Open thread for episode #936: Don and John


Open thread for September 20th’s show. John graciously substituted for Martin at the last minute.

Comments

  1. Narf says

    Cool. I’ll try to actually listen to it tomorrow, so I’ll have a position on what was said, during the early part of the conversation.  I’ve developed a bad habit of listening to them in the latter half of the week, often the following weekend.

  2. Carroll says

    I watch on youtube and the volume always seems to be very low. thanks for the content though and i hope things work out in the new situation.

  3. Hippycow says

    I think theists have given up on defending the faiths and have retreated to their respective echo chambers.

    When was the last time a true believer called in to set these godless heathens straight on the One True Path? I can’t even remember. Where are the Mormons, Jehovah’s witnesses, Muslims, Evangelicals, etc.? Have they thrown in the towel?

  4. sopmepoposdowork says

    Another video that can’t be heard. I tried to watch for 5 minutes but nothing improved. Will try again next week…

  5. Narf says

    @Hippycow
    Well, part of the problem with them constructing a real argument is that they aren’t trained to deal with real atheists.  Have you read many Christian apologetics books?

    Almost every single apologetics book that is supposedly teaching potential evangelists starts out by relentlessly straw-manning every opposing position.  If someone identifies as an atheist, it means that they’re absolutely certain that no god (although they tend to capitalize the g) exists, which is an impossible position to justify, since you would need to know every bit of knowledge in the universe.

    If someone identifies as an agnostic, then they aren’t sure, so … here’s Pascal’s Wager!!!

    Oh, and anyone who isn’t a Christian isn’t rejecting Christ for logical reasons, as they claim.  We really know that their god exists (because the Bible says so), and we’re suppressing the truth in our unrighteousness, because we don’t want to be held accountable for our sin.  How can you possibly have a respectful conversation with someone, when you start with that bullshit and head downhill from there?

  6. Sjjk says

    I’m sure you’re doing a teriffic job in setting up a studio basically from scratch, but could you do something about the low sound volume of the published videos? I have a hard time following the conversation, not for the first time. Still, love your shows.
    (I hope Martin’s OK?)

  7. ironchops says

    @6 & 8
    “Where are the Mormons, Jehovah’s witnesses, Muslims, Evangelicals, etc.? Have they thrown in the towel?”
    Nope! They just are keeping to themselves and voting, much to your chagrin. They will just believe in spite of the argument/evidence so why should they bother any more than atheist would bother to go to church. Besides, this is not a website to learn, just get beat-downs.

  8. Narf says

    @all of the people commenting about low volume
    Thanks for the heads up.  I’m sure someone on the team has noticed it and is hopefully doing something about it, by now.  But, in the mean time, if you’d like to hear what was actually going on, you can pull up the podcast.  I listened to it on Stitcher, myself.

    You can download the .mp3 of it at http://www.atheist-experience.com/archive/AtheistExp-2015-09-20.mp3, while they’re working on the audio of the YouTube version.  Just right-click on that link and select “Save link as…” or whatever the equivalent option is, in your browser.

  9. Narf says

    Speaking of audio, though, I’m sure most of you guys are with me on this point?  They had a lot of glitches to start out, but once they got that sorted, the call quality of the Skype calls … holy crap, these are so much better.  The quality is crystal clear, compared to over half of the calls to the public-access studio.  You don’t have anyone making calls from dodgy cell phones, and you always have full duplex, since it’s Skype, so you don’t have the problem of people not being able to hear the hosts, because the caller was talking at the same time.

    This is definitely superior, once their tech team gets all/most of the bugs knocked out of the system.

  10. Bugmaster says

    @Narf #8:

    Have you read many Christian apologetics books?

    Actually, I have not ! Is there some body of literature that is considered to be the standard for Christian apologetics ? It might be interesting to check out one day.

    FWIW, I’ve read some of C.S.Lewis’s non-fiction (as well as the vastly more entertaining Screwtape Letters), and I think he does a good job (though, obviously, not good enough or else I’d be a Christian) of being an apologist. He comes off as someone who is honestly trying to build up a logical argument, as well as engage with the arguments from the other side.

  11. Hippycow says

    @Narf #14: Yeah, I agree. Now if we could only get the humans to respect full duplex. I think it was last week a couple callers kept rambling long after they made some point or asked a question and missed the response in several instances. I guess that is a psychological effect of being on air, because it seems like a common thing on news interviews. Maybe people get afraid that there will be some dead air.

    A common example of this phenomenon is the NPR show “To The Point” where they usually have experts in different fields. They invariably pontificate at great length on a simple question, wondering hither and yon and won’t shut their yap until they are interrupted by the host. This isn’t just the political people either, though they are certainly masters of that “craft.”

  12. favog says

    As I understand it, the Jehovah’s Witnesses actually are not supposed to be voting, it’s against the religion.

    Bugmaster, Steve Shives does a youtube series called a “An Athiest Reads …” various Christian apologetic books, and comments on them. He’s still an atheist, so unsurprisingly the comments aren’t flattering to the authors. He does give Lewis credit for being a good writer, but in terms of content he finds them all to be sadly empty anything like a good point. I pretty much agree, and I’m sure you would too. So if you want to generally know how apologetic books come off, imagine an illiterate C. S. Lewis.

  13. walter says

    @Narf #13 I am not a fan of talking heads and listen to the podcast (I happen to use Podcast Addict or Beyond Pod on my Android phone). No sound problems.

    @#14 I agree that the sound is already better, and will probably be even better when the volunteers figure out how to queue up multiple callers. The limitation is bandwidth for the callers, assuming the library has decent bandwidth itself.

  14. Narf says

    @15 – Bugmaster

    Actually, I have not ! Is there some body of literature that is considered to be the standard for Christian apologetics ? It might be interesting to check out one day.

    Uhhhhhh, hmm.  I dunno; there’s such a wide variety … so many shades of dishonesty, with some very common themes.

    If you want a less painful way to get a feel for the stuff, I always recommend someone like Steve Shives: https://www.youtube.com/user/stevelikes2curse.  He goes through the books, chapter by chapter, and picks apart what he finds.  If you scroll down his page a bit, there’s a row that includes every single book that he’s covered, nicely sorted into playlists.  It’s the fourth row down.  You’ll have to hit the arrow on the right side of the row a couple of times, to get to the first book that he critiqued. They’re arranged in chronological order, from right to left.

    I always read along, but that’s far from necessary.  Going through an apologetics book without the accompanying snark is so fucking painful.  Up until the last few years, every time I tried to get through an apologetics book, I was ready to toss the book by chapter 2, as they had already exposed their inherent dishonesty, shitty standards of evidence, and fucked up logic.

    FWIW, I’ve read some of C.S.Lewis’s non-fiction (as well as the vastly more entertaining Screwtape Letters), and I think he does a good job (though, obviously, not good enough or else I’d be a Christian) of being an apologist. He comes off as someone who is honestly trying to build up a logical argument, as well as engage with the arguments from the other side.

    I agree with you on Lewis’s honesty, at least relative to every freaking other apologist I’ve ever read.  He’s a much better writer than most, too.

    I’ve read The Screwtape Letters, as well.  Entertaining read.

    Sadly, one of the words you used is very accurate: “… honestly trying to build up a logical argument …”  Trying is the operative word there.  The guy absolutely sucked at philosophy, as well as reason in general.  Mere Christianity is one of the best-written apologetics books that I’ve encountered, while at the same time being the most vapid and logically flawed … which is saying something, since I’ve read William Lane Craig.

  15. Narf says

    @17 – Hippycow

    @Narf #14: Yeah, I agree. Now if we could only get the humans to respect full duplex. I think it was last week a couple callers kept rambling long after they made some point or asked a question and missed the response in several instances. I guess that is a psychological effect of being on air, because it seems like a common thing on news interviews. Maybe people get afraid that there will be some dead air.

    I dunno, maybe there’s Skype lag or something?

    I mean I doubt it, but I’m trying to pull any bullshit excuse I can come up with, out of my ass, and I’m not coming up with much.  Hmm, when did I eat that?  😕

    I’m actually the exact opposite, on Skype or any other electronic communication.  Since I have no visual cues to work with, I pause the moment I hear something that might be a syllable, on the other side.

  16. Narf says

    @20 – walter
    Yeah, the big issue is upload bandwidth.  If you don’t have business class, your connection is usuallyvery asynchronous. For Time-Warner basic residential, around here, you get 30 mbits/sec down, 1 mbit/sec up. For basic business class, you get 15 mbits/sec down, 5 mbits/sec up. If they’re on residential service there, they’re going to have some issues.

    Austin should have Google Fiber by now, but it’s rolling out in different areas of the city at different times.  The greater the demand in a given neighborhood, the higher priority that area is given.  It’s taking Google forever to get to my neighborhood, which is annoying the hell out of me.  I want my damned gigabit/sec, both up and down.

  17. says

    re caller alec’s workplace prosyletizer (@ 57:40):

    “he said he couldn’t stop sharing the faith”

    i haven’t been given an opportunity to test this response in the field and i haven’t heard anyone use anything like it, but i’d like to see if this gives theists any pause:

    yes, you can stop. god gave you free will, right? and he gave you a brain too. so you’re not some kind of robot, right? you can shut up about your faith anytime you want to. you can use the same judgment god supposedly gave you, the same way you use it when you shut up about it in a movie theater or a lecture.”

  18. Bugmaster says

    @Narf #21:

    the guy absolutely sucked at philosophy, as well as reason in general. Mere Christianity is one of the best-written apologetics books that I’ve encountered, while at the same time being the most vapid and logically flawed

    I wouldn’t go that far. For example, one of my favorite passages in the Screwtape Letters deals with mental biases, and how to avoid them (of course, Screwtape, being a demon, wants to trick humans into succumbing to them, but you get the idea). Lewis says something to the extent of, “Don’t just adopt ideas because they’re ‘modern’, or ‘progressive’, or whatever. These are all pointless labels that amount to little more than advertising. Instead, examine the ideas themselves, and see if there’s any evidence to support them”. This is pretty useful advice… of course, Lewis himself kind of forgets to follow it, but still, stuff like this is miles ahead of just shouting “John 3:15 !”, which is what most modern apologists do all the time.

  19. favog says

    Narf, I live in Portland, Oregon and we were supposed to get Google Fiber like a year ago and so far nothing. At least you can see it on the horizon, so I’m actually envying you there.

    Also gonna side with you on Lewis sucking at philosophy. Sure, as you say, Bugmaster, he does try it where as a lot of others don’t even make the attempt. It doesn’t make Lewis’s attempt any less pathetic. For years I heard that “Mere Christianity” was this Totally Amazing Defense of Christianity, that if I would just read that I’d be able to reconcile my intellect with their faith. Then one day I heard the trilemma again, and there was a stray comment that it came from “Mere Christianity”. All that did was convince me that the book must be a complete waste of time, if that argument is the best they’ve got in there.

  20. Robert, not Bob says

    @Aarrgghh #25:
    If he passes up opportunities to Spread the Word, he’ll have to answer to Jesus for it. (I was actually taught Jesus would hold people responsible for every bit of time they had on Earth-I was being criticized for reading science fiction).

  21. Narf says

    @Bugmaster
    Well, sure, he has a few basic, good ideas down, and he made a few good points in The Screwtape Letters, with the broad strokes.  But take a read through Mere Christianity, in which he tries to make more formal, logical arguments.  The whole thing is a mess of invalid argument construction, false premises, and logical fallacies, even worse than William Lane Craig’s books and essays.  The guy was out of his depth the moment he tried to move beyond preschool philosophy.

  22. Narf says

    @favog
    Yeah, I saw you guys on the list, too.  At least things are actually moving, here in the Triangle: https://fiber.google.com/cities/raleighdurham/?feeditemid&targetid=kwd-19159276462&loc_physical_ms=9009748&loc_interest_ms=1021278&adpos=1t1&matchtype=b&network=g&device=c&gclid=CNiQov3RjsgCFYQYHwodxvEFNA&gclsrc=aw.ds

    That’s probably why Portland got pushed back. It’s taking them longer than they planned, I think, to get the construction done in the first few cities.  Raleigh/Durham/Chapel Hill just got pushed higher up the list, because it’s a major tech hub, probably second behind Silicon Valley.

  23. says

    @ robert #28:

    if spreading the word’s a 24/7/365 job, then he needs to explain why he isn’t living on some streetcorner with a sandwich board and a megaphone.

    and if he’s not making it a full-time job, then he’s obviously exercising some of his god-given discretion and doesn’t really need to make everyone one of his projects.

  24. Lotta Joy says

    Could Matt please explain to the other hosts that not all “arguments” need to be treated equally? Idiots should NOT be allowed a full rant and could easily be cut short with an answer instead of the mundane conversation that sounds way too polite to be taken to the full time period.

  25. ironchops says

    I wonder what the all of the atheists will blog about or do when the it comes to pass that you have convinced all of the theist and religious people to quit believing in their (most likely non-existing) gods? How bored will you get?

  26. says

    @ ironchops

    well, there’s deepak chopra for starters. i have no doubt that even if god is definitively disproven for all the world to see, deepity and his ilk will simply apply a fresh coat of cosmic quantum lipstick to their invisible pig. and i’d say that the rest of the world will stubbornly graduate from theism to deism, with a grateful sigh from the “sophisticated” apologists.

  27. Narf says

    @ironchops
    I think they’ll mostly just kind of be lying there, doing nothing. Decomposition should be long done with, after a few hundred years, right?

  28. corwyn says

    @33:

    You seem to have a fundamental misunderstanding about why atheists are vocal etc. It is because of theists, and the need to save the world from their apocalyptic visions and hateful rhetoric. Once the world is safe, and there are no more theists, ‘atheists’ won’t even be a word. And the former atheists will rejoice in the increase in their free time.

  29. Bugmaster says

    @Narf #29:

    But take a read through Mere Christianity, in which he tries to make more formal, logical arguments. The whole thing is a mess of invalid argument construction, false premises, and logical fallacies, even worse than William Lane Craig’s books and essays.

    Again, I wouldn’t go that far. Yes, Mere Christianity is full of logical errors (or else I’d be a Christian), but I’ve got give Lewis mad props for at least trying. He strikes me as a man who honestly worked as hard as he could to apply reason to his life, but, in the end, could not escape his conditioning (and the zeitgeist of his day). William Lane Craig strikes me as a man who worked as hard as he can to collect as many followers (as well as their money, presumably) as possible, regardless of any personal beliefs that he may or may not have (other than the belief, “always look out for #1”).

  30. Narf says

    @Bugmaster
    I already said that I give him points for honesty above every other apologist that I’ve encountered.  It’s just that, when his greatest contribution to Christian apologetics is a naked false trilemma, I can’t express how little respect I have for his philosophical acumen.

    I don’t quite get the financial motivation hit off of WLC.  I think he’s just desperate to be respected and influential, and one of the metrics by which he measures that is book sales.  Yes, that enriches him a good bit as well, but I don’t think that’s the reason he publishes so many books.

  31. Monocle Smile says

    @ironchops
    Still trolling? Fine, I’ll bite.
    We’re (mostly) not Captain Hook. We have other facets of our lives. I would absolutely love to spend more time and effort in those than stressing out about the impact of religion on the world.

  32. ironchops says

    @ aarrgghh 34: I suppose your rite. After you get past the fundamentalist and young earth creationist (total bullshit) there are the new age apologist that are trying desperately to re-interpret the biblical scriptures into some sort of modern theology. Modernize I guess you would call it. Bring it into the “New Age”. I see that in some sects of Judaism and Christianity. I have even tried that myself to no avail. There is that lipstick you are referring to I guess.
    @ Narf 35: That includes everyone rite? Atheist and Theist and Deist alike. All.
    @ corwyn 36: I actually do understand completely. I have seen those street evangelist go at it and think to myself how full of shit they sound. It makes me ashamed to call myself a Christian. Well when I did. Funny that I still attend church huh. I guess I might “come out atheist” after my momma passes.
    @ Monocle Smile: Yea, I guess. I am not as smart as all you seem to be. I have nothing really wise or important to say. Between you, corwyn, Narf and EL I must seem like a complete dult. I build ships and have no spent a lot of time on this. I am 54 and just figuring this all out. Should I just not post comments up here?

  33. Narf says

    I wonder what the all of the atheists will blog about or do when the it comes to pass that you have convinced all of the theist and religious people to quit believing in their (most likely non-existing) gods? How bored will you get?

    I think they’ll mostly just kind of be lying there, doing nothing. Decomposition should be long done with, after a few hundred years, right?

    That includes everyone rite? Atheist and Theist and Deist alike. All.

    That seems to be the most probable case, yes.

    To add to my initial response to your question, though, I would find plenty of other stuff to bicker about, if everyone suddenly woke up, 20 years from now, and realized that all of this religion stuff is crap.  There’s still politics.  I’m a major politics junkie, as well.  Then, there’s all of the other stuff that skeptics work to counter, which is not based upon religion.

    I guess I might “come out atheist” after my momma passes.

    That’s a perfectly valid reason to stay in the closet to your family and others, if it would only cause emotional trauma and family infighting when someone only has something like a year left, or whatever.  There’s a reason that atheists don’t try to do deathbed conversions, unless the atheist is a REAL asshole.

    @ Monocle Smile: Yea, I guess. I am not as smart as all you seem to be. I have nothing really wise or important to say. Between you, corwyn, Narf and EL I must seem like a complete dult. I build ships and have no spent a lot of time on this. I am 54 and just figuring this all out. Should I just not post comments up here?

    Eh, I think MS’s statement about trolling is a bit on the harsh side, but that’s just the guy we know and love.  He tends to be a bit ballistic.

    As for the smart, wise, and important bits … in which I’m detecting just a weeeee bit of sarcasm 😀 …

    To what degree you might have been at all serious in that, it’s mostly just accumulated knowledge.  I’ve been submerging myself in this stuff for the past 7 or 8 years, and I was an atheist long before that … something like 30 or 31 years, now (I’m 39).  Just hang around longer and keep absorbing stuff, and you’ll get up to speed.

    There’s only so much to learn on the subject, really. The theists haven’t come up with much for the past few centuries, except perhaps for Lewis’s false trilemma: lunatic, liar, or lord.  Everything we’ve seen lately, from William Lane Craig or from others, is just a very slight tweaking of something far older.

    For that matter, Craig’s favorite sawhorse, the Kalam Cosmological Argument, was swiped from Muslims who lived around 1,000 years ago.  That’s why the name sounds so exotic to us.  Craig’s argument is inferior to that of the ancient Muslims, in my opinion, being just a very slightly tweaked version of the common cosmological argument that we see from others, which has the blatant special pleading which makes it so laughable.  Kalam doesn’t escape the special pleading; it just hides it slightly better.

  34. Monocle Smile says

    @Narf
    Eh, I like to think that I generally give as good as I get. Ironchops’ question about boredom wasn’t asked in good faith, so I treated it as such. My patience with this kind of crap is at an all-time low, and while I’ve gotten better about choosing my battles, I’m still mostly on the Jeff Dee side of things.

  35. corwyn says

    @37 Narf:

    Not to worry, I don’t envision that we will be rid of all the irrational harmful beliefs that will benefit from your skewering.

  36. ironchops says

    No sarcasm. I am the blue collar type and pretty much a straight shooter. I am not very highly educated (AAS in engineering) and you guys are/seem to be at a much higher intellectual level than I. Hell, I don’t even understand half of the shit you guys are talking about. Because of this blog I have looked up more words and learned more stuff about evolution and human origins and religion. My mind is open and I am listening! I’m just on a steep learning curve compared to most of the people posting up here.

    @ MS: Sorry MS, They are serious questions and I have a need to connect/relate. You are not a mind reader and you could be mistaken. So you treated my serious question as if it were crap? How does that help me learn? Faith (good or bad)? I lost my faith to reason and hope to never go back. I am working on it. Just trying to lighten things up a bit. Hoped we could have a good conversation so I can learn. I seriously wish/pray that all of the stress you have over religion would end soon.

  37. Bugmaster says

    @ironchops:
    The phrase “in good faith” doesn’t refer to religious faith, but rather means something like, “the person uttering this statement was 100% honest, and free of ulterior motives (such as trolling)”. Many Christians who argue with atheists tend to be trolls, which is why people like MS are on a hair trigger: as soon as they perceive something that could be interpreted as trolling, they go nuts. I say “they”, but really, we’re all human, we all act like that sometimes, myself included.

    That said, there seem to be (at least) two schools of thought about trolling, hair triggers, and how to deal with one’s ideological opposition in general.

    One school believes that we are engaged in a war of ideologies, and the stakes are quite high — possibly as high as our own existence. Because of this, we cannot afford to forego any tactics available to us; after all, our enemies will do no such thing. All is fair in love and war, including trolling, shouting people down, bullying, doxxing, etc.; it’s victory or death.

    The other school believes that at least some of our present social problems are symptoms of the larger issue: a lack of mutual respect and a lack of rational thinking in general. Thus, while we may in fact be involved in an ideological war, using scorched-earth tactics is counterproductive, since doing so hurts the very values we strive to protect. This faction tends to give a lot more benefit of the doubt to one’s ideological opponents, treating them as honest (if confused) debate partners until proven otherwise.

    Naturally, the descriptions above are caricatures, life is rarely black and white like that. Still, AFAICT, there are many more people out there today — on all sides — who lean more toward the “total war” faction, so you can expect to encounter more of them in the future. This is not something you can change, so my advice would be to simply take it as given and move past it.

  38. Narf says

    No sarcasm. I am the blue collar type and pretty much a straight shooter. I am not very highly educated (AAS in engineering) and you guys are/seem to be at a much higher intellectual level than I. Hell, I don’t even understand half of the shit you guys are talking about. Because of this blog I have looked up more words and learned more stuff about evolution and human origins and religion. My mind is open and I am listening! I’m just on a steep learning curve compared to most of the people posting up here.

    I’m generally on the same level, in terms of my formal schooling.  My degree is in network engineering.  All of my philosophical background, most of my skill at writing, and pretty much everything I apply to this debate is extracurricular.

    It’s kind of funny, because my girlfriend, with a bachelors degree in English, always comes to me for issues of spelling and grammar, if she doesn’t have a computer nearby.  Well, one of her two majors was English; blanking on the other major and her minor.  One of the two was Spanish, but I can’t remember which.

    Of course her masters is in Information Science, so she doesn’t exactly make regular use of the English specialization.

    I won’t get into matters of IQ, since I don’t put much stock in it, but I tend to absorb new things fairly quickly.

  39. Robert, not Bob says

    In many areas, trolling is counter-productive, since it runs into Poe’s Law. How many conspiracy theories started as some skeptic’s joke? (Actually, I have no frigging clue, but it’s easy to see how that could happen.) What point is there in multiplying the nonsense?

    As for calling troll, I think many people are much too quick to do it, again, Poe is involved. People really can, and often do, think and say the silliest things in all seriousness and honesty. To illustrate, I’ve had to explain to lots of people that Ben Carson (almost certainly) believes what he says, because as an ex-Seventh-Day Adventist, I know what nonsense he’d have grown up immersed in.

  40. Narf says

    @Bugmaster

    … who lean more toward the “total war” faction …

    Eh, they haven’t been nearly as good since Medieval II.

  41. Narf says

    To illustrate, I’ve had to explain to lots of people that Ben Carson (almost certainly) believes what he says, because as an ex-Seventh-Day Adventist, I know what nonsense he’d have grown up immersed in.

    Eh, except for the medical stuff.  With some of the stuff he’s been forced to say about immunization/autism … as a doctor, he freaking knows better, and you can see the conflict on his face, when he says it up on stage, in the debates.

  42. Monocle Smile says

    @Several
    I’d like to note that I’m not referring to ironchops as a troll, but that he has engaged in trolling behavior in this thread. I find that there’s important distinctions here.

  43. Narf says

    @Bugmaster
    That one was decent, too.  I just appreciate the major improvements in the combat mechanics, between the two.

    Medieval II was written with machines 3 or 4 times as powerful in mind, so the individual unit A.I. is a lot better.  Plus the addition of actual landscape in the battle-layer is nice, since Rome just had broad, featureless plains.  The later games also had major improvements at the combat layer, but the logistical layer of the game dropped off a great deal in later games, in my opinion.

    Oh, plus, in Medieval II, every civilization is viable.  Rome annoyed me rather badly, in that some of the cooler civilizations couldn’t do shit with a city of more than 12,000 people, because they had no higher level buildings. You were so screwed, late game, if you were playing one of those.

    You meant Rome 1, not Rome 2, right?

  44. Bugmaster says

    @Narf #54:
    Yeah, I haven’t played Rome 2 actually. You are totally right about some of the other civilizations being useless. I also felt like Greek Phalanxes were way too OP… though, to be fair, this may be historically accurate.

  45. Narf says

    @Bugmaster
    Oh good lord, no.  Phalanxes are very powerful if you jam a couple in choke points, in city streets, when someone is invading your city. They’re powerful against infantry or cavalry, if you can control which side the enemy has to attack you on. Get the buggers into the open though, and they crumple like tissue paper, when you run some cavalry into their flank … or better yet, their rear.

    Plus, phalanxes are very, very slow, when in spear-wall formation. Stick a couple units of archers a little ways away from them, and the phalanx will get demolished, even if they’re jammed down city streets.

    Phalanxes also can’t do shit against ranged units in skirmish mode. The phalanxes have to raise their spears to gain enough speed to close with the missile units, but as soon as they lower their spears to attack, the missile units are out of range in a heartbeat.

    The problem with the Greek units is that phalanxes are the ONLY infantry that they have. Plus, their ranged units suck a bit … not as bad as the Carthaginians, but the Greeks don’t have the Carthaginian’s awesome cavalry. Elephants are so much freaking fun, particularly once you get the armored ones with the archers up on their backs in that little basket thing.

    The Greeks and Carthaginians are decent, but they have nothing on the Romans or Egyptians, for all-around great units. Romans are slightly weak on cavalry, while Egyptians are a little weak on infantry, until higher tech levels.

  46. Narf says

    Terrifying to think that this skwills guy could become a psychiatrist, huh EL?  “People always lie, so you have to tell them what they believe and why they’re really doing what they do.

    … and now this inability to answer a simple, straightforward question.  Christ, I feel so sorry for any future patients he might have.

  47. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    @Narf
    I still hope he’s lying about being a credentialed (practicing) psychologist. However, I have heard that the bible belt is a shithole, so I wouldn’t be surprised.

    I’m a little surprised that he’s denying so vigorously that any of the half-dozen statements of faith I provided mean what they say they mean – specifically that the statements of faith are advertisements that they will deny any and all arguments against the bible no matter what evidence is brought, without seeing the evidence. That’s what “the bible is the supreme and final authority” means. How it’s even open to discussion is beyond me. I don’t think he’s lying or a troll. I just think he’s a loon – in a totally vulgar and non-medical way. Probably just your run of the mill deluded and in-denial religious person. On the bright side, I’m feeling pretty happy, because I declare victory to myself whenever I reduce an opponent to stating outright absurdities, like 2 + 2 = 5, and I think I have succeed with this person when they deny the meaning of the statements of faith.

    PS: If anyone is wondering what we’re talking about, there has been a clusterfuck of a conversation with this one person on Aronra’s new blog. Link:
    http://www.patheos.com/blogs/reasonadvocates/2015/08/29/religious-faith-is-belief-without-evidence/

  48. Narf says

    I still hope he’s lying about being a credentialed (practicing) psychologist. However, I have heard that the bible belt is a shithole, so I wouldn’t be surprised.

    The last I heard was that he was a PhD candidate in school.  When I suggested that he get the Dragon speech-to-text software, and that he could even write it off as a business expense since he’s in the medical field, he coughed up that bit of information.  I thought that I had read previously that he was a practicing psychologist/psychiatrist, but I’m not certain of that … and looking up the information long afterwards is a pain in the ass, on Disqus.

    I dunno, I hope he’s lying.  That’s what I tell myself to help me sleep at night.

    And didn’t he say something about being in the northeast?  I thought he was somewhere in the New England area.

    I’m a little surprised that he’s denying so vigorously that any of the half-dozen statements of faith I provided mean what they say they mean – specifically that the statements of faith are advertisements that they will deny any and all arguments against the bible no matter what evidence is brought, without seeing the evidence. That’s what “the bible is the supreme and final authority” means. How it’s even open to discussion is beyond me. I don’t think he’s lying or a troll. I just think he’s a loon – in a totally vulgar and non-medical way. Probably just your run of the mill deluded and in-denial religious person.

    Yeah, I can’t imagine that he’s a troll.  No way a troll would keep it up for this long, with this sort of verbosity.  He could easily be lying about his education and such, of course.  I can’t reconcile half of the shit he’s saying with someone who has any training at all in psychology or sociology.

    As for his twisting of words … well, there’s a reason that at least half of the theistic arguments out there rely upon an equivocation fallacy.  If neither the scientific usage nor the colloquial usage of a word don’t fit the bill, there have to be third, fourth, and fifth meanings of the word, which are of course the meanings that religious people mean when they use the word.  If those definitions aren’t in the dictionary, so much the better, since you can then change them as needed, for your arguments.

  49. StonedRanger says

    Is it just me or is the spelling in that blog ridiculously bad? If that guy is in college or any kind of a professional I will eat dirt. It was so bad I couldn’t get past the last three comments or replies. Is that a disqus problem or what?

  50. Narf says

    @StonedRanger (again)
    Remember, William Lane Craig has a genuine PhD, even if it isn’t in a field that gives him any credibility at all in the fields in which he considers himself an expert.  Physicists laugh in his face, when he tries to present anything that has something to do with physics, for example.  For that matter, WLC is a profoundly shitty philosopher, despite the schooling that he has in that field.

    But you can’t deny that he has a real PhD, unlike for example, Kent Hovind.

    A PhD doesn’t necessarily require above-average intelligence.  It just requires a lot of determination to do the legwork.  Considering how closely tied WLC is to the Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, the legwork required might involve a little less original thought than many PhD’s require.

    Considering how much determination this idiot skwills has shown, he could possibly get a PhD in some sort of psychology program at an evangelical university.

  51. Bugmaster says

    @Narf #56:
    Yeah, you’re right about the tactics to get rid of Phalanxes, when the AI has them. But when you have them, you could easily set up the battle so that they just advance in ranks, protected on the sides and the rear with skirmish units, screened by cavalry — and then they just bulldoze everything. Granted, if you march them into siege fire they’ll still die, but why would you do that ?

    Regarding the elephants, though… Don’t get me started on those damn elephants. For the investment you have to put in in them, I’d expect a unit that does not randomly choose to rampage all over my own troops at the drop of a hat 🙁

  52. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    @Narf
    I’m going to try to stop engaging with swkills. I hope Aronra bans him. It’s just not worth my time when someone will do the equivalent of denying that the sky is blue.

  53. says

    @Narf

    It gets to a point where speed doesn’t really matter anymore. I’ve got Verizon FiOS, running at 100mb up and down. I never, ever, ever get those speeds. Nobody else is running at those speeds. The bottleneck is the rest of the Internet, not my pipe. I can only get as fast as anyone else can give, and as you note, most upload speeds are much slower than download speeds. I could up my speeds, I just don’t see the point.

  54. Narf says

    @Cephus
    Sure, you’re going to max out on the server that you’re pulling stuff from.  The thing is that everyone in the house will be able to pull that much. When you have three or four people all doing heavy bandwidth stuff, it adds up.

    Also, I do major uploads, sometimes. When I’m uploading an 8 or 10 gig file, a synchronous connection will make a huge difference.

    Basically, the point is that in the middle of the night, when the network is fairly clear, the choke-point will be my hard drive, which is damned cool.

  55. says

    Regarding the pledge. There are more things wrong with it besides the word God. I prefer to say it this way: I pledge allegiance to the CONSTITUTION of the United States of America and to the republic AS LONG AS it stands for one nation under THE LAW indivisible in PURSUING liberty and justice for all. I say it loudly too to make sure I’m heard.

  56. Narf says

    @Marcia Everett
    I still have issues with that.  I don’t pledge allegiance to a document or to the founding fathers who wrote it.

    The way you wrote it, some of the words are a little loose, which they can’t help but be, being … you know, words.  It’s mostly those two on the end, ‘liberty’ and ‘justice’.  I find those words to be a little too malleable to the ends of people whom I find objectionable.

    There are plenty of things that could be done, which are perfectly within the bounds of the constitution, which would cause me to jump ship, if those things weren’t immediately turned around by some other part of the political process.  The strongest I would accept is that the country has my support and acquiescence, until it goes a bit too bat-shit.

  57. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    Pledges are stupid. The point is to instill mindless obedience, which itself is contrary to the principles that founded this country.

  58. Hippycow says

    @EnlightenmentLiberal #71:

    Yeah and by the same token, integrity is better than loyalty. For many reasons.