Open thread for episode #934: Russell and Don


Don talks about the blatant conflicts of interest that Christians have between pleasing their god or being a public servant, a member of our society, or a loving family member.

Comments

  1. thebookofdave says

    This episode’s YouTube video and other media files sure got posted quickly. My compliments to the studio crew. I hope you are able to turn this into a trend.

  2. Joe E Dangerously says

    Since this has come up a few times I thought I’d clear something up for some of us who don’t seem to understand it. Apologies for the long post but there are a few things to say here.

    I am a strong atheist, antitheist, or whatever you want to call it. In any case, I do not consider myself agnostic. I don’t think I need to prove there’s no god any more than I need to prove Harry Potter isn’t real. Just reason it out. This notion is not based on any aspect of reality. It’s just a myth. I think it’s entirely reasonable to say that. There’s no reason even to consider it a possibility. And the notion that everything should be considered a possibility is absurd because then you need to consider every idea anyone has ever had as potentially valid. None of us do that and I don’t care if you say you do. You don’t. It’s also not “just as misguided as gnostic theism.” Because there you’re saying that a god being real is just as valid a conclusion as not being real. And I hope we can all see the extremely obvious flaws there. I’m interested in reality and what is and is not reasonable to believe. It’s not closed minded, it’s not dogmatic, and it’s not arrogant. What is closed minded is refusing to reason things out and giving appropriate weight to that which merits it and not to that which doesn’t. If you do that you’re closing yourself off to that aspect of logic. You’re just stopping before you hit the destination and closing your eyes so you don’t see what’s in front of you. THAT is what is closed minded. And what’s arrogant is using vague philosophy that has no practical appplication in reality to portray yourself as someone who has some higher form of thinking that is above the rest of us like some sort of modern-day Renaissance man. (or woman, I suppose.) You’re not. You’re just arguing for absurd things. It’s pseudo-intellectual. We tend to be far too afraid of being labeled “dogmatic” or “closed minded.” We think we need to head off every possible criticism to maintain the higher ground. We don’t. The only reason we’re not arguing over whether or not, say, mystical alchemy exists is because no one believes it anymore and we understand it was an absurd thing people used to believe. One day gods will be the same. I see no reason to delay that because enough people still subscribe to this particular mythology. It’s entirely reasonable to say “No, there are no gods. I know that because it’s an absurd notion the same as Harry Potter and Peter Pan, which also claims to be a true account.” I see no reason to try to guard myself from absurd criticisms from silly people. I know their ideas are silly and absurd so there’s no reason to treat them as anything else. If I’m somehow wrong I’ll admit that if and when I have a reason to do so. But as of now I’m convinced that won’t happen. I think I have good enough reasons to convince me I’m right.

  3. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    @Joe E Dangerously
    Largely agreed. Fully agreed as long as you can explicitly state “I am willing to change to my mind on this matter if you present me sufficient evidence to the contrary”. Ideally, if you can also state “And this is a specific concrete example of hypothetical evidence which would change my mind.”

  4. corwyn says

    @2 Joe E.

    And the notion that everything should be considered a possibility is absurd because then you need to consider every idea anyone has ever had as potentially valid. None of us do that and I don’t care if you say you do. You don’t.

    Why should I take you any more seriously when you claim to know what *I* do (despite protestations to the contrary) than when theists do the same thing? The arrogance is astounding.

    If you claim that Unicorns exist (as portrayed in the stories), I *DO* calculate the confidence I hold in that claim. I look at all the evidence I hold for and against that claim and come up with a (very rough) confidence level. It doesn’t pass. In fact that is the *only* way of disbelieving a claim. Neurologists tell me that in order to fully parse and understand a claim like that, my brain has to accept that it is true, only then can I examine it, and decide that it is false.

    How else would I know that the claim not worth considering, if I don’t consider it?

    I claim fleigwarts (a name I invented) exist. Do you believe it or not? How did you arrive at that conclusion?

  5. Fair Witness says

    @ Joe E. Dangerously

    I totally get where you are coming from, but personally I do not shun the label of antitheist out of some fear of being labeled close-minded. I shun it simply out of a desire to be intellectually honest in admitting that I have not examined every square millimeter of the multiverse to make sure there is not a entity powerful enough to call a god hiding somewhere. My sense of pragmatism tells me to not take on that huge of a burden of proof.

  6. Patrick67 says

    I remember Don briefly mentioning the Kim Davis fiasco going on in Rowan County, KY. I live in a different state but I am within broadcasting distance of Louisville television and I constantly hear ever little item happening. I just finished reading an article about her most recent appeal of her contempt conviction. There were several comments left on the article and I found this one very interesting. I have no idea who to attribute this to but at the bottom of this limerick I saw affixed the initials mb.

    Weaponized Faith

    There once was a woman named Kim,
    Hellbent on him not marrying him,
    Though her faith was her choice,
    She said only her voice
    Should decide for all, what was God’s whim.

  7. Will L says

    I enjoyed the last caller’s comment about our responsibilities toward computerized intelligences, and I would like to add Nick Bostrom’s Superintelligence to the reading list. Bostrom does a great job of explaining that we shouldn’t immediately anthropomorphize nonhuman general intelligences and that intelligence doesn’t necessarily accompany sentience or qualia.

  8. corwyn says

    @5:

    Why not? It is pretty easy to get from a completely ambivalent view on a god to a confidence level in their existence below that of (say) hard solipsism, or hallucination. If the god being claimed arose from the dead, you can assign a likelihood of that of 1:100,000,000,000. Add a few more of the claimed attributes, and you can easily get to a confidence level too low for anyone to take seriously. Feel free to adjust that be any evidence the claimant cares to provide, it has never been near enough, in my experience.

    You can easily be as sure of this lack of existence of any proposed interacting god, as you are of anything else you take for granted in your daily life.

  9. frankgturner says

    I could almost guess from Joe’s comments that EL would agree and corwyn and I would not. I guess this as in my experience that when something is implied by a statement (sometimes rater heavily) that it has, in a manner of speaking, been explicitly stated in accordance with EL’s view. (Nothing personal EL, that’s just what I get from you, generally speaking).
    .
    I am more of the mind that I do consider everything no matter how absurd, a possibility. I don’t agree with the idea that because I am considering them possible that they are probable. Like corwyn says (in so many words) I don’t give many absurd things enough weight to really take them seriously. Once could claim that (to use a common phrase in engineering) that “for all intents and purposes” that I am not considering them possible. If considering something as having a high enough possibility to be taken seriously is how you define “potentially valid,” then Joe’s statement makes sense.
    .
    One of the things that I have picked up from having watched many episodes of the show though is that words have meaning by consensus. Despite majority opinion or majority consensus, you can’t force everyone to mean the exact same thing by each and every words that they use. Scientific fields, biology in particular, make efforts to normalize and maintain a certain degree of uniformity in communication, but even that fails to some degree.
    .
    In my personal experience, being a “theist” means in accordance with many theists that I have known that you are absolutely certain beyond a shadow of a reasonable doubt that there is a god. That is not how I define it, but that is how many theists that i have known seem to define it (what the atheist community seems to define as a “gnostic theist”). Being an agnostic means that you don’t know, but you accept by default that there either is (an “agnostic theist,” what I realize that I once was, though I went through periods of being more and less confident) vs. accepting by default that there is not (an “agnostic atheist”). Some would in the atheist community argue that if you are agnostic then this makes you an atheist, and to some degree this seems reasonable to me.
    .
    What I have found by talking to many a theist is that some seem to be of the mind that it is a dichotomy, which I believe is false. You are either certain in the belief of a god or certain that there is not and nothing in between (and many will speak in terms of absolute certainty that there is or absolute certainty that there is not). So in THEIR mind the term “atheist” means “anti-theist.” I have also met a great number who have not thought about it but some will go with that definition. I disagree with that definition, but I can’t force my way of understanding it on others.
    .
    As such, I CALL myself an “agnostic” among theists because among them that is basically atheism and I don’t CALL myself an “atheist” among them because among them, that is anti-theism.
    .
    Regarding Joe’s position it is a matter of what your default position is based on what is implied (if I had my way I would try to make sure that there was no implicit communication at all ever, only explicit communication). I give an example, “rhinoceruses once had wings.” In the absence of a disclaimer which explicitly states that this BS, once could make the claim that I am either making a claim of absolute certainty, that I know beyond a shadow of a reasonable doubt that this is true, that I am lying and I know that it is false, that I am giving this serious consideration, maybe it is a metaphor, etc. I didn’t say that I am absolutely certain, I don’t have any evidence to support this. The confidence level is too low for me to really take such a statement seriously and i don’t consider it probable, but I do consider it possible (albeit so unlikely as i might as well say that it isn’t).
    .
    Many a theist (the fundamentalists in particular) is unaware of the idea of a disclaimer (there are several throughout scripture for people who have studied Hebrew and Aramaic). Others seem to be unaware of the idea of speaking metaphorically. (Do I really have to put a disclaimer in front of the story of the “Tortoise and the Hare” for a halfway intelligent person to know that it is not meant literally?). I have pointed out to them that disclaimers and even the opposite do exist. So if god was so certain that he wanted us to take scripture (particularly Genesis) as factually correct, why isn’t there something in scripture saying that explicitly? Yes i consider it possible, with a likelihood of being so incredibly small that if proof were found of it that made it even remotely probable I would be VERY surprised.
    .
    Despite being an atheist EL here has often given me the impression that what he thinks is implied is meant explicitly or is at least treated as thought it was stated explicitly and I am getting the impression that Joe thinks that way too. EL has even talked about the, “possible thus probable” fallacy. I agree that “possible and thus probable” IS a fallacy, but just because i say that I think something is possible does NOT mean that I think it is likely enough to be given serious consideration. FYI, my mother thinks that way and so do a LOT of young earth creationists that I have met. (My mother is not a young earth or old earth creationist, just Catholic). The old and young Earth creationists that I have met who think this way consider the Old Testament to be evidence enough to consider it probable. I could be wrong though, maybe you don’t think that was is implied is meant or at least treated explicitly.

  10. favog says

    Russell, as far as the science fiction that deals with a creator’s responsibilities to their creation, let me add Theodore Sturgeon’s story “Microcosmic God”. It should also be noted that Douglas Adams reacted to Isaac Asimov’s Laws of Robotics as immoral in that they boiled down to a pernicious enforcement of slavery, inspiring the creation of Marvin the Paranoid Android. I myself have never read “Cyberiad”, and while you’ve kind of piqued my interest, I have to admit, my experience with Lem discourages me quite a bit. Can ya sell me on that?

  11. frankgturner says

    @ EL
    Just to point something out EL, despite my belief that you have a tendency to treat implications as though they were explicitly stated, I have seen you get better, particularly when you make an effort to make the implication into an explicit statement.

  12. corwyn says

    @8 Frank:

    being a “theist” means in accordance with many theists that I have known that you are absolutely certain beyond a shadow of a reasonable doubt that there is a god. That is not how I define it, but that is how many theists that i have known seem to define it

    Which is enough, by itself, to show that they aren’t rational. A person claiming that they are absolutely certain about something, is evidence that rational people should use to *reduce* their confidence in the proposition. Absolute certainty requires infinite evidence. The human mind is finite. Therefore absolute certainty is impossible for humans.

    Matt often makes this mistake when he says that belief is a dichotomy, you either believe or you don’t. Almost no one really thinks that way, in my experience. When a theist claims to ‘know that they know that they know’ they are trying to give belief a gradation. While rationalists will evaluate evidence and use Bayes to find the precise confidence, as near as possible. Putting a dividing line in there somewhere at which one jumps abruptly from disbelief to belief on the merest shred of evidence is silly.

  13. Monocle Smile says

    @EL
    The Disqus interface on the AronRa comment thread that you and Michael Deaton just bombed is lagging like crazy and freezing, so I’ll post here.
    I generally agree with Michael Deaton, at least in spirit. He gets one or two things wrong, and I appreciate your conduct in that thread, but I think he’s right in effect about axioms. You seem to be saying that all axioms are equal in all aspects. I disagree entirely. We may not form valid and sound arguments to justify axioms by definition, but they can be judged on their utility given our goals. And when you say that Christians are “correct” to point out that we have axioms too, I think you’re completely wrong…because all of my experience points to them not meaning what you think they’re meaning. They’re not referring to our actual axioms when they say this. They instead are talking about “everything coming from nothing with an explosion” or evolution or something else that isn’t axiomatic at all and is instead supported by evidence. Thus, I don’t really give a shit that you can bend semantics and use technicalities to pretend like they’re making a real point rather than throwing darts at random and managing to hit the board. I feel like you did this with MikeManea, too, and corwyn responded appropriately. I admire your knowledge of logic and I get what you’re trying to say, but I can’t agree.

    Furthermore, “god exists” as an axiom is entirely flaccid; it has zero utility and does not qualify as an axiom to begin with.

  14. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    @frank
    Sorry. I tried reading your two posts several times, and I’m not quite sure what you’re saying. If you want me to respond, please try to rephrase.

    @MS

    I think you’re completely wrong…because all of my experience points to them not meaning what you think they’re meaning. They’re not referring to our actual axioms when they say this. They instead are talking about “everything coming from nothing with an explosion” or evolution or something else that isn’t axiomatic at all and is instead supported by evidence.

    Sometimes yes. Perhaps often yes. Perhaps the majority of the times yes. However, I don’t think that’s an excuse for sloppy thinking nor sloppy argumentation.

    they can be judged on their utility given our goals.

    “When I take actions to achieve my goals in the future, I should choose those actions which are likely to achieve my goals”. That’s an axiom. That’s a foundational value for which no (non-circular) justification seems possible.

    “The future will be similar to the past – sufficiently similar to allow use of inductive reasoning, evidence, and science. This allows me to determine which actions are likely to achieve my goals.” That’s an axiom. That’s a naked assertion.

    Taken together, these two foundational axioms add up give a proper meaning of the word “utility”. You cannot measure the utility of some belief / method / whatever without holding these two values / axioms. Hell, I think you cannot even define the word “utility” without being in a context where these two values / axioms are given.

    You seem to be saying that all axioms are equal in all aspects.

    Yes and no. A while ago, I would have gave an equivocal “yes”. Now, I like Matt Dillahunty’s approach of a combination of foundationalism (e.g. presuppositionalism) and coherentism (e.g. circular reasoning) as the proper way to build a foundation for your epistemology. On this view, the axioms I have are mutually reinforcing, and if I tried to forcefully add the additional axiom “the Christian god exists”, it would not sit well. There would be tension between that axiom and the rest, which means I do not favor it according to the coherentism part of foundherentism.

    I think you make some fair points here, but the Michael guy in Aronra’s new blog is completely off the mark IMHO.

  15. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    The Disqus interface on the AronRa comment thread that you and Michael Deaton just bombed is lagging like crazy and freezing

    Firefox and noscript are your friend. I’m getting no problems.

    The part that Michael just doesn’t get is that science is built upon the foundation of induction, or largely equivalently science is built upon the uniformity principle, or largely equivalently science is built upon the principle of using the most parsimonious explanation. However you want to formalize it, the problem of induction is still there. It’s not something that you can solve by appealing to evidence IMAO.

    Are all axioms equal? I don’t know how I feel about that now. I’m not even sure what that means, and how I might answer it.

    Do I embrace certain axioms, and ridicule those who do not embrace my particular axiomatic framework and/or some equivalent framework? Hell yes.

  16. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    One last thing:

    Furthermore, “god exists” as an axiom is entirely flaccid; it has zero utility and does not qualify as an axiom to begin with.

    I’m pretty sure I don’t understand what you mean.

    Are you saying “god exists” has no utility because a generic god hypothesis has no testable predictions? Thus the axiom “the Christian god exists” would have utility?

    Are you saying “god exists” has no utility because it has testable predictions, and those testable predictions are wrong? A sort of “negative utility” aka one would be better off being in the “I don’t know” camp?

    It seems to me that I can conceive of a world where “this particular god exists with these particular X properties” would have great utility. I still think that in such a world, it would be improper to hold that as an axiom. Rather, that sort of thing should be discovered through the use of science, which is built upon induction / uniformity principle / parsimony. Even in the world where a god exists, I would still embrace the use of science, and any reliably knowledge about gods would come from the scientific enterprise.

  17. Monocle Smile says

    Taken together, these two foundational axioms add up give a proper meaning of the word “utility”. You cannot measure the utility of some belief / method / whatever without holding these two values / axioms. Hell, I think you cannot even define the word “utility” without being in a context where these two values / axioms are given

    Well, that kind of proves my point for me, right? What if someone rejected these axioms? Would anything mean anything? That’s what I’m talking about.
    But I also don’t agree that the second axiom is a “naked assertion” as long as we don’t attach absolute certainty to it. See, I only see the problem of induction as a real problem when talking about formal logic or absolute certainty. I find pointing to the scoreboard and noting the lack of alternatives sufficient to say that expressing probabilistic confidence in induction isn’t a “naked assertion.” I have reasons to hold that axiom. At one time, none of this was formalized, and we still experienced reality and learned things, right?

    Do I embrace certain axioms, and ridicule those who do not embrace my particular axiomatic framework and/or some equivalent framework? Hell yes

    Why? Isn’t their axiomatic framework just as good as yours? Or is there something in particular about yours that you think makes it superior?

    It seems to me that I can conceive of a world where “this particular god exists with these particular X properties” would have great utility. I still think that in such a world, it would be improper to hold that as an axiom. Rather, that sort of thing should be discovered through the use of science, which is built upon induction / uniformity principle / parsimony. Even in the world where a god exists, I would still embrace the use of science, and any reliably knowledge about gods would come from the scientific enterprise

    And again, I agree, and I think this links to my point.

  18. Monocle Smile says

    I only threw in the last bit because I’ve literally come across theists who say that they hold “god exists” as an axiom and thus don’t need to justify it at all or even discuss it. I continue to be impressed with the caliber of theists you encounter, since about 99% of the theists I encounter wouldn’t even understand half of the words we’re using, let alone what we’re discussing.

  19. Kilgore Trout says

    This show was almost technically perfect. It’s amazing and delightful how much better you’re able to do in your own studio as opposed to the public access studio. Everything is so much better. The moderation and pacing by the hosts was also good. I feel that is just as important an improvement as the technical part. After all you have now accomplished, I now hope you never go back to public access.

  20. frankgturner says

    @ EL
    No need to respond. It is more of a comment at Joe’s post. I would need a good example to explain what I am talking about with regards to why I thought that you would agree with him. It really comes down to how he defines the phrase “potentially valid.”
    .
    @ corwyn
    Many a theist does not seem to comprehend the principle that in order to have absolute certainty you would need to know everything. So understanding rationalism isn’t really their forte. I have known others who do not see belief (or much of anything) as occurring in degrees.

  21. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    But I also don’t agree that the second axiom is a “naked assertion” as long as we don’t attach absolute certainty to it. See, I only see the problem of induction as a real problem when talking about formal logic or absolute certainty. I find pointing to the scoreboard and noting the lack of alternatives sufficient to say that expressing probabilistic confidence in induction isn’t a “naked assertion.” I have reasons to hold that axiom. At one time, none of this was formalized, and we still experienced reality and learned things, right?

    There is a discussion about how people think. This is descriptive discussion. It’s a discussion with right and wrong answers that science can clearly answer. There is also a discussion about how people should think. This second discussion is where philosophy of science and epistemology are relevant. It may be that people think wrongly; pointing to how people actually think in a discussion about how people should think – that is a fallacious appeal to nature.

    I do not understand how or why you think that that my critique relies on absolute certainty. My critique seems to also apply to anyone who has any degree of positive confidence, any degree of actual acceptance, of the principle of induction (or some equivalent principle). If you point at a scoreboard about events in the past and use that to argue that the trend will continue in the future, that’s using the principle of induction. You don’t need absolute certainty to make this argument. You can make this scoreboard argument with some mere non-absolute certainty as well. Finally, if you want to use a scoreboard to justify the use of another scoreboard, then that’s still a circular argument. You’re still using induction to justify induction. Again, I’m not saying that right now in a pejorative sense. I’m not saying that in a negative sense. I do the same thing. I do partially justify induction with induction. That’s the coherentism part of foundherentism. I don’t think it’s bad. I’m just saying what it is in the best neutral language that I know of.

    Do I embrace certain axioms, and ridicule those who do not embrace my particular axiomatic framework and/or some equivalent framework? Hell yes

    Why? Isn’t their axiomatic framework just as good as yours? Or is there something in particular about yours that you think makes it superior?

    It is possible to move me slightly on my foundations. That’s a result of holding to foundherentism. It’s possible to nudge me slightly. It has happened thanks to discussions like this one.

    However, if someone says that they hold that the Christian god exists as part of their epistemological foundation, then I will say that my foundation is better than their foundation. Someone might ask me “why?”, just like you did here. I have several options for my response. If the other person have enough shared foundational values and beliefs, then it might be possible to nudge them in the right direction, just like other people have nudged me. However, for someone like Sye Ten Bruggencate, I don’t think I have any useful response besides “because I say so”, or “because your position is ridiculous when evaluated by my standards, by my epistemology”. In other words, I don’t have an answer. However, I don’t need an answer. That’s the IMHO crucial key thing to realize. There is no answer to questions like this, and you shouldn’t bother trying to think one up. How can I say that? Because that’s a result of my foundational values and beliefs.

    To put it simply and bluntly – if someone is so far away from my foundational values and my beliefs, I have but one thing to say to them: I am going to try to make the world into a better place. If you stand in my way, then I am willing to use violence against you in situations where it would be advantageous in order to make the world into a better place for all of us, including you and me. This is simply not open to negotiation, and I flatly refuse to negotiate on this matter. It should be noted that I am open to discussion regarding particular factual matters that I might be mistaken about, and I am open to discussion on the finer points of what constitutes “better” in this sense. But again, I am not open to discussion about the general principle that I am willing to use violence in situations where it would be advantageous in order to make the world into a better place for everyone.

  22. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    PS: Of course, “rule of law” and similar things are crucial towards making the world into a better place, and thus the use of violence that I will advocate for in order to make the world into a better place – that violence will almost always be constrained within the rule of law.

    But if you’re a county clerk, and if you refuse a court order to issue marriage certificates to gay people who want to get married, then I am totally on board with fining or jailing your ass, just like what’s being done now. (Jailing someone is a form of violence IMHO.)

  23. Russell Glasser says

    Thanks so much, Kilgore Trout! It’s nice to get good feedback after a difficult transition.

  24. corwyn says

    @21 EL:

    I have several options for my response. If the other person have enough shared foundational values and beliefs, then it might be possible to nudge them in the right direction, just like other people have nudged me. However, for someone like Sye Ten Bruggencate, I don’t think I have any useful response besides “because I say so”, or “because your position is ridiculous when evaluated by my standards, by my epistemology”. In other words, sI don’t have an answer.

    One method you might use to accomplish this (and I haven’t done the math, so this is just an idea) is to show that your axioms would discover the truth of the existence of a god, should one exist, while also not discovering that ‘truth’ if it does not exist. Meanwhile, Sye’s axiom of a god’s existence will only discover the truth of the universes in which a god does exist. In that circumstance, your axioms would be superior to Sye’s.

    This is one criteria that mathematicians use when determining their axioms.

  25. Mas says

    So, Russell’s handling of the kid from Denmark’s discussion of the mass Muslim immigration issue: he got visibly uncomfortable, ended the call, then made a flippant remark that it’s “disappointing” that “many” secularists are not excited about importing large numbers of displaced Muslims from tribal/theocratic societies. The visibility of dishonest nutjobs like Pam Gellar and Robert Spencer has the understandable effect of making well-meaning liberals (I count myself one) assume that the problems Sweden and Britain are already facing are exaggerated if not fictitious.
    The Islamic world has long been an openly admitted blind spot on the show, but none of the hosts have so far shown much initiative to learn more about it either textually or anthropologically. Just calling it disappointing to be wary of mass migration seems like a feel-good reflex rather than an informed position.

  26. Monocle Smile says

    @Mas
    I hear this crap about Muslims from elitist Europeans all the time. If there were actual evidence that the immigration you reference was demonstrably harmful and it was because of the Muslims, then my position would change, but I haven’t seen a shred.
    Also, I still don’t get this whole “blind spot” nonsense. The show is almost exclusively targeted towards a US audience and yet they’ve still dedicated entire shows to Islam and haven’t restrained criticism when the topic comes up.

  27. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    @Corwyn
    Yea, that sounds very much like what I would try. I don’t think any math is required. Not sure what you’re getting at there.

  28. Russell Glasser says

    “The Islamic world has long been an openly admitted blind spot on the show”

    Yeah? Openly admitted by whom? I think what we have instead is a portion of our audience that is super reactionary, and they get really ticked off when we don’t affirm their prejudices.

  29. corwyn says

    @27 EL:

    I have just assumed for the sake of argument that your axioms would differentiate between universes with gods and without. If I were going to make the actual claim, I would want to make sure that was in fact the case. That is a bit of logical algebra, and probability math.

  30. Monocle Smile says

    @EL
    I think corwyn’s getting at something. I agree with most of what you said; I just think there’s more to the story and we can in fact differentiate between different axiomatic frameworks.

  31. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    @Monocle Smile
    Taken straightforwardly, I fail to see how. Any sort of value judgment requires a preexisting standard, aka a preexisting set of values, aka a preexisting axiomatic framework. Whatever measure you use – whatever value you use – that is either derived, or it’s foundational.

    As I said before, if a hypothetical other person and myself have foundations that overlap partially but not completely, then it might be possible to make progress by using those shared values and beliefs to make an argument that the other person will find compelling. In this sense, I agree with you MS. However, with no shared foundation, there is no progress that can be made.

    As an aside, I think that I can demonstrate (with my scientific values and methods) that more or less basically every human already has a foundation with much in common with my foundation. We all want to avoid suffering. We all like doing things that work. We all believe to varying degrees of confidence and to varying exceptions that extrapolating based on the past is a reliable way to predict the future. That is enough of a shared foundation that one should be able to make some headway with more or less anyone IMHO.

  32. Monocle Smile says

    @EL
    Your aside clarifies things. Upon reflecting, I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that those who don’t adhere to the common foundation are all dead, thus my point might be moot.

    It’s also important to note that what people like Sye ten Bruggencate might affirm about their foundation may not line up with the actual state of affairs, and this is where I was going. Clearly they’re alive and communicating with other people, so they obviously don’t actually believe at least some of the garbage they spout.

  33. Guest 78964 says

    Sorry for being off topic. I’m trying to find more information on something from a previous show, but I can’t think of what it’s called. It has been mentioned by Matt D a few times.

    It’s basically when you argue for fairness based on not knowing your starting position in a particular system. Like how you could be born into a rich family or a poor one, etc.

    Blind something or other..?

    Thanks

  34. says

    Paul said it best: “For the kingdom of God is not a matter of talk but of power.” (1 Corinthians 4:20)

    Christians talk, witness, preach, evangelize, etc, etc, but at the end of the day, they’re after power over other people. Christianity is totalitarian to the core and we have two millennia of evidence to back that up. Whenever they achieve critical mass, Christians impose their beliefs. It’s baked into Christianity. More here:

    https://www.scribd.com/doc/269575794/Christianity-s-Critics-The-Romans-Meet-Jesus-by-Ro

  35. Monocle Smile says

    @Robert Connor
    This is exactly why one of my biggest theist pet peeves is when they say shit like “It’s not my job to convince you that god exists” or “why can’t we coexist?” Well, dumbass, read your book and learn your own damn theology and maybe you’ll learn something.

  36. says

    Agreed. Christians all read their Bibles selectively. It would appear, based on the “great commission” (Matthew 28:19), that it is their job to convert people. It’s also their job to sell all they have and give the money to the poor (Luke 18:22) and make eunuchs of themselves for the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 19:12), but I don’t see Creflo Dollar selling off his private jet or the Duggar boys ditching those nads anytime soon.

  37. favog says

    Well, yes, there is The Great Commission and such …. when they want to justify violating your personal space. When it isn’t working, though, they’ve got verses that say there’s nothing you can do or anyone else can do for you, it’s all up to the Holy Spirit to do it’s thing, and it will do so on God’s Mysterious Ways To Do List’s schedule.

  38. Gurgen says

    Never really registered before … but does US law still have a question of guilt when it comes to divorce?
    The guilt question doesn’t exist anymore in Belgian law. A couple want to get divorces? The state then goes, “sorry it didn’t work out, we’ll send you separate tax forms from now on, have a nice life. And no, we don’t care he fucked the babysitter.” (unless the babysitter was a minor, but that’s another story altogether)

  39. Elu Sive says

    I noticed in the new shows you are writing dates in the top corner as YYYY/M/D. I just wanted to say I think that is win for human civilization! It is not that I don’t respect the cultural background for people writing things different ways, but doing it this way prevents so many problems! That is if you write dates like that there is no way anyone can misunderstand them. It means you are not only rational when talking about beliefs but also about what is practical in an international community such as the one following your show. I bet this was insisted by some very dedicated soul in your team because of experience in managing data and/or programming… Please tell him/her he is a hero! I wish more people were thinking like that!

  40. BogStandardAtheist says

    Joe E Dangerously, i agree with what you’re saying although i think i was a more extreme atheist many years ago because i was raised a catholic. I don’t know if you have a similar background. There seems to be a pattern (understandably) that atheist after having a religious upbringing seem to be more angry and hell bent (pardon the pun) on destroying religion. I definitely was. I always noticed the hypocrisy my RE teachers were preaching (I’m from the UK). They were the most aggressive, immoral, unloving people i’ve ever met. It was always, “I’ll love and respect you, as long as you believe in the shit i do. If not, you’re going to suffer. But i love you”. WTF? When someone would say religion/god was a force for good, i would feel my blood boil and want to completely school the asshole saying it. I wouldn’t stop until they were in tears. I would throw fact after fact, after fact until they were on their knees begging for mercy. Then i’d do a Rocky on their ass and knock the fucker out. It felt good. Then i realised, religion gives ordinary people the excuse to do extraordinary evil and still feel they’ve done good. It was just brainwashing. I felt pity then compassion and asked myself, what the hell am i doing?

    Over the years i’ve learned a few things. The thought of calling myself an agnostic atheist meant i had doubt and i was 100% sure it was all bullshit and until there was 100% proof there was a god (which, no way there is), that’s where i stand. I still don’t believe in god, but i have let go of the anger and now i’m open to believing IF there’s proof. So maybe there is a god? Who cares anyway? He’s not worthy of my attention. There is no way that this god would be anything like the god described by any theist or in any book, but i’m open to looking at the facts and evidence (I wasn’t before). Maybe take pity on the people that say “god is love” because they have clearly been indoctrinated and know nothing about their bible. The US has a secular government. If you think about that, your founding fathers must have known how destructive religion is to separate it. They figured out religion has no grounding for a society that can live in harmony.

    So, i’m a proud Atheist. I’ll leave you to define what type i am.

  41. Colin says

    Just a suggestion. Since you guys left cable access, the show has lost it’s most interesting facet which was an atheist show geared towards a christian audience. It’s now veering dangerously into atheist circlejerk territory and that’s just not near as entertaining as a good debate. I have a suggestion.

    Take out ads on christian websites, christian forums, islam forums, judaism forums, creationism sites, advertise that it’s an atheist call in weekly show and that you’ve been on for however many years you’ve been on now (a lot). Basically make it as attractive as you can to spur debate short of a big red button that says “COME ARGUE WITH US”.

  42. says

    Does anyone happen to have a source for the Kim Davis being a Baptist before her latest conversion? I would really like to have that in my arsenal but I can’t seem to locate anything that backs up that she was Baptist before Apostolic. Thanks in advance.

  43. Monocle Smile says

    @Colin
    Really? They’re still getting a decent number of theist calls. I don’t think they’re planning on doing Skype or Google Hangout forever.

  44. Narf says

    @BCat70
    Well, they seem to have most of the blatant, show-disrupting bugs ironed out. I’m sure that implementing the details like that is next on the list.

  45. Narf says

    @40 – Gurgen

    Never really registered before … but does US law still have a question of guilt when it comes to divorce?

    Yup.  US marriage law has all sorts of factors that influence things like child custody and alimony payments.  I remember the case of a couple who split up, who were essentially non-theistic/non-religious.

    Once the divorce proceedings came up, the wife suddenly became all religious, because she knew the judge would favor her in child custody matters, against her honest, atheistic husband.  It was a great strategic move on her part, if dishonest and slimy as hell.

  46. says

    “No, there are no gods. I know that because it’s an absurd notion the same as Harry Potter and Peter Pan, which also claims to be a true account.”

    Harry Potter, Pete Pan, Bugs Bunny and Fred Flinstone all rest on the same fictitious ground as the one who said, “I am the way, the truth and the life…the light of the world, the son of man, the door, the good shepherd, christ, lord, god’s son, I am gentle and humble in heart, living water, etc.? That is wishful thinking, IMO. It is an example how I AM makes people uncomfortable. For, you see, if the argument were reversed, by trying to deny the reality of superman by comparing his actual existence to christ’s, that fails terribly. No one with an adult and healthy mind believes supe is real. Trying to draw such a conclusion that god is not by offering Potter’s and Pan’s claims to be “real” speaks of a kind of intellectual desperation that is fueled by an angry, hurting (desperate) human being.

  47. says

    Do you even read what you write to see if it’s the least bit coherent, urkidding? Or do you just put words together as they form in your head and trust to luck?