Open thread on AETV 816: Russell and Jen

Russell and Jen discussed religious harassment in the military. Then we took calls from an atheist dealing with depression, an agnostic Mormon trying to decide whether the personal satisfaction of belief outweighs any potential harm, and several others.


  1. says

    I watched this one live which I almost never do. I had trouble with the live stream with chat so I went to the public access website. Do they post the after-show calls on the site?

  2. Raymond says

    Well, for starters, I would have to disagree with Jen on at least one point. The army is an institution that demands blind obedience. I was constantly cited for “insubordination” while I was in for nothing in some instances. For instance, I was catching a ride with an NCO while I was a PFC. I jumped up into his truck and inadvertently kicked the door frame. He gave me an official write-up for insubordination because he had told me it was a new truck. Or how about the time I ran a 15:00 on a two mile run, but the NCO said I ran an 18:00; even though the person I finished just ahead of got a 15:02. I was cited for insubordination for bringing up the point to the NCO. Or how about the time I did a 6 mile run with three bone spurs in my feet, an IT band injury, and a severely bruised foot. I fell out during the run and couldn’t finish. I was cited for insubordination for not finishing when my NCO told me to. No. The Army is all about blind obedience. They care nothing for the individual, only what each cog in the machine can do. It all came to a head, in Afghanistan. Anyone who has been in a warzone knows that there are no such thing as days off, or regular hours. I was in the 3rd consecutive month with 18+ hour days when my 1sg decided to put us back on PT sessions. I lasted about 2 months before my body gave out. I was in the middle of a two hour pt when my body just stopped. I couldn’t do anything. I couldn’t move, talk, or even open my eyes. I was medivac’ed back to the states and promptly discharged for “insubordination.” Just before I left the fob, my 1sg came up to me and told me to please just kill myself, I was costing him the personnel required to escort me to Germany. The army is very very different when you are an officer.

  3. Lord Narf says

    Nope. You can view all of the after-show stuff on UStream, though. It’s also quite possible for it to end up on YouTube, from someone pulling it from UStream.

    I just woke up from a nap, so I missed it.

  4. says

    The last caller questioned whether there was any harm in just believing.

    Ironically, she provided an example of the harm. Our beliefs inform our actions, and her religious beliefs were strongly informing her to condemn her child to religious indoctrination, which would probably impair this child’s basic capacity for critical thinking and analysis, potentially for life (depending on how anti-science and anti-intellectual the denomination is).

    People like to think that they can have beliefs that are completely disassociated from real-life decisions and actions, but it just doesn’t work out that way, and her child is in danger of being harmed by it.

  5. AmyC says

    The first caller broke my heart. His speechlessness at the beginning and his experience with his depression being used against him by religious people reminded me of myself. It is really hard to speak out loud about my depression, and it sounded like he was having the same problem. I used to be in therapy, and the speechlessness lasted for about half of the first session. Depression is something we’re conditioned to *not talk about* (or at least, I was). I luckily had a secular therapist. I don’t know if she was an atheist or not, but she didn’t push any religious views on me and there were no religious trappings in her office (no bibles, other holy books, or crosses or other symbols of religion). I hope he finds good friends who can support him w/o trying to push their religion on him, and a therapist he can afford who also doesn’t push religion.

  6. says

    The first caller got to me, also. My husband committed suicide 5 1/2 years ago, and people used that as a lever to try and drag me to religion. They told me he was going to hell. They told me I wouldn’t be depressed if I had god in my life. They told me I was being ugly to them because, if they were stupid enough to ask me how he died, I told them. Apparently, the pain I lived with was just too much for them to hear about. They told their church “prayer committees” about me so they could pray for me and leave tracts at my door. They made it all about them. They had the answers; I knew nothing. There were some who blamed our shared atheism for his death. I tried to tell myself, “They think they are helping,” but it didn’t help. I finally had to give myself permission to be angry with them.

    There were people who actually helped me get through that horrible time without pushing god at me, and to those people, I will be grateful forever. I hope the caller can find people like that.

  7. says

    What kind of monster tells you that your recently departed loved one is going to hell? Even if that were true (maybe especially if that were true) that’s a horrible thing to say. As for having god in your life fixing your depression? I’ve known plenty of religious people who suffered from severe depression and in many cases it was their church that slowed down their search for help as they discouraged them to seek professional help.

  8. John Kruger says

    On the “it just makes me happy, what is the harm” argument.

    Happiness is not a single overriding factor in making decisions. If it was, what could we say to the drug addict if they simply state it makes them happy? I would likely be a lot happier if I did not have to worry about the wellbeing of my children, but that would not be a basis for trying not to care about them anymore or forgetting about them completely. “It makes me happy” is a really narrow and dysfunctional way to justify belief.

    As for the harm, when you pin your beliefs on what makes you happy over what is real there is no telling where those beliefs will run afoul of reality. No doubt parents that believe in intercessory prayer are very comforted by the idea of an all-powerful being waiting around to help them out, yet real harm is done when they drop to their knees instead of taking their children to the hospital thinking the hospital care would show a lack of faith on their part. How many stories have we heard of mentally disordered people killing of their kids to send them to heaven? Does that belief not make the killers happy? Should they be happy in that kind of situation? Happiness is one concern for what you ought to do, but there are other considerations and other types of fulfillment that need to be considered.

  9. says

    It’s this very thing that made me start questioning my own faith more profundly. We had a sister in the church who suffeed from low self esteem issues and depression. I was relatviely close to the pastor and one day, while we were out and about, I heard her joke how this sister was “Suicidal”. JOKED about it–as in ha-ha…she chuckled. I was sickened. Even still, to my own shame, it took me a month or so to finally leave the church (numerous other things occurred that made me leave as well). The next time someone tries to tell you that atheism caused his suicide, by all means feel free to let them know that many religious folks commit suicide and point them mofo’s to whatever resources you dig up to support your facts. You owe such cretins nothing.

  10. says

    Precisley! I have heard women who stay in abusive relationships state that “Well, when he is good to me he makes me happy…” choosing to stay because the occasional black eye or broken bone is not so bad as long as they have occasional glimpses of loveliness. It can also make serial killers and child molesters happy to commt offences aganist innocnet people. Meth users get all kinds of slap happiness from thier drug use. Oh we could go on and on aboust destructive happiness. You are right; subjective or personal happiness is not the SOLE measuring stick for doing anything. Should we attempt to find happiness in this life? Most certainly, but to that measure, we should always determine at what cost our particular brand of happines is coming.

  11. says

    Amy, I had clinical depression and at times still struggle with it as well. It helps that I have a very supportive hubby and I am currently pursuing my dreams and goals, but it can be very difficult to get past when individuals attempt to”victim blame” or use your condition as tool to proselytize. You are truly lucky to have found such a wonderful therpaist. Let us hope the caller can find true support and help.

  12. says

    That is the problem; religion gives you a myopic view of reality. If she believes in hell for example, then she sees no harm in raising her kiddo with the knowledge to escape hell. It’s a reasoning that is fatally flawed but they cannot even understand that until they correct thier vision by leaving the belief system behind.

  13. changerofbits says

    I have to agree with you. While I’d like to think that Jen’s experience were the norm across all commands (I’d be proud to work for a team as functional as described), there seems to be plenty of evidence that the military is just as messed up (or maybe more so given the authoritarian, chain of command nature of it) as any other organization comprised of humans. I’m a civilian, so I don’t have first hand knowledge of how it works, but it seems ridiculous that there isn’t at least some non-chain of command channel for raising issues. It seems the press is the only entity that can uncover the crap for anything to be done (Abu Graib, sexual assault, etc). The even worse part about this type of justice is that the press doesn’t care about the less sensational abuses that you describe Raymond.

  14. says

    About the last caller, who wondered about what the harm is in choosing to believe in something if it just makes you feel good: You didn’t have time to touch on the harm it may do to an individual.

    For me, this opens up a huge can of worms regarding what it means to be an atheist in the first place. To realize one is an atheist is kind of like killing your father (if you used to be in a patriarchal religion). You feel like you’ve cut yourself off from that kind of support. And that’s what freedom is. You’ve accepted complete moral autonomy (with a certain amount of social context). The truth is, no one is listening and watching everything you do anymore. I rather think one cannot grow up until one does this. If you can’t change your relationship with your parents as an adult, you’re still a child, and you’re still dependent. They are still watching everything you do.

    Then there’s the implication of one’s own intellectual life. How one goes about functioning in the world. Magical thinking is really detrimental to functioning in society in North America. It’s really rare that things work out the way they are “supposed to” in a magical world. God isn’t going to put that money in your bank account if you’ve overdrawn. A check will not come in the mail. And then there’s the probability of psychological detriment: if things go wrong, it’s your fault that you didn’t perform useless rituals. You cannot always be in control of the universe. It’s like being OCD. Touching your nose exactly thirty times will not prevent a bus accident. But you can talk yourself into believing that.

    I’ve got more, but I think you get the gist of this.

  15. says

    I occasionally flirt with being dangerously depressed. I wouldn’t know what to say to the caller… for me, at least, nothing anyone could say to me would really make a difference. It always came down to fixing what was weighing me down.

    …maybe with the exception of being angry enough at Vulture Christians if they targeted me.

    I couldn’t ever deceive myself to try to feel better. I’d rather be glum in the truth, than happy in a lie.

  16. says

    I think that is the danger in peering behind the viel for a lot of us. Seeing life in the raw has it’s rewards but the BS we have to wade through in the everyday process of living in a screwed up world just–gets to be too much. I am a workaholic, multitasking hermit of sorts myself, barely venturing out of doors save for the sake of my kids. I guess you can say my kids and love of my life keep me grounded in spite of occassional hiccups. And you are right–I’d rather live in gray realities then to medicate msyelf with pretty little ies.

  17. says

    My freeing moment came when I tore off the shackles of religion. Even some aspects of my depression lifted…people who think they achieve some kind of fulfilment or happiness (as I once believed) won’t really understand what happiness, free of threat of eternal punishment and unrealistic expections can be like. Far better than any supposed trascendent experience I had whilst in church.

  18. Raymond says

    But I think this is where people with the faith-blinders on get side-tracked. When the entire faith is based on not having to be responsible for your actions, you never take into account the possible repercussions of those actions. You don’t even know how to. This is where the true harm in religion lies. These people don’t even stop to think about how their beliefs affect other people. That’s how you get demons who tell a widow that her recently deceased husband is going to hell. They never stopped to think about what they were doing because their faith teaches them not to care. The only thing they care about is themselves and their “relationship” with the sky-daddy. Its like me going up to you and saying “Hey! I just want you to know that I’m going to slaughter your family. But I’m only doing it because the voice in my head said to, so nothing personal. Do you want to grab some dinner when I’m done?” They really don’t see how out of sync with reality they are.

  19. says

    Yep! It takes removing their religious world view for them to see the inheent harm in fantasy based belief systems. I recall when I was a theist I was prostelytizing on a greyhound bus and finally a dude in the front area of said bus cries out, “Will someone shut that rhymes-wit- witch up?” I was genuinely confused by the man’s anger, as I could not understand why anyone would not want to know about Jesus. LOL!

  20. Lord Narf says

    Oh sure, there are channels for raising issues, outside of the chain of command. They just tend to be locked down by commanders who don’t like dealing with anything outside of the chain of command, I suspect. A lot of the commanders in the military are crazy fundigelicals and misogynists who don’t think women have any place in the military.

    It’s hard to get anything done, within the system, when you keep running into those sorts of blocks. That’s why women, atheists, and gays can often only get anything taken care of if they go to outside resources, like the media. My brother has told me about some issues he’s had, and he’s a high-ranking NCO and a Catholic. The fundies have been a source of annoyance, even for him, because he’s not the right sort of Christian … although I’m sure it’s not nearly as bad for him as it is for atheists.

  21. Raymond says

    LOL! I use to sit in my car with my windows down, blasting christian music to try to touch the people who walked by. It never occurred to me that it was annoying people.

  22. Raymond says

    Also, the people in charge are really good at setting up situations where it’s your word against theirs. Then who is the panel going to believe; the PFC with a “history of insubordination”, or the commander/E-8orE-9 with a spotless record? Either that or getting someone else to say what they want to say so they can’t be attacked directly.

  23. says

    and thus underlines that almost blind narcissism and callousness of religious ideology…like for example, being told with a straight face that I was cursed because of the sins of dark skinned Cana’ an (and thus deserving of being enslaved once upon a time) but hey, that isn’t really a thing to worry about today, because of Jesus’ sacrifice and all–gee–uhm, thanks?

  24. Philip says

    That’s definitely one of the best possible links to respond to the first caller with!

    But, another point that everyone (particularly the caller) needs to remember is that though he may be going to the Psychiatrist for drugs that help, it also depends on the exact brain chemistry for what needs to be prescribed and in what quantity and that that can not only be difficult to find requiring iterating toward what is best but that it can also change over time. [Or interact with something else that might be prescribed by someone else.]

    If the doctor is not actively engaging in follow-up to make sure what they’re giving him is right, he may not be getting what is needed.

  25. changerofbits says

    Yea, it’s probably not going to be very effective on a case by case basis, but with no reporting the officer can just continue to do the same. Even having to deal with one case is going to make that officer look a little worse (their commander isn’t going to like having to deal with it). You could make the reports optionally anonymous, which will enable the infraction to at least be reported and would also enable those who are 3rd party to some misconduct to report the issue.

    On a bit of misogynistic, anti-justice news today, military leaders don’t want to give up the power to cover up sexual assault cases:

    I still don’t get why they think that dealing with these crimes internally does them any good.

  26. Lausten North says

    For all the times someone says, “My spirituality is like John Shelby Spong” or other liberal theologians, there are some brief summaries of them in the Iron Chariots wiki along with some discussion of common liberal Christian questions and statements.

  27. paul clark says

    heya I live in the England found your show by accident and love it I know that north euro zone was chilled on religion and did not care if u do or don’t but I did not know the hate and fear in the u.s about being Atheist but is so so funny listen to sum of rants u get never heard so many silly thing any were in Europe I don’t decry any one believes good luck in opening peoples eyes and ever one on the show is showing sum real bravery pls keep it up all the best

  28. Lord Narf says

    Yeah, it’s a whole other world over here. We’ve got one of the two viable political parties trying to turn us into a theocracy of fundamentalist Christianity. We’re maybe two seats on the US Supreme Court from them being able to do it. If Mitt Romney had won, it would have been a disaster. He would have appointed politically, rather than legally, motivated justices, who would ignore a lot of the legal precedent and the Constitution, in favor of their ideology.

    And a huge chunk of the electorate is too ignorant to see what the Republicans are trying to do. They believe the “lower taxes” and “jobs, jobs, jobs” that the Republican candidates proclaim all electoral season and ignore what the legislators actually do while they’re in office.

    My own state tried to pass a law that would allow them to establish an official state religion, in complete violation of the first amendment of the US Constitution. It’s not like it could have any chance of standing, in the inevitable lawsuit, but I’m sure the state would spend a disgusting amount of money defending it in court.

  29. says

    My personal rethug favorite: “Obama won cause he wanted to give folks stuff — yah just can’t beat Santa Claus!” What the fu. I didnt even vote for Obama but that chizznit was just lame. I often tell conservatives that I don’t vote Republican because of thier anti woman, hyper religious, bigoted agenda. When they claim not to be bigots (which seems to be more of an affront than being considered sexist or religious fanatics) I simply point out the myriads of conservatives even within thier own party that claim people like me just sit around collecting welfare and crossing our fingers for Obamacare. In the end they can’t deny that 1) Everyone wants “stuff”; Republicans just want the s’tuff” that thier party promises 2) All they need do is go to Afghanistan to see how well Theocracies are doing over there 3) Painting immigrants and black folks as moochers who never contributed anything to America and somehow do not desevre the same rights as “god fearing normals” is why so many people with a modicum of sense will never vote Republican… All I can say is, Whig party anyone?

  30. Lord Narf says

    Who did you go for, Green?

    Alas, I’m in a battleground state, so my votes really count. I couldn’t pull up YouTube for a month and a half, because of all of the minute-and-a-half, unskippable Romney ads, after I had already voted early. I’d write in Green every time, except that would have the effect of a half-vote for Romney, when you narrow it down to the possible winners in a national election.

  31. says

    Voted Liberterian actually. I live in GA; I dunno–I couldn’t bring myself to vote obama either. I feel we can’t build a strong 3rd party if we don’t start voting for the boys and girls on the other side…

  32. Lord Narf says

    Yeah, in Georgia, you can vote third party and not worry about it. No way in hell a Democrat can win there, statewide, with the current climate.

  33. says

    Oh you just don’t know–I so wish I could run away to the Netherlans, just too damned expensive–and cold!

  34. Nude Allover says

    It seemed to me that she revealed the true harm of her belief when she said she was going through a lot of problems. If she didn’t fall back on a false belief, perhaps she would find a real solution to those problems instead of just ignoring them or letting them hurt. The belief didn’t solve her problems, just took her mind off them while ensuring that she wasn’t going to look for a real solution in reality. THAT is the harm. Fantasy may not be inherently harmful, but solutions are only found in the real world.

  35. paul clark says

    the Netherlands a great place heath education and live style comes up as one best to live hehe beer food better in Belgium do u see the fundamentalist gain ground in the us this is more scary I think the difference in Europe we had our history of bad fundamentalist religion even in Spain and Italy common sense has prevailed in Italy you got condom machines’ in the street the 1st time made me laugh. what is taught at school level up especially the sciences hehe when I heard coming out the show only heard that in the context of homosexuality just seem so so wrong but at same time 20 years ago a mixed marriage in Scotland and Ireland was a protestant marring a catholic was a lot bad thing that happen. hopeful a day of logic will one day happen

  36. says

    you get a solid hear, hear from me–too bad she won’t be able to see that for some time. Mormonism appears to be the HARDEST habit to break of all the Christian addictions.

  37. says

    I look at a lot of the European models with great envy and believe that yes–we are a few centuries behind you guys, but we will get there…lol

  38. Lord Narf says

    I think Mormonism is the most cult-like of the denominations that are currently getting a lot of media coverage. There are Pentecostal cults that are far worse, in the mountains of North Carolina, Washington State, and Oregon, but we don’t hear much out of them. It makes it harder to break free when your entire social structure is bound up in the cult.

  39. paul clark says

    would like to say if I get wrong words ever will try keep up with here not a great forum person as I’ve dyslexia what is 1 field think u gr8 on well works done there on do ive come across Americans and got on gr8 with but as soon as u say your a atheist they not speak to u so it is being if me and my family have come across it if me and mine across boulders and few that meet are on whole more educated and better jobs is a worrying thing be a nice world were ever 1 is jugged race/colour/creed on there own merits as a person am also am disabled so seen best and worst weekly

  40. says

    You are right Paul but we are trying out best to get the word out–and I think it is working–slowly but surely–I hope to see great winds of change in my lifetime–maybe–just maybe…

  41. John Nugent says

    Hey Narf. Good to see you, again.

    Just voted to establish a State Religion. I’m guessing, NC?

    I’ve been watching the Dominionist nightmare, especially as a former Southerner. Rationalism seems to have lost North Carolina and Kentucky to these lunatics. They seem to be winning Texas (being Barton’s home base, of course), so I am ever so thankful to Atheist Experience, for being a voice of Reason, in that State. They’re working hard on West Virginia, and having been born there, it fills me with shame, that they seem to be winning, there. Tennessee will fall to them as well. It’s inevitable. For the past ten years, in portions of that State, Christian Ministers have been allowed to speak to school classes about Jesus and about America’s “Christian Heritage.” At least, this was actively practiced, in the five years, I lived in those pockets. And, as it is found in many parts of the South, one’s worth to the community is not only based on one’s Religious Belief, but which Church (building, not Denomination), one attends. And today, I happened to see some old news, out of Virginia – the State which gave us the precedent for our Religious Freedom. It seems, the Dominionist Campaigns have started to take hold, there, as well.

    I have attempted to counter the misinformation coming out of WallBuilders, but of course, I am almost immediately shouted down, with claims of “Revisionism.” Or, they merely scream, that I’m some Liberal Obama-Worshipper, like Liberal is an insult. LOL Obama-Worshipper is, but Liberal?

    Of course, I have always considered my Politics to be fairly Right Wing, which only shows me, how far to the extreme Right, these people are going. I take that back. They raced south to Populism, a long time ago.

    Quite frankly, the Dominionists gaining ground, as fast as they are… They scare me. I was a Marine Drill Sgt’s son, so nothing scares me, after the horror of my childhood. But they simply terrify me. And the fact, that Rational Debate with them is impossible… Now, they are a danger.

    When this Country was founded, our Religious Freedom was a major part of what set us apart from other Countries. It was part of our marketing image, so to speak. Now, we’re probably the least free, in this regard. And people still take to the streets, waving their flags, shouting, “We’re #1”

    But to quote an old Director of mine, speaking about an actor, we both knew, but who had a tremendous ego… “He has everything it takes, to be a great actor. If, he’d just get it through his head, that he’s not already a great actor.”

  42. John Nugent says

    By the way, when i say, “Dominionism,” I guess I had better clarify, that I speak of the Christian Nation Movement.

  43. John Nugent says

    “What kind of monster tells you that your recently departed loved one is going to hell?”

    Hmmm…. There’s always Fred Phelps.

    But no, this is common MO of all cults (and yes, I consider even the major religions to be cults, at heart, but just with bigger wallets and more public support), to set up a need for what they have to offer, and then to pretend to actually have, what they have to offer. Then, they allow confirmation bias to do the rest of the work, for them.

    It could also be a setup for a variation on Pascal’s Wager. “What if HE was wrong? Why do you want to follow his example, by dying without believing?”

    Personally, I agree with Alicia’s comment, below. I am actually less depressed, now, and I would argue, a lot more moral. In fact, after years of actively searching for some definite proof of God’s existence, when I finally came to the conclusion, there isn’t any, my own thought was, “Well, that actually explains a lot.” Now, there are only two times, I am thoroughly depressed, with a religious cause.

    The first is, when I think, I wasted forty years on a Fantasy, which I could have spent, doing something productive.

    The second is, that God does not exist, therefore, there is no way to ask Him, how a Perfect Being could prove so incompetent at Creation. I mean it! A monkey could dream up a better world! Ask any Science Fiction writer. (This is not meant to imply, SF writers are monkeys. Only that they are cousins to monkeys. Sorry about this one too. We have to be able to joke, at our own expense.)

  44. John Nugent says

    On an unrelated note, Alicia, I would like to comment on the example of women staying in abusive relationships.

    This is another thing, in which Religion is harmful. Think of all the wives, who stay with husbands, who beat them up every day, because divorce is a “sin” in their Church.

    I am actually writing a play on this subject, based upon my own childhood.

    My own father would be out, every day, visiting some woman or other, driving my poor mother crazy. (By the way, the hypocrite never drank or smoked, as those were sins LOL). Then he’d come home and beat her to a pulp. I had to watch, in order to learn, how a “real man” behaves. (Yeah, watch everything you do, and do the opposite – got it.) She stayed with him, for one reason, and one reason alone. Divorce is a sin against God.

    Finally, she went to our Preacher, at the time, for advice. Dad had been a little too nasty one day and put her in the hospital for a few weeks, so she was getting a little fed up, as you can imagine. I had just turned Seven. Our Preacher advised her that, because of dad’s treatment of her, dad was dead in God’s eyes, and she was, therefore, a widow, so a divorce would just be a legality, for a foregone conclusion.

    Mom had the divorce papers served to dad, and as he was such a violent person, we went into hiding, until the case could come to Court. Which it finally did, that August. Finally, the divorce was finalized, and we were free.

    The next Sunday, mom was the subject of a fire and brimstone sermon from our supposed ally, the Preacher, for sinning against God, by divorcing her husband.

    And this was a mainstream, albeit Fundamentalist, Baptist Denomination! There are some Denominations, I would accuse of such crazy sh*^, but the Baptists? Well, then, I wouldn’t. Today, maybe, but not then. I still say, such crazy is probably not indicative of most Baptists. I am Appalachian, by birth, and we’re not known for fitting with the mainstream in, well, almost anything. And that includes the religious beliefs of even the most mainstream Churches.

    But think of all the women, who cannot leave abusive husbands, because their churches are even crazier about divorce.

  45. John Nugent says

    By the way, Narf, if it is NC – is that also the State, which passed a law, which says, no Supreme Court decision or Federal Law applies to them? Or was that Mississippi? I can’t remember. I remember equivocating such a Law with de facto secession, but I cannot remember which State it was, now.

  46. says

    Oh, yeah I know; when I was going through my soul searching days, I toyed with becoming a Jehovah’s Witness. I soon learned however they they were staunchily against divorce only in cases of adultery as advised by Christ ( this was an escape clause your mother could have used as Christ did indeed say this and you Dad was cheating on her). What they don’t realize is that back in the day adultery didn’t just mean “cheating” but why let facts stand in the way of dogma. Needless to say I stayed away from JW’s and any other eligion that spouted that nonsense.

  47. Lord Narf says

    North Carolina, yes. We had a Democratic governor to veto the most insane stuff, up until 2012. With McCrory in there now, the state is completely screwed. I’m hoping to get out of here, sometime in the next couple of years. I’d like to move back up to the Chicago area. At least when the elected officials up there go insane about religion, they get shamed for it, after the fact.

  48. John Nugent says

    As opposed to being praised for it, as they are, in Christian Nation controlled States. Understand that.

  49. says

    ah, I see this is where the conversation takes place, not on the message board I posted on before, so I’m just going to post here the same thing I posted on the message board:

    I listened to your show for the first time today and it was very interesting. However, I don’t believe that an adequate answer was given to the caller claiming that some concessions should be made about faith in order to make theists more receptive to listening.

    I believe the caller’s argument went something like this: Telling theists that faith is defined as belief without evidence immediately turns them off because they hold faith so dear. Then they stop listening to anything we have to say. It would be better to concede to the theist that faith is a valid basis for a decision in some cases, but just not for “big things” like whether or not there is a god. By not blowing the theists whole world out of the water right away, the theist is more likely to keep an open mind and continue to pay attention longer.

    I can understand why the caller believes this approach might work. However, I don’t believe the hosts did an adequate job of explaining to him why it is a bad approach.

    By conceding a premise we know to be untrue, we are forcing ourselves into a position in which we will inevitably have to give bad arguments. We’re setting ourselves up to fail. In fact, I am not interested in forcing anyone to become an atheist. Someone believing there is no god doesn’t really benefit me. I am interested in helping people to see the errors in their logic and reasoning, and help them to understand how those errors lead to belief in a god. Once someone understands that, they are likely to start considering becoming an atheist, sure. But I get no prize for every theist I convert to atheism, so simply being able to convince people to become an atheist by hook or by crook is pointless. They have to come to atheism by way of rational thought. It is impossible to bring someone to rational thought by way of a fallacious argument. That’s an outright contradiction.

    in order to convince people that belief based on faith is irrational, rational arguments must be used. That is why conceding to an untrue premise as a sort of “trick” to lure the theist in to listening will end up doing more harm than good. You have already defeated your own argument before you have begun, and any intelligent theist will be able to notice this and your argument will completely lose all credibility. And since intelligent theists are the only ones we have any hope of convincing anyway, don’t defeat yourself by using this tactic.

  50. Lord Narf says

    Telling theists that faith is defined as belief without evidence immediately turns them off because they hold faith so dear. Then they stop listening to anything we have to say. It would be better to concede to the theist that faith is a valid basis for a decision in some cases, but just not for “big things” like whether or not there is a god. By not blowing the theists whole world out of the water right away, the theist is more likely to keep an open mind and continue to pay attention longer.

    The big problem is that where the theists are almost always going with the question is into an equivocation fallacy. Ray Comfort pulled that crap on Aron Ra, in a radio debate last year. (check out the whole program, while you’re there, if you’re so inclined; it’s worth listening to) The faith-in-God and faith-in-your-wife equivocation doesn’t make for a difference between big things and small things.

    It’s a complete context shift. You HAVE to stop them and explain to them why their entire mode of thinking is completely wrong. Sure, you’ll turn off some people, but do you really think that you’ll reach anyone who is that wrapped up in faith-as-a-good-thing? You have to do it in steps. You have to get them to stop relying wholly on blind faith, before you can get them to go look at the evidence and examine it critically.

    I have a reasonable expectation that the chair I’m sitting in is not going to snap and dump me on the floor, while I’m writing this comment. An equivocating theist will then turn around and say that I have faith in my chair, the same way that they have faith in God.

    Another common one is that we get into a car and have faith that we’re going to get to where we’re going without dying in a flaming car wreck. Hell no, I don’t have faith in that! Did you see the way that guy just changed lanes over there? What I have is a reasonable estimation of the probability of me making it where I’m going, based upon a statistical likelihood, backed up by my own very defensive driving-habits. You can’t do anything without some risk, so life is all about weighing the probabilities.

    Those are two completely different usages of the word faith, and equating the two is a gross logical fallacy. Russel and Jen may have not spelled that out very well, that time. The problem is that when you get dozens of theists calling in making the exact same logical mistake, over and over … I mean, you’ve GOT to go back to basics and explain why what they just said is so wrongheaded, but when you’re doing it repeatedly, you slip up sometimes.

    I was half asleep when I listened to this episode. I’ll have to pull it up and listen to it again, when I go for a walk, later tonight. I don’t recall if they covered all of the bases, in this particular instance of the argument being made.

  51. DutchDanny says

    Thanks for the support neighbour! Don’t really care for our beer though, I happen to like a good Scotch, go figure. Just wanted to say that indeed in the Netherlands you can be very out as an atheist and percentage wise a lot of people are, but there’s also a lot of agreeing to disagree. It’s really no fun being a ‘strong’ atheist here. We’ve had our share of religiously inspired (civil) warfare and conquest and in the end we decided ‘to each his own’ is best. As for other social issues, let’s just say the grass is always greener on the other side.

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