Open thread for AETV #808

This is a week and a half late, but now that the Atheist Experience YouTube channel is operational, and video comments are meant to redirect here, I guess it is mandatory.

Episode 808 with Matt and Jeff:


  1. aths says

    What was that Mark mentioned in this episode (after Matt hang up on the concerned pastor)?

  2. says

    I thought Martin in Munich’s wife’s description of what it felt like to be moved by the “holy spirit” was interesting, so I transcribed that part of her letter:

    I can only explain it as myself finally letting go of all the anxiety and doubt, the inability to feel connected, and the lack of belonging. I quit asking questions and released my mind from the confines of my rational prison. I didn’t have to try to explain to myself anymore the meaning of anything in the Bible. It was one huge “ahh” moment. I relaxed and allowed myself to succumb to all that was said to me, and I believed suddenly, fully, that Jesus Christ was my personal savior and I was going to be in heaven one day shaking hands with this fellow. A warm wave rolled over my body, and for a few brief moments I was totally elated and at peace. Feeling the “holy spirit” for me, was letting go and allowing myself to be convinced, which brought peace, not having to fight my rational thoughts anymore. I was totally relieved.

  3. Lord Narf says

    Christ, that’s freaking scary. The willing submission of your rational thought processes to brainwashing. I can’t believe there are people who think that’s a good thing.

    I haven’t watched this episode yet. I’m a bit behind. Time to catch up, I think.

  4. HardToComeBy says

    Perhaps I missed something, but I’m still not clear on why Matt hung up on the “troubled pastor” caller…?

    It sounded to me like the caller was in earnest…though to be fair, I don’t have a part in running an atheist call-in show. Perhaps our friendly AE fellows receive many calls like this and are able to catch on to the subtlety.

  5. jdoran says

    AXP had another recurring theist caller who was revealed as a prank caller, who (when exposed) was using the alias “Mark”. Probably a good third of the suggested youtube vids that come up when you search for the Atheist Experience feature that particular persona.

    George exhibited enough similarities to Mark for Matt to pull the plug on him. Even if he was genuinely a theist, he really needed to stop calling. His arguments were full of assertions about science that the hosts aren’t qualified to discuss.

  6. codemonkey says

    Speaking of which, is ‘Matt from Oslo’ still calling? Is he just getting caught by the call screeners? What a loon.

  7. Houndentenor says

    Agreed. Scary. but common. “I can’t make sense of what I’m being told so rather than continuing to look for truth I’m going to turn off the rational part of my brain and accept without question.” I guess that’s easier than thinking, but look at what all can and has gone wrong when people followed a dangerous leader. I’m not equating her church with genocidal maniacs, but there is no benefit from people following blindly without thinking for themselves. If someone does not welcome reasonable questions, they don’t deserve your attention, much less your allegiance.

  8. Houndentenor says

    He claims to be upset that his 8th grade bible study students are watching the show. If he can’t offer acceptable rebuttals to the arguments posed by Matt, Tracie, Russell, et al. (sorry for those I left out…no slight intended) then that’s his problem, not theirs. I think he’s a Poe. At the very least he’s making up the back story.

    BTW, I enjoy the callers who are theist but from other religions besides Fundamentalist Christianity. At least their arguments are different. They’re no more valid but it’s not Pascal’s Wager and other nonsense that’s already been rebutted plenty of times.

  9. says

    I spent years as a young Catholic chasing that religious ecstasy. I never found it. I then left religion as the dogma seemed more and more ridiculous and spent the next decade thinking that religious euphoria was just a myth, and life was a rather bland humdrum. I actually became very depressed, disillusioned, and just plain sick of life, having none of the promises of life I had been told to expect as a child. Then I went back to college, excelled, and began my (nearly complete) journey to become a scientist. After every research project, I end on such a freakin’ high. Comparing It to sex is too mild, I think. This lasts for days. To peer into the gearbox of the universe… I guess it is what I wished for as a kid; I’m looking onto the face of God, so to speak. Hell, some of my peers have had coffee with the mythic being. Feynman probably made him dinner, and Newton dated him for a while, to really stretch the metaphor thin for humor.

    The difference is, though, I don’t have the downer of contradictions quickly bubbling up. I can dig up my old papers, reread them, and become re energized. And if I see an error, while there is embarrassment, it’s also a sign I’m growing, and I get to experience a new high if I can find where I went wrong.

  10. Qyandri says

    Well, if George is a Poe, he has taken on the persona of a real pastor, Monsignor George R. Demuth of Scranton, PA (near Dunmore). He is listed in various obituaries like that of KETTEL, ANDREW:

    Oddly enough, he is also mentioned in Framing Faith: A Pictorial History of Communities of Faith by Sarah Piccini, page 27 (I skimmed it on Google Books).

    I suppose he would teach at St. Mary of Mt. Carmel School, but their website is quite unhelpful concerning staff, and not up to date (dates stop in 2012):

    It is trivially easy to borrow another’s name, of course, like Mark borrowed the Austin Stone.

  11. Lord Narf says

    Hmm, I never even got fed the religious ecstasy angle, while I was being raised Catholic. Perhaps my parish’s CCD curriculum was a little more practicality-based, which … well, knocks out most of the actual Vatican teachings, doesn’t it?

    Of course, I rejected the authority of the Bible while I was still in kindergarten and viewed the Bible stories they told us in the same light as I did the Greek mythology that I had been exposed to, at that early age … which my father really shouldn’t have done, if he wanted me to grow up a believer. Perhaps the first communion, the videos they showed us about exorcisms and people who were engaged in witchcraft but found their way back to Christ … perhaps those were meant to be the sources of religious ecstasy, and I was just too skeptical to feel any of it. I always came away from the videos thinking what a gullible bunch of idiots the makers were, wondering if we were actually meant to believe anything we had seen in the previous hour of made-up nonsense.

    Perhaps it’s generational, and the Catholic church has eased up on the ecstasy angle? I was born in ’76. Are you significantly older?

  12. HardToComeBy says

    Oh yeah! I remember the “Mark” caller. Back in the day he called Tracie/Jen, if I’m not mistaken…? Funny though. I remember him having a few moderately good/fun discussions with the hosts over several calls (I thought so anyway).

    After a little research into the other calls, I suppose I do see a few similarities.

  13. Lord Narf says

    Yeah, he made several arguments exactly like what we hear out of theists, but ultimately, he was a faker.

  14. Lord Narf says

    Ooh, good look-up. It’s unlikely that someone will grab the identity of an actual person, though. Mark was just a random person who supposedly went to a local church and brought concerns of parents of the church. Very vague and difficult to trace.

    For that matter, even with the vague details, Matt pretty much exposed him as a faker, by talking to one of the pastors from the church, discovering that it wasn’t even vaguely the sort of Baptist church that “Mark” thought it was.

    This guy is probably for real … crazy, but for real.

  15. Qyandri says

    I’m inclined to think so as well, even if I must consider that he could be an innovative Poe. I think he is a deeply troubled elderly man who has lost control and perhaps doesn’t realize exactly how rude he has been when he calls in. Since the Roman Catholic church puts so much emphasis on the hierarchical nature of the church and the clergy, he is not used to having to justify himself, especially to lowly atheists and children. It must be embarrassing for him. I think he is desperately trying to regain control and authority over the situation. I have pity for him.

  16. Coachrickw says

    To me Stoch, the troll hunter sounds different to George. George called a few weeks ago with the miracle of the sun as proof of God! Shame Matt hung up, I would have enjoyed hearing him tear George’s arguments apart!

  17. Coachrickw says

    Good point, I was thinking that the age/generational difference should be considered when the hosts assess whether the rudeness was intended to be rude.

  18. kasper says

    you are completly wrong with the gumball example matt. it is much simpler..

    if i hold my hand out showing you a full hand of fingers, and you can see im holding 5 fingers, do you believe my claim that i am showing you 3 fingers?
    if i take my hand behind my back, is it then true for you to claim that i am showing 5 fingers behind my back? is that position true? the true position is i dont know, belief is doubt, and disbelief is belief.

    non belief=i know or i dont know(agnostic), i am unaware of the claim, i have another religion etc

    another example, am i wearing a hat right now? you can at best imagine it, and you cant go back in time. so you can believe my claim, that i am being honest, or disbelieve it, believe that i am lying, or you can accept you dont know.

    only know is true, i dont know is a position i know, as i have to see to see that i dont see a dog right now, and i am certain that i am not

    to simplify, theism is belief, atheism is disbelief, agnostic is the acceptance that i dont know, while theist and atheist dosnt know either. only know is true, and beyond what i know is what i dont know

    false=anywhere beyond my personal physical experience of now
    know=physical experience(absolute, you cant close your eyes and read on)

    belief=be lie, as i dont know is true=as i can at best imagine it


    past=truth=knowledge=memory of know/memory=destruction=death=turn my back