Comments

  1. StonedRanger says

    Dixon (im pretty sure it was Mindcraft) was a disaster. Went right for the bible as authority and his end of the ‘debate’ stalled. It was pretty much like watching one of his videos, all bible and no actual substance or thought in his argument. Kudos to Matt for not making the kid look any worse than he made himself look. Mindcraft, people here offered to help you before it got to that point, and now, Im guessing you don’t even know what happened or why you got cut off.

  2. Mindcraft says

    I do know and I am sorry I had tons of non biblical notes but I just froze and started spouting arguments that I knew would have no hold

  3. StonedRanger says

    So, while you are here, would you mind telling us what you believe and why you believe it? Without, of course, using bible referents. That’s what Matt asked you and you never got to that point.

  4. corwyn says

    @2 Mindcraft:

    So given that you claimed that you couldn’t lose since your god was on your side, do you think that your ‘freezing’ is evidence that your god, 1) abandoned you, 2) doesn’t exist, or 3) was never in fact on your side, 4) something else?

  5. Narf says

    @2 – Mindcraft
    Seriously, man, do you want to have a more laid back discussion about stuff? I’m offering. You need to get your stuff in order and figure out how to construct an argument to present to people who don’t already agree with 95% of your position. You don’t seem like you’ve had much exposure to alternate worldviews.

    I’ll rip apart your arguments just as thoroughly as Matt would, I imagine, but it might help you a bit to do it in an environment in which you’re not on the spot, being recorded. We could even do it over Skype or Google Hangouts or whatever, so you’ll have the experience of composing yourself in an actual voice argument/discussion. I’m sure you’ll still clutch a bit, but you can take a few goes at it. Everything takes practice … public speaking more than most things.

    You still don’t have a valid, sound argument from which to work, but at least you could get a bit more confident in making the bad arguments.

  6. says

    The rejection of time travel because it’s impossible is kind of silly, especially when the person then goes to suggest that there’s a guy who exists outside of space and time, who can create universes. There’s actually additional absurdities added to the alternative.

    The notion that time travel is impossible due to paradoxes ignores possibilities like multiple timelines. Back to the Future 2 basically addressed this – if you go back in time and kill your childhood self, you spawn a different timeline, where the future-you of that timeline is dead, but not the you came from. If we’re just throwing in magic as explanations, why not?

  7. gshelley says

    On the incest call, the caller left out a couple of details that might change the view
    http://nymag.com/scienceofus/2015/01/what-its-like-to-date-your-dad.html
    For the full article
    The parents split up very early and she had occasional contact till the girl was 3 or 4, then nothing till she was 15, when he tried to re-initiate contact. she had several (3 I think) stepfathers, none that she was close to and they didn’t actually meet till she was 17, when they had sex within a week of her visiting him, though they had talked online He had a girlfriend at the time, who overheard them but apparently is ok with it.
    It may not change the view, but she was an underage girl with abandonment issues. to me, even without the ick factor, it seems he took advantage of that

  8. Narf says

    @6 – Jasper
    They manage to convince themselves that the Bible is without contradiction, man. Once they manage to swallow a whopper that large, I doubt there’s any contradiction left that they’re incapable of overlooking.

  9. says

    @2 Mindcraft

    For every argument you think you have, I’d suggest looking up rebuttals do it. I get the impression that you aren’t aware that they exist. When you started in on your argument, I think within 3 words, I’m thinking, “Oh, the fine-tuning argument again”

    One of the things that I joke about is how there hasn’t been an original apologetic argument in hundreds of years. I might make an exception for Presuppositionalism, though.

  10. Monocle Smile says

    Mindcraft, you should really take Narf up on his offer. Also, I realize you’re young, but the amount of bragging you did on the other thread versus your performance on the call was rather appalling. You could even start a discussion on this thread and we’ll be happy to indulge you, as written media are much better for organizing one’s thoughts than an on-air discussion.

    @Jasper
    Presuppositionalism is mostly classical Calvinism without any of the “sophisticated theology.” Yes, they’ve gone into the business of un-polishing turds.

  11. Ethan Myerson says

    Finally we get a call that hints about the possibility of a time-traveling Hitler. Why did that take 900+ episodes?!

  12. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    @Mindcraft

    I do know and I am sorry I had tons of non biblical notes but I just froze and started spouting arguments that I knew would have no hold

    Remember the Captain Kirk argument: I know that you know that Captain James Tiberius Kirk of the USS Enterprise does not exist. Thus, I also know that quoting Captain Kirk in an argument with you may not be the most effective debating tactic because the words of an fictional person don’t tend to carry that much weight. Sometimes, the words of a fictional person can stand on their own, but that’s it.

    So, Mindcraft, when you quote the Christian bible to atheists, you should know that it will be about as effective as someone quoting Captain Kirk to you. We don’t accept that the book is anything but historical fiction in large part, just like you believe that Captain Kirk is not a real person.

    You need to start at the beginning and argue that the Christian bible is not fiction, and you need to give us good reasons to accept it as reliable, trustworthy, or mostly true, before you can start quoting from it. Showing that is the hard work.

    Time to go listen to the show.

  13. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    @Mindcraft from show
    Loosely: The Christian bible is a reliable source of truth, because only a god could have written it, because it talks about the fucking creation of the Earth, and only a god could have written that. Is he fucking kidding me!?

    And then time travel. Lol. Interesting idea Matt. Got off topic pretty fast.

  14. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    @Mindcraft
    Regarding Captain Kirk. I cannot tell if your response was cute and flippant, or serious. If you are serious that you are more likely to accept an argument because it was spoken by Captain Kirk than if I said it, and you’re ok with that, then you have some serious problems.

  15. Narf says

    @11 – MS

    You could even start a discussion on this thread and we’ll be happy to indulge you, as written media are much better for organizing one’s thoughts than an on-air discussion.

    Hampered slightly by the activity of everyone on the blog wanting to rip apart his arguments all at once. 😀

    Mind you, that could help a little, since it would show him the many and varied objections to every apologetics argument out there. There’s never just one little flaw in any given apologetics argument. Apologetics arguments are like Swiss cheese.

    It just isn’t conducive to the flow of an actual discussion, if that’s what you’re looking for.

  16. Monocle Smile says

    @Narf
    It’s not so much a test drive of an actual discussion, but a chance for Mindcraft to lay out what he has and be able to actually sit and think without being pressured by the immediacy of a phone call.

  17. Narf says

    @19 – MS
    I’m not sure he has it in him, though. I don’t think we’ve seen a single comment by him that was more than two lines long. I don’t know that he can string together an actual logically-structured argument, without using the ctrl-C/ctrl-V fallacy.

    I haven’t listened to the show yet (I have it going in the background, with Darrel and Matt talking about masturbation), but I doubt I’ll hear an argument more complex than, “The Bible says …” on there, either, judging from what I’ve heard so far in the comments.

  18. Monocle Smile says

    @Narf
    It goes from that to implied antichrist prophecies to time-traveling Hitler very quickly, and then Matt correctly deduces that ending the call is best for everyone.

  19. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    Anyone else a little weirded out by Darrel Ray in this show with his presumption that only the US protects the rights of others, and we do it so much better than everyone else, and it’s normal and expected that this happens in places other than the US, but it’s amazing and shocking and in particular outrageous when it happens in the US? Not intentional, I highly suspect, but for me it conjured up a lot of possible negative associations and possible hidden assumptions.

  20. Narf says

    @22 – MS
    I think it might in part be the fact that we’re supposed to be an explicitly secular nation which makes it particularly egregious, within a religious context.

  21. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    Regarding the Muslim’s caller’s personal experience that many Muslims are brought up to not be friendly with people of other religions. Not surprising. Isn’t that standard operating procedure for many Christian households in the US too?

    Sadly, he didn’t address the question I wanted to know – how many influential organizations, clergy, religious scholars, etc., are there which the rest of us can accurately call “non-crazy”. For me, the standard litmus tests are their positions on blasphemy laws and apostasy laws. I don’t know of any significant Christian traditions which want legal penalties for apostasy. Sadly, I think I can name a couple extant Christian traditions which do want blasphemy laws, or substantially similar laws. (I’m looking at you Nigeria and Russia w.r.t. your anti-gay speech laws.)

    It’s still my impression that like 99% of the clergy and religious academics of the Muslim world are Sunni or Shia, and that a near universality of them are “crazy” in the sense that they openly advocate for theocracy, for blasphemy laws, for apostasy laws, etc. Of course, Muslim clergy and scholars don’t have a monopoly on such extent insanity…

  22. Narf says

    Isn’t that standard operating procedure for many Christian households political parties in the US too?

    There. I fixed that for you.

  23. Narf says

    @15 – EL
    (but really at Mindcraft)
    Christ, Dixon was just … all over the place. His argument from climates and penguins was just painfully vapid. And then …

    For fuck sake. 23:17. Dixon, we were joking you about not being able to construct an argument that didn’t go back to the unwavering authority of the Bible. You weren’t actually supposed to state “… because the Bible says it.” Can you not grasp what a vapid, unthinking sheep that makes you look like?

    And you have so much to work around, before you’re even ready to begin a discussion about evolution. Even your basic concept of it is completely fucked. You don’t even understand the basic concepts of the mechanics, such as speciation, never mind beginning to grasp the overwhelming evidence that supports the theory, in many different scientific fields.

    That’s the sort of thing that made me pretty dismissive of the idea of someone from TAE having a debate with you. You don’t need to have a debate. You need to have an education. You need to do a great deal of reading and learning (and not from fundamentalist-Christian apologetics books) so you’ll at least grasp the basics of evolution, before you try to argue against it.

  24. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    @Mindcraft
    First, learn what proponents of evolution actually believe. That’s the bare minimum I would need for you to be able to dismiss it. Otherwise you’re dismissing something else.

    For example, I want you to explain to me in what sense it is right that one kind never turns into another kind, and how this is a necessary component and prediction of evolution and common ancestry.

    I suggest the book The Greatest Show On Earth by Richard Dawkins as a good introduction to the laymen. You should read it. It’s available in fine bookstores and libraries everywhere. It focuses almost completely on evolution, and keeps its anti-religion content to a minimum.

    PS: This is not a courtier’s reply, or at least it’s sufficiently different as to be inapplicable IMHO.

  25. StonedRanger says

    #14- @EL
    I don’t think the kid understood the concept of the comment. He isn’t really capable of doing much more than following a script at this point in his life. I am beginning to believe he hasn’t really watched the show that much.

    To be honest, it almost sounds as if the kid watches too much shockofgod you tube vids and thinks he can make us look bad ‘like shock did’ or something along those lines. Im kind of surprised he didn’t ask us to show how atheism is true etc…

  26. frankgturner says

    Oh my, having listened to the call I did not realize how accurate my speculations in the other thread on this kid really were.
    .
    Mindcraft Dixon, whatever you want to call yourself or be called, are you familiar with something called “Dunning Kruger Syndrome”? You might want to look it up because it sounds like you suffer from it.
    .
    @EL # 27

    First, learn what proponents of evolution actually believe. That’s the bare minimum I would need for you to be able to dismiss it. Otherwise you’re dismissing something else.

    .
    I had suggested that he was arguing against a straw man. I doubt that he even knows what a “straw man” is.
    .
    @StonedRanger # 28

    He isn’t really capable of doing much more than following a script at this point in his life.

    .
    I made a comment in the other thread about how out primate ancestors developed an instinctive need for an authority figure, an alpha male or female (or both) as a part of a drive towards being a social species that helped the group survive. And I have proposed that religion is really just a projection of that instinctive drive. If one accepts that premise it is not heard to see why some would think having a being that one worships is part of a basic human fundamental need. (And it may have been at some point to various primates but due to lack of that need for survival, would have become subject to drift).
    .
    That projection of having an authority which keeps an individual comfortable and gives one a sense of security seems to be what Mindcraft has. It would fit in line with his egocentric attitude. This false sense of security based on insecurity and a belief in absolutes may be what is preventing Mindcraft here from engaging what he views as a challenge to authority, a challenge to his god that he cannot see is just a projection of his own ego.
    .
    Asking himself WHY he feels what he feels and WHY he believes in what he believes is the obstacle to overcome. That’s why I say to him, asking yourself WHY you believe the way you do IS NOT a challenge to the authority of your god, even if he does exist. IT IS a challenge to YOUR OWN authority and YOUR OWN reason for believing.
    .
    Does anyone feel like engaging in the Socratic method with this kid and see if they can get him to answer a few questions?

  27. Muz says

    EL @22
    >Anyone else a little weirded out by Darrel Ray in this show with his presumption that only the US protects the rights of others, and we do it so much better than everyone else, and it’s normal and expected that this happens in places other than the US, but it’s amazing and shocking and in particular outrageous when it happens in the US? Not intentional, I highly suspect, but for me it conjured up a lot of possible negative associations and possible hidden assumptions.

    We foreign types are kinda used to USers talking like they’re the only western country. Ray does seem somewhat encumbered by a bit of ‘monolithic Islam’ thinking and some Harrisian ‘it’s in their book so they’ll actually do it’ thinking as well. Which is often hogwash. Muslims don’t read the book or have any idea what it really says any more than christians do with theirs. They get a version given to them by family, by the priestly class etc. Same as everyone else in any religion, ever.

    Forced marriage and honor killings aren’t an Islamic thing. It’s a cultural thing. The vast bulk of the muslim world has nothing to do with this stuff. Nearly everything about that situation can be explained by insular immigrant communities over religion itself. Which isn’t to say it has no role to play.

  28. Narf says

    @30 – fgt

    Oh my, having listened to the call I did not realize how accurate my speculations in the other thread on this kid really were.

    This is the similar to what I was expecting. He was slightly more coherent in the first bit, even if what he was saying was complete nonsense, but he fell apart after a few sentences.

    Before he’s ready to have a real discussion about this sort of stuff, he needs to have a crash course in epistemology, or he won’t even understand why “… because the Bible says it,” is such a shit answer. Apologists like Carl Baugh and John Morris Pendleton are dishonest fools, but at least they understand that they need to justify their positions with something outside of the Bible, even if they have to lie to do so.

    … are you familiar with something called “Dunning Kruger Syndrome”?

    More of an effect than a syndrome, but yeah. 😀

    Asking himself WHY he feels what he feels and WHY he believes in what he believes is the obstacle to overcome.

    I doubt he’s to the point that he could even answer that question honestly.

    Well, not honestly; that’s the wrong word. He wouldn’t be lying to us exactly; he just doesn’t seem to be introspective enough to self-examine like that. I think he’s basically running on pure childhood brainwashing for submission to an authority figure.

    Does anyone feel like engaging in the Socratic method with this kid and see if they can get him to answer a few questions?

    That’s somewhat where I was planning on going with this. This comment section is not the place to do it, though, when he’s likely to get back at least half a dozen rebuttals for everything he says. He’ll be too focused on those to get introspective. Plus, we’d have to get more than two lines out of him at a time.

  29. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    @Muz
    I’ll apologize (lol) for the seemingly unjustified American exceptionalism. However, I disagree with the tenor of your other assertion. There is truth in what you say, but I think you downplay the causal relationship that the content of that book has, and especially the cultural history surrounding that book. It’s not just the situations, or poverty, or American imperialist actions, or . The culture(s) of violence within Islam and because of Islam have their responsibility too. Again, I’m not trying to say that Islam has a monopoly on such evil and idiocy, and it would be foolish to say it’s the only significant cause for all Muslim terrorists, but I also think it would be foolish to downplay it as much as you do.

  30. Muz says

    @EL
    Heh, well thanks. There was supposed to be a wink at the end of that which I forgot, so it’s not so bad.

    Well I don’t want it to be downplayed too much, but I’m interested in a more complete, less fearful picture. The Harris influenced narrative seems only to care about people finding justification in the faith they hold ergo it is reasonable and justifiable to say that the faith has a lot to do with it. But that seems like oppositionalism (is that a real word?) not in service of a complete picture, which should always be a little troublesome (although plenty of people don’t seem to care about that.)

    There was some research on English revenge and honor violence that showed the act of emigrating to a western country often correlated very strongly with this great strengthening in conservative traditional notions (which often aren’t that old, as is often the case with these things in any culture) as a sort of reaffirmation of identity etc.
    I don’t know if I could find it again for more detail, but I think that was the gist.

    This was done on people who chiefly came from Pakistan, but that varies a lot from north to south. It showed people supporting certain extremist notions who had only discovered these thoughts as part of an immigrant community. Their families back home were aghast as they weren’t really all that intense and didn’t think their son should be helping snatch recalcitrant brides and so on.

    So what I’m saying is it’s difficult to pin down a lot of this. If it is Islam, why is it different in Indonesia, Malaysia, Turkey, Egypt etc? It’s just inaccurate to go too broad brush. Which ought to bother skeptics and so forth.

    By the same token its true people use the religion to justify awful crap and it seems that it actually could a lot of the time. So go after the religion is a legit tactic in it all.
    I’m not terribly worried to diminish or absolve the role of religion in these problems, but sometimes the way people talk gives it that air of almost magical memetic potency, like red scares or anything else you can think of like that. Which I don’t think helps much. So the urge arises to put the context back in a bit (insofar as I can, which isn’t much)

  31. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    So what I’m saying is it’s difficult to pin down a lot of this. If it is Islam, why is it different in Indonesia, Malaysia, Turkey, Egypt etc?

    [sarcasm:] I mean, it can’t be Christianity which is responsible for the Spanish inquisition. I mean, just look at various majority Christian European countries today. It’s just too inaccurate to say that Christianity had a role to play in the Spanish inquisition.

    PS: Nobody expects the Spanish inquisition!

    I’m not terribly worried to diminish or absolve the role of religion in these problems, but sometimes the way people talk gives it that air of almost magical memetic potency, like red scares or anything else you can think of like that. Which I don’t think helps much. So the urge arises to put the context back in a bit (insofar as I can, which isn’t much)

    Understood, and I have a fair bit of sympathy for that position. I don’t think too much about it, because I often choose to ignore and forget that the people on the “Fox News” side of the “debate” even exist.

    Whereas, I identify more much more with the American left, and a lot of them seem to have a serious problem of multiculturalism taken to the ridiculous extreme of moral relativism, combined with white guilt.

    I do have to say that most of what Sam Harris says on this topic, I find reasonable, but Sam has that special talent of being IMHO brilliant, but also pedantic, and a somewhat bad communicator, plus some genuinely awful ideas, which allows him to often go that extra mile and make truly astounding stupid statements, and make me shake my head in shame and disgust.

  32. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    But to answer the question seriously. There’s more than one version of Christianity. A particular version was responsible for the Spanish inquisition. There is more than one version of Islam. I don’t care which qualifies as the “true version”. I care only about the versions which are practiced today, and by what number of people. They are culture – or a part of culture – and there is no “true version” of culture.

    I don’t know why all versions of Christianity died out which would be willing to perform the Spanish inquisition, but not such versions of Islam. Maybe the difference in clarity of commands in the texts themselves had a factor. Maybe not. It’s an interesting and complicated question of history, anthropology, sociology, etc. I’m sure some people have some good guesses, but I doubt anyone knows. For example, Dan Dennett is amazed that basically no one does actual research on religion, and no one knows where religion is going. That should be a terrifying realization that we know so little about one of the biggest cultural movements in the world today.

    I am not about to second guess the spoke motivations of religious terrorists. The alternative that it’s all because of colonialism, or American foreign policy, or poverty, or something. That alternative doesn’t explain the common party line amongst religious terrorists. It would have to beg a vast conspiracy, which is just silly.

    I have no doubt that many religious terrorists had many confounding factors which helped lead them to their religious extremism, but they only managed to get there because that religious extremism already existed, was being preached, and had some degree of societal acceptance, such as the general societal valuing of faith and religion itself. No one invents a new religion in order to do violence in order to express other grievances. Even if you grant me only that little bit, that little bit is enough for me to say that we should squash all religions, even the nice ones – through reasoned honest discourse and no more. Ok, and maybe Dan Dennett’s idea of forced honest comparative religion classes for all children in the world on all of the world’s modern religions.

  33. Grumpy Cthulhu (just woke up) says

    Yeah, Kung Fury looks a lot like a trailer for FarCry 3 – Blood Dragon.

  34. StonedRanger says

    Aside from just being a little kid, I doubt Mindcraft has ever been asked these kinds of questions about his beliefs. Everyone here is trying to talk to the kid like he is an adult who has knowledge of how to have a discussion in a grown up manner. Watch his videos. Nothing there but regurgitating the things he has learned in bible study. Im pretty sure he wouldn’t know what a strawman was if he wasn’t watching the wizard of oz and that isn’t helpful at all. Socratic method, not a clue. I doubt the kid has done any actual study of evolution outside of what his uniformed preachers have ‘taught’ him. We might as well be speaking martian to the kid for all he is going to understand what we are saying to him. Maybe in ten years he will be able to have this kind of conversation, but not now, and not any time soon I think.

  35. StonedRanger says

    We need an edit function here. Should be ‘ outside of what his uninformed preachers’ not uniformed.

  36. frankgturner says

    @StonedRanger # 40
    When I was 6 I saw the flaws in the story of Adam and Eve. I would ask my parents how it was that Cain and Able had wives that they could marry if Adam and Eve were the only other people on earth and despite apologetics bullshit about them being able to marry their sisters and have children. (I knew THAT was bullshit, no reasonable god would have started the universe off like THAT without explicit declaration within scripture). If god had created more, how come that was not mentioned early on? That seems petty important had it been ordained by an all mighty god.
    .
    I was introspective enough at a younger age than Mindcraft to see how the story was flawed. It isn’t his AGE that is the obstacle, it is his EGO and false sense of security that is the obstacle. I admit that I went atheist from listening to you all, but I realized that I had gone from being an agnostic theist to being an agnostic atheist. I always had realized that I did not know and had no hard proof, what changed was my default position. And the main reason that I had not changed was due to lack of knowledge that there were those that thought like me.
    .
    I would think that Mindcraft, like many others, ALLOWS himself to be deluded because it is comforting and provides him with a sense of security, and a false one at that. It does not take a genius to figure out that while Martin Luther had some damn good point in his theses, it was against an church (the Catholic Church) that was already too political and needed some hard criticism. However, it was by a man who had a serious inferiority complex and wanted a sense of security to negate that unpleasantness, even if it was a false one, and found it through absolutism. Mindcraft here is basically like Martin Luther.
    .
    Mindcraft was not looking for people who were actually metaphorically aware of their feces (i.e.: “knew their shit”). He probably thought that individuals who were not like him had never really been exposed to counter arguments. News flash Mindcraft, we have een exposed to what you know, plus a LOT more. We have been given additional information including cold hard reality and years of study of everything from theology, history, philosophy, biology including genetics, paleontology, various areas of evolutionary study including molecular genetics, cell biology, taxonomy, ornithology, herpetology, etc, we know a LOT more about what we are discussing than you do.
    .
    Even regarding star trek we know more. There are people on here and in the outer world who know tons of things about the personal life of Gene Rodenberry and the metaphoric symbolism of various characters and story lines and ideas in star trek.
    .
    Maybe in ten years we might be able to reach this kid but he has to drop the attitude and humble himself to learning. If he thinks that he is on the ball he is sadly mistaken. Learning is painful Mindcraft, and it is a very humbling experience. Take then from some of us who have been through it. It hurts but it has great rewards in the long run.

  37. StonedRanger says

    Frank Turner @41
    Yes, I understand and agree with the first part of what you said. I was around 8 when I realized that all this bible stuff was nothing more than BS. However, I don’t know how religious your upbringing was, but Im going to guess that it wasn’t nearly as complete as Mindcrafts is. He clearly has no idea how to have an actual discussion about religion because he has never had to discuss it with anyone who doesn’t believe just like he does. I doubt seriously this poor kid has that kind of ego that wont let him examine things outside of his beliefs, I just don’t think he has ever been around anyone like us, has no understanding of what we think because he has never had a reason to examine what we say. He is clueless in so many ways. We are all older and have a much more developed understanding of the world around us and he is just a kid. I don’t think its a matter of him humbling himself and learning about things outside of his little corner of the world, but rather has to do with being constantly told that this is the way of the world and all who don’t believe are just wrong. He has probably not spent one minute of his life actually examining what he believes and why because he has never had a reason to. Ten years is probably just about right for him to see what the world is all about. Im actually feeling a little bad for the kid at this point, because he is so far out of his actual ability to even understand what most of us have said.

  38. Narf says

    I dunno, I think ten years is a little long. Going off to college is a good time for people to break free of childhood brainwashing, since they’re getting free of their parents for the first time.

    I wouldn’t give you any sort of odds of a particular person doing so, but that’s when it becomes a realistic possibility. Of course the fundies know that they’re losing kids at college, so they’re trying to take steps to insulate them fully into their working adulthood. We have the likes of Josh McDowell and Rick Santorum giving tacit acknowledgement of the weakness of their position, when they warn parents against sending their kids off to (non-crazed-fundie) college and letting them learn things on their own, on the internet.

    I’m not sure if the Mindcraft guys are home-schooled or what. He’s in a part of Texas where the public schools might even be corrupted by the high density of fundie creationists, to the point that he wouldn’t even be getting an opposing perspective in his science classes. There are a distressing number of public-school, biology teachers who are skipping the chapter (which should be more than a single fucking chapter, anyway) on evolution and actually inserting biblical nonsense instead.

    So, if they go off to a college that has sufficient social reinforcement of his fundamentalist beliefs, then it’ll probably never happen, but I’d say that maybe 4 or 5 years is the beginning of the window.

  39. Narf says

    So, Dixon, what do you say, man? Do you want to go through all of this stuff and see if I can help you understand things a little better? There’s so much wrong, that we really need to go back to basics.

    Lots of fundamentalists have this issue. You have no idea how badly you’ve been lied to, by your religious authorities who have given you this warped perspective of what atheists and skeptics are like. I’ve read many apologetics books which are completely screwed up, from Chapter 1, because they mangle beyond recognition the position they’re arguing against.

    One of the hardest things you’ll have to grasp is that we don’t have a similar thinking process, just replacing one authority figure with another. That isn’t how science works. Skepticism is mostly just an application of the scientific method in all avenues of life … a desire to know what is actually true and a willingness to accept a position of “I don’t know,” over an unsupported, unjustified position.

    We don’t hate your god and rebel against him because we want to sin, no matter how many Christian apologetics books tell the anecdote about the aggressive, atheistic family-member who was made to accept that he believed in God all along and was just rejecting Him. There’s an entirely different thought process that we follow, and you need to understand that, if you’re going to talk to atheists, as you seem to want to do.

    … unless you just want to be another poser like Josh McDowell, William Lane Craig, Lee Strobel, Ray Comfort, and the many other Christian apologists who claim to be addressing atheists but who are really just giving questioning believers a reassuring pat on the head and a weak facade of intellectualism.

  40. frankgturner says

    @ StonedRanger #43

    I don’t know how religious your upbringing was, but Im going to guess that it wasn’t nearly as complete as Mindcrafts is … I don’t think its a matter of him humbling himself and learning about things outside of his little corner of the world, but rather has to do with being constantly told that this is the way of the world and all who don’t believe are just wrong

    .
    I got bullied a lot socially due to my condition (which is pretty common actually) and one of the things I got to see was that bullies emotionally manipulate people and their views are often popular. So one thing I got to see was that just because a view is popular does not mean that it is right. As a matter of fact, I got to be rather suspicious if I DIDN’T hear someone address the opposing viewpoint as though no one actually thought to take it seriously.
    .
    That is why, in an odd way, I kind of support the idea of “teaching the controversy,” I just don’t agree in the way that some want it done. Like Matt D. often says on the show, I don’t mind the idea of creationism being taught in a comparative religion class. And if you are going to discuss the holes in some aspects of evolution (which I acknowledge, there are a few, but they don’t demonstrate that it is false), then teach the holes in creationism too (which there are MANY).
    .
    This is what I think creationists really DON’T want. When THEY say “teach the controversy what they REALLY want is to teach creationism in such a way that it is dishonest and covers up faulty logic and thinking yet teach evolution as though it had no support. It is another one of those up is down, black is white, and I don’t want to have to think because I want special treatment situations.
    .
    @Narf # 44 and StonedRanger, and Mindcraft if you are really listening.

    We have the likes of Josh McDowell and Rick Santorum giving tacit acknowledgement of the weakness of their position, when they warn parents against sending their kids off to (non-crazed-fundie) college and letting them learn things on their own, on the internet.

    .
    The “Free Market of Ideas” presented by the internet has probably been one of the biggest enemies to closed minded creationism and bully fundamentalism that followers of that warped method of thinking have ever seen. Had I had this I would have walked away from my upbringing an even longer time ago. If Dixon’s mind is THAT insulated that he is not even realizing how well exposed he is being to factual correctness by merely taking the steps that he has by talking to us then I don’t know if anyone can reach him or ever will. It is up to him to realize that we are not lying to him and that the others he has met before were.
    .
    That’s what I have been trying to get through, he does not have to agree with us, but that we are being honest with him by exposing him to real factual evidence, which is what he SHOULD be accepting as evidence and NOT anecdotes. He may not have the capacity to comprehend that (hence why the crash course in epistemology might be a good idea).

  41. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    @Narf
    Hey now. I wouldn’t call that completely accurate.

    To be clear: Atheism is the lack of belief that a god or gods exist. This is how nearly all self-identified atheists use the word. It includes the “I don’t know” position. Deal with it. Agnosticism is not a separate weaker position.

    When most atheists proclaim that they lack a belief that the Christian god exists, it is not because they secretly believe the Christian god exists but they lie because they want to sin. 1- It’s simply not true that atheists often do that. 2- It’s also a really, really stupid thing to do. How does that make any sense whatsoever to do that?

    However, some atheists are like me when I argue that even if my atheism is wrong and your Christian god exists, your Christian god is an evil abomination. If Stargate SG-1 has taught me anything, it is that the proper response to evil gods is not to bow and worship, but to blow them up. Nuke god! Oh? What’s that? I cannot nuke your god? How do you know that? Because your god said so? Well, the goa’uld said the same thing, and nukes worked just fine. Even the Ori were eventually blown up, but they required advanced explosives to make it work. We won’t know if a nuke will work on your god or not until we try. Nuke god!

  42. Monocle Smile says

    I’m entirely with EL on this. Stargate came out before my time, and thought I did eventually see it, I was exposed to Mass Effect first, and there are clear parallels between the Reapers and the Goa’uld. Any being that claims (repeatedly, at that) to be any “omni” or invincible or god-like in any other way should not be taken at its word…because it’s probably bluffing. The lady doth protest too much.

    EL, sometimes I respond to a theist with something similar to your post, and I typically get a reply in the fashion of “well, if you’re not going to convert to Christianity and worship like me, then why should I give you evidence? You don’t deserve it.” To me, this is a concession of defeat.

  43. corwyn says

    @Mindcraft,

    If you choose to have a conversation *exclusively* with Narf, I pledge to stay out of it, and admonish others to as well.

  44. Narf says

    @47 – EL

    To be clear: Atheism is the lack of belief that a god or gods exist. This is how nearly all self-identified atheists use the word. It includes the “I don’t know” position. Deal with it. Agnosticism is not a separate weaker position.

    Err, what did I say that implies any sort of exclusivity between atheism and agnosticism? Can you quote me a line and explain? I read back over my last comment, and I don’t see it.

    When most atheists proclaim that they lack a belief that the Christian god exists, it is not because they secretly believe the Christian god exists but they lie because they want to sin. 1- It’s simply not true that atheists often do that. 2- It’s also a really, really stupid thing to do. How does that make any sense whatsoever to do that?

    Yes, and that’s why it’s so fucking stupid when a Christian apologist tells a story about an atheist he converted to Christianity, after he made the atheist realize that he (the atheist) actually believes in God and is just rebelling. Where are we disagreeing? I don’t see it.

    However, some atheists are like me when I argue that even if my atheism is wrong and your Christian god exists, your Christian god is an evil abomination.

    Well, yes, that’s the sort of dual-layered position that I would go into with Dixon, in a discussion. Once you’re free of an indoctrinated mindset that everything God does is good, because he owns this shit, you can begin to grasp what a monstrous character the Bronze Age Jews created for themselves.

    I can sort of forgive them, since when most of the texts were apparently written, the whole rest of the world was shitting on them pretty badly. Clearly, if there was some greater being watching over things, he was a bit of a dick, and they wove that characteristic into the character bio. It only becomes so ludicrous when you try to reconcile the character of Yahweh with the modern Christian proclamation of God being Love.

    Again, where are we disagreeing on this point? I don’t see it.

  45. Narf says

    @49 – corwyn
    The problem is that he doesn’t seem particularly inclined to write anything of substance, here in this comment section. Even if he was, I’m not sure that blog-post comments would be the way to go. He has so much wrong, at a fundamental level, that it would be much better to go a line at a time, say in instant messages or with a voice connection of some sort.

    The conversational format is much better than a huge chunk of text all at once, when communicating with someone like him. I’m sure he won’t be able to go more than a couple of sentences at a time, before I need to ask for a clarification, ask him to justify a point, or point him to some resources that make a mockery of his apologetics-given straw-man of evolution and the atheist position, or possibly the current state of Biblical scholarship.

  46. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    @Narf

    Err, what did I say that implies any sort of exclusivity between atheism and agnosticism? Can you quote me a line and explain? I read back over my last comment, and I don’t see it.

    You didn’t. I was just being clear for the benefits of others.

    Where are we disagreeing?

    You earlier said this:

    We don’t hate your god and rebel against him because we want to sin,

    Depending on nuance, contra your assertion, I think that’s pretty accurate. Again, I don’t secretly believe that the Christian god exists, and I lie about it because I want to sin. That makes no sense whatsoever. However, I do want to sin, at least some specific sins, including free speech, democracy, self determination, justice, sexual freedom, happiness, etc. My desire to have these sins is not my basis of my lack of belief in the Christian god. I would be the first to admit that the Christian god exists when enough evidence is given. However, if I was convinced the Christian god exists, then I would hate the Christian god because I want to do specific sins (see earlier) when it commands otherwise. It is clearly standing opposition to the happiness and the well-being of humanity because of its own petty ego, which makes it an evil abomination, and I would rebel, and I would seek its destruction. Nuke god!

  47. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    Oh, I suppose I would also seek its destruction because it’s a gigantic asshat who randomly murders people and commands the murder of other innocent people.

    So, I guess it’s not accurate to say that I would hate the Christian god and I would rebel only because I want to sin – there is more to it – but that is an important part of the motivation of why I would hate the Christian god and rebel against the Christian god.

    I frankly don’t care if the Christian god calls something a “sin” or not. Further, there are many things in the category of “sin” which I do very much want, such as free speech, democracy, self determination, sexual freedom, happiness, etc.

  48. Narf says

    @54 – happyperson
    The name is Mindcraft, but it was difficult to find, just going from that. I found it after a bit of digging, based in part upon the e-mail address he gave us. The channel URL is http://www.youtube.com/channel/UCLZI9PWCEDyLtH6Bx3FKWHA. His views are a lot higher than they were when he first came onto the blog, probably in part due to the activity of our commentators.

  49. Narf says

    @52 & 53 – EL
    Ah.

    Personally, I tend to go with something along the lines of “I don’t hate your god. I just think you’re an amoral fool who has abdicated your own morality in favor of submission to an immoral set of commandments.”

  50. Narf says

    As for your actual reading of the quote, EL, “We don’t hate your god and rebel against him because we want to sin,” I think you were perhaps reading it as a compound sentence with a comma and a restatement of the subject?

    “We don’t hate your god, and we rebel against him because we want to sin.”

    “… hate your god and rebel against him because we want to sin,” should be all run together as one breath. “We don’t [do all of this stuff].” Text sucks that way, sometimes.

  51. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    @Narf
    I don’t know how you’re parsing it. I want to do certain sins. The Christian god purportedly will attempt to injure me if I do any sin. I hate the purported Christian god for that reason (and for other reasons too). Colloquially, I do hate the Christian god and I would rebel against the Christian god because I want to sin. That seems to be a very accurate description of my position. I like my free speech, democracy, self determination, sexual freedom, etc.

    PS: Of course, this has nothing to do with the crazy idea that someone would deny god exists because they want to sin.

  52. Narf says

    I don’t know how you’re parsing it. I want to do certain sins.

    I don’t. I want to do some things that some evil, controlling assholes have decided they want to call sins.

    Besides, I don’t rebel against the god because I want to do those things. I reject the assertion of his existence because I have no reason to think he exists and many reasons to think he doesn’t. My activities and my rejection of other people’s proscription of me doing them has nothing to do with their invisible friend’s nonexistence.

  53. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    @Narf
    Note I carefully used words like “purportedly” and “would”.

    I say again, the bland statement “You hate god because you want to sin” has a lot of truth in it. I think you are wrong when you said that statement doesn’t apply to atheists. I would say it’s more true than false for me, and I endeavor to make it true for more people as well. The very idea of a controlling creature who punishes us or rewards us for arbitrary actions not connected to happiness and well-being (e.g. sin) is abominable.

    For example, if there was a god, and she was some stoned surfer, and she apologized for forgetting about us when we got up to heaven, I wouldn’t hate that god – I might even like her (depending). That god doesn’t care about Christian sins, and thus I wouldn’t hate her for a non-applicable reason.

  54. Narf says

    Not so much that it doesn’t apply to atheists, as much as that it shouldn’t be the reason that we’re atheists. Realizing that the god of the Bible is a genocidal monster could be the catalyst that snaps a fundamentalist out of his auto-rationalization of anything that he reads in the Bible and shuts off the auto-fill feature for the many logical holes in every argument for the existence of a god.

    But there should be further logical examination of the issue that leads to actual atheism. The adoption of a skeptical outlook would be nice, as he realizes the superiority of that perspective. If someone is an atheist for emotional reasons, then he’s subject to being swayed back for equally bad, emotional reasons.

    I mean, hell, those Spirit “Science” idiots are technically atheists, but they believe in all sorts of insane bullshit.

    Anyway, you’re stripping an important characteristic of the compound position in question here: hate your god and rebel against him because we want to sin. ‘Rebel’ is an important, specifically chosen word. Apologists pretend — hell, plenty of them might even believe it — that we really know that their god exists. Rebelling-against and rejecting-the-existence-of are two completely different things.

  55. StonedRanger says

    Id like to see Mindcraft do some kind of rebuttal video and put it on his channel. I doubt that Dixon or either of the other two people who constitute Mindcraft will be coming back. Its too bad, because I honestly believe that it would give the kid his first real challenge to his beliefs and make him think. As it is, I think our replies are so far above their ability to parse what we say and to understand same will preclude any more responses from them.

  56. happyperson says

    @55 thanks for digging up the account. i didn’t know he was so young. i only saw part of his evolution video (hard to watch since it has a technical difficulty resulting in some annoying noise). nothing new there, especially the false framing of the subject as 1 side vs. another. one strategy that may be effective is to not even talk about the subject of the debate but the underlying epistemological issues/strategies inherent in a rational debate. e.g. if you want to effectively critique a subject (to be fair to each position, to ensure accuracy in the framing of each position, etc.) , don’t you want to get an accurate picture of each side by looking at how they, themselves, make their arguments? seems acceptable and perhaps the first step towards actually picking up a biology book/going to talkorigins. in my experience, people who are against evolution are people who do not understand it and are thus susceptible to being influenced by some unfair depiction of it (e.g. monkeys to humans).

  57. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    @Narf
    Yes, the difference between “I know your god exists, and I hate it and rebel against it because it’s an asshat”, vs “I don’t know if your god exists or not, but I would hate it and rebel against it if it existed because it’s described as being an asshat”.

  58. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    @happyperson

    in my experience, people who are against evolution are people who do not understand it and are thus susceptible to being influenced by some unfair depiction of it (e.g. monkeys to humans).

    Yep, it’s a rare person in my experience who denies evolution while simultaneously in possession of the facts and correct understanding of what evolution actually is.

    One exception popularized by Richard Dawkins is this guy, Kurt Wise.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kurt_Wise
    I think that the Kurt Wises of the world are rare, and that most people can be reached, eventually.

  59. frankgturner says

    @StonedRanger # 62, happyperson #63, and EL # 65
    .
    Sad as it may seem I had kind of figured that Mindcraft was not in it to learn or understand at this point, but just wanted a chance to feel power and like he knew what he was talking about. He wanted the “smack down” that he was talking about and instead got smacked down. I am thinking that he so insulated himself that he does not realize how much of a fool that he sounded like. Perhaps that is the nature of the Dunning Kruger effect, the ego is so adverse to acknowledging any fault or lack of knowledge in oneself that one fails to see the faults of one’s own logic or how anything one is saying is lacking.
    .
    I don’t know if everyone can be reached. People are way to sad with their lives and religion provides them with a false reality, the metaphoric “castle in the sky” of neurosis (instead an imaginary friend in the sky) that gives individuals an escape from their unpleasantness. Real learning is hard and painful at times.

  60. Narf says

    @62 – StonedRanger

    As it is, I think our replies are so far above their ability to parse what we say and to understand same will preclude any more responses from them.

    Yeah, I think that’s mostly why we’re getting two-line comments out of him, with no significant addressal of anything we say about his position. That’s why I don’t think trying to have a discussion with him in here will go anywhere. His arguments won’t be any better in a vocal discussion, but at least we’d get something out of him.

    I think that’s why he was pushing for a debate, rather than a conversational forum, like the show. In a debate, he would have 5 uninterrupted minutes to spit out (probably a very bad version of) a Gish Gallup and do some preaching. In a conversation, he would have to address our questions as we ask them.

  61. Narf says

    @63 – happyperson

    @55 thanks for digging up the account. i didn’t know he was so young.

    No prob. I did a bit of digging, after he first popped up in the comment section of the thread for episode #900 and challenged the entire cast of the show to a debate. I wanted to look him up, so we would know what we were dealing with, when Russell was talking with him on here.

    one strategy that may be effective is to not even talk about the subject of the debate but the underlying epistemological issues/strategies inherent in a rational debate.

    That’s exactly where I would have gone, if I had been able to get him to have a more extensive discussion than what he had on the show. Epistemology and the Socratic Method are the order of the day, since these guys obviously haven’t thought through the question of why they believe what they believe.

  62. Narf says

    @66 – fgt
    Yeah, that’s why we’ll probably never hear from him again, sadly. He was looking for a more formal debate, to use as a preaching pulpit or something similar, perhaps. I dunno. We’ll see. Maybe he’s just busy with school or something, and he’ll pop back up on the weekend.

    I wouldn’t know about whether or not this guy in particular can be reached. He’s still a teenager, so it’s always possible.

    It would require a bit of intellectual honesty, which is often lacking amongst evangelicals, and it would require a certain doggedness to keep coming back, after the initial embarrassment. We’ll see if this guy is up to the challenge.

  63. frankgturner says

    @Narf # 69

    He was looking for a more formal debate, to use as a preaching pulpit or something similar,

    .
    Maybe not the debate, but just the preaching pulpit. I notice that a lot of people seem to think that reality is political, that if you can make enough people believe something strong enough then it will become reality (too many fans of J. M. Barrie I suppose). That is a lot of how I view Craig and I see Mindcraft as a less eloquent WLC at a younger age.
    .

    It would require a bit of intellectual honesty, which is often lacking amongst evangelicals

    .
    I really wonder if it is active intellectual dishonesty or just a lack of mental capacity to realize WHAT intellectual honesty really is about. On another forum someone said something about becoming an atheist for emotional reasons rather than logical reasons and how if one did that one could be swayed back to theism for emotional reasons. It occurs to me that some may not have the capacity to be reached by anything OTHER than emotion.
    .

    it would require a certain doggedness to keep coming back, after the initial embarrassment

    .
    If, on a conscious level, Dixon even realizes the embarrassment. On an unconscious level he might have felt it and hence a motivation not to return. Defying that unconscious motivation by being introspective enough to think about what happened might be beyond him. Although this is speculation. We have not seen much out of his youtube channel. I would not be surprised if he went back to an evangelical forum to find people to agree with him just to build his confidence up.

  64. Narf says

    @73 – fgt

    Maybe not the debate, but just the preaching pulpit.

    A lot of evangelicals consider them one and the same. Ray Comfort admitted as much, in his debate with embarrassment by the Rational Response Squad. He’s said the same in his interactions with Matt D. and on the TAE episode in which he called in. “I don’t care about all of this. I just want to talk to you about your sin and your need for a savior. I just want you to put on your parachute!

    That is a lot of how I view Craig and I see Mindcraft as a less eloquent WLC at a younger age.

    You shouldn’t insult Dixon like that. 😀 At least he doesn’t seem to know any better, and he probably isn’t being willfully ignorant. Can’t say the same for WLC, at this point.

    I really wonder if it is active intellectual dishonesty or just a lack of mental capacity to realize WHAT intellectual honesty really is about.

    A little of each. You have to have the mental capacity and the education first, sure. Once you get that far, you have to have the intellectual integrity to prevent your childhood indoctrination and wish-thinking from leading your thinking by the nose.

    On another forum someone said something about becoming an atheist for emotional reasons rather than logical reasons and how if one did that one could be swayed back to theism for emotional reasons. It occurs to me that some may not have the capacity to be reached by anything OTHER than emotion.

    Reaching them, sure. Some people need an emotional assault to crack their indoctrination shell.

    You can always construct a logical foundation after you’re past the point at which your indoctrination will no longer fill in the massive holes in the theistic arguments. It just might take some remedial education in the process of critical thinking.

    If, on a conscious level, Dixon even realizes the embarrassment.

    He seems to have. He wouldn’t have been making excuses, up in comment #2, if he didn’t realize that he looked bad on the show.

    On an unconscious level he might have felt it and hence a motivation not to return. Defying that unconscious motivation by being introspective enough to think about what happened might be beyond him.

    Not sure I would differentiate between a conscious or unconscious level, in this. I could understand a bit of a fugue reaction, either way, after the first disastrous confrontation with those of an opposing worldview. He isn’t quite as geographically isolated as I was originally thinking he might have been, being in Fort Worth, but I’m sure that his church is helping to increase his mental isolation.

    Then again, Dallas-Fort Worth isn’t nearly as liberal as Austin or even Houston, is it?

    Although this is speculation. We have not seen much out of his youtube channel. I would not be surprised if he went back to an evangelical forum to find people to agree with him just to build his confidence up.

    It’ll be interesting to see if he evolves beyond any arguments more complex than, “Bible, Bible. Bible Bible Bible. Bible.”

  65. frankgturner says

    @74 Narf

    You shouldn’t insult Dixon like that. At least he doesn’t seem to know any better, and he probably isn’t being willfully ignorant. Can’t say the same for WLC, at this point….A lot of evangelicals consider them one and the same. Ray Comfort admitted as much, in his debate with embarrassment by the Rational Response Squad.

    .
    If you mean to suggest that it is a better analogy that Dixon is more like a young Ray Comfort or Kirk Cameron (probably more Kirk), I can get behind that. Comfort is probably also willfully ignorant. He has to have heard the facts argued against him more than enough to be aware of the counter argument and how well founded it is. Frankly I think Comfort is in it for the money and WLC for the power. WLC’s apparent lack of understanding of science and political attitude (arguing in favor of evolution then turning around and presenting arguments for creationism when in the presence of Young Earth Creationists, like a politician talking out of both sides of his mouth) make me wonder if WLC really is willingly ignorant or just so focused on power that he isn’t aware that he is contradicting himself. I have seen politicians like that. If factual correctness and intellectual honesty took higher priority than winning the (immediate) argument then politicians might not be so focused on the one single moment.
    .
    My mother is kind of like that at times, so focused on right now that sometimes she can’t even remember something she said that contradicts what she was arguing less than a minute ago. Dixon might be in that camp, hence the two sentence responses, impossibility to get off script, and what I have memorized from the Bible right now mentality.

  66. frankgturner says

    @Narf # 74 Continued
    I did a little thinking with regard to the mental isolation and the fugue reaction and “Bible Bible Bible.”
    .
    Growing up in mental isolation with only the idea of your big imaginary friend in the sky who will grant you all power because you think he is omnipotent and always behind you (as indicated by Dixon earlier), it IS probably a huge shock to find an opposing world view that has a lot of backing to it. I said that this kid is probably so far gone that he does not even realize that the Bible is not written in English or that there are theists who study and teach evolution, using it in their daily lives. I can imagine that what has happened is pretty hard on him and if he does have the tenacity to return I would definitely respect him more. Heck if he is listening I have a story to tell him (I have told it on here before) about my cousin that he might find quite intriguing.
    .
    I kind of want him to know that he can still have respect and support. I can imagine him running back to his church where they push to mentally isolate him telling him that it is about support and love when it is really about propaganda and indoctrination. It sounds like this is him and his friends first real experience with free thought.

  67. Narf says

    If you mean to suggest that it is a better analogy that Dixon is more like a young Ray Comfort or Kirk Cameron (probably more Kirk), I can get behind that.

    Not really what I was going for. I think Dixon and friends are too genuinely ignorant to be directly analogous than any of the apologists I can think of.

    Frankly I think Comfort is in it for the money and WLC for the power.

    I think another important difference between those two is their style of listening to the opposing side.

    I think WLC actually reads up a bit on science, but he does so with the self-authenticating witness of the holy spirit turned on, as an information sieve. He probably reads some basic, low-level stuff on cosmology and biology, but if it doesn’t match up in such a way that he can twist it into evidence for his god, then the physicists/biologists must be wrong about that bit. Martymer 81 has several videos ripping apart WLC’s poor understanding of cosmology.

    It’s almost like WLC goes back to the source materials to learn about cosmology — by which I mean his middle-school science textbooks from the 1960’s — then extrapolates like hell from that dumbed-down, outdated starting point, rather than going to actual physics professors to learn what advances have been made since middle school. He might occasionally look to popular science magazines for more sciencey-sounding verbiage to quote mine.

    Ray Comfort listens to people talk about evolution (I think cosmology is a bit too advanced for him) with his brain turned off. It’s either that or he’s a con artist on the level of Kent Hovind, and I don’t think he’s intelligent enough for that. He’s had too many biologists explain why what he says about biological evolution is the exact opposite of what the theory indicates. He must just be shutting off his ears, during debates, waiting for his turn to speak again. Considering how his responses in debates are usually amazingly unrelated to what his opponents had just said in their last rebuttal, I can only assume that he just doesn’t pay attention, any time someone is talking about science or philosophy.

    I said that this kid is probably so far gone that he does not even realize that the Bible is not written in English or that there are theists who study and teach evolution, using it in their daily lives.

    There are probably a few amusing inanities like those in his foundational beliefs, yeah. I’m sure he’s been fed a lot of crazy shit. I’ve heard from several preachers and from some of the less thoughtful apologists that there are only two groups of people in the creation-evolution debate. There are atheists who believe in evolution, and there are Christians who believe in the creation of the world by Yahweh (not Allah, of course; that’s a moon god).

    They’re not even making a no-true-Christian argument here. Some of them are literally saying that there are no Christians who have been born-again who believe in biological evolution and common ancestry. It’s pretty amazing. I don’t think that most creationists fall into this category, of course, instead settling for the no-true-Christian argument.

    I can imagine that what has happened is pretty hard on him and if he does have the tenacity to return I would definitely respect him more.

    It would be nice yeah. I hope I’ve been a bit gentler with him than I was with … say … Bobby. Bobby has long since demonstrated his stupidity and inability to learn or form a coherent thought.

    I want to actually talk to Dixon and see if I can crack that shell and get a bit of information about basic epistemology and worldview foundation into his head. I just wanted Bobby to go away, so the grownups could talk.

  68. says

    I’m a little disappointed that no one has brought up the Galapagos Penguin yet. Aren’t there any other wildlife naturalists here? Dixon ought to get the chance to learn about this tropical penguin species at least.

  69. Narf says

    Eh, it wouldn’t really have helped, James. God just designed that species to live in that environment, because he wanted people to be able to enjoy penguins in tropical climates. Or at the least, we’d get some sort of half-assed, “God works in mysterious ways,” response.

    I think we’re usually better off handling things in a more reflexive manner. Creationists come at us with a couple dozen absurd gotcha statements that they think are stumpers. I think you’ll have a better chance of reaching a creationist if you can address those and somehow actually get them to listen to the responses. Presenting specific positive examples won’t get us anywhere, until we deal with those broken, foundational misunderstandings.

  70. Jacob S says

    This was an excellent episode. The sex talk, the insight from the former muslim, the calling out of how religion furthers the guilt cycle — all very useful to me. Thank you guys.

  71. Narf says

    @79&80
    You should take that up with Darrel, David. I doubt he’s going to read this comment thread. He has a podcast. You should e-mail him at the associated e-mail address and see what he has to say about those articles.

  72. jt says

    As I’ve gone through life I’ve observed that where sex is concerned, as long as all those participating in a sex act or sex acts are adults who have freely consented to participate in the sex acts or sex acts, and and adults who consented to participate in the sex acts of their own free will without any kind of coercion or any kind of forcing them to participate, then all is fine and nothing is wrong. Nothing. Consenting adults means just that. Thus there is nothing wrong with porn, nor with prostitution, nor with sex acts that appeal only to some and not others, as long as all are adults and choose freely of their own free will to participate, there is nothing wrong. This means that the bible is wrong to forbid any form of sexual activity, any laws which contridict this are wrong, anything that contridicts this is wrong. As long as they’re adults and they freely consent, all is okay.

  73. jt says

    also, the idea of “morality” is a non-issue. morality is fiction. morals are fiction. nothing about consenting adult sexual behaviour is ever wrong. nor is it ugly. all consenting adult sex is a part of the beauty of the human experience. anything outside of this is why adults need to never think of sex as shame and why they should teach their children that sex is just fine for adults, and that children will grow into it when they become adults.

  74. Narf says

    @79&80 – David Piercy
    Oh, and I meant to add something, but I never quite got around to it.  I think you’re probably leaving out a lot of important details, in thinking about what Darrel Ray said about sex addiction.  I haven’t read the articles you linked, and I’m not going to, because I don’t care.  But those have nothing to do with what I’m talking about, so they don’t matter.

    Dr. Ray is talking about sex addiction from a clinical, diagnostic perspective.  He isn’t saying that there’s no condition that someone, somewhere could call sex addiction.  He’s saying that the concept is diagnostically useless.  It doesn’t help him actually treat people, so for all practical purposes, it may as well not exist.  That’s an important distinction that I think you’re ignoring.

    There are plenty of side issues with what you’re saying, but that was the main one.  Psychology is not a hard science.  I’m sure there are plenty of articles published in serious psychology journals which most working psychologists consider to be wrongheaded and/or useless.  I don’t have the expertise to evaluate them, and given your drive-by treatment of the subject, I doubt you do either.

  75. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    I’m sure there are plenty of articles published in serious psychology journals which most working psychologists consider to be wrongheaded and/or useless.

    My understanding is that this is true for most fields. I’ve heard it said many times by professional academics that like 80% of peer reviewed published papers are bullshit for their fields.

  76. Narf says

    There’s that too, yes. It’s just that much worse in a soft-scientific field like psychology or sociology, I imagine.

    I’ve heard the addition, when speaking of published, scientific papers, “And how many times has it been cited in later works?  How useful did other scientists find it in their own research?”

    If someone wants to argue against what Darrel Ray says, then fine. Throwing out a few links to random papers, accompanied with the words “delusional nonsense of the crackpot guest” is not a good way to convince anyone that you have anything worthy to add, though.

  77. Bob says

    Guest is clearly more interested in selling books than keeping up with the actual research on this topic. Psychologists with a foundation in sociology are not usually credible experts on neuroscience and this guy proves that.

  78. Diego Caballero Orduna says

    If anyone comes here being absolutely surprised at the voice TAE gave to Dr. Darrell Ray’s nonsense, you’re not alone. His blatant lumping of sex / maturbation /porn into one amorphous concept is very illustrative of his biases. The neuroscience is in: porn addiction can be a real thing with tangible physiological consequences. Denying that is not only wrong but actually damaging, and I would have hoped TAE to be better about this.

  79. Narf says

    You’re aware that Darrel was dumbing things down and simplifying for a lay audience, right Diego and Bob?

    Sadly, Martin, I don’t think we’re going to get any kind of followup from these guys. I haven’t seen a single one that wasn’t a drive-by preach-and-run.

  80. says

    #79 did produce a link to a credible source, but it’s largely a commentary on why more research on pornography as an addiction needs to be done.

    With the increasing evidence that overeating can be an actual addiction as defined by measurable, verifiable changes in the limbic salience centers, our attention to this problem is appropriately increasing. Yet sexuality, with its moral ties, is handled much less objectively in scientific debate.

    We believe, however, with the preceding foundation it is time to begin serious discussions of sexual addiction and its components such as pornography.

    It’s a little hilarious at the end, because it attempts to compare modern (2010) pornography consumption to a 1854 outbreak of Cholera in London.

  81. Diego Caballero Orduna says

    Narf, Martin:

    Yes, I’m fully aware he was “dumbing things down”. Which is why I e-mailed the show about my concerns after I listened to the episode and I had a completely fruitless email conversation with Ray about his claims. I say fruitless because it lead us nowhere as he was uncapable of understanding any of my points. However, dumbing things down is no excuse to incur in blatant mischaracterizations of research, especially in a topic of this nature which has very severe health implications, especially for young men throughout the world. For the record Martin, I forwarded our full and unedited interactions back to the TEA cast for them to be aware of the conversation but I have not heard back from you guys.

    You mention research. Broadly speaking, the field has had 2 main focuses in the last few years, phenomenological and mechanistic. Both aspects indicate that there are strong correlations between massive online porn consumption and certain sexual development problems. There are a number of peer reviewed recent studies (both statistically significant surveys as well as neurological studies) which confirm this. To mention a couple:

    http://www.ansa.it/web/notizie/rubriche/english/2011/02/24/visualizza_new.html_1583160579.html

    http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0105476

    http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0102419

    http://archpsyc.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=1874574

    There are also others. Notice that this is very recent research – some of it only a couple months old – and in proper, peer reviewed journals.
    Furthermore, let me say that Ray’s claims are seeded with other mischaracertizations of sexual paraphilias. For instance, he constantly claims that the DSM does not provide definitions or ways to diagnose sexual paraphilias. This was partially true until the DSM IV, but it is not the case for DSM V: http://psychnews.psychiatryonline.org/doi/full/10.1176%2Fappi.pn.2013.5a19 . There are other similar instances in his discouse – both on the show and elsewhere – that indicate that Ray is either not up-to-date on his literature or has significant biases in his thinking which weaken some of his points tremendously.

    Before your response let me clarify a couple things: I am NOT religious in any way shape or form and I also don’t believe that there is such thing as sex or masturbation addiction. HOWEVER, to blatantly claim that there is no such thing as porn addiction (defined as a compulsive behaviour which has adverse consequences) without a proper verification of the claim or giving appropriate voice to the rational opponents of such a claim speaks poorly of the TAE and their self-professed mission of skepticism promotion.
    By the way, this comes from a long-term fan who loves the show, so I mean this in the most constructive possible way.
    Best,
    Diego

  82. Narf says

    Cool, good to know, Jasper. I didn’t even bother checking out the links, since the guy who posted them didn’t seem to understand the context in which all of Darrel’s statements were applicable. Thanks for the info.

  83. says

    I don’t doubt the correlation between excessive porn consumption and wrecking your sexual performance. What I’m not as sure I accept just yet is the notion that porn and sex addiction are things, in the way that other addictions are (drugs and alcohol). Still, thanks for the links.

  84. Diego Caballero Orduna says

    Hi Martin:
    Thanks for the response. I agree with you that there probably isn’t such thing as sex addiction – it is probably a brain circuit that is deeply engrained in our psyche and it’s most likely very very hard to mess with in a damaging way through conscious actions. However, porn addiction is a whole different can of worms for a number of reasons.

    I appreciate the tone of your message, but I can’t help but notice that you don’t really define “addiction”. If you accept as a premise that excessive porn consumption can wreck your sexual performance, you’re *almost* accepting that porn addiction is a thing in so far as an addiction is a “compulsory behaviour which can result in adverse consequences”(according to the Mount Sinai Neurology department, via Wikipedia). I’m not sure I understand what you mean by stating that drugs or alcohol addictions are things in a different sense.

    If I may ask – what are your thoughts on TAE’s voicing Ray’s opinion’s without at least a reference of the fact that there are many neurologists, sexologists, and urologists (many with stronger qualifications than his) that disagree with his claims about porn addiction? Once again, I am NOT talking about sex or masturbation addiction. Ray seems incapable of making this distinction.

    Thanks.

  85. says

    Well, I suppose by addiction, I’m thinking of something going beyond just being a compulsive behavior and getting into the realm of uncontrollable dependency. Who knows, maybe there’s not really a distinction there. Someone who would actually indulge in porn so frequently that they’re doing it even when they aren’t feeling especially horny, for whom masturbating to porn is such an uncontrollable urge that it affects their ability to maintain a job, friendships, or other relationships. Heck, maybe that’s really a thing. I admit I lack the psychological expertise.

  86. rationalemind says

    Don’t be fooled by Darrel Ray. His views about sex and porn addiction do not represent those of mainstream psychology. The reasons why sexual addiction is not in the DSM-5 are varied and less about religion as Darrel would lead you to believe. The reasons have more to do with insufficient research and validity of diagnostic criteria. The sexual addiction field is working diligently to conduct the research and meet DSM criteria for legitimizing the problem of compulsive sexual behavior. The problem itself is real as many thousands of clients around the country can attest to. Compulsive sexual behaviors destroy relationships and marriages, lead to job loss, financial difficulties, legal problems, and more. Darrell claiming that compulsive sexual behavior is simply self-medicating a depressive disorder is his own denial that sexual addiction is a real problem. Whatever his “pet peeve” about this problem is, he is wrong to claim that it is a myth. What you don’t know about Darrel Ray is that he has posted semi-nude photos of himself in some of his educational videos. He is also into polyamorism which is far outside the norm of sexual behavior in this culture.