Comments

  1. says

    Wow…so when pressed to give an example of what his faith is based on, Artane gives “the age of the Earth”–which he has already said has no impact on his faith. WOW.

    And the Bible “holds up under scrutiny,” says the guy who started the call saying he doesn’t accept scientific evidence because it’s based on assumptions he rejects. What is he using for “scrutiny” to test religious claims?

    What a mess.

  2. Paul Clanner says

    Just as an aside, I would love to see Matt and David Wood (the atheist turned Christian (Acts17Apologetics)) have a conversation about truth.

  3. Monocle Smile says

    @heicart
    Given that these science-rejecting loons are calling in on phones to an internet broadcast, it’s a good thing one cannot fatally overdose on irony.

  4. The YouTube Guy says

    REGARDING THE FIRST CALLER

    Every caller who has said “I use to be an atheist” has never been able to explain two things:

    1 – How they came to be an atheist.
    2 – How they decided Christianity was right.

    The caller showed how faulty their reasoning is by the end. They’re not going by evidence to make decisions. They’re just like the second caller who goes by his “gut”. Many of these callers don’t even listen to what people on The Atheist Experience are saying to them and that… in and of itself… is the problem. They’re so busy justifying their own beliefs they don’t need any external validation.

    Long story short, the first caller wasn’t interested in truth. He started doubting atheism because of the age of Earth but the age of Earth wouldn’t change his belief now (Even though it did once). I could tell this was the turning point when Matt was ready to hang up at a moments notice.

  5. adamah says

    Great show, guys.

    As far as the statue of a Hindu goddess in front of CERN, I haven’t googled it yet but am fairly certain it’s a reference to the famous words said by Robert Oppenheimer (the lead scientist behind the development of the atomic bomb) after watching the first atomic blast, where he quoted the passage from Indian holy writings as a reference to humanity having developed the ability to destroy worlds.

    No wing-nut ‘conspiracy hypothesis’ required…..

  6. says

    I was on hold for over an hour and gave up because I realized I wouldn’t get on 🙁 I was going to talk about my epistemological reason for disbelieving the claims of the major religions. Mental illness runs in my family, and the basis for the world’s religions are stories about experiences that are indistinguishable from what we now call psychiatric symptoms. People who experience these things are almost always 100% convinced that they are real because the thing that made a mistake (the brain) is the same thing that decides what’s a mistake. After reading Oliver Sacks’s book, Hallucination, I am even more dubious about the stories of Moses, Jesus, Paul, Buddha and all the others. But even before reading his book I wrote a blog post about it. If the mods don’t mind, here’s a link to my blog post about the main characters of the Bible:

    http://ladyatheist.blogspot.com/2012/11/mental-illness-and-main-characters-of.html

  7. Chancellor of the Exchequer says

    Nice episode.

    I hoped Anthony would’ve got more words in but welp.

    Arthane sounded like a troll to me at first, he was the stereotype in action.

    James needs to be bathed in skepticism.

    Diana is another on the list, if your family rejects you for honest disbelief then they aren’t the support you need. I wish you the best.

    Thoughts are with the victims of that horrific shooting in Orlando, the Muslims who’s first reaction was to condemn and not protect their religion are the MVPs of their faith.

  8. The YouTube Guy says

    Maybe this was too obvious but….

    ArcanE LogoS is connected to GMan

    I hunted down his YouTube channel and he does debates where he uses the exact same tactic we saw on the show. Within the first minute of one debate he asked “What would be the point of giving you my evidence if you’re just going to refute it”. Now why have I connected him to GMan? GMan is in the comments in his videos and another person with “LogoS” in their name is only subscribed to GMan.

    So yes…. it seems he was 100% real. He thinks the world isn’t a sphere and that we didn’t go to the moon and when you ask him why he’s a Christian it’s because the world isn’t billions of years old… but that won’t change his mind if we can show he’s wrong there… because he’s 100% convinced in God… for….. reasons?

  9. Core Theory says

    I think it would have been interesting if Anthony had been allowed to demonstrate the SE technique with an entire phone call.

  10. dayan75 says

    Anthony Magnabosco made a notable point about bringing theists to the doorstep of atheism and inviting them to walk through. He was talking about directly helping the caller to question their belief. Matt Dillahunty on the other hand, has often said that he doesn’t try to change the minds of callers but “plays to the audience” where fence-sitting doubters may be swayed.

    I think Matt’s approach is more effective in a circumstance where theists callers may be dishonest or deeply confused (as we saw in this show). Anthony’s approach would be more effective in private, honest, one-on-one conversations with believers who are not apologists. Fundamentally, socratic questioning works best when the questions are taken seriously and answers are offered honestly.

  11. steve73 says

    Yay, Anthony Magnabosco! I love his street epistemology videos. He and Matt make a great team.

  12. Van TheMan says

    Arcane Logos is well known in the G+ community for being a young-earth creationist, flat-earther, presuppositional apologetic using, conspiracy minded loon.

    He is tenacious, I’ll give him that. No amount of argumentation nor evidence will sway him away from his beliefs.

  13. CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain says

    Matt (1:38:35):

    Is it actually a constant bombardment, or is this the butterfly effect?- Not the butterfly effect that most people are familiar with… As soon as you mention a butterfly, people start to notice butterflies more often, even though they’re actually not any more common than they were before.

     
    Article: Damn Interesting – Baader-Meinhof Phenomenon

    Baader-Meinhof is the phenomenon where one happens upon some obscure piece of information – often an unfamiliar word or name – and soon afterwards encounters the same subject again, often repeatedly. Anytime the phrase “That’s so weird, I just heard about that the other day” would be appropriate, the utterer is hip-deep in Baader-Meinhof.

    The phenomenon bears some similarity to synchronicity, which is the experience of having a highly meaningful coincidence, such as having someone telephone you while you are thinking about them. Both phenomena invoke a feeling of mild surprise, and cause one to ponder the odds of such an intersection. Both smack of destiny, as though the events were supposed to occur in just that arrangement

    The more scientifically accepted name nowadays is “frequency illusion,” but Stanford linguistics professor Arnold Zwicky didn’t coin that term until 2006, over a decade after “Baader-Meinhof” was coined, and around the same time this article was originally written. So both terms are arguably valid.

  14. says

    It’s like when you buy a car and you pick a model you hadn’t considered before. You feel so special… and then you see your car everywhere.

  15. adamah says

    A closely-related phenomenon that explains the same thing is referred to as ‘availability heuristic’.

    FWIW, here’s a graphics designer explaining the origins of the CERN logo (although there’s TONS more nut-job sites offering the end-times conspiracy hypotheses):

    http://twomosquitoes.blogspot.com/2008/09/cerns-logo-666-learn-its-true-origin.html?m=1

    And the Washington Post reported minutes before the show started that the Orlando shooter posted his allegiance to ISIS on social media, an hour or so before departing for his killing spree:

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/post-nation/wp/2016/06/12/orlando-nightclub-shooting-about-20-dead-in-domestic-terror-incident-at-gay-club/?utm_term=.4015e1c830ff

    Per his ex-wife, apparently the killer wasn’t even particularly religious, which as explained on CNNs special, “Why They Hate Us”, offers one explanation as to why some people are so easily converted into becoming extreme radicals: they’re less familiar with the Quaran and modern peaceful theological interpretations, and hence its easier for radicalized imams to cherry-pick those passages that explicitly order faithful Muslims to kill all infidels.

    Of course, the Xian Bible similarly commands killing and/or shunning gays (OT and NT), it’s just that few Xians are going to follow that policy, excusing it with, “But that’s the OLD testament”….

  16. Wiggle Puppy says

    @ Tracie #1: Yes, let’s say for the sake of argument that we’re completely wrong about the age of the Earth and that evolution isn’t real. How does that get us anywhere near the idea that God exists and that everything in the Bible is true? It’s a complete and total non sequitur.

    I hear the “I did lots of research and found that everything in the Bible holds up, but I can’t give any specifics” thing a lot. It usually seems to be code for “I found the idea of an afterlife and the notion that there’s some sort of cosmic justice favorable, so I deluded myself into believing it.” Or, alternatively, it could mean that “the all-powerful, all-knowing superman explains every possible open question I could possibly have, so it provides all the answers I could ever want without requiring any real work or effort on my part.” Either way, I think the call revealed what a totally vapid position it is.

  17. Monocle Smile says

    @Wiggle Puppy
    I find it to be even more banal…”I’m hooked on this specific idea for bad reasons and I can’t possibly be wrong, so I’ll just make shit up to convince myself I’m saving face.”

  18. OnlyTheEvidenceMatters says

    I nearly fell out of my chair laughing when Artane said, he no longer believes the earth is a spinning ball. I thought he must be trolling. I was sad to hear he wasn’t.

    Wiggle, thanks for quoting Tracie. Her use of thought experiments and reforming questions on the fly always astounds me.

    I think the question, “Why are you convinced you received a revelation?” could be improved by adding “and why are you convinced it’s true?”

  19. Brent Wroten says

    I really felt sorry for Artane. I have a feeling that his environment has pushed into unjustified beliefs. I don’t think he actually believes. I think he want to be on the inside because being on the outside is a tough road to travel. He doesn’t want to give examples because he knows they are not valid, but the shared delusion feels better.

  20. says

    when i hear “I did lots of research and found that everything in the Bible holds up, but I can’t give any specifics …”, it sounds more like “i just found a bunch of apologetics that sound clever enough for me to accept immediately at face value, but since i never looked at them too hard, it’s all gotten kinda muddled in my head, so i can’t really remember enough of it to form a coherent account …”

  21. says

    I was waiting for somebody to call into the show and claim that they are a flat earther (it’s so hot right now in conspiracy circles).

    I’m subscribed to a few Flat Earther youtube channels (I’m masochistic like that) and, to be blunt, their arguments, claims and evidence are so mind numbing stupid, they are the perfect epitome of a Poe. For a while I wasn’t even sure if one of the “big” flat earthers was legitimate or just doing it for the youtube and patreon money.

    So when I hear a caller like Artane, it’s easy to jump straight to “troll”, especially when they suddenly drop a “flat earth” bomb after babbling in circles about nothing resembling a concrete answer for half an hour.

    Some of these guys definitely do seem to believe the earth is flat, just based on the amount of content they produce.

    One guy who uploads around half an hour of conspiracy mongering almost EVERY DAY was looking at the recent SpaceX booster landing, calling it garbage, CG, etc, “Tell me…. tell me how… how does what’s basically a flying pencil turn itself around from going sideways to straight down… How does it do that? Can anybody tell me? Nope, absolutely garbage,” while he’s looking at a video showing thrusters firing and air drag fins moving around. How can this person be serious, right? But there you go. This guy uploads REAMS of content.

    Point is that it’s almost impossible to tell the flat earth trolls from the true believers. But I digress…

  22. says

    I wonder if you might comment on this
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kUCeHimX2wM
    There were also claims that “lacktheism” was somehow harmful to atheism prior to the making of this video (especially those who simply mock religion without a rational justified response to the knowledge question), if you could opine on that, and/or on the reverse, how philosophical divisiveness might be harmful for addressing practical issues.
    It seems to me that there is a conflation of terminology regarding belief and knowledge in this particular video, possibly because the question is being posed as “Does God exist?” rather than “Do you accept God claims?”

  23. says

    In regards to the theist reporting that they’re at 100 confidence initially, and 70 later… it sounds like every time I’m asked “How are you”, and my default response is “I’m good, and you?” It’s half out of habit, and half out of managing expectations… even if I’m having a bleh day.

  24. John Iacoletti says

    I guess “Artane” was supposed to be “Arcane”? The call screener must have heard it wrong.

  25. adamah says

    On the Orlando mass murder episode, Trunp is facing heat for using to incident as a pretense to tweet, “thanks for the congrats” for his supposedly being correct about radical Islamist terrorists.

    Never-mind that Trunp’s proposed solution (namely, banning all Muslims from entering the US “until we understand what’s going on here”) wouldn’t have had ANY preventative effect in this case, since the Orlando killer WAS in fact a US-born citizen (i.e. a ‘home-grown terrorist’) who likely was radicalized by watching videos on the Internet.

    (BTW, I was mistaken above by posting that the killer pledged allegiance to ISIS over social media: rather, he did so during his call to 911.)

    Trump also jumped the gun in concluding that the disappearance of the Egypt Air flight was due to an act of ISIS, when there’s indications that it may have been due to mechanical failure (although the jury is still out, since the black box hasn’t yet been located, AFAIK).

    Trump’s narcisstic personality disorder seemingly is unbounded, as even before the dead bodies of the victims have cooled to room temperature, he manages to make it all about himself and his “greatness”.

    As recently noted by Deepak Chopra (who also knows a thing or two about profiting from telling people what they want to hear), Trump has the emotional maturity and social skills of a child, perhaps one with a diagnosis of autistic spectral disorder (ASD).

  26. says

    I don’t really get the “God reveals himself through creation”… what is the structure of this? It sounds a lot like assuming the conclusion – that anything was “created”.

  27. OnlyTheEvidenceMatters says

    “I really felt sorry for Artane. I have a feeling that his environment has pushed into unjustified beliefs. I don’t think he actually believes.”

    Brent, which environment do you mean?

  28. Monocle Smile says

    Wait was Artane actually ArcanE LogoS? If so, that explains quite a bit. That dude, NephilimFree, and Parture are all severely unhinged YouTubers who are beyond hope. They’ve been pathologically pushing their fantasies for over a decade.

  29. Scott E says

    The inability to answer a direct question with a concise direct answer is something I’ve seen in many of the show’s callers. E.g., “You said you believe X. Why do you believe that?” gets answered with “Well, when I was five years old…[long rambling anecdote that never answers the question]”. I suspect that this is not because they’re intentionally dodging (most of the time), but because they have never actually thought the question through in the first place. Thus they have to reconstruct their own mental history out loud in order figure out for themselves what their answer is, and that’s inevitably a messy and semi-coherent thought process.

    It’s probably not my place to advise hosts who have been doing this for years, but I wonder if Matt and the other hosts might get better answers to the “why do you believe that” question if they phrase it as extremely specifically and narrowly as they can in order to help the callers focus their thoughts and keep them from pulling in all sorts of unrelated ideas and experiences. E.g., “Okay, give us one specific thing you learned in the last five years that contributed to that belief.” It’s kind of like something I heard Russell (I think) say, “Give us your one best argument,” to keep them from trying to jump around to all of them in the space of two minutes.

  30. ironchops says

    @29, Hi Jasper
    It is an equivocation but we were created in that we came about. Evolved. Sprung up. Brought forth as stated in Genesis 1-11, 1-20 & 1-24. So did god create us or simply allow the earth too? Psalm-19? The definition of god should be “the one responsible for all the things we don’t know yet until proven otherwise.” Are there other universes? Yes…god made them. God of the gaps?

  31. Robin says

    So what is Artane getting out of it believing in a God or Christian god? Cause he is holding on to it like a babies blanket.

    I think he is afraid of death, or lost a dear friend of family member and just better for the eternal life in heaven.

    Because other than an emotional appeal, I don’t see any rational sense in why he believes what he believes

  32. Ethan says

    Matt, cell phones typically use cell towers (that’s where they get their name) to connect to other cell phones. It is a common misconception that cell phones use satellites for communication. True satellite phones are very expensive to operate and usually require an antenna to be set up to make calls. Sorry. Just had to point that out.

  33. says

    Matt made a comment at 15:55 about why people say they believe 100% at the beginning of a conversation. I’d like to point out that Belief is binary, you do or don’t. So, any answer besides 100% would be odd especially having been provided no counter-points to proofs they have based their beliefs on. 23:45 – Matt says he wants to start having conversations instead of debates – I advise against this and I’ve been itching to make a video about it for a while now. The reason being Matt has not portrayed the ability to level with or coherently have a discussion with a believer. He is so well versed in Fallacy and Philosophy he expects by merely mentioning the name of a fallacy or concept everyone will understand and know what he’s talking about. The fact is, every religious defense has been done over and over but gets repackaged to seem new (to poorly paraphrase Matt). So, when someone gives their reasoning and Matt responds with “Oh, that’s special pleading.” in Matt’s mind the proof has been debunked and the caller should look for a new one. However, even when Matt takes another step and explains or prods them about why should their supposed God be exempt from the rules that everything else has to follow, it doesn’t connect in their mind. Basically, Matt is a bad communicator because he is incapable of understanding and connecting with not-so-well versed folk. (more or less)

    Caller #1 Artane – Instead of providing any examples whatsoever, Artane repeatedly made statements, claims and assertions about what he has been through as if they were done properly despite early in the call claiming that people can’t know their own butthole from a hole in the ground. If this point had been grasped and built upon I’m sure they would have at least heard what his personal experience/”walk of life” was about and could have discussed it. Matt kept trying to get him to understand the clue that he wanted to know what he meant by these instead of directly asking, which I found weird… I’m glad he plugged his channel. A pitiful 35 minutes and further proof of my previous statement.

    Caller #2 James – This caller is feeling compelled to believe (this is what he meant by strong gut feeling) these ideas which he thinks are crazy because they conflict with his atheistic world view. If anyone is unaware of what was being discussed, it is the theory that the people in power and famous people are all allied with satanic forces in association with the skull & bones, the people basically enter an agreement with the devil/demons to have sway over people and get rewarded heavily etc etc. I would have been able to identify this ‘gut feeling’ he kept addressing and acknowledged the very compelling nature of the videos on the subject. They prey on the very familiar feeling of curiosity and wonderment at how someone can become famous or rule a nation or have a extremely successful business/career that APPEARS to skyrocket from a lucky event because, as an observer, we aren’t capable of seeing the entire story. Instead of telling you what to think the videos provide a narrative and countless circumstantial evidences with open ended questions that lean heavily toward their narrative. It’s really a fan fiction of reality, however the authors have stumbled into convincing themselves that it’s true and can’t unconvince themselves.

    Caller #3 Diana – I personally see Atheism as a pseudo-movement. I know Atheism itself doesn’t make you an activist or obligated to behave in any certain way, but it really bothers me when people indulge in an idea they disagree with just for some personal convenience. She would, ironically, feel guilty for the guilt her parents would feel so, she’s going to use the belief she no longer believes in, which caused the guilt in the first place, to comfort her parents out of the guilt. The reason atheism has a negative connotation is because you can’t be an honest atheist and be nice. You don’t have to be as harsh as Christopher Hitchens, but you’re going to cause people some discomfort telling them their dead relatives aren’t floating in the clouds with Jesus and Elvis. You’re going to cause some discomfort when you tell people that when they pray they’re just talking to themselves and nothing happens. The nicer you are about it, the more you allow them to remain convinced of their delusions. This is probably the basis for Hitchens’ style. The alternative to Diana’s presumptive response to her parents’ guilt is merely to ask them to reanalyze the situation. Admit that she’s been an atheist for a while now and they didn’t notice anything different because she’s still the same Diana. She just doesn’t talk to someone she can’t see hoping they’ll make everything alright or go sit in a church listening to someone rant about characters in a book because she doesn’t see any reason to believe any of that is real. Her parents won’t like it but what is the point of acknowledging she’s an atheist if not to be honest with her parents just to turn around and say well let God deal with it.

    Caller #4 Scott – He wants to know when, if ever to provide guidance rather than just having someone explore their own reasons for their beliefs. There is an inevitable point after some questioning that the person will feel the pressures of having to explain and justify all of these things they may not have thought about as much as they realized and will deflect it back on the one interrogating them. As someone who is asking people to openly discuss their views which is taboo to talk about you need to be ready to answer yourself. The more prepared for the deflection you are, the better you sound. Even someone with views as radical as Adam Kokesh doesnt seem insane(im not sure the correct way to put that) when he explains he’s an Anarchist because he’s prepared on his position. It’s also important to take note of what caused the person to reach an impass in their willingness to divulge their views as it could be an important piece of their faith that you can cause doubt on to get them to really analyze their beliefs.

  34. says

    I’m enjoying this show a lot. I think this approach could be more effective than the more argumentative approach which it seems to me is often used, or that things often devolve into.

  35. says

    #35 @ Ethan
    Yes, but the GPS units in many phones rely on direct transmissions from satellites. I assume that is what Matt had in mind.

  36. Scott E says

    @35 (cell phones & satellites): Good point. Asking a flat earther whether they ever use a GPS system in their car might be a better question, and whether they’ve ever tried to figure out how the thing is working if it isn’t by satellites orbiting a spherical (spheroidical?) earth.

  37. Monocle Smile says

    @Jasper
    If you’re not familiar with the crew I listed in my last comment…you’re probably better off. I don’t know how these people stay alive; their thought processes are horribly broken.

  38. Wiggle Puppy says

    @ Anthony Reid #37: Not quite. Yes, belief itself is a binary; one either believes a proposition or one does not believe a proposition. But the level of confidence in every belief can be quite variable. For example, I’m about 99% certain that when I leave work, my car will be in the parking lot where I left it. I’m almost certain I locked it and I have the keys with me right now, and it’s in a place where it almost certainly won’t be towed. But let’s say that one day I leave the keys in the ignition and the door unlocked. If someone a) sees the keys in the ignition, (b) tries the door, (c) is willing to steal it, and (d) can drive a manual transmission, then someone might steal it. All of those things would have to happen, though, so I would still believe that it would be there at the end of the day, but maybe I’m now only about 60% confident in that belief. For any given proposition – that Socrates was a real person, that Abraham Lincoln was assassinated in April 1865, that a god exists, that increasing fiber intake would lower one’s blood cholesterol, that string theory is true, that one’s spouse is faithful, that standardized test scores are a good predictor of college success, that a biopic will win the Oscar for best picture next year – one could hold that proposition with various different levels of confidence. What street epistemology tries to do, as far as I can tell, is decrease certainty in beliefs held for bad reasons. Perhaps someone who has their confidence reduced will eventually give them up, but if not, they may be less vehement about, for example, legislating their own religiously-inspired ideas about morality on to everyone else.

  39. CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain says

    @ironchops #33:

    The definition of god should be “the one responsible for all the things we don’t know yet until proven otherwise

    Video: Non-Stamp Collector – The thing that made the things for which there is no known maker (8:40)

  40. says

    Matt’s opening dialogue to the show regarding the shooting should be shown over and over again, to anyone who dares to say “Without God there can be no “objective morality”.

  41. mond says

    @Anthony Reid

    You are committing a straw man fallacy by using the lottery fallacy when talking about what Matt says about belief.

    You are are misrepresenting the fact that Matt is talking about how CONFIDENT people are in their belief and not whether they simply believe or not. (Straw man)

    You use the lottery fallacy to claim belief is a binary proposition.
    Your odds of winning the lottery are 50/50. You win or you do not win.
    NO, your odds can be properly calculated using mathematics and are usually multiple millions to one depending on the exact structural mechanic of the particular lottery.

    We all take a much more nuanced attitude towards belief. Not all beliefs are held with equal confidence.
    There are things that we believe today that we will not believe as strongly tomorrow and vice versa.
    I may be confident my spouse is faithful to me, but then suspect something is going on but not be sure. My belief in my spouses faithfulness has changed maybe from 100% to say 60%.

  42. The YouTube Guy says

    I’ve got 5 times as many subscribers and 8x as many views as Arcane LogoS… hehe… this makes me feel good… Actually it makes me wonder who is suffering through his videos.

  43. corwyn says

    Belief is binary, you do or don’t.

    Nonsense. If you you believe that your team is going to win their next game, and then you hear that thier opponent’s star player has been injured, do you believe more? Of course you do. Belief (properly done) is a direct function of evidence. More, better evidence means more belief.

    Or look at it another way, if you don’t belief something, but are very close to believing it what is the smallest amount of evidence which will flip you from full non-belief to full belief. And is that a reasonable way to run your belief system? It sounds completely crazy to me.

    Thank you kindly.

  44. L-dogg says

    Just a few comments on James. Nike is the Greek god of victory… So is the company using that to bring back the Greek Mythology. There are Neptune class submarines. Is that the governments hidden agenda to bring back Greek Mythology. NO. These represent aspects that they want to portray. Nike will bring you victory, and Neptune is the god of the seas.

  45. says

    @Anthony Reid: dismissing an argument because it is a fallacy is itself a fallacy. I do this all the time with religious people and supporters of certain political characters & viewpoints.

    With someone who is particularly slippery I usually just give up and say “stop changing the subject.” they switch rather quickly between varieties of red herring and ad homs. They don’t really know what they’re doing in an intellectual sense so there’s no point telling them what they’re doing. They’re already not listening.

  46. Monocle Smile says

    @corwyn
    I half-disagree. Sure, it’s reasonable to use a Bayesian scale with confidence levels, but I think it’s perfectly fine to say there’s a cutoff between “belief” and “non-belief” somewhere along that scale.

  47. epibreren says

    Anthony Magnabosco should be a regular. He has great contributions and he is a nice counterpoint to Matt’s more confrontational approach.

  48. RationalismRules says

    @adamah #28
    Did you know the UK also has a pathological-liar equivalent to Trump (also with distinctive hair)? Boris Johnson has had a lot of success, twice elected Mayor of London, and now considered by many to be a potential future Prime Minister. The difference is that Boris is charming, in a bumbling upper-class-twit kind of way.

    I think it’s no coincidence that these two have arisen at this particular point in time. I think it’s likely a result of the voracious 24-hour news cycle, combined with social media ‘viral’-ness and rampant celebrity culture, all of which reward style over substance. Neither of them seem to care in the least when they are caught out, because the more outrageous their behavior the more attention they get, and that appears to be the only game they’re actually engaged in.

  49. corwyn says

    @53 Monocle:

    but I think it’s perfectly fine to say there’s a cutoff between “belief” and “non-belief” somewhere along that scale.

    What numerical value would you put that line on?
    What does it feel like to go from non-belief to belief by virtue of a piece of evidence with a likelihood ratio extremely close to 1?

  50. ironchops says

    @45 Hi Sky Captain
    I like the video. I love that type of hummer. It reminds me of the coconut conversation in Monty Python’s Holy Grail. I watched the Noah’s ark video while I was there and the Jesus cover-up one to. Funny stuff. Thanks for the chuckle.

  51. says

    Anthony Magnabosco !!!… 😀

    Been binge watching his street epistemology vids on his youtube channel.

    great choice for a guest co-host !

    More please. Yes. Coerce Anthony into becoming a rotating host.

    Dooo Eeet !!!

  52. rodney says

    Artane has a very strong and authoritative voice, I imagine when he’s talking to one of his fellow believers, he probably comes across as though he knows what he’s talking about. Doesn’t work so well when talking to this show, although, there might be a host or two where he could have escaped without sounding like a complete no nothing, but not with one of the unholy trinity, Matt, Tracie, and Jenn.

  53. Lillith says

    I wish Matt would have done this part with Arthane differently:


    What do you think the earth is?
    I don’t know, but it’s certainly not a spinning ball.
    It’s not an oblate spheroid that rotates on an axis?
    Not according to the evidence I’ve seen, no sir.
    What evidence have you seen?

    So, instead of pressing him on what evidence this could be, he immediately asked him if he believed the moon landing was a hoax. This would make him one of the usual conspiracy nuts but not believing that the earth is a “ball” has quite more loony bin potential. And I’d really love to hear what “evidence” he would have come up with.

  54. adamah says

    @RationalismRules (55),

    Yeah, it comes as no surprise that narcissists arise in the public arena, since their creation as public figures arises from the same populist dynamic that’s likely as old as mankind: whenever people feel powerless and impotent, these opportunists offer a promise to right all wrongs suffered as a result of the “old/rigged/corrupt system”.

    They offer the little guy a chance to flourish by being a part of something bigger than themselves, with promises of better days ahead.

    As far as claiming it to be a new phenomenon facilitated by technology, I don’t necessarily agree: whether it’s Adolph’s NAZI party, a “Trumpeteer”, or a member of the JWs, all are designed to appeal to the most people’s need to belong to a group, whether it’s true or not.

    Arcane said (in response to Matt’s question):

    It’s not an oblate spheroid that rotates on an axis?
    Not according to the evidence I’ve seen, no sir.

    The dude needs to get out more, since apparently he’s never been on an airliner at cruising altitude of 35,000 ft. if you look out the window, the curvature of the Earth is discernible when looking at the horizon off in the distance.

    I’m guessing Arcane suspects it’s an illusion, perhaps one Boeing and all the other aircraft manufacturers have created since they’re all in on the hoax? Perhaps he thinks they created the effect by installing convex windows on airliners that only make it appear that the Earth is spheroid?

    PS does anyone else immediately conclude they’re dealing with a psychotic wing-nut, a rabid fan of Alex Jones Infowars, whenever the person drops the word, ‘illuminati’ with a straight face?

    Or, when encountering those people who say 9/11 was an inside job, a planted ‘false flag’?

    Or those who say Obama wasn’t born in the U.S. (AKA ‘Birthers…. cough…. cough….).

    I suppose it could be worse, as here’s a review of other wing-nuts who ran for POTUS (but few got as close to the Oval Office as Trump has):

    http://www.cracked.com/article_16748_the-6-most-insane-people-to-ever-run-president.html

  55. gnostic says

    Even if your cellphone doesn’t have GPS built in, the towers it connects to do.

    The towers probably use it to determine their location, I’m not certain, but they do use GPS to provide an extremely accurate timebase. And this timebase is passed on to all cellphones that connect to each tower.

    (Why does GPS provide accurate time? Because that’s how GPS works. We live in an amazing time, it’s just sad that many conspiracy nuts don’t share it with us.)

  56. says

    @Wiggle Puppy @mond @corwyn @ladyatheist – It seems I somehow didn’t realize they said what % confident they are in their belief.

    @mond – I don’t think it’s a straw-man fallacy as I merely addressed the statements which I didn’t hear correctly. I think it’s a straw-man fallacy when you attach more aspects onto the person such as people who ask people how confident they are in their beliefs are 100% confident in their own. As for the lottery fallacy, I didn’t state anything having to do with probability.

    @corwyn – Belief is a state of being, a status, and thus it is binary. Unlike a quantitative entity, such as characters in text, distance, stars, fingers, joints, bones. You gave an example of an athlete believing he’ll win a game more after finding out an opponent was injured. You can say you really really believe and feel like that means something but, believe me, it doesn’t.

    @ladyatheist – Is the purpose of fallacies not to raise a flag when an illogical argument is made? I’m not a fallacy or philosophy buff, I believe the term for me is ‘armchair philosopher’. I think you have the same lack of comprehension of the theist’s comprehension. I know what you’re talking about with the subject changing. I take that as the final list of reasons they believe before they try to flip it on you and ask what the purpose of life is.

  57. says

    awesome show you two from a huge traveling fan. You both together are like a weapon of logic and reason. Thank you for a great show

  58. corwyn says

    @63:
    ” believe me, it doesn’t.”

    Why should I believe you? What evidence have you presented. When someone says ‘believe me’ without supporting evidence, it *reduces* my confidence in the proposition. It is empirical evidence that they don’t have good reasons.

    “Belief is a state of being, a status, and thus it is binary.”

    Is being tired a state of being? Hungry? You have made an unsupported assertion, nothing more.

    How many neurons are involved in this ‘state’? Why that many? What prevents more neurons from becoming involved? If more neurons can be involved that means it is not binary.

    Moreover, IF it is binary, it isn’t a very useful concept. I have infinite gradations in my confidence levels about various propositions, I can update them whenever new evidence presents itself, I can accurately model reality. You have only a binary belief, you can not accurately model reality, you need to throw away information in order to maintain your ‘state of being’.

    Thank you kindly.

  59. says

    @Anthony Reid: the purpose of being aware of fallacies is to know when an argument is flawed. The points may actually be true even if the argument is flawed, which is why merely identifying a fallacy is not itself a good counter to one.

  60. mond says

    @63 Anthony Reid

    I retract my claim of strawman since you told us you misheard rather than misrepresented.

    I still don’t accept that belief a simply binary proposition.

    If you accept that people have a greater or lesser confidence in what they believe then saying someone believes something in a simple binary way is a moot point.

    If I was to say
    I am 95% confident in my belief that Anthony misheard rather than misrepresented
    is totally different from
    I am 15% confident in my belief that Anthony misheard rather than misrepresented

    The binary nature that you see is an artefact of a communication shortcut.

  61. Monocle Smile says

    @corwyn and mond
    I agree with that in principle, but can you honestly say that when it comes to acting on your beliefs, you don’t have a “confident enough to act” line that you draw? I realize this isn’t a hard science.

  62. RationalismRules says

    @ladyatheist #66
    The fallacy negates the argument. The proposition is not accepted until a valid argument is presented.

  63. Seeking truth says

    Hi atheists – can you please tell me where all the material that dispersed following the Big Bang came from? Also kindly explain how the Big Bang was initiated or triggered.

  64. mond says

    @Monocle Smile

    “confident enough to act” line is an interesting concept but I would say that the action one might take can vary with the confidence of ones belief.

    For example if one believes that oneself to be in physical danger walking down a specific street then

    low confidence that your belief is true – you may just feel uneasy
    medium confidence that your belief is true – you may have a physical response, ie increased heart rate.
    high confidence that your belief is true – you may get run away from the perceived danger.

    I would say that there are probably multiple “confident enough to change from one action to another” lines in each belief that we hold.
    I am going to ‘cheat’ a little bit here and claim that inaction is also an act. In the same way that a lie of omission can be considered a lie.

  65. says

    I always wonder at the game plan of someone who wants epistemology to support them, but it seems they realize that epistemology doesn’t support them, so they attack epistemology itself. “You want evidence for what I’m saying? What is ‘evidence’? How can you really know anything at all? I’ll tell you: you can’t. There’s no way to really know anything, evidence is meaningless, and there’s no reason for you to think you’re right and I’m wrong.” It’s like there is a tree supporting someone else’s treehouse, but they want it to support theirs, so they come up with a plan to burn the tree down so that it won’t be supporting the other treehouse, that way they can have their treehouse supported by the tree… oh, wait. Except they never seem to have the “oh, wait” realization. They just get a couple twigs and start rubbing them together next to the tree, waiting for it to catch fire and burn down, ready to build their treehouse the moment it does.

  66. ironchops says

    I agree with Matt’s opening sermon. The pastor at our church said the same thing except he use the term “community as a whole” instead of “secular humanism”. Oddly he did not refer to the body of Christ or the church or anything like that. He didn’t even mention god or downgrade Islam in any way.

    I agree that religion is dying, or at least it seems to be.

  67. corwyn says

    but can you honestly say that when it comes to acting on your beliefs, you don’t have a “confident enough to act” line that you draw?

    Absolutely. Beliefs are just (some of) the input into the whole risk versus reward calculation. I would bet an ice cream on a 55% proposition, but not my life. If you only have a ‘belief’ line, you are going to die on an ice cream bet. And even if you try to make a hypotheitcal ‘all things equal’, my question is never “do I believe this (i.e. has it passed some imaginary threshold)?” the question is always “HOW MUCH do I believe this?”

    Thank you kindly.

  68. says

    @70 Seeking truth

    Hi atheists – can you please tell me where all the material that dispersed following the Big Bang came from? Also kindly explain how the Big Bang was initiated or triggered.

    I haven’t a clue.

    If you’d like to posit an explanation, however, you’d be adopting a burden of proof. I’m fine with waiting until we have sufficient evidence and hypothesis-testing to figure something out.

  69. Monocle Smile says

    @corwyn
    Fair enough. That’s a reasonable explanation.

    @Seeking truth
    Nice loaded question. Why did that “material” have to “come from” anywhere?

  70. Ethan Myerson says

    @70 Seeking Truth – You’re asking about a really interesting topic within physics called baryogenesis, which is basically asking the question “why is there stuff”? In the earliest picoseconds of the universe there were baryons and antibaryons, and they’d collide and annihilate each other. Then, for some yet-unknown reason (would you like to posit your god here?) there formed an imbalance… there were more baryons than antibaryons, and that led directly into the formation of atomic nuclei. Once that process starts, you’re going to have a harder time inserting a god, because it’s well understood how atomic nucleosynthesis led to the formation of hydrogen atoms, then to accretion and star formation, and the rest from there is simply observable natural processes.

    I’d recommend you try inserting your god at the baryon/antibaryon imbalance, because while that has some hypotheses describing why the imbalance might have occurred, it still represents a gap in our understanding, and gaps like that seem to be where gods like to hang out.

  71. adamah says

    Ethan said:

    and gaps like that seem to be where gods like to hang out.

    That reminds me of the old joke in paleontology that every time a new “missing link” fossil is discovered, creationists all over the World rejoice, since it means two new gaps have been created on either side of the newly-discovered fossil…..

  72. RationalismRules says

    @seeking truth #70

    Hi atheists – can you please tell me where all the material that dispersed following the Big Bang came from? Also kindly explain how the Big Bang was initiated or triggered.

    Hmmm, let me try this one… um, I know, I know! God made it! Oh.. no that doesn’t make sense, because then where did god come from? Hmmm… I know, I know! God has always existed! Oh… well, if it’s possible for something to have always existed, then I guess the material for the Big Bang could have always existed?

    You know what? God doesn’t seem to be adding anything at all to this explanation. I might just have to admit that we don’t yet know the answers to everything.

  73. StonedRanger says

    @#70
    This is an atheist forum. If you have questions about physics and cosmology why aren’t you asking the questions there? The only answer I can give as an atheist is that its my understanding that our knowledge of the so called big bang event only goes back so far. Our understanding is incomplete at this time. So my answer is I don’t know. If I don’t know, and all of science still hasn’t found a way to travel back in time to see what the answer might be, Im fairly certain that you don’t know either. I f your answer is godidit, then you really haven’t answered your question either.

  74. says

    I am suspicious of “Artane” — his voice, his inflections, phrasing, etc., as well as his philosophical silliness, tell me that he is in fact “John from Chicago”, who argued with Russell & Tracy about pyramids, Matt & Martin about moral relativism, and Matt and Jen about the pregnant lady who was legally dead and still on life support. With Matt & Martin, he DEFENDED G-Man’s last confrontation with Matt. I wonder idly if he wasn’t encouraged by G-Man or his circle to start his own YT channel, and set up another ‘counter’ to Matt & Co.?

    Whether this is true or not, John was a turd, and Artane is a turd. And if I am correct, then ‘Artane’ is also a liar about being a longtime atheist. Pffft.

    ‘James’ isn’t atheist, he’s superstitious and simple. At one time, he’d have been called “geechy”.

    Hope this doesn’t come across as conspiratorial, but that ‘Artane’….who NAMES their kid that, anyway?

  75. Monocle Smile says

    @Mark
    Upstream, it appears that “Artane” is actually youtuber ArcanE LogoS. I recommend not watching any of his videos if you value your brain cells.

  76. TBoC says

    This episode was just irritating. To hear Artane drag Matt Dillahunty by the nose to stupid town without any reasoned disputing of the guys flawed thinking is just horrible. I have commented before that if hosts on this show can’t deal with a caller disputing radiometric dating they should just go to the next call. Why can’t this show have standard answers to these same questions about geology, biology, etc. that come up week after week.

    Anthony Reid above makes the larger point that Dillahunty does a horrible job. He didn’t change Artane’s mind in the least and any theist listening to the conversation would come away thinking that Artane had clearly defended the idea that you can reject any idea if it conflicts with what you think about your religion. Commenters above pick apart details of Anthony Reid post above by arguing this fallacy or that one. They avoid his larger point and their criticisms are irrelevant to anyone except a tiny group of apologetic theists.

    Artane starts by saying that what we know “has to be justified outside of ourself.” Then he says “your not infallable in interpreting the evidence.” So he has just created an illogical loop where nothing can actually be justified. As an example, Artane say “the age of the earth has changed how many times over the centuries.” Note the preacher in Artane — the age of the earth has never changed, only our knowledge and the amount of data has changed to allow our estimate to become more accurate. Dillahunty lets all this stupid just slip by. Then Artane jumps to “molding to fit our preconceived notions” and Dillahunty lets it go. Then Artane says “there is a difference between the discovery of something and the interpretation of what it means.” Well on one sense there is, but in this sense there is no difference at all. Science bases both discovery and interpretation on the knowledge and data available. Dillahunty say “right” agreeing with the nonsense and then goes off on the money in is wallet. Artane says “the age of the earth can’t be established empirically at all” because “the method your are using is built in with assumptions that you can’t verify from the outset.” All Dillahunty can say is “NO!” Artane says science “is only accurate according to the assumptions you are willing to grant at the outset.” To say scientific conclusions are just assumptions when they are logically derived from validated data is a rhetorical sleight of hand that simply defeats Dillahunty. No one points out that Artane just disputed his initial premise that what we know “has to be justified outside of ourself” by now saying that it’s our assumptions (which are internal). He further spins Dillahunty around with “accurate to what?” claim. I could go on, but any theist would feel totally justified in their beliefs and the weakness of science after listening to this exchange.

    If Matt Dillahunty is the best the atheist community can produce to change minds then there is not much hope for much change any time soon. This show needs standard responses for these geology, biology, physics questions.

  77. Devocate says

    @83:

    This show needs standard responses for these geology, biology, physics questions.

    Yeah, cause that wouldn’t be boring.

  78. corwyn says

    @70 Seekingtruth:
    If you in fact are, might I suggest a somewhat simpler question.

    If you start with a piece of completely empty space, two things can be shown to happen: 1) That space gets bigger over time 2) Particles which previously did not exist will spontaneously come into existence, (as pairs which promptly recombine and annihilate each other). Once you can understand these two things which can observe occurring in our universe, you will have caught up with the other people trying to solve your original question, and can help with that inquiry.

  79. Wiggle Puppy says

    The show does have a standard response; it’s “assume that everything science understands about the age of the universe / the grounding of natural laws / the origins of life / the explanation for biological diversity is wrong: now demonstrate that your theistic hypothesis is correct without making an argument from ignorance.” There’s a good reason that the hosts don’t offer detailed scientific explanations: they’re not experts in these fields, and if they get exposed saying incoorect things, then people with bad reasoning skills might think that theists, by default, have a better case.

  80. adamah says

    TBoC said:

    This episode was just irritating. To hear Artane drag Matt Dillahunty by the nose to stupid town without any reasoned disputing of the guys flawed thinking is just horrible.

    Yeah, Arcane was ‘Gish Galloping’ at a furious pace, as if the debater that can plaster the most unsupported claims in a minute wins….

    Matt is fully-aware of the approach, but unfortunately there’s a requirement that the audience recognize when someone is attempting the tactic, and it be called out, with both sides agreeing to limit the discussion to a particular point before advancing to the next.

    Since most theists haven’t taken a formal contemporary logic course, many are bamboozled by the likes of a fast-talking Arcane, who simply spouted nonsensical theological talking points/memes.

  81. Chancellor of the Exchequer says

    Whenever Matt goes in on callers like Apainintheass he gets rocks thrown at him for “not letting people talk” when he clearly has deciphered that the caller is leading them down a creek of crap. APITA would’ve been dismissed in the first five minutes in a formal debate but as a discussion allowing him to go on showed that he does not care about the truth in a myriad of ways and that he is untrustworthy, that’s what matters to doubters watching.

    Atheism has no tenet of cosmology(or other science relating to the big bang) there are many, many, many scientists that would happily educate you on currently available knowledge SeekingTruth but considring how you structured your post, a mess is ahead.

  82. The YouTube Guy says

    Artane invalidated everything in his last few moments. When you say you don’t believe in the moon landing or the Earth being a sphere, you’ve shown why no one should listen to what you think. Matt has to switch it up and let some of these individuals spew nonsense. If he shut down everyone from the start it would get boring.

  83. Seeking truth says

    @75 Jasper of Marine
    I don’t have provable answers to these questions either, which is why I’m asking.

    @76 Monocle Smile
    I’m not suggesting that the material had to come from anywhere. If your view is that the material came from “nowhere” that’s fine, but I’m wondering how you would explain how you arrive at that conclusion? I don’t know if material has always existed or if some event caused it to come into existence – so I guess I’m agnostic.

    @77 Ethan
    You begun your comments by saying that “In the earliest picoseconds of the universe THERE WERE baryons and anti-baryons…” Can you clarify where the baryons and anti-baryons came from? Have they always existed or do they have a starting point?
    Your comment that God appears to “hang out” in the “gaps” of of human knowledge makes sense. Quick question – if I represent “all that there is to know” by 100%, then how much of that do you think humans currently know? If your answer is “we’ve barely scratched the surface”, then it could be said that it’s not God (if such a thing exists) who is hiding in the gaps but rather humans who are woefully ignorant.

  84. Monocle Smile says

    @Seeking truth
    I don’t believe you’re asking questions in good faith. Can you please get to the point?

  85. Seeking truth says

    @79 RationalismRules
    The condescension in your comment was unwarranted. I find that often when people don’t have an answer to a question, they resort to condescension to conceal their ignorance. All you had to say was “I don’t know…. yet”.

    I didn’t mention God – you did! Discussing God is a pointless exercise if people don’t first define what they mean by it. If God means “that which has always existed” and we can show that material has always existed, then quite possibly God = material.

  86. Seeking truth says

    @80 StonedRanger
    I urge you to be more inclusive in your thinking. There’s nothing wrong with me asking questions. And how do you define an atheist anyway – by the kind of questions they ask?

  87. Seeking truth says

    @85 Corwyn
    Permit me to probe your observations further.
    1) How or why does the empty space expand? Is it possible that what you’re referring to as “empty space” is actually “not” empty – only that we are yet to devise equipment that is capable of detecting what may be causing the empty space to expand.

    2) Regarding your comment about particles that previously did not exist spontaneously coming into existence, I think you are using the word “existence” when it would be more appropriate to use the word “observable”. Is it not possible that what you’re referring to as “previously non-existent particles spontaneously coming into existence” is actually the outcome of the “empty” space expanding to the point where particles that already existed also expand or have more room to vibrate such that they are suddenly detectable by the equipment we’re using to observe what initially appeared to be empty space?

  88. Brotherdave0000 says

    The rotundity of the earth is easily demonstrated by considering time zones. How does Artane explain the obvious time differences between where he is and where live events are being broadcasts in other parts of the world? The most extreme example being how it can be daytime where he is watching a live broadcast of an event held at night somewhere else. Or how you can travel westward across time zones and arrive at a time BEFORE you left.

  89. RationalismRules says

    @Seeking truth #93
    Whether or not you liked my tone is irrelevant to the argument made. Moreover, I can easily respond “your lecturing me on my condescension was in itself condescending”. Shall we play a game of tone-trolling or shall we address the point at issue?

    I didn’t mention God – you did!

    Your question is one frequently put to atheists as the beginning of the God of the Gaps argument, so I thought I’d get that out of the way immediately, just in case that was where you were heading. (As far I’m aware there’s no rule on this blog against preemptive argument?)

    If you define god purely as ‘material which has always existed’ then all you’re saying is ‘the material has always existed’. As I already said,

    God doesn’t seem to be adding anything at all to this explanation.

  90. RationalismRules says

    @Seeking truth #93
    [additional thought]
    If you were actually seeking answers to these questions with no god agenda involved, you would be asking them of physicists and cosmologists, as StonedRanger pointed out in #80.
    That you chose an atheist forum to pose these questions carries the clear implication that you consider god to be part of the question.
    I agree with Monocle Smile #92: “I don’t believe you’re asking questions in good faith”.

  91. Monocle Smile says

    @Seeking truth
    Please respond to my post #92.

    If God means “that which has always existed” and we can show that material has always existed, then quite possibly God = material.

    So now the word “god” doesn’t mean anything, really. Why use that label when it’s got so much baggage attached to it? Words have meaning. “God” has almost exclusively referred to something with intelligence and agency. Why tie that to something that exhibits neither?

  92. Brotherdave0000 says

    @seekingtruth #97
    Your suggestion that it is humans, not god, who are “hiding” in the gaps, is a straw man. No one has taken the position that either of them is “hiding” there. In fact, theists are constantly and quite vociferously proclaiming that god resides there. How is that “hiding”? And the contention that humans are hiding there is just weird. What does that even mean? When someone admits ignorance about some issue and then defers belief until that ignorance is addressed, and then apportions belief as information is acquired, that’s not hiding, that’s the only rational approach that’s possible. Do you have a better way?

  93. Seeking truth says

    Fair enough @RationalismRules, I take your point. You’re right – tone/condescension are irrelevant to the merits of your argument. By that same token @Monocle Smile showing “good faith” or the lack thereof is also irrelevant to answering the questions. Whether you believe I asked the questions in good faith or not should not change the truth of their answer.

    What I’m trying to understand is how did the material in the Big Bang originate and how was the Big Bang triggered?

    I find it interesting to contemplate possible answers to these questions with other people. Equally, I find the worldview of ATHEISTS and BELIEVERS (in a God, however defined) interesting because it appears to me that currently the worldview that is supported by science is that of an AGNOSTIC.

    A couple of you have suggested that I reach out to physicists and cosmologists to address these questions. Physics (which is broadly a science of matter and energy and of the interactions between them) is brilliant at describing/explaining the universe “after” the Big Bang. But my questions really relate to the “period” (I use this word for lack of a better term) just before the Big Bang. I don’t know if matter and energy existed before the Big Bang so Physics may not be applicable to that period.

    Cosmology on the other hand is a branch of Philosophy that deals with the origin and general structure of the universe. Philosophizing rationally about the origin of the universe should not be left to a select few. After all, we don’t reserve Philosophy for just Aristotle and Plato.

    As I said before, I don’t particularly like talking about God because when people say “God” I don’t know exactly what they mean and the discussion becomes pointless.

  94. Wiggle Puppy says

    “Philosophizing rationally about the origins of the universe” has about as much utility as philosophizing about the rules of general relativity or the structure of government in the Roman Empire: it’s only useful if and only if you have some kind of data to consider. As far as I understand, we have very scant information on what was going on at the moment of the Big Bang, so you can philosophize all you want, but without any tie to anything real or measurable, you’re just speculating/making stuff up, which gets nowhere. The idea that god is plausible if we don’t know how the universe began is exactly as reasonable as the idea that Apollo was plausible before we understood how Earth orbits the sun.

  95. Monocle Smile says

    @Seeking truth

    Whether you believe I asked the questions in good faith or not should not change the truth of their answer.

    But it does determine whether or not we actually engage your questions…and could also determine how long you stay here.

    Cosmology on the other hand is a branch of Philosophy

    Cosmology is a field of science. What do you hope to accomplish here?

    I find it interesting to contemplate possible answers to these questions with other people

    If I believe this, you’re boring. I don’t find pointless mental masturbation to be interesting.
    If I don’t believe this, you’re obnoxious and you have some other objective. Get to the point.
    I also recommend learning what “atheism” and “agnosticism” mean, because you appear lost.

  96. Jeremy from Pittsburgh says

    Watching this show right now and totally riveted by the question of the difference between superficially saying “I’m searching for truth” and finding a way to do so…looking forward to reading through this thread and seeing what came of it

  97. RationalismRules says

    @Seeking truth #101

    By that same token @Monocle Smile showing “good faith” or the lack thereof is also irrelevant to answering the questions. Whether you believe I asked the questions in good faith or not should not change the truth of their answer.

    The second sentence is correct. The first is not.
    Whether or not we believe them to have been asked in good faith does not affect the truth of the answers, but it does affect whether we choose to engage in the conversation. I don’t tend to spend much time on conversations when I feel there is fundamental dishonesty going on.

    If you look back at the responses to your initial post, you will see every one of the five answers to your question, including mine, includes the acknowledgement that we (humanity) don’t yet have definitive answers. (The only non-answer response was MS legitimately challenging the assumption underlying your question).
    On the whole, atheists tend to not be afraid of the answer “we don’t know yet”.

    Equally, I find the worldview of ATHEISTS and BELIEVERS (in a God, however defined) interesting because it appears to me that currently the worldview that is supported by science is that of an AGNOSTIC.

    [It’s worth noting that atheism and agnosticism are not worldviews, they are merely positions on one proposition – whether gods exist.]
    To say that science currently supports agnosticism is no more meaningful than to say “science supports the position that we don’t know whether fairies really exist”. Science does not actually say anything about supernatural claims, because they cannot be examined. Skeptical people don’t accept claims that cannot be examined, for the simple reason that there is no way of distinguishing truth from fiction.

    Regarding ‘atheism’ and ‘agnosticism’, you seem to be using them according to the popular misconception that they are mutually exclusive. If you want to discuss these issues on an atheist forum you’ll find that you are expected to use the accurate meanings of the words, not the popular misconception of their meanings. (as per MS #103)
    Atheism addresses belief – “I don’t believe god(s) exist”. Note that this is not the same as “I believe no god(s) exist”, which is popularly assumed (incorrectly) to be the position of atheism. Some atheists make that positive claim, most don’t.
    Agnosticism addresses knowledge. It is possible to be an agnostic theist (“I don’t know whether a god exists, but on balance I believe one probably does”) or an agnostic atheist.
    Most people who are popularly termed ‘agnostic’ are agnostic atheists. Anyone who doesn’t hold an active belief in at least one god is, by definition, an atheist, so “I’m undecided” is an atheist position.

    As I said before, I don’t particularly like talking about God because when people say “God” I don’t know exactly what they mean and the discussion becomes pointless.

    Then why did you come to an atheist forum, where a discussion of the origin of the universe is inevitably going to be related to the god question? If you want to discuss the origins of the universe without any mention of god, a science forum is the appropriate choice – god is irrelevant to science, so you won’t find anyone raising the subject there.
    Also, you ‘don’t want to talk about god’, but you want to discuss whether science supports agnosticism.
    Disingenuousness about your position is unlikely to promote positive discussion.

  98. says

    >Science does not actually say anything about supernatural claims, because they cannot be examined. Skeptical people don’t accept claims that cannot be examined, for the simple reason that there is no way of distinguishing truth from fiction.

    I love this so much.

    And also love the question about coming to an atheist forum to discuss cosmology, when you aren’t interested in the “god” aspects of the question. Dead on to say that is then in the purview of of a science forum–so why bring it here?

  99. RationalismRules says

    @heicart #107
    You get shared credit, Tracie – the wording is mine, but I learned the point from you. I’m glad I did it justice!

  100. Jeremy from Pittsburgh says

    On the age of the earth thing…the challenge I have heard is that different methods give incompatible estimates. I don’t remember any specifics, but if one method says with very high confidence that the earth is between 20 and 30 billion years old, and the other says with very high confidence that the earth is between 100 and 110 billion years old, then the non-overlap indicates that we are missing something important to reconcile the results…and not necessarily something that will land us between those two ranges. (a la simpson’s paradox.)

  101. Jeremy from Pittsburgh says

    66 (ladyatheist)
    >the purpose of being aware of fallacies is to know when an argument is flawed. The points may actually be true even if the argument is flawed, which is why merely identifying a fallacy is not itself a good counter to one.

    Nice. Intuition sometimes causes a person to use language that skips steps or components of their argument.

    e.g. Someone complained above about how Matt is so grounded in philosophy and logic that he can assume that just by stating a fallacy’s name, the person listening will understand the error in their claim. Obviously if the person listening lacks Matt’s intuition, just hearing the name of the fallacy won’t suffice and won’t appear logical.

    For the other person to then point out Matt’s fallacy (“just calling something a fallacy doesn’t invalidate my argument”) would be a fallacy. (though not necessarily an expression of bad faith)

  102. Monocle Smile says

    @Jeremy
    Have you researched that claim at all? Because creationists are just straight-up lying when they claim that the dating methods used and vetted by geochronologists to calculate Earth’s age give wildly inconsistent results.

  103. Jeremy from Pittsburgh says

    @MS no, I haven’t. But just saying, “wildly inconsistent” is not required here, just “incompatible”…two results could be very close (10 to 10.5 billion vs. 10.5 to 11 billion, say…again, it has to be with high confidence on both) and produce the same issue.

    I can actually easily find the original article and look into the specific examples brought, and should probably do so. It’s on chabad’s website somewhere, a letter by the Lubavitcher Rebbe.

  104. Monocle Smile says

    @Jeremy
    So some rabbit who died in 1994 wrote a letter and said some shit.
    Why should anyone care? Please post the link. I also recommend learning how science actually works…namely that taking a recent determination and comparing it to an estimate 100 years ago when we had far less information and then concluding “well, science doesn’t know shit” is about as pants-on-head idiotic as it gets.

  105. Monocle Smile says

    @Jeremy
    A letter that some scientifically illiterate (and BOY is he ever…most of his ramblings are pulled straight from creationist tracts. He talks about carbon-14 dating in a discussion about geochronology. That’s an epic red flag) rabbi wrote decades ago is not evidence that anything in the letter is true. I don’t think you understood why I asked that question.

    In order to even consider the validity of such claims, there must be evidence provided that the claims could possibly be true. Otherwise we’d be stuck investigated an infinite number of implausible claims. Remember what I said about not understanding your thought processes? This is one such occasion. If the rabbi claimed he raised a unicorn and learned how to ride it, would you instantly believe that unicorns exist and he did in fact accomplish these things? I’m almost dreading your answer.

  106. Jeremy from Pittsburgh says

    By the way, MS, why are you so familiar with what constitutes 1962 scientific literacy? 😛

  107. Monocle Smile says

    @Jeremy
    Creationists have a habit of pushing talking points that start with “science led us to believe…” and it’s almost always shit that was never a conclusion of the scientific consensus at any point.
    Here’s something from the article:

    With regard to geology and the changes and upheavals that may have occurred at a time when the whole universe is supposed to have been in a state of violent atomic instability, with worlds in collision, etc., cataclysmic changes cannot be ruled out; such nuclear reactions should have caused changes which would void any evolutionary calculations.
    Similarly, in the evolution of vegetable, animal and human life on the Earth, radioactive processes of such magnitude should have produced sudden changes and transmutations which would normally take long periods of time.

    There’s so much wrong with this. The rabbi just got done talking about the very early universe; right around the big bang. And now he seems to think that Earth was a fully formed planet with life at that time. I mean, what the fuck? Earth didn’t form into a planet until like 9.5 billion years after the Big Bang. And the very reason we use radiometric dating is because decay rates are immune to “cataclysmic changes.” The rabbi has no clue what he’s talking about at any point. Put down the fucking Torah and pick up a science book. Actually learn things rather than memorize passages.

  108. adamah says

    Holy Hell, Jeremy: you still posting your ignant (sic) nonsense?

    From that chabad site:

    When Science Contradicts Torah
    The Torah is the Truth. The purpose of science is to discover Truth. Therefore, any study which contradicts the Torah is not science but the opposite of it. . .

    Surely you’ve taken an ‘intro to logic’ course, and could identify that fine example of fallacious logic?

    (Answer: one of the premises is questionable aka flawed, and as an exercise you can identify which one.)

    The capper, though, is this bizarre claim, which is on par with the nuppity flat-Earth science deniers (and just last week it was Arcane):

    Does the Sun Really Revolve Around the Earth?

    It is my firm belief that the sun revolves around the earth, as I have also declared publicly on various occasions and in discussion with professors specializing in this field of science.

    I mean, really?

    Did you sleep though your entire junior-high and high-school science coursework?

  109. Jeremy from Pittsburgh says

    @MS if I had memorized passages this would be a pretty different conversation right now…it seems like I read through this section of their site with selective hearing, whenever I did read it. Point taken if he makes claims that were never consensus at any point.

    @adamah on first read, “contradicting torah” probably refers to actions going against the torah’s moral principles, rather than merely “any study which is not the study of torah”. (I will have to look at the letter in-context to be sure, though, and my yiddish is actually very bad.)

    You have a rather twisted concept of what those principles are, though (karet as social shunning? Really? This understanding actually shocked me) so saying that probably doesn’t help you. The point being made would seem to be: in his studies he might discover cool things, but if the study is immoral then it will in the end lead him to wrong action.
    (I have seen this point in a book that the Rebbe supposedly studied every day, so it would not surprise me if he repeats it here.)

    On the “sun around the earth” thing, though, the articles on the site actually do a great job explaining his views, and on this particular point his views do not seem controversial at all xD
    (i.e. Please bring out the point you have a problem with.)

  110. Monocle Smile says

    @Jeremy

    On the “sun around the earth” thing, though, the articles on the site actually do a great job explaining his views, and on this particular point his views do not seem controversial at all

    Yeah, I don’t know why I take you seriously any more. You really did sleep through everything. We can look at the orbits of other planets. All the planets orbit the sun. There’s also another element here…namely that it’s very obvious that Earth is spinning. The Foucault pendulum experiment demonstrated clearly in the fuckin’ mid-19th century that Earth is not fixed. It has angular momentum. Thus, while it may be possible to construct an extremely fucked-up mathematical model where Earth is the inertial reference frame, it is very obvious that reality does not bear this out.

    For the record, the practice of apologetics exists for the sole purpose to defend the indefensible. Truth requires no apologetics.

  111. Jeremy from Pittsburgh says

    @MS

    Do NOT take me seriously on this topic. It is not one that I have looked into in the slightest. The age of the existence at least matters in the dating of marriage contracts, but why do I care which celestial body we call center?

    What he wrote, though, does not seem to make reference to speaking of the earth as an inertial frame, so I don’t know why you bring that up?

  112. Jeremy from Pittsburgh says

    (Agreed that truth requires no apologetics…the Rebbe states quite clearly in “On Science and its Truths” that there is no need for any of his explanations for someone who accepts the Torah for what it is, and that he provides them only as an extra comfort for those who need it.

    Despite which I am very surprised that for these purposes he would use bad science…for the moment I am assuming he was misinformed on the subjects, but even granting this assumption it concerns me.)

  113. Monocle Smile says

    @Jeremy

    The age of the existence at least matters in the dating of marriage contracts

    The fuck?

    What he wrote, though, does not seem to make reference to speaking of the earth as an inertial frame, so I don’t know why you bring that up?

    This tells me all I need to know. You know nothing about this topic. Stop listening to religious fucks who shamelessly lie to protect their cowardly pet beliefs. THIS is a huge reason we oppose religion. You are a quintessential sheep.

  114. Jeremy from Pittsburgh says

    I do not take offense to being called a sheep, and I have stated elsewhere that I am not a freethinker. I give authority a role in the discovery of truth.

    But I also don’t understand how you make this determination based on what I said. The Rebbe does not seem to make reference in this letter to the need for the earth to be called non-moving in order for it to be called the center.

    I do see elsewhere on the site, though, that people raise an issue with a verse in Ecclesiastes about the earth standing still, and for that you do need to create a pretty bizarre frame of reference. Granted, there is a certain utility in choosing the frame of reference which aligns with my subjective experience of life, but I do experience the seasons, so…

  115. Monocle Smile says

    @Jeremy
    You are not going to make friends here and you’re going to find fewer and fewer people willing to engage in discussion with you due to your unwavering defense of poor thinking. This blog is meant for productive discussion. I don’t see how that’s possible with someone who willingly enslaves himself to false dogmatism.

    The rabbi makes the absurd argument that both Copernicus and Ptolemy are correct due to relativism. This is actually wrong. It doesn’t matter that you can draw up mathematical equations for the planetary orbits that have the Earth standing still and the sun revolving around it (because that’s the only way Ptolemy is correct, and he’s not actually correct even then), because those equations don’t have a basis in reality.

  116. Jeremy from Pittsburgh says

    @MS

    🙂 I am glad I brought that section of the site up for scrutiny, in any case…it is surprising how inaccurately I remember the stuff said on it.

    But agreed that appeals to authority aren’t useful for anyone reading here, which is why I’ve tried not to make them here, or at least not to expect them to be received.

    Disagreed that the Rebbe is acknowledging C or P as correct…he seems to just say that both are equally wrong?:

    “[W]hen there are two systems, or planets, in motion relative to each other — such as the sun and the earth in our case — either view…has equal validity. Thus if there are phenomena that cannot be adequately explained on the basis of one of these views, such difficulties have their counterpart if the opposite view is accepted.”

    e.g. the sun rotates too, albeit gassily.

  117. Monocle Smile says

    @Jeremy

    Disagreed that the Rebbe is acknowledging C or P as correct…he seems to just say that both are equally wrong?

    Which is the stupidest fucking thing I’ve heard all year. Seriously, I have no idea how you’re not getting this. We have modeled gravitation to insane degrees of accuracy. Heliocentric models don’t declare that the sun is a fixed point in space. Of course the sun does move slightly. But it’s Earth that orbits the sun. We know this due to how gravitation works with mass and the fact that lots of other shit orbits the sun as well. Please explain the orbits of the other planets if Earth is your locus.

    The rabbi is making shit up. He is lying Why is it so impossible for you to understand this?

  118. Jeremy from Pittsburgh says

    > Heliocentric models don’t declare that the sun is a fixed point in space.
    Then they are not heliocentric models…? The above is a very strange sentence to me.

    >Please explain the orbits of the other planets if Earth is your locus.
    Very simple: They are orbits which are influenced heavily by the sun’s. (And by each others’ as well, of course, to a lesser extent.) They follow the paths we observe them to follow, looking from our vantage point here on earth.

    Why so impossible? I am still not seeing the lie.

  119. Monocle Smile says

    @Jeremy
    Given that you lack a middle school understanding of physics, communication is becoming impossible. I’m done engaging for now. You’re just content to believe whatever just because some dead rabbi said it, and I can’t possibly respect that.

  120. adamah says

    I love the part where the wise Rebbe “doubles down” (ALA Trump-style) on his claim that the Sun revolves around the Earth, as found in this section entitled, “the wager”:

    http://m.chabad.org/therebbe/letters/default_cdo/aid/73253/jewish/The-Wager.htm

    As explained on the main page, a reform Jew bets Rebbe wouldn’t dare to publicly confirm his idiocy, but Rebbe proves him wrong, presumably just to win an ego-driven bet. What narcisstic arrogance, fueled by dogmatic ignorance and wrapped up with a pretty bow of pseudo-scientific word babble on top.

    I’m reminded of the old saying, “It’s better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to open one’s mouth and remove all doubt”.

  121. Monocle Smile says

    @Jeremy
    I’ll answer here to prevent further misfires
    I have two engineering degrees and have spent the last four years in the aerospace industry. I have a background in astrodynamics. I was also a physics minor.
    What this has to do with anything is beyond me. What’s your purpose here?

  122. Jeremy from Pittsburgh says

    @adamah thank you, you have just explained to me the purpose of that part of the letter.

    @MS wasn’t sure if you actually had way more physics knowledge than me or were just find of calling people dumb.

    Just that for us here on the ground geocentric reference frames are useful…I was trying to raise an example where the reasons to choose a reference frame come into focus

  123. Monocle Smile says

    @Jeremy
    Of course those are useful. So what? That has absolutely nothing to do with defending the statement “the sun revolves around Earth.” I can’t fix your brain.

  124. Monocle Smile says

    The know-nothing goat herders who wrote the Torah had no idea what they were talking about at any point when it comes to how reality actually works. Once you accept this and stop listening to dishonest rabbis, maybe there will be hope for you.

  125. Jeremy from Pittsburgh says

    It actually does. The Torah deals strictly with us and our actions, growing from our perspective…Truth without leading to action isn’t Truth. Using a heliocentric model to make disparate observations make sense together doesn’t make the sun the center of my world (or make those observations less disparate) any more than using a microscope makes a cell bigger.

  126. Monocle Smile says

    @Jeremy
    I’m done. You’re fucking hopeless. In addition to getting basic things about reality wrong, the torah gets a shitload about morality wrong as well, and I don’t give a fucking fuck if some bearded asshole says otherwise. It’s an old book. Nothing more.

  127. Bogdan says

    Just a thought!
    Hello! I am from Romania too (like Diana) and I am in a similar situation. I am actually very depressed because of this. I love my parents very much but I don’t want to hold on this beliefs anymore. If I “get out” I will be their biggest disappointment. 🙁

  128. RobG says

    Sorry to hear that Bogdan. I spent some time with my uncles this summer that were pretty religious. I was worried about telling them at first. One of my uncles wanted to talk about religion to the other one since they disagreed so much, one being a deist and the other a Christian. I participated in the conversations primarily by just asking questions. I sat there an listened the majority of the time. The questions would sometimes come back around and I would give my opinion. I stayed true to my non-belief an didn’t have to “come out”. I think being understood is more important then being labeled. I don’t really care for labels in the first place since I rarely find one that fits. I think if someone wanted to know they would ask. I don’t think it is your responsibility to declare non-belief to believers. How often do you have religious conversations with your parents?

  129. Bogdan says

    The distance between us is 501km/311miles. They use to call me at least one time per month and in the conversation they ask me, sometimes, “how was the sermon of the last sunday at the church?”, because they know that I go almost evrey sunday. And I really do that. I am curious of the arguments that are presented by the preacher, and I actually learn a lot about the manipulation that preachers do from the pulpit (I know that they may not be aware of that).

    Of course I have some kind of “immunity” to those arguments. They (my parents) also call me because they are greatful for what I did for them last year. I helped them with a big loan that they took some years ago. I gave the all the money they need to solve that problem last year, and it was my initiative to do that (it is true that when you renounce to this god idea, you become more empatic).

    I feel somehow guillty about this deed because now they are more convinced that I am a chosen man of god and this situation makes it even harder to tell them the truth about my thoughts. I think I will tell in a future message my entire ‘change of thinking’ story.

    P.S. My church is baptist and they are young earth creationists. Sorry for my typos, I don’t use english very frequently to write things.

  130. Jeremy from Pittsburgh says

    @MS You are not exactly wrong.

    It is really all a matter of how you approach it. If you are interested in truth, there is at least some interesting stuff there, and at most Truth. If you’re interested in lies, it’s possible to ch”v learn how to lie from Torah, and it will be the first to admit that. It is…all-inclusive.
    (Most people get some mix of the above.)

    I am worried about you.

  131. Jeremy from Pittsburgh says

    There were a couple things to clarify above, but I forgot one of them during the ~24-hour pause

    where I talk about using a heliocentric model to make disparate stuff make sense, I am using MS’s definition, i.e. a model centered on the center of mass.

  132. Monocle Smile says

    @Jeremy
    Worried? Why? Is this “worried” as in the typical christian condescending “I’ll pray for you” bullshit?
    I don’t need it. Nobody does.
    There’s nothing special about an old book. I am indeed interested in truth, which is why I know I won’t find it in the torah. Sure, there are some things in there that are true…but they are not true because they are in the torah. What you need to understand is that merely getting a correct answer does not matter. Having a robust method for consistently drawing accurate conclusions matters.

  133. Jeremy from Pittsburgh says

    Worried as in “you’re being a pea-brain and not talking about anything actually written, instead telling me how dumb I am and how my sources are liars, and it indicates to me that you are in an unhealthy mental state” worried. Don’t worry, I’m not praying for you, I think you’re doing fine on your own.

    Seems like you’re among the many who don’t understand what the torah is, that it’s not just the one book and in fact no BOOK is sufficient for it…it includes your “method”, but has to do much more than that to be what it is. This is a painful discussion though and it’s 3 AM.

  134. Monocle Smile says

    @Jeremy

    Worried as in “you’re being a pea-brain and not talking about anything actually written, instead telling me how dumb I am and how my sources are liars

    I tried talking about the actual material, but you appear to lack all relevant education and you don’t often have coherent thoughts, so that wasn’t working at all. We made zero progress in this thread.

    Seems like you’re among the many who don’t understand what the torah is, that it’s not just the one book and in fact no BOOK is sufficient for it…it includes your “method”, but has to do much more than that to be what it is

    This is one of the incoherent thoughts I was talking about. This is nonsense. This is barely decipherable. Do you really think this is proper communication?

  135. says

    We humans are all the Gods and Goddess’s that religion is trying to seek. That is the answer in my opinion. Who has the right to claim that we can’t be Divine our own selves?

  136. RationalismRules says

    @Joeymars1 #150

    Who has the right to claim that we can’t be Divine our own selves?

    Divinities seems to be fairly universally marked by a complete lack of consideration for others and generally appalling behavior – cruelty, capriciousness, egotism, rapaciousness, narcissism.
    While I may carry the seeds of all these, none of them are anything I aspire to. I am much more interested in the humanity in humans, rather than the divine.

  137. says

    “There are a bunch of people putting energy towards perpetual motion machines, but that doesn’t mean it’s possible.”

    In fact, that means it’s NOT possible. 😀

    Couldn’t resist.

  138. Kerry says

    I have binge watched these on Youtube and have seen many of the past episodes at this point. I just had one quick question regarding something that happens at around 52:10. Matt points out that he’s using the Tu Quoque fallacy, then both hosts quickly realize he shouldn’t have named the fallacy. Why not?

  139. adamah says

    Kerry asked:

    Matt points out that he’s using the Tu Quoque fallacy, then both hosts quickly realize he shouldn’t have named the fallacy. Why not?

    I’m obviously not one of the two hosts, and it’s been a while since I saw that episode, but I’d imagine naming the fallacy is a violation of the street epistemology (SE) approach.

    Instead of using the Socratic method (i.e. asking questions to get the person to come to their own conclusions), naming fallacies reverts into the (often-perceived as wonkish) practice of telling others how they must think, based on an appeal to the widely-accepted principles of informal logic (and although they’re “widely accepted”, they’re not “universal”, i.e. not every believer finds the principles of informal logic to be persuasive).

    So although Matt was technically correct (i.e. it was a classic tuo quoque), it was an eyebrow-raiser when using the SE approach, since the approach relies on temporarily suppressing one’s own ‘smarty-pants’ ego to allow the other person to begin questioning their beliefs (i.e. not to focus on ‘winning’ the argument short-term as if scoring points in a formal debate, but to ‘win the war’ and liberate minds).

  140. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    then both hosts quickly realize he shouldn’t have named the fallacy. Why not?

    IIRC, Matt believes that naming fallacies is not productive, especially when he cites “argument from ignorance” because the plain text meaning might mean something to a caller or listener other than the formal meaning – in particular some callers have taken that as an accusation that they are ignorant. In other words, Matt believes that he should speak to the education level of his audience, which means describing the fallacy, and not using the formal name, and describing why it’s a fallacy.