Open thread on episode #839

I apologize for the delay in getting this thread posted, gang. I suppose as I was co-host it was down to me, and I just flaked.

The morality question is one I have always found bizarre that Christians want to turn into tis profoundly difficult and inexplicable concept without bringing a deity into the mix. The thing is, when you back them up against the wall, you find (as I think I did in my line of questioning one caller) that they do not really, deep down, believe that it is impossible for them to understand differences between right and wrong unless they are constantly accompanied by a God, holding their hands like lost children, and telling them at each and every instance “This is right” or “This is wrong.”

And yet everything they have been taught to believe insists that they cling to that narrative. So cling to it they do, even after it has been shown to be entirely unnecessary.

I also wish they’d look up what “objective” means. If morality is based on the edicts of a deity, then it’s not objective.

Feisty show, anyway.

Open Thread AE 833: Religion & Depression

On the show I discussed the study published in Psychological Medicine that examined the relationship between religious beliefs and major depression. The prevailing view has been that religious belief provided some protective and/or mitigating effect on major depression. This study puts a serious dent in that view with its conclusion that “These results do not support the notion that religious and spiritual life views enhance psychological well-being.”

The study included over 8000 participants in seven countries and found that stronger religious beliefs were correlated with higher risk of depression. You can read the abstract of the study yourself here (unfortunately, you’ll have to pay if you want the full article), or you can read Tomas Rees excellent summary here.

Something I neglected to bring up on the show is the implication this research study has on the Army’s Spiritual Fitness program. As many of us foxhole atheists have known all along, religious belief is not some magic talisman that wards off depression, PTSD, or other mental health problems that may arise in humans exposed to traumatic events. In spite of this, the Army continues to promote a program that its own statistics show has, at best, had no effect on the suicide rate. At worst, this program may be exacerbating the suicide/depression rate among soldiers, if only by promoting something that doesn’t work over things that do work.

Anyway – open thread, so have at it.

You might be a dumbass if…

…you get your weekend schedules confused, and think you’re co-hosting the show the weekend after you’re actually slated to do it. Derp.

Anyway, consider this the open thread for episode #777. And hey, it just meant Josh got another chance to be on the show! He’s good people.

Speaking of co-hosting drama: You might also be a dumbass if your obsessive hate-on for a certain female personality in the atheist/skeptical community becomes so irrational and overwrought that it prompts you actually to create an online petition in an attempt to get her ousted from her co-host slot on a podcast, utterly oblivious to the deep and hilarious irony in whining about “divisiveness” and “the free exchange of ideas” while doing so (and this on top of being a clueless n00b who fails to realize that such a stupid petition would bring the trollocopters flying in like that scene from Apocalypse Now).

I’m glad I’m only the first kind of dumbass.

Open thread for episode #768

I wasn’t sure — coming back after two weeks out of town caring for a pair of ailing parents (all is well on that front) — that I was entirely on my game for yesterday’s show, but I’ve gotten a lot of compliments about it already, so that’s nice.

Later on at dinner I was talking with one of our studio audience (forgive me for being lousy with names) about one remarkable and highly consistent trait you always see from callers like Matt from Oslo: the grandiose nature of what they claim to be able and about to do — like, oh, debunk evolution — set against the ludicrous lack of preparation that always makes them faceplant pathetically when they try. Matt from Oslo could not even articulate a clear definition of the scientific theory he claimed he was ready to demolish, and his attempt to demolish it was nothing more than a gaggle of logical fallacies weakly trotted out in a way that made it embarrassingly obvious he was just winging it. And he just as obviously hadn’t so much as Googled any real science websites to see if there was, in fact, any information on the evolution of these “unusual” animals he was on about. The theist who called directly after Matt from Oslo was very quickly reduced to stubbornly insisting he had a rational basis for what he believed, while admitting he was falling back on faith at the same time! It’s like they just cannot even get a single thought straight.

On the whole I was satisfied with the way the calls played out. Matt was firm with the theists without blowing up as a lot of folks criticized him for doing last weekend. Though I must admit that Heads or Tails Oreos aren’t my favorite flavor. But isn’t that what diversity is all about?

Open thread on episode #757

Have at it.

[Edit by Russell:]

After the main show ended, Jeff said to me that this was one of the weirdest shows he’s ever done.  I can’t really disagree, and it’s pretty unusual that we wound up with so many calls in a row about Eastern religions.  I suppose it was kind of a refreshing change from our show being all Christianity all the time.

Open thread on episode #756

Sorry about whatever the hell was going on with UStream today, but it was nothing the control room could control. It was really nice to be back on, the calls felt good (it’s very helpful when a Christian caller will just come right out and admit that Christianity is neither logical or rational — saves time), and I found it a very pleasurable experience on the whole. Glad to the see the UT SSA gang in the audience, too. Here’s the info about this Thursday’s Sean Faircloth talk on-campus. To anyone in the area, please consider working that into your schedule.

Open thread on episode 753 / Rally update

Today, Matt welcomes guest David Smalley, host of the podcast Dogma Debate. Pop that popcorn and settle in.

Also, our illustrious host should remember to remind everyone of my attendance at the Reason Rally, coming up very fast. (To think I fly out Thursday…what to pack!?) At the moment, I am leaning towards a Saturday morning, pre-rally breakfast for the AXP meetup. There’s already a bunch of stuff happening the previous night and immediately post-rally (that I want to go to too), so breakfast might be the best bet, except of course for folks only driving in that morning.

I am not flying out until mid-afternoon on Sunday, so another Sunday morning breakfast meetup may be possible if there are folks driving in on Saturday but not leaving until Sunday. I’m trying to accommodate as many of you as possible, but really, what I need is your feedback. So Rally attendees, please provide that here, and if you’re not attending, just talk/praise/gripe about today’s show in general. Cheerio.