Open thread on AETV #782

Atheist Experience #782: They Don’t Believe That

With Matt Dillahunty and Don Baker.


  1. 42oolon says

    His use of the words “discourse” and ” the discussion” sounded all kinds of BS alarms for me. Academics need words like that because otherwise the discourse would be outed as insubstantial.

  2. jdon says

    I had a leeeeeetle bit of a problem with the use of “They don’t believe that” ’cause I do not like it when people claim to know what others believe more than they themselves do. You can believe things while still being hypocritical and/or having cognitive dissonance. But “they don’t act like they believe that” isn’t nearly as catchy sounding, so fair enough.

  3. Muz says

    I have a lot of sympathy for ‘faith’ guy and I tend to agree with him. There’s a quality to religious faith, as a state of mind, that the non religious don’t really understand and that reducing things to reasoned arguments can’t really address. Even the formerly religious seem to forget about what it was like (or perhaps they never had it in the first place so it was easy for them to shed? (In many cases I would suspect that).

    I’ve had a similar time thinking it through that the caller did and ended up in pretty much the same pickle as him. It’s true that it really isn’t necessarily relevant to the debate at all. I still hang on to that curiosity about it and wish to see it properly recognised. I don’t know it what sense that makes it: Psychological? Ethnographic? Anthropological?

    It’s a worthwhile slice of knowledge that doesn’t seem well covered by the non religious (even though I can’t really explain things about it myself very well) And maybe can’t be covered properly by the religious, for my liking anyway. But it is fairly beside the point of the god/no-god argument.

  4. says

    You need to explain what you are talking about. You are basically making the claim that there is an additional possible meaning for the word “faith” but you aren’t really explaining what that meaning is.

    All I get from your post above is that it is “a state of mind that the non religious don’t really understand and that reducing things to reasoned arguments can’t really address” and that it is “a worthwhile slice of knowledge that doesn’t seem well covered by the non religious.”

    I have to say I am pretty unimpressed with the idea that there is some wispy wonderfulness that can be achieved by wandering around in a daze, believing shit that isn’t real.

    If you want to promote some definition of “faith” as a “state of mind” you need to explain that definition. Not just assert that there is a meaning that you can’t really explain.

  5. scorinth says

    I can’t say I really sympathize. The only alternate meaning that he gave for faithfulness was, as the hosts pointed out, “obedience”… Maybe there’s also a certain steadfastness, maybe the belief that everything will be okay because God’s in control. The thing is, none of these are really virtuous. What else is there, really, and why would I want it?

  6. Muz says

    Well, you got from my post exactly what I put into it. I don’t know what else you were expecting.
    A state of mind is a definition and describing states of mind as people experience them is quite a complicated business. The most direct comparison I can think of off hand is something like: Schizophrenia is a pathology. We understand a fair bit about it (not nearly everything of course) resulting from a misfiring of neurons and excess of some neurotransmitters and so on in the brain, roughly speaking and methods of treatment and so on. We can logically and evidentially point out what is going on and what is true in their brains. But that knowledge doesn’t describe the subjective experience of being schizophrenic and how such a person experiences the world. That’s almost an entirely separate area, which in this case aids communication and therapy with such people.

    This faith state of mind is more subtle and less pathological than that (although sometimes…), but there is broadly speaking a quality to it that is different from the lack of it (and here I speak from experience as well). Christians even feel they “see” it in one another sometimes.
    As I say, it’s completely irrelevant to the central question, but is in itself at least interesting. It seems like a mistake to leave it to the faithful and theologians etc to describe it (for one thing, they’re not going to do a the sort of job that’s relevant to us).
    People are already delving onto this sort of thing somewhere, I’m sure.

  7. says

    Self-delusion is also a state of mind that I have no real familiarity with, yet I know there’s nothing especially important about it that the non-deluded must pay attention to.

    Who cares what having faith in something feels like? It can still be rationally deduced that faith alone is not a pathway to any kind of truth or revelation.

  8. Muz says

    It’s occasionally important for communicating with the deluded. But anyway, you’re welcome to ignore any and all knowledge (or potential knowledge) regarding research and human experience that you like. Was that ever in question?

  9. C says

    Hey guys,

    I have to say that my boyfriend and I have been absolutely hooked on “The Atheist Experience” since we randomly discovered it on Youtube a few days ago, most likely linked to a video of fat people falling off of skateboards or something.

    Regardless, it’s so refreshing to see such an articulate, experienced and well-informed cast of individuals tear apart these naive, uncultured bible drones in a way that I’ve only dreamed of, and situated in the middle of such a right wing danger zone at that.

    My father had a similar story to Matt. He was raised in a strict Catholic family, attended Catholic schools, and as a young adult had planned to become a Minister. Over time and experience he realized the error of his acceptance of such a corrupt, fear-based and nonsensical belief system, and became a hardcore atheist, raising us to free think and observe the world for what it is.

    I thank you again, and promise you now that you have at least two devoted fans in Canada, though most likely more. Please continue your great show.


  10. Muz says

    To an extent I guess so. I think an ethnographic approach might be interesting as well, since it’s a fairly lived and community driven thing too.

  11. mike says


    An example that Matt has used in the past is heroin. Heroin can place people in a very pleasant state of mind that non-users can not understand, but the long term effects of both religious faith and heroin can be hazardous to you health. (Both mental and physical)

  12. Muz says

    The analogy isn’t really what we’re talking about. There’s a fairly clear and tangible cause and effect relationship to that state of mind with heroin, the way it is generally used in the west. While drug users can commune on the shared experience of that it’s mostly lacking any metaphysical implications. Or if it is, the users are getting their metaphysics from elsewhere first (in my experience).
    The temporary euphoria it provides might draw similarities to Pentecostal services I guess. It’d be interesting to see how that relates to more low key brands of christian faith.

    This isn’t to say drugs have no part to play in religion. The Peyote and Coca based mysticism in the Americas is a good living example.

  13. Cortney says

    When will The Atheist Experience post the newer episodes on YouTube? I am very sad without my weekly dose of reason and am too busy with college and work to watch it live :'(

  14. James sanford says

    Will the real atheist please stand up. None can whomprove God to anybody. Only God can reveal Himself to whom He chooses. If someone is to proud to call out to Him, for . forgiveness, or whatever,then he is just lost. And if they/you choose not to ever call out to Him then they will remain lost. I did call on Him as a child and He did reveal Himself to me. (It was humbly, as a child). God shall only reeal Himself to those who seek Him with their wool heart, sincerely. Judgment day wisdom- “Because sentence against an evil work (sin of unbelief) is not executed speedily, Thetfore the heart of the sons of men is fully set in them to do evil (be profane in tongue, etc.-been there done that)” Final authority! “Charity (not love) never fails”. Brother James Sanford, A nobody who loves to tell everybody about Somebody who can save anybody.