1. anonID says

    This was a pretty good show, but I think that Jen and Phil should have been more skeptical and/or critical of William’s asteroid argument. It didn’t seem structured, well fleshed out, let alone very relevant. Personally, if I were still a theist, I would not find it convincing, and it didn’t really even pique my interest.

  2. anonID says

    David’s call and question was refreshingly honest. The discussion really made sense when one understands that “belief” is not a “choice”, rather a culmination or conclusion of facts, perceptions, and interpretations. Good call, would be great to pick up more calls from theists who aren’t out to troll.

  3. Steve Ripley says

    The last caller on today’s show completely misrepresented PI, E, and imaginary numbers. PI is the fixed value between the radius of a circle and half its circumference; there is nothing unnatural about it. E is nothing more than the compounding of any interest value carried to infinity, there is nothing unnatural about it either. And the fact that E compounded to PI x i says nothing more than the fact that PI as an infinite series compounding E as another infinite series comes steadily ever closer to the value of -1, finally reaching that value when both PI and E are treated as infinite series values. It is simple mathematics and there is nothing unknowable or mysterious or supernatural about it.

  4. Oswald Jr Dunstan says

    David has no idea , the worth of that asteriod is not known, and the cost to get those materials i still at this time un viable economically, this bloke needs to go back to school and learn basic maths.
    Getting minerals of value out on the ground on earth is extremely costly , he is not a very knowledgeable person.
    Also the american congress is not global law maker , if Australia wants to go mine asteriods or mars venus any thing in our solar system the USA has no say in what we do .
    this person for reason believes the USA is in control of the planet earth, it is not and enver will be, The usa cant even protect its children from nut cases , how about you get your own country right before trying to tell other countries WTF to do.
    The US does not own space ,

  5. anonID says

    Rob! Nobody understands how all your definitions, buckets, and “mathematical” goobely-gob amounts to any demonstrable EVIDENCE for a ‘supernatural.’ If I wanted to prove to you that unicorns exist in my backyard, you would want some evidence like pictures, footprints, game cam footage, special poop, SOMETHING other than dictionary definitions, fictional books and fallacies!

    Why is it every call to AxP claiming ‘proof’ for ‘god’ has to start with “…let me first start with 12 definitions and articles and quotes”

    Thank goodness it was already the end of the show so that Rob had no chance to drag his “argument” any further.

  6. t90bb says

    4. anon

    Yes Robs call was a….I like how at least in part he tried to take some form of credit for that trainwreck of an argument…the argument has been out there for a long time…..

    Its got so many issues its hard to count….. amoung them it seems to try to define supernatural into existence…….

    sure there are mysteries we have yet to solve or may never solve but how we can conclude there are things we will never understand is baffling….

    Jen nailed it right off when she said he was setting up one big argument from ignorance….I will add argument from incredulity as well…..(it also seems like Rob was claiming this was an argument from design).

    According to Rob…God created things like irrational and transcendental numbers as breadcrumbs to his/her/its existence……what a piss poor God would ever do that?? LOL….not one I have much interest in (if it even existed!).

  7. Scott P says

    I agree, good show. I think Jen is right that the caller is arguing from ignorance. I’m going to try to listen to his argument several more times to see if I can make sense of the math argument, but it seems we could just liken it to the fact that a value such as 1/0 is undefined. He’s just proposing that a value can’t exist, and therefore is supernatural. The result of 1/0 cannot be defined as a natural or real number, therefore it must be supernatural. Just because something is not defined or not known to exist in reality but is something we can express ( 1/0 ) or imagine (pixies with pet unicorns living in the garden) does not by axiom mean that it is supernatural (which I’m guessing is defined by existence? outside of time and space, and, at least at present, imperceptible to earth dwellers).

  8. says

    Regarding William’s asteroid argument; there is an asteroid called 16 Psyche, NASA and mining experts valued it last May at approximately USD $10 quintillion (it is mostly pure iron and nickel). Not sure why all the articles say 10,000 quadrillion, we have numerical values representative of numbers this high.

    The mission was originally scheduled to start in 2023, but the Psyche team has come up with a plan to launch in the summer of 2022 and arrive at the main belt asteroid in 2026. Interestingly if you towed it into local orbit to mine it you could either sit on it and dole it out piecemeal to maintain metal values (like the diamond cartels) or collapse the entire global economy which at the time was valued at USD $74 trillion.

    I’ll cite some of the more reasonable sources;

  9. Simone says

    Regarding william’s asteroid… if there is such an asteroid that is worth so much money in minerals, wouldn’t that devalue the monetary value of that mineral, making it kinda worthless?

  10. says

    william wants a silver bullet againt theists, but he’s trying way too hard. not that anybody actually needs to. he’s trying to build a rube-goldberg-worthy death-trap, intended for a victim who’s already been a carcass fertilizing a field of weeds for at least a century. dammitt, spock, i’m a skeptic, not a ghostbuster! god really is dead, jim!

    rob: this is the classic argument from ignorance and like everyone before him, he’s using it to shift his burden of proof. he’s seen how past efforts have been consistently thwarted by the march of science, so he’s clearly trying to push the frontline from the merely unknown out to the (presumably) ultimately unknowable, in hopes of permanently barricading his god from the ever-advancing armies of empiricism.

    while it’s one thing to abstractly acknowledge that there could be things that will remain unknowable, he still has to demonstrate that any particular example is actually in that category.

    yet one could grant him all that and he’d still have to clear that last leap to justify “… and therefore god!”

  11. har7613 says

    Hello, I am from Hong Kong and watched this show thru UTube. I would like to add a comment on Rob’s claim to separate things into 2 buckets and said those that cannot be known are supernatural. I think this is a wrong concept. There are many things that we don’t know and cannot be known, but we can’t say those are supernatural. For example, I don’t know and probably will never know where is my hometown of my great grand-parents or where do they born in China. It is because China was in a turbulent state in 19 and 20th century. People are running from wars, bandits, warlords,…etc. Then my grandparents settled down in Hong Kong. They were so young at that time and was running from town to town, so they don’t know their hometown. But it is a fact that I was born and I came from them. So am I belong to supernatural cause because I can never know my hometown?

    I wonder can I reject Rob’s claim using this analogy or am I misunderstand? Feedback to my comment is welcome.

  12. Marcel says

    That last guy with his e^i pi =-1 story was way overthinking it.
    One could say that the Euler-identity is as much a definition of an imaginary number as is i^2=-1. The one follows from the other using the rules of algebra.

    But more general: what is the point of proving that there may be ‘things’ we cannot know? If one could proof thing A is a thing we cannot know, what have we gained?

    I suspect he tried to create a safe haven for a god or goddess to be in?

  13. Marcel says

    Hey, another Marcel! Neat.
    The guy calling about Euler’s Identity seemed to think we don’t know why it evaluated to -1 (and is thus supernatural?). We know exactly why, all he needs to do is crack open a university level calculus text book. Here’s a hint for him: it’s the “back side” of a unit circle.

  14. Kevin P Breen says

    Rob’s mathematical argument seems pretty arbitrary for reasons
    1. How can you multiply an unknowable (because it is infinite) by another unknowable?
    2. How can you apply an imaginary number to any equation?
    3. Even if this proved than a supernatural realm existed, it does not prove that a god is part of it.

    A god who cannot be known is indistinguishable from one who doesn’t exist.

  15. Killian Jones says

    Watch the old classic shows and the theme was ‘What god to you believe in, and why?’ They were great shows that encouraged thought. Tune in today and all you get homework tips and time wasting. The shows have gone to hell. No clue, no direction. Just allow any topic to dominate the show. Here’s a thought; call into any religious show and try to talk about homework and see what happens. You would be hung up on and told the subject was off topic. They would not burn through the time on nonsense. I think I’ll call in and discuss cooking tips or how to remove a boil. I’m sure the hosts would dedicate 40 minutes on explaining that they weren’t doctors or chefs, rather than telling me straight and moving on to the next caller. The rot started when you guys asked for donations. Money corrupts…. For gods sake get someone in that can screen calls and manage time. Chose hosts that can keep on topic. Stop massaging the hosts egos for the first half hour. Bring back Matt.

  16. says

    Just discovering the “nice” atheists. Wonderful atheists have not lost their “humanity” though they reject religion. Just wanted to say i admire people who are self-thinkers and willing to dismiss blind traditions. I get a warm feeling from atheists.

    But I really just want to throw this into the reality ringer. I am an “extremist” believer and per Bible chronology, something many don’t pay attention to, Christ must arrive 45 years after the Jews come out of exile in 1945, thus in 1992. It is very secretive in the beginning, for a reason. But Christ did arrive on December 25, 1992 and he rebuilt the spiritual temple by 2015, the same amount of years the second temple took to build (455 BCE – 433 BCE; 1993-2015). So in other words, the Bible is actually true and now the “saints” are experiencing direct interaction with God. My focus has been on archaeology and so I have lots of archaeology that is proto-Biblical. I expose a lot of revisionism to establish through astronomy the original timeline which helps to pinpoint prophetic dates, etc. All very interesting. But basically, I just wanted to say I like the “attitude” of community-minded atheists and I find them very likeable as people. The belief issues are less of interest to me since I’m very anti-organized religion and turns out lots of believers are false teachers, etc.

    At any rate, world events are coming to an end. God basically hides out in the beginning and then at the very end he has to show himself, so. So, some of us are now living proof the Bible is true and that God exists and we are very happy about it and just know that atheism and lots of false religious teachings will be exposed. I guess what I’m saying is that I still believe because I actually have a lot more information to base belief in the Bible, plus the experience of directly interacting with God.

    But the one thing that God himself provided for modern saints, since we all can begin to doubt what we believe, is the “sign of the son of man” (Matthew 24:29-30) This is a miraculous image that appears in the sky to the saints when the new messiah is born shortly after 1948 (State of Israel set up). So that’s a REAL thing that’s in the mix, though esoteric. It is a tri-image created by clouds. But that is not a vision or a voice, it’s something that can be photographed. So part of reassuring the saints this is all real is this one sign. So I have a photo of it. It’s kind of complex but… we are out here. We’re living in a “real” world, but a private world.

    On the other hand, hearing the confidence of atheists and hearing their arguments, I can see why God chooses to keep the saints in secret societies. (Rev 12:6)

    I guess the short version is that I’m finding myself liking and admiring atheists, but Christ did return and the god of the Bible just happens to be real. But maybe on Judgment Day, some atheists might do better than a lot of so-called Christians who claim they believe but ignore what God says. At least atheists seem to be honest with themselves.

    Have a great day and thanks for sharing your experience.

    Larry Wilson
    Believer extremist

  17. Theisntist says

    The desire to find magic in numbers is like the pursuit of alchemy, no matter how brilliant you are you’re wasting your time. Carl Sagan actually postulated what a message from God embedded in numbers might look like in the book Contact. Deep in pi was found a series of numbers that formed a message. Fun to imagine, stupid to believe.

  18. Mitch S says

    Hi everyone! i tried to call into the show to talk about how i just found out a few days ago that my girl friend of about a month is a young earth creationist. I had my suspicions from small parts of conversations or how she would phrase things. But shes actually extremely relaxed with her beliefs and to be honest, doesn’t even bring up the topic at all besides the colloquial “thank god” and “Oh my god.”I haven’t even seen her pray before dinner, or at all for that matter lol. I’ve been an atheist since about the end of 2016, but just overall love the topic and talking about beliefs in general. Anyway, I guess what I’m trying to ask is advice on how to go about this. I really like her so I’m not quite looking to go in guns blazing “why slavery” and stuff like that. Thanks everyone for your time, and the AXP team for doing such good work and helping change peoples lives and minds, like me.

  19. says

    About Rob:

    So the supernatural realm is a set of all things we will never be able to explain.

    Maybe this is why Christians place God there and can’t explain anything.

    Thanks Rob. This isn’t going to save me loads of time.

  20. tommyr says

    Rob’s call was a compete and total waste of frigging time. I wanted to slit my throat listening to him. Worst callers ever on this show.

  21. Chester Wiggin says

    Euler’s identity is surprising if you don’t know the reasons for it. Perhaps it even seems magical. There are plenty of less exciting examples, e.g.

    √2 is irrational. 2^√2 is transcendental. (2^√2)^√2, a transcendental to the power of an irrational, is equal to 4.

    Or even less exciting: π is transcendental. 5 – π is also transcendental. They add up to 5. Big whoop.

    These properties derive from the axioms of mathematics, which is also the cause of having unprovable truths. That the axioms do not result in consistent systems is not a proof of God, it is a proof of Gödel.

  22. Lucente says

    Mathematics is a human construct. PI is a never ending fractional number because it is based on a decimal numeric system invented by humans. If mathematics was based on a numbering system based on 3 basic digits rather than 10, then perhaps PI would be a definite number and other numbers that are definite in a decimal system may become indefinite fractions. All this does is evidence that in our decimal numbering system not all computations can lead to definite results.

  23. azalou says

    The big flaw in William’s argument for the asteroid’s value, is that the value of something depends on a lot of factors. Main of which in that case would be the availability of the ressource. Whatever it is if it is made available to everyone on earth, it’s value would plumet to whatever billions of dollars to almost 0. Money is not something you can create willy nilly…. There is an interesting trivia with the emperor of Mali, Mansa Mussa that during his pilgrimage to mecca was distributing gold left right and center. People didn’t get suddenly rich as a result. The value of gold crashed instead.

  24. Mobius says

    I wonder if the Euler Identity guy was hung up on the term “transcendental number”. The definition, while somewhat technical, is very mundane and has nothing to do with the supernatural. I won’t go into it here, but if you are interested…

    There are a set of numbers which are called algebraic numbers. If a number is NOT algebraic, then it is transcendental. The algebraic numbers are countable, which means they are an infinitesimal part of the real numbers. Thus, almost all real numbers are transcendental.

  25. Edward TO says

    Anyone interested in the topic Anthony was trying to express should check out “Memoirs of God” by Mark Smith, which delves into how ancient Israel and its beliefs were shaped the interaction with other cultures.

  26. unfogged says

    There were many things wrong with the last call where he attempted to show evidence of god by showing evidence of the supernatural…

    He equated the supernatural with “things we can’t know” but does not distinguish between being unable to know anything about it because it is supernatural or simply because it is beyond our ability to understand. Something could be beyond our ability to investigate and still be a part of the natural universe.

    He admitted that we can’t tell “things we can’t know” from “things we don’t know” so he can’t point to anything and claim it to be something we can’t know; the composition of distant stars was once listed as something we can never know and yet we figured out a way to find out.

    His example wasn’t very good because the fact that he doesn’t know how the equation works doesn’t mean that nobody does. He made it sound like somebody happened to calculate it one day and was amazed at the result and there is no explanation. The values involved may be difficult to relate to tangible objects but they are no more or less real than other numbers and he seems to be assuming that there has to be a reason why things work as they do which smuggles his god into the premise.

    If he could (a) somehow manage to to identify something that we can’t know, (b)show that it still has a demonstrable effect in the natural universe, and (c) make a compelling case that it is reasonable to equate that with the supernatural then he still would not have provided evidence for any god. He’d have to also show that there can’t be a supernatural realm unless it has an intelligence within it or provide direct evidence for the god itself. Basically, he failed at every point although it was at least a little different than the run of the mill arguments from ignorance.

    If people put half as much thought into figuring out if it makes sense to believe as they put into rationalizing the beliefs there would be a lot more atheists.

  27. Joakim says

    I was happy to have the Jamaican caller who also mentioned the great reggae dub poet Mutabaruka. A fascinating man who apparently is rasta and an atheist.

  28. Stephanie says

    Rob… what a terrible argument. I was listening and wondering just where he was going and my head hurts at this ridiculousness. I just… what?
    Good episode, thanks all.

  29. indianajones says

    Amateur mathematics enthusiast, as opposed to mathematician here.

    e^(i(pi)) + 1 = 0 = god might actually be true after all badumtiss!

    But seriously here’s what that caller wasn’t getting. Mathematics often, though not always, has a known utility. That utility being ‘being able to describe stuff’. Whole numbers are really nice for being able to cope when you have a different number of kids this arvo than this morning because you added a few whilst baby sitting for someone else in the tribe and it’s nice to be able to keep track of how many did or did not get eaten by the local sabre tooth for instance. Moving forward in time a bit, fractions are nice so that we can easily figure out how much grain I can swap for how much tea amongst other things. And it turns out that the equation in question is part of a rather wonderful way to describe swings, springs, and alternating currenty things to name a few.

    Mathematics is objectively useful like that.

    Where it becomes truly beautiful, I think, is where it all hangs together in an absolutely provable way while still leading to other areas of inquiry and quite often to no known utility at all! Yet, very importantly. Prime numbers are about my favourite example of this. First thought about, as far as we know, as far back as 1550 BCE, I’m fairly sure that the ancient egyptians did not have ‘encryption that underpins the planet wide banking system’ at the tops of their minds. And, and here comes that important ‘Yet’, yet there it is.

    e^etc is one exceptionally pretty flower in a large and gorgeous garden that would certainly not be enhanced by hoping for fairies at the bottom of it. Thanks and apologies and you are sorely missed Douglas.

  30. Rich Wiltshir says

    Second caller, Anthony, introduced his contribution sourcing “Bible as literature” classes, but I couldn’t detect any literary context in his comments apart from the last few sentences where he suggests cultural influence on “how they had effects on the stories”. I’m puzzled that he’d get a ‘B’ for seemingly writing a religious pamphlet instead of investigating deeply.

  31. y4dar says

    Has anyone seen the podcast version pop up on their catcher? I usually see it downloaded on Monday mornings but it hasn’t shown up yet. Looking forward to listening when it does. It could be me but I wanted to check.

  32. III says

    Transcendental numbers are also “irrational”! Q.E.D. God is beyond our logic or whatever.

    “If I told you that I was going to take two transcendental numbers and multiply them by each other you would say the result also has to be transcendental”

    … who would have thought that you could multiply two “imaginary” numbers together to get a real number? But Rob has no problem with this because we learn at a young age that this describes, nevertheless, the real world. If there is nothing magical in i x i =-1…, well there is no reason to get fancier than that.

    Instead of asking “why do numbers that are derived from their usefulness in explaining the observable world (also) have an observable relationship to each other?” (which answers itself) he’d be better off cutting out the middle man and asking “why are there observable relationships in the universe?” and recognizing this familiar argument.

  33. Joe says

    The caller who brought up Euler’s equation really did not do his
    homework. If he wanted a mysterious scientific fact to claim pointed
    toward “God”, then he should have checked out the fine structure
    constant. Consider the following:  Richard Feynman, one of the originators
    and early developers of the theory of quantum electrodynamics (QED),
    referred to the fine-structure constant in these terms:

    “There is a most profound and beautiful question associated with the
    observed coupling constant, e –
    the amplitude for a real electron to emit or absorb a real photon. It
    is a simple number that has been experimentally determined to be close
    to 0.08542455. (My physicist friends won’t recognize this number,
    because they like to remember it as the inverse of its square: about
    137.03597 with about an uncertainty of about 2 in the last decimal
    place. It has been a mystery ever since it was discovered more than
    fifty years ago, and all good theoretical physicists put this number up
    on their wall and worry about it.) Immediately you would like to know
    where this number for a coupling comes from: is it related to pi or
    perhaps to the base of natural logarithms? Nobody knows. It’s one of
    the greatest damn mysteries of physics: a magic number that comes to us
    with no understanding by man. You might say the “hand of God” wrote
    that number, and “we don’t know how He pushed his pencil.” We know what
    kind of a dance to do experimentally to measure this number very
    accurately, but we don’t know what kind of dance to do on the computer
    to make this number come out, without putting it in secretly!”

    — Richard Feynman, Richard P. Feynman (1985). QED: The Strange
    Theory of Light and Matter
    . Princeton University Press.
    p. 129. ISBN 0-691-08388-6.

  34. The Sparrow says

    @Steve Ripley

    Thanks for the explanation of the math involved with PI and E.

    I figured something woo was going on there and you cleared it up.

  35. Monocle Smile says

    @Larry Wilson
    Seek professional help. Pass that along to your cult, as well.

  36. 1transport says

    This is where Rob got his idea from, via @YouTube

  37. Java says

    Theist arguments never make sense. Even if Rob’s claim proved the existence of the supernatural (it doesn’t), it still wouldn’t prove the existence of God. Even if you wanted to be extremely generous (and dishonest) and say it did, you still have a huge leap to demonstrate whether there’s one God or more than one, what its nature is, and whether it cares who you sleep with.

  38. Raoul of Bayonne says

    @Larry Wilson
    I am unconvinced by your ridiculous, made up story. I know you believe that bullshit but it doesn’t make it true.
    @Mitch S
    Enjoy the relationship now. Don’t bring up the subject of creationism, just be ready with sources for her to look up if it ever does come up. But, she has to want to find out what is true on her own. You will not change her mind. Forget about “guns blazing” it won’t work.

  39. says

    “The rot started when you guys asked for donations. Money corrupts…. For gods sake get someone in that can screen calls and manage time. Chose hosts that can keep on topic. Stop massaging the hosts egos for the first half hour. Bring back Matt.”

    You mention on-topic and off-topic calls. This isn’t so much a problem with the hosts, as a viewer disagreement. I have told callers “that’s not on-topic” and got scathing blog feedback saying I need to let people talk and even if the connection is tenuous, I should be less rigid with regard to what’s on-topic. After that, I actually made an effort to at least give the call five minutes of time to demonstrate it’s off-topic and why, rather than make the assertion and hang up on the call. I can assure everyone that “donations” have no bearing on which calls we take or keep on the line. We started mentioning people can donate *after* a viewer marketing survey ACA had done by a marketing professional. Before that survey, we had a problem. We often received questions (or had them ourselves) about our viewer demographics, but we had no actual data. It was that survey where we discovered that people watching the show wanted to support it more. Viewers said they wanted more information on how to donate/contribute—they weren’t even aware they could (when we asked on the survey if they ever had). But bear in mind, the content continues to be offered free to the public, as a community service. ACA is a nonprofit educational entity. And nobody working on the show is paid in that capacity—we’re all volunteers who do this for free, because we believe in this effort. At any rate, though, ACA followed up with the viewer responses to that survey and let people know they can support the show through donations. Consider, though, that if donations drove our content, it wouldn’t make sense for us to take or maintain calls the donating audience doesn’t want to watch. Saying that we now mention people can donate = more off-topic calls, even though it isn’t what the audience wants to see, makes no sense.

    As far as “bring back Matt”—we don’t own Matt. Matt wanted to take on other projects, and we accommodated Matt when I offered to step into a host role so Matt could travel more and Russell could have a relief person. Matt still hosts, but not as much. And that’s his choice. I actually have said repeatedly I’m not my own first pick as a show host. I do it mainly because it needs doing and to help out. As far as I’m concerned, people who want to sit in either of those chairs (host or cohost) for any reason other than community service should never be allowed to occupy those chairs.

    Just tell your girlfriend “I…just overall love the topic and talking about beliefs in general,” and ask her if she’d be up for talking about yours and hers. If so, then you’re golden. If not, then you know it’s off limits and you can drop it, but at least you asked. If she does agree, however, keep in mind that she can withdraw consent at any time. If she feels it’s not something she enjoys or wants to continue, and expresses that to you—then you have to respect that. I’ve had conversations where, literally, I’m in mid sentence when my partner says “OK, that’s enough of that.” And I reply with “OK.” And then we change the topic or do something else. It’s not an easy thing to do if you’re in the middle of a passionate discussion, but you have to be able to offer that.

  40. CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain says

    @Joe #37:

    If he wanted a mysterious scientific fact to claim pointed toward “God”, then he should have checked out the fine structure constant.
    “We know what kind of a dance to do experimentally to measure this number very accurately, but we don’t know what kind of dance to do on the computer to make this number come out, without putting it in secretly!”

    Physicists haven’t eliminated all their fudge factors, therefore God.

  41. ricardo bullemore says

    On Veganism Matt was right.
    To have a diet that include animal meat is not immoral today.
    “To be a vegan is a risk for a human life, unless the vegan in question have the time, and the money to provide himself with the nutritional elements that veganism doesn’t give him”. This I heard (more or less) by a specialized physician.
    It would be impossible to the third world (the majority of the world) to have a vegan diet today, and you can’t say they are immoral because they are eating meat. You can’t put your live in risk just for animal well-being. And there are not two moralities in human society, one for the poor and one for the rich. Once humans do all the changes to be able to provide the means for a vegan diet for most the world, then it would be right for the society to introduce this new morality to the world in this respect.

  42. ricardo bullemore says

    The cost of getting to that asteroid, taking out their resources and bringing them back to earth must be subtracted from the possible sales of those resources, then the profits at the end could be not very large.

  43. StonedRanger says

    @Larry Wilson Your entire premise starts out wrong. 45 + 45 = 90 not 92. Secondly, If jesus came back in 92, where is he? How come you are the only one who seems to know this little fact? What was this sign in the sky? Got any proof of it happening? Again, if god gave proof, how come no one knows about it but you? You actually have a picture of it, but you don’t share it? That sounds like the ole ‘I have a secret, but if I told you what it was id have to kill you’ scenario. Sounds like a delusional mess. Since you came out in public with this can you provide a link to this purported photograph? Didn’t think so.

    And as to the whole asteroid mining thing, the technology to do that doesn’t exist and people are out there talking about it like they know what the hell they are talking about. Youre all making shit up.

    @ Ricardo No one cares about veganism.

  44. Matzo Ball Soup says

    The asteroid argument was setting off my “whig history” alarm. No, it’s not necessarily true that just because technology has progressed over time, we will be able to mine quadrillions of dollars worth of iron (which…yeah. Hey dawg, I hope you like iron!). There could be a nuclear war that sends civilization back to the stone age before anyone gets the chance to mine it. Things do sometimes get worse rather than better over time, though that’s an extreme example. History is not a tale of CONSTANT PROGRESS!!, it’s just time moving forward.

  45. MP says

    I suspect most don’t understand the last caller (including the hosts).
    I believe what he’s trying to say is that there are things we will never know (and of course it’s been proven by Goedel &Turing).
    There also may be things we will never know about (like parallel / other universes) in principle.
    The problem is that we cannot empirically show their existence, we can only hypothesize about them.
    But that’s OK, he’s just giving out a hypothesis to test, namely that supernatural could be defined as these kinds of objects; that even if they existed, could not be empirically measured.
    Sometimes the word ‘metaphysical’ is used instead.

    And since ‘supernatural’ has really no good definition, I think his definition is as good as I’ve seen.

    Regarding the many mathematicians concerned about Euler formula; don’t worry. Euler’s most important formula is cos(x) + i sin(x) = exp(ix)
    And this is constructed as particularly clever analytical continuation of exponentiation.
    It is designed. By mathematicians.

    What is surprising is the fact that this math, designed by human mathematicians, gives such wonderfully correct results when applied in quantum physics. It seems like the mathematics we use is somehow more profoundly connected to the Universe as would be expected of just a method invented by us.

    This has been discussed a lot by our brightest minds (Dirac, Einstein, Feynman, ..). And is still discussed by our brightest minds.

    If you do not see the mystery here, please be advised, it may be YOUR ignorance at play, not Rob’s.

  46. Mobius says

    @33 indianajones

    Nothing in mathematics is “absolutely provable”. Godel showed us, in his Incompleteness Theorem, that any system of axioms sufficiently complex enough to model mathematics can not prove its own consistency. That is, there is always the possibility that someone will discover an inconsistency with Set Theory (or any other model of math).

    That said, we have developed an enormous amount of math over the last 150 years and no inconstancy has turned up (though there are some very counter-intuitive results that some people think are inconsistencies).

  47. Mobius says

    @36 III says

    Yes, Pi is transcendental. So is 2/Pi. But Pi * 2/Pi = 2. There is nothing surprising at all that the product of two transcendental numbers is rational.

    Oddly, the caller mentioned “product of two transcendental numbers” and then mentions E^i*Pi, which is not a product.

  48. Greg from Seattle says

    @Matzo Ball Soup

    Yeah, even if we were to attain an immense amount of resources from asteroid, the only thing that it would accomplish would be to drastically reduce the price of whatever resources were harvested. The total wealth of the world is only 280 trillion, and while having additional resources may lead to an increase in wealth if they prove to be useful, it’s not going to increase our total wealth by that much. That’s not how wealth or economics work.

    Like you said, if it’s iron, then we’ll just have a ton of iron. Also, don’t we already have an abundance of iron on our own planet?

  49. Murat says

    William did not have the slightest idea what “value” means.

    Dumbest argument to come from an atheist in the history of the show.

  50. Murat says

    I enjoyed Rob’s call.

    What he was getting at is one of the significant reasons I find positions like “hard atheism” unsubstantiated.

    Unfortunately, the hosts could not follow Rob’s train of thought well enough to provide a good argument. Maybe it also had something to do with that one being the final call on the show.

    Considering I read Rob well, also equations like 1+2+3+4+…= -1/12 or Mandelbrot sets could well have served his attempt at distinguishing “undiscovered” from “supernatural”. I don’t think he was addressing to anything “mystical”. On the contrary, his approach was “demystifying” with regards to what we (not only have not) but also “can not” discover.

    I hope another call from Rob gets answered by Matt or Russell sometime in the near future, so I can understand better if I’d be okay with being on the same page with him.

  51. Murat says

    @Lucente #25
    I just briefly checked how people had reacted to Rob’s call, and your answer seems to be the only good counter-argument, being one that addresses where he actually was coming from, and not attributing to his words any extra agendas.

  52. Robink says

    Interesting show, though I think some of the discussions could have been fleshed out a little more. For instance the ex-Muslim seemed to be trying to formulate an argument that while we evolved as social creatures this aspect of humans is no longer necessary for our survival so what is its imperative nowadays? An interesting topic to consider.

    As for the final caller (Rob?), it seems like if you throw enough word salad and move enough goal posts you eventually end up with God. I don’t know how you differentiate between what we don’t know and can’t know, or how you determine what we can’t know is evidence of the supernatural. His definition of it simply being what we can’t know doesn’t lend itself to any further analysis or signify any magical qualities or intent. It’s certainly a looooong gap between “things we can’t know” to “God”, so in short it’s no different than any god of the gaps theory.

  53. fieldmarshal says

    @ Monocle smile – in reference to a comment you made on blog for show 22.10

    ‘Fieldmarshal is trolling because he/she is butthurt about the show.
    This user has done this before. You can tell by the pathetic jumping around between “unfair” behavior and bitching about specific hosts about stuff that has jack shit to do with the topic (not to mention the incredibly unfunny joke about thermometers). It’s just ax-grinding with no intention of honest discussion.

    Ignore this fool.’

    A fool I may well be; I hope I will not be ignored as my intention is always honest discussion – I would never deliberately insult or troll any blogger here.
    What or where have I ‘done this before’?
    ‘pathetic jumping around’ were specific responses to other bloggers comments to my reply – can I not make comparison or use other rhetorical devices to illustrate a point?
    unfunny joke? – Sarcasm may be the lowest form of wit, but as a Limey I know no better – but congrats, your humour bypass was a success.

  54. indianajones says

    You are of course absolutely right, Mobius, and I was considering mentioning Godel. I just didn’t want to get lost in those sort of philosophical weeds when my central point still holds, I think. Being the descriptive, predictive and beautiful power of mathematics.

    For instances:

    I hold Pythagoras’ theorem to be absolutely provably true (on a flat surface). The commutative property of addition similarly, even if I can find an exception when rotating a 6 sided die amongst other things. I hold that the earth is an oblate spheroid even though I pretend that it is flat when I lay down a concrete building foundation and use a level.

    Just the kind of ‘holes’ in my argumentation I didn’t want to have to deal with, but oh well.

  55. Monocle Smile says


    What is surprising is the fact that this math, designed by human mathematicians, gives such wonderfully correct results when applied in quantum physics. It seems like the mathematics we use is somehow more profoundly connected to the Universe as would be expected of just a method invented by us.

    Imagine that…a tool designed for a purpose…actually fulfills that purpose! Shocking!

  56. Murat says

    @MP #49
    You seem to have interpreted Rob the way I did.
    I think he was right on the money when talking about the two buckets, but despite the good effort within that particular frame he structured, his introduction to this mathematical path as a possible “proof of God’s existence” weakened his overall credibility.
    A great deal of what he said holds water, but “proof” is something else, just like a probable God is.

  57. Fu Yee Chung says

    That’s why Matt and Traci are superior to Jen. Jen would let theists keep on spewing their nonsense forever while Matt and Traci would have stopped them long ago.

  58. Fu Yee Chung says

    I can’t believe Jen is an engineer. pi and i are mathematical constructs. A high school-er may not be able to answer why those things are not related to the supernatural, but an engineer surely can.

  59. says

    mp @ 49:

    And since ‘supernatural’ has really no good definition, I think [rob’s] definition is as good as I’ve seen.

    this sounds like a backhanded compliment. if so, i approve.

  60. Murat says

    @Fu Yee Chung
    Rob’s approach be invalid or not, you’re making a circular argument in your latest post.

  61. Joseph Sears says

    I’m wondering if religious people believe their souls have nerve endings because what would be the big deal about going to hell, you’re not going to feel anything 😉

  62. twarren1111 says

    Larry Wilson: I’m just fascinated by your thinking. Can you provide a link or something to the ideas you expressed? How does 1945 + 45 = 1992? Does it involve some irrational number? Leap years? Your statements seem a bit specific to be made up to troll the site. I’m just wondering. If you don’t respond I’ll leave it to you we’re just trolling…

    To all the hosts: thank you for your time and effort. The mix is nice. I’m partial to Tracie because I find her kind, intelligent and hilarious.

  63. Fu Yee Chung says

    @Murat #54 & #64

    pi is an irrational number, which in that sense is no different from 1 divided by 7, which Rob specifically said it amounted to be “supernatural”. I wonder what is “undiscovered” about that? And what did I say that you considered to be a “circular argument”?

  64. indianajones says

    Oh GOD I have to jump on that Fu Yee. Irrational numbers cannot be expressed in fractions. 1 divided by 7 can.

  65. indianajones says

    Fu Yee
    You are mistaken, the wikipedia article you cite is poorly worded, but also confirms this.

  66. Murat says

    @Fu Yee Chung
    About the circular argument thing:
    You wrote “Pi and i are mathematical constructs. A high school-er may not be able to answer why those things are not related to the supernatural, but an engineer surely can.”
    This was exactly why Rob was sharing his approach not with a high schooler, but with AXP hosts who could do much better at perceiving the point. They came up with “argument from ignorance”, which does not cover the issue at all, if you ask me.
    And you yourself did not provide the counter-argument which you state to expect from an engineer.
    How does pi and i being “mathematical constructs” contradict with what Rob was saying? The man’s argument was already that a definition to what is supernatural could be found via certain “mathematical constructs”.
    So, what is it that you would expect an engineer to say about this? Because you haven’t said it yet.
    Rob never claimed a calculation to “amount to supernatural”.
    I think you listened to his conversation with quite a lot of prejudice.
    In mathematics there are certain results that are proven to “work just fine” but that just do not make sense the way 2+3=5 does.
    Rob was suggesting that, the existence of such equations and the way the kind of engineering based on them works can be argued to address what is “beyond” nature.
    I find nothing dumb, unsubstantiated or ignorant about his approach.
    This does not mean, “Yes, there is that supernatural realm there and the key to it is the number 438438943943!” or something. On the contrary, he clearly stated that a further inquiry into such equations would NOT result in a “discovery”, HENCE, we may call them “supernatural”.
    It was a good argument.
    Not that it is water-proof or something, of course it can be shattered but no one yet did on this page. I found Lucente’s counter-argument remarkable in the sense that it directly addressed something Rob said. Maybe his line of thought can destroy Rob’s, but I don’t think your or the hosts’ can.
    The way I read Rob, the video below can also (maybe even better) serve his point of view.
    Please watch it and tell me why you think the two mathematicians call the result “astounding”, why they are “excited” about it and how it is different from 3 + 5 = 8.

  67. Erinn van Wynsberghe says


    I just discovered your YouTube Channel today, and wanted to share my appreciation and gratitude. You’ve done a wonderful job!

    I am watching 22.9, caller “Manda”.

    As a scientist I share your views in that I seek evidence before taking a position. But as a compassionate person, I was very impressed with how you provided your callers with what they inherently were seeking by calling in: comfort and connection with what is to them a strange and intimidating point of view. You treated your guest with respect and courtesy, and provided a valuable service, helping them to understand your worldview, how you came to your position, and why you feel it is the better position to take. Please keep up the good work!

    I truly wish that other prominent atheists in the public limelight (you can probably guess who I’m referring to) would follow your lead and seek to help people as compassionately and politely as you do to see this point of view, through a communication style that incentivizses engagement and (eventual) acquiescence and possibly event acceptance. Human beings are emotional creatures, and inherently don’t want to accept a position if they were bullied into it. No one wants to accept something if it means accepting the embarrassment of defeat as well. So you’re definitely on the right path. It is a long and slow process, though.

    I look forward to watching more.

    Have you considered offering “what if” scenarios to callers? Such as “what if you were brought up in country X or Y? You might have been raised to believe something completely different?” And: “what if instead you were raised by wolves in the forest and had never heard of religion. You wouldn’t have any beliefs whatsoever. So the reason we believe in anything is because we were raised and taught to do so. It formed our core understanding of how the world works at a formative age. Atheism, in essence, is removing the bias of what we were taught, and allowing us to make informed choices and opinions, now, today, based on evidence.”

    To share another personal anecdote, one technique I often use when questioned about my beliefs is to establish that “I don’t use the word ‘believe’. For me, there’s what I know, and what I don’t know yet. I don’t pick a conclusion until I have a reason to justify it and can prove it to others myself.”

    I haven’t looked into your funding structure, but I don’t recall seeing any indication that you accept contributions through Patreon. Please consider doing so, and/or promoting it more.

    Thanks again, and keep up the good work. Feel free to add me to your mailing lists for newsletters and things.



  68. Jasper Shemilt says

    For anyone still wondering why e ^ (i pi ) = -1 the Mathologer explains it really clearly.

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