Comments

  1. says

    Regarding the burden of proof, I had a theist who was persistent in his insistence that atheism was new. It took awhile for me to figure out why he kept making this (wrong) point. This was, in his mind, key to his idea that everyone believed in some kind of god for thousands of years. Existence of god was just considered true.

    Then, suddenly, atheists come along and demand they prove it. So why do the latecomers, who are challenging the status quo, not have a burden?

    The problem is that the theists never actually met their burden of proof. They all just winked and nodded at each other to just all agree that it was real, instead of actually demonstrating it.

    The reason why they now “all of a sudden” have it is because they had it all along, and never solved it.

  2. Narf says

    Yeah, that’s pretty amazingly wrong, Jasper. Your apologist acquaintance should be acquainted with the fact that the Euthyphro Dilemma was first proposed somewhere around 400 BCE and was directed towards the Greek gods. There were plenty of ancient Greeks who thought a lot about this stuff and were atheists, even before we had the better explanations for the natural world that we have now.

  3. steveb0503 . says

    OK – I’m gonna come right out and say it if nobody else will: I think “Steve” (scare-quotes VERY intentional) is pullin’ you-all’s leg(s?). That guy is NOT for real – he’s a freakin’ poe, and you need to stop takin’ his calls. Seriously, you need to listen to his call again and listen more carefully to the way he responds after you answer his questions – he’s being intentionally obtuse in acting like he doesn’t quite take your meaning.

  4. Monocle Smile says

    @Jasper

    Romanticizing the past is a very common pastime for theists. Religion is static (well, somewhat) in a dynamic world, so theists love thinking about a mythical time where their religion fit perfectly into the workings of reality so they can get outraged at “whippersnappers.”

    http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Good_old_days

  5. CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain says

    @Jasper of Maine #1 (paraphrasing a theist):

    everyone believed in some kind of god for thousands of years. Existence of god was just considered true.
    […]
    So why do the latecomers, who are challenging the status quo, not have a burden?

    Speaking of latecomers: monotheisms?
    They met their burden thousands of years ago, eh?
    Great. What did they say to justify a change?
    You don’t know?
     
    So as a modern who accepted the status quo, your position is:
    “Grandpa must’ve had a good reason, so I’ll repeat his conclusions without knowing why. And I’ll ignore all requests for justification directed at me, for why I adopted those beliefs. Ancestors made sure it was legit somehow and are conveniently unavailable for comment.” ?

  6. ChaosS says

    Another problem with this way of thinking is the idea that the 6-8 thousand years since the first gods were invented represent a significant time period in the 100,000 year history of the human race. The earliest forms of mysticism were focused on things like the sun, ancestors, and dreams. Gods were not invented until the rise of the first empires when men projected their civil structures into their mythologies.

    Try presenting an argument like that to a theist and count how many times they make a scoffing noise…

  7. Robert Delaney says

    Ugh.
    Just now listening to todays show and am now listening to “Steve” once again.

    I don’t believe he’s sincere for a second.
    BUT even if he is, why have the same caller on repeatedly who never has anything specific to say? He calls and speaks in generalities every time, milking the call to take up as much time as possible.

    Please stop taking his calls.
    He’s a crank, and he brings down the whole show.

    I can’t imagine I’m the only one who feels this way.

  8. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    What’s the point of the later parts of Steve’s call? I can’t tell if he’s “for real” or not. Maybe.

  9. Russell Glasser says

    I don’t believe I’ve spoken to Steve before, myself. It’s always been Matt. Now that I know, I won’t be taking another call from him.

  10. Monocle Smile says

    I’m not even sure that’s Steve’s real voice. I realize that you guys are okay with fake callers as long as the conversation is fairly productive, but he does indeed seem to be focused on wasting time.

    @ChaosS

    IIRC, ancestor worship is the oldest form of religion/mysticism, which should say something about religion in general, but yeah, good luck getting a theist to even acknowledge anything of that flavor. They typically don’t want to know any more about their religion (and I’ll note that there are very deep differences between learning about one’s theology and learning about one’s religion) than necessary.

  11. Russell Glasser says

    I wouldn’t really say we’re “okay with” fake callers. We do everything we can to discourage fakes, and on the whole we’d rather not have any. But there is a balance to be struck between being on alert and being nice to callers who might be real. Obviously we can’t just yell at everyone who might be a fake and slam the phone done. Quite a lot of the time comments, emails, and show reviews are just as hard on us for being visibly “rude” to someone we suspect of pranking us, because the casual viewer has no context to guess why we think that.

  12. Robert Delaney says

    Russell – totally understandable. I also know that Matt has mentioned it is difficult to distinguish voices in the studio sometimes with the speaker phone.

    I don’t recall you speaking with ‘Steve’ before, but he has definitely spoken to Matt, Tracie and Jen in the past.
    Off the top of my head I would say that he’s called at least 4 times before, if not more, and his calls always go through a pattern.

    He is ‘in transition’ to becoming an atheist, and then he asks a ridiculous question about some aspect of ‘what atheism is’ (or what atheists do, etc). Once that question is answered, he always has “one more thing” to ask about … and he’ll keep doing that until the hosts finally force him off the call. You can even hear it in his voice when you finally ended the call yesterday, he was trying to scramble to say something to stay on the phone longer.

    I completely appreciate that you don’t want to be unnecessarily rude. I was simply hoping that Steve could get screened out before he even got on air in the future.

    Regardless – great show as always.
    Keep up the good work.

    ‘Steve’ or no ‘Steve’ – I’ll still be tuning in next week, as I have for years.

  13. Russell Glasser says

    Yeah, I hear you that he talked to Matt multiple times, but I kind of need to have a conversation with somebody myself before they really stick in my mind. There are a bunch of people you don’t hear (much of) anymore because they’re on my “hang up on sight” list. That includes Charlie Check’m and his various pseudonyms, Corey in Schenectady (aggressive asshole), that ZeroSubBob guy (whiny, annoying, and takes forever)… the list goes on and on. I need this whole mental rolodex to keep track of every time I see a caller name and say “Hey that sounds familiar…”

    Unfortunately when I listen to shows that I’m not on, sometimes I’m not paying full attention because I’m trying to moderate chat or something, or sometimes I do register someone as a time waster but I don’t remember their name. I’m sure the same is much more true of the screeners, who have to be taking new calls or might be chatting with other people in the control room during the show. On the whole I think they do a relatively good job of screening people out but nobody’s perfect.

  14. Robert Delaney says

    In an effort to not turn this into a total whine-fest, let me say unequivocally that the Atheist Experience is phenomenal, and everyone that works on it is doing a killer job.

    I’ve watched you guys for nearly a decade now, and the show gets better every year (though, back in the day you did get many more theist callers, but that’s the price of popularity I suppose).

    I appreciate everything you do, with the AXP as well as the ACA.
    So thank you for all the time and energy you put into it (including the energy it takes to keep us from being subjected to Charlie Check’m ever again).

    🙂

    The cast and crew are one of the many reasons Austin is such a fantastic place to be, and it makes me happy to see you all becoming more well known every single year.

  15. Monocle Smile says

    I don’t think that last caller understood anything either host was saying. I also find it really irritating when theists call in to talk about burden of proof only to tuck tail and run when put to the question.

  16. chris lowe says

    In times gone by we did not have answers or knowledge to explain most natural phenomena. Religion emerged as a pre-historical attempt at science and philosophy in a genuine effort to make sense of the reality everyone found themselves in. Given that there was no way to measure the invisible or was there enough knowledge to explain events (a lot of them scary and dangerous), people filled in the blanks by assigning that which they couldn’t control or understand to the supernatural. Regional agreement of a world view at the time produced a secondary result enabling a particular religion to self -perpetuate.

    Knowledge is power. People who would hold sway over others would claim authority based on divine warrant and an inside information conveyed directly to them by the gods controlling the events. Appealing to people’s desire to remain safe and protected, they turned to those who might have influence over the deities to lead the way in appeasing the gods for positive outcomes. Sound familiar today? Culture and civilization emerged because these leaders could control large numbers of people and the local laws would dovetail into the leaders’ beliefs on the supernatural. Divine authority also protected many leaders from usurpation.

    So religion is in civilization”s DNA. So gods may come and go and the individual metaphysics may be improbable. And
    the number of followers may have diminished over time for any particular consolation but religion itself is a reality.

    Those who take on the burden of proof for the veracity of their Abrahamic God do so through the veracity of their religion. It is the argument of “universal consent”. The flaw in this argument is that there is no requirement that the proposal be true.

  17. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    Meh, the last caller was interesting. He explicitly just wanted to understand the burden of proof and explicitly did not want to defend his religious beliefs, but Tracie was like “nope” and switched the conversation to him defending his religious beliefs. Not sure it was intentional. I don’t know if it was a bad move either. At the very least, I think he got his initial question answered.

  18. says

    The first caller of this show asked a question, that I was also wondering about, based on an experience my friend had last night.
    She claims in the past that she has seen appirations of ghosts or the dead, that appear then disappear. While a group of us were talking last night she said she glanced over and saw a girl with her hands on her head and she had a look on her face of worry or discomfort. She described the girl as being red headed, heavy set, and wearing white shorts and a red shirt. The group of us were shocked to hear this because a while before a girl died in the house and she seemed to have described her without ever seeing this person. A friend that had a picture of the girl that passed showed a picture and asked if that was the girl she saw, and my friend confirmed that indeed that was the person. This girl passed because she overdosed on heroin and happened to show up at a party at the house, and happened to pass out and eventually pass away. My uncle said that she was wearing white shorts and a red shirt that night. Now my uncle and I are both skeptics and don’t beleive supernatural claims but obviously this scared him because he witnessed this girl die and doesn’t like to bring her up. We just couldn’t wrap our minds on how my friend could possibly see this girl appear and be able to describe all those details at a glance. I’ve known my friend for over 10 years and I find no reason for her to lie, but I do have to mention that she is very gullible, ditzy, and has a history of taking medication for anxiety and depression. My conclusion is that she possibly can be hallucinating if she swears to what she saw, because out of a group of five, she was the only one who saw this. It’s just strange that she matched up the description quite well. What do you guys think?

  19. says

    To the girl whose friends were in a house and saw some images in a house, the best explanation is called a pinhole camera. Where the light from outside comes into a dark room it will display the images from the outside, kind of like a projector would. It’s basically how the eye works, it projects images onto the back of the eye.

  20. says

    I’m sorry but I forgot the first callers name. But i’d recommend Michael Shermer’s book Why People Believe Weird things. Despite his faults, the book itself is pretty solid. There’s also a good bookcalled “You Are Not so Smart” by David McRaney. A good primer to how we fool ourselves. Carl Sagan’s a Demon Haunted World is always good, of course.

  21. corwyn says

    @ chris 19:

    Religion emerged as a pre-historical attempt at science and philosophy in a genuine effort to make sense of the reality everyone found themselves in.

    What evidence do you have for this claim, particularly the ‘genuine’ part?

  22. says

    For the record, directly after the show–in the studio, before we even left for the dinner– a number of us stood around and discussed our skepticism of Steve’s sincerity. I also believe Steve is calling to hear himself on the show and not out of a sincere motive. The clincher for me was his question about whether the Bible can be used as evidence of god. The rebuttals to this claim are common and easy to find–and we’ve discussed it on the program extensively. It’s one thing for a person to happen to tune in and call with something like that. But for someone to be a regular caller (and so, I think reasonable to assume “viewer” as well), and not have been able to find a response in our programs as to why the Bible is not evidence of god, is too incredible to me. He did milk the call, I agree. And I found it annoying. I know Russell had his hand hovering over the cut-off button much longer than usual–because he was prepared to end the call long before it finally was ended.

    So, sleep well tonight–whether Steve is legitimate or not (and I lean toward “not”), he’s wasting time discussing topics that have been well covered and not really delving deeply enough as he jumps from one to another to another in order to drag the calls out as long as possible.

    I consider fake callers to be among the most pathetic of hobbyists. When your life has denigrated to calling TAE in order to pretend to be a theist so that you can be heard over a ustream feed–and this is where you’re reduced to finding your excitement–you should take stock. You no longer have anything that can be legitimately called “a life.”

  23. CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain says

    @Eric Carrasco #21:
    It’s nice that the dead girl got to take her clothes into the afterlife. Shame she’s stuck wearing the same wardrobe forever though.

  24. says

    I’ve encountered people like Steve before, who tend to drag conversations out like that.
    In my experience here in Florida, it’s mostly because they are from very Christian environments and they say invoke common and easily debunked stuff as a sort of reaffirmation of their own thoughts.
    I’ve caught myself doing the same when i’m at a skeptical or atheist event, since i’m in the same boat.
    Just playing devil’s advocate here.
    Now, it is still wasting time, and it might be better to do so on a forum. But people don’t seem to get that same feeling from reading or watching stuff online instead of direct participation.

  25. nik says

    hello ACA contributers and friends!
    I really love your show and want to raise a question/topic because brilliant & beautiful Tracie didn’t have one this time :))

    since most of us know C. Hitchens’ 2 quests for the believers about morality (1. name a good moral action or statement done by a believer that an a-theist couldn’t make / 2. plz look it up!) and since we can nowadays easily reduce the question of faith/god(s) to THE QUESTION, what a god/belief would actually be good or useful for, the people of faith seem to deal with this conflict in 3 ways:
    1) They ignore it, 2) they label it ‘the wrong/stupid type of questions’ and ignore it or 3) they choose to be offended which again results in ignoring the idea.

    No matter which option they take, it results (intended/accidentally) in a conversation stopper. And it gets worse, because now they know this kind of idea and have it labelled which helps to easily block the topic everytime it’ll come up in the future.

    so my question is:
    what method would you prefer to bring up THE QUESTION (about the lack of usefulness and good morality in faith/god/religion) in such a caring, mild but comprehensive and strong way, that a believer would find it as hard as possible to ignore, dodge or otherwise circumvent thinking about this idea?

    thank you very much and keep up the good work
    greetings from germany (and sorry 4my bad English)
    nik

  26. Narf says

    @15 – Russell Glasser

    That includes Charlie Check’m and his various pseudonyms, Corey in Schenectady (aggressive asshole), that ZeroSubBob guy (whiny, annoying, and takes forever)… the list goes on and on. I need this whole mental rolodex to keep track of every time I see a caller name and say “Hey that sounds familiar…”

    Well, at least we know Bobby is for real … or at least as much as it’s possible to be positive about anything of the sort. Still a complete waste of time, every time, which is why they took him in the post-show, last time. You can’t have a productive conversation with someone who can’t comprehend what you’re saying.

    The only reason to take his calls, even in the post-show, is schadenfreude.

  27. Narf says

    @25 – corwyn

    Religion emerged as a pre-historical attempt at science and philosophy in a genuine effort to make sense of the reality everyone found themselves in.

    What evidence do you have for this claim, particularly the ‘genuine’ part?

    It’s a perfectly fine claim, as long as you walk it back a little. I’m sure that some were genuinely trying to make sense of things … and then others grabbed onto the speculation and presented it as more authoritative than it is.

    Plenty of others grabbed onto it and used it as a tool to manipulate others, I’m sure, which I imagine is what you’re getting at. Reality is usually a mixed bag.

  28. basketcase says

    I can confirm Tracie’s observation. Broken femurs are in fact quite painful in my personal acecdotal experience as well.

  29. Robert, not Bob says

    He said he was possibly in transition (fine so far) and that he would hopefully end up an atheist. Definitely a fraud. Is that even a possible state? May be a bit of argument-from-personal-incredulity there, but I can’t conceive of anyone actually thinking that.

  30. Narf says

    It’s possible to be in that state, Robert, sure. Self-identifying it as such while you’re actually in that state seems a little far fetched to me, though.

    I’m not saying it’s impossible, but I don’t buy it. Given the well-known existence of pranksters and the seeming unlikelihood of this state, it seems like a fairly safe bet.

  31. Ethan Myerson says

    Is that even a possible state?

    It’s a state that becomes more possible if you have a skewed view of what atheism is. If he was a Roman Catholic investigating Judaism, for instance, he’d be justified in asking things like “what is the official position on blasphemy” or “hopefully one day I’ll be part of this group” or the like. Those have been the kinds of statements he’s made about atheism, which leads me to believe that he sees it as just another dogmatic group with official stances and verboten acts.

    Or he could just be yet another boring prankster.

  32. lancefinney says

    For the caller who is an atheist in a relationship with a Muslim woman (was the name JP?), I would recommend Dale McGowan’s new book “In Faith and In Doubt,” which is about secular/religious mixed marriages. I wrote a review of it for GroundedParents, and I think it could be really helpful.

  33. Frank G. Turner says

    @ Narf #4
    I have been thinking that the mind is so good at protecting itself from receiving data that might indicate that that might even “suggest” that what a person believes is unfounded that the JW’s and individual that Jasper is talking about will just go into some hypnotic state in which they are remembering some weird hallucination rather than what is really going on.

  34. corwyn says

    @ Narf 31:

    It’s a perfectly fine claim…

    I am sure its mother loves it too. My question is, is there any evidence that it is true?

  35. Narf says

    It’s a perfectly fine claim…

    I am sure its mother loves it too. My question is, is there any evidence that it is true?

    I don’t think there’s enough evidence to support any position about the development of religion, to my satisfaction. Not enough was written down, that we’ve been able to find, and the later religions have whitewashed too much. At least that’s the state of things, based upon my reading on the subject.

    We’re in the realm of probable conjecture, at this point.

  36. Laura Lou says

    To Alisha’s request for books about explaining weird claims, I think Carl Sagan’s “The Demon-Haunted World” might help.

  37. favog says

    Last week I as thinking about the whole burden of proof thing and how some people don’t get it, and had an idea for a better way to explain it. The one caller this show would’ve been the perfect person to try it on. Instead of talking about he who made the claim or how courts determine “guilty/not guilty” but never “innocent”, I think the next time I have to deal with the issue is to just tell them the burden of proof lies on whoever is trying to change someone else’s mind. Surely that’s easy enough to understand, so then I just have to ask them if they’d like me to change my mind. They can’t very well say “no”, and when they say “yes” they’ve admitted their burden. Of course, next I’m going to hear that since I’m trying to change theirs, I have a burden likewise. And I’ll admit that, but then ask them again what I’ve really tried to change their mind about. In most cases, all I’ve done is say that I can’t accept the reasons they’ve offered up so far because those are faulty — I’ve only tried to change their minds about particular arguments, not the claim that those arguments are meant to support. I’m only obligated to disprove the existence of God if I’ve said he doesn’t exist, just as Tracy and Russell agreed with the caller that his friends do have the burden when they actually say that.

  38. corwyn says

    I think the next time I have to deal with the issue is to just tell them the burden of proof lies on whoever is trying to change someone else’s mind. Surely that’s easy enough to understand

    Easy to understand, but wrong. And, in fact, exactly what they already think.

  39. Frank G. Turner says

    @ favog # 42
    I think the next time I have to deal with the issue is to just tell them the burden of proof lies on whoever is trying to change someone else’s mind. Surely that’s easy enough to understand, so then I just have to ask them if they’d like me to change my mind. They can’t very well say “no”, and when they say “yes” they’ve admitted their burden. Of course, next I’m going to hear that since I’m trying to change theirs, I have a burden likewise

    .
    Keep in mind that in many an evangelist’s mind, that fact that you even HAVE a viewpoint that does not agree with theirs means that you are trying to change their mind. Even if you kept your beliefs to yourself and never told another person about them, even having them is threatening enough. That likely is due to some insecurity in those who feel that the burden of proof should be on those trying to prove the non-existence of god when many of us don’t take a hard stance that there is no god, only that we don’t know. You might notice from steele on the other board that saying “I don’t know if there is a god” is making a claim that there is not one, because “who so ever is not with me is against me” (which is exactly what someone trying to shift the burden of proof because they are uncomfortable with the lack of hard evidence to back their position WOULD say). A lot of believers can’t seem to comprehend the idea of there not being a dichotomy between the existence of a thing and the non existence of a thing (i.e.: it either did happen or it didn’t). My guess is that they have never been taught to properly hypothesize and test a claim.
    .
    I interpret “go out and spread the good news to others” as “this is such flimsy bullshit that if even a single person believes something contrary to this then EVERYONE will realize that it is flimsy bullshit, so we have to convince absolutely everyone that it is not flimsy bullshit.” Does that make sense? (Russell or Matt if you are reading this feel free to use that line on the show).

  40. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    It’s simple, really. The burden of proof lies with anyone who has a belief or makes an assertion. “I believe in god” -> you have the burden of proof. “I believe there is no god” -> you have the burden of proof. “I don’t accept your claim because I don’t yet see good evidence or argument” -> no burden of proof.

    Unfortunately in common English, “I don’t believe” often means “I believe it is false”. I try to avoid that ambiguity. The guilty / not-guilty thing is decent, and should explain it to someone who understands law, but many people don’t understand law.

    I still like going with: Anyone who does not hold the belief that there is a god is an atheist. Atheism includes the “I don’t know” and “I know there are no gods” positions.

  41. Ethan Myerson says

    Unfortunately in common English, “I don’t believe” often means “I believe it is false”. I try to avoid that ambiguity. The guilty / not-guilty thing is decent, and should explain it to someone who understands law, but many people don’t understand law.

    When I’m talking to someone who doesn’t get that distinction, I use a modified version of an illustration that Tracie (I believe) used on the show one time. In my pocket is a marble that is either blue or orange. I make the assertion that the marble is blue. Do you believe me? If you do not believe me, it would be a mischaracterization to say that clearly you believe the marble is orange. You are totally welcome to disbelieve my blue claim without asserting that my claim is false.

  42. Frank G. Turner says

    @ Ethan Myerson # 46 and Enlightenment Liberal # 45
    If you do not believe me, it would be a mischaracterization to say that clearly you believe the marble is orange. You are totally welcome to disbelieve my blue claim without asserting that my claim is false.
    .
    You are talking about people who have an emotional investment in “God is and must be real.” Furthermore, many have an investment in “if you are not for me then you are against me.” They might be able to see how “I don’t believe” is different from “I believe it is false” when it comes to a marble, not so much when it comes to god.
    .
    They have been taught how to imagine god representing their hopes and dreams personified. God represents safety and comfort to them. They can have those things without a belief in god, but many have been convinced that they can’t or wont. I think it is why many believe that they will feel like “jumping off a bridge” (to quote Martin Wagner from the show) if they found out that their god was not real. They don’t see a point to living without hopes and dreams and don’t realize that they can still have them without personifying them.

  43. Narf says

    Of course, next I’m going to hear that since I’m trying to change theirs, I have a burden likewise. And I’ll admit that, but then ask them again what I’ve really tried to change their mind about. In most cases, all I’ve done is say that I can’t accept the reasons they’ve offered up so far because those are faulty — I’ve only tried to change their minds about particular arguments, not the claim that those arguments are meant to support.

    That’s a very important distinction, yes.

    What am I claiming? I’m claiming that your beliefs (those of the generic theist, not you you) aren’t sufficiently supported with evidence that’s worth a damn, and it’s irrational to hold beliefs that aren’t supported with good evidence. I believe I can meet that burden of proof to anyone who doesn’t throw around arguments from authority and arguments from ignorance, as if they meant something.

    Once you discard the Bible as evidence, since it isn’t, their beliefs have nothing supporting them.

  44. bigwhale says

    Good point Frank @47.

    It’s more like “I believe this marble is blue and it is very important to believe it is blue” Now if you don’t believe it, even if you don’t believe the marble is orange, they feel like you are not only saying you don’t know, but also directly contradicting the idea that it is important to believe it is blue.

    Eric @21

    While it is impossible for anyone to know what she actually saw, there are common themes in stories like these. It was night, were people tired? Drinking? Could she have seen that picture earlier, or overheard mention of what she looked like, even though she didn’t realize she was overhearing at the time? Was it in the news? I’m disappointed that she was showed the picture and then said it was the same person. This kind of identification is subject to bias and wouldn’t be very admissible in court. She should have been asked to give a much better description, or even a drawing before a third party compared the picture to the description (why cops use a lineup of similar pictures). Maybe she did see/daydream something, but as the dream-like memory of the vision faded she was suggestible and the fuzzy details changed to what she was expected to see. People often think the initial description was better than it actually was when it is actually the memory changing as hits are reinforced and misses are discarded. Does she often make claims like this, but most of the time they amount to nothing until today she was lucky with a hit? Stories like this are almost always heard second or third hand, which make them even more likely to be embellished or remembered charitably.

    If I was convinced this was worth looking into more, I’d try to set up some blinded experiments. Take her to other houses where people died and ask her to describe them. The thing is, if it was true, it would be the greatest discovery since electricity. I just don’t understand people who believe in such claims and just shrug and go on with their lives. There are countless stories like yours with big holes poked into them. While we don’t know what actually happened, I can see multiple ways for a person to be making the honest claim you are without invoking ghosts.

  45. Jason Hare says

    I googled iTheist, and it seems to be a theist way of referring to their delusional position that atheists substitute themselves for God, thus making “I” (me) into God. I’ve also never heard this used by an actual atheist.

  46. Frank G. Turner says

    @ bigwhale #51
    It’s more like “I believe this marble is blue and it is very important to believe it is blue” Now if you don’t believe it, even if you don’t believe the marble is orange, they feel like you are not only saying you don’t know, but also directly contradicting the idea that it is important to believe it is blue.
    .
    IN a nutshell yes. Darkmatter2525 on youtube has a video about how the person’s god is really just a projection of themselves so when someone says that they don’t belief in god (either they don’t know or believe that no gods exist), that they are personally rejecting the individual. If someone’s sense of self is strong enough, they would not need others to accept them and their ideas. So in many ways religion can become an extension of the acolyte’s own personal insecurity.
    .
    I have said it before and I will say it again, I interpret “go out and spread the good news to others” as “this is such flimsy bullshit that if even a single person believes something contrary to this then EVERYONE will realize that it is flimsy bullshit, so we have to convince absolutely everyone that it is not flimsy bullshit.”

  47. Robert, not Bob says

    The iTheist idea implies a definition of God as a being with the right to be a free moral agent. And by that definition, we’re all gods!

  48. Locutus D'Borg says

    The book Influence by Robert Cialdini will answer all of the first caller’s questions about cognitive and perceptual biases, and influences such as Social Proof. It is very readable and full of studies and stories.

  49. favog says

    Frank @44:
    Yes, but those people aren’t any more reachable by any other means I’ve seen, either. When I’m talking about taking an approach to reason with someone, I’m assuming the person we’re imagining talking to is reasonable in the end.

    Narf @49:
    And that’s the distinction I’m getting at. We can say “I have no burden of proof, because you’re making the claim” and often what they’re asking deep down but not saying is “If you don’t have to prove anything, why are you still arguing?”. In some cases, I think, it might help to stress and to admit that we’re not arguing the claim, but we are having a problem with how they get to that point, and we are accepting that much burden of proof.

  50. Frank G. Turner says

    @ favog # 55

    Yes, but those people aren’t any more reachable by any other means I’ve seen, either. When I’m talking about taking an approach to reason with someone, I’m assuming the person we’re imagining talking to is reasonable in the end

    .
    True but people’s beliefs are on a sliding scale, even the more extreme ones who seem to be like they are on a dichotomy. It may be hard to know how far along that scale a person is just based upon their understanding of what you are “trying to convince them of.” I have met those who if they were not psychologically conditioned to believe in false dichotomies such as what I describe above in #44, could actually be reasoned with. It is why I say that we cannot be completely rational in our reasoning when trying to discuss things with many individuals. Even the most objective human beings are not completely rational by virtue of them being human.
    .
    I think the more critical thing to get at with some people is not how they so or do not meet the burden of proof for their conclusions, but WHY they have to come to the conclusion that they do. I am starting to wonder if a lot of people could be taught that they can have hopes and dreams and even see them fulfilled without personifying them or believing that those hopes and dreams are absolutely certain and may not be fulfilled but that their lives can be emotionally pleasing and intellectually satisfying anyway, that reason and rational thought would become more common here in the USA. So we have to do some irrational reasoning and pay attention to peoples feelings and emotions…to get them to think rationally. (It sounds like a contradiction but it isn’t).
    .
    @ Narf # 49

    Once you discard the Bible as evidence, since it isn’t, their beliefs have nothing supporting them.

    .
    Evidence of what? Some of the information mentioned in the Bible can be corroborated with outside authors as verifiable (certain wars, the foundation of certain cities, etc.). AronRa talks about how believers like creationists take issue with science, particularly evolution, not because they don’t think evolution has not occurred (and will often admit it but using other “safer” terms as they have been taught to say the word “evolution” with distaste), but because those things tear down their dogmatic belief in the authority of their fables which they equate with god. You also get theistic evolutionists who are not so unwilling to look at much of the script as allegory. And I have met more than a few theistic evolutionist Xtians who will actually be quite familiar with which events have outside corroborating evidence of their occurrence (most often with the exception of the gospels), and which ones don’t. (Since I have been hanging out with Unitarians I have found that they are a LOT more willing than other Xtian groups to accept that the gospels did not occur as written).
    .
    Steele who comes on here is one of those who can’t see any part of his text as allegorical (which parts do you accept as fact and which do you reject?). It does not surprise me given his limited understanding of science that he sees scripture by such a false dichotomy.
    .
    I once talked with a Mormon (I have told this story before, the one I got to read “On the Origin of Species”) who had a false dichotomy in his head that you accept the Bible as all fact or all fiction. (Albeit he actually had read the Bible, among other books, which was weird as he claimed that it was all factual but that not all of what had occurred was divinely inspired by god, probably his way of rationalizing some of the more gruesome shit like chopping innocent women to pieces and such). A lot of getting through to him was teaching about not accepting something until you had corroborating evidence. I think that teaching him about science (I had to, he could not understand a lot of “On the Origin of Species” and I had to explain a lot to him, particularly about the experimental process) got him further down the scale of “reasonable” that I am mentioning to favog here in terms of extremity of beliefs. Last I checked he is still a Mormon but was a LOT more willing to endorse evolution as fact, but in retrospect I think a bigger part of that was that he did not have to give up his belief in god (the representation of his hopes and dreams) in order to think more skeptically. There was still a lot that he accepted without sufficient evidence (he still had is “faith”) but the amount was a lot less.

  51. Narf says

    @55 – favog

    And that’s the distinction I’m getting at. We can say “I have no burden of proof, because you’re making the claim” and often what they’re asking deep down but not saying is “If you don’t have to prove anything, why are you still arguing?”. In some cases, I think, it might help to stress and to admit that we’re not arguing the claim, but we are having a problem with how they get to that point, and we are accepting that much burden of proof.

    Sounds similar to, “If you don’t believe in religion, then why are you arguing about it?” Because I believe in the real world, and your mythology impacts it, because people believe in it and act upon those beliefs.

    That’s where I was generally going, in the long, pointless attempt to reach Bobby. The problem isn’t that he believes wacky stuff. The problem is that his process of thinking about everything is utterly irrational, and yet he insists the whole while that his position is more rational than the atheist position is. What Adam kept whining about as an argument from ridicule was just an increased vehemence at Bobby’s basic thinking. What he and Bobby took as ridicule was still more or less on point.

    @56 – Frank G. Turner

    Evidence of what? Some of the information mentioned in the Bible can be corroborated with outside authors as verifiable (certain wars, the foundation of certain cities, etc.).

    Perhaps I should have been a little more elaborative. The Bible isn’t evidence of anything, except for the fact that someone wrote the stuff down, at some point. The Bible is a set of claims.

    The corroboration of the mundane events by other historical sources is evidence for those particular biblical claims, yes. Hell, a single source isn’t solid evidence of even mundane claims. People lied and slandered the hell out of each other thousands of years ago, just as they do now.

    Steele who comes on here is one of those who can’t see any part of his text as allegorical (which parts do you accept as fact and which do you reject?). It does not surprise me given his limited understanding of science that he sees scripture by such a false dichotomy.

    I think Steele is an old-earth creationist.

  52. GCoda says

    On the first question i remembered a video by DNews about false memories, they mentioned few interesting studies. I dont want to paste lots of link for studies, there is a lot of them in video description. I think first caller would find it helpfull.

  53. Frank G. Turner says

    @ Narf # 57 (Pardon me for chiming in here even though the quote is directed at favog).

    That’s where I was generally going, in the long, pointless attempt to reach Bobby. The problem isn’t that he believes wacky stuff. The problem is that his process of thinking about everything is utterly irrational, and yet he insists the whole while that his position is more rational than the atheist position is.

    .
    Subzerobob kind of reminds me of OFNF trying to understand evolution from AronRa (you can find info about it on AronRa’s youtube page or his website). He wants to understand, but does not want to change his model for how he thinks about a topic (namely science and evolution) in order to understand. He wants to force fit it into the model that he already has rather than clean the slate and start over. Cleaning the slate is tough because you have to UN-learn certain things. The difference being is that I think from what I was reading that OFNF knew that he needed to change his model and was just unwilling to. I think subzerobob and steele don’t know any better (steele particularly, it sounds like he he has been deluded into thinking science works in a way that it really doesn’t). Having to change your model can be tough if you are emotionally invested in it. Many an individual feels that they ARE their ideas (which is not rational, but emotions are not rational).
    .
    Like many people subzerobob is thinking emotionally and prioritizing that. He has been convinced that irrational is rational and it can be hard to get through. What his emotions tell him make sense to him (or at least he thinks that it does). One may need to resort to emotional reasoning and techniques to get him out of that type of thinking. I generally don’t approve of ridicule, it can make the person doing it look very bad as adam suggested, particularly when it is driven by bigotry and racism (as I Jasper of Maine discussed). I don’t like the idea of “everyone point your finger and laugh” as though that will get a person to change rather than retaliate negatively. That is making an argument from ridicule and in that regard I do see that as definitive fallacy.
    .
    However, I have seen ridicule used positively though, used to demonstrate absurdity rather than to put down a person or their ideas. If a person makes an emotionally driven argument filled with bigotry and ridicule, ridiculing that argument to demonstrate what it is can illustrate that point. This was not it, and I would have preferred that Matt keep his cool rather than react emotionally, but I can forgive it given the circumstances.
    .

    Perhaps I should have been a little more elaborative. The Bible isn’t evidence of anything, except for the fact that someone wrote the stuff down, at some point. The Bible is a set of claims.

    .
    I was kind of guessing that this is what you meant but wanted to be sure, Also I was getting at the idea that sometimes getting someone to change their thinking and model is a slow process in which the change is gradual (kind of like evolution). I made a comment before about how I am not so interested in altering core beliefs as I am removing the negative effects of those beliefs. Getting someone to acknowledge evolution as fact even though he still believed in god got him to stop objecting to the teaching of it, particularly as he realized that unlike what he had been taught, he could believe in evolution AND god too. He also came to realize the benefits of evolution as he saw how it has contributed to so many fields of medicine and how if he wanted his future children understanding biology that they would need to learn it (and intended on making sure that they did).
    .
    I had to re-tell him a LOT of things over and over again as he read through “On the Origin of Species,” which I am guessing was his un-learning of what he had been taught and realizing that he was not going to suffer emotional trauma from it. However irrational it was he had to emotionally adjust to certain rational ideas as he learned them. (I try to help in that regard using humor, I find it to be a good teaching tool).
    .
    FYI, if you remember the story the whole point was that i challenged him, I said that it did not make sense for him to object to evolution when he did not fully understand it. I asked him if he knew about the book Darwin wrote (he was familiar with who Darwin was). When I asked if he ever read it he acknowledged (rather angrily actually, I had to ask several times to get an honest answer out of him) that he had not read it. So he started reading it but did not understand it and he asked if I knew a professional scientist who could explain it to him who was, of course, me. Although I acknowledged that I am a chemist as compared to an evolutionary biologist but I had plenty of coursework in biology (and it worked too).
    .
    That is something one learns when teaching, One can’t just present information in a dry rational way if one wants to get through to people. One uses analogies (that are not always on par), humor, etc to get through. We have to learn to utilize emotion because we are emotional creatures. That took me a long time to figure out.

  54. says

    @ Narf # 57
    P.S.

    Hell, a single source isn’t solid evidence of even mundane claims. People lied and slandered the hell out of each other thousands of years ago, just as they do now.

    .
    Yep, lied, slandered, exaggerate, embellish, misquote, misunderstand, or even just plain make shit up (a variation on a lie). It’s why I like how George Carlin (a MASTER of making a point using ridicule, Dawkins quotes Carlin numerous times in his books) said the commandments need to be redone, simplifying many down to “Thou shalt not be dishonest.” Wouldn’t want to do that though, have a nice broad based commandment that applies to a wide range of situations and is not as heavily subject to interpretation, you can’t control people that way.
    .
    I almost wonder if the Bible (and the Torah) was not compiled that way on purpose. The leaders, corrupt people who could read, could manipulate the masses by telling the peasants that the sacred book said whatever they wished and spin it whatever way they like. And the lower class could not verify or corroborate it because they could not even read. Can’t have a thing like the internet or a wide range of people, even the lower classes, who can read and check your info, no sir.

  55. CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain says

    @Frank G. Turner #59:

    I almost wonder if the Bible (and the Torah) was not compiled that way on purpose. The leaders, corrupt people who could read, could manipulate the masses

     
    Article: Wikipedia – Josiah, Book of the Law

    The biblical text states that the priest Hilkiah [ahem] found a “Book of the Law” in the temple during the early stages of Josiah’s temple renovation. For much of the 19th and 20th centuries it was agreed among scholars that this was an early version of the Book of Deuteronomy, but recent biblical scholarship sees it as largely legendary narrative about one of the earliest stages of creation of Deuteronomistic work. […] Historical-critical biblical scholarship generally accepts that this scroll – an early predecessor of the Torah – was written by the priests driven by ideological interest to centralize power under Josiah in the Temple in Jerusalem

  56. Reason555 says

    A quick ienquiry on the term “itheist”:

    Never heard about it before. An internet search suggests a few options. It seems a relatively new term.

    1.)My own interpretation from what “i” may stand for: I as in “myself”
    Not sure what that would mean, but one could draw a lot of hypothetical arguments from, like e.g. an I-theist being someone who is reflecting the source for everything conscious or existing onto himself. Sort of “I think, therefore I am”, leading towards that the whole experience of my personal existence and surrounding world is an interpretation of my own brain. Not really sure, just a quick shot. One could come up with a whole lot of other interpretations – it’s all very vague and unsatisfying.
    2.) Another source -and that’s the one that seems more promising to me- claims to prefer to coin and use the term “itheist” as referring to “not aware of god” to relate that to a conscious state like it would be found e.g. in very small childs that are unaware of any such thoughts and imaginations. An explanation is given for the term, comparing it to atheism meaning “disbelieve in a deity (though being able to)” and thus itheism meaning “not being able to believe in a deity” – much like the terms aliteracy and illiteracy meaning “not reading (though being able to)” and “not being able to read per se”.

    Seems like this second idea might be what is meant and what is slowly catching on. As far as I can tell. But really, one would have to ask the people using such terms, what they mean by it.

  57. Hain says

    Oh boy, so many different angles here.
    Just wrapping my brain around that caller Elijah and your responses. There are many obvious and simple responses that you guys are sort of tip toeing around. But not blaming you, I would do too when being within a situation. The ideas mostly come to you afterwards.

    Ok, here some reflecting thoughts:
    Burden of proof: the burden of proof lies on any solid claim. Whether it is claiming for something to be, or a positive claim for something to be not. That person always has the burden to demonstrate his reasoning towards the critic to make him follow the logic approach and maybe convince him of the result.
    As a demonstration, I like to draw an example out of any religious or fantastic context.
    Let’s say someone comes to your door, claims he had won a million dollars and would like to buy your car. You had the money in this suitcase and would give that to you.
    A bit strange and I would immediately be alarmed by a stranger making such bold claims and a solid outcome of me being deprived of a tangible good out of gullibility. Wouldn’t you at least check the suitcase before handing the stranger your keys and letting him drive away with your car? … and so on
    As always, it depends of the severity of the result me just believing a claim. Someone claiming he had taken a bath yesterday wouldn’t take me much to accept. It is a quite common and plausible claim and doesn’t influence a lot of change in my life. Someone claiming he can fly like superman does so – it would change a lot of things in my world view. Someone claiming special powers or a connection to an all-powerful being or knowing all the answers and what to best do in life …

    And about that point of “believing in what one feels”. Yea, I don’t doubt that you felt something, Elijah. It is quite common for sentient beings to feel. I just doubt your explanation or interpretation of the cause or meaning what you think to have experienced. A lot of autosuggestion seems to be going on in people referring to feelings as proof for something.
    Highly interpretative and unreliable.

    Religious people confuse imagination with reality a lot. God is “love”? God is a “mind”? God is “infinite”? God will reward the good and prosecute the bad? These are all just unfounded claims of what you people like to make up about something incredible.
    How the heck do you know it is not just something you make up because you so desperately would like it to be thus?
    Wishful thinking I tell you.

  58. says

    You all might know this. I think i’m right on this one. I think this is Joshua Feuerstein who went by the name Jason 2 yrs ago on The Atheist Experience…
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9SVLJkvkDLo..”Atheist Experience-No Magic Acceptable in Science” is the name of the clip.This guy is a straight clown. He lies all over the place , y’all told him what a “Scientific Theory” was and still says what it is not..He’s sad.

  59. Frank G. Turner says

    @ Tmoney # 65
    Another situation of “my model is the correct model and you have to abide by it and I refuse to change my model to understand.” Getting too typical.

  60. Atriokke says

    Well this makes me a bit more glad Im in an academic environment, where something being intuitive and making the most sense in the world, doesnt mean it’s true. You still have to to go out, and at the very least, implement it and experiment on it.