Comments

  1. KJWalker says

    I’m glad Alex finally got to talk to Matt.
    Maybe he will learn to be less cock sure and more rational.

  2. Orphan Black says

    Not a show until troll Alex or whatever his name he chooses calls in just to argue. When asked a question he always wants to move on. Also, his voice is so grating.

  3. Christopher Kratsch says

    Definitions of “god” fall on a spectrum between completely vague and completely absurd.

  4. says

    58:00 (Jimmy’s Call/Perennial-whatzit)

    Ohhhhhh boy. This call legitimately pissed me off. So many mistakes with a proportional amount of arrogance. Not a good combo. I imagine this is going to be a long post. From the very beginning:

    “Next to your [name] it says neither [theist nor atheist], and that’s not possible.”

    BOOM. Just like that, Matt bluntly states that it is impossible to not be an atheist and not be a theist simultaneously. There is absolutely no mention of semantics, subjectivity or anything. He states it as if it is objective fact. Now, I’m willing to concede that Matt just wanted to jump right in with a bold statement, just to get the conversation going, but it still sets a bad precedent for the conversation. Furthermore, the next thing that Matt mentions is “raw logic”, and they continue on with speaking of binaries and the like, which I can argue is not the optimal way of considering belief. The point to this beginning segment is that it completely contrasts from what Matt has previously talked about when he discussed labels and the like: the importance of nuance in language. Just listen to the first minute or two of Matt’s video “You’re not an atheist, you’re an agnostic” and you can see the difference in approach.

    To Matt’s credit, he clarifies what he means by the terms (theist=belief in God, atheist=~theist) and asks the question again if this is the case. But then the next mistake pops up. When Jimmy starts to bring the nuance of language into the discussion, saying that it depends on definitions, Matt and Jen immediately get hung up on the way he used “atheism” specifically. It’s a very knee-jerk reaction they have to how he seems to be pinning the definition of atheism, which is something that atheists continually fight for (as they should), but because of it they miss his general point. The bigger mistake is when Matt says that “it’s applicable depending on how you define theism”. No, “it’s applicable” depending on how you define theism and atheism.

    Theism and atheism are both terms that have adopted their own meanings, usages, understandings, etc. each and one is not simply counter the other. What I mean is I can “make up” a word by adding a prefix to some base word, like “overameliorate”. “Overameliorate” is directly connected to “ameliorate” because it is simply the base word with the prefix attached to somewhat change the meaning. You might say the same with atheism; atheism is just a-theism. But evidently, this isn’t how we come to look at the words, because unlike “overameliorate”, which was only an instance of changing the words context, atheism and theism both have their own lives. They are discussed separately (although always with some relation of course), they have different origins, they are both labels for separate groups of people–they are not simply different forms of each other, but different terms. And so, they have to be defined individually.

    So Matt is wrong in saying “it doesn’t depend on how you define atheism, only theism” because they are separate entities. He is tacitly assuming that atheism and theism are directly, semantically contradictory when they need not be. Jimmy agreeing was wrong and his original statement if interpreted as “it doesn’t depend on how you define theism, only atheism” is also wrong, but I have the notion that Jimmy wasn’t excluding anything, rather he was just focusing on one. Oh, and by the way, fun fact that I didn’t know until I did a little bit of research tonight, it appears that the origin of the term atheism predates theism. How ’bout dat? (Usually I’d provide links but what I found is very easy to find, so I trust that anybody interested enough can find it themselves, and that anybody with better sources can correct me)

    As for Jimmy’s avoidance of the question “Do you believe a god exists?”, I would agree that he was very vague and not directly addressing what was being asked of him. I have my own gripes of Matt’s handling of these things but that’s not very relevant. The thing that really set me off is how Matt seems to have furthered the notion that language, semantics, labels, etc. have some objectivity to them which is not the case, and which he has stated himself. He furthers the idea that there can not exist any position other than atheist or theist (even though his good friend Ozymandius [link to relevant video on Ozy’s channel] disagrees entirely, and I personally haven’t seen it discussed between them. If they have, I’d love to see the exchange) when it comes to belief in god which is a giant mistake that is far too prevalent in the atheist community.

    Rant over.

  5. Vivec says

    Yeah, Matt is totally arrogant for asserting that a true dichotomy is a true dichotomy. Stating tautologies is bad and we have to pretend like subjectivity is even a factor when the issue at hand is a direct logical negation.

  6. says

    Finkelstein & Silberman book mentioned by Jen:
    https://www.amazon.com/Bible-Unearthed-Archaeologys-Vision-Ancient/dp/0684869136

    Excellent excellent book well worth reading. They make a pretty good case that Joshua tweaked the earlier books to make him seem like the logical successor to all the Jewish tradition & the greatest King.

    …which makes me think that “Jesus” which is a variant of “Joshua” is a name given to whoever got crucified after the fact (if there was indeed an actual guy who inspired his band of loyal cult members)

  7. Monocle Smile says

    @Gerard
    No matter how many times you insist that you’re better than everyone else…you’re not. Grow up and accept it.

    They are discussed separately (although always with some relation of course), they have different origins, they are both labels for separate groups of people

    No. That’s just your delusion and the same kind of easy, stupid mistake that you make over and over and fucking over again in every one of your posts.

  8. Monocle Smile says

    I hope Kafei stays the fuck off these threads and never calls the show again. What a colossal waste of time, and it always will be.

  9. Monocle Smile says

    Whiny teenage troll makes another appearance. Fuck that guy. Nothing interesting to say once again. Just more Thomas Aquinas bullshit. What a sad little asshole.
    “Our local universe is expanding, so that’s enough for the argument”
    WOOF fallacy of composition. Unbelievably stupid error. And of course another twit who doesn’t understand infinity. NO religious apologist understands infinity. And no, Alex, you’re wrong about Vilenkin, too. It’s hard to find something he’s not wrong about.

  10. ShadowStarshine says

    @Gerald

    In a way, I agree. I’m not really for bulldozing over someone with my definition of a word in any given discussion. Rather, I’d prefer to make my way to an agreed definition with the other party, stating my own belief and at most explaining the current colloquial usage from most atheists I’ve met. I really don’t mind entertaining what a word means to the one proposing it and allowing them an attempt to say something sensible.

    I think later on in the call he seemed to be contradicting himself by saying he believes in a God but not fleshing out what that god is. The most I could get from that call was that he believed that God was a feeling, and that feeling is what multiple religions refer to as mysticism. Well, ok, so God to you is a feeling? Don’t you think that’s a bit of a weighty word to be used on something so benign? Why not call Happiness God as well? Or a rock? Do you think something someone once referred to as mysticism *IS* mysticism?

    Words are information and some carry a lot more, like atheism and theism. If I was to say “I’m an atheist” to another atheist who also takes the “I simply don’t believe that any claim of theism is worth believing in” stance, it’s a very quick transfer of information that takes very little clarification. If I say that to a caller like Jimmy, there’s no quick easy transfer of information because he clearly sees that word differently, and thus a TON of clarification becomes foundational to any conversation. That doesn’t mean you can’t spend your time telling them what your defintion is, why it’s your definition or even have a history lesson on usage and the growth of it, it just means that the outright denial of clarification isn’t productive towards mutual conversation.

    I disagree a bit Gerard, when you say “So Matt is wrong in saying “it doesn’t depend on how you define atheism, only theism” because they are separate entities.” because I think that is just how Matt uses the word atheism, and seems to be prevelent to how most atheists use the word nowadays.

  11. titan says

    That was brilliant! Glad to see Alex/Lucas/Trollio get spanked by Matt.

    He entertained his little written spiel of what he believes a god is, and Matt takes it apart piece by piece (While continually correcting him on the terminology that he used). Most people would be humbled by an experience like that, but unfortunately, this guy has hubris written all over him.

  12. Chancellor of the Exchequer says

    Nice to see John wrenching utube trolls in the live chat, I actually lasted ten minutes on there.

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

    @Gerard, 3

    Does it not seem a little unfair to make up a word, and then claim the fact that this word which is not in common use doesn’t have it’s own life shows that a similar word with similar construction is not a modification of the other? If overameliorate was, somehow, a word in common usage, it would have its own life, and yet it would still be a modification of ameliorate.
    Yes, some people use the word atheist in different ways, some people use it in ways which I personally feel are unsupportable by logic, and yet every single atheist in the world has something in common – they are not a theist, they are not a believer in a god. Perhaps they do believe there are no gods, perhaps they believe they can be absolutely certain, but ultimately, their stance, at the most basic level, is not-theism.

  14. Dzoom says

    I can recall a lecturer from medschool referring to studies of at birth seperated twins that showed that the degree of religiosity a person experiences is at least to some degree genetically linked. It was a few years ago though, and I don’t have the reference laying around.

  15. Dawid says

    1) why would god need to be supernatural? – if a god exists, then it would be testable, and measurable therefor part of natural world – other wise it would not be able to interact with natural world in any way.

    2) Supernatural (to restate the above) can not be measured or tested as if it does get tested it stops being supernatural and becomes natural.

    3) if there is an observation of some occurrence that we have not explanation of how or why it happened it does not mean it is supernatural just that we do not know how it works.

    My thinking is that lots of theists are expecting unchanging absolute laws of nature (that we often refer to as it is what science is describing) however I think misunderstanding comes from the fact that there are two separate things

    1) Actual laws of nature (physics/universe)
    2) There is our understanding of the above (and description thereof)

    If something happens is observed – and it contradicts the laws of nature – what we understand I think in the science context is that it violates our understanding of the laws of nature… therefor pointing to that our understanding of them is inaccurate and have to be improved.

    Another thing is – why would Laws of nature need to be unchangeable? Everything around changes and moves so it may be possible that the basic constants we measure today are also not constant.

    It is in general hard to me why theists are clinging to very weak and flawed arguments to defend flawed ideas that have been implanted in their heads by (in most cases) as misguided parents.

  16. Kenny De Metter says

    The story of Moses/Passover ( god killing all the firstborns ) was actually one of the first things that caused me to doubt the existence of god ( or at least the morale character of god ).

    I remember watching an animated movie on it somewhere in primary school, being totally horrified by, and thinking
    ‘there is no way a good and loving god would do anything like this, this cannot be my god’ ( which is basically what Matt said )

  17. DanDare says

    Matt was fun! And so was Jen. They were on fire. Stopping a gish gallop in mid-flight is the only way to deal with it before the edifice of obscurity is built.

  18. says

    Jimmy’s call was EXCRUCIATING. WTF is wrong with the knucklehead theists who call and dance around answering the most basic questions??

    And Gerard, quit contemplating your navel. Sheesh. Everyone’s EITHER a theist or an atheist, period, end of discussion. A light switch is either on or off. You either believe in a god or you don’t. There’s no middle ground. How simple can that be? Your rant against Matt makes no sense.

  19. seajay says

    What’s the difference between cosmos and our universe?

    Scientists do or don’t believe the universe had a cause? I’m not sure what’s being said there

  20. Monocle Smile says

    @seajay
    There’s our observable universe, which is currently best described by a certain big bang model. That’s the “universe” in the context of that discussion.
    There are possibly lots of other universes somewhere out there. There are a number of multiverse hypotheses; ekpyrotic theory states that our universe was birthed from a rift in extradimensional space while others claim black holes are tunnels to other universes.
    “Cosmos” envelops these other universes because “cosmos” refers to “all that exists.” “Universe” in the context of that discussion is “our local observable universe.”

    Scientists do not believe the universe had a cause. The caller was at least partially wrong about virtually everything he stated. Alex Vilenkin himself is evidently frustrated at this misunderstanding, because it’s difficult to communicate nuanced concepts in cosmology to laymen.

    Notice that the caller at no point attempted to provide positive evidence for his god. He relied on horrific applications of modal logic and was going for a “diagnosis of exclusion” if you will. It’s transparently dishonest, which is to be expected of that particular caller.

  21. Leo K says

    @Everyone who considers Alex a Troll
    I’m not entirely sure his being a troll, the same way I do not think he completely understands his position on things. To me, he sounds like a kid who’s trying to figure things out, found himself some interesting reading material online, and is using that material as a crutch to prop his belief structure up. Basically, he sounds like a person whose slowly losing his faith, just give the kid some time and space to figure things out without immediately assuming he’s being a troll. I’ve been there and know what it was like to seek out anything that sounded rational to me (at the time) and use it as a spiritual crutch. It’s seems to me as he’s currently going through a similar experience, and is reaching out for anything to defend and justify his belief. I am curious as to why he choose an Atheist talk show, off all things currently available to him, as a platform to flush out his thoughts on the matter. He could have easily pick any number of spiritual base shows to provide him the confirmation he needs to sure up his beliefs.

    With that being said, I too am glad he got a chance to talk to Matt. After listening to several of his previous calls (currently binge watching the show on YouTube), he needed someone to set him straight. I was surprise to see how much time Matt gave him, thought he would have been disconnected 5 mins into the same ramblings he’s provided other host(s) of the show when he previously called in. Good on Matt for listening out to the kid.

    Final note on a different caller (Don from Boston, who’s “enjoyed the show over the years”), I believe both Matt and Jen might have missed that the caller wasn’t calling specifically about religion, but an argument for both being religious while simultaneously holding beliefs that homosexuality isn’t a sin, despite certain faiths saying otherwise. It was weird that the caller immediately used that topic as a foundation for his argument for belief in something “works better”. Sounds to me like the caller just might be having an issue rationalizing two different contradictory beliefs within his life. Then again, I might be reading to much into the words he used in his call, but it’s not the first time I heard similar arguments, especially from a gay & religious person trying to make sense of their faith.

  22. Murat says

    Matt was unjust and quick in hanging up on Don.

    The question “Do you care if your belief is true or not?” may work as a litmus paper when figuring out if a caller is sincere or just a troll, but in Don’s case, the man was just investigating the position of certain atheists with regards to what they expect of theist individuals to become. And he was coherent in his statements.

    The fact that his personal take on belief was not relevant to facts was a separate issue. Because he wasn’t in any way trying to force his own perspective on that particular issue, was just bringing up a legit comparison between various “conversions” trying to understand how AXP hosts see theists.

  23. Monocle Smile says

    @Murat
    I disagree entirely. I don’t think Don was worth any time. His comparison to homosexuality was wildly off the mark and there’s no point in even having a discussion about beliefs with someone who doesn’t care at all about accuracy.

    And he was coherent in his statements.

    I think your “coherent” bar is far too low. I’m looking for much more than “speaks in complete sentences.”

    Because he wasn’t in any way trying to force his own perspective on that particular issue

    That’s not at all what I got from him, and I don’t actually give a shit, either. This the same Gerard bullshit; “not forcing a perspective” doesn’t exempt a person from being challenged on their crappy beliefs.

  24. Mary Ellen Warner says

    Please disable the live chat on YouTube during the show. It is just vicious and useless and gives a platform to people who are verbally abusive. Your show is the one time we have to listen to you guys discuss idea that are important to us all with live people who call in. We have every other minute of every day to witness the hate speech, mysogyny and horrific comments that are everywhere. The topics we discuss are dangerous enough….please at least don’t add to the danger with the live chate.

  25. ShadowStarshine says

    @Murat

    It’s really tough to have a conversation with someone who will, on principal, never concede a single point. I think the show is as much for the hosts as it is the caller. The only thing I would additionally have asked is “If you don’t care what’s true, what is the point in us having a conversation?” and just see where that goes. Other than that, I think that one was over.

  26. gnostic says

    Given the background noises during Alex’s call, especially toward the end of it, I’m guessing he’s streaming his own little show of his call somewhere else? Example noises at 1:28:54, 1:29:00, 1:29:57, 1:30:09… what’s up with all of that?

  27. Murat says

    @MS #23

    I didn’t read Don’s discussion to be “about beliefs”. That’s exactly why I think he deserved something more.

    His point in bringing up homosexuality was a catch on whether atheists approach theists as “the other” or not. I don’t believe that to be the case, either, but the question was original.

    90% of the time I approve the hosts hanging up, this time I didn’t.

    Maybe you need to watch those 5 minutes again, I don’t think we’re on the same page here – just like Matt and Don weren’t, which is exactly my point.

  28. Monocle Smile says

    @Murat

    I didn’t read Don’s discussion to be “about beliefs”. That’s exactly why I think he deserved something more

    Something irrelevant to the show deserves MORE time on the air?

    His point in bringing up homosexuality was a catch on whether atheists approach theists as “the other” or not

    Again, that’s not at all what I got from the call. He started with “theism isn’t a problem” and “my life works better with theism” after making the horribly flawed analogy. At no point did the call go anywhere near the concept of “the other.” Matt has always acknowledged that theists sincerely believe, so that’s a non-issue anyway. He went into predeterminism from there, which made me think he was just desperately searching for an excuse to cling to theism. I’m not convinced I’m the one who needs to listen to the call again, which I did anyway.

  29. Murat says

    @ShadowStarshine #25

    I think Don was, regardless to the fact that he was a theist, trying to figure out how “the other” is defined among certain atheists, or at least by the AXP hosts.

    In this context, his very own position of “establishing his belief on things other than facts” was irrelevant. I evaluated his stand to be more like that of an observer.

    Anyway, it’s your show and we get the chance to listen to quite a lot of fine conversations, even at the expense of missing out on a few which might be so too.

    Keep up the good job and thanks for the reply.

  30. ShadowStarshine says

    @Murat

    I’ll take that comment as a compliment that I can write professionally, but I don’t run or am in any way affiliated with the show.

  31. Murat says

    @Mary Ellen #24

    I simply turn off the chat in order not to be distracted. So can you.

    I don’t think it hurts to have people there engaging in whatever as long as we have that choice of not seeing or partecipating in.

  32. Murat says

    @ShadowStarshine #30

    My, you certainly sounded like an insider there 🙂 Any experience with some kinda customer service?

  33. ShadowStarshine says

    @Murat

    I worked for a while at a call center, fun job. Either way, you feel free to take me to task if you disagree with something I say.

  34. Justin says

    @gnostic #26

    Sounded to me like Alex gave up towards the end of the call and started doing chores around his house. I think the banging and clanging we were hearing was him taking his trash out and doing other things and not listening to anything Matt was saying, especially considering at the end of Matt’s rant he said “hello?” like he was just picking the phone back up after walking away to do stuff. I hope they don’t waste their time on someone who’ll put Matt on hold to go do other things and not even pay attention.

  35. hansmud says

    The passover sacrifice story just shows the muddled thinking of biblical authors and now apologists. Here we have a supposedly all powerful, omnipotent, omniscient god who can see into each person’s mind, yada yada, yet he needs help to identify israelite homes with the blood of a lamb painted on doorposts: incapable and bloodthirsty.

  36. hansmud says

    I disagree with Matt – I think you should bite the feet off first, so they can’t hop off.

  37. vitalem says

    Alex – was Brad from Colorado before. And he’s called in like a LOT.

    He’s a troll – He starts every call with the same question – and they answer with the same answer.
    Every single time.
    His phone/connection is also so filled with digital NOISE that I have to suspect that he is attempting some sort of “passive aggressive terrorism” along the lines of Peekay on youtube
    I mean – you have to MAKE your voice sound like that.
    With the gain turned all the way up – so it CLIPS the signal.
    And that damages the ears of the listener.
    Atheist Experience would benefit from a simple Pre-Amp compressor – for nice audio

    Or at least stop taking calls from Alex, or Brad, or whoever he chooses to be next week.

  38. gshelley says

    Two very frustrating callers at the end
    “I believe in a God”
    “What type pf God”
    “Some people think all religions sort of point to a god”
    “that’s nice, but what sort of god do you believe in”
    “There’s this philosophy that says all religions have some sort of truth”
    and
    “”I’m not saying anything less than absolute certainty requires faith, I’m saying you can’t have any sort of certainty because there is no such thing as evidence”

    Or t least that is what I got from them

  39. Leo K says

    @Vitalem #37
    That’s interesting that you interpret the digital noise in Alex’s phone calls some sort of passive aggressive terrorism. I heard those noises as nothing more than the random noise caused by a hands-free wired headset. I speak to my wife nearly everyday, and she uses one of those wired headset with her phone, and that thing picks up all kinds of random noises, and sometimes amplifies the noise on its way out. His call(s), at least the three I heard so far, all seem to have the similar characteristics noises to my wife’s calls.

    As for screening his calls out, why do that? Sure it would get annoying after a while, but maybe after enough calls he (along with the other listeners who might share his views) might begin to see that their logic is flawed, and their defense for their position will falter. After all, isn’t that the point of the show, to show a positive atheist view point, and show others that you can live a moral and good life with out an imaginary person watching and dictating your every move. If the kid is a glutton for punishment, then let the host decide how much to dish out.

  40. Leo K says

    @Murat #23
    I slightly agree. After binge watching/listening to several of these episodes over the last two weeks, I’ve noticed that Matt is quick to put the brakes on certain types on conversations, often before they have a chance to go anywhere. Usually, Matt will stop a person to have them clarify their position, sometimes its because the caller is just WAY out there and needs to be reigned in. I haven’t picked up on a pattern as to why he does this, specially considering that he sometimes lets some of the crazies ramble on for far longer than I would. It’s interesting to pick apart the show, how hosts respond, what callers have to say, the overall direction of both their interactions.

    These folks have been doing this show for years, so I’m not sure if these abrupt cancellations are unjust because they heard the caller’s spiel before, or it they’re simply not in the mood (that day) to hear these worn out arguments. I agree, Don was coherent in his statements, and I didn’t pick up on any specific agenda driven speech from him, but something he said triggered Matt’s trigger finger.

  41. says

    I enjoyed the first call, Caleb in Alabama. I have a very similar story. I was raised very strict Southern Baptist and I was traumatized as a child and young adult by religion. I would love to make friends I could chat with about these issues. I don’t have any friends or family members I can really discuss this stuff with. I am from Western KY, but currently live and work in Bryson City NC. Please message me!

  42. Monocle Smile says

    @Leo K
    I agree that the teenage troll’s calls don’t have that rather silly “terrorism” feature.
    I do not agree that taking his calls over and over is productive. This dude doesn’t pass the sniff test:
    1) He changes his name and location every time he calls in.
    2) He is often trolling the chat with deliberate flamebait.
    3) When a discussion is had, it’s the exact same conversation every single time. He hasn’t learned a thing.
    He’s just a cocky, annoying kid who’s read a philosophy book along with some apologetic bollocks and suddenly thinks he’s a genius. Surely you’re familiar with the type when you were growing up.

  43. Murat says

    @Leo K #42

    The hosts sure do have a right to act on their own feelings. In the end, it’is not some kind of formal public service that they practice there. So, Matt had the “right” to hang up on him. However I also felt that Jen was a bit taken aback at that point, because she was the one leading the caller in kind of a more common path.

    I disagree with what Monocle Smile stated in #29. Not “every” conversation has to be “directly” on the issue of beliefs. This would narrow AXP down to a game of rock-scissors-paper. Don’s point may have been of “trivial importance”, but his choice of examples and analogies actually made me wonder if every single AXP host would be okay with tagging “theism” as a (or, “the”) “problem”. The guy was about to go into uncharted territory, had it been Jen to engage more with him.

    Yes, Spider-Man’s arch enemies are Doc Octopus, The Vulture, Mysterio, Venom, etc… But every once in a while, we just need to see him deal with a pickpocket or super-villain of lesser threat. Otherwise, we can loop our way to insanity with “Slick vs. Dillahunty” kind of intellectual expolit.

  44. Monocle Smile says

    @Murat
    I think you’re imagining things. “I believe because it makes me feel better” is not “uncharted territory.” It’s the grassy plain that is now just sand due to being trodden over so continuously for years. I didn’t glean any of the stuff you said about Don’s call after listening three times.

  45. Murat says

    @MS #47

    Well, that’s only normal. Either of us may be right. Or, who knows, maybe what he was trying to say was neither what you say it is, nor what I think it is. The exact same wording may trigger in people’s minds various different things. We read stuff while subconsciously making use of our own personal memory and feelings.

    I agree that “I believe because it makes me feel better” is a catch phrase to nail an insincere and/or pointless caller.

    However, at the point when he said that, I got the feeling that he was investigating into “So what, how should I now be seen by you guys in the light of that? Do you think that, like some Catholics treat homosexuals, I should be ‘cured’ of my state/position?” rather than just bragging about how he doesn’t care about facts.

    I may be wrong. So can you.

  46. Monocle Smile says

    @Murat
    That first part is a rather infantile attempt to save face. After reading your first post, I was concerned that I only heard about a third of Don’s call, since you referenced things that appeared to be entirely unrelated to what I heard. So I listened again and found nothing. Maybe YOU should listen again.

    However, at the point when he said that, I got the feeling that he was investigating into “So what, how should I now be seen by you guys in the light of that? Do you think that, like some Catholics treat homosexuals, I should be ‘cured’ of my state/position?”

    I saw that as an underhanded, dishonest attempt to make the hosts look and feel bad. Homosexuality and theistic belief have basically nothing in common and this should be insanely obvious to an adult, which is the entire crux of the problem. I have no idea why you’re so enamored with the call; it was just another “I believe because it makes me feel better, and facts be damned” caller who tried to use a crappy analogy to cling to their fantasies. A dime a dozen.

  47. Murat says

    @MS #49
    You are wrong when saying “Homosexuality and theistic belief have basically nothing in common and this should be insanely obvious to an adult, which is the entire crux of the problem.”

    They both form “group identities”. You would be amazed to see how, under heavily fractured conditions, weird coalitions have been made among such groups of dramatically different sources and positions.

    As I said, either of us may be misinterpreting what Don was saying. So, let me just go on with my very own words from this point on:

    Exploring how they are seen by atheists may be of critical value to some theists. People may have various ideas on whether they are tagged as “the other” by what they see as echo chambers of whom they don’t know much about. And I think AXP may be a good platform to ease them into some discoveries.

    Hence, a person’s answer to “whether he cares if his beliefs are true or not” may be totally irrelevant to their particular agenda, which may at times be worthy of at least knowing more about.

  48. Monocle Smile says

    @Murat

    They both form “group identities”

    -________-
    There are significant differences here. I have no idea what it’s like in your country, so maybe there’s a culture clash going on between us. You can stop being Catholic. You can’t stop being homosexual. That’s the biggest difference and the one that matters most, especially in the context of Don’s call. He started blabbering about predeterminism, which was his way of saying “i’m this way, and there’s nothing anyone can do about it,” which is total dogshit when it comes to theism. Homosexuality is specifically biological. Theistic belief is specifically not.

    Hence, a person’s answer to “whether he cares if his beliefs are true or not” may be totally irrelevant to their particular agenda, which may at times be worthy of at least knowing more about

    I think we just have a fundamental difference in what we consider “worthy,” because I don’t find something detached from reality to ever be interesting or worthy of anything. I don’t give a fuck what someone’s “agenda” is or care about anything they have to say if they don’t care about truth.

    Exploring how they are seen by atheists may be of critical value to some theists

    And honest people who want to know this will approach it directly, not disingenuously like Don. But in the US, theists generally don’t care how they’re seen by atheists. They just take shits on us at every given opportunity because they can.

  49. Murat says

    @MS #51

    Many of the points you made in that first paragraph might have been provided to Don by the hosts. The fact that you know them to be facts has nothing to do with my initial and main take on this, which was, just to refresh you, “Matt was unjust and quick in hanging up on Don”.

    In your head you may have the answers to 99% of the callers, that doesn’t mean only 1% deserves to have a discussion.

    As for the 2nd paragraph: You keep not making the distinciton whether the argument itself is about facts, OR the person bringing one argument is / happens to be / on the other hand / irrelevant to the particular argument “not caring if his position on theism matches with reality”.

    Think of it like this: The security guy at the door of a fancy store warns the parent of a child that they do not allow anyone to enter with a cone of ice cream in hand. (Reasonable, as such sticky stuff may ruin expensive merchandise). The parent smiles and says “It’s not an actual cone of ice cream, just a plastic toy she keeps licking”… How do you react if the securtiy goes “Still, we don’t allow that…”

    I agree that, most of the time, kids have actual ice cream in hand. But if you can register that this particular one is a plastic toy the essence of which is totally harmless to the merchandise, you can
    a) let the kid in
    b) understand that the “appearance” of a something in hand may not be the best of litmus papers to act on with regards to possible accidental damage to the goods inside.
    Come to think of it, another kid may have in hand something that looks like a solid toy but actually is a sticky edible.

    One’s personal dumbness or carelessness about how and why he believes in what does not directly mean that their perspective on a trivial issue regarding religions / theism / secularity would be utterly pointless. Yes, it may give a clue. But it’s not the master key.

    As for the 3rd paragraph: Still, considering I was the one to read Don’s intention and not you, I would say he was quite direct.

    The bottom line is: What this guy had in mind and how things may have developed in an alternate space / time continuum where he was kept in line may forever remain just another mystery for all humankind. However, my point remains the same as it was nothing other than the observation that Matt’s key question may at times be irrelevant to the context of the caller’s point.

  50. Monocle Smile says

    @Murat

    The fact that you know them to be facts has nothing to do with my initial and main take on this, which was, just to refresh you, “Matt was unjust and quick in hanging up on Don”.

    I think it has everything to do with my opinion that you’re wrong. How you missed this is beyond me.

    As for the 2nd paragraph: You keep not making the distinciton whether the argument itself is about facts, OR the person bringing one argument is / happens to be / on the other hand / irrelevant to the particular argument “not caring if his position on theism matches with reality”.

    I can’t parse this.

    Think of it like this: The security guy at the door of a fancy store warns the parent of a child that they do not allow anyone to enter with a cone of ice cream in hand. (Reasonable, as such sticky stuff may ruin expensive merchandise). The parent smiles and says “It’s not an actual cone of ice cream, just a plastic toy she keeps licking”… How do you react if the securtiy goes “Still, we don’t allow that…”

    Probably by thinking the guard is either a dumbass or is terrified of losing his job because his boss is a dumbass. I don’t have any fucking clue what this possibly has to do with the topic at hand.

    One’s personal dumbness or carelessness about how and why he believes in what does not directly mean that their perspective on a trivial issue regarding religions / theism / secularity would be utterly pointless

    I disagree very strongly. Don was directly asked if he cared whether or not his beliefs were true, multiple times. He ended up answering in the negative. Call is thus meaningless.

    Still, considering I was the one to read Don’s intention and not you, I would say he was quite direct

    Do we live in the same reality?

    Matt’s key question may at times be irrelevant to the context of the caller’s point

    And I don’t give a fuck about a “point” if Matt’s question is answered in the negative, which is why I’m fine with Matt hanging up. I’m still baffled as to why you found Don even remotely interesting; I found him to be one of the most boring callers in several weeks.

  51. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    Homosexuality is specifically biological. Theistic belief is specifically not.

    Doesn’t matter if being gay is or isn’t. Being religious means believing demonstrably false things. Being gay does not involve that. That’s the difference. Well, and being gay doesn’t hurt your neighbor, but being religious often does (such as through voting).

  52. Murat says

    #54 @EL

    And these very basic ideas could be discussed with the caller in question. Regardless to why and how he believed in whatever.

  53. says

    @Vivec #5
    I didn’t say why Matt was arrogant so you look daft arguing with a strawman. Also, you restating “it’s a true dichotomy” doesn’t make it a true dichotomy. If you’re gonna try to argue like you’re obviously correct, bring up good points at least. Otherwise, you just look like some jack-off talking shit on the internet. All I’m saying is, if one is going to start shit-talking, actually back up the shit-talk with reason. That is, if you don’t want to look like foolishly ignorant. Anyway:

    Merriam-Webster – a: a lack of belief or a strong disbelief in the existence of a god or any gods
    Dictionary.com – 1. the doctrine or belief that there is no God.2. disbelief in the existence of a supreme being or beings.
    Wikipedia – Atheism is, in the broadest sense, the absence of belief in the existence of deities. Less broadly, atheism is the rejection of belief that any deities exist. In an even narrower sense, atheism is specifically the position that there are no deities. Atheism is contrasted with theism, which, in its most general form, is the belief that at least one deity exists.
    Oxford/Google – Disbelief or lack of belief in the existence of God or gods.
    Encyclopedia Britannica – Atheism, in general, the critique and denial of metaphysical beliefs in God or spiritual beings. As such, it is usually distinguished from theism, which affirms the reality of the divine and often seeks to demonstrate its existence. Atheism is also distinguished from agnosticism, which leaves open the question whether there is a god or not, professing to find the questions unanswered or unanswerable.
    Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy – ‘Atheism’ means the negation of theism, the denial of the existence of God. (Related – “While the term ‘atheism’ is used in a variety of ways in general discourse, our entry is on its meaning in the philosophical literature. Traditionally speaking, the definition in our entry–that ‘atheism’ means the denial of the existence of God–is correct in the philosophical literature.”)

    Besides the Oxford dictionary, which is a little ambiguous depending on how it defines “disbelief” (which, by their own definition, means lack of belief in the positive claim, not belief in the negative so it probably isn’t that ambiguous. Google does remain ambiguous though), None of the reputable links on the front page of googling “atheism definition” state bluntly that atheism is solely “lack of belief” or that it is intrinsically related to theism. That is, except for the Stanford Encyclopedia, which still disagrees with you because it uses “negation of theism” to mean “belief God does not exist”. Oh, and also this one:

    American Atheism – Atheism is one thing: A lack of belief in gods. Atheism is not an affirmative belief that there is no god nor does it answer any other question about what a person believes. It is simply a rejection of the assertion that there are gods. Atheism is too often defined incorrectly as a belief system. To be clear: Atheism is not a disbelief in gods or a denial of gods; it is a lack of belief in gods.

    Hmm, that’s interesting. The only such definition is given by an activist group with vested political interests (whether they moral or immoral, and I do think they are guided by positive morality). They also mention: “Older dictionaries define atheism as “a belief that there is no God.” Clearly, theistic influence taints these definitions. The fact that dictionaries define Atheism as “there is no God” betrays the (mono)theistic influence.” So what about all of these current definitions used by current dictionaries? Where are the sources for their claims? Why should we take these claims as fact?

    -@ShadowStarshine #10

    I disagree a bit Gerard, when you say “So Matt is wrong in saying “it doesn’t depend on how you define atheism, only theism” because they are separate entities.” because I think that is just how Matt uses the word atheism, and seems to be prevelent to how most atheists use the word nowadays.

    That’s literally the point though. Matt’s using his definition to dictate how Jimmy defines his words. I’m also willing to agree that Jimmy wasn’t entirely sure what he was talking about, so he might believe in something he considers a god but just not accept it.

  54. ShadowStarshine says

    @Murat

    I found your points pretty interesting. I thought the call was also ended early, but I never really took stock of how interesting the call could have been.

    To the others who are saying “Homosexuality and Theism aren’t the same thing”. Yeah, that’s pretty obvious, but that’s how analogies work.

    Concept X is expressed by comparing quality Y of two different things: A and B. A and B are not the same things, but both share quality Y. If you respond with “Yeah, but they don’t share quality Z!” Who cares? If they shared every single quality A would = B and it wouldn’t be an analogy would it? People get so defensive about analogies because they worry about oversimplification or a comparison about 2 qualities they disagree they share that they don’t even give them a chance to say what quality they are talking about, even if that event doesn’t occur.

    I could say a homosexual (A) and hitler (B) are analogous in that they are both words that contain an H and an E. (Quality X) You may get upset that I’ve used these two things as comparison, thinking perhaps I’m trying to compare two evil things. (Quality Z). I say no, I think only hitler is evil, I’m merely using it for the letter comparison. You may say “Well, you could have used ANY other word”. Yeah, that’s true, but any includes this one. This one just has the benefit of making you freak out about it.

  55. Monocle Smile says

    @ShadowStarshine

    People get so defensive about analogies because they worry about oversimplification or a comparison about 2 qualities they disagree they share that they don’t even give them a chance to say what quality they are talking about, even if that event doesn’t occur

    Don got that chance and he was wrong.
    What exactly am I missing here? What was or could have been interesting about that call?

  56. says

    A comment I tried to make doesn’t seem to be getting moderated, so I’m gonna try again, minus some “naughty words”.

    @Vivec #5 (@Tejas Green #19)
    I didn’t say why Matt was arrogant so you look daft arguing with a strawman. Also, you restating “it’s a true dichotomy” doesn’t make it a true dichotomy. If you’re gonna try to argue like you’re obviously correct, bring up good points at least. That is, if you don’t want to look like foolishly ignorant. Anyway:

    Merriam-Webster – a: a lack of belief or a strong disbelief in the existence of a god or any gods
    Dictionary.com – 1. the doctrine or belief that there is no God.2. disbelief in the existence of a supreme being or beings.
    Wikipedia – Atheism is, in the broadest sense, the absence of belief in the existence of deities. Less broadly, atheism is the rejection of belief that any deities exist. In an even narrower sense, atheism is specifically the position that there are no deities. Atheism is contrasted with theism, which, in its most general form, is the belief that at least one deity exists.
    Oxford/Google – Disbelief or lack of belief in the existence of God or gods.
    Encyclopedia Britannica – Atheism, in general, the critique and denial of metaphysical beliefs in God or spiritual beings. As such, it is usually distinguished from theism, which affirms the reality of the divine and often seeks to demonstrate its existence. Atheism is also distinguished from agnosticism, which leaves open the question whether there is a god or not, professing to find the questions unanswered or unanswerable.
    Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy – ‘Atheism’ means the negation of theism, the denial of the existence of God. (Related – “While the term ‘atheism’ is used in a variety of ways in general discourse, our entry is on its meaning in the philosophical literature. Traditionally speaking, the definition in our entry–that ‘atheism’ means the denial of the existence of God–is correct in the philosophical literature.”)

    Besides the Oxford dictionary, which is a little ambiguous depending on how it defines “disbelief” (which, by their own definition, means lack of belief in the positive claim, not belief in the negative so it probably isn’t that ambiguous. Google does remain ambiguous though), None of the reputable links on the front page of googling “atheism definition” state bluntly that atheism is solely “lack of belief” or that it is intrinsically related to theism. That is, except for the Stanford Encyclopedia, which still disagrees with you because it uses “negation of theism” to mean “belief God does not exist”. Oh, and also this one:

    American Atheism – Atheism is one thing: A lack of belief in gods. Atheism is not an affirmative belief that there is no god nor does it answer any other question about what a person believes. It is simply a rejection of the assertion that there are gods. Atheism is too often defined incorrectly as a belief system. To be clear: Atheism is not a disbelief in gods or a denial of gods; it is a lack of belief in gods.

    Hmm, that’s interesting. The only such definition is given by an activist group with vested political interests (whether they moral or immoral, and I do think they are guided by positive morality). They also mention: “Older dictionaries define atheism as “a belief that there is no God.” Clearly, theistic influence taints these definitions. The fact that dictionaries define Atheism as “there is no God” betrays the (mono)theistic influence.” So what about all of these current definitions used by current dictionaries? Where are the sources for their claims? Why should we take these claims as fact?

    @ShadowStarshine #10

    I disagree a bit Gerard, when you say “So Matt is wrong in saying “it doesn’t depend on how you define atheism, only theism” because they are separate entities.” because I think that is just how Matt uses the word atheism, and seems to be prevelent to how most atheists use the word nowadays.

    That’s literally the point though. Matt’s using his definition to dictate how Jimmy defines his words. I’m also willing to agree that Jimmy wasn’t entirely sure what he was talking about, so he might believe in something he considers a god but just not accept it.

  57. ShadowStarshine says

    @Gerald

    I think what I’m trying to say is that I don’t disagree with Matt’s definition, but I do disagree with not listening to someone else’s definition and not trying to find common ground.

  58. says

    @ShadowStarshine

    I hope you don’t think we’re in disagreement. I would be fine talking about the pros and cons of the terminology as well as the nature of belief and whether or not it should be viewed as a dichotomy, but first I’m trying to dispel the myth that there is a single, purely logical, objective definition for atheism or only one that is used and makes sense, as many atheists, including American Atheists themselves, seem to argue.

    By the way, you might want to take a second look at my name 😉

  59. ShadowStarshine says

    @Gerard

    I agree that there is not an objective definition. I do think there can be a dichotomy if one sets it up as one, but I don’t think there is one by default. I also think that most atheists who come online to debate are of the “lack of belief in god” kind as it seems when pressed, that’s how they define themselves. I think words are organic, they change over time.

    What bothered me about the call was, as far as I understand, the point of the show is for people to call in, say what they believe and why and then have a discussion about it. However, due to this person not using Matt’s definition and having his own, we never really get to hear this guy’s fleshed out version of what his view is and just gets hung up on.

    Sorry, I don’t recognize the name though. What am I missing?

  60. Monocle Smile says

    @Gerard
    I know your cowardly, whiny ass won’t read or respond to this, but…

    Hmm, that’s interesting. The only such definition is given by an activist group with vested political interests

    This is only because you either don’t know how to read your own sources or because you think we’re all that stupid. I’m leaning toward the latter, because every single post of yours reeks of a superiority complex.

    If you’re gonna try to argue like you’re obviously correct, bring up good points at least

    That’s at least the third hypocrisy meter of mine you’ve broken. I need insurance on these things.

  61. says

    @ShadowStarshine #64

    I pretty much agree completely. And you were just spelling my name “Gerald” instead of “Gerard”. 🙂

    @Monocle Smile #65 (Welp…)

    @Gerard
    I know your cowardly, whiny ass won’t read or respond to this, but…
    Hmm, that’s interesting. The only such definition is given by an activist group with vested political interests
    This is only because you either don’t know how to read your own sources or because you think we’re all that stupid. I’m leaning toward the latter, because every single post of yours reeks of a superiority complex.
    If you’re gonna try to argue like you’re obviously correct, bring up good points at least
    That’s at least the third hypocrisy meter of mine you’ve broken. I need insurance on these things.

    Read it. If you want a substantive response, give me one first.

  62. Monocle Smile says

    @Gerard
    I’ve given you several that you’ve flat-out ignored throughout this threads. Don’t pretend that you’re even interested in engaging honestly. You’re not concerned about anything interesting. You seem dedicated to finding insignificant ways to feel superior to other people, usually through semantic pedantry.

  63. says

    @Monocle Smile #67

    Okay, at this point I’m not even mad or annoyed anymore. I’m just assuming you’re laughing your ass off at a successful trollage. Either that or you’re delusional. I’d rather go with troll though. So happy trolling. If I want entertainment or if I want to get into an ego war I’ll get back to you. I’ll look for actual discussion with other people.

    Buuuuut…

    In the off chance that you actually do want to have a rational discussion, here are some jumping off points that I started and backed up with evidence for you to respond to:

    Theism/Atheism is not a true dichotomy inherently, and so it is incorrect or at least irresponsible to say it is “impossible” to not be an atheist or not be a theist simultaneously.
    Theism/Atheism are not intrinsically related, so as to say that only one of them needs to be defined to define the other, such as how “nonelusive” is exactly “not elusive” (however, if nonelusive were to be used to such a degree that it has usage with meanings more or less than “not elusive”, then they would cease to be intrinsically related).
    American Atheists have not supported their claim that “old dictionaries” having “theistic influences” is a cause for “incorrect” definitions of atheism. Furthermore, they are making the claim that atheism “is one single thing: lack of belief in gods” when a good number of modern dictionaries do not subscribe to this single definition, which acts as a spreading of misinformation that they disguise as “part of [their] educational mission”.

  64. says

    @Monocle Smile
    Oh, by the way, was I supposed to take your responses in this thread seriously? Because the closest you came to arguing against my position was just saying “No, you’re wrong”. Surely you don’t think that’s a proper argument (this applies to other individuals as well…)?

  65. Monocle Smile says

    @ShadowStarshine
    Timestamp is 42:20. Don tries to make an analogy and he’s hopelessly wrong on a few different levels.

    @Gerard

    Theism/Atheism is not a true dichotomy inherently

    I’m not sure how I’m supposed to respond to a total failure to understand etymology. “Atheism” is a direct logical negation of “Theism.” It’s truly baffling how someone can say this isn’t the case with a straight face.

    Theism/Atheism are not intrinsically related

    Holy mother fuckity shit. Answer this: would “atheism” be a word or concept without the existence of theism? Where in the hell are you getting your information from? Your asshole, just like everything else you spew?

    when a good number of modern dictionaries do not subscribe to this single definition, which acts as a spreading of misinformation

    Remember when I said you’re just hunting for excuses to feel superior to other people? This is a good one. Do you pull this shit with your friends or family? How do they respond? This isn’t “spreading misinformation.” American Atheists don’t write the dictionaries…and reference documents take a long time to change, which is why it’s fucking stupid and extremely disingenuous to crack open a dictionary when the discussion has a specific context that has already been laid out.

    Surely you don’t think that’s a proper argument

    Says the guy who has yet to post an actual formal argument aside from maybe the flaccid cosmological argument in any thread. Also, Hitchens’ Razor applies. You haven’t actually presented any evidence for your fucked-up position that theism and atheism somehow formed independently.

  66. ShadowStarshine says

    @MS

    So if I’m getting the analogy correct here, it’s Being attracted to the same sex (A) and believing in god (B) is analogous in that they could make your life better (Quality X), which, if understood from the rest of the conversations are contingent on “Being that type of person.”

    The analogy works. Whether we agree with the soundness of the argument or any conclusions derived from it are another matter.

  67. Murat says

    @MS #58

    I will try to break it down for you, taking a different path this time. There are two levels to what we have been talking about Don’s call:

    1) My initial and main comment was about “etiquette” and not “content”. I know that Matt’s question (do you care if your beliefs are true?) is an attempt at tying the two together, but I don’t think it works smoothly all the time. I believe this call was one such exception.

    2) We are in disagreement over the “context” of Don’s call. This is the part I will focus on, because once you catch a glimpse of how the context changes the validity of Matt’s key question, then you may see how it affected the etiquette:

    To move forward, whom we need to think of is a THEIST GAY. Just to paint a more clear picture, let’s imagine this to be a CHRISTIAN HOMOSEXUAL MAN named TED… And let’s assume Ted has a SPOUSE, a DOG and a HOUSE.

    As you would agree, AXP hosts quite often focus on “well-being” as a state (of mind, of social structure, of physical integrity) to care about, and the basic argument is that “the more facts you embrace, the better your quality of life gets”.

    In the light of Don’s question, Ted has already constructed for himself a “comfort zone”. He is saying that “I am in peace with my homosexuality while attending my church. I love my spouse, my dog fills my heart with joy and I’m doing well in this house which I share with them.”

    So, Ted has somehow combined these elements in a way to work in harmony. His spouse, too, loves him and the dog and the house. The dog is doing okay. The house functions.

    One day, right after Ted attends a mass, someone approaches him and asks if he would be interested in a conversion therapy for gays, claiming Ted would be much closer to God in case he “became” heterosexual. Our man says “No, thanks!” and walks home. He enjoys lunch with his spouse, pets the dog. Then the door bell rings. Ted opens the door and some guy gives him a flyer about atheism (yes, the flyer is “blank”, no, the guy is not Matt, yes, we appreciate that the AXP does not do such “interventions” but this is the story behind the context of the call, so let’s move on) while telling Ted that he would improve his well-being in case he left religion and enjoyed the mental freedom and satisfaction of living his life as an atheist. Our man says “No, thanks!”.

    So, for Ted, both the guy at the church and the man at the door are “intervening” in his life despite the fact that all five major elements of his “comfort zone” do actually work for him.

    “Yeah, but atheists do not distribute flyers to residences like that, so, what’s the point of bringing that up and…”

    Let me go Fight Club on you here, MS: The man at the door may be no one other than this guy’s very own Tyler Durden. Ted may just be constructing his relationship with the show (AXP) by making use of one such visit. Furthermore, maybe it’s the same thing with the guy at the church: Maybe no one actually approached Ted for that conversion therapy. But that is exactly the vibe he gets each and every time he is with his heterosexual, churchgoing neighbors.

    The personification here does nothing other than help us get into our guy’s brain. This is how we read his inner calculations regarding how he has constructed his well-being, if he should or could remove one or more of the major elements of his comfort zone by taking a “risk” or not.

    Maybe Ted’s cousin has offered an exchange recently: “You take my cat and I will adopt your dog! You see, I have a bigger garden here for the dog while you can do much better with a cat.”

    The man in Don’s construct never “accused” AXP of making such interventions like offering a conversion therapy. Don was talking about how Ted perceived his state of mind with regards to atheism. So, responding to that with “no, it wasn’t one of us at your door, so, we are done” is absolutely missing the point here. In Don’s description of personal comfort zones, what you may see as “essential” may well be “trivial” as long as Ted is doing okay.

    Don was not talking about how he or Ted acquired or maintained his belief. He was telling how the belief functioned as one of the elements to construct a functioning life while outer sources provoke people to make changes.

    And there was a “touché” moment during the call when Don asked “What’s wrong with being drunk?”… In the context of alcoholism or driving drung, the answer is rock solid. However, the way Don had constructed things, this pointed to nothing other the door bell ringing a second time and Ted finding a guy promoting AA meetings.

    When the person describes his very own life in this way, it is quite irrelevant to end the call depending on “what” he bases his belief on.

    You and many other people here may have very good answers to provide Don regarding Ted’s situation.My point was to why they were “skipped” just because of his reply to one question.

    “Did you get the dog from a shelter? Is it a rescued dog or bought it from a pet store?”
    “Uuuh… Well, I… I had bought it from a pet store and…”
    “Then we are done, because I don’t care what the dog means to you if you haven’t started your relationship with it in the more ethical of ways!”

    “Are you in love with your spouse? Or, is yours just a marriage like co-living with friendship?”
    “Uuuh… Well, I… Not really in love but we really care a lot and…”
    “Then we are done, because I don’t care what your spouse means to you if you haven’t started and maintained your relationship with in the most ideal of ways!”

    “Is your house checked and insured? Are you sure it can withstand an earthquake?”
    “Uuuuh… Well, I… No, it’s not really the most dependable of residences in many terms but…”
    “Then we are done, because I don’t care what your house means to you if you don’t even know if it will bury you under 8 feet of debris after the smallest earthquake!”

    I get it… Matt would be right on his own terms when questioning the particular validities of each of Ted’s vital elements, and I understand the hosts not wanting to spend time when the “context” is that of, and only of “belief”.

    In Don’s call, it was about “belief as just another element of our comfort zone”, which I register to be trivial, and his point could have been dealt with accordingly. The “differences” between being “gay” and being “theist” were totally irrelevant as Don was making a point about a “coctail treatment” and not just on that single pill called “faith”.

    This is why I believe his reply to one single question did not justly provide the grounds to end his call.

    Oh, by the way: Ted’s spouse may or may not be a man. We don’t have the details to how they perceive a marriage, nor do we know how they have put things to order. All we know is that they claim it “works” for them.

  68. Murat says

    @ShadowStarshine #57

    I wonder if the entry above somehow matches with your perception of that call. Having listened to it again, I still think Don was among the better callers of those past few weeks.

  69. says

    @Monocle Smile #71

    I’m not sure how I’m supposed to respond to a total failure to understand etymology. “Atheism” is a direct logical negation of “Theism.” It’s truly baffling how someone can say this isn’t the case with a straight face.

    Uh, first of all:
    Wikipedia:

    Etymology is the study of the history of words, their origins, and how their form and meaning have changed over time.[1] By extension, the term “the etymology (of a word)” means the origin of the particular word.

    I think you’re thinking of grammar. Just as a reminder, I wouldn’t be snarky at all in my responses if you weren’t so insulting/arrogant, yet so, so wrong.

    Speaking of etymology though…
    Online Etymology Dictionary:

    “the doctrine that there is no God;” “disbelief in any regularity in the universe to which man must conform himself under penalties” [J.R. Seeley, “Natural Religion,” 1882], 1580s, from French athéisme (16c.), with -ism + Greek atheos “without a god, denying the gods,” from a- “without” (see a- (3)) + theos “a god” (see theo-). A slightly earlier form is represented by atheonism (1530s) which is perhaps from Italian atheo “atheist.” The ancient Greek noun was atheotes “ungodliness.”

    Wikipedia:

    In early ancient Greek, the adjective átheos (ἄθεος, from the privative ἀ- + θεός “god”) meant “godless”. It was first used as a term of censure roughly meaning “ungodly” or “impious”. In the 5th century BCE, the word began to indicate more deliberate and active godlessness in the sense of “severing relations with the gods” or “denying the gods”.

    AND speaking of grammar/logical structure:
    Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy:

    ‘Atheism’ means the negation of theism, the denial of the existence of God.

    (Related)
    So even by the rigorous definition used in philosophical contexts, they use atheism as “the negation of theism” which equates to “denial of the existence of God” (and, yes, denial does mean affirming the negative in this case). I mean, you could say they’re wrong, but you’re gonna have to cite some good sources or have particularly astounding reasoning if I’m to take your word over the SEoP’s word.

    Holy mother fuckity shit. Answer this: would “atheism” be a word or concept without the existence of theism? Where in the hell are you getting your information from? Your asshole, just like everything else you spew?

    You clearly didn’t see how I elaborated “intrinsically related”. But, really? You’re asking me, the person providing more links and quotes than I should, where I’m getting my information from? Whilst you continue to make assertion after assertion without any citation or reasoning. Again, you’re either trolling–which, “well done” if you are–or you’re delusional, or some strange third category.

    This isn’t “spreading misinformation.” American Atheists don’t write the dictionaries…and reference documents take a long time to change, which is why it’s fucking stupid and extremely disingenuous to crack open a dictionary when the discussion has a specific context that has already been laid out.

    First of all, you didn’t actually address the first point that American Atheists made a claim (old dictionaries have theistic influences) without providing any evidence of it, aside from their own possible reasoning, at the same time making this a “part of [their[ educational mission” (this quote, by the way, you can find if you look on the site for a couple of seconds). Would you not call it spreading misinformation for a religious organization to claim that the sole definition of atheism is “one that disbelieves in God”? And they aren’t talking about a specific context in which this is true, they are stating, as fact, repeatedly, that this is what atheism is, and that other definitions are incorrect, which leads all the people in this thread arguing against what should be very easy to understand: words don’t have inherent meaning.

  70. Murat says

    @ShadowStarshine #59
    @MS #58

    Furhtermore, Don was not hung up on for “being wrong”, which was my initial and main point.

  71. Monocle Smile says

    @ShadowStarshine

    The analogy works. Whether we agree with the soundness of the argument or any conclusions derived from it are another matter.

    So we have a fundamental parting of the ways. When someone says “the analogy works,” I take that to mean “it is both valid and sound and leads to true conclusions.” I don’t give two shits about technical validity alone.

    @Murat
    That comment seems to be 1% Don’s call and 99% your imagination. I’m still confused…how did you pull any of that out of the call itself? It’s like there’s a second half of the call that only you can access.

    You and many other people here may have very good answers to provide Don regarding Ted’s situation.My point was to why they were “skipped” just because of his reply to one question

    What good are ANY answers when you’re dealing with someone who rejects reality? “Answers” aren’t even a thing to such a person! I don’t get why this is so hard…the subject of caring about true beliefs is fundamentally different from all of your proposed analogies because it drives to the core of absolutely every discussion humanly possible.

    Personally, I’m not even convinced Don was gay. That approach seemed more like a vehicle to present a target the hosts were less willing to attack, like I said before.

  72. Murat says

    @MS #75

    I never claimed Don to be gay. We can’t know this and it’s irrelevant to his question. That’s why I came up with Ted as the centerpiece of the argument I believe Don was trying to make.

  73. Monocle Smile says

    @Murat
    My eyes continue to glaze over during my read-throughs of that giant post. I don’t see anything resembling a point.
    I’m going to keep saying it…you’re seeing ghosts.

    In Don’s call, it was about “belief as just another element of our comfort zone”, which I register to be trivial, and his point could have been dealt with accordingly.

    It was. Jen said straight-up that it’s not about whether or not beliefs makes you feel good; that doesn’t make them true and truth matters. Nothing more needs to be said. Don then segued into predeterminism for some dumb reason. They’ve had ten billion calls about “I believe because it makes me feel good” and it’s one of the more frequently discussed points on the show. What’s so different or valuable about this one?

  74. Murat says

    @MS #77

    Maybe it was not different and/or more valuable than those you refer to, or maybe it was. That’s why I thought he could have gone on for another two minutes or so, as he was honest and his attitude was not that of a prisoner of dogma who was bragging about the quality of the bars he was behind.

    In one of those past weeks, a gay christian man had called the show. He and the hosts had had a fine conversation. The only difference in Don’s case was that he was handling pretty much the same topic (if not a broader take on it) through not a 1st person narrative, but a 3rd person one.

    It’s a pity that most callers do not know of or care to visit this blog. Would’ve been good to have him here to clarify things. Alas…

  75. Monocle Smile says

    @Murat

    as he was honest and his attitude was not that of a prisoner of dogma who was bragging about the quality of the bars he was behind.

    I got the exact opposite impression. He was defending his unfounded beliefs because they made him feel good and dismissed the importance of truth. That’s justifying a delusion. Then he started talking bollocks about predeterminism. I think most callers could get the hook earlier than they do. I seriously doubt anyone lost anything valuable when Matt hung up on Don.

  76. Monocle Smile says

    I do also wish that more callers would show up on the blog. Maybe not people like Stephanie Thomason, but we’ve had some good discussions with show callers.

  77. says

    @Monocle Smile
    This is half-test, half-actual statement: I have a response coming your way, but it’s not getting through moderation and I’m not sure why. Let’s see if this one gets through.

  78. Monocle Smile says

    @Gerard
    All your comments should be auto-approved unless you have too many links.

  79. says

    That’s probably it. Shame on me for citing my sources lol. Oh well, anyone should be able to easily find the quotations.

    @Monocle Smile #71

    I’m not sure how I’m supposed to respond to a total failure to understand etymology. “Atheism” is a direct logical negation of “Theism.” It’s truly baffling how someone can say this isn’t the case with a straight face.

    Uh, first of all:
    Wikipedia:

    Etymology is the study of the history of words, their origins, and how their form and meaning have changed over time.[1] By extension, the term “the etymology (of a word)” means the origin of the particular word.

    I think you’re thinking of grammar. Just as a reminder, I wouldn’t be snarky at all in my responses if you weren’t so insulting/arrogant, yet so, so wrong.

    Speaking of etymology though…
    Online Etymology Dictionary:

    “the doctrine that there is no God;” “disbelief in any regularity in the universe to which man must conform himself under penalties” [J.R. Seeley, “Natural Religion,” 1882], 1580s, from French athéisme (16c.), with -ism + Greek atheos “without a god, denying the gods,” from a- “without” (see a- (3)) + theos “a god” (see theo-). A slightly earlier form is represented by atheonism (1530s) which is perhaps from Italian atheo “atheist.” The ancient Greek noun was atheotes “ungodliness.”

    Wikipedia:

    In early ancient Greek, the adjective átheos (ἄθεος, from the privative ἀ- + θεός “god”) meant “godless”. It was first used as a term of censure roughly meaning “ungodly” or “impious”. In the 5th century BCE, the word began to indicate more deliberate and active godlessness in the sense of “severing relations with the gods” or “denying the gods”.

    AND speaking of grammar/logical structure:
    Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy:

    ‘Atheism’ means the negation of theism, the denial of the existence of God.

    (Related)
    So even by the rigorous definition used in philosophical contexts, they use atheism as “the negation of theism” which equates to “denial of the existence of God” (and, yes, denial does mean affirming the negative in this case). I mean, you could say they’re wrong, but you’re gonna have to cite some good sources or have particularly astounding reasoning if I’m to take your word over the SEoP’s word.

    Holy *****. Answer this: would “atheism” be a word or concept without the existence of theism? Where in the **** are you getting your information from? Your ***hole, just like everything else you spew?

    You clearly didn’t see how I elaborated on what I meant by “intrinsically related”. But, really? You’re asking me, the person providing more links and quotes than I should, where I’m getting my information from? Whilst you continue to make assertion after assertion without any citation or reasoning. Again, you’re either trolling–which, “well done” if you are–or you’re delusional, or some strange third category.

    This isn’t “spreading misinformation.” American Atheists don’t write the dictionaries…and reference documents take a long time to change, which is why it’s ******* stupid and extremely disingenuous to crack open a dictionary when the discussion has a specific context that has already been laid out.

    First of all, you didn’t actually address the first point that American Atheists made a claim (old dictionaries have theistic influences) without providing any evidence of it, aside from their own possible reasoning, at the same time making this a “part of [their[ educational mission” (this quote, by the way, you can find if you look on the site for a couple of seconds). Would you not call it spreading misinformation for a religious organization to claim that the sole definition of atheism is “one that disbelieves in God”? And they aren’t talking about a specific context in which this is true, they are stating, as fact, repeatedly, that this is what atheism is, and that other definitions are incorrect, which leads all the people in this thread arguing against what should be very easy to understand: words don’t have inherent meaning.

  80. Monocle Smile says

    @Gerard

    In the 5th century BCE, the word began to indicate more deliberate and active godlessness in the sense of “severing relations with the gods” or “denying the gods”.

    ‘Atheism’ means the negation of theism, the denial of the existence of God.

    That you think these are somehow different from “lack of a belief in god” is your problem, not mine.

    (and, yes, denial does mean affirming the negative in this case

    HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA
    The word has been used to mean that by certain people, but so what?

    Would you not call it spreading misinformation for a religious organization to claim that the sole definition of atheism is “one that disbelieves in God”?

    No, because that’s correct. Your English is bad and you should feel bad.

    And they aren’t talking about a specific context in which this is true, they are stating, as fact, repeatedly, that this is what atheism is

    No, they’re talking about their official stance. The vast majority of atheists and atheist organizations use “atheism” in that regard (lack of belief in god), and we’re the ones who get to define what we mean by that (and AXP gets to define what they mean by that term on THEIR show), so you can take your semantic pedantry and cram it up your asshole. Have fun censoring this post, too. Makes you look so mature.

    Tl;dr version: you’re butthurt for no apparent reason, which is par for the course. I no longer care about discussing this, because you’re too obsessed with being “right” to care about what really matters.

  81. Monocle Smile says

    Upon reflection, I should have just posted “what Vivec said” and just let Gerard scream into his keyboard uselessly.

    What’s the difference between amorality and immorality? Maybe figure this out because shooting off about language and definition.

  82. Monocle Smile says

    @Gerard

    words don’t have inherent meaning.

    You are absolutely correct about this, but it doesn’t matter. When someone calls in saying they’re neither atheist nor theist, it’s probably not going to be a very honest or interesting call. Let’s flip the script. If someone doesn’t actively believe in a god, why would they call themselves a theist? The point of having the true tautology as a definition is to provide clarity for a discussion; whether or not someone actively believes in a god plays into the entire approach of the show. Wibble all you want about “atheism”…THIS is the real sticking point.

  83. says

    @Monocle Smile

    K then. For all I know, you could be right, but you certainly haven’t made a good case for yourself. By the way, the reason I censored your quotation was because I wasn’t sure if the moderation thing was showing up because there was “naughty language”.

    @RationalismRules

    I really don’t like just calling people trolls, but I’d rather think of you people as trolls over complete ignoramuses. And also, I’ve already stated that if you are to take atheism to mean “lack of belief in gods”, then I fit that definition. But it’s not the only definition, and it’s not the definition that I care about, so I don’t use the term.

  84. Violet Chaolan says

    @Gerard Moledo
    I agree that atheism/theism is not a true especially considering Perennialism (short for Perennial philosophy). Matt insisted that “any definition of God would be considered theism,” and when I mentioned Perennialism he said, “That’s not a definition of God.” Then at the end, he says, “If you’re going to define God as ‘that oneness sensation that we feel under certain conditions,’ then say that!” Well, I did say that, but he said it’s not a definition of God.

    So he oobviously contradicted himself. It just furthered my realization last time I called. When Matt’s hosting with his trigger-happy finger on the hang up button, the show is more about entertainment value rather than really addressing the concerns of individual callers. He even spoke about the caller “coming on stage” earlier in this very episode which is further proof of that case. I’d rather call again when Trace’s hosting. She actually took the time to understand where I’m coming from.

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

    @Gerard Moledo, 88
    Every atheist in the entire world lacks a belief in gods.
    Some, but not all atheists, are actively convinced and positively affirm that gods do not exist.

    If we are given two definitions, which is the better? The one that accurately describes the entire set that it sets out to define, or the one which fails to define the entire set that it sets out to define?

  86. Murat says

    @Gerard

    As if you have never called the show and never written anything on here, can you, for me, try to summarize in no more than 5 sentences what your personal idea on the existence of god is?

  87. Devocate says

    @83:
    “I think you’re thinking of grammar. Just as a reminder, I wouldn’t be snarky at all in my responses if you weren’t so insulting/arrogant, yet so, so wrong.”

    No. I am pretty sure MS meant ‘entomology’. The understanding of word’s origins in determining their meaning.

    Yes, MS is insulting and arrogant, and so are you. Oddly, you are both most arrogant when you are wrong. It would be so much nicer if you were both either more pleasant, or more quiet, or more correct.

  88. CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain says

    /Brings up webster and wikipedia…
     
    entomology – a branch of zoology that deals with insects
     
    etymology – the history of a word shown by tracing it or its parts back to the earliest known forms and meanings both in its own language and any other language from which it or its parts may have been taken
     
    grammar – the set of structural rules governing the composition of clauses, phrases, and words in any given natural language. The term refers also to the study of such rules, and this field includes phonology, morphology, and syntax, often complemented by phonetics, semantics, and pragmatics.
     
    syntax – the set of rules, principles, and processes that govern the structure of sentences in a given language, specifically word order. The term syntax is also used to refer to the study of such principles and processes.
     
    orthography – a set of conventions for writing a language. It includes norms of spelling, hyphenation, capitalization, word breaks, emphasis, and punctuation.
     
    inflection – in grammar, the modification of a word to express different grammatical categories such as tense, case, voice, aspect, person, number, gender, and mood. The inflection of verbs is also called conjugation, and one can refer to the inflection of nouns, adjectives, adverbs, pronouns, determiners, participles, prepositions, postpositions, numerals, articles etc, as declension. An inflection expresses one or more grammatical categories with a prefix, suffix or infix, or another internal modification such as a vowel change.
    […]
    Languages that have some degree of inflection are synthetic languages. These can be highly inflected (such as Latin, Greek, Spanish, Biblical Hebrew, and Sanskrit), or weakly inflected (such as English). Languages that are so inflected that a sentence can consist of a single highly inflected word (such as many American Indian languages) are called polysynthetic languages.
     
    Synthetic language, derivational synthesis – morphemes of different types (nouns, verbs, affixes, etc.) are joined to create new words.

  89. says

    @Gerard, 68
    Quoting you “Theism/Atheism is not a true dichotomy inherently, and so it is incorrect or at least irresponsible to say it is “impossible” to not be an atheist or not be a theist simultaneously.”

    Do you believe that a god exists? If yes, you’re a theist. If no, then you’re an atheist. It is literally a yes or no question. You can’t get any more binary than that. You can say “I don’t know if a god exists”, but that’s neither atheism nor theism, that’s an issue of Gnosticism, not belief.

  90. Monocle Smile says

    @Devocate
    I would love to be more pleasant, but there are loads of people whom “pleasant” does not work upon.

    I should probably wait longer between my posts to get my thoughts and ideas straightened out more, and this will probably help me be more correct in general.

  91. Chancellor of the Exchequer says

    This thread is messy, I’ve laughed too many times at the back to back verbal lashings in the recent replies.

    Thank gawd for freethoughtblogs.

  92. JD and Co says

    At the end of Alex’s call, Jen made a reference to Alex threat to “destroy” them on chat. What is this and what did he say?

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

    @JD and Co
    Don’t worry, Alex is (probably) not a terrorist who was making legitimate threats in the chat. “I will destroy you” is another way of saying “I will perform better than you and leave you in a state of embarrassment,” which was particularly popular among 13 year olds in the 90s.

  94. Murat says

    Has anyone here seen Netflix’s “The Discovery” with Redford, Mara and Segel yet?

    Worthy of a mention on the show maybe.

  95. Monocle Smile says

    @Murat
    A quick googling seems to say it’s about a dude who discovers proof of an afterlife, which triggers a suicide outbreak. Definitely worth mentioning.
    When I’m feeling particularly rancorous, sometimes I’ll put the question of suicide prevention to apologists when they talk about how “the real life” starts after death.

  96. Murat says

    @MS #99

    I’m watchin it now, almost half way into… So far looks like a reboot of “Flatliners” from early 90s, but I know that Redford doesn’t take part in anything notable in one way or the other, so…

  97. says

    @Athywren

    That’s a good question, and I don’t have a clear cut answer prior to writing this. The best thing I can think of is “why not both?” To be clear, the problem I have isn’t when people use the term “atheist” to mean “not a theist”, it’s when that’s asserted as the only meaning and thus “impossible” to be neither. Personally, I think just naming anybody that isn’t a theist an atheist is casting the net too wide, but you bring up a good point that there are people that call themselves atheists that don’t believe gods don’t exist. So I don’t claim to have a solution to the “what’s the best definition” than to say “just use what works for you”. However, I do have some inclination to think that there are a lot of so-called “weak atheists” (don’t believe X) that are actually “strong atheists” (believe not X) and either don’t realize it or aren’t honest with themselves, but I’ll leave that for another post.

    @Murat

    The god concept that I consider is “an intelligent originator of the universe”, or an intelligence in which the universe is derived. I used to be an atheist because, and I didn’t work this out until a lot later, I believed that such a god didn’t exist, for the usual reasons of “why would a god bother creating a universe?”, “why need a god when the universe can just be self-contained?”, “god is a manmade concept so has no objective ontology”, and others. The big thing that made me change my general worldview was that I used to think the universe was all there was to reality, but then I came to believe, to some degree, that what we observe isn’t all there is to existence. So, that opened the door to a whole world of metaphysical possibilities, and I couldn’t say “eh, I’m pretty sure there’s no god” anymore. So I currently call myself agnostic, which most people colloquially understand as a middle ground between atheist and theist.

    @Devocate

    Disregarding the “entomology” slip, I don’t think Monocle meant etymology. He was specifically referring to the logical structure of the words, which seems to make them dichotomous. That’s not etymology, that is more like, because I’m not sure what the proper term is, a grammatical issue, which does have to do with structure of language. Sure, etymology goes back to the origins to describe that, in this case, atheism comes from a- (without) theos (god), but it’s still using the grammar of the time to describe what a- means, which is what Monocle’s point was about. I could be wrong about this ’cause I’m not well-versed in linguistics, but the only reason I was being haughty about it was because Monocle was accusing me of failing to understand etymology. I didn’t have to be, but I did, and I don’t care too much because I can acknowledge my flaws. By the way, I’d really like to see an instance in which I insulted somebody that didn’t insult me first, which is my main gripe, not arrogance alone.

    @CompulsoryAccount7746

    That’s a helpful list of terminology, but were you making a point that I overlooked?

    @Don Forsberg

    My entire contribution to this thread has been to make the point that there is no one definition of theist and atheist. What you are doing is illustrating one way of using the terms. I’m saying it’s not the only way, and pretty much every linguistic source, including the fact that there is differentiation between sources, that I’ve provided points to the fact that there is not one way. But even in the way you’re defining the terms, it’s not a dichotomy. You’re asking a question, and there are other significant answers to the question besides yes and no. Another answer is “I don’t know what I believe” or, similarly, “sometimes yes, sometimes no”. One could also not understand the question or think that the question is nonsensical, and so a yes or no answer doesn’t even make sense. I’m not going to defend these positions in this post because ain’t nobody got time for dat, but the point is that there is a variety of different ways of looking at the question of “Does God exist?” and we’ve made different terms to describe them (agnostic, ignostic/igtheist, non-theist, whatever this weird Perennial philosophy may be). If you want to define atheism such that it covers all of these positions simply because it’s “not theist”, go ahead, but I think it would be conflating to do so. Also, I don’t see the need to force somebody to use a particular label if they’ve already stated their position.

  98. Monocle Smile says

    @Gerard

    The big thing that made me change my general worldview was that I used to think the universe was all there was to reality, but then I came to believe, to some degree, that what we observe isn’t all there is to existence

    About 95% of my hostility is due to your outright refusal to engage honestly when questioned about WHY you changed your mind and now believe…something. Throughout all of these threads, I’ve tried in multiple ways to extract this from you, but you’ve been too busy bringing up red herrings and discussing things that you don’t actually believe. I’ll tone it down in a major way if you just answer and try to discuss your actual beliefs.

  99. Murat says

    @101 Gerard

    Ok, that’s a fine explanation even though some crucial data is concealed or missing. Much better than getting into Perennial philosophy and other sophisticated distraction.

  100. Chancellor of the Exchequer says

    Mmm, if atheism is the “lack of belief” answer to the “yes I believe a god exists” theism then there’s no middle ground between them, you either answer “yes/not yes” to “some god/s exists.” You can “perhaps/maybe/probably/possibly” yourself till death but belief is either there or it’s not.

    Repitition Time: if belief is there = theist

    If belief is not there = atheist.

    Don’t definition me, I am not a being that can ever be defined! I am not fly, I’m levitation, I represent an entire generation!

    Friendly(4/20) Reminder:[jeffsessions]”Stay off the weed people!”[/jeffsessions]

  101. Murat says

    “The Discovery” ends on a touchy high note, and provides a somewhat more compact explanation than what I was afraid I’d get while halfway into it.

    As I don’t want to give a spoiler, all I can say is that the film actually deals more with how to approach life than death; places the god question outside of its investigation & premise, and can provide both theists and atheists with some kind of mental satisfaction though is of low pace and therefore only slightly entertaining.

  102. RationalismRules says

    @MS #99

    When I’m feeling particularly rancorous, sometimes I’ll put the question of suicide prevention to apologists when they talk about how “the real life” starts after death.

    I can accept that there are coherent reasons for a believer to eschew suicide: “suicide is self-murder, so it’s forbidden by the bible” or “only god decides when your life ends”.
    However, the question that doesn’t seem to me to have any valid responses is: “if the afterlife is so much better, why do you do everything in your power to cling to this life?”. Why would any Xtian cancer sufferer, for example, go through extensive chemo and radiation therapy to briefly prolong their life, or heart disease patient submit to bypass surgery, etc? Even the “prayer not medicine” loonies are praying to remain in this life.

    If I believed an infinitely superior afterlife awaited, I would immediately put in place a permanent DNR order, and welcome any form of life-threatening illness. And I would make fugu a key part of my diet.

    Out of interest, have you ever had any responses other than the above two?

  103. RationalismRules says

    @Gerard #101

    So, that opened the door to a whole world of metaphysical possibilities, and I couldn’t say “eh, I’m pretty sure there’s no god” anymore.

    Presumably, at that point, you could also no longer say “eh, I’m pretty sure there are no fairies” anymore. Despite them being entirely a product of the human imagination, generated as a pseudo-explanation for unexplained events, for which there is no valid evidence of any kind. Because ‘metaphysics’.

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

    @Gerard Moledo, 101
    Ok, try this – I’m getting dressed for work right now, and I just put on a t-shirt. You could say it’s red, or you could say it’s crimson, and both would be accurate. If someone said they wouldn’t call it red because it’s not vermilion – and it definitely isn’t vermilion – which is the definition of red that they choose to accept, would their point seem valid?

    However, I do have some inclination to think that there are a lot of so-called “weak atheists” (don’t believe X) that are actually “strong atheists” (believe not X) and either don’t realize it or aren’t honest with themselves, but I’ll leave that for another post.

    I’ll grant you that most of us would count as strong atheists with regard to certain gods – I personally feel quite comfortable positively believing that no fair-minded or just god who cares what we believe about its existence and treats us differently because of our belief exists – but with regard to the basic concept? Without the defining features that show most gods to be most likely constructs of human imagination, it ends up being a pretty useless concept, and I reject it as a useless concept in daily life, but I couldn’t justify going so far as to assert that nothing that qualifies for godhood exists.

  105. RationalismRules says

    @Athywren #108

    that show most gods to be most likely constructs of human imagination

    It’s not simply ‘most likely’. It’s factually true. Even if any ‘god’ existed, the fact that we have no way of examining it means that any concept we have of it necessarily originates in the human imagination.

  106. Lillith says

    Oh, god. That perennial philosophy idiot again. I’m glad that Matt dealt with him the way he did but he let Alex (or whatever he calls himself the next time the screener unbelievably let him through) off way to easily. He was so cocksure of his god being “timeless, immaterial, bla di bla” but when Matt asked how he could know let a lone demonstrate ANY of these attributes, he averted the question and Matt let him, making the call much longer than it should have been.

  107. Chancellor of the Exchequer says

    A lot of people refuse to stop entertaining their hypothesis at the point that they can’t falsify it, hence the Gerard(s), Alex(s) and the “college educated degree holder” that believes in a being outside the “observable universe” from a while back.

    People love believing but not believing for the right reasons. “Oh, this is possible” “Oh, this is not impossible” “Oh, this makes my mind horny” bs. These people also love prancing around acting like they’re misunderstood when they’re just too exhaustingly eager to waste time propping up a jar of crap on the world’s shelf.

  108. Murat says

    @Chancellor of the Exchequer #111

    Ok, but isn’t that inevitably a big chunk of what comes along with a vibrant environment of discussion? I consider the spirit of the AXP to be amont the highest ranking among TV and radio shows of such nature because they embrace also this group and find original ways to talk them into understanding their very own position.

    Some of my favorite moments from the show are those when the obvious surfaces in a very unexpected way. The premise of the show is not necessarily best served when the callers are intellectually more challenging. Depends on a variety of other factors.

  109. Chancellor of the Exchequer says

    Murat, I love the show for that too.
    .
    .
    .
    Now that time has passed, I regret my previous post, what a waste.

  110. Devocate says

    @94
    ” but there are loads of people whom “pleasant” does not work upon.”

    Are you under the impression that your ‘not pleasant’ *is* working?

  111. Monocle Smile says

    @Devocate
    Yes, maybe for a few people. You can look down your nose at me all you want; I know for a fact that I’ve made people uncomfortable enough to question their position.

  112. Patrick Carr says

    I have heard Matt have conversations with other people like Alex in the past, and I think you always handle yourself well. Whenever I watch you guys on the show deal with those type of arguments I just imagine how quickly I would hang up on them. I do still get the sense that people who call in to argue on issues of Epistemology but then go directly to Metaphysics, issues on being and origin, then construct the principles of Logic as absolutes in the sense that logical absolutes are a “thing”, “force”, or “special” rather than just presuppositions that help one try to arrive at a confirmable knowledge, I see them as dishonest. I get the feeling that while they are not mentioning Absolute Knowledge, they either know it applies or they have constructed a self-containing valid argument. So either they don’t believe in any god and just want to hear someone run around in philosophical circles, or they have no interest in a discussion about how they arrived at god. However, I think your tactic is best even if they are completely dishonest. By pointing out the absurdity of Absolute Knowledge, and the necessity of Decision viewers and listeners can understand the importance of evidence. Without evidence as a tool, people can make any old argument they want, and if it’s internally valid they’re correct. Nope, that’s not how it works, because that’s not how we work. Humans make decisions, whether conscious or not, every day based upon expectations drawn from past evidence. Anyway, I’ve taken up enough time trying to seem smart.

  113. Martin Zeichner says

    I find the discussion about sacrifice interesting but I come at it from a slightly different point of view. Sacrifice exists in other mythologies besides Christianity. For instance ancient Greek mythology has instances of sacrifice such as stories about sacrificing young virgins to placate sea monsters. This suggests to me that the notion or the practice of sacrifice is far older than either mythology; that it has a common ancestor. I wonder if one might say that when a meme such as sacrifice is taken for granted by its host environment; that of human cultures, that the meme has reached a mature and stable state. The same might be said about slavery, but that’s another discussion.

  114. Devocate says

    ‘Objective’ is not the adjective that theists should want to use. As the obvious opposite is ‘subjective’, and they seem to want their morality to be subject to their god’s will or nature or something.

    A far better description of the morality they want, is one which is independently determinable by all reasonable entities. Such a morality would be not only obvious to any god, but demonstrable from one human to another, and nearly universally agreed upon. Sadly, it seems abundantly clear, that no such morality exists. Take something as extreme, and seemingly obvious as killing humans. You would think that by now that we would all agree on where the moral line is, but I doubt there is universal agreement on a single instance.

    The admonishment in the Christian holy book is completely useless. Either it is perfectly strict, no killing, ever, for any reason (followed by an explicit directive to kill), or it leaves the moral part completely out, i.e. don’t kill immorally (like that clears everything up).

  115. vitalem says

    @Leo 41
    IDK – I merely “suspect”
    cuz he’s also making all sorts of noises in the background – he seems to make all of those noises whenever the hosts are making an actual conclusive point.
    The level of Troll is High with that guy.

  116. java says

    Can you please, PLEASE stop taking calls from Alex in CO, at least for awhile? His voice is like nails on a chalkboard to me at this point. I’m begging you.

  117. Obviated says

    I can’t do it anymore. This “Alex” person is instantly recognizable, and light years beyond tiresome. It’s not entertaining or enjoyable or enlightening to listen to; it’s the opposite. It’s aggravating, and annoying, and good, valid callers give up or get passed over whenever that person is given air time. So, I’m done. I will check in on the show in a year or so, but I’m done listening to that guy. I honestly cannot tolerate it anymore. I actually just discussed this with 4 friends who also listen; 2 agreed with me 100%, 1 agreed but was willing to listen a bit more, and only 1 disagreed (obviously a masochist).

  118. RationalismRules says

    @Obivated
    Skipping over a caller is as simple as clicking your mouse button. No histrionics needed.

  119. Obviated says

    Clicking about 57 times is more like it. And I’ll unpack since I guess I was not clear: It’s not just listening to this caller that I find problematic; it’s the fact that half the show ends up being devoted to him.

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