Open thread for AETV #895: Matt and John


Matt and John take viewer calls.

Comments

  1. Last Embryo Standing says

    “…the kung-fu ability to control the brain particles in every part of your body…” Matt cracks me up.

  2. says

    Mary Sue, in brief: A character (almost always female when the term is used – male versions have their own term) who has the ability to basically fix everything thanks to having the exact knowledge necessary, fascinates everyone, usually finds herself in relationships with main characters (sometimes several), and dies a noble death causing everyone grief.

    Originates in Star Trek fandom. Now widely known and often misused. Easy to start arguments about it in fan groups – it might be more contentious than D&D alignment or Kirk v. Picard.

  3. says

    Hi, I felt, the list of ” fear of change ” that Brian described as his concern at leaving his religious community very understandable.
    I wonder if more can be made to condemn the common place abhorrent attitude taken by the religious communities towards anyone who leaves to expand their moral and philosophical life. I guess the religious communities attitude of “our team or no team” is part of the historic immature tribal psyche, the in-out group we all recognise played out from Kindergarten to Senate.
    Surely the battlefront is… the adherence to Church, Bible and State is not the spoken message attributed to the Jesus Christ character.? I might be showing my lake of Biblical knowledge asserting this.
    I’m now going to salaciously group my Goatee 🙂 sorry.. lame…

  4. Monocle Smile says

    Wow, most apologists are mental gymnasts, but Brian’s a goddamn mental contortionist. How does anyone say such singularly stupid things without being utterly ashamed of themselves?

    Also, Brian, most of us fully understand the positive social aspect of religion. When I first admitted to myself that I no longer believed, it didn’t change the fact that I genuinely liked the people in my bible study group and still had most things in common with them. Starting over is really, really hard. But being honest with yourself and the people around you is worth it…eventually. Like Matt said, check out Recovering from Religion.

  5. says

    Well, I vote that Mark was *not* a prank caller. But what I really wanted to comment on was that I thought he was trying to use some sort of twist to the argument from authority to justify his belief that he was receiving his ideas from some other source. It felt like he was doing something like this:

    Einstein thought this.
    Einstein was smart.
    I am not smart.
    Therefore, I could not have thought this.
    Therefore, the thought came from somewhere else.

  6. Conversion Tube says

    What a great show. Matt was on his game. Got anybody you know on the fence? Present them with that one call in the 40 min mark.

  7. Conversion Tube says

    Einstein thought this.
    Einstein was smart.
    I am not smart.
    Therefore, I could not have thought this.
    Therefore, the thought came from G.O.D. specifically.

  8. Conversion Tube says

    Therefore, the thought came from G.O.D. specifically.

    Oh plus this GAWD that I’m attributing this capability to has even been determined to EXIST.

  9. says

    The first caller asked if there were any objectionable parts of the Joseph story that the Dreamworks movie might have glossed over. I haven’t actually seen the movie, but I bet there’s at least one item. I’m betting this was left out, because it’s not at all made clear in the common conception of the story taught in Sunday schools, and it makes Joseph look bad.

    That item is the fact that, by the end of the famine, everyone in Egypt is a slave owned by Pharaoh, and it’s all Joseph’s doing. Because Joseph wasn’t giving away the grain stored up during the years of plenty, he was selling it (except for the free food he gave away to his family). According to the Bible, he milked the people for all their money and every last possession they had, right down to their land and livestock, until at the end they had nothing left to sell but themselves to pay for grain.

  10. toska says

    I remember Brian from Chicago from earlier shows. I believe he said he is a pastor and his brother had challenged him to call into to AXP. Anyway, I think it’s commendable that he actually seems to be making an attempt to examining his beliefs. It’ll be interesting to see if he keeps calling in. I thought his call during this episode was excellent. It was the best call of this episode for sure, even though I was entertained by Mark’s ridiculous (and possibly fake) woo.

  11. frankgturner says

    @Monocle Smile # 10

    How does anyone say such singularly stupid things without being utterly ashamed of themselves?

    When a person is emotionally invested in an idea, you would be amazed how goofy they will allow themselves to sound rather than change. Change is hard, it may often feel like one is giving up a part of oneself. And I have come to think that maybe we should be helping out with Recovering from Religion. It can’t be helpful for us to call individuals stupid and we need to be supportive too. Isn’t it Buddhism where they say, “change must come from within.”
    .
    If Brian is reading this I would tell him, keep in mind, even if there is a god, that god might appreciate you being honest with yourself about doubting his existence rather than maintaining a charade of doubtlessness. It took me a while to figure that out myself and it is something Xtianity does not teach you. In many ways Xtianity tries to block you from learning this. A god that is secure in itself does not need to fear being doubted, but a man who is insecure in himself has a great deal to fear by his ego being in doubt.
    .
    Oh I love the comparison of Jesus to a Mary Sue too!

  12. Matt Gerrans says

    Well, if you are in tune with every single cell in your body, can you start by telling me exactly, precisely how many living cells you have in your body? And exactly how many of those are in your left pinky toe? Now, since you answered the first question, how many have died? Exactly how many brain cells did you use to answer these questions?

  13. says

    Mark’s pantheism idea seems like a pretty common thought in humanity, whether common as an original thought or planted there by society. Even the orthodox “personal god” Christianity says god made everything from nothing, so it would follow that everything is a part of god to some extent.

  14. corwyn says

    For Brian:

    You participation in religion is not at connected to your faith in the tenants of that religion. You can be an atheist, and go to church, deal with the people in it, have fun, whatever you want. No one needs to know, if you don’t want them to. Being an atheist means you *can* give up those things, not that you *must*.

  15. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    Matt from the show:

    Methodological naturalism

    WAAAGH!

    (I took this transcript myself. Apologies for any typos.)

    It goes back to what he was talking about, about revelation. He had a thought, and it doesn’t seem like this thought is a thought he could have thought on his own – so therefore some being had to put it there. That is an irrational leap, for which I not only – I don’t think it’s justified, I don’t think it could be justified.

    One of the things we come to understand is the reason why science relies on methodological naturalism. It’s because we don’t know of any mechanism by which we could prove supernatural causation. In order to determine how likely something is an answer, you have to have examples of it in order to calculate the number of occurrences vs the number of potential occurrences. That’s how you determine if something is going to be a likely answer.

    And so if what you’re saying is ‘I couldn’t have thought of this, therefore god put this thought in my head’, that is a fallacious statement because you have concluded that this is the most likely explanation when you have no foundation upon which to say how likely it is or …[?]… if it’s even possible.

    And you know – we get this a lot. It’s quite commonly called the argument from ignorance fallacy, which is …[?]… I’m going to believe this until it’s proven wrong.

    WAAAGH!

    Science is not founded on methodological naturalism. It’s not. You can do science without methodological naturalism. Here’s someone who makes the argument better than I:
    https://sites.google.com/site/maartenboudry/teksten-1/methodological-naturalism

    Matt says that we don’t have a mechanism to “prove” supernatural causation. That’s great [sarcasm]. We also don’t have a mechanism to “prove” natural causation either. Whatever proof or even demonstration you have of natural causation – it could just as easily be magic pixies doing the same thing. With such a loose and ill-defined notion of “supernatural”, there is no meaning to the words “supernatural” nor “natural”. As soon as you strengthen “supernatural” to “observable phenomena contrary to the mindless matter-in-motion paradigm”, it then becomes immediately obvious how science and hypothetical evidence could show that “mindless matter-in-motion” is not an accurate description of our shared observable reality.

    For example, if we had evidence of a soul or spirit that “regularly” interferes with neurons firing in the head contrary to normal “mindless matter-in-motion” physics, e.g. the physics of the human brain was different than the physics of rocks, then that would be really good evidence against the “mindless matter-in-motion” paradigm, what some call “naturalism”.

    For example, if we had evidence of a person’s personality surviving past braindeath, and becoming a disembodied ghost or spectre, then that would be really good evidence against the “mindless matter-in-motion” paradigm, what some call “naturalism”.

    Matt incorrectly applies Bayesian reasoning.

    I agree that this argument “I couldn’t have thought of this, therefore god put this thought in my head” is fallacious. I disagree why it’s fallacious. Arthur Conan Doyle and Sherlock Holmes once said: “Once you eliminate the impossible, whatever remains, no matter how improbable, must be the truth.” Not all arguments of that form are arguments from ignorance. Arguments from ignorance are when you do not honestly list out all alternative hypotheses, and when you do not properly recognize your own ignorance of what alernative hypotheses could be. In this particular case, “aliens in a cloaked spaceship in orbit doing it” is just as plausible as a god doing it (at least on my priors), and the “caller’s argument” does not address that alternative hypothesis and others like it, and it’s for that reason that the caller’s argument is fallacious.

    Matt makes another (perhaps the same) mistake regarding Bayesian reasoning when he makes an incorrect catch-22. He actually makes the same catch-22 twice, but it’s the same basic error.

    Occurrence 1: (Paraphrase:) “You cannot show supernatural causation because first you need to show how likely supernatural causation is, and to show how likely supernatural causation is, you first need to find examples to calculate the likelihood of supernatural causation.”

    Occurrence 2: (Paraphrase) “He has concluded that this is the most likely explanation when he has no foundation upon which to say how likely it is, which means he can never show how likely it is.”

    Matt is simply wrong. Proper honest application of Bayesian reasoning requires starting with a state of absolute ignorance, 50-50 odds. You then gather evidence, which adjusts your estimation of how likely something is. Whereas, Matt is seemingly starting with the position that you can only ever show something is real if you have prior knowledge of it. At least that’s what it sounds like to me. From my perspective, that sounds exactly like dogmatic philosophical naturalism, which is something which does need to be eradicated from the skeptic and atheist communities. Naturalism, or what I prefer to call the “mindless matter-in-motion” paradigm, is a conclusion of science and the available evidence; it is not a dogmatic presupposition.

  16. frankgturner says

    For Brian, based on corwyn # 21
    Not only to I second that, but if Brain were to look into some of the stories of those recovering from religion, he would find a great many stories of people who did what corwyn describes. There are a number of pastors who in the past, and even now, have become atheists / agnostics and still lead religious groups despite having given up their beliefs. You might even hear Ray Comfort complaining about them (preachers who have become motivational speakers….).
    .
    @ EL # 22
    The sad part is, people like conciseness and brevity. Too often they filter out the pasta and feed people hot water in the process, this being an analogy for trying to remove excess wording in descriptions of complex ideas and winding up removing the parts that were important and leaving the excess.
    ,
    Yes we get that science does not require dogmatic methodological naturalism. That takes time to explain, too much time for many to pay attention. Let me see if I can explain what I am thinking here (I may not be able to, just to give you an idea of how complex it is).
    .
    It is not a matter of showing that something is real by having knowledge of something a priori. IT IS a matter of having OBSERVED something to determine if it IS real. If you have observed something to determine if it is real, then it is operating under the laws of our observable universe and can be observed, even if only temporarily. If something is operating as part of a larger universe, then for all intents and purposes it operates under the laws of our universe to interact with it, and also operates under the laws of a larger universe all of the time, which allow it to operate with ours. In that instance it would be temporarily natural with regard to our universe even if for the larger part supernatural when not interacting with our universe. And it is permanently natural with regard to the larger universe as it operates under those laws all of the time. So for the time it is supernatural, it basically does not exist,
    .
    Naturalism is more than the mindless matter in motion paradigm, it is the what is observable and henceforth is operating within the laws of our universe in order to be observable, and therefore natural paradigm. If we can’t observe it because it is supernatural, well then how are we meant to measure or calculate or learn anything based upon it?
    .
    I dunno this might be too much.

  17. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    @frankgturner
    Yes I agree it would be better to be concise. That post was me raging a little.

    Yes I agree that science does not require dogmatic philosophical naturalism nor methodological naturalism.

    I agree that observation is an integral, dogmatic if you will, component of science. I will go further and assert that science is the only acceptable method of knowing for factual claims about our shared observable reality.

    I disagree that your usages of the words “natural” and “supernatural” are obviously the right usages. Words do not have intrinsic meaning. Words have usages. I do not think that your usages of the words reflects an overwhelming consensus. I think that there is another usage of the words “natural” vs “supernatural”, and this usage is common amongst Christians. They identify our shared reality as consisting of two non-overlapping substances, which they label as natural and supernatural. They define “natural” to be the modern physics notion of mindless matter-in-motion. They define “god” to be a particular creature which is of the supernatural substance, and they assert (on insufficient evidence) that their god is real and exists.

    Your usage, your meaning, of the word “supernatural” is sterile. On my positivist account, it makes your position meaningless, not even wrong.
    http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Not_even_wrong
    What does it mean to assert and defend the proposition that science relies on methodological naturalism? That proposition has no cognitive effect on other beliefs or actions. On this definition, it has no prohibitions. It is cognitively meaningless.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Logical_positivism
    (Note that I am not advocating all of the tenants of logical positivism. I’m just providing a reference for the term “cognitively meaningless”.)

    Alternatively, under your definitions, “natural” becomes identical to “that which has been discovered”, and “supernatural” becomes identical to “that which has not yet been discovered, or that which will never be discovered (‘not real’)”. However, on these definitions, the error becomes immediately apparent: It becomes impossible to discover anything new, because anything new is defined to be supernatural, and science is defined to be unable to cope with the supernatural. Matt makes a similar error in his catch-22s which I highlighted above.

  18. Robert, not Bob says

    It’s a shame Russell wasn’t on this show-he’d have gotten “Mary Sue” immediately. He’s into TV Tropes.

  19. blue says

    Can anyone remember which shows Brian has called in to? It’s fascinating to hear someone breaking away from religion. Good for him for being intellectually honest rather than defensive.

  20. Russell Glasser says

    Yeah, I was smacking my head pretty hard when I heard Matt and Don asking each other what a Mary Sue is. Seriously, I thought the comparison was pretty funny myself.

  21. Dennis Rankin says

    @bluesays
    Found them:
    #867 with Matt and Don towards the end when Brian speaks about the boat story, around 55:20
    #868 with Russell and Martin, this is Brian’s “productive phone call” starting at about 22:01
    Not that it matters but this is the first time I post a comment, but I have watched/listened to almost all episodes going to back to about 2005. My commute is about as long as one episode.
    This was a great show and I agree with @bluesays above, it is fascinating to hear someone’s beliefs dissolving as they speak. Potentially.
    For Brian:
    You sound like you are ready to let go. Give it a try. Life will eventually make more sense with you creating your own purpose. Thank you for your honesty, this type of reaction happens rarely, as far as the episodes I’ve seen and in conversations I’ve had. It is as if people don’t want to or just can’t let go of their magical thinking, to the point where a friend of mine even asked “do you at least a knock on wood?”.

  22. Monocle Smile says

    lol.

    @EL

    I agree with your “supernatural” diatribe…but I think Doyle and Holmes were a bit wrong. Maybe it depends on how far you want to stretch “plausible,” but you could have potentially infinite “hypotheses” to explain a particular event. Holmes is correct if you form echelons of “plausible” and apply Bayes.

    Also:

    Naturalism, or what I prefer to call the “mindless matter-in-motion” paradigm, is a conclusion of science and the available evidence; it is not a dogmatic presupposition

    Put that on a manifesto and I’ll sign it twice. This is something that we need to hammer home. Naturalism is a conclusion, not something to which we “subscribe” that feeds us canned opinions. Religions are the diametric opposite; they’re like cable packages that dictate which channels you receive.

  23. Muz says

    I’ve got quite a bit of sympathy for the grumpy, fallible, limited god of old. Not that it’s true of course, but it fits the extant narrative so much better than the “All knowing, All Powerful Perfect Everything!” version we have now.
    The ball was already rolling on that shift back in the old times, but it’s always interesting (to me) to think that the conception of god we have now is basically the result of some kind of arms race of imagining a deity.

    It’s like kids having one of those ‘my daddy’s so big’ contests, spread over centuries, but they’ve got the same dad..

  24. rodney says

    I’ve googled it, but I can’t find the latest episode, anybody know where I can watch/listen to it?

  25. Grumpy Cthulhu (just woke up) says

    For the “something from nothing” argument, I find the following reply quite interesting: Since True™ nothingness would have no attributes, there can’t be any rule preventing it from becoming something, because such a rule would be an attribute, negating the Trueness™ of the nothingness. So True™ nothingness could suddenly become a cheese sandwich, and there would be nothing preventing that from happening.

  26. Ethan Myerson says

    This episode had so many great moments, it’s hard to choose my favorite. I might have to go with the arc-welding karate master who thinks the bible is referencing nanotechnology. Of course, when you type it out like that, it just sounds silly.

  27. frankgturner says

    @EL # 24

    Yes I agree it would be better to be concise. That post was me raging a little.

    You missed part of the point, sometimes trying to be too concise is a problem, important stuff gets left out. I was ok with the rage, I raged in response.

    I agree that observation is an integral, dogmatic if you will, component of science. I will go further and assert that science is the only acceptable method of knowing for factual claims about our shared observable reality.

    This was the main point. In #22 you talk about how Matt says in order to prove something is real you must have prior knowledge of it. I re-word that a bit to “In order to prove somethinhg is real you must be able to observe it.” That does not mean that because you cannot observe somethingh then it is not real, but to PROVE that it IS real someone MUST observe it. SO it must be, at least, hypothetically observable.
    .
    That’s what I was getting into with my point about natural and observable vs, supernatural and unobservable. For us to have proof that something supernatural existed, we would have to observe it somehow, even if parts of it were beyond our observation. So if it is observable, then some part of it is natural. I recognize that these are not the consensus definitions of natural vs. supernatural, I use them an alternate way to make a point.
    .
    I intended for my definition of supernatural to be sterile in that I intended to use it to define that which is not even hypothetically observable. We didn’t observe infra-red and ultra-violet waves coming from the sun until the 1800s. That does not mean they were not there and only came into existence when we observed them, but they were hypothetically observable and WERE influencing us BEFORE we knew they were present (and burning our skin).
    .
    What Xtians seem to want is something to BOTH exist outside of observability AND be observable WITHOUT the observable part being considered natural. The matter that is observable would have to be in motion with other matter in order for it to be observable. It is effectively a desire for magic, for something that exists in our imagination to map to reality.
    .
    I agree with MS in his quote of you in #31

    Naturalism, or what I prefer to call the “mindless matter-in-motion” paradigm, is a conclusion of science and the available evidence; it is not a dogmatic presupposition

    .
    I am just not sure I would agree that naturalism is best called a mindless matter in motion paradigm. I was just getting at the idea that observation is a significant part of the “evidence” behind it. You seem to have hit the nail on the head with that being the dogmatism of science though, observation (glad I helped with that). Evidence among Xtians seems to be that which is observed by few and cannot be repeated for all satisfactorily.
    .
    @Grumpy Cthulu # 36
    True nothing would not be matter and would not be in motion. If everything is in motion then everything, on some level, is something. I did wind up having a cheese sandwich for lunch today and it sure did not seem like nothing to me as it moves down my intestinal system.
    .
    @Ethan Myerson # 37
    It looks like the plot for a potential episode of the Twilight Zone when I see it typed out.

  28. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    What Xtians seem to want is something to BOTH exist outside of observability AND be observable WITHOUT the observable part being considered natural. The matter that is observable would have to be in motion with other matter in order for it to be observable. It is effectively a desire for magic, for something that exists in our imagination to map to reality.

    That sounds almost like dogmatic support of “mindless matter-in-motion” paradigm, which I think is unreasonable. Maybe magic is real. My Bayesian estimation is exceedingly low. However, I’ll believe it as soon as the usual evidence appears, ex Hogwarts.

  29. rodney says

    Thanks John, Ustream had it listed as episode 894, that’s why I couldn’t find it at first.

  30. frankgturner says

    That sounds almost like dogmatic support of “mindless matter-in-motion” paradigm, which I think is unreasonable. Maybe magic is real. My Bayesian estimation is exceedingly low. However, I’ll believe it as soon as the usual evidence appears

    It isn’t dogmatic support of the paradigm, I support it because observation provides evidence for it. Observation does not provide evidence for magic (unless you are one of those squishy types who considers every sunrise “magical.”).
    .
    The “magic” that I am talking about is a being whose imagination maps directly into reality, i.e.: the being thinks it and it becomes reality to everyone else. Now mind you we COULD be experiencing exactly that right now, but I would need evidence that the being is sentient and CAN imagine things. Other types of “magic” could be real (my estimation is low as well), but the default position is that it is “not guilty of existing” to put it into Matt D.’s words.

  31. corwyn says

    @39:

    Let me take a stab at it. Christians seem to want for something to be observable when they want it to be (so they can believe it) and simultaneously not observable when we try to observe it (so it can’t be debunked). This isn’t magic so much as a contradiction. For example, they want to claim that miracles occur, and they have the evidence, but when those miracles are challenged, don’t want there to be any evidence that can be examined to disprove that they were in fact miraculous. Its Bayesian Probability is truly zero, and you can check that for yourself by asking them how much evidence it would take to change their minds.

    The definition you are trying to put forward as what Christians actually believe is similarly contradictory. This can be shown merely by asking how one would change their mind about whether something is in fact supernatural. Try it.

  32. frankgturner says

    @corwyn # 42
    You have it. What they want is a situation has the benefits of falsifiability without the drawbacks. Evidence without challenge, proof without hypothetical disproof.

  33. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    @frank and corwyn
    Sure, and the proper response is to challenge them to: bring forth evidence or drop their belief. The proper response is not to say “oh, science doesn’t work on claims like that”.

  34. frankgturner says

    @44
    I can agree with that in practical terms. If an individual has a compartmentalized belief(s) that does not influence their other actions and helps them cope then I am ok with that, i.e.: Kenneth Miller. I would love to have learned biology from that man and it does not matter to me that he is Catholic (aside form concern of supporting child molestation but he does not seem the type to me). I have an online UK friend who is Xtian but does not insist that anyone else should be. She and her hubby (agnostic) were careful to raise her children with a choice and openness to other ways of thinking.
    .
    Once it starts influencing another person in the negative or having someone’s delusions hurt them, like praying instead of getting medical help from say, a snake bite, then I take issue. You can believe in pink unicorns on your roof as far as I am concerned as long as it does not harm you or another person, and too often it does. Some are lucky enough not to be influenced that way.

  35. Matt Gerrans says

    So True™ nothingness could suddenly become a cheese sandwich, and there would be nothing preventing that from happening.

    Hmm… on the other hand, didn’t you just say that nothing would prevent nothing from doing something? Or did you mean there isn’t something preventing nothing from turning into a cheese sandwich?

    This is fun. It seems to me that it could be used on William Lane Craig with humorous results. He likes to claim that there is no such thing as an actual infinite in reality (ie. you can’t have the actual hotel with an infinite number of rooms). However, nothingness flies in the face of this unproven claim, because we do have an infinite amount of nothingness (heck I know people who have an infinite amount of the (non) stuff between their own ears, plus some extra). You can even fit an infinite amount of nothing inside the volume of a cubic Planck length of nothingness. It is very compressible in that way. Who says it can’t have attributes?

  36. frankgturner says

    @Matt Gerrans #47
    Yes, and nothing more to prevent that from happening. So we would have an infinite universe of cheese sandwiches coming into being as the expanded nothingness of cheese sandwiches would not prevent the greater cheese sandwiches. (Oh, to imagine an infinitely large universe filled with cheese sandwiches).
    .
    Yeah seems like it might work on WLC who basically HAS demonstrated that he believes in what corwyn described in #42. An un-falsifiable position with no practical application that is a logical contradiction and has a Bayesian probability of zero. I see nothing practical in what WLC describes anyway, it is just him stroking his ego. WLC said something once about letting what he has founded die with him (I wish that I could find the link). That pretty much told me that it has nothing to do with the good of mankind and everything to do with him personally. Like Martin Luther I think WLC has an inferiority complex and like Martin Luther uses the same tactics to combat that complex.

  37. says

    When Brian raised his concern that Matt might be trying to trick him as part of some devilish conspiracy to lead him away from god, I couldn’t help but think what a fantastic way for religions to block the exits. I sincerely hope Brian realizes that when a belief is justified, questions, reason and evidence will only lend further support to its validity. It’s only when a belief is unjustified that challenges to its validity might be feared, at least by those who are empowered by the beliefs continued acceptance. Frankly, any worldview which encourages fear of non-adherents can safely be assumed to be wrong.

  38. Matt Gerrans says

    Well said, Adam (#50). This is exactly the line that Matt Slick took after the Bible Thumping Wingnut discussion with Matt Dillahunty. The devil is making Matt D. have really clever arguments and make really good points. What an aggravating way of thinking about things. Cover your ears and tell “La la la!” but what ever you do, don’t thoughtfully evaluate those arguments and evidence.

  39. HappyPerson says

    @Adam Felton #50

    Of course, the same thing can be said about how maybe the God of the Bible is the one doing the tricking. Resorting to faith would not resolve this issue. I like Matt’s strategy of asking Xtians how they know who is the ‘good’ one, God or the Devil and how is this known. It forces people to go out of the faith mode and actually examine the situation as it is.

  40. Matzo Ball Soup says

    Holy crap, that Matt Slick thing was frustrating to watch. (Especially the end where they were all mocking Matt D, comparing his arguments to a greased pig, Matt S asserting “I’ve got him figured out now”, and of COURSE Matt S won the debate, blah blah blah.)

    This was also an instance of what seems to be a common trope in debates of this sort: I don’t know if this is something you learn in Christian Apologist School, or from ~*~Formal Debating™~*~, or what, but Matt S appeared to be extremely hung up on labels. (“Are you a materialist?” “Are you a presuppositionalist?”; Matt D said something and got a response along the lines of “ah, so you’re an idealist!”.) And I don’t find that at all helpful or interesting to watch.

    It could just be because I’ve never formally studied philosophy* (only modal logic, and that was in a more math-class type of setting), so I can’t rehearse the arguments for and against “abstract entities” or whatever because I haven’t read the relevant authors. And consequently, if it were me debating the likes of Matt Slick, they’d probably find themselves having to explain a whole lot of really elementary, basic stuff to me because maybe I understand a concept in an intuitive way, but I didn’t know that it had the name “idealism”. Or whatever.

    But I think there’s something missing on the Matt Slick side as well (besides the obvious). Maybe he’s well-read as far as the work of certain philosophers goes. (Maybe. I think the jury’s still out.) But my take on what happened as I was listening was that the reliance on these labels betrayed a certain lack of critical thinking. I prefer the method that we see on AXP every week, from Matt D and all the other hosts: let’s just talk about the issues. None of this “oh, you said this thing, that means you’re a Modal Realist, therefore we can discount this thing you said earlier.”**

    Also, I almost turned it off during the introduction from “Bible Thumping Wingnut” where he was talking about Jesus. I guess I understand why he was doing it, but it still struck me as a really disrespectful way to introduce a show that was going to be all about interfaith dialogue. You’d never*** hear an atheist introduce a debate by saying “We of the XYZ Atheist Society have invited So-and-So here to speak. Let’s hope he figures out the truth that his god doesn’t exist.”

    And then there was my favourite moment:

    Dillahunty: “The Church has debated all sorts of things over the course of history, not to mention the fact that there are, you know, like the Johannine Comma and other things that are kind of added there to support this idea of a Trinity because–”
    Slick: “Comma Johanneum. It’s called the Comma Johanneum.”

    *I don’t know about anyone else, but I would LOVE for there to be a “Socrates Jones: Pro Philosopher 2” about epistemology.

    **Hilarious “YOU’RE A SOLIPSIST?!?!?!” episode aside. And that’s different, because it basically precludes discussion.

    ***Well, never say never. But I’d be surprised if it happened.

  41. Monocle Smile says

    @MBS
    You should watch AronRa’s video called “Religion Reverses Everything.” Because that’s exactly what you saw. Religious people love to claim the moral high ground and act as if we’re all angry, whiny dickheads who swear at everyone, but yet atheist shows are so much more respectful to their guests and don’t resort to childish trash talk after the interview.

    Matt S appeared to be extremely hung up on labels

    You’ve highlighted a fundamental difference between theists and atheists, at least generally. Theists “subscribe” to belief systems that feed them canned opinions (that they are required to accept), and they have a hard time imagining anyone doing otherwise. This is why I think the label “freethinker” came about…we apply labels after the fact, not before. We use labels that just so happen to describe us and don’t feel obligated to accept everything that comes with a particular label. Slick was searching for a set of canned beliefs so he could attack it with a script. It’s the exact same shit Frank Turek whines about.

  42. HappyPerson says

    @53 Matzo Ball Soup
    you are right about calling Matt S out in labels. their use betrays that of an amateur wannabe philosopher. better to deal with the arguments directly instead of labels given that many different variations within a particular, agreed-upon label are possible, not to mention that there are different interpretations for any given label to begin with.

    as for Matt S having ‘something missing’, just keep in mind that the nature of the discussion is such that it may not involve a purely rational debate given the underlying emotional/psychological/cultural issues involved (wanting to believe in life after death, etc.)

  43. CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain says

    @Matzo Ball Soup #53:

    they’d probably find themselves having to explain a whole lot of really elementary, basic stuff to me because maybe I understand a concept in an intuitive way, but I didn’t know that it had the name “idealism”. Or whatever.

    Here are archived copies of previous Idealism discussions, before Axp’s comment indention got mangled in a site redesign.
     
    Thread: Ep 874 – Addressing xscd
     
    Thread: Ep 857 – Addressing Nightshade

  44. Matzo Ball Soup says

    I’m now remembering an old clip I saw on YouTube where a guy called in to the show and asked “Do you guys follow the teachings of Darwin?” 😀

    If everything is a school of thought, then all you have to do is pick one, once, and it will dictate what all your beliefs should be. All nice and black-and-white, and you never have to do any critical thinking again! But the world doesn’t work this way (as many of us who came of age in the American two-party political milieu learned when we discovered that some people who “agreed” with us on a particular issue did so for what we thought were “the wrong reasons”).

  45. Cousin Ricky says

    Methinks Brian of Chicago is already an atheist; he just cannot admit it yet. I remember when I was in exactly the same state that he was in. Someone even saw straight through me and called me an atheist, and I strenuously denied it. All the while, I was struggling to find reasons to convince myself that what I believed was true.

  46. officalvillageidiot says

    I have noticed lately, talking to Aussies who claim that they are Christians, but when they start giving reasons it obvious that they have virtually thrown out any references to the OT except for the 10 C’s. and on the issue of Jesus they like the good stuff and ignore the bad, in the end they sound more like a Buddhist then a Christian has anyone else come across this form of disconnect elsewhere.