Comments

  1. Murat says

    Ray Comfort’s claim that he believes in the existence as much as he does in that of God can make sense only if he can prove that there are different levels of perceiving reality among humankind. I mean, if he can prove that there ARE things that Matt Dillahunty can not perceive but HE can, then, well, he can push some sense into the argument that God is as real as his wife is. Something like a sixth sense kinda thing… But if he does not claim that he has other “sensors”, then, all he can claim is that his PERCEPTION OF REALITY is something other than what reality is defined as commonly.

  2. Murat says

    I just found a loophole in Matt’s explanation of how G.R.R. Martin’s Westeros characters are not able to reach their creator: If G.R.R. Martin deliberately writes himself into the series and talks to the characters in the pages, explaining how and why he create all that, and if they react in a bitter way regarding their losses and kill him, and if his lifeless body carrying a sword wound is found on his desk in a room locked from the inside, with just the moment before his death described in front of him as the sentence he could not complete, then, well, the caller will have a point 🙂

  3. Nigel Davenport says

    As an Englishman now living in Australia; what amazes me about America is that so many great scientific ideas and inventions have come from there yet so many of the population don’t believe in science. However, they do seem to enjoy the benefits from these inventions. If they are so religious and think that’s how everyone should live their lives, why don’t they?

  4. Monocle Smile says

    @Murat
    There’s a book call Sophie’s World by Jostein Gaarder. It’s a bit of a read, but it’s directly relevant to your second post.

  5. Jason Waskiewicz says

    Robert’s call interested me because I write. I do have a fictional universe. In my mind, Ian, Jade, the ACD Empire, and a number of planets are very real. But, if I die and my writings are tossed in the trash, they exist just as much as I do. It’s all very real to me, but it does not exist.

    But, it does match what Robert said about people existing as long as they are remembered. But, world of the mind is not real. I remember my grandparents, but what lives in my mind is not them. It is my idealized version.

  6. Chancellor of the Exchequer says

    Ed mentioned how commenters usually dismantal rebuttals to his posts in the comment section of his blog but I’m perplexed as to why that stops him(if it has) from making a reply to it about it being “a good point.”

    Um, I enjoyed this episode and was surprised at how fast it went by. Enjoyed Ed’s input, annoyed by atheist callers being more than theist ones and grateful to technical staff that made this all possible.

    Zane, again? He’s moreso the deflector type I see, those along with apologists give me mild skin irritations.

    Heard the outside of time and space thing before and it’s still as droll as ever.

    The GOT call was fun, though sadly predictable. Ed should’ve been sentenced to a light roasting by Dracarys for crimes of poor taste.

  7. says

    re: robert and “game of thrones”

    i still have an original copy of “the brave and the bold” #124 (jan ’76) wherein batman and sgt. rock team up against a terrorist group attempting to smuggle top-secret military rifles into gotham. things get interesting when the terrorists show up at the home of the book’s artist jim aparo to force him at gunpoint and literally draw our unsuspecting heroes into their deathtraps. it’s a race against time: can aparo and his scriptwriters lead batman and rock to the terrorists before the super-team’s literally erased from the picture?

    the artist and writers are depicted as acting contemporaneously with the characters in the story but left unanswered was what happens to the characters when the creators aren’t working …

  8. Murat says

    Actually, what Robert said was not “dumb” or something, it was just “unfalisfiable”. Matt (as he later thought and said, in a way) was a bit too quick the dismiss the guy with an assumption about where he was going. Plus, “is there a time and space of GOT” is not the kind of question that can correspond to a direct “no”, at least simply because as a work of fiction it holds on to some sort of continuity.

    I don’t think Robert was going to suggest that “G.R.R. Martin can not be obeserved from Westeros, hence, there is a God!” I got the feeling that he was trying to claim was more in line with what he said about the dead keeping on existing in memories; like, “reality” not being limited to “solidity” or something to that effect.

    A better response Matt could give would be, “Hey, if God and G.R.R. Martin have the same position in your equation, then why is it that people in THIS reality are witnessing, talking to, getting aware of God whereas no one in Westeros is listing their writer among the deities of their realm?”

    This could have stretched the conversation to a territory probably less thought of by the caller.

    @argh
    I haven’t read that one but John Byrne’s She-Hulk (probably with a popular inspiration from the TV series Moonlighting) was a hot spot for such tricks of transcendence in the late 80s, and I recall one Superman adventure where Curt Swan wakes up with bullet shells in his hand after illustrating a short in which Superman saves him from some bad guys.
    @MS
    I wonder what the earliest work of fiction into which the author has put himself / herself, though I suspect it might be Don Quixhote in a concealed way.

  9. Matko Radić says

    I loved the problem of becoming of god and problem of creation. It was a problem through which I think I actually became an atheist. That need for creation that god has was always strange.

    I solved it, at least for myself with either there is no god that is all knowing and all powerful or solipsism where I am god that is only imagining that i am and whole reality.

    Weird thing is that i never saw theists being questioned with that. Why a perfect god has a need for anything? If he needs to create something how can it be perfect? If he must create, what or who forces him to do it?

  10. Conversion Tube says

    Yes, Zane is completely not listening when Matt responds. Perhaps next time when he just swiftly wants to cut Matt off and ask another question, Matt should ask him to acknowledge what he said and ask if that changes his opinion regarding ABC.

    Matt as at the heart of the answer to the question and you here Zane asking

    Matt..

    Matt..

    Matt.. I have another question.

    How could you have another question when I’m not done responding to your first. You haven’t taken in and understood my response at all if you are already asking another question.

    It’s an exercise in futility.

  11. Vivec says

    Oh god GoT guy was like diet Superatheist. It’s a small step from ‘you literally live on when people remember you’ to “argle bargle transporter problem living consciousness” nonsense.

  12. Monocle Smile says

    @Vivec
    I’ve met people who think that the “dream world” is a real place because we experience it when we sleep. I need a Big Book of Ontology with which to usher threats.

  13. gshelley says

    As someone who has been reading Ed’s blog for over a decade, I was a little surprised at his view of people criticizing him. Dispatches isn’t Pharnygula, where any time someone criticizes something dumb PZ says, or points out he is attacking a straw man, a mass of defenders pile on and attack the poster for supporting whoever was the initial target of criticism (even if they specifically say they don’t and give examples of actual negative things about the person). Generally, if Ed says something dumb, or incorrect, there are many people who will point this out and as long as their point is reasonable, they get very little criticism from other commenters

  14. Thorne says

    The issue of Westeros brought to mind a book by Robert Heinlein, “The Number of the Beast”, in which a new universe is created every time someone creates a fictional world. The “proof” is that the characters have a device which can actually visit those worlds, and they can interact with the characters of those fictional stories. Still not proof of gods, though. In fact, I credit Heinlein, along with Asimov and Clarke, as guiding me out of religious thinking and into a more skeptical mindset, and atheism.

    As for Murat, and GRRM writing himself into his stories: Clive Cussler does this with many of his books, making himself a character and interacting with the fictional characters. In some ways he uses it as a means to extricate characters from a particular corner he’s written them into, but even so he isn’t portrayed as godlike.

  15. says

    murat @ 8:

    I recall one Superman adventure where Curt Swan wakes up with bullet shells in his hand after illustrating a short in which Superman saves him from some bad guys.

    sounds like superman annual #9

    thorne @ 15

    The issue of Westeros brought to mind a book by Robert Heinlein, “The Number of the Beast”, in which a new universe is created every time someone creates a fictional world.

    i remember reading that, a long time ago, in a galaxy far far away …

    i’m also reminded of an early piece of trek fan fic: “visit to a weird planet”, about a “mirror, mirror” type transporter fluke that:

    “… sends Kirk, Spock and Bones back to the set of the filming of Star Trek. The three characters meet, among others, Gene Roddenberry.

  16. CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain says

    @Murat #8:

    I wonder what the earliest work of fiction into which the author has put himself / herself

    Maybe this?
     
    Article: Wikipedia – Valmiki

    Valmiki is celebrated as the harbinger-poet in Sanskrit literature. The epic Ramayana, dated variously from 5th century BCE to first century BCE, is attributed to him, based on the attribution in the text itself.
    […]
    Valmiki is also quoted to be the contemporary of Rama. Rama met Valmiki during his period of exile and interacted with him.
     
    Valmiki gave shelter to Sita in his hermitage when Rama banished her. Kusha and Lava, the twin sons of Shri Rama were born to Sita in this hermitage. Valmiki taught Ramayana to Kusha and Lava, who later sang the divine story […], whereupon, King Rama questioned who they were and later visited Valmiki’s hermitage to confirm if Sita, the two children claimed as their mother was in fact his wife in exile.
     
    Later, he summoned them to his royal palace. Kusha and Lava sang the story of Rama there and Rama confirmed that whatever had been sung by these two children was entirely true.

    (The article’s been vandalized recently, claiming “500 century BCE to 300 century BCE” and “50000 BC to 30000 BC”)

  17. Mathieu Watt says

    Hey people, I discovered the show when I started questioning my default belief in some sort of deity, maybe I’ll call in some day and talk about it but still, I’m glad the show prefers calls from believers.

    I want to give a huge thumbs up for what you guys said with regards to the Banana Man (?) movie, about how you should listen to as many diverse opinions as possible. Nietzsche talked about Joy not being the natural state of man. I think you need a balance of positive and negative feelings, otherwise it becomes the new norm and everything shifts relative to that; homeless people can get more joy from small things, rich people have first world problems!

    My question is this: if you have an open mind and listen to everything you can no matter your beliefs, is it rational to think you’ll disagree with about half of it? In the same way as above, does that mean echo cambers are detrimental to open minded people, leading them to believe other, less zany false ideas? Personally I don’t believe in intellectual poison, but am I putting myself at risk (on other fronts) by watching this movie? Conversely, do echo chamber patrons thereby justify their dismissal of science simply because they have their fill of agreeing? Email me back!

  18. Monocle Smile says

    The GoT caller made me want to throw things. Put down the fucking bong and stop reading “philosophy” by armchair know-nothings. Learn about reality. Learn how science is done. Learn about epistemology.

  19. StonedRanger says

    @MS #21 and others
    As a user of medical cannabis to help me live a normal life without having to resort to opiate pain killers, it causes me no little distress when you say things like ‘put down the bong’. Just because you don’t agree with what someone says doesn’t give you the right to paint that kind of picture of them. No one here says things like “that’s gay’ or ‘youre insane’ because you know that is marginalizing people. Please stop saying put the bong down or stopping smoking so much weed or other things like that. There are millions of people in this country who smoke cannabis whether recreationally or medically who are just as smart as you and as well read as you. It is pretty messed up that you keep putting people down in this manner when you know its not right. I smoke cannabis everyday and I have never read any philosophy by armchair no nothings or anyone else for that matter. Just because people use cannabis it doesn’t magically make them stupid. In some cases maybe so, but stop using that slur please.

  20. Monocle Smile says

    @SR
    No.

    There’s a difference between choices that you make (smoking weed) and things beyond your control (homosexuality, mental illness). I make it a point to only target the former, and I target specific practices to not get tied up with the medicinal use. In this same vein, I would most certainly denigrate people who abuse prescription drugs to get high, but not those who need it to cope with an issue.

    Given the statistics in this country, it is not very likely that there are millions of people in this country as smart or well-read as myself, let alone millions of smokers…and that’s not because I’m some sort of intellectual superpower. I only say this to caution your exaggeration.

  21. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    I don’t smoke, drink, marijuana, etc. However, I don’t mind if people, adults, wish to (responsibly) use mind-altering drugs, such as tobacco, alcohol, marijuana, etc. MS, if you’re ok with people who use alcohol, what possible problem could you have with people who use marijuana?

    PS: In the original context, I took it as a joke based on the stereotype of marijuana users, and I thought it was mildly funny in context. I’m more concerned about your follow-up where you’re seemingly saying that it’s not ok to use marijuana, with the presumption that you are not similarly against the use of alcohol.

  22. Murat says

    @MS #21

    Science, reality and epistemology need not form the sole set of concepts to lead one to atheism. Had it been so, there would be no point to the show. The whole thing could have been solved with some kinda basic test. Variety is good.

  23. Monocle Smile says

    @EL
    Oh, I have no problem with people smoking marijuana, just not to excess such that a person becomes barely functional. I sometimes also use the expression “quit drinking and go to bed” when someone is being nonsensical even though I’m okay with alcohol consumption.

    However, I do need to modify the expression, as cursory Googling has revealed that water-filter bongs actually greatly reduce the THC (psychoactive) to CBN (medicinal component) ratio of cannabis. Whoops.

  24. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    Watching the show (which is a rarity for me nowadays, I should watch more often).

    I have to disagree with Matt. Ray Comfort is a liar. You paraphrased a particular discussion that was particularly egregious, that strongly supports the claim that Ray Comfort is a simple liar. I cannot find the source now (if someone asks I’ll try a little harder). In short:

    Ray Comfort made the following ridiculous argument (paraphrase): “Consider what it means for evolution to be true. That means that a male dog and a female dog both had to arise out of the primordial ooze independently, at the same time. Imagine the odds of that happening! It’s ridiculous.”

    It was then explained carefully how that’s not what evolution is about. Evolution predicts that male dogs and female dogs came from an ancestor population of other animals which also had males and females, and soforth until the original rise of sexual reproduction itself which IIRC happened once(?) in single celled creatures(?). (Someone fact check me there.)

    To be clear, this is not the basis of saying that Ray Comfort is a liar.

    However, he read this, and we know he read this, and yet he made the exact same argument again, except with elephants instead of dogs (or something).

    And it was explained to him again, and we know he read this.

    And then Ray Comfort made the exact same argument again for some other animal species. (The third time was on the 700 Club tv show IIRC.)

    That is why Ray Comfort is a liar. He knows that he’s painting a strawman of what evolution claims, and he does it again and again and again in spite of repeated corrections. This is simple, willful, dishonesty, aka Ray Comfort lies on this issue regularly, without compunction.

    Matt’s notion that he just has a preconception cannot explain away this particular case. Maybe that preconception is so strong that it’s causing Ray Comfort to have a mental breakdown and be actually insane (in some sort of clinical sense), but I’m well convinced that this is not the explanation. I’m well convinced that Ray Comfort is quite rational, and that he understands these explanations, but he simply, willfully, rationally, and quite cognitively and sanely, decides to disregard these things in order to make an argument that he knows will sell. At worst he’s a con man, and at best he’s a liar for Jesus.

    I am convinced of these things in part because of his repeated saying (paraphrase) “One cannot combat an atheist at an intellectual level. Don’t try. Instead, try to combat them at an emotional level. Ask them if they’ve ever sinned in their life [into his basic shtick that he’s been doing for 20 years with almost no change].” This is not someone who is clinically insane. Again, this is a con man, or at best this is someone who has willfully, consciously, and quite knowingly chosen to lie for Jesus.

  25. indianajones says

    ok @19, I’ll take a swing:

    My question is this: if you have an open mind and listen to everything you can no matter your beliefs, is it rational to think you’ll disagree with about half of it?

    You’ll probably hear a lot more untrue things than true. It’s a matter of developing the skills to discern the truth as well as possible.

    In the same way as above, does that mean echo cambers are detrimental to open minded people, leading them to believe other, less zany false ideas?

    Possibly. It is good to listen to other points of view, about anything, sometimes, even if only to remind yourself of what you do or don’t believe in, and why.

    Personally I don’t believe in intellectual poison, but am I putting myself at risk (on other fronts) by watching this movie?

    Depends. Intellectually, I think that that which does not kill you makes you stronger. Or, it might just kill your intellect too. Again, developing the skills of critical thinking is key here. It will inoculate you or kill you.

    Conversely, do echo chamber patrons thereby justify their dismissal of science simply because they have their fill of agreeing?

    I would tend to argue that, and this applies strictly to a ‘dismissal of science echo chamber (whatever that is?), they are either lacking the critical thinking skills mentioned above, or are disingenuous swine.

  26. CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain says

    @EnlightenmentLiberal #27:

    Evolution predicts that male dogs and female dogs came from an ancestor population of other animals which also had males and females, and soforth until the original rise of sexual reproduction itself which IIRC happened once(?) in single celled creatures(?). (Someone fact check me there.)

     
    Article: Wikipedia – Sexual Reproduction

    Each gamete contains half the number of chromosomes of normal cells. They are created by a specialized type of cell division, which only occurs in eukaryotic cells, known as meiosis.

     
    Side note: The article mentions prokaryotes have some distinct but similar processes.
     
     
    Article: Wikipedia – Evolution of Sexual Reproduction, Origin

    Many protists reproduce sexually, as do the multicellular plants, animals, and fungi. In the eukaryotic fossil record, sexual reproduction first appeared by 1.2 billion years ago in the Proterozoic Eon. All sexually reproducing eukaryotic organisms derive from a single-celled common ancestor. There are a few species which have secondarily lost this feature, such as Bdelloidea and some parthenocarpic plants.

     

    Not all sexual organisms are anisogamous. There are numerous species which are sexual and […] do not produce males or females. Yeast, for example, are isogamous sexual organisms which have two mating types which fuse and recombine their haploid genomes.

     
     
    Article: Wikipedia – Isogamy

    Isogamy is a form of sexual reproduction that involves gametes of similar morphology (similar shape and size), differing in general only in allele expression in one or more mating-type regions. Because both gametes look alike, they cannot be classified as “male” or “female.” Instead, organisms undergoing isogamy are said to have different mating types, most commonly noted as “+” and “−” strains, although in some species there are more than two mating types (designated by numbers or letters). Fertilization occurs when gametes of two different mating types fuse to form a zygote.

     

    It appears that isogamy was the first stage of sexual reproduction. In several lineages (plants, animals), this form of reproduction independently evolved to anisogamous species with gametes of male and female types to oogamous species in which the female gamete is very much larger than the male and has no ability to move.

  27. Devocate says

    “At worst he’s a con man, and at best he’s a liar for Jesus. ”

    It should be easy to tell these two apart. Is he making money from promulgating these lies? Than he is a con man.

  28. Yos8 says

    Wow, my new favorite AXP personality. Did they say Ed was only on for this one episode? I just feel like he’s exactly what the show needs. And he sounds just like Jesse “The Body” Ventura when he talks.

    Russell or Tracie are probably my second favorite host (after Matt, of course), and they both frequently frustrate me as a listener. Tracie is probably the most “with it” in terms of her arguments and show presence, but sometimes she gets really flighty when she’s about to drive home a big point and kind of rambles. Russell rarely rambles, but his awkward lack of social graces makes me cringe sometimes, he frequently gets into this kind of blind self-congratulatory state where he’s not listening to anyone else, including the caller, and he makes the same fallacious arguments that we all hate. Also it’s awkward when he gets self-conscious because callers want to talk to Matt.

    Jen is fine, but she doesn’t make the same nuanced points that Matt, Tracie, and Russell make, and I find her to be abrasive and condescending without really having earned the right to be. Don and then Martin are easily the weakest hosts on all meaningful fronts, although I sure think they’d be nice guys to hang out with…

    Ed Brayton came out guns-blazing with a gruff but likable persona… He seemed to “get” the emotional nuances of the show, of Matt, and of the callers. He didn’t sit back and play second-fiddle to Matt, and he didn’t interject with the kinds of token “I’m here too” comments that other co-hosts sometimes have. I thought he was really thoughtful, playfully combative at the right times, and — more importantly — filled a different role than Matt.

    This is all to say I sincerely hope he’ll be back on the show soon. I don’t mean to just dismantle the other hosts — I appreciate their thoughts and that they’re doing this — but it would be great to get some more genuinely entertaining and genuinely capable personalities on like Ed. Really enjoyed him.

  29. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    To Yos8
    Ed Brayton was one of the founders of FreeThoughtBlogs. He still regularly posts on his blog “Dispatches From The Culture Wars” at the new location on Patheos. It’s one of the few blogs that I read regularly.

  30. bigjay says

    I agree with Yos8 and would like to add that I miss Jeff Dee! He could sometimes be a bit too quick to go off on someone, but most of the time he was spot on and took no prisoners. Hearing him ask theist callers “How dare you?!” always made me smile.

    As for the show not having enough theist callers, we all have to do our part to encourage theists to call in! Everywhere I post online I always mention the show and encourage theists to call. I suspect that most of them are intimidated, as they should be because of their weak position, but you’d think more preachers and pastors would welcome the opportunity to engage with the viewing audience.

  31. Paul Money says

    @22.
    If dope smoking doesn’t damage your brain, how come so many stoners think Cheech and Chong are funny?

  32. johnson catman says

    I, like Ed, have never seen one second of either Game of Thrones or Breaking Bad (or Willow for that matter). And my life is not one whit lesser because of it. But I am glad that Matt hung up on Robert because his argument was idiotic. I do spend a lot of time reading Ed’s blog, Dispatches from the Culture Wars, among others, and my life is greatly enriched because of those communities.