1. ricksmg says

    No, because there is no hell. They are wasting their lives being afraid, because of the threat of hell. They are also living within self created limits because they believe heaven exists. It’s a very sad situation created by the churches to control the flocks

  2. nevilleneville says

    Good show, especially Don’s bit about the criteria for heaven. Some of the best stuff on the show is the analysis of doctrine and the flaws inherent in it.

  3. Athywren - Frustration Familiarity Panda says

    There ain’t no hell except the shit you take everyday!
    Wait… wrong show? This is the one where we ask Theresa to listen, right?

    It is entirely possible that I haven’t listened to the podcast yet, and am merely commenting in response to the episode title…

  4. says

    These little talks by Don Baker are the best things about this show and I enjoy this aspect more than the calls (I like the calls too 🙂 ). Over many years Don’s talks have given me lots of interesting things to think about and has even given me some extra knowledge that I can counter theists with.

  5. Becky says

    Oh this episode totally gets a thumbs up just for the aweful aweful joke at the end ;).

    It was really nice to hear from Vivienne. A lady in her sixties who identifies as an atheist is a rarity.

    Great show crew, tyvm.

  6. says

    @ 4: Stewart Mcghee
    > These little talks by Don Baker are the best things about this show and I enjoy this aspect more than the calls

    I actually find these the most annoying. A close second are those calls that just keep on going and nothing is really said, or those that end up in a useless shouting match.

  7. Ron Slaton says

    Don (at 34:45) gives the caller (Mohamed) some very thoughtful advice that addresses the emotional aspects that predominate all religious convictions. Don was quick to point out the potential danger and risk of revealing oneself as an apostate. To openly reject one’s former religious beliefs is emotionally threatening to all believers. Apostasy presents a tangible danger to the believer and his group. The apostate is basically declaring the belief to be incorrect through independent thinking and developing cognitive skills. Believers view a questioning state of mind as harmful, irrational and potentially corrupted. The apostate cannot be trusted to support the group and thus becomes an enemy and a hazard to their belief. Open criticism of the doctrines and tenets must be reduced or eliminated in order to protect the group’s beliefs. Another valuable belief defense is teaching that faith is a superior pathway to truth than logic and reason. The religious finds support in the lesson Jesus teaches in the Doubting Thomas Story. In John 20:27-29 we see Jesus prefered method for guiding believers to truth: Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.” Thomas said to him, “My Lord and my God!” Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” Here we see Jesus teaching that Thomas would have been better off exercising a blind faith than to question the claim and seek evidence. The religious know their beliefs cannot withstand the rigors of rational examination and consequently resorts to faith, which unfortunately drags a raft full of emotional hazards and dangers for all.

  8. osgi says

    Have you ever noticed places in the outdoors that seem to have their own personalities, their own demons/spirits?
    Various canyons of southern Utah are a good example of this?

  9. says

    I disagree with Matt on the idea that “these things are not about going to Hell”. I’m sure he knows that following the commandments and giving away all one’s possessions are from the story of the rich young ruler, and Jesus said them in response to the question “what good thing shall I do that I may have eternal life?” (Matthew 19:16). Is that not a question about avoiding damnation?

    When Christians quote their favorite passage about how to go to heaven (Acts 16:31), I like to quote Jesus’ response to the rich young ruler. I remind them that Jesus is a higher authority on salvation than Paul is. I also respond to their typical rebuttal (“That was meant personally for the rich young ruler”) by pointing out that the statement that Paul makes to the guard is private and includes the universally-regarded-as-privately-directed phrase “and your household” at the end of the verse, while Jesus’ statement was made in front of a crowd. Jesus even goes on to state that it’s nearly impossible for a rich man to become saved, which only makes sense in the context that giving away one’s possessions is part of salvation and doesn’t make sense if belief is the “true” way to salvation. Jesus doesn’t even mention belief at all the rich young ruler, even after the guy walks away sadly, and he doesn’t mention belief to the crowd afterwards, either.

    So what I’m basically saying is, while I agree that no Christian doctrine does include following the commandments or giving away one’s possessions as the way to salvation, they should.

  10. osgi says

    @14 supernova,
    You should try Mormonism. We state that the first law of heaven is obedience, and covenant to a law of consecration of everything in order to make it into the highest heaven.

  11. Monocle Smile says

    Yeah, I call that “balderdash.” The tired old line of “believe me or YOU’LL BE SORRY” is the world’s oldest con job.

  12. osgi says

    Well that’s the beauty of Mormonism … the “you’ll be sorry” is much more shuttle as there is no permanent hell, but only seven levels of heaven.

  13. Christie says

    lol this was an awkward show. Don’s nervous laughter + Matt buttering up the list at the end because he felt bad for making Don laugh nervously

  14. osgi says

    Well I asked a question, not much feedback. I contradicted two statements made about hell, not much interest. I suggested Mormon’s don’t believe in hell, no comments.

    I’m poking around outside my posting comfort zone (I typically post only on my worldview message boards). I only recently came across The Atheist Experience episodes on youtube and wondered if there was any good conversation to be found here.

    My worldview is mostly limited to Mormonism.

    So, I’m wondering if you guys/gals have anything here worth discussing in these comment sections.

  15. osgi says

    Also note I made a couple posts in the previous two episodes, no replies. However they were old shows and my comments were buried at the end of pile, so I did not think much of it.

  16. ironchops says

    @osgi 18: 7 heavens? None of which exist. No hell, No heaven.
    You will find no fans of the LDS here. I was raised Mormon. I was temple sealed at 8 years old with my sister and parents. I was baptized at around 12 and entered the priesthood as deacon just after that. It took 2 years to figure it was all bullshit. Listen to the story… is all crap conjured up by the con artist Joe Smith who was convicted of fraud.

  17. NYC atheist says


    Welcome to the conversation. It’s going to get tough around here, but don’t take it personal.
    The reason you’re not being taken seriously (as I see it) is you throw things out there as a given, that we don’t accept. For instance HOW did you come to the conclusion that canyons are magically imbued with ‘spirits’ as opposed to just being grand and beautiful? I’m unconvinced that there are spirits, am unsure what that even means, or why I should believe it.
    Also, before you spout Mormon doctrine, you first need to make a case that it’s true. Starting with the existence of any god, let alone yours.

    Ps, you’re used to a certain level of privilege. People accept things you say as valid because they mostly agree. That is gone here. We’ll try to be civil if you do the same. Don’t mistake it for an attack or disrespect.

  18. Monocle Smile says

    Like ironchops said, none of us believe in any of the stuff put forth by Mormonism. Why are you an adherent? That’s a good start…we know what you believe, and now we’d like to know why.

    Corwyn answered your first question and followed up. Your response to his question was a non sequitur.

    Posting on old shows won’t garner a response. Typically a week or two is enough to make a thread go dead, with exceptions.

  19. osgi says

    @who ever

    “Why are you an adherent?”

    I’m not an adherent (at least not willingly)

    “we know what you believe”

    Maybe, most don’t know the level of crazy.

    “now we’d like to know why”

    It’s more like being culturally Jewish. My wife, grown children and grandchildren are devote orthodox Mormons (True Blue Mormon, i.e. TBM). I’m an apostate. I live in a small town that is likely 80% plus tbm. I’m Mormon, it’s just not something you walk away from.

    “Your response to his question was a non sequitur.”

    The personality of canyons seems stronger in southern Utah than other landscapes I’ve enjoyed. The manifestation is not something one can put into words. Nor am I suggesting it is actual spirits. You kind of have to have been there to understand was the suggestion.

    “Typically a week or two is enough to make a thread go dead, with exceptions.”
    These were #939 and #940, the one was a week old, the other current at the time.

  20. osgi says

    Is anybody aware that the seems to have some serious issues (at least using the firefox browser).

    It does it on my home machine as well as my work machine.

    It will jump up to about 10% to 15% cpu utilization (when it should be idle) and leaks memory, eventually running it out causing page swapping which makes your machine appear dead.

  21. corwyn says

    @ 10 osgi:

    I have spent my time in many amazing places.

    Would you now like to address my question:
    How do theses demons manifest?

  22. corwyn says

    @15 Supernova:

    I remind them that Jesus is a higher authority on salvation than Paul is.

    Which might carry some weight if we had *his* words. What we *do* have is two different accounts giving what the authors claim is Jesus’ words. Both claim to have personally heard those words (one in a vision).

  23. corwyn says


    Is anybody aware that the seems to have some serious issues (at least using the firefox browser).

    Yes, I get a bit of that as well.

  24. corwyn says

    @25 osgi:

    The manifestation is not something one can put into words. Nor am I suggesting it is actual spirits.

    In which case, I can confidently put it as internal to your head rather than external. Which is fine; we all (I think) find awe inspiring sights affect us on a deep level. Many see it as an excuse for agency projection, which is a common failing of the human mind.

  25. osgi says

    Did a bit of googling, including “psychology agency projection” but did not find anything.

    I’m unfamiliar with this term.

  26. osgi says

    Sorry iron, I missed your post earlier … work was crazy today.
    Cool we are brothers! hehe

    No worries, not looking for fans of Mormonism. Sounds like your parents were converts. One must be BiC (born in the covenant) with pioneer blood and live along the Mormon Corridor to get properly indoctrinated!

    Are you parents/sis still active?

  27. osgi says

    no joy with html tags with attributes. I could not get href’s to work the other day either. What’s the trick?

    is it preview only that’s weird?

  28. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    The html that is accepted in posts on freethoughtblogs is heavily restricted. For example, we don’t even get underline. (But apparently admins do get underline. I remember Martin being able to underline in a post.)

  29. osgi says

    what is wrong with this?

    blockquote cite=”Which is fine; we all (I think) find awe inspiring sights affect us on a deep level”/>
    cite="Which is fine; we all (I think) find awe inspiring sights affect us on a deep level"

    if each line above has a greater-than sign at its beginning it does not work?

    The href’s do really strange things

    line after href, title did not work

  30. osgi says

    Conversion …. thank you so much for the link and information … I’m very interested to pursue the suggested series.

  31. osgi says

    Speaking of Mormon’s … too funny ironchops should have recognized Dallon Oaks, Prophet, Seer, Revelator and Apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ from that second episode (talking about testimony)!

  32. osgi says

    I also found the one on hallucinations interesting. I’m 3 three years out from radiation/chemo treatments that left me (among other things) with constant phantom smells … mostly from my own hands/clothes etc. Strong, sicking sweet burnt type smell no one but I can smell. All a hallucination and yet absolute truth to me.

  33. ironchops says

    Yea osgi, I have forgotten all I can about the Mormon thing. Have absolutely no interest in it at all.
    I am glad you made it through the treatments. I can only imagine how much that sucks but hey, you are still here kick’n. I hope all goes well for you.

    I have been invited to give a report in Sunday school on the star of Bethlehem. Does anyone know a good secular web site that I can get info about this subject. I kind’a want to use this opportunity to tip my hand (come out) so to speak. I think I see some syncretism in this story, at very least it seems superstitious. Well that’s the spin I am looking for and I hope research will help me show that it ain’t real.

  34. says

    @osgi Welcome! It sounds like you’re on your way to more grounded view of the world. The reason we ask the “Why do you believe?” question is that there are good reasons and not so good reasons people believe things and most atheists are as interested in the process and details how we determine whether something is true or now as we are with the ultimate answer to any one question of significance. Being raised in a religion is probably the most common reason most folks believe (that’s why I used to believe), even if that reason suffers from the same problem as the “What if your whole community decided to jump off a cliff, would you follow them?” question exposes. Also, given your situation, if you do come to realize that you don’t believe anymore, it’s completely your call if you want anyone around you to know it. Last thing, do you have any questions for us?

  35. says

    On Don’s “Reasons Christians are going to Hell” topic in the show, I loved the topic and list, but I also agree with Matt that this isn’t really accurate for what Christians believe are the criteria for going to hell. There seemed to be two types of things in the list, things that Christians rail against that really have nothing to do with the doctrines of salvation (they can sin in certain ways and get forgiveness and be saved, but gays can’t?) and things in the bible that are either contradictory or silly if taken at face value (show me a Christian that doesn’t wear mixed fabrics, even though wearing mixed fabric is as bad as sodomy in terms of worthiness of heaven). Vanity of vanities, all is a bunch of misguided interpretations of a largely incoherent ancient text. As Jeff Dee once said on NPR: “Why don’t they all just give up?”

  36. osgi says

    @NYC atheist
    Somehow I missed your comment as well. Thank you for the welcome! I posted as I did in a hope to stir up a couple of regulars. I’ve been what the Mormons call “less active” since 2002 (i.e. not been back since, but they like to tout large membership numbers).

    I’ve been at my home board for many years now . It’s considered by TBM’s to be the second most vile anti-mormon cesspool (discussion board) on the web. Thus I’m pretty well versed in the us versus them, year after year repeated battles (displays for the anonymous new listeners) between the critic (cess) and the apologist over the same old topics.

    Coming to the understanding that Mormonism was not true takes a big and dangerous step (much like the coming out episode 1 or 2 back is for some atheists). But even then, I think most of us apostates still fear questioning Jesus. It took me up to about two years back before I could allow myself to even consider that a belief in Jesus is not much different than a belief in Mormonism. In our communities being labeled anti-mormon is bad enough being label anti-christ is beyond thinking.

    I’m a bold type A personality and don’t really care what others think of me, so being labeled does not really bother me, other than the pain to wife/kids. It is for those deeply indoctrinated and/or naturally occurring things in my being that I struggle. Agnostic feels safe … it’s still noncommittal and allows me to still fall back on some higher power (i.e. AA that I mentioned before, and the canyons here are examples).

    Anyway, enough for this post … maybe we can talk more about one’s letting go of the supernatural, even after struggling to let go of god. I mean if one is going to live in the cesspool, they might as well jumping the deep end right? (that was supposed to be funny)

    Question: Do some agnostics oscillate in/out somewhat?

  37. osgi says


    Are you a programmer? (bitwise and, or, nor?)

    anyway, thank you as well for the Welcome

  38. says

    @45 I don’t really know how common it is for self identified agnostics to oscillate in/out of belief in god. I was some sort of theist up to the point that I really took a hard look at the basis of my god beliefs, so the transition from believing to not knowing to not believing was one directional for me. There have been callers to the show that have expressed going in/out of belief as they’ve questioned, so I would assume it’s fairly common at the very least. There is also a case to be made that that agnosticism isn’t really a position, and the justification is that if you don’t know if you believe in god, you can’t say that you do believe in god, so it’s hard to tell how that is different from plain old atheism. Of course, our culture is more accepting of those who label themselves agnostic than they are of the atheist label, which makes getting by in a theistic culture a lot easier.

    For the supernatural question, could you define what that means to you? And, how can you tell the difference between something that is supernatural vs something that is natural? What are the criteria? For instance, telepathy is something I’ve seen described as supernatural. Currently, there doesn’t seem to be any natural way for two people to communicate with each other over a great distance, unaided, and the many studies that have been done to see if there is any effect haven’t shown anything beyond random chance. But, let’s say for the sake of argument that those studies did show some effect that could be reproduced. Would saying “it must be supernatural” provide any explanatory power? Not really, unless you can explain how the supernatural mechanism works, at which point it starts looking more like a natural thing than a supernatural thing. To me, the word supernatural just seems like a rather unhelpful way of saying “I don’t know what is going on here”. There’s also the matter of confirmation bias when it comes to things that we might call supernatural (or not). When we construct a model of something, like telepathy, and we have an experience that seems to confirm it, we further cement that model as reflecting reality. For example: “I was sending the thought “throw the curveball” to the pitcher, and then he threw a curveball and struck out the last batter and my team won. I must be telepathic!” Ok, but how many times did I send a pitch thought to the pitcher and the pitcher threw something else? How many different pitches are there and how often does the pitcher throw a curveball? Does the pitcher know what I know, that this batter isn’t very good at hitting curveballs? Pretty soon it becomes clear that supernatural telepathy isn’t the best explanation for what happened, even though it seemed like it did at the time. Jumping to some neat supernatural explanation is easy to do and finding out if there is some other natural cause takes some work.

    @46 Yes, somebody pays me to press keys in specific sequences such that they are turned into patterns of bits that can do things like keep track of which keys were pressed in which sequence in order to do other things.

    And you’re welcome! I’m not very active here, but contribute from time to time.

  39. ironchops says

    @42: Thanks changer. Perfect! That even came with transcripts ready for use.
    @44: Yea, Matt was holding Don’s straw manning down a bit. I thought that a little comical.
    @ osgi 45:
    “Question: Do some agnostics oscillate in/out somewhat?”
    Yea, I struggle a bit too. 1st 14 years Mormon and still attending a Baptist church for reasons only God knows (jk). Habit I guess. I still have a lot of friends there. I call myself agnostic-Christian. I find myself in the process of coming to reason but I am in a phase trying to redefine/reinterpret the stories into some sort of philosophy type thing (in my mind). I mostly don’t believe anything in the bible is actually true any more than the king Arthur story for example. I just see the bible as a collection of fictitious stories about a particular group of people in a particular region. There may be some moral guidelines/wisdoms in there somewhere but that only be interpreted by the reader. I guess I am actually an atheist but too afraid to just come out an say/accept it.

  40. adamah says

    Thanks to Matt for being on-hand to squash the rampant unfettered misrepresentation of many versions of Xianity offered by Don (and in retrospect it’s ironic that Don gave credit to the author of the article, when the author only earned a razzie).

    Matt’s intervention single-handly avoided the need for a 200-post thread! 😉

    We’re the first ones to object when we’re straw-manned; it does the cause of atheism no favors by misrepresenting Xian beliefs, and actually harms our position by making us easier-to-dismiss as being ignorant of their theology.

    It’s sad that one has to waste decades of their life learning theology in order to be able to discredit it….

  41. Rhett Rothberg says

    Agree w/ adamah…

    Don, bless his heart….

    But these failures of Christianity topics are often off the mark. As a former Christian, I typically think when I am listening to his series that, “that isn’t actually what Christians believe…”. Rather, it’s usually exactly what non-Christians think Christians believe.

    I appreciate Don’s willingness to invest time in putting his series together, I just think perhaps it might be more useful to close this series and move on to another…

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