Comments

  1. Monocle Smile says

    Haven’t watched the show, but given the reactions to the trans issues discussed over the past few weeks as well as the things about atheism and feminism (not to mention Ayn Rand)…yeah, I’m not so sure, either.

  2. StonedRanger says

    Our friend Hamish was back. Matt thought he was a troll at the end of their conversation. What a hoot.

  3. Nathan says

    We got to hear more from Johanan with his sued scientific rambling. I thought he stopped long ago.

  4. Monocle Smile says

    Oh goodie, two repeat callers. David from Grand Blanc is back, and OF COURSE he’s a fanboy of William Lane Craig. I still don’t understand any of the moral arguments. Why is there this tie between a god and morality? The arguments assume a linkage, but I’ve never heard an explanation behind this. Inserting a god doesn’t actually solve half the problems theists raise with the “atheistic worldview,” whatever that means. David also commits exactly the same mistakes he made last week…he makes shit up about gods, then claims he doesn’t have to defend his nonsense. Also, he has no clue what ‘objective’ means. He really means “intrinsic regardless of reality,” which I find incoherent. This guy needs to get off Craig’s nuts and actually care about the soundness of any part of his argument.

  5. Monocle Smile says

    Make that THREE repeat callers! And all theists! Or whatever the fuck Johanan is. That weirdo got his ass handed to him on several rationalskepticism forum threads and still thinks he’s coherent. His rambling is nothing but woo buzzwords…and don’t let him fool you, he doesn’t have even a rudimentary grasp of the physics he babbles about. Given that Johanan is convinced that we’re all just figments of a mind and not even real (ideal monism), then why the fuck does he keep finding people to pester about this? Why not spend all his time masturbating and smoking weed?

  6. Monocle Smile says

    Shit, I forgot Johanan’s kicker. He takes this bromide “integrated information” and says it’s the same thing as a conscious mind. All he does is redefine everything such that it means nothing.

  7. Monocle Smile says

    And it gets worse. Johanan has latched onto “what the bleep do we know,” and he goes into the fabricated bullshit like “gamma synchrony” that Roger Penrose and Stuart Hammeroff advocate. They are nothing short of con artists on this topic.

  8. Geahk says

    I thought the Scottish guy might have been Billy Clement, trolling. He had a similar style of speaking but I gather it was some guy named Hamish, a pastor at the Lochs Free Church of Scotland.

    I listened to a couple of his sermons. It’s no wonder Matt thought he was a troll. His beliefs are rather extraordinarily convoluted. He will basically say anything to make his conception of God be in the right.

  9. Athywren - This Thing Is Just A Thing says

    I was going to listen to this whole thing before commenting, if I felt the need to comment, but… augh! I made it 16 minutes and 9 seconds in before David from Grand Blanc set my eye twitching.
    What is it with these morals = god argumenters that they need the universe itself to care about us and our morality? The universe is indifferent to us. If it even has shits to give, it’s not giving them to us. It is not objectively true that killing a human is a bad thing, any more than it’s objectively true that killing a cow or cutting down a tree is a bad thing. There’s no scientific experiment that’s going to boil down the facts of reality and get us to “thou shalt not kill.” That has to come from us and, yes, that does mean that those who enjoy going around murdering everyone they see are not violating any universal law – but they’re still violating human law, and even though there’s no cosmic policeman coming to drag offenders off to cosmic jail, there are still human police who will drag them off to human jail. I honestly don’t understand why anybody finds that argument remotely compelling.

    Btw, according to my brain at the moment (I sometimes disagree with myself), a better episode title might’ve been, “Are Atheists Not Stupid?”

  10. Wiggle Puppy says

    Yes, the problem with arguing about morality is that the WLC-types seem to think that “objective morality” is something intrinsic to the fabric of the universe – kind of like the value of the universal gravitational constant – that would exist even if there were no thinking minds to perceive it. That kind of “objective” morality just doesn’t exist. But if we agree that the goal of human society – or one goal, at least – is to promote human survival, well-being, and flourishing, then there are objectively good or bad ways to achieve those goals. It’s kind of like if the goal of transportation is to get people safely to where they want to go, then driving your car down a crowded highway at 100 miles an hour with your eyes closed is an objectively bad way to achieve that goal, and likewise, to steal from Sam Harris, throwing acid in the faces of young women who are trying to get an education is an objectively bad way to promote human well-being. It’s a brutally simple concept that they don’t seem to grasp.

  11. ironchops says

    As I slowly come to reason I find myself using some of the same arguments I heard on this episode. All are utterly destroyed by rational thinking. God=Morality? If that were the case when in human development was that ever actually determined? I believe that to be nonsense. Man created god so man created morality.

    Isn’t the wellbeing argument almost entirely subjective? What is more important, the wellbeing of all humanity or my own or my families wellbeing. If people in a particular region of the world is experiencing a famine and people in the rest of the world have just enough food to feed themselves is it moral for those who have food to keep it and allow the others to starve out? If the first group, those in the region of the famine, knew that food was available in neighboring communities and knew their neighbors were withholding it would it be moral to go take the food in an effort to survive, they might have to kill to get it but isn’t that a form of self-defense? Some societies killed deformed babies because they most likely would not survive and that they would take resources from those who would most likely survive. Was that considered moral? Does context change morality?

  12. Wiggle Puppy says

    @12 Yes, there are really complicated situations, and some of these situations are much less clear-cut than others. I don’t think it’s so much that context can change *morality* so much as that context can change what is considered to *be moral* (and there’s a difference). It may not generally be moral to steal from a store, but if you’re in the midst of a natural disaster and the only way you can eat is to take something from an abandoned shop, then it may be moral (or at least not immoral) in that situation to do that. And there may be situations in which no moral/immoral distinction can be made; for example, in the scenario where we have just enough food to feed ourselves which means that others starve, it’s possible that there is no truly “moral” action that can be taken, just one based on self-interest, which, while tied to morality, isn’t the same thing. (Morality is tied to self-interest because, for example, the reason I don’t kill and steal is partially because I want to live in a society where I’m not killed or stolen from, so I have an interest in doing my part to build that society by not doing those things, but I think morality goes a bit beyond that into the respect for the integrity of thinking creatures.) Some situations don’t have good options. But the way we make determinations about the best option(s) is by mobilizing data and evidence to build arguments, not by appealing to an authority. It may not be perfect, but it’s the best method we have, especially when responding to the moral argument for god, which, in trying to prove god, assumes that there’s a god that provides objective morals in order to claim that objective morals exist and therefore that a god exists.

  13. Robert,+not+Bob says

    A lot of people get hung up on the word “opinion”. They seem to think opinion is free-floating and irrelevant, so calling something “just opinion” is a way to dismiss it. As the quantum woo guy did. This goes way beyond religion and facilitates a LOT of nonsense.

  14. jeffh123 says

    Matt, thank you, thank you, thank you. WLC does start with a conclusion and draws his other conclusions from that, yet never proving his initial conclusion. Ever.

  15. StonedRanger says

    Jen, atheists in general may not be smarter than theists, but after yesterdays show I’m pretty sure that atheists in general are smarter than the three guests you had. Johanan was spewing so much garbage so fast I couldn’t keep up with it. It never ceases to amaze me at how these guys latch onto the most bizarre stuff they can find to back up their crazy notions.

    And for gods sake, theists, please stop calling the show to proselytize. Quoting the bible and threatening us with hell is just so much name calling. If we don’t believe in your god, what makes you think we give a rip whats in your old book? I don’t get it.

  16. Russell Glasser says

    “And for gods sake, theists, please stop calling the show to proselytize.”

    What?? You’re asking the most in-demand callers by the audience to stop calling?!?

  17. Athywren - This Thing Is Just A Thing says

    @Russell
    Well, it would be nice if they’d come up with a compelling argument once in a while. Even if it ended up being groundless, it’d be nice to see something challenging crop up.
    Still, I suppose we shouldn’t push it – it’s been a while since the “look at the trees!” argument went on an outing, and we shouldn’t give it the impression that it’s what we’re looking for.

  18. ironchops says

    @15 Wiggle Puppy
    Thanks for your response. That was kind’a my thinking as well.
    I think the slavery thing used by atheist about morality is a bit of a straw man.

  19. Yaddith says

    Are theists stupid? Not necessarily, although the theists who called the show this week certainly provided no evidence to rebut the notion. Theists have been attempting to argue god into existence for thousands of years with no success, yet for some reason I can’t fathom, they just keep trying. Don’t you think it’s time to throw in the towel, guys!

  20. JD and Co. says

    Mapping intelligence to any world view is pointless. I’ve seen many smart people cling to ideas that promote their agenda with no regard for its actual truth-value. In fact, the smarter they are, the more resources they can marshal to bolster their arguments. So in the end “Is it true?” is less important to them than “does it serve me?”

  21. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    To Yaro
    I haven’t seen the AXP episode yet, but that phrase Immediately reminds me of Deepak Chopra.

    http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Quantum_woo

    Popular culture movies such as The Secret and What the Bleep Do We Know? have also appealed to such concepts.

    http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Deepak_Chopra

    http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Not_even_wrong

    If you look up “not even wrong” in the dictionary, or at least RationalWiki, you will find Deepak Chopra’s face. Indeed, here it is. [EL: picture of Deepak Chopra’s face]

  22. Yaro says

    Ah, it was just woo territory. The guy did seem pretty heavy on the word salad. I suppose I shouldn’t have held out hope he had an actual definition or idea behind the phrase.

  23. says

    I never get the moral argument. I mean, what does it actually have to *do* with the question of whether God exists? It just seems to amount to “Because I am deathly afraid of moral ambiguity, the universe *must* be arranged in such a way that it doesn’t exist.”

    I’ve noticed, also, that scare tactics seem to be fundamental to the argument. I have never once heard a theist present the moral argument for God’s existence without accompanying threats to the life or bodily integrity of his opponent (e.g. the first caller’s assertion that if Matt didn’t accept his position then it means there would be nothing wrong with cutting off his head). They’re usually phrased in such a way as to not be a direct threat, but they’re always gruesome and horrific, and intended to get you to give up caring about the truth of the argument in favor of what (they think) would alleviate existential terror.

    In my more cynical moments, though, I lean towards thinking that at least some people who make the argument aren’t interested in a God that provides “objective morality” that would keep them safe, so much as one that would justify imposing their moral beliefs on others.

  24. Athywren - This Thing Is Just A Thing says

    @OrphanBlackOps, 22
    I have no idea if the Hamish in that recording is the same guy, but it’s worth remembering that people can and do sound very different based on the context in which they’re speaking, and the devices used to record them. I certainly picked up on enough similarities in the sound of his voice to believe that it *might* be the same guy, but there’s not really enough to go on. At least, not from the bit that I listened to – maybe he goes on to speak in English about the times he’s called into AXP later on? :p

    @somnus, 28
    I’ve noticed that existential terror does seem to be a pretty major tool in their arsenal. I like it when they roll out the idea that my life will have absolutely no impact on the state of the universe in 6 billion years. I was quite crushed by that, first time I heard it, because here I was, thinking that 70% of it would have been set aside as an intergalactic monument in my honour. Set my ego back a way, I can tell you.

  25. Kenny De Metter says

    Could someone clarify Johanan’s arguments for me ( in simple terms ) , because I didn’t understand what he was talking about.
    It sounded like we discovered something about consciousness ( something about proteins in the brain ? ).
    My head hurts.

    Thanks.

  26. Wiggle Puppy says

    @31 Johanan has called several times before, and each time 1) he name-drops a bunch of people and meanders through a bunch of concepts in theoretical physics and computer science, then 2) the hosts beg him to stop name-dropping and to get to some kind of point that a non-specialist will be able to understand, then 3) he name-drops more people and meanders through more conceptual stuff. One time before, his argument was that this universe is most likely a simulation and the entity created the simulation would have to be a god, and this time I’m not sure what he was getting at, but it was something about our minds being able to communicate with some cosmic mega-mind, which would be a god. You kind of have to step back and ask why, if there is a god and that god wants us to know it exists and wants to communicate with us and wants us to understand its nature, it would reveal itself by way of a method that requires an advanced understanding of abstract theoretical ideas that have taken centuries to develop, rather than, you know, showing up on a regular basis and declaring itself in an unambiguous and definitive way.

  27. I Can't Believe I Deciphered That and it Scares Me says

    I think what Johannan was attempting to say is that proteins on opposite sides of the mind communicate with each other, which means they somehow possess quantum entanglement. Because there is quantum entanglement in nature, this means that nature/the universe is a mind with reality as the emerging conscious. Since both the universe ‘mind’ and our minds have quantum entanglement, they should be able to communicate with each other. Basically, Johannan took quantum entanglement and made some wild leaps to both how brain proteins communicate and to God, where in reality the only thing with any kind of evidence I know of in that mess is that quantum entanglement exists.

  28. Beifig says

    This Johanan guy is a complete idiot, and also a horrible person. I watched parts of some of his videos and he demonstrates himself to be completely dishonest. Also, he seems to like buzzwords and whatever woo is new and fancy at the moment. First is was the “We are in the matrix!” argument, now we are all apparently in gods mind, so he is just using whatever word salad he can to claim victory in his “debates”.

  29. says

    I’m curious as to the caller’s claims that God is “necessarily good”. Doesn’t that imply some kind of prior constraint placed on God externally? Something that he had to do/establish?

    It’s like when they insist that imperfect people must be tortured in Hell infinitely because that’s justice. But God established “justice” (or it predates him somehow)… so all they’re really saying is that God decided this rule, and therefore, God must adhere to it, for reasons God came up with.

    That’s the problem with absolute references… it’s like dividing by zero. The caller’s analogy to us free-floating in space actually shows why this is pointless. Which way is really “up”? The solution here isn’t to arbitrarily decide to go with the nearest proximate “greatest” entity pointing in an arbitrary direction. The solution here is that the absolute isn’t needed. All you need to do is all agree to an “up”, even if it is initially arbitrary.

  30. ironchops says

    @EL 26 & 29
    You answered a couple of my questions.

    Isn’t it funny how religion/churches use rhetoric, post #26, to achieve/instill both of the characteristics shown in the link posted in comment #29 into their victims? http://www.calvin.edu/rhetoricandchristiantradition/interested_scholars.htm

    It’s like they create the disease and then convince their patient/victim how urgent it is to undergo treatment. When the victim buy into it and agree to donate they cure you with sugar pill mystical BS and then you miraculously feel better. It really is a scam isn’t it?

  31. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    It really is a scam isn’t it?

    What is “it”? Deepak Chopra types, including all quantum shysters, might be scammers. I imagine most are. Some might have genuinely fooled themselves too. I don’t know.

  32. favog says

    Jonathan’s full of it, that’s what “it” is. I’m not a scientist, but I’m an interested layperson to the point I can tell he’s usually saying nothing at all, and when he does actually say something, it’s wrong. His little aside about anesthesia, for example. For the last six months, I’ve been having to have a repeated medical procedure that involves putting me under for a little bit, and the weirdness of the going in and out experience has been getting more and more interesting to me as it goes. A few weeks ago, I saw one of those short internet science videos about the brain on anesthesia, and I jumped on it. What I found there was that … no one knows about your brain on anesthesia. Why it works, how it works, what’s going on while you’re out — they just know it’s a unique brain state that doesn’t map to anything else you naturally experience. Despite the fact that people call it going to sleep, it’s clearly not sleep. So I asked my anesthesiologist next time I went in and he confirmed that. So if doctors don’t know what’s happening at that point, I’m pretty sure Jonathan doesn’t either.

  33. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    To ironchops
    Also, thanks. Glad someone else finds my posts occasionally useful.

  34. hansmeiser says

    How is it to be an atheist in the US? Is it really that strange? Coming out as an atheist sounds ridiculous to me.
    I’m german and things are slightly different over here.

  35. speculatingfellow says

    Are Theists Stupid?
    Not necessarily. Because there is a broad spectrum of theists.
    However alot are the bible preaching nutjobs, but I have also seen some people make an argument which says that a highly evolved alien species might look like gods compared to us.

    However can this be interpreted as a form of theism?
    Personally I think it depends on how you look at it and what your personal beliefs are.
    Because you could argue that divinity can’t be achieved through evolution and advanced technology.
    But at the same time you CAN.

    So in the case where highly evolved alien species are considered gods compared to us; I would argue that the person beliving this would be a theist.
    But whether or not this person is stupid, I still think is debatable.

  36. tattiebogle says

    I know a few are of the opinion that Hamish is a troll. I’m not so sure about that. I’m Scottish, and I’ve met my fair share of Wee Frees. A few were similarly obtuse and stubbornly pedantic in their mannerisms.
    He could easily be the real deal.

  37. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    How is it to be an atheist in the US? Is it really that strange? Coming out as an atheist sounds ridiculous to me.
    I’m german and things are slightly different over here.

    Depends highly on the area. The United States is a big and diverse place. I can speak for my own area, in the San Fransisco Bay area, and specifically the rich tech sector culture. No one seems to care if you’re an atheist by and large. The only negative encounter I can remember is that one woman on an online dating website turned me down with the explicit reason “Because I [the woman] am a Christian”.

  38. hansmeiser says

    “So in the case where highly evolved alien species are considered gods compared to us; I would argue that the person believing this would be a theist.”

    How can you?

    God = supernatural, Highly evolved aliens = not supernatural

    I do believe that highly evolved aliens could look like gods to us. I even believe that humans living in 100.00 years could look like gods to us – as we would look like gods to a neandertal because of our technology and his bad knowledge of nature.

  39. Monocle Smile says

    @hansmeiser
    Eh, not only is that not an agreed upon point, necessarily, but there’s also no meaningful difference between “supernatural” and “natural.” Either something is part of reality or it’s not. That term is just a get-out-of-jail-free card for believers and woo peddlers.

  40. Matzo Ball Soup says

    There’s a phenomenon I sometimes see on the Internet that one might call “cargo-cult atheism”: where someone is going through the motions of a discussion or argument but doesn’t seem to understand the issue well enough to really argue it. Rather, they borrow some talking point that they heard from this show or AronRa or PZ Myers or whoever, and invoke it in such a way that it’s clear that they think they’ve just won the argument, but in context it comes off as a non-sequitur because they’ve skipped several steps of argumentation to get to the punch line. (Rather than doing the thing that makes this show good, and actually listening to what people are saying and responding to it.) That was the first thing that came into my head when the alleged “smartness of atheists” came up. You still have to spend time thinking about issues to gain understanding. There’s no shortcut.

  41. Sam7604 says

    I quite like that guy analogy of “who’s up is correct in outer space?” If you have a bunch of people floating around in outer space oriented in every which direction. None of these people have a correct “up”, but along comes a very powerful man, he has an immense amount of power stemming from some unseen source, the power to punish those who do not conform to his ways. And he therefore says, “My up is correct, you all most orient yourselves to my up, or I’ll shatter your helmet with my telekinetic powers and watch you slowly succumb to the vacuum of space.”

    This in no way makes his up any less subjective and arbitrary than anyone else’s. I can’t imagine why theists don’t understand this (maybe they are stupid…)

    Now these people could all agree on a standard “up”, this up would probably be as convenient for the majority as possible, it would be rationally deduced and agreed upon, and it would great benefit all these peoples lives, their well-being, and their ability to communicate. And that seems like a better way to live, at least in respect to well being.

  42. Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden says

    @Wiggle Puppy, #11:

    But if we agree that the goal of human society – or one goal, at least – is to promote human survival, well-being, and flourishing, then there are objectively good or bad ways to achieve those goals. It’s kind of like if the goal of transportation is to get people safely to where they want to go, then driving your car down a crowded highway at 100 miles an hour with your eyes closed is an objectively bad way to achieve that goal, and likewise, to steal from Sam Harris, throwing acid in the faces of young women who are trying to get an education is an objectively bad way to promote human well-being. It’s a brutally simple concept that they don’t seem to grasp.

    Yeah, the real issue here is that of goals.

    Goals are somewhat arbitrary. If my goal is to horribly disfigure my sister or daughter or any other woman I just happen to feel I own, then throwing acid in her face is an objectively good way to go about that.

    There are many ways to get around this, of course. That’s the entire branch of meta-ethics. The most common, of course, is to include as a meta-ethical constraint that one must not do to others what one would not want done to oneself.

    WLC can’t have that, of course. God kills people. But he doesn’t want people to kill God. So he can’t fall back on this or God’s behavior would show that he is fine with other people treating him in ways that WLC isn’t fine with humans treating gods (or at least his God).

    Thus, the only goals that matters are the goals of WLC’s god. Coincidentally, this dovetails nicely with the idea that God had goals for creation, and for human beings. His attachment to teleology and his attachment to no-human-goals morality are not, in fact, severable.

  43. Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden says

    WLC can’t have that, of course. God kills people. But he doesn’t want people to kill God.

    Note bene: this was flippant, of course. WLC conceives of a non-killable god, so it would be irrelevant in an actual debate with WLC. I just thought it would make the point nicely.

    However, on thinking about it, I thought some reading might want to have an example of something we might actually have the power to do to WLC’s god even under WLC’s conception of the-one-true-god. The best example might be testing.

    God tests people – Job is the classic example. And yet WLC insists on blind faith – tests are inappropriate and insulting and borderline blasphemy.

    I don’t see any problem reading John 14:11 (12 presented but not actually relevant*1) & 13-14

    11Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe on the evidence of the works themselves.
    12 Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.
    13″Whatever you ask in My name, that will I do, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14″If you ask Me anything in My name, I will do it.”

    and asking for something in Jesus’ name as a test*2. However, WLC sees a huge problem with testing his God based on this writing and judging god bad/good/dishonest/honest/non-existent/existent based on the results. Testing is something his god can do to humans, but not that humans can do to his god. Therefore the “do not do unto others” constraint on morality is, itself, immoral and must be rejected if one is WLC.

    =================================
    *1: If you read these verses together, he’s not saying you have to believe in him or his daddy or anything in order to get your prayers answered. He’s saying that people who believe in him will be able to work magic on their own. For the rest, he’s volunteering to work magic if you but request it in his name. Why? So that you will

    at least believe on the evidence of the works themselves.

    That’s why.

    That’s also why it’s completely fair for non-believers to as for things in Jesus’ name and expect to get them. Jesus is the one who asked people who didn’t believe based on his word to examine the evidence of the “works” themselves, and who specified that the “works” would be done by him the moment one asks in his name.

    Bizarrely, even though WLC is correct that his god would have to completely reject treating his god as his god treats others if his god wanted to retain any claim to morality, the authors of the bible did not reject this meta-ethical constraint.

    Things that make you go, “Hmmmmmm.”

    *2: my personal test would be to ask for a private yacht-submarine with accompanying funds to run it indefinitely so that I could take marine biologists and oceanographers on research cruises and get to talk with smart people who know lots of things about an area where I’m interested but ignorant – and at the same time I could be in a freakin’ submarine looking out my transparent windows and escaping any and all storms, no matter how severe, by simply diving for a couple days. Think of the research that I could help to happen & the awesome conversations I could have! And it wouldn’t take any resources away from endeavors needed for human survival, health, or justice since I wouldn’t be splurging money on it: it would magically poof into existence becuz Jesus!

  44. Monocle Smile says

    @Crip Dyke
    That’s exactly why Matt explained morality to the David from Grand Blanc the way he did. The caller doesn’t actually understand morality…he has this stupidly simplified notion fed to him straight from christian apologists.
    I’m not even sure meta-ethics is necessary to pragmatically solve the problem of having different goals.
    To use the caller’s example: if we’re floating out in space, we each have our own person-centric coordinate system. Sure. But what if a bunch of us get together and decide to all use one coordinate system based on things like other celestial bodies that make it much easier for us to communicate and interact? And if people disagree that making communication and interaction easier and more effective is not a worthy goal, then fuck ’em. I don’t care. And I don’t see the need to elaborate further. Funny thing, too…this is exactly what we do in modern celestial mechanics. Somehow we’ve managed to get scientists and engineers to agree on using a few different coordinate systems (each is used for a different purpose) and both land people on the moon and get spacecraft out to Pluto close enough to take pictures. Odd how that works.

  45. speculatingfellow says

    @hansmeiser
    I said:
    “So in the case where highly evolved alien species are considered gods compared to us; I would argue that the person believing this would be a theist.”

    You said:
    How can you? God = supernatural, Highly evolved aliens = not supernatural I do believe that highly evolved aliens could look like gods to us. I even believe that humans living in 100.00 years could look like gods to us – as we would look like gods to a neandertal because of our technology and his bad knowledge of nature.

    My responce:
    Not every god in history have been supernatural. If you look at Zeus, Thor, Hades and shit like that you will see that they represent a lot of natures aspects and are able to work with and manipulate them. And if we make some assumptions we could also assume that highly evolved aliens would be able to do the same things.

  46. hansmeiser says

    @speculatingfellow says
    sorry, what are you talking about? About people which say “highly evolved aliens could exist” or “highly evolved aliens do exist”?

    First group will probably also say that god could exist (because they can’t disprove his existence). So you could call everybody who says “god could exist” a theist for the same argument.

    Second group I would call just insane.

  47. Athywren - This Thing Is Just A Thing says

    Slightly off-topic question – when you say, “highly evolved aliens,” do you mean aliens which have evolved a particular set of traits which we consider highly evolved, or simply alien life which has had very, very many generations? Because I’d be pretty willing to say that the second seems incredibly likely.

  48. hansmeiser says

    I’m thinking off aliens which have developed technology we couldn’t understand now (but maybe in x generations). I’m not talking about aliens which themselves would look like gods to us, only their technology but we wouldn’t be able to distinguish this.

  49. speculatingfellow says

    @hansmeiser

    What I’m trying to explain with my rant about highly evolved aliens is that they might be indistinguishable from gods.
    Think about it. If highly evolved aliens can match the powers of gods and do things similar to those mentioned in the bible or other religious texts then how would we know “true” gods from highly evolved aliens?

    And more importantly. What if highly evolved aliens are the closest things we can ever hope to come across that resembles gods?

    Would it not be reasonable to regard them as gods?

  50. GeneralSCPatton says

    You know, Hamish’s whole spiel starting at 1:04:50 is basically just Utilitarianism, with God fulfilling the role of a Utility Monster. I could refute his world view with a hypothetical Cthulian monstrosity that derives exponentially more pleasure from God’s suffering. Then their argument would just break down into special pleading and bald assertions that their God’s feelings are the most important (i.e. he has less emotional fortitude than a toddler and is capable of throwing an infinite bitch-fit over the most trivial things). That’s basically the same implication Christians make whenever they say that insulting The Perfect Being somehow justifies infinite punishment. Yeah, didn’t you know that being perfect doesn’t involve being mature enough to let trivial shit roll off you like water off a duck’s back? Maybe George Carlin was right to pray to Joe Pesci, cause that guy stabbed someone to death with a pen over a single insult.

  51. hansmeiser says

    @speculatingfellow says
    I still don’t get it.

    If I came across such being and this being tells me to be god:
    do I believe him? no
    can he prove to be a god? no

    So, why should I regard this being as god?

    The imho important question is: what does this being want me to do without any good reason I understand or I’m able to verify?
    E.g., you came across such being and this being tells you he’s god and shows you some really good magical stuff. But then he tells you the only way for you to get to heaven is kill yourself in the next 30 minutes. If you don’t do it, you will go to hell. Would you do it?

  52. speculatingfellow says

    @hansmeiser

    If such a being had godlike abilities and used them we would have the same scenarios mentioned in religious texts where gods show their powers. And in such a scenario (if it ever happened) you would also have a good amout of data which shows that this being you’re talking to is quite possibly a god.

    So why wouldn’t you belive that this being is a god if it can use godlike abilities to do miraculous things?

    —“E.g., you came across such being and this being tells you he’s god and shows you some really good magical stuff. But then he tells you the only way for you to get to heaven is kill yourself in the next 30 minutes. If you don’t do it, you will go to hell. Would you do it?”—

    Fist of I would regard this being as godlike and show it a lot of respect. However if it tells me I have to kill myself in the next 30 minutes in order to get to heaven I wouldn’t. Because I don’t know if it’s telling the truth or it’s just trying to rid the earth of people who are stupid enough to do so.

  53. hansmeiser says

    sounds like a God of the Gaps to me.

    If I find something I can’t explain I would never consider it has been done by god – it’s only something I don’t understand. And if this being explains me how he did this things, it’s no longer a mystery.

    “Because I don’t know if it’s telling the truth or it’s just trying to rid the earth of people who are stupid enough to do so.”

    Yep, and that’s the problem. God can’t prove his existence. There’s no way to god.

    And it doesn’t matter if you regard this being as godlike. Either it’s good and friendly or not.

  54. speculatingfellow says

    @hansmeiser

    –“sounds like a God of the Gaps to me.”–

    Maybe. But it’s not a God of the Gaps argument. It’s more a “Can we define highly evolved aliens as gods” argument / question. Because if highly evolved aliens can be godlike then what can prevent us from calling them gods and regard them as such?

    –“If I find something I can’t explain I would never consider it has been done by god – it’s only something I don’t understand. And if this being explains me how he did this things, it’s no longer a mystery.”–

    But does a god necessarily have to be a mystery in your book or can a god be a highly evolved alien?
    Because if a highly evolved alien showed you how it created the universe wouldn’t that make it the
    creator of the univers and godlike? Wouldn’t you look at it as being a god?

    –“Yep, and that’s the problem. God can’t prove his existence. There’s no way to god.”–

    On the contrary. If a being shows itself, claims to be a god and does something magical or miraculous, then it would seem more legit than any other religious god or godess that haven’t shown themselves. And frankly I would regard it as a prof that the being is closer to being a god than any other fictional god figure. Simply because this being has shown itself and proven it’s existence as well as it’s godlike powers.

    –“And it doesn’t matter if you regard this being as godlike.”–

    If it’s godlike it’s also more powerful than the fictional gods that exist in all the religulous texts today.
    Because unlike the fictional gods the being / highly evolved alien is actually able to get shit done.

    –“Either it’s good and friendly or not.”–

    What does this have to do with anything?
    Gods are not necessarily good and friendly.
    I mean just read the bible, there’s a lot of terrible things which god command to happen.
    So why would it matter whether or not the being is good and friendly or not?
    Would that in any way make it less powerful or godlike?

  55. Athywren - This Thing Is Just A Thing says

    I guess the really important question is whether these highly evolved aliens are getting around through seemingly mystical means, or if they’re just using star ships.
    …I don’t need to quote Kirk, do I?

  56. speculatingfellow says

    @Athywren

    How would I know. I have never met highly evolved aliens so I can’t tell you.
    They might be getting around through seemingly mystical means (like warping through other dimensions or shit like that). Or maybe they are using star ships. I don’t know. But it would preferably be cooler if they used the seemingly mystical means.

    Quote Kirk if you want to

  57. speculatingfellow says

    Guys… What if we are in an alien version of the truman show and the highly evolved aliens are filming us from another dimension. But we can’t see them because the dimension works like a one way mirror… I’m never going to fap again…

  58. StonedRanger says

    In the spirit of the conversation…

    Guys, what if frogs had wings? They wouldn’t bump their ass every time they jumped. Useless argument is useless. Its always the what if argument.

  59. hansmeiser says

    “Because if a highly evolved alien showed you how it created the universe wouldn’t that make it the
    creator of the univers and godlike? Wouldn’t you look at it as being a god?”

    I have to assume that this being is also capable of manipulating my brain therefore I can’t trust my memories and this being (it could have been a holodeck simulation).

    “So why would it matter whether or not the being is good and friendly or not?”

    Either this being respects me or not.
    If this being wants me to do something I don’t want to do, I’m fucked up if it’s not good.
    And it doesn’t matter if I regard this being as a god or alien.

  60. speculatingfellow says

    @StonedRanger

    Then let’s take a look at an argument which is not a “what if” argument.
    It’s a well known fact that there’s a lot of stars in our galaxy and if only 1% of these stars have planets with the conditions necessary for life it’s still a lot. So is it really so unlikely that highly evolution aliens live in our galaxy?

    Maybe not. But if there are good statistics for the possibility that highly evolution aliens should live in our galaxy then why haven’t we met them yet? This is the fermi paradox and there are some plausible answers to it.

    One is that aliens regard us as uninteresting. Niels Degrass Tyson made an excellent point about this.

    Seriously watch this:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HO6ONMLfg5A

    @hansmeiser

    –“I have to assume that this being is also capable of manipulating my brain therefore I can’t trust my memories and this being (it could have been a holodeck simulation).”–

    Wouldn’t a god be capable of manipulating your brain as well?

    –“Either this being respects me or not.
    If this being wants me to do something I don’t want to do, I’m fucked up if it’s not good.
    And it doesn’t matter if I regard this being as a god or alien.”–

    And your point is?

  61. hansmeiser says

    “Wouldn’t a god be capable of manipulating your brain as well?”

    Yes, and that’s the reason why I wouldn’t trust him and in the end it means: neither humans nor god can prove god’s existence.

    “And your point is?”

    It simply doesn’t matter if god exists or not. It only matters for someone who wants to believe in a god.

  62. speculatingfellow says

    –“Yes, and that’s the reason why I wouldn’t trust him and in the end it means: neither humans nor god can prove god’s existence.”–

    So a god would also be capable of manipulating your brain.
    Just like the being,
    And by manipulating your brain both the being and a god would be able to prove that they had some powers.
    Wouldn’t that amount to proving something?

    –“It simply doesn’t matter if god exists or not.”–

    I think some atheists would disagree with you if a god showed itself to them.
    Besides if gods exist and they are the end product of evolution then we might also hope to reach the same evolutionary state one day. And that is a fascinating thought to me

    –“It only matters for someone who wants to believe in a god.”–

    Not necessarily. It would turn the scientific community on it’s head if an alien being showed up and told them how to make a univers. In such a scenario the alien being or god would have a profound impact on the world view of the scientific community. So to say that it doesn’t matter, if a god exist or not, is a dangerous statement to make.

  63. hansmeiser says

    my last comment on this topic:

    The differentiation god vs. aliens is meaningless. I would never consider a powerful being to be a god, because there’s no reason to do so. This being could show me some “magic”, but it could always be using technology I don’t recognize. And this being can’t prove it’s not using technology. It can only say “hey, trust me, I’m god” but I don’t have any reason to believe him.

    Evolution doesn’t end, there’s no end product of evolution. Evolution doesn’t have consciousness or a goal.

    I didn’t say it doesn’t matter if other (intelligent) life exists. I said it doesn’t matter if we regard this life as god.

  64. speculatingfellow says

    –“The differentiation god vs. aliens is meaningless.”–

    That’s where you are wrong. Because if the difference between gods and aliens are small or nonexistent then they can be regarded as the same thing.

    –“I would never consider a powerful being to be a god, because there’s no reason to do so.”–

    One reason could be that it’s way easier to say “god” than “a powerful being” og “highly evolved alien”.
    Also if a powerful being posses godlike abilities then why wouldn’t you have a reason to call it a god?
    I mean it has godlike abilities. So you could define it as a god.
    And just to be clear: Calling it a god doesn’t mean that you have to pray to it.
    Because it might not give a shit about you and your prayer anyways.

    “This being could show me some “magic”, but it could always be using technology I don’t recognize. And this being can’t prove it’s not using technology. It can only say “hey, trust me, I’m god” but I don’t have any reason to believe him.”

    So a god is not allowed to use technology in your opinion?
    …That too bad for a lot of the greek gods that are using weapons, tools and musical instruments.

    –“Evolution doesn’t end, there’s no end product of evolution. Evolution doesn’t have consciousness or a goal.”–

    Maybe not. But it still has limits given that evolution is based on physical laws. So at some point a species can’t evolve anymore because of the limits of the physical laws. At least not unless it finds some way to break those limitations (which in turn would mean that it would have to break the laws of physics as well).

    Also. If a species evolve to a point where it’s practically impossible to kill then wouldn’t that make it the ultimate end product of evolution compared to other less evolved lifeforms?

    –“I didn’t say it doesn’t matter if other (intelligent) life exists. I said it doesn’t matter if we regard this life as god.”–

    But if it doesn’t matter then what harm can be done by defining a highly intelligent alien as a god?

  65. floridaantitheist says

    Going back to the very beginning of the show (Are Theists Stupid?), the best explanation of why an otherwise rational person can be convinced of completely stupid ideas, is in a 1995 book by clinical psychologist John F. Schumaker, entitled “The Corruption of Reality”. In this book, Dr. Schumaker draws some parallels between religion, hypnosis, and psychopatholgy. The common dynamic between them is the process of dissociation (the suspension–temporary or otherwise–of the brain’s “reality testing” faculty. He convincingly argues that we can dissociate selectively–as when a person has pushed out of consciousness “certain” traumatic memories.

    We all are hypnotized, to a minor degree when we are watching a movie or reading a book and get so involved in the plot that we seem to be unaware of our surroundings. Hopefully, this is only a “temporary” suspension of disbelief. By the way. such a temporary vacation from reality can have a therapeutic effect on us.

    With religion, however, the dissociation is meant to be long lasting and is reinforced through weekly (or twice-weekly) trips to the church where people listen to very emotional sermons or “performances” which have almost a “hypnotic” cadence with the rise and fall of the preacher’s voice. The most effective sermons do not touch on lives in areas outside the concern of the church, generally. It serves the purpose of the person accepting the religious message by promoting the selective suspension 0f the person’s critical faculty, leaving untouched the person’s non-religious concerns.

  66. Nano says

    About the god mind guy; even with his assertions supposed to be true, it doesn’t add anything at all to the theist’s side. So what if the universe is a conscious mind, you still leave that universe when you die. Ceasing existence in a smaller cup won’t put you into the bigger cup that the smaller cup was in, you will cease to exist in both. So for all your argument, dieing would mean detaching from god since you assume the supposed great mind to be a god, and detaching from god would mean no after life as god is the provider for that, so there goes most religions down the drain.

  67. phil says

    Never mind the audio in the studio, Johanan’s audio was so bad I couldn’t understand 90% of what he said. I think he needed to get his mouth closer to the microphone.

    #69 I think I think NdGT misses an important point. If Einstein had been born four centuries ago he would have been thinking about gravity much in the way Newton did. Great thinkers are born into a human world with a lot of pre-existing culture and knowledge, so modern scientists (for example) have a huge amount of ground work to build on.

    One of the enormous differences we have with chimpanzees is our history and culture. I suggest that the 1% difference has simply enabled us to build up that culture much faster than chimps, indeed faster than evolution changes us. So if we meet aliens who have only 1% genetic difference that confers greater mental capacity it could still be that we have a technological edge if our civilisation is older. In fact it is entirely possible that we are more technologically advanced, and the problem we have talking with them is that they have not yet developed technology to communicate with, or even search for, us.