Open thread for episode 20.06: Matt & Don


Matt talks about Dawkins’ stroke and Scalia’s death. Don talks about slimy promoters of religion. The new phone system brings us a passel of theist callers. Good show overall.

Comments

  1. pragmaticbent says

    Great opening comments from you both. What really gets me is the religious leaders must know the truth. But they continue to teach their doctrine. Talk about a scam.

  2. Jason Waskiewicz says

    I was glad to hear a theme song (though I’ll miss “Listen to Reason”). Also, it was great to hear the much improved audio. Your hard work is really paying off!

    The black curtains help the set look more professional. I don’t know if there were lighting changes, but I thought the white balance was more consistent as you switched cameras. Also, the lighting was better overall.

    I didn’t comment on that video, but I really did appreciate the tour of the technology behind the scenes. I do a simple weekly YouTube show with much more basic equipment and no call-ins, so I know enough to appreciate just how great the challenge you were all facing, though not enough to offer technical help. That the work is all done by volunteers on your show is spectacular.

  3. StonedRanger says

    Thank god for hosts like Matt. He gave Hamish exactly what was required. It gave me a good laugh.

    Aziz. How is it that if the quran is written by god and is exactly correct, that we somehow need to have it interpreted by the guy who gave us the book in the first place? Isnt that doing the same thing you accused the extremists of doing when you tried to talk with them? If I cant read the quran and understand it, you cant either, in which case what good is it? You were taught apologetics at the college at Mecca and it sounds like you were thoroughly indoctrinated because your call was nothing but an apologetic. This is why the sunni and the shia have been killing each other for hundreds of years because each says the other is incapable of interpreting the quran correctly. I get the same crap from christians. So frustrating having to deal with that type of call, and then getting upset because Matt said fuck? Another recurring humorous theme. The show sounded great til Hamish came on, and it sounded like he was moving the phone close to his mouth then moving it away. All in all, a great show. Thanks for all the hard work from the hosts and the volunteers, its all coming together nicely. Well done.

  4. Mike Simpson says

    I agree with Jason W. — the sound quality is great.
    It was great to see that Matt got to hang up on the very first caller.
    Thanks for a great show (series).

  5. Monocle Smile says

    Carlos was kind of a dick. Matt is so right that desiring simple answers impedes critical thought. That guy, like lots of people, needs epistemology 101 and logic 101. He also needs to understand when colloquial speech is important and when using proper terms is important. Carlos did not find this distinction useful, which is why he frustrated Matt.
    Aziz was no different than a christian slavery apologist…and just as whiny.
    I’m not entirely sure I believe that Forest was real. Of course, there are some truly sad people like him out there who “disagree” with the majority of science…and use the internet to tell the world just how strongly to disagree.
    LOL Hamish.

  6. Dago Red says

    YAY: the show has taken a QUANTUM step in improvement this week. Kudos to everyone for such a huge success! (Sorry, my knowledge on how a show like this actually put together is non-existent, which limits me to offering little more than a general aesthetic appreciation. Also — loved Don’s suspenders!)

    BOO: Carlos from Lima, Peru (“my father’s a pastor” guy) gets my vote for being the most annoying caller this week. He was a quintessential example of what is wrong with liberal theology the world over. He begins with an inability to realize that its just stupidly wrong to ever insist that an argument that is merely “plausible” (i.e. “valid”) is somehow automatically “possible” without any need for additional convincing evidence (i.e. to add the soundness to “sound and valid” argumentation idea). Then, once schooled, he starts meandering down the “absolute proof” canard and gets schooled again…and then rather than thanking Matt for handing him these epiphanies on a silver platter, he, gets indignant and irate ….such arrogant and obtuse people simply need to get very used to being hung-up on.

  7. says

    Carlos needed reminding that extraordinary claims require extraordinary proofs. Trying to argue by analogy that “Matt believes his wife loves him, therefore I can believe the Big Bang proves God loves me,” before leading off into a rousing chorus of “Yes Jesus loves me / The Bible tells me so” is just nonsense. The claim that anyone’s spouse (including Matt’s) loves them is not an extraordinary claim; and while it is true that not all spouses love one another, it’s not stretching credibility that the likelihood is that most do. It is absurd to attempt to correlate this level of belief (they agreed to marry you, after all) with an incredible thought experiment with no testable outcomes that can be distinguished from an entirely naturalistic universe.

  8. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    The longer that a conversation goes on, the closer to probably 100% that the conversation will become an argument about foundational epistemology, factual and/or moral.

  9. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    Err, the longer that a conversation goes on with a sincere religious person, especially for conservatives, fundamentalists, literalists, etc.

  10. Mobius says

    First of all, congratulation on your new technical set up. The production values where greatly improved. The only real glitch I noticed was when Hamish was talking, and that could very well be a problem on his end. I know you at ACA have put in a lot of time, effort and money…all on a voluntary basis…and it has paid off.

    As a mathematician, I am fully aware of the need to define your terms in order to communicate effectively. Carlos didn’t seem to know that little fact and continued to ignore Matt’s question of what Carlos meant by “prove”. How many times did Matt ask? Quite a few, and Carlos just kept on talking.

    Aziz was also a frustrating cause, and shows the problems with apologetics. He was rationalizing his beliefs and refused to think about them critically.

    And Matt’s response to Hamish was great, though I expect Hamish didn’t get it at all.

  11. Frankie says

    Hey guys,

    I started listening to the show again a couple of months back. I was getting a bit upset with all the technical issues, but what can I say, thank GOD you’re back!

  12. says

    @ Monocle Smile:

    I’m not entirely sure I believe that Forest was real. Of course, there are some truly sad people like him out there who “disagree” with the majority of science…and use the internet to tell the world just how strongly to disagree.

    meet texan rudy davis (via youtube), a “not uneducated” christian tea party patriot birther geocentrist, who will not be fooled by 500 years of “satanic deception”

    and, y’know, when it comes to copernicus, galileo, uh, kepler, uh, carl sagan and einstein, all of ’em are flim-fam — flam artists. i believe they’re all con artists and they’re basically in a satanic deception that put forth satan’s very, very first blue-ribbon lie.

    … i would say that the bible is better than a science book. the bible is better [chuckling] than any science book ever written. and if it says the earth doesn’t move, then it doesn’t freakin’ move.

    to borrow from fox mulder, the derp is out there. waaay out there …

  13. Wiggle Puppy says

    If there were any Christians watching that were baffled by Aziz’s insistence that the passage about killing apostates means the opposite of what the words actually say – or is no longer applicable and yet still represents the desires of a perfect and unchanging being – now you know how you sound when you defend Biblical passages on slavery, genocide, human sacrifice, etc. You also now know how silly it sounds to claim that you have the “correct” interpretations of literary passages and metaphors that have no verifiable referents in reality.

  14. Mike Walters says

    I am an outspoken atheist and over the last year or so my main target has been Islam. I feel Islam is the most dangerous, counterproductive religious belief at this point in world history. The Saudi caller was really pretty typical of the Muslims I encounter on blogs, Youtube, etc. There is a psychological religious wall around them that prevents rational thought from getting through. I am glad he called the show so that the Muslim version of that type of mentality can be seen. The Quran is without error, supposedly. The Theory of Evolution, particularly human evolution, is denied because that would make the Quran tale of Adam incorrect and that cannot be allowed. Horrible, barbaric passages are supposedly taken out of context by critics who cite them for what they are. Terrorists who use the passages to justify violence, or radical Muslims who engage in honor killings of women are allegedly “not real Muslims”. The entire religious belief is oppressive, but especially for women and gays, particularly gays. When I make that point, I am told that I should talk to Muslim women and ask them if they like being Muslim. As for gays, they are being tested by Allah, and if they fail, they must pay the consequences.

    I beseech the Muslims I dialogue with to stop the insanity and try to think rationally about their religious belief. Think about its tenets, think about its dubious origins, origins witnessed by no one with no evidence for any of it being true. Getting that message through is a daunting task, to say the least.

  15. gshelley says

    A couple of brief thoughts
    Early, Mat suggested that Christians committing certain sins says nothing about the theological claims of Christianity. This depends on the type. Mainstream Christianity tends to have a “Jesus is in your heart and will slowly transform you” outlook, suggesting that it means that people will be better than if they weren’t a Christian, but not necessarily good (CS Lewis went for this in mere Christianity).
    Some sects however, seem to believe that much sin is caused by demonic influence and that these are cast out by accepting Jesus, thus freeing the person – see any of the Chick Tracts where people immediately turn straight on accepting Jesus (or the really unpleasant one about the man who was sexually abusing his daughter and sharing her around who suddenly loses all interest in abuse when he becomes a Christian). Of course, they have the get out of “well, that person didn’t really accept Jesus”, but for anyone on the outside, the ability of people who have accepted Jesus to continue to sin kind of shows it to be false.
    The discussion of philosophical or epistmological possibilities for God’s existence remind me of the modal ontological argument, and the “It’s possible that God exists” clause, to which my response had been the somewhat confusing “I can’t accept that, as I don’t know if it is possible, it’s possible that it is possible” I think if someone ever uses that, asking what kind of possibility they mean might be an easier way of addressing
    (Clearly, if we live in a totally materialistic universe (or multiverse), in which there is not and never has been a god, we should be able to say that it is not possible that a God exists, but I don’t know if we live in a universe like that)

  16. Sceptical Sceptic says

    Someone as sensitive about being interrupted as Matt should not be as generously dishing it out. At 48:58, he interrupted Carlos, and when called out, at 49:10 he reverted to schoolyard-level bullying. Given his very good performances at formal debates, he clearly does not need to do that to win a debate.

    Is this his show, and is he legally allowed to do that? Yes. That’s beside the point.

    Carlos was wrong on most points he made at this phase of the discussion, but there was really no point in continuing a discussion with someone as belligerent as Matt.

  17. JT Rager says

    Carlos exemplified why I hate it when people use the word “prove” in epistemology discussions. In a rigorous sense, they mean “show evidence for”, while “proving” is basically only valid in realms of mathematics and pure logic, where the conclusion logically follows from certain axioms and you therefore are basically certain about the conclusions.

    I know words don’t have fixed meanings, so I grit my teeth when people use “prove” or “proof” in this sense, but here was total equivocation. Carlos said you can’t “prove” love. I think based on his definition of proof you can’t really “prove” anything, from evolution to the existence of toast. His failure to define his terms exemplifies his dishonesty.

    Every time he was asked to define his terms, he didn’t want to. He just wanted a simple answer. This is a dishonest tactic. If the conversation doesn’t go the way you want, you can just tell the other person you want a simple answer. It’s another way of trying to keep the other person on your script. Carlos clearly wasn’t getting the answers he wanted or prepared for, and whined to Matt about it.

  18. says

    Sceptical Sceptic, I take your point but Matt’s interruptions and objections to being interrupted always stem from the same reason; that is, to stop the caller from derailing or suddenly changing the subject.

  19. Sceptical Sceptic says

    @Roj H, do you think that was the reason here? Do you think it is a good reason to be impolite? Are there better ways to bring a discussion back on track?

  20. says

    I’m curious as to Hamish’s purpose at the end. Yes, we know. Based on your mythology/theology, anyone who isn’t explicitly Christian is working for the devil… therefore, anyone in a position of leadership who isn’t religious is “troubling”.

    We knew that was your opinion before you started talking. This isn’t the “I want to say a thing. I said a thing” show.

  21. favog says

    In regard to that singularity at the beginning the universe … it’s my understanding, and correct me folks if I’m wrong, but a singularity isn’t a thing. Not in the sense that the religious are interpreting any way. A singularity is a mathematical artifact of dividing by zero, thereby producing an infinity. That is to say, it’s the “error” message on your calculator. It’s the signal that at this point, you need to do something differently. Physicists will often say that physics breaks down at this point, but it’s probably more that they mean the mathematics to describe the physics breaks down at that point. The singularity didn’t come into existence. I never existed. It can’t do anything or start anything because it’s just a question mark.

  22. Sceptical Sceptic says

    @favog: The way I understand it, it just means that there is currently no way to describe it with some level of accuracy, beyond “very dense”.

  23. starkblast19 says

    The audio is so much better in this episode! Thank you for all the hard work the Atheist Experience team has put in to continuing to improve this awesome show.

    And I agree with Claywise – Hamish must be a Poe.

  24. StonedRanger says

    @Sceptical sceptic #16
    Not sure what video youre watching but at 48:58 – 49:10 Matt was talking to Aziz. What do you mean can he legally do that? It is his show, he is the host this week. There is no legal reason why he cant do what he did.

  25. Sceptical Sceptic says

    @StonedRanger: For some reasons, there are two versions of the show on Youtube, I watched the earlier one with the long lead-in.

    > There is no legal reason why he cant do what he did.
    Did you miss the “Yes.” after my question?

  26. says

    Carlos at the end could not even finish his point. Matt in the past in many ocassiones demands from christians and theists YES or NO answers… he says just DAMN answer the question. He dodged his answer with Carlos because he was trapped. He could not say yes my wife loves me because he would be admiting that he believes in something without proof and hard restable evidence. He came out with nonsense. Anyone can do that. Do you like Turkey? Well what is like. Define Turkey.

    At any rate. Matt has an audience which had to have respect and he keeps treating very poorly his viwers. I bet if a caller says answer damn it or fuck you matt he would hang up but he can do it. It is just plainly sad to see how Matt is treating callers.

  27. says

    In spite of the fact that Matt was correct on the substance of the argument with Carlos, it is very unproductive to treat a caller in such arrogant manner.
    Matt not only lost a chance to address false religious beliefs to all religious listeners of the show…but also lost a chance to correct the wrong logic used by Carlos which is also used by many theists.
    Carlos is not as important here…but all the listeners who are having serious doubts about their faith and they will probably think twice before calling the show because they do not want to be treated in such rough manner and they are correct on that.
    Carlos was not belligerent, was not confrontational, just simply was stuck in false beliefs that need time and good reasoning to correct and that does not happen in a few minutes.

  28. Monocle Smile says

    @John Baker
    Clearly you were listening to a different call. Not Matt’s fault you think just as poorly as Carlos.
    @Luis
    The show gets this often, but I found Carlos whiny, belligerent, and uninterested in actual discussion. Carlos was being a dumbass. Viewers who are not dumbasses should not fear calling in regardless of the carloses of the world.

  29. says

    I agree. The point that Carlos made concerning the singularity ws also interesting though. It is demostrated by scientists and Carlos gives the names, that matter time and space had a beginning. So this singularity arose where? In a nothingness where time matter and space do not exist. Matt simple says well I do not know but if you think about it believing in that nothingness is also faith in the unkown. Can you test something not ruled by time, space and matter? Again Matt seems to just be a dick when exposed and when he does expose theists then he just demands YES and NO’s. Expample, is slavery acepted in the bible, and theists might say what is slavery? and Matt many time then insults and demands a YES or NO answer. I am NOT saying that he is incorrect but the way he says it is a problem. If the atheist experience is serious about the way this is going Matt has to learn to treat their callers. Many like Carlos might need better guidance but at least let him expose his point. Matt interupts but when interrupted losses it and then insults and hangs up. What a way to lead an atheist point of view.

  30. Sceptical Sceptic says

    @Monocle Smile: I hope your response is not typical of this forum.

    Let’s hear what the others have to say.

  31. Sceptical Sceptic says

    @John Baker 12:

    > Matt simple says well I do not know but if you think about it
    > believing in that nothingness is also faith in the unkown.

    Read that sentence again. If Matt says that he doesn’t know, he also says that he does not “believe in nothingness”. Also, what is “faith in the unknown”, and in what way is it similar to faith in a god?

  32. says

    @Sceptical

    interesting how then he does believe that his wife loves him without evidence that can be tested. And to your point. It is quite easy to state the I do not belive in nothing. Carlos was not stating that God exists. He was stating (or I guess wanted to state) that some call that singularity God because God for many is not governed by space time ad matter. The point is that one might not agree with the world view of others but understands where they come from. For example I do not belive in the God of the bible but do understand and respect that many take the word of the bible as word of God.

  33. Mark Vandebrake says

    I cannot speak for Matt, but it seemed to me he was simply conversing point/counterpoint.We often get callers who want to ramble on and on and ask the hosts to respond to 10 (or whatever) statements at once. Matt was trying to respond to each point in turn. The callers had a full list of things to say and were frustrated that they couldn’t read off the whole paragraph.

  34. says

    This absolute knowledge thing is coming up kind of a lot lately. I think there’s a problem with that within the atheist community as well. I’ve told this story before but I was in the chat once and someone asked if there were any “strong atheists/antitheists” in there. I answered I am one. I believe there are no gods. Actually I know it. It’s entirely reasonable to say you know God is not real. Well that offended someone (Who immediately started harassing me without consequence despite repeated requests to leave me alone, thanks mods. Great job on that one. Really on the ball there.) repeatedly asked me again and again “How do you KNOW?” Same way I know there are no fairies. You know what the response was? “Well how do you know fairies don’t exist?” …WHAT?! …Because I’m an adult. I’m able to think rationally. Then the chat turned against me and multiple grown men and women actually tried to convince me fairies might be real.

    This is a problem. We need to stop this foolishness. There are no fairies, there are no gods, there are no vampires, and there are no unicorns. Period. These are stories. No basis in reality. And I don’t need to prove that. Think it out. Do you believe Harry Potter MIGHT be real? Like you can’t absolutely say he’s not? I think anyone who’s rational would say you do know he’s not real for sure 100%. But so many of us are unwilling to do that. It’s philosophical masturbation, it’s childish, it’s ridiculous, it’s regressive, and it’s anti-intellectual. We. Should. Be. Ashamed. Of. Ourselves.

    It’s time to stop with this ridiculous notion that any idea anyone has ever had ever deserves some kind of consideration. It does not. These things were thought up by people who didn’t get the way the universe works. Period. And by continuing with this circular “You have to leave room for uncertainty” crap we avoid saying what needs to be said, which is this. “You’re being foolish. Stop it.” To conclude there is no God is reasonable. To conclude there is, is not. Period. And the longer we wait to acknowledge that the more foolish we look. We should be ashamed of ourselves.

  35. corwyn says

    @27:

    Did you miss the “Yes.” after my question?

    No. We missed the POINT of your question. Was it just a jab at Matt trying to hide behind a ‘just asking’ mask?

  36. corwyn says

    @34:

    some call that singularity God because God for many is not governed by space time ad matter.

    Why would anyone want to do that? Are they willing to concede that that god has ONLY the characteristics consistent with being the singularity at the beginning of the universe? Are they willing to give up any other characteristics people normally infer about their god?

    That seems unlikely. More likely they are hoping to get a verdict of guilty of existing, and will then assume whatever else they wanted to, about that now ‘confirmed existent’ god. Since something exists before the beginning of the universe, it must be god, since there is a god, it must be MY god.

  37. corwyn says

    @36:

    I think anyone who’s rational would say you do know he’s not real for sure 100%.

    No, No one rational would ever say they know ANYTHING for sure 100%. Knowing something 100% requires infinite evidence, which one can’t fit in a finite brain.

    That said, I am fine with people saying I know there is no god, using a colloquial version of ‘know’ (not absolute certainty).

    I tend to reserve ‘know’ for facts rather than beliefs.

  38. JT Rager says

    @34 John Baker 12
    “interesting how then he does believe that his wife loves him without evidence that can be tested. ”

    Matt gives evidence that his wife loves him at 35:37, and Don reiterates it at 36:35. Their spouse’s behavior is evidence that they love them.

  39. favog says

    @22 — I don’t think so. Like the error message on a calculator, when mathematics gives you a singularity as a result, it means you’ve asked the wrong question, or you need another question asked and answered first, before you can get an answer that actually has a coherent meaning. And even if a theist understood that, many of them would respond with “Aha! God!” even though we know why that’s not right either.

  40. Kenny De Metter says

    Loved the show. The intro song was a little confusing to me, but I’m sure I’ll get used to it quickly.

    When listening to the show, I heard Matt mention epistemology . I’m interested in learning more about it.
    Does anyone have any good book suggestions on the subject ?
    Thanks.

  41. Monocle Smile says

    @Kenny
    Epistemology is, to be brief, about the nature of knowledge and its acquisition.
    It’s really easy to fall down any number of rabbit holes on this topic, so be warned of wandering into solipsism or Ayn Rand. Others can probably recommend better books than I.
    Democritus is my oldest favorite on the topic, but his writings barely even exist; lots of it is inferred or described by people like Aristotle…whose ideas of epistemology are IMO inferior to Democritus’.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Democritus#Epistemology
    In short, Democritus was perhaps the first to advocate a blend of rationalism and empiricism…we acquire data through empirical means, but process it with reason to reach accurate conclusions. I feel like this is a sound approach.

  42. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    To favog
    The short of it is that you can only get a singularity by naively applying physics as we currently udnerstand it. We know that our models of physics are incomplete. In particular, we expect our models of physics to show their incompleteness in radical new regimes like what existed at the big bang. Every competent physicist expects that as we better understand phyiscs, the singularity at the big bang will go away.

    It is demostrated by scientists and Carlos gives the names, that matter time and space had a beginning.

    Many of those “quoted” scientists disagree with how their quotes are being used. (AFAICT, some agree with how their quotes are being used, with reservations.) Again, see what I wrote just above: No competent physicist / cosmologist will say that we have solid physics concerning the big bang and what happened before the big bang. If anyone says that, thn they’re lying or a fool.

    PS: Not that it matters anyway, because even if there’s a beginning, it still gets them no closer to god. Even if they could demonstrate that some god exists, which is massive unto itself, they have all of their work ahead of them to show that it’s actually the Christian god. Aka the fatal flaw of Pascal’s Wager (or one of them anyway).

    interesting how then he does believe that his wife loves him without evidence that can be tested.

    Of course he bases that belief on evidence, on his past interactions with his wife! There’s a multitude of examples every day of divorce, and some of those are with people who never loved in the first place. To completely discount the possibility beyond all doubt whatsoever is extremely foolish.

    This is a problem. We need to stop this foolishness. There are no fairies, there are no gods, there are no vampires, and there are no unicorns. Period.

    Agreed.

    Of course, it’s still a tentative conclusion open to revision, just like the claim “the sun will rise tomorrow”, but we’re on pretty solid ground concerning these claims.

  43. Sceptical Sceptic says

    @John@34:

    > interesting how then he does believe that his wife loves him without
    > evidence that can be tested.
    No, not particularly. Why do you think that matters?

    > The point is that one might not agree with the world view of others
    > but understands where they come from.
    You think that’s what he wanted to hear? Why did he call AX then, a show known to have the purpose to question your beliefs?

  44. Sceptical Sceptic says

    @Mark @35:

    (Without lead-in, the timestamps are 42:21 and 42:41)

    Listen to the part again, then tell me whether you still think that’s the reason why he ended the call. The discussion simply was not at the point you claim it was.

  45. Sceptical Sceptic says

    @corwyn @37

    It was a very simply rhetorical device to emphasize that he was well within his rights to censor Carlos. I’m surprised that I have to explain this, it is very easy to see what I wanted to express.

    Now that the distraction is cleared up, back to the topic.

  46. Sceptical Sceptic says

    @favog @41

    You are saying the same thing, we just don’t know what the right questionis.

  47. says

    @JT Rager says
    Matt gives evidence that his wife loves him at 35:37, and Don reiterates it at 36:35. Their spouse’s behavior is evidence that they love them.

    That is no testable evidence. It is subjective. May wives and husbands cheat. When Matt asks others why they believe in God and they say because of how God interacts in the world he says it is not testable facts. Same thing. Go to a lab and prove that his wife loves him. He cant. That is why he says I dont know and then tries to argue that she does. The truth is he does not know but choosed to believe she does. So then, why be so hypocrite to critizice people who believe in God when he also believes in many things which have to salid proof.

  48. favog says

    @49
    No. Matt does give evidence. If his wife makes his favorite dinner on his birthday, like my mom used to do for my siblings and I, it’s evidence that she loves him. As was also admitted, it isn’t proof. That’s why Matt dislikes the word “proof”. But when she does that, or something else that she knows will make Matt happy (I don’t know the details of their relationship well enough to give an actual example) it is objective and testable. Other people who know Matt know what he likes, and might hear about something she did for him and say, “Oh, I’m sure Matt liked that!” — bam, it’s verified, testable evidence.

    @48
    Yeah, I thought so, figured maybe an actual physicist or other interested laymen like myself would back me up on it. Like EL was saying in 44, when we get a better understanding of the physics, which allows the right questions and/comes about because of those right questions, the singularity goes away. Which is why I called not a thing, or a question mark. It drives me crazy watching people who know nothing about the subject talking about the singularity as if it were some sort of material object that does a thing and getting away with it.

  49. Conversion Tube says

    Matt’s wife has been demonstrated to exist. Let’s start there. Now he has demonstrated she exists, now he can ponder whether she loves him or not.

  50. Conversion Tube says

    John is also attempting to play a semantic game with the word love. If love is a reaction in the brain which causes one to enjoy another’s company and wish to do things for them and share experiences together then we can look for indicators that that is happening.

    Matt has lots of evidence his wife does that, therefore he is justified in believing she loves him. If you want to define love some other way then we will need to reevaluate. But I bet an equivocation fallacy is in there somewhere.

  51. Conversion Tube says

    And yes love is subjective, that doesn’t change the fact there can be evidence of someones behavour based on their subjective opinion.

  52. Conversion Tube says

    “””T When Matt asks others why they believe in God and they say because of how God interacts in the world he says it is not testable facts. Same thing. Go to a lab and prove that his wife loves him. He cant. That is why he says I dont know and then tries to argue that she does. The truth is he does not know but choosed to believe she does. So then, why be so hypocrite to critizice people who believe in God when he also believes in many things which have to salid proof.””‘

    Further to the point I was making in 52. I’ll just specify what I was implying. God hasn’t been demonstrated to exist ((Matt’s wife has) so it’s meaningless to try and determine how the god guy interacts. All you have done is imagined the god.

  53. says

    Well. At least here there can be a friendly discussion. Matt has to learn to handle how he treats his callers. Many do not have all his knowledge and he just bullies people. That is what really irritated me.

  54. ironchops says

    Good show to all of you who have put time into the tech issues. Thank god for you all!!
    Carlos, please define God for me. Who is he? What does He look like? Where does he live? What does he smell like? What does he want from us? Why did he create this whole universe? I have realized that after 40 years of biblical studies I still don’t even know who or what a God or god is.
    @40:28 you said that “you choose to believe she loves you because of the things she does.” Matt said that exact same thing earlier but you didn’t hear. If she (your wife or partner) said she loved you and you believe that without all of the things she does that would be just plain old blind faith. But you admitted you don’t have blind faith that she loves you because you have observed and recorded (mentally) her actions to support that claim. Her claim of love plus her observable behavior bring you to conclude that her claim of love is true.
    Aziz, from now on I will say that if someone needs to be put to death because they broke God’s law then let God bring his ass down here and do the killing! Not humans killing humans on behalf of God. I will bet God won’t show up. Who are you to override or re-interpret your Gods perfucked book.
    Mark, The US does not use “Block Voting”. Churches and other organization do influence people to vote for certain candidates through the use emotional manipulation. Freethinkers do not usually fall into this trap.
    Forrest, WTF. You need to research definitions of the words you are choosing to use. You didn’t answer any of Matt’s questions. Typical bullshit behavior. This was just a bullshit call.
    Hamish, Turn down your damn feed during your calls, it creates an echo/feedback because of the delay. You should know this by now as many times that you have called. You are obviously a believer so try better to put together an argument that can help me believe. Your opinions are just as valid as any other’s but just as useless!!

  55. rodney says

    I don’t know John, I’m astonished Matt keeps his cool most of the time, even when he doesn’t, it’s usually because someone is trying to talk over him, keeps repeating the same talking point even when it has been addressed, tries to take control of the show, or is just generally rude. Matt gives what he gets, if the callers are respectful and willing to have an actual discussion rather than preach or take control, he is very respectful back. I know some other hosts are more tolerant of callers doing those things, and those shows, I wish Matt was there to get the conversation back on track. I have, on occasion, seen Matt cross the line, and he usually apologizes for that. He certainly had more patience with Carlos than I would have, frankly, the call went on too long, it was clear Carlos wasn’t interested in having an honest conversation.

  56. JT Rager says

    @John Baker

    It’s not certainty that Beth loves Matt, but it is evidence, which is how we live our lives. I haven’t seen my boss yet today at work, yet I am fairly sure that he came in today because I know he has a regular schedule and he has important jobs to do. I don’t know for certain that he didn’t get in a car wreck on the way over, bug since it’s rare I’m not going to assume it.

    Not only does Matt have testable evidence (and testable doesn’t have to be in a lab, it largely isn’t), but I also have testable evidence. I follow Beth on social media, and she constantly posts updates about doing things with Matt, talking about how funny she thinks he is, and posting photos of him with cats. These things show that Beth has a high level of interest in Matt continually (all the time retaining her marriage with him, etc.). Furthermore, Beth of all people has very little reason to “cheat” on Matt, because she’s poly. This says nothing about how much she loves Matt anyway.

  57. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    That is no testable evidence. It is subjective.

    Protip: In a certain sense, everything is subjective. There is no step in the scientific process that allows you to formally, mechanically, come up with predictions from a hypothesis. There’s no book that says “if the atomic weight of boron is X, then I should expect to see Y”. That will always need to involve some mix of prior information, intuition, and general philosophy.

    Of course, there are varying degrees of subjectiveness. Some things are open to effectively objective analysis. It’s a spectrum.

    I can make the hypothesis “My mother loves me”. From that, I can derive several predictions concerning her behavior, such as hugging me, telling me she loves me, etc. Those predictions are testable. The hypothesis is testable.

    May wives and husbands cheat.

    Which is part of the reason why no one here is claiming absolute certainty. All conclusions of science, including the conclusion that my mother loves me, are always tentative and subject to revision. Of course, there are differing levels of support for various scientific conclusions, and therefore we hold differing amounts of confidence in the truth over the many scientific conclusions. Still, even for our most firm scientific conclusions, like “the sun will rise tomorrow”, there is still hypothetical evidence that if found should convince any reasonable person that the previous conclusion was wrong.

  58. corwyn says

    @57:

    If she (your wife or partner) said she loved you and you believe that without all of the things she does that would be just plain old blind faith.

    Nonsense. Your spouse saying they love you is EVIDENCE that they love you. It is more likely on that hypothesis than all others. Evidence. Not blind faith.

    Thank you kindly.

  59. says

    @ John Baker, comment 49:

    That is no testable evidence. It is subjective.

    So, are you just being obtuse, or are you genuinely this unfamiliar with science? Because there’s something wrong almost with every word in this dismissal of yours.

    First of all, yes, it is in fact testable evidence. Your inability or unwillingness to think of a test doesn’t mean testing is impossible: Matt’s wife could be monitored for behaviors commonly deemed as loving within the culture she is a part of, directed at her spouse over a long period of time. She could be hooked up to a series of biometric scanners to see if time with Matt elicits the physiological reactions associated with attraction. Hell, her brain could be scanned to see if those areas of it associated with romantic love are active when she’s shown her husband. Those are tests you could do, meaning that the evidence you were told of was, actually, testable.

    Secondly, subjectivity is irrelevant to this because science doesn’t demand total, objective proof before accepting a hypothesis. Science is inherently probabilistic, in that it speaks to probabilities rather than certainties. Every aspect of science is subject to revision in the face of new information and carries with it the understanding that it is the best, most probable set of conclusions given the circumstances and not a rigid, certain pronouncement.

    Keeping that in mind, Matt is safe in concluding that, based on the evidence available to him and in the absence of evidence to the contrary, it is most probably true that his wife loves him. That is all that the scientific method demands, if you remember that what you’re wanting to test is a mundane claim and not an extraordinary one.

  60. joxer says

    great show, nice improvement in call quality and even the set. I do miss the green screen which gave you the old background but this is pretty good. Hamish is just an idiot who will never listen to or understand anything that you are saying. I’d love to call in some time to discuss your thoughts on atheism on the internet. There are some outspoken and followed people that seem to be very mysogynistic and harmful for atheism in general because of this. On a more philosophical note I’d like to know what you think of the valley of the blind – I feel like we can see better than the believers but this works against us just as in the story.

  61. JD and Co. says

    @60 EL
    May I add that even if a spouse cheats, that doesn’t mean they don’t love their spouse. Two separate topics.

    If someone says they love me, and doesn’t act lovingly toward me in other ways, that doesn’t mean I want to marry and/or stay married to them. (Others’ mileage may vary.)

    My spouse of 25+ years says “I love you” frequently and acts lovingly in many ways. Yet, I can’t crawl inside someone else’s head to verify 100% that it is indeed love driving the behavior. I can’t even say for sure that the thing we both call “love” is even the same emotion for both of us.

    But, even if it’s an act, as far as I’m concerned if someone can keep up that great an act for 25 years, it’s good enough for me.

  62. ironchops says

    Hi corwin
    I can’t entirely agree. I can see “I love you” as evidence, but I also view it as a claim that needs to be substantiated by other evidence. Love is a weirdly and highly subjective idea/emotion to use as an analogy for god claims anyway, don’t you think. Like when god says he loves you just after he has destroyed all life on earth or on a smaller scale entire cities.

  63. Ethan Myerson says

    Carlos intended to prove a point about Matt’s epistemology with his “does your wife love you?” question, but ended up demonstrating a great deal more about his own. When asked if his wife loves him, Matt responded with “I don’t know”, and Carlos laughed. He laughed because he thought that was a funny answer. Why would he think it’s a funny answer? Because he already “knows” that wives love husbands. It’s laughable in his mind to hear someone say he doesn’t know if that’s the case.

    Rather than demonstrating that Matt sometimes operates on “faith” (I assume that was his destination), he instead demonstrated that he himself ONLY operates on faith. Provided evidence that flies in the face of his expectations, he laughed it off and assumed for several minutes that it was a put-on. We all watched (or listened) to him stumble through reluctantly accepting evidence that contradicted his mental model. This is not someone who is accustomed to making observations and then finding models to explain or describe those observations. It seems like there’s a great deal of ground work that would have to be done before any constructive conversation could be had with someone like that.

  64. says

    Why would you marry someone if you don’t know he or she loves you? Then after stating his evidence (just as strong evidence as people give for God) he does say that she loves him. Therefore he belives in something that he cannot give testable evidence. How could you test her love? Cuz she is loving? Cuz she is kind to him? I know many that do those things and do not love their spouse.

  65. JT Rager says

    @John Baker 12

    I’ve given multiple forms of testable evidence that someone can love you, and you’ve repeatedly ignored it. It is apparent in their actions. If they give you flowers and take time out of their day to spend time with you and take care of you when you’re sick and talk to you when you’re sad, those aren’t actions that just anyone does, it’s mostly something only people who love you will do.

    Not to mention, someone loving another isn’t an outrageous claim, it’s fairly mundane. We know people behave in a way consistent with “loving” another. Skeptics proportion their beliefs to the evidence. Having a large degree of caring about someone else is a common occurrence and is known to be within the fairly normal range of known human behaviors. A conscious cosmic entity that created everything and cares about how you masturbate is not.

  66. Minus says

    I’ve been resisting the urge for ages now, but I’ve got to get this off my chest. Every time Don misuses the term “begs the question” it’s like fingernails on the chalk board. I can’t believe no one has called him on it. Come on guys, you’re the experts on logical fallacies etc.

    By the way, great show, F*** Hamish and his vaudeville dialect. I’ve known a bunch of Scots and Hamish is no true Scotsman.

  67. favog says

    I think John Baker has a genuine lack of understanding of how the rest of us are trying to make a distinction between “belief” and “knowledge”. It’s similar, and in fact related. to the error Carlos makes when he can’t understand how “proof” and “evidence” aren’t the same thing. John’s also clearly having trouble with the word “evidence” as well because of that. His phrase “testable evidence” is actually kind of a non sequitur. You don’t test evidence. You test a hypothesis, and the results of the test are the evidence. You don’t bake a cake by taking a fully finished cake and putting in the oven for an hour!

  68. says

    I could be giving flowers just to get laid. That is not evidence of love necesarrily. And I would agree with Favog the. In that case, the evidence that Matt gave is not valid since it is subjective.

  69. says

    @Rager

    The intention of the argument was not to state that God exists. It was just to point out that Matt can believe in something without evidence as described before. Again, all those examples you gave are subjective. Giving roses or being kind to another person is not evidence of love in any way. It could be but not necesarily. Matt chosed to believe he is loved based on some things that he percieves as love. But again, my point is not to show with this argument that God exists. If you say that a TV exist you can test it in many ways and the outcome will be the same. If you test the hypothesis of giving roses is love you will see that the outcome is not always the same.

  70. Monocle Smile says

    @john Baker
    Do you have an actual point, or are you content to complain and misrepresent? You are now being maddeningly dishonest.

  71. corwyn says

    @72:

    the evidence that Matt gave is not valid since it is subjective.

    You are completely misunderstanding the idea of evidence. Evidence is merely some fact which is more likely on the hypothesis than not.

    Flowers ARE evidence of love since they are more likely on the hypothesis of love than not. If someone gives you flowers it increases your confidence that they love you, even if just a tiny bit, even if it doesn’t change your mind.

    They are not CONCLUSIVE evidence. That is, evidence that by itself should change some average person’s confidence level from probably false to probably true.

    Evidence is NOT proof. Subjective has ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to do with it.

    Thank you kindly.

  72. corwyn says

    @65:

    I can’t entirely agree. I can see “I love you” as evidence, but I also view it as a claim that needs to be substantiated by other evidence.

    You deal with some strange people. If you aren’t convinced by the evidence of ‘I love you’ that is a statement about your prior probability estimate, and the likelihood of that statement. Not being conclusive evidence doesn’t make it NOT evidence.

    Love is a weirdly and highly subjective idea/emotion to use as an analogy for god claims anyway, don’t you think.

    It is a weird analogy. I am not convinced that love is subjective. We can analyze brain chemicals, and monitor activity by brain area. Are you saying we will NEVER find the combination which OBJECTIVELY identifies love?

    Thank you kindly.

  73. says

    @ John Baker, comment 73:

    Giving roses or being kind to another person is not evidence of love in any way. It could be but not necesarily.

    I agree that those actions are not necessarily evidence of love, though they could be. So now here’s a question for you: which explanation of those actions, taken together with the many years one might spend married to their wives and the consistency of those loving actions, is more likely and parsimonious? That the wife really does love the husband, or that she has some ulterior motive- that you have no evidence for nor, seemingly any intention of presenting any- that causes her to act that way without feeling the emotions that go along with it? Which of those seems more probable, and relies on the least unevidenced assumptions?

    Because that’s what science does, being a probabilistic measure of evidence. That’s what you should be doing too, if you want to determine whether someone is or is not comporting themselves scientifically.

    It was just to point out that Matt can believe in something without evidence as described before.

    And yet all you’ve done is dismiss any evidence presented to you as “subjective,” which doesn’t actually disqualify it as evidence. There’s a whole subset of scientific tests called “self-reporting” which is entirely subjective in the same sense as Matt’s evidence, and yet is still used in scientific studies for a broad range of things. Moreover, evidence isn’t a binary “absolute, objective certainty/no evidence at all,” proposition, it’s a sliding scale with many things along that range. Asserting that Matt believes in “something without evidence,” in the face of the discussion you’ve had here is a profoundly dishonest false dichotomy, all done to rout back to the presupposed conclusion, which is itself nothing more than a bald tu coque fallacy.

    Top to bottom, you’re wrong at every conceivable scale of this thing.

  74. Grace says

    Thank you for the sensitive way you handle Scalia’s death. I feel pretty much the same. You handled it with (please forgive the word ) grace.

  75. ironchops says

    Hi corwin, @76
    1. I stated in post #65 that “I can see “I love you” as evidence”.
    2. I deal with all kinds of people. Strange, regular, smart, stupid etc…..What does that even supposed to mean?
    3. I suppose we can come up with a list of love attributes that are objective. To me, the idea of “love” is also subject to any individual’s interpretation as to what will convince them they are loved and which kind of love it is. There are at least 5 definitions of love.
    PS. I love you corwin.

  76. Curt Cameron says

    John Baker 12 said:

    How could you test her love? Cuz she is loving? Cuz she is kind to him? I know many that do those things and do not love their spouse.

    Here’s the $64 question for you John: How do you know they don’t love their spouse?

    I think you’ll find that the loving actions are evidence to you in favor of the love hypothesis, but other actions you haven’t mentioned here are more persuasive evidence in the other direction – those other actions more than make up for the positives of being loving and kind to convince you of the lack of love.

    But if you know they don’t love their spouse, that’s based on evidence (unless you’re just making it up).

  77. JT Rager says

    @John Baker 12

    If I come across a clear glass of liquid in my kitchen it could quite possibly be pure ethanol. Or it could be a 30% sulfuric acid concentration. But I’m willing to say I “know” it’s water. Because we don’t ever really look at one piece of evidence in real life. Since it’s in my kitchen, it’s the only substance of that nature I regularly leave around the house. Also, if it’s either of the other examples I gave, I could waft the chemical into my nose to smell it and make sure it’s water. If I use it to make tea, it will evaporate much more quickly or it will violently react with my tea bag when I go through the motions of making tea.

    Such is the case with Matt and Beth. They are frequently seen together both at conferences and on social media. Matt doesn’t exactly make big bucks since his income is based on his YouTube videos now, so Beth has little motivation to stick around due to money. As I said, Beth is poly so she isn’t “tied” to Matt, yet she sticks around. She doesn’t need him to get laid. This and many numerous lines of evidence appear. Any one of these may not be particularly strong reasons for us to conclude that Beth loves Matt on their own, but they corroborate each other pretty well. And even if there is an alternative explanation for these behaviors that wouldn’t mean that it’s not the most reasonable thing to say that Beth loves Matt. Regardless of that conclusion, ALL OF THESE ARE EVIDENCE.

    You keep appealing to absolute certainty. In basically all walks of life there can be an alternative explanation for something we claim to “know”. But just because there’s an alternative doesn’t mean it’s not reasonable. You keep bringing up alternate explanations, which are entirely possible but you miss the whole point. There are multiple sources of evidence that point to a similar conclusion. That’s all we need to say when we say we “know” something.

  78. JT Rager says

    @John Baker 12

    If I come across a clear glass of liquid in my kitchen it could quite possibly be pure ethanol. Or it could be a 30% sulfuric acid concentration. But I’m willing to say I “know” it’s water. Because we don’t ever really look at one piece of evidence in real life. Since it’s in my kitchen, it’s the only substance of that nature I regularly leave around the house. Also, if it’s either of the other examples I gave, I could waft the chemical into my nose to smell it and make sure it’s water. If I use it to make tea, it will evaporate much more quickly or it will violently react with my tea bag when I go through the motions of making tea.

    Such is the case with Matt and Beth. They are frequently seen together both at conferences and on social media. Matt doesn’t exactly make big bucks since his income is based on his YouTube videos now, so Beth has little motivation to stick around due to money. As I said, Beth is poly so she isn’t “tied” to Matt, yet she sticks around. She doesn’t need him to get laid. This and many numerous lines of evidence appear. Any one of these may not be particularly strong reasons for us to conclude that Beth loves Matt on their own, but they corroborate each other pretty well. And even if there is an alternative explanation for these behaviors that wouldn’t mean that it’s not the most reasonable thing to say that Beth loves Matt. Regardless of that conclusion, ALL OF THESE ARE EVIDENCE.

    You keep appealing to absolute certainty. In basically all walks of life there can be an alternative explanation for something we claim to “know”. But just because there’s an alternative doesn’t mean it’s not reasonable. You keep bringing up alternate explanations, which are entirely possible but you miss the whole point. There are multiple sources of evidence that point to a similar conclusion. That’s all we need to say when we say we “know” something.

  79. corwyn says

    @78:

    3. I suppose we can come up with a list of love attributes that are objective. To me, the idea of “love” is also subject to any individual’s interpretation as to what will convince them they are loved and which kind of love it is. There are at least 5 definitions of love.

    How much of that is just our ignorance. In the future when Pfizer makes the home-love-test-kit, will it still be subjective?

    Thank you Kindly.

  80. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    At that point, the problem about “5 definitions of love” is purely semantic. It’s like a giant equivocation fallacy. Pfizer could make a love test, according to a particular definition of love, but that might not be exactly what someone else means by love. This is just a problem with language in general. Words don’t have intrinsic meaning. Neither definition is “right”. However, after two parties sufficiently narrow down a particular meaning of “love”, then there can be objectively right and wrong answers.

  81. favog says

    No, John you do not agree with favog. Now, corwyn in post 75? He agrees with favog.

    Really. Looking over my posts I have no idea how he interpreted that as us agreeing on anything. I said he didn’t understand the words, and was using and reusing an incoherent phrase. That’s agreement in his eyes????

  82. anthonygarland says

    Love love love love the show. But please please please try to watch out for the Uhh’s and Umm’s. My recent COM class got by brain wired to notice those and now I have a hard time listening to what’s being said over counting the uhh and umm that at some times is literally between every single word. I understand how difficult live talk can be, I really do, but please be a little more mindful of the verbal pauses. It becomes extremely distracting. Other than that please keep doing what you’re doing and I hope one day to be able to actually talk to you guys. I’d love to share my transition from hardcore bible believer of almost 30 years to atheist now and how my own still diehard Christian father and me surviving a war had the greatest influence on where I am today and why I no longer believe.

  83. Atheist Fan says

    I admire Matt’s subject matter expertise and reasoning ability but not his profanity. The emphasis added by profanity is mainly emotional. Credibility drops, particularly for curious theists in the audience.

  84. Daniel Engblom says

    I’ll admit, the recent changes and technical difficulties did frustrate me as I love the show, but this episode was a great return to form with some lively conversations, thanks for the hard work and dedication!

  85. solidcitizen says

    Carlos brings up a question that is asked often, the old “how can something come out of nothing” question. I think that this question is a misunderstanding of what “nothing” is. Non-scientists frequency assume that “nothing” is a universe completely void of matter, energy, anything at all. If at some point, there was “nothing,” it does indeed make it difficult to imagine how “something” can come from “nothing,” knowing what we currently know of the laws of nature.

    However, scientists today have demonstrated that “nothing,” as we commonly conceive it, likely cannot and did not exist. We are learning about quantum foam, strings, and other phenomena that indicate that space itself consists of fluctuations or some such wave-stuff (that I do not claim to fully understand) that may, conceivably, maybe even improbably, result in an occasional singularity that could expand space into a universe. How likely is this to happen? I don’t know, we don’t know. But if the likelihood is greater than zero, it is inevitable in an infinite cosmos.

    Yup, my explanations are fuzzy, my knowledge in cutting-edge physics is flawed and incomplete at best. But I’m just trying to indicate that the “universe from nothing” argument is much less compelling today, with our current knowledge, than it was in the past. As always, the “god of the gaps” shrinks as our understanding grows.

  86. Monocle Smile says

    @Atheist fan
    That’s a bit of Straw Vulcaning there.
    People who think using “profanity” damages credibility are not the kind of people apt to change their minds anyway and aren’t the kind of people I want to associate with.

  87. ironchops says

    Hi Corwyn – 83 = subjective; 84 = objective. Loved the demo!
    “You deal with some strange people” Yep…you be one of them. Finally figured out what that meant.
    I love you anyway!

  88. KsDevil says

    It is my suspicion that Aziz has trouble with the concept of context and from where context is sourced. Perhaps he doesn’t know the source and avoids the issue by deflecting his conversation or simply relies on ‘I heard a guy say something once and here is what I took that to mean’.
    It is my considered opinion that Carlos has not included many sources of scientific information into his life, nor performed any scientific experiments in his schooling.
    I find humor in the irony of those who read The National Enquirer despite their old saying “inquiring mind want to know”, as more often than not, the inquiry stops at the surface.
    (P.S. I can’t seem to use my name because the system thinks I am an impostor)
    And that seems to be where a lot of callers in this episode seem to reside.

  89. StonedRanger says

    @Solidcitizen #90
    The whole argument of something from nothing only comes from theists who misunderstand or willfully ignore the science. I don’t know about the whole non-scientist idea. I am a non-scientist, that is I have no formal schooling in the advanced sciences, but I don’t go around espousing ‘something from nothing’. I took the time do study as best I could what science has discovered. I don’t understand a great deal of it to any extent, but I accept for the most part that what science has to say has value.

    On the other hand, every time without fail that someone has asked that ‘something from nothing’ question it is usually accompanied by the accusation that ‘this is what atheists believe isn’t it’? And it always comes from a theist of some sort. Mainly christians and moslems in my experience. And it usually comes right after they find out im an atheist. YMMV

  90. says

    I’m sort of with the folks critical of Matt; he did seem to be a bit shorter with the theist callers this episode. Of course, the bar is pretty high when we, the listening audience, expect a positively delivered informed message to come from a call with a theist who is intent on playing equivocation games instead of having an honest conversation. You can only humor a caller so much on the “positive” side without the bullshit being shoveled so high that any attempt at “informing” becomes almost impossible. It’s great they have a mute button again; I think that gives both the host and the caller a good pause to step back from a conversational deadlock and restart. I’m giving it a second listen to see if I still hold the same opinion.

  91. says

    @95 continued, now re-listened to the call from Carlos.

    Matt certainly was tilted by the reaction to him saying “I don’t know” to the question of “Does your wife love you?” on Valentine’s Day. Probably would have been better to say “Yes” and then challenge Carlos’ confused epistemic assertions from that angle, given that hindsight is 20/20. I know Matt does prefer the “I don’t know” answer to these types of questions, to avoid the inevitable “God made you know that” nonsense, but you can still talk about the nature of beliefs and what I mean when I say I know something and epistemology given an “I know X” or “I don’t know X” answer.

    Carlos was dodging the what do you mean by proof (ignoring the obvious equivocation) and not listening/understanding what Matt was saying on at least a couple of occasions. Sigh, not much Matt could have done to avoid that.

    On to Aziz…

  92. corwyn says

    @94:

    We tend to think of time as being properly basic, and energy as coming about in time and space. What if it is the other way around? Spacetime is created by energy. We will, of course, have trouble talking about it, but would it give us a different perspective on what came first.

    I think that we should require that anyone expounding on this, should first explain quantum entanglement. We can test that, and it is probably an easier problem. No ‘common sense’ solutions help.

  93. Atheist Fan says

    @corwyn
    I like your caution against ‘common sense solutions.’ As a physicist, I get especially irritated when theists invoke cause-and-effect in regimes where it may not apply.

  94. adamah says

    Just to correct something Don said that was an eyebrow raiser:

    God didn’t approve of the killing of Abel by Cain: to the contrary, God cursed Cain to wander the Earth.

    Of course, Genesis contains a collection of origins tales, whether it’s the cosmos (Genesis 1:1), the Earth and all life (animal/plant/humans), human mortality, childbirth pains, languages (Tower of Babel), etc.

    In many cases, the reasoning behind the current situation is foreshadowed in Genesis. Such is the case with the account of Cain’s punishment, which seems unusually lax if it was murder, and not manslaughter. I explain the reasoning in the following article:

    http://awgue.weebly.com/why-did-god-seemingly-allow-cain-to-get-away-with-murder.html

    (Perhaps Don was thinking of Abraham and his son, Isaac, whom God requested be sacrificed to him? I dunno….)

    But the point remains: when an atheist challenges the Bible but makes an incorrect statement of what it actually says, it’s harmful to one’s own credibility (and it just as a theist harms their own credibility when repeating their misunderstanding of evo).

  95. says

    If anyone is unfamiliar with Scalia and is curious as to why no tears are shed by many of us regarding his passing, I found a rather detailed article about what this guy represented. He simultaneously was against legislating from the bench and for completely reinterpreting the First and Fourteenth Amendments to mean the precise opposite. He was correct that this panel of 9 non-elected judges should not be making new laws, but was wrong in that he believed strongly that the majority view (of the religious) should affect the fundamental right to liberty and happiness of the minority of gays. The man was torn between a clear understanding of the correct limitations the Court should have and his religious obligation to push their discriminatory agenda as much as he possibly could. Anyway, here is the article. http://www.nytimes.com/2015/12/03/opinion/justice-scalias-majoritarian-theocracy.html?_r=0

  96. corwyn says

    @99:

    He forbid anyone (meaning his parents) to punish Cain, and sent him on vacation…

    Perhaps the wandering the Earth thing was to emphasize to him, that he had just killed the only sex partner of his own generation he had.

    Of course it certainly isn’t the only time the god in question “approved of” murder.

  97. ironchops says

    @ 98 Atheist Fan: I see that you are a physicist and hope you can point me to some information regarding the big bang. I am an engineer and have some practical use of Newtonian physics and have somewhat scratched the surface of quantum mechanics but beyond that I am a layman. The way I have been taught is that just prior to the actual “big bang” all that makes up the universe that we know of was within a single atom. Questions: what was this atom sitting/existing in? and If all that mass is pushing down to the center could it be that it turned itself inside out to escape itself?…so to speak. And finally is this atom the biggest black hole ever or is it a material that we still do not understand because it changed forms after it exploded leaving of itself and only other materials and energy behind? Fascinating subject.

  98. adamah says

    Corwyn said:

    He forbid anyone (meaning his parents) to punish Cain, and sent him on vacation…

    The part in bold is an assumption on your part, since Genesis doesn’t indicate how large the human population was.

    And although it’s almost impossible to avoid anachronistically applying our modern mores and assumptions to an ancient story, I doubt there’s anyone (including you) who accurately understands the cultural context in which the story was originally recorded (and then subsequently redacted, suffering from the “too many cooks” syndrome: it’s likely lost its originally-intended meaning, since it was modified to fit the current needs de jour over millennia).

    In fact, any attempt to interpret the Genesis account is not unlike a Rohrsach test, likely saying more about the speaker than about the story, itself. As the old rabbinic saying goes, there are 70 faces to the Torah, and it’s the journey (not the destination) that counts…

    Of course, generations of rabbinic scholars have had a field day offering their various interpretations in the vacuum, e.g. as explained here:

    http://digitalcommons.law.uga.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1373&context=gjicl
    The standard Xian interpretation is that Cain’s killing Abel is the 1st-recorded murder in the Bible, when there’s more evidence suggesting it’s the first-recorded case of manslaughter, not murder (I focus on that issue in my article). The vagueness of the account seems intentional, which goes to Matt’s point about the irony of God claiming to not be the author of confusion! Obviously the Qur’an shares a similar weakness of being open to differing interpretation.

    But interpretative vagueness aside, the Genesis account contains illogic which defies explanation, e.g. God didn’t actually get around to prohibiting humans from intentionally spilling human blood until a few chapters later, in Genesis 9 (right after Noah’s flood): whoops!

    In that light, God doesn’t look so omniscient when He forgets to prohibit humanity from spilling blood, even after God curses Cain for killing Abel (you’d think that episode would’ve jogged His memory that there was something He really needed to tell humanity; but Gods apparently have alot on their plates, and it must’ve slipped from His mind).

    Perhaps the wandering the Earth thing was to emphasize to him, that he had just killed the only sex partner of his own generation he had.

    Huh? Was that an attempt at humor? Care to explain? I’m not sure if I can take you seriously…

    A sociologist might say that remembering the cultural context in which the account is supposedly set, it’s more likely that a farmer (Cain) being banished from working the now-cursed Earth is likely an attempt to explain the genesis of the earlier wandering hunter-gathering tradition (just as the Tower of Babel account is an attempt to explain the origin of foreign languages).

    The emergence of cultivation and transitioning to an agricultural society was a development from the time in which the account is set, and likely carried some risks, serving as a source of anxiety (e.g. the risk of local floods wiping out crops, causing starvation).

    Just as modern humans are anxious about new ways of doing things, the same applies to those living 3,000 yrs ago. I consider it a vestige, an echo, from our distant past….

    Of course it certainly isn’t the only time the god in question “approved of” murder.

    In your rush to defend Don, you’re entirely missing my point: there’s many other examples in the Bible that show God approves of killing, but the Cain and Abel account ain’t an example of one of them!

    Don took his best shot and missed, but it’s a logical air-ball. That’s a failure of atheistic Biblical criticism, and it discredits all of us atheists in the eyes of believers, since it undermines our credibility and makes it easier for them to dismiss all of what we say (as does Matt’s use of inflammatory language, BTW).

    And if the goal is to convince others to change their beliefs, spreading misinformation and ignorance is unlikely to work. But if the goal is simply to inflate one’s own ego, then it’s likely to work. It’s all about why you don’t believe, and how well you can explain your rationale to others….

    But back on your point, few Xians realize the Divine Commandment, “Thou Shalt Not Kill” only applied to killing fellow members of the 12 tribes: it wasn’t a divine prohibition against murdering others (eg Gentiles).

    Like I said above, there’s no lack of actual Biblical examples where God explicitly orders the murder of others, whether on the battlefield or not. Use those, and not the Cain and Abel account (unless of course you just want to shoot yourself in the foot by living up to the stereotype of the smug know-it-all atheist who actually is quite unfamiliar with the text, and seemingly dismissive of it without investigating it free of biases).

  99. corwyn says

    @104:

    The part in bold is an assumption on your part, since Genesis doesn’t indicate how large the human population was.

    If creationists can determine the age of the Earth from the text, I can count the number of people.

    [The rest of your post doesn’t treat the account fundamentally so isn’t of interest to me, and is apparently just an excuse for you to be rude]

  100. adamah says

    Corwyn said-

    If creationists can determine the age of the Earth from the text, I can count the number of people.

    You really should try to gain sufficient self-awareness to detect when you’re about to commit a logical fallacy, e.g. that’s a classic example of the 3rd-person ‘tuo quoque’ fallacy, a particularly childish (although commonly-encountered) attempt at offering an excuse.

    http://www.logicalfallacies.info/presumption/tu-quoque/
    (And MS, note the reference to ‘implied conclusions’ in the article: their existence is precisely why simple-minded personal attacks always constitute ‘ad hom’ arguments.)

    Besides which, the playing field isn’t level: many believers are largely acting consistently with their belief system when they engage in scripture-twisting, but Conwyn, as a self-proclaimed rationalist can you say your words above indicate you’re respecting the principles of rational thought?

    [The rest of your post doesn’t treat the account fundamentally so isn’t of interest to me, and is apparently just an excuse for you to be rude]

    “Rude”? Apparently Ms Manners doesn’t approve of my post? Lol!

    The facts are these:

    Under the principles of Torah-derived Judaic law, the only question is whether God considered the killing of Abel as premeditated (murder) vs spur-of-the-moment (manslaughter): either option comes nowhere close to constituting God’s approval of the killing of Abel (which is what Don said, IIRC).

    But just like a dogmatic believer, rather than simply admitting that you ‘grabbed the wrong end of the stick’ once again, you’re attempting to defend the obviously wrong position you’ve adopted, and your ego won’t allow you to simply state, “Youre right: you have a legitimate point”.

    Bloated egos are a bitch, whether they’re those of believers or atheists alike…

  101. corwyn says

    @106:

    You really should be aware of when you are finding logical fallacies where they don’t apply. A strictly literal reading of the bible gives both the creationists earth age, and my number of humans. Which is ENTIRELY my point. Which you are so clearly missing in your attempts at apologetics.

    Buh Bye.

  102. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    I completely fail to understand how that’s “tuo quoque”. Apparently, that’s another logical fallacy that Adamah doesn’t understand.

  103. adamah says

    EL said:

    I completely fail to understand how that’s “tuo quoque”.

    Well, then we agree on THAT point: the failure to understand rests solely on your shoulders, alone. That’s a refreshing admission, I suppose, if it’s sincere…

    But I see you immediately flip-flop, returning to your old ways:

    Apparently, that’s another logical fallacy that Adamah doesn’t understand.

    So despite my clarifying it as a “3rd-person tuo quoque”, you nevertheless failed to comprehend?

    So let’s back-track, then, if we must: what does the phrase, “3rd person” mean?

    And then, you earn bonus points if you can explain how the tuo quoque fallacy applies not only to 1st/2nd parties (i.e. the speaker/1st person, or the party they’re addressing as the 2nd person), but also to 3rd parties….

    Remember, the tuo quoque fallacy attempts to justify one’s own hypocrisy by citing the example of others being hypocritical. It’s simply a weak-minded excuse, since most of us accepted as children that two wrongs don’t make a right.

    Conwyn said:

    A strictly literal reading of the bible gives both the creationists earth age, and my number of humans.

    Do you even know what “strictly literal” means?

    It’s obvious you don’t, since otherwise you’d be able to cite Biblical chapter/verse where it says, e.g., “the Earth was 6,000 yrs old in 1,000 BC”.

    So here’s your chance to put up or shut up, citing the passage(s) in Genesis (or elsewhere in the Bible) where it says anything remotely close to that to indicate the age of the Earth.

    Hint: don’t waste much time looking, because it doesn’t say anything remotely close anywhere in the Bible, and even a quick Google search finds many Xian apologetics sites which openly admit chronology of the Earth is only an estimate…. So you’re straw-manning believers.

    Instead, the age of the Earth is loosely guesstimated via combining various Old Testament (Psalms 90) and New Testament (2 Peter 3) scriptures to arrive at the 6,000 yr figure.

    Now, that’s nowhere close to relying on a “strictly literal” reading, since it requires interpolation and calculations to approximate.

    BTW, I’m guessing both passages were written primarily to address the failed prophecy of God’s threat to Adam, spoken in Genesis 2:17: “The day you eat of the fruit, you shall surely die”.

    Of course, Adam didn’t die within 24 hours, but accordingly to the Genesis account itself, lived on to die at a ripe old age of 930 yrs (per Genesis 5:5).

    Now THAT’S an example where you can rely on a “strictly literal” Bible reading, since it explicitly states at what age Adam died…

    Xians have attempted to reconcile the discrepancy between Genesis 2 and 5 in various ways, e.g. by citing Psalms/2nd Peter (as explained above), or claiming Adam died a spiritual death that very same day, etc.

  104. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    >The day you eat of the fruit, you shall surely die

    Is there a part in the Bible that says the Christian god cannot lie or be mistaken? I missed that part. It might be there. I don’t know.

    And I’m still no closer to understanding why you believe that there was a tuo quoque from Corwyn.

  105. Atheist Fan says

    @Hezekiah Ramirez

    I like your comments on absolute knowledge. I think Tracie Harris expressed similar sentiments on the show once. People bend over backward and argue epistemology to allow for the infinitesimal possibility of a supernatural realm while easily dismissing other propositions with small but finite probabilities.

  106. Helicopter says

    You guys really treated that muslim guy unfairly. It was almost like you deliberately misunderstood him for the sake of tripping him up. Every time he tried to explain something he had said, you took it as a new argument to attack rather than as a clarification of a previous statement. Really disappointing to see this from people who should know better.