Comments

  1. John D. says

    @Andrew
    You can find meaning in Existentialism. There may not be inherent meaning, but there can still be meaning (Look up Camus, Satre & Heidegger). The School of Life Youtube Channel by Alain de Botton is also good for a quick primer.

    @Abul
    Nihilism is that there’s absolutely no meaning. Existentialism is that there’s no inherent meaning, but there can still be meaning.

    @Raymond
    One either believes in Bigfoot or does not believe in Bigfoot.
    One who believes can be certain of their belief (Gnostic-Theist), OR not certain, but still believe (Agnostic-Theist).
    One who doesn’t believe can be certain there is absolutely no Bigfoot (Gnostic-Atheist) or one can say “I don’t know, but I still don’t believe because there’s no good objective evidence for it” (Agnostic-Atheist). The time to believe is when there’s no good objective evidence.

    @Ankh
    “The Ethiops say that their gods are flat-nosed and black,
    While the Thracians say that theirs have blue eyes and red hair.
    Yet if cattle or horses or lions had hands and could draw,
    and could sculpt like men, then the horses would draw their gods like
    horses, and cattle like cattle; and each they would shape
    bodies of gods in the likeness, each kind, of their own.” – Xenophanes

    Jesus was also brown-skinned. It says in the Bible that he looks like the people in the area (who were brown-skinned). He was made white in religious art/etc. to appeal to Europeans.

  2. Chancellor of the Exchequer says

    Ankh needs to stop. He’s let the religiosity of black people warp his perception. Naturally the poorer you are and the lower availability of quality education the more likely you are to be susceptible to religious claims. Jesus’ skin color is irrelevant, all the other things like white slave owners using bible verses to condone their actions is also under the same roof to me, they don’t affect whether I buy his claims.

    I get annoyed when the living ask me what’s the meaning of life, why don’t you tell me since you’re the one that has chosen to continue living.

    Raymond should watch more episodes(or just go to atheist forums online, read up on how existence claims are evaluated or whatever else) in order to overcome the mistake of taking someone not believing a claim as being an implication of their belief in the opposite claim and or position.

    It’s all made out to be much more than what it is ime.

  3. Ron Slaton says

    This comment applies to the caller Raymond. Concerning the marble analogy, this demonstrates a claim that the theist makes; i.e., theists claim “there is a God, do you agree”, this correlates to the analogy, “there are an even number of marbles in the jar, do you agree?”. The atheist response to that theistic claim is “there is insufficient evidence to form a belief about; 1) the god claim and, 2) the number of marbles in the jar is even.
    That said, the false conclusion that many theists come to is that “it follows” that the atheist must therefore, be positively claiming , “there is no god”, “there are an odd number of marbles in the jar”. When the analogy is properly understood and the rules of logic are properly understood, it does not follow that the atheist is making a claim that “there is no god” or “there are an odd number of marbles in the jar”. The atheist has NOT made either claim. The atheist’s position is simply, I reject your positive claim that, 1) there is a god, 2) there are an even number of marbles in the jar. The atheist has no other position other than rejection of the claim. Nothing more. The theist is presenting a false dichotomy by falsely reasoning that the rejection to the claim, “there is a god” is “the atheist must believe there is no god, since he has rejected the positive god claim”. This is an unfounded presumption by the theist. The atheist does not have enough information to accept the theist’s positive god claim and therefore the rejection is only about the positive “god claim”, the atheist is not making the claim; “there is no god”.
    One other thing, and this is not a complaint against Raymond, but it is a complaint about the problem so many theists have by trying to lock down the definition of “atheist”. Dear fake lord, there is a simple solution to this problem theists have – just avoid the “label” “atheist” altogether and just ask what the individual atheist’s position is. After all, in any conversation this will need to be established up front for both the theist AND the atheist anyway, since both labels are categories and the labels are like umbrellas.

  4. Minus says

    I wish to congratulate this crew on how well the technical problems have been solved and how good the show sounds. Also, I am totally impressed by how quick the show gets uploaded to the AE archive page (I have never watched the show live, I always wait for the MP3).

  5. Natasha says

    Re meaning and purpose.
    Great show today Jen and Russell.
    A big hi to Jen I enjoy seeing you on the show I think your contribution and manner are great. Over the last year I have come out as a lesbian and an athiest! My lack of belief began when I found prayer no more effective than breathing and practicing meditation. I found speaking out loud something positive or a word of forgiveness for someone was good mentally and emotionally; I feel silly doing that now, but there is no reason why I can’t just not to a diety. When I came out gay in later life I was shocked at the harm ‘christians’ were doing to LGBT people. The ‘mild’ “love the sinner but hate the sin,” approach I had, now sickens me. I did look at people who were gay and Christian. Justin Lee and Matt Vines but I just can’t bring myself to cherry pick the bible anymore. Not to mention I now know that it is not even historically accurate. In this transition I have still found meaning and purpose from loving and helping others. I love the freedom of learning information that was previously forbidden and being more truthful about my sexuality. Its not easy my family have very fundamental beliefs.Things that have helped me through this time are new friends, at first online, new skills hobbies and routines. One funny thing I kind of miss the christian music but it is fun exploring ‘evil’music. I like the fact we are part of the human family not gods special elite. Good luck Andrew and all those coming out.

  6. Ken Cole says

    Hi Jen and Russell (re Vaccines),

    Many years ago, the night before my first kid was supposed to get the MMR vaccine, I looked it up on the internet and found the Andrew Wakefield study. Armed with this new information, my wife and I decided to postpone the vaccine until we could gather some more information. My wife even called Dr. Wakefield and he was very kind and took the call from her. He told her that his study was not definitive and he clearly said that more study was warranted based on his preliminary findings. He recommended that we separate the vaccines and get them 6 months apart. We decided to follow his advice and had trouble getting all the vaccines separately. We even had to travel from Toronto to Buffalo twice to get one of them since it was not available up here in Canada.

    Although I am a strong supporter of vaccines, I was alarmed when I found out that they put a clause in the homeland security act that said something to the effect that people could not sue the drug companies if their kids developed autism after taking the MMR vaccine. Don’t quote me on this though because I read this on the internet as well.

    Love the show. Keep up the important work.

  7. Mark Vandebrake says

    @Minus Thank you! We are still striving to make improvements every single week. Professional audio engineer Vern Graner is responsible for the audio upgrade. Don Baker deserves the credit for getting the show uploaded to the archive so quickly every week.

  8. says

    i’ve always liked sean carroll’s response to william lane craig’s finely-tuned bs:

    “GOD DOESN’T NEED TO FINE-TUNE ANYTHING! we talk about the parameters of physics and cosmology, the mass of the electron, the strength of gravity, and we say that if they weren’t the numbers that they were, then life itself could not exist. that really underestimates god, by a lot, which is surprising from theists, i think. in theism, life is not purely physical, is not purely a collection of atoms doing things, just like it is in naturalism. i would think that no matter what the atoms were doing, god could still create life. GOD DOESN’T CARE WHAT THE MASS OF THE ELECTRON IS. HE CAN DO WHAT HE WANTS. the only framework in which you can honestly say the physical parameters of the universe must take on certain values in order for life to exist, is naturalism.”

    god could’ve created a universe like the one presumed to immediately surround the original authors of the christian bible: a disk that eventually ended at the horizon capped by a revolving dome of moving lights beyond which hung massive floodwaters. but after we discovered instead that the universe consists of light-years of space containing billions of stars and galaxies of which the earth is but a grain of sand, theists struggle to answer: “what’s all that extra stuff for?”

  9. Murat says

    I think the hosts missed one good point that Ankh was making: He was talking about how the slavemasters inflicted religion on the blacks to strenghten an amoral system they were economically benefitting from. Russell and Jen focused more on how Christianity fed people of any ethnicity with false hope while supporting Ankh, but the main focus in his approach was that, in some certain cases, not all parties are subjected to the very same results.

    For white slavemasters, the reigion was, indeed, on a very economical level, “good” for them for it allowed the amorality of slavery, whereas the very same belief was “stealing” from the lives of the blacks.

    I guess they missed the sharp edge there when they focused more on the idea that Christianity fooled pretty much anyone. It’s quite different being fooled when given the advantage of ruling over other ethnicities.

  10. Curt Cameron says

    Ken Cole wrote:

    He recommended that we separate the vaccines and get them 6 months apart. We decided to follow his advice and had trouble getting all the vaccines separately. We even had to travel from Toronto to Buffalo twice to get one of them since it was not available up here in Canada.

    That’s an indicator of the problem with Wakefield. A young kid’s immune system gets challenged hundreds of times every day. The three vaccines in the MMR are a drop in the bucket compared to all the other things it comes across. So you went to much trouble and expense to separate them, which many parents could not afford to do, and you left your kid vulnerable to some of the diseases when they didn’t need to be.

    Although I am a strong supporter of vaccines, I was alarmed when I found out that they put a clause in the homeland security act that said something to the effect that people could not sue the drug companies if their kids developed autism after taking the MMR vaccine.

    There were people at the time trying to circumvent the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (NVICP), wanting to sue vaccine manufacturers for their kids’ autism. A congressman added a provision to the HSA to strengthen the NVICP because it was needed, and he viewed viewed the availability of vaccines as at least tangentially related to homeland security. The NVICP is important because vaccine manufacturers don’t make that much profit from vaccines, and if they were subject to lawsuits as a result of vaccine reactions that aren’t their fault, it’s a real danger that they would just drop the product lines. They’re not protected from any misbehavior that they might do, just from the rare reactions that sometimes happen with FDA-approved vaccines.

  11. Wiggle Puppy says

    On Craig’s fine-tuning argument, the idea that the Earth is just the right distance from the sun isn’t really relevant – this pops up on glurge creationist sites, but the “academic” apologists know to avoid it, so to argue against that is kind of bordering on a straw man. Craig’s argument is more along the lines of the idea that if the universal constants (gravity, strong nuclear force, weak nuclear force, etc) were just a tiny bit different, the universe would collapse in on itself and/or couldn’t permit life. There are a couple of responses to this:

    1) The argument declares that this apparent fine-tuning is either due to chance, necessity, or design, but ignores that chance PLUS necessity is also an option. It creates a false trilemma.
    2) We have no other universes to compare this one to, which means that we don’t know if the universal constants even could possibly be any other way. The argument declares by fiat that necessity isn’t an option, yet has no way to demonstrate this.
    3) We don’t know what is required to generate life, and so we don’t know enough about the possible life forms that could exist in possible other universes to make these kinds of statements. Could five-dimensional life forms exist in a five-dimensional universe? We don’t seem to know.

    Basically, Craig’s argument just declares that life would be impossible without universal fine-tuning, but does virtually nothing to support this assertion.

  12. Hannah says

    To the caller asking for purpose and motivation — Leaving the Fold, associated with journeyfree.org, is a brilliant life vest for getting past all the shit of leaving a strongly religious worldview. I’ve met the author, she’s an amazing woman and I’ve found no better resource for putting my life back together.

  13. Monocle Smile says

    @Wiggle Puppy
    Yes, it’s just a tautology. Fine-tuning is essentially “If things were different, then things would be different.” Well, no shit. Is this what William Lane Craig puts on his MENSA application?

  14. Wiggle Puppy says

    @ Monocle Smile:
    Kind of like “God is necessary for morality, so God exists, because morality exists.”
    I love the sophistication of these arguments.

  15. ironchops says

    Jen @ 41:30 or so says (paraphrased) “Belief in god/gods tend to stop all inquiry, if you think you have the answer then why keep looking.” I also here atheist say if there is no evidence for something’s existence then there is no reason to believe that something actually exist. Does that mean that if there is no evidence for something and there is no reason to believe it is out there then why bother looking for that either? Isn’t it unreasonable to search for something for which there is little or no evidence? Doesn’t that also hinder inquiry? What is the difference? Math and physics shows the possibility that there are multiple universes but as of now we have no hard evidence of that. Why should we bother trying to demonstrate that?

  16. Monocle Smile says

    @ironchops
    I think you mixed yourself up. Why do you think Jen holds the position you describe? She appears to hold the opposite. I’m completely in favor of theists looking for evidence that demonstrates their god. That’s the fastest way to make atheists.

    Math and physics shows the possibility that there are multiple universes but as of now we have no hard evidence of that. Why should we bother trying to demonstrate that?

    You answered your own question. We have some reason to think this could be the case. Not enough to claim knowledge, but we do have reason to investigate. Looking for something that isn’t even demonstrated to be remotely possible is a waste of time…at least, for now. Our knowledge base changes daily.

  17. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    I still say that fine tuning arguments ala Willaim Lane Craig are dishonest. The best that these arguments can do is get to “some god’. But there’s still an extremely large gap between “some god” and “the Christian god of the Bible”. Practically speaking, showing that “some god” exists gets you absolutely no closer to showing that “the Christian god exists”. Christians start with a bias, and view the discussion as “the Christian god vs no god”, but in actuality, it’s the Christian god, vs the Muslim god, vs various African tribal gods, vs the trillions of trillions of possible gods of possible aliens on other planets.

    There’s a trillion trillion stars in the observable universe, and there could be a god for every one. All you have to do is take Christianity, where humans were made special and have a special place in the universe, and replace “Earth” with “some planet around some other star”, and “humans” with “aliens on that planet”, and you have a mutually contradictory god hypothesis that is just as likely to be true on mere “some god exists” evidence.

    I bet most Christians don’t see this, because of their biases, but evidence for some mere “some god” is entirely irrelevant if one’s goal is to show that the Christian god exists.

  18. Wiggle Puppy says

    @ EL
    Well, yeah. Craig and others admit that they start with the assumption that God exists because of some subjective inner witness that they’ve experienced, and then they set out to construct arguments to prove their beliefs by rational means. The obvious problem here is that the zeal to prove something true blinds ones to holes and flaws in the arguments as well as the presence of conflicting and contradictory evidence, which gets ignored or rationalized away instead of honestly considered. Craig has also stated elsewhere that, well, okay, maybe none of the common arguments (moral, teleological, ontological, etc) are absolutely compelling in and of themselves, but that they together accumulate into a “web” that supports theism. The obvious problem here that any Philosophy 101 student should spot is that a hundred (or a thousand, or a million) unsound arguments don’t accumulate into one sound one. So yeah, they’re definitely dishonest in a couple different ways.

  19. Monocle Smile says

    Matt did indeed have a debate with David Robertson on the “Unbelievable” podcast. Robertson is an arrogant toerag who can’t go a sentence without some sort of dishonesty, whether it’s avoiding the question, using a “look at the trees” one-liner, or just telling an outright lie. The debate was extremely shameful. I recommend listening to both halves to get an idea of what “sophisticated theologians” are really like.

  20. thebookofdave says

    @ Wiggle Puppy #18

    My favorite response to WLC’s “many real arguments equal one strong one” claim: Your spam folder is full of offers promising to make you a millionaire if you help them transfer funds out of their country. They seem equally bogus, but there are so many of them that they have to be coming from a real Nigerian prince.

  21. says

    @ironchops, post 15:

    Does that mean that if there is no evidence for something and there is no reason to believe it is out there then why bother looking for that either? Isn’t it unreasonable to search for something for which there is little or no evidence? Doesn’t that also hinder inquiry? What is the difference?

    Okay, there’s a little problem with your phrasing here, which I think is illuminating: you’ve gone from looking for the answer to a question, in your paraphrase from Jen, to looking for the existence of a thing, in your response. Those are two different things. In terms of the sort of rational investigation that I think the hosts of the show would want to see, you really wouldn’t go out looking for evidence of a thing that currently has no known indications of its existence, that would be going about this backwards. What you would do is begin with a question as your unknown, and then gather evidence to the end of answering that question in a way that best fits the evidence you’ve gathered, not begin with an answer and search for evidence to confirm it. The latter makes you vulnerable to confirmation bias automatically.

    That’s sot of the point of inquiry. You inquire as to what an answer to a given question is, you don’t begin with an answer, as theists do.

  22. ironchops says

    To MS: In a nutshell, I thought she basically said that a theist tends to default to a “that’s what god intend” type response when confronted with a question regarding the unknown or challenging god’s existence and then they shut down any further self-investigation (general learning for personal curiosity) about that unknown, god existence or whatever else it is. I don’t know, maybe it is just the lazy way out. Maybe it is just easier for some people to get through life with their head in the sand. I think it is all about the acceptance of all the unknowns about dying. Who knows.
    To Ryan Martin: Yea, after re-reading my post I could see that shift in logic. Thanks for pointing that out.
    I really should re-read my thoughts after I write them down before I post them. My mouth gets me in that same kind of trouble. It just seems that somehow they are related in that both seem to shut down further personal investigation. It seems like the same result from two different perspectives. From my personal perspective it probably matters little because 1. I don’t have any answers and 2. I lack the ability to find them. I am in a position to have to wait for those who can to find the answers and then tell me, otherwise I will most likely never know. I am curious and sit around and contemplate anyway for some reason. It keeps my mind occupied with something when I get bored. Please tell me there is nothing wrong with that?!

    Thanks for all the help!

  23. fredericksparks says

    The minute “Ankh” mentioned Umar Johnson, I thought “oh boy”.

    Dr Umar Johnson is a somewhat shady character. First of all, his claims of having a PhD are dubious, as he does not state what institution it is from, and a few people have looked into it and have come up with very inconclusive answers as to whether he completed the degree. The same for his claims of being a licensed psychologist.

    But his most dubious activity is the raising of money for a planned school for black boys. He has raised over $300,000 through gofundme to purchase an existing closed university campus. https://www.gofundme.com/DrUmar

    He has made no progress in this regard, has given no detailed accounting of what has happened to the funds already and has not presented any kind of detailed budget or plan that you would expect to see associated with this kind of endeavor.

    But he has a following because of his message of black self sufficiency and his critiques of white supremacy and Eurocentrism, particularly as it plays out in the education black children…hard not to hit the side of the barn at least sometimes with those targets. But it also comes served with a good helping of misogyny, patriarchy and homoantagonism…not uncommon in certain black nationalist circles.

  24. Chancellor of the Exchequer says

    To:fredericksparks

    Yep. Umar is trash. Along with all the other “pro-black” people that aren’t against misogynoir, sexism, homophobia and more within black communities.

  25. itsmejre says

    Please put to rest the “even/odd” argument (category mistake) along with “atheism is the default position”

  26. Jan Wijs says

    I wish You would open the YouTube comment section. The comments here are to damn long and nobody reads them.

  27. StonedRanger says

    Its pretty rare to get banned around here from what Ive seen. Just don’t give itsmejre the attention it so desperately craves and it will eventually get bored and go away. Its got to suck being them. Isnt that punishment enough?

  28. ironchew says

    [blockquote][blockquote]Regarding itsmejre, they’re not banned yet? Sigh.[/blockquote]Its pretty rare to get banned around here from what Ive seen. Just don’t give itsmejre the attention it so desperately craves and it will eventually get bored and go away. Its got to suck being them. Isnt that punishment enough?[/blockquote]

    Nonsensical copy/paste posts like the ones itsmejre generates usually come from bots. Ignoring a bot won’t make it go away.

  29. says

    Ron Slaton #4

    …this correlates to the analogy, “there are an even number of marbles in the jar, do you agree?”. The atheist response to that theistic claim is “there is insufficient evidence to form a belief about … the number of marbles in the jar is even.

    Then:

    Atheist: Hey, I know. Let’s count the number of marbles. Then we’ll both know for sure.
    Theist: You can’t do that.
    Atheist: Why not?
    Theist: The marbles are invisible.
    Atheist: Umm… okay, then let’s just count them by feel.
    Theist: No way! You can’t touch the holy marbles; that would be blasphemy!
    Atheist: Maybe we could weigh the marbles and then…
    Theist: No! That would deny the grace of faith.
    Atheist: …
    Theist: …
    Atheist: This is stupid.
    Theist: Insults! That just proves you have no good arguments. Praise the even-numbered marbles!

  30. ciclope says

    There is an opaque jar inside a glass box. Some say there are an even number of marbles, others say there is an odd number … others say that some marbles are broken … and others say there are dice, no marbles … and we have not been able to shake the jar yet…