Open Thread for Episode 20.38: Matt and Greta Christina


Author and blogger Greta Christiana was our guest this weekend on the Bat Cruise. She also sat in with Matt on today’s show.

Comments

  1. Brian Rodriguez says

    This was not a good episode. Minh takes up too much time saying nothing interesting, and in a long-winded manner. I skip ahead when I see his name come up.

  2. itsmejre says

    I think it would be fair to say that Matt is a strict verificationist. I’ve listened to some of his debates, and he generally uses the same method. Perhaps it should be called the double d method – “Demonstrate this. Define that.”
    This would seem reasonable, however I think he abuses this method. I remember Matt having a discussion about racism, and he said “define racism”. Really?? If it seems like he’s losing or that his position is self-contradictory or inconsistent, he’ll retreat into the safe bubble of agnosticism, or simply reduce the argument to semantics. This methodology is very effective in debates.

    Excerpts and OPINIONS from Debate
    1) Creation/Design:

    Robertson: The fact is that matter exists. There are 3 views that could account for this fact: 1) created, 2) eternal, 3) self-generated out of nothing. 3) is self-contradictory, 1) requires a Creator, and 2) is falsified by the Big Bang cosmology. So what’s your view?

    Dillahunty: You’re trying to get me to say what my view is, but I can just say “I don’t know” and get out of having to take any position on how matter got here. I can say “I don’t know” to all the scientific evidence for the Big Bang cosmology, too!

    2) Evil requires objective morality, requires a moral lawgiver:

    Robertson: evil exists, e.g. – the Holocaust. If atheism is true, objective morality is impossible. Richard Dawkins agrees. Therefore, theism is the best explanation for the existence of evil.

    Dillahunty: In my opinion, morality means doing what helps people have well-being. And I think that the Holocaust is obviously bad, because it hurts the well-being of the victims.

    Robertson: The problem is that people decide what well-being is.If you were raised in the Social Darwinism of the Nazi regime, you would believe that the Holocaust was the best for the well-being of the society as a whole.

    Dillahunty: Isn’t it obvious that killing people is bad for their well-being?

    Robertson: Is it bad for the well-being of unborn children to kill them?

    Dillahunty: Yes

    Robertson: So you’re against abortion, then?

    Dillahunty: No

    Robertson: So you think that killing the child in the womb is against the well-being of the child, but you’re for that?

    Dillahunty: I don’t know! I don’t know!

    Then Dillahunty tried to claim Hitler was a Christian:

    Dillahunty: here is a quote by Hitler saying that secular schools are bad, and religious schools are good – see, he’s a Christian!

    Robertson: when was that said and to whom?

    Dillahunty: I don’t know, I don’t know!

    Robertson: It was said in 1933, during an election campaign, to Catholic authorities – he was a politician, looking for votes from Catholics so he could become Chancellor.

    Good and evil on atheism:

    Dillahunty: good actions results in states with more well-being, and evil actions result in states with less well-being.

    Brierley: but when the Nazis slaughtered all those people, they believed they were increasing well-being

    Dillahunty: But you could demonstrate to them that their action is not going to increase well-being. Survival of the fittest is descriptive of what happens, but it’s not prescriptive.

    Robertson: Whose well-being will human beings think about most, if not their own? Do you really think that you can stop people like Charles Manson from being evil by sitting down and trying to prove to them that they are not helping their victim’s well-being?

    (A BIT LATER)

    Robertson (to Dillahunty): Is it a fact that Dachau (a concentration camp) was morally wrong?

    Dillahunty: (literally, not a paraphrase) I DON’T KNOW

  3. Wiggle Puppy says

    @ 2:
    “This would seem reasonable, however I think he abuses this method. I remember Matt having a discussion about racism, and he said ‘define racism.’ Really??”
    That’s because words, especially those that end in “-ism,” often have complex meanings. It was pretty racist for the Ku Klux Klan to go out and lynch African Americans on purpose. It’s also racist for police to pull over African American drivers at a higher rate than whites and to issue citations to African Americans at a higher rate than whites for the same offenses, but this is way different than Klan racism, because police are often doing this due to unconscious biases and prejudices they’re not even consciously aware of. So if two people are trying to discuss the causes of and potential solutions for “racism,” but they’re referring to two very different concepts, then the stage is set for misunderstanding and talking past each other, which is a waste of time.

    “but when the Nazis slaughtered all those people, they believed they were increasing well-being”
    That’s irrelevant to whether they ACTUALLY were or not. Someone who eats nothing but candy and soda may honestly believe that they’re increasing their personal health, but they objectively are not.

    “Whose well-being will human beings think about most, if not their own?”
    It’s not a zero-sum game. If I’m the kind of person who is good to other people and does nice things, then I contribute to a society where people are more likely to be good to other people and do nice things, which will improve the society I live in, which will help me. This stuff isn’t that hard.

    “Do you really think that you can stop people like Charles Manson from being evil by sitting down and trying to prove to them that they are not helping their victim’s well-being?”
    No, but you can create systems of mental health care, criminal justice, etc to try to prevent deviants from doing bad things, and to remove them from society once they do so. You don’t at all need a god to 1) know that what Manson did was evil or 2) take steps to minimize the damage such people inflict on society.
    To turn the question around: do you really think we need a god to tell us that torture and murder are wrong? Without a god, are we just left to flail around helplessly, not knowing what actions are good and which are bad?

  4. JT Rager says

    @itsmejre I’ve had TONS of conversations about racism where it was unclear what people meant about racism. Some people use it as “treating another race differently” while other use it as “anything marginalizing a racial minority”. Without defining it ahead of time, we run the risk of talking past each other.

  5. Joelle says

    I understand that the show is geared toward conversations with theists but I fail to see any progression in the calls with Minh. It’s the same discussion every time he calls. At what point do we stop beating this dead horse?

  6. Monocle Smile says

    @itsmejre
    I think it’s fair to say that you’re a fucking troll not worth anyone’s time or effort.

  7. says

    On the question of skepticism, my example is that of backing up your computer’s data. I’ll start skeptical to the integrity of my data if I only have the one copy.

    If I made a backup, I may still be skeptical, but less so. By the 2nd or 3rd redundant backup, my skepticism of the integrity is reduced enough to accept out of hand. I’m not caught in an infinite loop of making perpetual backups. I don’t require 100% absolute certainty.

    The mistake theists tend to make, is that their efforts to counter my atheistic skepticism don’t actually work towards solving it. It’d be like telling me that my data is backed up on Interdimensional Ghost-Cloud.

    “Can you show that’s a real thing?”, I ask.
    “No.”
    “Then it doesn’t reduce my skepticism.” – I haven’t been presented a valid reason to think my data is actually backed up.

    They’ll throw a hundred pieces of “evidence” at me, none of which qualifies, and then conclude I’m being “hyper skeptical” because I haven’t budged… without realizing that they haven’t presented anything of value.

  8. Vivec says

    Aside from Minh’s call, this seemed like a good episode!

    I’ll take these more sedate, complex calls over the sort of “Me christian You sinner” that used to be common, and that get collected into youtube clip shows any day.

  9. ironchops says

    Chi – It is my opinion that the bible (at the very best) has been tainted by people that have distorted the original content for selfish reasons, money, power, etc. Put the book down and just simply engage life here and now.
    Minh – The other day when I was walking down the road just after dusk, I saw an owl fly across the full moon while at the same time I was bitten on the back of my neck by a horse fly which made me trip on a crack in the pavement. Then it came into my head that someone will get married to a rubber tree in the future.
    David – Run for office. Atheists have most only one thing in common and that is they don’t believe in a god or gods. Beyond that they are as diverse as religious people or humanity as a whole. We (people) have it within our abilities to live well and be good to each other regardless of beliefs, if we want to.
    Kody – It is possible for an atheist to become a believer if the proper evidence is presented or if the a god 0r gods actually revealed itself/their self and is will to answer a billion questions.

  10. itsmejre says

    Wiggle Puppy
    “That’s because words, especially those that end in “-ism,” often have complex meanings”

    Agreed

    Chancellor Exchequer in last week’s comments said “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.””

    Atheism implies a positive belief in the nonexistence of God. That’s how people use the word “atheist.”
    The meaning of a word is implied by its usage.

    Belief is often misused and misunderstood, especially in creating a false dichotomy between “belief” and “knowledge.” It is exactly that confabulation that both theists and atheists exploit to advance their assertions. And that word there, “assertion” is key to understanding how “belief” is used.

    This allows us to see more clearly what is undeniable: all that we call “knowledge” is really just belief. That this is so can be easily seen by trying to think if we would ever disbelieve anything we know. If someone said “I know P but do not believe P” we would think them quite odd. Knowledge is always belief. And as Karl Jaspers said, “to believe something is to believe that it is true.” When we say “I know P” we are saying “I believe P is true.” Many philosophers would agree that that is what “knowledge” is – “I believe P is true,” nothing more.

    This leads to the core of all belief: that belief is an assertion. “I believe P” is the assertion “I believe P is true.” Unless someone is lying or insane they don’t say “”I believe P” and think it is false. We believe what we think is true and we disbelieve what we think is false. Not only that, we think “P is true not just in my mind but for other minds.” So, “I believe God does not exist” is an assertion that “God does not exist” (Not-GE) is true not just for me but for all people.

    What about beans in a jar? Odd, Even argument?

    The negation of GE is the proposition God Does Not Exist (Not-GE). Rational beings either believe that GE is true, believe that GE is false and thus necessarily believe Not-GE is true, or say they do not know, claiming neither. The first position is Theism, the second Atheism, the third Agnosticism.

    The other possibility to Evenist or Oddist BELIEFS is agnosticism. But an atheist is not an agnostic just like “Oddist” is not agnostic.

    The category is existential propositions and one commits an error in attempting to apply non-ontological propositions to a category to which is does not belong: an existential question. Atheists continually try to evade the basic irrationality of their hypothesis.

    How’s that for fucking off, Monocle Smile?

    This is how atheists are illogical. They do not engage in the actual discourse but try to substitute their own. Their strategy consists of ignoratio elenchi, red herring, and when those fail, straight out ad homenim.

  11. Mobius says

    Personally, I like this episode. Minh’s call was a bit ho-hum on his side, but I thought Gretta’s and Matt’s responses were good. The rest of the show went very well.

  12. Monocle Smile says

    The troll who posts windmill-tilting rants and walls of text without any interest in dialogue is now accusing others of refusing to engage in discourse. Cute.
    Explaining all of your wrongness would be a colossal waste of time. You do this shit solely to provoke a response that you can promptly ignore, so once again…fuck off.

  13. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    Atheism implies a positive belief in the nonexistence of God. That’s how people use the word “atheist.”
    The meaning of a word is implied by its usage.

    But that’s simply false. Basically all self-identified atheist published writers do not use the words that way. “Atheism” as a word has always meant “someone who does not believe in a god” / “someone who does not believe in the god du jour of the current context”. It includes people with the “I don’t know” position, and people with the “I know that there is no god” position.

    What happened was Huxley came along, was an atheist, but didn’t like the negative cultural baggage of the word “atheist”, and so invented a new word in order to be less confrontational. Over time, this new word and its adherents started to claim space that was formerly occupied by atheists, as part of an accidental and/or purposeful attempt at strawmanning. Many religious people also followed suit in this strawmanning.

  14. Wiggle Puppy says

    @15:
    “Atheism implies a positive belief in the nonexistence of God. That’s how people use the word ‘atheist.'”
    No. Those who believe no gods exist are a category of those who don’t believe in gods. If you believe no gods exist, then you necessarily don’t believe in gods, but if you don’t believe in gods, you don’t necessarily believe that no gods exist. Much like all squares are shapes, but not all shapes are squares.
    Also, you don’t get to decide how a group you aren’t a part of gets to define itself.

    “The first position is Theism, the second Atheism, the third Agnosticism.”
    No. Agnosticism isn’t a middle ground between theism and atheism. The agnostic position in your example would be something like “I do not know whether the number is even or odd” or possibly “Whether the number is even or odd cannot be known.” It has nothing to do with belief.

  15. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    Actually, I want to say a little more:

    strict verificationist

    Ala logical positivism? No. However, Matt does seem to be a kind of positivist, such as a post-positivist (I think that’s the proper technical term), just like myself.

    IIRC, strict verificationism is the position that the only empirical claims which have any worth are those that can be verified in a finite number of steps to 100% certainty. That is definitely not Matt’s position, nor my own.

    However, I believe, and I’m pretty sure Matt also believes, that the one and only reliable method for learning about our shared (physical and non-physical) reality is the method of science. It’s not the only way of knowing. We can learn mathematical truths by math. We can learn moral truths by philosophizing, thought experiments, discourse, etc. However, the only way to reliably learn about empirical facts is science. It is what is often meant by claims of scientism.

    That’s not strict verificiationism. Strict verification specifically requires that we be able to reach 100% confidence in a finite number of steps. Whereas, Matt and I adopt a much weaker, dare I say Bayesian, approach to belief, knowledge, and levels of confidence.

    This allows us to see more clearly what is undeniable: all that we call “knowledge” is really just belief.

    Correct.

    The negation of GE is the proposition God Does Not Exist (Not-GE). Rational beings either believe that GE is true, believe that GE is false and thus necessarily believe Not-GE is true, or say they do not know, claiming neither.

    Correct.

    The first position is Theism, the second Atheism, the third Agnosticism.

    Incorrect.

  16. Wiggle Puppy says

    @ RationalismRules #22:
    On a side note, I’m always entertained when theists who believe in a god that can do almost anything and wants a relationship with humans spend SO MUCH TIME trying to shift the burden of proof and make atheism seem less reasonable than it is. If there are good reasons for believing in a god, why not just provide those?

  17. Monocle Smile says

    @RR
    I was starting to wonder and was considering checking myself. Well done. Has sujes hircst/Fallacy of Decomposition come back yet again?

  18. davidk says

    What Minh is describing are symptoms of mental health problems. He should really be encouraged to seek medical assistance – not call the atheist experienece.

  19. Matzo Ball Soup says

    Looks like itsmejre doesn’t watch the show much; otherwise he’d remember Matt saying “Knowledge is a subset of belief” many, many times.

    (I suspect that it’s the religious notion of unconsciously “knowing” things — e.g. the idea that everyone knows that God exists and some people just don’t believe it — that leads to the confusion.)

  20. itsmejre says

    There are two kinds of certainty people experience. The first is based on empirical evidence and the second is based on a moral commitment to a proposition, which is an existential act of the will.

    A claimed characteristic of “knowledge” is that it facts are open to falsifiability, whereas the facts of “belief” are generally not.

    There is a single dimension of religious agnosticism. At one end are the evangelical atheists, and at the other are the evangelical theists. There are both idiots and luminaries to be found in both camps, and somewhere in the middle lies that vast stolid majority of the world’s people – neither wholly convinced nor wholly unconvinced, neither wholly caring, nor wholly dispassionate: the truly agnostic agnostics.

    I have done research for the blog aforementioned.

    Since atheism is de facto illogical because its claim that not-GE is true requires proof and proof of an existential negative is impossible. So while GE is arguably not empirically proven it could be proven, but not-GE can never be proven.

    Would you say the following? “I know god exists but I don’t believe in god?” No, you would be absurd to say that. Therefore, it must be the case that what you are saying is: “I think god does not exist therefore I do not believe in god.” This is still problematic logically, but it is far less absurd that saying you don’t believe but make no claims, which is a logical contradiction.

  21. Monocle Smile says

    @troll
    Your epistemology is bad and you should feel bad.
    Your second “kind of certainty” is laughable and childish and has no place among skeptics and proponents of reason if it is not merely a subset of the first.
    You are completely wrong when you say “proof of an existential negative is impossible.” It is indeed possible if 1) we rule out absolute certainty because we’re not idiots and 2) the thing proposed to exist is defined in rigorous fashion.
    Try not to choke on all that straw. Get the fuck out.

  22. Wiggle Puppy says

    @28
    It’s really simple:
    Gnostic theist: I believe there’s a god, and I know there is one
    Agnostic theist: I believe there’s a god, but I don’t know if there is one
    Gnostic atheist: I don’t believe in a god, and I know there isn’t one
    Agnostic atheist: I don’t believe in god, but I don’t know that there isn’t one

    Since you didn’t answer my question before, I’ll repeat: why all of these long logical expositions to try and shift the burden of proof to atheists? Can’t you just provide some evidence of this god thing? Or are you just screwing around?

  23. RationalismRules says

    @itsmejre#28
    This post is part cut-and-paste from comments section of:
    http://philosophy.stackexchange.com/questions/1295/what-is-the-difference-between-knowledge-and-belief
    and part cut-and-paste from:
    http://philosophyotb.com/w/why-atheism-is-illogical-part-one-atheism-is-a-belief-and-a-truth-claim

    Previous thread (Episode 20.37 Russell and Tracie) post #70 cut-and-pastes from the same blog:
    http://philosophyotb.com/w/atheism-is-illogical-part-four-evidence-and-fallacies-the-atheists-headache
    Previous thread (Episode 20.37 Russell and Tracie) post #74 cut-and-pastes from the same blog:
    http://philosophyotb.com/w/atheism-is-illogical-part-two-words-have-meanings

    We could keep playing this game all day if you want – I’m not busy, and google does most of the work. On the other hand, I don’t think I’ll bother – there’s something a bit sad about someone who desperately wants to interact with others, but whose only way of doing so is by attempting to provoke.

  24. RationalismRules says

    @anyone tempted to respond to itsmejre
    It’s a cut-and-paste troll – probably a reincarnation of sujes hircst etc. from a couple of posts ago.
    #28 is cut and pasted from philosophy.stackexchange and philosophyotb blog
    Also, previous thread comments #70 and #74 are cut-and-pastes from the same blog.
    (post with the actual links awaiting moderation)

    Don’t waste your energy on this one – it has nothing of its own to offer.

  25. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    To itsmejre
    I see much of your post #28 comes verbatum from
    http://philosophyotb.com/w/why-atheism-is-illogical-part-one-atheism-is-a-belief-and-a-truth-claim
    We’ve had trolls here before which randomly conjoin different blog comments into posts. It was annoying. If you will engage with me, then we can have a conversation. (If you’re the same troll as last time, then fuck off already.)

    Since atheism is de facto illogical because its claim that not-GE is true requires proof and proof of an existential negative is impossible.

    Someone famous once said that “absence of evidence is not evidence of absence”. In its proper context, it had some merit of truth. In this context, it’s wrong. Absence of expected evidence is evidence of absence. It’s quite trivial to scientifically demonstrate a negative. For example, I am at work, and I know that there is not an elephant in my bedroom. Imagine the kinds of reasoning and evidence that I will employ to argue that fact. It should be bloody obvious. ‘

    In terms of epistemology, gods are no different than elephants. The same kinds of reasoning and evidence are brought to bear to answers question like “is there an elephant in my room?” and “is there a god that matches the description of the Christian Bible?”. In both cases, the answer is a clear “no”, to a high degree of confidence.

    To RationalismRules
    You’re probably right. Let’s see. I’ll give it a post or two, and see if I get feedback. I cannot personally just assume that every maybe-plagiarizer is a troll.

  26. philhoenig says

    @Wiggle Puppy #30:

    Alas, the usual use of the term Gnostic is not “the opposite of Agnostic”. Gnostics were a sect (or number of sects) that got their name because they claimed to be the only ones who knew the truth. (As opposed to all the other religious groups…) In particular, they had an answer to the problem of evil that looked to the early Christians uncomfortably like “The reason why there is suffering in this world is because Satan created it and God does nothing at all.”

  27. Wiggle Puppy says

    @ 33: Yes, I know who the Gnostics were, which is why I specified the definition I was using and the context in which I was using it. Nitpick much? Do you know that there’s a difference between Republican/Democratic and republican/democratic, and that this doesn’t matter as long as you specify how you’re using the words?

  28. RationalismRules says

    @philhoenig#33 Adjectival form of gnostic means “relating to knowledge, especially esoteric mystical knowledge” (OED). Just because it is more commonly used in noun form doesn’t invalidate its use as an adjective.

  29. itsmejre says

    For all the illogical atheists who want to pigeonhole me, you can take Monocle Smile’s advice to me.
    Although there may be a possibility that he may suffer from the David and Justin effect.
    He seems to think that he can demonstrate that proof of an existential negative is possible!

    Gnosticism-Agnosticism is about knowledge or absence of knowledge while theism-atheism are the two possible answers of the god question. The theist and atheist both claim to know, the agnostic does not claim to know. There are two types of agnosticism: weak agnosticism says “I do not know but it might be possible for someone to know,” and strong agnosticism says “I do not know and it is impossible for anyone to know.” I am a weak agnostic.
    No, I am not shifting the burden, Atheists, on the other hand illogically deny their burden!!

    1. Atheism is a truth claim of Not-GE.
    2. Atheists can provide no proof for their claim–in fact, it is logically impossible for them to do so.
    3. Atheist arguments against GE commit logical fallacies.
    4. Therefore, atheism is an illogical and unsubstantiated position that is nothing more than an expression of personal preference with no persuasive power.

    It says it all that atheists, cannot or will not address their absence of belief claim, but instead only mindlessly regurgitate their illogical nonsense as though they were deconversion zombies.

    The non-existence of god has not been demonstrated, but don’t let that deter you from believing in the non-existence of god anyway. -Or go spend some quiet time thinking about how the law of the excluded middle of existential propositions, means not a neutral position, but a truth claim based on a lack of proof.

    EL
    There have been many who have argued persuasively that belief in God is both justified and true. which can’t be said for atheism, and that is partly why that belief has always been a minority belief.

    Elephants and gods? The central informal logical fallacy being committed here is the faulty analogy.

    WP

    You are making the assumption that you are entitled to define terms as it suits you for your current purpose.
    Take gnostic atheist for example, It could be said that it is your unjustified personal belief, but it is illogical to claim it is anything more than your opinion plus a belief and you would have no basis for asserting it.

    RR
    This is work done by me and my colleagues.

  30. Wiggle Puppy says

    @ 37: I am, in fact, entitled to define terms as I see fit. If you aren’t an atheist, then you have no grounds whatsoever for defining the term and then trying to tag me with positions I don’t hold, much the same as it’s not my place to define what a “true Christian” or a “true Muslim” is. Since I’ve asked twice why I should believe in a god and you won’t give an answer, I’ll assume you don’t have one. And if you want me to justify my lack of belief: there is no good reason to believe in magical beings that defy the laws of biology, chemistry, and physics. Virtually every religion relies on some combination of textual accounts and testimonies of personal experience, and if these items can be employed to justify mutually competing claims, then they’re not reliable in terms of figuring out what’s real. Go away.

  31. RationalismRules says

    @itsmejre

    This is work done by me and my colleagues.

    I had no idea cut-and-paste trolls worked in teams…

    Your posts display exactly the same characteristics as sujes hircst: anything that appears to be coherently phrased turns out to be a cut-and-paste of someone else’s words. Anything that isn’t cut-and-pasted is poorly expressed, poorly punctuated, poorly argued, and frequently contains inflammatory language.

    I remain convinced that you are sujes hircst reborn. Maybe there’s something to reincarnation, after all.

  32. Vivec says

    You are making the assumption that you are entitled to define terms as it suits you for your current purpose.

    Well, yeah, everyone is. Words don’t have meanings, they have usages. As long as people know what is being described, any word can be used for anything.

    If I tell you that I call my cat a kersplittle, then in the context kersplittle is a word referring to my cat.

  33. Lillith says

    @itsmejre
    “The non-existence of god has not been demonstrated”
    The existence of god has not been demonstrated. See what I did there?

    “Atheism implies a positive belief in the nonexistence of God. That’s how people use the word “atheist.”
    No, they don’t and no matter how hard you try, you won’t be able to shift the burden of proof on atheists. That’s just not gonna happen. I just wish the others here would ignore a jackass troll like you already. I certainly will.

  34. Patrick67 says

    On a whim I tried Googling the term itsmejre. I noticed that when broken down it seems to refer to a set of initials: it(‘s) me jre. The first result that came up was attached to this link: https://twitter.com/itsmejre

    The name associated with the link was a Jordan Evans. I don’t do Twitter so I wasn’t able to go any farther.

    There were other links that went to AXP from that Google as well as a few other sites . I honestly don’t know for sure whether this is the itsmejre who is trolling this thread but it’s interesting that there is a Twitter account linked to that nick.

  35. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    Elephants and gods? The central informal logical fallacy being committed here is the faulty analogy.

    Can I show that there are no elephants in my room? Presumably yes. How is that any different in any relevant way than showing that there are no gods in the universe? Seems like more or less the same problem. It is more or less the same problem. How is it any different? To show that there is no elephant in my room, I can cite all of this background knowledge about elephants, how no one has ever had a reliable report of having one show up in their bedroom in the San Fransisco metro area, how it wouldn’t fit through the doors, how there are no elephants anywhere nearby, etc.

    Next we could talk about the ability to show that there are no unicorns presently on Earth. Or that Godzilla is not active on Earth. How to show these truths is quite obvious, and the same techniques will work to show that there is no god.

  36. Paul Money says

    On YouTube, comments are disabled for modern AE shows. This thread clearly shows why, as the posters mercilessly engage their traditional enemies with topics that didn’t relate to the show at all!
    Actually commenting on the show, Greta was excellent and both she and Matt gave good clear advice to both the main callers, advice that will also help people generally. This type of show probably does more good in the long run than Mat steamrollering fundies, although I do miss Mark of the Austin Stone Church. Did he ever join the ACA.
    Welcome Greta, hope we see a lot more of you.

  37. itsmejre says

    The designation of “atheist” is to gainsay the subsistence of a Deity. This is not an apathy, or a being unconvinced, it is taking the position that there is no God. Endeavoring to pretend that they do not have a notion, they verbally express they simply disbelieve, nothing more.

    Disbelieve is a transitive verb, denoting it must take an object. One disbelieves something tangible. We withal optically discern that to disbelieve is an active verb, one is actively relucting and abnegating the truth of something; in the case of the atheist, they actively disbelieve the proposition “God exists” compulsorily committing themselves to the active credence in its negation, “God does not subsist.”

    To pretend (vivec), as the atheists do, that a word betokens other than it does within the linguistic community is at best disingenuous; but since their purport for their subterfuge is avoidance of the consequences of their notions, they are just plain being mendacious.

    Any atheist who endeavors to eschew the fact that they are engaging in the active, positive notion in the proposition “God does not exist” should have to expound why they are absquatulating from their own credences.

    Any atheist who asserts atheism is asserting an illogical proposition. The probable reason they are so wary of admitting that their atheism is a notion is because they know it is illogical, and worse, they know they have no rational evidence for their notion. The atheist’s dismissal without evidence or justification of others’ religious experience reveals the prejudice and irrationality of atheism.

  38. Vivec says

    Linguistic prescriptivism is, at best, a theory in decline in the linguistic community. What I said reflects the current linguistic consensus.

    Words don’t have concrete meanings, they have usages determined by context and society.

    We’ve made it pretty clear that we don’t use “atheism” to mean the positive claim that there are no gods, so continuing to act like we do is disingenuous.

    Of course, that’s pretending that you won’t just copypaste a non sequitur again.

  39. Monocle Smile says

    @Paul Money
    Welcome to the blog! You do have a point about YouTube comments. Thanks for being understanding; it’s rather rare.
    Mark from Stone Church was outed as a fake caller. I don’t think his real identity was ever ascertained.

    @troll
    Fine, don’t call me an atheist. I don’t give a shit. Happy? No? Good. Fuck off.

  40. itsmejre says

    vivec

    “Words don’t have concrete meanings, they have usages determined by context and society. ”

    What would you call someone who believes there are no gods?

    EL

    “Can I show that there are no elephants in my room? Presumably yes. How is that any different in any relevant way than showing that there are no gods in the universe?”

    The argument is faulty (and fallacious) when the similarities between the two things are insignificant and unimportant relative to their differences. Well, first of all, there’s the word ‘belief.’ But that can’t be argued as a similarity, since that word apllies to everything we might discuss. That is, atheism shares the same thing, in that it is belief in no God.

    To put it another way, every truth claim (every statement) is the expression of belief. And knowledge is a particular kind of belief, namely justified, true belief. One rarely argues that belief in unicorns, Godzilla, is either true or justified except to be silly.

    Is it that they can’t be seen. But here again, this similarity seems rather trivial. We take as justified, true belief, a host of beliefs about things that can’t be seen. Scientists claim knowledge of things, none of which can be seen. So invisiblity is not a worthwhile criterion for accepting or rejecting the existence of something.

    Perhaps it is because they are immaterial. But this is unsatisfactory as well. There exist a great number of things that are likewise immaterial, things such as thoughts, emotions, memories, desires. And if the claim is made that these things do not exist or are in fact (somehow) material, that claim itself involves circular reasoning
    (the conclusion can only be reached by first denying even the possibility of the existence of immaterial things, that is, by first adopting a naturalistic, materialistic worldview).

    The list of possible, significant similarities has dwindled to nearly nil.

    There remains one other possibility. Perhaps the similarity that would make this analogy meaningful is that neither the existence of god nor the existence of the IE can be proved.
    Maybe there are people who have proof there is no god? Nah!

  41. Wiggle Puppy says

    @51:

    “What would you call someone who believes there are no gods?”

    A strong atheist.

    “So invisibility is not a worthwhile criterion for accepting or rejecting the existence of something.”

    No, but detectability is.

    “There exist a great number of things that are likewise immaterial, things such as thoughts, emotions, memories, desires.”

    If you’re saying that god exists as a thought or a desire, fine.

    “Maybe there are people who have proof there is no god? Nah!

    You’ve demonstrated your dogmatic close-mindedness. Go away.

  42. Monocle Smile says

    @troll

    There exist a great number of things that are likewise immaterial, things such as thoughts, emotions, memories, desires

    None of those things are immaterial. They all have physical substrates. And yes, this conclusion can be reached without presupposing hard materialism, you ass-scratching baboon. FUCK, you’re stupid.
    Clearly you’re butthurt about something that has very little to do with the topics you bitch about, because you’ve devoted an awful lot of effort to whining. This is probably due to a stark lack of achievements in real life, which is unsurprising. Internet trolls are almost exclusively nobodies.

  43. Vivec says

    What would you call someone who believes there are no gods?

    Well, I can’t read minds, so I don’t know what anyone believes and I don’t think that knowledge is attainable.

    That being said, I kinda like the weak/strong division. Under that someone that claims to believe that there are no gods is a strong atheist, whereas a weak atheist is someone who merely does not claim to believe in a god.

  44. Vivec says

    @56
    Makes it all the sadder. It’s not just shit epistemology, it’s plagiarized shit epistemology. Couldn’t even steal anything coherent.

  45. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    Yeah, that response is entirely incoherent, and didn’t answer most of my questions, and didn’t address the thrust of my argument. I’m about done.

  46. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    Also, given the copy-pasta troll is back, I humbly request an immediate ban on the offender.

  47. NoMoreMINH says

    Good show. Greta is great, makes good points and all, but please, NO MORE MINH!
    Also bring back Keryn Glasser!

  48. casedlee says

    “he’s letting police shoot black people, who haven’t done anything, who are just sitting in their cars.”

    Lol… ugghhhh.. the stupidity.

  49. Ted Apelt says

    I would lie to caution you not to say that all atheists believe that no gods exist. Rather it is that there is insufficient evidence to support the claim that a god or gods exist. This may seem like a trivial point, but it is significant, like the difference between finding someone “not guilty” of a crime instead of “innocent”.

  50. Mobius says

    @itsmejre

    I call myself an atheist and by atheist I make clear I mean “a person lacking a belief in any god”.

    If you want to call me something else, that is fine by me. Just understand what I mean.

    If you insist I must use a different term, the Eff Oh.

  51. Mobius says

    @60 Ted Apelt

    Exactly, but the difference is a subtle point, and I have had too many discussions with people that can not grasp the subtle difference.

    But, yes, the analogy with “not guilty” and “innocent” is appropriate. “Innocent” means that one absolutely did not do the crime. “Not guilty” means there is insufficient evidence to find guilt.

  52. Ted Apelt says

    Having said what I said before (the second word should be “like”), yes I have known atheists to believe in ghosts, ESP, homeopathy, ET visitations, life after death, conspiracy theories, all sorts of things that have absolutely no evidence to support them. I knew of one atheist who did not believe in any of that stuff, who loved Richard Dawkins and Daniel Dennett, and had a totally scientific materialist mindset – EXCEPT – (1) “hot” or “cold” dice in casinos (If you know the dice are hot you play them, if you know the dice are cold you don’t play them. You can make tons of money with this method until the casinos figure out that you are on to this secret then they bar you. (2) Trees remember things they have seen and form shapes to record them.

    Other than those two exceptions (there might have been others, I just don’t know) he was a scientific materialist just like Dawkins or Dennett.

  53. itsmejre says

    MS
    Are you refering to hyperbolized claims made on the substratum of encephalon scans?

    These experiments are essentially fuzzy and equivocal pictures arrived at by subtraction in very simple experimental conditions, to provide the substructure for claims of a profound and detailed understanding far beyond what they could possibly support.

    For recollection you require a history, you require to have composed the recollections in the first place. Penfield’s electrode was not engendering but merely reactivating recollections which already subsisted.

    Stick with your strategy of straight out ad homenim.

  54. Lillith says

    A troll is a troll is a troll but isn’t it actually funny that a jackass like itsmejre, who’s so constantly failing at his strategy of shifting the burden of proof (actual position: I don’t see any proof for god’s existence; mischaracterized position: there are no gods), is giving strategy advice? I’m sure his typical theist intellectual dishonesty will sway readers sitting on the fence 😉

  55. Paul Money says

    Why do theists (and some atheists) return again and again to this “You are not an atheist, you are an agnostic” (or more rarely vice versa)? I suspect that most agnostics are quite happy sharing common ground with atheists and most atheists don’t care if you call them an agnostic.
    #63 is interesting. Do we choose what we believe? If we do, does it matter if we choose to believe things that we can’t prove?
    I don’t think that it does. God belief only becomes damaging when the God-botherer wants his religious beliefs incorporated into law or taught to children as fact. I know people who hold some of the beliefs that Ted mentions, but their belief doesn’t impinge on my life, so so what? The idea that atheism is somehow devalued by being irrational in other areas is silly.

  56. Paul Money says

    Atheism isn’t, but skepticism surely is.

    Perhaps, but I think that we all choose in what areas and to what extent we need skepticism. I have never met a purely rational human being who applies the same rigid standards to everything that he/she believes. I may be skeptical that these eggs have really been laid by corn-fed hens who are free-range, but I buy ’em anyway. I may be skeptical that the politician who wants my vote is telling the truth, but buying into his/her promise is another kettle of fish entirely. I choose, unlike my beliefs apparently, to select an appropriate level of skepticism, much as I used to choose my level of vegetarianism for example. Besides, an unrelenting skeptic would be a ghastly companion. Give me a woolly headed, tree hugging reflexologist any day!

  57. Vivec says

    I suppose it comes to personal taste, then. I’d prefer a hyperskeptic vulcan to a woo-laden Paltrowite any day.

  58. Devocate says

    Nothing useful ever came from an argument once it devolves to arguing about the definition of words (as opposed to deciding them).

    My evaluation of the current evidence I possess is such that the probability of a god, such as the ones worshiped by most religions, existing is extremely low. The argument is over. And a discussion of any new evidence can begin.

  59. RationalismRules says

    @Paul Money #68

    I suspect that most agnostics are quite happy sharing common ground with atheists and most atheists don’t care if you call them an agnostic.

    Not if the YouTube comments section is anything to go by (although I would have to admit, I sincerely hope YT commenters are not a representative sample of the broader population). Go to any video with the word ‘atheist’ in the title, and you’ll find numerous arguments in the comments from people who label themselves ‘agnostic’, and who are very unhappy to be told the label ‘atheist’ label also applies to them.

    I think lots of people who don’t actually believe in a god are still uncomfortable taking the strong-atheist position of “I believe no god(s) exist”. There’s nothing particularly surprising in that – it’s always easier to take a passive position than an active one, especially when the strong position challenges cultural norms. Don’t forget, the vast majority of young to middle-age secularists would have older relatives, still living, for whom religion was simply an unquestioned part of everyone’s life. Atheism is still a dirty word in many cultures – I’m Australian, we are now a largely secular society, but it was still an issue of note a few years ago when our prime minister made no attempt to hide her atheism. It’s just going to take a while before the ‘atheist’ label becomes normalized.

    Some months back I had a lengthy YouTube argument with a poster who was obviously intelligent, articulate and well-read, who was so determined to insist that ‘agnostic’ and ‘atheist’ were mutually exclusive that he not only rejected both the etymology and the dictionary definition of the words, he even tried quote-mining from Huxley – leaving out a giant slab of the quote in order to make it sound like Huxley invented the word as a rejection of atheism.
    It was bizarrely like debating a theist – all the same argument tactics, but from someone who was desperate to not be labelled an atheist.

    As to why some theists want to make the distinction, I think it’s probably because they find the ‘atheist’ label very threatening. The “I haven’t decided” position is much less threatening to them, so they want that to have a different label, so it’s not grouped with the strong-atheist position that totally repudiates their beliefs.
    On the other hand, maybe it’s just that they want to distinguish the (strong) atheists so they can try everyone’s favorite argument: “You can’t prove god doesn’t exist, so you have faith too”.

  60. Monocle Smile says

    @Paul Money
    Like RR says, there’s a subset of snooty, faux-intellectual “agnostics” who consider themselves more “enlightened” than both atheists and theists. In truth, they’re just dumbasses. This is what I think of them:
    xkcd.com/774

  61. RationalismRules says

    I’ve just been down a black hole of stupid…

    It occurred to me that no-one had checked trolly mctrollface’s first post – sure enough, it’s copypasta from:
    https://winteryknight.com/2015/07/28/matt-dillahunty-debates-david-robertson-on-atheism-morality-and-evil/

    Unfortunately I then made the mistake of exploring that site. Here’s a sample – it’s advice on how apologists should counter atheists who bring up the subject of slavery in the bible:

    Third, you should ask the atheist what he has done to oppose abortion. Abortion is worse than slavery, so if they are sincere in thinking that slavery is wrong, then they ought to think that abortion is wrong even more. So ask them what they’ve done to oppose the practice of abortion. That will tell you how sincere they are about slavery.

    I feel like I need a shower for my brain.

  62. Monocle Smile says

    @RR
    The owner of that blog is a weapons-grade lunatic. I didn’t listen to you and explored the site myself.

  63. Minus says

    I remember hearing many years ago about a free thinkers group in the Midwest, maybe Michigan, that had a picnic every summer that featured a softball game between the atheists and the agnostics. Does that ring a bell for anyone? Sounds like a great way to settle the question once and for all.

  64. says

    #37 @itsmejre
    “1. Atheism is a truth claim of Not-GE.”
    your logical argument fails right from the start. Atheism is a demand for proof of the claim GE, a skepticism of the claim GE. The burden of proof is for the claim GE. As you have stated earlier, it’s not possible to prove non-existence. You want to claim that gods exist, the burden of proof lies with you. An atheist doesn’t belief your claim, the burden of proof still lies with those claiming GE. There is no evidence for GE.

  65. Lillith says

    No need, cause it IS already settled. Of course, theists can’t handle this and being often dishonest as we’ve seen here yet again, try each and every way to make other positions look as irrational as theirs. That just won’t fly.

  66. phil says

    @37

    “1. Atheism is a truth claim of Not-GE.”

    By your definition of “Not-GE” that is simply false. Your argument falls at the first hurdle, your conclusion is not demonstrated.

    @51

    “What would you call someone who believes there are no gods?”

    You are abusing logic: “A implies B” is not equivalent to “B implies A”. If you can’t get the basics right you are out of your depth.

    A person who believes there are no gods could reasonably be called an atheist, but it would be foolhardy and incorrect to assume that a person described as an atheist believes there are no gods.

    Your argument is largely a straw man, facilitated by a contorted redefinition of the word “atheist”. Probably most atheists believe neither that there is a god nor that there is no god. You see it is not necessary to have a belief either way.

    Most of this has been posted above, but I felt the need to add my voice the the chorus: WRONG! WRONG! WRONG!

  67. phil says

    @32 EL

    Reminded me of these:

    How do you tell if there’s an elephant hiding under your bed?

    Your nose is an inch from the ceiling.

    How would you know there’s an elephant in the lift (elevator) with you?

    You could smell the peanuts on his breath.

    Why do elephants paint the bottom of their feet yellow?

    So they can float upside down in a bowl of custard.

    Have you ever seen an elephant float upside down in a bowl of custard?

    No? That’s because they are so well camouflaged.

    Actually, now I read them the “reasoning” is much like I’ve come to expect from theists.

  68. Devocate says

    ” I have never met a purely rational human being who applies the same rigid standards to everything that he/she believes. ”

    How would you know? Look up ‘rational ignorance’. One not only needs to be rational in one’s beliefs, but also rational in the amount of effort spent on acquiring those beliefs.

  69. Paul Money says

    @86. True, how would I know? I might have met such a person and not realised it, but frankly, I am not at all sure that you could stay sane while applying the same standards to every belief from the absurdly trivial to the vitally important. It is rather like the dilemma that feminists have always faced, Do you call everybody out for every questionable joke, every slightly sexist attitude and every unwelcome remark, or do you save your energies for the most important and the most serious breaches of the code that you live by? The same applies to those who find racism nauseating. The trivial has to go by to make life bearable, otherwise we’d all be fighting every day. Good luck to those at the sharp end of the feminist and anti-racist movements by the way, we all need leaders, but life is too short to fight every battle and it’s too short, in my opinion, to seek rationality for everything we believe! Yes when it’s important, no when I throw spilt salt over my shoulder or turn over the money in my pocket if I am unlucky enough to see the first new moon through glass!

  70. RationalismRules says

    @Paul Money #87

    it’s too short, in my opinion, to seek rationality for everything we believe! Yes when it’s important, no when I throw spilt salt over my shoulder…

    I suspect your salt-over-the-shoulder was an ironic example, but the point is worth considering. There’s a world of difference between ‘rational ignorance’ as proposed by Devocate, and holding superstitious beliefs. It’s the difference between not requiring explicit evidence for every belief vs. believing in things that are contrary to the evidence we have.

  71. Devocate says

    “I am not at all sure that you could stay sane while applying the same standards to every belief from the absurdly trivial to the vitally important.”

    You didn’t look up ‘rational ignorance’, did you? It isn’t rational to apply the same standards to every belief. Which is why your perfect rationalist wouldn’t do it.

  72. Paul Money says

    @ Devocate It may be labour saving to say to people “Look up so-and-so”, but as I find it mildly patronising I very rarely do! Personally I like to try and say what I mean, rather than communicate by Google. Anyway, it appears that we are finally on the same page.