Open thread on AETV 763/764; NPR 11.6; GB 2.13

Sorry for the lack of open threads lately..

  • Atheist Experience episodes had Matt and Jeff; and Matt and Jerry DeWitt visiting, respectively.
  • There was one or perhaps three Godless Bitches episodes since the last open thread.
  • We did a seemingly successful experiment streaming a Non-Prophets episode over Google Hangouts.  The audio podcast isn’t posted as I write this, but you can see the video for now here.



  1. MichaelD says

    Lets see thoughts….

    I really wish Crazy archaeology guy had gotten in a point but that’s mostly my own personal amusement (763).

    Also people looking at that nonprophets episode be forwarded it is pretty much an hour of debating free will. Although there is some discussion about changes to the atheist experience show and why the into has changed dramatically lately. Unless you’re a masochist on the freewill thing listen to maybe the first and last 15min.

  2. sharkjack says

    One or three Godless bitches? I know two episodes were released close together, you must be talking about that missing episode I’ve heard so much about. Greatest episode ever I’m told. True story.

  3. Kazim says

    I’m sure people will notice (and make fun of) the fact that I pretty much zoned out on the whole free will thing. Once was enough for me.

  4. senor says

    In last week’s AETV, I could not wrap my head around the what atheist caller from NY was saying about the benefits of the show and activism in general. It’s only worth it if it benefits me directly in my lifetime? The benefit to other people now and in the future is not considered? I was appalled at how selfish and/or cowardly that whole line of reasoning was. No progress in anything would ever be made if people thought like that.

  5. says

    Yeah I was pretty much yelling at my computer.

    The reason I would do things like the show is because I care about other people. I care about humans. Whether I directly benefit or not isn’t particularly important.

    Atheism doesn’t remove one’s humanism, nor is it mutually exclusive.

  6. MichaelD says

    If it wasn’t clear by the semi explanation in the post here’s a break down another breakdown…

    This is a thread to discuss openly the topics and shows that were recently put out by the Atheist community of Austin. As for the rest here’s the break down.

    AETV 763/764
    Atheist Experience Television show (a live public access call in show) more specifically the last 2 episodes numbers 763 and 764.

    NPR 11.6
    Non prophets radio a podcast usually about atheist news, views and opinions season 11 episode 6.

    GB 2.13
    Godless Bitches a podcast on the intersection of atheism and religion with feminism, social issues etc. Again season 2 episode 13.

  7. MichaelD says

    Masochist!!! I’d actually have been pretty ok with an hour long TAG (transcendental argument for god for those bad at acronyms) discussion which would probably have put me in your place ;p.

    The freewill debates are just a bit too much hair splitting for me. Plus Jeff probably should have read at least some of the book. Both kind of hurt it for me.

  8. says

    Feedback for Google Plus:

    I think the biggest issue, which you’re probably well aware of, is trying to balance the levels between the speakers. Also, chain the speakers down so they don’t walk away.

    Will audio versions be made available as usual? That’s typically how I listen.

  9. CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain says

    I’ve slept a few times since that ep, but I think he was getting at:

    – You rarely ‘win’ an argument with a believer, so trying is primarily open-ended conflict that upsets everyone involved, including yourself.
    – Trying is optional since you can easily pass as a believer: that’s the default assumption. There’s no atheist dogma requiring you to do anything. You don’t even have to lie. Just tune out the vacuous babbling, and you won’t have to hear again the frustratingly lousy justifications for why it might be profound.
    – You can focus your energy on things that you’re way more likely to succeed at and that make you happy.
    – So what is motivating you to bother arguing?
    Feeling like you’re accomplishing/helping is a direct benefit, but the caller didn’t seem convinced that feeling could be terribly strong on this issue.

  10. MichaelD says

    You’re welcome. I should probably also add that there are links to the respective shows on the right hand side under ACA and related sites.

  11. CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain says

    – Humanism as a motivation may sound hollow because… something along the lines of what Tracie was saying in GB 2.12 about arguing with people who basically already agree with you: here, moderates/liberals on humanist notion that harmful religious people are a bad thing.
    – SIWOTI as motivation may sound hollow or futile because of conservative thickness.

  12. Muz says

    I can’t remember the guy’s details exactly , but some recent atheists seem to go through a sort of ultra Nietzsche-ian/ nihilist phase before settling in to the whole living thing again.
    It’s like they’ve got to do everything through pure abstract reason for a while, now that they’ve defeated theology with it. Or something like that.

    There was a guy on the Magic Sandwich Show a couple of weeks back who’s hung on to his longer than most. He was arguing quite forcefully that there’s no logical reason to have children, even many arguments that its morally wrong, and even no reason to live at all and he wishes his parents had aborted him or something. The panel didn’t really know what to do with him.

    Most people chill out before they get that far though.

  13. says

    Sounds much more like Schopenhauer (and severe depression) than Nietzsche to me. Nietzsche was an anti-nihilist. He said that for him, good equaled everything that increased the strength and enjoyment of life, and evil was everything which weakened life and drained it of pleasure — Christianity, for example.

    However, one thing the caller was saying, according to CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain’s comment at at 4:45 pm, “You rarely ‘win’ an argument with a believer, so trying is primarily open-ended conflict that upsets everyone involved, including yourself,” does partly coincide with some things Nietzsche said, if perhaps only in an incidental and tangential way: Nietzsche described faith as not wanting to know, which if it’s accurate is a fairly strong argument that debating believers is wasted effort. He also said that it’s easier for believers to come up with “proofs” of God than it is for us to refute them –their standards of what constitutes an argument are much lower, after all — and that when we’ve refuted one they may have several new “proofs” waiting for us.

    Instead of such debates, Nietzsche said that it was a better use of time and energy to study and demonstrate how religious faith arises to begin with, to study what religion and faith really is, thus rendering refutations of the alleged “proofs” of the faithful superfluous.

    And on that latter point I tend to agree with Nietzsche.

    But hey, if you enjoy such debates, don’t let me spoil your fun. Looks like awful drudgery to me. Almost as bad as actually studying theology. *shudder*

  14. 1000 Needles says

    Re: GB 2.13

    My inner pedant swooned when Tracy corrected herself on the usage of the phrase “begging the question.”

  15. Muz says

    It’s only really Nietzsche-ian in the sense of a Will to Power-esque argument for being entirely self absorbed. It’s not good Nietzsche, but quite often seems to be the only bit people take away from him. I mean it only as a reference point in that sense, not as an accurate reflection of the philosophy. An accurate reflection of moody art students at best.

    “Schopenhauer and severe depression” seems like a more accurate description, particularly of the other guy I was talking about. (although I’m not familiar. Not that familiar with Nietzsche either really).
    Seemed like a classic example of the depressed intellectual convincing themselves their state of mind was entirely rational (this I do know something about).

  16. says

    Some great content.

    I’d love it if you’d dedicate a bit of time on the various shows to talking about the FAQs. There’s always new listeners / viewers, and going over these basics (briefly) can be informative and lead to some good discussions.

    Stuff like why we don’t believe in deities, reasons people do believe, how religious organizations work (and have set up systems to defend themselves from scrutiny). The list goes on.

    Whatever you do, thanks for all your time and effort.

  17. stubby says

    I’m glad Non Prophets is still going strong. I didn’t start listening to it until a few months ago and I decided to start at the beginning. I just listened to the episode from June 3 2006. By my calculations I will catch up to the new shows on February 29, 2020.

  18. CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain says

    @megazeusthor #8:

    Stuff like why we don’t believe in deities

    See: nearly every Matt episode. 😛

    reasons people do believe

    For psych, bias, and apologetics stuff, there’s the Reasonable Doubts podcast. If you mean callers willing to answer “What do you believe and why?” those do seem sparse lately.

    how religious organizations work

    This info tends to come out of various podcast interviews from former members, like “Reasonable Doubts 091: A View from the Watchtower” featuring a Jehovah’s Witness, and “Godless Bitces 1.4” on Quiverfull. Interviews tend to select for the cultier sects though, with interesting stories and intelligible theology. Liberal branches tend to be lacking in both.

  19. sosw says

    He was arguing quite forcefully that there’s no logical reason to have children, even many arguments that its morally wrong, and even no reason to live at all and he wishes his parents had aborted him or something. The panel didn’t really know what to do with him.

    Of course it’s entirely true that there are no logical reasons for having children or living. There are also no logical reasons not to.

    Arguments that having children is morally wrong can be made, but they require considerable further assumptions.

    However, such arguments are usually disingenuous because they are post hoc justifications for previously held feelings on the matter. I don’t believe that the person in question came upon those feelings because of rationality, although sometimes de-conversion can be part of the reason why one would have less positive outlooks on life than previously (usually due to social costs).

    Rationality is orthogonal to desires and choices to do/not do various things.

  20. sosw says

    If you mean callers willing to answer “What do you believe and why?” those do seem sparse lately.

    When they don’t expect counter-arguments, people do seem to be more willing to state their (claimed) reasons. Non-prophets episode 7.19 (and obviously Guy P. Harrison’s book itself) has some good examples.

  21. CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain says


    Rationality is orthogonal to desires and choices to do/not do various things.

    Eh, deepity.
    Mammal brains approximate rational procedures by kludging together biologically provided drives and heuristics, like associating disgust with abstract pitfalls, through enculturation and training. The quality of the approximation varies as parts get overwhelmed or exploited: e.g., exhaustion, duress, or priming.
    If you’re thinking of rationality and choices in terms of homo economicus: yeah, humans don’t work that way.

  22. sharkjack says

    The episode counter on godless bitches goes from 2.10 to 2.12, skipping the ‘lost episode’. In 2.12 it gets joked about quite a bit and I thought you were making a reference to that, but that wasn’t the case.

    Yay for reboot of non-prophets btw, I’m going to check that out right now.

  23. SpazFreak says

    I gotta say I was soooooo happy to hear that you guys finally recorded another non prophets, of the 3 shows it’s definately my favorite, but did anyone else have a bit of trouble following jeff in his free will rant. I mean I got the genral jist of what he was saying and all, but it was more of a WHY did he go on and on when he hadn’t read sam harris’s book and matt had to keep saying, “that’s not at all what he’s saying, I have the book”. I found myself yelling at my computer screen half way through going, “jeff. Just stop man…go read his book..THEN talk about it!!” Don’t get me wrong I love jeff dee, and I wish he would comeback more often, but I just felt after like the 5th time matt had to say, “that’s not what harris’s is saying” jeff should have just been like ok maybe I should stop, and read the book before I continue to make my arguement. But anyways enough critisim, glad to have the nonprophets back and I look forward to your next show

  24. says

    “ok maybe I should stop, and read the book before I continue to make my arguement”

    It’d be nice if people were that way about books generally.

    But they’re generally not.

  25. jacobfromlost says

    A couple of points.

    The idea that it is futile to try to argue someone out of faith-based beliefs is false. It may not seem to work much of the time, and if we make that a goal for every single person we argue with we may drive ourselves crazy, but it is NOT futile. We have many examples of people who dropped faith-based beliefs in large part by engaging in debate with others (some of the hosts of the show, for example). Moreover, if it were impossible to drop faith based belief in the face of argumentation, I see no case that can be made to explain learning in any capacity. People do learn all the time, and very often they MUST drop erroneous beliefs to do so.

    And secondly (and separately), a guy named “hierophant” in the chatroom claimed to be an “antinatalist”. Apparently that’s an umbrella term for those who think humans are having too many kids and should either have fewer and fewer for the good of humanity (on the mild end), or (on the extreme) none at all. There is apparently a “Voluntary Human Extinction Movement”. I wonder how they get everyone to volunteer? So far I guess they haven’t. (Hierophant was somewhere on the mild end, so if you are here don’t accuse me of strawmanning your position.)

  26. MichaelD says

    Agreed. Any response from Sam Harris about compatabalistic freewill probably includes the idea that you also read the book.

  27. says

    “The idea that it is futile to try to argue someone out of faith-based beliefs is false.”

    Okay, maybe it’s not futile. Futile or not, I don’t want to do it any more. I’m soooo glad I stopped. I can hear the birds singing and smell the flowers again. Life is good.

    But just because I (and Nietzsche and a few others) got tired of it doesn’t mean everybody has to stop. Perhaps we can agree that the atheist movement has gotten big enough to allow for — or maybe even profit from — some division of labor? You keep debating the flock if you want to, and I’ll continue to examine and analyze the history of various religions.

  28. Max Entropy says

    I can think of at least two reasons why Jeff did not read Sam Harris’ book before the discussion. Either he has no free will or he has no free copy of the book.

  29. jacobfromlost says

    I don’t debate them in order to change their minds. That’s just a possible (positive) side effect of any debate. The only reason to debate people who you think hold an weak or illogical intractable position is to strengthen your own understanding AND the understanding of people who are silently watching–people who haven’t really thought about the issues at all. If the only reason you argue with others is for the goal of changing their minds, you’ve set yourself up for failure and artificially limited your perception of your influence.

    There is a happy medium between silence and continual arguing. (It’s also fun to bounce back and forth from completely silence to continual arguing, lol. That’s usually what I do. Still, my continual arguing phases are just for my own understanding, and the fun of sharpening my own wits.)

  30. KK_Me says

    At first I thought that atheist caller was a theist pretenting, just to get the hosts to say something that’d make atheists/m look bad. It took me a while after the call to realize that maybe there really are people who found their way out of belief but still didn’t ask themselves the essential questions about morality.
    I always assumed that the morality issue got addressed before leaving religion.

  31. MarkB says

    Its also important to show those who have insulated themselves and their beliefs from criticism that there are responses to their claims and that their arguments are weak. Also, as I’ve heard from the show(s), people who argue forcefully at first sometimes just need to think about it for awhile, then they actually might come around.

  32. says

    Okay, okay, fine! But do we ALL have to? Do I not get shown the secret handshake if I don’t argue with believers any more? Does no-one want to get back to me about my point about division of labor?

  33. jacobfromlost says


    No one says you have to do anything you don’t want to do. Just know that if ever you want to enter an argument against believers, we’ll have your back. (Not to send you on a guilt trip or anything, lol.)

  34. says

    To Ida from North Port, FL.
    I just wanted to let you know, that you’re not the only person in North Port whose an Atheist.
    If you want someone to talk to, you can contact me on facebook.

  35. Drivebyposter says

    Maybe atheists need some sort of secret symbol or something so we can identify each other without outing ourselves.
    Or maybe I’ve been reading about espionage too much.

  36. says


    “Just know that if ever you want to enter an argument against believers, we’ll have your back.”

    Good to know, and thank you. Really. And it’s not that I never argue with believers. I just no longer find it necessary — for myself personally — to go into nearly as much detail as I used to. Most of the time, in my opinion, something like “This argument was over centuries ago and you lost” is more than sufficient. For me.

    I’m not trying to stop any of you from doing what you want to do, either. But I’m going to stay with my position saying that there is more than one way to skin a cat, and that division of labor, different people assuming different roles, can be productive for a group. I can be — excuse me, I am of some use to the atheist movement without ever debating anybody over questions like “Does God Exist?” (I don’t consider answering the question thusly: “Uh, no, Numbnuts!” to be debating, and I assume most of you don’t either.)

  37. says

    Out yrself, I say! Git out!!

    Well, come to think of it, I don’t actually say that. I’m thinking in particular of one high-ranked clergyman I’ve known for decades now, who’s always struck me as much too sensible to actually take any of the voodoo seriously. (Much like the Bad Popes of the Renaissance.) I’ve never challenged him to publicly renounce his faith, or tried to out him as a possible atheist.


  38. MichaelD says

    I can’t speak for the ACA library but there’s a copy circulating the austin public library.

  39. Cathern Locorriere says

    Skype is great but u can connect to more people quicker that skyping people individually and msn is crap