Open thread on episode #814

On the schedule today are Matt and Tracie.

As cohost, I need to talk here about what I’ll be talking about. Depending on call volume and what Matt’s in the mood for, I’d like to do another dice demo to examine the statement “X is possible,” and what we mean by that.

Is god possible? I don’t know…and I’d like to talk today about the idea “It is possible a god exists.”

Is it? If I have a small opaque bag and ask you if it’s possible for me to roll a 21 with the dice in the bag–can you answer that question without a peak in the bag? I can’t. I could, I suppose, assert that since that many dice could be in the bag, it’s possible; but if they empty the bag, and it’s just 2 dice…then I’m using “possible” to describe things that are actually *impossible*. What are the implications of  using the word “possible” to describe impossible things? Is it correct to say that if a thing cannot be determined to be “impossible” it must, then, be considered “possible”? Or is it more correct to say “we can’t say if it’s possible or not, because we don’t have sufficient information”?

Hope we can discuss it further on the program. We’ll see.

Theists Have the Best P.R. Machine Ever III

Part I and Part II are also posted on this blog.

P.R. Claim: Religion fosters family closeness and family values.

 

Last night I watched “Polygamy USA.” I am aware that polygamous LDS is not standard LDS. And, further, LDS isn’t standard “Christian.” But what I saw that disturbed me, had nothing to do with the differences in these religious cultures, and represented, rather, obvious similarities. It had nothing at all to do with the polygamous aspect of the environment, and everything to do with how religion can strain ties between parents and children—putting distance between them by fostering irrational intolerance.

What I see over and over again, is that religion damages some aspect-X of society, but then successfully spins itself as beneficial to aspect-X. A commonly observed example would be religious groups that promote restricting access to both contraception and comprehensive sex education, as a means to reduce unwanted pregnancy. But sometimes the instances are not so obvious, even if they are just as common. Repeatedly, I see the P.R. claims slide through society unquestioned and unexamined. It appears that all religion has to do is continue claiming it’s good for aspect-X, and after a time, the claim, “it’s good for aspect-X,” takes hold, even among nonadherents.

What I’m about to discuss is not a problem restricted to religion, but rather a problem that religion compounds. In other words, without religion, there would be one less cause for this harm. Additionally, being a massive and well regarded institution, it has the potential to continue causing extensive damage, more than other ideologies that are not so socially far reaching, nor as lauded. [Read more...]

#811 Open Thread: “Crazy Beliefs” (Or, what paranormal powers did you believe you had?)

Yesterday’s program with Matt and Tracie (me), featured a brief reading of a thread where people posted nutty beliefs they used to hold about paranormal abilities or experiences. Other items mentioned included the importance of supporting groups like “Black Nonbelievers” (blacknonbelievers.org), who face unique issues based on their demographics, which may not be addressed by mainstream atheist groups.

[Read more...]

TAE Caller Bingo Cards

A fan in NC (which is all the credit she wanted), sent us a set of four different TAE Caller Bingo Cards she made. There were a few minor typos, but honestly, they hardly detract from the excellent job she did producing these. Just amazing.

Bingo_Page_4 Bingo_Page_1 Bingo_Page_2 Bingo_Page_3

The “Fatima Miracle” (Caller George) from Episode #799

George, if you recall, identified himself in earlier calls as some sort of instructor who had kids in his class tuning into our show. He said in later calls that he is Eastern Orthodox. And his last call was about a big list of evidence he wanted to present on behalf of god’s existence. We asked for his best evidence, and he put forward the “Miracle of Fatima,” sometimes also known as “The Miracle of the Sun.”

After the call, George wrote to us to pursue the case for this evidence further. And I am happy to publish our exchange below in its entirety, for reader review of the evidence, starting with his initial letter I ran through and swiftly cleaned up obvious misspellings and other format issues, but I have not adjusted the items below for content, grammar or readability in any other regard. I encourage you to read it through to the end. [Read more...]

Review: “Freethought Resource Guide”

“A Directory of Information, Literature, Art, Organizations, & Internet Sites Related to Secular Humanism, Skepticism, Atheism & Agnosticism”

—by Mark Vandebrake
Website: http://freethoughtguide.comAvailable now on Amazon.com

 

Mark Vandebrake has clearly put in a lot of hours and energy sorting through countless resources for the freethought community in this recently released book. Despite the fact that he calls this compilation “not an exhaustive collection,” it represents more than enough to cover the areas of freethought that are most commonly discussed, and some areas I had not actually even considered.

The general structure of the volume consists of sections that begin with introductory essays, in which the author expresses his perspectives, interweaving passages from the writings of famous and historic freethinkers, relevant to the subject matter. These introductory essays are then followed by a breakdown of resources that cover the topics under consideration, often broken down further into subcategories. These resources take the form of annotated bibliographies, and occasionally simple lists. Vandebrake has inserted personal notes and recommendations in areas where he felt further information or clarification might be useful to the reader. [Read more...]

Open Thread for Show 798: Don Baker & Russell Glasser: “Nothing New Under the Son”

Today Don talked about themes in Christianity and how they echo earlier religions and philosophies. We also had a fun time with caller Hamad, who offered this:

1. The universe is finite.

2. If the universe is finite, it cannot be infinite.

3. Finite things exist, therefore an infinite god is necessary.

 

Of course, the hosts offered up their own version, noting that using this same reasoning we could offer that the existence of “existent” things is evidence that nonexistent things exist.

 

Just a reminder that we have an e-mail address and Facebook page available for those who would like to call to tell us they agree with our positions or that they appreciate the program. Please feel free to contact us with those sentiments (which we appreciate) at <[email protected]> or post your thoughts to us on Facebook. The show calls should be geared toward atheist concerns (questions/problems/news/new information), or theists who want to explain to us why we’re wrong.

The Argument from “It Just Makes Sense to Me”

Someone at the Sunday ACA Lecture series alerted me that my (brief) introductory topic on the last show I cohosted might have confused some people. They asked if I could provide some examples in order to clarify what I was trying to describe. I’m always appreciative when someone lets me know I’ve been unclear, as it provides me an opportunity to clarify. And so, with that, I offer my clarification.

There are many examples to choose from. I have conversations in everyday life that could illustrate this, and there are also examples among famous figures that demonstrate it well, but the most clear and concise example I recall is the story of Steven LaBerge. [Read more...]

Atheist Arrested for Blasphemy, and How You Can Help

I was a guest on Trolling with Logic podcast today. And I met another guest, Aly, who was on to discuss a recent blasphemy arrest, and offer information about what people can do to help. Currently the idea is to put as much public pressure on Kuwait as possible in hopes of getting them to relent these charges and drop this case. Aly provided me with a link to an article he asked that I share, which is what I’m doing here at the blog. Anyone interested please check out the article and its links to petitions and other avenues of action available. There is also a Facebook page set up for information, I encourage you to like and follow. I have asked Aly to try calling into TAE today, as well, to discuss this further with the hosts. Please show your support of Aziz and share this information as much as possible. Thanks for your consideration.