Comments

  1. RJ says

    I suspect that Westboro is getting desperate because Fred is nearing death. They want Apocalypse to come before he dies. So they want gay marriage and war in Syria, etc… Whatever they think will bring on the Wrath of God. I suspect that if Fred dies prior to Rapture, or the Apocalypse or whatever variant of those prophecies they believe in, they will lose many of their (20 or so) members. I suspect Fred may have said in the past that the end times will come prior to his death.

  2. SeniorSkeptik says

    I have watched/listened to AE regularly for the past 4-5 years because the guests and hosts spoke about religion/atheist issues. However, for the past month or so the issues discussed have were mostly political/social issues and only very distantly related to atheist issues. I have not tuned in for a social political dialogue. I’m tuning out until AE can get back on track.

  3. pamela wright says

    For Dale from England, you might suggest meditating while his wife prays. It’s essentially the same thing. You’re just not appealing to a deity. You can even meditate on the same things. You can be physically and intellectually with the person and on the same emotional plane. It’s supposed to be really good for you.

  4. The Suit Is Not Black says

    Wish youtube comments were enabled. This is a second account I’ve made at FTB, since they’re very ban-happy with anybody that disagrees with them. I got banned for criticizing atheism plus a while back.

  5. says

    I find this insistence some atheists have that atheism is not a social or political issue, nor an issue with any social or political ramifications, to be deeply strange. But by all means, don’t let the door hit you on the way out.

  6. The Suit Is Not Black says

    Martin, atheism is not a social or political issue, it’s a lack of a belief in a claim that a god(s) exists. However, I agree with you that it does have social and political ramifications. And no door is hitting me on the way out, but thanks for the concern. Unless, of course, if FTB decides to ban me for having free thoughts.

  7. Monocle Smile says

    @Suit
    Every blogger at FTB has different ban rules
    AXP is extremely lenient, and you can check out the longer comment threads for a hefty amount of evidence.
    Baseless butthurt accusations aren’t a good way to start, especially because there’s definitely more to the story than “criticism.”

  8. Monocle Smile says

    @Suit
    Also, while atheism might only be one thing, the ACA and its members have social and political stances, and they make no secret of this. Whining that they don’t check all of that at the door makes me wonder about your social and political stances.

  9. The Suit Is Not Black says

    @Monocle Ok thank you. I wasn’t aware that each blog has it’s own moderation rules.

  10. The Suit Is Not Black says

    @Monocle “Baseless butthurt accusations aren’t a good way to start, especially because there’s definitely more to the story than “criticism.””

    I’m not butthurt, nor was my accusation baseless. The site I’m commenting on is freethoughtblogs. I was previously banned on this website for having a disagreeable opinion. It’s not a matter of being butthurt – I have a legitimate reason for being jaded. Your condescension and dismissal is unwarranted.

  11. The Suit Is Not Black says

    @Mococle “the ACA and its members have social and political stances, and they make no secret of this.”

    I realize this, and some ACA members have differing opinions.

    “Whining that they don’t check all of that at the door makes me wonder about your social and political stances.”

    I’m not whining about the reason you’re attempting to portray me as whining about. And also, your usage of the word “whining” is disparaging once again. I’m not sure what exactly you have against me and why you’re so eager to dismiss me when you clearly have absolutely no clue about my past experience on FTB or what my comments even were that got me banned.

  12. The Suit Is Not Black says

    @Monocle “makes me wonder about your social and political stances.”

    Cool baseless assumption. Good luck with that.

  13. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    “Baseless” isn’t the right word. “Weak” might better. We’re not in a court of law, nor in a science lab. We’re free to make whatever inferences we like, and use as much weak circumstantial evidence that we like. I also notice an evasion instead of a denial, which is further weak circumstantial evidence to support our suspicions.

  14. Monocle Smile says

    @Suit
    If your very first comment with your second account is about how you got banned before for having “free thoughts,” then yes, you’re butthurt. Clearly you can’t just deal with it and move on.

    This website is a blog hosting website. The people who run the blogs are the mods, not some FTB overlord. I guess I found this obvious.

    Cool baseless assumption. Good luck with that.

    What assumption? I wasn’t being facetious. I legitimately wonder why you appear to be objecting to the expression of social and political opinions on the show. This is not a good start.

  15. The Suit Is Not Black says

    @Monocle “then yes, you’re butthurt.”

    The term ‘butthurt’ carries with it a sense of somebody being offended with reason. You already know this, so why are you pretending you don’t know the baggage attached to the term?

    “The people who run the blogs are the mods, not some FTB overlord. I guess I found this obvious.”

    Yes, I now realize this now that it’s been brought to my attention. However, I wasn’t aware that each blog had a different set of rules. Why am I expected to know this?

    “What assumption?”

    Do you really need me to quote you? Ok, here’s what you said (although you could just scroll up): ““makes me wonder about your social and political stances.”

    You’re beginning to assume that my social & political stances are questionable. What is the basis for this assumption?

    “I legitimately wonder why you appear to be objecting to the expression of social and political opinions on the show.”

    I’m not objecting the this.

    “This is not a good start.”

    Ok, thanks for the opinion. I’m still not sure why. I commented about the lack of ability to comment on the direct source (youtube), and expressed my concern about the only mode of communication being FTB. What exactly is your issue?

  16. The Suit Is Not Black says

    I meant to say “without” rather than “with” in my first sentence. Yet another reason this platform is weak. There’s no way to edit.

  17. Monocle Smile says

    @Suit

    Do you really need me to quote you? Ok, here’s what you said (although you could just scroll up): ““makes me wonder about your social and political stances.”
    You’re beginning to assume that my social & political stances are questionable. What is the basis for this assumption?

    You assumed I was being facetious. I was not. I then clarified that I wasn’t being facetious and you still don’t get it. What’s your deal?

    Yes, I now realize this now that it’s been brought to my attention. However, I wasn’t aware that each blog had a different set of rules. Why am I expected to know this?

    http://freethoughtblogs.com/axp/
    The sticky post at the very top (meaning it stays at the top regardless of future posts) contains FAQ. One of them, as you can see by going to that URL, is about the moderation policy.

    The term ‘butthurt’ carries with it a sense of somebody being offended with[out] reason. You already know this, so why are you pretending you don’t know the baggage attached to the term?

    I do know the baggage. Not only do I seriously doubt you have a legitimate gripe, but being banned from an internet forum isn’t something that adults should be bitching about, anyway. Grow up and move on. Simple as that.

    I commented about the lack of ability to comment on the direct source (youtube), and expressed my concern about the only mode of communication being FTB. What exactly is your issue?

    You also told Martin that he was wrong about atheism, and I disagree with you. In the context of the US and plenty of other countries, atheism is in fact a social and political topic (because merely being atheist changes how one is viewed), and that’s true in addition to the dictionary definition.
    Furthermore, the discussions in this forum are several orders of magnitude more productive than youtube comment threads. If you want 4chan-ish anarchy and endless flame wars, go to YouTube and hang out with the ass end of the internet. If you want to have adult discussions about the actual issues, come here. Either way, it’s free and nobody’s forcing you to do anything, so I don’t get the whining.

  18. says

    Unless, of course, FTB decides to ban me for having free thoughts.

    Aww (pats head), that’s precious.

    Anyway, Suit, the commenter I was responding to wasn’t you, it was SeniorSkeptik, who did announce he was flouncing until we got back to only talking about what he wanted. (Getting rid of nested comments makes the page look nicer, I guess, but can lead to confusion as to who’s responding to whom.) I’m well aware of the dictionary definition of atheism, having been atheist for several decades and involved with this program since before the turn of the century. So there is little you could teach me on the subject. But the name of our program is The Atheist Experience, meaning that atheism does not exist in a vacuum, and that people who identify as atheist have lived experiences, especially in a predominately religious society, that are impacted by atheism and the prevailing culture’s attitudes towards it. For someone to demand that the hosts of an atheist program with the word “Experience” right there in the title leave the experience — both social and political — out of the discussion is being perfectly ridiculous. As you’ve demonstrated, Dictionary Atheism can literally be covered in its totality in one sentence.

  19. The Suit Is Not Black says

    @Monocle “being banned from an internet forum isn’t something that adults should be bitching about, anyway. Grow up and move on. Simple as that.”

    I wasn’t really bitching about it, I simply explained why I was banned and why FTB is a less than ideal place to host comments. Your baseless condescension is duly noted and duly dismissed as being irrational and desperate to portray me as being childish.

    “In the context of the US and plenty of other countries, atheism is in fact a social and political topic”

    I agree. That’s why I said “However, I agree with you that it does have social and political ramifications.” Did you not read my response?

    “(because merely being atheist changes how one is viewed)”

    I agree.

    “and that’s true in addition to the dictionary definition.”

    Yes, in addition. I agree.

    “Furthermore, the discussions in this forum are several orders of magnitude more productive than youtube comment threads.”

    I also agree with you to an extent, however, as you’ve probably noticed, most people that have already been unjustifiably banned by some blog on FTB probably also feel jaded, and perhaps even leary about signing up for a second account. Also, most people don’t read the description box in a youtube video. They see that comments are disabled and move on, or perhaps assume that conversation is being stifled. Do I think this? No (I know you’re probably eager to tell me that I’m saying this, based upon your previous baseless assumptions, so I feel the need to make a disclaimer, as ridiculous as it is).

    “don’t feel like If you want 4chan-ish anarchy and endless flame wars”

    I’ve never used 4chan in my entire life. Another baseless assumption.

    “go to YouTube and hang out with the ass end of the internet.”

    I usually choose not to. However, it’s often where the most amount of discussion takes place. It’s a balancing act to weed out the nonsense.

    “If you want to have adult discussions about the actual issues”

    Now you’re attempting to portray me as being childish, yet again.

    “Either way, it’s free and nobody’s forcing you to do anything, so I don’t get the whining.”

    I never claimed anybody is forcing me to do anything. What are you talking about? Where is this coming from?

  20. The Suit Is Not Black says

    @Martin ” the commenter I was responding to wasn’t you”

    My mistake. Your comment immediately followed mine, and the content of your comment was similar to what I was talking about.

    “But the name of our program is The Atheist Experience, meaning that atheism does not exist in a vacuum”

    I agree that your show isn’t simply about atheism as a dry and semantic term and nothing else, however, I was responding to you saying what “atheism is”. If you had said “The Atheist Exerpience is”, I probably wouldn’t have even responded.

    “people who identify as atheist have lived experiences, especially in a predominately religious society, that are impacted by atheism and the prevailing culture’s attitudes towards it.”

    Sure, I agree. But I was only responding about what ‘atheism’ is.

    “For someone to demand that the hosts of an atheist program with the word “Experience” right there in the title leave the experience — both social and political — out of the discussion is being perfectly ridiculous.”

    I’m not demanding this at all.

    “As you’ve demonstrated, Dictionary Atheism can literally be covered in its totality in one sentence.”

    And that’s what I’m referring to. That’s it.

  21. Monocle Smile says

    @Suit

    I wasn’t really bitching about it, I simply explained why I was banned and why FTB is a less than ideal place to host comments.

    You made a snide-ass comment twice about being banned. The fact that you mentioned it at all makes you childish.

    I also agree with you to an extent, however, as you’ve probably noticed, most people that have already been unjustifiably banned by some blog on FTB probably also feel jaded, and perhaps even leary about signing up for a second account. Also, most people don’t read the description box in a youtube video. They see that comments are disabled and move on, or perhaps assume that conversation is being stifled

    That’s their loss. I’m not sure why anyone should care.

    I’ve never used 4chan in my entire life. Another baseless assumption

    That wasn’t an accusation. I’m speaking in generalities (the general “you,” YOU specifically). This is an extremely common practice in colloquial English, although perhaps it’s not entirely proper. This should be obvious.

  22. The Suit Is Not Black says

    @Monocle “You made a snide-ass comment twice about being banned. The fact that you mentioned it at all makes you childish.”

    False. It wasn’t until you started making baseless assumptions about me that I make snide comments. It’s all there above for you to review.

    “That’s their loss. I’m not sure why anyone should care.”

    Because viewers of a show like to comment without having to sign up for a separate website.

    “That wasn’t an accusation. I’m speaking in generalities (the general “you,” YOU specifically).”

    You referenced 4chan because you think I want this to be like 4chan. I then responded by saying I’ve never used 4chan. What is the issue exactly? lol This entire conversation is pretty ridiculous and surreal to me. Are you actually being seriously right now?

  23. Monocle Smile says

    Fuck. That part in parentheses should be:
    (the general “you,” not YOU specifically). Sorry, that was confusing.

  24. Monocle Smile says

    Also, your posts #6 and #9 are both snide, and I was talking about your bitching about getting banned. Why are you having so much trouble following this?

  25. The Suit Is Not Black says

    @ Monocle “”I was talking about your bitching about getting banned.”

    You’re choosing to use the word “bitching” in an attempt to downplay my voice. I simply gave my reason for being banned, and why I was hesitant to make a second account.

    “Why are you having so much trouble following this?”

    No trouble over here.

  26. The Suit Is Not Black says

    @Monocle “Also, your posts #6 and #9 are both snide”

    #6 was not snide, but #9 was, and that’s because I thought Martin was responding to me. I acknowledged my mistake. But you already know this.

  27. Monocle Smile says

    @Suit
    Yes, I’m trying to downplay your voice, because you’re being childish, difficult, and obnoxious.
    You didn’t “simply” give your reason. You accused all of FtB of being ban-happy and then made a sarcastic comment about being banned for “having free thoughts.”
    Are you for real or are you just fucking with me?

  28. The Suit Is Not Black says

    @Monocle “because you’re being childish, difficult, and obnoxious.”

    Yes, and that’s your personal opinion. I still don’t know why this is your opinion though. It seems like whenever you want to attempt to gain the upper hand you just call my comments childish. What does this accomplish exactly?

    “You didn’t “simply” give your reason. You accused all of FtB of being ban-happy”

    I did at first, then it was brought to my attention that each blog has it’s own moderation. You already know that I acknowledged this, so why are you pretending that I didn’t?

    “and then made a sarcastic comment about being banned for “having free thoughts.””

    Yes, I did make this comment. This is because I am jaded from my previous experience of being banned for an unjustified reason. My sarcasm was prior to you informing about the moderation practices of the site. Hell, I didn’t even realize there were so many freaking blogs on this site.

    “Are you for real or are you just fucking with me?”

    I am for real, but that won’t stop you from thinking I’m a troll, will it?

  29. noexitlovenow says

    Regarding the guy who used to pray with his girlfriend/wife, one option is just to keep praying together sometimes. You don’t need to actually believe someone is listening in the sky to pray. It might actually help you to clarify your wants and align your commitments both internally and between the two of you.

  30. Monocle Smile says

    I guess we’re changing tack, so I’m not quite done.
    You “acknowledged” those things and then made terrible “not-pologies.”
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Non-apology_apology
    You blamed the moderation thing on people other than yourself (“why am I expected to know this?”), and you did the same thing when you made a typo earlier (“another reason this platform is weak”). Rather than apologize like an adult and stop bitching, you chose to blame others for your own shortcomings. I don’t consider that a concession nor a true acknowledgement, which is why I’m not letting it slide.

    Hell, I didn’t even realize there were so many freaking blogs on this site

    …so the blog list on the left side of every page is just for shits and giggles? See, I’d normally not ridicule people for getting these things wrong, but when you start acting like a douche right off the bat, it’s fair game.

  31. The Suit Is Not Black says

    @ Monocle I’m not changing the topic at all. You seem to be losing track of who you’re talking to. How childish.

    “You blamed the moderation thing on people other than yourself”

    I blame my ban on the moderation of whichever blog it was (can’t recall). It was unjustified.

    “why am I expected to know this?”

    You’re not. You have no idea what the context was. I’m only telling you my experience. You’re free to believe I’m full of shit.

    “you did the same thing when you made a typo earlier”

    I remarked about how this platform doesn’t allow for editing comments. This is a weakness when it comes to user-interactivity. What’s the issue? lol

    “Rather than apologize like an adult and stop bitching, you chose to blame others for your own shortcomings.”

    I actually did apologize to Martin, because I mistook his reply as being directed towards me. When it comes to you, there’s nothing to apologize for, so I’m not sure what you’re referring to.

    “I don’t consider that a concession nor a true acknowledgement, which is why I’m not letting it slide.”

    Ok, well that’s fine with me. Continue to think I have malicious intentions. Doesn’t really add much to the discussion though.

    “so the blog list on the left side of every page is just for shits and giggles?”

    Nope, now that I realize those links are for separate sub-blogs within this website I now realize they are blogs. However, I was unaware of this before.

    “See, I’d normally not ridicule people for getting these things wrong, but when you start acting like a douche right off the bat, it’s fair game.”

    Still waiting for you to describe how I’m being a douche. You seem extremely defensive and eager to see me as being malicious. Why is that? You know absolutely NOTHING about me.

  32. spookiewon says

    Well, @Suit, aren’t you a charmer? If you want to know what’s wrong with your behavior, read your comments.

    In case you’re wondering, enabling comments on YouTube has been brought up many dozen times; you’re not original. Every host has addressed this. They don’t want to, and their reasons are explained on every episode’s description. I don’t know why this is a problem for you. You don’t have to come here and comment. From what you’ve commented tonight, it looks like you signed up just to complain about the YouTube comments being disabled. All your other comments are replies to people commenting on your first comment.

    I don’t see any reason to be surprised that individual blogs have their own moderation policies. Seems like that’s true on every blogging platform. I’m mystified as to why anyone would be surprised by it.

    The ability to edit is also a curse, since it often results in dishonest people editing a comment later to make someone replying to them look dishonest. Proof read before you hit post, and everything should be fine.

  33. Russell Glasser says

    Let me make sure this is 100% clear: “Freethought Blogs” had never banned you or anyone else from this blog. FTB is not a single entity. It is a loose affiliation of individual bloggers. The only people who ban anyone here are moderators from the show, and mostly that duty falls to me, Martin, and Jen.

    I can tell that you’re trying to paint yourself as the victim of some nefarious conspiracy by implying that you were banned because we’re “associated” with some “problematic” group. But nope, if you were banned from this blog, it’s because one of us INDIVIDUALS read your posts and thought you were being disruptive and not contributing to the conversation in a useful way.

    Based on your comments so far, that doesn’t surprise me at all, and I foresee it probably happening again.

  34. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    @The Suit Is Not Black says
    What do you hope to accomplish by coming in here with a shitty and accusatory attitude? No really? If you’re here to feed your persecution complex, then that sounds like a great idea. However, if you want to change our minds or engage in constructive dialog, then that’s probably something very counterproductive to do. I suggest that you take your chip off your shoulder, lighten up a little, try to grow a little thicker skin, and try to stick to pertinent points rather than nebulous complaints about the man FTB. Or – just don’t even bother posting here. Whatever floats your boat.

    I think Martin covered well that the posting standards are very different for different blogs on FTB. My behavior would probably get me banned from several blogs on here. AXP is pretty loose relative to some of the other blogs here.

    Do you have any points that you want to make? You wish comments were enabled on youtube? As MS pointed out at the top of the thread, see the FAQ. And if you disagree with the assessment that youtube comments tend to become a shitpool devoid of value, politely disagreed, and it’s unlikely you’ll convince the hosts otherwise. And if you like youtube comments because they are a shitpool devoid of value, then again it is unlikely that you will convince the hosts to enable enable youtube comments. I invite you to post here productively – or not at all. Whatever floats your boat.

    PS:
    League of Legends Worlds!
    Also, 1/2 Korean 1/2 European League Of Legends Semifinals. I am so enthused right now. Can Fnatic beat KOO? How bad will the stomping be from the SKT hypetrain? I think the world needs more “things Faker does”. Haven’t had some good stuff in a while.

  35. oolon says

    @The Suit Is Not Black, so many times have I seen people say they were banned for “just disagreeing”. Who banned you and in what thread may I ask?

  36. fwtbc says

    @SuitDouche

    Like oolon, I’d like to know the post you were commenting on that got you banned. I bet you weren’t banned for disagreeing, but you were banned because you’re unable to disagree without being an insufferable asshole.

  37. Esquilax says

    Martin @21

    Ha ha, I said literally exactly the same thing regarding the name of the show and what “experience” entailed a few weeks ago, and I was told that couldn’t possibly be right. I’m prepared to call your post complete vindication. 😛

  38. Conversion Tube says

    “””@Martin ” the commenter I was responding to wasn’t you”
    My mistake. Your comment immediately followed mine, and the content of your comment was similar to what I was talking about.””

    Glad Martin cleared that up I noticed right away.

    Isn’t it funny he explained himself and Suit still felt the need to go on and on and make it about him/herself for another few paragraphs.

    We don’t care, boohoo. It wasn’t about you. Why keep talking about it.

  39. The Suit Is Not Black says

    @ Russel ““Freethought Blogs” had never banned you or anyone else from this blog.”

    Yes, I acknowledged this after I was corrected.

    “I can tell that you’re trying to paint yourself as the victim of some nefarious conspiracy by implying that you were banned because we’re “associated” with some “problematic” group.”

    Nope, not at all. I acknowledged that your blog didn’t ban me.

    “But nope, if you were banned from this blog,”

    Yes, I know.

    “Based on your comments so far, that doesn’t surprise me at all”

    Based on your comment so far, I can see you haven’t read my comments at all.

  40. The Suit Is Not Black says

    @ EnlightenmentLiberal “What do you hope to accomplish by coming in here with a shitty and accusatory attitude? No really?”

    I expressed my hesitance to use FTB again, and that I’d prefer youtube comments. This is my personal opinion.

  41. The Suit Is Not Black says

    @oolon “so many times have I seen people say they were banned for “just disagreeing”. ”

    I believe it was either PZ Meyers’ or Richard Carrier’s blog, but I can’t recall for certain. It was regarding atheism plus.

  42. The Suit Is Not Black says

    @ Conversion Tube “Isn’t it funny he explained himself and Suit still felt the need to go on and on and make it about him/herself for another few paragraphs.”

    I went on because Martin made several other remarks that I took issue with (regardless if they were aimed directly at me). I responded to each one. What is the issue exactly?

  43. Vivec says

    Given a general idea of what PZ and Carrier post about, I can’t imagine the reason was particularly fraudulent.

    They aren’t obligated to give a platform to an already popular opinion among the overall atheist community (that Atheism+ is either misguided or unneeded) when they have dealt with that objection in the past and openly disagree with it.

    The chance of it leading to any productive discussion is almost nil, as evidenced by the back and forth that is currently going on. The lines were drawn on that matter like half a decade ago.

  44. says

    Martin already addressed this, but I also assumed (seemed pretty obvious to me) his original comment about the door hitting was aimed at SeniorSkeptik. When I read Suit’s response and the ensuing exchanges, I just thought “well that’s out of left field.”

  45. says

    With regard to SeniorSkeptic’s actual point–the show is an invitation for people to call in and interact with atheists and put questions to them. The original intent was actually to give some exposure to atheist ideas (the ideas of individual atheists in the ACA), to a theist audience. I find it funny that someone is bemoaning that the show has deviated from the original mission in some way, when we didn’t restrict theist callers to arguments about the existence of god, but invited them to talk to us about anything they might be interested in with regard to “what does an atheist think about X?” If all we ever addressed were apologetics and counter-apologetics, the show would now be finished, as we have addressed pretty much all of them repeatedly, and could simply make a list of apologetic arguments and link people to shows that address them. Better yet–why even have the program when we can simply link people to a list of apologetics and counter apologetics? The point to our show is to host a public dialog, and it has changed, but only in that more of our audience is actually atheist. And the irony here is that atheist callers drive the show and topics more often than not these days. This means that without a doubt, the topics discussed do impact the atheist community, because atheists are calling in to talk about these issues that are concerning or impacting them.

  46. says

    Just too bad it’s consumed the thread at this point–certainly with help from a great many others from what I can see. Just came to see if there was anything going on with regard to *the show* that needed answering, but from what I can see, that’s not the case, so I get a free afternoon, it seems. One of those situations where I’m left to wonder, if this hadn’t occurred, what about the show might people on this thread have been discussing? 😉

  47. The Suit Is Not Black says

    I agree, it’s taking up the whole thread. I’m only responding to each person as they reply to me.

  48. robertwilson says

    Tracie says: “too bad it’s consumed the thread at this point … what about the show might people on this thread have been discussing?”

    Suit replies: “I agree, it’s taking up the whole thread. I’m only responding to each person as they reply to me.”

    That’s trolling, even if you don’t intend it as such. It’s continued derailing of the thread. At some point just drop it and move on.

    Let’s try again:

    What do people want to discuss about this episode, which is after all the subject of this post.

  49. The Suit Is Not Black says

    @ robertwilson When somebody addresses me, I respond. You’re addressing me, so I’m responding. It’s what I do. Call it trolling if you like.

  50. robertwilson says

    Curiously I addressed this to you and you did not respond:

    What do people want to discuss about this episode, which is after all the subject of this post.

    So, shall we try again?

  51. ironchops says

    I know the show is called “The Atheist Experience” but it seems you can’t separate it from politics any easier than separating religion from politics. It seems to me that one’s core beliefs influence one’s political decisions or who to vote for or issues to vote on. Abortion is at the top of the heap although I think the religious right should remove it from their platform. It is a dead horse and only serves as a distraction to other important issues.
    On the subject of Art: Art and religion seem to be used to manipulate folks, not just that religion uses art. Political cartoons are used to help persuade or express somewhat abstract ideas. Are is more or less emotional and is used to generate emotional responses. Almost the opposite of science. In a way religion is an art, the art of deception using guilt the guilt emotion in order to get people to conform or to carry out the overall agenda of some group or individual.

  52. tonyinbatavia says

    robertwilson @55, it’s boring to how trolls troll, despite their protestations, isn’t it? Me, after all this derailing and whining and setting-the-record-straight and pedantry and it’s-just-your-opinion and everything else, I am not interested in the least what the troll has to say about anything about any subject in any context for any reason. Yet they persist in thinking people here honestly give a living fuck about what they want to share, which thus far has been nothing but monotonous poor-me bullshit. In that regard, I’m sorry you re-posed the very simple question they conveniently refused to answer.

    As to the episode: I’m surprised how quickly Keith bought in to his theist friend’s argument that there’s hypocrisy in funding Planned Parenthood. Tracie and Russell addressed it very well, I thought, but he still seemed stymied. How difficult is this to understand, really?

  53. The Suit Is Not Black says

    @ robertwilson “Curiously I addressed this to you and you did not respond”

    I responded to the point you addressed to me.

    “What do people want to discuss about this episode, which is after all the subject of this post.”

    This is addressed to everybody. Keyword = ‘people’.

    “So, shall we try again?”

    I don’t know, shall we? Your choice.

  54. meskibob says

    For Russell and Tracie, regarding Keith’s call about federal funding for abortion:
    I believe Keith was referencing the Hyde Amendment*, so while there isn’t an explicit law banning federal funding for abortion, no federal money can be appropriated per that amendment (which has been continuously passed since 1976).

    *https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hyde_Amendment

  55. NomadLand says

    I’ve noticed a complete lack of theist callers since TAE has moved to the web-based platform.

    Athough this will sound condescending, do you believe the technical “hurdle” of being web-based is a bridge too far for religious/conservatives?

    Just wondering if anyone else has noticed this… I’ve been a fan of the show for many years, and it has always been more interesting when theists have participated.

  56. Rex says

    @heicart #53 – Tracy, since you were on the show, I was having trouble following the argument that Brian from Colorado was giving regarding morality. I’m not sure if it was a technical issue or I just couldn’t make out what was being said. Could you summarize what he said? Thanks.

  57. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    Just too bad it’s consumed the thread at this point

    Sorry about that. I feel similarly. I tried to keep my “poking the troll” to a minimum and something that might be productive.

  58. keithatheist says

    Caller Keith here-
    Thanks @meskibob! I thought there was some foundation there. Regardless of the legality, in the past I have tried to convince my theist/pro-life friends that advocating for ending PP funding was idiotic on several levels, but in this case, because the money does not even go to abortions. As I stated on the show, I have frequently advocated for ending fed funding for religious aid organizations, because even if money is not directly used for proselytizing, it places the groups in locations where they might not have been previously and helps advance their religious missions. My friend pointed out that he makes the same argument about PP: even if money is not going to abortions, fed funding helps maintain centers in areas where abortions might not have been previously available.
    I felt Tracie and Russell’s response amounted to “It is illegal for the federal gov to fund religious activities, it is not illegal to fund abortions,” which seems to acknowledge that fed funding to PP does advance abortions, “but tough luck the law is on our side”. While cathartic, it doesn’t really help me in my goal, which is to find some common ground to draw my friend toward policies that would not leave millions of woman without access to medical care. There are obviously other lines of attack on this one, but based on our convo, I am inclined to abandon this one in the future…

  59. Peggy Clancy says

    @Keith in comment 66: I think the strongest argument is to point out that the so-called pro-life agenda is *not* reducing the number of abortions and this is not their goal. I would recommend this blog post. There are other similar accounts of rank and file “pro-lifers” finding out how they are misled. http://www.patheos.com/blogs/lovejoyfeminism/2012/10/how-i-lost-faith-in-the-pro-life-movement.html?utm_content=buffer1919f&utm_medium=social&utm_source=facebook.com&utm_campaign=buffer

  60. Conversion Tube says

    Rex and Tracie, I missed it too. It appeared it provided a Gotcha to the theist but I didn’t understand how. I was lost in the he said she said back and forth. Can anyone clarify in written form?

  61. Peggy Clancy says

    @Conversion Tube, comment 68: I’ll give it a try. What the caller from Colorado did (around the 1:09:00 mark in the show) was ask why he, as an atheist, should care about morality. The theist (in the caller’s recalled account) answered saying that without morality you couldn’t trust anyone, life would be bad for everyone, and so on. Then the atheist had responded saying that the theist gave some good answers for why we should all be moral that have nothing to do with God or gods. Our morality is it’s own practical reward. This is what we are doing. No gods needed. Hope that helps.

  62. ironchops says

    @ 64 Rex & 68 C.T.
    In short, if this is what you are asking about:
    The street preacher Stated: “that you need God to have a moral compass.”
    The Person asked: “why do I need morality?”
    Street preacher: Gave a list of reasons.
    The Person pointed out: “that god was not in any of those reasons”
    I thought that was a really good little comeback myself. I will have to note that one for use later.

  63. Conversion Tube says

    OK thank you got it.

    I think this will go over many theists head even when pointing it out.

    He just found an intellectually honest theist this time.

  64. favog says

    My computer is behaving strangely at the moment, making it a difficult task to make it through to the end of the show. Thanks, Tracie and Russell, for making it well worth the hassle. That Joseph Campbell excerpt is a favorite of mine as well, and one can never go wrong invoking “Galaxyquest”. Also, thanks Tracie for the example of Butch and Sundance as a legend that grew faster than Christians claim a legend can … I’m starting to think I should compile a list since I’d forgotten that one have probably forgotten others as well.

  65. ironchops says

    @ 67 Peggy:
    This is a very useful post for me. I am somewhat in the same place as the writer of the referenced blog post. For years I have taken the pro-life position but lately my position is changing. I want to call myself pro-choice but I am have problems keeping my mind open to it. I still don’t really like abortion but I can’t allow myself to force my opinion upon others. After all, I have absolutely no skin in the game anyway. I can’t get pregnant (being a guy and all) so I will never have to make or live with that decision directly. It is only up to me to be supportive no matter what the decision any woman makes about her body and wellbeing. I’m working on it.

  66. says

    I love the AXP. A lot. And I enjoy the different personalities of the hosts.

    That said, Russell continues to strike me as a little dismissive and overbearing. This week I thought he was right on the edge of insulting when he seemed to suggest Tracie’s interesting, and relevant, anecdote about Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, was hardly worth talking about.

    It is, as she suggested, an excellent example of how myth can attach to events almost immediately. I just finished reading a mystery novel that explores the “Butch Cassidy survived” myth, and it seems some people living on the Wind River Indian Reservation near Lander, Wyo., are more than convinced he and the Sundance Kid survived.

    And if that can happen, it’s obvious that it could have happened at the time of Jesus.

    Russell — you are a great host! Chill out a little!

  67. keithatheist says

    @Peggy Thanks! I loved the article. Although it makes some very strong points I am reticent to use the difficulty of implementing a law as a justification for not passing it. I can think of many laws I that I wished were passed that might be initially ineffective. For instance in Mauritania slavery has been outlawed a half dozen times yet still persists due to the inability to discern people obligated to a family without compensation from those who are simply employees. The existence of the law effectively leads slave holders to hide their slaves from public services preventing these individuals from receiving healthcare. Neither the difficulty nor the subsequent hardship it imposes would lead me to think the law should be withdrawn. I just think greater effort should be given to identifying slaves in these communities and punishment for slave holders should be stronger to dis-incentivize other individuals from following suit.

    Nevertheless, I have often used this same logic with my conservative pro-gun friends who argue that people will still get guns regardless of gun laws, so we should abandon any desire to pass gun control legislation. My response is, “So you are against laws limiting abortion, since people will still have abortions regardless of any laws we establish?”

  68. Peggy Clancy says

    @Keith, comment 79 Maybe we are not quite understanding each other. The article I directed you to was not about the law being hard to implement so it shouldn’t be passed. It was about the entire purpose of the “pro-life” movement, in it’s aims and it’s results, is NOT to lower the number of abortions, but to make them more dangerous. Countries with easily-obtained safe abortions along with education and birth control have *fewer* abortions. The “pro-life” movement is against birth control and sex ed, too. Think about that. I hope that you go back and read that blog post again.

    I think you might have not quite understood the discussion during the program either. A good thing about these AXP shows being recorded is that you can go back and listen again. Their discussion point was not “but tough luck the law is on our side.”

  69. keithatheist says

    @Peggy. I am not big into ascribing other peoples motives they do not explicitly state. Did I miss a part in the article where the writer showed evidence that pro-lifers simply wish to make abortions more difficult and do not desire to lower abortion rates, or are they inferring that motive from the fact that they don’t subscribe to the authors interpretation of the data? My particular pro-life friends are both pro birth control and pro sex ed, for the exact reasons stated in the article. I know that is not necessarily the normal case in having these conversations with other pro-lifers, but I was calling in about my specific situation. I also don’t want to conflate the issues. In interpreting the data, how would you convince someone that this is not just evidence that a more effective strategy needs to be developed (as I was trying to illustrate with my slavery in Mauritania example)?

    Also, if I am wrong in what I drew from my conversation with Tracie and Russell, I would love nothing more than to be corrected. I have in fact re-listened to our conversation several times and feel that I did a poor job at framing my question leading to a misunderstanding. I tried to clarify above in comment 66. If I am still wrong, please tell me how. I would love to get this straight.

  70. Peggy Clancy says

    Keith, I’m not sure what else I can say. In your conversation with the hosts, I wonder if you could state as a summary of what you think they were saying. Maybe that would help clarify.

    As for the blog post I gave you–rather than look for a smoking gun where the pro-life leaders admit their motives out loud in public, we could go with their actions. The rank and file might belief they are “saving little babies” but the leaders aren’t fooled. They know the facts. They work with the statistics. They are not dumb people. Their followers aren’t dumb either, but the emotionality of the appeal is clear. And the followers of the “pro-life” movement *are* clearly lied to.

    Maybe summarizing the blog article would help, too.

    I can’t do this for you. Keith, if you want to understand what is being said, you start by restating the argument as presented. I’m just not sure you are getting that as a starting point.

  71. keithatheist says

    @Judy – Here is the point I was trying to make on the show. I’d love any input you or anyone else has:

    In the past I have tried to convince my theist/pro-life friends that advocating for ending PP funding was idiotic because federal money does not pay for abortions. My friend argued that although the money does not directly pay for abortions it is facilitating them, and arguing that it doesn’t was hypocritical of me to suggest. The reason it is hypocritical is because in the past I have frequently advocated for ending fed funding for religious aid organizations, because even if money is not directly used for proselytizing, it places the groups in locations where they might not have been previously and helps advance their religious missions. My friend pointed out that he makes the same argument about PP: even if money is not going to abortions, fed funding helps maintain centers in areas where abortions might not have been previously available.

    Do you find that my friend’s argument holds up? If not, why so?

  72. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    @keithatheist
    Let me rephrase your arguments:

    1- Money is fungible.

    2- The world is not a perfect free market. For many markets, e.g. areas, it can only support 1 such clinic. If we put our funding to an equally good clinic except that it didn’t provide abortions, then there may not be enough of a market incentive to open another clinic nearby that provides abortions.

    I think both arguments have merits.

    Of course, I disagree with the central premise of both that “abortions are bad”, but this seems to be a legitimate and intellectually honest way to argue that Planned Parenthood should not receive government funding as part of a plan to reduce the total number of abortions. This reasoning depends on the assumption that the money will go towards another clinic in the same spot that provides all of the same services except no abortions, and that position is probably a tiny minority of the people calling for the end of funding for Planned Parenthood.

    Again, interesting arguments.

  73. JD and Co. says

    @75 Ironchops
    Your opinion that you don’t like abortion is entirely understandable. I don’t know anyone who does. But that has nothing to do with the illegality of it.

    For instance, I don’t like adultery, in fact I despise it (under almost all except the most extreme circumstances, such as a partner has Alzheimers to the point where they no longer recognize their spouse), and I would guess, based on the comments you’ve made on here before, that you don’t like it either But should it be illegal based on the fact that we don’t like it?

    Women mostly have abortions because all their options, including giving birth, suck. But I support legal abortion even in the case of a woman who chooses to have an abortion on an absolute whim, because the alternative (making it illegal for every woman, or passing some sort of litmus test: “Do you *really* need this abortion?”) is a worst alternative.

  74. favog says

    I didn’t see Russell as being dismissive towards Tracie’s Butch and Sundance example. To me, it seemed like Russell just got outed as somebody who hasn’t familiarized himself with the history of the American West in the late 1800s, leading him to assume that they were just completely fictional characters from a cowboy movie starring Redford and Newman. So he didn’t get the point for a moment. And it’s fine that Russell was unfamiliar with those facts, because none of us have been on the planet long enough to know enough about the things we are interested in, let alone the stuff we don’t care about so much.

  75. Joann says

    I just wanted to point out to Tracie that Catholic hospitals do indeed provide medicine based on their religious beliefs. I know for a fact that you cannot get your tubes tied at any Catholic hospital here in the greater Detroit area. As far as I know this is true elsewhere as well. And I am pretty sure they will let you die before they terminate a dangerous pregnancy (would have to look that one up to be sure). Didn’t some nun get excommunicated out west recently for that exact offence? (Authorizing the termination to save the woman). They were also at the forefront of not wanting to provide birth control to employees under the ACA, even though there is no requirement that their employees be Catholic

  76. DevoutNerd says

    Russell states, “…this isn’t a political show…,” yet tackles a lot of issues: government funds, abortion, healthcare, education. The only one Russell wouldn’t touch was the Affordable Care Act?! Come on, TAE, if you’re not a political show, then stop taking on political questions or calls. You started out great by assigning hypocrisy to religious groups begging for government money, then wondered why not abortion shouldn’t be funded by the government, which itself is not a religious issue but a political position. I’ve heard Dillahunty repeatedly state that the ACA is non-partisan; please keep yourself that way.

  77. tonyinbatavia says

    JD and Co. @86, as of right now you know of someone who likes abortions: Me. It is an incredibly safe, remarkably effective medical procedure that does precisely what it is intended to do nearly every single time is it performed properly. Long-term health and psychological effects are few. I wish more women didn’t feel stigmatized by the procedure so that more would get them instead of bringing unwanted children to term. I believe our society would be healthier overall.

  78. Monocle Smile says

    @DevoutNerd
    The show isn’t political. It deals with political and social topics when there’s a tie to atheism or religion.
    Abortion, like gay marriage, is not actually a political issue. One is a legal issue and the other is a social issue. They have become politicized by those who wish to pander to single-issue voters. In both cases, these are religious people. Thus, there’s a definite tie to religion. The Affordable Care Act by itself has no tie to atheism or religion.

    The ACA being “non-partisan” does not mean it doesn’t have political stances. Please learn what that word means. It refers to alignment with a particular political party.

  79. Monocle Smile says

    @DevoutNerd
    In addition, the hosts are all different people and they make no secret of the fact that they don’t all agree on stuff and have different approaches. Asking them to be clones of each other is rather unreasonable.

  80. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    I have lots of stuff to psot. let me break this up.

    To Tracie and Russell, and everyone else:

    Concerning the first topic of legends and rapid development of rumors of someone still being alive after they’re dead. This is closely related to the rumors that might have sprang up around Jesus if Jesus was a real person. Richard Carrier cites several pieces of evidence that this same kind of legendary development can happen which Tracie also spoke about. IMHO, my favorite example is the cargo cults. We were lucky enough to have an anthropolist on site as the cargo cult religion was developing on this one island. Originally, it was all spirit communication and information received from revelation, i.e. hallucination. However, with just 20 years, they invented a whole man named John Frum, a family, and a full historical record of John Frum as an actual person you could see like me or you on Earth, and all of it is fiction. The cargo cults provide some of the best evidence in discussions with Christians concerning the authenticity of the bible because it’s such an ironclad example of just how fast complicated and detailed myths can arise and construct a full person, family, backstory, etc., out of nothing.

  81. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    Regarding Brandon’s call.

    Concerning the hypothesis that there is something that is pure chaos. It’s so chaotic that it cannot be studied. I want you to seriously consider that possibility and just what it would look like. When looked at closely, I think the idea is incoherent. I think I can demonstrate this by doing a reductio ad absurdum with a self-reference. Allow me to explain.

    Suppose that you are in a world where there is a Cartesian Demon – a creature that is incredibly powerful and can control the input of your senses to an extremely fine precision in realtime, and this creature is incredibly, incredibly good at creating “illusions” of fabulously complicated sensory perception in realtime.

    Suppose on the first day, you see that if you release a hammer at a height off the ground in normal household conditions, it will fall. You discover this cause-and-effect relationship. Suppose the demon discovers this, and alters the illusions that he is feeding to you, so now that hammers fall up. But then you can infer a new cause-and-effect that hammers fall up. So the demon has to change the rules again. Maybe this time they move southwards. This never-ending game plays out. Suppose the demon reaches for bigger guns and makes it random which way the hammer will move when released. Well, you can still study that. You might not be able to predict any one particular hammer, but you can make predictions about the statistical distribution of the hammers. This is the same thing we do for quantum physics. We cannot predict any individual event of quantum physics, but it’s still a science, it’s still cause-and-effect, and we can still make amazingly precise, accurate, and testable predictions about a population of events – about the statistical distribution over time.

    What recourse does the demon have now? Suppose the demon decides to simply blast your senses with the equivalent of random noise. Even then, you can still make a prediction. You can predict that your future sensory experience will be statistically equivalent to random noise. It’s the same lesson as having the hammer fall in different directions.

    There’s no way out for the demon to thwart literally every possible expectation that you might be able to form. Any solution for the demon to thwart all of your expectations is unstable in time. At this point, we’re also pretty far into silly-land, and there’s no reason to take this proposition seriously. As Matt Dillahunty says, we all have to assume that we’re not subject to a Cartesian Demon that is constantly changing the rules every second of our life to pervert our expectations about the future. I think we can all agree that the world we actually find ourselves in is so far different that we do not need to concern ourselves with that.

    Let’s move on to some real scenarios that you might think are observable but untestable, but that you’re wrong about. Suppose an angel appears very rarely, and purposefully out of sight of the masses and recording devices, in order to aid Catholics. Sure, it might be really hard to test reliably, but in a future where we have cameras everywhere 24-7, we could test that. In the future where we have every adult wearing a certain helmet for their entire life which captures sensory input (this is not fantasy – the science we know allows for its construction) which is fed into a central database, that angel could not escape detection – not without going the full distance and doing the intellectual equivalent of the completely malicious Cartesian Demon that is constantly creating full illusions for everyone’s sensory input for all time.

    You’re simply not using your imagination enough when you accept the idea of “pure chaos that cannot be predicted”. It’s very similar to the cliche story of Newton who determined the fundamental math for how planets move in orbit, but then he saw the problem of how the orbits stay stable for millions of years, and rather than try to work on it, for some inexplicable reason he threw up his hands and said it was impossible, and it must be the work of an intelligent designer. This is the same kind of error that you are making. You are imagining some observable phenomenon which you think is so obscure that it will defy all tests, but I think you’re simply not giving the creative testers like me enough credit, and you’re not giving yourself enough credit. Rather than immediately give up, spend some mental energy to see what conclusions you could derive about your observable phenomenon of “pure chaos”, even if it’s as simple as “I see to the left and not to the right” and “it constantly changes colors, which means it doesn’t stay the same color for more than 5 seconds”, and so forth.

    Finally, an important point to be made is that if you try to go for the full malicious Cartesian Demon to rebut my arguments, you’re assuming things not in evidence. Who says that ghosts have to be powerful enough to control everyone’s senses across the entire planet at the same time? In plenty of fiction that I read, the powers of ghosts, angels, and even gods is finite, and many cannot create illusions for every person on the planet. It’s simply outside their power. Perhaps there is a class of beings that can exert that level of control, but it’s not logically required that all non-material creatures be powerful enough to do that. Similarly, this is not the sole province of the supernatural. There might be aliens in a cloaked spaceship in orbit right now that have the mundane technology to control our senses and modify our memories at a distance from their spaceship. Implausible, sure, but you cannot demonstrate it’s impossible. Further, it’s about as implausible as a supernatural creature that can do the same thing.

    PS: My next few rant posts are going to be on the same topic. For some other takes on what I’m saying, check out the following sources:

    This peer-reviewed paper on philosophy:
    > How not to attack Intelligent Design Creationism: Philosophical misconceptions about Methodological Naturalism
    > Maarten Boudry, Stefaan Blancke, Johan Braeckman
    https://sites.google.com/site/maartenboudry/teksten-1/methodological-naturalism

    This skepticon 7 talk:
    > God, Science and the Problem with Nature – Scott Clifton (Theoretical Bullshit) – Skepticon 7
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LQMLFpQEOI8

    And arguably most importantly, the Nobel physicist Richard Feynman (not) explaining how magnets work – specifically Feynman explaining how you cannot explain how magnets work:

  82. DevoutNerd says

    I have no disagreement about abortion. However, If abortion should or shouldn’t be funded by the federal government is a political issue, and this show took a position on that. With such diverse backgrounds, I never asked the hosts to be clones of themselves, so why the personal shot? As for the Affordable Care Act, Dillahunty took a position on this in a segment of the show … I believe was late last year. I’ve been a watcher/listener for years, and I’d say this show has taken on more political stances for about a year and a half, and it’s beginning to wear thin.

  83. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    Let me transcribe this bit from Brandon. It’s very important, because Brandon is very wrong, and because the hosts are also very wrong on this point. It’s a very important philosophical point that I think is one of the major stumbling blocks that makes many people wrongly support methodological naturalism as an intrinsic limitation on science.

    Quoting Brandon: But [?] when someone comes to me, trying to describe some situation, it’s basically: can you tell me how “how?”, and if the answer is “yes”, cool, we can pursue it, but even if it is real and supernatural, but you can’t tell me “how?”, then that’s kind of ends everything right there.

    Tracie: Yeah, it’s not really an explanation. It offers no explanatory power.

    Russell: Right

    Brandon: Even if it’s real!

    Tracie: Right

    _ Wrong _

    Let me start with an example. I can imagine finding myself in this situation in my D&D campaign. Suppose someone stumbles across the party after the party slayed a bunch of evil orcs (forgive the cliche).

    This guy might ask “why does that orc have a hole through his chest?”. A proper answer could be “because our party’s fighter stuck his sword through the orc’s chest”. This answer has explanatory power. In particular, the questioner understands what a sword is, and how swords can make holes in an orc’s chest. That’s what gives explanatory power to the explanation – the fact that the questioner already understood that swords can put holes in orc chests.

    This guy might next ask “why does this orc have severe burns all over his body?”. A proper answer could be “because our party’s mage conjured a ball of fire and used it to burn and kill the orc”. This answer has just as much explanatory power as the first answer. In particular, the questioner lives in a world of D&D magic, just like he lives in a world with swords. He has previously seen someone using a sword to put a hole in something’s chest, and he has also previously seen someone conjure a ball of fire to horribly burn and kill someone. Because he has previously seen a mage create a fireball to kill people – the answer has explanatory power.

    What explanatory power means is explaining something that is unknown to the listener in terms of something that the listener is more familiar with. That’s one sense of what it means to give an explanation.

    At this point, I must reference and explain the above video of the nobel Physicist Richard Feynman. He quite literally wrote the book on how to teach quantum physics to college students. His lectures are still valued to this day as being amazingly good at communicating ideas. Richard Feynman is a person who knows what he’s talking about.

    This person, one of the most successful physicsts of our time, cannot explain to you how magnets work. Further, he could not even explain to another nobel physicist how magnets work. Paraphrasing his own words, that’s because he doesn’t himself know how magnets work. No one does.

    Sure, Feynman can assure you that magnets do work, and he can very precisely describe to you in what circumstances you will feel see a magnetic force, how strong the force will be, in what direction it will be, how it will change over time, etc., but at no point will he tell you how it works.

    This is the nature of reductionistic explanations. A reductionist explanation is explaining one thing in terms of another thing. I can explain the behavior of people in terms of culture, history, and biology. I can explain the behavior of biology in terms of chemistry. I can explain the behavior of chemistry in terms of fundamental quantum field physics. However, no one can explain to you quantum field physics in terms of something that you’re more familiar with (to paraphrase Feynman again).

    In short, you need to read your Hume. Hume described this hundreds of years ago. The problem is Brandon and the hosts do not properly understand causation.
    http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/hume/
    At its root, causation is simply that we observe certain patterns in the world of the past, and we expect that these patterns will continue in the future. That’s it. Nothing more. Nothing less. In Hume’s terms, if we notice that whenver we see A, it is always followed by B, then we might have an expectation formed within us that the next time we see A, we expect that it will be followed by B. That’s causation.

    Feynman cannot explain to you how magnets work. However, he can tell you that when the situation with magnets looks like A, then B will surely follow. He can make many, many finely detailed predictions of this kind using mathematical formula, but that’s all he can do. All he can do is notice patterns in the past, formalize the patterns in terms of mathematical predictions, and then use the math to create very precise predictions about the future. At no point did he ever tell you how magnets work.

    Bringing it back, Brandon says that if someone can show him that something is real and supernatural, but cannot explain how it works, then that’s not good enough. By that standard, physics, and consequently all of science is not good enough. No one can explain how magnets work, but we have a very very deep knowledge about the things that magnets do. Similarly, we might discover the ability to create fireballs and lob them at small children or criminals, and we might discover a lot of rules governing the creation and use of fireballs, just like a D&D mage, but we might not discover how it works – and in a certain sense, it doesn’t matter. You don’t need to know how something works to use it, to plan around it, and in a certain sense to understand it. Feynman might not understand how magnets work, but he still has a very deep understanding of the workings of magnets.

    Of course, I thoroughly applaud reductionistic approaches to learning about the world around us. Where reductionist approaches are successful, they provide amazing utility.

    The fundamental flaw of Brandon and the hosts is a certain blindspot. They know that magnets work, but they don’t look too closely because they consider it a solved problem, but actually it’s completely unsolved by a certain standard. In short, Brandon and the hosts have a completely unjustifiable double standard. They happily accept the fruits of physics and science when at the base we have no idea how it works, but they refuse to do the same for some hypothetical supernatural phenomena.

    In other words, you’re coming from the perspective of a materialist, and you give very little thought about the truth of materialism, so little that you take it for granted, and your first instinct is to cram everything into the materialistic world view. In other words, you’re behaving like dogmatic materialists who cannot even conceive that it might be some other way. Knock that shit right off. This is precisely why I go into so many rants on this topic – because it makes us atheists look bad. It makes us look dogmatic concerning materialism, which in the eyes of Christians and others equate to being dogmatically certain that there is no god. That’s why you have to knock this shit right off, and read your Hume, or watch your Feynman.

  84. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    PS:
    To quote Feynman, “And when you explain a ‘why’, you have to be in some framework that you allow something to be true. Otherwise, you’re perpetuating asking ‘why?’.” That’s presuppositionalism.

    We’re all presuppositionalists, with a dash of coherentism thrown in. That’s the fundamental building block of epistemology that many people simply do not understand, or refuse to understand.

    PPS: Feynman’s explanation of why “ice is slippery” is mostly wrong. Note that he did use weasel words when making the claim (hedging his bets), and please notice that the factual accuracy was not germane to his actual point.

  85. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    Hmm… Let me put it like this:

    Quoting Brandon:

    Like if someone [could say] “Shazam” and a banana appears on the table when they say “Shazam”, but there’s no mechanism for it, then that’s great, you have supernatural banana powers, but that doesn’t help us [understand] the universe.

    Again, wrong. It does help us understand the universe. It let’s us know that this person can magically conjure bananas by speaking a certain word. If I ever wanted a banana, I could just ask him to say “Shazam” so I could get a banana. That’s a perfectly actionable thing I can do based on this knowledge about how the world works (in this hypothetical). Just completely wrong on every level.

    Further, this lack of mechanism is not analogous to physics, or metaphorically like physics. It is physics. It is precisely physics. No one has a mechanism that underpins fundamental physics. That’s why it’s called fundamental physics. Ex: no one can tell you the mechanism by which magnets work. (And please don’t be cute and show your small knowledge of quantum theory, because I could just ask the question “why are the rules that way instead of some other way?”.)

    That’s causation. Causation does not have mechanism. That’s the fundamental reasoning flaw of Brandon and the hosts. They’re confusing reductionistic explanations with demonstrations of causation.

    They’re also completely misunderstand all of the history of science and the foundations of science. All science is built on nothing more than the kind of reasoning of “saying a magic word produces a banana”. Look at any breakthrough in physics, or look at the foundations of modern physics. That’s all it is. Physics is just observations about how the world behaves. Completely 180 to the point of the caller, and the reaction of the hosts, this kind of reasoning has been amazingly successful at allowing us to understand the world around us – and further, it’s the only reasoning building block that we have to understand the world around us. Reductionistic explanations – explaining how something works in terms of something you’re more familiar with – always relies on understanding without mechanism. If you’re not a student of physics, you simply understand that hammers fall when released at a height in normal household conditions. If you are a student of physics, you can use a reduction to explain that in terms of something else, like the general theory of relativity, but you have no underlying explanation to that explanation. You have no mechanism for how and why matter bends spacetime. It just does. Just like saying “Shazam” conjures a banana in the above hypothetical.

    Again, complete misunderstanding of science, causation, and proper epistemology.

  86. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    To Tracie
    I also have to take issue with something completely unrelated. I have a problem providing funding for Catholic hospitals, on the following argument.

    The world is not a perfect free market, and the existence of one hospital means it’s less likely for another hospital to open up right next door. Further, many places only really need or can support one hospital. If that hospital is Catholic, it means that all of the people in the area do not get access to certain services like having your tubes cut during the same operation as a c-section (which is apparently a common thing to do – it saves 1 operation, which means less risks, less costs, less time, etc.). However, Catholic hospitals won’t perform that operation, because Catholicism.

    By funding that Catholic hospital, it helps that hospital stay afloat, which helps ensure that no other hospital can serve that area which provides proper services including making a woman sterile when she chooses it.

    Other kinds of charities are less prone to this problem that the market can only support one charity in the area, and that’s why funding those religious charities bothers me less, and because I don’t know of any bullshit Catholic dogma that has as much harm for certain kinds of charities like serving food to the poor. But for Catholic hospitals in particular, it is a severe problem that the Catholic church is buying up many hospitals, so many that it can be quite inconvenient for many people who want to get a sterilization operation.

    For another example, Catholic hospitals have been known to let women die rather than perform an abortion on a dead fetus. Another good reason we should give no money to Catholic hospitals, and instead we should give money only to secular hospitals that offer full services.

    Plus money is fungible. Any money that we give towards Catholic hospitals will invariably help fund other non-hospital activities that I don’t like.

  87. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    Oh wait… Tracie got it right like 5 seconds later. I should stop posting before I finish the episode.

  88. favog says

    EL:
    Regarding the magnetism example, once a while back when one of these type conversations was going on under another thread, someone asked a couple of times if and how anybody knew gravity wasn’t a supernatural effect. Nobody seemed to notice the post, or at least didn’t answer it. But I did think about it. And the more I did, the more my answer was “No, I don’t”. Because every gravity concept that I’ve ever been exposed to, obsolete or not, could have “… because of magic” appended and it wouldn’t make much functional difference. Aristotle’s idea of things going to their place? How does a thing get assigned a place and go there? Magic. The modern 3D equivalent of a weight warping a rubber sheet? What holds the sheet together and provides the force of the weight? Magic. So once again, “supernatural” is a difference that makes no difference. Which is no difference.

  89. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    someone asked a couple of times if and how anybody knew gravity wasn’t a supernatural effect.

    Probably was me.

    Glad to know I’m making some headway. Thanks for the feedback.

    So once again, “supernatural” is a difference that makes no difference. Which is no difference.

    Completely agreed.

  90. JD and Co. says

    @90 tonyinbatavia

    [Abortion] is an incredibly safe, remarkably effective medical procedure that does precisely what it is intended to do nearly every single time is it performed properly. Long-term health and psychological effects are few.

    Agreed. Although I disagree with the definition of “like”, I think you and I come back to the same place. I had knee surgery awhile ago, and while I was grateful the surgery option existed, it meant pain and expense and recovery time. Not having the operation would have meant pain over a longer course of time (basically the rest of my life). Both options sucked. It was a matter of choosing the option that sucked the least. I really would have preferred the problem would go away on its own, or even better, never existed in the first place. So did I “like” knee surgery? Depends on what you mean by “like”. I liked feeling better. I didn’t like the surgery itself.

    I doubt there ever was a woman who looked at the little pink lines and went “Yippee! I’m pregnant! I get to have an abortion!”

    I wasn’t even referring to the stigma, though that’s a good point. I was referring to the physical pain, expense and recovery time, and while it’s minimal compared to nine months of pregnancy and childbirth, it’s still an issue. It’s a tough place to be in, even worse if you want children and are making an unhappy choice based on your circumstances. (What I wish is that all contraception worked all the time, there was no rape or incest, that there were no health problems with pregnancy. I know, “as long as I’m dreaming, I’d like a pony too.”. [quote from Suzie, “Calvin & Hobbes” comic strip])

    Maybe a better way to put it to Ironchops is, “it’s irrelevant whether you or anyone ‘likes’ abortion or not. Lots of people don’t like it. The women who are in that position certainly don’t like it. I didn’t like having knee surgery either, but it was the best choice available to me.”

  91. Monocle Smile says

    @DevoutNerd
    “The show” takes no position on anything. You are once again lumping the hosts into one glut of humanity and saddling them with the positions of each other. Once you stop doing this, what I’m saying will make more sense.
    I took no personal shot.
    If the show is “wearing thin,” then stop watching. You won’t be missed. Sorry if that sounds harsh, but there’s been an irritating amount of bitching on this topic.

  92. ironchops says

    @ 103 JD
    Totally agreed. I “like” your wish/prayer even better!
    I’ve never wanted abortion to be illegal nor have I ever wanted or took part in posting up outside clinics and yelling insults at women who already face a difficult decision, just to make that clear. I did think of it as murder for most of my life however that is an error on my part. My view on the subject is rapidly changing. I still don’t like it and I just hate irresponsibility even more although I am learning to be tolerant (less judgmental) and that seems to be taking a good bit of effort I must say.

  93. nevilleneville says

    Having read through this comment section I can see why people are starting to think we are engaging in groupthink. We should be a broad church and use skepticism at all times, regardless of politics. Otherwise some very valid points.

  94. Monocle Smile says

    @nevilleneville
    What? If this comment section reveals anything, it’s that we all have a very wide range of conflicting opinions; even when we reach the same conclusions, we tend to do so for different reasons. I really don’t understand how you can say something so obviously wrong.

  95. osgi says

    I have a proof of god and hell.

    Russell’s echoing opening message was a highlight of several years worth of clips, where god has obviously cast you guys into technology hell.

    After 17 years, there, a long history of unchanging evidence!

  96. osgi says

    as to the topic,

    The LDS Church is scared to death of SSM because of money, not just government/tax status but from lawsuits.

    After their help in passing Prop 8 in California many years back (keeping SSM illegal in California at the time), the backlash of members over the years as suicide rates among their children skyrocketed (many being LGBT) they have been put between a rock and a hard place, not being able to deny the bible and yet its continuing decline in the Corporations bottom line.

    Some crazy mental gymnastics, bound to get even crazier as time goes on.

  97. osgi says

    Sorry, listening as I comment … the last artist caller:

    There is very strong power of persuasion in art. Here is a real life example of how a powerful organization used art to indoctrinate (whitewash and lie) to their members for many many years
    .
    a href=”https://www.lds.org/ensign/2015/10/joseph-the-seer” title=”How it was translated”
    .
    Scroll down till you come to the illustrations. In 2015, the internet has brought enough visibility to the truth that the church has been forced to acknowledge how it was really done …. and yet they still can not bring themselves to illustrate the truth.
    .
    Lifetime members have never heard or seen this truth before now.
    .
    a href=”https://encrypted-tbn3.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:ANd9GcQK03_FhupKRoedUmemN5YlKMN1LrvagEMEMXVO9bBazCYftXQfiw” title=”Seer stone in hat”
    .
    Sorry, no luck getting the html href reference tags to work as noted .. if I stick around I’ll tend to link, can someone help me with why those were not working with a leading gt and trailing /lt

  98. Paul Cornelius says

    EL @94 and in your replies to yourself:

    I am sure Richard Feynman does understand how magnets work in fundamental terms. In the video, he mentions electromagnetic forces and the alignment of electron spins in magnetic materials. As I’m sure you know, he was most famous for a theory describing how electromagnetic forces operate on the quantum level. What he says in the video is not that he doesn’t understand it himself, but that he “can’t explain it [to the questioner] in terms of anything else that’s more familiar to you.” He says this twice. When he says that “I don’t understand it in terms of things that are more familiar to you,” that is not the same as saying “I don’t understand it.”

    I agree with your general claim that all of physics is built on top of a fundamental level. But that level is constantly evolving – 150 years ago we were still trying to work out thermodynamics, and now we’re working on explaining the Higgs boson and speculating about a multiverse. It’s a safe bet that what is “fundamental” today will be taught to freshmen in 2150, and the frontier will have advanced to places we can’t even imagine.

    Saying that Feynman doesn’t understand magnets is saying that nobody understands anything. If by “understanding” you mean “explainable without making any assumptions at all,” then I admit that’s correct. But isn’t that a presuppositional sort of dilemma? Doesn’t it mean that all scientific discussions must reach this endpoint?

    There have always been things that can’t be explained. Is it reasonable to add the word “yet” to that sentence?

  99. nevilleneville says

    @Monocle
    I would look at the dozens of messages that flooded the earlier section of the thread. Someone wanting Atheism without a lot of politics included isn’t a strange concept. And the replies weren’t exactly varied and thoughtful. I really don’t understand how you can say something so obviously wrong.

  100. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    Saying that Feynman doesn’t understand magnets is saying that nobody understands anything.

    Exactly.

    The caller Brandon demanded that a hypothetical person give a mechanism before he admits that we have understanding. Simply put, that’s completely and utterly wrong, and it goes against the entire scientific enterprise. It’s a complete misunderstanding of science, reductionistic explanations, and demonstrations of causation.

    Fundamentally, understanding of reality does not come from having mechanisms. Understanding comes from having models of reality that offer predictions.

    Note: Having knowledge of mechanisms is a reductionistic way of thinking, and I applaud that way of thinking. It’s an incredibly useful and fruitful thing to do. By using reductionstic explanations, you can gain greater understanding. However, that understanding is still predicated on understanding of something else where you have absolutely zero mechanisms, and thus it’s incredibly wrong-headed to demand a mechanism before allowing for gaining understanding. That was my primary point.

    If by “understanding” you mean “explainable without making any assumptions at all,” then I admit that’s correct. But isn’t that a presuppositional sort of dilemma? Doesn’t it mean that all scientific discussions must reach this endpoint?

    It’s not really presuppositional. I don’t need to presuppose that the magnetic field and the electric field have a certain coupling in quantum electrodynamics. Rather, this is a discoverable property of our shared reality. AFAIK, currently we have no explanation of a mechanism for this coupling. This coupling is simply a fact about the world that we accept because it has a massive amount of evidence behind it.

    The only presuppositional aspect to this way of knowing is the starting assumption of induction. See:
    http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/induction-problem/

    There have always been things that can’t be explained. Is it reasonable to add the word “yet” to that sentence?

    Completely agreed. However, every new scientific reductionistic explanation will necessarily lead to some new question for which we would not currently have an answer. Eventually, we can always ask the question “why is it this way instead of some other way?”, and we will never have an answer for that question. It will always be unanswerable.

    Using the logic of Scott Clifton from the Skepticon talk (link above), suppose we find out that the answer is “because there is an all powerful god that did it”. Great. As Scott Clifton correctly argues, we can still ask the question “why is there an all powerful god instead of not?”. We can ask “why doesn’t this all powerful god randomly wink out of existence?”. There are lots of question we can still ask. In this world of the all-powerful god, one of the rules of reality – one of the natural laws of reality – is that reality changes itself to match the will of god. One can ask the question “why is the world this way instead of some other way?”. Even god could not answer that question.

    Let me show off my anime fanboyism. There is this one episode of Bleach that I think makes an incredibly deep philosophical point on this topic. Two cliche mad scientists are having a duel where they each one-up over and over again. Eventually, one of them declares that they are the perfect being. He explains how he is like the mythical Phoenix because every time he is killed, he will be reborn, and thus he is invincible. My hero in this example, Kurotsuchi Mayuri, defeats the so-called perfect being (basically by trapping him outside of time – he cannot die, but neither can he take any actions for eternity), and Mayuri gives the best “the reason you suck” speech to the so-called perfect being.
    http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/TheReasonYouSuckSpeech

    It’s incredibly beautiful and The reply shows a truly deep understanding of epistemology and philosophy of science. (Or Kubo got right by accident. Whichever.)

    The perfect being you said? Well… I have to tell you the honest truth as I see it: In this world nothing perfect exists. It may be a cliche after all, but it’s the way things are. That’s precisely why ordinary men pursue the concept of perfection; it’s infatuation. But ultimately I have to ask myself what is the true meaning of being perfect. And the answer I came up with was… nothing! Not one thing. The truth of the matter is I despise perfection! If something is truly perfect, that’s it! The bottom line becomes, there is no room for imagination! No space for intelligence, or ability, or improvement! Do you understand? To men of science like us, perfection is a dead end! A condition of hopelessness. Always strive to be better than anything that came before you, but not perfect! Scientists agonize over the attempt to achieve perfection! That’s the kind of creatures we are, we take joy in trying to exceed our grasp and trying to reach for something that in the end, we have to admit, may in fact be unreachable! In other words, you may think that we operate on the same level, but you are wrong. The moment you started talking about perfection, you embraced an impossible concept, and had already lost to me. That is of course, if you are indeed a scientist at all.

    As a scientist, especially as a physicist, one’s job is to gain ever deeper knowledge and understanding. To go ever deeper into the fundamental nature of reality. However, this is a never-ending process. To be a good scientist, you have to take joy in making progress, achieving minor victories, but never achieving final victory. If you ever achieved full understanding, then there there is no more experimentation left to do. No more learning left to do. No room for advancement. Science would be done. You would have put yourself out of a job. That’s not a reason why it’s impossible to obtain perfect understanding, but if your mindset is that you want to achieve perfect understanding, then you do not have the proper mindset of a scientist.

    One last tangent as my mind is wandering: Some great physicists thought that they had achieved a final victory. Newton discovered the rules of motion that govern the orbits of the planets, but he thought that was the end. He thought that there was no deeper explanation for why the orbits of the planets are stable over long periods of time. He thought he reached the final explanation. That’s when he stopped being a scientist, and when he started being a theologian. That’s when he invoked a god as the explanation. That’s when he invoked a perfect being.

    Hey – it’s not exactly the same point from Mayuri / Kubo, but I see some parallels. I just really like that Mayuri quote. It’s almost poetic in context. It’s the best the reason you suck speech.

  101. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    Hmm… I think I like this one fansub translation better than the official English dub translation. I bet it’s more accurate too. I think this is the first version that I saw, and this is the one that is poetic and deep IMHO. The other translation loses some nuance and meaning.

    The perfect being, was it?
    There is no such thing as perfect in this world.
    That may sound cliche, but it’s the truth.
    The average person admires perfection and seeks to obtain it.
    But, what is the point of achieving perfection?
    There is none. Nothing. Not a single thing.
    I loathe perfection!
    If something is perfect, then there is nothing left.
    There is no room for imagination.
    No place left for a person to gain additional knowledge or abilities.
    Do you know what that means?
    For scientists such as ourselves, perfection only brings despair.
    It is our job to create things more wonderful than anything before them, but never to obtain perfection.
    A scientist must be a person who finds ecstasy while suffering from that antinomy.
    In short, the moment that foolishness left your mouth and reached my ears, you had already lost.
    Of course, that’s assuming you are a scientist.

    The key line is this: “A scientist must be a person who finds ecstasy while suffering from that antinomy.”

    Finally, I’m pretty sure that last line is meant as a slight or verbal jab, an insinuation that his opponent may not have been a true scientist because he foolishly claimed that he was a perfect being.

  102. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    PS:
    To make the point explicit, the summation of all of this is that a perfect being is impossible. Perfect understanding is impossible. Even the cliche all powerful and all knowing god can never actually know why the world is this way and not some other way. Even that cliche god can never be absolutely certain that there is no deeper rules of reality. Even that cliche god can never be absolutely certain that it’s not in a simulated world like The Matrix. There might be some deeper rules of reality out there, just beyond its grasp. That’s why if there is a god and it appears to itself that it’s all powerful and all knowing, it would be a fool to conclude that it is actually all-powerful and all-knowing to absolute confidence. That creature should still endeavor to practice science to see if there are limitations to its power, or situations or exceptions to its abilities. In other words, even for a god like that, it’s a mistake to conclude that it’s the perfect being. That’s the moment when it stops being a scientist. That’s the moment when Mayuri would say “in short, the moment that foolishness left your mouth and reached my ears, you had already lost”. What Mayuri is saying that the creature gave up on science, gave up on searching for improvement, and that stagnation and complacence is what can eventually lead to its downfall. In other words, a proper scientist should never say that they have perfect understanding (to absolute certainty). Science is never done.

    It may be that we discover some seemingly fundamental rules of reality, and for thousands of years all observations conform to the seemingly fundamental model of reality. However, tomorrow there might be exceptions. Tomorrow, the rules might change. Tomorrow, travelers from outside The Matrix might arrive. A true scientist is someone who would find despair in this situation, having no more science left to do. A true scientist would continue looking, continue testing, etc.

  103. Monocle Smile says

    @nevilleneville

    I would look at the dozens of messages that flooded the earlier section of the thread. Someone wanting Atheism without a lot of politics included isn’t a strange concept

    When did I say otherwise? That doesn’t make it not irritating.

    And the replies weren’t exactly varied and thoughtful

    Might want to brush up on that reading comprehension a bit. Oh, and in case this wasn’t blindingly obvious, reaching the same conclusions as a number of other people isn’t “groupthink.” It may be that the conclusions are sound. Is heliocentrism just “groupthink?” Do you have an actual point?

  104. nevilleneville says

    I think you need to relax. It is only the interwebz. It doesn’t matter if you find some wanting politics free atheism irritating. It is the logical and sensible way to view atheism. Attracting people to skeptical thought isn’t the domain of the left or the right, it is a way of thinking that should be used to come to better conclusions. Just because a lot of people say something doesn’t make it true, i’d have thought you would have known that…..

  105. Monocle Smile says

    @nevilleneville
    I’m not sure if you’re intentionally trolling or not, but that’s how you’re coming off. You’re clearly not here to discuss anything, so I’ll leave it at that.

  106. nevilleneville says

    I wasn’t trolling, My point stands, and your free to go about your business if mild disagreement is disturbing.

  107. Smallpond says

    @keithatheist and @Russell Glasser, I was a little bit disappointed in the show for the Keith/abortion segment, because the conversation got shut down right when it started getting interesting – when we were getting into the morals of the argument. To recap: Tracie was making the case for why it would be legally abhorrent to force a mother to give part of her liver to save a baby with a genetic deficiency, even if she got pregnant knowing that deficiency was a possibility before hand. When Keith tried to explore the morality of that hypothetical, however, Tracie said that morality is not the issue – the discussion is about the law, and moral and legal issues should remain separate. While I agree with her point on principle, it made for really boring radio, because I think all three members agreed so the following lecture came off to me as preaching to the choir, so to speak.

    So if I may, I’d like to pose the question here, and if TAE could humble me with a response, I’d be honored, but it might be a good discussion for the group in the meantime. I think the morality of abortion, because I think that holds to be best source to find logical arguments that will ultimately convince fence sitters to come to the side of sanity.

    For the morality of the two posed hypothetical, Keith gave an argument of a kind of STD that could only be cured from a blood transfusion from the original host, because the STD is only containable through a sort of symbiosis with the virus DNA, host DNA, and a medicine that adapts to only one person (it was Sci-Fi-ish). Tracie tried to bring the analogy a little bit closer to home with the Mother’s liver donation I mentioned earlier, then challenged Keith to point out where the examples diverged. Legally, there is no disagreement – it would be horrifying for any government to have any authority to take any part of your body for any reason, wither it be your liver or blood.

    But morally, I would like to get as close to a solution as possible, because in human society, I feel that the mother’s liver example would not pass the “common-(wo)man-on-the-street test” and I would like to find out exactly why that is (I’m currently agnostic either way). Russell already pointed out that the transfusion/STD example is already starting at a moral deficit, the STD-host is deliberately withholding information from the sex-partner about a potentially life-threatening disease, so the sex-partner is not consenting while knowing the full risks. Would this put some moral responsibility on the host to make sure the partner survives? Perhaps to better illustrate, a more extreme example – if I shoot someone in the chest, am I under a greater moral responsibility to take the wounded person to a hospital than a neutral passer by? The argument being saving a life is saving a life (everyone has equal responsibility) vs. I have greater responsibility because I caused the danger to begin with…

    I’m unclear to where the hypotheticals don’t share this pattern. In the mother’s liver case, we have a person placing another person in unknowing, fatal danger (in the STD case through deception, in the mother’s case, the unborn cannot, by definition, know what danger they are in), then refusing to help despite little to no cost (we can regenerate both liver and blood). The only difference I can find is that the STD-host has condemned another adult to death, while mother has doomed her infant before she is even born. But that difference is negated once the baby is born, right – don’t we have the same moral responsibility to save adults and infants?

    Legally, everyone agrees that the host and mother cannot be obligated to undergo surgery to save a life, but morally, society would shun both the host and mother for their actions, and I’m not sure if they’d be wrong to do so. I think Keith was trying to get there, but by then the discussion got sidetracked, talking about how pro-life advocates conflate sex and pregnancy. But intent here is important, because the mother was clearly stated she was trying to get pregnant while also knowing of her condition. Would she not therefore have additional moral (not legal) responsibility to alleviate the suffering that her gamble caused?

  108. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    It is the logical and sensible way to view atheism.

    “Logical”. You use that word, but I do not think you know what it means.
    http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/StrawVulcan

    Attracting people to skeptical thought isn’t the domain of the left or the right,

    The modern US right is largely identifiable as the party of serious Christians. I’m gonna say you’re wrong on this one.

    In a more general sense, the party of tradition has everything to lose from a population that questions – that is skeptical – because the party of tradition always dissolves under the sunlight. Tradition is one of the worst arguments you can ever make for doing something, and the party of tradition is the natural enemy of skepticism and free-thought.

    I would look at the dozens of messages that flooded the earlier section of the thread. Someone wanting Atheism without a lot of politics included isn’t a strange concept

    Yes, it sounds like you’re a libertarian practicing the standard libertarian philosophy of “I got mine; fuck you”. This is not the place for you. In this place, our promotion of skepticism and atheism is largely done in order to help people and to improve their lives. You’re welcome to take this “values-free atheism” quote unquote back to the slymepit from whence you came.

  109. Monocle Smile says

    @Smallpond
    The reason this discussion doesn’t take place is because it doesn’t actually matter all that much, in my opinion. I don’t really care if someone finds abortion moral or immoral as long as everyone has the right to have an abortion. Some people might want to have that discussion, but I find it to be a distraction.

  110. phil says

    @ 21 Martin

    “Dictionary Atheism can literally be covered in its totality in one sentence.”

    You are quite right, but consider the fallacy that many theists fall into, thinking that being an atheist means that an atheist also believes in evolution, has no morals, and enjoys eating babies (or some other collection of unrelated things), or the simple misunderstanding that atheists believe there is no god. My general impression is that Matt’s response would in fact be to explain that atheism does not entail anything more than disbelief in gods, although I could be wrong.

    You are correct that being an atheist has some philosophical consequences, but consider that there are, broadly speaking, liberal and conservative atheists, as well as “spiritual” atheists (funny thing that). So the philosophical outcome of one’s atheism is not all that easy to determine from their atheism. For this reason I think these discussions would be a lot simpler if people would stick to the primary definition of the term atheist, and used clearer terminology to describe their other philosophical and political beliefs.

    While I feel that my philosophical and political leanings are reasonably in line with those expressed on AXP, they are not a consequence of my atheism. Some of them are shared by theists, although there are many philosophical and political positions that I believe stem from religion or theology that are anathema to me.

    So, I kind of accept what you’re saying, but I think you are wrong to include anything more under the title of “atheist” than the dictionary definition.

    As for the matters discussed in the show, I would also prefer to see more discussions with theists, but that depends on who phones in. However I’d like to point out that a fair number of the callers who identify as atheists, are frequently asking for advice on how to debate with theists, so in a sense we are getting atheist/theist debates by proxy. Sure it isn’t as exciting as watching Matt or Tracie dismantling some wingnut’s ideas directly, but it is a sign that there are footsoldiers out there taking up the fight.

  111. phil says

    @ 58 ironchops

    Hmmmm, I think the association is to a large extent coincidental, as far as atheism is concerned. Consider that abortion is opposed mostly for theistic reasons, so those who support the right to safe abortions are likely to use atheistic arguments to argue for it. I’ll put it this way:

    Conservative theist: I believe X is bad and against god’s moral law so it should be banned.

    Liberal atheist: There is no evidence for god or said moral law, your argument fails, and besides I don’t believe X is bad.

    or alternatively: I don’t believe X is very bad, but the alternatives are much worse.

    I think that sort of argument is what happens often between conservatives and liberals. I think that atheism only comes into it as a counter to theist positing god god’s requirements, not as a starting point for one’s core beliefs. They might well seem to be at the individual’s core beliefs, we like to think of ourselves as consistent and unified, but that doesn’t make it so.

    For example, I believe in availability of cheap and safe abortions as an issue of harm minimisation and promoting a just and safe society, not because I am an atheist. However I discount any religious or theological argument against that simply because there is no apparent reason to believe it is founded in reality (specifically the “reality” that god exists). Having said all that I also think it would be better if there were no abortions (there are risks and losses), but I feel that in reality it is not achievable with harm minimisation, etc.

  112. ironchops says

    @125 PHIL:
    I almost agree. It may be less association for the atheist as the xtian. Jesus is at the center of all of the good/obedient xtian’s decisions. There seems to be a direct association. Am I wrong?

  113. phil says

    @126 ironchops
    Not wrong. I think that is pretty much what I am saying, although I think it is more than just “less association for the atheist.” I think that the primary difference between atheists and theists (in this context) is that atheists do not base their core beliefs on any supernatural beings, as in there are no gods to inform or infect our core beliefs, our core beliefs are totally secular. Like atheism is “like not-stamp-collecting is a hobby”.

    In truth atheists’ and theists’ beliefs come from the same sorts of places, the main difference is how we ascribe the authority and value of those beliefs. Atheists broadly accept a lot of the moral/ethical values presented in the bible, just not because we believe in any god, e.g. murder is wrong, and it’s good to help the less fortunate in society, not because god said so but because they benefit society which benefits me personally.

    To be honest there are negative aspects of abortions, but they are largely eliminated by making abortion cheap, legal, and easily available. Making abortion illegal does little (if anything) to reduce the rate of abortion, makes them much more dangerous, and makes abortionists and women who seek their services into criminals. And let’s not forget that carrying a baby to term and giving birth are also risky endeavours.

  114. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    Atheists broadly accept a lot of the moral/ethical values presented in the bible, just not because we believe in any god, e.g. murder is wrong, and it’s good to help the less fortunate in society, not because god said so but because they benefit society which benefits me personally.

    There’s this interesting phenomenon where some atheists still wrongly believe that the bible contains lots of good advice. It really doesn’t. I do not accept a lot of the moral/ethical values of the bible. In fact, I find most of the moral/ethical values of the bible to be repugnant. Sure, occasionally they have some good ideas in there, like do not murder, but that’s the minority of its content, not the majority.

    Just as an example: I’ve met far too many Christians that try to use “do not steal” as some absolute moral precept to argue against the kind of vulgar socialism and wealth redistribution that I want to see happen. In this sense, they describe my policies for wealth redistribution by progressive income taxes, property taxes, and estate taxes as a form of theft. In some very important and true sense, I agree. I agree that it’s a violation of private property rights. I happen to think that private property rights are not sacrosanct, and that we as a society should be violating private property rights far more often than we currently do, in the form of wealth redistribution, social society nets, etc. Of course, the bible calls people to charity, but as far as I can tell, it calls only for voluntary charity which is woefully insufficient – it never calls for what we need: the people to form a government with wealth redistribution policies.