Comments

  1. The Eh'theist says

    I’ve tried to find some information on the Identity Theory Framework that was discussed, but I’ve gotten back a number of conflicting answers from google, none of which sound like what Tracie was describing. Could you please post a couple of references as a starting point? Thanks.

  2. AndyH says

    If everything is designed then contrast is removed and design becomes meaningless. Ask a theist what isn’t designed or what isn’t evidence for god and then try to get them to describe what hot/cold would mean in a world where everything is always the same temperature.

  3. Dyan Fairbanks says

    At 49 minutes in when the man spoke that on the show Who Wants to be a Millionaire that the majority of the audience is always right….is WRONG….here is one occasion:

  4. Mike Hu says

    I have a different approach to slavery and morality. If morality is about well-being, as Matt stated many time, and the 2 most common way for someone to become a slave is 1) sold into slavery willingly 2) prisoner of war(sold into slavery unwillingly).
    in the case of #2, the options are 1) let the person go, then the prisoner may come back the kill me and my family, and that is against my well-being. 2) kill him, that is against his well-being. 3) Make him a slave seems to be the more moral choice.

  5. Monocle Smile says

    Billy the “front-loaded intelligent design” babbler is back, with even more word salad and falsehoods. This guy is grinding my gears about as much as the whiny teenage trollass from the past couple of months. I can’t tell if his voice is fake or just fucked up somehow.

    Oh, back to this “old book” garbage again followed by butthurt at the hosts, just like last time when he bitched at Russell.

    Wait, Douglas Adams’ puddle analogy is confusing? The fuck? Something is wrong with Billy. I don’t know whether to feel sorry for him or increase my disdain.

  6. thebookofdave says

    The story of Exodus depicts a population just released from bondage, strongly implying a multigenerational existence as property instead of owners. It would have been trivially easy for a deity to impose a moral prohibition against owning humans, for a people with no recent tradition of enslaving others. The Torah even lists similar rules to differentiate the Israelites from their former oppressors. If God mandates hospitality to foreigners, then universal emancipation isn’t much of a stretch. Anyone who argues that their deity was helpless to prevent injustice is not only selling their god’s power and moral authority lower than modern standards, they are ignorant of the broader narrative in their own holy book.

  7. says

    I would like to know what AXP thinks of Jordan B. Peterson using the stories of the archetypes to facillitate meaning through jungian , nichzteian , Fyodor Dostoevsky ETC… with his theory on MAPS OF MEANING and there is a BRILLIANT deconstruction of the story of PINOCCHIO also inside it . He is not an Athiest to my knowlegde . (I may not have asked or structured my argument properly but it just more of an opinion with an interrogative ?????? Just curious what they think of the left’s (neo-marxists & post modernists) that is destroying AMERICA and NOT Donald Trump ) I know they are left of right ,but I’m really not trying to be mean at all (sniff crying a tad ) It a real problem since I don’t know where I belong with all this information and truths why is the right so non-atheistic ? I don’t like the left neo-cons (,but I’m not a NAZI etither) More anarchististic and libertarian then authoritarian and socialistic (like berniecrats) ETC.

    I’m Aware AXP and the ACA can’t give a political opinion ,but I have smelled the decescent of the current Athesits like Matt, Aron ra, Tracie , Jen , Russels do i belong as an atheist when i support people like ANN coulter, Milo Yinnaopolous , Gavin McGinnis, Anthony Cumia , Mike Cernovich , Lauren southern , Ben Shapiro < stephen molneux , Brietbart, Paul Joeseph Watson etc…..

    Where do I belong I'm Pro-gay , Pro-Choice in extreme rape and incest situations, Pro- nationalism ( WE ARE AMERICANS AND ILLAGALS AREN'T ) ANTI- GLOBALIST UNLELECTED OFFICALS DICTATING WHAT TO DO AS PUBLIC POLICIES AND EDUCATION (LIKE CREATIONISM INTERJECTED INTO SCHOOLS) IM PRO METHODOLOGICAL NATURALISM < I AM PRO DRUG ( THE DRUG WAR IS RACIST AND SILLY )

  8. Monocle Smile says

    The incest thing is a pretty nuanced issue, and I think Matt and Tracie handle it well. There are some reasons for opposing incest, and IMO they relate to the fact that incestuous behavior and thoughts can be symptomatic of actual psychological and emotional problems. Incestuous relationships often involve unhealthy power dynamics, at least in an American cultural milieu.

    However, this doesn’t actually mean that incest itself is immoral. More information is needed to judge whether or not a particular incestuous relationship or event is of questionable morality.

  9. Monocle Smile says

    Hey, indoctrinated Kris is back and is so much worse than last time. I’m a huge fan of how that call was handled. They haven’t gone the “pray and ask god for guidance during your call” route.

  10. Simon & Mrs Wendy Hosking says

    Hi

    Decades ago I was once at a bush dance (no banjos or country music mind you) and got friendly with a girl that I had just met – so I thought. We were about to get considerably more friendly when she insisted that she knew me from somewhere. Turns out we’re first cousins (I have a large family)! We had met, briefly a number of years ago.

    This didn’t worry me as I had no intentions of starting a family – just plain sex. It did worry her and the rest of my evening was less fun than I had been hoping.

    I fail to see how my intentions were immoral. Assuming she had consented (and only if she had consented of course) – what harm would I have done?

    Oh – and don’t insult the work of Douglas Adams – that’s about as sacred as things get.

    – Simon

  11. Monocle Smile says

    I’ve gotten the bullshit line of “I won’t provide evidence because you won’t become a Christian anyway” before. Matt is entirely correct that it’s utterly irrelevant. It’s just another in the very long line of crap-ass excuses for holding a position with zero real support.

    I wish I could say I was surprised that Matthew is projecting his own faults onto the hosts, but I’m not. And of course, we have yet another theist who tries to rationalize slavery with a bunch of sloppy soundbites and awful apologetics.

  12. t90bb says

    Took a few weeks but Johnny couldn’t help himself. He had to call back so Matt could finish kicking his ass!!! And a brutal ass kicking it was……..and you know…I HAVE BEEN PRAYING TO THE FLYING SPAGHETTI MONSTER that Johnny would call back….and he did!!! SEEE>>>>>prayer works and the FSM is REAL!!!

  13. marx says

    The prologue of the show pretty much sums up the journey of my life.
    Thanks Tracie!!!

    I wonder if Zach is related to Mark from Stone Church?

  14. Lazarus says

    All praise the glorious Intelligent Design of the eye worm, it is such a beautiful thing to behold… until it eats your eye out that is…

  15. alvin says

    I enjoyed the show, thank you to everyone that contributed. I enjoyed hearing the crew / live audience’s applause on a couple of occasions. Incidentally AXP used to have a camera shot of the production booth at the public access studio, don’t know whether that’s an option now but it would be a nice touch should the crew not object!

    Tracie and Matt comeplement each other perfectly as co-hosts and I invariably like their shows even when caller quality isn’t great. I enjoy Tracie’s segment at the beginning, she’s an excellent communicator. Matt can get passionate and even angry during calls whilst Tracie is sat back with a smile on her face choosing her moments and always making them count. Both the hosts work well as a team but I was totally with Tracie when Matt cut off the caller, even if there’s no persuading them, there’s often value in teasing out more of the contradictions in their position. For this viewer anyway if not for the caller themselves or Matt’s blood pressure!

    The final caller helped give the show a strong finish. Slavery must be amongst the hardest subjects for believers to reconcile and Matt as ever did a brilliant job of bringing an unwilling, diversion seeking caller to the crux of the matter. His finish was fiery, passionate, laced with Biblical quotations and righteous anger. What a loss to the Southern Baptists he was! What a gain for rational thinkers everywhere.

  16. Bret Frost says

    An all powerful ‘mind/brain/god’ that created the universe and everything in it. Yet this entity is incapable of simple communication. Instead of just showing up and talking, it points to verses in a dubious book to selected faithful people. Every human has specialized parts which enable us the sense the world. Eyes for seeing, skin for touch and temperature detection, etc. Has anyone identified the organ which allows access to god? Or any organ that allows ESP? We know the brain can do wonderful things but it needs something to stimulate it. Ask the faithful what organ they use to talk to god and where it is located. Then ask why science has failed to locate it.

  17. Ric Millen says

    Matt and Tracie are a good combination. Tracie tempers Matt’s propensity to hang up too frequently on callers who spout common indefensible claptrap. It is (almost) always better when such callers are encouraged to defend and explain their often odd and badly thought out (or not thought about at all) statements…

  18. says

    >2) prisoner of war(sold into slavery unwillingly).
    in the case of #2, the options are 1) let the person go, then the prisoner may come back the kill me and my family, and that is against my well-being. 2) kill him, that is against his well-being. 3) Make him a slave seems to be the more moral choice.

    So, would it have been a more moral decision after WWII if the allies had killed or enslaved the Axis forces?

  19. johnjnesbit says

    I always enjoy watching and listening to Tracy and Matt. I do find it difficult to see them working so hard to communicate with the theists who do not observe common courtesy and reasoning in conversation. The theists almost always say that they want to learn something with a question, but they do not even want to listen to an honest and sincere answer to their questions. And turn their air time into a ‘preach fest’. It is frustrating to try and reach a mindless sound byte as they often appear to be during the shows. Matt tries to maintain, but the obstinacy becomes too much to endure, and he has to hang up on them. Which is more often than not, a very good thing. Perhaps a strong reminder should be repeated, “this is The Atheist Experience, and not a game show for theists to try and vanquish atheism and the shows hosts.” Keep the focus on caller honesty, throughout.

  20. says

    Regarding the request for more information on Identity Theory:
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4429799/

    Try googling “James Marcia,” “Identity Status.”

    Another researcher, Erik Erikson also has done a lot of work, but it was earlier/contemporary with Marcia, and ultimately Marcia’s ideas became more of a foundation for the rest of the thinking. The four statuses, “Identity Achievement,” “Identity Foreclosure,” “Identity Diffusion” and “Identity Moratorium,” will also likely yield hits. “Identity Foreclosure” is where I was as a christian–high level of commitment, low level of investigation (although, as stated on the show, I *thought*, at the time, I’d really put a lot of thought into it. I had–but all that thought was put in within a very narrow area of consideration, and mainly within the boundaries set by my indoctrination). “Identity Achievement” is more where I am now. I have commitment levels a bit less high than they used to be, because I see investigation as ongoing and believe that any views I hold are subject to change. Levels of investigation have gone up significantly, as I am now aware of and able to research areas I was previously unaware of, had been fed misconceptions about (so that I thought I knew about them, but actually didn’t understand them–and so didn’t check into them like I might have if I didn’t think I already had the information), or that had been unfairly discredited (a lot like Chris’ call where she has absorbed the idea that faith is superior to evidence and reason, if you accept this, your attitudes toward valid criticisms will be very different than if you had been taught the actual value of those things).

    Basically, the way indoctrination works is that it convinces people they have correctly committed to concepts they have robustly investigated, while taking steps to ensure they don’t robustly investigate, but still come away with the impression they did.

    And again, I’m not saying this is a universal experience. I’m saying it’s an experience many of us, who were previously fundamentalists, seem to be expressing, and it appears to me that this particular model of identity goes pretty far in explaining what makes us feel so differently about our beliefs and ideas post-indoctrination.

  21. KansasAtheist says

    Two individuals decide to procreate. Those two individuals are aware they could pass a genetic disease to the child that could lead to death or diminished quality of life. Isn’t this a violation of well-being?

  22. indianajones says

    @19
    Oh Bret. Oh Bret, oh Bret, oh Bret. Look, I agree with you 100%. I do, really really do. But I hate the way you get to your point.

    It is easily refutable by ‘It is all your senses that utterly confirm gerd! The trees! The pretty sunsets!’

    Your argument here is the subject of memes that crop up all the time on facebook.

    I love (LOVE!) where you are going with it, but when we meet their argument with arguments unworthy of their steel, it inevitably weakens the steel of the actual superiorly steely arguments we actually do have at our trivially disposable availability.

    You know, and I know, that the sum total of 58gazillionty x zero = zero. But there are those in the WWW (Wild Wild World) that may see this kind of stuff that don’t! That is where your audience is, you won’t convince your protagonist. Talk to your audience (Please!) not to them for better results towards what I think you and I both want.

  23. gshelley says

    I enjoyed the morality discussion.
    In the past, whenever morality has come up, I’ve felt a little frustrated that the hosts rarely attempt to find out what the caller even means by morality, so was glad to see them try, even if it was a lot more difficult to get an answer than I would have thought.
    If the caller hadn’t been cut off (and had been able to show restraint and deal with questions, rather than attacking Matt/Tracy’s answers), I’d have liked to see what he thought of the “well being as the source” argument. This would be easy to have as a discussion, as Matt and Tracy were able to say they didn’t care about his view of what made something moral (ie “written on the heart”), so he’d have no excuse for avoiding answering if he thought their view was one that mattered.

  24. says

    >Two individuals decide to procreate. Those two individuals are aware they could pass a genetic disease to the child that could lead to death or diminished quality of life. Isn’t this a violation of well-being?

    The fact is that every couple who procreates runs a risk of producing offspring that have congenital issues, from mild to severe. We don’t hold people responsible for the outcome simply because they are all aware that negative outcomes occur. Using your thinking, I could ask if anyone who produces a child is acting morally, because they have all put their offspring at risk of congenital defects, with foreknowledge?

    If a person has a 30% risk of having a child with a mild hearing impairment–are they immoral for reproducing? If they have a partner with the same capacity, that creates a 60% risk, are they immoral?

    If a person has a 5% risk of producing a child with a terminal heart condition, and they reproduce, are they immoral?

    If a couple has no idea what they are at risk for, let’s say one is adopted and has no family medical history, and they reproduce, is that immoral?

    If people don’t know their own risk, should they use general population stats? In which case, we could go with something like this:

    “Every 4 ½ minutes, a baby is born with a birth defect in the United States. That means nearly 120,000 babies are affected by birth defects each year.”
    https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/birthdefects/facts.html

    And again, is every couple that reproduces now putting a child at risk of harm? Is reproduction inherently immoral?

    Where are the lines? This is why we don’t draw them in these cases.

    Additionally, if you find out your child could have Downs before it’s born, is it immoral to abort it? Are there no happy people with Downs who value their lives and believe they have a sufficient level of well being to justify continued existence and happiness? There is a divide between having a child with a natural genetic abnormality, and actually proactively taking action to harm a person, to say, cause brain damage. Who has diminished the well being of the Downs child? The person who has it, or the person who chooses not to have it? Again, this is why we tend to step off in situations were there is a natural percentage of risk that is not the same as proactive intent to harm. The tendency is not to hold people personally to account for natural outcomes.

  25. KansasAtheist says

    @27 I was just asking a question that popped up along my train of thought. I didn’t in anyway declare them immoral. I agree with your point about people not knowing they’re at risk and not holding them responsible for natural probabilities. I’m not sure that we shouldn’t hold people accountable when they do know. Is harm something that’s only intentional? Is unintentional harm still harm? Could you elaborate on the natural outcome concept? It seems if an individual could pass on a gene, knowingly, which would result in death or a diminished life of a child, “natural outcomes” are arbitrary. Maybe you (and others) could expand on that? I guess it depends on whether the gene has a 5% chance of being passed on or 90% chance of being passed on?

  26. Monocle Smile says

    @Mike Hu
    Yeah, that’s pretty deplorable. There are plenty more choices and added layers of complexity, but of course, those choices don’t fit your argument, so they get ignored.

    @Robert W
    O_O
    You okay, bud?

  27. KansasAtheist says

    I’m looking to start a local community group for secularists, atheists, and believers in doubt. Does anyone have any advice on getting started?

  28. Monocle Smile says

    @Kansas
    MeetUp is a decent option. There might already be a group, so check it out. Facebook groups aren’t bad, either.

  29. KansasAtheist says

    @Monocle
    Thanks. I’ll try MeetUp. While I certainly value Facebook as a tool for communication, nothing beats being able to discuss things and organize events like quality facetime haha. Thanks for your help.

  30. Joe says

    From Post#21 responding to Post#7 ….
    “…So, would it have been a more moral decision after WWII if the allies had killed or enslaved the Axis forces?”

    There are of course more options than those assumed in the original Post#7. For example, what did the Allies actually do after WWII? Well, the Allies did kill some (after they were given a trial at Nuremberg for crimes against humanity), some were sent to prison like Albert Spear (prison is kind of like being a slave — which is what Spear was convicted of, the use of forced labor), and most ordinary German soldiers were set free.

    So, there are many options and degrees of punitive actions possible using our moral judgments — using the facts, logic, and of course evidence — to guide our actions, and I would add that as humans we might get it wrong sometimes (e.g. some guilty Germans did not get punished, some were punished more than warranted, etc… but humans are not a perfect triple omni-God who has all the facts at hand).

    There is no escaping the fact the the God of the Bible failure to prohibit, condemn, etc… slavery (as implemented per the Bible) is a major moral defect. Preachers in the South defended slavery as they implemented it back then on Biblical grounds (from both the Old and New Testament). See for example
    this link: https://www.civilwar.org/learn/articles/why-non-slaveholding-southerners-fought

  31. drtj says

    Darn it, it seems I will have to stop criticizing Donald Trump about his comments about Ivanka (“if Ivanka weren’t my daughter, perhaps I would be dating her.”, “she’s got the best body”, “Is it wrong to be more sexually attracted to your own daughter than your wife?”) because she is an adult and seems to consent. Oh well, there are plenty of other things for which to criticize Trump.

    Also, the callers on this particular show seemed to say some of the strangest and most illogical things I’ve heard on the show in a long time. They just went to really weird places to try to make a point.

  32. t90bb says

    This is directed to Mike H author of post number 7…..Good try to justify making humans “property.”, but I see some problems with your rationalizations….and excuses…

    1. You claim “willing” slaves may have been sold into “slaveship” and appear to think that is moral. Did debtors “willingly” enter into slave/slave owner arrangements??? It is entirely possible some may have. But the ALMIGHTY magic Sky Genie could not have introduced the concept of work for pay??? To pay off debts??? Without the stipulation of being owned as human property??? After all….you claim the is the infinitely brilliant master of the universe, correct??? And why special arrangements for Jews??? And why do Jewish male slaves get to be freed after 6 years but females slaves never offered freedom???

    2. Prisoners of war you say?? Where specifically does it say that slaves were only those “willing” and prisoners of war?? Citation please! What the BABBLE does say is that the jews “could buy their slaves from the heathen around them”…..it makes no reference to prisoners of war. Could some of the slaves been prisoners of war?? Possibly. The Magical Sky Genie instructs the early JEWS to conquer many peoples…AND KILL THEM. Other than keeping some virgin women as “spoils” it makes no note of any instruction to keep some alive as slaves. BTW….what do you think the book had in mind for those virgin women??? Hmmm….very moral!!

    OWNING other humans as property is immoral to me..period. Women slaves were NEVER FREED. Offspring of slaves were also PROPERTY of the slave owner.

    IF you can justify the concept of owning other humans as property that you could beat, then thats you. If so, I am just really grateful that I do not know you.: Its sad the depths that otherwise decent people have to sink yo. so that their book of fairy tales can be upheld. Mostly so they can cling to the belief they may live forever to polish Sky Genies nails and remind him how incredibly wonderful HE is!!!

  33. William Young says

    At 10:59:

    T: “… what I’m labeling as beliefs, and I look back at what I labeled beliefs before… ”

    M: “That you may not have actually believed them… ”

    Where theism is concerned, it now oddly seems as if I never believed. That, in spite of long past words and action that say otherwise. Not having been strongly indoctrinated as a kid, outside culturally; living in the Bible Belt, probably has much to do with this. God was little more important than Santa, and church attendance was rare and as a family experience non-existent (thanks mom and dad!).

    And while searching for identity development theory information, I found a relevant quote of Arthur Chickering:
    “While some epiphanies are dramatic and sudden, most occur gradually and incrementally. We may not know for years that a single lecture or conversation or experience started a chain reaction that transformed some aspect of ourselves. We cannot easily discern what subtle mix of people, books, settings, or events promotes growth. Nor can we easily name changes in ways of thinking, feeling, or interpreting the world.”.

  34. arachneveritas says

    t90bb missed the obvious error in Mike Hu’s argument. He lists choices of what to do with those captured in war but it is not a complete I list and misses off what we actually do today.
    If you want to know what that is, Mike Hu, I suggest you read the snappily titled ‘Convention relative to the Treatment of Prisoners of War, Geneva July 27, 1929’. Funny how things like that aren’t in the bible, isn’t it.

  35. t90bb says

    and for johnny…….ohhh GOD set rules allowing for ownership of other humans….and oppression……..BUT according to you JESUS vaguely cleared that up……… wait……..the father and the son are actually the same god in different forms……it seems your God has a dual personality disorder////…..perhaps HE does a bit of drinking????? might i suggest THERAPY for your very confused deity????

  36. ybhco says

    Around the 1:05:00 mark, I thought Drake’s question about “lying with bad intentions” was an interesting question that I haven’t heard often on the show. And none of the panel nor the caller was able to provide any examples, but I’ll try a few: Let’s say your neighbor’s on vacation, and you hate that neighbor. And let’s say they call and ask you if their house is okay. And let’s say you look outside and it’s on fire. If you lie and tell them you’re not home (because you don’t care if the house burns down), is that immoral? I guess what I’m taking about here is SELFISH intentions. What if a neighbor has an aggressive dog, and it’s on your property, and you shoot it then bury it, then lie to the neighbor about not seeing it? You’ve got every right to shoot an aggressive animal on your property, and maybe you enjoy the fact that it’s dead. Is that lying for bad intentions? And if so, is it immoral? One more example of selfish lying: Let’s say you’ve got a member on your team at work who is bad at their job and costing you money (personally). You lie about them stealing from the company to get them fired. Moral or immoral? And does it change the scenario if they’re costing you the money you need to feed your family? Okay, one last example: Let’s say there was a politician you hate in front of you at the store and he drops his wallet. You pick it up and he asks if you have it. You lie. You donate his money in cash to an organization he rallies against, or maybe just pocket the money and party with it. Moral or nah? Last one, I promise: You see a coworker cutting your abusive boss’s brakes on his car. This is a boss who has abused you for years and stolen money from you. You see this happen, and when the boss careens off of the highway, the cops ask you if you saw anything and you say no. Moral / Immoral?

    I guess my question is more about the lines between self preservation and benefitting yourself versus “bad intentions,” especially if you didn’t instigate the scenario you’re lying about. If a nasty neighbor you hate got their car windows smashed in and you know who did it, is it immoral to lie to the police and say you don’t know who did it?

  37. says

    >Is it just me, or is Tracie’s vocal fry getting worse and worse?

    I talk how I talk. A friend introduced me to this term, but you’re the first person who ever suggested I do it. I had to look it up to see what it was (when my friend mentioned it). Once I saw what it was, my only question was: Why would this bother anyone? It’s hardly noticeable to me. I can’t fix the fact you find it distracting. But I’m only on the show occasionally, so you have plenty of other vocal inflections to choose from if watching me gets too annoying.

  38. says

    @Kansas:

    >I was just asking a question that popped up along my train of thought. I didn’t in anyway declare them immoral.

    Fair enough. But you did seem to equate it to negatively impacting well being–which was labeled as grounds for immorality on the show. Perhaps I misunderstood the implication.

    > I agree with your point about people not knowing they’re at risk and not holding them responsible for natural probabilities.

    Everyone knows when they conceive there is a risk of a birth defect. Nobody knows, before they conceive that their child will not have defects. So, everyone is ‘aware’ of that risk.

    > I’m not sure that we shouldn’t hold people accountable when they do know.

    Again, we all know this. Is there anyone who isn’t aware that birth defects occur, and who assumes it’s impossible their child could be born with a congenital problem? So, we are all in the same boat there. Knowing which specific risks come with your own genes changes this not at all.

    > Is harm something that’s only intentional?

    If the question is morality, then I would say yes. If I cause harm inadvertently, that’s considered “accidental.” And we don’t generally consider people to be morally responsible for honest accidents.

    > Is unintentional harm still harm?

    Yes, but morality is about decisions, not accidents.

    > Could you elaborate on the natural outcome concept?

    If I ask my family to stand under a rock outcrop to get a cool photo, and it collapses on their heads, I’m generally not considered an immoral person for that–even though I know I posed them under a big, heavy rock, and that rocks sometimes fall.

    > It seems if an individual could pass on a gene, knowingly, which would result in death or a diminished life of a child, “natural outcomes” are arbitrary.

    I’m not sure I follow. If the argument was that it’s wrong to have a child if you know there is a risk of congenital defect, then nobody should risk having a child. You seem to place some significance on someone finding out they have a specific case of what we all should be aware we have generally. No one is immune to producing offspring with defects. Who could reproduce if we had to have assurance the child would be perfect? How much of a defect would be too much? What percentage of risk are you willing to excuse (since we are *all* at a risk of it).

    >Maybe you (and others) could expand on that? I guess it depends on whether the gene has a 5% chance of being passed on or 90% chance of being passed on?

    Does it? What if I take the 5% risk, and dang, my kid gets the heart condition anyway? I knew it could happen. Why am I excused?

  39. says

    @YBHCO

    >Around the 1:05:00 mark, I thought Drake’s question about “lying with bad intentions” was an interesting question that I haven’t heard often on the show. And none of the panel nor the caller was able to provide any examples

    For the record, I understood the caller (maybe incorrectly?) to be suggesting you lie with bad intentions, but no impact on well being follows: That is, you have bad intentions, but what you lie about doesn’t cause any harm.

    >but I’ll try a few: Let’s say your neighbor’s on vacation, and you hate that neighbor. And let’s say they call and ask you if their house is okay. And let’s say you look outside and it’s on fire. If you lie and tell them you’re not home (because you don’t care if the house burns down), is that immoral?

    And if my understanding of the caller’s scenario is correct, this scene above wouldn’t match. The house burning down because you lied, and he then didn’t call the fire department, would constitute real harm to the neighbor. So, the lie wasn’t just with bad intent, but also *did* cause harm.

    > I guess what I’m taking about here is SELFISH intentions. What if a neighbor has an aggressive dog, and it’s on your property, and you shoot it then bury it, then lie to the neighbor about not seeing it?

    Again, whether you had a right to do what you did or not–you still have killed the neighbor’s dog and then lied about it, which is covering up your harm that you caused. The caller, I honestly believe, was suggesting no harm comes to anyone, but you lie–*and* you have bad intentions. I had difficulty understanding how trying to do accomplish something “bad” could not result in harm (or as was finally discussed, at least the attempt to harm).

    > You’ve got every right to shoot an aggressive animal on your property, and maybe you enjoy the fact that it’s dead. Is that lying for bad intentions? And if so, is it immoral?

    The immorality, based on what Matt was saying, comes with the cost to your neighbor–which is killing the dog*. Your neighbor has suffered a loss–even if you had a right to it by law–and now you’re covering that up, which piles distress onto loss.

    > One more example of selfish lying: Let’s say you’ve got a member on your team at work who is bad at their job and costing you money (personally). You lie about them stealing from the company to get them fired. Moral or immoral?

    Again, I am not sure if you’re looking for specific answers to your scenarios or saying this is what the caller suggested. I don’t think this is what the caller suggested.

    *At this point I probably should stop, because I’m simply doing two things: (1) comparing your scenes to what I believe the caller was describing, and why they don’t align in my mind–and you may not care. You may be bringing up something entirely different, and just using that call as a catalyst. (2) I’m trying to answer based on Matt’s definition of morality, and this isn’t fair to Matt, and probably beyond my capacity to explain someone else’s moral position without them here to confirm.

  40. Nik Andrews says

    heicart, who were the African slaves at war with when the Americans enslaved them please?

  41. Wiggle Puppy says

    Since y’all brought up Anthony Magnabosco in the intro, I think one of the most effective ways to handle people like Kris is the way he does: you have faith and “just know” that Jesus is the Lord, but I’ve talked to Muslims who have faith and “just know” that Allah is the one true god is Mohammed is his prophet, and I’ve talked to Buddhists who have faith and “just know” that following the eight-fold path will lead to nirvana. How could we go about figuring out which of you, if any, is most correct?

  42. Monocle Smile says

    @ybhco
    Yeah, Tracie’s right, and you don’t appear to understand what the call was about.

    @Nik
    Where did that question come from?

  43. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    To KansasAtheist and Tracie
    Quoting KansasAtheist

    Two individuals decide to procreate. Those two individuals are aware they could pass a genetic disease to the child that could lead to death or diminished quality of life. Isn’t this a violation of well-being?

    I will be controversial here, but I say it depends on the risk chance and consequences. As Tracie said, everyone has the possibility for having a child with rare genetic diseases. However, imagine a hypothetical where it’s 100% guaranteed that the child’s life is going to super suck, be in constant pain, and die at the age of like 9. In that case, yea, I am prepared to say that this is a horrible choice, callous choice, dare I say evil choice, to have a kid like that, knowing that this will happen.

    Tracie, in this hypothetical, are you still morally ok with people who have a kid with that knowledge?

    Where is the line drawn, between the risk that the statistical “normal” person has, vs this fictional 100%? I don’t know. However, I am extremely uncomfortable with Tracie’s reasoning.

  44. says

    This question is not from this episode, but from many. Can someone answer Martin Wagner’s famous question:
    What would a universe look like that was NOT designed by god?
    Since I never heard any caller answer the question I don’t feel so dumb. I’m not sure exactly what the right answer is supposed to be. . . . . (and why it’s a got cha’)
    ANYONE

  45. RationalismRules says

    @John Straub #48

    What would a universe look like that was NOT designed by god?

    Our universe.

  46. KansasAtheist says

    @heicart

    + Fair enough. But you did seem to equate it to negatively impacting well being–which was labeled as grounds for immorality on the show. Perhaps I misunderstood the implication.
    -The miscommunication here is definitely my fault. I asked “Isn’t this a violation of well being?” What I should have asked was “Is this a violation of well being”. Perhaps the conversation strides a different path if asked correctly.

    + Everyone knows when they conceive there is a risk of a birth defect. Nobody knows, before they conceive that their child will not have defects. So, everyone is ‘aware’ of that risk.
    – Eventually I get to “where do you draw the line?” and even then it morphs into “should you even draw the line?” which you already addressed as ‘”don’t”.

    + Again, we all know this. Is there anyone who isn’t aware that birth defects occur, and who assumes it’s impossible their child could be born with a congenital problem? So, we are all in the same boat there. Knowing which specific risks come with your own genes changes this not at all.
    -Is there? Back to drawing lines.

    + If the question is morality, then I would say yes. If I cause harm inadvertently, that’s considered “accidental.” And we don’t generally consider people to be morally responsible for honest accidents.
    -Generally speaking. What do you think about unintentional vehicular manslaughter, or relative crimes, punishment coming into conflict with moral responsibility? If it was an “honest accident” (subjective) then why punish?

    + Yes, but morality is about decisions, not accidents.
    -Touche

    + If I ask my family to stand under a rock outcrop to get a cool photo, and it collapses on their heads, I’m generally not considered an immoral person for that–even though I know I posed them under a big, heavy rock, and that rocks sometimes fall.
    -Brilliant.

    + I’m not sure I follow. If the argument was that it’s wrong to have a child if you know there is a risk of congenital defect, then nobody should risk having a child. You seem to place some significance on someone finding out they have a specific case of what we all should be aware we have generally. No one is immune to producing offspring with defects.
    – I understand what you are saying about being generally aware a child could be born with the genetic disease and concur no one is immune.

    +Who could reproduce if we had to have assurance the child would be perfect?
    I’m not saying anyone should be given assurance the child would be perfect. Could you explain the relevancy of the question?

    +What percentage of risk are you willing to excuse (since we are *all* at a risk of it).
    With regard to risk I think the % risk willing to be excused is subjective. My line could be a X, yours at R, and so on.

    I think learning more about genetics in general will alleviate some follow up questions. Luckily there a few professors at the local university.

    + Does it? What if I take the 5% risk, and dang, my kid gets the heart condition anyway? I knew it could happen. Why am I excused?
    -Is it your opinion then that we shouldn’t hold people morally responsible for passing on a genetic disease which has a 9/10 kill ratio (sorry to sound morbid)? Back to drawing lines…but, I’m not convinced we shouldn’t draw them at all.

    I appreciate the discussion

  47. meridian says

    I wish they had challenged the assertion ‘95%’ of the planetary population acknowledge the,appearance of design. What utter tosh! Not even true in the US, and patently untrue for more rational nations of Northern Europe. A fabricated bogus statistic. Like the claim that 95% of Americans believe in a god

    Equally to say something has the appearance of design is not the same as believing that to be the reality. The moon has the appearance of a human face …to acknowledge that does not remotely mean believing the moon actually does have one!

  48. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    PS:
    There is a difference between what is morally abominable, and what should be illegal. At least, there is a difference in my world. It is the wrong choice to have a kid with a 100% chance to have a horrible birth defect that causes lifelong severe pain until death at the age of 9. Should having that kid be illegal? That’s a different question, and IMO it’s a much harder question to answer. It’s quite complicated. The law is a blunt instrument, and slippery slopes are real, and in this case in particular there could be a lot of collateral damage, i.e. giving some support to eugenics, and to the subjugation of women.

  49. David Muir says

    Billy seemed to be engaging in some major special pleading in this episode. In the previous episode where Russell and Phil were on, Billy kept on insisting that there was no way that anyone could possibly know for certain that texts that were written thousands of years ago about the beliefs of people thousands of years ago were accurate.

    And yet here he kept on referencing a Greek philosopher whose ideas were recorded thousands of years ago…

  50. RationalismRules says

    @EL
    There’s a difference between ‘slippery slope’ and ‘incremental change’. Slippery slope implies that once you start down a path your momentum will inexorably build up and you’ll inevitably end up at the bottom. It’s hyperbolic dogma-speak, not rational argument.
    I don’t disagree that legislating a particular issue can open the door to other issues but there is no reason to assume that we will choose to go through those doors. I hate to see the ‘slippery slope’ argument being used by a thoughtful poster.

  51. Monocle Smile says

    @RationalismRules
    EL is actually correct to use the slippery slope argument here. A huge obstacle with law is its inability to make fine but important distinctions in the legalistic language (or at least, passing such finely tuned laws is practically impossible). Much is left to the courts to set precedent. EL is pointing out that laws making it illegal to have a kid in the scenario he describes will almost certainly (perhaps “unintentionally”) legalize undesirable practices and policies.

  52. RationalismRules says

    @MS
    If your argument were along the lines of “if we legislate for cases where the probability is 100%, then we may open the door to judicial rulings in cases where the probability is less than 100%” I would concede that point, but I still wouldn’t accept it as a ‘slippery slope’, it would just be the operation of one of the mechanisms whereby society draws arbitrary lines.

    How is your argument different from, say, the slippery slope argument against legislating for gay marriage – that it could lead on to acceptance of marriage to animals or children?

  53. Monocle Smile says

    @RR
    There is a solid, long-standing, fundamental legal difference between gay marriage and the other things, namely the idea of “consenting adults.” There’s an assload of legal precedent behind the concept of consenting adults, especially in a legal area like contracts. Thus, it’s super easy for a law regarding gay marriage to have specificity and clear application. Gay marriage is not unexplored legal territory. It’s just marriage with the tiniest, most insignificant modification. I mean, before DOMA, there was nothing standing in the way of gay marriage legally.

    In a twist of bitter irony, the people who scream loudest about gay marriage are largely the types to marry their kids off or at least be overly involved in that process.

    When it comes to legislating whether or not someone is allowed to have a kid, there’s very, very little precedent and legislation on the subject. Legal matters that venture into unexplored territory always need to be approached with extreme caution because unlike stuff with solid foundations, it can be very difficult to properly word and interpret laws to avoid collateral damage.

  54. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    To RationalismRules

    I hate to see the ‘slippery slope’ argument being used by a thoughtful poster.

    Meh. I’m not sure how I feel. Let me give some examples, and probably take too many words to do so. I think it hinges on particular examples. Some examples are legitimate. Some examples are fallacious.

    I definitely want to make an argument concerning cases where I can see a legitimate moral difference between X and Y but where I don’t see a judicially practicable standard that can make the difference, aka in cases where I don’t trust judges and juries to make that distinction properly. In example: Free speech. I can make a moral distinction between needlessly offense and being offensive with a purpose, but I sure as hell don’t just judges and juries to make that distinction as a legal matter.

    By my gut, I also want to make an argument that I sometimes(?) consider the sociological implications of passing such and such in terms of moving the Overton window.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Overton_window
    I’m not entirely sure, but it may be that we should suffer bad laws – laws whose effects in isolation are bad – but which also create certain cultural and social effects which are beneficial. On the days that I’m feeling adventurous, I tend to use this line of argument in favor of personal gun rights, but my position on that is rather wishy-washy. I wish I had a better example here, but I don’t offhand.

    I also want to make a technical, esoteric, but extremely important point regarding legal precedent. I think I lean in favor of campaign finance limits, but god damn – I am super strongly in favor of the current Citizens United ruling as a SCOTUS ruling. My reasoning is as follows: I might like the outcome in this case, and maybe even a hypothetical alternative ruling would limit the ability of congress to control funding of political advertisements to cases that I find agreeable, but the legal reasoning employed is entirely without constitutional limit, and the same sort of legal reasoning that underlies a hypothetical good alternative decision to Citizens United could just as easily lead to horrible legal rulings that abridge free speech that I care about. Now, a constitutional amendment that clearly lays out limits and rules would not be subject to my concerns here, but a mere SCOTUS decision is subject to my concerns. In other words, the legal reasoning that would decide Citizens United differently would set precedent, and allow similar legal reasoning, similar legal values, to be used in the future, to almost certainly disastrous results.

    How is your argument different from, say, the slippery slope argument against legislating for gay marriage – that it could lead on to acceptance of marriage to animals or children?

    A rather interesting question. For whatever reason, this really provoked me to deeper thought on the topic, and I have a modicum more respect for the Christian extremists who espouse this view.

    I think Monocle Smille’s answer suffices, but let met add more, and tie it into what I said above.

    For the self-absorbed Christian extremist, who can only see the world in terms of Biblical morality or nothing, and who lacks any awareness of other people, I see the slippery slope problem, and it’s real. In particular, I want to tie this into my precedent example above. Here, the Christian extremist is concerned that the values being promoted to justify gay marriage could just as easily lead to marriage with children. If the only values in town are “is it Biblical?”, then the Christian extremist is correct – this is a severe slippery slope problem. However, there are other values in play. This is where Monocle Smile’s argument comes in. The gay marriage decision was not based on the values “Is it Biblical?”, but rather it’s based on other values, i.e. “informed consenting adults”, and thus it’s not an actual slippery slope. It appears to be a slippery slope to certain Christian extremists, who can only understand the word in terms of their Biblical world view.

    To compare and constrast: This situation is different than Citizens United. In Citizens United, there is no alternative values that I’m ignoring, and that’s a big part of why it’s a slippery slope. In effect, SCOTUS was asked to overlook the first amendment because it’s a really important issue, with really big negative consequences if we don’t take action. (Coincidentally, this is also the argument used against person gun rights and enforcement of the the second amendment.) However, as soon as we allow that sort of legal reasoning, then the constitution falls over, and becomes entirely defunct. Let me quote one of my favorite passages ever from a SCOTUS decision, from a stopped clock, Scalia.
    http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Stopped_clock
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/District_of_Columbia_v._Heller
    https://www.law.cornell.edu/supct/html/07-290.ZO.html
    Bolding added by me:

    We know of no other enumerated constitutional right whose core protection has been subjected to a freestanding “interest-balancing” approach. The very enumeration of the right takes out of the hands of government—even the Third Branch of Government—the power to decide on a case-by-case basis whether the right is really worth insisting upon. A constitutional guarantee subject to future judges’ assessments of its usefulness is no constitutional guarantee at all. Constitutional rights are enshrined with the scope they were understood to have when the people adopted them, whether or not future legislatures or (yes) even future judges think that scope too broad. We would notapply an “interest-balancing” approach to the prohibition of a peaceful neo-Nazi march through Skokie. See National Socialist Party of America v. Skokie, 432 U. S. 43 (1977) (per curiam). The First Amendment contains the freedom-of-speech guarantee that the people ratified, which included exceptions for obscenity, libel, and disclosure of state secrets, but not for the expression of extremely unpopular and wrong-headed views. The Second Amendment is no different. Like the First, it is the very product of an interest-balancing by the people—which Justice Breyer would now conduct for them anew. And whatever else it leaves to future evaluation, it surely elevates above all other interests the right of law-abiding, responsible citizens to use arms in defense of hearth and home.

    We are aware of the problem of handgun violence in this country, and we take seriously the concerns raised by the many amici who believe that prohibition of handgun ownership is a solution. The Constitution leaves the District of Columbia a variety of tools for combating that problem, including some measures regulating handguns, see supra, at 54–55, and n. 26. But the enshrinement of constitutional rights necessarily takes certain policy choices off the table. These include the absolute prohibition of handguns held and used for self-defense in the home. Undoubtedly some think that the Second Amendment is outmoded in a society where our standing army is the pride of our Nation, where well-trained police forces provide personal security, and where gun violence is a serious problem. That is perhaps debatable, but what is not debatable is that it is not the role of this Court to pronounce the Second Amendment extinct.

  55. Sylynn says

    The last caller’s reason for calling simply didn’t make sense.

    “Why consider yourself an ‘atheist evangelist’ if no information from a Christian could convince you to worship?”

    Is that how it works in religious circles? I spent over 30 years as a Christian and I would have to say no. Turn the question around. Why consider yourself a Christian evangelist if no information from an atheist would convince you not to worship?

    My answer comes in two parts. First, along Matt’s reason for skepticism (wishing to know as many true things as possible), whether or not a god exists is kind of a big deal. Seeking out information in trying to find evidence for it could be a worthwhile investment of time, but this doesn’t mean we are seeking something to worship.

    Secondly, an evangelist’s goal is not to become convinced of the other person’s perspective, but rather convince someone of their own (seems obvious, but to Matthew (the caller), it wasn’t). My goal isn’t really to convince someone there is no god, but simply to get them to really question their beliefs and to look at them from a critical standpoint. I wish I had someone in my life that would have helped me do just that at an earlier age, but naturally I surrounded myself with fellow Christians.

  56. fi3ryph03n1x says

    So Matt was right when he said that an argument from majority is a fallacy. But was he right that the majority of humans have believed that the world is flat? Here are a couple of points to consider:

    At least some people have known that we live on a spheroid since 6 century BCE (detailed history on Wiki: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spherical_Earth). Furthermore, we have had a population explosion from the Industrial Revolution. So a high percentage of people have lived on this planet after Sir Isaac Newton’s work and the Age of Enlightenment.

    I think the chances are high that most people have known about the correct shape of the Earth, but I don’t see how we might quantify such a thing.

  57. ironchops says

    @ #27 Heicart-“Additionally, if you find out your child could have Downs before it’s born, is it immoral to abort it?”
    Most posters here have demonstrated that abortion is not immoral at all, the reason is irrelevant. It is just as ok to abort a perfectly healthy baby as one with any sort of health risk. Not so good an analogy. I think the treatment of prisoners after WW2 is better. Some of the axis prisoners were executed, some were enslaved and others allowed to go home. Which of any of these were immoral? If any were immoral is it too late to bring the perpetrators to justice?

  58. ironchops says

    @ 44 Nik Andrews-One answer is other African people that enslaved them. A better question is, Was it immoral to but someone else’s slaves to be their slave? This still happens today. Human trafficking. I believe it to be immoral (to own another human as property) but since morals are human constructs, who is to say?

  59. Bret Frost says

    The question of incest: The bible condones it and we all know every blessed thing in that magic holy book is true and must not be questioned. God made Adam. Then took a rib from him (100% DNA) and made a female clone called Eve. It follows they had many offspring all from the same 100% DNA gene pool from Adam. Their children had to commit incest or there would be no humans.. Noah’s Ark. 8 humans on board. They must of mated with each other to create all humans running around today. All with god’s blessing. We all know the dangers of in-breeding. Why almighty god didn’t create Eve from scratch knowing the pitfalls beforehand is a mystery but it just proves he’s not very smart. So much for being all knowing.

  60. fi3ryph03n1x says

    Mike Hu writes:
    I have a different approach to slavery and morality. If morality is about well-being, as Matt stated many time, and the 2 most common way for someone to become a slave is 1) sold into slavery willingly 2) prisoner of war(sold into slavery unwillingly). in the case of #2, the options are 1) let the person go, then the prisoner may come back the kill me and my family, and that is against my well-being. 2) kill him, that is against his well-being. 3) Make him a slave seems to be the more moral choice.

    Just off the top: This is a false dilemma. Setting up a scenario where only two options are possible—when the truth is that a myriad of possibilities exist—is asinine. Let’s leave aside that one is not obligated to go to war and therefore not be weighed down with the problem of ethical treatment of prisoners. That would completely eliminate #2. There is a name for a person who willingly becomes a slave. It’s called an “employee”. If I voluntarily provide services to you in exchange for wages or lodging, for example, that is no longer an enslaved relationship. In order that it morph into something else, another element must be introduced. If the willing “slave” is avoiding debtor’s prison, the enslaver is using the power of that debt to subjugate the debtor. This is no longer what you would refer to as “voluntary”.

    As to your larger point about well-being, this metric is not only measured at the individual level. Take, as an example, a hospital waiting room. Five people are awaiting organ transplants, and you are in the waiting room for something completely unrelated. You happen to be a viable donor for all five, so the hospital drugs and vivisects you to transplant your organs to the other five against your will. Net gain of four lives.

    If cold, hard realities of well-being are microscopically considered, this makes complete sense. So why do we balk at it? Because which of us wants to live in such a society where our autonomy and individual liberty can be sacrificed in such a way? It may be good for a net four patients, but it is not good for the health of society.

    Similarly, your example slavery being in the best interests of the well being of these slaves (forgetting altogether the false dilemma under which it is set up) is not in the interests of broader society. Which of us wants to live in a society where something such as unpaid debt can result in such a loss of freedom and dignity? What would this do to us corporately?

    Your myopic description of well-being fails to consider these larger concerns.

  61. Kyle D says

    @Robert W
    Re: Jordan B Peterson. I have a lot of respect for the guy and thoroughly enjoyed his intellectual massacre of the senators in Canada. Very inspiring. However, although I understand that he doesn’t take any of the biblical stories literally, I feel that he could pick heaps of obvious fiction to still deliver the same lessons. I feel like he gives too much credit to the authors of the bible stories and it grates a bit with my atheist / skeptical mind. His 2nd talk with Sam Harris kind of showed this. All of his other stuff on social constructionists etc. is brilliant.

    On where you fit in the atheist community. There isn’t an atheist community. There are simply lots of groups of like minded people. On political topics, this really means that you have to take the position of looking at individual arguments and realising that everyone may attach themselves to ideas or causes that you can see fault in.

    You really just have to apply your same skepticism unrelentingly and bravely to all areas and avoid attaching to causes through identity. You are your own man. Good to see you post here. As you will know, the best kind of diversity is diversity of opinion. All other kinds pale in the world of truth finding.

  62. Harmonie says

    Loved that last ‘rant’ by Matt!

    I’ve heard that argument that “Well, that’s just the way people thought at the time, and God was trying to get through to them with the Bible, so he didn’t outright prohibit slavery” and I’m like… He is GOD. Going by Bible, this God lays out all kinds of laws himself. Yet somehow he couldn’t just say that slavery is wrong because then the book couldn’t get through to people.

    This is supposedly the God of absolute morality. If he couldn’t convey that slavery was wrong, he is patently immoral, and that’s the end of it. He is all-powerful, there shouldn’t have been anything stopping him from making a clear statement that slavery is completely and totally wrong. The only thing that was stopping him is because he is a made-up character, and the (im)moral ideals laid out in the Bible were just what people of the time thought back then and wanted to enshrine as being from a higher power.

  63. titan says

    I think in the call with Matt near the end was being a little too emotional with his answer to if a god existed.

    He said that he would probably give reasons for not worshiping the god, and would consider people who did to be morally bankrupt. If it was the Christian god, then that makes sense. However, if it was a creator being that just created us and then left us to ourselves, that could be considered a reason to at least be grateful to them in the first place.

  64. Joe Coen says

    I was interested in the discussion of morality and well being; and examples asked of immoral acts which do not affect well being.

    I’m new to these discussions; so excuse me if this is a well debunked argument.

    Take a peeping Tom, who sets up a secret camera in a children’s toilet, for his sexual delight.
    Is this act IMMORAL or just icky?
    Whose well being is being affected by this act?
    [For the sake of this argument, let’s assume that the paedophile will never act further on his inclinations. That it isn’t a gateway activity].

    Now imagine that the children discovered about the camera, and the use it was being put to, they would surely be angry and upset; [certainly their parents would be]. Is this upset and anger justified? Has their “well being” now been affected?

    Does it make any difference whether the camera is discovered? If there is no knowledge, then there is no upset.

    Could this mean that the act of being a peeping Tom is IMMORAL, if done badly, so the act is discovered, and anger & upset is caused. But could be MORAL, or AMORAL , if done discretely, so no one is the wiser?

  65. Monocle Smile says

    @titan
    Too emotional? I beg to differ.

    If it was the Christian god, then that makes sense

    Matt stated this at least twice, and was also very specific in talking about the idea of “worship.”

    However, if it was a creator being that just created us and then left us to ourselves, that could be considered a reason to at least be grateful to them in the first place

    Strongly, strongly disagreed. I did not choose my parents and they did not choose me. I am not grateful nor “in debt” to them for my birth. I am grateful for a decent childhood and being raised well, but the simple act of creation is not worthy of gratitude. The notion that a (sapient) creation owes its creator is extremely dangerous and irrational.

  66. t90bb says

    TO 58…IRON CHOPS

    So your argument is that if morality is merely a human construct….no one can say if human trafficking is moral….I agree that all moral judgements are subjective

    To make morality MORE than A human construct (a DIVINE ONE) you must establish these….

    1. Establish your SKY GENIE as real and existing
    2. ESTABLISH WHY SAID SKY GENIEs position IS ANY BETTER THAN YOUR OR MY SUBJECTIVE OPINION. DOES MIGHT MAKE RIGHT??? Why should I care what your potential sky genie thinks????

    AT the end of the day believing or pretending to believe in sky genie’s opinion is pretty worthless. NOT to mention this great sky genie is an utter failure in clearly communicating. Case in point….some Christians will defend slavery as moral to this day. Others claim it is immoral…..So much for Sky genies ability to provide clarity! Just another reason why I lack belief!

  67. says

    One thing to note regarding Billy’s call. Setting aside the poor quality of his arguments, he obviously intuitively thinks that a belief being widely-held is a useful indicator of whether it is accurate. And in truth, it can be. If you observe that many or most people believe something, that actually is evidence you should take into account about what is true. But, you can’t just use the beliefs of large numbers of people as the sole criterion as to whether something is true. We tend to observe that there is usually a significantly better likelihood than chance that if someone believes something, say, that there is a leak in their ceiling, that they are correct, and there is a leak in their ceiling. Multiple people reporting the same thing tends to reduce the likelihood of simple mistakes and particularly unreliable individuals.

    Such things are an indirect form of evidence. The inference drawn is that direct evidence does exist which convinced them or convinced others who then convinced them. However, when the accuracy of those beliefs gets called into question, pointing back at the beliefs as evidence for their own accuracy is not reasonable. If the majority of people in a closed room believe that it is rainy outside because they hear the rain on the roof, and I step outside and see someone with a hose spraying the roof, and that otherwise the sky is clear, I have gone past the point where the beliefs of the people in the room are useful evidence for whether it is raining. More direct evidence is preferable for accuracy.

    If I go back in and tell them what I saw, that is evidence for them that their beliefs are inaccurate and they should update them based on the indirect evidence of my beliefs as someone who investigated the situation. A problem arises if they dispute that with the observation that most people believe that it is raining. Now they are double-counting the evidence, essentially counting both the evidence of ‘sounds like rain’ as well as what ‘sounds like rain’ again, the second time indirectly through the beliefs they formed because of hearing the sounds originally.

    The fallacy isn’t that the beliefs of others can’t provide us with accurate information about the world. It’s with using the beliefs in favor of better, more direct evidence that is available. A parallel could be drawn with assuming that since most people aren’t allergic to peanuts, then the person who you’re talking to isn’t, even when you see them having an allergic reaction. In both cases, a person is forgoing direct information. They could observe whether it is raining for themselves or could observe the reaction of the person in front of them to peanuts. Instead they rely on the reports of others who have not investigated or on a generalized likelihood about peanut allergies.

  68. t90bb says

    to 64 Jared….

    You are as confused as Billy….in fact you are making exactly Billys argument. In fact you might be BILLY.

    And whenever you use the number of people who believe or dont believe….as total evidence or even in part….you are using the fallacy. Sorry you don’t like it, but you are. Whether something is or is not true has no bearing on who or what believes it.. Like Matt said…up to a few hundred years ago 99,9999 percent of the world was sure the earth was flat.

    According to you..as long as the argument is not the sole evidence, then it is a good and permissible piece of evidence. It is not…Not if you are approaching it from Logic.

  69. Monocle Smile says

    @t90bb
    I think you missed Jared’s point, although I don’t think it needed to be made.

    Jared appears to be saying that we often do merely trust the local consensus on trivial matters, like the weather or the fullness of the office coffee pot. However, this is because we already have plenty of evidence for those things and their various states, so the consensus is merely a trusted reference and not “source” evidence. I’m okay with this, but it’s pretty unrelated to Billy’s call. Billy was repeatedly asked for the “source” evidence that caused his asspulled 95% number to be the case and he just neckbeard-rambled in response.

  70. ironchops says

    Hi t90bb – I said nothing about fictitious “sky genies or divinity”. No argument, just a statement that morals are human constructs and as such vary greatly. I also pointed out that it is odd to ask if it is immoral to abort a downs baby when it completely moral to abort a perfectly healthy baby or any baby at all for any reason one can come up with. The unborn child’s wellbeing is of no concern nor does it have any rights what so ever.

  71. says

    Actually, considering the beliefs of others as evidence isn’t limited to trivial things. Arguments from authority fall into the same basic realm of relying on the beliefs of others as evidence. Who do you believe? A majority of people? A group of people who investigated the issue in further detail? A group who rigorously investigated in a systematic way designed to minimize the effects of bias? Your own personal investigation?

    Where I can do my own investigation, I don’t need to rely on what most people believe or on what authorities believe. I go out and see it raining, so I believe that it is raining. I do a lot of reliance on other people, though. A huge amount of information about the world is relayed to me from others. Over time, I have learned which sources tend to be more reliable than others, as well as cues as to which unknown sources are likely to be accurate and cues indicating that a source is suspect.

    Despite motivated rejections of some findings science from people attempting to adhere to religious doctrines, most people accept that we are made of atoms and that the sun is a star that is much closer to us than other stars. But, most people are not able to follow the chains of observations that those beliefs are derived from, even if only because they just don’t have the time to study it all. Why do they believe it, perhaps only in a vague sense? A lot of them wouldn’t believe something, if most other people didn’t. I wonder about the historical rates of acceptance of atomic theory.

    The chains of evidence can get rather messy. You have small numbers of people who thoroughly examine things and share the results of their investigations. Some others will conduct the same investigations and see if they get the same results. These are the ones with the most direct evidence for their beliefs. Others accept it from them on their authority as the ones who did the investigation, and pass it on. The beliefs resulting from those investigations propagate to more and more people. Many are far removed from even citations of the original sources, largely accepting it because most people around them do. If they encountered significant disbelief, many of them would accept one finding of science and question another, even if the methods and reliability are the same, despite believing the source was “scientists”.

    Clearly, there are disagreements on the weight of evidence between what the majority of a population believes vs what some authorities believe, or which groups of authorities to believe. What weighting should people adopt? I’d say that even without being able to follow the chains of evidence back all the way by doing your own investigations, you could at least see that science has a tremendous amount of results to confirm its effectiveness, where things like claims of intelligent design do not lead to any understandings that produce results, nor to deeper investigations that can be independently replicated and develop into their own field of study. What it does have is entrenched social structures advocating it as a means to support their beliefs.

    The fact remains that you can, in principle, study such things yourself. And with claims like Billy’s, you don’t need to develop deep expertise to do so. At least, not with any conception of a being that is all-powerful and wants us to know it exists. And for any being that can only be subtly inferred from detailed investigation, well, we can look into that once we see actual evidence for it. That’s something that people like Billy don’t grasp. There have been many repeated claims that there is design. We did take those into account. But we’ve done the investigation and turned up nothing. Simply repeating the claims and pointing out that a lot of people have made them does nothing at this point.

  72. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    To Jared
    Concerning your questions, I suggest taking a look here:
    > On Evaluating Arguments from Consensus
    > by Richard Carrier on May 8, 2014
    http://www.richardcarrier.info/archives/5553

    In my own words, the leading theologians of the Roman Catholic Church proclaim themselves to be experts in the study of gods, and they have an “expert” consensus concerning some things in that field. It should be immediately obvious that we should give deference to group consensus simply because the group itself calls themselves experts. Instead, we have to vet expert groups. That can be hard, and it is hard, but that is what is required. Richard Carrier goes into some more detail in the link.

    For example, I’ve never done any of the experiments that show that atoms are real, but I take it on trust – not faith, trust – and that trust has been earned. I have done enough vetting of the particular expert community, the broad scientific community, and I have found them to be a reliable lot. Thus, based on this past track record of being a reliable lot, for other claims, I take them at their word that they have done the experiments that they say that they have done, and for the experiments and theories that I do not fully understand, I take them at their word that their conclusions are correct.

    For example, for the Roman Catholic Church theologian “experts”, I have also done some vetting of them, and I have found them to be almost universally full of shit, making fundamental logical errors, and thus I do not have the same sort of trust for Catholic “experts” that I do for scientist experts.

  73. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    > It should be immediately obvious that we should give deference to group consensus simply because the group itself calls themselves experts.

    I hope it’s obvious, but I’m missing a “not” in there.

  74. says

    It was clear that you intended the “not” to be in there. And yes, I agree. You get similar unsupported claims by people proclaiming themselves experts in things like homeopathy or channeling of “energy”. They have claims, but no results to show for them when they’re really tested. If there is anything to such claims, they should be able to make some sort of predictions or produce some results showing effectiveness. Ignaz Semmelweis may not have had a rigorous understanding of why washing hands was effective, but he could show the results. If people advocating things like homeopathy or intelligent design could demonstrate such results, then we’d have a reason to pursue further investigations.

  75. Les Black says

    Titan @65: “However, if it was a creator being that just created us and then left us to ourselves, that could be considered a reason to at least be grateful to them in the first place.”

    Why do you automatically believe one should be grateful for being created? I know I am grateful for my existence, created or not, but I consider myself fairly fortunate. The earth’s history is replete with examples of organisms that suffered from the moment they gained the sentience to perceive pain right up until they died. Should these organisms be grateful? It’s my understanding that many who attempt suicide testify that they’d wished they’d never been born, sometimes perhaps justifiably. Should they be be grateful for being “created”? Also, if you buy the idea of a creator (I do not), he/she/it didn’t just create sentient beings, but literally everything. Well, everything is mostly nonsentient material — incapable of gratitude.

  76. t90bb says

    67 iron chops…..if it was your intention to point out that morality is subjective in the singular…then thanks a lot capt obvious!!!!!!!! lol

  77. Jeff1232213 says

    A conclusion shared by many people could be considered in the same light as multiple replicated scientific experiments that agree. Questions like “did it rain last week” could be reliably answered if only people with the ability and opportunity to know were taken into account.
    Religious topics don’t fit the pattern because of a severe lack of opportunity and ability for the people making claims to actually know something. And yet, in spite of no ability to actually know, they make claims of knowing. The “evidential” take away here is that religious claims have a high probability of being deception rather than an offering of honest evidence.

  78. indianajones says

    @Jared. Argument from concensus/popularity whatever is a crock of shit. Many people believing ‘it’ does not sway me one little bit. Examples:

    Flat earth 10,000 years ago. Universally believed, lots of evidence, untrue.

    Disease 500 years ago. Not caused by germs, universally believed, untrue.

    Need I go on?

  79. ironchops says

    @63 and 74 – t90bb – Must not have been obvious enough. LOL. Your 2 assertions in post 63 only need to be met in order to convince you (or others) of the divinity of said morals. Others simply take it at face value and defend it fiercely (faithfully) in spite of the lack of proof (or use of rhetorical/esoteric/bullshit/eyewitness testimony as proof).

    “Case in point….some Christians will defend slavery as moral to this day. Others claim it is immoral” -post 63.

    Using this definition for morality found on Google, MORALITY DEFINITION “a particular system of values and principles of conduct, especially one held by a specified person or society.” Both are correct, depending on the laws of the country in which they (the Christians) dwell, according to the Jesus character.

    According to https://www.usatoday.com/story/money/2014/11/23/247-wall-st-countries-most-slaves/70033422/

    India (14.3 million enslaved), China (3.2 million enslaved), Pakistan (2.1 million enslaved), Uzbekistan (1.2 million enslaved), Russia (1.0 million enslaved). It is obvious that in these countries slavery is moral.

    I personally find the institution of slavery abhorrent and would choose not to own another person even if I lived in one of those countries.

  80. says

    And yet your current beliefs on those subjects matches the current majority beliefs, and was most likely acquired in the same way that the majority of other people acquired them, rather than independently reached through direct investigation. To the extent that you may have investigated those beliefs directly, you probably learned the methods for how to confirm them in the same way you acquired the beliefs. That would indicate that you do not regard the beliefs of others as a worthless source for information in general.

    However, there are things where your beliefs do match the majority beliefs, so the beliefs of the majority are not simply being accepted and exempted from critical review. You notice discrepancies between what some beliefs would predict and what actually happens. You find internal inconsistencies between beliefs. Maybe some beliefs don’t seem to have any connection to reality at all. These are things where you are able to investigate, and in some cases you could hardly avoid doing so, and the beliefs do not hold up under scrutiny. People that do believe them claim that they can validate them, but are unable to provide reasoning that holds up or evidence that can be used to discriminate the beliefs they’re supporting from alternatives.

    If you were asked to provide justification for some of your beliefs, such as that communicable diseases were the result of tiny replicating organisms, could you do it without referring to information you received from common sources? People have a lot of beliefs that they get from sources that are considered authorities, or from what those around them believe. The problem involved in arguments from popularity or authority(even competent experts who conducted the best investigations they could) is in relying on those sources inappropriately, such as when they are contrary to the direct evidence available or can’t be investigated at all.

    The point is that simply flatly saying that a person, such as Billy, is engaged in a fallacy of argumentum ad populum, and that the beliefs of others don’t make claims about something like intelligent design true does not address the correct intuitive understanding that other people are in general a good source of information. He’s going to hear that response as if the hosts are claiming that you can’t look at common beliefs as evidence at all, which is a claim he would be right in rejecting, though Billy was not able to clearly think through the issue on his own, let alone articulate it.

    It would have been better if the hosts saw the underlying intuition, and then stated that they saw where he was coming from(setting aside where he got his numbers from), and that yes, something being commonly believed can be useful evidence, but in the case of intelligent design, we both know of cognitive biases that make such a conclusion suspect, and that a great deal of investigation has already been done trying to determine if there is intelligent design, and not only is it not supported, but there are numerous observations that contradict such conjecture, depending on what levels of abstraction design is being claimed to take place on.

  81. Monocle Smile says

    @Jared

    The point is that simply flatly saying that a person, such as Billy, is engaged in a fallacy of argumentum ad populum, and that the beliefs of others don’t make claims about something like intelligent design true does not address the correct intuitive understanding that other people are in general a good source of information

    Yeah, I call bullshit. This is only true for certain matters. If my neighbor who doesn’t know anything about anything babbles about quantum biology, he is pulling shit out of his ass. Doesn’t matter that he has 20 friends over all agreeing with each other. But if the local physics professor is speaking about the Copenhagen interpretation and produces testable results, then he’s clearly a source of good information.

    The problem involved in arguments from popularity or authority(even competent experts who conducted the best investigations they could) is in relying on those sources inappropriately, such as when they are contrary to the direct evidence available or can’t be investigated at all

    This is precisely what Billy was repeatedly doing, so your objection falls flat.

    It would have been better if the hosts saw the underlying intuition, and then stated that they saw where he was coming from(setting aside where he got his numbers from), and that yes, something being commonly believed can be useful evidence

    Would it? I don’t think so. Then again, I’m someone who doesn’t think a productive conversation with Billy was even remotely possible. The hosts repeatedly asked for evidence independent of his 95% asspulled number and yet none was forthcoming. That seemed to be all he had Thus, it is not wrong to consider it an argumentum ad populum.

  82. DanDare says

    I want to explore the idea of making it illegal to have a baby if it is predicted with 100% certainty that it would have a horrible life and die at the age of 9. Lets say the law has exactly that scope.

    Do we take the 100% certainty as accurate? Lets pretend for a moment that we take anyone’s prediction about that is authoritative. The consequences of that would be that parents would be guilty of violating the law if they went against anyone’s prediction, even a cranky neighbour. That obviously wont suffice.

    So we tighten up and say people with good qualifications can make the prediction. Much arguing about “good qualifications” later we have a panel. Chances are no such panel will accede to predicting anything with 100% accuracy. There must be some error bars. So either the panel never says any one falls under the law or we relax the 100% certainty rule, say to 95%.

    But hang on, 95% is kind of arbitrary. Maybe we need a prediction based on statistics with a standard deviation. To do that we need to plot predictions against outcomes. If the law is in place we cannot do that as the high level predictions wont have babies to study, unless we allow the babies to be born.

    So if the babies are born, with the law in place, will the parents be incarcerated? After 9 years if the baby is still alive and well will they be released and reparations made? Or do we go the other way and say the law comes into effect only when the prediction comes true? What then about parents who were given a 5% prediction but it came to pass that their child had a horrible life and died at the age of 9? Does the moral responsibility only attach when a prediction is given that is “high enough”?

    What if the parents don’t trust the prediction? What if “high enough” has become 95% and the parents are living in hope of the 5% good side? What if there is screening available to allow an abortion if the necessary factors, but the screening fails?

    All in all that’s the tip of the iceberg for the nightmare of bringing the law into it.

  83. says

    Sure, if you ask a randomly selected person about any subjects requiring years of study to learn in any depth, you probably won’t get useful info. But, most of the information you’ll get from most people will be acceptable. If you ask where the nearest gas station is, most people can tell you. If you ask if it’s hot out, most people can tell you. If you ask what you should do if you locked your keys in your car, most people will suggest you call a locksmith. If you ask something they don’t know, like directions to some small business, most people will be able to tell you that they don’t know. I don’t go through life not bothering to ask mundane questions because I’m concerned the information will be wrong.

    If you want to move beyond that and ask people coming out of a church about the details of physics or biology or something like whether Arianism is Biblically supported or whether prayer is medically effective, then yes, where you don’t get “I don’t know”, you’re probably going to get very uninformed responses. It’s not hard to home in on what subjects to discuss where the reliability of information from people tends to break down. But that’s a minority what most people will encounter on a daily basis. And a lot of people, such as Billy, aren’t equipped to detect where the reliability will break down.

    The description of the problem was not a defense of Billy, it was just to elucidate to those who were saying otherwise, that using the beliefs of others is useful evidence. Though people, like Billy, often do not appreciate the limitations of where that evidence is useful or how to properly weight sources of evidence. When the hosts are asking for the direct observational evidence to make a judgment on, the fact that he kept offering indirect evidence makes clear he was not able to distinguish steps along a chain of evidence.

    Billy was clearly making a fallacious argumentum ad populum. I also have doubts about Billy’s ability to handle even the type of objection to his claims that I recommend, or at least to be able to process it in the course of the discussion on the show. However, I think it is useful in general to look into exactly where the failure in someone’s reasoning is occurring, and let them know exactly where and why the reasoning fails, rather than phrase it in a way where he and probably many viewers will think the objection is about majorities or authorities not being reliable at all, when it would be better to educate them on where evidence from other people becomes unreliable, or where it is the wrong sort of evidence to provide, such as when they are asking for the observations themselves and not peoples’ responses to observations.

  84. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    To DanDare
    Point 1.

    100% accuracy
    […]
    95% is kind of arbitrary

    I would argue that, barring perhaps a few basic things, you don’t know anything to 100% confidence. I would argue that you don’t even know that “1 + 1 + 1 = 3” to 100% confidence.

    We don’t live our lives with absolute certainty in anything. Every act we take is based on incomplete and uncertain information to varying degrees of uncertainty. Every act that we take is a gamble. It’s cost benefit risk analysis. It’s part of being human.

    PS:
    Splitting post because some auto-filter is stopping it, and I don’t know why.

  85. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    To DanDare
    Point 2.
    IMO, my thought experiment concering a “100% chance that the baby lives in extreme pain and dies at the age of 9” carries just as much force if we reduce / clarify the certainty to a mere 99.9999% certainty.

    In particular, people generally abbreviate and approximate and simplify in conversation. No one speaks to exacting standards of full and complete accuracy. We take shortcuts. When I say “I am absolute certain”, that is generally a shortcut, an approximation. To avoid these sorts of problems, we stop speaking on everyday language, and it becomes extremely tedious, and pointless. It’s not dishonest nor inaccurate either, because all of this is understood by normal people, and it’s part of the cultural context of every conversation.

    After 9 years if the baby is still alive and well will they be released and reparations made?

    Suppose I shoot you in the head with a less powerful handgun. Also suppose that you have a “one out of a million” skull that is so thick that it deflects the bullet, and you suffer only a small injury, where it would have severely injured or killed a normal person. Does that mean I shouldn’t be charged with attempted murder?

    Answer: I should be charged with attempted murder. Similarly, in my hypothetical, if the parents get extremely lucky and they fluke it out and the child is born healthy, they still made a grossly irresponsible decision, a grossly immoral decision.

    In particular, intent generally plays a huge role in determining moral culpability. In this case, they had foreknowledge, and they acted on that foreknowledge, which means it rises to the level of intent for the purposes of moral culpability, even if their “intent” was thwarted by blind luck.

  86. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    [The hell? I guess it’s not liking my shakesville link for some reason.]
    PS:
    While important, intent is not the only factor in determining moral culpability. See the standard essay “intent is not magic”.
    www shakesville com/2011/12/harmful-communication-part-one-intent.html

  87. Monocle Smile says

    @Jared
    Okay, I think I see your point and I agree. There were a number of earlier posts in this thread that seemed to reject information from other people categorically, and you are correct to point out the error.

  88. t90bb says

    77 IRONbrain….

    it would appear i have no beef with you. We both agree that we subjectively agree slavery is immoral….therefore we find the biblical instruction to enslave immoral. So we subjectively reject the hokey babble. I am good with that!

  89. sayamything says

    It seems every time Billy is on the show it’s just going to devolve into him not comprehending or claiming that anything inconvenient to him is “off topic” or worse, resort to slurs. I won’t tell you folks how to run the show, but I’d just as soon not see him back.

    The risk in incest is less about a single couple mating and more about systemic inbreeding,which still happens in modern, Western cultures. There have been numerous articles about the issues in the UK, for example. one breeding pair leads to a fairly small risk. Multiple instances increases the risk. And honestly, I think there should be a threshold beyond which we decide that the risk is high enough that what someone is doing constitutes endangerment and abuse, whether they’re related or not. Unless we’re talking miscarriages or the like, we’re talking about a significant known potential for harm with children which will be born and will have to live with these issues.

    I suppose we could argue what the threshold should be, because I don’t offhand know. But I think the argument that other parents risk harming their kids and we don’t complain is a ridiculous one because we really should. In fact, it seems to run parallel with one of Matt’s arguments against a God who would create a being and then torture it. Is it okay to knowingly create someone that will suffer because you have “personal responsibility?” That sounds freaking monstrous to me.

  90. dontlikeusernames says

    @Tracie Harris:

    I love the sandbox analogy. It’s simple, pretty accurate, and understandable by even non-non-believers. Thank, you 🙂

  91. says

    Tracie, Matt, I honestly don’t know how you do this all the time. I certainly don’t have the temperament for it. I love the show and I learn something every time I watch it.

  92. Nomadic Cleric says

    I was so excited to hear Tracy talking about identities. I’ve had 2 de-conversion experiences: one where I concluded that I would live precisely the same life with enough modifications to remove God, and the second where the first one fell apart because it was built on identity foreclosure. This second one began two years ago and within the first few lines of my journal are the very words “identity foreclosure” — I remember how excited I was to bring this up at the beginning of working with my counselor. The name of my journal is still “Identity” two years later. Discovering this framework gave me the liberty to go through an excruciating “teenage rebellion” 10 years past adolescence, and I haven’t yet reached identity achievement but I’m a hell of a long way down the road. Thanks for presenting these simple/profound categories for others in similar situations! For anyone finding this rings true to their experience, I can’t recommend a long-term counselor enough to assist with that transition.

  93. phil says

    @27 Tracie

    I don’t think that 30%+30%=60% is the correct way to calculate the overall probability.

    If we consider that each parent has a 70% chance of producing healthy offspring then all their offspring would have a 70%+70%=140% probability of being healthy. Obviously a problem there.

    Probability and statistics aren’t my forte so I won’t make any suggestions as to how to combine them, I’ll leave that to somebody else. This of course doesn’t address the issue that some genetic defects can be masked if both parents don’t contribute the genes for them.

    Besides which this is tangential to the topic under discussion.

  94. phil says

    @28 KansasAtheist

    “Is harm something that’s only intentional? Is unintentional harm still harm?”

    I can’t see that harm is in any circumstance determined by the intent of the perpetrator. If someone were harmed by a natural event like a volcano, flood, tsunami, etc they are harmed without intent.

    “It seems if an individual could pass on a gene, knowingly, which would result in death or a diminished life of a child, “natural outcomes” are arbitrary… I guess it depends on whether the gene has a 5% chance of being passed on or 90% chance of being passed on?”

    I’m not certain, but I think that if someone who knows they carry a particular heritable defect produces a child, then they would be at least partly responsible if the child did inherit said defect, although it could be argued that they did not intend for the child to inherit the defect. However since god botched the job when he/she designed us we all carry some genetic shortcomings, like the appendix (which I presume everyone inherits).

    I think if someone knew they carried genes for a particular disorder with severe effects that couldn’t be easily overcome, and that the likelihood of them passing it on is high (a subjective measure) then I think the responsible thing to do would be to avoid procreation. They are still free to adopt a child if a child is what they desire.

    ” Maybe you (and others) could expand on that?”

    Is that even a question?

  95. indianajones says

    To help you out Phil. The correct way to do it is to multiply the chances of said nasty NOT happening. In Tracie’s example, 0.7 x 0.7 = 0.49. ie a 51% chance of it happening. In your example, 0.3 x 0.3 = 0.09 meaning a 91% chance of said nasty being passed on.

  96. says

    i’m not a geneticist and i’m probably digressing, but it should go without saying that genetics is made tricky by dominant and recessive alleles: a gene needs to be passed down by both parents for the recessive allele to become active; otherwise the dominant allele is expressed. if, for example, height is controlled by one gene and tallness is the dominant allele, two tall parents can (surprisingly) produce a short person. so a person’s chances of saddling their offspring with a particular inheritable condition varies with their potential partners. someone carrying a nasty recessive allele can avoid the chance of activating it in their offspring by avoiding partners carrying the same gene. if that’s not possible, chances can obviously still be lowered by avoiding active recessive partners. still, chances always remain for creating more hidden recessive carriers. in any case, before any reasonably accurate statistical estimates of passing on bad genes can be calculated, thorough genetic mapping is required.

  97. Jeff1232213 says

    An interesting question: If one person has genes “Aa” – with ‘A” being dominate and good, and ‘a’ recessive and bad.
    Mating with an “AA” person results in 50% of the offspring as “AA” and the other half as “Aa”. There is no net gain for each generation.
    An “Aa” mate has 25% “AA”, 25% “aa”, and 50% “Aa”. But, the “aa” offspring die – leaving “Aa” at 25/75 = 33% and AA = 50/75 = 66%. Here, each generation is clearly improved.

  98. phil says

    @105 Jeff1232213

    Each generation is only improved if the “aa” offspring die before they reproduce, so some diseases are not be very susceptible to evolutionary pressure, to the extent that they are inherited and only manifest after child bearing.

  99. phil says

    @103 indianajones

    Yeah, thanx. I realised that squaring 0.3 wasn’t going to work out because that lead to decreased risk if both parents had a risk of passing on undesirable genes. I thought for a moment it might be an rms sum, but that also has the possibility of reaching a risk higher than 100%. I don’t use statistics, calculus and algebra are more my things, but Tracie’s simple sum seemed obviously wrong.

  100. phil says

    @58 EL

    “…cases where I don’t trust judges and juries to make that distinction properly.”

    Why is it that you can’t “trust judges and juries to make that distinction properly” but (I presume) you can be? Aren’t judges and juries people much like yourself? What special attributes allow you to make superior moral judgements, attributes that judges and juries can’t or don’t have?

    Isn’t it really just the case that you don’t agree with the moral judgements, the fine distinctions, that judges and juries sometimes make? If so why should you be the final arbiter of morality?

    I suspect you might be complaining about one of the features of democracy, that it doesn’t mean that we as individuals get what we want, but that we as society get what we want (at least in part). (That doesn’t mean we get the best or even a good outcome, merely a popular one.)

  101. phil says

    @58 EL

    “Here, the Christian extremist is concerned that the values being promoted to justify gay marriage could just as easily lead to marriage with children.”

    Clearly the church(es) have put us onto the slippery slope by allowing marriage in the first place! In Islam they seemed to have slipped down the slope to child marriage, completely bypassing gay marriage. Child marriage is still an issue with Islam, some Muslims have been dragged to court for underage marriage in recent years.

    @64 Bret Frost

    From Genesis 1
    26 Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground. 27 So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.

    Rib? What rib? 😉

  102. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    Why is it that you can’t “trust judges and juries to make that distinction properly” but (I presume) you can be? Aren’t judges and juries people much like yourself? What special attributes allow you to make superior moral judgements, attributes that judges and juries can’t or don’t have?

    In the quote that you snipped, I gave the example of free speech. Please engage with that example. Clearly, being a needless asshat to someone is morally bad. It’s not murder, but it’s not good either. I try not to be a needless asshat to other people, and I look down upon certain others who are frequently needless asshats. Do you want there to be a law to punish people who say needlessly mean things in public? Do you want juries or judges deciding when someone is being needlessly mean? Do you want to tear down the legal protections for free speech?

  103. bigjay says

    I really want to have a conversation with you guys and gals about religious topics that aren’t related to actual callers to the show. Is there someplace where most of you gather for similar discussions? I don’t want to just hijack the show’s comments section.

    I specifically have a Baptist pastor that I email with and he has made a few statements today that I find interesting and I wanted to share them with someone else and see if I’m missing something or misinterpreting what he’s saying.

    So can I or should I post here or is there somewhere else that most of you gather?

  104. Monocle Smile says

    @bigjay
    Most people don’t mind threadjacking if the conversation isn’t too active. I recommend posting in the latest thread…or better yet, wait until Sunday’s thread when more people will see it.

    There are also facebook groups, but I never frequent those.

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