Open thread for episode 21.42: Tracie and Anthony Magnabosco


This week Tracie is joined by special guest, street epistemologist Anthony Magnabosco.

You can catch Anthony on youtube for more information or to see him in action.

Links of interest in this week’s program:

Comments

  1. Tanise Robnett says

    Did any of you guys just realize you were an atheist? Just said something one day like “If God existed, then…” and then after that realize that you don’t think God exists. I have heard so many stories of people doing research, etc, but I feel alone in the concept of realizing I don’t believe in god.

  2. Hales says

    I was hoping to call in but I waited too late. I was wondering what thoughts everyone has on discussing a lack of belief with children. My younger brother recently turned 9 and my father expressed a desire to begin attending church with him in tow, even though in my living memory my father has never once attended a service, or expressed a desire to do so. When I questioned his motives he simply pointed out the knowledge that the church has on certain subjects that he himself is not well versed. He also is seeking the ‘values’ he believes can be adopted through biblical teachings or what have you. So I suppose what I’m wondering is how I should approach this situation. I am simply worried that it will not be made clear by my father that the church he choses for my sibling is one of many and that there are other faiths totally seperate from what my family in general believes and even more concerning to me is how my brother will observe my own disbelief after being exposed to organized religion. Up until this point I don’t think god has been discussed at all and I’m not sure what “education” he will recieve.

  3. Nazzul says

    So I have been wanting to call in and talk about my Sleep Paralysis and Out of Body experiences I had a number of years ago. I have been hesitant due to the fact that it might not be the most on topic discussion. They were some pretty fascinating event’s though in my opinion they had absolutely no supernatural components to them. These happened over the course of weeks and I was able to replicate these pretty consistently. There was no psychedelics involved, but boy howdy did I see and experience some weird things. Visual hallucinations such as Aliens abducting my roommate, or shadow people etc . Some of the most intense auditory hallucinations, cackling, loud noises which seemed too be right next to me. These usually preceded OBE’s/lucid dreaming, I have never done any sort of psychedelic so these experiences were absolutely personal and fascinating, but again I feel these things were not supernatural and just my brain acting odd due to a poor sleep schedule and long driving.

  4. CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain says

    @Mitch (1:30:42):

    In 2016, there was an article and video published of hypothesized chimpanzee religious rituals

     
    Article/Video: Jerry Coyne – Do chimps have “sacred” rituals?

    [Abstract:]

    We found four populations in West Africa where chimpanzees habitually bang and throw rocks against trees, or toss them into tree cavities, resulting in conspicuous stone accumulations at these sites. This represents the first record of repeated observations of individual chimpanzees exhibiting stone tool use for a purpose other than extractive foraging at what appear to be targeted trees.

    […]
    The paper describes the behavior as performed predominantly by males, which suggests that it’s an extension of male “drumming” rather than a symbolic “shrine” at “sacred trees,” as the authors suggest in the discussion. (To be fair, they don’t seem to favor one hypothesis over another.)

  5. Mobius says

    Really enjoyed this show.

    Avi – The baby / car seat analogy was great.

    The street preacher (missed his name) – It was a good segment, though I don’t agree with much of anything he said. IMHO, he was displaying magical thinking. Perhaps Anthony’s questions will get him thinking critically.

    Dan – I definitely understand how he was feeling hypocritical about attending church. In my late twenties I ran around with a group that was mostly a singles group at a big Methodist church. I would go to some of the services to be sociable and attend their Sunday lunch afterwards. Good people, but I did have feeling of hypocrisy about the church attendance.

    Robin – A few years ago I was being treated for depression. The center included quite a few substance abuse victims. The center’s method was a 12 step program. (Substance abusers or not went.) Fortunately, the doctor directing the program was fairly secular and I didn’t have to go to the 12 step meetings , avoiding that BS.

  6. Nathan says

    So Mark is now a street preacher, and after years of calling in to the show, he seems to be getting farther away from any sort of rational logic. I feel bad for him because he clearly has a group of people around him convincing him of this religious B.S. and they are using his past to get him to believe it.

  7. fullyladenswallow says

    This was an excellent show. Kudos to Tracie and Anthony.
    The street epistemology segment gave me a lot to think about. In the past I had opportunities as an atheist, to engage others in asking what they believed and why they believed, but declined to do so because, (in part and in looking back), I had a fair amount of emotional baggage to deal with from when I was a Catholic (including being raised in a religious, dysfunctional and abusive system). Having this baggage without dealing with it first, would have truly been a roadblock to sincerely wanting to understand the other’s point of view. I wonder if Anthony has a mental checklist that one can go through before he or she engages a non believer.
    I also can identify with Dan’s story. Foreclosed Identity! Yes! Yes! Thank you, Tracie! For years I’ve been wondering why I was so depressed when I attended church and why I began to silently weep to myself while sitting in the pew during mass one Sunday (and then quit attending altogether). Up to that point I considered myself a good Catholic: an altar boy, a choir member, I married a Catholic girl, no pre-marital sex, had a child and had him baptized. Did nearly everything by the book. This is the identity I grew to wear called “Catholic Richard”, starting with my first communion, then confirmation. But no one ever asked me, “is this the identity you would like to wear?” But then when I got divorced it began to fall apart. I stopped receiving the sacraments, then quit the choir. The “Catholic Richard” garment began to look shabby and no longer fit well and I started to be ashamed to be seen in it. Thus the conflicted and foreclosed Identity. I always thought my “episode” in the pew was related solely to abandonment by those around me and dare I say, God? But after hearing your explainer, this makes so much more sense. Indoctrination sucks, doesn’t?

  8. Monocle Smile says

    @Nazzul
    There was an episode a while ago where Tracie did a whole opening talk about sleep paralysis. Should be easy enough to Youtube.

  9. Robert, not Bob says

    I don’t think I’d be able to calmly discourse with someone who calls Ken Ham a scientist. Better you than me, Anthony.

  10. Johnny says

    Maybe it’s just me but it seems like Tracie gets interrupted as co-host or host more often than anyone else on the show.

  11. Corsaire says

    Great show… I stumbled here a few months ago from a chain reaction following a comment from Penn Jillette. That led me to some of his videos and his talking about atheism, and further web searching led here.
    .
    Speaking of magicians… I found Tracie’s magician anecdote really funny, because it is more counter-point than point. That the three of clubs was “randomly selected” twice in a row is actually a better an indicator of an intelligent designer: magicians perform tricks designed by other magicians. One magician skill is “forcing” you to pick the card they had pre-selected. Three of clubs is a popular “force” card, particularly associated with Penn and Teller.
    .
    p.s. Glad for the info on Street Epistemology, looking forward to watching those videos to possibly share with my eleven year old as I’d like him to have some rational, non-confrontational skills as he gets older and has the urge to speak up as a fellow atheist.

  12. anthonymagnabosco says

    Hello! It was great being on the show this past weekend. Feel free to post your questions here.

  13. Monocle Smile says

    I’m starting to think Mark isn’t a real caller. He’s talked about being a “criminal” in the past and then finding god, but this past conversation doesn’t touch on anything discussed in his past calls, nor does he seem to have learned a single thing. Then comes the cluster of buzzwords (“quantum physics” being the hottest one), and of course Mark knows absolutely nothing about any of the topics he mentions. Even right off the bat, he’s all “I see the logical fallacy and choose to ignore it.”

    @Anthony
    Good to see you back on the show!
    How do you generally go about having a discussion with people who refuse to engage honestly?

  14. Monocle Smile says

    LOL Ken Ham and Kent Hovind are “scientists?” Mark doesn’t even know the first thing about ‘thinking’ despite being down this road on previous calls. This is what I’m talking about; Mark is being openly dishonest and not being called out on it. How do you even have a productive discussion with someone who seemingly has no interesting in even having a real discussion? Without honesty, discussion is meaningless.

  15. Monocle Smile says

    FYI, Mark is completely and totally wrong about early christians and persecution. Completely wrong. Christianity was just another Jewish variant at first and was ignored by the Romans for the most part as long as taxes were paid. The only times the Romans cared were in cases like Simon bar Kochba where armed rebellions were incited.

    This whole spiel is just another in the long list of blatant lies that Mark is parroting (he got all of this shit from preachers) and when questioned, he just ignores this and goes into “look, my point is (repeats point in question).”

  16. skeptick8 says

    Great show Tracie and Anthony! You make a terrific team! I doubt that this was planned but it was nice to see you breaking stereo types; with Tracie coming across tough and Anthony softer.

  17. says

    tanise @ 1:

    Did any of you guys just realize you were an atheist? Just said something one day like “If God existed, then…” and then after that realize that you don’t think God exists.

    in episode #763, former host jeff dee relates just such an epiphany:

    i faced the exact same thing as you. i started to have doubts and thinking about this a lot. i remember the specific moment. i was walking down the block, down the street of my neighborhood, and i had my doubts but i was always coming up against the concern that i would anger god and get myself in all kinds of trouble if i allowed myself to take my doubts seriously.

    and what solved it for me was — i dunno if this is gonna fit your situation but — in the methodist church that i was raised in, we were told that god is kind and loving, and i came to the realization that the kind, loving god that i was raised to believe in would not be the sort of fellow who, if even i was mistaken, right, if i used he brain which i’d been told he had given me and used it honestly, and let it lead me where the evidence appeared to point, a kind loving god is not the kinda guy who’s gonna fry me forever just for using my brain properly.

    so, no, you’re not alone.

    and i’m pretty sure that jeff would have become an atheist inevitably, even if he’d been raised to believe in an angry and spiteful god, as long as he remained willing to properly use the brain that god allegedly gave him.

  18. says

    This was a great episode guys. So I paused after the second caller (not the troll) to respond to a couple of things.

    First, I would like to say to Rita, if she has a way to mail a well thought out letter to her Mom, without even talking about belief and just talking about wanting to have a relationship again, that would be your best bet.

    Second, the caller who at the end said his original topic was about SLeep paraylisis is very interesting. Because as a former Christian Deacon, now atheist, I had experienced sleep paralyisis a bunch all through my teens and this was something I could not explain. I know science has an explanation, but if you have never experienced it, it is hard to accept even the scientific explanation.

    I mean, it is not just like a dream. It is like feeling like you are actually away from your body for a moment. It has not happened to me for twenty years now as well, but it happened to me frequently as a child. It definitely would have been the bastian of why I was a believer.

    As far as the you host challenge, I would ask, what is the single greatest argument a religious apologist uses to still hold on to a belief in a personal God?

  19. StonedRanger says

    @Tanise #1
    I used to say I had no religious preference. When I joined the Army when I turned 18, the army gave me dog tags that said atheist and I made them change it to no preference. A couple of years after that I got over my fear of being considered an atheist and freely identified as such. My mother was an excommunicated catholic (for marrying my non catholic/no religious father) so she was always trying to get myself and my sibs to go to some church or other. But I learned early on that the people in the church were lying to me whenever I asked them questions about the bible/god/jesus. (Note to parents: your child knows when you are lying to them. so just don’t.) It was always, god works in mysterious ways or there are some things we aren’t meant to know the answer to. Stuff like that. So you aren’t alone. There are (thousands? hundreds of thousands?) plenty of atheists out there. There are a whole bunch of us right here. Welcome to the group.

  20. RationalismRules says

    @Corsaire

    That the three of clubs was “randomly selected” twice in a row is actually a better an indicator of an intelligent designer: magicians perform tricks designed by other magicians. One magician skill is “forcing” you to pick the card they had pre-selected. Three of clubs is a popular “force” card, particularly associated with Penn and Teller.

    Even if the 3 of Clubs was forced in both tricks, unless there was collusion between them it is still coincidence. The probability of that particular coincidence is increased by the popularity of the 3 of Clubs among magicians, but it is still coincidence.

    In this case you are an observer with more information than most other observers, but your incomplete information is still leading you to an unsupported conclusion. Ironically you’ve fallen into the same trap Tracie was illustrating.

  21. flowerma says

    We call the show before. I want to leave the religion I have been all my life. My husband found it much easier, as he is not as close to his family as I am. Your people set me in touch of a group that supposed helps people leave religion, as it is not something you do like magic.

    I guess it was going ok until a person asked me how I felt about one of the recent terrorist attacks in Europe. I got angry, because the person acted as if I have some special insight about terrorism because I am Muslim. I asked that person if she would have asked a Christian the same question. That person told me that Christians tell her that the religion does not teach terrorism, which lead me to believe that she ignored everything I told her about my life, and believed that I am what we see on TV in the news about Islam and Muslims is all there is.

    I felt ‘undressed’ as a person as I suppose all Muslims do when they are being compared to those evil Muslims who do the horrid things. To this woman it became apparent to me that to her I am not a mother, grandmother, wife I don’t like the Green Bay Packers, I am not a patriotic American and so on…just a Muslim, like a stick of dynamite waiting for something like a newspaper article to light my fuse….excuse my French !!

    So you can understand why I am no longer in the group, and back where I was before. Maybe the best thing in order to fit in is for me to actually go back to being a practicing Muslim, and stop the faking to my relatives…because certainly coming out of Islam is no better than being in if all people are going to equate me to is what happens on CNN.

    Thank you for reading. 🙂

  22. RationalismRules says

    @Tanise Robnett #1
    My fundamentalist family did collective prayers on Sunday, and as a male I was required to offer a prayer out loud. I always hated doing it, and as a rebellious 15-year-old I finally told my parents that I wasn’t going to do it anymore, because it was meaningless to me. I don’t think I had ever believed, but that was my actual point of realization.

  23. RationalismRules says

    @flowerma

    So you can understand why I am no longer in the group, and back where I was before.

    No, I don’t understand that at all. One person showed you her ignorance, and your response was to leave the group? There are ignorant people everywhere – being atheist does not automatically make one thoughtful or well-informed.

    There are some things in your post that just don’t ring true to me. It’s a sad reality at the moment that this sort of post is more likely to come from an anti-islam troll trying to stir up controversy than from a genuine muslim wanting to leave their religion. I apologize if I am wrong, but I suspect you are a troll.

  24. CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain says

    @David Burroughs #18:

    I would ask, what is the single greatest argument a religious apologist uses to still hold on to a belief in a personal God?

     
    Article: Wikipedia – Islamic view of Jesus’ death

    most Muslims believe he was raised to Heaven without being put on the cross and God transformed another person to appear exactly like Jesus who was crucified instead of Jesus.

  25. SG says

    It was great that TAE had Anthony on again.

    As good as the episode was, I was a little disappointed that Anthony was not really given the opportunity to demonstrate Street Epistemology with a caller. Although Tracie graciously gave Anthony plenty of space to participate in the conversation, I don’t think he had any real back-and-forth with a caller without Tracie offering up some facts. While her input was relevant, this always shifts the discussion away from epistemology and back to the arguments for and against the particular point.

    How about a third visit from Anthony, where the host agrees to try doing the episode SE style, with Anthony there to help? Maybe with a little instruction about SE basics at the top of the show, for the benefit of the listeners (and the host)?

  26. Yaddith says

    Tanise Robnett:

    No conversion story here. Although I was raised in a Christian home, even as a child I never found the God hypothesis convincing. At the age of twelve I learned the meaning of the word “atheist,” and I have identified myself as one ever since.

  27. Murat says

    @Anthony

    Hi there! It was nice to see you on the show. I appreciate what you are doing overall. Just a couple of quick questions:

    1) In the light of your experience, does street epitemology work one way or both ways? Do you think you’ve been changed yourself somehow, as a result of having engaged with many people this way?

    2) Have you ever decided to pause or fully stop practicing street epistemology on / with someone just because you in the process thought / saw they were not in a mood or mental state to be tampered with? (A religious parent whom you learned had lost their child a short time ago, someone showing signs of not easily gained balance, those who seem to experience flashbacks due to the subject they are presented, etc.)

    3) Do you think theism is the most fruitful theme to practice street epistemology for / through? If so, what subjects would follow that? (Politics, economy, science, etc.)

    4) To what extent do you think the avarage person’s lingual skills affect a) their own (internal) reasoning b) the way they communicate their position to you c) how thoroughly they understand the questions they are posed? (Like, in percentages)

    5) As a follow up to the previous question: In a quite improbable / ideal situation of each side understanding the other and expressing themselves perfectly, do you think there would be less or more sharp a conflict between theists and atheists?

    Thanks!

  28. anthonymagnabosco says

    @Monocle Smile “How do you generally go about having a discussion with people who refuse to engage honestly?”

    That’s a great question. It is VERY difficult if a person is not willing to engage with you about their beliefs honestly. I gave a talk to Chicago Atheist Society called ‘Things I Have Learned’ and used a glass vase to protect a stack of blocks (used to represent a belief) to illustrate how people will erect defenses to protect their views from being examined. Being dishonest is one of those barriers.

    In these situations, it could be more helpful to ask if you have a discussion about the importance of believing true things and if they want other people to believe true things. If they want to believe true things AND value truth, you can shift the discussion to how other people who might believe something that is not true could ever discover this if they were not willing to honestly examined their beliefs.

    Changing the focus from your interlocutor to a third party might be all you need to help your stubborn conversation partner to begin to open up.

    Hope that helps!

    Anthony Magnabosco

  29. anthonymagnabosco says

    @SG: “How about a third visit from Anthony, where the host agrees to try doing the episode SE style, with Anthony there to help?”

    Thanks for your feedback and suggestion. I have to remind myself (and others) that I am a guest on their show, and don’t quite see myself as an equal. As a result, I defer to the main hosts. Your idea however, would be pretty neat to try. Maybe one day we will be able to give that a go. Thanks for watching.

  30. anthonymagnabosco says

    @Murat

    Merhaba! There’s a lot here, so let me break it down:

    “1) In the light of your experience, does street epitemology work one way or both ways? Do you think you’ve been changed yourself somehow, as a result of having engaged with many people this way?”

    I’ve been using SE with others for nearly five years now, and it has definitely changed me in a profound way. First, I cannot help myself from employing the same questioning on my own beliefs, and significantly lowering my confidence when I discover that I have a unreliable method for getting there. Second, I have found that my interactions with people who hold views other than my own have improved greatly–I am far more patient and understanding with people, because I have learned that most people are simply victims of a fault epistemology, and they are not bad people. Finally, this approach of SE appears to be the best way during a one-on-one interaction to HELP everybody involved better understand the belief, and shift our views to better align with reality.

    “2) Have you ever decided to pause or fully stop practicing street epistemology on / with someone just because you in the process thought / saw they were not in a mood or mental state to be tampered with? (A religious parent whom you learned had lost their child a short time ago, someone showing signs of not easily gained balance, those who seem to experience flashbacks due to the subject they are presented, etc.)”

    Not really. Unless there was a crowd of people observing a discussion and I had a high degree of confidence that debating/presenting facts/ridiculing the claimant would help the larger audience reflect on the belief, I really don’t see much benefit in the more acerbic approach. I don’t think I could ever go back to counter-apologetics or debating.

    “3) Do you think theism is the most fruitful theme to practice street epistemology for / through? If so, what subjects would follow that? (Politics, economy, science, etc.)”

    YES! In that same Chicago Atheist Society talk I mentioned in another response, the best bang for our buck to help people is to challenge their God claims, mainly because all sorts of other beliefs rest on that one. Why waste hours arguing or providing evidence to someone who thinks the Earth is 6,000 years old when that belief is ultimately based on the faith they have that a God is real? I haven’t had enough political talks using SE to be entirely sure, but I do think examining religious claims using SE is probably easier to do than political views. We need more people using SE with people who make political claims.

    “4) To what extent do you think the avarage person’s lingual skills affect a) their own (internal) reasoning b) the way they communicate their position to you c) how thoroughly they understand the questions they are posed? (Like, in percentages)”

    Who knows. It does seem like many people who reach out to me after we speak express regret for not being able to adequately explain their position or wish to clarify the meaning of something they said. But I don’t see this as a limitation–it can be humbling to recognize that you may have not been able to verbalize what, why, and how you believe something, and that discovery can inspire people to think about it some more.

    “5) As a follow up to the previous question: In a quite improbable / ideal situation of each side understanding the other and expressing themselves perfectly, do you think there would be less or more sharp a conflict between theists and atheists?”

    Yes. I think so. Honest, respectful questioning leads to better understanding, and that will more than likely reduce conflict.

    Thanks for your questions.

    Anthony Magnabosco

  31. bob says

    I really liked Tracie’s reply about demonstrating how something that is claimed to exist – and if you can’t demonstrate it, then it is no different than something that does not exist. I don’t know that I have heard that vocalized before.
    .
    Love the show.

  32. says

    I was going through the episode to pull out the links of interest, and I thought perhaps I should take notes during the show to avoid having to rewatch it to pull out the points to use for links. However, I found the rewatching to be very informative. In fact, much to my chagrin, I caught a GIANT fail on my part. When the street preacher, Mark, was talking about possible bias on the part of Lawrence Krauss, I completely neglected to take that opportunity to talk about how well-designed experiments and peer-review come into play to mitigate the impact of bias on scientific findings. The entire point of the method is to try and gain access to the most objective facts, while disallowing for bias to enter into the testing. While it may not always be achieved, it’s certainly the most rigorous scrubbing for bias we have so far–and certainly more trustworthy than any religious vetting I’ve ever seen.

  33. Murat says

    But, the issue Mark brought the concept of bias into was not experimental science. He was talking about the debatable conclusion Krauss drew from the tested, experimented facts and findings. Mark was implying that, had Krauss’ personal inclinations been more towards theism, he could well have put to use the very same findings for the argument that a god would be necessary for the universe to be the way it is known to be.
    So, I don’t think there was a fail on anyone’s part in the way they responded to that.

  34. CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain says

    Mark (47:01):

    What secular atheistic scientists […] say about christian scientists like Ken Ham, Kent Hovind, and whatever… “They’re purposely skewing information to make the bible true.” […] How do I know they’re not doing that to make the anti-biblical anti-god thing be true?

    @heicart #33:

    well-designed experiments and peer-review come into play to mitigate the impact of bias on scientific findings

    Important caveat, considering he called Ken Ham a scientist..
     
     
    Article: Nature – Creationists launch ‘science’ journal

    On 9 January [2008], Answers in Genesis, a Christian ministry run by evangelical Ken Ham, launched Answers Research Journal (ARJ), a free, online publication devoted to research on “recent Creation and the global Flood within a biblical framework”. Papers will be peer reviewed by those who “support the positions taken by the journal” according to [the] editor-in-chief

    Mark was concerned about possible untrustworthiness from the other side that is already explicitly admitted on his own.
     
     
    Propaganda: Answers in Genesis – Do Creationists Publish in Notable Refereed Journals?

    In the summer of 1985 Humphreys wrote to the journal Science pointing out that openly creationist articles are suppressed by most journals. He asked if Science had “a hidden policy of suppressing creationist letters.” Christine Gilbert, the letters editor, replied and admitted, “It is true that we are not likely to publish creationist letters.” This admission is particularly significant since Science’s official letters policy is that they represent “the range of opinions received.” e.g., letters must be representative of part of the spectrum of opinions. Yet of all the opinions they receive, Science does not print the creationist ones.
    […]
    Thus, most creationist researchers realize it is simply a waste of time to send journal editors openly creationist articles. To say that a “slight bias” exists on the part of journal editors would be an understatement.

     
     
    Article: RationalWiki – Russell Humphreys

    Starlight creates serious difficulties for young Earth creationists, since our ability to see stars that are billions of light years distant from Earth is incompatible […] Because of this, a way must be found to explain why we are seeing light that has taken billions of years to arrive here. Humphreys attempts to explain this by having the Earth exist inside of a black hole, with the associated gravity-caused time-slowing effects, effectively having Earth’s time running at a much slower rate than the rest of the universe.
    […]
    Humphreys also postulated a model that would explain the gravitational fields of planets. Humphreys assumed that God created all celestial bodies out of water, which was then subsequently transmuted into the matter of which each body is presently made.
    […]
    Aside from the facts that it’s unfalsifiable (how can one prove that God didn’t?) and that it relies on the less-than scientific theory of transmutation, there’s an interesting lack of proof for the theory and not-insignificant exceptions (such as Jupiter) and scientific consensus (and evidence) for the competing dynamo theory.

  35. CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain says

    * Wiki typo: That last quote should read “magnetic fields”, not “gravitational”.

  36. Murat says

    @Sky Captain
    Mark was talking about “A Universe From Nothing” and the context in which he brought up “bias” was why Krauss would lean on “no god necessary” as the logical / philosophical aspect of that scientific content.

    I recently watched something like a “couples’ debate” on one side of which was Krauss. Their opponents were Christians and one guy said “You say the universe came from nothing, okay, and that’s also what the Bible says, that there was ‘nothing’ before it, so, why do you think it coming from nothing makes god more unlikely with regards to Christianity?”

    Well, Krauss’ team “won” the thing in the end as the opponents were really weak, but I take Mark’s question in line with that particular one and it was a reasonable one to ask as the “metaphysical” conclusion / comment to draw from a proven fact (in this case, the universe being possible from nothing) is by definition out of and beyond the area of experimentation.

  37. Murat says

    Needless to say, even what was known of the universe many centuries ago had already debunked existing religions, and the only god that can be argued to be compatible with the facts in hand is that of a deistic approach.

  38. says

    Also a note to viewers, we had a call at the start of the show by “Dr. Kronos.” I recalled the name immediately as the caller from last time I was on who claimed he wanted to discuss religious influence in politics–or some such topic. When he got on, he tried to corral us into some odd conversation about “who would you vote for — god or satan?” I said “satan.” But the answer he wanted was “neither” or to talk about how tough or unfair it would be. When he failed to manipulate us in the direction he wanted, he then simply shifted the conversation to the idea of a negative voting system, which sounded somewhat interesting, but not relevant to the show. He then began claiming our rights were all being violated because the states aren’t allowing us to cast votes against candidates, only for them. In the end, it became clear his real issue was that he wasn’t happy about having to choose between Trump vs. H. Clinton in the last election, and he was trying to push this pet project–the negative vote.

    When I pointed out it was not a topic relevant to the show, he then tried to throw something together to try and make it relevant. I called him out on it, and he admitted it was a weak afterthought. After the call I talked for a moment about how the call was an abuse of the show, and how I believed I had been used by it. Dr. K either didn’t hear that after-call discussion, or he thought I was kidding, because he called back this past Sunday. I recognized his name and told the studio to handle it however they wanted, but that I wasn’t going to take calls from someone who abuses the show. He dishonestly misled our call screeners, and I won’t be talking to him again. He is still welcome to call the show when someone else is hosting.

  39. RationalismRules says

    @SkyCaptain #35

    Starlight creates serious difficulties for young Earth creationists, since our ability to see stars that are billions of light years distant from Earth is incompatible […] Because of this, a way must be found to explain why we are seeing light that has taken billions of years to arrive here.

    It’s magic!

    I don’t see that this would present any problem to a young earth creationist. If their god created the stars for the benefit of humans, it could simply have created them in such a way that the light from them was already reaching earth. Don’t forget, they believe their god started the whole thing by creating light without any light sources at all.

    It’s no more difficult than arguing away the age of the fossil record and dating techniques (the age-of-the-earth variety, as opposed to the Tinder variety). If they are happy to tell themselves that their god created fossils ‘to test our faith’ I don’t see that light from distant (and possibly no-longer-existent) stars could not simply be argued away with the same ‘logic’.

  40. CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain says

    @RationalismRules #40:

    I don’t see that this would present any problem to a young earth creationist.

    Shh, inventing a problem then addressing it with wildly unnecessary assertion is kind of a hobby for them. 😛
     
    Article: RationalWiki – Omphalos hypothesis

    the universe was created to appear very, very old (or simply “mature”) despite being created not that long ago. […] Answers in Genesis has some articles roundly condemning this unfalsifiable ‘hypothesis’ and others explicitly endorsing it.
    […]
    The Omphalos hypothesis speaks to the character of a god who would perpetrate such deception of false memories and evidence.
    […]
    Most creation science adherents reject the idea because they see it as presenting a wilfully deceitful God, and dispute the overwhelming scientific evidence of an old Earth rather than explaining it away as artificial evidence planted by God.
     
    For example, creationist spokesmen like Duane Gish, Kent Hovind, and Ken Ham claim that dinosaurs existed alongside humans in the age of Genesis, probably perishing in the Great Flood, while those supporting the Omphalos hypothesis would argue that dinosaur fossils are not actually evidence of any creature which ever lived – dinosaur bones are just some weird sculptures created a few thousand years ago, along with Adam’s navel and the rest of the universe.

  41. RationalismRules says

    @SkyCaptain
    It is truly amazing the contortions they will go through, isn’t it?

    dinosaurs existed alongside humans in the age of Genesis, probably perishing in the Great Flood

    Which means they then have to rationalize why Noah didn’t follow god’s instructions. Let me guess – dinosaurs were neither clean nor unclean – they were in a category all of their own – dino-clean! (This has the additional advantage that the ark can be a whole lot smaller than it would need to be to accommodate dinosaurs – handy!)
     

    Most creation science adherents reject the idea because they see it as presenting a wilfully deceitful God

    So if they can’t accept the idea of a wilfully deceitful god, they would have to accept that their god actually intended for Abraham to sacrifice Isaac, wouldn’t they? Which would make him monstrously immoral.
    Activate creationist superpower – Cognitive Dissonance to the rescue!
     

    Answers in Genesis has some articles roundly condemning this unfalsifiable ‘hypothesis’

    Because they’re so concerned about falsifiability in every other area…. lol!

  42. RationalismRules says

    @Hales #2
    There have been some good discussions on AXP shows about how to approach questions of belief with children – Jen (in particular) has put a lot of thought into this issue.
    I pulled up a recent one – have a listen to the first call on ep 21.35:
    https://youtu.be/XFdOJpSEaIk?t=19m40s

    I don’t have kids, so I’m not the best one to advise you, but since no-one else has responded so far, that might get you started.

    Also, the schedule says Jen is hosting this coming Sunday, so it might be worth calling in if you can.

  43. dj says

    Much as I’ve always had a lot of respect for Tracy, I was frustrated listening to this episode (I’m only about half way through the video, though) because I wanted to hear how Anthony would handle callers. It seemed to me that Tracy was doing the argumentative thing (with Mark from TO) and wasn’t letting Anthony interact with the caller. I think Anthony’s method is actually more based on what we know from psychology of human interactions.

  44. joxer says

    I’d like to meet Mark one day in Toronto and discuss in person, although I have to say that he makes my blood boil because listening to him is actively killing brain cells by his moronic comments. Because Lawrence Krauss may have a bias, therefore a god and therefore the particular evil bastard of a god of the one particular religion he has been sucked into. I firmly believe the pink unicorn is every much as viable an excuse for the supernatural as the god of the bible that throws gays off buildings and advocates slavery. It’s just that the pink unicorn is much less harmful to individuals and society in general than that asshole.

  45. paxoll says

    @Bob Tracie did a much more in depth use of this on a previous show earlier this year. She presented this at the beginning of the show. She had two mason jars (empty). She said in one jar there was nothing. In the other jar there were weightless, invisible dice. You have no way to examine the dice as they are in this protective environment of the mason jar. She goes on to show that they are equal. So an undetectable god is equal to nothing.

  46. Mobius says

    @41 CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain

    And then there is the claim of some creationists that dinosaur fossils were place there by the Devil to mislead us.

  47. Mobius says

    @45 paxoll

    Actually, what Tracie said was that an undetectable god is indistinguishable from a non-existent god. That is not the same thing as undetectable god = nothing.

  48. ironchops says

    Hi Mobius, Does that mean that any undetectable stuff is indistinguishable from any non-existent stuff but not to mean that it is non-existent?

  49. Agosto says

    Regarding the last call – Tim of the Secular Student Alliance:
    A little cynicism on my part leads me to believe that Tim’s friend, the president of the apologists club, is not merely two-faced or afraid to look bad in front of the club. He’s actively and dishonestly using Tim. What appears to be open and honest dialog when he and Tim are alone, is really data gathering and practice. He wants to bone up on Tim’s arguments against theism, build his counter arguments in private, then make his best case at Tim’s expense in front of the club. My approach to this would be to draw the friend out and explore his thoughts with an eye to being more prepared at the next group session.

    If the “friend” becomes defensive and won’t let Tim speak at the session, then break off the relationship.

  50. CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain says

    paxoll #45:

    in one jar there was nothing. In the other jar there were weightless, invisible dice.

    @Mobius #47:

    Actually, what Tracie said was that an undetectable god is indistinguishable from a non-existent god. That is not the same thing as undetectable god = nothing.

    @ironchops #48:

    Does that mean that any undetectable stuff is indistinguishable from any non-existent stuff but not to mean that it is non-existent?

     
    Video: Axp 602, Fallacy Model (50:47-1:25:05)

    The problem with these is that if you have something that you define as something that has no measurable manifestation […] how do you identify it from nothing!? It’s the same as nothing until you can find a way to demonstrate that it’s something.
    […]
    If you’re going to tell me that something is existing, and then you’re going to say that it can exist even though it has no manifesting qualities that can be measured… what you’re really saying is that we can’t differentiate “something that is not existent,” from “something that exists but has no existent qualities.” […] There’s nothing I could say doesn’t exist, because it may exist and just doesn’t manifest. […] Suddenly existence means nothing. […] The term is completely castrated. It’s kind of sad that the only way you can argue for the existence of something you believe in is to simply try to argue that existence means nothing.

  51. RationalismRules says

    @Mobius

    And then there is the claim of some creationists that dinosaur fossils were place there by the Devil to mislead us.

    Brilliant! You couldn’t make this shit up.
    Oh, wait….

  52. Mac Dude says

    I have a question for Mark form Toronto, you say that you know there is an intelligence behind the universe because you can recognize its design. What does a universe that has no intelligence behind it and thus no design look like?

  53. Frodo says

    The more I listen to your podcast, the more suspicious I get that the smart callers that put together a coherent argument are just the same guy – the one that sounds like he’s about 18 or so. I further suspect that the guy is not really a Christian, but rather is practicing for the debate team. If this is true, then props to the dude. This is a great way to practice debate skills and defend a position on an interesting topic.

  54. HappyPerson says

    @mac dude i think that is what tracy was trying to get at when she said that mark doesn’t distinguish between the rubble and the scyscraper. of course Marc couldn’t answer.

    marc bringing out the topic of bias was disingenuous. it was more a way to dismiss things he couldn’t understand (scientific research) rather than to bring up a good point as to whether or not krauss (his example) is to be believed. a classic combination poisoning the well/against the person fallacy. tracy should have mentioned the diversity of believers among scientists. the best people, rhetorically, to convince theists of evolution (for example) are the theistic evolutionists. ken miller is the perfect example.

  55. spidergirl says

    I have to say that I don’t quite get the obsession with sleep paralysis and lucid dreaming. I’ve experienced sleep paralysis once as a teenager and although it was pretty frightening at the time, I knew it had a “real” or scientific meaning, even if I didn’t know what it was at the time. Nothing spiritual or other-worldly… I experience lucid dreaming quite often, and again, nothing spiritual or spooky about it. I’ve always felt (even when I was religious) that talking about dreams was a waste of time. It’s not some message from somewhere else, at least to me. It’s just random brain stuff. I don’t get the obsession at all.

  56. theisntist says

    I’ve also heard creationists claim that god put dinosaur fossils there to test our faith. Pretty sinister of him, since failing the test leads to eternal torture!

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