not wearing boots.
    The second statement implies that the first is false.

    Simple rewrite:

    [2] (I am not wearing boots) implies that (it is possible that I am wearing boots) is false.

    Simple rewrite:

    [3] If I am not wearing boots, then it is not possible that I am wearing boots.

    Do you agree with statement [3]?

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

    @Michiel Helvensteijn

    [3] If I am not wearing boots, then it is not possible that I am wearing boots.
    Do you agree with statement [3]?

    Of course not, it’s nonsense. But it was what you appeared to be suggesting, minus the specific mention of boots, hence the question.

  68. says

    @Athywren:

    [3] If I am not wearing boots, then it is not possible that I am wearing boots.
    Do you agree with statement [3]?

    Of course not, it’s nonsense. But it was what you appeared to be suggesting, minus the specific mention of boots, hence the question.

    Then I’m stumped. That statement seems self-evidently true to me. I’d have thought it would be self-evidently true to all English speakers. Note that it does not say “…then it’s not possible to put on boots.” Both parts of the sentence are talking about the same moment in time, i.e., the same state of the system. The general version of that statement is:

    “If not X, then it’s not possible that X.”

    Your definition of “possible” is:

    [possible =] A state that means something can happen, or exist, or be true.

    We’re talking about truth values, so to simplify: “is possible” = “can be true”

    If we’ve already established that not X, then in what way can X still be true?

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

    @Michiel

    If we’ve already established that not X, then in what way can X still be true?

    That’s a different question. Obviously that which is not is not, but we’re talking about what’s possible or impossible, not what is or is not actually the case. It seems to me that your reasoning is that “is possible” = “is true” rather than “can be true,” at which point, why bother with the word possible when true is available to you?
    Try a question in the future – it’s possible that I might have a sandwich for lunch tomorrow. It’s more likely that I’ll have pasta, but a sandwich won’t suddenly cease to have been possible to me if I do choose pasta. At no point will it be possible for me to have the planet Jupiter for lunch, but a sandwich will be possible the entire time, even though I might not choose it.

  70. says

    @Athywren

    That’s a different question. Obviously that which is not is not, but we’re talking about what’s possible or impossible, not what is or is not actually the case.

    But I used your definition of “possible” to get to that final sentence!

    It seems to me that your reasoning is that “is possible” = “is true” rather than “can be true,”

    Please re-read the final sentence. It says “in what way can X still be true?”

    at which point, why bother with the word possible when true is available to you?

    Well, yeah. That’s where I was going with this. I suspect that the word “possible” is superfluous, formally speaking. That, depending on how you define it, it is either the same as “true”, or it reduces down to “a candidate for truth based on what we currently know”.

    Try a question in the future

    Wow, wow, wait. You’re skipping a lot of stuff there. Please demonstrate that my final sentence is “a different question”. Because I arrived there starting with your own question, using your definition of “possible”.

    Besides, I was purposely avoiding talk about future events. It’s a lateral move we don’t need to make, and it would
    tie us up in a bunch of controversial topics, like determinism and free will.

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

    @Michiel

    But I used your definition of “possible” to get to that final sentence!

    You used the words in my definition in the sentence, but not the definition.
    Your final sentence says, “in what way can X still [be true]?” The definition is in the brackets. That definition has “possible” = “true” which is not my definition.
    Using my definition, your final sentence would be, “in what way can X still [be a state that can be true]?”
    It’s a different question.

    Besides, I was purposely avoiding talk about future events. It’s a lateral move we don’t need to make, and it would tie us up in a bunch of controversial topics, like determinism and free will.

    I think we’re already tied up in those topics, just not overtly. Although, for what it’s worth, I don’t think they make the slightest bit of difference. Even if the entire course of history throughout the universe, going forward into the future is written and set in stone, that doesn’t make a choice not taken or a state not realised impossible, simply never actualised. Though you might say it’s not possible for me to jump the tracks of a deterministic universe and make the choice I was destined not to make, that doesn’t mean the choice itself is impossible.

    For what it’s worth, I am gaining an insight on how people are able to take a tentative acceptance that a god’s existence is possible and spin it into that god actually existing in reality. So that’s good.

  72. says

    @Athywren

    That definition has “possible” = “true”.

    No, it’s “is possible” = “can be true”. I spelled this out.

    Using my definition, your final sentence would be, “[If we’ve already established that not X], in what way can X still be a state that can be true?”

    Again, note that I already had the word “can” in there.

    And I don’t really know what “a state that can be true” means.

    But fine. Take the new form of that question, and I’ll ask you that instead. Seems close enough. What’s the answer?

    I think we’re already tied up in those topics

    No, we aren’t.

    For what it’s worth, I am gaining an insight on how people are able to take a tentative acceptance that a god’s existence is possible and spin it into that god actually existing in reality. So that’s good.

    Yes, very subtle. I don’t think I’m the one spinning right now.

    We’ve gone off the rails, anyway. I don’t have much hope that this conversation will land anywhere fruitful, and we probably lost any other readers a while ago. So I’m off, and all the best to you.

  73. RationalismRules says

    @Michiel

    More to the point: Is there really a definition of “possible” that’s different from “true”, and still maintains Matt’s distinction from “not proved to be impossible”?

    Yes, as Athywren said: “Can be true”.

    There are two distinct situations where “possible” can apply:
    a) the truth state is not known: “It is possible I rolled a 12”
    b) a specific truth state is not under consideration: “It is possible to roll a 12”

    Your counter examples rely on the truth state being known. If the truth state is known, the first usage becomes redundant specific to that situation, but it continues to apply in situations where the truth value is not known.

    The second usage does not examine a specific instance, it examines whether or not a proposition conforms to the physical and logical constraints of our universe.

    As to Matt’s distinction, the point is that “not proven to be impossible” leads to “unknown”, not to “possible”.

    In the dice example, if someone had tampered with the dice, changing the sixes to fours, it would not actually be possible to roll a 12. However, if we were unaware of this tampering we would not have “proven it to be impossible”. That would not make it possible, it would simply mean that we were unaware of its impossibility.

  74. phil says

    @66 Michiel

    I could write “It is possible I am wearing clothes, but I am not wearing clothes.” (Don’t worry, I’ve got the camera covered). Is this a logical contradiction? A fallacy?

    I think part of the problem is imprecision in the way people are using “is possible”, etc. To be more explicit, I think sometimes people are writing “is possible” when they mean “may be possible”, and not making a sufficiently clear distinction between “possibilities”, such as “possible given our current knowledge” or “possible in this universe”. In the example above, I might be stark naked but I could go put some clothes on, so it is possible I could be clothed (I may be wearing clothes) regardless of any claims of nudity.

  75. says

    @phil:

    I could write “It is possible I am wearing clothes, but I am not wearing clothes.” Is this a logical contradiction? A fallacy?

    As posed, it’s a contradiction. Detail in wording matters here. For instance:

    …I could go put some clothes on, so it is possible I could be clothed (I may be wearing clothes)

    That’s three separate statements right there, making four:

    [1] It is possible I am wearing clothes
    [2] I could go put some clothes on
    [3] it is possible I could be clothed
    [4] I may be wearing clothes

    Since we’re discussing subtle differences in meaning, let’s try to be precise in our use of language. For the purpose of this discussion, I’d say [1] and [4] have the same meaning: a truth-claim about the present moment. Statement [2] is entirely different, and talks about your ability to take action in the future. Statement [3] is ambiguous; its meaning depends on whether ‘clothed’ is an adjective or a verb, putting it in [1,4] or [2] camps respectively. (And “possible I could be” is a bit sloppy anyway.)

    So far I’ve avoided discussing the [2] kind of statement, because I don’t want to get tangled up in determinism and free will stuff yet. We could go there later, but for now I’m only trying to address the [1,4] truth-claim kind of statement that refers to a specific snapshot in time.

    And in that sense, I can’t imagine a definition for “possible” (that’s actually used in the world) that makes your original statement satisfiable.

  76. Aoshi Shinamori says

    @Gerard Moledo

    Hi! I think I get your point. However, just a couple of observations:

    You mentioned that “that the lack of knowledge of impossibility completely defines epistemic possibility; something is (epistemically) possible (in other words, “possible” FOR ALL WE KNOW) precisely because we don’t know that it is impossible”

    I capitalized the phrase “for all we know” when I quoted you above because I think that in the context of your argument, the phrase is absolutely essential.

    So while I agree with you, on your statement quoted above. I also agree with Tracie that it is not fallacious to say that if we don’t know if X is possible or impossible, then, FOR ALL WE KNOW, X is impossible. This statement appears to be ok as long as we insert the phrase “FOR ALL WE KNOW”.

    However, in the following statement of yours:

    “……it would not be fallacious to say “because we can’t show (a type of) God to be impossible (given everything we know to be true, which may or may not actually be the case), God is possible”.

    You actually dropped the phrase, “FOR ALL WE KNOW” entirely which, I believe, completely destroys the analogy with the statement you first mentioned above, and with which I completely agree.

    The reason the phrase “FOR ALL WE KNOW” is important is that it pertains not to God actually but to possibility. The insertion of this phrase simply means that the quality of being “possible” cannot as yet be excluded, since we still don’t know if X (or God) is impossible or possible. (We still lack the knowledge). Here, the focus is on that quality of being possible.

    However, by dropping the phrase altogether, you shifted the emphasis on the God idea itself, and the statement “God is possible” seems to cause absurdity because it actually excludes impossibility and hence, runs counter to our starting point which is lack of knowledge of impossibility.

    So what I’m saying is that using the phrase “FOR ALL WE KNOW”, we are saying that “the possibility of God is possible”, while dropping it makes us say, “God is possible”

    I’m very sorry if I wasn’t able to get my point across clearly enough. This is not my forte and reading through your posts, it’s clear that you are more informed on the subject than I am. I just commented because the video and the topics discussed caught my interest.

    Thanks and have a nice day.

    And so sorry for the spacing