AE 771 Open Thread

Godparents, abiogenesis, resurrection, redefining words, and outing ourselves to political leaders. Have at it!

Reminder – no show next week! We don’t get the studio on a fifth Sunday of the month.


  1. annabucci says

    That one idiot “Do you know what protein is?” and then there’s “oh, I thought all the animals who’ve ever died made fossils”. WTF?

    And then there’s the “I don’t know what hold means” guy.

    I would’ve called in so you’d have some intelligent conversation, but I couldn’t think of anything to ask. bleh

  2. says

    Matt mentioned Shockofgod in the last few seconds before the stream cut off. Were you expecting him to call? I don’t think I’d have enjoyed that, because he only ever has one thing to say.

  3. danielimms says

    I found the most enjoyable call this week for me was the ‘what’s hold?’ guy. Seems like Matt was having a bit of fun with him too.
    So much anger in him.

  4. annabucci says

    For godparents, I think I would turn it down if someone asked me, cause it’s not part of my faith. I like the idea of mentor though, that’s a good idea.

  5. Randy says

    Hold guy? Instant classic. I don’t understand how someone can filibuster like that without taking a breath and noticing how long they’ve been blathering. They’re not there to listen or to learn, so all you can do is hang up on them. B’bye! Which part don’t you understand? The “b'” or the “bye?”

  6. Jay says

    Several biker gangs and even racist organizations have donated money, food, etc. In fact during Hurricane Katrina a famous racist nazi girl band [they arent racist anymore they were forced into it by their mother.] donated food and water demanding that it only go to help white people, only a very few actually took the donation.

    That idiot’s argument would be like comparing biker gangs who donate or the KKK donating food to the police or government.

    We don’t need biker gangs, the KKK, or the catholic church to be able to donate.

    We DO need a system to keep the laws respected and that is a HUGE difference.

  7. Jason Rebelato says

    Great point Jay, just as it’s been said before, I’m sure Ted Bundy did nice things too, it doesn’t make him a nice person.

  8. Jay says

    Ironic since I’ve been studying serial killers, mass murderers, and cults for about 6 years. I find it a very fascinating subject. Ted Bundy did do a lot of good things such as he once saved a little boy from drowning. It was a friend’s son. Ted also once chased down a purse snatcher, and he also was a law student who wrote a pamphlet about rapist and their victims. Within that pamphlet he wrote he told women how to protect them selves from being raped and he wrote the state’s crime laws. He also saved probably hundreds of lifes when he volunteered at a suicide hotline where he met a women named Ann Rule who would later write a book about Ted Bundy. So yes Ted Bundy did a lot of good for society, even saved people’s lifes but he also brutally killed 34 women and a 12 year old girl. Gacy another serial killer also did a lot of good things and was well liked by his community he even won Man of the year TWICE and even got his picture taken with the first Lady Rosalyn Carter, he also helped to get sex education taught at the local schools, unlike Ted who was a republican Gacy was a democrat.

    I absolutely loved Stephen Fry’s response in the “Is the catholic church a force for good” debate where he said “its like a criminal who says “well you talk about this burglary, and this burglary….you never mention the time I bought my grandmother a birthday present.”

    The argument that the catholic church is a force for good is just absurd. I want the pope arrested for crimes against humanity and I am GLAD that Matt told that caller to go F*** him self.

  9. Lio says

    Jen (& AETV),

    I have never come across the term ‘Mentor’ in stead of godfarther before. Is it popular anywhere? Because i have come acros the term ‘Guardian’ as a subdtitute (both as legal guardian and as a replacement term for godfather). (And it came up in the chatroom during the show).

    Would you have a reason to pick one over the other? Do you think it is better to have multiple terms or strive to get one as a defacto replacement term? And why?

    Thanks in advance.

  10. Anthony Crumley says

    When I watch the show on ustream the speakers just don’t turn up high enough to hear some episodes… this was one of them. Actually I could hear it better than some past episodes. Thank you atheist experience! this is the best show.

  11. Karl Otterson says

    Just listened to the abiogenesis guy, and wanted to point out the false equivalency. He claims and Matt seemed to agree near the end that if there is a scientific basis for life’s building blocks coming from non living material that there could also be a basis for living things dying and then returning to life. While technically those are both possible, they don’t make for a valid comparison because of the relative difficulties of the pathways to success.

    An analogy: I can make a sandwich from bread and cheese and sliced turkey and so forth. Easy peasy

    I could also eat that sandwich, digest it for a while, vomit it back up, and still have everything I need to remake the sandwich.

    Perhaps it is obvious why these are not comparably difficult?


  12. terrycollins says

    Until recently a baptismal certificate in Quebec WAS equivalent to a birth certificate. I wasn’t issued a birth certificate until years later as an adult when I needed a passport. Jen is technically correct about about the religious duties of the godparents and guardianship of children, but Catholic godparents are also supposed to lookout for the welfare of the child whether or not the parents are alive. Usually, this just means extra presents at Christmas and birthdays, but in case of tragedy, god parents are the favored, if not automatic, choice for new guardians.

  13. John Kruger says

    I thought the whole “Do you understand what hold is?” thing was a bit campy, but I was amused at how angry that caller got. By demanding to be allowed to state his whole argument he might as well have been saying “How dare you crush my argument on the first premise?!” or even “How can I gish gallop if you force me to defend my first bad assumption!?” I am not sure how he could not understand that if any premise is faulty the whole argument is trashed. Kudos for not putting up with that crap.

  14. thebuachaill says

    I’m not sure why Jen would be “technically correct”, rather than simply “correct”. Jen clearly researched and listed for us the expectations from each denomination for the role of godparent. The question then is whether the family of the one being baptized are both aware of their religions expectations and go along with them as expectations for the person they are asking to be godparent.
    Your point about the godparent “supposed” to look out for the welfare of the child re. Christmas and Birthdays is more likely a question of convention and personal expectation of a family, rather than a particular religions requirement for the godparent.
    And as Jen also pointed out, regardless of convention or personal agreement, custody of children does not automatically fall to godparents; as a matter of law.

    Jen covered all of these points. So if she is “technically correct”, does that make you technically incorrect, or correct in a non-technical way? 🙂

  15. thebuachaill says

    Just to comment that I found the topic of godparents very interesting to listen to, and particularly Matt’s observation of how that might be a way to lead someone into coming out.

    It was a similar situation I encountered earlier this year, and was a very natural opportunity to mention my atheism to a family member. The baptism event itself was viewed as much more a cultural and traditional event rather than a religious one, and I was happy to participate so long as my family understood what the occasion meant to me, that I wasn’t deceiving anyone [bar the local priest], and no one in the family expected me to pass on any religious teachings to the child later on.

    In fact the only stipulation made of me in advance, was not to drink too many beers and sit next to the priest at the dinner party afterwards. The opportunity for debate and divilment would have been too much for me to resist.

  16. koliedrus says

    Sue has a special place in our family. When she was within viewing distance, my son begged and pleaded to go see her as if she were her favorite performer.

    His eyes were wide and his mouth was agape during the entire visit. He insisted on purchasing a stuffed, plush replica so that he could take her home.

    That was 4 years ago when he was 8.

    I’ve just asked him about her (the plush that he still adores).

    He told me that the stuffed version reminds him of the skeleton he saw. That, it turn, reminds him of the real bones she used to have instead of the fossils he saw which reminds him of the living creature she once was, the millions of years that have passed since she was alive and the tiny mammals that survived to evolve into creatures with the ability to see the past by studying fossils.

    Me: “So, you love Sue? (the plush)”
    Him: “Duh.”
    Me: “Okay, I know. But why?”
    Him: “You know how still love the flying squirrel you had when you were a kid?”
    Me: “Um, yeah…”
    Him: “Feel it now?”
    Me: “…yeah.”
    Him: “Love is bigger than Time.”
    Me: “Shit! I need to write this down…”

    Keep in mind that forts from the American Revolution are also archaeological dig sites. You won’t find many fossils but you WILL have to get your hands dirty, your sweat pouring and your head out of your nethers to piece together what really happened in the past.

    When my son sleeps, he still hugs Sue. In doing so, he’s expressing Love over Time.

    I get it.

  17. koliedrus says

    My kids were baptized in much the same manner!

    Perhaps the ritual has been burned into our minds to exist next to, “come to a complete stop before proceeding through the intersection”.

    I’m glad I’m at a point where I can advise them on the relative importance between the two.

  18. Kol says

    No kidding, that one deserves attention.

    I suggest inviting him to a Hangout.

    Let’s see what he has to use as testimony before the fact.

  19. terrycollins says

    > I’m not sure why Jen would be “technically correct”, rather than simply “correct”.

    Because, at least over here, the religious duties of catholic godparents doesn’t go much past the baptism itself, regardless of church cannon. Jen is right about what the duties are on paper, but does not mention what it means in practice.

    > custody of children does not automatically fall to godparents; as a matter of law.

    Automatically, no. Extra consideration, yes. As I mentioned, the baptismal certificate was a legal document until recently. The traditional role still remains in place for many Quebecers.

  20. JamesM says

    I’m ashamed to say that I had to turn the stream off at that point and go do something else. That utter lack understanding was too obnoxious and too grating. A relatively simple replicator emerging out of a set of conditions is not the same as reversing the irreversable apoptosis of human brain cells. Holy fuck that guy made me feel really punchy.

  21. annabucci says

    No one cares what I believe, or why I believe. It’d be boring. It would look like I’m trying to advertise my religion, or proselytize.

  22. LawnBoy says

    My sister asked me to be the godfather for her second child. I made sure in advance that she knew I didn’t believe, but she wanted to go ahead anyway. So, as long as she thought of it as only an honorific, I was ok to do it.

  23. Karl Otterson says

    Glad to know it wasn’t just me. That seems blindingly obvious, and I’m not even a life sciences guy, I studied physics. For all that they prattle on about thermodynamics, they really don’t have the slightest idea what it really entails, do they? Cheers, James for making me feel in good company.

  24. thebuachaill says

    Jen is right about what the duties are on paper, but does not mention what it means in practice.

    This is not correct. Jen outlines the official requirements but also mentions the actual expectations; and recommends having a conversation with the people asking you to be a god parent to clarify those expectations.

    I think you’re also missing the point, which is how should Atheists approach the invitation to be a godparent. If you don’t even meet the duties on paper, say being an active Catholic, then in practice all that matters is what the expectations of the family are. Maybe they’re content to ignore the official requirements, and specifically want someone of your character as a general mentor for their child.

    In fact both Jen and Matt both discussed this. So they both covered the aspects you’re claiming Jen overlooked. Sorry if I appear pedantic, but I dislike people throwing about this label “technically correct” as if to suggest someone is partly wrong because of omission, or that they’re missing the bigger picture, and clearly in this case Jen is not.

  25. thebuachaill says

    Yea I think certainly on the face of it there is more of a traditional rite of passage rather than a religious one associated with baptisms in many cases; in Ireland at least. This is evidenced by the fact that along with weddings and funerals it’s the only time most so-called Catholics enter a Church.

    That said, and so as not to underestimate the corrupting power of religions, I’d also expect there would be an underlying sense of religiously-indoctrinated guilt for most of the same people if they were to consider skipping the event.

  26. Muz says

    What did you have to do?
    As mentioned, in some churches you have to stand there and affirm you will help keep the child faithful while they pour water on its head.
    I take it that wasn’t the case here.

  27. LawnBoy says

    IIRC, I had to mouth words saying that I would keep the child faithful during the service, but I clarified with my sister in advance that it wasn’t actually her expectation.

    So, I lied in church. Not the best thing to do, but I considered it an acceptable ethical compromise to keep peace in the family.

    I had to do the same thing when my children were baptised (my wife is religious). Though those times I tried to make sure I had a child in front of my face so I could keep my mouth shut without anyone noticing.

  28. annabucci says

    They ask because they’re trying to argue with me about, trying to find some flaw in my reasoning. Or they think it’s weird and they’re curious. Or they trying to figure out if I’m pretending/trolling. No one here actually cares.

  29. says

    The thing about the Catholic Church issue I don’t get is, why should it matter whether or not the church has done good? Is it not a core tenant of Christianity that doing good cannot cancel out acts of evil, and a single sin in enough to condemn a person for eternity. So why doesn’t the Catholic Church live up to the same standard it holds everyone else up to?

  30. Muz says

    Catholicism’s not that severe usually. If you go and confess and and do your penance usually you’re good to go.
    Presumably all the child molestereses and those charged with ‘dealing with them’ did this and the church figured the rest of the world wouldn’t be quite so understanding and kept it quiet.

  31. Muz says

    Hah. It’s funny, it has the flavour of an ethical conundrum to me but it’s not really if the important people concerned are aware and fine with it (namely sis).

  32. Aaron says

    Trying to redefine what is meant by “soul” points to a common problem in critical thinking: namely, they buy into the baggage without unpacking it first for critical examination.

    Why try to redefine souls when it’s much more effective to point out that the existence (or not) of deities is superfluous to the existence (or not) of afterlives? When a theist says (in flowerly language) they want to believe in a deity because they want to live forever as a way of calming their fear of death, it is far more effective for the long-term goal of getting them out of it, to show them that there are far more possibilities than the “god plus afterlife; or no god with no afterlife” false dichotomy peddled by religions:

    > Deity exists, afterlife exists, deity has nothing to do with afterlife
    > No deity exists but there’s an afterlife (such as New Age beliefs)
    > Deity exists, but didn’t invent an afterlife
    > No deity exists, and there’s no afterlife either
    > Deity exists, invented afterlife but doesn’t set rules about ‘who gets in’ meaning your belief (or not) is irrelevant
    > Deity exists, didn’t invent afterlife but controls who gets in and only allows in people who didn’t think deities existed
    > An afterlife exists (with or without a deity) but is limited and thus you die again in the afterlife
    > This is the afterlife and you simply don’t remember your “life” and you’ll die shortly (permanently) anyway while busy worrying about the “afterlife”

    The point being, that the possible existence of a deity in no way suggests there’s an afterlife; the possibility of an afterlife doesn’t demand a particular brand of deity; and the possibility of an afterlife in no way means you’ll live forever anyway.

    It’s much more effective to point to a vast range of possibilities and then ask “What possibility do you believe, and do you have a reason that you believe that option… that doesn’t come down to wishful thinking?”

  33. wingstx says

    I have a suggestion for the show — maybe it’s been tried before, I don’t know.

    Would it be possible to coordinate with theists ahead of time so that the show will have more (or all) theist callers? Presumably you get emails from theists all the time — why not schedule some calls?

    Like many listeners, I suppose, I roll my eyes when the next caller turns out to be another atheist saying “good job” or whatnot. I usually skip ahead because it’s unlikely to be interesting. It’s cringeworthy listening to the kind of remote fellatio performed by some atheist callers. Not that AXP doesn’t deserve it, but I get the feeling that it’s as awkward for the AXP hosts as it is for listeners.

  34. says

    Well, we’ve addressed this a million times, and will likely have to address it a million more. But we cannot control who calls. We do try to prioritize theist calls when they come in, and for the most part, I think our atheist viewers know not to call in if they just want to give us kudos. By all means, if you know some theists who might enjoy talking to us, encourage them to do so!

  35. 1415dr says

    Great point. I’m having a lot of debates with my wife right now on whether and atheist can be a good person. She says that without God I’ll end up being a serial killer or something. She can’t point out anything bad I’ve ever done in 10 years of marraige except getting impatient in traffic and hiding Pepsi in the garage when I was on a diet, but she thinks that now that I’m an atheist it makes me evil. I point out time and again how many crimes are committed by dedicated believers, and she just shrugs and says “they do a lot of good too.” If my little foibles condemn me to Hell, why do thier occassional acts of charity redeem them?

  36. mike says

    “a lot of debates’ ?! How many debates do you need to convince your own wife that you are still a good person and not a serial killer? lol
    Good luck with your marriage, you’re gunna need it.

  37. Tina S says

    Then talk or stop commenting. What do you believe and why? If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen….

  38. says

    Greetings from Norway. I stumbled upon some of your videos on YouTube and I am left with a fairly simple question: Where are the intellectual christians in your show?

    Yeah, we can all crush the average joe in a debate easily enough. By and large I expect that would be fairly easy in almost any subject, given you appear quite well versed in logic, critical thought and… Well, language. The average joe is none of those.
    It is painfully obvious that you run circles around them intellectually, mostly without any effort whatsoever. But it seems to me that when you have callers the people you get are the average southern US christians without much of an education on the issue, and… Well, internationally they have a ‘bad rep’ shall we say. Goodness gracious, as far as I understand Evolution is somehow a major deal, it very often isn’t in churches outside the states (Unless they have heavy US influence). In addition it seems very few have offered up a single thought to why they believe, and whether their faith actually has merit.

    So what I wonder is, have you ever – or do you plan to – interview and debate some ‘heavy hitters’ on your show? The Norwegian Christian newspaper Vårt Land did that, they made a video clip of an atheist whom they brought around to theologians and historians discussing the subject of christianity. And unlike what I expect you’ll find as the norm in the states this was done respectfully and with dignity. The result was giving. And I expect if you had only known the tiny frost-covered language that is Norwegian you’d appreciate it as well.

    So, my challenge/request is: Could you please take on someone of substance. A man or woman who is well educated, well endowed intellectually speaking and still a believer? From a sensible place preferrably. Oxford for example. Skip the radical extremist groups such as Bob Jones “university” – they won’t offer much of a challenge I expect – and find someone decent if you can. I would LOVE to see a “fair fight” so to speak.


  39. says

    We’ll take calls from anybody, and if any of these alleged Christian intellectual heavyweights wishes to engage us, we’re wide open to it. We’ve devoted shows to such posers as Ray Comfort and Matt Slick, and people always ask us about William Lane Craig (who refuses to debate anyone without a Ph.D, I imagine because it would be very embarrassing to him to have his apologetics dismantled by a layman). On the public debate circuit, Matt has debated ministers.

    So if there’s anyone in particular you’d like to see us take on, please let us know, or get in touch with them yourself and encourage them to contact us.

  40. mu says

    I think an opportunity was missed to make abiogenesis guy change his argument.

    He claimed an equivalency between abiogenesis and the resurrection of Jesus. He also claimed that abiogenesis was impossible, I think it could have been pointed out that by his argument, the resurrection of Jesus is also impossible.

  41. says

    Nibiru is the reptilian deathstar hiding under a holographic image of a moon. The proof is found in this video. We will be ‘caught up’ on Dec.22-2012 at 11:11am GMT . Don’t be afraid, you are an eternal being, a ray of Source (UnconditionalLove/DivineIntelligence)./watch?v=gfPD5pEop2w

  42. Mario says

    I’d like to premise this by saying that the topic I’d like to discuss is completely unrelated to this video. I’m only posting it here because it’s the most recent, so I’m guessing it has a better chance of being viewed. I hope I’m not breaking any rules, and I apologize if that’s the case.

    Who is the holder of the burden of proof? Is it still the person asserting a claim if the alternative is also unsubstantiated? Can both parties be the holder of the burden of proof?


    In the 1939 film The Wizard of Oz, there’s a scene where a body can supposedly be seen hanging from a tree branch. Almost seventy years later there’s a documentary that debunks this claim by anaylzing the footage. They come to the conclusion that it was a bird. At the same time, there are a number of people that claim that the footage was unmistakably edited and was nowhere close to the original. The original VHS (supposedly) is posted on YouTube around the time of these claims, where you can clearly see it’s a body (or at the very least, not a bird). One thing everyone can assess for themselves are the two footages are nowhere near similar. One of them had to be tapered with, so what makes the claim that it was a suicidal midget (lol) the conspiracy and not the bird?

  43. Karl Hartman says

    189 – Situations that can mimic death
    *Drug overdose (drugs like opioids, tricyclic antidepressants, barbiturates, alcohol and anaesthetic agents)
    *Near drowning, cold water immersion
    *Severe hypoglycemia
    *Severe hepatic encephalopathy
    *Myxedema coma
    *Severe catatonic state

    Looking dead, has historically been, a fairly common problem. There is no reason what so ever to assume it is supernatural.

  44. crocaduck says

    I posted my comments in response to this youtube, ‘Brilliant Christian caller destroys Atheist experience show EPIC.’ and thought to add it here. The youtube is an excerpt from this episode and caller is Micah.

    Micah didn’t ‘get’ or stump the atheists at all. Matt’s answer is a typical scientific response. If the resurrection did happen, one can’t therefore conclude that supernatural forces were at work. One needs more evidence to determine whether said ressurection is true or not. Secondly, the strength of the recorded account of this rather extraordinary event is very scant–in spite of all the apologists purported historical evidence. Hume’s dictum is in order here. What is more likely? That a human was dead for three days but somehow reversed the 2nd law of thermodynamics and restored cell integrity and his heart, breathing and brain jump starting itself; or that the story was either a misapprehension or a real death occurred–but the event underwent a major embellishment via word of mouth over time.

    In a similar way, if someone’s cancer goes into remission and some Christians were praying for this person at the time, one cannot conclude that God answered their prays and caused the remission. The remission could of happened on its own–independent of the prayers. Cancer specialists just wouldn’t know what caused the remission. They would probably require more evidence and knowledge of the body’s workings to offer a conclusion.

    There is no real similarity between abiogenesis and some dead human’s trillion cells’ integrity and function being restored. In abiogenesis, all the components for a living cell could be put together in stages: RNA, lipid enclosures, basic metabolism, etc. and there would be lots of time and lots of different favourable conditions for this to occur in. Also, these building blocks of life were already in place eons ago. The resurrection on the other hand, has to reverse a trillion destroyed cells and stopped chemical reactions and jump start the heart, lungs and brain. It would be like having all the smashed china from a million china shops with bulls in them somehow self-reassembling. How could this possibly happen? And note that this example is way simpler than a trillion-cell, 3-day old dead human.

  45. noirepiphone says

    Several howlers on this show:

    1.) The caller that was desperately trying to forge (as in “fake”) a consensus regarding the alleged resurrection of Jesus claimed that we’ve never seen anything like it in the natural world. Doesn’t that assumption turn a blind eye to cases of so-called “Lazarus Syndrome?” There are apparently many cases where people have been (mistakenly) declared dead.

    Aside from that, are there not other animals that enter states (hibernation/aestivation) virtually indistinguishable from death and then revive? I’m thinking of at least one species of fish that hibernates in the mud of dried up bodies of water.
    2.) “… the once-great poet Axl Rose …”

    It’s doesn’t seem at all accurate to say that we’ve seen nothing akin to the resurrection. In fact, people are erroneously declared dead from time to time. It even happens in our own era of modern medicine. What must it have been like in ancient Palestine?

    And Axl Rose a poet? Harrumph!