Debating and rallying and reasoning, oh my!

Some quick updates on what some of us in the AXP camp are up to. Matt is, as you read this, getting ready to take the stage at West Texas A&M University in Amarillo for another debate. Here’s the flyer thingamajig.

Debate flyer

No, we don’t have any idea about their plans to record the debate, or post it online. Yes, we’ll embed it here the instant we find out such a thing exists.

In other news, yours truly (that would be me) just bought his plane ticket to Washington, so expect to see me at the Reason Rally in a month. I’ll be easy to spot, in that of all the godless hordes attending, I’ll be the only one who’s Martin Wagner. I don’t know about any plans from anyone else yet. As we get closer to the day, I’ll work out arrangements for an Atheist Experience meet up, perhaps the Friday night before. Maybe some of you who are attending and know DC a bit better than I do can think of some worthwhile places to hold one. Part of me is hoping that I step off the plane into the devastation of the Capital Wasteland, dodging super-mutants while Galaxy News Radio spins oldies over my ear buds. But I suspect the worst I’ll run into will be some dippy sidewalk evangelists.

Whassup with the show…

Okay, so as I understand it, here’s how things are as of tonight.

Today’s show was the last to be recorded out of the Access studios, for at least the summer months of June-August. Exactly when in August, or after August, they will reopen, I haven’t heard. I know they’re spending a month renovating and upgrading. Then there will be another month devoted to training up producers on the new equipment.

Next weekend will be a weekend off for us, so no show on Ustream or otherwise. The following Sunday, June 14, which is the next one I’m scheduled to do, will be attempted out of Matt’s place. We’ll try to do video, which will all depend on how much the various hardware and software we have decide they like each other. It will also require Matt to sponge down his walls and hide the inflatable tapir, which we keep bugging him about, but you know bachelors and housekeeping.

It’s possible it could be an audio-only show, which would mean AETV will basically be another NPR for the time being. But if we can do video, we will.

We may or may not be able to take calls, so I’ve been warned to be prepared. Lovely. As we won’t have a strict 90-minute time slot either, the show may be longer or shorter.

In other words, expect us to be working through lots of DIY-centric teething pains as we strive to keep bringing you AETV all by our little selves. Personally, I just can’t imagine anything going wrong….

TAM7: Matt yes, Martin no

This year, it will be Matt Dillahunty representing Austin at the Amaz!ng Meeting 7 in Las Vegas in July.

As someone who’s been doing the belt-tightening thing during the economic slump, I’m sad to be missing it this year. Unless AXP fans rally and throw cash at me to get there. (Though that’s not a hint at all! he insisted, inserting a big smiley emoticon.) So if you’re lucky to go, do pull Matt aside and say hi, and he may condescend to grunt desultorily in your general direction. He may discuss the trip on the show when he returns, but I asked him if he planned to liveblog the conference the other day, and he gave me this look like, “What, are you fucking stupid?” So I guess that’d be a no. Anyway, better luck for me next year, I guess.

In related news, the JREF have announced the very first UK TAM, in October, and it’s already sold out. Damn!

More email fun: “Look at all the trees!” edition

From:
“liam humphrey” [xxxxxxxxx@live.co.uk]
To:
tv@atheist-community.org

Hello Atheist Experience,

I am sending an email to ask you a question about God’s existence.

How, when you look out the window in the morning, can you not say that God doesn’t exist?

There must be a bigger force that has created all this beauty. It can’t be a coincidence, and science is unable to create such magic.
Science is a conspiracy theory. It is a ;lie by people who are in denial about Christianity.

I would also like to complain about Matt Dillahunty’s techniques when confronting us. I find him rude and irrational.

Thank You

You’re welcome.

And anyway, we do say that God doesn’t exist when we look out the window in the morning (as well as other times). So what this dope is complaining about, I have no idea.


Addendum: So okay, it was a Poe. Still, remember what Poe’s Law states: you can’t tell. And we’ve gotten real emails just this wacky. So, nice one.

Ray’s threat of hell…

In today’s post at Ray Comfort’s blog,

Ray wrote:

“…but I don’t think that people should become Christians because of a fear of Hell. Rather, they should come to Christ out of a fear of the God that can cast them into Hell..”

I’ve submitted the following response and I don’t care if it gets posted there or not, it’s worth adapting for our blog as well.

Ray, you cited Luke 12:4-5 to justify your position that we should fear God. While I’d normally point out that this is still an absurd doctrine of fear that isn’t something I’d expect Christians to be proud of (and I will), you’ve attempted to avoid that response by claiming that there are two types of fear.

It’s curious that you quoted 1 John 4:17, yet you didn’t bother to note that it’s verse 18 from which you draw the idea of fear as torment.

The text of verse 18 reads:

“There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love.”

So, the question, Ray, is this:

What is your authority for claiming there are two different types of fear referenced in the passage in Luke?

The same word (English and Greek) for fear is used in both references (in Luke and 1 John). The passage you quoted from Luke also appears in Matthew (10:28) and relies on the same Greek word in that instance as well.

The 1 John passage doesn’t say ‘fear (phobos) can also mean torment (kolasis)’ it says ‘fear (phobos) involves torment (kolasis)’.

The author of 1 John isn’t giving an alternate definition of fear, he’s explaining that fear has/contains (a more accurate translation of the Greek ‘echo’) torment, intrinsically.

Or, more accurately, ‘fear (phobos) does (instead of ‘can also’) mean torment (kolasis)’.

This is a subtle but significant point that will be important in a moment.

Now, I’m well aware that this word (fear/phobos) has several meanings, that’s not my point. My point is that you’re claiming that it means one thing in the first sentence and a different thing in the second sentence and you’ve provide no justification for that – nor have you offered a valid alternate definition (you appealed to some sort of ‘common sense’ fear).

Let’s re-write Luke 12:4-5 substituting your definitions (or with the most valid definition to replace your ‘common sense’ pseudo-definition):

“And I say to you, My friends, do not be afraid (tormented) of those who kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do. 5 But I will show you whom you should fear (be in awe of): Fear (be in awe of) Him who, after He has killed, has power to cast into hell; yes, I say to you, fear (be in awe of) Him!”

It’s worth noting that this passage is attributed to Jesus and one would presume that you consider it to be an accurate Greek representation of what he originally said.

I find it patently absurd for you to claim that this passage, is referencing two different types of fear.

Firstly, there is no indication from 1 John 4:18 that there are two different types of fear, as you claim – that’s simply an explanation that fear includes torment.

Secondly, you’re implying that Jesus was such a poor thinker that he would construct a ‘not this – but this’ comparison with predicates that have entirely different meanings and, as if that wasn’t enough, you’re implying that he was so careless with his words that translators were forced to use the same word to mean two different things (despite other words being available), even though he surely must have realized that this would lead to centuries of confusion over what he meant.

The verse is clear – ‘Don’t fear those who can simply kill you, but fear Him who can kill you and punish you forever.’

This is a clear threat of hell.

It’s clear in the Greek and in the English. Your appeal is a sophomoric apologetic that simply rationalizes your preferred softening with sophistry.

What’s worse is that even with your softened re-rendering, the text is still simply a threat of hell – because that’s the power that determines which personage one should fear.

There are only two reasons that I’ve been able to come up with for why you didn’t simply say “Yes, we’re supposed to fear God because he can send us to hell.” (A position that, while I despise it, would have at least earned you some respect for honesty.)

1. You really don’t have any firm understanding of what you’re talking about.

2. You were afraid of facing the contradiction that arises when one verse tells you to love god, another tells you to fear god and a third says that there is no fear in love.

—–

Now, as a quick end-of-post comment:

The simple truth is that the fire-and-brimstone preachers used to use this precise passage to support their message. After all, we have Jesus directly telling you to fear God because of what he can do to you after you’re dead. Ray, I believe, knows this and he knows the distaste the general public has for fire-and-brimstone preachers, so he’s twisting and turning like a twisty-turny-thing in order to convince someone – anyone – that he’s not like those guys.

He doesn’t think we should fear Hell, just the guy who can send us there – because he can send us there – but not really fear, in the sense of being terrified, but fear in the common-sense, ‘healthy respect for’-fashion.

Hogwash.

I therefore request that Fred Phelps of Shirley Phelps-Roper take a few minutes and call Ray to explain why his particular brand of exegesis isn’t Biblical. It may be more pleasant to Ray, but that’s only because he’s desperately trying to soften the message.

Ya hear me, Shirley? I’m tired of beating on Ray, it’s your turn!

In which Matt saves the universe and everything!

This may be the weirdest and yet most enjoyable bit of Atheist Experience-related otaku out there. I can say, I never got a theme song about myself when I was host. Bummer. But then, my name just doesn’t lend itself to good rhythm like Matt’s.

I imagine if Possummomma wanted Matt’s babies after seeing the previous video, she may just completely plotz after this one! Still I worry, from the old evolutionary biology standpoint, babies with Matt may or may not have the most optimal heritable traits, apart from stupendous counter-apologetics genes. All down to tastes, I suppose. Then again, the showbiz potential is off the scale!

(It was nice knowing everybody.)

Pascal’s Wager dies and is dead like a dead thing

Thanks to viewer Quinn Martindale for posting this quick snippet from a show this March in which Matt Dillahunty, in two minutes, says everything that needs to be said to destroy the most tired and banal argument for belief still making the rounds. You’d think most believers would have gotten the message that Pascal’s Wager is the sort of thing you only bring up if you’re walking around with the word DOOFUS tattooed to your forehead in a lovely decorative serif font. But you’d be surprised how many believers still take it seriously. After this, hopefully they’ll be properly schooled.