1. Jack Beckett says

    Just a thought, replace the twisted piece of menstrual floss with eyes with something that can be tipped over sending a signal to the caller that he or she is becoming borrrrrrring!!! This is made clear prior to taking calls. Either host can tip the thing and the caller will be sent a message to make a point or hang the fuck up..

  2. tonyinbatavia says

    I have always considered myself to be a compassionate person, but this first caller has me questioning my beliefs. It doesn’t seem as though Doug wants to resolve anything so much as complain about how impossible it is to resolve anything. Christ, this is painful.

  3. David Heffron says

    Gah, “I don’t believe in macro-evolution” again! Who would say “I believe in inches but not in miles”?

  4. Steven Shuster says

    It may have been useful to suggest Doug look up atheist groups in his area on

  5. David Kirshner says

    Someone needs to explain the scientific method to the creationist caller so he can lose his Ken Ham ‘historical science’ nonsense.

  6. Steven Shuster says

    Without evidence for who the designer is, the argument that something required a designer is meaningless. It is in fact the premise that Intelligent Design proponents try to use to sell that claim.

  7. says

    Just a thought on intelligent design. Surely a designer intelligent enough to create life, the universe and everything could write a book that was coherent, accurate and not full of contradictions?

  8. Chancellor of the Exchequer says

    A JJ Squad episode!

    Doug shows atheism is universal. Sucks that he’s brought to tears by how the situation is unfolding and all the built up emotions that come with it. Doug needs to put primary socialization first, he’s already done the best thing an atheist kid can do and be honest about who they are, a parent should never pass not knowing what their kid/s believe and think. Family bonds supercede any gawd belief. Doug is in the angry stage, really pissed at a cultural practice that pushes more crap than anything.

    I’m really fricking happy that we live in this time, the complications that result from being an atheist can be remedied by the hard work put out by many caring people around the globe.

    His mom chuckling as she left made me laugh out loud, imagine your mom giggling at your stance like, “Yeah but you’re not gonna make me doubt though.”

    Nooo! Not a fucking Ken Ham call! James intends to stick forks in our ears. Is he serious now? Adaptation and evolution “under that narrow definition” Que? “Bacteria not evolving beyond anything other than bacteria”(*snickers*) is a line I haven’t heard in a minute. Macro/Micro distinctions(while agreeing that evolution is real) and then “not observable evidence.”

    All the “Mmhmm”s and he still isn’t getting it, he knows that evolution occurs(is okay with micro evolution which is just evolution) and yet he still rides the needle, all the while hemorrhaging blood down the slide of “but but but.”

    Talking to actual biologists would lay these non–concerns to rest. James, evolution isn’t in the kiddy bag of gawd creating anything, evolution doesn’t speak/point to/dance with gawd. Dissecting evolution theory(which shits all over the tragic gawd non-explaination for the diversity of life) and then hops and skips in the mud while saying, “gawd changed my heart” forgoing the kind of scrutiny he puts on science all together. He(and others like him) should be embarrassed to even behave like this outside of their heads.

    Will found that call “great,” I cannot. Every religious person thinks their religion is the “only one of standing” if you didn’t think that you’d drop it(if you have integrity.)

    Jared got a cute little thing to do.

    James(2) made my sandwich eating a lot more eventful. I’m “very not okay” after hearing that.

    April made this show. You can legit hear the strength in her voice. Wow at her son trying her with that uninspired saying, I’d be offended that my child was so unimaginative to find that saying worth anything. The howling in the background killed me. The high end hypocrisy of religious “I’m more moral than you” people makes the dancing on their bs all the more enjoyable.

    Thank you to April, I feel renewed after that call.

    Thank you to the crew that made this episode possible.

  9. rocketdave says

    Isn’t the ustream chat supposed to have someone moderating it? The troll situation was extremely out of hand today. “NEXT CALLER NEXT CALLER NEXT CALLER” Bloody hell.

  10. Natasha says

    I enjoyed the call from Will, although it came down to God of the gaps. There could be many reasons why the few biologists/ scientists are theists not only apparent design. April was a breath of fresh air. My heart goes out to Dana, the first caller today and the guy who had the stroke. I hope they find people in their lives to make these holidays good. To the hosts of today’s show and all the folks who make this great show work. Happy holidays.

  11. Chief Mojo Rising says

    Doug. Doug, the first caller on the show. shit man it’s understandable where you’re coming from but you can’t think something and stress over it without any proof of your suspicions. the only thing you haven’t really done is present yourself to your dad in the manner of caring son. tell him, your lack of belief doesn’t impair your love, your emotions or your feelings. IGNORE the religious side of this.

    almost everybody alive today has been indoctrinated heavily into one religion or another. during my escape from religion i discovered a few things, entirely by accident. the first of many is that local preachers have a job to promote their religion more than any other, not denounce or discard ones own beliefs just say their god and their religion is the best tool to deal with emotional stress. religions often prey on the emotionally misguided and lost souls who are looking for some sort of emotional shelter (rehabilitation programs, death row conversions, burial and dying loved ones) which is only attainable from whichever religion you approach.

    it took me a decent amount of time, a good couple of years to come to grips with the reality we live in. my mam didn’t indoctrinate me in the sense of “believe or suffer”. when me and you talk of indoctrination, we are discussing the imposition of religion on our outlook, poisoning our representation of others around us. it’s a mental battle, not one of intentional harm,

    the atheist experience aims to expose this in one of the only truly acceptable and effective ways in a public setting. instead of fighting what your parents did, try loving them for being there anyway. they haven’t changed. you have. you’re the one who needs to learn how to present yourself in the same respectable manner.

    in the more recent times since the atheist in me found solace, i have not brought up or battled my mam on the subject of religion, i do however, scoff, giggle and denounce any religious symbols in public view, on tv, in the town center, billboards, wherever i see it, i make my point just as she would make hers. discussing religion with someone you care about can only bring discomfort. being an atheist isn’t easy, it’s why you’re angry, you’re upset that you can see the bullshit and your parents ignore it in favour of “a better place”, when the reality is, they can’t think of it any other way. it’s not their fault. if someone says “god bless you” you can politely ask them not to say such mean things. it is mean, especially when the god they believe in is as cruel as yaweh. my mam doesn’t discuss saving my eternal soul. i told her, IF her god was real, my good deeds should count anyway, IF her god was real then it would be obvious why i disbelieve and shouldn’t be punished for having that position. telling her that i want her to be eternally happy doesn’t remove her faith, if her religion is the only right one, then i sincerely wish she wasn’t disappointed (we know different, mostly)

    i suggest you watch “the invention of lying”…. watch that movie and tell me it’s not ideal for such a lie to exist. watching it with atheist eyes really makes you wonder if you want to tear away such a dramatic dream your parents have.

    i’m not happy with the human condition, but i’m content with the result which is everlasting nothingness. it’s better than eternal ignorance or unlimited suffering.

    Doug, tell your parents you love them. reassure them you wont let your lack of belief dictate your care for them. we know this to be true already, remember religion is the one that poisoned your parents, religion is the thing that should be absorbing your anger. NOT the religious. just the religion, the idea, the lie, the construct designed to instill fear with the intention of creating good people and failing miserably. not too long ago christianity was raping, killing and slaughtering entire nations, just because it isn’t doing it now, doesn’t mean it’s got better. it’s only become to placid to remain in society. most muslims are trying to do the same with islam, it’s the barbaric few which are bringing to light it’s horrible instructions. if those barbaric few didn’t exist, would we even know their prophet had a wife who was 9 years old? my point is this, your parents are trying to use religion to lessen their pain, in turn they attempted to dull yours, just because you changed doesn’t mean they didn’t and don’t care about your well being.

    i think your father is keeping his distance so he doesn’t die in a fight with you. knowing you have cancer is probably a giant kick in the balls, ever strengthening ones own beliefs (or lack of) on the understanding of what isn’t waiting for you to come to terms with. if you knew you would die tomorrow, i doubt someone telling you your belief, lack of belief or faith is not the right way and you should contemplate this instead. reassure your dad, in his (hopefully not) final moments, he just wants you to let him know how much you appreciate what he did, regardless of your position, your emotions, your desires and anything, just tell him what he means to you. ignore the petty shit. time keeps on slipping dude. call him, text him, email, anything. just don’t remain angry before it’s too late.

    this has gotten a little long. i’m anti-religion NOT anti-religious. surely you’ve heard hate the sin not the sinner, same applies here, hate the religion not the religious. your parents didn’t do anything wrong, they’re just as misguided as anyone else about almost everything.

    i hope you resolve this anger you have. there’s no room in life for anger like this. you’re not alone, that is a promise, you’re closer to atheists than you think, don’t let your frustration rule over your reason and logic. people are people at the end of the day, and people can’t help but lie to keep someones spirits up.

  12. Bobby J says

    I think you should re-open your YouTube comment section. Sure there are apologists there but it is a vital area for young or new atheist to hone their debating skills.

  13. nfljack says

    On another subject, I had two Mormons in the neighborhood the other day. What is a good way to approach them?

  14. cddb says

    Loved the part during the 2nd call where Jen was just like “look — it’s not real. Jesus isn’t coming back”!

  15. StonedRanger says

    What April said struck a chord with me. I raised two kids but neither are biologically mine. But they call me dad and not the guy/s who abandoned them. When they were about 7 and 5 years old, I allowed them to go to the nearby Baptist church with Brother Robert. I was an atheist back then too, but figured I would let the kids go to the church and then we could have some conversations about the things they heard. After the second time going there, we were having our little talk when my son informed my wife and I that we were going to hell because we smoked cigarettes. Needless to say they didn’t go with Brother Robert the following sunday and I said some words to Brother Robert that his momma wouldn’t have liked to hear. At that point I decided that the kids could go back to church if they wanted to once they were 12 or 13 and able to do some thinking on their own. I let them go due to familial pressure from her family. When they asked why they weren’t going to church anymore I told them. They all, to a person, smiled and never said another word about it. Been 35 years now and they still haven’t been back to church.

    Happy holidays/merry Christmas/ whatever the heck you wish to say, the meaning should be the same. Enjoy your time off, thanks for the hard work from cast and crew all these years.

  16. titan says

    I feel for Doug. I’ve never had such an experience, but at a certain point, you need to know when it’s time to make people question their own beliefs. Especially when they’re nearing the end of their life.

    For example, if you’re against drugs all your life, you can preach that you should never do drugs in your life. It’s the responsible thing to do. However, if drugs will help them near the end of their life, pump them full of it as long as it makes them suffer less. As a caring family member, a happy comfortable death is the best you can hope for another family member.

  17. Monocle Smile says

    @Bobby J
    I disagree entirely. The ass end of the internet has negatives that vastly outweighs their positives. You’re here posting, right? We get theists here, too.

    There are plenty of ways to make the point without sounding like a piece of shit human being. You chose poorly.

  18. CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain says

    @nfljack #18, #19:

    Hey, John. You’re a hottie.
    On another subject, I had two Mormons in the neighborhood the other day. What is a good way to approach them?

    Maybe don’t open with, “Hey, you’re a hottie.”

  19. RationalismRules says

    I’d love to have been listening in on April’s phonecall with the preacher – shades of Harper Valley P.T.A. !!
    To have come from the point of suicide to her current position of confidence and strength is a fantastic achievement.

    Props to Jenn and John for a good show – especially not letting James (the first) get away with his ‘neutrality’ bullshit that he kept trying to drop and run.

  20. Chancellor of the Exchequer says

    YouTube “debates” are way too atrocious, moderation there also sucks. Young atheists can hone their reasonable argumentative skills off of utube, I should know as I am one(as others here have been) and I interact with other ones daily.


    i suggest you watch “the invention of lying”…. watch that movie and tell me it’s not ideal for such a lie to exist. watching it with atheist eyes really makes you wonder if you want to tear away such a dramatic dream your parents have.

    He won’t be tearing anything of value away, being a decent person for secular reasons far outweigh being a decent person for “gawd says so” reasons(which I know most people know and just attribute their base decency to a gawd.) Religion offers things humans have learned through trial and error with a big, smelly helping of vomit that makes the experience toxic.

  21. Jeremy West says

    Why is it a “harsh position” for atheists to claim that they don’t think that any religious tradition holds up to critical thinking, but it isn’t equally as harsh for a Christian to claim that no religion other than Christianity holds up to critical thinking? This should have been called out!

  22. tonyinbatavia says

    Jeremy West @28, great point. The dude had literally just said no other religion holds up, which I presume he doesn’t find to be too harsh, but when our AXP hosts respond by saying that Christianity doesn’t hold up either he cries foul and says that’s harsh. That guy is bereft of self-awareness.

    Helicopter @29, as painful as I found Doug’s phone call I don’t mind that there are counseling elements to the show. This is the Atheist Experience, after all. I know we all prefer theist phone calls, but the show has long provided a very big tent of topics and has long been free form. That’s what makes it sometimes not-very-compelling and at other times — like Dana’s calls the previous two shows — very compelling. You really don’t know what you’re going to get (well, unless it’s Mihn, who has had the same phone call every! single! time!). And, to be fair: It was one call a show for the last three shows.

  23. says

    My path to Atheism was much like “April’s”. I grew up in the church and tried over and over to get rid of the homosexual demons but one day got tired of fighting to be in the “Christian Club”. Not finding a space to be homosexual and Christian made me look deeper into the religion which inevitably led me away.

  24. jeffh123 says

    James from Phoenix: I am so frustrated when people get their science from the likes or Ken Ham or Ray Comfort. These jerks twist what science is, make up their own definitions and, quite frankly, outright lie to people. I partly blame schools, whose leadership have a non-education agenda. James has “drunk the koolaid”. Not sure if he is capable of being saved.

  25. says

    david heffron @ 4:

    Gah, “I don’t believe in macro-evolution” again! Who would say “I believe in inches but not in miles”?

    how i once explained it:

    you’re in downtown boston. go one block in any direction. you’re now in a different location, but you’re still in downtown boston. go another block. things are getting different, but it’s still boston. keep going long enough and you’ll eventually end up outside boston and in a new city, then a new state; say hello to a new country. that’s how (so-called) microevolution becomes (so-called) macroevolution.

  26. says

    I wish the show had a host or cohost who had a science background. I love everyone, but when the second caller just kept throwing out creationist tropes, I just wanted to bang my head on the wall.

    like “something turning into something else.” That doesn’t happen. It’s descent with *modification.* The first amphibians were modified fish. The first reptiles were modified amphibians. The first mammals were modified reptiles. The first Eutherians were modified mammals. The first primates were modified Eutherians. The first monkeys were modified primates. The first apes were modified monkeys. (Hold that thought.) The first hominids were modified Apes. The first Humans were modified hominids.

    It’s only with millions of years more divergence that the differentiation becomes apparent, and you can always see the legacy of what came before. For example, for all those reflexively saying “apes didn’t come from monkeys, apes & monkeys had a common ancestor,” that’s true for modern monkeys and modern apes, but that common ancestor was, anatomically, a monkey. Old World and New World monkeys form the clade Simiiformes, which is a primate (possessed of diagnostic traits for that level) which has a dry nose, inactivated Vitamin C synthesis genes, and a single-chambered uterus. An Ape has all of the above (it has not “turned into something else”) but has downward-facing nostrils, (placing them within Old World Monkeys) is secondarily tailless, and has a suite of shoulder/hand/spine modifications making them capable of using the hands to swing from branch to branch.

    But it’s always a derivation, not a transformation. (Notice that humans *still* possess all of the above.)

  27. Monocle Smile says

    James, we could have zero history and still assemble accurate cladistic phylogenies just from the species on Earth today. In fact, this is part of why the evidence is so compelling…the fossil record doesn’t need to exist, but it does and the morphological phylogenies match up with the genetic ones.

    No creationist understands taxonomy. That’s the big sticking point. derrickbillings above is correct; humans are technically monkeys. We cannot outgrow our heritage; we can just add terms to distinguish each branch in a trait split. We are apes, monkeys, primates, mammals, amniotes, vertebrates…and none of these terms ever shows up in creationist glurge. This is why creationists always spout the “we don’t see bacteria becoming not bacteria.” That’s not how evolution works. If a population of dogs today eventually looks like little green men in ten million years, they will STILL be Canids! That’s how taxonomy works! I recommend that James watch lots of AronRa to flush the dogshit out of his skull.

    Lol, “common creator” and “interpretation of evidence.” James is a well-trained Ham-bot. Our DNA is very different from amoebas. Why would this be the case if we have a common creator? What couldn’t one justify with this ad hoc assertion? This is why “interpretation of the evidence” is the most dishonest line possible. The whole point of scientific inquiry is to gather enough data to eliminate explanations until one remains. Creationist don’t actually have a model. They don’t have falsification criteria. It doesn’t matter what data is found; they won’t ever admit error. James, if you want to falsify evolution, find a rabbit in a Cambrian layer. Otherwise, shut the fuck up.

  28. Monocle Smile says

    And of fucking course, James’ religious beliefs have jack shit to do with the observable world. It’s all indoctrination and bullshit. “God changed my heart.” Cool story, bro. Why should I care? Why should anyone care? Yes, folks, it is indeed impossible to be an honest creationist. You either have to lie or propagate lies.

  29. Monocle Smile says

    James needs to learn that it is possible to convince skeptics of a position when you have reason and evidence…and that failing to convince skeptics is not a failure of the skeptics. It may be a failure of a particular skeptic, but not the body of skeptics. He seems to think that it’s impossible to change the mind of anyone except with a god.

  30. Monocle Smile says

    LOL at Will. Another kool-aid drinker who doesn’t know anything about anything. I appreciate his advocacy for separation of church and state, but this dude has zero education and doesn’t even understand how to go about legitimately learning things. He reads glurge in his little echo chamber just like most god-bots.

    Fuck. Will’s an engineer. My profession has a shameful amount of creationists and religious nuts, and it’s because of the narrow focus of our vocation’s training. However, I find that lots of folks who claim to be “engineers” are just wrench-turners who never learned the basics of science.

    And now the blatant lies start. I know of zero biologists who converted to Christianity because of their scientific studies. There are a few authors who make this claim for the sole purpose of selling books, but good luck finding a confirmed case with actual evidence. Will, stop reading creationist bullshit and stop reading Josh McDowell or Lee Strobel or Frank Turek or whomever the fuck. These people generate income by lying to the gullible.

  31. shadowblade says

    When did this show become a ‘phone-in for Suicidal Retards Anonymous? The first 40 minutes was unbearable. ‘Phone the fucking Samaritans or see a shrink for Christ’s sake! There’s nothing can be done for you here.

    And ACA etc should look in to setting up some sort of help line for fuck-witted retards who are at their wit’s end due to behaviour of their own making, because this is the worst kind of viewing possible; we don’t need it, the presenters are not qualified to deal with it and it’s not what the show is for.

    I Smell Troll, because the first caller’s story is simply not believable. But then, I am British, not Ameritarded, gullible and brainless.

    What kind of retarded moron harasses his dying father about his religious beliefs, anyway, and then starts crying all over an atheist ‘phone-in show about it? Fucking grow up, you pig-shit stupid cnut. No wonder your family are keeping their distance, you are behaving like a fecking moron, an imbecile, a twat and a cunt, all in one package! How very efficient of you!

    I’d rather have a conversation with Ray Confart, Ken sHam, Kunt Ho-Ho-Hovind and William Lame Crackhead all at the same time.


  32. Monocle Smile says

    Looks like your first comment was deleted as a warning. But go ahead and gun for suicide by mod, if that’s what you desire.

  33. AT says

    On the macro/micro evolution guy.

    So this guy doesn’t believe in forensic DNA evidence either? When investigating a crime scene does the DNA in the hair left over come from the person who shares that DNA or does the hair share a “common creator”?

    The “branching off” is observable. Already discussed: speciation.

    Science has models, theory, etc. Evolution and “branching off” is not only ‘possible’, it is inevitable.

    On technology. Where did the phone you use come from? did you see it get made? That exact phone? Can you design an experiment that proves that that specific phone was made at a factory and not by a creator? It is such a silly, nonsensical standard that is not applied to anything else.

  34. bigjay says

    RE – Reptiles to Mammals

    Something I’m unclear on is the transformation, if you will, TO the first mammal in a certain lineage. Will there necessarily BE a creature that is neither reptile (or whatever it was) nor mammal (if that’s the lineage we’re observing) as far as how it reproduces?

  35. Monocle Smile says

    No. This is largely because “reptile” is only a valid taxa if it’s a synonym for “diapsid.” Mammals are synapsids. As I said in an earlier comment, species cannot outgrow their heritage, so if we’re using valid taxa for our nomenclature, it makes zero sense to refer to something as “neither” of either “side” of its lineage. Imagine asking if there was an animal that was “neither” monkey nor mammal! Taxonomy, more than anything else, demonstrates both the ignorance and dishonesty of creationists.

    Mammals evolved from tetrapods that eventually split into synapsids, diapsids, and anapsids. “Reptile” originally referred to all three under Linnaean taxonomy, but cladistics today is based on single-trait splits (monophyletic) instead of having taxa encompass a host of changes (paraphyletic).

    For reference, early synapsids looked pretty reptilian, but the first mammal-type things looked somewhat like Solenodons.

  36. roguetrooper815 says

    James from Phoenix: When someone says “you’ve never observed evolution” why not ask the caller “have you observed a new species spontaneously popping into view fully formed?”

  37. ironchew says

    The only meaningful distinction between micro- and macro-evolution is time. It’s also a meaningful barrier, if you believe the Earth is only 6,000 years old.

    Considering James was following the bog-standard Ken Ham script, it would have been interesting to hear how old he thinks the Earth is.

  38. RecklessMonkey says

    On the point of scientists who are religious. If this distinction is meaningful then they would publish papers in the peer review literature about the connection between science and their beliefs. Now, these are people who publish papers all the time and know the processes of peer review intimately, why not publish your findings?

    As for the macro-evolution point, and historical science. Not only have experiments been done with Bacteria but Venter showed that the organism just responds to DNA by re-coding the DNA from one species to and implanting it into another transforming it into the new bacteria. So what is the mechanism for changes in DNA that allow for better survival simply stopping? Creationists who see a distinction between evolutions (there is none just evolution) need to show a mechanism that stops evolution once an organism starts to grow feathers from scales or scales from feathers etc. Not an easy job as it means stopping descent with modification. there could be no gender, no shuffling of genes in meiosis so every child would be a clone, sorry the end of sex, for religion on the plus side it would mean an awful lot of parthenogenesis.

    Another factor in case the caller is looking at this thread. The prediction based on fossil record gave grounding as to the sequence, timing and development of all the major groups of life. The DNA evidence backs this up. There is no need for genes in common in Chimps and Humans to exist in the same chromosome for say producing hemoglobin could for example exist in a completely different chromosomes, but they don’t, as could all the other genes that we share with our close relatives. If there is a god then statistically he is telling us he wants us to believe it is evolution. So this is either a tricksy god or he wants to know who is willing to lie to themselves.

  39. says

    At this point many have expressed their groaning dismay at the Doug call. I, too, fear for my own sense of compassion, but I think the time has come for the show to devise some guidelines for “therapy” calls, such as those from Doug and Dana.

    Perhaps there should be a time limit, after which the caller is sent back to the screeners, who can provide a phone number or URL for, say, the Secular Therapy Project. In addition, perhaps hosts should be armed with standard disclaimer language that they can use at any time to send a caller back to the screeners, i.e.:

    “Doug, we really do sympathize with what you are going through. However, we are not professional therapists, and following the guidelines for the show, we sometimes determine that it is in the best interest of both our listeners and the caller to refer the caller to seek outside professional help. With that in mind, we’re sending you back to the screeners, not to continue the conversation, but so they can give you some contact information for the Secular Therapy Project. We wish you the best of luck, and thanks for the call.”

    As far as the six-day creation guy goes: Evolution and speciation are incremental processes that occur over long periods of time. Expressing belief in supposed “micro” but not “macro” evolution is tantamount to ignoring the role that seconds play in changing minutes, hours, years, centuries and millennia. He’s essentially demanding to know why the wall clock doesn’t immediately skip from 1 to 2 o’clock without acknowledging the inexorable slow progress of the sweeping second hand.

  40. says

    @Bigjay #42 – the answer is not neither–rather it is “both.” Transitional species possess a blend of inherited and novel features. The earliest Synapsids were quite reptilian, but possessed some novel skull structures and teeth that were, depending on where they were in the jaw, differentiated in shape and function (something all mammals still possess.) The innovation that split off the mammal line was the secretion of nutritive fluid for offspring from modified sweat glands. They still had a single waste/reproductive tract, and they still laid eggs. (Monotremes, the echidna and playtypus, still retain a cloaca, egg-laying, and secreting milk directly onto the skin.)

    The next innovations were a differentiated reproductive tract, nipples for milk, and live birth. Marsupials and Placental mammals both possess these, but we’re not sure which trait evolved first (as far as I have read.)

    The next innovation was a placenta, to nourish our live-born offspring to a more independent level of development, and these are the Eutherians, the “True Mammals”.

    Along the way we also got more hairy, less scaly, and improved our hearing as vibration-sensitive bones in the jaw (that reptiles possess) became more and more specialized and sensitive, eventually losing their structural function and becoming tiny, dedicated ear bones. But the anatomical clues to our reptile heritage still remain, mostly at the skeletal and internal anatomy level. Exterior traits are among the most rapid and variable evolutionary adaptations. It’s a pity those are the traits that we most readily focus on between different clades.

  41. Kamil Gregor says

    Genetic similarities between humans and chimpanzees are evidence of a common creator? Reeeally? Gree, tree and human DNA is much less similar. Does that mean they don’t have a common creator? No? Then how is it evidence exactly?

  42. neilmatrix says

    I wish when theist say god has changed their heart, or some other tripe like that, that they would ask what their heart has to do with anything other than pump blood!!

  43. Conversion Tube says


    I like to say

    Have you even seen a baby instantly turn into an adult? But you believe they do change into adults over a long period of time right?

  44. Conversion Tube says

    Yes, the guy about the knowing in the heart, I kind of wish you would have ran with that more with him.

    Know in your heart?? That’s simply poetic language, your heart pumps blood. Your heart doesn’t know anything. What you are saying is you emotionally want it to be true.

  45. Jason Waskiewicz says

    I think it’s important that the show help those who are having that experience of being an atheist in a theist family, especially since it is a real thing that family disown atheists for not having an imaginary friend.

    But, I think the first caller was too eager to throw up obstacles in his own way rather than somehow deal with the problem. I wish that discussion had been shut down a little sooner.

    As for the creationist: I may not be a Biologist, but a big part of creationist arguments is deliberate misunderstanding of science. That’s a difficult thing to discuss around when you don’t even agree on what it is. When I have met these people in real life, I find that the discussion serves only to illustrate to others. I try to ask more questions and get them to lay their view out. Sometimes I’ll prompt with things like, “How do we know there are atoms?” or “How do we know atoms are splitting in a reactor?” These are too small to see directly, but we can observe them by other means. Similarly with evolution, Big Bang, and other things creationists don’t like. However, what I find is that they shut down at that point because “God did it.”

    Another tack creationists take is to find some specific example you don’t know enough about. Then, if you don’t know that specific example, they count it as a win for their side. Or they toss a whole bunch of things at you to get you lost in the details while the real issue is a misunderstanding of science. Again, they count that as a win because you didn’t respond to all of the details.

    In general, I find there is no winning with a creationist because to question creationism is questioning their god. The most you can hope for is to get them to think about it later. Perhaps that little chink in the armor will lead somewhere.

  46. RationalismRules says

    @neilmatrix @Conversion Tube
    Matt D has used this counter on AXP, and although it tends to leave the opponent floundering, to my mind it comes across as smartass point-scoring. The heart is a generally-accepted metaphor for the ‘core of one’s being’, and is demonstrably affected by emotions – fear, love. When someone says “I love you with all my heart” we don’t jump on them with “the heart is just a muscle”.

    Having said that, theists use lots of real-world metaphors to attach substance to their fantasies – “I walk with god” and “god spoke to me” are my two personal bêtes noires. I think the reason they annoy the crap out of me is because most theists that I’ve heard use these actually think they’re describing a genuine phenomenon. If you question them they don’t simply respond “it’s a metaphor”, instead they flounder around trying to process the idea that even though god ‘spoke’ to them, they have no idea what his voice sounds like, or whether he has an accent – cognitive dissonance in action.

  47. RationalismRules says

    I just learned that in 2014 Pope Francis declared evolution and Big Bang to be real and not in conflict with god. (Not sure why I’m two years behind). This would seem to be worth pointing out to evolution-is-false-ists like James from Phoenix.

  48. Jason Waskiewicz says

    @RationalismRules As far as evolution and origin of the universe, most of the mainline denominations are not the problem. My background is Presbyterian. I even went to a Presbyterian college. There were no concerns about science. In the Dover PA case, it was a Catholic scientist who provided the most damning testimony that put a stop to that nonsense.

    It is the more evangelical and conservative denominations and the many independent churches which engage in science denial.

  49. RationalismRules says

    @Jason Waskiewicz #57
    Yes, I didn’t make my point very well. What I was trying to get at was I’ve often heard AXP hosts make the point that “scientists X, Y & Z are theists”, to point out that evolution and theism are not mutually exclusive. I thought it might be useful to also come at it from the reverse angle: “Xtian denominations X,Y & Z accept evolution” and I was surprised to learn that Catholics are not Genesis-literalists.
    No doubt the anti-evolutionist caller would simply reject them as not-true-Xtians anyway.

  50. mi tortent says

    @rationalismrules you are much more than 2 years behind, the catholic church officially accepted evolution at the second vatican council in 1962.

  51. Pat Mc Ginley says

    Jen and John. A great credit to the atheist community. Both, extremely knowledgeable, articulate, friendly, welcoming and genuinely interested in the caller’s viewpoint. But, how can Christian’s – like James from Phoenix, who seem to be genuinely interested in facts and truth – so easily, and readily, accept an ancient book, based on a 6,000 year-old Earth and ‘creationism’ i.e. a book so obviously anti-facts and anti-science? Increasingly at-odds with each new scientific discovery, reinforcing the evidence for evolution – hence the increasingly hostile attack-is-the-best-form-of- defence tactics of the powerful, wealthy ‘creationist’ movement. For example, how can the Bible account of early human history be reconciled with the DNA evidence that most people of European or Asian ancestry have between 0-4% Neanderthal DNA, due to to some early humans migrating fro Africa (the birthplace of human evolution) mating with Neanderthals?
    The reason why religion is still so powerfully persistent is its twin very-Earthly attributes i.e. mega cash-cow and powerful tool of control. Emperor Constantine set the template for church/state mutual backscratching. Today it’s evidenced by a deafening silence from religious leaders on wars-for-profit and laws which benefit the rich at the expense of the poor. In return, religious institutions get tax-free status and are main pillars of the establishment.
    Many thanks to The Atheist Experience for another excellent show!

  52. blue says

    Jen did a great job with the creationist. I’ve shouted at the ipad many times ” evolution is a change in gene frequency in a populatioooon!”. It was great to hear it instead today.

    When someone doesn’t understand the gradual changes, I like the analogy of a baby growing up, where each day is a generation. The baby and the adult are very different, but if you look at any two adjacent days the person will look pretty much the same. But that might confuse them. The Boston analogy might be better.

  53. Fuk says

    Hmm. So, we help folks realize life outside of the fantasy of religion. And this show is GREAT at pushing this fact and issue! BUT FUCKING HORRIBLE at reacting to the realization that there is physiological issues that need to be addressed when one becomes a non-theist!!! This show is GREAT at bringing folks to the obvious…but is now gonna bring zero help to seal with what they are dumping on the world????
    If we wanna fuck with folks beliefs and then say fuck off and go deal with the shit that we have caused them to believe!! isn’t that fucked up????

  54. Fuk says

    Nothing like being broken from you belief and saying…sorry piss off your just a dum ass shit and need to grow up! WOW!! How do you not know your own shit caused the issues that are being displayed???

  55. Fuk says

    So this show is GREAT at creating doubt for those theist folks, but when they have those doubts, FUCK YOU FUCKER your on your own!!! And start crying about how the show needs to be popular and keep all its viewers happy, and how your individual compassion is being worn out.
    You Fuck heads wanna do this shit then learn to deal with the aftermath and help them get to where you are and not piss it away!!! Otherwise stop pretending to care!! seriously!!!!

  56. Fuk says

    Your pretty cold. I’m guessing your coming from a background that is ignorant of one who comes from religion, or one that has spite for it. Am I correct?

  57. Fuk says

    It’s along the lines of…I want you to realize your a moron! But when you come to that realization your on your own!! How does one not expect those same folks not to get pushed back into their own theology??? REALLY??? It’s like this show hasn’t thought things through to the end and now are just thinking, “oh shit!!!! folk have issues coming out of religon”


  58. Fuk says

    This show is apparently prepared to push folks out of religion, but helping what they have caused isn’t entertaining enough for the show, so we need to keep the sadness of BECOMING an atheist at a minimum??? Is that is???

  59. Mobius says

    On one forum discussing atheism, a theist and ID supporter asked what the definition of evolution is. I gave essentially the same definition as Jen did. I was then told by the theist that definition had to be wrong. There was nothing controversial about that definition and evolution is controversial. Ergo…

  60. Mobius says

    @59 blue

    Yes, the growing baby is a decent analogy. Another analogy I like is the development of language. Take Old English to Middle English to Modern English. At no point did everyone stop speaking Old English and start speaking Middle English. The change from one to the other was very slow, a little bit every year, a slightly noticeable change from generation to generation. But after centuries, the differences are very noticeable.

    That is what happens in evolution, except on an even longer time scale. Each generation is minutely different from its parents, and its children will be slightly more different. After a great many generations the changes have become enough that those at the start could not interbreed with those at the end and speciation has occurred. But at no time can one say that this generation was one species and the next generation was a different species.

    The concepts are subtle and require some deep thinking to understand. Most creationists seem to want quick easy absolute answers and evolution goes right over their head.

  61. Monocle Smile says

    You can’t fix that kind of eye-stabbing stupidity. Might want to point him to the new flat-earth revival movement and see if he thinks Earth’s shape is controversial.

  62. Mike Zambonetti says

    Okay, not proposing ID is true, but there is still some confusion here. Working from settled scientific opinion that evolution is currently our best model for understanding how life progresses, it does not exclude ID – and even Dawkins has said that.
    ID could be just the mechanism to set everything else in motion – starting with single cells or going further back than recognised life. The rest is then population maths and physics of how certain adaptations fit the environment e.g. streamlining of fish in fluids etc.
    The basic problem of ID is it has no explanatory power for how the ‘designer’ was designed.
    Our science problem is that abiogenesis is currently a hypothesis with some demonstrations of it in lab conditions, but no naturally occurring data points. It does however, beat the arguments from ignorance which leap to supernatural explanations.

  63. Kudluk says

    Perhaps a good exercise for creationists would be to take a photo of a newborn every day of its life and have another creationist pick the exact photo where that child turned into an adolescent, or an adult.

    Also, if “observable” science is all that counts then do they accept things like fingerprint evidence where, in almost every case, a suspect is not observed leaving their fingerprints at a crime scene?

  64. Rex says

    It is a bit late for this, but if Doug is monitoring these comments, he can go onto Facebook and look up North Idaho Secular Society and/or Inland Northwest Freethought Society. This will give him some like-minded folks to talk to, even if he can’t get out much, he can still feel like he is physically close to these folks. They would love to hear from him, I’m sure.

  65. Monocle Smile says

    Shut. The. Fuck. Up.
    It seems almost every show the hosts refer to Recovering from Religion or the Secular Therapist project or something similar, but you have chosen to ignore all that. I’m not sure why you hold the hosts accountable for dealing with one’s personal issues when they’re not professionals.

  66. RationalismRules says

    @Mike Zambonetti #71

    The basic problem of ID is it has no explanatory power for how the ‘designer’ was designed.

    …not to mention that other small problem – that there is no evidence of any designer.

  67. Matthew Hall says

    Shadowblade: FFS man, don’t give people from the UK such a poor image. That post was was fucking unacceptable behaviour. I can’t believe that my first ever post on here, a site that has entertained and informed me for years, is to say this.

  68. itsmejre says

    What recognizes developmental processes as a creative element, demarcating which forms and features evolve, and hence accounting for why organisms possess the characters that they do?

  69. Monocle Smile says

    What trolls trolly trolls as a trolly troll, trolling which trolls and trolls troll, and hence trolling for why trolls troll the trolls that they troll?

  70. itsmejre says

    The core of current evolutionary theory combines natural selection, genetics and other fields into a consensus about how evolution occurs. This ‘modern synthesis’ allowed the evolutionary process to be described mathematically as frequencies of genetic variants in a population change over time — as, for instance,in the spread of genetic resistance to the myxoma virus in rabbits.

    In the decades since, evolutionary biology has incorporated developments consistent with the tenets of the modern synthesis. One such is ‘neutral theory’, which emphasizes random events in evolution. However, standard evolutionary theory (SET) largely retains the same assumptions as the original modern synthesis, which continues to channel how people think about evolution.

    The story that SET tells is simple: new variation arises through random genetic mutation; inheritance occurs through DNA; and natural selection is the sole cause of adaptation, the process by which organisms become well-suited to their environments. In this view, the complexity of biological development — the changes that occur as an organism grows and ages — are of secondary, even minor, importance.

    This ‘gene-centric’ focus fails to capture the full gamut of processes that direct evolution. Missing pieces include how physical development influences the generation of variation (developmental bias); how the environment directly shapes organisms’ traits (plasticity); how organisms modify environments (niche construction); and how organisms transmit more than genes across generations (extra-genetic inheritance). For SET, these phenomena are just outcomes of evolution. For the EES, they are also causes.

    Valuable insight into the causes of adaptation and the appearance of new traits comes from the field of evolutionary developmental biology (‘evo-devo’). Some of its experimental findings are proving tricky to assimilate into SET.
    Particularly thorny is the observation that much variation is not random because developmental processes generate certain forms more readily than others. For example, among one group of centipedes, each of the more than 1,000 species has an odd number of leg-bearing segments, because of the mechanisms of segment development.

    This concept — developmental bias — helps to explain how organisms adapt to their environments and diversify into many different species. For example, cichlid fishes in Lake Malawi are more closely related to other cichlids in Lake Malawi than to those in Lake Tanganyika, but species in both lakes have strikingly similar body shapes. In each case, some fish have large fleshy lips, others protruding foreheads, and still others short, robust lower jaws. SET explains such parallels as convergent evolution: similar environmental conditions select for random genetic variation with equivalent results. This account requires extraordinary coincidence to explain the multiple parallel forms that evolved independently in each lake.
    A more succinct hypothesis is that developmental bias and natural selection work together. Rather than selection being free to traverse across any physical possibility, it is guided along specific routes opened up by the processes of development.
    Another kind of developmental bias occurs when individuals respond to their environment by changing their form — a phenomenon called plasticity. For instance, leaf shape changes with soil water and chemistry. SET views this plasticity as merely fine-tuning, or even noise. The EES sees it as a plausible first step in adaptive evolution. The key finding here is that plasticity not only allows organisms to cope in new environmental conditions but to generate traits that are well-suited to them. If selection preserves genetic variants that respond effectively when conditions change, then adaptation largely occurs by accumulation of genetic variations that stabilize a trait after its first appearance. In other words, often it is the trait that comes first; genes that cement it follows sometimes several generations later. Studies of fish, birds, amphibians and insects suggest that adaptations that were, initially, environmentally induced may promote colonization of new environments and facilitate speciation.

    Some of the best-studied examples of this are in fishes, such as sticklebacks and Arctic char. Differences in the diets and conditions of fish living at the bottom and in open water have induced distinct body forms, which seem to be evolving reproductive isolation, a stage in forming new species. The number of species in a lineage does not depend solely on how random genetic variation is winnowed through different environmental sieves. It also hangs on developmental properties that contribute to the lineage’s ‘evolvability’.
    In essence, SET treats the environment as a ‘background condition’, which may trigger or modify selection, but is not itself part of the evolutionary process. It does not differentiate between how termites become adapted to mounds that they construct and, say, how organisms adapt to volcanic eruptions. These cases as fundamentally different.
    Volcanic eruptions are idiosyncratic events, independent of organisms’ actions. By contrast, termites construct and regulate their homes in a repeatable, directional manner that is shaped by past selection and that instigates future selection. Similarly, mammals, birds and insects defend, maintain and improve their nests — adaptive responses to nest building that have evolved again and again.

    This ‘niche construction’, like developmental bias, means that organisms co-direct their own evolution by systematically changing environments and thereby biasing selection.

  71. Monocle Smile says

    Pretty sure the troll’s last post is violating something, since it’s the first half of a Nature article with no attribution. Unwittingly, the article undermines everything the troll has preached thus far.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *