Open thread on episode #812

Today, Jeff and Martin (that’s me!) did the show as host and co-host for the first time in at least ten years! It was an absolute blast, we had a number of very good calls, and the technical glitches that occurred — no opening music or background graphic — kind of made the whole affair feel more authentically like things were ten years ago. (Said glitches happened because neither John nor Frank were in the control room today, leaving Shelly and the remaining crew to pull some mildly panicked double duty. That they got things eventually running smoothly was quite a feat.)

Anyway, discuss and stuff.


  1. changerofbits says

    Oh, John in Georgia, you come in with a well explained, valid critique pertaining to the burden of proof, and then you assert that faith is a valid thing to base your beliefs upon and that it DOESN’T REQUIRE PROOF. *face palm*

  2. says

    Hey Martin…..I know you probably get sick of hearing this, but are “The Non-Prophets’ ever going to return? It’s been awhile and I MISS IT! Please start them back up soon.

  3. maudell says

    I had problems with the stream too. Just listened to it as a podcast, always good to hear Martin and Jeff.

    But seriously. The “how many species can make TVs” guy came back! It’s gotta be him. (He does seem a bit more sophisticated than when he equated gay marriage to man/gorilla marriage)

  4. says

    Super!! A vintage edition, just as I have asked the last year. Prayers work! It has to include and vintage calller such as the Gorilla lover that wonder why bees doesn’t create the TV.

  5. says

    First caller: Nailed it

    “Species Guy”:

    Your evidence sucks. Our capacity to create cell phones doesn’t come from a magical guy in the sky. It all essentially all stems from our capacity to talk. From that, education arises, where knowledge can be accumulated from generation to generation, so each generation isn’t re-inventing the wheel. Eventually, with enough education, we can figure out how to make cell phones.

    None of us inherently can do it. Hell, it’d be surprising if anyone could inherently do arithmetic.

    This was the same guy who has been calling for 7-8 years with the same stupid argument. At this point, he’s just refusing to listen. It’s been thoroughly explained to him. He’s got the Ray Comfort Mental Shields up at full power.

    Guy after Species Guy:

    Providing an impossible definition of a god is automatically self-refuting. You’d think this would be obvious when one comes up with a definition where some entity can do impossible things.

    Just because you can assert that this entity can circumvent or transcend having to follow the rules of logic, that doesn’t mean that it’s possible. You’ve more or less made a statement that’s gibberish, like saying that an object is both a square and a circle at the same time.

  6. says

    kind of made the whole affair feel more authentically like things were ten years ago.

    Do you guys still have that big banner? That should go on a wall in the new library or something.

  7. Niall O says

    Not that it really effects Jeff’s argument, but I thought I’d correct him on the Neanderthals. It isn’t the consensus that we wiped out the Neanderthals and bred with those that remained.

    The archaeological evidence suggests that the Neanderthals died out and Homo sapiens filled the niche that they left. The evidence shows that H sapiens occupied caves previously occupied by H neanderthalensis, but the time between occupations has been estimated to be over a thousand years, maybe more.

    It is just as possible that other causes such as change of climate wiped out the Neanderthals and we extended our range because they were no longer around. Because the Neanderthal DNA is also found in the genomes of New Guineans, the breeding event appears to have happened closer to the expansion from Africa than to the extinction of Neanderthals.

    As I said though, this is from where current science comes in and doesn’t really effect Jeff’s point. I won’t be surprised if someone comes along and corrects me in turn. 🙂

  8. Meena says

    I’ve tried in vain to load the MP3s onto my player. It’s just not working. Am I missing something?

  9. Houndentenor says

    Yes, please. Also, as much as I enjoyed the “original cast, ” I also liked some of the other permutations when the regulars weren’t available. I realize there’s a lot involved in pulling something like this together and I understand if it’s just not possible, but some of us are surrounded by theists and other woo (new age nonsense like anti-vaxxers) and could use the regular does of sanity and skepticism.

  10. Houndentenor says

    Meanwhile people can’t make honey. Why would bees want TV? That’s the absurdity of that argument. Perhaps dolphins are smart enough to invent television but just have better things to do with their time.

  11. Johan says

    Yes please! I would also love to see the The Non-Prophets make a come-back. Just saying. Until then, keep doing what you’re doing. 🙂

  12. says

    I think you’re actually right that there is a lot of skepticism over whether Neanderthals and H. sapiens actually interbred. But I think it’s accepted that part of the reason the Neanderthals died out was that we were outhunting them and taking their resources. They ate plants and roots and such. We ate all of that, plus meat. I will, of course, welcome any corrections by those with better academic creds.

  13. Kazim says

    Everybody was pretty much running unopposed. Jen Peeples is the new president, Don Rhoades is vice president. The general board consists of six members: Russell Glasser (me), Tracie Harris, Mark Vandebrake, Steve Bratteng, Chuck Clark, and John Iacoletti.

  14. mike says

    Yes! That was awesome especially cuz it sounded like he had a whole list of stuff to go over dating back to 2007 and Jeff just stopped him in his tracks. Moar Jeff Dee!!!

  15. Lord Narf says

    I’ve always had a few issues with the warfare explanation, myself. I’m sure a few Homo sapiens somewhere bashed a few neanderthals over the heads with rocks, but that doesn’t mean wiping out the species. Species extinction events tend to be complicated, except perhaps in the case of mass-extinction events, like meteors.

  16. mike says

    That “Richard” guy has been calling in for over 10 yrs, he was banned for a while as he called in once under two different names and when caught he said one was his twin or something. He has to be among the thickest of all the theist callers, he is so close-minded and he continues to show that he doesn’t consider anything the hosts say.

  17. says

    Didn’t realize that Matt had decided to step down. It’s more awkward when it’s a group of people that everyone knows and generally get along… like you wish they could all be the president.

  18. says

    I am lost too–Ustream still doesn’t seem to have the video–is there a link posted to whre I can get the mp3?

  19. Lord Narf says

    Almost better having it unopposed. Then, it’s pretty much already decided, informally, and there’s no potential for hurt feelings of any sort, if anyone is particularly prone to that sort of thing.

  20. says

    Regarding the woman from Canada discussing religion in politics between the two countries, it’s actually an interesting turn of events.

    In Canada, the most famous Prime Minister the country ever had (Pierre Trudeau) famously declared that the government has no business being in the bedrooms of the nation, and that’s been the social policy ever since. The religions all agreed to this so for the most part they keep their faith in their bedrooms as well. So things like abortion, gay rights/marriage, etc. never became national issues. It was an issue resolved with a single declaration back in the 70s.

    In America, however, the exact opposite occurred. But first a little back story.

    For much of the 19th and 20th centuries, devoutly religious people did not vote at all (and that was a good chunk of the country’s population). Many faiths (Jehovahs Witness, Pentecostals, Mennonites, and even most Mormons) advocated non-participation in elections and politics entirely. They simply abstained, and their religious leaders constantly preached this practice of political non-participation.

    But sometime around the 60s or 70s, maybe as a Hegelian backlash against the rise of Liberal causes and government-enforced Civil Rights laws/movement, these people suddenly started taking an active role and interest in politics. The final straw was Roe vs. Wade in 1972. After then the gloves were off: Their preachers stopped pressing them to abstain, and the concept of voting became adiaphora (ie: not essential to the faith, meaning you could vote if you wanted, the church had no opinion on it). Many churches went even further and organized voting drives and rented buses to take their entire parishes to the polls.

    The first big campaign to really bottle and capitalize on this powerful new demographic bloc was Reagan in 1980. By selling politics to the evangelicals, suddenly the Conservatives — the party of small government, fiscal spending and laissez-faire economics — became the Super Evangelical Right, and dropped the small government and fiscal spending part (they had to if they wanted to re-engineer society by legislating morality the way the liberals tried to in the 60s).

    The tragic thing about this technique is how incredibly successful it turned out: Hardcore Christians voted in droves (and have been ever since), leading the the largest electoral victory for the Republicans in ’84. Every Republican now operates in the shadow of Reagan and that historic administration, and the modern party is pretty much an amalgamation of opportunists trying to duplicate Reagan’s success by appealing and re-appealing to the Evangelicals, reinforcing their narrative.

    Because of this, the Republicans have increasingly looked less and less like true Conservatives and more like moral crusaders for God and country. The Evangelicals, whom no more than 40 years ago weren’t even a politically relevant voting bloc, have now completely taken over the Republican party, or at the very least have convinced the Republicans that the party can’t win without them.

    So its not just social behavior, but the way the American evangelicals sought political power (and got it), and the Canadian evangelicals did not. America has always been described as a “melting pot” — immigrants being assimilated into a monoethnic American ethos — whereas Canada describes itself as a “mosaic” — different cultures getting along. Because of this, running for office under a religious platform is essentially political suicide in Canada. Christians may dominate the cultural landscape, but they know they won’t for very long if they tried to take over.

  21. Cameron says

    He went by Rueben for a while. Fitting to see that he hasn’t evolved his argument or tactics over all that time.

  22. changerofbits says

    Ha! I didn’t catch this the first time through the show, but it looks like George, the concerned Pastor/Teacher of 8th graders (A.K.A. Miles, the atheist tone troll, and Stotch, the ‘I’ve met an actual troll, but didn’t take a picture’ troll), had his friend(?) “Kevin from Japan” call in to back up his “Miles” character’s point. It almost sounds like Kevin was getting coached from George (seems to say “No..” to somebody right as they put his line on the air).

    Also, what an amazing non sequitur to respond to Matt’s “get your own show” advice by presenting “data” (that Matt likes) by “getting a feel” that the show has changed since 2007. Yay Jeff for hanging up so quickly, maybe Kevin/George/Miles/Stotch will get a clue after Matt did the same to him a show or two back.

  23. says

    Sorry guys, I will be out of the topic.

    About Pascal’s Wager:
    I heard someone who was explaining the Pascal’s Wager to some people and I realize there is another problem with that that I have never heard of.(outside the traditional objections) I realize something today and told that guy:
    -So Pascal says that if we believe God exists and he does exists then we go to paradise
    —so Pascal is clearly refering to the christian god (just believe that he exists and you will go to heaven, the notion of heaven and hell)
    —the Bible is the book that christian believe in
    —the Devil and the demons believe god exists in that Bible, therefore what?
    —(big eyes and realize that something is wrong)
    –see that Pascal’s wager doesn’t work. or?
    –now I realize that.

  24. changerofbits says

    Well, it may be false equivalence to assume that simple “belief that god exists” is enough based on what most christians believe will get you into heaven. Do Catholics think Lutherans and Anglicans are going to heaven, what about Mormons? I think they could rationalize that the Devil/demons reject or refuse to worship Christ even though they are aware exactly who he is (some christians say the same nonsense about us: “atheists know god exists, they just reject him”). But, this works if they are arguing that the literal “belief that god exists” is the exact criterion for getting the eternal orgasm promised by taking Pascal’s bet.

  25. says

    I had a couple of thoughts from this week’s show.

    1. It’s your show. You should make whatever show you want. If someone wants the show done a completely different way, then they should start their own show or podcast or videoblog or whatever. Their show might be just as good or even better. But trying to get someone to do their show a completely different way is a total waste of time. Besides, some of us like it the way it is.

    2. About religion and wealth. It seems to me that in many cultures, religion has been a tool of the powerful to keep those out of power in their place. I’m not claiming that this is the original purpose of religion but it’s how it is often used. In India under the caste system poor people were told they were poor because of what they had done in other life. It meant they had to accept their fate. The Catholic Church in medieval Europe taught “the divine right of kings.” No matter how awful your rulers were, they were placed there by god so you had to accept them. I’m sure people could come up with any number of examples. Look at our own country today where people vote against their own economic interests because of social issues. Their religion is used to manipulate them (often by people who clearly have no idea of acting on this social agenda but promise they will.)

  26. says

    Ya, good comment. But the guy who was talking about Pascal’a Wager was trying to sell “believe god exists” as a good thing and from the point of view of evangelical christians. At least now he will reconsider the Pascal’s wager. Maybe he will change only his brand of christianity…

    But that Wager from Pascal itself, it seems strange to me, seems a paradox. I should make research about it but seems Pascal with that Bet was critizing a type of religious faith because Pascal was a Jansenist (a catholic “heresy” that was almost exactly like calvinism). I think they believe that the Belief in God is a gift from God that is only giving by grace, there is no free will in “accepting god” because eanyway our will is corrupted, etc I think his Wager wasn’t something he wanted to sell but a point of view he wanted to criticize, the one from the catholics of his time.

  27. mike says

    Yes! – Rueben, thank-you, that was the other name he used for a while. I was thinking it was ‘Caesar’ but I knew that was wrong and now that you said Rueben, I remember that Caesar is another long time caller with a slightly more nasal and monotone voice. Its hard to get all the theistic regulars straight!

  28. Heaven says

    Imagine being in heaven is like being in church. The only thing I believe is my question to god is how to kill myself to stop that torture.
    Serious now, Pascal is simply wrong because if heaven exists you will go there anyway, and in the other case you wasted the only precious time you got here on earth. Who loses now, dear Blaise?

  29. Günter Wilde says

    Yay Jeff for hanging up so quickly …

    Just watching the show again (on youtube this time), and I couldn’t agree more. Very refreshing. Thanks, Jeff. Great show 🙂