Open thread for episode #850: Using People

Today’s show will feature Russell and Don.

Some links relevant to the show (from Don):

Oh, and during the second caller, this study was mentioned:


  1. says

    Gotta love the entirely human tendency to outright reject any data that doesn’t coincide with one’s world view. Clearly, those studies about religiosity versus societal health were cooked to show what the scientists wanted.

    It takes an extra dose of fortitude to actually look into these things and see how well one’s understanding of reality actually matches reality.

    When it comes to all the “spirituality” talk, just replace “spiritual” with “magic”, and see how incomprehensible and delusional it sounds. Then, we’re talking about how we’re “subtracting” something from our children by not promoting the idea that they explore their magical powers.

  2. corwyn says

    Would it be possible to ‘taboo’ a word (like ‘spirituality’ in this show) as a method of trying to get people to think about what they are trying to convey? The first caller kept repeating ‘spiritual’ despite protestations that you didn’t know what it meant. For example: “Can you express what you think is important about religion without using the word ‘spirituality’?”

  3. fullyladenswallow says

    “Spirituality” is such a fuzzy, vague, cushball-ish, woo-filled, multiple choice word to begin with. I think for some, it sounds more cool to be “spiritual” than to be just another “believer” or one of “the faithful.” Spiritual is designer. Spiritual is the inside track. Being spiritual means that I have the secret and you don’t (unless you’re spiritual like me). [gag]

  4. JT Rager says

    Religion already has a fairly negative connotation to it, and often people are uncomfortable stating that they are Christian. “Spiritual” is such a good word for some of them to use, since it’s still a nice warm and fuzzy word without negative connotations to most of society. Most importantly, it’s so vague of a meaning that people are allowed to use it freely without restraint and advance their religious cause without being set back by obvious flaws of religion. You can’t criticize “spiritual” people, they can say “nu-uh, that’s religion!”

    That’s why it’s so important to nail down what spiritual means in conversation. If they can’t define it, then what’s the point in having a conversation about it?

  5. Tawn says

    What like a loud buzzer or something? 🙂

    I think the hosts take the right approach. We should all do this in any conversation. The moment the word spiritual is ever used, you ask what it means.

  6. pj says

    First caller was such a frustrating wuss. How many times did he say a variation of “I don’t believe in ‘my god’ versus ‘other gods,’ just God” as if that makes any sense. I can’t help thinking that with more strategic questioning from the hosts he could have been made to admit that he doesn’t really believe in any god.

  7. DBP says

    I love when people try to argue for god, but not the one they believe in specifically. It amuses me to no end. It allows them to not only shift the goalposts, but hide them entirely.

    I wonder if that is a debate tactic that is specifically recommended somewhere or if it is a tactic that organically spawns in the minds of the silly. I’m actually having trouble finding resources for creationists that aren’t explicitly talking points (i.e. scripts about evolution/eugenics, Darwin/hitler, carbon dating being wrong, etc type of stuff. )

    Anyone know any?

  8. Aaroninmelbourne says

    Yes the call from Rich about “Spiritual this, Spiritual that” was amazingly annoying because nothing got defined. I’ve got a fairly simple set of woowoo definitions that I use as stand-ins to help me identify exactly where any particular theist’s beliefs fall over, and they have helped me in the past:

    “Spiritual”: tendency to impose inanimate objects and circumstances with agency that will effect action that focus on the individual. A sunset is ‘appreciated’ when you are amazed at the colors and beauty; a sunset is appreciated ‘spiritually’ if you are amazed at how its beauty was made especially for your personal appreciation (or the “defense from claims of amazing arrogance” stand-in, for the appreciation of “people”).

    “God”: the title of a being (i.e. definable entity with agency to effect action) that is supernatural (see below) that effects change specifically for individuals in exchange for worship (i.e. recognition as being worthy of acknowledgment) through ritual activity and is labeled a God as part of worship. A scientist creating a particle in the lab is not a God; a scientist creating a particle through force of mind alone may be a God if accepting that label from creatures in its particle that deem him/her to be so.

    “Supernatural”: the ability to effect change purely through will, without any physical process involved between the ‘will’ or ‘thought’ and the effect. In other words, “natural” action is (Thought > action > outcome) whereas “supernatural” action is (Thought > outcome). A supernatural being effects outcome via will alone; a supernatural object allows a being to effect outcome via will with the object as a prop (e.g. a ‘magic wand’). A quantum particle popping into existence on its own, or through a mechanism of some kind like a “quantum particle generator” is not supernatural… a being who sits there “willing” the particle into existence through pure thought is.

    “Hope”: a religious usurpation of the survival instinct by a bare-faced inversion (i.e. we all die, we all fear death in terms of it going against our ‘survival instinct’, the religion claims we don’t die which is basically just an inversion of that instinct, and label that inversion as “Hope”).

    “Teaching”: (in religious terms) a bare-faced assertion of the veracity of a statement with no evidence to support it. Often used to give an opinion or mythological story the impression of being factual. Used in place of evidence. “The Bible is a book and here’s a copy” is not a teaching; but “The Bible is the Word of God” is.

    “Religion”: an organization that claims ownership of one or more stories of “the supernatural” in order to monetize the stories through claiming the stories are true, and providing story-related services. A comic book publisher claiming ownership of “SuperAtheistWoman” whilst providing merchandise and sponsoring a comicon is not a religion; a group claiming to be the “protectors of Bacchus’ legacy” and providing wine to drink on specific days “because it’s true and Bacchus wants…!” is a religion.

    While I still use the “what do you believe and why” approach, keeping these in the back of my mind stops problems like Rich’s failure to make a definition, or help show gaps in thinking when theists try to make a definition on the fly of something they’ve never really thought of before (like “what is a god”). Otherwise you just end up going round in circles.

  9. says

    Exactly! These studies are more like the studies that are done on some infomercial then an actual scientific study. It’s more like a group of people sitting around a table bouncing ideas off each other until they come up with the best explanation (excuse) that would justify their bible. The problem with this though, as Jasper of Maine has explain, is that since the bible is out of touch with reality so is their reasoning.

    “When it comes to all the “spirituality” talk, just replace “spiritual” with “magic”,…” You could also replace “faith” or “believe” with “magic” as well and see how incomprehensible and delusional that sounds.
    Mattew 17:20, “He said to them, “Because of your little faith. For truly, I say to you, if you have faith like the grain of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, “Move from here to there,’ and it will move and nothing will be impossible for you.”. Mark 9:23, “And Jesus said to him, “If you can! All things are possible for one who believes.”.

  10. Paul Wright says

    You missed out transcendent ! 🙂

    I deplore this word more than most when theists use it to describe their God. By definition, it’s impossible to define something which is transcendent because what you’re trying to define is beyond rational enquiry. Like you said at the end of your post, we just end up going around in circles. I definitely agree with the hosts approach to tackling such words. Make them define them. Seems to halt them in their tracks every time.

  11. says

    I like to question the theist; if faith is so great that if all is required to move a mountain is a size of a mustard seed then how much faith is required to move a rock?, say about 3 inches in diameter? And if so, then do you have enough faith to move a rock that’s about 3 inches in diameter? After asking this question see how many excuses there are about their faith which I find to be quite amuzing. Often is the time they end up looking like deer in the headlights.

  12. Tawn says

    I saw a debate between Al Sharpton and Christopher Hitchens where Al does pretty much this the entire time. Rather than defend the religion he believes in he focussed only on Christopher’s book title ‘God is not great’ (totally ignoring the sub title and the book contents).

  13. says

    Off the top of my head, these are the ones I’ve personally heard:

    1. You’re not supposed to tempt god. Prayer isn’t meant for doing cheap tricks.

    2. All prayers are answered, but sometimes the answer is “no”.

    3. I could, but you’re so closed-minded, you wouldn’t believe it anyway. Only wicked people ask for signs. Remember that [fictional person] didn’t believe it when [miracle story]. You’re just like that.

  14. says

    I think Rich from Atlanta connected spiritual with doing good. And then using spiritual as a thought control to shut down doing anything bad. which is just dumb. That is the reason why he didn’t like godless bitches. It had a cuss word and he like to ban any possible derogatory words from his children. Which is dumb. Cause if you don’t explain why it is bad. kids won’t listen.

    The same goes with his porno statement. That there might abuse is happening in some porn doesn’t make porn bad. But good luck banning that.

    Rich wants to live in this spiritual bubble of hear no evil, see no evil. which in my view doesn’t make you spiritual, just ignorant and diconnected to the world

  15. Tawn says

    I think the study was arguing against Religion.. Atheists can be equally irrational.. that’s what Jasper was pointing out.

  16. says

    I think when people say “spiritual”, they’re referring to a euphoric feeling of connectedness, which comes from a psychological desire to feel that way. They usually don’t want to recognize the feeling for what it is and tend to want it to be something else, something shared deep down by everyone and everything, even though it’s not. This emotional need for connectedness overrides their rationale, which keeps them in a happiness bubble. It’s a shame, but that’s just how it seems to me.

  17. senor says

    Before I begin my stream of horrible emotional and strawman arguments, allow me to explain what an intellectual and thinker I am. Also I would appreciate it if you don’t ask me any details about my religion, since I don’t know them.

  18. specialffrog says

    I find it interesting that the caller from Atlanta objected to the profanity in the title of the “Godless Bitches” podcast but presumably would let his kids read the Bible.

  19. says

    Which is dumb. Cause if you don’t explain why it is bad. kids won’t listen.

    They actually explain this on the podcast several times, actually. The approach of banning things, as opposed to explaining why it’s bad and trying to get the kids onboard, backfires quite a bit. One tends to get more responsible and even-headed people when the world isn’t censored from them, but rather they’re guided through it.

    Swears gets me in particular. There’s nothing magical about these words. They’re only “bad” because we declared that they are. So his kids are missing out on quality, high-intellectual content because of an infantile hangup about words.

    Sounds very religious to me.

  20. says

    LOL well Rick uses so many buzzwords in avoiding his particular Christian “society” that it is difficult to know what he is talking about. I thought for a moment he was Amish. but i don’t think there is one in Atlanta lol. He is so focussed on banning bad moral behaviour around his family that whatever this particular Christian “society” is, it must be very pretentious.

    I still don’t know what he means what is good for society. does that mean the people that he is connected to or the whole humanity?

    what happens when Rick meets different societies with other values than his? Does he just ban and ignore it just to keep his kids “pure”? he must be the living Ned Flanders

  21. says

    Humans generally have a hell of a time telling the difference between their subjective thoughts and feelings and the objective reality around them. We’re all prone to this to some degree, but religion (or spirituality, whichever) enshrines it as a virtue.

  22. Tawn says

    Yep, we both didn’t spot that it was sarcasm. I read just the abstract and assumed you were having a pop at a bad article by anti-theists… whilst Sir Real didn’t read it at all and assumed it was a pro-religious study!

    Come on, were used to hearing from creationists, you gotta make it reeeaaalllly obvious that you’re being sarcastic! 😉

  23. Tawn says

    “The same goes with his porno statement. That there might abuse is happening in some porn doesn’t make porn bad. But good luck banning that.”

    I was wondering if a counter-analogy to the abuse point might be something like this:
    – Do you wear and buy clothes?
    – Yes of course.
    – Well clothes are evil because there are sweat shops in the world where the workforce are exploited.
    – I only buy my clothes from reputable companies. (like you’d know!)
    – Yea, well I only watch porn from reputable sources. So why is porn evil again?

  24. Monocle Smile says

    Not sure if there’s enough information to judge, but…Quiverfull is certainly on the table.

  25. Russell Glasser says

    I learned the approach of saying “I don’t know what spiritual means” from Tracie, and I am greatly indebted to her for the idea.

    Even so, last night we were talking about that call over dinner, and thought that another approach might also work. The question to ask immediately would be: “When you say spiritual, do you mean something supernatural or not?”

    The problem with the word spiritual is of course that it doesn’t seem to mean anything specific, but also that what people think it means is ambiguous. Notice that the first caller started out by trying to say that it was something like “all of human experience, emotions and stuff.” And I’m on board with that: it exists. That’s compatible with atheism; but as soon as the word is presumed to carry a whiff of anything supernatural/magical, it’s not anymore. And that’s really what they’re after; slipping the word in the back door and then pretending that you agree with the connotations that they didn’t state up front. Asking the question immediately would skip past a lot of flailing, which might be fun to watch sometimes, but it’s not that constructive.

    Anyway, what do you think?

  26. says

    And that’s really what they’re after; slipping the word in the back door and then pretending that you agree with the connotations that they didn’t state up front.

    I think that pretty much is what bothers me about it. It’s like a much more stealthy and insidious version of trying to argue that the hosts of the show aren’t actually atheists, because God is love and they believe love exists.

    It ends up boiling down to a bait-and-switch.

  27. Monocle Smile says

    He did, but I’m not convinced that Rich was completely honest about everything. There were several times where my Spidey sense for Poes chirped a bit.

  28. corwyn says

    Which they did. But then they let it slide about 20 times. If you can’t define or explain what a word means, you don’t get to use it in a conversation with me.

  29. says

    The question to ask immediately would be: “When you say spiritual, do you mean something supernatural or not?”

    Well specifically to Rick case, he thought that Humans where more spiritual than animals. So you could have gone that route and ask how he knows that.

    You can also ask and example of something spiritual. like is a tree spiritual?

  30. corwyn says

    I think that might be a good tactic to try. Then every time they use the word, replace it immediately (i.e. interrupt) with ‘supernatural’. The first caller definitely seemed to assume that emotions were spiritual, as he claimed if you didn’t believe in spirituality, then you must have no emotions.

  31. corwyn says

    Which is a dodge.

    Mattew 17:20, “He said to them, “Because of your little faith. For truly, I say to you, if you have faith like the grain of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, “Move from here to there,’ and it will move and nothing will be impossible for you.”.

    He isn’t talking about prayer, he is saying that YOU can move that mountain with your faith.

  32. Tawn says

    I think its a good approach. I don’t know that all callers are deliberately aware they’re doing a bait and switch.. so they might well confirm that they do mean supernatural. IN WHICH CASE, every time they try to use spiritual in the conversation again, stop them and replace with supernatural.

  33. says

    But, clearly, what he meant was…
    Besides, you can never understand the true meaning of scripture without the Holy Spirit guiding you. I’m guided by the Holy Spirit, so if you disagree with me, you must not be.

    I remember a long discussion I had with some Mormons about how to recognize the guidance of the Holy Spirit, given that (according to the Mormons) less than 1% of self-identified Christians get key doctrines right. I kept asking them that if all those other people could be wrong, how were the Mormons so sure they got it right? I never got an answer that didn’t boil down to “we just are.”

  34. says

    as he claimed if you didn’t believe in spirituality, then you must have no emotions.

    … which would have been a bit of an internal contradiction in his argument.

    Spirituality is what levitates us above being mere animals… but many animals demonstrably have emotions, so according to him, are spiritual.

  35. says

    I’ve talked a little bit about this sort of tangentially in my own personal blog. Basically, it seems to me that many religions encourage people to think of the so-called “higher” emotions and aspirations (e.g. Love, compassion, beauty, creativity, human kinship, etc.) as having their origins in some kind of supernatural spirit or soul. To the point where many seem to discuss those things *only* under the umbrella of the spirit or soul. And I kind of think that a lot of people have so internalized that line that when they hear an atheist say they don’t believe in a soul, they perceive it as rejecting all of those qualities.

    For some, I don’t think they even realize the conflation exists. To them, if you’re not teaching your kids about “spirituality,” then you aren’t teaching them about love, beauty, compassion, etc. They don’t seem to realize that we see all that stuff as part of the human experience, and the only thing we’re “subtracting” is the notion that they’re supernatural in origin.

    Which is why I like the approach of trying to get them to define what they mean by “spiritual.” Because I think it’s only once they’re made consciously aware of the baggage they’ve subconsciously attached to the idea that they can begin to see how they’re separate things.

  36. Matt Gerrans says

    Moreover, Matthew 17:20 is testimonial to the fact that nobody in the history of Christianity has even had a mustard’s seed worth of faith (a strange measure of a seemingly un-quantifiable substance, to be sure), because we have no recorded evidence of anyone ever having moved a mountain by faith, much less a small hill or even a little rock, as you suggest, which should be much, much easier.

  37. Matt Gerrans says

    There’s some old joke (or maybe movie scene, or something) about how kids together are cussing their heads off and parents alone together are likewise spicing their language with swearing, but when anyone slips up while both the kids and parents are present, all are shocked and act like they’ve just been assaulted by a word they never knew before (but whose precise meaning they were somehow able to infer).

  38. says

    But they totally could have. They just didn’t because they were too humble to exercise that power, unlike you arrogant atheists.

  39. Senectus says

    thanks you thank you thank you! for posting the links about things discussed in the session.
    ALL POD casts should do this (Looking at you Godless Bitches 😉 )

  40. Matt Gerrans says

    Well, it is a damned good thing I don’t have faith, because the world would be complete chaos of mountains flying all over the place!

  41. says

    Some theists use the ‘spiritual’ word so regularly, it becomes a crutch word, a verbal tic, the secularist community’s equivalent of “uhm”.

  42. says

    Corwyn said-

    He isn’t talking about prayer, he is saying that YOU can move that mountain with your faith.

    Jesus promises Super-human strength via SUPER-FAITH? Huh….

    Now if only Xians can convince the mountain of their faith, but don’t be surprised when it’s not the mountain that gets a hernia….


  43. scourge99 says

    In my experience, most self proclaimed “mystics” are obscurantists. Its just word games, playing “hide the ball” when it comes to the specifics of their beliefs, and whining about how everyone else is wrong in some vague and obscure way.

    The evasiveness of the guy was extremely irritating. Here are some examples of that evasiveness:

    1) Don: Does killing witches have a place in society?
    Rich: I’m not part of a society which kills witches. I’ve never seen a witch killed.

    2) Russell: Do you agree that the Bible says you should kill witches?
    Rich: I know people who are involved in Wicca. I don’t go around killing anyone. My bible says don’t kill.

    3) Russell: Do you think the bible outlines what Christianity is?
    Rich: In my society, religion plays a very positive role and no witches have been killed.

    4) Russell: But you don’t agree with Exodus 22:18?
    Rich: Like i said before, you have more biblical knowledge than i do.
    Russell: Exodus 22:18 says thou shalt not suffer a witch to live. You reject that right?
    Rich: You’d have to read it in context.
    Don: the context is that this a command from god.
    Rich: even if my pastor brings me a verse I’ll have to do some studying to see what it means.

  44. Jessie456 says


    I would just like to say that the caller from Atlanta totally won the debate!

    You folks basically like to attack the “bad” stuff of religion, ignoring the “good” parts of religion.

    When faced with the prospect of someone who embraces only the “good” of their religion, you folks were absolutely dumb-founded!

    Kudos to the Atlanta dude. I love that call.

    And to that host who said he allows his son to watch porno, I say, damn, you sir are not fit to be a parent!


  45. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    I find that most uses of the word “supernatural” belie a premise that some existent objects are not susceptible to scientific inquiry. Bullshit I say.

    The words “supernatural” and “natural” are words with no good definition. Their very use hides premises of the religious which should not be granted. Everything that exists and is observable is susceptible to scientific analysis. Anything else which exists and is not susceptible to scientific analysis almost by definition does not matter. “Supernatural” or “natural” simply does not come into it. The real effect those words have in conversation is to be in a framework where science is not the supreme and sole authority for learning about our shared material reality, including on the existence of gods and their properties.

    “I’m writing a book on magic”, I explain, and I’m asked, “Real magic?” By real magic people mean miracles, thaumaturgical acts, and supernatural powers. “No”, I answer: “Conjuring tricks, not real magic”. Real magic, in other words, refers to the magic that is not real, while the magic that is real, that can actually be done, is not real magic.”
    ― Lee Siegel, Net of Magic: Wonders and Deceptions in India

  46. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    >1. You’re not supposed to tempt god. Prayer isn’t meant for doing cheap tricks.

    Or apparently anything testable ever. You know, like world peace, ending world hunger, ending polio. Cool stuff like that.

    >2. All prayers are answered, but sometimes the answer is “no”.

    And thus it is safely untestable, and thus its existence is completely indistinguishable from its nonexistence. Checkmate atheists! (/sarcasm)

    >3. I could, but you’re so closed-minded, you wouldn’t believe it anyway. Only wicked people ask for signs. Remember that [fictional person] didn’t believe it when [miracle story]. You’re just like that.

    In other words: You’re so close-minded that you don’t accept that aliens are probing cattle. How dare you demand evidence that there are aliens who do horrible medical experiments to my cows. You probably think that Lee Harvey Oswald shot alone too. Wait… you’re asking for evidence. You just want to know what I know. You’re one of them, aren’t you? You’re an reptilian! (/sarcasm)

  47. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    Insert mandatory plug for the movie “What Dreams May Come”. Anyone who thinks that life couldn’t be made better on Earth ought to see that movie. It’s child’s play to consider another physics which is simply better for human happiness, safety, well-being, etc.

    And in that physics we could throw mountains ~grin~ but it wouldn’t be complete chaos.

  48. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    You’re just substituting one bullshit word for another. I say to you Russell, I don’t know what the word “supernatural” means.

    Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.
    -Arthur C Clarke

    “Any sufficiently analyzed magic is indistinguishable from science.”

    “I’m writing a book on magic”, I explain, and I’m asked, “Real magic?” By real magic people mean miracles, thaumaturgical acts, and supernatural powers. “No”, I answer: “Conjuring tricks, not real magic”. Real magic, in other words, refers to the magic that is not real, while the magic that is real, that can actually be done, is not real magic.”
    ― Lee Siegel, Net of Magic: Wonders and Deceptions in India

  49. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    Honestly, that might be effective. How about this: Ask the “spiritual” person: Can you give me an example of how the world might be different if there was no spirituality? Not belief in spirituality, but spirituality itself. Some sort of immediately obvious observable or testable difference?

  50. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    I don’t think this is really a case of willful obfuscation. It is starting with two preconceived conclusions: (1) the Christian bible is right, and (2) you shouldn’t kill people who do Wicca. So, as his reasoning goes, as both are obviously true, there must be some reading of that verse which doesn’t render it as requiring that we kill people who do Wicca.

    Then again, the difference between this and someone who is being willfully obscure is the difference between a real nut and a Poe.

  51. Jed Brown says

    Having a spirit:

    I have considered that before people knew about the brain, their best guess was that consciousness is best explained by a separation between our body and some mysterious part of us that cannot be understood or explained. To me, it seems like the issue is whether or not consciousness comes from the brain.

    I think there are some pretty compelling arguments out there that consciousness does come from the brain… and not some magical and invisible part of ourselves that goes somewhere else after we die.

  52. Jed Brown says


    I think that the words: spirit, spiritual, and the soul are used in the attempt to express the mystery of human consciousness. The problem is that the word seems to be married to a belief in the supernatural. I think that a good approach would be to separate those two themes.

    The first theme could purely be a semantics issue. Some could simply be referring to their consciousness when they refer to their spirit. Yet what baggage or assumptions does that belief bring with it? Does my awareness of my existence prove a spiritual reality? Of course not! But it seems that people have been sold the theme as a package deal.

    In other words…

    “Your spirit is who you are? Correct?

    Why do you assume that because you exist, other things of a spiritual nature must also exist?”

  53. Robin Brown says

    I alway ask this question when someone uses “supernatural”. So far I haven’t heard a definition that is not either

    a) circular
    b) incoherent
    c) completely equivalent to “non-existent”

  54. John Kruger says

    It is the best tactic that I have seen. In a post mortem of that call perhaps you could have put the brakes on more whenever he tried to use the “spiritual” term, since it legitimately had no meaning for you. Something like “I still don’t really understand what you are talking about. Can you describe it without using the word spiritual?”. I recognize you were trying to do something like that, but that caller was not all that good at taking turns talking. Just be a bit more aggressive in cutting him off when he is spouting gibberish. I have no other ideas on how that call could have gone better.

    Seriously, is there any context in which you would continue a conversation with someone who was using mysterious terms they are unwilling to define? There is no meaningful communication happening at that point.

  55. AhmNee says

    That made me laugh.

    “Well, spiritual, the proof that I have for god, spiritual, comes from the world around us. Spiritual, how can you not look around you and see that, spiritual, god is, spiritual, in every tree and stuff. It’s obvious to me that, spiritual, the world was designed for us, spiritual, and not trying to kill us constantly at all.

  56. AhmNee says

    When my mind was still awash with religious woo-woo BS, spiritual was a term that denoted a belief in all the magical thinking of religion and buffet style picking and choosing what to believe based on what “made sense” to me and what felt good.

    Spiritual was believing what I wanted to and believing that established religions were fatally flawed and the bible having been written by imperfect “man”. My belief system used to be such a hodge-podge of mismatched pieces of belief and stuff I made up whole cloth because I thought what I believed wasn’t as important as the belief itself was. I thought that belief shaped reality.

    I was such a dumbass. But I loved science, which still blows my mind, I can’t even wrap my head around how I rationalized it. I think it was just severe compartmentalization and the “science can’t explain everything” excuse that was used and is still used by my mother. Mmm. Indoctrination. It tastes like horseshit.

  57. Monocle Smile says

    I mean, you’re a troll and all, but…

    The “good” parts of religion don’t require religion. That’s the point. So why drag in the awful baggage religion brings when all the good stuff can be done independently?

    There was no “debate” with that caller from Atlanta. It was a discussion where the caller wanted to wrap his kids in bubble wrap for their whole lives.

    Russell doesn’t allow his son to watch porn. Lying for jebus again, it seems.

  58. AhmNee says

    Hello, everyone.

    This is my explosives expert, Faith. Faith and I are going to move a mountain. While Faith gets us ready, I will hand out the hearing protection.

  59. AhmNee says

    “Size matters not. Look at me. Judge me by my size, do you? Hmm? Hmm. And well you should not. For my ally is the Force Faith, and a powerful ally it is.” – Yoda (Paraphrased)

  60. AhmNee says

    “The same goes with his porno statement. That there might abuse is happening in some porn doesn’t make porn bad. But good luck banning that.”

    The thing about his stupid argument against porn/erotica is that it, first, ignores that the reason that exploitation in porn is/was possible was because it is/was taboo and forced underground.

    This is evidenced by the other thing his argument ignores. Porn actors/actresses that have taken up the roles as producers to make better, safer porn. Professional porn production today isn’t quite the same animal it was several decades ago. The more the taboo against it is lifted, the better things will continue to get for performers because because there’s better information on who are the best producers to work for and actors/actresses are less worried about the repercussions of reporting abuse.

  61. AhmNee says

    Selective taking of offense. Remember though that while one can make an argument that “bitch” is a misogynistic term, most people are only offended by the common curse words because they were taught to be and their parents were taught to be and so on.

    Why is the term poop okay but shit is a curse word?
    Why do people consider the explicative friggin okay but fucking is bad? Since when does the spelling of the word matter over the meaning? When you say friggin, or oh fudge, do you not really mean fucking or oh fuck?

    I went one further when I was raising my kids than even Russell’s stated position. I encouraged my kids to use a proper curse word if they were going to do so. I taught them that the words had power because of how others treat the words, and that their overuse waters down their power, so they should be careful how often they use them and for the right reasons.

  62. Cimmerius says

    Rich seems to be a guy who doesn’t really understand nuance. Either things are all good and you should do them all the time or they are bad and should never be done under any circumstances.

  63. says

    Robinirwin said:

    Does he just ban and ignore it just to keep his kids “pure”? he must be the living Ned Flanders

    Not quite: Ned is OPENLY a Bible thumper.

    John volunteered he’s living in the Bible Belt AND wants to defend religious morality within his community (which IS based on the Bible, living in the BIBLE BELT). He then retreats from what the Bible actually SAYS on morality, so appeals to his personal ignorance (or uses the old, “I’d have to read that scripture ‘in context’ to know”). John is wishy-washy, a trait which tries the patience of even Jesus (luke-warm believers get spit out).

    It’s next to impossible to try to avoid talking in circles with those who’s minds are as flexible and nubile as a young Russian gymnast; John has no problem processing two contradictory ideas within microseconds of each other without experiencing any cognitive dissonance.

  64. AhmNee says

    Right. Then he started talking about art and music and other parts of our culture as if we’re the only species that creates any of that.

    I’ve read articles that claim the art created by Bowerbirds fits the full definition we have for art. Other primates can paint and be creative.

    There are suggestions that music is an innate concept shared by many species.

    I find most of the arguments of what separate humans from animals to be specious and arrogant.

  65. gfunk says

    It amazed me that it doesn’t give more people serious pause when they are asked to define something like spirituality and they can’t. If they are unable to “define it in a sentence or two” then they should really stop using it to support beliefs until they can. What other words of any value are hard to define in a sentence or two?

    They could look it up in a dictionary and use one of those definitions, but they don’t- you know why? Because it’s become a weasel word- they don’t want to limit it to any clear definition. They want it to be their escape mechanism. Something that had vague positive connotations that wins support from the masses.

  66. says

    Atheists can be equally irrational.. that’s what Jasper was pointing out.

    While anyone can be irrational dependent upon the subject in question, to imply atheists are EQUALLY as irrational as theists is simply absurd, especially the radical fundies.

  67. CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain says

    A bit late, but I just stumbled across this…

    Article: Kathleen Vohs – Repeating specific but arbitrary rituals enhances your enjoyment of food

  68. Aaroninmelbourne says

    I’ve tried to make my definitions cover all of the claims I’ve ever come across and allows for a ‘supernatural’ event to be scientifically testable (as well as pushing back “god” claims, claims of “you’d need to know everything to claim there’s no god!”, and claims of “atheism is a religion!”).

    If someone wanted to claim you “can’t test it!” then they’d need a similarly rigorous definition, though if they ever succeeded, they’d realize they wouldn’t ever know of this thing that can’t be tested… it’d make their belief “both A and not-A”. If they can’t give one beyond vague characteristics and outcroppings like “it wouldn’t allow itself to be tested”? Then their definitions only consist of “don’t know”.

    If I need to, I can repeat their stuff based on that: “So because of something you don’t know, you don’t know what happens, and that points to something you don’t know and you don’t know how to test for something you don’t know. Because if you can’t define any of your beliefs, that’s the total weight of what you just said… would you like to make some definitions as rigorous as mine so it’s not just gibberish?”. It may be brutal but it gets the point across.

  69. says

    I guess I stuck my foot in my mouth sorry. I was thinking about some of the studies conducted by theists, but yes I didn’t do my homework and I’m sorry Tawn. That’s what I get for staying up so late.

  70. naughtee says

    that was exactly the line of thinking i had.

    the wowsers often point to the abusive end of pornography ignoring the obvious fact that many of our pursuits entail nasty outcomes for innocent people. of course the idea of regulating industries that these people want to censor is not on their agenda, even though it has been demonstrated that regulation is a very good way of reducing such abuses… leads me to believe the wowsers advocate for censorship which produces the abuse they use to push for the censorship. round and round we go.

  71. naughtee says

    i personally create a wonderful piece of art every morning (well most mornings), excreted with care and warmth into my porcelain canvas 😉

  72. gfunk says

    The way he blurted out Godless Bitches as an example of “bad” really struck me as telling. He seemed suspiciously excited about it- something tells me there is some misogyny lurking there. How dare these women make a dirty little podcast with their dirty little words!

  73. houndentenor says

    You can hear what the caller wants to do. He wants to take what he likes from religion and reject the rest. He even freely admits that two atheist know more about what’s in the Bible than he does. He doesn’t know what the Bible actually says and he doesn’t care. “Sprituality” is just a way to rationalize what he wants to believe so as to give it more authority than “I thought about this a lot and this is what I cam up with.” It’s a lot of woo and he got angry and defensive when he was called on it.

    BTW, there are some good arguments for why the porn industry is bad. it doesn’t have to be I guess, but it is. But give the number of people who look at porn on a regular basis, it’s obvious that religious people spend at least as much time looking at it than nonreligious people. In fact, studies have shown that porn sites are access far more from places like Utah and Alabama. Religions doesn’t make people more moral. it just makes them behave like hypocrites.

  74. houndentenor says

    Agreed. The solution for the abuses in the pornography industry is to work with the industry to end the abuses. Banning it isn’t going to work. We aren’t going to get people to stop looking at porn any more than we got people to stop drinking during prohibition. The same goes with prostitution (in which the exploitation is even worse.)

    Also, I wish the hosts had called out the guy on the supposed connection between porn and sex trafficking. I know of no evidence that one leads to the other.

  75. houndentenor says

    A request for the hosts of the show. Whenever someone defines their religion as “Christian” could you ask them to be more specific? There are literally tens of thousands of Christian denominations and that doesn’t include independent churches. The label Christian (a favorite of Evangelicals these days) is too vague. Even if it’s just “what kind of Christian church do you attend?” that would allow everyone to have some idea of where there ideas are coming from. As it is he could have been anything from Quaker to Russian Orthodox, Catholic to Pentecostal and we still have no idea.

  76. houndentenor says

    Sounds like he of all people needed to listen to Godless Bitches then!

    I have learned a lot from them and am sorry that the show seems to be on hiatus. It occurred to me listening to the podcasts that we hardly ever actually hear that much from women. Round-table discussions in the mainstream media usually consist of a bunch of men and one woman who usually hardly gets a word in edgewise. or on rare occasions it’s all women but the women chosen (Sherri Shepherd and Elizabeth Hasselbeck…I mean really!) are not good representatives of the kind of smart, well-informed women most of us know. I learned a lot of Tracie and Jen and Beth and Lynnea (hope I spelled everyone’s name right). All men need to listen to this show. We have a lot to learn.

  77. says

    But if religion has “good” parts as well as “bad” parts, and you embrace religion, don’t you have to go along with both?

    We reject religion. We do good because it’s good. We avoid bad because it’s bad. Life is simpler that way.

  78. AhmNee says

    I’d almost argue that the cafeteria theists are almost worse than the fundamentalists. The reason is that at least a fundamentalist, or perhaps better saying a literalist believes the whole of the bible is true and that’s what they base their belief in it on. The cafeteria theist rejects that the whole of the bible is true and picks and chooses what to believe for no particular reason and often can’t grasp why this is a problem.

  79. AhmNee says

    I take issue with their use of the word “rituals”. What they’re doing is some arbitrary task, the purpose of which is to get the person to focus on what they’re eating and they say as much in the article.

  80. Hairy Chris, blah blah blah etc says

    The Song of Solomon is about someone trying to get into someone else’s underwear. I don’t know what his problem is!

  81. Hairy Chris, blah blah blah etc says

    Well yeah… if they used “shit that we don’t understand” instead of “spiritual” they wouldn’t be able to make claims about it!


  82. Russell Glasser says

    I just deleted a comment by “Ken Johnson” which appeared to be a very large copy-paste job of some apologetics that has no apparent bearing on this post. It was borderline though, so there’s a possibility that someone spent a lot of time writing a custom response that is now not showing up.

    Ken, if you’re not just a hit-and-run spammer, please tell me who you were replying to. The comment mentions someone named “Glenn,” but there is no one in these comments by that name.

  83. houndentenor says

    For some reason, the practice of turning a pejorative into a badge of pride (i.e. godless bitches) seems to escape most conservatives.

  84. corwyn says

    That is pretty close to how I would *define* rituals. How would you define it, such that there is a reason to take issue?

  85. Ken Johnson says

    If god truly loves all people why did he slaughter so many of them throughout the Earth’s history?

    The answer to this question is the same for all violence, including the accelerated violence that gave us the 20th century. Good and Evil cannot coexist. Abraham Lincoln, during the American civil war, said that both the North and the South invoked God, felt that God was on their respective side, and both sides viewed their God as righteous in their respective causes. Lincoln said that one side or both sides could be wrong, but that God could not, by his very nature, be both for and against something at the same time.

    There will be slaughter until God’s son redeems this world in apocolyptic final salvation. Don’t blame God for the slaughter in history. The blame lies solely with the father of lies and deception, satan. God and satan oppose one another. The reason God did not destroy satan when he rebelled reflects on His eternal goodness. God could have destroyed the devil immediately when he rebelled against the Holy Father of creation, but he didn’t. Do not call evil good and good evil which is what you assume in the above forementioned question. God is, by his nature, merciful. He wants to bring his creation to himself in worship because his creation CHOOSES freely to worship him. The very fact that evil still exists is a testimony to the charity and mercy of our Eternal Father in heaven. God is longsuffering, and tolerant, and wishes that everthing in his creation would repent choosing life over destruction.

    Unfortunately, mankind chooses, all too often, to follow the path of the devil and that path is the way of destruction. Don’t blame God.

    Are these the actions of a loving god?

    Again, do not call evil good and good evil as aforementioned above. God cannot be against Himself. This was the same deception that Jesus faced with the Pharasaical Jews of his day. The Pharasies were self-righteous. They were the “letter of the law” crowd that were so proud of their own righteousness that they became blind to the truth. They accused Jesus, the holy Son of God, of casting out demons by the power of satan after He healed a demon-possessed man on the sabbath. Healing or doing anything on the sabbath was a sin to the self-righteous hypocritical Pharasees. Here is how the Lord handled the situtation.

    “Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation; and every city or house divided against itself shall not stand.
    And if satan cast out satan, he is divided against himself; how shall then his kingdom stand?
    And if I by Beelzebub cast out devils, by whom do your children cast them out? Therefore they shall be your judges.
    But if I cast out devils by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God is come unto you.
    Or else how can one enter into a strong man’s house, and spoil his goods, except he first bind the strong man? And then he will spoil his house.
    He that is not with me is against me; and he that gathereth not with me scattereth abroad.”

    Be very careful which god, Glenn, you are worshiping and calling good. Be very careful! You may find yourself on the wrong side.

    Why does the bible not denounce slavery if an ALL KNOWING god inspired the writers and similiarly, why did jesus not make any attempt to stop slavery?

    Slaves, obey your earthly masters with deep respect and fear. Serve them sincerely as you would serve Christ. (Ephesians 6:5 NLT)

    You are mis-quoting scripture. The King James version of the bible translates Ephesians 6:5 as:

    “SERVANTS, be obedient to them that are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in singleness of your heart, as unto Christ.”

    We are, indeed to be servants, just as Jesus Christ came as a meek and lowly servant to mankind. Christ was obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. Servants do have masters as anyone who has worked a job knows. On the job there are masters (bosses) and there are servants (workers).

    Again, you misrepresent God’s inspired word and twist the scripture to your own destruction. I warn you again. Be very careful as to how you represent God!

    If god is omnipotent, how does the devil have any power at all? Omnipotent after all means ALL POWERFUL. Nothing could have any power in the presence of a god who is ALL POWERFUL. The answer is this; there is no god, particularly not an ALL POWERFUL god.

    The devil only has power that God has granted unto him as a created being. The devil can be resisted in the name of the Lord Jesus. James 4:7 states:

    “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the Devil and he will flee from you.”

    You are representing God as a harsh task master. God is not one to bring people into bondage. Satan does that. Satan is a harsh taskmaster that subjects us to the bondage and slavery to sin, not God.

    God IS all powerful and his Son proved it when he miraculously rose from the dead. He will use his power to finally put down sin and rebellion for eternity future. Death will have no power over creation once this power is demonstrated. However, in the mean time, God is tarrying and allowing us to choose eternal life through the holy and precious blood of his only begotten son. Don’t disrespect God.

    Shouldn’t the son of an ALL KNOWING god understand such things?

    Unlike medical science, God is not limited in the scope of what is possible. With man things like medical science are limited. Not so, with God. With God anything is possible.

    Jesus showed us, in fact, by healing the disabled that God’s desire for us is health and eternal life. Mankind suffers these things because, through Adam, sin and death came into the world. Rebellion is sin. It persists due to the hardness of the human heart. God is perfectly credible by the witness of faith. For faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. Without faith, a person cannot please God. Unlike you, God is perfectly merciful, but we make choices. I pray that you will choose the path that leads to truth and life, which comes by way of Jesus Christ.

    The ALL KNOWING supreme being that inspired the writers of the bible is running low on credibility.

    Do not be proud of medical science and human accomplishment. If you place your trust in man’s limited abilities, you will be disappointed. God created the truth and we need to be thankful that he has chosen to reveal his truth through medical science by grace. Thank God for his revelation. I am not ashamed of him.

    “If the Christian belief system is false or based on fabricated source documents – how exactly under your current set of suppositions with the Bible as the only authoritative admissible evidence, would you ever be able to detect the falsity of that belief system?”

    The way to approach this question is to first state the duality of man. There is a natural man and there is a spiritual man. The natural man cannot receive the things of the spirit for the things of the Spirit of God are foolishness to the natural man for they are spiritually discerned. So it is with the resurrection of the dead. The natural body is sown in corruption and is raised in incorruption. It is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory: it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power. It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body and there is a spiritual body. You, my friend, are the one who cannot discern and therefore, detect the falsity of you belief system because you cannot discern spiritual things. As long as you worship created objects like science tries to do, you will never see the spirutal truth because spiritual truth is spiritually discerned. So it would be impossible to be on the same page about this question. May God grant you faith.

    Why is it that christians are unaware that the bible’s ideas are simply plagiurized from other sources? The ten commandments were mostly adapted from the Egyptian Book of the Dead. The virgin birth, the 12 disciples, the death and resurrection. It all comes from other religions. Christmas and Easter were pagan holidays until christianity ‘borrowed’ them.

    At last we have something we can agree upon. Christmas is the pagan holiday of Saturnalia and Easter is the celebration to the Indo-European dawn goddess. In this country, these pagan holidays used to be illegal. Yes, my friend, there were laws on the books as recently as the nineteenth century forbidding these pagan celebrations. You are absolutely correct about these facts

    I wonder why he couldn’t just read The God Delusion on its own.

    I think not. You need to be very careful at accusations. I would be glad to read “The God Delusion” and yes, I am sure I would refute all it’s arguments based on the Holy Bible truths. You see the Holy Bible is 100% accurate. It is infallible. I would like to ask you this. Have you really read the King James Bible? I mean have you ever gotten a concordance and really studied out a particular topic in depth? Have you even read the synoptic gospels? Have you even read the book of Matthew? I would guess that you probably haven’t. So, how can you criticize something you most probably haven’t even read? And how can you know that you disagree with something when you don’t even know what it says? Please, think about these questions in sincerity and faith.

    Why was the time that religion ruled the world called “The Dark Ages?”

    My friend, again, we have some common ground. “Religion” is hardly even mentioned in the bible. “Religion” and faith are two different things. We need to make sure what we are talking about. Religion is a man-made device, According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, “religion” is:

    a personal set or institutionalized system of religious attitudes, beliefs, and practices

    It is nothing more or nothing less that this. Wicca, Mormonism, Confusianism, Hinduism and all the other -isms are all “religions”. If any man amoung you seem to be religious, and bridleth not his tongue, but deceiveth his own heart, this man’s religion is in vain. Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widow’s in their afflictions, and to keep himself uspotted from the world.

    The reformation of the church beginning with Martin Luther ushered out the “dark ages” and actually led to bible-believing christianity and the enlightenment of the Renessiance. So be careful again of stereotyping.

    I suggest you get out the Jesus Riding Dinosaurs Colouring Book, prepare your rapturous red and leviathan green crayons and continue to ignore the doubts that cast a shadow on the credibility of your beliefs (see next post).

    I would beg you to be gracious. The Lord Jesus Christ died for you. God the Father in heaven, in his undivided grace and charity, spared not his only begotten son that mankind would have a chance at God’s original intention for us to have eternal life with him. I have that charity. Do you?

    I will leave you with one other point of aggreement. You mention rather sarcastically that I get out the “Jesus Riding Dinosaurs Colouring Book” and crayons. This brings up my last point. You are correct that in order to be a Christian, one must submit to God in child-like faith. This doesn’t mean to be childish. Be careful. In Matthew chapter 18, the bible begins with the diciples of Jesus contending with the Lord and asking which of them would be greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And Jesus called a little child unto him, and set him in the midst of them. And said, “Verily I say unto you. Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kindom of heaven.” So, let us end in agreement. My friend, the Lord Jesus Christ went through the indescribable torture of death and shame, crucified alive for you and I. Don’t cast “pearls before swine” and degrade the precious Lord Jesus. Life is like a vapour. The bible says that it appears for a short time and is gone. Please, if you must err, err on the side of caution. If you believe in Jesus and he doesn’t exist or if there is no God, then nothing is lost in eternity future. However, if Jesus truly is who he says he is and there is, in fact, a holy and just God, do you really want to experience a future suffering eternally, knowing you had a chance to believe, but didn’t? Which is the greater loss? I will pray that you make the right choice. God bless you and keep you. May the light of Jesus shine in you forever.

    Ken Johnson

  86. houndentenor says

    I remember years ago when the movie Stand By Me came out. Some people were bothered by all the swearing. I remember being 12. That’s how we talked and what we talked about when there were no adults around. I wonder what happens to some adults that makes them forget what they were like as children. it wasn’t really that long ago. We weren’t nearly as naive as our parents liked to pretend. And we weren’t to stupid to figure out what was going on around us.

  87. houndentenor says

    For some reason, some people have so convinced themselves that love, compassion, awe, admiration for beauty, etc. can only come from some supernatural source and therefore assume than someone who doesn’t believe in supernatural things doesn’t experience that aspect of their humanity. There’s just no evidence of that. For some reason people seem surprised to discover that Richard Dawkins’ favorite piece of music is JS Bach’s Passion According to St John. Excellent choice on his part. That’s one of the great masterpieces of western art music. Just because he doesn’t believe the story is true doesn’t mean he can’t appreciate it’s telling through music. I’m rather fond of Wagner’s Ring Cycle myself. I don’t believe Wotan and Brunnhilde and Siegfried really existed either. I don’t see the difference. People have been told that you can only appreciate the world around you by buying into their superstitious nonsense. It’s not true. I appreciate it and teach that appreciation to others (professionally) and I’m most certainly not the only one.

  88. naughtee says

    i call BS on this guy’s take on swearing, it’s simply an excuse to find offense at things he does not like… the godless bitches for instance, he’s not upset about their language he’s upset about their message, the fact that they are able to use a platform to ridicule what he believes in, that’s what i believe he is offended by.

  89. AhmNee says

    A ritual is typically a series of specific rites that are performed the same way. But from what I’m reading in the article, the act isn’t so much important as doing something that focuses one’s attention. They used more than one act and they didn’t say it needed to be the same one every time.

    Plus, in my opinion, ritual has a note of mysticism to it that’s unwarranted here.

  90. CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain says

    They used more than one act and they didn’t say it needed to be the same one every time.

    In an interview, the authors said they made up arbitrary tasks in the first place to avoid effects from past conditioning. One exercise was enough.

    Continuing to use the new ritual would lead to further conditioned association with enjoyment… and yet another possible meaning for ‘spiritual’.

  91. corwyn says

    I agree about the multiple times. I don’t assign any mysticism to the word (but that could just my general lack of mysticism). However, I don’t think ‘task’ conveys the desired meaning here, as anything you you do prior to the main activity could be considered a task.

  92. Sadako says

    Except Yoda actually COULD move things, like X-Wings. There were entire societies of beings that could pick up X-Wings with their minds, or jump 30 feet straight up, or deflect bullets made of lasers with swords made of lasers; the Jedi did these things in full view of millions, and their existence was publicly supported and subsidized by the galactic government. Yet 19 years later–not even a whole generation–nobody believes in their powers anymore, even though two such beings were in direct control of the Empire, and used their powers quite publicly to magically choke generals and electrocute people and such.

  93. Sadako says

    Reminds me of the Japanese take on swearing. Japanese people will say there aren’t any swear words in Japanese. It’s not that rough and vulgar words don’t exist–there are definitely words that a kid would get popped on the back of the head for saying in polite company. But those words don’t get censored on TV or in manga. So because they don’t get censored, they must not be ‘swear words’.

    The social expectations of Japanese society demand that people be good judges of the language that they use, to use the appropriate level of formality and politeness in any given situation (and NOT using the proper level of politeness is on par with swearing in English, which confuses the issue even further), and this ability to properly judge and control your language is highly valued. I think the Japanese would find censoring language, even around children, to be insulting.

    (Of course, that doesn’t stop kids trying to use swear words in other language–English swears are heard frequently in Japan, but they mean nothing in a Japanese context, so then they’re not even really swear words anymore.)

  94. Sadako says

    Well, in a lot of languages, ‘spirit’ or ‘soul’ was synonymous with ‘breath’ or ‘steam’ (something Ray Comfort loves to exploit for equivocation). When someone is not breathing, they are dead, so ‘life’ must somehow be in the ‘breath’. When ancient hunters killed a deer in the winter, steam rose from the blood, so that ‘life-breath’ must also be in the blood somehow–especially since after the blood is drained out, that deer stops breathing.

    It’s no surprise that with the prevalence of this ‘life is in the blood and breath’ idea across cultures, the seat of intellect and emotion was also thought to be in the chest and not the head!

  95. houndentenor says

    And the problem with sex trafficking is similar but even worse. Women are here illegally and engaged in illegal activity. They often don’t speak much if any English. they’re going to the cops? Even if the cops might be sympathetic and try to help them, the women will have been told that they would be automatically deported or jailed if they seek help so they are basically enslaved. It’s a horrible situation.

  96. Jacob Strimaitis says

    I had an open table discussion with some of my theistic friends on what this term, spirituality, actually means. It was so entertaining hearing them go on and on with rabbit trails about emotions and what you “feel deep down inside.” By the end, they were talking about common theistic claims for the existence of god instead of finalizing on an official definition for this rather nonsensical word. You’re right, Russell, spirituality is an ambiguous word. Their best procuration was “spirituality is what you feel” …. 🙂 they’re completely right. Spirituality IS what you feel it is. It’s what you want it to be. It’s subjective and has no basis in reality, and if spirituality is really about human emotions and interactions, then why not just call it such and forgo the invocation of the supernatural? They started talking about a soul at this point, and the entire conversation fell apart. Anyway, I thought I’d share that. This experience was rather interesting.

  97. Narf says

    Well, one thing you can’t blame George Lucas for is consistency. It’s a fantasy universe constructed to mirror real-world religious and mystical nonsense as real. The only thing he really changed was to have people actually able to do the mystical things that they claimed. He didn’t make similar changes to the way that the universe viewed those people who could actually deliver the goods.

    It’s a testament to Lucas’s writing ability that there were so many nonsensical gaps in the story, such as this one. He had some brilliant ideas, and he knew how to put together a team who could get things done … but the prequels show how badly he does standing on his own, without sufficient checks and balances from others. I think that that lack of depth in the writing was there all along, just better hidden by the surface polish.

    Also, I’m not so sure that Vader was as free with his powers, outside of the occasional display to the higher-ups. I know that the emperor generally used his more subtle powers, such as his battle meditation to assist his armies.

  98. says

    This appears to be a paste job from a reply to this blog. It looks like Ken has also been busy pasting this elsewhere.

    Ken, you’re an idiot, and here’s why: Copy-pasting a comment from elsewhere is both dishonest, disrespectful and counter-productive. You’re jumping right into the middle of a discussion that’s not occurring here. It’s confusing and jarring and it shows a lack of respect for the forum you’re in.
    Some of the lines even look like they might be quotes, but it’s hard to tell because your formatting skills are so atrocious. I can’t tell which words you’re pretending are yours and which you’re pretending we’ve said.

    Furthermore, the post is a poor choice for copy pasta. It’s simply poorly written, overly long and makes multiple assumptions that are just harebrained; like the “don’t blame god” bit. We don’t blame god for anything. We don’t believe there’s any such being. If we ever talk as if we blame god, it’s merely in the hypothetical, like you might blame Darth Vader for force-choking that officer.

    Finally, these point go together to form a perfect storm of who gives a shit. A long, rambling post, copied from elsewhere, that references points that were never made, and which is so loaded with faulty assumptions that even bringing it to the point where we can have a conversation about it will probably take several days.
    And that’s assuming you’re not actually as stupid as you come off.

    So, no thanks. Not gonna. If you want a proper, honest, intelligent conversation, then you seriously need to reevaluate your approach. Right now, all you’re doing is confirming my very worst prejudices about apologists.

  99. Narf says

    None of which answers the question of why we should believe the mythology of a bunch of ignorant, Bronze Age shepherds in the first place. Demonstrate that the myth is real, before trying to convince me that I should worship the mythical being in the fables.

    Also, the Renessiance (sic) began in some parts of Europe more than a century before Martin Luther lived. Martin Luther and the Protestant Reformation were products of the Renaissance; they didn’t lead to it.

    My friend, again, we have some common ground. “Religion” is hardly even mentioned in the bible. “Religion” and faith are two different things. We need to make sure what we are talking about. Religion is a man-made device, According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, “religion” is:

    a personal set or institutionalized system of religious attitudes, beliefs, and practices

    If you were honest, you would have included the other applicable definitions from Merriam-Webster, including:

    b (1) : the service and worship of God or the supernatural (2) : commitment or devotion to religious faith or observance

    But you’re not, so you didn’t.

  100. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    I know Ken won’t read this, but the reply is simple: “All it takes for evil to flourish is for good people to do nothing.” You are not a decent human being, nor a good god, if you do not actively fight evil at least a little bit. Standing by while others commit evil can be an evil unto itself. Pacifism and extreme “tolerance” is unjustifiable.

  101. says

    Exactly. If a person stands by, doing nothing to stop evil, despite being easily able to do so, we would call such a person a heartless bastard. If they tried to defend themselves by saying that they were being charitable towards to offender, we’d call them a fool, at best.

    So which is it? Is god heartless or foolish?

    Furthermore, I can’t help but notice that this picture of god is totally at odds with what’s described in the bible. The biblical god seems to have no problem punishing sinners and generally interfering with the way the world works. I wonder if Ken is willing to admit that he has actually rejected the biblical view of god.

    What do you say, Ken? Are you ready to officially disavow the bible?

  102. senectus says

    I disagree. While I enjoy their banter, the language and Blantant on air alcohol consumption is pretty blue at times.
    I wouldn’t encourage my kids to listen to it till they were mid to late teens.

  103. Peter says

    I don’t know why some people keep equating religion with social networks and community. Some social networks may be based around religion but they are not the same thing.

  104. Andreas says

    In nature, if one species “uses” another, there is in many casese a mutual benefit involved. When humans herd sheep, they can harvest the wool and occasionally eat the animal, and in return they provide protection and, most importantly, keep the population up and growing.

    In the same way, we have a lot of bacteria in our bodies which share (mostly, i think) no DNA with us, but which help with the digestion process, and maybe other things.

    Humans did live with religion for a very long time, and populations with different religions did compete with each other. A religion that encourages reproduction, and fighting for the benefit of the own group, can be an evolutionary benefit. The truth value of the religious claim might be irrelevant for this effect – until the point where science and critical thinking become an advantage. But even then, a religion that manages to coexist with education and science, both in society and in people’s heads, could still bring an advantage.

    The comparison of a religion or a meme with a virus comes from a world view that puts the individual first.
    What if we consider memes as the real citizens of the earth, whereas we humans are just organs or body cells of those memes? For an organ, what is “good” is defined by what benefits the animal it is a part of.

  105. Andreas says

    oops.. the last section of the above was a leftover from a previous attempt to start this post, that i did not manage to delete 🙂

  106. Andreas says

    Regarding the caller with the mystery dad..
    I don’t think it is our/mine/his job to explain or judge every perception someone is telling us. Ask a few questions, like whether he had the same feeling before and nothing happened. But then you can also leave it like that.