Open Thread for Episode 20.48: Russell and Tracie

Topic is the Genesis story of Eden which casts human agency as villainous, and how this is reflected in some fundamentalist ideologies regarding the “sin” of asserting one’s own agency–resulting in objectification becoming normalized and even idealized. The Eden story begins the repeated theme of subjugation of one’s own agency and will to that of another–of total subjugation and, consequently, objectification (the denouncing of that which makes us human, rather than object, the will or agency).

Examples of modern agency-denigrating comments by such brands of Christian include statement such as:

“You just want to sin and not be held accountable.”

Since “sin” is not about what causes real harm, but about simply acting in a way that is antithesis to what god would have you do, this comment merely condemns the act of asserting one’s own agency as somehow wrong.

“You worship yourself” (variants may include putting yourself in the position of god in some way).

Again, this is simply asserting that you are holding your own agency as being as important as the agency of what god would have you do, or even more important. So, it boils down to denouncing the assertion of one’s own will or agency as haughty and incorrect.

“You trust your own judgment (rather than what god tells you to do).”

Clearly viewing the person as foolish and wrong for, again, the act of simply asserting one’s own agency.

Objectification of a human being (often conflated with sexualization–although I believe it’s important to differentiate between the two, as they are not synonymous) means denying their agency and treating them as a “thing” by holding their will/agency as irrelevant or less relevant than one’s own–thereby making them nonhuman or less human, and more object-like.

The Christian religion–and especially the fundamentalist branches not only downplay, but vilify agency as wicked, evil and “sinful.” And this carries out in modern conversations with regard to issues such as abortion where analogies are often used comparing women to objects in order to show cause for why a woman’s agency can be disregarded in the equation of conflict of rights between mother and unborn. Terms like “consent” are distorted and used in ways we would not use in any other context. A woman who has consented to sex is often said, by such people, to have “consented” to gestation and childbirth, whereas we don’t say that people who consent to drive have “consented” to die in a fiery car crash–and if the crash occurs we understand why the driver would attempt to escape their death, and we would help them escape by offering whatever assistance we could to avoid the negative consequences of that risk event occurring.

By subjugating human will and agency, and undermining concepts like “consent,” Christianity has created a (sub?)culture of dehumanization and objectification that considers itself morally upright compared to other cultures where respect and regard for human agency are promoted.


  1. Luis says

    Hello I’m from Mexico but would like to call the show, is there a way to call via online?, Sorry if this question has been answered before but I haven’t found the answer yet

  2. Wiggle Puppy says

    I’m glad to see this topic being addressed – if you can believe it, I think the show goes too easy on Christianity sometimes…

    I think perhaps the most pernicious doctrine in all of Christianity is the idea that humanity is intrinsically both wicked and worthless, and that God is necessary to provide one’s life with any value or meaning. I always cringe when I hear the song Amazing Grace – specifically, the line “and saved a wretch like me” – and always wonder if the people who sing it pay attention to just how profoundly disempowering the song is. It’s easy to see why it can be so hard for adherents to even think about leaving the religion – if one has been taught from a very young age that one is evil simply for being human and that one’s life has zero value apart from God’s grace, then the religion has a powerful defense mechanism. One must completely reorient one’s thought processes and come to believe that one has value for other (intrinsic) reasons wholly apart from the capriciousness of the divine, which can be very difficult.

    I think the worst part of all of this comes when the doctrine adds insult to injury. I’ve known people who have gone through terrible tragedies – the unexpected death of a loved one, for example – who then struggle to properly process and deal with the event. These people are convinced that said tragedy is flatly just a part of God’s grand plan (because everything is), and so being too upset or angry about the profound unfairness of the event is tantamount to questioning God himself, which is then in turn an open invitation to let Satan in and allow untold wickedness. So *not only* is the person blocked from properly processing the event and allowing themselves to feel a healthy degree of sorrow and anger, but they THEN even start feeling guilty for sinfully second-guessing God’s grand design. It’s a perfect recipe for self-loathing and helplessness.

  3. MZ says

    What I don’t understand is how this is reconciled with the prosperity gospel of which, it seems, our president elect is an advocate. The only reason that I can fathom is that these christians have left christianity behind long ago and never looked back. But I could be wrong. This gets into ‘no-true-Scottsman’ discussions.

    The position that you describe portrays being human as bad. Humans eat. Humans defacate and urinate. Humans have sex and masturbate. Humans wage war and pursue wealth and pleasure. Humans build cities and universites and hospitals and water treatment plants. Should we deny all this in order to become god-like? Is it worth it? When humans get into god’s presence they supposedly lose all the things that make them human. Like bodies and skin and sweat glands and genitals and musical ability and emotions like greed and love and ambition.

    What is kind of funny is how this fantasy has influenced even secular modern conceptions of humanity’s future. Like the Star Trek conception of “advanced” aliens with big heads and small bodies or the ones that ‘worship logic’. Or a future where every person lives a life of 24/7 leisure while robots do all the work. Or a ‘George Jetson’ future where yuppies live in the sky and we aren’t told what happens on the ground.

    There are those christians that claim that our “judeo-christian heritage” is responsible for our current civilization while being in ignorance of other civilzations that didn’t have a j-c heritage; Greek, Roman, Druidic, and that’s not even mentioning the ones in Asia, Africa, and South America. If the j-c heritage is the best of the best, will they also take responsibility for the damage done to people by that heritage as well as the benefits?

  4. L.Ron Dow says

    @Wiggle Puppy
    I agree – and would go further with your sentiments about guilt. Doctrine often attempts to lay the blame for the tragedy out our feet – saying that it was by our impiety that led to the event. You hear people ask ‘What have I done to deserve this?’ as a result of such indoctrination. This clearly happened when the Israelites were carted off into Babylonian exile and more recently, the Imams of Banda Aceh were quick to claim that the 2004 tsunami was a direct result of the people’s impiety

  5. Monocle Smile says

    I would say no. How that practice is conducted in the US is outdated at best. Not exactly sure why this was posted, though.

  6. L.Ron Dow says

    The verse I like about the Garden of Eden story is Genesis 3:22 “And the LORD God said, “The man has now become like one of us, knowing good and evil. He must not be allowed to reach out his hand and take also from the tree of life and eat, and live forever.” (NIV)

    We weren’t kicked out to punish us for disobedience (for that we were cursed with a few other discomforts) but because the gods were SCARED of us – scared that we would surpass them – and they also put a guard on the place to make sure we didn’t go back to eat of the ‘Tree of Life’, Lol.

  7. says

    Devocate, I agree religion has punitive results for men as well, especially with regard to sexuality–using children as punishment is definitely one thing they are good at. However, I don’t understand how harm to group-X justifies harm to group-y? If I point out racism against Black Americans, would you point out racism against Hispanics as a rebuttal?

  8. Jeremy Valdez says

    The Bible says “he who knows the good he ought to do, and does not do it sins”. They need to quit mixing in religious traditions as requirements, they also need to let go of the thought that good works isn’t good enough!

  9. Murat says

    OMG… The way Russell is going, I’m beginning to think he’s gonna say that the whole Trump win was a news hoax by some guys imitating the Onion!

  10. Murat says

    Actually there were two teenagers, they began to quarrel over who was to keep an item they robbed from the father’s room, so they started to fight and the first one held and bumped the second one to the caller’s door and ran away with the item. Hence, when the guy woke up, the only robber he could see was the one bumped on his door. There never was an attempt at opening his door.

  11. Mary W says

    I’m interested in your thoughts on this:
    Men have agency in sex. If they do not want to create a baby for which they are legally responsible to raise for 18 years, they wear condoms, they communicate and they don’t take anything for granted. Men have their own agency. If they don’t want a baby then they there is a lot they can do themselves to make sure it doesn’t happen. Trusting that a woman is on birth control is not one of them and is also not an excuse to not follow law. Ignorance of the laws is not an excuse for not wanting to follow.

  12. Athywren - not the moon you're looking for says

    Does Al not think atheists believe in floods? Does he think he has to convince us to believe in floods? Because… er… I don’t know, maybe I’m about to make a fool of myself in front of you lot, but me? Yeah, I believe in floods. *braces for the anti-floodist backlash* :O

  13. Mary W says

    If a woman really doesn’t want a baby then she takes chemicals every single day of the month (even if she only has sex once a month) that recent studies show men just won’t tolerate side effects of. Or she has a medical device inserted into her body that wears every single that if dislodged can cause huge pain. What do men do daily (with side effects) to avoid pregnancy. There are lots of things men can do to make sure they don’t have to pay for a baby but they just don’t. They make the woman responsible and then they don’t realize that in this one situation, they don’t have control. (Men control the medical fields that provide all the ways people can avoid pregnancy and who puts onus on women, men control the sciences and funding that decides where the majority of testing and experiments go to, and men control the companies who make the medications and devices to stop pregnancies). They need to start making these for tthemselves. Men have their own agency.

  14. Mary W says

    Tracie, I totally get what you’re saying re: solipsism and Matrix but giving a theist that answer just makes us all look bad. Yes, the table is in front of you and yes that man is really in the phone with you. You really went off on a tangent that was unhelpful.

  15. Jeremy Valdez says

    It took me 20 years of church, to realize God is spelled with two o’s…anotherwords not god, GOOD. Just do good, and be good is enough. Soooo from there I stripped away the religious dogma, and stuck with pure morality.

  16. Wiggle Puppy says

    Al is waaaaaay overthinking the Harry Potter comparison – I think his objection was that the Bible contains accounts of real events and places and Harry Potter doesn’t, which, duh, of course. But the point of bringing up Harry Potter is to respond to theists who say stuff like “but there were 500 witnesses who saw the resurrected Jesus” because that’s what one of the Gospels says – Harry Potter shows that anybody can write anything in a book, so piling claims on top of claims on top of claims in a book doesn’t do anything to bolster the initial claim.

  17. Jeremy Valdez says

    Does this caller realize that he is using logic to communicate to you his questions as he speaks???

  18. Athywren - not the moon you're looking for says

    I have no idea if Dana will ever see this, but I’m so sorry you’ve gone through this. I’m not much good at comforting words, but I feel you, and you’re not alone.

  19. says

    This is Forrest, the fourth caller whose call was dropped as well- I tried to call back, but it wouldn’t go through. I’ll use the web version next time. *Sigh.* Thanks for taking my call anyway- perhaps it was an angel who caused the call to be dropped? ;p
    My question about “fake news” is whether we should take mainstream organizations credibly when they try to shut out not just the openly false sites- (abc dot co, etc)- but also when they endorse efforts such as PropOrNot, which WaPo and other sites endorsed as a way of ferreting out “Russian Propaganda.” The problem is, they’ve begun to label sites that are ostensibly somewhat reliable if quite biased, such as Truth-Out or Drudge as “fake news” or even “propaganda.”
    I see this as a bit defensive- the MSM lost a lot of credibility over the last election for continually predicting (as Matt Dillahunty also did) that Trump was an incredibly long shot. Now, with declining subscriber base, it appears that they are trying to secure their own authority by creating an outgroup of alternative news sources- all of which are “fake” or “propagandistic.” They won’t even provide evidence for why they believe some of these sites to be fake! It appears defensive, to me, and even illiberal.
    Tracie, Russell, thanks so much for hosting, even through dropped calls and silly callers. Now, I must go- I’m hearing a pounding on my door, and the only explanation is that it must be an angel.

  20. says

    Oh, also I think I figured out what the Scottish dude was talking about. Russell referred to the Bible as “completely fictional” and he was trying to point out kernels of truth or accurate historical things in mythological “just so” stories.
    To put it lightly, he did not do a clear job of making this point.

  21. Tiffany says

    Dana, if you see this.. Please reach out to me. I will help be a support system. Leaving the faith while your dad is a baptist pastor, I understand where you are at. I have been there myself.

  22. Geo says

    As a general comment, I’d like to see you speed through last callers so they at least get a chance to express their ideas.

    Also,If you all would like to keep in touch with the last caller Dana, check out the facebook for the Atheist community of Austin, shes active there.

  23. L. J. Adamson says

    Dana–two things.
    First, get a big stack of paper (loose leaf paper is fine), and handful of pens, and then sit down and write a letter to your sister telling her how much you love her and most of what you said to Tracie and Russell, and then talk honestly about your long-held doubts about religion. You will not mail this letter. You will just write it to get the grief out of your system. Keep writing till the pain recedes, even if it takes weeks.
    Second, always remember that because your sister is religious and dying, she’s scared about what her death will mean. That’s one of the problems with religion. Add whatever kind of drugs she’s taking, and you’ve got a potent mix.

  24. Jet McQuaig says

    Dana, please know that your story resonated with me so much. I have lost several people who were close to me who, at their core, were more loving than their religion allowed them to be. Before their deaths they said harsh, horrible things, thinking that they were doing it from a place of love. They didn’t realize how much they were hurting me and other family members or how much blind faith had made them emotionally immature in some ways. Please know that, whether you feel it or not right now, the pain almost always lessens over time. You are loved. I know it hurts, but please hang in there, let yourself feel and keep reaching out.

  25. Murat says

    Dana’s situation is a revelation of the paradox Matt pointed out several times: If Heaven was the kind of place it was described as, her sister would not be feeling agony due to the assumption that Dana was not going to be there.

    Even before stepping in, she feels less comfortable with the thought of departing eternally from Dana. Therefore, it can also be a good way (also for Dana) to reach out to the sister with the kind of practical logic that will make her see her faith would not allow her to separate from Dana for eternity, hence, the God she believed in would eventually solve this in a way to comfort her.

    An ethical problem to advocate this on some levels, yes, but I feel that the key to Dana’s emotions remains hidden in those of her sister, and a sooting approach for that other side of the dogmatic riddle would not harm anyone.

  26. Tani says

    To the last caller, my heart goes out to you. Please live your life to the fullest as long as you are here. Do things that you enjoy. I hope you find a therapist soon. And (((HUG))) from me. A question to ask your sister is: If you have so much faith in god, then why don’t you have faith that he will save me and make sure that I am in heaven?
    I am sorry that you are going through this. I hope you are able to meet people to talk about your struggles with and I hope you find joy and friendship. If you want to friend me on Facebook, I am Polly Pockets. I can also connect you to some atheist Facebook friends.

  27. Gail says

    Dana- The pain you are feeling came across clearly on your call. I’m sure everyone listening wanted to comfort you and ease your burden. I hope you find support among the people you reach out to, online and among your friends and acquaintances. But most importantly, I hope you connect with a good therapist who can understand you don’t want religious counseling. I suggest a therapist with experience in relationships. Your situation is complicated by your health concerns combined with the damage to the relationship with your sister. I hope that with some help you and your sister can reconnect. If I had to guess, I’d say your sister loves you very much, and she would not want to cause you pain. Wouldn’t it be great to hold each other close at this difficult time? That’s what I’m wishing for you.

  28. Ol Stully says

    Anybody else here a closeted atheist (well at least among family, both close and extended) who’s worried they will soon face a scenario similar to Dana’s? I’m fairly certain my parents know, but it’s never been brought up and I have one that is facing some serious health problems. I’m afraid one of them will ask me a question about my supposed lack of faith in an extremely vulnerable moment, with the feeling that they already know my answer to the question. Then the discussion will be about where I’m going and where my parent is going after death. How the people we love can treat us so unfairly in terms of what they perceive as our eternal destiny is the one thing about faith/religion that I simply can’t ever come to terms with. I can sort of come to terms with someone else’s need for a higher power, a creator, some sort of moral authority that they think they are responsible to………but the idea that authority will punish someone such as myself, or Dana in an obscenely severe manner has put me into tears on more than one occasion.

    I know the believer is not the final arbiter or necessarily happy with my eternal damnation, but the acceptance and unquestioned worship of that power, I’m afraid, may someday cause a significant rift between me and those I love. Thus, my silence on the topic around my family.

  29. Simon & Mrs Wendy Hosking says

    Regarding the question of Sin, I recall when I first moved into a house with my fiance (my wife now for 17 years). My sister-in-law came to visit and called our bedroom the ‘room of sin’.

    I mean really? We were causing absolutely zero harm to anyone – except their imaginary friend perhaps? Well their friend shouldn’t be so sensitive!

    Back to the show…

    Bugga of a problem with the phone lines. I’m pretty tired today and I think my tolerance must be low as I just found most of the callers annoying. Except the last caller – she’s clearly been really hurt and needs some help. I hope she finds some good support.

    – Simon

  30. CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain says

    @Murat #15:

    I feel that the key to Dana’s emotions remains hidden in those of her sister, and a sooting approach for that other side of the dogmatic riddle would not harm anyone.

    It’s not the abused’s obligation to soothe the abuser.
    Her sister chose to spend her remaining days bomb throwing and detonating bridges. Even granting her some pitiable motivation, like insecurity, does not absolve or entitle her. She chose destructive behavior, timing it so there wouldn’t be opportunity for rebuilding the relationship.
    I say “rebuild” because there’s no repairing after that kind of spite.
    Driving someone toward suicide is not forgivable.
    Dana needs to care for herself, above all. Once she’s stable and feels she can handle another encounter, she’ll have the option to reconnect with family members. But it is not her duty to placate unsafe people, no matter the circumstances. Guilt trips and threats are not expressions of love.
    And Dana’s own emotions ought not be predicated on others’ opinions. Losing things we care about hurts, like the relationship, but no one should get veto power over our self-esteem.

  31. Paul Ambrosino says

    I thought that Tracie and Russell did a phenomenal job in handling that most difficult call …I have watched every single episode of The show and it was the first one where I could not help but shed some tears .. what a terrible thing to happen to such a vulnerable lady…religion just tears through the humanity of people till there is nothing left…

  32. dana says

    Tracy said it might be helpful if I were to come to this site and mention I was one of the callers tonight. The level of my emotions is scaring me. I can’t stop crying, and I DO NOT CRY, ever, for any reason. I’ve always been proudly stoic. I am physically weak, and this emotional horror is NOT helping my pain level. My ability to function at the most primal level right now is beyond pathetic and I hate myself most of all for not being able to shrug this off and go on. I figured I’d talk to Tracy, but I must admit that Russell was remarkably helpful also. I was on the phone, in the bedroom, and not at the pc since I don’t understand about feedback and noise, etc. I was such a mess that I hardly processed anything they were saying AT THE TIME. I need to see facial expressions. Afterward, I watched them as they spoke to me and cried again, and again, and I’m so sick of crying I want to go kick a brick.


  33. konfessionsloser says

    I’m not saying victims can’t also be also be perpetrators, and it sounded like she said some things that can’t be easily shrugged off, but I think we should not forget that Dana’s sister is victim to the virus of religion herself. If she tells her god will condem her to hell, that’s not a conscious evaluation but a parroted response.

  34. Murat says

    @Sky Captain #17

    I didn’t necessarily mean it should be Dana to offer the sister a “mind game” that would unshackle her from the thought.

    I’m not sure if this is a case of the abused vs. the abuser. What Dana told made me think there might be an emergent shortcut, like the one Matt tells he came up with to his parents. Just an idea.

    People who have experience on similar issues, like those from Secular Therapy, will lead her much better of course.

  35. says

    i’ve heard other callers like luke try to justify their mundane anecdotal narratives as part of a whole; they usually have more than one “inexplicable” story to tell and even feel free to include second- and third-hand accounts they’ve not witnessed — then insist that the sum of a handful of inconsequential yarns must equal the extraordinary and irresistible body of evidence that god claims require.

  36. says

    dana @ 19:

    it’s okay to cry. it’s just a way for the body to express and dispose of mental trauma. it’s unpleasant but it’s perfectly natural. it will pass, though never soon enough for the sufferer. you seem to have taken stoicism to be an end rather than a means and i thinks it’s interfering with your ability to process your grief. i think the sooner you absorb this lesson the sooner you’ll stop crying.

  37. CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain says

    @Dana #19:

    The level of my emotions is scaring me. I can’t stop crying, and I DO NOT CRY, ever, for any reason. I’ve always been proudly stoic.

    It’s okay to cry. It’s okay to feel overwhelmed.
    You’re strong enough to ask for help when you need it.
    Comic: Boggle the Owl

    I don’t like the phrase “a cry for help.” I just don’t like how it sounds. When somebody says to me, “I’m thinking about suicide, I have a plan, I just need a reason not to do it,” the last thing I see is helplessness.
    I think: Your depression has been beating you up for years. It’s called you ugly, stupid, and pathetic, and a failure. For so long that you’ve forgotten that it’s wrong. You don’t see any good in yourself, and you don’t have any hope.
    But still, here you are: You’ve come over to me, banged on my door, and said, “Hey! Staying alive is really hard right now! Just give me something to fight with! I don’t care if it’s a stick! Give me a stick and I can stay alive!”
    How is that helpless? I think that’s incredible. You’re like a marine: Trapped for years behind enemy lines, your gun has been taken away, you’re out of ammo, you’re malnourished, and you’ve probably caught some kind of jungle virus that’s making you hallucinate giant spiders.
    And you’re still just going, “Give me a stick. I’m not dying out here.”
    “A cry for help” makes it sound like I’m supposed to take pity on you. But you don’t need my pity. This isn’t pathetic. This is the will to survive. This is how humans lived long enough to become the dominant species.
    With no hope, running on nothing, you’re ready to cut through a hundred miles of hostile jungle with nothing but a stick, if that’s what it takes to get to safety.
    All I’m doing is handing out sticks.
    You’re the one staying alive.

  38. Wiggle Puppy says

    @ Dana

    1) I’ve been in similar situations, and it helped to think of the other person as a victim who isn’t in their right mind. Someone treating you like that is the victim of brainwashing and has been led to believe that (as you said) hatred and punishment equals love, honest inquiry equals doubt which is sinful and evil and an invitation to let Satan in, etc. For me, I feel more sorry for the person acting that way than I do for myself, because the thought processes that lead to those kinds of conclusions are SO screwy and messed-up. It’s hard when it’s someone you care about, but the person talking to you like that has been indoctrinated so thoroughly that it’s almost not them anymore.

    2) I think Matt has the best response to this kind of thing: if the person treating you like this a) believes that everything goes according to God’s plan and b) believes that God works in mysterious, inscrutable ways, then tell the person that you being an atheist right now must be part of God’s plan and there must be some reason for it. This takes the burden of salvation off of them and puts it onto their god, which may help things.

  39. Bunny Mellon says

    Hey Dana,

    I have been watching this show for years and years and no one has moved me and made me want to post as you have. I don’t often cry, and I cried with you while I was angry, shocked and even more for how you have been treated and for your pain. Your pain was almost tangible. I could feel it through the screen. It broke my heart!

    I wish I had your strength to stand up to my family when they start talking to me as your sister did to you. Do you know how courageous that was? If it felt right for you at that time, it certainly was. I hope you won’t see that differently. No one deserves to be belittled and devalued in that manner or to be manipulated and controlled, especially by someone we think we can trust like family. That kind of pain is horrific and you are so very much entitled to feel the way you do or cry ,scream, feel awful, etc. You are carrying a very heavy and stressful burden, along with being scared and wounded and you had the guts to call and ask for help. That is pretty darn strong and shows so real character!

    I would imagine that what you’re going through is kind of like the loss of something, even a family member. You’re going to have to mourn that way of interacting with your sister and the relationship you had with her in the way that it was, even if it was not that positive. I don’t want to give you advice on that as I’m not a professional. I am just going by my own experience. The fact that you reached out and called for help is really a great start to healing. Like I said, I believe that took a LOT of strength that not all folks can muster when they are going through something as devastating as you are.

    I hope you keep talking to folks in the secular community and allowing them to help you. Just remember, there might be a few folks who want to rip you up even further and laugh or say cruel things, but please, ignore them and remember that they’re ,most likely, in a worse place than any of us. No one can say very cruel and inhumane things without having some pretty horrible and unhappy things going on in their lives. Ignore them and know that for ever one of them, there will be 100s that honestly care and want to see you in a better frame of mind, happy and well! Don’t waste time on the “trolls.”

    Keep posting and know that there are folks that care. Thanks for having the strength to call and share with all in the atheist community! I really hope things get better for you soon!

  40. AJ says

    @dana #19,
    I want you to know that if it was possible for me to personally see you and talk about these things that I would in a heartbeat. I really understand how you feel, and I wish you did not have to suffer this. You should know that far from being weak and pathetic your action to reach out speaks to a person who is precisely the opposite. If I may use a long quote:
    “When somebody says to me, “I’m thinking about suicide, I just need a reason not to do it”, The last thing I see is helplessness. I think: this idea has been beating you up for a long time. It’s called you ugly, and stupid, and pathetic, and a failure for so long that you’ve forgotten that it’s wrong. You don’t see any good in yourself and you don’t have any hope.
    But still, here you are; you’ve come over to me, banged on my door and said “HEY! Staying alive is REALLY HARD right now! Just give me something to fight with! I don’t care if it’s a stick! Give me a stick and I can stay alive!”
    How is that helpless? I think that’s incredible. You’re like a marine: trapped for years behind enemy lines, your gun has been taken away, you’re out of ammo, you’re malnourished and you’ve probably caught some kind of jungle virus that’s making you hallucinate giant spiders.
    But look at you, you’re still just going “GIVE ME A STICK. I’M NOT DYING OUT HERE.”
    “A cry for help” makes it sounds like I’m supposed to take pity on you. But you don’t need my pity.
    This isn’t pathetic.
    This is amazing. This is inspiring.
    This is the will to survive. This is how humans lived long enough to become the dominant species. With no hope, running on nothing, you’re ready to cut through a hundred miles of hostile jungle with nothing but a stick, if that’s what it takes to get out safely.
    All I’m doing is handing out sticks.
    You’re the one staying alive.”
    I will reiterate what Tracy and Russell said, that there are many resources available to you and you should definitely use them. YOU ARE NOT ALONE! Its OK to not believe. Its OK to feel this way and cry if you need to. We are here for you.

  41. nacasius says

    There is such a thing as exploding head syndrome.
    If you are triggered awake it can sound like a gun shoot has gone off and it just your head filling in the sound it THINKS should be there.
    Its a audio hallucination that is not so uncommon.

  42. TheYouTube Guy says

    Just wanted to post to send some positive energy Dana’s way. Thank you for calling in and I hope your night is going well.

  43. CanadianSarah says


    Hearing your story broke my heart. I couldn’t help but cry a bit too. It’s perfectly natural and it’s one of our tools in how we process emotion and grief. You mentioned you were pushed to the brink, so it’s completely understandable how overwhelming it can all feel. I’m sure you know this already, but you’re not alone. There’s some good advice in this forum, and there were some good ideas coming from Tracie and Russell. I’m glad you had the courage and strength to reach out to someone in your time of need. Take advantage of those resources they mentioned. I wish I had some help to offer.

    I’m sorry that you’re going through this with your sister. If it helps, you can take a page out of her book and offer forgiveness, if you’re feeling up to it. Remember the good times you had with her, and draw from it. If she wants to change you in order to spend her afterlife with you, and is willing to trade the remainder of her time here for it, she may need a reminder that you’re here now. You can try to offer reconciliation and a chance to spend time with her while you’re both here, if she can return the gesture.

    I wish there was an easy way to get people to look beyond their book. I’m going to hug my family a little tighter tonight. Thanks for sharing your story with us. I know it couldn’t have been easy.

  44. Chancellor of the Exchequer says

    Luke’s call was uninteresting, the situation as explained was not one worth mentioning as supernatural intervention(but when is it ever worth a mention?) Luke should’ve been asked if he ever saw the guy around since then. The angel was pretty useless, didn’t even let Luke know to walk with his glasses so he could see the guys in the lineup more clearly.

    Al damaged my humerus, I had to sleep that one off.

    Colin used veganism!
    *It wasn’t very effective*
    Crisis averted.

    Second crisis topic initiated: I got bored and so did he.

    Forest you can’t fucking tease us like this, come on, follow through. I cannot believe they let the money fish hop back into the water. Calling into an atheist show that deals with why people believe things and still not letting that prized belief be fleshed out.

    Russell has spoken, profane!!!

    Dan sounds like the animal Jesus rode. I blank stared throughout.

    Dana: Sound faith? I’m lost. Great, now I’ve shed a lot of much needed water. Your sister infuriates me, I’m angry that people like her feel that their behavior is justified, that threatening others and harassing them is okay. It’s everywhere and it’s repulsive, their intentions are irrelevant when the consequences are so vile. Cut that toxic branch off, don’t negotiate with those that think it’s okay to harass you.

    Thank you for expressing this, in the life of an active atheist we sometimes forget that we are fighting for the safety of people like you, from verbal harassment and unwarranted attacks. You just living your life with your honest lack of a god belief gets you attacked from your own family and that crap makes me root for the recession of religious beliefs all the more fervently.

    I hope you get an immediate support base that remedies your distress.

  45. Jeff Salsbury says

    Hi Dana,

    Hang in there, it gets better. Just know, you surly are not the only one who has had to take this type of theistic abuse from those “quote” True believers. For me, it was best to simply cut my father out of my life entirely. On the day I finally called him up one day to declare to him I was an atheist, I heard a strangled little squawk on the other end of the phone line followed be a series of panicked “No. No. Nooo!!’s I knew this was the last of his emotionally manipulative behavior towards me, because I am my own man, and he could not take my thoughts from me… because I was no longer going to let him.

    Years ago he took hallucinations and mistook them for Hell (and therefor God). He then attempted to guilt, teach and use his authority as a parent to make sure the “freethinking” damage he considered himself doing to his sons while he was an atheist didn’t doom us to Hell. For what ever reason, it was never in his nature to let me have my own thoughts, and he always seemed to look down on me because of the independent nature of my thoughts and opinions, regardless of the topic, Theistic or otherwise.

    Even though it hurt tremendously to cut the tie, it was so worth it to gain the mental stability, being estranged afforded me. In the last 4 years There have not been the guilt trips,or the “what if your wrong?” arguments. No more. And I’m here to tell you it is worth it to have that kind of trash extracted from my life, so that I could get to the business of my real family. And my real family is this: Those who love me for who I am, see how much heart I have, appreciate me and like to be in my presence. These people love be despite not being told by a god they had to. And those who are my real family are actually my friends. Focus on the new, and pass on the past. I know… Easier said than done.

  46. Wiggle Puppy says

    @ Chancellor #40: Forest seemed to say that he saw atheists making bad arguments on the internet and therefore came to believe that god exists, which is possibly the biggest non sequitur I’ve ever heard in my life.

  47. roguetrooper815 says

    I didn’t even get what the first caller was claiming was the “unexplainable” thing???

  48. Ed Goodman says

    I think people should just play Dana’s call on a loop 24/7 from the top of every building… that was heartbreaking. I don’t think the faithful truly understand the pain they cause.

  49. DonaldTrumpsSnifflingNose says

    I’m a long time lurker of the AXP youtube channel and while I’m no regular watcher I do watch old videos of AXP and also have now just recently started to try and watch episodes in chronological order as they are put out.

    So, apologies if this has already been asked or discussed but I would like to preset this by saying that I am an Atheist myself and I know how exhausting it can be to speak to religious and/or obnoxious people.

    That being said, I have noticed that Russell has become a bit obnoxious himself. I remember when he was somewhat younger he appeared to have had more patience for callers and also for the most part responded in a somewhat friendly manner and let people speak. This, to me, always appealed to me because I found it to be extremely impressive when a person can “kill with kindness”. Tracie for instance is a master(mistress?) in doing just that. And to this day Tracie continues to give off this vibe of “yeah I completely disagree with you but I will hear you out so I can try and understand where you are coming from”.

    Russell seems to have lost this kindness and has increasingly become short with people which almost borders on being very rude.
    His “And?” response is very passive aggressive and very off putting.
    I understand that Matt Dillahunty’s appeal to many of his fans is the no-nonsense approach on calling out bullcrap when he hears it, but being friendly goes a long way. As an Atheist I find that being rude is doing us a disservice and we could use some work in that department when we are trying to have a conversation.

    Sure it’s your show and you can do and say as you please, but if I invited somebody into my house for a discussion I don’t grunt into their face “So? What do you want from me now?”.

    You invite and prefer Christians to call in to have a discussion, the least you can do is let them speak and respond with friendliness.

    Again, I completely understand being frustrated with obnoxious callers who keep saying the same thing over and over again, but the first caller, who was telling the story about the teenage burglar barely finished his story when Russell cut him off with his annoying “And?”.

    In any case, I don’t expect my opinion to be shared it’s just something that rubbed me the wrong way and something I noticed in newer videos with Russell.

  50. dana says

    I have read every reply, and a lot of them…………well, ALL of them, shocked me. For the first time, I am being supported through this, and – most importantly,UNDERSTOOD. I am going to see if I can contact those of you who offered. I hope you meant it, because if I can get computer savvy enough, I will contact those who offered. I need contact with other atheists.

    Due to being depleted physically, worried about my ability to go on, in spite of pain, I was truly unable to give one sane answer or rebuttal to my sister’s unexpected call. The internet has gone silent, as has my email server, since I lost ALL my remaining family. Not just the sister I adored. She’s the matriarch, and if she likes you – the entire family likes you. If she does a ‘thumbs down’, then the entire family turns away. I never added this bit of collateral damage to my conversation with Tracy and Russell, but this also includes my only daughter.

    I feel despondent and abandoned………..except for the people who are holding my head above water. Thank you.

  51. says

    Wiggle Puppy @49:

    that forest stopped being an atheist for bad reasons shows that he was one for equally bad reasons, leading us to conclude that he was just another one of “those atheists” that he called in to complain about.

  52. steevo51 says

    Your words echo beyond borders. I was sat in the early hours of the morning listening to your story here in the Middle East and was moved and upset. I’m sure you will find a huge amount of support and solidarity to help you overcome this and move on to be stronger.

  53. Nubbins says

    Dear Dana,

    If someone hasn’t already pointed you this way, maybe pop over to r/exchristian on reddit. If you made an account and posted your story there, I’m sure people would love to show you support and talk to you.

    If you don’t want to post there, alternatively you might like to just read some of the things there – some posts are more argumentative and ‘ranty’ and might not be want you need right now, but there are also plenty of other posts of people telling stories not too different to yours. People who felt pressure from family, people who lost their faith after being believers for most of their lives, people who felt fear or guilt for walking away from what they simply can’t pretend to believe anymore. Perhaps you would find it helpful to just read some of them.

    As Tracie said to you, sadly, your story is very common. Perversely, the upshot is that there are no shortage of people who will understand you completely, even if your family cannot.

    To be honest, your experience right now is what many of us playing ‘undercover Christian’ fear. It’s so sad and unfair that religion causes this. You are so strong to come this far, even if you don’t feel it right now. Keep going, there are plenty of people who empathise and who are rooting for you, even if it’s from far away and only via a keyboard and a computer screen. 🙂

  54. Mobius says

    @52 Dana

    Your story tore at my heart. I was a bit distracted when I listened to the live broadcast, so after AXP posted the YouTube of the episode I went back and listened to your part again to get the full story. It sounds like you are making some progress now, and I hope the resources mentioned by Russel and Tracy, among others, are able to help you more. Having an ear willing to listen is worth so much.

  55. Randyp says


    Are you aware of the fact that you touched the hearts and the emotions of everyone listening and who heard you today. Sweetie, we HEARD you, and you need to know that.

    You’re dealing with something that is not easy to navigate. But you need to understand that before you can actually deal with the issue, you have to put your emotions aside and that is not easy to do because it’s so fresh, but consider this . . . You were able to put aside your true feelings so that you could try to believe and at the same time make your sister proud of you. It’s not too much of a stretch to do it once again so that you can make sense of the outcome. I know there have been times in your life when someone has let you down, and you were able to move past it. Well, this is what has happened here. Your sister let you down. YOU DID NOT let her down but you feel as though you did. You have such a high opinion of your sister and you wanted so badly to follow in her footsteps. But why? It might be time for you to re-evaluate your reason for needing her approval, because what I heard today was a story of a woman who had no clue about your devotion to her. She contacted you knowing dam well what your answer was going to be because she “heard” it from someone. She must not have trusted the person who told her if she felt the need to “follow up” on the story by calling you. If she had a heart, she should have reflected on all the times when you “went along with it”. Instead, she chose to have a confrontation. She didn’t seem to be concerned with how her words would affect you. Frankly, she doesn’t seem like a person worthy of anyone’s admiration.

    You need to know that you have an army of people standing by your side and her army is imaginary. What you need to focus on at this point is learning how to defend your position the next time she calls and I have a hunch she’ll be calling you again soon. Familiarize yourself with the talking points so that you have the ammunition to stump her, or at least make her think. Just because you don’t believe, doesn’t mean you can’t put the fear of jesus in her. Ha. Be strong, and be smart.

  56. Paul Ambrosino says

    Dana just know we are all thinking of you … it’s the first thing I thought about this morning …. it’s a new day … try to think of it as that…. we are all pulling for you … there is much love here for you… one day at a time … sometimes just one moment at a time… you will make it through

  57. Chancellor of the Exchequer says

    @#40(Sky Captain:) That was a great piece, thanks for sharing it.

    @Wiggle Puppy:

    @ Chancellor #40: Forest seemed to say that he saw atheists making bad arguments on the internet and therefore came to believe that god exists, which is possibly the biggest non sequitur I’ve ever heard in my life.

    Exactly but I just saw his post here and if he’s willing I would love for him to give a reason/s as to why he thinks he was applying skepticism in any meaningful way because “some people on the internet seem to not understand the thing we all didn’t believe so I’m gonna jump back over to that side” is something that leads me to the conclusion of him having a habit of believing things for bad reasons. So I’m in aarrgghh’s boat for now there.

  58. dana says

    Update: All of you seem to care so much that it is foreign to me. I knew to hide myself from family, which was over a seven year stretch of inner conflict – but knowing I would be attacked when my relatives know I’m in bad health….never occurred to me since I’m good at smoke and mirrors.

    I contacted the secular site Tracy and Russell recommended but don’t know how long I’ll have to wait until I hear from them. I live in a very isolated area, so I truly doubt there is help in this area, and now I’m doubting the site will bother.

    But………..this was the first morning I woke with a glimmer of hope. I’ve always said “Hope is the greatest danger to sanity” for when you have it, and lose it, it’s a killer.

    BUT, my yearning for “family” is gone. My heartbreak is becoming more of a “So what. Move on, Dana. Shit happens and your family has proven they are shitty.”

    I will have my rollercoaster of emotions to contend with, but at this last stage of my life I see that family is now one less problem for me to assuage.

  59. rodney says

    Dana, I can’t remember if Tracie or Russell mentioned it, but you might check out and find an atheist group in your area that has regular meetups for dinner and other social activities. Florida is a big place, but here’s a link to a large atheist group in Orlando Florida

    If you are in another area of Florida, I am sure you can find an atheist meetup near you, it helps to know you are not alone and can socialize with like minded people, the atheist group I belong to has given me better fellowship than I ever found in a church. I wish the best for you, take care.

  60. tonyinbatavia says

    Dana, I can’t begin to understand how painful this must be. To be tormented internally for seven years had to be brutal. And now — now that you have actually let your sister know who you really are — the further torment, at her hands, must be exponentially brutal.

    It was incredibly brave for you to call in to the show and put yourself out there with something so personal. I am so glad that calling in has offered a glimmer of hope to you and I am heartened by the reaction you have gotten from your fellow atheists. I hope you continue to find comfort. I know I am just a stranger, but if there is anything I can do from Chicago, IL, please let me know.

  61. GW says

    Anyone else noticed how Russell is becoming more and more impatient and destructive when it comes to taking calls? I mean, in most of the videos with him now, he spends a lot of the time laughing at the callers, refusing to talk about their comments/questions or speaking over his co-host and/or the caller. One of the callers was asking about truly knowing something and it seemed like Russell was done with the call before it even started. That topic is pretty relevant to the belief in God and has been talked about on the show many times, and taken seriously by Matt on many separate occasions. I just feel like he’s become much too dismissive, and if you watch Tracie you can see how overt it is cus she, on multiple occasions, has to step in and get the conversation back on track.

  62. Domitian's Bald Spot says

    Not only is Graham Hancock not a ‘Doctor’ of anything, he doesn’t even have an undergraduate degree in Archaeology or Ancient History. He did an undergraduate degree in Anthropology about 40 years ago, and has never worked in any related field to it, nor archaeology or ancient history. He makes frankly ridiculous claims about the history of Egypt and Greece, and shows a demonstrable ignorance of both. He also asserts that Atlantis was a real place, and treats Plato like an objective historical record, which shows nothing but an ignorance of Plato and a simplistic view of ancient writing in general. As I have an MA in Classics & Archaeology, he annoys me considerably, as he has a simplistic, childlike yearning for spectacularly stupid and literal interpretations in the absence of qualifications, and the desire to contribute something useful. He has made a fair bit of money peddling pseudo-archaeological bullshit to gullible conspiracy theorists, because engaging in actual, peer-reviewed research is too much like hard work.

    As soon as he mentioned Doggerland I knew where he was going, I was also waiting for Gobekli Tepe to be trotted out (I think he actually did, but Russell talked over it) as that is another site that attracts the unqualified parasites of pseudo-history, including Hancock. When anybody starts making claims like this caller, 99 times out of 100 they will eventually cite some authority figure (and will ALWAYS call them ‘Dr’, even though they invariably are no such thing – or they have qualifications in an irrelevant field) who has never published anything peer-reviewed on it.

  63. Paul Money says

    The last 15 minutes of the show should be compulsory listening for every Christian who does this “I love you but you are choosing to go to hell” thing. Dana, you did a great thing coming on, because you will inspire any fellow sufferer who hears this to keep going and be strong. You can certainly contact me for support or just to talk. It would be a pleasure. dorbel (at) gmail(dot)com.

  64. dana says

    68 Rodney I think the problem is that I live on the west side of Florida, called THE NATURE COAST. Basically, people come here to play golf until they die, bringing their indoctrinated superstitions with them. I’m hours away from any major city or hub.

    69 Tony I came from southern Indiana seven years ago. Up until now, I had the homesick blues to return to my roots. Now, I feel uprooted in more ways than I thought possible, but thank you so much for your offer, and the offer of others. I would put my personal email account on this forum, but then again – not a wise thing to do given the chance of being attacked by a troll.

  65. dana says

    @71 Dorbel. I will contact you. That was a brave move on your part, and I appreciate it more than you can know.

  66. Monocle Smile says

    The show started off rather poorly, because that Luke guy was just rambling about nothing of any substance and I don’t think Tracie was focusing on anything important, which is atypical for her. I do like Matt’s usual approach: hear the story, then just plainly ask “what does this have to do with gods?”
    Okay, that call ended pretty terribly. I don’t think Russell handled that well at all; he seems to be forgetting that the target audience of the show includes theists who may believe the same things as Luke. It’s important to dissect exactly where he goes wrong in his reasoning.

    I have no idea what the fuckity shit Al was even talking about. Was there a point to his call? Yeah, lots of myths have artifacts with analogues in the real world. So what? Is this surprising? Is this significant? Troy exists. That is not rational justification for believing that Ares was stomping around as part of the battles. Also, “enlightenist” is the worst faux-intellectual label I’ve heard about in a while. I’m glad Russell hung up on that dude.

    Fun fun, a vegan caller. Animals that we eat aren’t nearly as sapient as humans, although pigs come the closest. While I don’t abstain from eating meat, I do advocate for developing the cloned meat industry to end certain forms of animal cruelty.
    Here’s something…children and the mentally impaired can’t legally consent to all sorts of things. Why do some folks think farm animals have more capacity for “consent” than they do?

    Forest is a dumbass who doesn’t realize he’s a dumbass. Next.

    Dan was a bit…obnoxious.

    The responses here to Dana are incredible. All the feels.

  67. nacasius says

    My name is Kerry.
    I am a member of The Clergy Project, which is an organization of current and former Ministers, Pastors, Priests etc, that realized we were atheists while we still served our congregations.

    Dana, i am so very sorry for the pain you are going though.
    Its maddening because from this side of Atheisism it is so pointless and needless to have to suffer the Fear and Doubt of an afterlife and eternal judgement.

    I can not ever claim to fully understand what your going through.
    All i can hope to do is help you understand that we can relate to your pain and offer you some comfort.
    As a memeber of TCP and as a new found Humanist, i’ve had the chance to talk to many other Ministers and learn that even in other Christian faiths, the idea of Hell, an afterlife, eternal reward, are different and varied.

    I personally was not taught that Hell was a place of suffering, simply a place were you were forever cut off from God. The Fear came from the constant belief that you could fall out of God’s favor easily and that Armageddon was always 1 seconds away.

    The Fear seems to be the common part, and we all had to learn ways to deal with it.
    I know that i will have to deal with it for the rest of my life, no matter how irrational it sounds, that is just the power of indoctrination.

    I don’t know if it will help you to know that even as a minister we taught counter apologetics about Hell and that no loving God could ever create a place of eternal torment.

    And as a Humanist i hope you know that you are precious, not because a God says so, but just by being you.
    You are loved, you are not Alone.
    If you have any question, feel free to ask


  68. Chancellor of the Exchequer says




    Russell appeared to have started this ep with an off mood, so I’m not opposing the comments on how he discarded the kitten gloves. So you both want Russell to be more patient with callers that babble on incessantly about nothing much? Luke and Al wasted time and Colin brought up a ‘GoGoogle’ favorite; Always check philosophers first then non-philosopher athiests on theaxp with the whole ‘no absolute certainty’ thing.

    @Dana: The support should be the norm, proponents of unnecessary suffering(the hell pushers) should be opposed. Disbelief never warrants threats of torture, this pertains to everything. You’ve fought by yourself long enough. I also push the recommendation to get into secular groups of companionship.

  69. Steve in UK says

    This thread seems a little down on Russell. I don’t understand, just let Russell do his thing – he’s very good at it.
    For proof, the call from Dana was one of the most moving things I’ve seen or heard on any media for a very long time, and how Russell and Tracie handled the situation, with understanding and sensitivity, was exemplary.
    It’s good to see in this thread the atheist community rallying around Dana, as we always do. It demonstrates how necessary this show is. So thanks to the Atheist Community of Austin, The Atheist Experience, and Russell and Tracie – good job all round.

  70. DonaldTrumpsSnifflingNose says


    No, we expect him to let people finish and wait to see if they actually have a point they are trying to make.
    A simple “okay, and what are you trying to say or tell us” is firm but simple and not as rude as a “And?”.

    I thought I was the only one who noticed Russell being more dismissive and in turn more rude lately, but it seems like there really is something to this.

    Look, nobody wants people to go on rambling like Minh or this Al from Scotland. It kills the show, but to flat out dismiss people before they even finished with their introductory story is flat out rude.

    That’s all.

  71. Peggy Clancy says

    Dana, the other thing that might work for you with a secular therapist is to speak over your computer by Skype. Some therapists who are some distance away are trained in doing therapy over the computer. It’s not the same as being in the same room with someone, but you can hear and see the therapist, and they can hear and see you. You would need a private place where you would not be interrupted–no phone calls or visitors at your door–and an iPad or other computer with Face Time or Skype capability.

    Your call really touched my heart. I went through some very difficult things in coming out, but nothing as terrible as what you have described. My very best hopes for you getting through this time.

  72. Chancellor of the Exchequer says

    For DTSN:

    Luke had no point, hence the angel being useless. The perp is running around scott free right now. Nothing there leads to supernatural prevention. They let him finish the story and dove into the angel drama, served the parts that mattered and moved on. As with most things it could’ve been handled better.

    The recurring consensus seems to be that some viewers would like more dissection of the thought processes of the callers with more consideration on the part of Matt and lately Russ. I don’t mind either quelms.

  73. whywontthisletmeusemyname says

    I know a site where I can possibly propose bringing the internet therapy and secular therapy together. Because I assume the secular therapost project is just about physically meeting a therapist? I’m not even sure if I’m making any sense but basically I wonder, if someone has used it before, can they explain a bit more about what it is and how it works so I can pass on the info to a site that has a bunch of therapists that take online chats and stuff? I think this could really help, thanks in advance.

  74. Ray says

    Tracie, I agree with you that Christianity promotes low self-esteem in humans by blaming us for original sin and for causing the need for Jesus to die. The preachers try to make us feel guilty so that we might feel the need to get saved. It is an attack on our agency. Now my question for you is this – why do you not grant agency to the unborn baby? The baby does perform acts on its own like sucking its thumb, kicking, yawning. I realize the baby is dependent on the mother, but it is still dependent on her after birth as well for a period of time. I have a hard time understanding why you don’t see that the baby has inherent value. And it is not the same as a kidney or a violinist attached to someone. Those comparison ignore the fact that the baby is growing and just needs a little time. It continues growing and developing outside the womb yet somehow you consider it to have its own agency at that point. I contend it has agency from conception. Killing it without its consent is morally wrong.

  75. says

    I’ve been on a Graham Hancock binge recently so I’d like to comment on what the Scottish guy was saying. Since the late Seventies Graham Hancock has been gathering evidence and attempting to make a case that the civilizations which lived around 11,000 years ago were sufficiently advanced to not only be able to know the movements of celestial objects and skilled enough to build lasting monuments in accordance to them but also that a natural disaster such as a catastrophic event wiped them out around that time. Along with Randall Carlson, he presents evidence which backs up the hypothesis that a major change in Earth’s temperature melted the ice caps driving water levels to flood much of the world. The controversy starts when we realize that the myth of the world flood has been proven to have some evidence behind it.

  76. nacasius says

    Ray, based on your lingo.
    The Baby has agency.
    The Mother has Agency.
    The Mother has the right to decide for both herself and the baby.
    Is the baby’s “agency” in conflict? Sure
    Is the Mothers Agency also in conflict? Sure

    Which is why the Mother gets to choose, and its up to her to deal with any issues that arise, No One Else.

  77. Mark Paich says

    My name is mark. I was incredibly saddened and sorry to hear about your call. I am very familiar with the thought process that guided your sisters interactions with you as i was raised an evangelical and attended a fundamentalist/evangelical middle/high school. Just know that the level of indoctrination that is present is not much different than the power a drug has over a mind. So, you’re dealing with a very powerful force. With that said it it is still your sister so it goes without saying that that bond should be above all. Unfortunately Indoctrination still has it’s own force. Just try to surround yourself right now with loving voices, even if they are nearly anonymous and internet based. they are still there. As someone that has very crippling anxiety and a mind that continuously cycles to negativity, i find that i have to turn to a myriad of sources for comfort, and at times they have been online, but they WERE and ARE there. There are people as evidenced by this blog, that will help you. You’re not alone. I wish you the very best. Take care. email me at if you need someone to speak to and i will try to help in any way i can.

  78. Monocle Smile says


    The baby does perform acts on its own like sucking its thumb, kicking, yawning

    Response to stimuli is not by itself indicative of agency. Corpses respond to certain stimuli.

    Those comparison ignore the fact that the baby is growing and just needs a little time

    This is called arguing from your conclusion. Complaining that an analogy is not identical to the situation at hand completely misses the point of using analogies in the first place.
    I might have a million dollars tomorrow. That doesn’t mean I have a million dollars.

    It continues growing and developing outside the womb yet somehow you consider it to have its own agency at that point

    Gee, it’s almost like there are important parts of our bodies that make us people rather than corpses that take a while to develop. Maybe they’re called “brains” and maybe the essential brain-wave that signifies a functionally sentient brain doesn’t show up for 26 weeks. You seem to be laboring under the delusion that Tracie is advocating for unlimited abortion on demand at any point in time. Where did you get that?

  79. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    You seem to be laboring under the delusion that Tracie is advocating for unlimited abortion on demand at any point in time. Where did you get that?

    Note: Lots of real pro-choice people do advocate for that in clear explicit language. I don’t know if Tracie did.

    In practice, almost all abortions are first trimester, and almost all abortions in the third trimester are made for “health of the mother” reasons and such, e,g. there are basically no elective abortions in the third trimester. Is that an argument for or against a ban on elective third trimester abortions? No. It is trying to put the debate into a proper fact-based context.

  80. Bingo9 says

    So many listeners can empathize with you. Many of us have had such painful interactions with loved ones. Some have been resolved and healed, and others have not.

    You have been true to yourself. You cannot be asked to believe in that which you are not convinced. You can love and admire your sister and still be incredibly hurt and angry by her words and treatment. So glad that you reached out. Undoubtedly, your call will help others. All we have is today and one another. May you have many more honest and beautiful moments to come surrounded by loving people.

  81. Kati Saarinen says

    Dana (the ast caller on the show),
    I am so glad you called don’t the show. It is often easier to hide away and suffer alone. Your pain spoke to me and I want you to know you are not alone. Many of us have also been there. Me and my sibling are all atheists now, but my brother who first stepped out of the box decades ago had all kinds of judgment rained down upon him, letters filled with threats and bible verses…you know the stuff. It hurt him terribly and I know he still struggles with it. The pain is acute and it is often overwhelming.

    Hang in there, keep up the good work! Persist in finding your people, those who understand and are willing to listen and share your pain. They are out there! Another suggestion I can make in the hopes that it will help is “The Thinking Atheist”. The podcasts are great and there is also a Facebook page and some great conversations happen there too.

    Best of luck. Please get in touch with the show or the blog again soon, because I want to hear you are ok! ((Hugs)) from Canada!

  82. roguetrooper815 says

    My problem with your “LIGHTNING ROUND” is not the lightning round itself but that it’s necessary because you spend a DISPROPORTIONAL amount of time on CALL NUMBER ONE – No matter how relevant or useful it is.

    Dana from Hernando made for a powerful experience yet too long was spent on the slurring idiot rambling about ‘laawws of loorgic….” or something.

    Consider moving through your calls not “quickly per se” but – get to more callers per show to find the callers like Dana.

    Aside from that – keep up the great work.

  83. dana says

    I so totally agree with #86 roguetrooper815. I have watched since I turned atheist and the show began, and the calls had meat on the bone. Now, so many are just meatheads. When their intro takes us into their rabbit hole of nonsense, more could be accomplished by repeating “And your point is?” than by allowing them to ramble as if they’re leading to a conclusion. I am SO grateful I got on, and if not for the prior caller being accidentally disconnected, I would have died of embarrassment if I had been one of the lightning round callers. I cannot imagine anything worse than a 3 second sound bite of a caller bawling her eyes out. I was SO fortunate in that respect.

  84. dana says

    The secular therapy site Tracy and Russell recommended has NOT gotten back with me via email or telephone. I must assume I DO live in an area where there are NO secular therapists. I’m not even aware of any therapists of any degree within ten, twenty, or even thirty miles of this one stoplight town.

    I was SO ready to meet someone, and physically. Not on SKYPE.

  85. Gijs says

    For Dana:
    You say you admire your sister and I understand that is a good thing.
    But what I want you to know is that I (and I am sure lots of other people) admire you for being honest!
    Hope you find the strength and or help to deal with this.

  86. Chancellor of the Exchequer says

    Here we go with the abortion stuff again…

    Round 95: Ray C̶o̶m̶f̶o̶r̶t̶ vs Tracie Harris(and resident atheists)

    Topic: Babies are in the matrix(Agent Smith is after them)

  87. louis cyfer says

    dana, unfortunately russel is not very good articulating his point with callers like that. he gets frustrated because he doesn’t know what to say, and it is frustrating to listen to. matt would have made short work of it. the call was not pointless, but is should have been clarified. ask him questions about what he thinks logic is, and hold his feet to the fire. tracie is good at making points or helping along with accurate questions, but only as a sidekick. russel’s argument boils down to ” i don’t agree with you, i am not a philosopher, i am gonna hang up on you.” russel was very good with you, but he should only be co-host. he is technically inept, gets confused with the lines, hangs up accidentally (today seemed different), and generally uncertain with himself. he is not a bad guy, but he should not be hosting, just not his cup of tea. i think jen, matt, john are pretty much the only ones on right now who can handle hosting.

  88. louis cyfer says

    ray, what agency does the zygote have? you don’t seem to understand the difference that the baby needs care, but not dependent on a specific person. an embryo is a parasite technically, depending on a host organism. the host gets to decide whether they want to grant room and board. and herein lies the difference. what constitutes a person, a human being? a fetus does not meet all the requirements. you might want to think about this a little more.

  89. Noel says

    Dana, if you have any trouble through the Secular Therapist program, I would like to say that most professional therapists would not bring religion into the equation when counseling you. That would be completely unethical, and if you look around in your area you may find a therapist that works for you. Therapists come from a wide range of backgrounds and beliefs, and are not supposed to allow those to come between them and a patient.

    If you have any trouble, at the very least you can find atheists online who will talk to you and help you! I am 25-years-old, and I have no family in my life to speak of. I’ve been on my own since I was 17, and there are many days when the loneliness is heartbreaking. If you ever need anyone to talk to, I am here. I will help as much as I can and I wish you the best. <3

  90. Noel says

    Oh, Dana! I forgot to give you my email address. My email is thefifthnoel (dot) gmail (dot) com! Please come to me if you ever need someone to talk to!

  91. Atheist Jeff says

    Dana, I was very moved by your call and I’m sorry that you’re dealing with so much. It might help you deal with your feelings if you write a letter to your sister and maybe your whole family. You don’t have to mail it, just write it down and decide later if you’re going to mail/send it or not. You asked how to defend yourself and giving a voice to your feelings by writing a letter can be very helpful.

  92. Helicopter says

    @ Ray
    You can leave a baby alone in a cot for an hour and it’ll be fine. You can’t do that with a zygote. That’s a big difference in terms of dependency and development.
    Agency isn’t something that gets granted, it’s something that is exhibited. The instinct to suck a thumb is leagues different from the agency required to consider the options (say, at the supermarket) and make a decision. Agency is one of the many things that develops over time.
    Abortion happens to things that are *nowhere near* the areas of the developmental spectrum where we’d begin to call the thing a person and start granting it rights.

  93. Paul Money says

    @82. Oh dear Davis. Graham Hancock’s “theories” are not supported by any scientific discipline that might be expected to have uncovered supporting evidence for any of them. His books are are strong evidence however, for the theory that dope smoking damages your brain.

  94. jeimii says

    Maybe I am missing something:
    if a man does not want to risk paying child support for X number of years, he should not have consensual unprotected sex with women.

    if a woman does not want to risk getting pregnant, she should not have consensual unprotected sex with men.

    In both cases doing the opposite can have consequences.

    Is saying consent to sex is not consent to pregnancy, not like saying jumping off a tall building in order to experience flying is not consent to injury?

  95. rodney says

    I think Russell is a fine host, we’re all a bit spoiled by Matt, he seems almost born to the role of host. I think all the hosts are still learning the ropes with the new studio. Traci would be an amazing first chair host, but she has said in the past that she doesn’t like doing that. Don’s not that good at arguing his point, he falls back on laughing at the caller, but he shines in other ways, he religion fails, and as I understand it, he’s a major force behind the scenes. At the end of the day, they are all volunteering their time, and I appreciate it.

    Dana, if you can’t find a meetup close by, it might still be worth your while to find one as close as possible, there was an older gentleman that used to come to one of our dinner meetups once a month, and he had to drive two hours each way. I think a secular group finally got started closer to him, and he started attending that one. Maybe you can start one in your area, you might be surprised to find that there are more atheists in your neck of the woods than you realize. One of my co-workers that I had worked with for years showed up at a meetup one night, I had no idea she was an atheist, and she didn’t know I was either, we both had a good laugh over that.

  96. Paul Money says

    You are missing something jeimii. Consent to sex is not consent to pregnancy. Running the risk of pregnancy is not consent to pregnancy and most of all, getting pregnant isn’t consent to bearing a child. There is a moral conflict here, we do have a moral responsibility for the welfare of the unborn child, but in my view that responsibility does not trump the woman’s right to own her own body.
    If men got pregnant, there’d be a lot fewer men putting it about for sure!

  97. says

    @Dana #88

    Is it possible for you to go longer distances? It’s a pain in the ass, but it seems like it might be worth a long day if you can get to someone once a month or something.

    Either way, hang in there. We’re all rooting for you!

  98. houndentenor says

    Dear Russell and Tracie,

    I wanted to tell you both that I thought you handled the last call very well. You listened (I think more than anything she needed to be heard) and provided some options for help and support which the caller needs. You provide a great service. There are a lot of people out there in that situation or who have been in the past. I’ve never been happier to be a fan of the show. You do good work and help a lot of people.


  99. crazyjefe says

    @ DANA
    By this point, you have received several/many comments and are perhaps doing better. I sincerely hope so.

    I went through a similar situation. My father’s father and his and so on were all ministers of a very small neighborhood church. Religion and religiosity were at the forefront of daily life. I NEVER came out, to this day. I don’t care to, for fear of losing relationships with those I care most about. Aside from wife. She knows it all, she knows me more than anyone ever will.

    A large problem with this is that you and I care about these relationships regarding those that care about a different relationship(with Gawd); one in which they have never received even one true response, yet they persist.

    I’m sorry that’s the way it is. Plainly, it sucks rotten.

    So, alas I never came out. I’ve deflected questions by retorting things along the lines of “yes, I believe, OF COURSE THERE’S A GOD”. Because who cares. They know I hold different beliefs than they do from my actions or my emotions in certain situations. That’s enough me for me.
    Where our situations differ, you and I, is (you DID completely come out{albeit discovered and “blindsided”]) BUT also in that you are “ill”. I feel that is playing a large role in all this.

    I want to say one thing regarding your illness. Everyone dies, some far sooner than others. Some experience relatively less pain through life and it’s eventual, inevitable end. I mean to shed your fear of this. You see, you may know relatively how long left you may have. You may have etchings on a wall ascribing the number of days in roman numerals, I don’t know.

    However, you have many many moments left. Moments such as your call have touched so many. Everyone who heard your voice was saddened. Take hold of your moments. Make them your own. Do not be enslaved by this corrupt, fetid fear anymore. It cripples anyone that allows it to do so. The ability to not let it affect you, as with everything, takes time.
    You should continue to reach out to people like the ones Russel and Tracie referred.
    They will help.
    Remember the moments Dana! Spend them with those that accept them to higher/more pleasant potentials than using them against you and making you feel rotten for your possession of them. Share them Dana. You cannot be at fault for such things. You are a product as anyone else is. You will find many like you. You may have to go out of your town(i.e. INTERNET).

    My attempt of sharing “positivity” here ends here. But the moment lives on.

  100. Monocle Smile says

    Does this “evidence” come in anything other than book form? Anyone can make shit up and put it in a book. Wake me up when peer-reviewed evidence gets published in a scientific journal.

    The whole “close your legs” argument is divorced from reality. For one, sex education in the US at least is abysmal. Like, it does more harm than good, for the most part. Secondly, that argument isn’t going to stop people (especially teenagers) from having sex, and ignoring this is just ivory-tower nonsense. I’d rather do something that addresses reality rather than fantasy. Thirdly, access to contraception is rather restricted in many parts of the country, unfortunately.

    All of these problems are either caused or exacerbated by religion. You’ll notice that pro-choice individuals tend to also support more thorough sex education, better access to contraception, family planning services, etc. There’s a tagline I support: “abortions should be safe, legal, and rare.” High abortion rates are a symptom, not the root of a societal problem.

  101. Minus says

    I’m late to respond, just heard the show and wanted to make a minor point about Luke’s angel. It’s perfectly obvious what happened. The teenager thought no one was there when he kicked on Luke’s door, then became aware that there was someone in the room, stopped kicking and ran away. Or, maybe there was an angel.

  102. says

    Dana, I would like to see what I can do to help you find a local group and/or secular therapy. Would you send me an email with the city or town you live in (or maybe one near you if you don’t trust me with that information). Maybe my online searching skills are no better than yours but I’d like a chance to try to help. danielhedgpeth2009 (at gmail)

  103. ZZZ says

    Your voice reminded me of my grandmother’s. There is no chance you or your family are originally from the Kansas City area, is there?

    I find it hard to viscerally believe the fact that there are families out there that will fracture over differences of religion. It seems as fantastically absurd to me as disowning your child because they register as independent instead of republican/ democrat, but that is the difference between religious factionalism and the other forms like national or political factionalism or sports rivalries: religions are far older and stronger and have much deeper emotional hooks in many people.

    Starting young enough, religions can completely warp and pervert a person’s concepts of love and hate and make these dependent on the religion to determine appropriate recipients and displays of each (in order to benefit or not impede the religion). Here is an illustrative example that is similar but removed from your own situation that might interest you, it’s Russell Brand interviewing two Westboro Baptists (crass language warning).

    I don’t have a magic window into your sister’s head, but I’d guess that she does love you and has no idea on how to correctly reconcile familial and religious conflicting interests. She perhaps is being too arrogant to even consider stooping to try to understand you to better convert you back to the ‘truth’. If hell were real, would you or would you not want to go there to rescue her out of your love and devotion if the roles were reversed? If you wished to speak to her again, maybe you could convince her that humility and honest empathetic respectful understanding are worthier attitudes to take than ultimatums and scorn? This seems to me the likeliest path to restore some of your relationship, if you desired this.

  104. Hampeltier says

    Hey guys. .
    I need your help with a moral problem I have regarding reproduction rights and I thought this topic would fit into this thread.

    I will try to keep the story (a real one)
    short , but I want to make myself as clear as possible.

    First , my position and the position of anyone involved , is the position of pro choice atheist and I think we all agree
    to the following statements (as made by Paul Money in #96 ):

    “Consent to sex is not consent to pregnancy. Running the risk of pregnancy is not consent to pregnancy and most of all, getting pregnant isn’t consent to bearing a child”

    Now consider the following situation :
    A happy couple for many years, both still studying, both agreeing to not have kids until much later in life.
    But one day, the unthinkable happens.
    Condom fails, and for whatever reason the “morning after pill ” fails also.
    Now that the woman “feels” pregnant she (all of a sudden) doesn’t want an abortion anymore and wishes to keep the child. Her partner is strictly against rising a child (apparently adoption is not an option for her either) but his arguments seem to be futile. She wants to keep the child.

    So. .what to you think? Should the father be hold accountable for the child and be forced to take care (financial and otherwise ) of the child?
    I am not asking for legal advise (this case happens in Switzerland anyway)
    but for sound moral reasoning to be on either side of the issue.

    I can’t help but to agree to the future father – there should be no obligation to care for the child in the future- but I still feel terrible for the future mother.
    (They are both close friends for a long time ) 🙁

    Please excuse this long post and my language errors.
    This community is great, and the dana call proves it in so many ways!



  105. jeimii says

    @Paul Money
    @Monocle Smile
    I never mentioned the “close your legs” argument. I am broadly pro-choice and I don’t believe in abstinence education. I believe strongly in sex education, the VERY wide (and free of charge) availability of contraception.
    That said, I think the language of ‘consent’ is a little strange (to me at least) and maybe tries to make an unjustifiable disconnect between the action taken the final result. We don’t use that language in other contexts, certainly if someone asks us why we are looking a little bit worse for wear we might respond that: “I drank too much last night and I have a headache, therefore I am going to take a couple of aspirin”, we don’t say “I have woken up with a headache that I did not consent to, therefore…”. If I were pro-life, this kind of ‘consent’ talk just comes across as trying to wiggle out of the unprotected sex someone made a consensual decision to have, and I think there are better arguments to be made.
    Do these two things not present the same problem?
    Drink too much, have an unwanted headache, take a couple of pills.
    Have consensual unprotected sex, get pregnant, have an abortion.
    But why try to wrap it in a consent issue?
    If you want to make the argument that women should be able to have as much uprotected sex as they want and have as many free of charge abortions as they want, as late in term as they want, then make it. But don’t try to wrap it in some specialist consent language. On one atheist podcast I heard, (NOT this one), someone suggested that maybe termination just after birth (they seemed to be talking about a live healthy birth) would also be acceptabile on the basis that they did not consent to have a baby…We call theists out for using language/beliefs/evidence for their belief that they would not accept in any other part of their life, yet we seem to be quite happy to use the ‘consent’ argument in this one.

  106. Monocle Smile says


    We don’t use that language in other contexts, certainly if someone asks us why we are looking a little bit worse for wear we might respond that: “I drank too much last night and I have a headache, therefore I am going to take a couple of aspirin”, we don’t say “I have woken up with a headache that I did not consent to, therefore…”

    That’s actually the point. This and the car accident one Tracie uses sometimes are good analogies to show that the “consent” thing is something that’s just taken for granted in similar contexts. The only reason that comes up is because pro-lifers use it; they claim that a woman opening her legs locks her into carrying a child to term. The “consent” language is reactive, not proactive, and it serves a purpose…engaging the pro-lifers in terms that they use to show that they’re incorrect.

    It is also important to touch on that language because we have people in power that link this issue to rape as well. Wearing a short dress is not consent to sex, but don’t tell a certain group of politicians that. Having sex is not consent to pregnancy. This language is important specifically because there are large amounts of people who just don’t get it; they understand that it’s unnecessary for the car accident analogy (consent to drive is not consent to getting killed on the roads by a drunk driver), but when it comes to reproductive rights, they go into 1950s mode.

  107. jeimii says

    @Monocle Smile:
    Maybe we are talking across each other. I apologise for not knowing the car analogy so potentially the rest of this post is rubbish. Accidents happen all the time, several people a year die putting their trousers/pants on, but there is not a direct connection between the two. You can die any number of ways, but there is only one way that you can get pregnant right? You are deliberately taking action ‘A’ that often but not always leads to result ‘B’. Please can you give an example where the word ‘consent’ is used this way in ANY other situation? For example: I got fired because I hit my boss VS I hit my boss but I did not consent to get fired. I am struggling to think of a situation where we use ‘consent’ in this way accept to create a disconnect as regards to pregnancy.

  108. Monocle Smile says


    Please can you give an example where the word ‘consent’ is used this way in ANY other situation?

    Again, that’s the point. Why do you think the “consent” lingo is generated by the pro-choice side? As I just got done explaining, it’s reactive, not proactive.
    Tracie’s car analogy, which I also just explained if you read carefully, is that voluntarily getting in a car and driving on the roads does not mean you have consented to die a horribly fiery death from getting plowed by a drunk driver. Pro-lifers are doing the equivalent of blaming the victim in that circumstance and then leaving the driver to die in the blaze. We use the term “consent” for the express purpose of demonstrating how silly it is that we need to use it. It goes without saying that consent to drive is not consent to die in a wreck, so the word “consent” is not used colloquially. We COULD use it because it’s appropriate, but like 99% of people understand the principle in this situation. But in a pro-lifer’s world, consent to sex IS consent to pregnancy, so we need to use that language to show that it’s silly.

    Speaking of silly, I think your objection is silly. You’re just complaining about words; I care about concepts.

  109. jeimii says

    @Monocle Smile
    I have honestly, really, seriously never heard the ‘consent’ argument apart from in the sense that a fertile couple, having unprotected sex are suddenly surprised to find that they became pregnant as they did not ‘consent to it on these pages. I do admit though, I am very uneducated in this area, but I wanted to kind of give my opinion having never read any of the pro-life/pro-choice arguments, so I may change my mind (I did see Richard Dawkins tweet, but that is about it), but I thought it was maybe important to get across that outside of (what I guess is) a prolife/prochoice bubble that to a regular person this ‘consent’ issue sounds totally ludicrous. I think the burning car / pregnancy issue is maybe a sliding scale, but at totally opposite ends and therefore slightly disingenuous. For example you could argue that jumping off a tall building is not consent to serious injury, but it is quite likely to happen, further down the scale, in fact at the other end of the scale you have getting in a car, this is not likely to get you killed but there is a possibility, in the same way that even getting out of bed can get you killed. But having repeated/continual unprotected sex a fertile couple might reasonably expect that it would lead to pregnancy, it is not something you actively fill in a consent form for, it is a direct result of actions/risks you have chosen to take. So would you not say that on the sliding scale, fertile unprotected sex would be on the same side of the ‘risk’ scale (in terms of being likely) as jumping off a building VS getting in a car that would crash and catch fire would be at the opposite end?

  110. Monocle Smile says

    Are you American? Because I’m baffled by some of these statements.

    I have honestly, really, seriously never heard the ‘consent’ argument apart from in the sense that a fertile couple, having unprotected sex are suddenly surprised to find that they became pregnant as they did not ‘consent to it on these pages

    What? You can’t be serious. Nobody is making this argument or anything like it. You just fundamentally misunderstand here. The argument is about bodily autonomy; there’s no “surprise.” “Consent” isn’t “this can’t/shouldn’t happen to me because I didn’t consent.” “Consent” means “I decide, not the law.”

    but I thought it was maybe important to get across that outside of (what I guess is) a prolife/prochoice bubble that to a regular person this ‘consent’ issue sounds totally ludicrous

    Uh, what? The abortion issue is one of the very hottest in this country, so a “regular person” is at least aware of the issue and probably has at least a mildly strong opinion on it. There’s no “bubble.” This is common vernacular.

    For example you could argue that jumping off a tall building is not consent to serious injury, but it is quite likely to happen

    So we shouldn’t administer medical care to someone who jumped off a building? Or put a huge rescue cushion under someone who is apparently contemplating this? I’m not confident you understand your own analogies or the issue at hand.

    But having repeated/continual unprotected sex a fertile couple might reasonably expect that it would lead to pregnancy

    1) You are not actually correct here. Humans have a terrible sex-to-pregnancy ratio. You would only be correct under a very specific set of circumstances.
    2) This is very often not the case at all in the US. This is one of several things that makes me think you’re not American.
    3) So what? If you’re going to say that the women should be forced to carry the pregnancy to term even in this situation is akin to arguing that we shouldn’t help people who get hit by cars or jump off buildings. And please, please, please don’t even imply that I am arguing for unlimited, unrestrained, full-term abortions on demand, because I don’t support that at all.

  111. CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain says

    @jeimii #94:

    In both cases doing the opposite can have consequences.
    Is saying consent to sex is not consent to pregnancy, not like saying jumping off a tall building in order to experience flying is not consent to injury?


    I never mentioned the “close your legs” argument.


    I apologize for not knowing the car analogy

    Podcast: GodlessBitches – 2.07

    Tracie (1:21:27):
    “You were irresponsible.” To them, irresponsible means you had sex. […]
    I would like to take all these people who look at it that way and send them to a risk management course. And let them understand that if you’re going to take part in anything, if you’re going to live your life, that means you’re going to incur risk. And what you do, is you take steps to mitigate your risk. So in the case of “I’m going to have sex,” it would be like, “I’m going to have to take birth control,” and that will help me mitigate my risk of pregnancy – which I don’t really want to have a pregnancy. I’d like to avoid that.
    It’s be like saying I’m gonna be a driver, and I’m gonna wear my seat belt. Because I would like to mitigate the risk that I’m injured in an accident. So I know accidents happen. I know pregnancies happen. I’m gonna take birth control. I’m gonna wear a seat belt. And you go out in your car and you drive, and you go and you have sex. And then lo and behold, an accident occurs. And you have a woman who is pregnant, and you have somebody bleeding to death on the highway. You’ve got the guy who was wearing the seat belt. He was in a bad accident. He got hurt anyway. He’s injured. He’s [got] broken bones. He’s got internal bleeding. You’ve got her, she’s pregnant. She took steps, but she still got pregnant anyway. And now both of them are in a situation where the risk event occurred. So what do you do?
    What you do is called a contingency. You have a plan in place that is: if this risk does materialize, this is what I’m going to do. And so the person who’s on the side of the road calls 911. And an ambulance comes, picks them up, takes them to the hospital, where they do their best to fix them up. And fix the damage caused by the accident. And so this woman says, “I already knew before I had sex, I cannot have a baby.” And so she’s got her contingency plan, which is I am not having this child – I will not go through with the pregnancy. She doesn’t have to go through with the pregnancy. Any more than this guy has to lay on the side of the road and bleed to death. […]
    The problem [when] religious people listen to this: they have two a priori assumptions. Number one, they assume that all human life is equal (which not everybody agrees to). And number two, they’re assuming […] that right to life outweighs every other right, which it doesn’t. And there’s plenty of examples where your right to life does not outweigh other people’s rights to things that are not life. Such as, in Texas, if you’re stealing my television set, and you’re in my house, and I shoot you dead – that is completely legal. And so my widescreen TV – my right to protect my widescreen TV, and possession of it – outweighs your right to life. SO right to life does not trump everything. They have these two a priori assumptions they have to demonstrate. You have to demonstrate that a person who’s a vegetable in a coma is just as valid a human being as somebody who is fully functioning – cause we’ll pull the plug on the vegetable, but we won’t pull the plug on somebody who’s gonna get better. […]
    If you [make] plans to mitigate the risk, and if you have a contingency plan in place in case that risk event occurs… this IS, standard, risk management. And yet to them, this is completely irresponsible. No this is exactly how everybody treats risks in their lives, if they ARE responsible. You have insurance to protect your home in case of a fire! What the hell do you think that is!? […]
    But to them, they’re saying, “The only right course of action is to never drive your car.”

    See the show archive for more.
    Tracie had some excellent rants there. I remember one episode where she was gobsmacked that someone had argued that driving is consent to bleed on the highway, but cursory spot checks didn’t turn it up.

  112. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    To CompulsoryAccount7746
    Thanks, that actually really helps my own reasoning. I’m not sure I thought about it quite that way before.

  113. says

    @Paul Money and @Monocle Smile:

    1. Some say that the system of peer review is archaic and is fraught with issues (as is discussed on his own blog:,692470,692475#msg-692475)

    2. Through his many documentaries on the subject he presents first hand evidence by going to the sites and interviewing the most learned scholars on the subject: and

    3. Each of his books provide over sixty pages of references in the back as one might expect from an intellectual paper.

    The science community doesn’t like talking about the possibility of a great flood because it triggers creationists into justifying an Ark but it doesn’t mean that a major catastrophic event couldn’t have occurred and greatly impacted ancient societies. I consider myself a skeptical person and after studying Graham Hancock and Randall Carlson, I don’t believe they should be classified as “pseudo-scientists.”

  114. Chancellor of the Exchequer says

    Hmm, the science community doesn’t care what creationists think, only about what’s verifiably true.

  115. bujesus says

    Hi Dana
    There’s an atheists’ Meetup group in Cross City covering Dixie and Gilchrist Counties:
    Also one in Willeston, FL:
    Not sure how far these are from you, but both are close to the middle of The Nature Coast. Once you register with Meetup, you can use this search form to find out which atheist or humanist meetup is closest to you.
    As someone mentioned, it might take a while to get there, but knowing that you’ll have friendly support on the other side will I hope give you strength. Good luck.
    Regards, Tom

  116. dana says

    @#111 Thank you Tom. I will get in contact with the ones in Williston (two hours away) Someone else on this site found another one in Ocala (one hour away) If it’s okay to join two at once, they have a new member here. I have already contacted the one in Ocala, (one hour away) and am waiting their reply. I had no idea these existed until you wonderful people stepped up to help.

  117. CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain says

    @Davis DeBard #109:

    [Cites Graham Hancock’s “Fingerprints of the Gods”]
    I consider myself a skeptical person and after studying Graham Hancock and Randall Carlson, I don’t believe they should be classified as “pseudo-scientists.”

    Look up pseudoarcheology and you see Hancock’s picture.
    Article: Wikipedia – Pseudoarchaeology

    also known as alternative archaeology, fringe archaeology, fantastic archaeology, or cult archaeology – refers to interpretations of the past from outside of the archaeological science community, which reject the accepted datagathering and analytical methods of the discipline.
    These pseudoscientific interpretations involve the use of artifacts, sites or materials to construct scientifically insubstantial theories to supplement the pseudoarchaeologists’ claims. Methods include exaggeration of evidence, dramatic or romanticized conclusions, and fabrication of evidence.

    Image caption: “Erich von Däniken (left) and Graham Hancock (right) are two of the most widely published proponents of pseudoarchaeology.”

    Some of these revolve around the idea that prehistoric and ancient human societies were aided in their development by intelligent extraterrestrial life, an idea propagated by those such as Swiss author Erich von Däniken […] Others instead hold that there were human societies in the ancient period that were significantly technologically advanced, such as Atlantis, and this idea has been propagated by figures like Graham Hancock in his Fingerprints of the Gods (1995).

    The term for this is hyperdiffusionism.

    Fagan noted that pseudoarchaeological theories simply do not have sufficient evidence to back them up and allow them to be accepted by professional archaeologists.
    Conversely, many pseudoarchaeologists, whilst criticising the academic archaeological establishment, also attempt to get support from people with academic credentials and affiliations. At times, they quote historical, and in most cases dead academics to back up their arguments; for instance prominent pseudoarchaeologist Graham Hancock, in his seminal Fingerprints of the Gods (1995), repeatedly notes that the eminent physicist Albert Einstein once commented positively on the pole shift hypothesis, a theory that has been abandoned by the academic community but which Hancock supports.
    As Fagan noted however, the fact that Einstein was a physicist and not a geologist is not even mentioned by Hancock, nor is the fact that the understanding of plate tectonics (which came to disprove earth crustal displacement), only came to light following Einstein’s death.

    Further background on (hyper)diffusionism…
    Podcast: Archaeological Fantasies – 17 Atlantis (1:09:48)
    Podcast: Archaeological Fantasies – 53 Convergence and Independent Invention (1:02:55)

  118. rodney says

    Yay Dana, I’m glad you found a group somewhat close by. You know, after this episode, you might be a bit of a celebrity at first. I hope you will let us know how it goes.

  119. OnlyTheEvidenceMatters says

    Dana, what you’ve experienced at such a time in your life is why I fucking hate religion. How could someone that respected and loved another human being be so cruel and callous when someone is at such a vulnerable point in their life? And to somehow reconcile it with themselves that they’re doing it for their own good.

    Thank you for sharing something your story and I really hope you find the support and help that you need. My heart goes out to you.

  120. Monocle Smile says

    Attacking the peer-review process is a huge red flag. What Hancock could have done is keep careful records of the reviews, compared them with the reviews of similar papers that did in fact get published, and actually present evidence that some “bias” exists against him (which is how he opens that blog post). Instead, he wrote a polemic. Not a good look. What’s even more laughable is how he, a journalist with a single degree in sociology, opens that blog post talking about how he’s been a part of the peer review process. What?

    Also, the people he interviews are hardly the “most learned scholars” on the topic (this isn’t “first hand evidence” anyway. Please take a science class), and if some of them are legit, he’s engaging in video editing a la Ben Stein in “Expelled.” This dude is like Ron Wyatt with a production crew.

    This is no different from “Ancient Aliens.” Check out this rebuttal, because it exposes not only that the conclusions are incorrect, but that the creators were making shit up. Hancock pulls the same kind of garbage.

    I consider myself a skeptical person

    Maybe you shouldn’t.

  121. Monocle Smile says

    Slight mistake…the author of that post is not Graham Hancock, but we still only have a single anecdote from that person…and the problem he outlined was corrected. Absolutely nothing in that post grants any credibility to Hancock, who has had not a single paper peer-reviewed or published in an academic journal. Even that author writes at the end that it’s the best we have and the community does self-police. Not really sure why you linked that post.

  122. says

    Just caught the clip from the other day. I am SOOOOO glad Dana decided to call into the show rather than doing harm to herself in any way. Dana, if you read this: you have more support than you know 🙂

  123. says


    I love you. Whatever this is worth coming from an in-the-closet atheist with a fake name that you have never met, I have listened to the show, I have read all of your comments, and I think you are fantastic.

    I truly hope you will quickly find a secular community nearby, because when you do, they will love you too.

    If you ever want to talk, look me up on facebook.

  124. bujesus says

    @Minus #99: Re Luke’s angel, I think the major problem Tracie, Russell and all of us are having is that we have no idea what the sound really came from and what happened before and after Luke woke up until the perp bolted. Luke’s assumptions include:
    a) it was a kick, and
    b) it was on his door (despite lack of evidence one would expect to see)
    c) the kick was because the door wouldn’t open (despite Luke opening the door)
    d) the boy was on his own
    e) the boy didn’t know Luke was in his room (how could he know this if he was asleep)
    f) the boy stole stuff from Luke’s dad’s room (despite holding nothing in his hands)
    Even if you accept all these assumptions (which I don’t) this doesn’t lead to the conclusion that an agency held the door closed.
    Here’s a possible scenario that would adequately explain everything we heard:
    1) two boys break into the basement & head upstairs to burgle.
    2) the first steals some stuff from Luke’s dad’s room, then opens Luke’s door & is surprised to see there’s someone in the house.
    3) he then panics and runs out with his stolen goods, allowing either Luke’s bedroom door or the front door to slam shut.
    3) this loud noise wakes Luke up and he’s confused, so opens his bedroom door…
    4) to see the second boy escaping with nothing in his hands.
    5) After recovering from the shock, Luke then concludes from this limited experience that the boy couldn’t get into his room, that the noise must have been a kick and therefore that the door was held closed by angelic intervention.

  125. Maddie says

    Thank you, Russell and Tracie, for hosting this week’s show!
    I laughed out loud when Russell cut off a non-productive call. 😉 Even though it was enjoyable to watch, there may have been a smoother way to do it. I’m glad there was no lightning round this time because it comes across as a time management failure.
    I would like to see more calls of a shorter average time.
    The trick seems to be helping the callers get to a point, clarifying it so it can be answered succinctly and moving on in a timely fashion. More focus. More urgency. Balance that with providing a platform for the callers and taking more time on a call you enjoy. Either way, keep up the good work!

  126. houndentenor says

    I agree about the lightening round. It doesn’t work. But too many calls ramble on for too long. This has long been a problem (and not just on this particular show). The problem there is that the callers haven’t ever said out loud or written out the point they are trying to make. I would recommend that anyone calling into any program try a dry run of the point they are trying to make with a friend or at least with someone online. If you can’t get to a main point in a couple of minutes then the problem is that probably you don’t really have one…at least not a clear one.

  127. Gus says

    Russell and Tracie always run a great show, but the conversation with Dana made me smile/cry. My heart is broken for you Dana, but I am so glad that you were able to reach out, and find this community. AXP has helped me feel grounded and connected to other atheists for a long time now.

  128. says

    Re the Scottish myth guy:

    Although perhaps tangential to his argument (to the extent that he had one, I understood it to be: myths sometimes contain truth, therefore we might want to give them more credence … or something like that?), whenever I think of the power of myth, and especially how impressed many Christians are by the Jesus stories, I think of L. Ron Hubbard.

    In a relatively short period of time, Hubbard’s entire life was successfully mythologized to his followers. Deep examinations into his *actual* life have found that he exaggerated his military accomplishments, his travels, his education—really, just about everything. But pick up any Scientology-approved version of his life and you see all these things respectfully enshrined, indeed, you’ll see a Hubbard who is something like a demi-god. Aspects of each claim are rooted in fact—for example, he did spend time in Montana Indian country as a boy—but also festooned with myth—i.e. he did not hold personal meetings with and learn from Blackfeet “medicine men.”

    The mythical impulse is powerful in the human imagination.

  129. KsDevil says

    Dana should be stark raving angry at religion. Religion took her sister’s humanity away. Religion replaced her sister’s empathy and respect with condemnation and indifference by using the most common tool religion has…fear.
    It’s no her sister she should be upset about, it’s what infected her sister…a different kind of cancer…religion.
    Once Dana can come to understand how much a victim her sister has become, it may be easier to handle the words being tossed her way.
    Hate the disease, not the patient.

  130. Cesar says

    @ Dana,

    I’ve never posted on the blog before but your sincerity just compelled me to extend you a little note, not sure if it’s much help but, first I wanted to say the love you have for your sister is a beautiful thing, and the fact that you can no longer lie to yourself in spite of all that love you have for her is an even a more amazing thing, you have a great quality, which is honesty, and you should never ever give up that for nobody.
    I realize this is extremely hard for you, and this is painful, like I said the sincerity of the call just resonates all that pain and emotions you have inside, although I haven’t had issues like that, just like many others, I’ve been rejected for my lack of believe in a god by former friends and family; I wasn’t close to them so it didn’t affect me as much as it did to you, but I can relate to the situation from that perspective, and I wanted to tell you that with the help and support of the atheist community, things WILL get better, you are going to be all right.
    It’s ok to cry, it’s ok to feel the way you feel, it’s normal to struggle right now, this obviously meant a lot to you, but just look at all the people here posting for you, I know you will find support in the atheist community, there’re a lot of good people out there willing to help someone who’s going through this, myself included.
    So if you ever want someone to chat with, I’m here, you can write me anytime, tell me about your day and tell me about anything, I know I’m a complete stranger, but I just felt like I had to offer. I do encourage you to talk to the recovering from religion hotline, or google any other secular therapy resources around your area, the main concern right now is YOU, you should be looking out for yourself, and make sure you are well but I ask you to please, use the strength of other people to help yourself up, talk and share all you need, those projects are there for that, and you are not bothering anybody.
    I sincerely hope you get better, I send you a big hug!

  131. Mel Eder says

    To Dana:

    I am so so sorry that you have had to undergo all that you stated. Its terrible, no one ever deserves to be treated like that. I live in melbourne australia, but reach out via facebook, email or chat to me. You have a atheist family out there

  132. Frank G Turner says

    Dana, it has been a while since I have posted on here, but I listened to your story. It is actually Monday the 12th and I listened to last night’s call as well.I post on here as I figure that you will see this though I am considering posting on the next blog if I see you post there. I wanted to let you know that I think that you are a hero in that you are treating people with love and kindness despite your disagreement with them when they are not offering the same in return. That takes a lot for people emotionally.
    Many people see being a hero as being something for which you get famous and well treated like a celebrity for having done something honest and selfless. Alas, many heroes are not rewarded for their selfless efforts but continue to do what is moral without expectation of a reward. In many way, the moral act is its own reward. And while you may treat others as you would wish to be treated with honesty and acceptance for who you are, that may not be what is returned, but you still do so.
    I applaud you in many ways and while it may be tough to keep it up, you have the support of us on here, .

  133. ironchops says

    Dana-I am truly sorry for the hell you are going through with your sister and family. In my former Christian mind I would say “I will pray for you and your family to work through this with love.” Now that I am an atheist I say “I hope for the quickest resolution for you and your family to work through this with love and compassion.” It is unclear after listening to your story and reading through these posts if your sister is just being judgmental and hypocritical -or- via her beliefs she is truly concerned for your wellbeing and worries greatly that she will be without your company in heaven. You will need to muscle past the emotions and keep a dialog going to figure this out. I hope for the best!
    You have more guts than I do. I am waiting for my mother to pass-on before I openly proclaim my lack of belief in the literal God/Gods. I guess that makes me a bit of a coward huh.
    @ KsDevil – Should I be mad at Anheuser-Busch for making my sister (and countless others) an alcoholic? Should I be mad at all parents because some abuse their children? Should I be mad at all atheists because a few I know are just uncaring immoral non-compassionate jerk-offs? You paint with a mighty broad brush.

  134. Monocle Smile says

    That’s a false equivalence.
    Breweries don’t endorse alcoholism.
    Child development clinics don’t endorse abuse.
    Atheism doesn’t endorse being a dickhole.
    Religion DOES endorse aggressive conversion and shunning and killing nonbelievers, at least in the case of Abrahamic religions and some others. Read KsDevil’s post again.

  135. ironchops says

    Hi MS, It’s always good to talk with you. –
    Maybe so…I just didn’t like the blanket statement.
    It is an isolated situation I’m sure but 250 people of the 300 member church (I still attend) currently gives money and support to Planned Parenthood (with the hope of educating the use of birth control) and also provides monetary and logistical help to batter women. Just recently a woman that was being abused by her spouse (an alcoholic atheist that raped her) was given a place to stay with the 3 children she already had and given money to abort the unwanted pregnancy, much to the chagrin of some of the givers. The church asked no questions and does not expect anything in return, short of hoping that she will use this leg up to move on to a better life. She does not attend any church that I know of and we (our church) do not expect to change her belief or lack thereof in any God. It is simply an act of care to the community that the church give to this effort. Many others have been helped as well. I guess we may not be a very “religious” church but in many ways that’s a good thing. We do not necessarily take the bible literally although most do believe in the God (a lot of apologetics here which I don’t care for).
    Should we disband the church (club) whatever you call it and stop this kind of community effort because we are a terrible, useless, shunning, killing church?

  136. Monocle Smile says

    Once again, you misunderstand. I’m very happy that you’ve learned as much as you have in your time here, but you miss the point.

    I guess we may not be a very “religious” church but in many ways that’s a good thing

    This is the main thrust of KsDevil’s post, and it’s evident in their last line. Your church is better than the religion. Your church can still be a community of people that does the exact same good things that it does now without the religion. Why do you think we want individual churches to shut down and have the people disband and stop doing the good things? This has never been the position of anyone here, IIRC.

    because we are a terrible, useless, shunning, killing church?

    When did anyone ever say anything like this?

  137. ironchops says

    @ MS
    I’m trying!
    It seems people conflate or confuse religion with church I guess. Your second statement seems to do that very thing when you say we can do the same thing without religion. It seems that dogma gets in the way or something. Anyway this church would not exist if there were no god beliefs, or, at least being of the same spirit (mindset). Its weird! It’s all just one big equivocation.
    I do agree that all of humanity can be better served without “religion”, especially old testament type Abrahamic religious dogmas. After all, if there is a God that is loving then I can’t really believe in all that negative shit that is in the scriptures (enter the apologetics). I personally half-way believe that the original intent of the god believing mindset has been altered by those with mal intent. I have no way to prove that.

  138. Monocle Smile says


    It seems people conflate or confuse religion with church I guess

    Yes, but KsDevil’s post was tailored to specifically separate the two.

    Anyway this church would not exist if there were no god beliefs, or, at least being of the same spirit (mindset)

    But that isn’t true! There are plenty of secular alternatives, and even secular humanist centers. AXP as a whole often advocates keeping the good and chucking the bad when it comes to religion. You describe good things. You can keep them! The religion is irrelevant even if it seems tied in. The buildings, the congregations, even the Sunday gatherings can all stay without the religion poisoning everything.

  139. CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain says

    @ironchops #144 and #146:

    Should we disband the church (club) whatever you call it and stop this kind of community effort

    Anyway this church would not exist if there were no god beliefs

    Are the only things holding your club together brand recognition (dead guy on the wall as its mascot), existential bribes/threats, and reckless pandering to wishful thinking?
    If being a “church” is a ploy to exploit people for the greater good, perhaps it would be better if members moved to other institutions, ones that align with interests of the local community AND their own.

    or, at least being of the same spirit (mindset).

    Different things are different.
    Public venues, hobbies, charities, volunteer organizations, social meetups, entertainment franchises…

    I guess we may not be a very “religious” church but in many ways that’s a good thing. We do not necessarily take the bible literally although most do believe in the God

    I do agree that all of humanity can be better served without “religion”, especially old testament type Abrahamic religious dogmas. After all, if there is a God that is loving then I can’t really believe in all that negative shit that is in the scriptures (enter the apologetics). I personally half-way believe that the original intent of the god believing mindset has been altered by those with mal intent. I have no way to prove that.

    The intent has been altered, by those with good intent.
    You’ve already demonstrated that.

  140. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    Note: Trying to post one more time. I think the autofilters don’t like the Shakesville link.

    The Christian religion–and especially the fundamentalist branches not only downplay, but vilify agency as wicked, evil and “sinful.” And this carries out in modern conversations with regard to issues such as abortion where analogies are often used comparing women to objects in order to show cause for why a woman’s agency can be disregarded in the equation of conflict of rights between mother and unborn. Terms like “consent” are distorted and used in ways we would not use in any other context. A woman who has consented to sex is often said, by such people, to have “consented” to gestation and childbirth, whereas we don’t say that people who consent to drive have “consented” to die in a fiery car crash–and if the crash occurs we understand why the driver would attempt to escape their death, and we would help them escape by offering whatever assistance we could to avoid the negative consequences of that risk event occurring.

    Disclaimer: I’m still pretty supportive of abortion access at any time for any reason, and especially in the first 6 months, and especially in the first 3 months.

    However, I do want to say that I see some logic to the argument on the other side in this case, when slightly fixed up. I post this not really to be devil’s advocate, but for the hope that someone can point out an error in my logic.

    When one drives a car on a public road, one should expect a small chance of getting into a fiery crash. This is not consenting to get into a fiery crash. I completely agree.

    When someone drives a car on a public road, there is a small chance of making a mistake, and causing someone else to get into a fiery crash, through no particular moral blame of either party. However, intent is not magic,
    www X shakesville X com/2011/12/harmful-communication-part-one-intent.html
    and I think the Aesop of that applies in this case: If you make a mistake while driving, it seems reasonable that you should bear some of the financial and moral responsibility for making that mistake, even if you had no intention to cause harm to someone else.

    In a hypothetical world where there is full conscious awareness at the moment of conception, that puts me into a real and serious moral quandary. For two people who want sex, taking precautions against pregnancy is the reasonable thing to do. However, suppose they don’t use the contraception correctly, as if by accident. In my very humble opinion, this creates a situation whereby harm is visited on someone else. The two persons who engaged in sex had no intention to put a new human being into a precarious situation, but by their actions they still did. Intent is not magic, and both had knowledge that this outcome was a reasonable possibility of their actions, just like a driver on a road has the knowledge that they might cause a fiery crash and harm someone else, which bolsters the position of some responsibility in case of accidents. For the driver, for a mere accident, there are insurance requirements to cover such scenarios, and for some accidents that result in death, manslaughter or involuntary homicide are criminal legal charges that can and do happen.

    If we lived in this kind of hypothetical world where a fetus is fully conscious at the moment of conception, I do seriously consider that my position on abortion might be different. Thankfully, I don’t believe in ghosts, goblins, or souls, and the facts of the matter are that IIRC there is nothing even resembling a brain for the first 3 months, and even then, the neural connections are not made for another 3 months, which means there isn’t even a proper brain for the first 6 months of pregnancy. No brain -> no mind -> I give no fucks. It’s just a hunk of meat, and I do not care what you do with a mere hunk of meat.

    Of course, there are still other good arguments, and that is why I don’t know what my position would be after reflection in this hypothetical world. One of the foremost arguments is that for a driver who causes accidental injury to another person, there is no law that mandates tissue or organ donation from the guilty person to the victim to save the victim’s life, and I agree that this is entirely comparable to the sex and pregnancy scenario in the hypothetical world. This idea of bodily integrity guarantees that. However, it wouldn’t exclude legal criminal charges like negligence, manslaughter, and involuntary homicide, which a negligent driver could and would face for making a mistake while driving that kills someone else.

    Finally, I have a different position on bodily integrity than most. I like it, but I don’t personally have it as an absolute value. For example, thankfully voluntary blood donations are enough, but in a hypothetical world where I could save many more lives through “forced” blood donations, I think I would be in favor of such a law. Excluding concerns about unintended consequences, I am also pretty strongly in favor of mandatory organ donations after death.

    I don’t want to think about what my position on abortion would be in this hypothetical world where the fetus has a full conscious mind immediately at conception, because I am afraid that I would not like it. And again, thankfully I don’t live in that hypothetical world. In the real world, basically all elective abortions happen during a time where the fetus doesn’t yet have a brain.

  141. dana says

    Due to the outpouring of support regarding this particular podcast, as an update, I had the first of my scheduled operations yesterday. The upcoming surgery probably will be cancelled as that surgeon does not feel optimistic about the outcome.

    I told my husband that while I was looking at everything as being “bad timing at it’s worst”, I realize it’s actually good timing. My sister knows of my surgery schedule, as well as it being the time of year when christians get to put on their mantle of “peace on earth” and to hell with whomever isn’t christian. Having the options she has, has got to be mind boggling for her. For it is in her court whether she checks in on the sister she once loved so dearly, to see how the operation came out, and – “dammit. It’s Christmas….what am I supposed to do now?” problem. At least those are not MY problems, but hers. At least it wasn’t due to anything I said, but her. I’m resting on Matt’s answer in the next podcast that it wasn’t my fault, and Russell’s assertion that it’s not MY position to defend. I’m far from happy, but it could be worse. How, I don’t know, but the day’s not over yet. LOL

  142. MissMimi says

    I always cringe when I see the caller is from Scotland. They always tend to be weirdos. We’re not all like that 😛

  143. Daltor says

    I understand Colin’s frustration with his unanswered discussion about veganism. Russell is correct that it’s not really relevant to this show, but morality is a big topic here, and it’s very frustrating to see very sound and moral thinkers attempt to defend eating animals as possibly a moral act. Human empathy and kindness should apply to all others, and even Tracie mentions that we are all animals. When you apply your same logic and critical thinking that’s used to deny god, it should be very plain to see that it’s morally wrong to cause harm unnecessarily to others. There is no good reason or evidence to justify it. Anyway, I think Colin and I probably feel the same shame seeing our fellow atheists fall prey to disinformation and confirmation bias at every meal.
    To further my point, here’s a short clip of Dawkins on the subject:
    If any of the hosts wanted to reconsider discussing veganism on air, I’d love to be contacted.
    Science Bless!

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