Open thread for episode #844

As we slowly ease into the end of the year, Matt and Jen take calls and discuss the Christmas “Wars,” waged by petty little men who behave like spoiled children who don’t want anyone else having their birthday party at Chuck E. Cheese. Comment away, gang.


  1. Jagyr says

    The last caller mentioned Vermont as the least religious state, and started to list of some of Vermont’s positive state statistics. While I am a proud anti-religious Vermonter, I have to caution against this kind of “correlation = causation” reasoning.

    Faulty reasoning aside, think of the PR aspect. It makes us (atheists and Vermonters) look good when you look at the charts that say we’re the least religious and the healthiest, but it makes us look not so good when you look at the charts that say we’re the least religious and also number one in drunk driving and illicit drug use.

  2. Walter says

    This is the first time I saw the show in HD. Looks great!
    It’s still a shame you do not allow YouTube comments. It makes responding and keeping updated so much easier.

    Anyway, on topic. I agree with Matt on the Christmas. I do not have anything against it for be a ‘religious’ holiday.

  3. AhmNee says

    Really? Vermont beats Wisconsin? I thought we were the worst and most lenient.

    I’m not inclined to jump to the conclusion that illicit drug use is necessarily a bad thing and that a lot of the issues with illicit drug use are caused by the very system that tries to get rid of them. But then, I recognized I’m likely the minority.

    I didn’t come to atheism for the best reasons. But I started listening to Penn Jillette, that led to reading Christopher Hitchins, which let to Dawkins and Harris and Dillahunty. Get God Is Not Great. Check out . I found that a lot of the doubts I had as a believer that I’d rationalized away, I was actually on to something in those doubts and would have been better off had I pursued them.

    I believed so little of what I even knew of the bible and I think that if I’d had something or someone challenge my beliefs and point me in the rational direction, I’d have been an atheist much earlier in life.

  4. corwyn says

    , I have to caution against this kind of “correlation = causation” reasoning.

    Which no one made.

    But usually the correlation isn’t causation argument cautions against assuming one of the factors is causative over the other. In this instance, I am fine with any of the options: a) irreligiousity causes positive cultural benefits b) positive culture causes irreligiousity, or 3) Something else causes both irreligiousity and positive culture. All of those are good reasons to move to a state with both.

  5. CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain says

    A litany of “X has more Y” statistics makes for dry, forgettable listening though.
    And the intelligence correlation, while interesting, isn’t really suitable as an argument against the truth or usefulness of theism…

    Audio: ReasonableDoubts – Why Are Atheists More Intelligent?

  6. VahnRPG says

    I noticed the youtube uploads have had some after show conversations for the past couple of videos. Is there any chance these could be added to the podcast as well?

  7. Aaroninmelbourne says

    Chris’ call on how theists are aghast at the idea of there not being “eternal life” is very raw for me as I have recently lost a close friend I’ve known since we were both teenagers in an accident. His family are very religious. The funeral was full of “I believe in Heaven” and “He’s in Heaven looking down on us” and the like. Sorry in advance for the length of this post but I want to unpack this cliché of a trite condolence properly.

    The thing that really strikes me about the “afterlife” idea is that, contrary to the accepted wisdom, it is potentially hugely damaging:

    It does not provide comfort, because when someone dies, that person is lost to you and nothing is going to ‘bring them back’ into your life. The whole “But you’ll see them again in heaven!” is not comforting and is quite frankly, cruel because it denies your feelings of loss and very deep sorrow any validity. Speaking of feelings…

    It introduces guilt, because mourning someone’s death is inherently a self-focused emotional state. The dead are not involved in your mourning, and you have no choice: no matter how you approach their death, you can’t involve the dead person themselves as the dead are just not there for you to interact with. But rather than accept the death at the scale it truly is, you’re instead entreated to act a though the individual is somewhere in a theme park having a whale of a time, which only has the effect of belittling your emotional turmoil, as if you’re mourning a person who’s merely in another room. Speaking of belittling the death…

    It denies closure, because the whole emotional turmoil of someone’s death is the fact that the person has ended. They have not simply left as if on holiday, nor are they “up” somewhere. Death is the end, the living being is over. Yet, the insistence on “afterlives” means that people who seriously believe in such things can never come to terms with that person being well and truly gone in terms of “ended”, in the way a fire hasn’t “gone somewhere warmer” when extinguished. They now spend the rest of their own lives trying to come to terms with trying to reconcile the mutually exclusive notions of “this person is dead” and “this person is (after)alive”.

    There’s no reason to think there is an afterlife and even if there were, there’s no information to base any of the myriad of assumptions that afterlife believers use to get to “we’re all together, we’ll recognize each other, we’ll be the same people, and we’ll carry on as though nothing had happened.” Even on my limited study, there’s no reason to think of life as some sort of permanent, physical thing that survives death and a myriad of reasons to think of life as more akin to the emergent property of physical processes; that “life” is much more akin to an action rather than an object.

    It smacks of the “comforting words” that people try to tell you to make you feel better, when in fact, the only thing condolence-givers should focus on is trying to not make grieving people feel worse. “He’s in heaven!” fits in with such other gems as “When your time is up, it’s destiny!” (yes, he was destined to die horrifically in an accident, thanks for that thought), “You know, Buddhists believe in reincarnation!” (so we all get to experience lots of deaths in lots of ways, great), or my personal favorite “he died doing what he loved” (yeah, I’m sure it was a real thrill ride at the end). And yes, I’ve been told these things over the past couple of weeks.

    To me, the damage the afterlife myth causes was starkly shown by how calm and composed everyone was in the funeral service… until “I believe in heaven” started. It was the supposedly comforting lie people told themselves, which only brought into full focus the monumental scale of what had happened… and simultaneously denied them permission to face it.

    You can’t make it better, just try to avoid making it worse. Theists, offering up “They’re in heaven now (having a great time while you’re miserable)” makes it worse. Don’t say it.

  8. CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain says

    The whole “But you’ll see them again in heaven!” is not comforting and is quite frankly, cruel

    Hmm. This might be especially manipulative if strict religious prohibitions plant arbitrary fears of doing something wrong, which would jeopardize ever seeing them again, combined with having already denied closure.

    It’d make loved ones in heaven less of a bonus reunion to look forward to, and more like hostages to lose.

  9. says

    ” The whole “But you’ll see them again in heaven!” is not comforting and is quite frankly , cruel”

    I see this as nothing more then the offering of lip service. It belittles someone’s life when the best someone can come up with is a standard platitude while being focused on just their own beliefs. It’s ingenuous, condescending, and patronizes the person’s life as if they’re going to waste their time with trivial things like someone else’s superstitious beliefs. This only demonstrates how ignorant the person is not only of their own beliefs, but of the person who has passed away. The best coarse of action I’ve found is just to ignore all the B.S. from the narrow-minded and focus on the loved one’s life and do an act of kindness in their honor. One that would focus more on their life and less on someone else’s religious beliefs.

  10. says

    On a slightly bleaker note, I’m increasingly certain that listing the positive aspects of an irreligious society doesn’t get you much traction with a certain segment of theists because they literally do not care how much it benefits people if it means transgressing their religious proscriptions.

  11. corwyn says

    Not of truthfulness (as the caller was trying to do) (or st least not a very strong one), but it is an argument against the usefulness of theism.

  12. Jagyr says

    Well, the caller didn’t explicitly say “Mississippi is bad because of high religiosity, Vermont is good because of low religiosity”, but that’s what I inferred from what he was saying, because that’s the path I see people usually head down when they say things like that, and I assumed that the caller was heading in that direction too.

    But usually the correlation isn’t causation argument cautions against assuming one of the factors is causative over the other.

    I agree, and that’s what I’m saying here. Tying together various statistics about state populations without good supporting evidence isn’t a good idea.

    In this instance, I am fine with any of the options: a) irreligiousity causes positive cultural benefits b) positive culture causes irreligiousity, or 3) Something else causes both irreligiousity and positive culture.

    Of course we as atheist or anti-theist advocates are fine with the options you listed. The trouble here (which I alluded to in my first post) is that “positive culture” and “low religiosity” aren’t the only factors on the table. Continuing the Vermont example from my first post, what if we replaced “positive culture” in your above post with “high rate of drunk driving”, or “over 96% white”? I know I wouldn’t be fine with those options.

  13. says

    The discussion about eternal life reminded me of a series I heard on NPR a couple months back where each day they’d have someone from a different faith tradition come in and talk about what their beliefs were on the afterlife. Unfortunately I didn’t catch all of them, but of the ones I heard the Muslim take really stood out for me (and not in a good way).

    Basically, the Muslim they had on described their heaven as one where any pleasure you could possibly imagine was available to you at any time merely for the wishing. Which I suppose on the surface sounds like it would be pretty awesome, and the guy presenting it was talking about it as a wonderful thing.

    But all I could think was that I could not imagine a more meaningless existence. Just going from one pleasure to the next for no effort whatsoever? Never having any sense of accomplishment, never actually being challenged, never achieving anything, because no failure is ever risked. Never being able to do anything for anyone that could possibly improve their lives, because everyone else in heaven also can effortlessly achieve whatever pleasure they desire? You’d just be this useless thing experiencing meaningless pleasures… for eternity!

    Gah! I shudder to think of it!

  14. corwyn says

    Continuing the Vermont example from my first post, what if we replaced “positive culture” in your above post with “high rate of drunk driving”, or “over 96% white”? I know I wouldn’t be fine with those options.

    Choose whatever criteria you like. And whatever state you like. And then work to improve what you don’t like.

    On the subject of ethnic mix, I live in a similar state, unless one plans to force people to move, there isn’t much one can do about it. If one is a a non-majority ethnicity please consider oneself invited to even out the mix. If the current ratio is a problem for that, then consider that maybe, one is part of the problem.

  15. Jagyr says

    I feel like I’m not clearly communicating my point. What I’m trying to get at is this:

    Without evidence to back up the claim, an insinuation that “Vermont is a very healthy state thanks to its low religiosity” is just as valid as an insinuation that “Vermont has a high rate of drunk driving thanks to its low religiosity”.

  16. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    Meh. I would argue that not much actually gets traction. So, throw shit at the wall and see what sticks? Of course, most of the time, you won’t get an immediate conversion. Maybe stuff like that does help, but it just takes years for it to matter.

  17. says

    Well, if nothing else it’s worth bringing up for the people still on the fence who might be listening in. I have to think they benefit from having the narrative that irreligion necessarily leads to a spiral of chaos and societal ills countered with actual facts.

  18. julial says

    I’ve tried and I haven’t been able to imagine anything or any combination of things I’d want to do for eternity.
    Theists never seem to grasp this or they offer up some vague, unspecified magical afterlife that’s really really good. Kind of a, “I don’t know what it is, but you’ll like it forever.” This doesn’t fly for me. I bore easily.
    Best I’ve found is the belief of the Nac Mac Feegles as reported by Terry Pratchett:

    The fearlessness of Nac Mac Feegle warriors in combat is derived from their religious belief that they cannot be killed, because they are already dead; they believe that they are in the afterlife, and that any Feegle who is killed has simply been reincarnated into the world where they have already lived before. They reason that Discworld, with the sunshine, flowers, birds, trees, things to steal and people to fight, must be some sort of heaven, because “a world that good couldn’t be open to just anybody”. They consider it a kind of Valhalla, where brave warriors go when they are dead. So, they reason, they have already been alive somewhere else, and then died and were allowed to come to the Discworld because they have been so good.

    I’d include among those good things in our world are challenge, accomplishment, chance of failure and no pesky recollection of previous incarnations.

  19. nurseingrid says

    Aaroninmelbourne, I am so sorry for your loss. And thank you for what you have shared here.

    If you haven’t already, I strongly encourage you to check out the Grief Beyond Belief online support group. It’s currently on Facebook only, but will be launching a website soon. It’s a safe place to talk about all these issues with other nonbelievers who are grieving. No preaching allowed.

    And I agree with somnus and julial. I have never heard any description of an eternal afterlife, that I had any desire to experience. As Hitchens used to say, Heaven sounds about like North Korea. Count me out.

  20. says

    if heaven is anything like going to church then don’t include me because even though I enjoy the perspective I have as an atheist in church and also enjoy spending time with my Christian wife, it get redundant listening to all these people singing and talking about how great their self-center, self-rightious, and over glorified god is, when in my opinion he’s a hypocritical, prejudiced god who no more gives a shit about others then Honey Badger. And it is ironic that that one caller mentioned Pascal’s wager because that’s what the minister was talking about as to why he’s a Christian.

    Heathen’s Greetings to all and to all a wonderful life.

  21. says

    I always equate the eternal joy of heaven with the idea of can eternal summer holiday. Think back to when you were a kid. Go read some Calvin & Hobbes if you can’t remember that far back. Half way through week 4 you’d start hearing kids complaining of being bored. The realisation that you have to go back to school kicks in st the start of week 6 and you’d cram so much into that final week. Looking back, once you were once again sat in the classroom, the whole holiday would be remembered as the best few weeks ever! Eternal, joyous heaven would be an eternity of the ‘I’m bored’ stage. Time and experience are made meaningful by brevity. Just to pre-empt any ‘but you can’t be bored in heaven’ crap – if you were prevented from feeling ANY emotion in heaven, it wouldn’t be you that was there. It’d be a stepford you. A joyous, worshipful facsimile created simply to give emotional handjobs to a dysfunctional emotionally stunted egomaniacal god.

  22. says

    I’m trying really hard to give him the benefit of the doubt. But the thing is… it’s one of those things where the guy’s talking, and he sounds earnest, and it feels tantalizingly like there’s something there that might make sense… except that when you try to explain it in your own words you realize that there’s nothing to get ahold of.

    It sounds vaguely like he’s promoting a kind of feel-good pop-psychology about empathy and brokenness to which he’s tacked on some Christianity through some nigh impenetrable metaphorical interpretations that even he is kind of vague on understanding.

    As an aside: Adam and Eve didn’t want the Fruit because God told them they couldn’t have it. There’s no indication in Genesis that they even gave it a second thought until the serpent pointed out to them that God had lied to them about the nature of the Fruit.

  23. sigurd jorsalfar says

    I don’t think the caller was saying that the stats he quoted prove that “religiosity = bad social outcomes” and “lack of religiosity = better social outcomes”. That would require more study. I think all he was trying to show was that if the christian god exists and doles out rewards and punishments the way his followers claim, then these stats are unexpected. It’s enough to conclude that the christian god simply does not exist as advertised. Even if we can’t conclude that the difference in degree of religious belief is the cause of these outcomes, we can conclude that god isn’t doing what his followers say he does. It’s the problem of evil once again.

  24. Raymond says

    This may sound a little weird, but would you mind if I stole a few parts of your third paragraph? I think you articulated very well something very important that I would like to share with some people.

  25. Raymond says

    The core concept is that every belief system is nothing more than a hiding place so we don’t have to deal with the real problems. Of course he is insisting that his course of action is the exception. There seem to be a couple basic flaws in the argument.

    1) He is saying that believing and not believing are wrong. He insists that there is a third answer to a binary proposition.

    2) He is saying that atheists are primarily concerned with attacking religious beliefs. I’m not sure about all of you, but the only time I even think about the discordance between belief and disbelief is when I come to this board. Maybe a couple of other times per week if it pops up. Out of the 168 hours in the week, I think about this “confrontation” 4-5 hours. I’m pretty sure that the vast majority of atheists are the same.

    3) He makes the most common mistake of all, too. All atheists/theists are not all the same. If you divide the population of the world into two groups, atheist/theist (a binary proposition), you are unjustly lumping billions of people into a label that is relatively meaningless. In addition he seems to really be making the binary proposition christianity/atheism, which is even more wrong.

    4) He keeps referencing this vague problem that all belief and disbelief are covering up. But he never really defines what this root problem is: and he doesn’t address how to find out what the problem is. I imagine that the root problem he is trying to get at is humankind having disparate beliefs from one another, which causes a fundamental conflict. The way I heard what he was saying is that if you take the third option we will all get along. It is wrong, of course. As long as there are at least two people in the world, there will be conflict. Nothing can ever change this.

    Mostly he reminded me of my roommate. He writes rambling letters that are, poorly written, incoherent collections of new age concepts. He thinks that he is saying something deep; when, in reality, it just makes him seem self-serving and dumb. And the fact that he is so passionate about it, doesn’t compel me to lend him my ear; it just makes me feel sorry that he wasn’t blessed with basic intelligence. It kinda makes me want to give him 10 of my IQ points just so he can see how unintelligible his whole concept is. That way I don’t have to listen to it any more.

    Krauss “What on the surface seems vague is inherently meaningless.” perfect 🙂

  26. says

    How about wasting your time in vacation bible school because your parents are too cheap to have you go to a regular camp and the church is too cheap to send you to camp. All I would end up doing was making some retarded arts and craft item like a cross or some other activity that would be crafted to praise god or his son. I refer to it as my brain-washing time. I look back now and wish I could have had a normal childhood spending what was supposed to be the most precious time of my childhood was wasted at a church and vacation bible school.

  27. KsDevil says

    If Christmas was no longer a federal holiday.

    Never underestimate the influence of money and power to end the festival of Christmas by corporations. The corporation I work for would love nothing better than to eliminate paid federal holidays and work the employees as many days as possible. You can bet they, and other businesses, would alter policies to end the employees desire to take days or a week off to visit family and friends and exchange presents.
    Given enough time and influence, our present holiday traditions can be weakened and dissolved.

    If not for the government, business would enjoy free rein to play pre-ghost Scrooge.

  28. Narf says

    If not for the government, business would enjoy free rein to play pre-ghost Scrooge.

    And unions. Don’t forget them. Unions are the reason we have a weekend. It wasn’t the government that gave us most of our basic-decency standards of working life.

  29. corwyn says

    Sorry, I can’t imagine (intelligent) corporations removing the most powerful source of consumerism in the world. Corporations may not care about their own employees, but they need every other corporations employees to buy their useless junk products.

  30. Narf says

    I think you’re underestimating the shortsightedness of some corporations, man. There are plenty that would tear down half of our economy for their own gain, if left unopposed for long enough. Romney’s old company, Bane Capital, comes to mind.

  31. Narf says

    … or to put it another way, I think you think that your parenthetical conditional is more common than it actually is.

  32. warrengrubb says

    I’m confused tho, Christmas being a federal holiday doesn’t mean “corporations” have to give their employees time off. And as far as I could tell, companies are under no obligation to observe federal holiday. At best, they are pressured into giving it as a paid holiday or paying extra. And that’s probably more just a social thing than federal. I will be enjoying myself at several businesses that are open on Xmas day.

    The argument that “it just makes sense for the government to cave and declare it a holiday because everyone will call in sick, anyway,” held no real weight with me for that very reason- tons of business are, in fact, open. And if there wasn’t a federal holiday, the companies would often still just give you that day off for exactly that reason. At my company, we get the whole week off between the 25th and 1st because management knows a) lots of us will be absent and b) lots of the clients will be absent.

    I’m not really opposed to the holiday, but I think if you are really sticking to your church/state guns, the government shouldn’t have made a religious holiday federal holiday.

  33. says

    Holy word salad, Batman. I lost track of how many analogies Rollins used, he was handing them out every five seconds like candy (and he even used a Batman one).

    As a rule of thumb, always be extremely skeptical of anyone who’s MO is to argue in parables and analogies (and examples and anecdotes) instead of facts. Analogies are not arguments. They are red herrings, usually weighted in the argument’s favor, set up to simplify the argument to make it more persuasive. Analogies should never be used as arguments or to replace arguments (it’s okay to use an analogy to clarify an argument if the other side misunderstands your argument, but never as the argument itself nor the main thrust of the argument).

    It is a common tactic among all theologians, charlatans and hustlers, to argue in analogies instead of with facts. Don’t let them derail the discussion.

  34. says

    The Puritans banned it! They knew it was pagan, not biblical, and also didn’t like the drunkenness and general lack of inhibitions associated with the holiday. But of course, people only celebrated in secret, because you can’t legislate the right to party.

  35. says

    This is similar to what Christians believe, actually. There is said to be no pain, no crying, no depression, war, poverty, sickness, or anything else that makes life so miserable here on Earth. And of course, everyone is rich! Everyone lives in mansions along streets paved with gold. Obviously, these are the fantasies of poor people who imagine that this is how the very wealthy must live. In the time the New Testament was written, there were the very poor and the very wealthy, and very little in-between, and it is easy to see how Christianity, with its promises of eternal happiness and wealth, appealed to the poor. An eternity like that seems marvelous, until you consider that there would be nothing, really, to occupy one’s interest. If everyone already has everything they could possibly need or desire, then what point would there be in creating anything, or learning a new skill, or having hobbies?

    This is only made worse by the Christians who insist that they will spend eternity praising God. They are serious about this! The same people who can barely tolerate sitting an hour or two in church, think they’ll be ecstatic about standing around and praising Jesus all day long, every day, for the rest of forever. This seems like something God could have programmed a bunch of robots to do.

  36. steele says

    Sir Real,

    I am surprised to hear well first of all any one would marry you, lol JK, but that your wife is a Christian and that you go to church. Why do you go, just to pacify your wife, mock the church members?? I don’t get it. Maybe you should pay attention during the service instead of being an arrogant ass, you might actually learn something useful. You aren’t going to learn on here from all these bozo atheists, no offense to meant to any bozos, LOL.

    I will say Real I do admire your wife, she exemplifies what the Apostle Peter said

    1st Peter 3:1-6

    1 Wives, in the same way submit yourselves to your own husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives, 2 when they see the purity and reverence of your lives. 3 Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. 4 Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight. 5 For this is the way the holy women of the past who put their hope in God used to adorn themselves. They submitted themselves to their own husbands, 6 like Sarah, who obeyed Abraham and called him her lord. You are her daughters if you do what is right and do not give way to fear.

    you should look at her purity and reverence Real again it speaks more than all the worthless words someone like a Dilahuanty spout. Oh maybe you should actually try reading Pascal here

    Merry Christmas!

  37. steele says


    Whats next are you going to make Santa’s Elves strike and form a union, you socialists are never happy, its called capitalism you communist crybabies, lol

  38. Narf says

    I don’t think you’re going to win many friends on this blog by using socialist as a pejorative. I don’t think Santa runs on capitalism, anyway. He gives the stuff away to children.

    You might want to try some punctuation more complex than a comma, too.

  39. corwyn says

    Wow, way to misunderstand my point, which concerned capitalistic self-interest.

    Some hints just for future reference:
    1) Socialism is not a synonym for communism.
    2) Neither communism nor socialism is the opposite of capitalism.
    3) There are many other economic systems.
    4) Consumerism is not one of them.

  40. corwyn says

    it just makes sense for the government to cave and declare it a holiday because everyone will call in sick, anyway,” held no real weight with me…At my company, we get the whole week off between the 25th and 1st because management knows a) lots of us will be absent

    Government is doing the exact same thing as your company, and it doesn’t make sense for them, but it does for your company? Why not?

  41. says

    People use to believe that if lightning hit a house and the house was to catch on fire no one would put it out because it was thought to be an act of god. So it would look like god doensn’t like Florida since it’s the state that has the most lightning strikes.

  42. says

    That sounds as bad as the Christian’s heaven were one would sing praises to an already over glorified, self center, pompous god that deserves just as much blame as all the credit he receives. I like the Flying Spaghetti Monster’s heaven were there are beer volcanoes and whore factories.

  43. says

    My marriage to my wife is based on real love, real trust, and real respect of my wife. It’s not like your pathetic cowardous, lugbrious, and self-center fake love of a superstitious god.

    And what the fuck are you insinuating about Pascal when he was as narrow-minded and ignorant as you are.

    Why don’t you just keep your prejudiced opinions to your self unless your able to prove them!

    Merry X-mas to you. ASS HOLE!

  44. says

    The reason I go to church you half- wit is to learn about your religion not to just believe in it out of fear like you do. If you were to read your bible in an objective way as opposed to an unreasonably biased way then maybe you would have a different perspective of the actual truth about your bible and the same holds true to going to church. I’ve never disrespected nor mocked anyone in church as you have falsely implied me of doing.
    I pay more then just attention in church, I actually listen with an open mind. I’ll question is this possible or is it impossible because if so then it can’t be true as opposed to just sitting there and believing what ever bull shit is being said and excepting it as truth.

  45. says

    There’s a definition of hell right there. The whole summer school thing’s a bit weird to British ears at the best of times. I can see it getting more popular, though, as the media fuelled paranoia of letting your kids out to play gains ever more traction. Maybe sending your kids into the woods looked after by random strangers is more appealing than letting them go and play with their friends? Ah those rose tinted days of the early 80’s, before the fear of crime loomed so large. Odd to think that in these godless times, actual instance of crime has reduced while the perception of the danger and effects of crime have increased.

  46. says

    And what about your god who is an evil dictator? A god who endorses slavery and threatens those who choose to be objective because there is no good reasoning to believe in him. If you give a leader unquestionable, and full athority that there is no one to hold them accountable for their choices and actions then you have elected a dictator to be your leader. So congratulations Steele on electing and devoting your pathetic life to a megalomanic. That’s certainly something to be proud of isn’t it ? lol

  47. K85 says

    I wonder if Matt realised he made a pretty profound statement about immigration/emigration without even speaking about the subject, when he said in the aftershow: “…rather than giving up and moving somewhere else that is perhaps more secular, I’d rather fix the country that I’m in to be what its supposed to be.”

    Also, the other disillusioned stuff Matt said in the aftershow about the US was sweet to hear. Some clear distinction there between ‘is’ and ‘ought’, as it should be.

  48. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    1) He is saying that believing and not believing are wrong. He insists that there is a third answer to a binary proposition.

    If I could change one thing about the movement (based entirely on this whim right now), I would change this. You are correct, but you are doing a miserable job at communication.

    A lot of people have a conflation between “I do not believe” and “I believe that it false”. If the conversation even starts to suggest that this confusion might be going on, you need to confront it head on. You need to explicitly state that your three basic options are: 1- I believe it is true, 2- I believe it is false, and 3- I am undecided. (Alternatively: 4- The question is malformed.) Only then emphasize that 2 and 3 are included “I do not believe”. A lot of people need this remedial education in English and basic logic. Without giving it, you are just going to confuse the hell out of them and make them thing that “I don’t know” is not a valid stance. I see this way too often by many people in the movement who should know better.

  49. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    One of my heroes once said “Proof by analogy is fraud.”

    Did you really say that?
    “Proof by analogy is fraud”. Yes; page 692 of TC++PL. A good analogy is an excellent way of illustrating an idea, but far too often such analogies are not accompanied by solid reasoning, data, etc.

  50. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    You seem to be mistaking “caring about what is obviously in the economic best interests of everyone” with “what is in my immediate economic best interests?”. Tragedy of the commons. Freerider problem. Externalities. Etc.

  51. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    I just watched this. I understood a couple points he tried to make, and I think I made sense of most of what he said, but overall everything he said is so muddled, and he is so confused, that it’s almost entirely word salad.

    I’d have to watch it again to take notes to try and get a grip on what the guy was saying. I won’t, because it wasn’t very interesting. To the extent that he was right, that’s what we should already be doing as secular humanists.

    I did get a couple of very distinct ideas out of him which were wrong.

    #1, Religious fundamentalists don’t really believe what they believe. It’s just economics, or politics, or depression, or . Bullshit I say.
    Beliefs are operative. If someone has a belief, then they are going to act on it. That’s simply how rational people behave, and almost all people are sufficiently rational to meet this description. Now maybe they have a competing belief which takes priority so they never act on the other belief, but they’re still acting on their beliefs. What is a belief which is never acted on? Not a belief.

    I forgot the others.

  52. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    Ahh, here is the better link I was looking for.

    So I asked Atran directly:

    “Are you saying that no Muslim suicide bomber has ever blown himself up with the expectation of getting into Paradise?”

    “Yes,” he said, “that’s what I’m saying. No one believes in Paradise.”

    At a moment like this, it is impossible to know whether one is in the presence of mental illness or a terminal case of intellectual dishonesty.

    The rest of it is good stuff too. I didn’t want to copy-paste the whole article.

  53. Arnold says

    I would like to correct a little correction on the notion of Matt on the religious-ness of christmas.

    The origin of Santa Claus is the Dutch celebration of “Sinterklaas”:

    And this old fellow was a christian saint comming from Mira (Greek), and when New York was founded (New Amsterdam) in the culture soup we all make, the holiday was transplanted on Christmas.

    And as the christian church does in all things, they steal all the good things from others and proclaim it to be theirs and make it attractive to as much people as possible.

    Easter (equinox and the fertility celebrations and the Jewish passover celebration)
    Christmas (winter solstice and the celebration of the longest day in the year)

    In my opinion nobody has a right to claim any date as “theirs” and if christians want to claim for instance christmas then they have to give presendence to the pagan holiday. And we should all celebrate the solstice 🙂