Comments

  1. says

    So its the “every cliche apologetic argument” episode.

    Even the name of the “fine tuning argument” begs the question. It’s assuming the conclusion. We can grant that the universe supports life, and if such-and-such constants are different, that’d no longer be the case.

    The next question is “why is it that way?” To even call it “finely tuned” is loading it up with implications.. an assertion that needs to be demonstrated, let alone that a god was the one tuning it.

    For all we know, there’s an infinite metaverse where each universe’s rules are randomized. Occasionally, one would randomly support life. Then again, I’m not asserting it, because we don’t have the data.

  2. willhorner says

    Thanks to the hosts for taking the time to talk to my daughter and I. Not sure yet if she feels a little more relieved , but it definitely gave us some useful ways to continue discussing Dying and she didn’t have any nightmares last night. You guys are great!

  3. Narf says

    Then again, I’m not asserting it, because we don’t have the data.

    You don’t really need to, when they don’t have any data either.  When someone else is wildly speculating, throwing shit against the wall to see what sticks, showing that there are other unsupported, speculative ideas demonstrates how worthless theirs is, without evidence to back it up.

    This is similar to the “Which god?” response.  When you don’t have any evidence that narrows the conclusion down to a single one of thousands of possibilities, it demonstrates how worthless your conclusion (really a presupposition) of the Christian god is.

  4. Martin Zeichner says

    I don’t think that it is quite correct to say, as Matt said, that redefining omnipotence as “maximally powerful” solved all of the problems associated with omnipotence. Aside from the idea that god’s power is subject to humans’ definition of its power (Was god’s power any different before and after this redefinition? Is this why, once upon a time, god was able to create a universe but now it can only appear on toast?), is not saying that god cannot perform impossible tasks at least an acknowledgement of a limitation of god’s power?

    And what about miracles? Are not miracles events that are impossible to explain by natural causes so they require supernatural, if not divine, explanation? Just where is the line between possible and impossible for humans or god drawn?

    Or is it only logical contradictions that are impossible for god? The square circle, the married bachelor, and the stone so heavy? Is a god that is constrained by the word play of logical contradictions really a god worth worshipping? After all, is logic a human invention or is it a discovery? If logic is an invention than how can god be constrained by a human invention? Is logic an example of an iron chariot? If logic is a discovery then is logic created by god or is god subject to logic? Is a proposition logical (sound and valid) because god decrees it to be logical or does god say it is logical because god has access to the same fundamental logical principals that humans do? Alternatively if god created logic and logical principals are what they are by necessity, is that also not a limitation of god’s power, that god could not have made it otherwise? This sounds like another Euthyphro type dilemma but one associated with logic instead of morality.

    It looks to me that by redefining omnipotence theist’s problems are just beginning.

    BTW, yes I am aware that Matt threw that bit of rhetoric out to in order to demonstrate the ignorance of that caller.

  5. Last Embryo Standing says

    @willhorner #2

    One thing that I have heard recommended, but that Jen and Matt did not mention, is to remind your daughter that she has something like 80 years to go before needing to worry about death (assuming she is healthy) . To kids, a year seems like forever, so this may assuage her fears somewhat.

    Something you might NOT want to do, is to compare death to going to sleep and never waking up, because then she might be afraid to go to sleep.

  6. corwyn says

    @4 Martin:

    I don’t think that it is quite correct to say, as Matt said, that redefining omnipotence as “maximally powerful” solved all of the problems associated with omnipotence.

    I don’t think that was what Matt said. I think he was saying that ‘maximally powerful’ is a way to get around the logical paradoxes that come from ‘all-powerful’. It doesn’t,, for example, get around the Euthyphro Dilemma. And quite frankly, I don’t think most Christians would want to use it for that.

    Are not miracles events that are impossible to explain by natural causes so they require supernatural, if not divine, explanation?

    No. But certainly that is what some believers would like us to think. First, ‘impossible to explain’ would need to be rephrased as ‘impossible to *ever* explain’, putting any claims of miracles off until the end of time. Second, even if something was ‘impossible to ever explain’, that is just an unexplained phenomenon, it doesn’t become supernatural or divine until you show that it is.

    The only thing that *requires* an explanation is some impatient human. Events don’t require explanation.

  7. Narf says

    @Martin Zeichner
    Personally, I consider the self-contradictory nature of omnipotence to be one of the most useless arguments an atheist/skeptic could make … not least because it isn’t going to sway any believers.  don’t even accept almost anything you could have to say on the subject.

    I don’t think that it is quite correct to say, as Matt said, that redefining omnipotence as “maximally powerful” solved all of the problems associated with omnipotence.

    I do. Allow me to demonstrate. Hell, half of the things in your comment don’t even require the shift to ‘maximally powerful’ to make them look silly.

    Is this why, once upon a time, god was able to create a universe but now it can only appear on toast?

    What does this have to do with god’s power?  He chooses to just appear on toast.  That says nothing about his ability to do more, if he wanted to.  The statement addresses his capricious nature, not his power.

    There are so many better angles you could take, with what you started to lay out here.  I think you’d do much better demonstrating that the character of Yahweh changes over the course of the Bible … that indeed, he isn’t  omnipotent in the Pentateuch and several books after that.  That characteristic got added on much later.

    … is not saying that god cannot perform impossible tasks at least an acknowledgement of a limitation of god’s power?

    Not really, no.  If a task is completely nonsensical, that isn’t the same sort of issue.  Such as:

    The square circle, the married bachelor, and the stone so heavy? Is a god that is constrained by the word play of logical contradictions really a god worth worshipping?

    The square circle and the married bachelor are definitional issues, not contradictions within reality.  Those are just word games.

    God can create a square.  Then, he can declare that the word ‘circle’ means what he just created.  Same deal with the marital status of the bachelor.  I can do that, too.  It would just be stupid of me to do so.

    The rock-so-big-he-can’t-lift-it issue is one of the things that Matt’s solution addresses.  I would address it another way.  I think that the concept of opposed omnipotence is stupid and incoherent.

    An omnipotent god can create a rock of any size, with no upper limit.  That same omnipotent god can then move that rock that he created.  The net result of an omnipotent being’s actions is unlimited.

    For another thing, physics indicates that an ant jumping up and down would have an impact on the movement of a planet, even if we can’t detect it with our best instruments.  The concept of an immovable object is nonsensical.

    After all, is logic a human invention or is it a discovery?

    Logic is a human invention that seems to describe reality.

    This sounds like another Euthyphro type dilemma but one associated with logic instead of morality.

    Except that it isn’t clear-cut, like Euthyphro, and it won’t be the slightest bit convincing to a believer.  Stick with Euthyphro, if you want something that will have any kind of impact, instead of annoying the person you’re trying to win over.

    It looks to me that by redefining omnipotence theist’s problems are just beginning.

    They aren’t really redefining anything, and Matt’s redefinition isn’t really a redefinition.  It’s just a correction of scope, into something more coherent.

  8. Narf says

    @corwyn

    The only thing that *requires* an explanation is some impatient human. Events don’t require explanation.

    “Okay, so you claim to know the explanation for that event.  How  do you know?  No, I don’t have a better explanation, but I have a better answer: ‘I don’t know.’”

  9. gshelley says

    It seemed as though the caller almost got it, but it just required a little too much adjusting of thought
    For the question “Can God create a rock so heavy that he can’t lift it?”, surely the answer for omnipotence would be “Yes, but he would be able to lift it”

  10. Narf says

    For the question “Can God create a rock so heavy that he can’t lift it?”, surely the answer for omnipotence would be “Yes, but he would be able to lift it”

    Funny, this just came up in the comment section of another episode post.

    An omnipotent god can create a rock of any size, without limit.  That god can then move that rock.  The concept of opposed omnipotences is incoherent.

    The net result of an omnipotent god’s actions is unlimited.  Simple.

  11. philhoenig says

    @jasper #1:

    Regarding the fine tuning argument, even if the parameters for a universe like ours were as ridiculously narrow as claimed, how can we rule out something like life – which we’d have to come up with some sort of definition for – in different ones? Say there’s another universe where the electric constant is 0.00…01% higher and the gravitational constant is 0.00…01% lower than ours. We might be able to say that in such a universe stars are impossible, and therefore there won’t be any elements heavier than hydrogen and so life as we know it couldn’t possibly exist, but can we say what would exist and be able to rule out some other form of “life” in that entire universe? After all, an outside observer looking at our universe would have to look very thoroughly to find any evidence of life in it.

    Taking another tack, someone once hypothesised that every black hole is another universe where the constants are very slightly changed. The consequence of this is that if you start with a seed universe that can create stars massive enough to create black holes, its daughter universes will create a varying number of blackholes, but it will be the ones with universal constants which lead to more blackholes that will have more daughter universes themselves, and amongst those the ones with universal constants which lead to even more blackholes that will have even more daughter universes, and so on. In effect, the ultimate blackhole-creating universe is being created in a process somewhat analogous to biological evolution. The idea’s probably not scientifically testable, but it is very, very cool.

  12. frankgturner says

    If the rock is big enough, like the size of the earth, it has its own gravity instead of being subject to earth’s gravity and does not need to be “lifted” or “moved” in any pragmatic sense. Of course it is subject to the gravitational forces of other large objects and may be in orbit around the sun or another star. And if large enough the star in orbit around the large rock, if not many stars and even a large universe. So the question becomes can God create a rock so large that the entire universe is subject to its enormous gravity such that nothing can be lifted, including God
    So can God create a rock so large that it has its own enormous gravity and that god is not strong enough to stand given said gravity…
    .
    I know it is deep thinking. What bothers me about some believers is the lack of deep thought and willingness to even consider things like this. Then again some atheists are like that too…

  13. Narf says

    @11 – philhoenig
    Far cooler than any mythology made up by a bunch of Bronze-age savages, yeah.

  14. says

    @10 Narf

    An omnipotent god can create a rock of any size, without limit. That god can then move that rock. The concept of opposed omnipotences is incoherent.

    This may have been covered in the other thread… but I read the question slightly different. What if the goal is to make a rock so heavy God couldn’t lift it? By what you’re saying, that’s something God couldn’t do, so he’s not omnipotent.

  15. corwyn says

    No one has ever shown me the math for the fine tuning argument. If we postulate 20 fundamental characteristics for a universe. and 1 part in a 1,000 sensitivity (i.e. different by 1/1000 is enough to change the nature of the universe). We would need to do the math for 20^1000 universes to determine *for each* whether it is capable of supporting life as we know it. It is not enough to say that a bit different on only one characteristic is enough to move the universe away from being able to support life, as some other characteristic being different may bring it back. No one has done this math. And without it, we can’t determine the probability of a universe being able to support life (as we know it).

    I think Matt didn’t get the phrasing quite right in his reply. If Stephen Hawking thinks the universe is fine-tuned, why doesn’t he agree with your contention that this proves god? He clearly knows more about it than you, since he did the math and you didn’t. If he thinks god is unnecessary, why don’t you agree? If he is part of a conspiracy, why would he make the fine-tuning argument at all. How would you even know about it?

  16. says

    The fine-tuning argument can be shot down with a single line (care of Douglas Adams):

    “Every puddle thinks that the hole was made just for it.”

  17. Narf says

    @15 – Jasper
    Then you’re proposing opposed omnipotences, which is incoherent, as I said.

  18. Narf says

    @16 – corwyn

    No one has ever shown me the math for the fine tuning argument.
    .
    .
    .
    No one has done this math.

    A few people have done things similar to Hoyle’s Fallacy.  Apologists will throw together all sorts of bullshit without having any clue what they’re doing, and I’ve seen a few try to do something for cosmology, like what Hoyle did for biology.  They don’t even know enough to say things like ”1 part in 1,000 sensitivity,“ as you did, because they’re making it up as they go.  You’ll never hear something like this from a physicist, though, because they know better.

  19. ironchops says

    Matching shirts……nice! Is that salmon?
    @ Caller 2, Jerry, It seems to me if you do not possess absolute knowledge then you are most likely Agnostic atheist or Agnostic theist. I do not possess such knowledge and I place myself in the agnostic Christian category but I will say I am working through it at this time.
    @ Caller 3, Josh, You gave us the dreaded shotgun blast of crappy arguments and non-comments. The omnipotent oxymoron. How can an omnipotent being (if one exists) make anything it can’t move/lift/destroy? It makes a rock, then moves it, then a bigger rock and moves it….on and on until infinity? Yeah rite!

  20. Martin Zeichner says

    As far as the fine tuned universe goes, I don’t see anything there that isn’t covered by Douglas Adams’ story of the puddle. We are the decendants of organisms that evolved to live in and exploit their environment, not having had an environment tailor made for them. If the details of the environment were different life would be different. Or nonexistent.

    Narf, I don’t disagree with anything that you wrote. My larger point, which I suppose that I should have made clearer, is that there is a pattern here. That pattern strongly resembles how authors of fanfic will perform verbal acrobatics to resolve what they perceive as contradictions in their canon of choice. So it seems to be with medieval (and modern) theologians dealing with the old and new testaments.

    I agree that omnipotence is a ridiculous concept however it is defined. However, the original concept has a sort of naive charm that gets lost when Aquinas tried to redefine it. The joke, sad as it is, is that religious leaders have rigged the game so that theists must declare their loyalty to these naive stories. But remember that most of these stories probably originated in an extremely ancient oral tradition that would have depended on the live interaction between the storyteller and the audience. A great deal of their original quality would have been lost in the translation to the written and then printed word.

    The larger point is that we should recognise bible stories for what they are; stories, created by humans with all of their humanity on display for all to see. Little different from the stories that we are exposed to every day. People create stories for all kinds of reasons, to make money, to impress their peers, or to otherwise serve an agenda. So it was also with the stories in the bible.

    BTW, I absolutely agree with your point about logic being a human invention. It’s just that I was condescendingly contradicted by some philosophical types on reddit on this point who claimed that logic is fundamental to the universe, implying that logic was a discovery, not an invention. In fact, my thinking has led me to consider that the inventions of our ancestors can seem like discoveries to subsequent generations who are not aware of how much hard work had to go into those inventions. This was a nascent thought that I had as a teenager when I ‘discovered’ the New York City subways. Similar to the way many children ‘discover’ reading the printed word.

    Also BTW, I should point out that I called the “…square circle, the married bachelor, and the stone so heavy…” word play in my original comment.

  21. Narf says

    Narf, I don’t disagree with anything that you wrote.

    Ever?

    I have a cult follower!  Woo hoo!  11 more, and I’m coming for you, Jesus!

  22. Narf says

    @20 – ironchops

    I do not possess such knowledge and I place myself in the agnostic Christian category but I will say I am working through it at this time.

    Yeah, that emotional baggage, brainwashed into you as a child, is a bitch to shake loose, isn’t it?  Christianity wouldn’t have lasted as long as it has, if it didn’t have some fantastic emotional hooks.

  23. Narf says

    @Martin

    It’s just that I was condescendingly contradicted by some philosophical types on reddit on this point who claimed that logic is fundamental to the universe, implying that logic was a discovery, not an invention. In fact, my thinking has led me to consider that the inventions of our ancestors can seem like discoveries to subsequent generations who are not aware of how much hard work had to go into those inventions.

    Yeah, what logic describes are characteristics of the universe, but expressing those characteristics in rules, figuring out the properly basic core … there was a hell of a lot of legwork that had to be done by ancient philosophers to figure that shit out.  Saying that something like that was just discovered seems like a bit of a linguistic failure, as well as a conceptual one.

  24. ironchops says

    @ 23-Narf
    I can agree with that plus I really like the sense of community that goes along with it as well. We do all manner of community work (which I find fun), most without even mentioning god or Jesus or anything religious. I guess we are waiting for the community to ask the rite questions before we bombard them with the religious stuff.
    I can say I see no evidence that any God really exist and have relegated God to a personification of sorts. I am starting to believe that most of the bible, and other religious texts, were written by men supposing that what they write is what god expects from them and everyone else for that matter.

  25. Narf says

    Check and see if there’s a local Sunday Assembly, in your area: https://sundayassembly.com/assemblies/.  I do camera work, for my local one.  If there isn’t one local to you, look up atheist groups on meetup.com and see if anyone has any kind of plans for starting one up.

  26. ironchops says

    Thanks Narf….I will check it out. I came out as atheist to my Sunday School class. Mixed reaction but no where as bad as I thought it would be. They are a mature bunch. They seem to understand the nature of my non belief and one of them all but agreed and nearly joined me. I’m sure the real reaction is yet to come so I will most likely need a new place to go.

  27. Narf says

    Yeah, depending upon your church, you could get a fairly moderate response.  Hell, I remember a poll, from a couple of years ago, of Americans’ actual  religious beliefs.

    I want to say something like 30% or 50% of religious people polled said that atheists would go to heaven, if they were good people … not that I want to go spend eternity with their psychopathic demon-god, but it’s an interesting thing to notice.  For most of them, their official doctrine and what their preachers say is diametrically opposed to what they actually believe, because they realize how immoral their doctrine is.  The preacher must just have that part a bit confused or something, I guess, since God is love and wouldn’t do that.

    I imagine that a huge number of people only stick with their religion for the social elements and fool themselves into thinking they believe because of the constant social pressure and mantras repeated by all of the believers around them.  That’s why, despite Johnpaul R’s whining about it, mockery is a very important thing, for shaking those people out of the emotional fetters that the church keeps them tangled in.

    Johnpaul might be a true believer, but I bet he’d be shocked to know the number of his fellow Catholics who don’t buy it.  I remember from my childhood and teenage years.  There are a lot of social-only and cultural-only Catholics, including a lot of the priests that I had … I’d say ‘special contact with’, as an altar boy, except that that would have all sorts of implications, in light of the revelations of the last couple of decades.  As far as I know, none of the priests I knew were child molesters.

    Any luck with finding an assembly in your area?  They’re obviously a bit more urban, in terms of location.  We have two, here in North Carolina.  My local group got a lot of help from the Charlotte one, which was already well established.

    UU churches are kind of a mixed bag, although they’re much more numerous.  Some of them are almost atheistic, while others are full of pagans and new-age woo peddlers … and yet others are almost Christian.

  28. TheGreatAtheisto says

    Daniel Moran in Texas ran for office openly as an atheist, and he also got thousands of votes.

  29. ironchops says

    @28-Narf
    I do believe the percentages you stated above are darn close to what I kind of figured just polling and trolling around my particular church. Sadly I have been to churches that are just damn near crazy!
    There is a Sunday congregation coming in late September that the web site you provided above list. I will see if that works out. There is no address as of yet.
    I have been to 2 groups I found through “meet-up.com”. One group was ok, but the second group seemed to just be a private club or a meet-up organization for gay people that called themselves atheist. They should be honest enough to say they are gay atheist to avoid straight people from coming out to visit. I was the only straight one there and they all pointed that out and ganged up on me with their opinions and presuppositions about my beliefs, none of which I share. I just didn’t fit in at all. I just walked out.

  30. Yaro says

    Josh’s entire call seemed to be an attempt to shift the burden of proof and trying unsuccessfully to bend logic and philosophy to make that make sense.

  31. Narf says

    @29 – ironchops

    I do believe the percentages you stated above are darn close to what I kind of figured just polling and trolling around my particular church. Sadly I have been to churches that are just damn near crazy!

    Oh, certainly.  Some of the Pentecostal churches I’ve been to positively reveled in the fact that everyone but them was going to hell to be tortured forever … not just unbelievers but other fake Christians who aren’t Pentecostal and don’t speak in tongues.  I’m sure that not every member was like that, but the leaders were, in some of the Pentecostal churches, and the overall tone of the places were.  It’s kind of sick.  Most of the more liberal denominations I’ve seen pay lip-service to the born-again, saved thing, but they really believe that their god simply sorts people for heaven and hell based upon how good they were in life.

    The more hateful you are, as a person, the more likely you are to enjoy the more vicious parts of your holy book.

    There is a Sunday congregation coming in late September that the web site you provided above list. I will see if that works out. There is no address as of yet.

    Nice. I saw that there are only 30-something in the US, but I know they’re ramping up like crazy to get them in more places, with exponential increases.

    I have been to 2 groups I found through “meet-up.com”. One group was ok, but the second group seemed to just be a private club or a meet-up organization for gay people that called themselves atheist. They should be honest enough to say they are gay atheist to avoid straight people from coming out to visit. I was the only straight one there and they all pointed that out and ganged up on me with their opinions and presuppositions about my beliefs, none of which I share. I just didn’t fit in at all. I just walked out.

    That’s … weird.  Which region of the country are you in, again?  Are gay people still horribly discriminated against, to the point that they’re punching back at nonexistent attacks, like that?  I’ve never seen anything like that, around here.

  32. Monocle Smile says

    @Yaro
    I would say that you’re being generous. Josh’s call was him being an immature dickhole and not much more.

  33. ironchops says

    @31-Narf
    “Which region of the country are you in”
    I live in the Hampton Roads area of Virginia peninsula. I work at Newport News shipbuilding and live in York County.
    That particular crowd may have that perception. All I know is that I was made to feel very uncomfortable. It could also be partly my own perception. I was uncomfortable even before they started in.

  34. Narf says

    Ohhhhhhhh.  Yeah, I can see how that area would be one of the target spots for starting up a new assembly.  Probably more progressive than Richmond.  Hell, I see Richmond doesn’t even have a marker of any color.

    I’m somewhat familiar with the area.  My brother was in Virginia Beach, when he had recruiting duty for a few years.  I was up there all the time, during that period.  Nowhere near as liberal/progressive as the western half of the Triangle, but not bad.

    Hmm, I was about to ask if Newport News was that stretch along 58, which smells like egg farts, but I see my placement was a little off.  I think that’s just some stuff around the turnoff for Newport News, where 58 and 258 split.  I guess that would be Franklin or something in that area, which I’m thinking of?

  35. ironchops says

    @34-Narf
    Yea…Franklin has a pulp mill there that stinks to high heaven. (I can say that rite). I mean, Stinks like egg farts. The funny thing is the website shows it in the middle of Hampton roads harbor. That’s where the USS Monitor and CSS Virginia (aka USS Merrimack) had their battle during the civil war. This is a rather historic area. Hampton is the longest continuously inhabited settlement. The Jamestown settlement, not too far from here was established in 1607, before the northern colony at Plymouth rock (Mayflower). The revolutionary war ended in 1781 at Yorktown, Va. The battle field is preserved as a big museum. Look me up if you ever make it out this way. Caution, I am a bit of a redneck, like to drink beer and live in a trailer.

  36. Narf says

    Yea…Franklin has a pulp mill there that stinks to high heaven. (I can say that rite). I mean, Stinks like egg farts.

    Yup, I remember seeing the plant, crossing that one decent-sized body of water.

    Hell, I use plenty of religious phrases, myself, since I was raised Catholic.  It’s almost all religious profanity, though.  For example, I have no problem saying ‘Jesus Christ’, despite how many nut-job preachers claim that we’re terrified of his name.  I just prefer to say his full  name … and I don’t mean just adding the middle initial, F.

    That’s where the USS Monitor and CSS Virginia (aka USS Merrimack) had their battle during the civil war.

    Hmm, maybe the local assembly organizers are going for a very exotic location?  Probably a bit high-dollar, though.  I think most groups get the cheapest venue they can find that meets the absolute necessities, since we don’t get to tell people that our god demands 10% of their income.

    Well, I guess we could  tell our congregants that, but they’d laugh at us.

    Caution, I am a bit of a redneck, like to drink beer and live in a trailer.

    Heh, no problems with trailers.  As long as it’s structurally sound, what you do with the inside is far more important.

    And it’s not like I have moral problems with beer, as long as I don’t have to drink the stuff.  On the rare occurrence that do drink, I generally stick with 4 ounce shots of 80+ proof liquor, because that’s the only way I can get enough alcohol into my system to get a decent buzz.  I have an insane tolerance to every drug I’ve ever tried.

    What you do is far more important than how you do it.  If you want a video game or board game session, I’m your man.  If you want to watch pro wrestling … not so much.

    I’ve mostly been to DC, lately, when I’ve been headed up that way, since my girlfriend’s company was based out of DC, up until this past December.  She switched off to a company that’s based in North Carolina, though, so we haven’t had as many out-of-state runs, lately.

  37. phil says

    @fgt #12

    If I’ve understood what you are trying to say then I think you’ve got the gravity stuff wrong.

    All masses have their own gravity, but since it is such a weak force we really usually only notice it when we are near enough to large objects (like the earth). I recall hearing about a gravity experiment that was so sensitive that its measurements were affected by a river in the vicinity.

    The earth doesn’t simply orbit the sun, the sun and the earth orbit the centre of gravity of the combined system, so the sun wobbles a bit because of the earth whizzing around it. Actually the sun is whizzing around the earth, although it doesn’t look like it, because the earth won’t sit still dammit! The sun is so much bigger than the earth that the earth’s impact on the sun is small, and the centre of gravity of the two is still inside the sun.

    Actually my hunch is that the sun, earth, and all the planets orbit a centre of gravity of the entire universe situated near (probably inside) the sun. Because of distance the gravitational effect of the rest of the universe is small compared to the sun, so it dominates the local region.

    As for God’s Big Rock, whether he could lift it could depend on what large masses are nearby. On the moon I can probably lift six times what I can on earth, but if I could survive being crisped I probably couldn’t stand up near the sun. I expect god (should he/she/it exist) could do better than that, but could god lift any rock out from inside the event horizon of a black hole?

  38. Matt Hayes says

    I proclaimed myself an Atheist in Junior High School, 7th or 8th grade. The foundation of my proclomation was seeded at a younger age with my public school elementary education. There was a significant event which occured in my college years that caused much doubt in my non-belief. Espisode AE #927 gave me more clarity and insight. “Why is it when a unexplained event occurs, why would I intially suspect supernatural reasons.” The universe indeed works in mysterious/unexplained ways. To suspect supernatural reasons without any evidence is the easy answer.

  39. Narf says

    “Why is it when a unexplained event occurs, why would I intially suspect supernatural reasons.”

    Because most of us, in this country, have been brainwashed into jumping to those sorts of conclusions, by our childhood indoctrination.  And theists believe this stuff soooooo desperately, because they need constant confirmation to prevent them from thinking too deeply into all of the inconsistencies.

    And yeah, I know you weren’t really asking.  😛

  40. Narf says

    @31 – Yaro

    Josh’s entire call seemed to be an attempt to shift the burden of proof and trying unsuccessfully to bend logic and philosophy to make that make sense.

    That’s one way you could look at it, yes, and that was just the start of his issues.  You could also look at it as a straw man argument, because of the exact way he was going about it.

    A straightforward shifting of the burden of proof would be something more like, “Well, if you want other people to reject the claim that my god exists, too, you need to provide evidence,” although you can still be one step removed from that, and it would still count.  I just feel it important to point out the straw man, as well … or at least the complete inability to comprehend basic acceptance and rejection of claims.  Almost every freaking time he spoke about atheists, he inserted some variation of, “You believe that a god doesn’t exist, so …”

    They must have corrected him at least a dozen times, but he kept coming back with the same bullshit, over and over and over and over.  If I had to guess, the guy probably doesn’t comprehend thing one about philosophy, even pop philosophy.

    I think he’s some guy who read a little William Lane Craig and a little Ray Comfort, and he’s out to go where the atheists are and expose them to the arguments of those prodigious thinkers.  He doesn’t seem to completely understand the arguments, though, which I guess is understandable, since Craig and Comfort don’t understand their own arguments, either.  After seeing Ray Comfort try to present the fine tuning argument, I want to just pat him on the head patronizingly, then send him to bed with no supper.

    Josh doesn’t seem to understand that the cosmological argument is not an argument for his god, because William Lane Craig doesn’t understand that, either.  And Josh didn’t explicitly state that Stephen Hawking is a theist, as Ray Comfort does, but I sort of got the sense that he was headed in that direction, if Matt hadn’t reigned him in.

    There were at least a dozen other little, crippling issues with his thought processes.  One that jumps out in my memory right now is that he thinks a philosophical argument is evidence of something.  If someone doesn’t even understand what counts as evidence, you need to take that person back for some remedial education, before you bother considering anything that he has to say about anything at all complex.  I suppose you could get some insight that accidentally slipped into the person’s arguments, at random, but you’d have to justify those insights on your own, since the person’s own logic is going to be complete shit.

  41. frankgturner says

    @ phil # 38
    The point of it was not the technicality of the correct physics. I am well aware that we all have gravity, albeit so small that we do not notice it and that the reason we notice the earth’s gravity is due to it being so large. There is an old principle about everyone in the country of China jumping at the same time…
    .
    What I was getting at is that when we make the comment about an omniscient being creating a rock so big that he could not lift it, we are thinking of a rock that is smaller than the size of the earth and the force at which the earth is pulling it towards itself. We tend not to expand our minds beyond the earth and thinking of something so large that we have to consider its gravity as well. If I am not mistaken, not only is the sun responding to the gravity of the earth and every other planet in our solar system, but to other stars in the local region, and those stars to other stars, etc.
    .
    Interesting idea about a rock so big that it cannot be moved from the event horizon of a black hole.
    .
    @Narf # 41
    I don’t think Ray Comfort understands the difference between his ass hole and a hole in the wall. I won’t deny that WLC is intelligent, albeit very misguided. They seem more like politicians most of the time (that is mostly WLC), feeding in to people’s desire for certainty and fear of uncertainty.

  42. Narf says

    I don’t think Ray Comfort understands the difference between his ass hole and a hole in the wall.

    The difference has something to do with the various sorts of glory holes, doesn’t it?  I wonder which is which, for Ray, although I don’t think I want a conclusive resolution of that quandary.

    I won’t deny that WLC is intelligent, albeit very misguided.

    He’s probably at least a bit above average, yes, although I doubt he’s Mensa material.  He just looks particularly intelligent, relative to the rest of the stupidity that is Christian apologetics.  I think his primary failure goes back to some sort of broken epistemology, based upon his favorite Martin Luther quote about the magisterial and ministerial uses of reason, although his dishonesty leads him further afield.  He’s mostly just a blowhard who refuses to break things down, all the way back, prior to his indoctrination-inspired presuppositions, and he doesn’t seem like someone particular open to self-examination.

  43. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    @frankgturner
    IMHO, such philosophy is dancing around a couple of related questions, such as:
    Can this god create a more powerful being?
    Can this god destroy itself?
    Can this god bind itself in binds which it cannot escape from?
    Is this god merely the strongest thing that currently happens to exist, or is it impossible in some sense for there to be anything stronger?

    IMHO, asking if it can make a rock it cannot lift is an attempt at getting at some of the questions I just posted.

  44. frankgturner says

    @ EL #44
    Yes, said philosophical principles certainly beg such questions. And it seems that many of us on here can and have considered such ideas with regard to a potential god as we seem to have more expansive minds whose minds and ideas go beyond limited regions of space and time. I have heard it said that many individuals have a hard time considering such questions as their thinking of time is limited to grandpa’s memory (paraphrasing AronRa here) and their thinking of space is limited to places that they have been which may only be a 40 mile radius of where they were born.

  45. Joe E Dangerously says

    I don’t know how many people will see this but since it’s the last show with Jen and the most recent show doesn’t appear to have a thread yet I thought I’d leave it here. I’ll update it on the 929 thread if and when it goes up. But I think we should tweet Jen our condolences for her family member’s illness. I think she should know we’re keeping her in our thoughts and are there to support her and her family. It does make a difference sometimes when you know people are thinking of you and wish you well. I hope you’ll all join me in tweeting her our support.

  46. Narf says

    There are a lot of regulars on here, who will see it. I can’t do anything about that, myself, since I don’t use Twitter.

  47. Ties Marjviest says

    Wow. That call with Will was so awesome and one of the most ’emotional’ I have seen with TAE. Big ups to Jen and Matt for their articualtion and integrity displayed. Thaoughts for Jen’s brother in law/relative. Cheers and thank you, guys.

  48. frankstein says

    You know, I recognize and agree with all the points that Jen and Matt made concerning all the defunct laws addressing theistic requirements currently on the books in some states. I understand completely that none of them are an actual issue in any legal or enforced sense. I get that.
    However (gird your loins, here it comes),
    I still disagree with their position that the fact that these old laws are still “on the books” has no significance.
    While I’m not particularly “angered” or “frustrated” about any of these old “relics” still in the text of the laws in the official records, I do think it’s a good idea to “clean up” after a given amount of time regardless of what old law we are talking about. I think it’s a good idea to remove old laws that have been superseded by newer laws or legal precedents regardless of what they are or who or what they originally addressed. This is just a matter of efficiency and reduction of any possible ambiguity that some less enlightened people might get hung up on.
    I think we can even still keep records on old laws that have been removed as a matter of historical record keeping in some other record system so even historical concerns are immaterial.
    For me, it’s just a matter of keeping our laws “tidy”. Basically, if there’s no reason for a law to remain when it, by definition, serves no legal function and has become a bit of textual detritus, then to ignore it as it still sits in the official set of laws that DO still have legal significance.
    In the end, for me, it’s simply about good record keeping practices.

  49. frankstein says

    Oops. Forgot to complete that sentence in my post:
    “…Basically, if there’s no reason for a law to remain when it, by definition, serves no legal function and has become a bit of textual detritus, then to ignore it as it still sits in the official set of laws that DO still have legal significance, I think, is not good record keeping”.
    Wish there was a way to edit your posts for a limited amount of time after posting just so mistakes like mine could be fixed without the need to post again.
    Oh well…

  50. Narf says

    I still disagree with their position that the fact that these old laws are still “on the books” has no significance.
    While I’m not particularly “angered” or “frustrated” about any of these old “relics” still in the text of the laws in the official records, I do think it’s a good idea to “clean up” after a given amount of time regardless of what old law we are talking about. I think it’s a good idea to remove old laws that have been superseded by newer laws or legal precedents regardless of what they are or who or what they originally addressed. This is just a matter of efficiency and reduction of any possible ambiguity that some less enlightened people might get hung up on.
    I think we can even still keep records on old laws that have been removed as a matter of historical record keeping in some other record system so even historical concerns are immaterial.
    For me, it’s just a matter of keeping our laws “tidy”. Basically, if there’s no reason for a law to remain when it, by definition, serves no legal function and has become a bit of textual detritus, then to ignore it as it still sits in the official set of laws that DO still have legal significance, I think, is not good record keeping.

    The core problem with what you’re saying is that that isn’t the way the system works.  Laws might be removed from the official compilation of active laws and archived, but almost all of the bans on atheists serving in office are in state constitutions.  Just like with the federal constitution (the 18th amendment is still in there, for example, despite being nullified), state constitutions never have anything redacted.  The amendments just keep piling up.  Considering that most states only require a 50% +1 majority, rather than a 2/3rds majority, in order to amend the constitution, most state constitutions must be a complete cluster-fuck, by now.

    The additional amendment to change the constitution back to the way it was (although many, possibly most or all, of the unconstitutional religious-requirements were written into the core documents) will only serve the same function as what the federal court rulings already do.  It just isn’t worth the time and money.  Plus, almost all of those states with that verbiage in their constitution had to be forced by the federal courts for a reason.  It’s just not happening, since neither the state legislatures nor the popular vote will ever pass an amendment to add in the constitutional language.

    When you have an activity that is neither necessary nor possible to accomplish … why bother?

  51. Taylor says

    Love the show…even though it hurts a little sometimes, ya know, me being a believer and all. Much to say, but no time to say it. Drive on Matt! I admire your thinking.