Open Thread on TAE 767/NPR 11.7

Lots of theist callers on the TV show yesterday.  Matt was in “a mood.”

This Non-Prophets and the previous one have been done as Google Hangout videos. We intend that they’ll find their way to the podcast as audio eventually, but for now you might want to subscribe to Matt’s YouTube feed if you’re keeping an eye out for new shows. We’ve been scheduling them for Thursday Tuesday nights, since we don’t all have to be physically together. Keep an eye on the Non-Prophets chat room and the Atheist Experience Facebook page this Thursday to catch advance warning of how to watch the stream when it’s live.


  1. says

    The difference between citing the Bible and citing a website is that the Bible is being cited as the source of the knowledge, whereas the website is a reference, and the actual source of knowledge is evidence-based investigation.

    Of course that guy isn’t going to bother looking up the discrepancies between Genesis and scientific knowledge.

    It’s funny how the basis of his argument was that the Bible agrees with science, therefore we should trust it, but when pointed out that science doesn’t agree with the Bible, that’s because science is wrong/biased.

  2. says

    There does appear to be a higher frequency of creationist callers with their own particular “knock down argument” these days. Wouldn’t be surprised if it all goes back to a particular website or forum. You seem to be getting more “look at the flagellum” style arguments rather than the usual “look at the trees/sky/world” arguments of yesteryear. The only difference is that the ID style arguments are so tedious to listen to, so hanging up was a good call.

    As for “You’re not allowed to go on the internet!” guy, I’m not sure if he was a hoax or not, but if not I wonder if he goes round to other peoples’ houses and tells them that they’re not allowed to wear outdoor shoes when indoors?

  3. ledwhofloyd says

    About the non-prophets:

    The video is awesome; you should keep it.

    I do think that you guys should be physically in the same room to get that trademark “non-prophets” atmosphere. Of course, it’s your decision and it’s still better than no show.

    Also, where is Schilling – his contrary opinions bring the show from the level of awesome to the level of extraordinary.

  4. alt+3 says

    Oooh, new non-prophets. It’s been a while. I’m pretty sure on the last episode they questioned Jesus’ divinity, to his face.

  5. curtcameron says

    I appreciate the new NP episode, but if you’re doing a video hangout, I’d vote for making the audio version available as well. I’m always surprised that there are actually people who prefer the video version – when do y’all have time to sit in front of your computer for an hour or more watching a video? You must not be married or have kids!

    But I have a fair amount of time that I can use to listen to audio – working out, commutes, lunch time, cleaning the house, etc.

    Audio is just so much more practical. By the way, I frequently use the web site to convert YouTube videos to audio-only. It’s free and does a good job. I just think there are lots of people who would want the audio and if you could provide it for everyone, it would be appreciated.

  6. jehk says

    I was rolling with laughter at Tracy’s gasp when the word feminist was used.

    Also, woohoo. More Non-Prophets.

  7. LawnBoy says

    I really like Duelity for people like the first caller. It shows two stories, the Biblical Creation story told as though it was a scientific report and the scientific story told as though it were religious revelation.

    Among other things, it shows how different Genesis would be if it were accurately describing what happened.

  8. says

    On Non-Prophets. We’re recording the audio and will get it out. I’m having a minor technical problem…and I’ve been busy.

    On this particular episode:

    It wasn’t my best. It may have even been one of my worst, but I’m really not the one to decide that. I dislocated my shoulder on Saturday and I’m still in pain. That contributed to my mood, but I should have done a better job of recognizing that and will try to do so in the future.

    That said, I don’t feel terrible about that first call – because we desperately tried to explain why his chose subject wasn’t welcome and was only a waste of time.

    Suffice it to say, I spent most of last night recognizing many of the different ways that I could have responded to both calls – so something positive came out of it.

  9. jehk says

    I thought it was entertaining. In general, the atheists that watch your show are a lot less patient then the hosts. Seeing your disposition align closer to the audience was entertaining.

    Also, thanks for posting the link “Of Dogs and Lizards” in thunderf00t’s thread. It’s really helped inform this sled dog.

  10. Adam says

    I think the approach Matt used with the ‘evolution’ argument should be standard.

    Getting into technical arguments about evolution is completely irrelevant to whether a god exists, it just wastes show time and the hosts are not experts.

    The same goes for ‘same sex marriage’ and the host of other issues which are completely unrelated to atheism and whether a god exists.

  11. jehk says

    I’m all for rational even-tempered debate. However, its great seeing someone rip into an idiot once in awhile. It sends a warning to other would be idiots imo.

  12. Pooptickler says

    I heard that the asshole caller on this one was Caiden Cowger. Can I get this confirmed?

  13. sharkjack says

    I agree about the evolution part, but on the same sex marriage not so much. Unlike evolution, where the discussion is based on disagreement on facts that neither party is sufficiently informed, same sex marriage discussions are often about values and how you determine the morality of actions. The ‘evolved’ atheist was one of the callers who wanted same sex marriage to stay illegal due to the way marriage had been classically defined. Discussions with him tended to get bogged down in semantics, with such classics as gay schmarriage and homophobes don’t fear gays, but they also showed one of the driving forces behind the opposition of same sex marriage. People generally really like things to stay the way they are, especcially when they’re outside their own control. Of course the idea that words have absolute meaning is enforced by churches, even if they aren’t necessarily fundamentalist.

    But yeah, not every conversation needs to be about the existance of god(s) and reasons to believe them.
    Same sex marriage, seperation of church and state and even feminism are all perfectly fine discussion topics. Part of the idea of the atheist experience is to provide atheist viewpoints on these and other issues. They’re not irrelevant (I know they are irrelevant to if a god exists and that that is what you were saying with irrelevant, but you implied it in a bigger sense, so I feel justified in saying this.)

  14. Minus says

    I think it is amusing, when people refer, or rely on, the Genesis creation story to ask them which creation story they are referring to. Many bible readers never notice that Genesis 1 and Genesis 2 tell different stories.

  15. Tomasz R. says

    Holy books have no equations, and equations are what describes what happens in the world. This conclusively proves they don’t describe how nature works or worked in the past.

  16. MichaelD says

    A lot of people like to use the its not a religion its a way of life. Christians, Hindus, Buddhists. I’d totally call it a religion whether or not they have gods as they have doctrines beliefs etc.

  17. Mike says

    Re: the latest The Atheist Experience. Matt, I’m not sure you convinced anyone in the creationist camp, but I did laugh my ass off.

  18. mmorten says

    honestly over the last few weeks the challenges to evolution seemed like people playing games and not really looking for a real discussions, it was fairly cathartic to hear you not take that stuff.

  19. Tomasz R. says

    Many people don’t recognize the difference between a belief or knownledge of something being a conclusion rather than a preasumption.

    Perhaps thats because of the influence of religion, which is a bunch of preasumptions, that are pushed on believers? So they think that evolution or cosmology is the same: some scientists invented an ideology, made apologetics for it (things that are in science papers), and are prolysterizing.

    Ateism can (but doesn’t have to) be a conclusion too. Thinking about the contents of religions leads to it.

  20. Muzz says

    I’ve got nothing against the approach with the first guy per se. It’s a good distinction to point out, philosophy v biology etc. But the guy snuck in a good point; if it weren’t for evolution a lot more people would believe in god. So it’s kinda on the table at all times.
    I know no one said it isn’t, but one could think so coming away from that. I also like seeing how far these guys can go. There’s some amazingly complex (seeming) arguments in creationism that do require highly specialised knowledge to debunk. They are so rarely used however, perhaps because they are too hard to understand in the first place, it’s usually the basic nonsense that most could deal with I’m sure.
    You guys can take ’em.

    Of course, bringing these folks together on the show with PZ would really be something too.

  21. Croatian Atheist says

    I think you should adopt a policy of NOT defending science and specifically NOT defending the theory of evolution at all, and return to “what do YOU believe and why”. You should be exposing weaknesses of religious claims, not defending well established scientific theories.

  22. says

    A lot of theists (or at least a lot of those that argue on the internet and on call-in shows) seem not to understand the notion of the false dilemma. They take the approach that either evolution is true or their entire biblical world view is. If they can poke holes in evolution then the whole bible from talking snakes to end times is all true.

    The way I’ve explained this fallacy to my sons (and maybe an approach to take with callers) is for them to imagine that one guy, Albert, says that 3+3=5. Bob then says, “No, no… 3+3=7. Clear as day”. I asked my kids, “If Albert is able to prove that Bob is wrong, does that make Albert right?”

    The four year old said, “No… because they were BOTH wrong.”

    The four-year-old, people.

  23. Alan says

    …or at the very least try to ascertain the credentials of the person attacking conventional science. The minute someone spouts off about quantum theory or evolutionary biology the caller must be a physicist or biologist otherwise, “de facto” they don’t know what they are talking about.

  24. DanTheMilkMan says

    I think there’s a concentrated effort to make the show less entertaining. It’s why we’re getting these yahoos intent on discussing fruit flies, evolution, and moral absolutes. If they can get the hosts bogged down into word games on the minutia of a boring topic, and refusing to actually discuss their religious beliefs, then maybe people will start to tune out. I think that’s their hope anyway, I don’t think it’s a coincidence that suddenly certain callers won’t deviate from their question, even if it’s been answered.

  25. terrycollins says

    “…if it weren’t for evolution a lot more people would believe in god. So it’s kinda on the table at all times.”

    If it weren’t for real medicines a lot more people would buy my snake oil. But the absence of medicines says nothing about how effective the snake oil is. Arguments from ignorance never belong on the table.

  26. Muz says

    What are you saying; that creationism does not underpin a lot of people’s faith in god just because it’s (ultimately) an argument from ignorance? Or people’s reasons for believing aren’t to be much discussed unless they can convince the hosts? Well they’ll certainly get more calls in that way.
    The concept of god typically defies logic and reason in the first place. You think boilerplate rebuttals are going to have a great deal of impact? Sometimes, sure Others; the notion that everything they ever knew about the natural world is wrong can really shake things up.

  27. Kol says

    You GENIUS!

    If religious websites/forums are banding together to attack the mean ol atheists, Hell Yeah! That’s why AXP has four of five incoming phone lines dedicated for theists!

    Let’s be honest. The show is WAAAYYY better when it’s “Set ’em up & knock ’em down” (AKA “PULL!…BOOM!”)than “Long Time Listener, First Time Caller, Love You, Love Your Show” stuff.

    Don’t get me wrong. I love hearing testimonials from people who are shedding superstition in the face of great adversity. Yay Line #1!

    What I’m suggesting is that we KINDLY invite those that we meet on the interwebs during heated debates to have their 15 minutes of fame by calling in. Well, 2 minutes given current time constraints and who is hosting, I suppose. If they get Matt & Tracie, they may as well throw in the towel right after they hear, “Hi”.

    So, yeah! Fill those four lines!

    I may call Line #1 some day to talk about what I’m going through as an ex-catholic married to a converted catholic but not until I think the story is worth telling.

    As for the caller in question, I noticed that he seemed to accept the Big Bang Theory as part of his argument against Evolution. I agree that neither has any relevance in proving the existence of a dogs left testicle. He is apparently unaware that data from the WMAP has some cosmologists calling the Standard Model into question.

    So, if he’s basing his interpretation of Genesis on a widely accepted view of the Universe’s beginning and scientists go, “wait, we were close but it’s looking like THIS instead”, his effort to map a religious document on top of scientific theory turns to shit.

    The guy accepts the Big Bang as fact. It makes sense, sure! It stops being relevant to his argument if it turns out that we’ve detected indications of other universes bumping into this one.

    So, when observations cause a shift of viewpoints based on measurable data, I can be a leaf on the surface of the stream while the sturdy stone slowly erodes.

    4 lines, people!
    Start convincing.

    (This message is not officially sanctioned by those affiliated with AXP and should be recognized as nothing more than a comment made by a viewer -Kol)

  28. Kol says

    Oh, poo on you.

    Cultural Catholics feel just as obligated to gather, chant, perform and dress up as any other organized gang.

    Once in, it’s really hard to get out. Social and emotional pressure are difficult to ignore especially when family members might gasp and consign you to Hell when you admit that you’ve come to the conclusion that the entire mess is bullshit and you want out.

    I’d appreciate it if the difficulties many of us are experiencing would be recognized as being gender-neutral and completely irrelevant in regards to sexual orientation.

    I’m out.
    My kids are free.
    My wife is still in the “gang” but she recognizes that the boss is an asshole. She’ll get an emotional ass-kicking by everyone she has been going to church with.

    That includes her sister, her study group and the hordes of people who ask her why the rest of us aren’t attending the regular “services”.

    If being a Social Catholic is difficult to comprehend, I’m willing to provide personal examples.

  29. terrycollins says

    “that creationism does not underpin a lot of people’s faith in god just because it’s (ultimately) an argument from ignorance?”

    The caller was justifying disproving evolution as a way of keeping more people believing creationism, which Tracie acknowledged would probably be true. But even without evolution, creationism is not supported by any evidence, and the Christian account is not the only competing claim. The caller may as well been calling to disprove the Hindu creation stories. What’s the point of trying to convince the hosts that the theory of evolution is false? They, nor any other skeptic atheist, would automatically start believing in God even if the caller was successful.

    “They take the approach that either evolution is true or their entire biblical world view is. If they can poke holes in evolution then the whole bible from talking snakes to end times is all true.”

    I think perhaps you miss the point of the show. Someone please correct me if I’m wrong, but AE is not on some conversion mission. Believers are free to continue justifying their beliefs however they want to themselves. The hosts of AE though are quite clear though, that they reject god claims because they have not met their burden of proof, not because the theory of evolution exists. It’s also not a science show. The hosts are not interested in giving lectures in biology.

    “The concept of god typically defies logic and reason in the first place. You think boilerplate rebuttals are going to have a great deal of impact? ”

    Again, I don’t think the hosts really care what impact it has on the caller. It’s the caller’s job to convince the hosts of whatever fairy tale they believe in.

  30. Muzz says

    The conversation between host and caller is rarely the main point, no. It’s for the edification of people who are listening, ultimately. In this case I dare say it’s the caller and the host’s goal to spread their point of view. He (caller) wanted to show that faith in god was right because evolution was false (probably by pointing out that there’s things evolution can’t explain in a concrete way yet). Yes, it’s not wrong to point out that this doesn’t make sense in itself. But to many people the apparent impossibility of the natural world is to them evidence for god. They don’t even have to have thought it through all the way back to creationism. Just a vague sense that there is no real explanation and god needs to be there is enough (a sense which someone probably gave to them via creationist stuff in childhood. I’ve known otherwise moderate christians to wave chick tracts and the like under my nose from time to time. Consistency and comprehensiveness in a world view is generally a rare commodity).

    There’s a lot of things that can underpin and reinforce faith. I would suggest all of them are topics for the show by that nature alone.
    This guy wanted to show faith was right because facts about the natural world showed it was so. His logic was wrong, but his facts would have been wrong too and I think addressing those has more impact on anyone confused about these things (and personally I think spreading a greater interest in biology and natural history is better than logic, but I can see argument for both).
    One favourite attack from theists is that atheists have just made a god or a religion of science. The rebuttal is that science doesn’t work like that. It has a chain of evidence that can be followed to an understanding of the facts in a way religion has no interest in. Logic is only part of that.
    This guy a was a bit of a smug so and so and probably deserved a slap, but in general the two pronged assault of logic and the real knowledge shows the strength of the position better than logic alone.

  31. davecampbell says

    I want to make a ring tone of Tracie saying “now I’m here, chained to this atheist chur-urch”.

  32. Jack says

    I just wanted to thank Tracie for her opening comments dealing with people who disassociate from their families because of religion. Just the possibility of being asked or commanded to severe your family, and friends, should be enough reason to make a person question the intent of religion or its validity.

    If I were in love with someone and he suddenly found religion and wanted to separate, I’d would go so far as to kidnap him and hire a psychologist to deprogram him. Fuck the law. I think deprogramming is a damn good counter to these cults of insanity.

    Anyway, thanks again, Tracie. It was evident by your demeanor that you genuinely care about the well-being of people and wanted to help instead of just wanting to be right, which some atheist always seem to be.

    By the way, I haven’t watched the entire show yet, but did anyone bring up Tom and Katie? If not, how about next week? The material, comic and serious, should provide you with hours and hours of air time.

    Keep rocking the boat.


  33. says

    Sorry I’m late commenting on this one, but the people keeping kids from getting polio vaccines aren’t really religiously motivated. That’s politics. Also, can you blame them? If someone keeps blowing up people for being in the vicinity of people they say are bad guys, but never did anything to you and also give you something to inject your kids with, are you seriously going to do it?