Open thread on AETV #775 / NPR 11.12

  • Atheist Experience: Don and Russell talk about the failure of Christian medicine
  • Non-Prophets: We interview Ben after his second year at Camp Quest Texas. (Sorry, the audio version is not up yet.)

Video streaming by Ustream


  1. says

    On the non-prophets episode, you were talking about how you couldn’t have Pat Robertson there because we couldn’t see his face. I also noted (I haven’t really used the system myself) that you can put clown faces or glasses on, and Google Hangouts will track them to your faces.

    Is it possible to add a Pat Robertson face?

  2. says

    about the jehovahs witnesses, their primary problem is organ transplant and blood transfusions. there are blood substitutes that are acceptable, so, it’s not as bad as it used to be. these days there’s research on using gel platforms to make new organs from the persons own cells. they seem to be ok with with saving their own blood in advance of surgeries, cloned organs should be ok too.

  3. John Kruger says

    Sometimes, the hosts just really nail everything.

    Great response to the “time is infinite so everything must happen eventually, including an afterlife” guy. There are infinite sets that do not contain everything. Perfect.

    The last call was priceless. Get the theist to define what a Christian is and then point out that it does not apply to him. It is not every episode a caller gets so thoroughly and directly defeated.

    Didn’t Mother Teresa have an embarrassing crisis of faith around 2007? My memory is fuzzy on that. In any event, I don’t think it was quite the same as the solid reasons skeptical atheists have, but it still kind of puts a damper on canonizing her (or so one would think).

    Anyway, this was one of the best episodes ever, in my opinion.

  4. says

    I was yelling at my screen about the heat death until one of the hosts brought it up.

    Once all potential energy is maxed out, we’re going to be a dark universe of dust and black holes. There will be no potential for anything coming back to life.

    Even if we didn’t have the heat death, let’s say that my friend were to die. How long do I have to sit on a chair, watching him, before he will spring back to life again? I mean, with infinite time, anything is possible, right?

  5. says

    I think a standard response to all cosmological questions should involve pointing out that theoretical physics is complicated, it takes many years of study some of the most difficult mathematics to understand. Asking (brilliant and charismatic) software engineers is not the best place to look for answers.

  6. NH says

    The last caller said Paul was wrong for thinking the second coming would occur soon. I was sitter here thinking… What about Jesus?

    According to the bible, Jesus said:

    “Verily I say unto you, There be some standing here, which shall not taste of death, till they see the Son of man coming in his kingdom.”

    This is from Matthew 16:28, but there are similar passages in Mark 9:1 and Luke 9:27

    So if this book is to be believed, then clearly Jesus, like Paul, also believed the second coming would be very soon. Unless you are one of those that cling to the idea that there is a -really- old man hiding in a cave somewhere. (and sadly, there are actually people that will claim things like that.)

    Back when I was a Christian, this was one of those things that I realized had potential problems, but just sort of pushed it in a corner and never thought about it very much.

  7. CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain says

    Unless you are one of those that cling to the idea that there is a -really- old man hiding in a cave somewhere.

    Article: Wikipedia – Wandering Jew

  8. CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain says

    It deeply disturbs me that people who think like this have any power at all

    Worse: Not just thinking it. And they not only feel secure in saying it publicly; they made it official platform because they expect a sizable portion of the electorate to agree.

  9. Garnetstar says

    ZOMG, a cliffhanger!

    I was breathlessly waiting to hear the last caller’s example that would prove he is the one true kind of christian, and then….the show ended!

    Anyone who saw the aftershow, what did he say? I absolutely adore insane callers, and I’m still holding my breath.

  10. Matt Gerrans says

    Russell, I think your definition of agnostic in AETV #775 as essentially “I don’t know” is a little too colloquial. Agnostic doesn’t just mean “I don’t know” (the wimpy/uninterested response, really); an agnostic is someone who claims that it is unknowable whether there is a god or not. This is a stronger position than simply saying “I don’t know.” It is saying that it is not possible to know. From this standpoint, I think agnosticism is harder to support than atheism, because it is essentially making a claim about gods: it is saying that if a god or gods do exist, they want to hide and have the power of preventing us from knowing that they exist. I think that if any god did exist, it is reasonable to expect some evidence (and thus it would not be unknowable); by the same token, atheism is a reasonable position given the complete lack of cohesive evidence we see (outside the “evidence” of indoctrination and “holy” texts).

    Either the word “agnostic” is too muddied (like “atheist” or even “Christian” or “Muslim” etc.) to have any consistent meaning, or we need anther word for the “I don’t know” category. I propose the word “Appatheist” — this is a person who says “I don’t know/care whether there is a god.” 🙂

  11. Cassie says

    the guy talking about mother theresa was wrong saints can never make more money, saints are necessarily dead. One is only declared a saint by the catholic church when one has performed at least two miracles posthumously.

  12. CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain says

    Didn’t Mother Teresa have an embarrassing crisis of faith around 2007?

    She died in 1997, so probably not.

    She’d talked about doubting most of her life, but she kept at it anyway.

    Article: Wikipedia – Mother Teresa

    She had heart surgery but it was clear that her health was declining. The Archbishop of Calcutta, Henry Sebastian D’Souza, said he ordered a priest to perform an exorcism on Mother Teresa with her permission when she was first hospitalised with cardiac problems because he thought she may be under attack by the devil.

    Well, that could be embarrassing.

  13. says

    “Can anyone tell me how to get the after-show, other than watching live?”

    The live broadcasts on are also recorded there. The recorded broadcasts become available only a few minutes after the show.

  14. jdon says

    I was waiting for the follow up question to getting him to admit he could be wrong about Christianity. Did you get to it after the show?

    (the questions going:
    Q. Have you been wrong about what the bible says? A. Ramble ramble yes.
    Q. Could you currently be wrong about what the bible says? A. Ramble ramble totally no ramble ramble I guess yes if I have to say it even though I really don’t want to.
    Q. Does that mean you might not be a true Christian? A. Ramble ramble no I’m definitely a Christian ramble ramble I suppose so.
    Q. Does that mean it’s possible no-one is a true Christian? A. OMG I’M SCOTTISH!

  15. MarkB says

    Thank you Mr. “No True Christian” caller, for though you were boring and barely coherent watching your kind argue over who was a true Christian or not helped me realize that there aren’t any.

  16. Mick from Oz says

    He couldn’t think properly, got frustrated, gave up and agreed to call back next week.

  17. ah58 says

    Not just frustrated, but loudly calling on his brain to work. Something along the lines of “Not now!!! Think, brain, think!!”

  18. wholething says

    Lawrence Krauss explains that it is observed that superclusters of galaxies are accelerating away from one another. This implies dark energy is expanding space itself. Things that move within space are limited by the speed of light but this does not apply to space itself so eventually all the superclusters will be traveling away from one another at greater than light speed and won’t be visible to one another.

    Other scientists say this theory implies that other universes could pop up within a universe. If our universe’s Big Bang happened in the void between other universes’ super-light-speed superclusters, we wouldn’t know. Physicists don’t like this idea because it throws probabilities out of the window as anything that is possible will happen an infinite amount of times no matter how improbable. The superclusters will experience heat death but other universes could arise between and within them.

    I disagree with the caller’s conclusion, however. Those bubble universes that are different from this universe are not this universe and those bubbles that are identical to this universe are not this universe either. Those guys who match up with me atom for atom and memory for memory are still not me. They are duplicates of me or I am a duplicate of them, but they are having separate experiences. The observer in my head is not in their heads.

  19. Garnetstar says

    Thank goodness! I will be sure to watch next week, since if his brain can think well enough to dial the phone, much hilarity should ensue. This guy is classic, and next week’s call, perhaps this week’s, should end up on You Tube in the Crazy Callers series.

    And I see below that I can listen to him on UStream! I don’t want to miss a minute of this gem.

  20. John Kruger says

    Not sure what I was thinking of. I was clearly confusing her with someone else.

    Thank you for the clarification.

  21. Garnetstar says

    Gosh, he said that the Jehovah’s Witnesses deviate from one-man, one-woman marriage. I didn’t know they were into polygamy and marriage equality.

    Well, you live and learn.

  22. John Kruger says

    To be fair, there are indeed many who use the term “agnostic” as a non-committal cop out. Words only have meaning by convention. We have to at least acknowledge other uses if they are common, even if they are not particularly appealing to us. The conviction behind the agnostic position you describe usually has to be explained, the same way a strong or weak atheist position requires further explanation.

    I think most of the dust up can be blamed on the irritating apologists demanding absolute knowledge before their god claims can be dismissed. I consider myself agnostic only in that I reserve some room for evidence to change my mind as a matter of intellectual honesty. I am about as sure there are no gods as I can be sure about anything, the lack of evidence is too overwhelming.

  23. Indiana Jones says

    I have had a recent email exchange with the TAE email address (no I won’t say who in particular)and I would like to throw my question out here:

    What evidence would an atheist accept of a God? I ask because I am an atheist and it is about the only thing that I get asked by theists that I don’t have a quick and easy answer for.

    I generally go with: “Well, what have you got?”. But whilst I realize the burden rests with the proposer and not me, it still seems a little cheap. For instance the claim that the speed of light can indeed be broken would be easy to prove. ie I turn on a torch and outrun the beam. Not very likely to happen, but it would prove the claim to some very, otherwise justifiably, skeptical people.

    Similarly, I could probably prove time travel by presenting the viable egg of a previously un-described dinosaur.

    And so on. But what would convince me of a God? Well, I don’t know beyond just knowing that all claims so far have been unconvincing to me. But it sure would be nice to have a better answer than that in my back pocket for next time I am asked….

  24. jacobfromlost says

    I posted this in the comments of the blogs on January 16, 2012:

    Anyway, what would convince ME of a particular god would be several mutually confirming pieces of evidence along these lines…

    * A holy book that makes specific, falsifiable, ongoing predictions over thousands of years that are such that humans can’t make them happen themselves (and are “ongoing” in such a way as to be occurring every few months or years).
    * Personal revelations that can be and are verified empirically (for instance, “Look for the Higgs around 125 GeV) on an ongoing basis in conjunction with the message that “Specific God X” is passing that message along.
    * Clear and verifiable knowledge that comes from believing in the correct god (without study), and ONLY comes from believing in the correct god. It would be quite compelling if the only people who could write computer code, fix my car’s engine, or develop a model of quantum mechanics that works in reality were those who believed in Specific God X.
    * A continuing demonstration that those who believe in the correct god do not get sick, and those who believe in the wrong ones do, with no disconfirming examples of either of these (no one with correct belief sick, no one with incorrect beliefs healthy).
    * A continuing demonstration that once one begins believing in the correct god, their sicknesses instantly heal, and they gain instant knowledge per above that can be demonstrated empirically.
    * A continuing demonstration that anyone who believes in the correct god cannot be defeated in any way, shape, or form by those who don’t believe in the correct god.
    * A continuing demonstration that belief in the correct god results in broad, observable, verifiable, predictive, and falsifiable outcomes that are MARKEDLY DIFFERENT than the outcomes found with confirmation bias, wishful thinking, groupthink, peer pressure, mythmaking, pareidolia, brainwashing, hysteria, or any belief that is NOT in the correct god.

    If all of these things mutually confirmed each other in falsifiable ways (while accompanied by correct belief), and yet were never falsified, I would believe as surely as I believe in anything. Would I be absolute sure that the object of this belief was real, or even existed? No, as I can’t be absolutely sure of anything, but the evidence would be such that I WOULD believe it until presented with disconfirming evidence…and that disconfirming evidence would have to be pretty spectacular among all of that mutually confirming evidence.

  25. extian says

    Oh man, I used to be just like the “No True Christian” caller. I used to talk about “Fruits of the Spirit” and being “Biblical” like they were objective standards.

    I’m sure if the caller stayed on the line much longer his head would’ve exploded.

  26. Kevin in MO says

    To be honest, I don’t know. I can’t’ think of anything that would make me immediately believe in a god or gods. I can think of a few things that might make me question it. But without further investigation and exhausting all other possibilities, I just couldn’t make that leap and believe.

  27. Kol says

    First off, good move putting both shows together in one post. Please continue to do so AND link us up with the GB’s in the future if possible.

    I had decided to write a comment during AXP when I realized (after much time listening to him) that Don is a fucking good role model. Hell, I’m pushing 50 and I want to grow up to be like him.

    Then came Ben in NP…

    When my son comes home from school today, the first thing I’ll do is hug him until he tells me to turn loose so he can go pee. Then I’ll introduce him to Ben via his FIRST broadcast as part of the NP crew.

    Well done, sir.

    I’m wondering…

    Since there seems to be a hitch in the works in regards to either broadcasting from the new building OR staying with the public access channel…

    Why not do both?

    Is it feasible to pump the internet feed into the station so that the regular broadcast hour continues as normal? Perhaps one or two hosts could take the desk and field calls for the hour and the ‘net crew could continue on from there.

    “It won’t work”, is a sufficient response since I have no idea of the logistics involved. Simplistically speaking, you went from cable to ‘net. Reciprocation seems to be an option.

  28. gfunk says

    Regarding the “atheist reincarnation” caller- I never understand why people would grab on to that notion with any sort of hope. Even if it did happen, we wouldn’t be aware, so how does it do anything at all for me. Isn’t the whole point of life after death that you get a chance to continue from where you leave off in this life?

  29. Dark_Monkey_316 says

    I think the word agnostic is muddied because of the definition of gnostic. Gnostic is knowledge of or with knowledge. So where it gets muddied is cause in just about everything else in life, people don’t believe something with out knowledge about it.

    It would be like my brother telling me he got a dog, and then someone asking me what’s new with my brother a day or two later. I would say he got a dog. They would ask questions like what kind, how big, does he/she do tricks? I may not have those answers.

    I would believe my brother has a dog but I don’t know that he does though. For all I know he could just be lying to me, and that is where the difference lies in theism and Gnosticism. I can believe that a god exists but not know.

    Belief is a yes or no position, so when you ask someone whether they believe in a god or not, and they say I’m agnostic, I in turn say, I didn’t ask if you know there is one, I’m asking if you believe. Anything other then a yes puts them in a default position of not believing which would be an atheist.

    Look at it in terms of the Nigeria scams. Do you believe that they will send you X times more money than you sent them? If you don’t send the money then you don’t believe it otherwise you would have. I didn’t ask if you know they well cause you can’t be sure of it

    I wrote something similar to this a couple of posts ago about definitions of words (don’t remember what post though).

    Hope this helps.

  30. jacobfromlost says

    I think it is related to our innate drive to survive (I like to point out that every single one of our direct ancestors survived long enough to reproduce, thus explaining why most people would rather survive than die at any given moment).

    When faced with imminent death (and if one spends any time at all contemplating the notion, death is always imminent), every possible, probable, improbable, impossible notion to escape or avoid it goes running through people’s minds (thanks to those ancestors who survived and reproduced), and they feel compelled to share those notions to see if they make sense to others in the group. I think it is basically a survival mechanism, as is the reaction of others (in this case, our reaction that the idea of an afterlife is stupid, thus focusing on surviving here and now instead of making the whole notion of survival moot by positing afterlifes).

    If you’ve got a bear running at you, no weapon, no friends with weapons, no legs capable of outrunning the bear, no experience with altering bear behavior… your brain still clicks into fight or flight. You may run even though you know your legs will not be any help, you may throw rocks even though you know they won’t hurt the animal and might make it angrier, you may scream for help even though you are sure no one is around to help (and your screams may provoke the animal), you may even charge the animal or otherwise act crazy in hopes your sudden odd behavior scares it away (which might actually attract it?). And in nature, one of these things *might* actually work depending on factors you are not aware of and couldn’t have been aware of at the time.

    I think the same kind of approach is being used with the idea that “maybe time is infinite and we’ll all live the same lives a million times over” so don’t have to worry about death. Yeah, maybe, but since there is no evidence for this, and no tangible survival benefit that hinges on us *doing* something to survive…it seems analogous to deciding to stand and do nothing as the bear races toward you because you’ll live your life over an infinity of times. Of course, if the bear kills you, you’d also be torn apart by a bear an infinity of times which, when contemplated, would seem to make one reject the entire notion of “infinite lives” in favor of ANY idea that seemed even slightly better. Like throwing rocks.

    When the rubber meets the road, our very biology screams out that this is the only life we have, so if all you have is rocks to defend that one single life, throw them. The people wondering if we have an “infinity of lives” are throwing abstract rocks at abstract “Death” and hoping for the best, while overwhelmingly their actions tell us they’d rather continue living now than bet on living their life an infinity of times over again.

  31. gfunk says

    I understand the instinct to want to cheat death, I just don’t feel that this scenario fulfills that desire at all.

  32. jacobfromlost says

    Agreed. I would focus on giving the next generation the best chance of surviving and thriving as possible, as it is the only strategy that has actually worked for any species in the past.

  33. wholething says

    It is trivially easy for the human mind to imagine things that cannot be disproven. The god concept is contrived so that it cannot be distinguished from an imaginary thing.

    It is easy to convince me that things really. I see thousands of things everday that I don’t think are imaginary. I don’t know what evidence it would take to convince me that a god exists, but an omniscient god would know and an omnipotent one could do it.

  34. Kazim says

    As I mentioned on the show, I had a long and fruitless email exchange with somebody who just wouldn’t let go of this idea. I made the point that even if there was some way you could prove that EVERY configuration of atoms would come together repeatedly, I don’t see why that’s comforting. Yes, supposedly something would live something that’s exactly like my life. It would also be the case that something exists that’s exactly like my life except that it believes in God; or something that’s exactly like my life except that it is in horrible pain every minute of every day; or something that’s exactly like my life except that it likes all the things I hate and vice versa. I just don’t see how you could actually identify with an infinite space of one-offs or entirely-offs.

  35. jacobfromlost says

    If the “infinity” thing is that important to them, you could point out that after they are dead, living from Year A to Year Z “will have happened” into a possible infinite future of time.

    …although I think Hawking was poo-pooing that in his latest book, at least in regards to quantum mechanics. So maybe we have only lived our familiar, known lives in a very loose sense as it is, lol.

  36. CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain says

    Didn’t Buddhism get started from Hindus being trapped in endless reincarnation ruts from which they couldn’t escape?

  37. Indiana Jones says

    Thank you Jacob. I can imagine a surprising, predictive, verifiable and above all falsifiable claim would just about do the trick for me too. A clock that orbits the earth running slower than one that doesn’t is pretty impressive evidence for relativity in a similar fashion, even if the experiment wasn’t possible to perform at all for a few decades after Einstein first published.

    However, it does leave a little bit of wiggle room though, ie How is this not a God of the Gaps argument? I am just trying to be as intellectually honest with myself as I can, please don’t take this the wrong way. I do like where your thoughts seem to be headed, I’m just not quite there yet.

  38. says

    Let me preface by saying that I do not believe Transcendence and Immanence are compatible. Nor do I think you can disregard one or the other (as modern theologians do, usually immanence it seems) without also disregarding the properties of said god which arise from said transcendence or immanence. So these two things are in conflict and by attempting to remove one, apologists skewer they’re own arguments out the gate, but this is getting on a tangent.

    So to answer. An immanent god would leave behind traces of its existence. We would, maybe even if not presently, at SOME point be able to measure, detect, describe its existence and properties. Thus god would be knowable. And therefore, in my mind although I know not logically verifiable, absence of such evidence is in fact warrant evidence of absence. Or at the very least we go back to the basic atheist tenant, without justifying evidence I see no reason to follow a dead end claim and until such evidence is presented I have no reason to believe the claim. So you question is answered, an immanent god can be proven by any objective evidence of its existence, much like any other natural presence in the universe. But then, would this really be something we’d call god? Or just another natural phenomenon that was at one point beyond our understanding, like lightning?

    A transcendent god on the other hand, there is no evidence at all which could ever be provided that I would consider satisfactory. This is by very nature of transcendence (at least as I understand it). Therefore, we’re back to square one. How can anyone differentiate between a transcendent god and one which does not exist? They can’t, I can’t, no one can. And therefore there’s no clear reason to believe the claim. Nor do they have any legitimate, logical reason to do so either. The most they could propose, and be honest about it, is emotion.

  39. Cylis B. says

    To that amazing list, I’d also like to add that, for me, a transcendent being physically manifesting and performing feats that are contrary to our current understanding of natural laws – provided it stayed around long enough for, and was willing to be subject to, scientific testing – could be another “proof of god.”
    Also along with what you said you said, even this wouldn’t make me a 100% believer, but if the scientific scrutiny was vigorous enough to conclude that it’s claims to be breaking the laws of nature were at least not verifiably false by any means we have available to us… at that point I probably would swing to the position of “most likely true.”
    I would finally like to point out this would only make me think that a being capable of operation outside of natural laws was mostly likely true. I would not instantly convert to any religion, nor would I instantly assume this particular being was responsible for the creation of the universe. THAT would would require even more evidence.

  40. jdon says

    There is still the ole sufficiently advanced technology clause, but it would be a start.

    Right now we’ve got… evidence a bunch of people believe it, and believed it in the past. That’s it. That’s the entirety of evidence for a god – that people think there is one.

    Things jacob listed would be a good start. It wouldn’t be undeniable proof, but they’d be reasonable indicators.

  41. Cylis B. says

    I think the “cheating death” comes in when you extrapolate infinite time and infinite possibility out to a conclusion the caller didn’t get to.
    Basically, if I’m remembering how it goes correctly, given enough time, it’s not that you will live the exact same life over again (or an exact copy of you will lead a perfectly mirrored life of yours), but that a future you (or exact copy of you, or ‘iteration’ of you) will eventually “remember” or become aware, that this shit has happened before and (via reasons that were never fully explained to me) be able to “pick up where you left off.”
    Overall it’s complete bollocks, only continued to an even more inane extreme… but it is an appeal to the eventual continuation of present self, which some people find comforting.

  42. Cylis B. says

    I think another reason why some people find this comforting, is a weird tangent of parents finding comfort in their children. They get to exist “in some way” even if they aren’t actually aware of it in any direct manner. The idea of just “them again” is what’s important, not any direct connection to it.
    As a side note: I would be really interested to know what percentage of people who really grab on to this idea do and don’t have children. And if there’s a correlation there, whether or not the idea loses personal importance to a statistically relevant number after having kids.

  43. CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain says

    It could be done. The API looks really straightforward. Might be some hoops to jump through in publishing to the web for practical use, however.

    Though I’d be surprised if there weren’t already an app that lets you motion track an arbitrary transparent png/gif from a given url.

  44. jacobfromlost says

    I’m not sure it would be a “god of the gaps” situation if many key factors hinged on “correct belief” and did not work with “incorrect belief”, while other factors (like the ongoing, dependable, extra-human predictions) are continually fulfilled like clockwork.

    It would also be interesting that if an individual looked at this evidence, and decided it was actually super-intelligent, time traveling aliens doing these things…they would instantly be sick, and unable to demonstrate any kind of useful, complex training/education. If you considered this among all the other mutually confirming evidence, it would be enough for me to say it is unlikely super-intelligent, time-traveling aliens are actually trying to make all the evidence indicate a specific god instead. Is that still possible? Sure. But in our reality it is possible angels are pulling everything down to consistently mimic a specific idea of gravity, but no evidence for that (just as there would be no evidence of the aliens, but lots of evidence for the specific god).

    So it wouldn’t be a “god of the gaps” argument–it would just be what all the evidence indicated, which could conceivably be overturned by new evidence (the evidence would never be “absolute” in any case, just objectively dependable). For instance, the aliens land, explain what they’ve been doing for years, and suddenly–at the aliens’ indication/command–nonbelief in god no longer results in sickness and ignorance, etc. (Maybe it would take a few years of this constant change to make it believable, but at a certain point you are depending on the evidence for everyday life over and over again–which would be difficult to deny given the evidence, and wouldn’t be an argument of “gaps” any more than relying on gravity, as what you are relying on IS the evidence, not the gaps in it. The underlying fact that we can never be absolutely certain of any evidence isn’t a “gap” in the evidence–if it were, everything in science would be supported by an argument from “gaps”.)

  45. says

    Just ask the person asking what evidence it would take to convince *them* that [insert a deity different from theirs here] exists. Make them provide that level of evidence for their god first.

    That throws the burden back where it properly belongs; on THEM.

  46. Matt Gerrans says

    Those are all good, but why not add to that a god who actually appears? Whether in a magical burning bush (boring!) or better like Q in the STNG episodes? Then s/he could perform magical things for everyone to see and document with video, etc.

    Why does everyone’s god have to hide? Why do all religions converge on the hiding god(s)? Well, we know the answer to that, don’t we? Their gods hide for the same reason that leprechauns and unicorns do.

    A real, existing god would have no need hide and could appear to us and impress us all by moving mountains, resurrecting dinosaurs or whatever thing seemed fun or amazing at the moment.

  47. says

    Atheist, agnostic, non-theist. We need to think of the utility of these labels.

    The only thing that really matters to me is whether you accept a god exists. If yes, you are a theist and you’ve got some ‘xplainin’ to do.

  48. ah58 says

    I generally respond to the “what would make you believe in god” question by saying: I don’t know, but your god certainly would and he hasn’t done so.

  49. Garnetstar says

    She did have a huge crisis of faith that apparently lasted for some years. I can’t cite a reference right now, but it was revealed after her death when her letters were published, you could search for those. She discusses her loss of faith thoroughly in the letters.

  50. rrpostal says

    I think what happened was that some diaries were exposed about then which brought to light doubts she had experienced. It was definitely in the news cycle for a bit. I’m more of the train of thought that it didn’t matter. The bigger picture that she was somewhat freakish and liked to be around suffering concerns me far more. I’m not sure to what extent she was trying to relieve suffering, like is commonly assumed was her saintly goal. She always reminds me of the french movie “L’Interieur”.

  51. Euler says

    The Mormons have the three Nephites as well. Three people that are still on the planet from Jesus’ time.

  52. Wim says

    Regarding the first caller and their idea of an eternal cycle of going through the same thing. Even if that were true, who cares? I can’t remember any preceding lives (and presumably future me’s wouldn’t remember this past me), so there is no sense of continuity (like when I wake up or regain consciousness after fainting).

  53. gfunk says

    I think it is probably a mental exercise they use to convince themselves (and then others) that there is a scientific foundation for a belief in eternal life, sort of like people who explain God as essentially a “first cause.” They actually believe a lot more, like the Jesus narrative, but they are using the “first cause” argument to at least try to get atheists to accept there has to be some sort of creator so they can also believe all the other crap.

  54. gfunk says

    I posted similar sentiment above and there were some good responses, including a bit more background from Kazim

  55. Crip Dyke, MQ, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden says

    What is with this living again thing b/c infinity, QED?

    The universe has RULES.

    No matter how many times we roll the dice, the sun will not suddenly lose energy from fusing elements lighter than iron and gain it from fusing elements heavier than iron. Nor will gravity’s acceleration ever be multiplied by -1.

    Also, we will never have exactly -1^(0.5) atoms of copper in the universe.

    F* this moron.

    This goes back to misunderstanding different definitions of “random” – one being “undirected” (but not unlimited) and one being “anything might happen at any moment”. That conflation figured in the recent debate which went to Ridiculous-ville. Why wasn’t this guy slapped just as hard?

  56. philipkizer says

    I usually listen to these in my car via Podcast->iTunes->iPod, but unfortunately the podcast (and web site) show:

    Tue, 07 Aug 2012 17:00:00 -0700
    Tue, 07 Aug 2012 21:54:59 -0700

    whereas this episode (11.12) shows to be recorded about 2 weeks after that update. So, I finally had to go seeking out the other far less convenient recording via G+.

    I was particularly interested in hearing of Ben’s second CQTx report. I’m glad he’s looking forward to returning again next year.

    As for CQTx, the state is indeed big and we hear many requests for a camp much further south in the state. We’ve been looking at various camps all over the state and are continually reevaluating the camp site options (and a big thank you to those who have called or even physically visited various sites to help us review them previously).

    One thing we’re considering for the future (2014 at the earliest) is the possibility of multiple camp locations within Texas, probably a CQTx-North and CQTx-South to start with (though extremely active participation by our friends near El Paso might make a CQTx-West an early possibility, too).

    The plan for that includes the following from regional volunteers (those that want a CQTx in their area):

    1: Volunteer at the 2013 CQTx [whever it might be, location hopefully determined _very_ soon] to gain the training and expertise for what is needed for running a camp (operations and facilities in particular)

    2: Help add to and edit the list of possible camps to help find a suitable Southern location for 2014, mail us for links to the CQTx Google Map of potential locations and the link to the Spreadsheet to help evaluate a camp for suitability.

    The two biggest downsides of having multiple camps that I see are first just the need for more volunteers, but also less opportunities for intermixing of the campers from various parts of the state, but I do know a variety of campers that went to both CQOk and CQTx this year, which might mean going to both North and South camps would be a possibility if you and your child wanted to go to both (and if we manage to get camp facilities that are available on different weeks of the summer). Oh what nice problems to have.

  57. Eric says

    OM”G”, Russell skates again with the agnostic notion…Anyway I already told what was it in another post…I think Russell (and atheists)like to spin the definition of “agnostism” like evangelical christians do with their Bible…

    As for “why jehova’s witnesses are not christians?”, again I think that Russell is dishonest. He knows why the JW cannot be considered christians….Christians believe that Jesus was 100% God and 100% human (catholics, lutherians, calvinists, baptists, pentacostals,etc) and the JW considered Jesus as 100% human and 0% God.

    To conclude, I like Russell but I can also point it out where he is weak.

  58. Eric says

    “agnostism”……correction “agnosticism” I think in English.

    To be more precise about my last comment, for once I heard the right definition of what an agnostic really is in this show and it was by Russell. Great Russell! But he mixed up when defining it in saying at first it what “atheism” is and then he corrected (I guess that he saw his mistake) in saying that was pure agnosticism is.

  59. Eric says

    well I could accept that a sort of god exists, it doesn’t mean that I have to believe in it, to worship it or to explain anything to anyone. 😉


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