Open thread for episode 22.14: Tracie and John

American Atheists 2018 Convention summary, and Tracie & John take viewer calls.

General TAE Links

General useful resources


  1. twarren1111 says

    Teddy from Gainesville sounds like he’s in the age group for schizophrenia and gender. This must be the 4th time I’ve heard him call in with concerns about hell. My heart goes out to him. Certainly, it’s possible (and most probable) that he is having severe anxiety related to irrational fear. Less probable is schizophrenia. Tracie and John are giving excellent advice. Encouraging him to seek appropriate help AND making sure he knows that Tracie wants him to follow up with her ONCE he gets an evaluation. She made a contract with him. So good!!

  2. Marcel says

    One thing Moe is failing to understand regarding ancestors is that those are not unique individuals. If you go back 40 generations, those trillion ancestors are not unique, but many will be the same smaller set of individuals.

  3. houndentenor says

    I’d like to point out to Moe from Burleson something that John hinted at but didn’t state outright. We are all our own cousins many times over. At some point as you go from four grandparents to eight great grandparents, and so forth that two of those people are the same people. If you can go back far enough in your own genealogy, you’ll find this. Mostly we can’t because unless you are totally descended from royalty the records for most people mostly don’t exist before the 17th or 18th centuries (and in some cases later). But that’s the issue. You don’t have that many unique ancestors. even allows you to account for this in your tree.

  4. critically_damped says

    The way Tracie handled Dante made me proud to be a fan of this show. The cancer analogy was perfect.

    Dante, I know you don’t want to admit that there is something wrong with your brain, but the chances that your brain is malfunctioning are infinitely higher than the chances that you are being visited by demons. We know this because people with malfunctioning brains have been shown to exist, and we have zero evidence of anything supernatural, including demons. So if you wish to support the validity of your demons claim, you must first seek to disprove it by ruling out the null hypothesis. This is necessary before you can expect any call-in atheist talk show hosts to give you a moment of their time, because it would would be unethical of them to give you any validation for that theory before you seek help.

  5. Teddy says

    I don’t think Tracie understood what I was trying to get across. My concern wasn’t that they would think I am crazy. It’s that they won’t think my experiences are real. If my experiences aren’t actually real and I go to them and they convince me of that, then that is great. If my experiences are real and they go and convince me that they aren’t real then the forces that have come onto me will have a serious advantage and I will have a great chance of being tortured. I must find a way to know that they aren’t real before I can let myself be convinced of that or I have am extremely large chance of eternal harm.

  6. Alan Clarke says

    1hr 13mins into the show… and I give up for tonight. How much time are you guys prepared to waste on off-topic calls?

  7. Teddy says

    And I apologize if I sounded on edge at the end of that call. I was not trying to be rude to Tracie or John or imply that alcoholics had control over their situation or insult the first caller. I have been very terrified and I’ve been running on very little sleep for a long time because of this and it makes it difficult for me me to focus and stay on point or get it across. I hope I did not offend John or Tracie or anyone.

  8. Theisntist says

    Yes, the poor caller just didn’t understand how the math works. Whether going up or down the family tree the numbers increase exponentially, regardless of population trends. But interestingly, after about 10 generations back, if we count unique ancestors, the numbers start shrinking in each further generation. This is because the same ancestors end up being related through numerous lines as cousins marry cousins (whether 50th cousins which we supposedly all are, or 2nd cousins, who used to marry surprisingly frequently). This leads to an ancestry tree that looks more like a diamond, rather than the upside down pyramid the caller assumes.

  9. John David Balla says

    It was tough going with those first two callers. Hard to watch, especially back-to-back. But handled with the utmost integrity and professionalism.

    “Crazy” is not a clinical diagnosis, which is why therapists will not use those words. The only assertion a therapist will likely make in the context of “crazy” is that you are not, no matter who you are. As such, it can be deceptive or misleading which does raise ethical concerns since the therapist pretty much knows the recipient will assign “great meaning” to this apparent “revelation” from an authority. In any case, it’s why and how you can be told you’re not crazy while, at the same time, issued a prescription for an anitipsychotic.

  10. oldman says

    I know for myself that God is real. I have autism and served a two year mission for the LDS Church. When I went on my mission, each missionary was alotted $200.00 a month for personal expenses. At the time of my mission, I didn’t know how to manage money and bounced several checks. I had to have my parents help me out. After my mission I attended the same congregation as my parents. After three months, I attended a singles congregation. In LDS congregations members are called to different positions in their congregations. It was in my singles congregation that the leaders called me to serve as a financial clerk through inspiration and prayer. Before my calling to serve as a financial clerk, I had never had any experience being a financial clerk. The leaders of my singles congregation also had no idea that I didn’t know how to manage money. I know for myself that it was God who wanted me to serve in that position so I could learn how to manage money.

  11. ScottM1973 says

    In regards to the Moe caller and ancestry confusion.

    Create 2 trees to represent ancestries; One for the male lines and one for the female lines. By definition every person (who ever lived) will be represented on at least 1 of these trees as every woman MUST have a mother and every male MUST have a father. Your male line on the male tree is linear, and your female line on the female tree is linear.

    Now the only thing you have to clear up which could cause exponential growth is an individuals mother’s male line and father’s female line. However by definition your father’s mother is already ON the female tree and your mother’s father is also already ON the male tree so there are no new nodes added to the tree to represent these relationships. The same is true for your grandmother(s) father and grandfather(s) mother and all your more distant ancestors.

    Although the trees can get fatter or slimmer at various times on the trees due to birth/survival rates since ancestry lines merge with that of cousins the overall direction of growth is negative (def not exponential) the farther back in time you go.

  12. says

    yes, moe, everybody has a mom and a dad, but not everybody has a unique mom and dad, which is where moe’s math goes wrong. every sibling shares at least one mom or dad, which means as we go further into the past, the human tree, like every other biological tree, collapses on itself, instead of expanding, as moe mistakely concludes.

    also affecting population size: litter size, birth and death rates, longevity and catastrophes, to name a few.

  13. ScottM1973 says

    @oldman I don’t mean to be rude but are you saying that your proof of god is that your church leaders have incompetent hiring practises? Once again not trying to be insulting but that kind of sounds like you’re saying People make uninformed decisions Therefore God. You do know that as we speak, on a dare, there are people, right now, snorting condoms right? By the same logic this then is also proof of god.

    Isn’t it much more likely that the leaders know you needed motivation to learn money management skills and gave you that position so that you’d learn?

  14. John David Balla says

    @oldman says. I have flipped my inabilities into most capable competencies too. Over the coarse of life, this happens, at least a few times, to everyone. Overcoming our own ineptness is genuinely something to delight in. A downright delicious outcome to savor and cherish and to reference when embarking on the next. At times we declare war on our own strife. But having it imposed works just as good. Getting better is its own reward. It never faulters.

  15. Bruce Baker says

    @oldman That post seemed “generic driveby testimony” rather than a response to I’m only part way through the episode. Perhaps I haven’t yet hit the part where your comment is. Nevertheless, here’s my response to your post.

    You take the fact that, after praying, the leaders chose you to handle money…and that must’ve been divine intervention to teach you a good thing?

    Your parents taught you plenty of religion. But they didn’t teach you how to handle money?
    School is another place that might be taught. Some do, some don’t. But you didn’t get it there (or not enough). Plus, as you started life on your own and began to have problems…you didn’t, at any time seek out many of the available (even for free) resources to figure that stuff out.

    So you get to this new group. They’re handing out assignments. They’re “seeking the Lord’s guidance” for these assignments. You might think “oh, God knew I’m hopeless with money. He had them give me this job so I’d finally learn it. Good job, God. Arranging the world to suit my best interests.”

    My version is that their prayer for a good candidate to handle the financial department…led them to someone completely unqualified to handle that job. I don’t know the scope of the job. But I’m guessing that might’ve led to some negative results for the group. It’s about money. How money is handled leads to good or bad results.

    So they chose you either knowing you weren’t qualified (but maybe with your improvement as the goal, as you imply)…or they didn’t know because they didn’t ask. Nor, apparently, expect that people have any aptitude for what they’re expected to do. And, if your God (and exactly your God, doing exactly what you figure) exists…that he finally fixed the problem left by your parents’ neglect of giving you life but not life skills…your school for not teaching you that…your church, too, apparently…
    …but finally fixing that by dropping you, unqualified, in a position where that could have bad effects for the group.

    Or no divine intervention. And shoddy attention to “worldly concerns” by your parents, your church, these parTICular leaders who appointed you…and you yourself.

    Would “and I didn’t get the job that would require me to finally learn this” indicate to you the non-existence of this God? Or would “and I met a girl at the singles group; we got married; she was good with money and taught me. Perfect helpmeet.” be just as good as evidence?

    “I didn’t learn it when I could’ve. I didn’t learn it the next time I could’ve. Or the time after that. But then someone prayed. And now I HAVE to learn it. Therefore God.” Not compelling.

  16. Don says

    Mental health issues are serious and I think Tracie handled the situation very well. You had two callers who exhibited symptoms of mental illness, but neither Tracie, John, nor I are qualified to diagnosis a mental condition. But encouraging them to seek medical treatment and refusing to take any further calls from Teddy was the responsible thing.

  17. oldman says

    As I said in my post, the leaders of my singles congregation had no idea that I didn’t know how to manage money. It was God that wanted me to serve in that position. The leaders of my congregation had a feeling that I should serve in that position. They prayed to God to ask him if I should serve.

  18. Muz says

    I was amused that we had a caller wondering “If everyone has two parents how come there weren’t squillions of humans in history? That’s weird right?” And then the next caller was “So, about incest…”

  19. ScottB7946 says

    Here are some thoughts for Kenny and I hope that he reads this blog. From the time I was in my mid teens I started having what I believed were demonic visitations but these turned out to be a lot more normal and understandable then I expected. I heard voices, saw images of creatures in my room, believed that I felt them physically from time to time and had an overwhelming sense of evil presence and was even molested by *them* a few times. I also felt unable to move, paralyzed. All of this occurred while I was going to sleep, already asleep or waking up. Having been raised Mormon I had a foundation within the mythology that tied these to the teachings of my church, this served to re-enforce my perception of their reality. I sought help from my church leaders for years and they have me terrible confirmations and advice. When I was in college I spoke to one Bishop and he actually did help for a change. He listened to me and rather than re-enforcing my terrible understanding of my experience he told me that I should seek assistance because even though he didn’t know what was going on he knew that I needed to seek medical help. I was devastated, I suddenly felt like something was wrong with me, which was a new type of terrible and very isolating feeling.

    Traci was a bit brutal but her advise is solid. Your call was familiar to me when I needed help and was scared to get it because my sense of reality was being shaken and my mind was potentially at the core. I should have gone to a doctor then but didn’t and I could have saved myself some trouble if I had done it properly. At the time I started going online and randomly seeking advise from strangers in Yahoo groups (bad advise, I know, but it is what I did). I described my problems and eventually I stumbled across someone who was familiar with it and she had gave me a place to start, she gave me the term Sleep Paralysis.

    I did some research and it turns out that it is extremely common. The experiences that I was having were shared by about 1/3 of the population at least once in their life, about 1/3 of that group had a few experiences over their life and an even smaller group within that one had experiences like mine as often as I’ve had mine. There is a very good chance that on your drive to work you’ve passed at least a few people that know your fears and terrors. Sleep Paralysis with hallucinations is common but few people speak about it because they fear that they will be judged or deemed unhealthy/crazy. These experiences are actually among those experienced by narcoleptics though they are not as recognizable because people tend to focus on the ‘funny’ symptoms of sudden sleep attacks. I am not narcoleptic because I don’t tick all of the boxes, and yes, I did eventually speak to my doctor and a sleep specialist. A common practitioner will know very little or nothing about the experience, I highly recommend that you see a sleep specialist as this is their field and you don’t need to fear being perceived as a freak going into it, they deal with it all of the time.

    Once I came to terms with myself and accepted that I wasn’t crazy or broken my experiences changed very instantly. I still hear voices, I still see empty-faced lumps of darkness but they do not scare me. I went from having every episode be terrifying to having them all be benign and more than anything just simply annoying. I control it, it is my mind and it is my play ground. I went 15 years without a terrifying experience, this only changed recently because of emotional stress. The stress of having it always on my mind was actually causing me to have many of the episodes. Even just a few weeks ago I described a few of my episodes to my girlfriend and then sure enough, I had an episode that night. I am generally my own trigger. Educating myself on the subject and finding others like myself helped keep my subconscious mind in check.

    I recommend a few books that really helped me, the first is by Dr. Hufford and is called “The Terror That Comes In The Night: An Experience-Based Study Of Supernatural Assault Traditions”. This one helped me put into perspective the types of images and fears that I as experiencing as they vary from place to place based on shared mythology within groups of people or religions. The second book is “The Demon Haunted World” by Carl Sagan.

    If any of this connects with you then please know that admitting to yourself that you need help should actually be a motivator to talk to the appropriate professionals. In my experience, fear or judgement or diagnosis was actually a hell of a lot scarier that actually getting the answers that I needed. I hope that you find what you’re looking for, everyone deserves a sense of balance. If your experiences are anything like what I’ve described you may be a lot more normal that you think you are.

  20. John David Balla says

    @oldman. How did you determine that it was God? Seems rather obvious that the same determination could have been made without god. Don’t you agree?

  21. Monocle Smile says

    Sounds like your leaders don’t know their asses from elbows. Not all that surprising.
    I’m sorry that you’re that deep in a cult. It’s not your fault.

  22. Bruce Baker says

    @Scott M Dang. Hadn’t read your reply to @oldman when I typed mine. Similar points, but you made it more succinctly than I. Wish I’d read yours before I wrote my whole screed. Would’ve just agreed, added two points (and saved ten minutes).

    Then, from your second post: Thanks for the “two trees” model. That helped me get it.
    I like tree models. Not just reflecting evolution or genealogy, but as business models. So yours was an interesting spin on an old standby.

    @Theisntist But your comment catalyzed this post.

    Moe’s call had me both frustrated, but also a little puzzled. (Self talk: “Okay, bright boy, what IS the answer?”). I figured that it wasn’t just simply linear. That amongst the factors (many) not being included)…is that death events make it non-linear.

    No, darn it. I just realized I got sidetracked by Tracie’s point. That’s not relating to Moe’s “trillions of ancestors” issue. But to the minor point about why expansion isn’t simply doubling (or even increasing) with every single generation.

    Anyhoo, comments here are clearing it up for me. (Common ancestry! Hah! The solution…is a different connotation…of a cliche!). That’s the proximate cause for this post. The preceding is just backstory.

    It struck me from several comments about “eliminating the duplicates”. I have, at various times, worked with ideas around “the six degrees of separation”. With it, you eliminate the individuals already known by an individual in any preceding circle.

    The overlap resonated with me. But, now that I look at it…enough for a post? Meh.

  23. oldman says

    I don’t agree. Only a God knew that I needed to learn how to manage money. There is no other way that the leaders of my congregation knew that I didn’t know how to manage money.

  24. Monocle Smile says

    Most people don’t know how to manage money.
    Also, your statement is simply not true.
    I’m done engaging.

  25. says


    >I don’t think Tracie understood what I was trying to get across. My concern wasn’t that they would think I am crazy. It’s that they won’t think my experiences are real.

    This is not relevant. Let’s say you believe god is causing you headaches, which are getting worse. And I say “Hey it could be a brain tumor. Why don’t you go see a doctor and make sure it’s not a brain tumor.” You’re saying “what if the doctor doesn’t believe god is causing my headaches?” I’m saying—at least let’s rule out the brain tumor. Then we can at least have a conversation without me being concerned you have a brain tumor that isn’t being addressed. It’s irrelevant if a therapist believes your version of the situation. If you are not suffering from any diagnosable mental illness that is a threat or danger to you—let’s get that ruled out, and then we can talk. If in the end, the therapist finds no problem, then whether they believe you or not, at least we know you’re safe as we proceed with a conversation. Why would anyone be opposed to that? To simply ruling out anything potentially harmful? You said the fact you are open to that possibility made you feel you were fine—but it sounds to me like you aren’t open to that possibility even enough to have an evaluation by a professional, licensed therapist.

    >If my experiences aren’t actually real and I go to them and they convince me of that, then that is great.


    > If my experiences are real and they go and convince me that they aren’t real then the forces that have come onto me will have a serious advantage and I will have a great chance of being tortured. I must find a way to know that they aren’t real before I can let myself be convinced of that or I have am extremely large chance of eternal harm.

    You are making excuses to avoid evaluation. You are already coming up with reasons not to go and just have even a preliminary evaluation to rule out problems that can be identified and diagnosed. You are protecting it just like an alcoholic protects their addiction. If it’s “real” then it won’t stop no matter what someone else tells you. In the end if real demons are assaulting you, then treatment should fail at every turn. But to be honest—Nobody has even ever demonstrated demons exist, which means that you, I, and nobody else, can say what would/would not give demons an advantage. You’re inventing reasons to avoid being evaluated.

    Go in and see what happens. Stop using any excuse to avoid getting checked out. Rule out anything dangerous like psychosis or schizophrenia, and maybe get some meds for the anxiety. Even if you are being attacked by demons—suffering anxiety over it isn’t necessary, is it? How does remaining stressed out help, even if demons are attacking you?

  26. says


    >I don’t agree. Only a God knew that I needed to learn how to manage money. There is no other way that the leaders of my congregation knew that I didn’t know how to manage money.

    Let’s say I get a postcard in the mail for free French cooking lessons, and I don’t know how to cook French cuisine. Does it make sense for me to say “Wow, god wants me to go take these classes, because he knew I didn’t know how to cook French food”? I hope you see why that’s not a reasonable leap.

    I might also get a postcard if I were a prominent French chef, but in that case, I’d just toss it in the trash.

    You could just as easily be a master at finances, and get offered the post and reason that god knew you were great at finance and that’s why you fell into such a perfectly matched post.

    In the end, you’re drawing a target around where the arrow landed, seeking meaning in any outcome. It means whatever you tell yourself it means. But simply believing X caused it, is not evidence X caused it. Many things happen in life that are not the result of any plan or goal. Simply asserting there is some meaning to you being chosen for a post you’re not qualified to assume, does not make the assertion valid.

    It’s also somewhat disturbing you believe in a god that allows countless children to be sexually assaulted and murdered each day–but is willing to intercede to make sure you learn how to budget.

  27. paxoll says

    @Theisntist, That is exactly the issue Moe was having. You would really have to go back 200k+ years to have a diamond shape. But yes, after probably 20 generations you are getting so many ancestors being their own grandpa that the number kinda stops spreading out and just oscillates.

  28. paxoll says

    Correction, after 200k years you would have a diamond to a single male or female I forget which, but a significant bottle neck to give a diamondish shape.

  29. says

    Teddy I really wish I said this the last time your called. What you seem to be experiencing is VERY similar to what i experience. Not specifically about hell, but about random topics, I know that i’m acting crazy but i cant remove the thoughts, after going and seeing a psychologist, He explained that I was having intrusive thoughts with some symptoms of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.

    Having a fear of hell, but not believing in hell sounds to me very similar to a story I read about when I was trying to understand my thought process. This person would watch the news at night and see all the horrible stuff happening in the world, He then couldn’t shake the idea that in some way he must of been responsible even though he could completely rationalise that he had nothing to do with it, He was filled with so much guilt and shame and anguish for something he didn’t believe.

    For me, a CLASSIC intrusive thought that I have had has been “What if I’m Gay”, sounds stupid right? I mean i’m not attracted to the same sex, I love my wife who’s a babe, I have never had that inclination but then it would come up again, and i would try and rationalise it “but i’m not attracted to dudes”, then i would think “but if you were gay, you would have to leave your wife” and then i would think about how much i love and don’t want to leave my wife, then I would think “why am i even thinking this, I’m not gay in the first place” and then the next though “but what if your become gay”… This would go on and on and I felt like I had the weight of the world on my shoulders, I was having huge panic attacks that were so bad I couldn’t eat without throwing it up.

    The problem was, everything I was going was actually counter productive to getting peace of mind. The rationalisation of my sexuality was the equivalent of someone with traditional OCD washing there hands constantly. Only my psychologist taught me what to do and it was COMPLETELY counter intuitive, but it was the ONLY thing that worked.

    I am not saying that you have what I have but I really hope your find some help because you seem like a really awesome person. If you want to have a chat over email, let me know.

  30. CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain says

    Obligatory reminder that species start as a subpopulation that becomes reproductively isolated from the rest. It can be bottleneck small enough for the founder effect, but likely not one pair.
    @paxoll #29:

    after 200k years you would have a diamond to a single male or female I forget which

    Article: Wikipedia – Mitochondrial Eve

    Mitochondrial Eve (also mt-Eve, mt-MRCA) is the matrilineal most recent common ancestor (MRCA) of all currently living humans, i.e., the most recent woman from whom all living humans descend in an unbroken line purely through their mothers, and through the mothers of those mothers, back until all lines converge on one woman.
    between roughly 170,000 and 100,000 years ago after the emergence of Homo sapiens but earlier than the recent Out-of-Africa dispersal.

    Article: Wikipedia – Y-chromosomal Adam

    As with “Mitochondrial Eve”, the title of “Y-chromosomal Adam” is not permanently fixed to a single individual, but can advance over the course of human history as paternal lineages become extinct.
    By definition, it is not necessary that the Y-MRCA and the mt-MRCA should have lived at the same time. While estimates as of 2014 suggested the possibility that the two individuals may well have been roughly contemporaneous (albeit with uncertainties ranging in the tens of thousands of years), the discovery of archaic Y-haplogroup has pushed back the estimated age of the Y-MRCA beyond the most likely age of the mt-MRCA. As of 2015, estimates of the age of the Y-MRCA range around 200,000 to 300,000 years ago, roughly consistent with the emergence of anatomically modern humans.

  31. says

    @Moe : each generation you go back there are more slots for ancestors. 2, 4, 8, 16.

    But the more ancestors there are, the more likely it is tat one ancestor fuills multiple slots.

    As in, way back when you had 64 ancestors, there’s a good chance that your G.G.G.G.G.Gfather filled 16 of those of those 64 slots.
    Because that person could have lots of kids, and you could be descended from lots of them.

  32. sayamything says


    “I don’t think Tracie understood what I was trying to get across. My concern wasn’t that they would think I am crazy. It’s that they won’t think my experiences are real. If my experiences aren’t actually real and I go to them and they convince me of that, then that is great. If my experiences are real and they go and convince me that they aren’t real then the forces that have come onto me will have a serious advantage and I will have a great chance of being tortured. I must find a way to know that they aren’t real before I can let myself be convinced of that or I have am extremely large chance of eternal harm.”

    I feel for you. I was never a strong theist of any stripe even when I was a believer and this that threat of Hell and torture gets to me sometimes. It works because it targets our fear. And fear is a good thing when it keeps you alive, but fear can become unhealthy. It can lead to all sorts of problems.

    If nothing else, you seem to be having issues coming from this that should be addressed. From your prior call(s), it sounds like you are suffering. David’s right about the fact that these could be OCD symptoms. I don’t know that they are, but OCD has allowed me to hold onto fears that even I know are unreasonable. Think about your reaction to Dante. I do that to myself. I’ve also been afraid to let go of fears under tis illusory idea of protection, which doesn’t sound too far off from what you’re describing with your fear that if they convince you you’re wrong, you could be tortured.

    “What if I relax?” I ask myself. There’s this unspoken fear that if I let my guard down, bad things will happen. And this may actually cross over into my PTSD diagnosis, because it can be hard to keep things straight in your head when you’re being treated for multiple issues, but it bubbles up in my mind when I hear you talk.

    Look, you’re already calling for help. Make the right call. As awesome as AXP is, they lack the tools to properly help you.

  33. Mobius says

    @3 Marcel

    One thing Moe is failing to understand regarding ancestors is that those are not unique individuals. If you go back 40 generations, those trillion ancestors are not unique, but many will be the same smaller set of individuals.

    Exactly the point I was going to make. A great-great-grandfather on your mother’s side might also be a great-great-grandfather on you father’s side. This is particularly likely in close knit communities with little breeding with outside populations. Incest taboos usually only go back two or three generations.

  34. Ryan Turner says

    If Teddy’s call is sincere, I feel so bad for him.

    However, the show has had its fair share of trolls in the past, and in this call I got the impression he was trying to steer the conversation in a direction that would have the hosts recommend that belief may be his best option.

    Just throwing that out there. Tracie and John did a brilliant job staying on topic and focusing on the problem Teddy presented.

  35. CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain says

    @Teddy #6:

    I must find a way to know that they aren’t real before I can let myself be convinced of that

    That’s a non-starter: “I can’t let myself find a way.”
    You won’t let yourself attempt a recording.
    You won’t let a therapist “convince” you, presuming there CAN BE no legitimate “way” to become convinced of any cause, for good reasons.
    You have a mystery, not an existential dilemma. There are lots of possible threats. And you are maintaining ignorance. Do you want to be afraid and confused?

  36. ScottB7946 says

    I was LDS until a few years ago, true blue, through and through. One thing you must be aware of is the church’s policy of making sure that every member has a friend and a calling. Many times the calling is as simple as making you a Home Teacher and making sure you report monthly. Even without divine intervention by Elohim there was a position open and you didn’t have a competing calling that was below the 4 year mark. I’m very glad that you were able to rise to the occassion, you got a tough and important calling, especially with your personal challenges. They had an open position, you were free, and people rise to the occassion….but not always. I knew a terrible bishop who vacationed on the weekends and denied actual needy people access to the Bishop’s storehouse based on personal prejudice. The man who officiated the marriage between me and my (ex)wife was her beloved Stake President. He was picked by the FBI in a sting operation because he had been using his calling as an excuse the meet little girls on the Internet, all while supposedly taking trips for his calling. It came out that he’d been raping girls in his congregation for years as a bishop, then stake president. I call bull…. Was it God? No. He was a wealthy and prominent member, have you ever noticed that all upper leadership is a lawyer, doctor, professor or accountant? They don’t give janitors a Bishop calling, it is a hell of a lot more ‘for show’ then you may realize.

    Please research the history of the church, it’s beloved leadership, and it’s beloved first Prophet, Joseph Smith. Start with their official statements, read their official (recently released) essays. If you read something in there that contradicts what you’ve been taught your while life, then accept that they have lied to you and only recently been put in a position where lies get them in actual trouble. Information and reality are the churches worst enemies.

    If a truth is actual truth it doesn’t need to hide behind lies, period.

  37. says

    @Ryan (& to some degree, to Teddy again):

    >I got the impression he was trying to steer the conversation in a direction that would have the hosts recommend that belief may be his best option.

    While I wouldn’t phrase it that way, I would say that’s another option, and one I was about to post and suggest because my anthropology studies only kicked in last night as I thought about this further. In cultures that accept demons, they have specific rituals to cope with demons, and generally the local shaman can get them to leave, because the people believe in the demons and the power of the local shaman.

    It may sound wacky, but there is some logic to suggesting that Teddy simply test his hypothesis regarding the demon possession/assaults, by hiring an exorcist or cleanser–some religious practitioner who can do a ritual to drive out these “demons.” If it works, Teddy can feel better–even if it was all psychosomatic. If it doesn’t he can give up the idea it’s a demon and seek the help of a licensed therapist. If he’s calling the show waiting to be “convinced” by a host that the demons aren’t real, then he needs to read the essay “Dragon in My Garage” by Sagan, to see why that is not likely to occur. If these demons do actually manifest in a measurable way–get that on record. If they don’t, then the demons manifest exactly as a non-existence would manifest, and they aren’t discernible from no demons at all. I guess, Teddy, if you come back–note that: Do they manifest in any way that differentiates them from “no demons”? If so, gather than evidence and bring it with you to therapy to demonstrate your claim to the therapist. If not, then what is the difference between a demon that manifests in no measurable way, and no demon at all? Here is Sagan’s essay:

    But at some point you have to, as my dad used to say “shit or get off the pot.” Another thing he used to say was “do something even if it’s wrong.” I should warn that my dad was an ass an often wrong. But in this situation he makes some valid points: you can try a shaman, try a therapist, or continue to suffer and not do anything. I don’t actually see how calling TAE can offer you *better quality* help, no matter whether you are or aren’t being attacked by demons.

    The show really isn’t set up to “disprove” the existence of demons, so much as to–in most cases, at best–point out that the person asserting the claim has no legitimate reason to accept the claim themselves. If demons are attacking you and you have actual evidence that you think is reasonable to believe, share that with others–not just tell them, but perhaps show them–and see if they agree. For example, let a friend choose a number between 1 and 1 million, not reveal it to you, and let these demons tell you what that is, and see if they are consistently correct. Or devise some other test if they’re not actually speaking to you or whatever.

    In fact, if Dante’s demi-god can be caught on tape, that would be my next test–to figure out what this spirit has the capacity to know/not know about the existent world and begin testing the voice to see if it can demonstrate any claims of knowledge. For example, can I imagine a question and an answer, and not tell Dante what I’m going to ask or answer, but write it down and bring it with me on the show, then see if whatever the Demon gave him matches my response/s? If the demon/demi-god can accomplish this consistently, then we have something that would be worth some real investigation.

    @CA7746 – Just a note about asking Teddy about recording–it was actually Dante who balked when I mentioned recording the audio feed from his radio. Teddy didn’t actually describe his demon encounters to a detailed degree.

  38. says

    @Killian –

    I moved your comment to trash. I’m not going to moderate that to the thread as written. You made points that I am happy to allow if you can make them in a way that is more civil and less pissed-off-12-year-old in form. You were not marked as spam, so if you want to try again and communicate like an adult, you’re welcome to offer your criticism and have them released here. The condition would be you’d have to continue to communicate in a civil fashion once allowed onto the forum, but just fyi, if you’d like to restate the complaints and have them allowed, that is still an option available to you.

  39. says

    @Scott–thank you for identifying the reference. It wasn’t as detailed as I recall once I looked it up, but I’m pretty sure I heard some further discussions about the concept after I saw the movie, which probably were added into my memories about it overall. This was the scene:

  40. Murat says

    Kudos on your handling of the situation with Teddy.
    I just wish the so-called “professionals” in mainstream media had a hint of that responsibility regarding many issues that they shamelessly exploit.

  41. Brad James says

    I believe you guys are getting trolled by the bible thumping wingnut. They are doing a live take down of your shows…so I think these “hallucination” callers are merely giving them fodder from the Pre sup, brain in a vat argument. Screen these dudes out!

  42. Murat says

    If Moe and his fun-yet-weird “math” were real… Then why can’t the hallucinating guys be?

  43. says

    The problem with the “universe is a simulation” conjecture is the same problem with solipsism (and which Tracie alluded to): Reality looks and behaves exactly the same whether it’s true or not. And any evidence we find would simply be part of the simulation. Godel and Heisenberg will not let us fully understand reality.

    Hard solipsism is a dead end gambit. Whether we’re in a simulation or not is completely irrelevant — we’re still stuck with the reality we’re given and must deal with on a daily basis.

    So it’s a rather useless thing to believe in.

  44. northernatheist says

    That was my thought as well.
    Possibly the most uninteresting bunch of callers ever

  45. Paul Money says

    Teddy. Hearing voices is very common, research suggests that about 10% of the population have experienced this, that they do sound like voices and they do sound real. It is entirely possible that this is the origin of belief in God!
    See the therapist man. It may be that you will continue to hear the voices, but he/she can help you to live with that and the fears that you are experiencing. Take Tracie and John’s advice, it’s good.

  46. Robert Anding says

    I think Tracie should have jettisoned Dante (sp?) the moment he refused to answer her questions. If the host doesn’t get an answer on the second attempt the caller, in no uncertain terms, is telling the host exactly what he thinks of her or him — just another willing dolt. After getting no answer from re-asking the question everything is on the host, not the caller. Not pinning the caller down on such falderal only further encourages other callers to continue to kick the hosts’ cages because they know they can.

  47. ScottM1973 says


    “I don’t agree. Only a God knew that I needed to learn how to manage money. There is no other way that the leaders of my congregation knew that I didn’t know how to manage money.”

    I call shenanigans! That’s simply not true by your own admission. Your parents knew you had trouble managing money probably even before you needed them to help you out and do you think the church couldn’t of been notified when you bounced checks, also by your own admission, several times? Especially when you’re writing checks backed by your church? Your parents informing your leaders or them already knowing is crazily more probable than divine intervention.

  48. says

    RE: The Demon calls

    I don’t believe, if I’m responsible, I have the luxury of assuming “troll” over “possible mental health issue.” In fact, the control room tagged “Teddy” as emotionally “fragile” and warned me of that before I got him on the line. In dealing with anonymous folks from the public, it’s true there are many options from troll to person with serious mental disorder. And I choose to err on the side of caution.

    Since Teddy expressed things were getting worse, and he was suffering anxiety, losing sleep, and now beginning to experience interactions with agents he described as demons, I simply can’t discount I could be dealing with a person who needs help, and needs to be treated with some caution.

    Same with Dante. Dante has referenced specific details from past calls that are minor, but relevant, his narrative seems to hold in so far as a person lying is more prone to not recall what they actually said, with regard to minor specifics, some months or weeks back. Some other trolls in the past have been called out for this reason–the difficulty keeping track of a false narrative one is making up, literally, on the fly.

    Either way, after hearing more, each caller was given “homework”–something to do as a contingent to calling back.

    Dante has been asked to attempt to record the voice. Teddy has been told to at least go in for an evaluation to rule out any serious mental or physical issues. If either calls in again, those will be the first questions: Did they follow up as required? If so, I can work with their answers and proceed from there.

    If the voice can be recorded, we can start to form tests for that eventuality. If Teddy is evaluated, it would depend on the therapist’s recommendations how I would proceed. If he’s not in danger, we can discuss his experiences with demons.

    Matt used to say that he didn’t care if someone was a troll if their call was relevant and created a good, realistic discussion. Obviously we all prefer honest calls, but in cases such as Dante and Teddy, they represent a large part of the religious population that believes in interactions with demons. I dated a guy who believed he witnessed a possession. And his mother claimed that demons, not ghosts, were responsible for poltergeist-like activity. Neither of them were trolls. This is a common belief in some religions–and what Dante and Teddy have presented so far is in line with those beliefs.

    In regards to the criticism about failure to answer questions, point taken.

  49. sprat says

    I used to be able to listen, but after these first two callers; religious lunatics are just scary. Cut off callers who kvetch for 20 minutes, cannot engage, or cannot answer direct questions.

  50. says


    >but after these first two callers; religious lunatics are just scary. Cut off callers who kvetch for 20 minutes

    I went back to watch the video and check the call times, because I have actually made a conscious effort to watch my caller times in the last few shows. Neither of the first two calls were on the line for 20 minutes.

  51. Don says


    There is a simple test to see if your experiences are real. Assume the experiences are real and you seek medical advice, receive a diagnosis and receive treatment. Since no demonic or divine message is going to be stopped by an antipsychotic medication or the treatment of a brain disease the “hallucinations” will continue.

    However if the treatments are successful and the hallucinations stop that is evidence that they were not real but a subject of a malfunctioning brain. No modern medicine will block a demon or the divine. Don’t fear seeking mental health treatment, you have nothing to lose and everything to gain.

  52. oldman says

    @ScottM1973 My parents didn’t tell the leaders of my singles congregation about me not knowing how to manage money. In the LDS Church, each calling that members are called to comes through inspiration and prayer. You can’t seek to be called to position for yourself or others in the LDS Church, that is not the way it works.

  53. CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain says

    @heicart #41:

    it was actually Dante who balked when I mentioned recording

    Thanks for the correction.

    If either calls in again, those will be the first questions: Did they follow up as required? If so, I can work with their answers and proceed from there.
    Matt used to say that he didn’t care if someone was a troll if their call was relevant and created a good, realistic discussion.

    Very well handled.

  54. paxoll says

    @Heicart, my opinion as PCP is you handled the first two callers perfectly. While speaking with an atheist about “supernatural” personal experiences may seem like a reasonable thing to them, if they are not willing to see a professional you have to remove yourself from them putting you into that role. The majority of people can bring up an unexplained experience in their life and it is easy to talk about it with them because they are open to explanations and regardless of how they decided to view the experience you can tell that they have explored possibilities. When someone has a very narrow fixed explanation then they have a problem, and entertaining them the same way you would anyone else would simple encourage them to double down and incorporate you into their rigid perception of their experience.

  55. gshelley says

    Yeah, I don’t think Tracy understood the caller talking about ancestry. He was right, that if every individual had two parents, we can go back and the number of ancestors doubles at each generation. How many children they have doesn’t matter. The reason he was wrong, which a couple of others mentioned was that when you go back far enough, you start to see people appearing more than once.
    I think estimates are for most people, it will be 6-10 generations, but I haven’t seen how this was worked out. 6 generations seems to low, even 10 generations back would only be 1024 different ancestors at that generation, but given people were less mobile back than (though they were somewhat mobile), the potential pool in small towns/villages would be lower. Not much cousing or even second cousin marriage is needed, but a little 45th, 5th o5 6th cousin marrying soon brings down the number of ancestors

  56. says

    Regarding hallucinations, an underlying cause can be vitamin B12 deficiency as my doctor discovered and prescribed monthly injections. Before the injections, I could have intense visual hallucinations like awaking to total strangers standing by my bed (very disconcerting) or a dragon in my living room (rather cool).

  57. Dmitri says

    What’s more likely:
    1. There is an all powerful being who listens to your prayers and intervenes into our every day lives and for whom we have no solid evidence for.
    2. Your elders just got lucky and picked a person who learned something new and is good at it.

  58. wyngarde says

    Tracie’s handling of Teddy’s call is one of the reasons why I like the show. Having heard him a few times, I have started to wonder whether Teddy isn’t really a Christian and came on to frighten a few more towards Jesus with all his talk about Hell. Tracie’s advice was impeccable. If he doesn’t want help then there isn’t any point taking his call. But, if he phones in again he really ought to speak to Matt, so he can get a logic bomb dropped on him. Evidence for the supernatural? Zero. Evidence for anxiety disorders and mental illness? Abundant.

  59. III says

    @Teddy – I hope you check back and read what ScottB wrote (he addresses it to Kenny). I’ve experienced this as well – when I am making a dramatic time zone jump or on rare occasions when I’m too stressed to sleep (which of course leads to more stress and more tiredness and actually makes each successive episode more terrifying than the one before).

    I have no way of knowing, of course, whether this is what is happening with you… but as someone who is familiar with what this is – when it happens, I STILL cannot talk myself out of the bone-deep, all-consuming terror I feel or the malevolence of the auditory or visual hallucinations – and I am someone who learned to talk myself out of panic attacks-easily.

    In previous calls, you called asking for proof that there wasn’t a hell, but… in your more recent calls, it sounds like you are saying, “if you knew how terrifying what I’m feeling is, you would understand why I’m trying to treat this as seriously as my straight-up terror tells me I NEED to.” If the sense of something horrifically malevolent is also part of what you’re feeling… sleep paralysis might be what’s going on.

    And it might also explain why studying all the apologetics in the world isn’t helping. Because this isn’t about proof. It’s about a very old part of your brain being switched on that does not respond to reason, and has survived by prioritizing fear above everything else.

    I didn’t think you were rude to Tracie or John. If she was firm with you, it is because there’s a huge red flag in what you’re saying that wasn’t present in Drake’s call. If you are as terrified as you say you are, that NEEDS to be addressed. And it seems like you’ve only tried attacking it in one, narrow way that by your own admission, ISN’T WORKING!!!

    I bet you’ve never met a pious person that is as terrified as you, so … how likely is it that your fear stems from your tapping into some ultimate truth?

    Hugs. How you feel sucks either way.

  60. einyv says

    @heicart “It’s also somewhat disturbing you believe in a god that allows countless children to be sexually assaulted and murdered each day–but is willing to intercede to make sure you learn how to budget.”—————BRAVO

  61. einyv says

    @oldman “My parents didn’t tell the leaders of my singles congregation about me not knowing how to manage money. In the LDS Church”

    The thing is oldman, you can not know with 100% certainty they did not. You can not if someone overheard a conversation about you with finance issues. There are so many ways someone could find out without you knowing about, the idea that is was god is just ludicrous. Like Heicart said, please tell us why your God cares more about you handling the churches finances over interceding on the countless children molested by Warren Jeffs for example. A fundamentalist LDS group but still a mormon group.

  62. John Iacoletti says

    Not only that, but did the church leaders tell you that God told them you were bad at managing money and that this position would help, or did they just ask you to be the treasurer and it’s you who is interpreting that as a sign from God that this is for helping you manage money better? Like Tracie said, if you were good at managing money you could just as easily have interpreted that as a sign from God that you should do this job because you’re so good at it.

  63. tommyr says

    Jesus H. Christ on a moped those first 2 callers need serious mental help. I HOPE they go get it. SO much wasted time with them. Holy shit. More off topic BS. Tell them once to go get real help and have a nice day and take the next call. I fast forward anymore through most of the show. It’s REALLY annoying.

    Moe Howard was smarter than the Moe that called this show. Again, too much time spent on that guy.

    I’d like to see Jeff Dee back and Russel’s sister too.

  64. ScottM1973 says


    “each calling that members are called to comes through inspiration and prayer”

    I’m sure that in order to make you feel important and promote their religion that’s exactly what they tell people but I doubt very very much that’s how it’s done. When one goes to a job interview and one receives a letter saying how sorry they are, after carefully considering all the various factors and amazing applicants, that you didn’t get the position that’s what they tell you but for all you really know they pulled names out of a freaking hat.

    Not even allowing yourself to even possibly consider other explanations speak strongly to a person’s mindset. It’s absolutely possible your parents did tell your leaders and don’t want you to know about it, it’s absolutely possible your leaders say one thing to promote your religion and do something else completely, it’s also absolutely possible that through complete chance they made the exact choice which placed you in that position. One thing which is absolutely with out a doubt true is that each one of these is more plausible than a god. You’re reaching for an even more implausible explanation which can be explained simply with non-mystical real world ones. People do tell lies (I’m a priest I’d never do that to little children), people do exaggerate (That fish that got away was the size of my house!), people are lazy (…meh). If you’re telling me that couldn’t happen in your case well then that’s a big ole dump truck load of special pleading.

    At this point I’m no longer continuing this discussion with you. You haven’t put forth anything new, no rational counter arguments. All you’ve done and are doing is repeating “I don’t believe that” and “God must of done it” and I don’t seeing it going anywhere else.

  65. oldman says

    @Dmitri Number 1 would be the most likely. I understand that for you there is no solid proof that God is real.

    @einyv In the LDS Church people do not seek to be called to positions for themselves or others. Leaders in the LDS Chruch first need to be inspired to call someone for a position in their congregation, then they need to pray to God to see if God wants him or her to serve in that position. God cares about everyone, even though he will not prevent bad things from happening to people, just like he didn’t prevent me from being born with autism.

  66. Dmitri says

    @oldman If it is more likely that explanation for this every day simple thing is god then we must conclude that ALL simple things are an act of god. Every time I understand something new I must now attribute to your god. This would also mean we are in control of some agent and don’t have a free will.

  67. ScottM1973 says


    Let me repeat what’s been said many many times by the hosts/etc in the past.
    1. It’s their show and they’ll take the calls they want and spend however long they want on them.

    If the first two callers get the help they need because of the time spent on them then it’s not “wasted” and not just because it got them help but it might get other listeners help as well and it shows the theists out there that us atheists aren’t evil heartless devil worshippers.

    B) Jeff Dee can come back to the show any time Jeff Dee decides to do so. LOL you want the Dee, I want the Dee, err body wants the Dee! Nobody kicked him out! He’s busy, in fact too busy right now, with a new job, to even do his show: The Non-Prophets. Can’t speak for her but I’m pretty sure Russell’s (double S, double L) sister has a life of her own as well.

    III – If you don’t like it go make your own call-in atheist show. Not just being snide here. The more shows, the more voices, the more approaches, the better!

  68. The Sparrow says

    TED. Take it from someone who years ago was ABSOLUTELY CONVINCED he had a terminal issue.
    Your extremely powerful anxiety is distorting your thoughts. When I was in that state, not matter what medical test I had I was sure I was going to die. It’s not whether there is a hell or not, it is the magnification you are giving to the “issue”.
    Really, get some help to deal with the severe emotional state you are in. You can’t trust your reasoning power when you are that stressed.

    Heck, I was arguing that the medical test equipment must have been faulty because I was SO SURE I had ALS. I had the symptoms and everything.
    No one will trap you or commit you or force you to be on meds. Just go see someone and entertain the possibility you MIGHT be distorted in your thinking. Happens to me all the time.

  69. The Sparrow says

    Also Ted, you might want to ask yourself. Is there ANYTHING that would convince you hell is not real?
    If the answer is no, you are probably experiencing heavy cognitive distortion due to anxiety.
    Do you find yourself madly obsessively googling and reading and researching to try to prove hell isn’t real, but keep failing because the fear prevents you from letting go? Then again, you are probably experiencing heavy cognitive distortion due to anxiety.

  70. oldman says

    @Dmitri No every time you understand something new, you don’t have to attribute that to a God. And if by a free will you mean a choice, then yes, we still do have a choice and will always have choices to make. I made the choice to break free from religion and have not been to church in over twenty years. I just read my bible.

  71. StonedRanger says

    Oldman, if your god cared about everyone, it would not let bad things happen. Since you admit that your god lets bad things happen, I fail to understand how you think it cares at all. You didn’t break free from anything. Its quite clear from your postings that you still hold your mormon beliefs in high esteem. You just too lazy to go to church and made up a reason that justifies your not going in your mind. And im dying to know why you still read your bible if you have ‘broken free’ from religion.

  72. Mobius says

    @59 gshelley

    Norman Rockwell painted part of his family tree, following the male parents of his mother and father. 4 generations back those two lines intersected. So his mother’s great-great-grandfather and his father’s great-great-grandfather were the same man.

    And you are correct. The number of children is irrelevant to the point the caller was trying to make.

  73. Dmitri says

    If it is very likely that god interferes with every day life then I would have to assume he does so very very often for no reason. That by definition impedes on my free will. If someone prayed for a parking space and gets it, according to you that’s gods work. That impedes my free will since I can no longer park there, god reserved it for someone else.

  74. says

    As a person who’s regularly been seeing a therapist I can tell you this. They are NOT going to immediately jump to convince you that your experience aren’t real. I’ve dealt with a large amount of anxiety to the point that at one time I was just waiting on the moment my wife would betray my trust, no evidence for it, just that when I was a kid anytime someone was nice to me or worked to gain my trust they had some other motive besides just wanting to be close to me. Usually it was to make me lower my defenses so my reaction to abuse would be greater. The therapist’s response wasn’t “Your wife is not seeking to betray you, you’re crazy, take these pills crazy!” it was “Jones, I want you to know that your feelings are real, your concerns are valid. This is the life you’ve dealt with and you don’t need to be afraid to admit your fears. I want you to walk me through why you’ve come to think that your wife might be acting like the people who abused you as a child.” (woo… critical openness there, but I feel like I need to open up to help you find someone that you can open up to)

    You don’t need to be afraid that, if there really is a demonic force that has it in for you, that they are going to immediately dismiss you and leave you hanging, because that isn’t how therapy works. But they are going to help you walk through your anxieties and fears and find a way to deal with them that isn’t hurting you. That’s their job. Regardless of the reality of the subject of your fears, your fear IS real, it is valid, and it is unfortunately clearly hurting you. If you’re that consumed by the anxiety, it isn’t healthy and I really want you to find a therapist who can help you control your fear instead of having it control you. THEN you can work on figuring out the reality of hell.

  75. garloo says

    First time poster. I absolutely love the show. Many thanks to everyone involved in the making it!
    I’m not an atheist, i’m a Hitchens Non-theist. Not only do I not believe, I wouldn’t want such a reprehensible god as described in the bible to actually exist. An all powerful, all judging dictator sounds like a horror movie. But, hey! Lucky for me, I have reality on my side!
    A couple of things…
    1. Whenever people say morality comes from the bible. It factually does not. The only thing the bible is selling is obedience. If you do something because you want the rewards of heaven, and not do something because you fear god’s wrath/ hell for eternity. This is not an example of behaving morally. This is an example of behaving obediently. Christians do not act morally. They act obediently. Maybe this is why they are often compared to as sheep?
    2. I look at religion as slavery of thought. This is to anyone who has ever confessed the sin of ‘impure thoughts’ to a priest, who is statistically acting upon theirs. Their shackles are faith, belief and superstition, and their slave master is their own ignorance. Reed moar buhks.
    3. However, there is a god claim that I cannot argue- When people say “god is love”, “god is everything”, “god is the universe.” or variations of that; where they attach god to something intangible.
    I say no. God(s) are clearly defined by the religion attached to them. When people say they believe in god, but not the religion.. that’s like saying they believe in spider-man, but don’t believe in the comic books.
    I can use this logic too.. whenever someone commits the argument from ignorance fallacy.. when “we don’t know” isn’t good enough, when science doesn’t have the answer, and they say “…therefor god.” And we CLEARLY and FACTUALLY know that primitive man used God to explain things we did not understand in the past; Things that science later understood.
    So, if “…therefor god” is the answer to things we do not know, or cannot explain then clearly “god is stupidity.” ….which is the only example that makes logical sense.
    ….And that’s the god claim that I can’t argue.
    Religion truly is simple answers for simple people.
    Religion requires belief because it doesn’t work when you think.
    You can’t spell belief with l-i-e.

  76. garloo says

    Also. “God spoke to Moses through a burning bush.” <—— This is everything you need to know about the bible in one sentence.
    Youtube search 'reporter gets high from burning bush.'
    Now that you know that can happen, Ask yourself:
    A) Did Moses factually talk to god through a burning bush like it said in the bible? Why did god need a burning bush or a third party? Being all powerful, why would he need the burning bush to do so? And does that make sense to you? If so, what's wrong with your brain? Do you realize how delusional your religion is making you?
    Or B) Did Moses get high AF from a burning bush and have a hallucinatory religious experience… LIKE SO MANY PEOPLE WHO DO DRUGS REPORT HAVING???

    -Google "magic mushrooms and christianity" & "religious experiences on psychedelics." This might help you understand why your religion doesn't make sense. The people who invented it were tripping balls.

    "….when you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth?" – Sherlock Holmes, another fictional character.

  77. oldman says

    @Dmitri First off God does not interfere with everyday life, so your choice is not impeded. If someone prays and get a parking space, it does not mean that it was God’s work. I don’t know why you would pick something crazy like that example. You still have a choice if someone takes a parking space that you wanted. You can either confront the person who took your parking space, or you could find a different parking space.

  78. Dmitri says

    @oldman Why not pray for a parking spot? If god can give you skills to manage money surly he can get me a parking spot? Where is the line and how do you know in what things god would interfere? If god gives away a parking space I no longer have a choice since no matter what I do god will ensure the space goes to someone who prayed for it.
    Just like with your money managing position, maybe someone else wanted to manage the money but god decided you should do it, the other person just got his choices reduced by god.
    If prayer works for every day stuff people who pray should have way better lives. I wonder why that’s not true?

  79. oldman says

    @StonedRanger As I said, God does let bad thing happen to people and he also cares about everyone. Bad things happen to people as a result of themselves or others. Bad things also happen to people that are beyond their control. As far as the Mormon beliefs that I still hold in high esteem, I still believe that God is real and that Jesus died for me. I read the Bible because I love the stories that are in it.

  80. oldman says

    @Dmitri As I have said, in the LDS Church, members do not go seeking to be called to positions for themselves or others. The leaders of my singles congregation had a feeling that I should serve in that position and prayed to God and asked him if I should serve in that position. It was not a calling that I was expecting. There were others who were more qualified than I was for that position. If God had wanted someone else to be called to that position, they would have been called.

  81. StonedRanger says

    Oldman, if you could, would you prevent bad things from happening to people you loved and cared for, or would you just let some bad things happen to them that you otherwise could prevent? Because that is the choice you say your god offers. Pretty shitty choice if you ask me. A god that cared would not let bad things happen that it could stop. You just saying it doesn’t stop bad things but still cares makes no sense. How does believing in the tenets of religion and reading the religious texts constitute breaking free from religion? Other than not going to temple anymore, you haven’t broken free from anything. So you love the stories of genocide, rape, murder, and slavery that are in the bible too? Because those things make up a pretty substantial part of the bible. I think you are just having fun with us and are trying to pull our collective legs.

  82. Ricardo Almeida says

    The analogy with fire that Tracy mentioned is from a Star Trek: The Next Generation episode called “The Quality of Life” (Season 6, ep.9). Data is going around the ship asking for different definitions of life and when in conversation with Dr. Crusher mentions that fire can be said to be alive according to her definition, since it grows, “creates offspring”, consumes “food” and dies.

  83. oldman says

    @StonedRanger I was born with autism. God could have prevented that, but didn’t. I was also misdiagnosed with having learning disabilities. God also led me to find out for myself that I have autism through research. Bad things happen to others. God works through others to help feed the poor and starving. As far as the bad things that happen in the Bible, there are bad things that happen in history books as well. In that case, we should all stop reading every history book out there.

  84. sayamything says

    @Murat: I mean, you say that, but when I listened to Moe my first thought was that this was the same guy as Hamish pulling a different accent and register. And the rest of this isn’t so much aimed at you as spinning off from that.

    I’m not saying it’s the case that they’re the same, and I’m willing to take both Moe and Hamish as real people. The potential for misstep is greater with both Dante and Teddy, and between the options of potentially hurting someone with mental illness or getting trolled, I’d rather take them as serious. I’m not even sure hat the endgame is here: lol, stupid atheists showing compassion and humanity. What losers.

    I’m glad the hosts are choosing a more compassionate route, at the risk of being “trolled” for their humanity.

  85. t90bb says

    84..old man…

    so you were terrible at managing money. you joined a church that happened to need a treasurer. you were asked and took the position and it helped you learn how to manage money….terrific…

    and this is proof of your magic genie….ok…got…i hope you have much better reasons.

    when i was a kid my dog got very sick…i rubbed my lucky rabbits foot and he got better. lucky rabbits feet are real. convinced??

  86. t90bb says

    84…old man….so you read the bible do you?? do you consider yourself a christian?? have you read the bible cover to cover??

  87. oldman says

    @t90bb I do have better reasons for myself. The leaders of my singles congregation had no idea that I didn’t know how to manage money. That is something only a God would know. Yes, I do consider myself a Christian and have read the Bible cover to cover.

  88. Wiggle Puppy says

    Regarding Tracie’s question of how one could have evidence of being in a simulation if all evidence around you is simulated: I remember reading some internet articles about a year ago discussing all of the freakishly improbable things that seemed to be happening in a somewhat compressed amount of time – Trump winning the election when all the projections had Clinton, the Patriots coming back from 25 down in the 3rd quarter to win the Super Bowl, the Oscars giving the Best Picture statue to the wrong film – each of which would be highly improbable on its own, with it being absolutely bonkers that they all happened around the same time. To some internet speculators, this was evidence that we are in a simulation and that someone got bored and started messing with the dials to see how we would react. We can’t, as the show has pointed out, use probability to calculate that the universe itself was designed, since we have no others universes to compare ours to in order to calculate the probability that ours was designed to sustain life, but it seems at least possible to calculate the odds of a whole bunch of improbable events happening concurrently in the universe we can investigate. I’m not saying that I subscribe to this view – far from it – but it seems like one possible response to the question posed.

  89. Monocle Smile says

    @Wiggle Puppy

    I remember reading some internet articles about a year ago discussing all of the freakishly improbable things that seemed to be happening in a somewhat compressed amount of time

    All this tells me is that loads of folks on the internet don’t know anything about anything, which is already a well-known fact. Whomever wrote that article doesn’t know shit about statistics or what “improbable” means or how often “improbable” things happening. It’s such an obvious case of confirmation bias and cherry-picking that only gullible wooheads who already believe nonsense could ever swallow it.

    Jeff Dee had a bit on a show when he was still on where he cited a source that determined that a “one in a million” event happens every 30 days.

  90. says

    ” God works through others to help feed the poor and starving. ”

    Funny how god always works through people. Never seems to actually do stuff himself.

    I’ve worked with people like that too. Do nothing and then take the credit for everybody else’s work.

  91. Skeptic George says

    A simple trip to Wikipedia or any site that looks at historical population would show Moe that the population does not double every generation, nor has it historically. The quickest doubling is the most recent, and that was sixty years or so (off the top of my head), but doublings prior to that took much longer. Wars, pestilence etc.

  92. Bruce Baker says

    @oldman Others have made a ton of good points. And, programmed and impervious, you parrot “no, they didn’t know; only God knew. And arranged things.” Etc.

    What you have is “some bad stuff, some good stuff (eventually), a lot of neutral stuff”. The technical term for that is “Life”. Reality with no god required. But you view everything, whether good or bad, as “confirming” God.

    Bad stuff happens? “God testing you”. Or “answering prayers…but answer was no (again) this time”. Or punishment for some sin. Or teaching you a lesson. Etc

    Good stuff happens (like finally learning a lesson you should have learned long before; but coincidentally after someone around you prayed; and you and the people around you pray a LOT)? God answered your (or their) prayer. Or gave you a blessing. Or rewarded you for some extra good deed. Or whatever.

    Thing A didn’t happen yet…maybe that’s part of His Plan. Confirms God. Thing A finally happens? God rewarding you. Confirms God. If thing A doesn’t happen for another 20 years…or ever…one of those “God did it…or didn’t do it” still, in your mind, confirms God.

    Nothing WOULDN’T confirm God. If no evidence you could ever get would be inconsistent with your hypothesis…your hypothesis is null.

    You cite this important lesson as proof. But if you’d never been caused, finally, to figure money out… that wouldn’t, to you, indicate the contrary. God just hadn’t gotten around to straightening you out. Might do it later…or never.

    But getting that boon or not getting it…fits with your God concept. Getting the same lesson a different way next year or twenty years from now…you’d still say “well, he fixed my problem. In the time and way of His choosing.” Never getting that lesson, but getting any other good thing…or avoiding or ending any bad thing… you attribute any of that to God.

    But don’t you see? That’s just…life happening. You learn sooner or later…or you don’t. You get a job that challenges you…or the “blessing” of a child…or God chooses that you don’t get those things… The random (and not random…arranged by you, your parents, your fellow Mormons, your boss, the guy down the street, whoever) stuff of life…is not, in its variable goodness, badness & neitherness…requiring some Big Guy Outside Time & Space watching over you and engineering the good, bad & neutral events in your life.

  93. says


    >I remember reading some internet articles about a year ago discussing all of the freakishly improbable things that seemed to be happening in a somewhat compressed amount of time

    The problem remains, because if this is a simulation, none of those things ever happened and they can’t be used as evidence. You can’t claim anything about time, because you don’t know time exists or what it would “really” be, or if it even can be? What is time, what is anything, in a universe where nothing you see is real? You can’t say anything about events, because you don’t know any events have ever occurred.

    In other words, what if I tell you that things happened in a compressed amount of time, and you draw conclusions. Then later I tell you that none of those things happened, and time isn’t real? What would that do to your conclusions to know that nothing you can observe, nothing that is presented as evidence can be relied upon to accurately represent anything? If it’s all a fabrication how *should* time be working vs. how it works? How would you know? The reality is, if this is a simulation, we know nothing. None of this can be relied up on to represent anything coherent or meaningful. There would be no “should” to how anything behaves in order to compare how it’s “really” behaving–because none of it conforms to anything reliable. Whatever you think you know–you don’t. The entire universe, all you’ve been presented with (have you been presented with anything?), is a lie and unreliable. What you think you’ve learned, what you think you know, is a lie and unreliable. Other people don’t exist, they are simulated. Time does not exist, it is simulated. Matter does not exist, it is simulated. Any facsimile of cohesion or consistency does not exist, it is simulated. You can literally make zero claims of knowledge, even about this “simulation.” You can’t observe it, because you can’t trust your own observation or even your own memories or your mind, in any way. How do you know it wasn’t implanted in your head a split second ago, and that new false memories of life-times aren’t being planted in your head every split second? How would you know?

    Again, it’s like trying to verify dreams. While you’re in them many things make sense, that, upon waking, make no sense whatsoever. If we’re in a universe where even our cognition is unreliable–what value would any conclusions about it have?

  94. says


    >The leaders of my singles congregation had no idea that I didn’t know how to manage money. That is something only a God would know. Yes, I do consider myself a Christian and have read the Bible cover to cover.

    The problem here is that you’re not informing others of how you’re connecting the dots.

    Clearly you believe the fact you had a lack of skill in financial matters caused the offer of a position that required financial skill. This is actually counter-intuitive, which makes it even more interesting that you draw a link between those events.

    You are saying those two things are related, but nobody here can figure out how you’ve linked those two things.

    Even if we add god, for the sake of argument, it still leaves us with a vacuum and mystery about how you’re connecting the dots to say god had a hand in this. Why was any hand needed? Is it not possible that god, if god could be asked, could say “No, I really wasn’t involved in that–it was just something that happened, that he attributed to me, but I didn’t have anything to do with it”?

    If god did issue that statement–how would you respond?

  95. says


    RE: your point on Moses

    There is no evidence Moses ever existed as more than a myth. Explaining how he experienced the voice of god through a burning bush is like seeking an explanation for how it appeared Zeus was able to hurl thunderbolts. Even more skeptical than “how did this happen?” is “why should I believe that account?”

  96. III says

    ScottM – if I don’t like what… exactly? I don’t get what you, by your own admission, are being snide about.

  97. Chixter says

    I think if Moe and folks like him would work in the direction from past to present instead of working backwards, they would realize that the probability of themselves even being here is very close to statistical zero, they would strive to make the most out of this life and not worry about ancestry, or how this all began, or religion and afterlife, etc. Just my own .02

  98. Wiggle Puppy says

    @ Tracie #97: Yes, assuming that one accepts this argument (which I don’t), the only thing one could conclude is that we are living in some sort of construct that does not represent “ultimate reality.” I doubt one could say much more about how this “simulated reality” works.

  99. RationalismRules says

    @Dmitri #82

    Why not pray for a parking spot?

    This actually happens. A few years back when I still had a Facebook account, a friend actually posted a little story about how she had been running late for an appointment that day so she had asked god to help her find a parking spot, and she found one straight away right near her appointment. One of her friends replied “Isn’t it wonderful how He is in our lives every day.”

    Tim Minchin does a great job of pointing up the absurdity of believing in answered prayer, and the oblivious self-absorption of people who think their insignificant problems are of great concern to their god, with no thought whatsoever about the billions of people whose far greater problems go completely unattended:
    (There’s a long spoken intro (5m 30s), but its worth going with it, as the song is even better in context.)

  100. t90bb says


    the fact that the elders in your church did not know you could not manage money in no way enhances your story. those positions are often hard to fill and they many times find a “sap” to do such jobs…..I know this as I grew up as a christian and at one point helped lead several small churches in the northeast, usa.

    you still have provided NO evidence that your magic genie even exists, let alone played a role in you getting a treasurers position… .

    I understand your belief in a magic genie makes you feel warm and fuzzy…it probably relieves fear and the uncertainties of your existence….just like all the rest of the thousands of other man made myths called religions.

    I am glad to hear you have BETTER reasons for belief …… CARE to share your absolute VERY best piece of evidence that your SKY Genie exists??? After all….for you to try to make the case that your sky genie manipulated this universe so you could get a job with your church….you first need to establish you have good reasons to believe your Sky fairy actually exists…..SO YOU VERY BEST EVIDENCE IS>>>>>>??????

  101. III says

    oldman –

    For myself, given your belief that God assigns people their callings, I do wonder why he continued to anoint generations of prophets who spewed murderous bile about people with my skin color before rousing himself from his moral slumber in 1978.

    While no religion or culture has any kind of monopoly on racism, rarely has God-ordained racism been delineated so clearly as it is in the Book of Mormon, the word of your God ( 2 Nephi 5: 21), or trumpeted with such vicious, blood-drenched glee decade after sinful decade as they were by your God-ordained prophets, for MOST of the history of your religion.

    But you learned how to balance a checkbook, right? Your jaw-dropping proof of the God of the Book of Mormon?

    “Any man having one drop of the seed of Cane in him Cannot hold the priesthood … I will say it now in the name of Jesus Christ. I know it is true & they know it. The Negro cannot hold one particle of Government … if any man mingles his seed with the seed of Cane the only way he Could get rid of it or have salvation would be to Come forward & have his head Cut off & spill his Blood upon the ground. It would also take the life of his Children.” – Brigham Young, 1852

    And your God was silent on this for over a hundred years.

    That must be one powerful checkbook you are balancing.

  102. Theisntist says

    I’m not so sure that simulation theory is unprovable. There is the possibility of a test that would get a certain result only if this were a simulation. There are numerous qualified scientists working on such possibilities as we speak. Be that as it may, the theory is unproven and may very well be unprovable.

    In the meantime the theory at minimum provides an alternative to various apologetics (such as the Kalam) which try to explain a God into existence. Even if one were to, for the sake of argument, concede everything has a creator, simulation theory is a more likely explanation of our universe’s creation than a divine being. And unlike “universe creating pixies” (Matt’s go to alternative), the simulation theory is taken very seriously by serious thinkers such as Elon Musk and Neil Degrasse Tyson.

  103. abceddy says

    I don’t think its absurd to actually believe in intelligent design. Seeing as everything man has ever created in some way reflects their own genetic blueprint. I’d propose that genetics as a discipline has only been able to map the human genome, yet there is still a lot we can’t account for, the idea that the genetic code is degenerate alone stands to be pretty questionable. Ziffs law says that nature tends to follow the path of the least resistance and this is directly observable, in physics and chemistry for example reactions do not tend to occur unless they’re energetically feasible or energy forces something to happen, the pattern of evolution then should follow this exact principle as all the atoms that make up life are governed by the same laws, as is proposed by the general laws of relativity by Einstein- why would evolution lead to such inefficient coding? Of course this process is assumed to be very inefficient in totality but the laws of nature, entropy and the universe as a whole suggest that no process should follow this type of pattern- a pattern suggested by social scientist so called “atheist” that would like to discredit their own intricacy.
    Notice how mankind is divisible by two, we display a level of symmetry which is amazing when you think about it.
    Because the mathematical patterns and what we’re drawn towards tends to also be a direct reflection of what we are in our own design. For example most things created by man can be distinguished by their division by the number two, buses, buildings and even the most basic items. I often think about an alien world where everything is divisible by three, what would the aliens look like? perhaps their design of buildings would be divisible by three. Does universe however display this same tendency of order?
    To think somatic cells undergo a type of cellular division that produces two diploid daughter cells that are genetically identical to one another alone is amazing, the ideas of atheism is that this process is not in itself the work of some other entity is also … interesting- the processes that occur within nature tend to be so perfect, even this planet as we inhabit it, it is within the Goldie locks zone and even if you don’t believe the earth works for us, our current understanding is that there is no life outside of the boundaries of our own planet- and this is something non-believers and members of religions can agree on. But it is then a fault within atheism which claims to have the answers based upon science to fail to prescribe any remedy to why science is unable to prove life on other planets? and if the universe were infinite then perhaps we’re just too far away right? but if this were also true within the realms of possibility is the equal chance that we would neighbour quite a few planetary systems with life on them,This is science. My main problem with atheism as a whole is that the concept tends to reject any notion of beauty in the world, we’re suddenly floating on a rock, and we might as well be bacteria that has colonised the remains of your dinner when you throw it into the trash can, but on every level does life prevail and its so sad to see so many people take the joy out of what is directly observable- even in religion also. The notion of a creator should be one which is feasible in every beings mind just from living life, experiencing it’s pains and it’s beauties, because science in reality has no meaning, the human body contains cells and those cells work together to call something a bird, true knowledge is that the bird has no real meaning it is just something we have came up with… no one really understands what a bird is or what it’s purpose is. .
    In summary I can’t prove that a creator exist, and this is the “Aha! I knew it moment” for a lot of you but in terms of energy physics can not detail or explain why life exist? I don’t think life or it’s creation is an energetically feasible process so energy must have been put in at one stage or another,
    If you live the rest of your life thinking “oh this is my first born child, I’m so glad my attachment to this thing is a series of hormonal responses and that this person is the love of my life because receptors and proteins with the tertiary structure” you’re just losing out in the long run and by your own logic you’re no more than a fox, does a fox tend to make these assumptions? No. Either way atheism is very saddening to me and I hope a lot of people find joy knowing that right now among their skin is a whole plerfora of life and that the sun shines everyday, sometimes the clouds get in the way but it does still shine, and that I can jump up and down 10 yrs from now or tomorrow and gravity will still hold me down,
    aha I have found order!

  104. Monocle Smile says


    There are numerous qualified scientists working on such possibilities as we speak


    And unlike “universe creating pixies” (Matt’s go to alternative), the simulation theory is taken very seriously by serious thinkers such as Elon Musk and Neil Degrasse Tyson.

    Stop reading popsci nonsense. Also, the opinion of Elon Musk on cosmology is about as valuable as the opinion of my cat on the subject.

  105. sag says

    I feel like Dante was screaming for help and I think it would have help Dante to talk it out especially because i doubt he has talked about this to anyone else. I assume they bailed on the call because wouldn’t have helped people listening to the broadcast to hear him.

    I still think helping Dante would have been a really worth while endeavor.

  106. theisntist says

    MS: Here’s the first thing that came up, which happens to be from wikipedia. if you want something more in depth, feel free to google it yourself:

    “A long-shot method to test one type of simulation hypothesis was proposed in 2012 in a joint paper by physicists Silas R. Beane from the University of Bonn (now at the University of Washington, Seattle), and Zohreh Davoudi and Martin J. Savage from the University of Washington, Seattle.[11] Under the assumption of finite computational resources, the simulation of the universe would be performed by dividing the continuum space-time into a discrete set of points. In analogy with the mini-simulations that lattice-gauge theorists run today to build up nuclei from the underlying theory of strong interactions (known as Quantum chromodynamics), several observational consequences of a grid-like space-time have been studied in their work. Among proposed signatures is an anisotropy in the distribution of ultra-high-energy cosmic rays, that, if observed, would be consistent with the simulation hypothesis according to these physicists.[12] A multitude of physical observables must be explored before any such scenario could be accepted or rejected as a theory of nature.[13] In 2017, Campbell et. al propose several experiments aimed at testing the simulation theory in their On testing the simulation theory paper.”

    As for equating Elon Musk’s knowledge of cosmology with your cat’s, when your cat successfully oversees the launching of its personal car to the asteroid belt I will happily agree.

  107. CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain says

    @Monocle Smile #108:

    the opinion of Elon Musk on cosmology is about as valuable as the opinion of my cat on the subject.

    @theisntist #109:

    when your cat successfully oversees the launching […] I will happily agree.

    Article: Wikipedia – Félicette

    She was the first cat to be sent into space by any country and the only cat who survived the experiment.
    a crowdfunding campaign was started to fundraise for a Félicette bronze public statue to commemorate her work. The campaign was fully funded by November 2017.

    Sadly, we can no longer ask for Félicette’s valuable opinion on the simulation hypothesis.

  108. oldman says

    @III When I learned to manage money as a financial clerk, it was the money from tithing and fast offerings. Once a month, on the first Sunday of the month, members of the LDS Church skip two meals which is known as a fast. The money they would have spent on those two meals is what they donate. The LDS Church has already said that Brigham Young was influenced by racism and that it was wrong. Racism in the LDS Church started after Joseph Smith was murdered. I have not been to an LDS Church in over twenty years and just read the Bible. I have broken free from religion.

  109. Robert, not Bob says

    @ Wiggle Puppy, re: probability. Probability is the tool we resort to when we don’t know the actual causative factors (at the macroscopic level, anyway). The election of Trump has causative factors going all the way back to the Civil War at least, if not the colonial era. While not deterministically inevitable, it wasn’t a sign of “a bug in the program”, either. It was, in fact, (by early 2016) a highly probable event, notwithstanding ignorance of some causative factors and a lot of wishful thinking.

  110. Murat says

    @Theisntist #107
    I agree.
    If a system / existence / realm is actually a “simulation” then there very likely can be a path from some part / aspect / feature of it to whatever it is simulating.
    Some claim “glitches” to function as signs, but I don’t think they would suffice to prove anything, much less provide an “inhabitant” of the simulation a “way out”.
    As opposed to what Tracie suggested, a “simulation” does not necessarily have to be a “closed system”. The simulator’s actions can leave footprints in the simulation.
    Hence, if what we exist in is actually one, then, that does not mean it is “unprovable” – it may or may not be a simulation, and if it really is, then that may or may not be provable.

  111. says

    >As opposed to what Tracie suggested, a “simulation” does not necessarily have to be a “closed system”. The simulator’s actions can leave footprints in the simulation.

    But if it is a simulation, you would have no basis to trust what you just said. How do you know that’s a true statement?

    I’m not saying it has to be closed, so much as there is no way to know it’s not, and “open” and “closed” system would have no meaning–because nothing could be trusted to have any meaning anymore. In other words–in a dream your mind accepts things are rational that are not, accepts the existence of things that are not there. If you’re locked “in” that dream, It would be an exercise in futility to try and use anything in that dream to identify that it’s a dream–you can’t even think clearly enough, because you would have no reason to assume your reasoning is not simulated, and, as a result, not working as it should. Additionally, does reason exist and is there some way it should work–or is that an incoherent result of the simulation that I even believe such a thing? In other words, if this *is* a simulation, how do I know that anything I’m typing here even makes sense–as opposed to me believing it makes sense because my cognition is simulated and compromised to the point I can’t judge “sense” any longer? Is there such a thing as sense? How would I begin to test it if there isn’t? It would be like knowing that you have no more reason to believe you are sane than that you are insane–not just as a thought experiment, but as a reality you accept as true. That is, dreams are simulations that show us that nothing can be trusted while we are within the dream, not even our capacity to evaluate the coherence of our own thinking, while in a simulation. If I actually believed that I was in a simulation, what would be the logical basis for trusting my own mind–when I know that’s off the table in a simulation–due to my experience with dreams?

    What I just typed, I would have no more reason to believe you are real, this forum is real, or even that I’m actually typing a language with letters and symbols that have any meaning whatsoever. The very thoughts in my head, that “seem” reasonable, I know are equally likely to be meaningless as meaningful. I would have no more basis to assume any of this makes sense than that it doesn’t–because in dreams nonsense appears to be reasonable–so there would be zero way to compare my “reasoning” to anything to test it’s not incoherent. What metrics would I use? And how would I come to believe they’re reliable?

    Nothing I would experience could be trusted, anymore than I could trust experience or mind within a dream. Is anything happening actually happening? Is any experience actually what it seems? Even my capacity to evaluate would immediately be rendered unreliable.

    In sum: Dreams make no sense, and we don’t know they don’t make sense when we are in them. If we, for some reason, decided we solidly believed we were in a dream, we’d have a paradox where the evidence used to come to that conclusion could not be considered reliable evidence, because our minds would be untrustworthy. It creates a loop that can’t be escaped.

  112. says


    >I feel like Dante was screaming for help and I think it would have help Dante to talk it out especially because i doubt he has talked about this to anyone else.

    I’m not a licensed professional therapist. Engaging him any more than is necessary could result in more harm or distress to someone if they are actually suffering with a mental illness and need *real* help–something someone like you and I can’t offer them. And by playing amateur therapist, real harm could result. Have you considered that? What if he does need help, and he uses the conversations with the show to convince himself that “someone is listening” so he must be OK and making sense? What if that actually serves to keep him from seeking therapy? The best thing anyone can do for Dante right now is suggest he be evaluated to rule out any severe mental health issues or disorders. “Playing” therapist with someone like that could actually harm them.

    >I assume they bailed on the call because wouldn’t have helped people listening to the broadcast to hear him.

    No. I bailed on the call for the same reason I bailed on Teddy’s call. Dante is a repeat caller who sounds like someone who may need help. It’s unhealthy for a person to lean on the show as a crutch or outlet as opposed to seeking actual help. Dante needs to talk to someone who can actually help him, and at the point someone is hearing voices or seeing visions, that’s beyond our skill set at the show. Knowing our limits and when we could actually do more harm than good to a fragile person — or at least being aware enough to temper that — is actually a good thing, not a bad thing.

    >I still think helping Dante would have been a really worth while endeavor.

    I don’t have a savior complex. I don’t believe I have a magical ability to cure mental illness without any training or skill in that field, through phone calls. What you are suggesting can actually be dangerous to people. If someone really needs help–they should get help from someone who knows what they’re doing, not a rank amateur who believes a conversation cures potential psychosis or schizophrenia.

  113. III says

    oldman – I’m genuinely curious about why you left the LDS church… I would imagine that was not an easy thing to do.

    The LDS Church has worded, clearly, its response to the issue of racism in the abstract, the miserable fallibility of those with a presumably direct line to God less clearly…

    I would have to say that I (like the others) am puzzled that you see the miraculous in your eventually learning rudimentary financial literacy (although I’m glad you did, it’s a valuable life skill)… and that your Church’s, by your admission, *lack* of foreknowledge makes their ultimate decision seem even less remarkable to me.

    It still wouldn’t be miraculous, and it would be a foolish decision, but it would be more interesting if they knew, for example that you were a degenerate gambler (love this phrase) but decided that it was your calling to manage their money, and you managed it properly.

  114. oldman says

    @III I left the LDS Church because of further insight that God gave me into the Mormon Church that current member and former members have not considered. I also try to help those who have left the LDS Church by telling them that they don’t need to go to a religious institution in order to be close to God. I explain to them that all they need to do is read the Bible. God also gave me insight that all religious institutions are cults.

  115. Murat says

    I understand where you’re coming from, but I think a “simulation” is quite different in nature than a “hoax” or a “hallucination” of some sort.

    What Neil DeGrasse Tyson or scientists of similar caliber suggest when talking about “the universe as a simulation” does not necessarily suggest what we live through and experience to be any “less real” – it just means there could well be “another” realm, one for the sustainability / experimentation / needs of which ours could have been “set up”.

    Even if we all now are in a simulation, I have the very same basis as anyone else to trust what I suggest as a probability. Because the physical foundations of “this” realm are still as governing and as binding as we were “not” in a simulation.

    The way I get this, the simulation theories discussed by physicists are more about what may be “outside the box” than about how we know the “inside of the box” to be.

    Imagine a group of babies planted inside a very large plant within a city. They do not see any adults. Their nutrition, education and several needs are delivered to them via certain mechanisms. Some, as they grow up, begin to think that outside the plant are people who have been controlling / manipulating their lives for whatever reasons. Others disagree. But they all still use the same facilities, eat and drink what they are provided through the tubes, etc. Those who focus on that weird possibility of “outside controllers” will now at least have a different perception of how and why things work the way they do within the plant.

    What I’m trying to illustrate is the difference between the universe being “unreal” and a “simulation”, which is why I don’t think the allegory of dreams works well in this instance. Because what dreams do is to switch our attention from “reality” to our “subconscious”.

    However, even with the example of dreams, we do have the chance to find “footprints” of the “other realm” while we are within a dream: It’s quite normal and common that the lighting conditions and physical features of where we are sleeping affects what we “see” in the dream. I have personally experienced several times the reognition of being in a dream thanks to recognizing some form (which, in the dream, corresponded to a person or something) as what actually appears in the room, something the shape of which I can register in the blink of an eye only to welcome into my subconscious as an “actor” of whatever I was dreaming.

    I am not saying that this always is the case, but the very physical experience of a “sleep” may have quite a lot to do with the “content” of a dream. It is totally a different question weather the dots to spot might suffice to make us understand that it really “is” a dream -maybe even to the point of forcing our “conscious” state back in to take charge- but even if we apply the analogy of “dreaming” to the discussion of a “universe as a simulation”, then certain ideas being expressed by physicians may well be the very first dots to connect in an effort to confirm it “is” a dream.

    What would correspond to “waking up” would have to be “leaving this realm behind”, which may or may not be possible.

    So, I understand how you take the steps to very rationally arrive at the point of saying “nothing could be trusted to have any meaning anymore”, but the way I understand it, you might be taking a step too far from what is discussed in the world of theoretical physics when you interpret this as “loss of current sense of reality” and not as the “exploration of a brand new reality”.

  116. Unanonymous Jones says


    > If my experiences are real and they go and convince me that they aren’t real then the forces that have come onto me will
    > have a serious advantage and I will have a great chance of being tortured.

    It sounds like you’re already miserable about this, man.

    Here’s the good news: You aren’t under attack by demons. You just aren’t.

    Here’s the bad news: For some reason, your sensory and/or cognitive faculties are telling you that you are. Unlike the posited existence of “actual” demons, we have evidence that a person’s senses can be confused, and tell the person that something exists which does not.

    The bad news has a good side: You will suffer absolutely no diabolical reprisals for seeking help from a physician or therapist. None. It’s a win all the way across the board. Please seek out a health professional and explain your situation to them.

  117. Monocle Smile says


    Among proposed signatures is an anisotropy in the distribution of ultra-high-energy cosmic rays, that, if observed, would be consistent with the simulation hypothesis according to these physicists

    Consistent with, not exclusive to. I could generate a large number of hypotheses with which a single phenomenon is consistent. Come back when there’s something worth caring about.

    As for equating Elon Musk’s knowledge of cosmology with your cat’s, when your cat successfully oversees the launching of its personal car to the asteroid belt I will happily agree.

    Musk did exactly none of the science or engineering work involved in that endeavor, nor any other mission. Owning a space business does not magically grant knowledge of physics, nor does it qualify one to be a “serious thinker.” The first aerospace company (defense contractor) I worked for featured a CEO who did not know he wasn’t allowed into certain areas.

  118. RationalismRules says

    Your post is so confused and confusing it’s hard to even know where to begin, so I’m just going to hit this one point:

    My main problem with atheism as a whole is that the concept tends to reject any notion of beauty in the world

    You couldn’t be more wrong. The idea that our universe came about by an undirected series of improbable events vastly increases my sense of wonder and my appreciation of the beauty I’m surrounded with.

    If I came across a sandcastle on a beach I wouldn’t find it particularly interesting that a child had built it, but if I had reason to believe it came about simply by the action of the wind and the water, how much more extraordinary that would be, and how much more I would value that sandcastle. Do you see?

  119. says


    I like the idea of a simulation. I also like the idea of a multiverse. I even like the idea of a benevolent god.

    However, I have a problem with each of these three, as (it would appear) do you. This pesky little thing called evidence.

  120. Jeremy X says

    Great show. I think the explanation that a couple with 10 kids didn’t mean the couple was 20 people was a good example. I wanted to throw in one more story.

    I’m from a small town, and it was originally founded by four brothers. At the 100th anniversary there was a family reunion, and I noticed there were some people I knew were dating who all had an ancestral link back to the founders. It was a number of generations off, but it was there.

    Two people having different parents doesn’t guarantee they both have a unique set of ancestors all the way back though all time.

  121. theisntist says

    MS and Shaun,

    I call Strawman, no one is arguing against the importance of evidence.

    God and the multiverse are probably not falsifiable, but simulation theory may be. That puts it more on a level with string theory – as yet unproven either way, but someday it might. (String theory has had a 50 year head start, so don’t hold your breath!) Thus, what Nobel winner David Gross postulated about string theory would apply to simulation theory as well, “Just to argue it is not science because it is not testable at the moment is absurd”.

    The simulation experiments I mentioned earlier likely wouldn’t provide conclusive evidence, but they could inform the next generation of experiments. (A recent experiment at Oxford may have already falsified simulation theory, but that remains to be seen).

    My actual point was simply that scientists are currently developing and conducting experiments to falsify the theory (okay, hypothesis), which gives it a leg up on either God or pixies as a cause for the universe, which pretty much kills the Kalam as proof of God. (Not that atheists need any more convincing, but William Lane Craig’s minions certainly do!)

    One’s personal opinion of Elon Musk (or Neil DeGrasse Tyson for that matter) is irrelevant to that point, so let’s stay on topic, okay?

  122. claudia says

    I just wanted to thank Tracie for great work with two difficult and sensitive situations. It was so admirable, and I found myself wondering what I would have said to the two men who need professional help… I just don’t know. I don’t have a plan for that. I feel like Tracie made a template I can use if I ever have anyone in my life like this. The idea that you can’t allow someone to keep using you as a temporary pressure release that prevents them from getting trained, educated, professional help is kind and rational. Thank you.
    Thank you John for never mansplaining, for not highjacking conversations, for being a decent man. You demonstrate that it’s totally possible to participate in a conversation without trying to dominate the conversation. Everyone gets a turn and it’s so effective. I’m sorry it’s not the norm, I’m sorry that being decent makes you heroic. But there it is.
    You both did so well. I feel inordinately proud.

  123. says

    For Teddy, one thing to note is that ‘insight'(which in this context, basically means recognition that experiences such as hallucinations are not due to an external cause or a consideration of the possibility that they are not) about hallucinations can exist to varying degrees. An understanding that an experience may not be caused by something outside of your own brain does not determine that you are not experiencing hallucinations. I strongly support the recommendation to get an evaluation, and then with their advice, you can determine where you want to go from there.

    As far as the ability to know things in simulations goes, we’re basically in that situation already. We experience the sensory information coming into our brains, as well as how our brains function. Then we have to try to understand the world based on what information we have coming in. For us, what difference is there between being in a foundational reality, or a simulation? Either way, we’re still in the position of getting information and trying to model what external influences resulted in us receiving the set of information that we did.

    If we exist in a foundational reality, some series of events resulted in the current state of our reality. If we exist in a simulation, then some series of computations carried out in a foundational reality(or simulated in a higher order simulation that traces back to a foundational reality?) by whatever that reality consists of resulted in the current state of our simulation. Either way, ultimately it is change in a foundational reality that determine what we experience. The question of whether we are rational and more or less accurately understanding our experiences or irrational and failing to accurately comprehend the information we get applies equally in either case. All we can do is analyze ourselves and our experiences to the best of the ability we have.

  124. sayamything says

    @Wiggle Puppy:

    “Trump winning the election when all the projections had Clinton”

    When you go back and look at the projections, and their limitations and so on, this no longer seems so improbable. Even the ones that were supposed to be hugely in the pocket for Clinton (I think the CNN projections were one of these) they express significantly less confidence than the headlines did.

    The polls still pulled blue, but the odds weren’t as mind-boggling as we were led to believe. And given what we know about other elements at play (which I don’t want to get into for fear people will start flinging political feces), this is not like it was a Hail Mary r anything. I don’t pay attention to football or awards ceremonies, so I don’t know the probabilities of these things happening, but it seems quite possible that their improbability has been similarly inflated.

    In any case, improbable things happen with relative frequency (given the number of improbable things that can happen, finding examples of the improbable in action doesn’t seem that particularly interesting), so it’s not that hard to see a couple of them happening near each other.

  125. indianajones says

    I am trying to think of something from classical physics that would be analogous to dis/proving simulation hypotheses. Here’s what I have so far (and no, I am NOT a physicist beyond first year undergrad leved).

    So, if I find myself floating about in a box with no contact with the outside world and I just continue and continue to float for however long, it becomes more and more likely that I am in outer space some place, or so it seems to me. ie if I were say on or near the surface of the earth, I would stop floating (catastrophically after not very long at all!) in a matter of seconds, or perhaps minutes at most. After half an hour say I am even surer, and after a week, pretty rock solid in my conclusion.

    I note that I can definitely be wrong, no matter how long I am floating for. But I wonder if simulation hypotheses potential proofs might look something like that? In that you can never be absolutely sure (much like hard solipsism or even last thursdayism), but perhaps you could end up in an idea space that becomes more and more certain as time advances?

  126. Mobius says

    @99 heicart

    Just what I was going to respond. Archeology points strongly to Moses having been a purely mythological figure.

    A few years ago there was a NOVA episode entitled The Bible’s Buried Secrets that goes into that subject, along with other archeology of Biblical sites. Their conclusion, as I recall it, was that most everything prior to Solomon was a just-so story, and that much of the Bible between Solomon and the Babylonian exile is largely overblown.

    I found it an interesting show. I’ve tried to get a number of theist to watch it, but have had little success.

  127. tara says

    This is a response to RationalismRules on a rather old thread (it seems links are a bit hard to see here, but “old thread” is a link in that sentence). I would’ve posted there but was unable, and just discovered this blog very recently.

    Rationalism states:

    Tara… it’s all about god proving that his way is the right way. Proving it to whom? To humans? To Satan? How does this notion of god ‘proving’ anything to anyone accord with anything else in the bible ever? Where is the biblical account where god says to someone “well I say you should do it my way, but if you think your way is better, you go ahead and we’ll see who’s right”.
    The biblical god is much more “well I say you should do it my way, so DO IT MY WAY YOU WORM OR I’LL FUCK YOU UP… YOU AND YOUR ENTIRE FAMILY… FOR ETERNITY.”

    The fact is, that when Satan rebelled, and convinced Even, who eventually convinced Adam to rebel, God could have easily destroyed all of them and started the human race over again. As I mention in that episode, by telling Even that God’s way is wrong, and that his way is better, he brought up a serious charge against God. If God had wiped them all away, it wouldn’t hgave answered Satan’s challenge and would’ve left room for doubt in the minds of those angels who had remained. I would not have been out of the realm of possibility at that point for an angel to begin to doubt whether God wiped them out in order to conceal something…that maybe Satan had been right and that there is a better way. It is God’s purpose that there be no room for doubt. When God’s kingdom is established and it has eliminated poverty, crime, natural disasters, sickness, and even death, that will be the standard against which human systems of government and rule are judged, and they will be judged lacking.

    As to your point about God’s authoritarianism towards the Isrealites…the only reason God endured the Israelites for so long was in order to fulfill a promise to faithful Abraham…that the Messiah would be produced through his line. Jehovah needed to be tough on the Israelites in order to keep them in line long enough to produce the Messiah according to His timetable, despite God knowing full well that the nation of Israel would continue to be a rebellious nation. What God did in those times is not how God deals with those who are willing to follow and listen. And once the resurrection occurs (Acts 24:15) there will be no room for doubt of the existence of God, it will be readily apparent to all. That is when the real judgment occurs. As that scripture supports, both the righteous and the unrighteous (or just or unjust depending on your translation) WILL BE (future tense) resurrected…the righteous to a resurrection of life, and the unrighteous to a resurrection of judgment (think of the resurrection of judgment as a probationary period). Once the resurrection is complete (which will take place over the course of the 1,000-year rulership of Christ in God’s Kingdom), then judgment will be passed on men and women, not based on their belief in whether or not God exists, but based on their acceptance of His rulership. And that’s really the key to this whole thing…God isn’t interesting in merely having people believe in Him, he wants people to obey him, which is why it is so critical that this experiment of human rulership be allowed to continue to it’s ultimate conclusion. Because judgment is based on whether we accept God’s rulership, it is paramount that God’s way as the right way is proved beyond a shadow of a doubt. And that’s why I said in the show that God’s interference in this system is intentionally limited, so as not to screw up the data. This experiment of human rulership, once complete, cannot happen again, the time we are in now will stand as a testament for all time to the atrocities that occur when the creation tries to rule itself.

    Also, just to clarify for those who asked on that thread, I was trained by JWs, and many of the JW beliefs form the core foundation for my own beliefs, but I myself am not a JW. I do agree with them though that hell is not a literal place, and that the idea of an eternal place of punishment for the wicked not only goes against what the Bible prescribes as the punishment for sin (“the wages sin pays is death”) but also goes against the core of God’s nature, which is love. And even then, the only reason why those who would rebel against God’s rulership need to be eliminated is because they would continue to disrupt the harmony and peace that Christ’s rulership will usher in. We know that power corrupts, and we are even seeing more and more evidence of that as the Republican party continues to be exposed by progressives here in the states, so those in power, will not willingly abdicate their power and authority to God, hence, they must be removed by force.

  128. III says

    sayamything – yep, you are absolutely right. This is not Monday morning quarterbacking because I thoughtHillary would win (so I was wrong), but I did not think it was a given.

    I used to work with modelling, and was surprised at the widespread 1)failure to take confidence intervals into account 2) the strictly linear models people were using to aggregate electoral votes. I stayed up to watch the votes being tallied because like anyone that works with modelling, 1) and 2) meant a Trump win was unikely, but in NO WAY a black swan. I mention this because many people have since conflated sampling error with systematic polling biases, as if that is the extent of the unacknowleged issues with 1) and 2).

    oldman – thanks for sharing. While I don’t believe in the truth of personal revelation from the Bible any more than I do in the truth of revelation from Church elders, I think that LDS asks for a wee bit more than many religions do in the way of suspension of critical thinking and the development of a healthy sense of self. I’ve met many members who, after leaving voluntarily or involuntarily, seem bereft. The Church robs them of the healthy development of these tools, and then, when they no longer have the Church…

  129. Leave a Reply says

    Point for Teddy to consider:
    It is often easier to do for someone else than for yourself. For example, I am willing to put up with more abuse than I would allow to be directed towards my friends. If you find the courage to get some professional advice, when you report back you might be doing a great service for Daunte and perhaps many others.

  130. says

    “I’ve met many members who, after leaving voluntarily or involuntarily, seem bereft. The Church robs them of the healthy development of these tools, and then, when they no longer have the Church…”

    Very interesting observation and very interesting tactic. Essentially breaking people. Take pieces out of them so that they won’t function without the church.

    Churches use psychological control tools very effectively. The great one is the power of the group, the need to belong. To be the outsider is frightening to people and churches know it.

  131. Bean says

    I just wanted to let Teddy know that any reputable exorcist will want you to go to therapy first to rule out mental health issues before they will do anything about your demon problem (at least that’s what the one I used to know told me). Exorcists even use this to claim that demon possession is real, because if other treatment failed, then they assume it must be demons. Therapy should always be the first step, whether your demons are real or not. Otherwise, nobody can help you.

  132. t90bb says

    Reading Oldman’s many posts here it made me ponder a bit.

    It is very clear that once a theist has an experience they relate to the supernatural….and are sold on a narrative of promised eternal bliss…….they consciously and subconsciously build walls around thoughts and ideas that allow for this belief….

    They want to believe in the fairy tale narrative so badly they will twist and disregard logic and reason so that belief can be maintained. Couple that with the “love bombing” that occurs in many theistic communities and it makes their belief even harder to shake. Many theists find a sense of community that they cherish……

    It is absolutely hilarious to watch many theists point out the absurdities of other religion….all while being blinded to the absurdities of their own.

    The human experience is ripe with pain, disappointment, and fear…….the allure of a magic sky daddy that will hold your hand at all times brings much relief to some.

    It is hard to understand how some of us, including myself, have broke free from the delusion. My commitment to skepticism and open mindedness led my journey to inner honesty. My commitment to this end continues to this day. I often find myself reviewing my agnostic atheism position to ck for bias and personal motive (questioning my questioning if you will).

    My commitment and ability to be honest with myself about the evidence and/or lack of evidence for a deity has led me to such a beautiful place of peace…no god required! I am but a the tiniest of links in an amazing chain of what we call life. I am not looking forward to my death….but have no issue with my mortality. I will live my life to its fullest for as long as I can..knowing I did my best at life and by the satisfaction and pleasure I experienced in helping others. I have no trouble imagining a universe without me living in it. Until then I will laugh and cry through this incredible journey I am living….It troubles me not that I do not have all the answers to life’s mysteries. I am so happy and free to admit the things I do not know….

    Preaching to the choir I know.

  133. III says


    Regarding DNA coding, are you arguing that it is NOT degenerate? Or that it is, and evolution isn’t a reasonable explanation for DNA being degenerate? Or something else? I am curious, because the degeneration of DNA figures front and center in popular rationalizations for why incest was once okay in the Bible.

    > Notice how mankind is divisible by two, we display a level of symmetry which is amazing when you think about it.
    Actually, most animals are symmetrical and man is less symmetrical than other bilaterally symmetrically animals:
    “Although perfect symmetrical appearance is the epitome of gene quality in most animals, this standard is altered somewhat in humans because human brain organization is heavily asymmetrically biased in favor of left-right organization and this is expressed in perception, cognition, and motor control.” (Zaidel, Dahlia W. and Choi Deblieck. “Attractiveness of Natural Faces Compared to Computer Constructed Perfectly Symmetrical Faces.” International Journal of Neuroscience 117:4 (2007): 423-431)
    I’m not sure what you mean by “For example most things created by man can be distinguished by their division by the number two, buses, buildings and even the most basic items” … but it seems to me that 50% of all numbers are divisible by two. Perhaps you mean that most man-made things are made to be symmetric? There are some pretty good, non-navel-gazing reasons for this – it has to do with minimizing error, given how our visual systems are set up. I don’t know what you mean, though, and I don’t want to put words in your mouth.

    >and if the universe were infinite then perhaps we’re just too far away right? but if this were also true within the realms of possibility is the equal chance that we would neighbour quite a few planetary systems with life on them,This is science.
    No, the universe being infinite does not shrink the space between things down to a size that we can explore more easily.

    My real objection though, has to do with your claim that “your main problem with atheism as a whole is that the concept tends to reject any notion of beauty in the world, we’re suddenly floating on a rock, and we might as well be bacteria that has colonised the remains of your dinner”
    Have you looked at bacteria under a microscope? Some of them are, indeed, beautiful. You don’t think so? Many people do – so perhaps purpose is not a necessary condition for beauty. The appreciation of some kind of pattern is, which is why we find paisley prints lovely – though they have no purpose or destiny, so far as I can see.

    >science in reality has no meaning, the human body contains cells and those cells work together to call something a bird, true knowledge is that the bird has no real meaning it is just something we have came up with… no one really understands what a bird is or what it’s purpose is.”

    I would wager that you don’t claim to truly understand what God is, and yet you argue that you find him beautiful. And if you do understand what God is, despite the fact that scriptures tell you that you cannot – I would argue that you are very good at imputing purposes to things all by yourself.

    In the end, I am not sure why you are arguing that nothing is not beautiful if someone does not decide for you what its purpose is.

    If, indeed, I am not capable of finding my cat beautiful or lovable, I wish someone would explain to me why I put up with his nigthtly cauterwauling, clean out is his litterbox, let him use me as a pincushion, and spend an hour every week picking his hair out of my things and still kiss him on the nose every night.

    Indeed, I wonder how any religious person could justify the beauty the might see in this creature, who even God’s grace does not find deserving of heaven.

  134. CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain says

    @III #133:

    this creature, who even God’s grace does not find deserving of heaven.

    Its probably better not to attract a god’s attention.
    Article: Wikipedia – Animal Mummy, Votive Offerings

    If an Egyptian sought a favor from a god, he would purchase or make an offering and place it at the appropriate temple of the god he wished to please. […] these offerings were usually bronze statues depicting the animals.
    However, eventually a cheaper alternative to bronze statues – animal mummies – became the most popular form of offering. […] these types of animals were bred for the sole purpose of offerings.
    As the process of animal mummification for the purpose of offerings grew, mummification techniques became progressively less meticulous. Studies have revealed many of the large-scale animal offerings to be ‘fakes’ – the wrappings containing only a few bones, feathers, reeds, wood, or pieces of pottery. […] When visiting the temples, Egyptians of the general public would purchase these pre-mummified animals and offer them to the gods.
    Cats were […] believed to represent the war goddess Bastet.
    At Beni Hasan, there were so many cat mummies that at the end of the 19th century, a total of 19 tons of mummified Egyptian cats were shipped to England to be used as fertilizer.

  135. III says

    @CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain
    -It gets worse.

    Years ago artists discovered that with powdered mummy—or, as it used to be called, “Egyptian dust”— they could secure the rich brown paint which turns to gold. Apparently the first mummy paint made in America was manufactured in 1843, when an entry in the books of a Philadelphia firm acknowledged the receipt of two mummies at £46 1s., ten pounds of mummy (Thebes) at £1 4s., and twelve pounds of mummy (Memphis) at fourteen shillings. It need hardly be said that mummy-paint is exceedingly expensive. [“The Clubman” The Sketch 62:794 (April 15, 1908): 8.]

  136. says

    oldman says in post 11 – “I know for myself that it was God who wanted me to serve in that position so I could learn how to manage money.”

    oldman also says in post 81 – ” First off God does not interfere with everyday life, ”

    So which is it? Did God interfere in your everyday life and get you that position, or does God not interfere, meaning you got that position by other means?

  137. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    But if it is a simulation, you would have no basis to trust what you just said. How do you know that’s a true statement?

    I don’t think that “we live in a simulation” automatically leads to “our memories are unreliable”. For example, see the famous movie The Matrix as a simple counter-example.

    God and the multiverse are probably not falsifiable, but simulation theory may be.

    The god hypothesis is totally falsifiable. The god hypothesis has been clearly falsified. See:

  138. CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain says

    @III #135:

    It gets worse.  [Mummy Brown]

    Ha! That pigment article does indeed say human or feline.
    The one for Mummia has a decidedly human emphasis. Ancient bitumen cure-all. Misinterpreted as mummy. Cannibalism ensues, for centuries!

    The barber surgeon Ambroise Paré (d. 1590) revealed the manufacture of fake mummia both in France, where apothecaries would steal the bodies of executed criminals, dry them in an oven, and sell the flesh; and in Egypt, where a merchant, who admitted collecting dead bodies and preparing mummia, expressed surprise that the Christians, “so dainty-mouthed, could eat the bodies of the dead”.

  139. III says

    @CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain says
    … funnily enough, depending on the version of this particular story you read, it makes the mumia-seller (and the Jewish trade) look just as bad… or it tries to, at any rate.

    “Guy De La Fontaine, physician to the king of Navarre, took a journey into Egypt, and being at Alexandria in 1564, he… sought out the principal Jew concerned in this traffic… and anxious to know whether that which the ancients had written respecting the treatment of the dead, and their mode of sepulchre could be confirmed, the Jew laughed at him, and hesitated not to say that all the bodies then before them, amounting to between thirty and forty, had been prepared by him during the last four years, and that they were the bodies of slaves or other persons indiscriminately collected. De la Fontaine then inquired as to what nation they belonged, and whether they had died of any horrible disease, such as leprosy, the small-pox, or the plague, to which the Jew replied, that he cared not whence they came, whether they were old or young, male or female, or of what disease they had died, so long as he could obtain them, for that when embalmed no one could tell; and added, that he himself marvelled how the Christians, so dainty mouthed, could eat of the bodies of the dead.”
    (Review of The History of Egyptian Mummies, and an account of the worship and embalming of the Sacred Animals by the Egyptians, &c., by Thomas Joseph Pettigrew. The London Medical and Surgical Journal; exhibiting A view of the improvements and discoveries in the various branches of medical science. 6:148, (Saturday November 29, 1834): 562-4.)

  140. Murat says

    @Don Forsberg
    I think people think so highly of themselves that, whatever they “personally” benefit from automatically becomes something exceeding the limits of “everyday life” 🙂

  141. fetefatale says

    I was immensely frustrated at the poor answers Tracie & John gave to Moe on the question of ancestry – I doubt they even understood the question.
    The problem has very little to do with over-population, or the fact that the world had fewer people a generation, or three, or three hundred ago. It was entirely about running out of ancestors if one considers that everyone has two parents, and four grandparents, and eight great grandparents, .. and so on ad infinitum, reaching 1,099,511,627,776 (1.1 trillion) ancestors at the fortieth ancestral generation. But Tracie & John explained it as [paraphrased] ‘ but your parents could have several kids, therefore there’s more people now’. … and I could see Moe’s frustration growing along with my own.
    The answer is simple – go back more than a couple of generations and cousin marriage starts to figure in everyone’s ancestry.
    I have fourth great grandparents who are also my fifth great grandparents, and I have a 2nd cousin with the same ancestry, but also descended from our great grandfather’s 2nd wife who happened to be his 1st cousin (meaning my 2nd cousin only has six great grandparents instead of an expected eight). The chances of distant cousin marriage having occurred further back in our ancestry increase with each generation back, and that assumed 2:1 ratio of ancestors every generation gets closer to a 1:1 ratio … until it flips over and you find everyone is mutiply-descended from nearly everyone alive a couple of millennia ago (unless those ancestors have no living descendants), and since the further back in time we go the greater proportion of people having no descendants, meaning an even smaller pool of ancestors for all of us.

  142. einyv says

    @oldman “the LDS Church people do not seek to be called to positions for themselves or others. Leaders in the LDS Chruch first need to be inspired to call someone for a position in their congregation, then they need to pray to God to see if God wants him or her to serve in that position.” —Sorry that is a load of crap. People are human which mean they have different desires. It is a complete lie to say people do not seek to be called for positions. BS. There are people that do,

    ” Leaders in the LDS Chruch first need to be inspired to call someone for a position”—–if inspired to call someone for a position means, “hey we need a treasurer because the last one left, we need to fill the position” sure, that inspires them to look. If you mean god inspires them then NO. You are completely oblivious to reality and the real world. I feel sorry for you.

  143. oldman says

    @einyv I’m sorry you don’t know much about the LDS Church, because the members do not seek to be called to positions for themselves or others. Unless you have proof that this happens in the LDS Church, then don’t make comments. They had a feeling that I should serve in that position, so they prayed to God to see if he wanted me to serve in that position. If God had wanted someone else to serve in that position, they would have been called.

  144. oldman says

    Another way I know for myself that God is real is this. Several years ago, I was having family problems over dishes. Since I have autism, my job at home has been to wash dishes. At the time, we didn’t have a working dishwasher, so I had to wash them by hand. Dishes had a wet dog smell to them. My family blamed me for the smelly dishes. After moving to a home with a working dishwasher, dishes continued to have a wet dog smell to them. My family continued to blame me for smelly dishes. After praying to God for help, the thought immediately popped into my head to search online for smelly dishes. I searched online and found out that my family had the same problems with smelly dishes that other people had. Before I searched online, I had no idea that others had this same problem. Finding out that smelly dishes was not my fault was like having a weight lifted off my shoulder. The idea to search for smelly dishes did not come from my family, nor did I take time think about it. I know for myself that God wanted me to know that it was not my fault.

  145. says

    There have been many good answers here to Moe’s quandary regarding ancestors. My concern is that the neither Tracien or John gave good answers to Moe, so he was continually confused. Tracie also has a habit of giggling which doesn’t help. It’s very frustrating sometimes when listening to Tracie in particular that she doesn’t give a direct answer to a caller, or at least an answer that the caller can understand. I’m sure it’s very hard when you’re on camera to think on the spur of the moment but it is something that needs to be developed.

  146. mortuk says

    @oldman the fact you find the answer online is a sign you used normal common sense. It has nothing to do with there being a god. Its not proof of a god, its proof of google.

  147. mortuk says

    The amount of ancestors and thinking its doubling is getting the logic back to front and Just saying every person has two parents, 4 grandparents etc fails to take into account most familes have more than 1 child. So my parents had 3 children, my wife 4 children. so from 4 parents there are 7 children with actually only 4 parents. Of the 8 grandparents there will be many cousins etc as well ( must be at least 30 all sharing those. So the family tree shrinks going backward, not growing as the call assumed.

    Then there is the fact that the further you go back the more every family overlaps and it is even less than you would expect.

  148. tons of mice says

    @ oldman
    Don’t tell Ken Ham. He will build a replica of your kitchen in Kentucky and make money off your smelly dishes.

    Why didn’t God just heal your odorous chinaware?

    “Behold the magic of bleach!” God saith.

    Since the smell was probably caused by bacteria, it was actually God-the-Creator’s fault. Someone who believes in Him should give Him a good talking to. “Smelly dishes!? What were you thinking Jehovah?”

  149. John Chilton says

    Dante: OK – very sad – misinformed and lightweight. Yet another example of a small amount of information making someone feel they can reach way beyond their reach.
    But there is a bigger picture here – what is his background – what society has he been brought up in, that failed to see the issues he as and how did they fail to help him find the help he clearly needs.
    Dante is very sad and is an ‘event’ waiting to happen!

  150. Gavin says

    the first caller presents enough similarities to the confused type of schizophrenia that hopefully they have taken the advice and found someone to talk to (jumping to seemingly unconnected ideas, hearing a voice, attributing it to the radio, yet clearly indicating disinterest in even attempting to record it)
    the second caller is pretty much describing paranoid schizophrenia – being afraid of the things being experienced, afraid of finding they are not true, afraid of find they are true, afraid of being tortured, yet unwilling to seek help to stop the torture they are inflicting on themselves by not seeking help.)
    both of these calls sound worryingly like early warning distress calls, and I sincerely hope they are able to find a source of help.
    (both of these states of mind can produce amazing things, with loads of art and original ideas being quite likely connected with the often spectacularly different mental connections, however, those same possibilities can also go in equally tragic directions)

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