Apologetics baiting fail

Email from a fellow who calls himself “Destroyerof Atheists” [sic]:

this is for matt D
does he see these?
maybe you can pass it along
he seemed sincere so i wanted to ask him some questions

does he represent atheists?

has he ever debated/talked with/met a representative of the Creator?

is he sincerely looking to find the Truth?

does he know how to find his way to work from home and then back again?

does he know/accept that he needs food to eat and air to breathe?

does he know/accept that there are types of things?

this should spark enough curiosity, enough tug on the intellect
if not…
good luck

Actually, my curiosity is sparked. Lots of questions come to mind.

  • Was this type of thing inspired by seeing Buzzfeed and Upworthy headlines all the time? You know… “YOU WON’T BELIEVE WHAT YOU READ when you ask me to send the rest of this message!”
  • Have you ever seen a comedian tell half a joke, then stop and ask the audience if he should deliver the punchline? I haven’t, but I would imagine this guy must think that’s an effective delivery style.
  • How is it possible that you could go out of your way to capitalize “Creator” and “Truth,” and yet not bother to capitalize sentences or proper names? Are you e.e. cummings?
  • In what society is “did you know that humans breathe air?” imagined to be something that tugs on the intellect?
  • Do people in category X often stop and chat with somebody whose nickname is a threat of violence to X?


  1. Mauricio Duque says

    Ok….that’s a weird one….

    Maybe he’s just new to the show, and don’t know Matt story…but god knows he need much work in his “spark provoking ideas” XD.

  2. says

    >I’m not buying that this guy’s for real.

    I think I agree in a literal sense. But I think it’s either (1) a theist who is upset at the show who wants to bait (as Russell notes), or (2) an atheist who for some reason thinks it would be somehow a boon to get a response from our list–even one alerting him that he’s being an idiot.

    It actually takes work to get positive attention and praise. Negative attention and praise, on the other hand, is easily won. Writing to us as an idiot is something anyone could do–idiot or thoughtful person; but writing to us something thoughtful is something idiots cannot achieve…ergo, we get notes like this one. Unable or unwilling to create something worthy of praise, and Jonesing for some sort of feedback from our list, they send drivel.

    Is it a sincere note? Highly doubtful. But they do, I think, expect a response. However, something this weak deserves to be filed in recycle.

  3. Russell Glasser says

    You don’t see the bulk of our email. You seem to be saying that a theist existing who believes that this material is profound, would be an extraordinary claim. I assure you it is incredibly mundane.

  4. Matt Gerrans says

    After listening to Matt’s recent “debate” with with Ray Comfort (linked in the forum topic below this), I listened to the Christian radio station’s live feed for a few minutes (AM 980 KKMS Christian Talk – http://www.kkms.com/). After just a bit of that, I’m really not too surprised that these people live in a kind of self-imposed intellectual wasteland inside an impenetrable epistemological bubble.

    Other than the occasional debate (which I gather is rare) with a person like Matt, they seem to get a steady stream of nonsense with lots of straw man representations of what atheists believe and why they believe it. The “why” being what Ray kept incessantly repeating (we know in our hearts that God is real, but we want to keep on sinning, so we “turn our back on The Truth”).

    Even though this seems incredible (as in really not at all credible) to us, I think they think that atheists have never thought about their deep and profound questions. The questions here are much like those in the “22 Messages From Creationists To People Who Believe In Evolution” post and reflect the same attitude/understanding of atheism.

    I think the best way to answer this letter is to ask AtheistDestroyer to read a book like Nailed: Ten Christian Myths That Show Jesus Never Existed at All and report back with an answer to each of the myths it lists.

  5. sigurd jorsalfar says

    has he ever debated/talked with/met a representative of the Creator?

    Does Ray Comfort count?

  6. xxxxxx says

    This is simply a “marketing deepity” — a person asks questions that, on one hand, might seem intriging to some, but when you spend even a moment of thought on them you realize whatever the person is selling is going to be complete crap.

  7. gfunk says

    it’s interesting and perhaps a tip-off, that he specifically asked for Matt D and then asked if he’d ever debated or talked to a representative of the Creator. Sure if he knows the show and the host by name, he knows that’s what Matt does on a regular basis. Clearly not being totally honest or sincere.

    The best I could offer is he or she might have gotten the name and address from someone who pointed them here to attack and atheist without background info. Which would be completely stupid.

  8. Matt Gerrans says

    asked if he’d ever debated or talked to a representative of the Creator
    That also looks like laying the ground for a No True Scotsman fallacy.

  9. lechatnoir says

    If you really wanna go down the rabbit hole, we can discuss the details of ‘knickknacks’.

  10. lechatnoir says

    Do you think you’re beacons for imbeciles? Are this people just not used to thinking about this stuff? What’s the deal?

  11. Russell Glasser says

    Uh, again, you don’t read enough of our email to realize that we get that kind of thing ALL THE TIME. Not everybody who sees the show is a regular viewer who has seen several years’ worth of episodes. People frequently see single shows or even brief clips and then write to us without knowing anything else. We get linked on forums, people mention the show in apologetics channels. They ask questions on a regular basis that they would know if they had seen hours of episodes, but they haven’t. And anyone can see what people’s names are, because they’re right there on the screen.

  12. Russell Glasser says

    We’re a beacon for everybody who wants to argue about religion, from either side. Some are idiots. Most aren’t. Same as people see clips of the all time most ridiculous callers highlighted on YouTube, and they reach the conclusion that we never talk to smart people. We talk to tons of smart people. But those segments aren’t funny. 🙂

  13. Aaroninmelbourne says

    I realized how mundane religious “insights” were when on a road trip and happened upon a Christian radio station. They were quite seriously talking about the “deep spiritual insights” of the Bible, and under discussion was some sort of deepity they found, that only struck me at the time as being really off: it was both “common sense” (i.e. it was good enough to be usable but wrong at the more foundational level, such as the common sense notion that “a vacuum sucks”) and yet was really boring. If I were to guess it was something of the self-help pulp quality of “You can’t help others unless you take care of yourself first” (well, duh). It was only “amazing” to these people because it was *in the Bible* rather than it being anything other than obvious unhelpful uninsightful clichéd garbage on its own.

  14. Narf says

    Well, I’m somewhat amazed any time I encounter something in the Bible that isn’t completely wrongheaded, myself, so I can sort of see their amazement.

  15. Monocle Smile says

    Sometimes I think those types think humanity as a whole was much different when the Bible was written. They don’t realize that although we have a much larger knowledge base with which to work, humans haven’t gotten all that much smarter since 500 BCE. The mundane insights you mention are often of the “How the shit did these ancient people figure out this incredibly obvious aspect of human behavior?” flavor, like you said.

  16. Narf says

    So, am I the only one who, when I see a message with no capitalization and minimal punctuation, goes into it assuming that it’s likely to be completely useless blather? I have a sufficiently high hit percentage that I feel somewhat justified in that initial assumption.

  17. Narf says

    Hell, I’ve heard you guys read e-mails on TAE and NPR from people who freely admit to having never watched the show nor listened to the podcast. They just found the website and decided to do God’s work by spreading some enlightenment to some poor souls who have clearly never heard God’s word, or they wouldn’t be atheists.

  18. lechatnoir says

    Ah, yes. The entertainment values would bias the available information. Thanks for the reply; it’s useful to be reminded that there are other causes of apparent stupidity.

  19. says

    I agree that there’s a very strong correlation between spelling/grammar/punctuation and the ability to make a coherent point.

    At blogs, whenever I see a comment like that in a thread (or in moderation at my place) I skip it and move on to the next one. Every time I’ve gone back and read a comment I’ve skipped, just to see if I was missing out on something, my decision to skip has been completely justified.

  20. says

    @ Narf

    It might be an assumption, but it would be a valid assumption to assume if someone starts out by proving how ignorant they are then it would be obvious they don’t know what the f*ck their writting about. Being this irrationally suspicious and unreasonably biased is never a good combination.

    There’s a section called “Sharing the Crankmail”, in my Freethought Today paper that shows different letters that theists send to the FFRF all the time. Here are just a few of them. “Go fuck yourself you faggot piece of shit”– Johnny Jones, “I recently read the article that a Long Island middle school omitted any reference to Christ in the songs performed for the Christmas play. Then we wonder why incidents happen such as columbine and sandy hook.”–Fed Up, New York, “you people do realize that in this country we have a freedom OF religon not FROM”–Wyatt Ellsworth. One is just prejudice, one is just assuming our guilt, while the other is just completely wrong, but the one thing they do have in common is that they’re all ignorant.

  21. Narf says

    I’ve seen a few people with very rough grammar and formatting, who are otherwise able to express a coherent, thoughtful concept, but they’re very rare. Perhaps there’s some sort of specific learning disability going on, in the case of those few.

    Generally though, whether it’s through lack of education or laziness … well, either of those traits is likely to show in the thoughts the person is trying to express, aren’t they? Someone who is attempting to correct his educational deficiencies might be worth talking to, but more often, I find myself encountering people like Bobby, over in the thread for the show in which he called in.

  22. says

    Fed Up, New York, “you people do realize that in this country we have a freedom OF religon not FROM”

    I swear I’m going to lose my mind if I can’t get one of them to explain what the hell they mean by that.

  23. houndentenor says

    Many theists exist in a bubble in which they only socialize with others who believe the same things they do (not only other theists but theists of the exact same kind), consume mostly theistic media and have their ideas reinforced on an almost hourly basis. They think these arguments are profound because they’ve never engaged anyone who would dare challenge them. Even people who are theists but can see through the problems with these arguments are not attending their kind of church. So, yeah, I can believe most of this is real. I get emails about like this from relatives on a regular basis.

  24. says

    There’s many believers for whom “cause and effect” is a mind-blower, as if it’s never occurred to them some event could be triggered by something else. It’s like they’ve never read “The Way Things Work”, or thought about a LONG list of examples from the natural World (how a gun, TV remote, door bell, avalanche, etc. operates). They’re living in a world filled with magic and wonder, where things ‘just happen’.
    It reminds one of Insane Clown Posse’s “Miracles” (2009), where they’re amazed by (amongst other things) the ‘miracle’ of magnetism, “Water, fire, air and dirt / Fucking magnets, how do they work?”
    They’re not actually looking for an answer, though, since they quickly “poison the well” of those ‘know-it-alls’ who apparently went to class in high-school (“And I don’t wanna talk to a scientist / Y’all motherfuckers lying, and getting me pissed.”) instead of missing class to get high.
    Not surprising for most believers, though, remembering many only read a Holy book filled with magical events, with supernatural forces in play throughout.
    The line about Matt getting lost on his way to work smacks of projection, the writer projecting his own fears and feelings of incapacitation onto Matt, since the Bible often says humans are not wise enough to direct their own path without God’s direction:
    Jeremiah 10:23

    23 I know, O Lord, that the way of a man is not his: neither is it in a man to walk, and to direct his steps.
    If there’s anything which threatens those still incarcerated in their self-imposed mental prison, it’s the sight of those who escaped.

  25. says

    It would appear that their idea of freedom is we have the freedom to choose even though we would be forced to choose. Kind of like I have the freedom to vote even if I choose not to vote.

  26. unfogged says

    The meaning I usually take from it is “you may have the legal right to not believe but you still have to sit down and keep quiet as we cram our [unfounded] beliefs into every facet of your life [because if we don’t keep up a continuous stream of religion we might actually have a minute to think and realize that we might just be wrong]”.

  27. Narf says

    It’s more the matter of willful confusion over public and private religion. You can do whatever you like on your own, with your religion, within certain boundaries, excluding things such as torturing animals and sacrificing children. You can even do your religious stuff in public, within certain boundaries. You just can’t make the public participate, as they’re doing by turning it into an official public ceremony.

    And you can’t teach them otherwise, because they don’t want to learn and won’t hear you. What they really want is theocracy, not what’s allowed under the first amendment.

    In other words, they’re lying.

  28. Robert, not Bob says

    It’s always seemed to me that as their religious duty is to do their best to take over society, anything that stops them violates their religious freedom.

  29. sigurd jorsalfar says

    Freedom of Religion as it exists in the US constitution is a liberal concept. US Christians do not believe in it or even understand it. As Robert not Bob says. their duty is to impose their values and beliefs on the rest of us whether we like it or not. They make use of the concept of freedom of religion when it suits them in the pursuit of their goals. But outside of that pursuit, they put no value in anyone’s religious freedom but their own.

    Fundamentally, christianity is incompatible with the US constitution, every bit as much as it is incompatible with science. I think this needs to be said over and over. This is why time and time again churches are more than happy to cover up criminal wrong doing by their elites while still believing in their own moral superiority and exhibiting no shame in their conduct. This isn’t solely because of a flaw in their character or reasoning, but because they ultimately have no respect for any authority or principles of behavior that do not stem from their religious texts.

    They pay lip service to secular authority and constitutional principles when it suits their purposes. They tolerate it in so far as they have no other choice. But they are fundamentally opposed to the values of the US constitution and of the thinkers who gave rise to it, and to all secular authority derived from it. As Narf says, they want theocracy, and they are lying about their allegiance to constitutional principles in order to deceive us.

  30. Matt Gerrans says

    I’ve seen a few people with very rough grammar and formatting, who are otherwise able to express a coherent, thoughtful concept, but they’re very rare.

    Name one. Just kidding, but I think such folk are rare enough to fall into the “miraculous” category.

    Perhaps there’s some sort of specific learning disability going on, in the case of those few.

    Perhaps there is a word for that sort of “learning disability.” …Ah yes, that would be “stupidity.”

  31. Narf says

    Eh, we have a couple of regulars around here who are pretty horrible with the formatting and proofreading. They sometimes have interesting insights to add.

    I’ve also encountered the occasional theist with linguistic skills similar to Bobby’s, only with more of an honest, questioning delivery, rather than Bobby’s rambling, aggressively-ignorant assertions. They can be more worth talking to, because they occasionally seem to listen to what the other side has to say.

  32. dutchdelight says

    Gone are the days when these christians actually still tried to make a convincing argument, explaining to us pagans that Jesus was no different from the sons of Jupiter we allready know and stuff.

    Also…. The author is talking about sincereness but doesn’t display any sincerity at all, even worse, he seems to aproach the show hosts like they are lapsed christians that just need to have some more fact free god talk dumped on them.

    I’m not sure if it’s possible to be more disrespectful to your intended audience.

  33. John Kruger says

    I think some people are still somewhat mystified by their smart phones or tablets and just do not bother with any punctuation at all. I still see comments at times where the first letter of every word is capitalized. Using this deficiency to color a person’s entire intellect seems like a bit too much of an assumption.

    I think it is more likely in this case that the author is deliberately trying to look stupid in order to get a reaction from our beloved hosts on the blog (admittedly, I am purely speculating here).

  34. NoneOfTheAbove says

    This is not the first email in Comic Sans I see on this blog, so I have to wonder: are all those email actually formatted with that font, or are you guys using Comic Sans to represent trolls’ emails?

    If it’s the latter, you are a little bit unfair (just a little bit: no earthly font may really do much to improve such messages)…

  35. Russell Glasser says

    I only add comic sans for people who are REALLY ridiculous, not people who I just disagree with. I made a special CSS tag for it: <blockquote class=”idiot”>

    You can tell it’s not part of the original because it also has a green background with a “derp face” in it.

  36. says

    John said:

    Using this deficiency to color a person’s entire intellect seems like a bit too much of an assumption.

    True day.

    But even worse, ignoring the argument to play grammar Politzei means the person is not attacking the substance of the person’s claim; anything more than noting it parenthetically and then addressing their argument runs the risk of playing an ad hominem, as if validating the “style over substance” (SOS) fallacy.

    BTW, many forget the point of the SOS fallacy is NOT that style doesn’t matter AT ALL (i.e. ironically committing another logical fallacy, the exclusion of alternatives and jumping to conclusions)! Instead, the SOS logical fallacy occurs when listeners give UNDUE weight to ‘style over substance’, and potentially ‘throw out the baby with the bathwater’. (This is a known phenomenon in the Bible, described by Jesus as “stumbling others”, so XIans understand the import of style.)

    But even as a practical matter of trying to persuade others, style matters to the listeners, and all protests or criticism cannot be dismissed with a flippant wave of the hand with the counter-accusation of ‘tone trolling’. The old truism about catching more flies with honey vs vinegar comes to mind….

  37. Narf says

    Certainly, I don’t dismiss the entire post at a glance. I’ll at least go a couple paragraphs in, before allowing my opinion to solidify.

    I just go into the reading of the post with significantly lowered expectations, when I see such poor formatting. If I see the poster making sense, then I immediately adjust my stance. Of course that almost never happens. Texts are another matter entirely, but people who still write significant chunks of text, on serious subjects, in a public forum, with the writing style of a middle school student … they probably aren’t used to being taken seriously … probably for a very good reason.

  38. Narf says

    But then we get people like Bobby who have such a rough grasp of not only grammar but simple argument coherency that it isn’t just dismissing him for a lack of style. Half of the comments he made were almost completely incoherent, and I’m not about to expend effort trying to figure out what he might be trying to say, when he makes almost no sense when I do understand what he’s trying to say.

    There were many comments that he posted which were a solid block of text about 15 or 20 lines long. After reading the second or third sentence (although I use the term lightly, since he often didn’t properly use sentence breaks) and being unable to grasp any sort of meaning from him, I often just gave up.

  39. doublereed says

    My guess? This was an adorable child that has absolutely no idea what’s going on. When I read this, I just went d’aaaaaaaaaaaw!!!

  40. says

    Narf said- There were many comments that he posted which were a solid block of text about 15 or 20 lines long.

    Yeah, I see what you’re saying, but someone like Bobby is likely shooting himself in the foot by posting such self-indulgent nonsense. Readers will decide if he’s got a valid point, or is only digging himself deeper (I bowed out after he entered ‘tape loop’ mode, ignoring the examples given which countered the same claims he made a month ago).

    The question to ask is, who you are trying to convince: onlookers, or the other poster? Who is the target audience?

    As Matt says, you have no chance of convincing the other debater, so it’s smart to play to the audience, and like it or not, that’s where ‘style’ points count: MOST people aren’t Mr Spocks (dispassionate and perfectly-logical) but are swayed by emotional factors (such as tone and manners: that’s why Nye won on ‘style’ points, as well as ‘substance’: it was impossible for Ham to claim someone wearing a bow-tie was haughty and arrogant, LOL!).

    In fact, believing in the SOS fallacy partly explains WHY people ARE still theists: the Bible spends pages straw-manning atheists as haughty and arrogant people. So living up to the “dogmatic angry atheist” stereotype their pastors have warned them about for years on Sunday is hardly a smart way to liberate their minds!

    Religions know that: it’s why JWs always are clean-cut, wearing cheap suits, etc. since the general public tends to trust words spoken by someone in a suit vs someone who looks homeless.

    And if talking to theists were an Olympic competition, the gold medal should go to someone like always-smiling Tracie Harris, who manages to mind her manners (and keep her ego in check) while absolutely eviscerating the callers arguments.

    In the end, it’s not about arguing and scoring points (I’m right, you’re wrong): that’s often ego-driven talk.
    Instead, it’s about getting people to think for themselves, and that requires not going out of one’s way to trigger emotional defenses and offering others ready-made excuses to “be stumbled” from hearing the atheist’s message.

  41. John Kruger says

    That is exactly where I fall as well. Punctuation, correct spelling, and sentence structure exist to facilitate effective communication. There might be some good ideas hiding in the wild walls of text, but it is hard to take someone too seriously if they do not take basic steps to help ensure they will be properly understood. I generally find myself charitably blaming laziness or technical ineptness over crass stupidity, but either way I am rarely so invested as to work extra hard to figure out what someone else wants me to understand if they are unwilling to go through even basic efforts to communicate clearly.

  42. says

    I’ve encountered someone hailing by that alias on Friendly Atheist. The guy claimed he was living in South America but after I got him to send me an email I did a reverse address lookup and found it originated in Quebec. Possibly Mabus?

  43. Narf says

    I’m not talking about all theists, though. I’m making a generalization based upon the ability to express opinions. When you see something that’s so poorly formatted and organized, odds are that the thought processes that went into it is also pretty poor. I glance through to be sure, but when I see something so childishly written, I’m much quicker to dismiss the poster as an idiot and not read all the way through it, except in this particular instance, in which Russel held the guy up as entertainingly mindless.

  44. grumpyoldfart says

    I think the Destroyer of Atheists (DoA) is simply unable to comprehend a universe without god. He thinks that god made us all and that he takes a personal interest in everything we do. If god doesn’t exist then nothing would work – but things do work – so god exists. He couldn’t possibly NOT exist!

    For example, DoA assumes that god gave us brains to help us find our way around the planet and if Matt thinks god does not exist then how does he know how to find his way to work from home and then back again? You can only do that if you have a brain – and the only way to have a brain is to get one from god!

    DoA also seems to be unaware of the involuntary muscles we use when swallowing and breathing. He wonders how he is able to continue breathing when he is not consciously thinking about breathing – and assumes that this is just another one of the services provided by God. And if Matt does not believe that god controls our swallowing and breathing then how does he know/accept that he needs food to eat and air to breathe?

  45. says

    Thus it’s just a giant legerdemain constructed by nefarious individuals to ensure that one day this country is to be a Christian nation operated and run by their god and the spokesperson who they elect to be their Supreme Leader. Which is why it’s important to support organizations like the FFRF that ensure that there be a seperation of church and state, so that this country doesn’t become a theocracy.

  46. VERY Ex-Nun says

    I’ve had an eclectic career path but since I ended up spending my last 12 working years teaching English at the college level, I thought I’d jump into this discussion.

    I do tend to lean in the direction of “If you can’t write it, you don’t know it” mindset, but they did pay me for this stuff for a long time. OTOH, I spent 5 years working in computer programming (COBOL…which really dates me) and I found that many programmers had trouble with both grammar and spelling. These were awesomely brilliant people. Perhaps it just comes from having a brain that would have understood computers even before computers were invented. Perhaps they just think “trigonometrically”.

    But, they most definitely could formulate coherent sentences, however badly spelled.

    I tend to ignore the spelling/grammar errors unless someone is trying to convince me that they have a superior intelligence, given by their god, yet they cannot write “See Dick run.” correctly. Even though my fingers may itch for a red pencil that won’t damage my monitor, I’ll ignore that if the argument is honest and the person is responding to my own words.

    The problem with so many apologists isn’t the typos…it’s the brainos.

  47. Narf says

    Yup. It sometimes happens, and if the thoughts are worth anything, I’ll read around the grammar. I just find a bit of amusement when I see something written like this, then skim the first bit and find exactly what I had assumed, based upon the grammar … which happens the vast majority of the time. I try not to stereotype, but some people make it really damned difficult. 😀

  48. says

    I’m going to start a cult of food-arians. We will assert you need food to live, but don’t have to breathe. And we will call Breatharians heretical…maybe even throw in some persecution just for good measure.

  49. says

    >People frequently see single shows or even brief clips and then write to us without knowing anything else.

    Sadly, that’s true. One of the most waste-of-time problems we have are people going off half-cocked–friends and foes alike. Someone will catch some 5-min clips and then write in “You know what would be cool? If you all would address the Cosmological argument, I get that one a lot when I debate online!” or “Have you ever gotten someone calling in to ask ‘Why not believe? What’s to lose?’ I don’t know how to respond to that one, and I’ve never seen that on your show–although I’ve only seen three episodes so far, so I admit I could just not know it’s available.” And so on. I’m not talking about some obscure reference to an item that may have come up–but rarely. I mean, people suggesting things or asking about things that we get hit with ALL THE TIME. I just had a very futile back and forth with a Danish viewer who wrote to ask why someone isn’t trying to educate the public about what the term “atheist” really means. I asked them what they thought TAE was doing? I mean, they WROTE to a show, sponsored by an educational atheist association–to ask why nobody is putting out information to the public about atheism….? I sent back two kind replies, where they continued to assert I wasn’t understanding what they were asking, and finally I just exploded with a list of projects and efforts and vehicles that ACA is actively either sponsoring or assisting with that all are about reaching the public with information about atheism. I also pointed out we do all of this on volunteer time–uncompensated–and asked them WHAT MORE they felt we were obligated to do to educate the public about atheism?

    They wrote back saying I was “jumping to conclusions” about them, and that they weren’t implying we weren’t doing all we could to educate the public–to which I replied by quoting their original e-mail to us where they asked “why isn’t someone” doing this? It’s like they thought I would just forget the past comments they made, and agree I was misreading them–as though their input from three e-mails back just didn’t exist?

    But they did say they hadn’t researched and weren’t aware of what else we were involved with and other efforts we had under way. So, I spent a few “back and forth”s with someone who simply had not bothered to see what WAS going on with atheist outreach AT ALL, before writing an alarmed letter to us about how nobody was doing anything to educate the public. Sending that note to one of the few groups actively doing quite a lot to educate the public, was probably a huge mistake on their part. It sucks to be putting in volunteer time working on behalf of a community, only to get a letter from someone who doesn’t know shit about shit, saying “Why isn’t someone doing something?” Well, if they were half-way activated themselves to help be part of the solution–they’d be involved enough to see what IS being done. But easier to complain to people who are doing something that they should do more–than to do it yourself? Still, the irony that we reached them in DENMARK from AUSTIN via TAE, and them writing to us to ask why we aren’t reaching the public about atheism.

    We do get letters from people who don’t even try to figure a thing out before asking to be spoon fed, and it wastes our time and is frustrating as hell.

  50. says

    I have a close friend with dyslexia. When we were in school, they didn’t screen for it, so she went most of her life without even knowing she had this issue until college. I have done a lot of editing work, and there was a unique pattern to her errors that made it clear it wasn’t run-of-the-mill spelling errors nor lack of comprehension of punctuation/grammar. What I saw with her was a pattern of unlikely confused letters that repeated, regardless of the words. So, it’s one thing to see someone consistently type/write a particular word wrong, and it’s either a common typing error or they don’t know the correct spelling. But when you see the pattern of transposed letters occurring regardless of the word, and they are letters not normally confused–the fact you see a “pattern” there is significant. So, if you see “nt” too often transposed to “tn”–such as “consntant” “distatn” “instatnaneous” “itnernational” and so on.

    That’s not a common typo (due to location of letters on a standard keyboard), nor is it something a person is likely to not understand how to spell correctly. Anyway–it was interesting to read her handwritten letters and see those sorts of patterns.

  51. Narf says

    I work in a hospital. Maybe I can acquire some feeding tubes that we can use to persecute the breatharians.

    Oh, wait. I see a flaw with your plan. They go without food. We go without air. I think their bullshit will outlast our bullshit.

  52. says

    They want a return to the early 1950s social environment. They see this as a sort of Golden Age before Liberal thinking destroyed society. Back when there was no such thing as…

    Unplanned pregnancy (because you could just send your daughter off to live some place else for an extended visit until she could come back home, the subject of community gossip, and a fallen, ruined woman)

    Divorce (because people could just stay in loveless, uninspired unions pretending to be happy and satisfied for decades before they died)

    Homosexuality (because people could just get married anyway, and not be interested in sex, or be a confirmed bachelor for the duration of their “discreet” existence)

    Gender equality (because women didn’t need education since a college degree can’t help you make a casserole or have babies–so find some guy to “keep” you, and be grateful he’s there to own…I mean “take care of” you…and I’m sure that was a picnic for the men too–to have their pick of passive women without higher education, frustrated by an existence without options who viewed their husbands as overloards)

    Adultery (because discretion is the better part of a happy marriage–and there were SO MANY, MANY happy marriages back then–since not being happy in your marriage was something you didn’t talk about. Spousal abuse? Oh–but he’s such a good “provider, so don’t rock the boat, honey)

    Atheists (because the Black List is just not where you want to be)

    Non-Christians generally (See “atheists”)

    Yes, this is what they’d like to see–with those prayers they like to toss in before government functions and in school. Nothing like making the children of the marginalized groups feel totally uncomfortable and awkward–because how best to win over that next generation than to make them resent their parents for their nonconformist beliefs?

  53. VERY Ex-Nun says

    Oh, I completely agree. For a group where the very foundation of the only thing that holds them together (the historicity and divinity of “Jesus”) cannot be evidentially demonstrated, they do a really horrible job of actually teaching their members how to present a coherent argument.

    There are leading apologists who, though their arguments are often flawed, still have some idea of the sort of thing that will get their words read. But, there are huge numbers of “the masses” who actually think that saying, “Jesus is God.” is the only thing necessary and their churches reinforce this.

    Although, to be frank, I don’t think I could stomach a mass of people who are capable of rubbing two words together but who can’t understand the foundational necessity of backing those words with evidence.

    I’m a bit lazy and it’s a lot less work to just snicker and move on.

  54. robertwilson says

    Speaking of apologetics fail, I just listened to Matt’s first appearance on the Unbelievable podcast which he retweeted today:


    Boy, I feel like I need to vent… the apologist was awful. The more I think about it the more I conclude he has just never been challenged the way Matt and some new atheists challenge apologists. Aside from the irritating jabs inserted everywhere he just leapt to conclusions all the time and misrepresented Matt worse than most do. I need some time to feel clean…

  55. Narf says

    Nah, if the Breatharians aren’t going to do dishonest stuff like that, we can’t either. Oh, wait …

  56. Artor says

    Nah, not stupidity. A friend of mine who is very smart, and teaches physics in high school, nevertheless has abominable spelling & punctuation. Alternately, you have people like Ken Ham, who writes and speaks clearly and understandably, but is obviously a low-grade moron. It’s a head-scratcher to be sure, especially for someone like myself, who was reading before I can remember, and writing has always just come naturally.

  57. Artor says

    If a writer can’t be arsed to make a minimal effort to be coherent and understandable, that’s a good sign that whatever message buried in the wall of badly-punctuated and Randomly Capitalized ranting is probably not worth the effort, It’s not dismissing the message over style, it’s a matter of prioritizing one’s efforts. When there are well-written arguments to address, the poorly-written ones get shuffled to the bottom of the pile.

  58. Narf says

    Unless you’re in a particularly bloody-minded mood and want to laugh at someone else’s inanity. 😀 Then, those go to the top of the pile.

  59. Matt Gerrans says

    You would think the number of the episode would give them a clue. There have been some 800 hundred episodes, so maybe those most common arguments have been once or twice covered before. Maybe somehow they got a glimpse of an episode, but didn’t see the number and were too lazy to look on the site’s archive before firing off their “why doesn’t someone” email.

    As there are so many episodes and as it is virtually certain that every popular apologetic has been covered one or many times, it would be pretty nifty to put together some sort of indexing project. Then when someone comes up with incredibly novel and heretofore unconsidered of ideas like “Why not believe? What’s to lose?” we can point them to an index of every episode with the time offset of where Pasqual’s Wager was smacked down. It could even be ordered by the quality/depth of the coverage of that particular argument.

    I guess a first start would be to run all the episodes through a text-to-speech engine. I see a lot of the older episodes say “recording requested” rather than having a link to the media. Does that mean they exist somewhere (on reel-to-reel tape or something)?

  60. Narf says

    Well, you know how atheists live in our protective little bubble and never expose ourselves to opposing viewpoints. After all, you know how hard it is to find a True Christian(TM) in this country. Clearly, the hosts have never been exposed to the light of Christ.

  61. Sadako says

    Do I know how to get home from work? Yes. I work from home at the moment, so…

    …not sure what about that was supposed to tug on my intellect. Unless they made a typo and meant to say ‘tug on your leg’.

  62. Sadako says

    Ugh, his argument from ‘I love you’ written in the sand (and probably with only one set of footprints next to it, gag) reminded me of the Yonaguni Monument, Bimini Road, Giant’s Causeway, the Face on Mars etc. We ‘recognized’ those things as made by an intelligent maker because of the patterns our little pattern-identifying monkey brains found, but we’ve been wrong about it every time.

    An even better example (I’m hesitant to give them better examples) would be Japanese gardens. They are meticulously designed and perfected, but are intentionally maintained to look natural and old. Someone who is not trained/used to seeing such gardens would likely not recognize it as man-made (though they may recognize, say, the bridge over a pond or the tea pavilion in the middle as a man-made structure), while someone who knows a lot about Japanese gardens can easily pick out the elements of a given garden, what school of thought guided the placement of rocks and shrubs and ponds, etc. (Moreover, they can then show you the documents proving that so-and-so designed this garden for the ruler of X Castle, plans for the grounds, texts by the designer’s teachers outlining their school’s design philosophy, and so on to back up their claims.)