1. senor says

    Listened to about 45 minutes of it on my way to work. A very spritual episode so far.

  2. says

    I don’t suppose the theists could, you know, take a break from the arguments from ignorance and try out some new arguments, preferably some without logical fallacies for a change?

    I mean, clearly if we can’t prove love therefore Magical Tree Lobster of Love, amirite?

  3. jacobfromlost says

    The “love” thing annoys me.

    What if Jodie Foster turned to Matthew McConaughey and said, “Well, I’m TELLING you I loved my father for one thing. That’s the starting point. Then you can look at my face when I say this. I can also point out that children virtually always love their parents, especially when the other parent died when the child was very young. If that’s not enough, then I can tell you dozens of stories about how he taught me about CB radio, the planets, and how to think critically to be successful in life. I can tell you how he struggled to be a successful, caring parent after mom died, and how it was devastating to both of us, yet we persevered through it all.”

    If McConaughey then says, “Yeah, but that doesn’t PROVE it,” she can then say, “Then you must think it is reasonable that I have consistently faked actions from the time I was an infant to this very moment, actions that could have only been motivated by love. You must also think there is some kind of alternative explanation for all of these actions and statements that is a simpler explanation than I loved him. What simpler explanation could their be?”

    He looks deep into her eyes for the romantic moment and says, “Maybe you’re psychotic. I realize the probability is extremely low, and there is no evidence to support this even though there should be if you ARE psychotic, but can’t you simply accept the fact that you might be psychotic?” The music swells, and they kiss. Therefore god because, you know, she might be psychotic.

    The end.

  4. says

    Look, if the Magical Tree Lobster of Love lives in the Tree of Eternal Steaks(Grilled-to-Order) by the Pond of Warm Clarified Butter, I’m totally in.

  5. John Kruger says

    Theists love to use the word “proof”, but the real world does not deal in “proofs”. They are not using the word the same way as someone saying “prove you were at home last night”. Theists want an absolute proof like in mathematics, which is not something you can do with real world limitations. I can provide evidence I was home last night, but in being intellectually honest all evidence is suspect to some degree. You cannot absolutely prove anything; you can only prove it beyond reasonable doubt. It is just another word game theists like to play.

    I do not require “proof” that a god exists to believe in it, I just need enough evidence to show that such a belief is useful in its predictions and explains observations better than other theories. Any evidence at all would be a good start. Absolute proof is not something reasonable people require for beliefs about anything. Blind faith is not the only way to believe in things.

    Of course, the first caller was more interested in giving a lecture than having an actual discussion. He was off base from his very first sentence, and I would have cut him off much sooner.

  6. KirikaSena says

    As soon as I saw that one of the callers was named Dominique, I knew that the call was going to be about masculinity and such. I guess he wanted his bullshit to be ridiculed even more than Matt and everyone else already did on Facebook.

    I could be biased against this guy, though, as I wear nail-polish, mascara, women’s pants and sunglasses, and I occasionally carry a purse. I’m so glad that my parents are conservative Christians, instead of idiots like Dominique. ;P

  7. jacobfromlost says

    There is this weird view of some men that their sons should be “manly” the instant they enter the world. I don’t know how prevalent it still is, but some of the older generations in my family commonly expected little boys to act like/be grown men–and perhaps a specific kind of knuckle-dragging “grown man”.

    It must have something to do with projecting their own insecurities and fears onto their child, but I never really understood it. Any adult who expects a 5 year old to have the emotional maturity, physical strength, etc, of an adult is probably an adult who was emotionally stunted by similar expectations when they were 5.

  8. says

    To recap the first caller:

    1) It’s good to enforce gender roles on children.
    2) Because they might explore other gender roles.
    3) And that’s because because it’s “Deviant”
    4) “Deviant” is bad… because.

    The level of our civilization as it exists today is due to people being “deviant” and trying out something new.

    Or, did the caller mean “deviant” as in “evil”?

  9. says

    With these people talking about where do you find meaning in your life, I just wonder have they ever read any fiction? I swear this kind of topic has come up over and over again in it. Especially in things that deal with immortality or scifant with long lived and short lived people.

  10. says

    That caller’s point (I think) – and the point that I’ve heard over and over – is that “if boys don’t act like boys they’ll be ridiculed and tormented on the playground”. Thing is, in real life, I’ve never seen a 5 year old tormented by another 5 year old for being different. I’ve only seen parents and other adults do it, and only in the way the caller did. That is, it appears that the only people ever to make an issue out of a child acting different are those adults who ostensibly want to protect the child from people who would make an issue out of him acting different.

  11. Ahkoond says

    Nobody complained that their kids dressing as pumpkins, ghouls or robots for Halloween was “deviant” or that it promoted the wrong gender role. Nobody complains either that little girls wear pants all the time, or that Scotish boys wear skirts (kilts). It’s all in the adults’ heads.

  12. says

    I’ve found an immense sense of meaning in my life from raising intelligent, curious, free thinking children. Others find great meaning in a life devoted to exploration of the mind, of the universe, of art. There’s so much in our world to do and see and experience that I worry about the people who can only derive a sense of meaning from an ancient set of stories that frankly are kinda derivative and not well written.

    The caller’s notion that one can only understand the purpose of one’s life after the fact (from the vantage point of heaven, presumably) is pointlessly self-defeating. If that’s the only way to enjoy a sense of understanding, then one can necessarily never understand while alive. So how can that possibly inform your decision-making? If one’s only sense of purpose is gained in the afterlife, he necessarily lives his real life without a sense of purpose.

  13. says

    But he had to keep talking: it was only after his phone call was totally over could he look back and understand the meaning of his phone call…

  14. Jonathon Cowley says

    I think the guy who wanted to encourage masculinity in his kid perhaps just didn’t articulate properly what it was he really wanted. There are personality traits which our society has chosen to associate with either masculinity or femininity, and that association is completely arbitrary. Some of those traits which we have arbitrarily decided to call ‘masculine’ are perfectly admirable qualities in someone of either sex; physical courage, for example, or the kind of self-sacrifice and devotion to duty that is the staple of inspiring war hero stories. Those are things to encourage in any child. Likewise competitiveness and ambition can be admirable, if tempered by humility and compassion. We’ve chosen to think of them as masculine, but they should be encouraged in people of both sexes.

    So if Dominique was simply saying that he wanted his child to learn about those kinds of virtuous character traits, then that’s fair enough. Doing so-called ‘manly’ things like sports or wilderness pursuits are a really good way for boys and girls to learn about, and develop, those kinds of character traits.

    The problem here is not the traits he wanted to instil in his child, but that he thinks of them as purely masculine traits. One can’t help but think that if he had a daughter instead of a son, she’d probably end up missing out on a great many positive character-forming experiences.

    I’d like to be charitable to him and say that maybe he just didn’t have the right vocabulary to properly express what it was he really wanted for his child, as he did seem thoughtful and a little contrite towards the end.

    Apologies for the length; but it’s the girth that really gets you.

  15. Jonathon Cowley says

    Dressing up as pumpkins would confuse a child as to their role in the food chain, obviously. Best put a stop to it.

  16. Jonathon Cowley says

    I can’t help but think that his insistence on enforcing masculine gender roles on his son is a direct result of his having a girl’s name.

  17. says

    I think his point was that only after your life was completely over would you get to tally up all your experience points and see what your total life score was. And only when you have that certified will they validate your parking in the afterlife.

    Or something…

  18. says

    The caller seemed to dismiss emotions such as love as coming from electrochemical processes in the brain as ridiculous because that would be “unromantic.” But I don’t see how this fact diminishes the importance of these emotions to us as human beings and social creatures. And the acts we take inspired by these emotions can most definitely be romantic. Our emotions are not any less “real” because they come from natural brain processes.

  19. says

    O, ye Holy Bib of Greatness, protect me from the juices of thy Magical Tree Lobster of Love, and giveth me safety from the drippings of butter and lemon, with gas and indigestion, forever and ever. Amen.

  20. Matrim says

    A little off topic, but is there ever going to be another Non Prophets episode, or should I just give up all hope? Every week I see the scheduled day pass without remark, and I die a little inside.

    Seriously, though. It’s kind of a bummer.

  21. CompulsoryAccount7746 says

    I think seems “spiritual” has about the same meaning as “tonight” in pop music. It’s aural filler, but the act of saying the word triggers pleasant emotional associations.

    The caller certainly enjoyed littering his sentences with it.

  22. says

    Far as I know yes but Matt`s been out of town every weekend for this or that speaking gig and it’s just meant no non prophets. Maybe Russel et al can shed a little more light on the hiatus.

  23. peter says

    I understand why people would like to reinforce male traits onto boys. Some parents would think conforming to social norms may let their child grow up with less to worrry, that’s how I see it. I associate this view to how I hide my athiest side from my community so I won’t be shun/ammonished, I am scared to let them know because I am so young.

  24. LD says

    Ugh, so tired of hearing the word “spirituality” tossed around. Words are only useful as a tool for communicating if people have solid common understandings of their meanings. I’ve heard a million different definitions of spirituality, ranging from “be happy” to “ghosts and gods”.

    Can we just delete this word from our vocabulary and start labeling what we’re talking about with other words that better reflect what we’re trying to convey?

    I like to be happy and free of stress and anxiety. But why label the process of peering into my own personality “spirituality” when another word already exists for that: introspection.

    Anyway… spirituality is a meaningless word that reeks of vague new age nonsense.

  25. CompulsoryAccount7746 says

    The caller who mentioned fear of hell as a reason to convert was probably saying: for someone whose goal is to change a mind, one can either provide evidence or emotionally coerce the subject (to undermine their capacity to think clearly).

    He wasn’t asking for fear; he was issuing a rhetorical challenge. Evidence wasn’t gonna materialize. And hellfire stories weren’t going to work on him.

  26. Hairy Chris, blah blah blah etc says


    Yup, the word’s pretty horrible and can be made to cover all sorts of nonsense (hmm, maybe I know a few too many new age hippy dippy types).

  27. Dave says

    Did anyone else think that Dominic sounded suspiciously like a certain terrible rapper who ALSO calls into the show obsessing about gender roles?

  28. says

    Umm, people do complain about that. Not that many, but when Harry Potter got popular, it got kinda popular to speak out against him, especially when churches started having Harry Potter day. Halloween was fine as long it was isolated, but when it got to be something that had a mythology that kids were actually reading and understanding, an alternate story that had themes of good vs evil, that got too close to home.

    I also have a dominionist cousin who has a side business selling “conservative” clothing.

  29. MarkB says

    No, Charlie was too much of an obvious buffoon to pull a Poe off for that long.

  30. says

    If you could provide a safe place for a child to be who they are without worrying about having to put up a mask of conformity for the outside world, but choose instead to make that place as hellishly oppressive as everywhere else; what sort of parent would you be?

    Life isn’t fair doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t be.

  31. says

    For the non-nerds (spoiler)

    It details a powerful android that, upon concluding that there was no intrinsic value to existence decided that thus subjective value is all there is and it must be maximized. Thus he travels through time with the goal of judging every sentient being that ever existed and erasing those who wasted their chance at life. His criteria is that everyone has to be able to convince themselves that they deserve to exist and that their existence has meaning.

  32. terrycollins says

    Wow, what was up with the brightness level of the posted video? Audio was out of sync too. Sucks that you cannot mention your sponsor anymore. Sounds like your station is deliberately giving you a hard time. Hopefully one day, AE will be picked up and syndicated everywhere.

  33. says

    We’re still needing some clarification on what the hell is up with the new sponsor rule, because as a 501(c)(3), we ought to be able to mention our affiliation in some way that doesn’t violate “advertising” rules. It’s really gotten stupid there, I must admit.

  34. Jeff says

    My constructive (I hope) criticism:

    I really don’t like it when the show goes to the topics of abortion or homosexuality without an obvious connection to religion. I understand that there are at least 2 gay members on your crew, but that doesn’t mean the show has to become The Gay Experience. This episode had a long discussion of homosexuality, and the connection to religion was not being made (hope I’m recalling that correctly). As a teacher, I’d grade it “off-topic”. While you might really want to discuss these calls, they should be hurried along as much as possible.

  35. terrycollins says

    Well, it’s not like the hosts planned out that subject matter. They really had no choice but to slap down some of the comments the caller was making. Off topic perhaps, but imo the root of most objections to homosexuality is religiously motivated.

    My question is, what would the teachers think if let my 5 year old son go to school in a dress? The other 5 years olds probably wouldn’t care, but what about the older kids in the school yard?

  36. peter says

    If i have a choice, and see that no ramification for my child to be open about his style then yes. Where I live, there are 7 churches within 10 mins walking distance.
    I been a christian for a while in the past, since now I hid my athiest side from friends and the community, I believe that if found I would be bullied by others and abandon by my family.

    I have very few problems against having a gay child but the mentality of my community is that you are one of them or against them, because of that I would be concern for my child. The stories that gays been bullied to the point that they commit suicide, I would not like that for my child at all and I am sure that is what will happen if I live here. I will be supportive of them of course.
    Changing the view of so many people would be impossible for me alone, I don’t really think there is that many atheist here where I live anyway or at least hiding like I am.

    If I did have a child here,I would follow my plan of hiding that side of the child to “shelter” them from what the community would do. Kids here at school call other fags/gays/queers and know right away to think it as a negative label.

    Of course there would really happen if I do live here, if I could, I would move to a more free minded community area so that my child could be open about his position. At the moment I really have too live here, I am sure you heard the many stories that people sacrifice a lot of things when they come forward with their beliefs, I feel I would loss too much at my age.

  37. Jerome says

    Regarding the “cannot mention our sponsor” issue, I understand that AE is pre-empted every 5-Sunday month for another program, and often for various Mormon shows (but I’m not sure if the 5th Sunday show is Mormon, too).

    Are they still allowed to mention their affiliation? And what about other religious shows on Channel Austin?

  38. jacobfromlost says

    I agree. It’s not off topic because one side of the homosexuality debate is virtually entirely religiously based. That fact has nothing whatsoever to do with the sexuality of any of the hosts.

    And “atheism” isn’t a topic that can be directly discussed beyond “it’s a lack of belief in gods”. Any other response or discussion around atheism can easily be charged with being just as off topic as homophobia, as what is USUALLY discussed is skepticism and religion. In this case, homophobia directly connects with BOTH skepticism and religion; namely, skepticism that the caller’s assertions on sexuality were valid, and responding to an underlying attitude against gays that is rooted almost entirely in religion today.

  39. Jeff says

    Disagree with this:

    “It’s not off topic because one side of the homosexuality debate is virtually entirely religiously based.”

    and this:

    “And “atheism” isn’t a topic that can be directly discussed beyond “it’s a lack of belief in gods”.”

    It is indeed off-topic if the connection is not made to religion. Are you saying it isn’t possible to have a conversation about homosexuality that is not connected to religion? Because that’s what happened on the show this week. Check out this week’s Ask An Atheist podcast for an example of how to discuss the same topic while keeping a strong connection to religion.

    And we can indeed discuss atheism. We discuss why we don’t believe, what atheism is, what it’s not, what we intend to do about religion creeping into our lives and policy, etc.

    As for this:

    “Well, it’s not like the hosts planned out that subject matter.”

    I AM aware of this, you know. But the call can be ended if it’s off-topic.

  40. peter says

    Anyone want to add some disagreements or advice?
    Is it wrong of what I would do in this situation if I have a gay child?
    I believe this is the correct way of handling my situation, while it is cowardly to some, I see very few option because of my position in the community, economical status and education.

  41. jacobfromlost says

    Well, you can disagree that one side of the homosexuality debate is religiously based, but all the polls bear it out (and have been increasingly showing this for years).

    “It is indeed off-topic if the connection is not made to religion.”

    I think that connection is implicit in that we’ve seen these callers making similar arguments many MANY times before. Each episode doesn’t exist in a vacuum. (Remember when Reuben called in to say schools were giving kids instructions on how to be gay in textbooks? Yet he couldn’t name one textbook or school doing this.)

    “Are you saying it isn’t possible to have a conversation about homosexuality that is not connected to religion?”

    Today, yes. The polls all indicate that those who oppose gay rights do so overwhelmingly for religious reasons, and the numbers get more stark the younger you go.

    “And we can indeed discuss atheism. We discuss why we don’t believe, what atheism is, what it’s not, what we intend to do about religion creeping into our lives and policy, etc.”

    One of the things we intend to do is point out that opposing gay rights based on religious reasons is silly. Now, the caller didn’t specifically reference religious beliefs, and you can quibble with that if you want, but the context of the debate tells us the main motivation for opposing gay rights. Just look at the Gallup poll from a couple years ago. Those who say religion is very important are against gay marriage 70% (27% are in favor). And guess what? You look at those who say “religion is not very important” and the numbers flip–27% against gay marriage, 71% for it.

    Maybe the caller was in that 27%, but addressing the issue is no different than someone who calls in to say the earth is 6000 years old based on faulty reasons that they claim have nothing to do with religion. Maybe they DON’T have anything to do with religion, but that doesn’t mean you can’t hit two birds with one stone by pointing out the nonreligious “reasons” are just as stupid as the religious ones.

  42. Jeff says

    “Well, you can disagree that one side of the homosexuality debate is religiously based…

    I don’t recall saying this and I do not agree with this proposition. But the caller was not referencing it to religion, and neither were the hosts. This was not a debate about homosexuality as a legal or moral issue, it was about social norms of dress and behaviour by gender and gender identity. Not atheism related.

    “Are you saying it isn’t possible to have a conversation about homosexuality that is not connected to religion?”

    Today, yes. The polls all indicate that those who oppose gay rights do so overwhelmingly for religious reasons, and the numbers get more stark the younger you go.”

    Seriously? Take off the blinders. Not every conversation about the topic of homosexuality has to be of this type. Was this conversation about gay rights? Was it about gay marriage? No, it wasn’t. There is more to the topic of homosexuality than just a simple “I think it’s wrong” or “I think it’s OK”.

  43. thomasfoss says

    Tim Minchin had, I think, the best response to this “you can’t prove love!” bullshit:

    He said “Aha! You believe in love! You don’t have evidence for love.”

    A-and I said “Yeah, I think, I think I have evid–love without evidence is…stalking.”

    From his “Live at the O2” album.

  44. thomasfoss says

    Well, jeez, by that standard the show shouldn’t suffer from the shortened format at all. Every call could be the same:

    “Hi, you’re on The Atheist Experience.”

    “Uh, yeah, I was wonderin’ why y’all don’t believe in God.”

    “Because there isn’t any convincing evidence for gods. Thanks for calling!”

    Or if an atheist calls in:

    “Hey, I’m a big fan of the show, and I don’t believe in gods.”

    “Neither do we! Thanks for calling.”

    Atheism is a single position on a single question–“do you believe in gods?”. If every call had to be related back to atheism, the show would get pretty repetitive, pretty boring, and pretty repetitive pretty fast.

    Thankfully, the show isn’t that simplistic, and the hosts are willing to discuss and explore a host of issues that relate back to atheism, humanism, skepticism, secularism, science, theology, philosophy, and so forth, that are adjacent to atheist issues. The particular gender issues digression in this episode explores a set of social issues that become apparent when one has cast off the assumptions forced on believers in patriarchal religions, namely that the different sexes must conform to certain arbitrary standards set by tradition, and that deviation from those arbitrary standards should be discouraged. Loosed from the bonds of religious belief, we’re free (and in fact, we ought to find it necessary) to question these assumptions and roles, and judge them on their merits. It’s the same as with morality: once we no longer have morals dictated to us through the received word of an all-knowing authority, we have to judge the individual rules for ourselves based on their value and merits with respect to reality, and not to the whims of a divine enforcer.

    In short, yes it was relevant, and your inability to see that speaks either to a brilliant myopia or a discomfort with the particular subject.

  45. Mauricio Duque says

    Guys, anyone have a link to download the video of the episode 760 with good quality?

    No offense, but the last one is preety bad, looks like someone is holding a flashlight against the screen.

  46. Anagramanachronist says

    I am a lifelong atheist. I live in Texas. My children are cognizant of my atheism and have been raised by my lapsed yet still “faithful” Catholic wife and I to be Socratic free thinkers. I am not out here in the hubristic disease state solely for the benefit of my children. My daughter was on the dance team in high school. They had a student led prayer before every game. I would just smile at their pandering to an invisible omnipotent. She currently attends a certain institution in New Haven. I am happy I made no waves.

    My son has been a three sport “star” since 1st Grade. All his coaches have been pandering men of pious displays of piety. His current baseball coach is a detective who has to end every email with a Scriptural reference; not the ones I would choose, either. One of the fathers is a thrice divorced, ex-alcoholic Charismatic preacher who loves to talk beer with me for vicarious thrill. His son received a minor hand injury tonight. As he came into the dugout with ice to attend to his son, I commented, “Hey, it’s not that bad, we don’t need a preacher…yet”. He, the coach, and the opposing team’s coach who is my son’s football coach all laughed more raucously than I had anticipated.

    These men do not know my status. I have offered them nothing but support and kind words, monetary assistance, sound advice, and a backyard weel designed for team parties. My son moves out of the little leagues run by Dads and into a private, secular school after this baseball season. You may question my integrity by failing to illustrate my objections to these addled men of their immoral theology, but, as I have planned all along, as our relationships now will evolve into an area where I no longer need concern myself with my children’s safety or emotional protection, I will certainly advise each one of them that I am an atheist.

    The looks on their faces will be priceless as they feel betrayed, looking for the horns and wondering precipitously how I could be so kind and generous without the fear of eternal torture weighing as some Sword of Damocles. I will shatter their illusions with a smile and test their faith and conventional wisdom with our history. Then I will have a beer in as a non-alcoholic with my wife of 23 years.

  47. amyc says


    I understand that you would want to protect your child from that sort of bullying. Here’s the problem: bullying is meant to silence. Bullying is meant to make others hide themselves and to force conformity. Forcing your child to “act the part” will not help them. Forcing a gay child to “act” straight, does not make them straight, in fact, it harms them. Forcing a child facing gender identity issues to act like their assigned gender from birth, harms them. Do you know one of the main differences between kids who are bullied who commit suicide and those who are bullied and don’t commit suicide? Those who don’t commit suicide know they have an escape. They know they have a safe place or person to go to when things get too out of hand. Children who have to hide in public and at home are at a higher risk of suicide.

    This isn’t something that can be hidden. Forcing your child to “act normal” will not change what they are; it will only reinforce the idea that they are not good enough. Telling your child that an integral part of themselves should be hidden from the world does nothing but shame them and tell them that the bullies are right.

    TL;DR Version
    Forcing your child to hide who they are to protect them from bullies, makes you a bully too. We should be working to actively change our culture’s messed up views about gender roles and the lgbt community, not tacitly endorsing those views by hiding.

    As to your concerns about coming out in your community: I suggest going to; search for atheist or freethinker groups in your area. If there isn’t one, start one. You can do that anonymously. If you go to school, check to see if there’s an SSA club at your school. If there isn’t one, start one. Email JT Eberhard or Hemant Mehta, and they would be more than happy to help. You never know who else is in the same position unless you come out. The oppressors’ favorite thing to do is bully the oppressed into silence. Don’t be silent.

  48. says

    While Listening to the caller calling about the limp wrist preacher speech and how he would do something to his son if he was too feminine. On a different stream (which was nearly muted.) “Fat Bottomed Girls” By Queen came on in the background. Freddie Mercury – one of the most masculine gay icons I can think of…Even when in Drag. ( I could not take anything the caller said seriously because it was just the general “Femininity is bad for males because society.”

  49. MrTrex says

    Yeah! *self-absorbed glare* I just sent an email with an interesting (to me) topic to be discussed when it occurred to me that I hadn’t seen a new episode in a while (I’ve been listening to archived shows for the past few weeks, but I’m running out!) Is there a site or blog discussing this? Inquiring minds need to know!