So Many Claims, So Little (No) Support…

This letter was to Matt, so I opted not to reply. But also, if I did reply, I wouldn’t have much more to offer beyond, “I’ve never seen anyone offer up such a lengthy list of claims that included no attempt at offering even one shred of support.” Does Guinness have a category for something like this?

In addition to offering no support for anything asserted, s/he makes the mistake of capitalizing “atheism” throughout (see Austin Cline’s blog on this issue for further info on why this demonstrates a misunderstanding of atheism, and note the letter writer does not capitalize theism, so this is clearly quite deliberate on his/her part). The writer goes on to play “bait the atheist” by pretending Matt really does know a god exists, but for whatever reason, is saying otherwise.

Finally the person threatens to call the show. I can only say, “Please, please do.” S/he asked us to read this on the air. But honestly, it’s just preaching with no evidence or support offered—and we’re not The 700 Club, and since no evidence or support was provided, what would we examine? The rebuttal to the entire lot would be “you offered nothing to support anything you claimed.”

At any rate, without further ado, I bring you, more unsubstantiated claims and assumptions than you can shake a stick at:

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…And our little lives are rounded with a sleep

Our profoundest condolences go out to friend and sometime co-host AronRa, who here gives a tremendously touching eulogy for his granddaughter Sidney, felled by cancer. I recently read a novel in which a character ruminates on death, expressing the view that — the phraseology notwithstanding — instead of thinking that our lost loved ones were “taken” from us too soon, perhaps we should think that they were “given” to us for a time, to love and be loved by, and we have no way of knowing, nor any control, over how long or short that time is. And so we cherish that brief time, because it is all we have, because every minute that we live is one we will not live again. So let those you love know how much they mean to you, right now. Don’t wait until the chance has come and gone.

AETV Live Chat Room Moderation Policy (v1.0)

Most of you who watch The Atheist Experience live are aware that there is a live chat room that runs on Ustream.  It has, as of recently, been regularly moderated by some combination of Jen, Lynnea, John and me.  The purpose of this post is to try to establish some guidelines that will clarify the moderation policy.  This list was written primarily by Lynnea, but has been presented to and accepted by the rest of the TV crew.

(Update: These rules now have a permanent web home at  Read this version below the fold.)

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“Masks” by Shel Silverstein

I was at Barnes & Noble with my son last night and made a surprising discovery: There’s a newly published book of poems by Shel Silverstein.  It’s called Every Thing On It, and is apparently a post-mortem collection of poems he wrote between his 1996 book Falling Up and his death in 1999.

As a big fan since childhood, I read through several poems and found one which I really wanted to share.  I took a picture of it so I could copy it later.


(The picture on the page depicts two kids walking past each other, wearing VERY large masks that extend a long way above their heads.)

She had blue skin.
And so did he.
He kept it hid
And so did she.
They searched for blue
Their whole life through,
Then passed right by —
And never knew.

Immediately on reading the poem I thought, “Obviously, these are closeted atheists.”

Atheist Community of Austin featured on “Hidden City”

Recently a bunch of our members got together with a TV crew at El Arroyo and had a chat for a couple of hours about what we do.  We have received confirmation that the episode will be airing on the Travel Channel on January 31.  They seemed like a good group of people with an interesting show concept, so I’m going to go ahead and encourage you to start watching it now and see what it’s like.

It premieres tonight on the Travel Channel.  This is the message we received from the crew:

Just wanted to say hello and thank you for being a part of our first season of “Hidden City.”  The show has received great feedback so far, and we’re looking forward to sharing it with you in the coming weeks.

The first episode (Chicago) premieres next Tuesday, December 6th at 10pm EST/9pm Central.  We will then be showing a new episode every Tuesday night through February in that same time slot.  The AUSTIN EPISODE is on the schedule for JANUARY 31st.

Thanks again for all of your time, pictures, and signed releases! It’s been so great working together with you guys over the past few months to tell these incredible stories.
The topic of the show was kind of tangentially related to what we do.   Apparently they intend to visit one city a week and discuss a major event that occurred there, in order to explore broader issues.  For Austin, they chose the murder of Madalyn Murray O’Hair.
The ACA has never been directly associated with Ms. O’Hair, and we’re only recently affiliated in a loose sense with American Atheists.  However, we are of course the most prominent atheist group in her home city, so we got to spend a lot of time over margaritas discussing issues of concern to us.  Here’s hoping we come out looking good. 🙂

We get email: Godel, Escher, Bach, and some WTF?

First exchange:

I was watching some clips from your show on Youtube.  I am always interested in the challenges presented by differing views.  Your hosts make some compelling points about what seems to be a great injustice in the belief in hell.

The problem with most of the anti-religion views is that they focus on the unknowable or unprovable.  Atheists don’t have answers but they are always challenging points within religion that even the practitioners don’t know or can’t prove.
The problem with most of religion is that it intentionally deals with the unknowable or unprovable.  Atheists don’t claim to have certainty about the answers, but we object to unjustified assumptions about subjects that people do not and cannot know about — by your own statements.
(Continued below)

Skepticon 4 videos are posted…

I wasn’t able to attend this year’s Skepticon (or the 3 that preceded it), but I have a very strong suspicion that I’ll be at SK5. I do, though, enjoy seeing what I’ve missed. I’ve had the great fortune of meeting and spending time with many of the speakers at other events and I love to see friends and acquaintances-I-hope-will-be-lifelong-friends give talks that educate, entertain and inspire. [Read more…]