Open Thread for Episode 20.37: Russell and Tracie

Viewer calls as usual, but have also invited someone to call in to promote the upcoming “Vulgarity for Charity” event. So, hope to have a discussion about that at the start of the calls. From the link:

We’re proud to announce the return of Vulgarity for Charity, running between September 15th and 25th, 2016. This time, we’re teaming up with Tom and Cecil from the Cognitive Dissonance Podcast to help raise money and awareness for a phenomenal charity that helps combat poverty by helping people keep from falling into the poverty cycle in the first place.

Modest Needs has been combating poverty in the US and Canada for almost fifteen years, and their forward thinking take on crowdfunding makes it easier and more effective than ever to help people in need. Learn more about them here.

What is Vulgarity for Charity?

It’s a biannual fundraiser where we trade insults for donations. You donate to Modest Needs, then let us know that you did, and who you’d like insulted, and Eli, Heath, Tom, Cecil, and Noah will turn their powers of vulgarity to the forces of good.

I’ve been asked to participate this year, and have agreed. I swear very often for little to no benefit, so if I can use my limited skill set in that regard to help others, why not? 😉


  1. StonedRanger says

    Tracie talking about god and farts. Brilliant. That’s why I love this show. Putt, putt, putt.

  2. Wiggle Puppy says

    Hi Tracie: many thanks for your cathartic comments after the first call. I recently finished an extended discussion on Youtube about a video about fundamentalism (not a video I made, but enjoyed). The commenter was a moderate Christian who was indignant that the video criticized fundamentalists for gay persecution, pushing creationism in schools, etc, and was tying to argue that “true Christians” value knowledge and compassion and don’t support those views. I tried to explain that the “true Christian” debate is generally irrelevant to atheists because, from the outside perspective, they’re all coming up with their own interpretations of a vague, contradictory, translated book filled with poetry, metaphor, and parables. He kept insisting that he had deduced the real interpretation and that fundamentalists are wrong and therefore the video’s criticism of Christianity was unfair, and I tried to explain that, without any demonstrable tie to anything real, he might as well be trying to justify why his particular interpretation of the Lord of the Rings is the correct one, but he kept saying that he had figured out the proper interpretation. He cited Jesus passages about love and respect to explain why fundamentalists were wrong, and I pointed out that Jesus also said that the Old Testament law was not to be changed until the end of the world. He “interpreted” the passage to mean the opposite of what the words actually say – that the Old Testament law was actually no longer in effect – and I pointed out that if passages can mean the opposite of what the words actually state, there’s no way that he can say that he has the true and authoritative interpretation, because perhaps any passage he takes literally might actually mean the opposite too, and he just hasn’t realized it. Without any way to validate interpretations, I tried to say, it’s just a bunch of people arguing with each other about magical stories. We kept going around and around like this until he accused me of being closed-minded and left the conversation. All this is to say: thank you for your frustration, because it’s always nice to know that other people are going through the same experience of arguing with people who don’t seem to understand that what they’re saying has no objective value or meaning.

  3. Murat says

    Listening to Tracie has sort of a healing power on me… The way she tackles stuff with high “spirits” is unique!

  4. noexitlovenow says

    The hosts should memorize David from Queensland’s voice and keep all calls from this clown short. They wasted waaaay too much time with this wanker.

  5. Scott E says

    Very good calls and conversations, for the most part. Musing on what god might be like can be an interesting thought process, but people like Cougar Man need to recognize when they’ve started to take their own musings too seriously, namely when they’re projecting and asserting all sorts of abstract and contradictory characteristics for which they’ve had zero direct experience.

    I must take Russell to task this week for letting the call with David from Queensland go on about three times a long as it should have, in my humble opinion. I’ll grant that he was calm, and civil, and took turns speaking and listening, and that kind of behavior alone must be very refreshing for the hosts, but that particular conversation got very monotonous. I would much rather have given 5-10 minutes of David’s on-air time to each of the last two lightning round callers wanting to talk about reincarnation and whether secular humanism is a religion. Hopefully both of them will call back another week.

  6. Barry says

    David from Queensland has a remarkedly similar voice and accent to the infamous Ark Encounter Ken Ham, also from Queensland, but now based in the US!

  7. Wiggle Puppy says

    Regarding David: it seems as if his argument was that the Bible says that people will die, and because that’s true, there’s good reason to think that it’s claims about a coming day of resurrection are reliable. It’s a total non sequitur! It’s the same as saying that if you happened to find an ancient book thats says that people will get sick when eating spoiled food and then, in another spot, it say that people who die from eating food will be resurrected as lesser life forms in their next life, then the second statement is reasonable to believe because the first is verifiably and obviously true. It’s another example of trying to find any possible way to justify ones cherished beliefs, even though the argument is clearly flawed when you try swapping in other terms.

  8. Chancellor of the Exchequer says

    Fun ep. Haven’t heard of TheScathingAtheist or GodAwfulMovieReviews so I’ll check them out.

    Like clockwork we got into the “something” but also “not something” bubble of wtf. If I ever go through thought rounds like Cougar Man I’d go see a therapist.

    David creeped me out, I felt violated by his voice.

    The final few calls were great except the waste of oxygen Klondike bar troller.

  9. Simon & Mrs Wendy Hosking says

    #12 noexitlovenow as a South Australian I always cringe when I hear a Queenslander on the show (I blame in on Ken Ham). There were also a lot of Queenslanders at the Lutheran Seminary where I used to live. This guy was painful in his circularity.

    Towards the end regarding the discussion of raising Atheist children. I think you shouldn’t be shy in telling your child there is no god. It’s the truth as best we understand it. As children grow you can explain how you can’t prove there is no god, but there is no evidence there is a god.

    I told my daughter I had an invisible blue elephant in my shed. She said “that’s silly – how can it be blue if it’s invisible?. She was about 4 at the time and I think she sort of gets the idea that you need evidence. Currently evidence is anything Dad says of course…but we’re working on that!

    – Simon

  10. Alfie says

    I can’t be the only one who thought “David” sounded a whole lot like Ray Comfort trying to disguise his voice.

  11. Yaddith says

    Tracie correctly points out that the story of the rich man in hell contradicts David’s eschatology. That’s why he is so insistent that it must be a parable. That’s pretty typical of Christians. Anything in the Bible that they agree with should be taken literally. Anything in the Bible that they disagree with should be taken figuratively. It’s a no lose situation.

  12. Nubbins says

    One of those eps that remind me why Tracie is my fave panelist. When they were talking to the guy from Australia, I constantly felt like Tracie had the measure of the guy and where he was going. Russel, who I also love, didn’t seem to. The “But this guy is a theist!” was bit much – sure, he went on for ages, but he hadn’t actually said where he was going yet.

    I just think sometimes he doesn’t quite seem to get the mindset of some Christians (I was one) who actually super duper believe God is borne out by scientific discovery, that God is reasonable, and that science is the best thing for Christian theology since some guy got nailed on couple of pieces of old tree. It just derailed the discussion and took more time for the caller to get to his point. The only point that mattered was the on that Tracie brought up which was “If I think there was God,m then of course I would like to find commonality. But if I don’t think that, it doesn’t matter and looking at the Bible tells me nothing.” That was the whole discussion with that caller right there.

    Then of course, the guy just starts talking about the afterlife. All of the talk about the natural world went precisely no where, cause it very little to do with the real reason why the guy believes in a God (and also possibly because he also wants to get the Bible read on air).. The real reason is wanting to know what happens when you die (/ the real discussion was apparently to convince people to believe because hell’s not really real

    But thanks particularly Tracie for persevering in allowing the guy to make his point, and to hear him out at least for a little bit (and to draw it in to his earlier discussion about comparing what we can find natural world to God). That is the kind of thing that makes people like me deconvert, hearing that kind interaction as a third party. Even if you were going to get nowhere with that caller (and it was quickly/slowly clear you weren’t), you might have with someone else listening.

    Sidenote: Before deconverting but still a committed Christian, I didn’t believe in an immortal soul. It was never particularly taught in my denomination, and I just figured if we had no evidence of a soul, souls are almost always used in the Bible in the same kind of figurative sense we use them, and if God can remake bodies and change our personalities fundamentally in a way that is still ‘us’ so we can enter heaven, then he could just remake us ex nihilo at the level of whatever we want to call ‘soul’ in a way that is still precisely us and then live forever. There’s nothing about an absence of a soul that presents a particular problem for Christianity. But neither does removing the soul as a theological construction make it more believable. It just removes one way of falsifying the belief, cause God can do it without any biological or natural mechanism whatsoever. He’s God, after all

    And the angels resume dancing on pinheads…..

  13. God says

    You guys are wrong about me knowing how many times everyone farts. I mean, there are some people whom I know how many times they farted, but someone like Matt Dillahunty has farted too many times beyond my knowledge

  14. b l says

    Can we stop with the myth that the Catholic Church killed Galileo because of science?

    Galileo was a Jesuit and a huge supporter of the Church. He got wrapped up in Copernicus’s ideas and made contributions to them, but couldn’t prove them conclusively, despite advocating for it thoroughly. He rejected Kepler’s elliptical orbit hypotheses, which were shown later to be much more accurate than his own.

    The Catholic Church has historically been a proponent of science, in so much as they see it as a way to explore God’s creation (I’m an atheist, I’m just explaining their beliefs), they accept evolution, they drove science for years (albeit mostly because they had nearly exclusive control over education). Since there were issues with Galileo’s model, the church didn’t accept it.

    However, Galileo was a tremendous asshole. He constantly brow beat the people in power. Eventually, the pope asked Galileo to write a book about it to justify his hypothesis as well as deal with dessent:

    “In 1632 the Pope asked Galileo to write a book presenting both the Copernican and Ptolemaic models, with arguments as to the strengths and weaknesses of both. Galileo produced The Dialogue Concerning the Two World Systems, but did so in a way that made it clear he considered the Copernican model superior. He also put some of the arguments used by the Pope into the mouth of a character in his dialogue called “Simplicio” – which in Italian meant “the fool”.”

    The Pope and heads of the church were furious at the depiction of the Pope in such a way. Galileo was tried for THIS heresy and they grudgingly (they really did like Galileo) sentenced him to house arrest, in his mansion, which was a very lenient penalty for heresy at the time. He was old at this time of the trial and did die while “imprisoned”.

    Yes, the church was silly in the matter, but don’t paint him as a tale of the Church rejecting science — Galileo wasn’t actually right and the church wanted to get it right.

    — Note I’m not trying to defend the Catholic church here, I just want the history to be noted accurately

  15. Monocle Smile says

    @b I
    Firstly, you are completely wrong about the Catholic church’s influence on science.

    Secondly, Galileo’s heresy WAS grounded in the scientific models he pushed. Frankly, I’m an even bigger fan of Galileo BECAUSE he was such a dick to the church. They needed more of that. Also, Galileo did contribute some observations that directly falsified Ptolemy…namely, Jupiter’s moons (he also recapped Brahe’s idea about the phases of Venus).

    For someone who says they’re not defending the catholic church…you sure do get some things wrong in trying to defend the catholic church. They have never, ever wanted to “get it right.” Don’t be that guy.

  16. says

    >Can we stop with the myth that the Catholic Church killed Galileo because of science?

    I don’t believe anyone on the show claimed anyone killed Galileo? I certainly never said this.

    I said that in areas where science and dogma conflict, it can have a negative impact on discovery…like so:

    “Galileo was cleared of charges of heresy, but was told that he should no longer publicly state his belief that Earth moved around the Sun.”

    “Galileo’s works advocating Copernicanism were therefore banned, and his sentence prohibited him from ‘teaching, defending… or discussing’ Copernicanism. In Germany, Kepler’s works were also banned by the papal order.”

    “Galileo was ordered to stand trial on suspicion of heresy in 1633, ‘for holding as true the false doctrine taught by some that the sun is the center of the world’, against the 1616 condemnation, since ‘it was decided at the Holy Congregation […] on 25 Feb 1616 that […] the Holy Office would give you an injunction to abandon this doctrine, not to teach it to others, not to defend it, and not to treat of it; and that if you did not acquiesce in this injunction, you should be imprisoned’.”

  17. Monocle Smile says

    Cory, grow a backbone and ask theists those questions. Calling an atheist show and bringing them up can seem fun, but it’s a bit of a waste of time.

    I’m not entirely convinced Cougar Man was real, but his call made more sense if I imagined him smoking a huge bag of weed and reading the Tao before calling in. This is what happens when people get too wrapped up in “things that sound profound.”

    David’s voice sounds like he touches himself at night.

  18. Murat says

    A lesser known (but maybe as striking) example to where science and dogma clash is the case of the inventor Hezarfen Ahmet Chelebi: He put on wings, took off from the top of Galata Tower and flew over the Bosphorus in the 17th century Istanbul quite successfully, and landed alive… The clergymen convinced the sultan that such an act was heresy / blasphemy or something, so he was executed or exiled… Had the sultan not given in to dogma, he could have formed the earliest form of air force in history, but alas… Here’s an outdated movie about the thing online:–Ex8H9hvc

  19. KiwiDaveo says

    As a New Zealander and having lived in Queensland – David is not either Ken Ham nor Ray Comfort.

  20. KiwiDaveo says

    David of Queensland is a Jehovah Witnesses, his doctrine is identical as Tracie says during interaction . As per John (and all the other fake names he used) of London, its part of an attempt to use AE as a method of preaching JW theology. This was at least not so bash you head frustrating as his english cousin, but as the show has a policy on not allowing preaching it would have been good if the contraction of his beliefs was brought before hand. JW are very often dishonest about the entirety of their belief system and use the you think just the way i do. In this case it would speed up the call as the host could just BS on the empathy spin JW use.

  21. bujesus says

    Great session, Tracie and Russell, but please stop interrupting each other. You’re both great at what you do, so either wait for the other to finish or take turns dealing with illogical nonsense.

    Many thanks, B’Jesus

  22. Cfb1270 says

    That Australian guy sounded an awful lot like Ray Comfort. I mean I think it was Ray posing as an innocent caller!

  23. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    To S. M. Hall
    Please do not compliment Tracie’s physical looks as a total stranger like that. IIRC, she has stated multiple times that she finds it creepy and unwelcome and inappropriate to do so.

  24. itsmejre says

    Why is it organizing atheists is like herding cats? Don’t the” godless” “become” a hard-working disbelievers to not join anything, much less a cabal of one-trick pony naysayers of theism in all varieties.
    Atheism is to religion as not collecting stamps is to philately.
    I would think more would be devout “Garboist”—“I want to be alone.”

  25. kudlak says

    @Bill Boling #11
    Well, God could not have needed the fruit to maintain his own immortality because he would have had to been immortal prior to making that tree, according to the story. So, it must have been put there for the use of the humans, assuming that the original plan was for them to share immortality with God. The better question is how those two possibly could have known that it was wrong to disobey God prior to eating the magic fruit that granted than that ability?

  26. Lillith says

    I’m in the process of listening to all episodes from the most current ones backwards and having reached #852, I must say this was the most annoying ep so far. Don’t get me wrong, I love Tracie* but like Russell she let two utterly confused idiots ramble on for far too long. My car stereo totally sucks at fast forwarding in mp3/AAC so that trip turned out more painful than expected.

    * and her t!ts (<- my take on Vulgarity for Charity, SCNR).

  27. ironchops says

    @22 & 34 Now that an agent has named their self “God” and posted here and an agent with a different name has responded then I would submit that as proof for the existence of a God or gods. We have evidence at last. Now I have to wonder if this is the Abrahamic God or one of many other gods. I wonder if God will clarify.

  28. kudlak says

    Would he/she not also have to provide proof of personal worshippers to actually qualify as a god? Without worshipers he/she would just be a being, regardless of how powerful they were, correct? Along these lines, YHWH would not have qualified as a god until it created worshipers. God, then, was not always a god; it had to make itself one.

  29. ironchops says

    Hi Kudlak-Now you are just being silly…lol.
    1. Who says a god has to be worshipped to qualify or be a god; There are no clear definitions of a god or gods that I know of, only a list of attributes.
    2. Who says god or gods are not just beings?
    3. Can you share with me the official list of qualifications a being would need to be a god?
    ps. How did your garden do this year? The deer ate mine! 🙁 I guess I should eat the deer huh.

  30. raytheist says

    At 44:55, Russell says, “I wouldn’t expect theists to praise murderers and rapists.”

    In most cases I would agree, yet just recently Pastor Steven Anderson (Faithful Word Baptist, in Arizona) praised the murder of all those people at Pulse nightclub in Orlando, literally thankful that there were 50 fewer pedophiles* alive. There are, in fact, a small percentage of theists (mostly right-wing fundagelical Christians) who would actually give thanks for the murder or death of some of what they view as “undesirables”.

    * That was HIS term, not mine, for the gays who were killed.

  31. kudlak says

    Generally, is it not true that people have venerated the various gods that they have had throughout history? If prompted, even the “relationship, not religion” crowd would allow that they still worship their little “friend”, just like other religions worship their deities.

    Also, if worshippers are not requisite, then pretty much anything could secretly be a god, and there would be no means of distinguishing between a carved idol and some stone in a river that no one has ever seen. I heard once that even Prince Philip was regarded as a god by some Pacific Islanders for a time, so the key distinction does seem to be having someone venerate you as a god.

    Our summer was more like spring with all the rain we had, so my garden did rather well and my dwarf apple tree supplied us with 20 pies worth.

  32. kudlak says

    Quite a few would also consider killing abortion-providers as no sin, and maybe even their Christian duty, eh?

  33. itsmejre says

    Chancellor of the Exchequer

    “If you know why your God is so stupid,” A host said, “feel free and call us” seems to be the main premise offered here on AE.
    It appears to me the show has gotten to this point, by mocking the beliefs of others. Beyond the catharsis of mockery, what does AE offer?
    What alternative does it provide?
    Leaving aside the question of winning over believers, how does it even keep atheists watching?
    I would think that maybe inspiring awe by presenting something in which to believe — the majesty of the universe, the wonders of science might be more useful.
    Not frothing spittle reactions and deeming many callers as idiots, but doing something all its own.

  34. says

    >Leaving aside the question of winning over believers, how does it even keep atheists watching?

    First of all, the show was developed as outreach to a theist audience, so whether atheists watch it or not, is not really my concern.

    But, more than that, I’m not inclined to leave that question aside, because it’s why I joined the show. I was absorbed by religion and might have handed my entire life over to it had people not taken the time to address me and my beliefs–both kindly and unkindly (all of them, regardless of how they approached me, contributed to me finally getting my own life back). Now I devote part of my own life to offer that same option to others.

    So, if I don’t leave that question aside, I can talk about the letters sent to TAE daily telling us how the show contributed to someone’s deconversion. While people may issue many valid criticisms of the work done by our volunteers, “you aren’t reaching anyone or helping people shed their religious shackles” isn’t one.

  35. Lillith says

    Is this a variance on tone-trolling? AE is done to demonstrate what non-believers are still up against, ridiculous (and often harmful) as that may be. If you can’t stand the heat, feel free to stay out of the kitchen (and to be awed by whatever).

  36. says

    >I would think that maybe inspiring awe by presenting something in which to believe — the majesty of the universe, the wonders of science might be more useful.

    Feel free to create this show you’d prefer. Be the change you want to see. Or just keep criticizing others for not doing what you’d like to see done. If only the same number of people who write to us to tell us what we should be doing, would get off their asses and actually DO IT, the diverse options for content would stagger.

  37. says

    >Would he/she not also have to provide proof of personal worshippers to actually qualify as a god? Without worshipers he/she would just be a being, regardless of how powerful they were, correct?

    The Deist god is one without worshippers.

  38. Devocate says

    “I wouldn’t expect theists to praise murderers…”

    I would. All you need to do to get most theists to praise murders is to couch it in the right terms (“oh, those aren’t murders, those are …” ). To be fair, the same can be said of atheists. I would love to meet more people who never praise any kind of murderer, under any circumstances.

  39. tonyinbatavia says

    itsmejre @49: Okay, you have made me curious. As in:

    What psychedelics are flooding the chemicals in your brain enough to make you think that your opinions here matter more than, say, a gnat’s burp?

    After the drugs wear off and you re-read your words, do you think “whoa, that must have been a bichen high!”? Or, do you find that you feel ashamed at being such a flaming asshole towards people who are actually doing something productive in the world?

    Finally, between your frothing spittle-flecked message at 49 (see also: ya fuckin’ hypocrite) and your wondrous, twisted incoherence-of-a-comment at 39, which one best represents the real you, do you think? Which message makes you most proud?

  40. says


    I would. All you need to do to get most theists to praise murders is to couch it in the right terms

    I don’t recall who, but a year or so ago, some Christian apologist was arguing that it was a good thing that the Israelies butchered a bunch of children – a story in the Bible.

    They will bend over backwards to justify these things.

  41. itsmejre says

    heicart & lilith

    How was the recent episode focusing on MT contributing to anyone’s de-conversion? It seems like yet another cleverly disguised “mugging” of an old dead nun? Could it be that she did more for the poor than you, me and everyone we know will do in a lifetime? No? Then how about buy yourself a one way ticket to Calcutta to begin your mission.

    I want to thank you both for the “get off their asses” and “stay out of the kitchen” comments. I am looking into taking over the defunct “Atheist View” and doing just that with a balanced approach. A representative from both sides to “warm the bums”!

  42. ironchops says

    To Kudlak-God (according the old testament Hebrew story) existed before all the creation, Who worshiped it then? Was he considered a god then or did he have to create worshipers to be a god? I would also point out that people have made just about anything or anyone into a god including pharaoh, kings, golden or stone (man made idols), wood poles, wind, water, dirt, and the invisible gods that live in the clouds or outer space or in some dimension we do not perceive (if there is such a thing). The list can be extensive. A god could just be a personified idea or set of rules people adhere to (worship). As I stated in post 44, there are no clear definitions of the god/gods that can be agreed upon by everyone.
    I love apple pie!! Glad you could enjoy!
    To Devocate- “I would love to meet more people who never praise any kind of murderer, under any circumstances.”
    Amen!! I can’t see how any so called benevolent being (god or human or any other sentient being) would ask that or praise that behavior of another being at all.

  43. tonyinbatavia says

    A representative from both sides to “warm the bums”!

    However can I continue living as an atheist without hearing what the other side has to say? I mean, the other side almost never gets to say things like how Mother Teresa helped the poor. Holy fucking shit, until you delivered that message in these very comments I didn’t know that people on the other side believed that she did that. Wow, you will be doing atheism a massive service with chunks of important information like that.

    And “Atheist View”! What a perfect name. An atheist with an opinion. If the opinions you have shared here are any indication — holy hell, you can defend Mother Teresa! — I mean, just like, whoa, you really are going to show Atheist Experience how things should be done. I’m sure it will be riveting and informative and helpful and that the folks at the Atheist Community of Austin will reconsider everything they are doing with their TV show. And I am sure that atheists everywhere will flock to see what the other side says. We so rarely hear the other side.

  44. Yaro says

    I’m looking forward to this year’s Vulgarity For Charity as a big fan of Scathing Atheist. I just signed on as a Patron of the show and I’m thinking of doing this donation as well.

  45. itsmejre says


    I am glad you are so enthusiastic about it. Can I count you “in” then as the first member, donor, patreon, etc…?

  46. Lillith says

    “Could it be that she did more for the poor than you, me and everyone we know will do in a lifetime? No?”

    Sure, she did way more than me to make people she was supposed to help suffer, because she believed this would elevate them or something (while at the same time getting proper medical attention in Europe). Are you really that dense or just another case of theists denying well-known facts?

    “A representative from both sides to “warm the bums”!”
    Keep trying.

  47. tonyinbatavia says

    itsmejre, yeah, no. I could not, in any scenario I conjure up, care less about the theist side of any panel you might present. Theists pervade every level of government. Theists have ready access to every possible media platform. Theists broadcast hundreds of hours of television programming daily. Theists own one full major political party and get kid glove treatment by the other political party. Theists own tax free land by the oodles. Theists are granted a free pass by 80+ percent of the population even though they hold distorted and fucked up views on pretty much every single important issue of our times.

    And you want to give theists yet another outlet for their views, to provide “balance”? Fuck that noise.

    Your idea for a panel show sounds like hyena diarrhea splashing into vulture vomit. I would rather bathe in pool of tick- and leech-infested elephant pus than be forced to listen to that shit show.

    But good luck with that.

  48. Wiggle Puppy says

    “A host said, “feel free and call us” seems to be the main premise offered here on AE.
    It appears to me the show has gotten to this point, by mocking the beliefs of others. Beyond the catharsis of mockery, what does AE offer?”

    What often happens is that believers who have their beliefs mocked for the first time get very defensive and vehemently try to defend them, since their religious beliefs are tied closely to personal identity and an attack on religion is therefore an attack on the self. They often subsequently find that they keep running into brick walls when they try to do so, opening the space for a more distanced critical examination of their beliefs than the indoctrination and social pressures of their church / synagogue / mosque / temple /etc has ever permitted. This is often the first step toward de-conversion, since it allows the de-coupling of personal identity to begin.

  49. kudlak says

    @ironchops #59
    It would seem then that “god” is a classification people place on something, not an intrinsic characteristic of the thing itself. Consider yourself. Just now you may be rather ordinary, but you could come by the means some day of creating conscious SIMs or some other entities who may then regard you as their god. Were you a god before doing that? Probably not, right? In the same way that the sun remains physically the same whether you worship it or not, and certainly not everyone saw it as a god, “godhood” has to be something people place upon a thing and not something objectively obvious.

  50. itsmejre says

    TIB, Lillith, Wiggle Puppy Schlick, schlick, fab, fab…. If one uses any critical thinking on atheists, they are dogmatically resistant to discussing their beliefs, it soon becomes apparent that ad hominem and wild strawman projections are dominant and nothing more than attempts to hide some deep insecurity they have about their beliefs. I have no patience for reductionism of any kind, fundamentalism or atheism. The phenomena of the world, especially of human beings and their beliefs are far too varied and complex to reduce to simplistic definitions. That said, if you use a word then you have to use it properly in order to be understood. This is especially true in science and philosophy where we argue about the meaning of words constantly. There are important distinctions between two positions within agnosticism. The first is often called “weak” agnosticism, expressed as “I do not know” and the other is often called “strong” agnosticism, expressed as “no one can know.” Weak agnosticism is a personal admission, but strong agnosticism can easily become a universal claim if it is the claim “it is impossible to know.” If so, then the critique of atheism as a truth claim equally applies to strong “impossible” agnosticism. We do not have the ability to know at this point in history with our current knowledge and technology” is a reasonable one, but probably not falsifiable. But it avoids the problem inherent in the claims of atheism and strong “impossible” agnosticism. Atheism is an OPINION. But that isn’t what most atheists believe or say. Most atheists clothe their OPINION in what they think science and logic are (though they misunderstand both) and portray their atheist OPINION, as KNOWLEDGE and how dare we not acknowledge their superior intellect. So as long as you admit that it is your opinion that there is no god, and not pretend you have any proof for such opinion, then that is defensible, but understand that means one’s opinion is not better or different than the opinion “there is a god”. Because if one claims at all that their opinion is preferable to the opinion that god exists, for example. “it is more likely there is no god” then you are making a truth claim and have to provide proof for why your opinion has validity whereas the contrary opinion does not. This opinion is not scientific or supported by science only your personal opinion. To that you are entitled. My objection is only to any claim of atheism beyond mere opinion and conjecture. And yes, I say the exact same to those who believe in god and advance their opinion as, dare I say, gospel truth not open to discussion. Neil deGrasse Tyson is an example of what I object to. He has at times professed to be an atheist though he at other times disingenuously says he’s agnostic to avoid the reality that atheism is indefensible as anything other than unscientific opinion. Given that Tyson frequently ridicules any belief in anything supernatural and draws a polemical distinction between “science” as good and “religion” as bad he is clearly making the truth claim there is no god despite the fact that he cannot prove his claim and is being illogical. Tyson is a hypocrite. Anti-theists and the New Atheists are oblivious to the fact that they are, by the dictionary definition, bigots.It is not likely anyone is going to change the minds of atheists, because they are just as religious as those they hate.

  51. Chancellor of the Exchequer says

    All of that was just you going off about nothing.

    Atheism isn’t an opinion. Simply a rejection of Theism with no intrinsic tie to Anti-theism.

    Most atheists aren’t saying anything other than, “I don’t believe the theistic claim.” Don’t know who you’re complaining about in that post as atheism doesn’t need to be defended as it’s not a claim. Provided that you’re not new to the show, you’d know that noone is making a claim about a god/gods inexistence but simply saying that the evidence proposed hasn’t met the burden of proof required for accepting said claim.

    Go to Tyson and those like him and discuss your gripes with them.

  52. Lillith says

    Try as you might with your BS text walls, you won’t shift the burden of proof on atheists. And of course, NONE of this drivel helps your claim of MT being a good person one bit. Go figure.

  53. itsmejre says

    My target are those who wave the label “atheists” with militancy, carry it as a cudgel, use it as a basis for hostile discrimination. My target is not the non-religious, in fact, I would have to be considered as non-religious. But I am not an atheist because I make no claim about any deity and have no animosity against believers. We know that those who cling to the label atheist do have a belief that there is no god because they act on that belief. The non-religious will often react a little puzzled. The atheist, reacts angrily. I know, because I have talked with many non-religious on this, that they feel no need to adopt the label “atheist” because they don’t see religion as a conflict of beliefs as atheists do.


    Mother Teresa is a broadly revered figure in India and “most of the people” here are not really aware of her criticism. Under the context of all around poverty, people may question her ideology but very few will doubt the help she provided to the poor. It may have come from her religious beliefs and might have been influenced by the associated dogma but in the end, those poor were better off with her. It is easy to find error in her ways from the comfort of our life, but she was there while others were not.

    Having said that, I doubt any of this has anything to do with religion or culture of this part of the world. Those poor were faced with the choice of dying alone in the street or joining her centers. Any rational being, under the pain of death, will choose the later no matter which culture she/he belongs too.

  54. Lillith says

    As has been repeatedly pointed out to you with examples (you chose to ignore) no less, MT being there the way she was, definitely made the poor worse of. So this is EOD for me. I’m also too lazy to quote your entire first paragraph with a [citation needed] under each sentence but rest assured, noone cares about your wilful mischaracterisations of atheists. If you really think your fight is to pick here, bring it on; just don’t get butthurt when you’re leaving people utterly unimpressed.

  55. Monocle Smile says

    You posted in the thread where I provided ample evidence against your batty claims about Mother Teresa. In other words, you are interested in monologues and rants, not engaging in discussion. Shut up and fuck off.

  56. ironchops says

    To Kudlak – I see your point and that is why I believe (at this time) there is no real definition for “a GOD/GODs”. It is utterly subjective unless it can be proven or demonstrated through some kind scientific testing. Thanks for your responses.

  57. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    To itsmejre
    Paragraph breaks are your friend.


    So as long as you admit that it is your opinion that there is no god, and not pretend you have any proof for such opinion, then that is defensible, but understand that means one’s opinion is not better or different than the opinion “there is a god”.

    But we have evidence that there is no god. Lots and lots and lots of it.
    At this point in history, with the overwhelming wealth of evidence that we have, it’s perverse to deny the fact that there is no god.

    To borrow your terms from the other thread: My assertion that there is no god is an assertion. It is a claim. I believe that. It is a belief of mine. I have an attached confidence level to that belief.

    “The sun will rise tomorrow” is also a mere belief, and a mere assertion, and it has a mere confidence level attached to it that is very high but less than 100%.

  58. b l says

    @Monocle Smile

    I never claimed the Catholic Church influenced science. I said they were a proponent of it. As we learn more about nature, the Catholic Church performs mental gymnastics to incorporate this into their beliefs and dogma. Also, as much as Richard Carrier says some great things, I’d

    Look at abortion, the more we learned about how pregnancy worked, the more restrictions they put on it, even though back in Aquinas’s time they allowed abortions until the “quickening” which is when they opined the soul entered the baby. They acknowledge evolution and dinosaurs now.

    It was “grounded” in the scientific models he pushed because of the way that he pushed them, and the fact that they weren’t right.

    “For someone who says they’re not defending the catholic church…you sure do get some things wrong in trying to defend the catholic church. They have never, ever wanted to “get it right.” Don’t be that guy.”

    Sounds like a witch hunt. What words am I not allowed to say?


    Galilleo was brought up in passing as an example of science being in contrast to religion.

    History shows that the Catholic church was okay and open to his ideas until he was a dick to the pope, then the pope had a hissy fit against astronomy in general.

    You’ve brought up two posts on wikipedia, the quora post has several sources on this backing up my stance.

    It’s more of a lesson in the hubris of the pope meeting the hubris of Galilleo leading to a lot of astronomical backsliding.

  59. Monocle Smile says

    You’re still so wrong.
    The Catholic church has never been correct regarding abortion nor contraception.
    They took far, far too long to “acknowledge” evolution and dinosaurs and only did so for PR reasons, not actual good reasons.
    Galileo’s models were more correct than Ptolemy’s and he was able to demonstrate this. It is utterly baffling how this isn’t obvious. You didn’t respond to my post at all; you have merely repeated yourself.

    History shows that the Catholic church was okay and open to his ideas until he was a dick to the pope, then the pope had a hissy fit against astronomy in general

    This is about as dishonest of a portrayal of the Galileo affair as I’ve seen.

    It’s more of a lesson in the hubris of the pope meeting the hubris of Galilleo leading to a lot of astronomical backsliding

    Catholic apologetics at its finest. Yes, blame Galileo. Blame Giordano Bruno for being burned at the stake, too. Blame the kids for being raped. It’s all bullshit and you should be ashamed of yourself.

  60. drtj says

    Hi Tracie,

    Regarding a part of your discussion with the caller named David, I think you could have used parts of this lecture: by Neil deGrasse Tyson to better describe how historical scientists thought about god. In the first part of the lecture, deGrasse Tyson points out that some of the greatest scientists in history, including Ptolemy, Galileo, Newton, Huygens, Laplace all invoked a god at the limits of their knowledge about science and the universe. As I’m sure you know, invoking god at the limits of our knowledge is also known as the “god of the gaps” argument. I do wish that deGrasse Tyson had expanded his lecture a little to denounce the Kalam cosmological argument as just another invoking of god at the limits of our knowledge. Christian theologians such as William Lane Craig and others are willing to accept the scientific arguments for the big bang, galaxy formation, evolution, etc. but still feel the need to invoke a god to explain how the big bang happened. But a little bit of history study shows that invoking a god isn’t necessary for things that we don’t yet understand because hopefully, science will one day be able to explain them.

    During this episode, you also referred back to the “child rape” episode and even though the “child rape” episode was a couple of years ago and because I’ve never commented on the freethoughtblogs before, I wanted to commend you for your arguments on the “child rape” episode as the best argument against the existence of a god that I’ve ever heard.

    One last thing, I would like to see the word “empiricists” eventually replace use of the word “skeptics” and “empiricism” replace use of the word “skepticism”. I recognize that these words are not direct synonyms, but to me, skepticism has somewhat of a negative connotation and does not so much promote positions as refute the positions of others. Empiricism says that the evidence must shown, which is part of the scientific method and is what we should be teaching to all children. I’m sure you know these definitions well, I just wanted to throw in my two cents about how these words are used.

  61. crocdoc says

    My guess is that ‘David from Australia’ is actually ‘David from New Zealand who now lives in Australia’, judging by his accent and speech patterns. To me his voice and accent were more Ray Comfort than Ken Ham. Still have no idea what point he was trying to make as his voice was creeping me out. No, Alfie (#18), you were not the only one.

    On another note, the call about raising children as an atheist sparked my interest. I think it would make an interesting topic for part of a show (a whole show dedicated to it would probably disenfranchise a lot of listeners).

    In my opinion, Tracie nailed it with her suggestion that children get introduced to a broad range of human beliefs (and non-beliefs) so they can learn about the variation in human belief systems and make a decision themselves as they grow rather than be told what to think.

    I was raised in a religion (Judaism) and, although my family wasn’t in any way deeply religious and overall I have no major complaints about my childhood, if there’s anything I could change it would be being told to what religion I belonged from a very young age. This influenced my views on raising children should I have any of my own down the track. Although I am an atheist, I would no sooner tell a child that there is no god than tell them there is one and that they belong to religion ‘X’. I’d rather tell them the range of things that people believe, answer all of their questions as honestly as I am able, and let them come to their own conclusions and decide on their own what to believe. In my opinion, if raised to be a critical thinker a child will become an atheist of his/her own volition.

    Fast forward a number of years and I have now seen (and helped) this being put into practice, for I have since become the biological father (It’s a complicated story, but I’m a sperm donor father in a ‘known donor’ scenario, so that a close friend could have a child) of a young girl – I’ll refer to her as ‘J’.

    J has grown up learning about assorted belief systems at school and through her mother teaching her about assorted other religions, pretty much exactly as Tracie had proposed in this show. As J’s mother and I are both in the sciences, her questions about the natural world and how it works were also answered as best we could and if we didn’t know the answer we would research it together with her.

    Eventually, at the age of six, J asked the big question while I was driving: “Do you believe in a god?” and I responded “No, I don’t”. J then said “Neither do I” and proceeded to explain why, to which I replied “fair enough”. Amusingly, this was a couple of years before she dropped her belief in Santa Claus and the tooth fairy, but I suspect there were other motivations to not drop those too soon.

    J is now 12 and a confirmed atheist.

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