1. Monocle Smile says

    The Spencer call would have come across better if it was a teenager on the line, but that guy was middle-aged. I’m rather concerned at the immaturity of his thought processes.

  2. kestra says

    Spencer actually struck me as pretty believable. He had clearly not been taught to think critically about his own ideas (or never learned), and engaged in a lot of magical thinking. Ideas like “There is an afterlife (and it will be nice if I believe in Jesus) and therefore my grandmother is watching me” was a comforting notion that most people he knows probably believe, and the fact that he had little or no basis for that belief doesn’t seem to have been clear to him. This is typical in believers that don’t have much interest in theology: they’ve been told nice things like “Jesus loves you!” and “If you believe, you’ll go to Heaven!”, but are never taught the complex theological theories and edifices that have been carefully built up over centuries to justify those beliefs. So when asked, “Why do you think that?” they don’t know. They’ve just been told.

    He mentioned that he’s had issues with alcoholism, up to and including extreme memory loss and seizures. That is indicative of a major problem with heavy drinking over a long period. There is some theorizing in recovery communities that addicts stop maturing when they start using, which I don’t necessarily hold with. However, lots of addicts use their substance of choice to manage stress and escape intense emotions, and thus have to learn emotional coping techniques and stress management that most sober people learned as a matter of course while growing up. I wouldn’t be surprised if his religious ideas (I hesitate to call it “faith”, because he doesn’t seem to know what he *actually believes*, but rather what he’d *like to be true*) were a sort of bridging mechanism to help him while he recovers from his alcohol addiction.

  3. houndentenor says

    Good show, but a better (and more appalling) illustration is the story of Jephtha rather than Abraham. In Abraham/Isaac story it can be (and often is) argued that god never intended for Abraham to make the sacrifice. In the story of Jephtha the daughter IS sacrificed.

  4. Matt Gerrans says

    Hear, hear. I love the way believers like to say “he kept his word to God” or “did with her according to his vow that he had made” (as in the Wikipedia article) and other such euphemistic and dismissive language. How about describing it in detail like you do with the goats and birds and other sacrifices? This is one of the most disgusting illustration of “love” in the Bible and should be brought to believers attention as often as possible. This is what you believe in, Jews, Christians and Muslims. Think about it.

    Muslims have a cute little story about Moses and an even wiser servant of the Lord who kills some random child on the street to show how wise he is. When Moses asks why he murdered the child (instead of intervening!), they guy says that Allah told him the kid would have grown up to be bad (an atheist or whatever), so he was actually doing a service for Allah. Moses (proving just how wise he was not) accepts this bullshit explanation and is grateful to bask in such wisdom. Such an enlightening little story!

  5. Robert, not Bob says

    The bible story books I grew up reading include the story of Jephtha (yes, intended for kids!). It stops just before the last verse (of course), implying she became a sort of nun. I was an adult when I found out that, yes, he did kill her. It’s kind of surprising, as Adventist teaching generally didn’t shy away from the atrocities.

  6. says

    I have a blog describing my effort to read through the Bible. When I did the Jepthah story, I went back and required the Leviticus passage describing exactly how burnt offerings are supposed to be prepared just to really drive the point home for the reader.

  7. says

    In reading through the Bible recently, it really looks to me like it was written by a culture that was still practicing human sacrifice, but was starting to get a little queasy and/or embarrassed about it so they were kinda trying to be indirect about acknowledging it.

  8. Matt Gerrans says

    I think you intended a different word than “required” there? Perhaps, rewrote? Anyway, I’d like to see your blog, if you don’t mind rendering a link here.

  9. says

    Darn autocorrect! That was supposed to be “requoted.” Thanks for pointing it out.

    I don’t mind posting links. I’m always open to input.

    This one is the introductory post for the start of the blog.

    And this one is the post specifically on Jephthah.

    I’m up to 80 posts, and almost to the end of Second Kings. I’m afraid it gets a bit dull in spaces where I get bogged down in details and/or start to lose my sense of humor. But I hope you enjoy it, and feedback/discussion is appreciated.

  10. Narf says

    Yeah, shame they didn’t have a perfectly moral god of some sort to tell them to cut that shit out.

  11. Rea Dloomy says

    Hey everyone
    My name is Rea and I live in Israel, up until a few days ago I thought the evolution in school discussion was a non-issue in my country, but then the news started to say that the ministry of education only now decided to teach a diluted version (not including the evolution of men) in middle schools, and of course the ultra-religious went crazy even over that.
    I really thought our education system was better than that, mostly because I remember studding this subject when I was I school, I suppose we have a long hard way ahead of us

  12. Andrew Matheson says

    My feeling is that Spencer was a troll, taking a different route than Matt from Oslo obviously. It seemed he was intent on just taking as much time as possible. He would make contradictory statements, and ask questions he’d already answered. Any time Matt would try to end the dead-end conversation he would bring up another random tangent. Either way, he was so incoherent that even if he was genuine it’s disappointing to waste time on him. The effect of a call that flings randomly from topic to topic is that the hosts can’t even bring anything to the table, since it’s unclear if there is a table, or indeed if the caller is aware of what a table is.

    It’s got t be frustrating for the hosts, it seems almost impossible to determine if a call is going to go anywhere. By the time you have, you’re already so sunk into to it.

  13. says

    as far i remember, i always agree with Matt points but today i think that i finally find some point of disagreement …

    To me this “god test” that abraham has to make is pointless because god already know the results, and so, even that abraham dont knew, god knew that abraham would do and choose exactly what he done and choosed… so why bother?

    I mean, even abraham already knew internaly that his faith was so strong that he would kill even his only son if god asked (after all he didnt think twice)… theres no gain to abraham in this test at all… in the end this just proves that this is another allegorical history to show that, if god commands, you should obey without blink… disgusting…

  14. Max says

    Hi Jen and Matt,

    I’ve just listened to episode #865, on YouTube. In the second half of the show you had a young man, Spencer, that was ambivalent. He had hard time to reconcile what he knows to be true and what he wished to be true. In the aftershow, Jen was baffled : “how can someone not know what he believes?”

    That ambivalence is well documented and understood.

    In 1983 Prochaska & DiClemente developed a Transtheoretical model outlining the basic process of change and has become known as the Stages of Change Model. The Stages of Change model shows that, for most persons, a change in behavior/belief occurs gradually, with people moving from being uninterested, unaware or unwilling to make a change (precontemplation), to considering a change (contemplation), to deciding and preparing to make a change.

    During the contemplation stage, people are ambivalent about changing. Giving up an enjoyed paradigm causes them to feel a sense of loss despite the perceived gain. During this stage, people assess barriers (e.g., time, expense, hassle, fear, “I know I need to, doc, but …”) as well as the benefits of change. They know their old belief is obsolete and wrong, but they are not yet committed to adopt a new one. The replacement belief scares them, so they hesitate.

  15. Phelan says

    It could just be some kind of weird speech impediment or accent that I’ve never run into elsewhere, but he sounded to me like was smirking almost the entire call anyways. Add the fact that he was talking extremely slowly most of the time, except when he defended himself against Matt’s assumption that he might be a prank caller. So yeah, my guess would be troll as well.

  16. Eric Fynbo says

    Kestra I believe you are correct. I would even go as far as to say he was trying to reconcile a feeling that his beliefs in God and no God was an internal conflict that as he no longer believed he would lose his morality and act on bad thoughts. It is my belief that this struggle was a way to under stand that this is not necessarily true. And life does not end with no belief in God.