Open thread for episode 22.34: Matt and Don


Don discusses the fraudulent tactics of “Crisis Pregnancy Centers” as described in the Austin Chronicle piece Money for Nothing.

Comments

  1. philk says

    Question for Don & Matt. Ram seemed for be experiencing an Existential Crisis (like myself) or displaying some the ‘symptoms’ of one most likely brought on by the passing of his relative. Have you ever experienced an EC yourselves and what did you do or advice can you give that got you out of that mindset?
    I’m an atheist, secular humanist. Appreciate your time. Regards, Phil

  2. David McDonald says

    I just want to say that I LOVE this show, It has helped me to think critically and examine my deeply held beliefs.
    However, I actually have a big problem with the whole abortion thing Matt said. Not because I am apposed to abortion, I’m not.

    However, when someone calls about Veganism which is another moral/ethical issue which is also about “rights” that has a direct effect on people, sentient life and especially the environment and the hosts say “This is not relevant to atheism” (which I agree, its not relevant).
    The hosts seem to be being inconsistent, that is, (what seems to be) picking and choosing what is relevant to atheism.

    The shows original purpose was to promote positive atheism and church state separation. Telling someone who brought up their concerns with this subject “hurting the cause of normalising atheism” to “watch another fucking show” Does not seem to fit with the whole promoting positive atheism thing.

    I understand that TAE is not required to be anything in particular but I was personally convinced to look at my faith and question my beliefs because of how logical and reasonable the hosts where being compared to the callers, they didn’t bring in their own opinions but rather stuck to epistemology. So although abortion for me is a non issue, I have to agree with the person who emailed in, I do think that in some ways the hosts are hurting the cause of normalising atheism.

    Purely because a line was drawn in the sand with Veganism (stating its not relevant to atheism) but then saying that abortion is… Seems logically inconsistent to me, especially because the positions of atheism and abortion are not exclusive, I know pro life atheists.

    I don’t think abortion or veganism are relevant to atheism, atheism is just a position on a single issue right? and if the show is okay with taking moral/ethical debates, it should also be okay with debating veganism right?

    Someone please correct my thinking If I am way off, I am not above changing my mind, just logically inconsistent to me (which Is what I think hurts normalising atheism).

    Besides that, great show.

  3. Monocle Smile says

    @David McDonald
    Here’s one easy explanation:
    AXP is sponsored by the ACA.
    The ACA has specific platforms on specific issues.
    Veganism is not one of them.

    The shows original purpose was to promote positive atheism and church state separation. Telling someone who brought up their concerns with this subject “hurting the cause of normalising atheism” to “watch another fucking show” Does not seem to fit with the whole promoting positive atheism thing.

    Here’s the thing…lots of butthurt people scream about how AXP hurts “normalising [sic] atheism,” but yet atheism is still on the rise, AXP enjoys its largest audience to date, and they continue to get floods of emails crediting AXP with the inspiration to find their way out of religion.

    In other words, the claim that AXP hurts “normalising atheism” needs a substantial amount of evidence to back it up, and some people upset about their pet issue writing into the show is not anywhere close to sufficient.

    P.S. The veganism discussion is the same discussion over and over again. The vegan ruins whatever possible points they could be making by telling blatant lies and deliberately using dishonest language to tug at heartstrings. I’m not convinced there’s anything to be gained by continuing to take calls. I am not someone who thinks that veganism is actually a moral/ethical issue until someone demonstrates sapience in a species that we eat.

  4. David McDonald says

    I don’t know how to format properly haha. Can someone send me a guide.

    @Monocle Smile. I agree with you that a lot of Vegans argue poorly and most have bad reasons for being vegan, much like how some atheists have bad reasons for being atheist.
    However its still a moral/ethical discussion, even just the discussion around factory farming and the environment?

    climate change deniers are laughed at on the show, but factory farming or veganism are topics not for discussing when they are leading contributors to that?

    tbh, I don’t want to turn this into a discussion on Veganism. I am just stating that for me, this seemed inconstant. AXP does HEAPS, if not the most for atheism, however, I am just bringing my perspective, If i am right, AXP can course correct, If I am wrong, I will be learn something. Win Win.

  5. mike2018 says

    Wow!, just finished watching the episode. It was awesome! Many of the points that Matt have said on this episode is fantastic, one could consider them literature of fact. I really think that he has elevated himself to the status of artist, he really is that good now. Long time fan and will continue to be. Thanks for all the awesome work everyone at ACA.

  6. Monocle Smile says

    @David McDonald

    However its still a moral/ethical discussion, even just the discussion around factory farming and the environment?

    Sure, but the next vegan caller to focus on that and only that will be the first. Almost all the vegan callers so far have been Vegan Gains-esque douches. I feel strongly about this because every time I grant to a vegan that factory farming is indeed a pestilence and thus I make an effort to eat local, I get some whiny diatribe about how I “conveniently” don’t eat factory farmed meat. They literally get upset that I agree with them on a point because that makes me harder to attack. This tells me all I need to know about engaging with these people.

    I still think my first explanation is adequate and I’m not sure why you apparently skipped over it.

  7. paxoll says

    @David,
    Three points, first is that Matt has spent quite a bit of show time talking about Veganism and morality, so you are just wrong that they draw a line and don’t talk about it.

    Second is that while Matt has talked about pretty much every topic, other hosts like Tracie have spent more time on abortion and other hosts have steered clear of the issue. So its a choice of the host on what topics they want to discuss.

    Third, don’t know of any strict vegan religions, so very few religions have a hard stance on the issue. On the other hand abortion is almost entirely religious. I have not heard of an atheist calling in to argue against abortion. The social attacks in society and legislation is driven by religion and thus it is very much a church/state separation issue.

  8. RationalismRules says

    @David McDonald
    For quoting, type this:
    <blockquote>quoted text here</blockquote>
    Note: the “/” after the quote is important. If you forget it the rest of your post will all be in blockquotes! (Pro-tip: always use the Preview button before you post your comment)
     
    Re veganism vs abortion. Abortion is an issue where people’s right to self-determination is being threatened through the law, primarily on religious grounds. That is a direct link to atheism. That link is even more apparent when you consider the ACA charter includes “promote the separation of church and state”, which legislation based on religion violates.

    There is no link at all between veganism and atheism.

    My personal opinion is that discussions about veganism are fucking boring, and fucking boring discussions are more harmful to positive atheism than inconsistency. (Yes, it’s a joke, but it’s based in truth)

  9. RationalismRules says

    @philk
    Matt D doesn’t post on the blog at all (unless he is using an assumed name). I don’t remember ever seeing a comment from Don, but that could be just my faulty memory.

    There’s plenty of other people here though. What’s bothering you in terms of you EC? Are we talking “what’s the point of anything?” sort of EC?

  10. David McDonald says

    Abortion is an issue where people’s right to self-determination is being threatened through the law, primarily on religious grounds.

    This is a good point, however the problem that I see is that some questioning theists might think that atheism mean accepting pro choice which could trigger them hard and send those mental walls right up.

    I know hard atheists who think abortions are murder and focus their energy on fighting the church’s stance on contraception etc.

    However I see your point.

  11. Monocle Smile says

    @David McDonald

    however the problem that I see is that some questioning theists might think that atheism mean accepting pro choice which could trigger them hard and send those mental walls right up.

    Don’t care. I’d rather someone become pro-choice than become an atheist. You seem to think people are incredibly stupid. Those that are dense enough to think that being atheist necessarily entails being pro-choice are not rational thinkers in the first place and still have loads of work to do. I’m not overly concerned with “converting” people who need their hands held through the thinking process.
    However, I would very much like to know what makes an atheist think abortion is murder.

  12. says

    @EnlightenmentLiberal

    To Ray
    Why has no one been able to demonstrate the effectiveness of your techniques with proper modern scientific and statistical methods, and why has no one published a proper paper in a proper journal detailing the results of such proper investigation?

    Thank you for a sensible question. I do not know the answer to that for certain but i suspect that it is because they have never read The Edinburgh Lectures due to the fact that it was published more than 100 years ago by a small publisher..

    Psychologest/Philospher William James, who is widely regarded as the father of psychology in America psychology certainly had. He said regarding Troward’s book “far and away the ablest statement of philosophy I have met, beautiful in its sustained clearness of thought and style, a really classic statement.”

  13. David McDonald says

    @Monicle Smile
    That’s great that you don’t care, thank you for sharing your opinion. I don’t really want to get into why other people consider abortion murder (because I don’t) and because I also do not care pro choice or pro life is a non issue for me, much like how veganism is a non issue for others and therefore boring.

    My original confusion has been mostly resolved by everyone’s comments.

  14. KK_Me says

    I was thinking of Matt daclaring moratorium on the slavery argument a few weeks ago when he braught it up again with the first caller. I’m glad he did, because this time it effectively demonstrated the cognitive dissonance.
    Also the ‘if you were god’ seemed to be effective as well. Someone really should publish a book like that! 😉

  15. says

    @GumB

    I came on and said, yes, exactly like all the other books about affirmations. Here’s a look at a quote from a website called TheLawOfAttraction.com:

    If those sites you mention etc. are promoting The Law of Attraction without mentioning God or God Power then they are not the same at all. The pamphlet ITWORKS makes very clear that you are directing your request or disirer to God or God power.

    Such books purely about attracting things to you with affirmations etc without mentioning God are “New Age” and should be avoided as they are a modern form of witchcraft, that’s all.

  16. Monocle Smile says

    @Troll

    Thank you for a sensible question. I do not know the answer to that for certain but i suspect that it is because they have never read The Edinburgh Lectures due to the fact that it was published more than 100 years ago by a small publisher..

    Lamest of lame excuses.
    Until this changes, your claims are worth less than nothing. Why is this impossible for you to understand? How do you think we as a species have manage to accumulate knowledge and distinguish fact from fiction? Why does the scientific method involve repeatability of results?

  17. RationalismRules says

    @David McDonald

    the problem that I see is that some questioning theists might think that atheism mean accepting pro choice which could trigger them hard and send those mental walls right up.

    I get what you’re saying but I feel it’s drawing a pretty long bow. Sure, some people have such deeply held convictions that any indication of a contrary opinion will send them running for the hills. But it’s much more the sort of reaction I would expect from someone who is at the extreme-believer / atheists-are-the-devil end of the spectrum. I can easily imagine a hard-core believer leaping to that conclusion if they heard an abortion discussion on AXP, but if someone is already questioning their theism, that seems to me an indicator that they are showing more thoughtfulness than reactivity.
    All speculation, obviously.
     
    I second MS on this:

    I would very much like to know what makes an atheist think abortion is murder.

  18. says

    @Monocle Smile

    Lamest of lame excuses.
    Until this changes, your claims are worth less than nothing. Why is this impossible for you to understand? How do you think we as a species have manage to accumulate knowledge and distinguish fact from fiction? Why does the scientific method involve repeatability of results?

    As the scientific method completely excludes God, true scientific prayer as outlined in ITWORKS is never tested is the answer to your question. The blame for this is religions and not science. Religions have given God a bad name.

  19. philk says

    @RationalismRules
    Yeah sort of. I realise there’s plenty of evidence the universe has no real purpose, it just is. So I wouldnt bother trying to figure the universe out. Dan Dennett has said to find something that’s bigger than yourself or makes you happy & pursue it (I’m paraphrasing) which is good way of looking at it. I’ve had work colleagues suggest religion (like that has any answers) & I said I’m already confused, I dont need to add religious BS to it. Guess it’s something most ppl go throught & either learn to live with it, find something to give them a meaning like Dan or live in blissful ignorance by not ‘over-thinking’

  20. paganbaby says

    I understand 100% where Matt was going on the McCain thing and while I would not wish brain cancer on my worst enemy, McCain was pretty much as bad a human as Bill Donohue is. Forget Palin, and his war-mongering, his endorsement of George Wallace’s racist son, his opposition to MLK Day until it became politically expedient to flip flop, his corruption re the S&L scandal—forget all of it even though this is just the tip of the turdberg of his politics—and reflect on what kind of man he was just towards his own wife:

    “In his 1992 Senate bid, McCain was joined on the campaign trail by his wife, Cindy, as well as campaign aide Doug Cole and consultant Wes Gullett. At one point, Cindy playfully twirled McCain’s hair and said, “You’re getting a little thin up there.” McCain’s face reddened, and he responded, “At least I don’t plaster on the makeup like a trollop, you cunt.” McCain’s excuse was that it had been a long day. If elected president of the United States, McCain would have many long days.”
    This was denied by the McCain campaign flaks but confirmed by three witnesses.

  21. RationalismRules says

    @philk
    First, a quick gallop through my personal philosophy:

    Purpose:
    I’ve never been too bothered about needing a ‘purpose’ – enjoying life has been sufficient purpose to me. Although, now in my 50s, I’m looking back at my chosen career and feeling my work contributed very little of substance to the world. That’s kind of an EC I guess. If I had my time over I’d definitely pick a more meaningful career – that’s one way of creating purpose.

    Meaning:
    “Does my life have meaning?” – the other big EC question. I find it easier to think about this one in terms of ‘value’ rather than ‘meaning’. It’s essentially the same question with a little less baggage, and I find it easier to get my head around.
    I see my life as having value on three levels:
    personal: my life has value to me, because I enjoy it (mostly)
    interpersonal: my life has value to those who care about me, because they care about me
    societal: my life has value to society/humanity/the planet, because of what I contribute. We tend to think of contribution to society in big terms, but it doesn’t have to be. Even if you just smile at someone and they smile back, you have brightened their day, and that is a contribution to humanity. This ties in to what Matt was saying on the show about taking credit for good things you do, not just taking responsibility for bad things.
     
    Other people’s philosophies…
    There’s a book that some of the AXP hosts participated in, A Better Life, which talks about how they find purpose and meaning in their lives, if you’re interested in other perspectives. Tracie, Matt and Martin Wagner are in it, possibly some other AXPs, and lots of other famous atheists – Penn & Teller, Dawkins, Sean Carroll etc. (It’s discounted on the website – cheaper than the current Amazon price).
    The author, Chris Johnson, has been on AXP a couple of times – episodes 21.20 and #885 – talking about the book.
    There’s also a podcast on the website.
     
    From a practical perspective…
    I was thinking similarly to what you quoted from Dennett, although I was not so much thinking ‘bigger than yourself’, but simply ‘other than yourself’. ECs can be similar to depression (and can be linked) – both tend to focus inwards. Just being aware of that, and finding ways to change your focus outward may help. It may also help to look into things that are known to be helpful to depression – exercise, mindfulness, focusing on others (eg. volunteering)
     
    That’s what I’ve got. Hopefully some others will join in.

  22. indianajones says

    @Everyone but Ray

    I have a suggestion for dealing with this particular obvious Troll. We make a pact that we will confine it to one spot, If it posts, we will not respond anywhere but thread 22-33.

    Perhaps we can make its spewings look even more and yet sillier, whilst seeing if it is even pretending to pay attention to any potential replies any more.

    Eh, just a thought.

  23. says

    QUESTION TO THE ROOM

    Which of the following belief systems is the more REASONABLE?

    One that asserts thatthat everything, the Universe in its entirety, came into existence with no pre-existing cause, as Mr Krauss is suggesting in the title of his book

    Or one that asserts that the Universe came into existence through pre-existing LIGHT(energy) acting upon itself to cause the expansion we refer to as big bang?

  24. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    To Ray

    One that asserts thatthat everything, the Universe in its entirety, came into existence with no pre-existing cause, as Mr Krauss is suggesting in the title of his book

    Or one that asserts that the Universe came into existence through pre-existing LIGHT(energy) acting upon itself to cause the expansion we refer to as big bang?

    Honestly, either seem equally plausible. I have no reason to favor one or the other. Also, note that the modern scientific community has not endorsed either position.

    If you don’t have that kind of evidence, then what convinced you in the first place? For me, I am an empiricist and a skeptic, which means that I generally need good reasons to positively believe that something is true. If you don’t have proper scientific, observable, demonstrable, falsifiable evidence, claims, and reasons, then what do you have? And what convinced you? And have you considered that maybe you shouldn’t have been convinced in the first place by this “flimsy” evidence and reason? What specifically convinced you of the truth of the claim that you can heal people of diseases through magic, or whatever it is that you’re claiming? What right now convinces you of the truth of the claim that you can heal people of diseases through magic, or whatever it is that you’re claiming?

    As Matt says, what do you believe, and why do you believe it? You’ve spent a lot of time answering the first question, but almost no time answering the second question. And don’t give me “you have to try it for yourself” – not happening. If you cannot explain what convinced you in the first place, then I’m not interested.

    As the scientific method completely excludes God, true scientific prayer as outlined in ITWORKS is never tested is the answer to your question. The blame for this is religions and not science. Religions have given God a bad name.

    The scientific method does not exclude god. To use the possibly aopcryphical quote of LaPlace where he answers the question “why didn’t you mention god in your great work on the movement of the bodies of the heavens?”, he answered “I had no need of that hypothesis”. The scientific method does not rule out god a-priori. The scientific method is quite well suited to dealing with gods and other supernatural claims. Simply, to this point, we haven’t been presented with anything remotely close to compelling evidence that a god even exists, and we have lots of circumstantial evidence that there are no gods of any kind. For further reading, I strongly suggest this paper:

    How not to attack Intelligent Design Creationism: Philosophical misconceptions about Methodological Naturalism
    Maarten Boudry, Stefaan Blancke, Johan Braeckman
    (final draft – to appear in Foundations of Science)

    https://sites.google.com/site/maartenboudry/teksten-1/methodological-naturalism

    I don’t know what you mean by “ITWORKS”. I’m not going to search the rest of your posts to figure out what that means. If you want me to know, explain it to me, and provide a link or something please. However, we have tested prayer several times in a proper scientific method. Someone else in the previous thread linked you to some of the evidence. Thus far, prayer has come back as “ineffective” and “equivalent to a placebo”.

    More broadly, I have never seen any evidence whatsoever in favor of any such thing as supernatural, spiritual, or magical. You’re going to need to hit me with some rather strong evidence and reason if you want to sway my mind because I have such a large amount of background evidence that such things do not exist. In the history of humanity, materialistic reasons have worked countless times to explain our shared reality, and countless times purported supernatural and spiritual claims were shown to be false and replaced with working materialistic explanations. The pattern is bright as day for anyone to see: the supernatural and the spiritual probably doesn’t exist.

    And it could have been otherwise. We could be living in a world where there are lots of wizards that can cast fireball,

    https://www.d20pfsrd.com/classes/core-classes/wizard/

    https://www.d20pfsrd.com/magic/all-spells/f/fireball/

    who sell their services in local shops, just like a barber sells their services in local shops. However, that’s not the world that we live in. The world we live in seems to be completely lacking supernatural, spiritual, and other magical stuff.

  25. says

    What convinced my was my reason. Without light there can be no life on this planet. Darkness is nothing in and of itself. It is the absence of something, i.e. light.

    I believe it is reasonable to assert, therefore that the primal energy of life is Light.

  26. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    That doesn’t make any sense to me. I don’t see how that relates to anything. Again, what convinced you that you can heal people through magic, or whatever it is that you’re claiming?

  27. says

    That doesn’t make any sense to me. I don’t see how that relates to anything. Again, what convinced you that you can heal people through magic, or whatever it is that you’re claiming?

    I never made any claim that I personally could heal anyone of anything at all.

  28. bluestar says

    Caller #1 Dave from Oklahoma. This guy has called before, last time Matt “goodbeyed” him. I have noticed that during the “is faith a reliable path to truth” discussion with different callers, when a theist brings in the bible Matt seemingly by default goes to Exodus 21 demonstrating the amoral content therein. I have seen a couple of other AXP hosts take the same tack. I wonder why instead of going into another room that opens a debate on slavery/morality, is there a more effective way to demonstrate faith not being a reliable path to truth? For example; Theist claims it is a reliable path and brings in the bible. I ask what about other religions such as Muslims, Hindus, Mormons….they say their book is the word of G~d and hold just as much faith in it as you do in your bible. Theist will say they are wrong, or it’s a false religion, or something similar. The debate is over at this point. Faith cannot be a reliable path to truth if one can be right and 2 or 3 or whatever more are wrong. Just MHO.

  29. rune1im says

    My husband is proof that xtianity’s warped views from the bible unduly influenced society. He was NOT raised in a religious household, believes in “woo-woo” type of deism and is “put off” by gays. He grew up in a culture (United States) that deemed being gay as immoral and unmanly (never mind about lesbians) and still can’t fully shake that sick philosophy completely, despite my gentle influence and hope he will drop it.

    So I have no idea what that email-writer was talking about. LGBTQ issues have everything to do with theism and it is most definitely a topic atheists/humanists tend to want to discuss due to nature of thinking atheists recognizing there is nothing unnatural about it. SMDH….

  30. says

    @David McDonald

    In my view (and it’s a view that I have had to defend at times against others on this blog) atheism is a single issue. The lack of belief in a god.

    If you want to be a vegan and atheist, do it. Or eat meat.. up to you really. The choice of what you eat is up to you. What I don’t see is religious people insisting meat be illegal for everyone because of their beliefs.

    Abortion remains relevant to “the atheist movement” because of people who would impose their religious opposition to abortion on those who don’t share their religion. The whole focus of the atheist movement is to stop particular religions applying their rules to everyone, so that’s quite relevant.

    However, being atheist doesn’t preclude you from being pro life. Or for that matter, being conservative politically.

    One other thing though. Vegans from time to time attempt to hijack the show and the blog. For that reason, easier to just nip it in the bud.

  31. einyv says

    @Ray
    “Without light there can be no life on this planet.”

    False. There is no light at the bottom of the oceans yet it is teaming with life.

    So, the justification for your belief is factually wrong. Therefore, you should change your belief. But I suspect you will comeback with a clarification moving the goal post.

  32. devocate says

    @einyv: “False. There is no light at the bottom of the oceans yet it is teaming with life.”

    Not the best example. There is plenty of light (as defined by electro-magnetic radiation) at the bottom of the ocean. Nor is the bottom of the ocean isolated from other parts of it, so food moves from the top to the bottom. Nor is it clear that there would be any liquid water if the sun was providing no light.

  33. einyv says

    Regarding veganism and atheism,

    I think if there ever comes a time where Vegan extremists try to get legislation passed to restrict consumers right to eat other animals is where you might get a possible link to an atheist platform even if i think it would be tenuous at best.

    As others have already stated we can talk about factory vs non factory farming and the cruelty involved in the factory farming but as already stated it is never enough. I see it from vegan friends all the time, if you give an inch they try try to take a mile.

  34. einyv says

    @devocate
    I highly doubt he was referring to electro-magnetic radiation but was referring to visible light. I say this because he said ” Darkness is nothing in and of itself. It is the absence of something, i.e. light.” Although now that you gave him an out he can just come back and say yeah, that is what i meant all along, which would be BS. We know there is water on moons in our solar system too far out where the sun would provide enough energy to allow liquid water but it exists through other means (gravity pull between 2 objects on the moon causing the friction to generate)

  35. t90bb says

    23….Indiana

    Brilliant idea. I will only address the “plan” by the deluded one” aka Ray on the previous weeks thread. As of now it really is undeserving of much ongoing attention.

    I have pointed out repeatedly that unless “the plan” can be demonstrated effective to substantiate itself by group testing that Ray expressed enthusiasm for then is cannot be taken seriously. Ray has Unlimited Power to get that done. Once he does…I am a believer!

    Lastly..another failing of “the plan” is Rays failure to connect to TAE in the face of his expressed desire to do so.. Perhaps he does not want to embarrass himself further. Can not say I blame him.

    If Ray brings up issues unrelated…I (we?) may or may not respond to him on current boards. But I think Indiana has a fantastic idea. It sure seems to me that Ray loves the attention and is probably lonely . Unless he is willing to use his Unlimited Power to demonstrate his claims I see no reason his silly dog and pony show should detract from current, more interesting, and testable claims. He was given a very good chance to demonstrate his claim but his Unlimited Powers just seem, well…….limited.

    So you will not have me address the “plan” on any other thread but the last. I hope you will join me, but understand if you have other ideas.

    I thought this weeks show was solid. Love you guys! (even you Ray!)

  36. einyv says

    @Shaun

    lol, I should have said facebook acquaintance but was too lazy to type it. Outside of facebook, little interaction and when we do (usually as animal adoption events) food is not involved and stay away from those conversations.

  37. says

    @einyv

    If you are trying to prove that dark is not the negation of light, or if you are trying to prove that life can be sustained independently of energy, in a vacuum so to speak; or if you are trying to prove that darkness has properties of some kind making it causation; even if you were able to prove any of these absurdities where true to other athiests in order support your lack of belief, it would make no difference because my question is an appeal to REASON.,

  38. Sreenivasan says

    I am a great fan of this show, but this is the first time I am posting something here. I am from India, and an atheist, who would like to point Ram to an essay titled “Why I am an atheist” by Bhagat Singh. Ram will obviously know who this person was, but to those who don’t, Bhagat Singh was a renowned Freedom Fighter in India’s quest for independence from British rule. Most Indians tend to just ignore the fact that Bhagat Singh was an atheist, it is difficult for them to accept this, but Ram may find a connection, for this great man was also born a Sikh, just like him.

    I would be glad to help Ram in anyway I can if he would get in touch. I have listened to his calls in a couple of previous episodes and feel we could have some fruitful discussions.

  39. Monocle Smile says

    @Ray

    As the scientific method completely excludes God, true scientific prayer as outlined in ITWORKS is never tested is the answer to your question. The blame for this is religions and not science. Religions have given God a bad name.

    This is not an answer to my question at all. This is a poor excuse for zero success.

    I never made any claim that I personally could heal anyone of anything at all.

    This is avoiding the question.
    Why can’t anyone regrow limbs, alter the climate, levitate shit, or do anything similarly extraordinary?

  40. einyv says

    @ray I pointed out what i was addressing and considering i didn’t say any of those things,it is irrelevant. I pointed out there is life in the darkness of the oceans since at face value you are talking about visible light other wise why say light and instead just keep it to energy? So based on what you said your reason was faulty. You may have been appealing to something, it just was not reason.

  41. philk says

    @RationalismRules
    Thanks that was helpful. I agree EC is decidedly inward but that may be the point. Regardless I’m totally going to get a Better Life which I think I have heard once or twice mentioned but until now definitely wouldn’t have resonated with me. Thanks again
    Oh and to everyone else: just the biggest hurt you can inflict on trolls is to be ignored. Peace!

  42. David Ewers says

    About the first caller who was named David from Oklahoma. He tried to say that exodus 21 was man’s law, But i bet he would say

    Leviticus 18:22 says:

    “ Do not lie with a man as one lies with a woman; it is an abomination. ”
    is god’s law.

  43. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    To Ray.

    I read some of it.
    http://www.winnersworld.com/motivational/R_H_Jarrett.pdf

    There is no need to analyze how this Power within you is going to
    accomplish your desires. Such a procedure is as unnecessary as
    trying to figure out why a grain of corn placed in fertile soil shoots up
    a green stalk, blossoms and produces an ear of corn containing
    hundreds of grains, each capable of doing what the one grain did. If
    you will follow this definite plan and carry out the three simple rules,
    the method of accomplishment will unfold quite as mysteriously as
    the ear of corn appears on the stalk, and in most cases much sooner
    than you expect.

    I said that I am a scientist and a skeptic. This is the exact opposite position of science and skepticism. Consequently, I have to reject it out of hand. If you have something else that speaks to my inner scientist and skeptic, then I might be interested, but I have to call shenanigans on your stuff due to its complete abandonment of the principles and values of science and skepticism.

    The Omnipotent Power within you does not enter into any controversial
    argument.
    It is waiting and willing to serve when you are ready
    , but
    you objective mind is so susceptible to suggestion that it is almost
    impossible to make any satisfactory progress when surrounded by
    skeptics. Therefore, choose your friends carefully and associate with
    people who now have some of the things you really want, but
    do not
    discuss your method of accomplishment with them.

    Oh wow – it also tells you to abandon your skeptic friends too because they are liable to call shenanigans on it, and rightly so.

    In short, this is nothing new. We’ve seen it before, i.e. The Secret. It’s an obvious con and/or it’s from a pitiful person who is completely deluded. I don’t know why i spent as much time on you as I have. It wasn’t even that interesting or fun.

  44. Daniel Ocean says

    @bluestar

    I had the same thought and so I decided to try it out myself. It doesn’t really work. Why? You actually already said it…

    Theist will say they are wrong, or it’s a false religion, or something similar.

    You’re right that it’s not a valid argument, but it doesn’t matter. You’re giving them the opportunity to dismiss the argument because they can write it off as some other wrong religion. “Of course that religion isn’t a reliable path to truth. But MY religion is! Better to force them to confront what is in the religion they actually believe.

    The reason that the Exodus example is so effective is because it allows you to lean on the moral underpinnings that people naturally have. Slavery and rape are so obviously abhorrent that you can show individuals don’t need the Bible to be moral: they’re already more moral than the Bible. It’s also a twofer because you can show them that they actually believe a subtle form of moral relativism: morality is determined by God and God apparently changes his mind and is a huge asshole. Does it put them on the defensive? Yes, and that forces them to move beyond their sermon fed talking points.

    FOR EVERYONE: I’m not sure why but my line breaks are not showing in preview or when I post. Is anyone else having this issue? I tried the element code but no luck.

  45. Theisntist says

    There are certainly vegan religions, including many forms of Buddhism, but those tend to be pacifist sects that don’t generally tell others what to do.

    For the most part, veganism’s relationship to atheism is the opposite of abortion, many of the mores with which we justify our present treatment of animals come from our religious indoctrination, for instance the belief that God put those animals here for us to use as we wish, and that we are on a completely different level in the hirearchy of life. Once we throw out our indoctrination we must reevaluate those justifications. (The right to die is another example of an issue that looks different when you throw religion out of the equation.)

    My non-theistic view is that aborting a fetus before it has brainwaves is less of a moral dilemma than eating a typical hamburger, since the steer is capable of suffering. That doesn’t make me a vegan, but it does make me a proponent of treating food animals more humanely.

  46. says

    @Monocle Smile

    Why can’t anyone regrow limbs, alter the climate, levitate shit, or do anything similarly extraordinary?

    One could speculate as to why people CANNOT do things endlessly.

    As I myself have never made any claim that anyone can do the things you have suggested I hardly think it is relevant to this conversation.

  47. says

    @EnlightenmentLiberal

    I said that I am a scientist and a skeptic. This is the exact opposite position of science and skepticism. Consequently, I have to reject it out of hand. If you have something else that speaks to my inner scientist and skeptic, then I might be interested, but I have to call shenanigans on your stuff due to its complete abandonment of the principles and values of science and skepticism.

    That is your prerogative. How could you ever know if IT WORKS or not if you are not even willing to try it?

    It is by no means like The Secret or any other New Age teaching. The author of IT WORKS makes it crystal clear that you are directing your request (prayer) to GOD or the God Power within you. New Age teaching does not do this but is itself an attempt to magnetize the forces of nature, so to speak, in order to achieve a desired result. Even if it were possible to do that, and I have no good reason to believe it is, then all you would have become is a witch (or warlock) and you would have a witch/warlock’s reward awaiting you.

  48. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    That is your prerogative. How could you ever know if IT WORKS or not if you are not even willing to try it?

    I’ve never actually tried to fly by jumping off a tall building and flapping my arms as wings. However, I’m pretty sure that I know what the result would be.

    That is a pithy reply, yes, but it perfectly captures my current attitude and beliefs about your claims.

    The author of IT WORKS makes it crystal clear that you are directing your request (prayer) to GOD or the God Power within you. New Age teaching does not do this but is itself an attempt to magnetize the forces of nature, so to speak, in order to achieve a desired result. Even if it were possible to do that, and I have no good reason to believe it is, then all you would have become is a witch (or warlock) and you would have a witch/warlock’s reward awaiting you.

    Don’t care.

    Again, you still haven’t answered the question – why do you think that it works? Because it’s worked for you? Do you know what the word “bias” means in the context of statistical analysis? Do you know anything at all about statistics and empirical analysis?

    I say again – if what you say is true, then you should be able to gather evidence to support your claim. Given that you and your movement seemingly cannot, thus I (tentatively) conclude that your claims are false.

  49. RationalismRules says

    @Daniel Ocean

    God apparently changes his mind

    Yes, but not on the slavery issue.

    I like this approach: “If your morality is dependent on the bible, how do you decide which parts of the bible are moral and which are not?”
     
    [FYI, if you want to put in a larger space between paragraphs (like the one above this line) multiple returns won’t work, use “&nbsp;” on the empty line. Also, this gap will show up in preview.]

  50. bluestar says

    Well the preacher kept right on saying that all I had to do was send
    Ten dollars to the church of the Sacred Bleeding Heart Of Jesus
    Located somewhere in Los Angeles, California
    And next week they’d say my prayer on the radio
    And all my dreams would come true
    So I did, the next week, I got a prayer with a girl
    Well, you know what kind of eyes she got, well I’ll tell ya
     
    So if you’re down on your luck
    I know you all sympathize
    Find a girl with far away eyes
    And if you’re downright disgusted
    And life ain’t worth a dime
    Get a girl with far away eyes

  51. RationalismRules says

    @Theisntist

    many of the mores with which we justify our present treatment of animals come from our religious indoctrination, for instance the belief that God put those animals here for us to use as we wish, and that we are on a completely different level in the hirearchy of life. Once we throw out our indoctrination we must reevaluate those justifications.

    I have a problem with this point, because it seems to be along the same lines of rune1im’s homophobia argument in #33, that our attitude to the subject draws on cultural ideas that spring primarily from religion. I can accept that in the case of homophobia as I’m unaware of any non-religious root for that attitude/behavior, but it doesn’t make any sense in relation to meat-eating. We eat meat because we evolved as omnivores, like many of our fellow primates, not because religion told us we were special. We don’t need to ‘justify’ eating meat – our biology does that for us.

    (Apologies if I’m misunderstanding your point. I accept that creationists make those arguments, but your use of ‘mores’ seems to link meat-eating to a cultural/religious source, which seems to me to be putting effect before cause.)
    @nbsp;

    My non-theistic view is that aborting a fetus before it has brainwaves is less of a moral dilemma than eating a typical hamburger, since the steer is capable of suffering. That doesn’t make me a vegan, but it does make me a proponent of treating food animals more humanely.

    Agreed. Exactly.

  52. cristina says

    I get sick of the comments about dumb white people who can’t tell the difference between Sikhs and Muslims and about how brown religions are so much more “positive” than Christianity. They’re not. They need to be called out the same as Christianity does.

  53. GumB. says

    I think it would be remiss for people to not connect our current ecological crisis’ (plural) with the religious attitude that humans are not symbiotically connected or even, frankly, the same stuff as nature. It’s a huge deal, as we are now learning, to cast off the natural world as being superfluous and here for the sole purpose of unlimited human exploitation. No indigenous culture that civilization has ever encountered (before it exterminated it or assimilated it) has ever expressed this same attitude; the idea definitely came from the religious culture that emerged out of the middle east and slowly spread out over the world and became what we now call global civilization. Humans matter, only; that’s not an attitude encountered in any indigenous culture anywhere. Their various different creation stories, even if scientifically inaccurate, always pointed them toward nature and included them in it, not pointed them away and disassociated them from it. Those cultures could also reconcile eating food while maintaining a reverence for it that kept them from committing ecocide.

     
    It’s bizarre to me to hear people say they don’t see how that has anything to do with the millennia of religious influence on our culture and it’s scorched earth approach to the natural world. Of course that’s where the attitude came from. However, I’m also starting to realize in my short time here that this blog has some pretty narrow definitions of what constitutes a ‘not boring’ beef with the church. That’ll keep you from observing lot’s of things about the religious based culture you’re intrinsically enmeshed within.

     
    Just my 2 cents. I realize it’s a topic people won’t want to address here. It amazes me how blind we can sometimes be to where the worldviews we hold originated from before we became infused with them by growing up in our societies … even if you’ve never set foot in church your whole life. It’s actually my number one beef with religion. To think it’s not an issue for this blog is useful information for me going forward. I’m glad this topic came up. (To me it’s not about veganism, or even about humaneness; it’s about ecocide of the biosphere that sustains us along with the rest of all life on earth. Something that’s quite irrelevant to religious culture.)

  54. Monocle Smile says

    @GumB

    I think it would be remiss for people to not connect our current ecological crisis’ (plural) with the religious attitude that humans are not symbiotically connected or even, frankly, the same stuff as nature

    I definitely agree. In fairly recent Congressional hearings about climate change, we had Congressmen fucking reading Bible passages into the record to justify doing absolutely nothing.

    However, I think this is unrelated to the topic of vegan callers into AXP. After hearing about four different vegan calls, they are all merely shades of “I’m vegan, therefore you are bad and I am good.” There’s no point in taking such calls. If someone wants to call in and talk about ecocide as one of the failures of Christianity, I’m all ears.

  55. GumB. says

    Thanks for that clarification, Monocle Smile. Very helpful. I guess I only know one vegan, and they do it for dietary reasons and sometimes say they want to crawl over me to eat the meat that I’m eating. Somehow they just seem to not be able to tolerate it health wise, for whatever reason. I really appreciate you making this distinction for me. I’ve never heard them make the ethical argument, but I have heard that others do base their veganism on that. Thanks.

  56. Robink says

    @bluestar

    I actually agree that while it’s always fun to see Matt taking apart theists over the slavery issue and watching the mental gymnastics that ensue it diverged from what the caller was actually talking about and I fear they probably came away from this calling feeling like their point stands and confused about why slavery was brought up at all.

    @Ray

    “Without light there can be no life on this planet. Darkness is nothing in and of itself. It is the absence of something, i.e. light.

    I believe it is reasonable to assert, therefore that the primal energy of life is Light.”

    I have no clue what this has to do with anything? Every biologist will agree that an environment with some form of light and heat is a requirement for life as we currently know it. And?
    As for your question of where the universe comes from, how is “light acting upon itself” a reasonable explanation and where did this light itself come from? Because this sounds to me like yet another variant of Kalam special pleading.

    Also, can someone tell me what the hell “scientific prayer” is supposed to be?

  57. CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain says

    @Robink #62:

    can someone tell me what the hell “scientific prayer” is supposed to be?

    Comment: AXP 22.33 – CA7746 #66
    Comment: AXP 22.33 – CA7746 #171

  58. J.F. Bérubé says

    What is your Discord URL? Maybe you should post it in youtube on the page of each show.

  59. Theisntist says

    One problem with religion is that it codifies a generation’s biases and slows down our progress to a more enlightened society. No one will ask if it is moral to mistreat a race, sex or species if it’s already been ordained by God to be so.

  60. says

    “many of the mores with which we justify our present treatment of animals come from our religious indoctrination, for instance the belief that God put those animals here for us to use as we wish, and that we are on a completely different level in the hirearchy of life”

    Not in my world. In my world that is simply an attempt to make the whole veganism argument relevant to atheism. You’re drawing a long bow.

  61. RationalismRules says

    @GumB.
    I don’t disagree that the primacy-of-man attitude contributes to our disastrous attitude to the ecology, especially currently, but I don’t rank it anywhere near as significantly as you do historically. I think population growth, the industrial revolution, and human greed are far more significant.

    Also, I don’t consider the debate around meat-eating irrelevant to my world-view. I’m interested in all the arguments – environment, economics, health, ethics – when the discussion is good. Which is isn’t, usually. Perhaps because vegans are, in effect, the extremists on the issue. Extremists don’t tend to make the most nuanced or balanced arguments, and that’s exactly what happens when they turn up on this blog.
    My joke was (in my mind) a reference to the quality of discussion, rather than the subject, but I accept that I didn’t convey that at all.

    I pretty much agree with all of MS’s post.

  62. says

    “I can accept that in the case of homophobia as I’m unaware of any non-religious root for that attitude/behavior, ”

    Let me preface this comment by saying I am strongly supportive of gay rights.

    On this issue I can see the non religious roots to it. I can imagine people who find the idea of sexual acts between two men repulsive. They also can’t understand, since they find it repulsive, why anyone would want to do it, therefore it must be wrong.

    I think this is why there is a strong distinction between conservatives and progressives on such issues. By and large, conservatives are incapable of thinking beyond their own experience; if they don’t find something of value, neither should you. By contrast, as we all know, progressives go, “it’s not my thing but if it floats your boat, that’s your business”.

    I can understand feelings of disgust of you go down the path of visualizing gay sex if you’re not gay. But then nor am I particularly fond of visualizing sex with heterosexual couples I know, or the big one (sorry for this) imagining your parents having sex.

  63. Paul Money says

    @Ray
    “Without light there can be no life on this planet. Darkness is nothing in and of itself. It is the absence of something, i.e. light.
    I believe it is reasonable to assert, therefore that the primal energy of life is Light.”

    “that the Universe came into existence through pre-existing LIGHT(energy) acting upon itself to cause the expansion we refer to as big bang?”

    How do we square this nonsense with Ray’s claim that he is a scientist?

  64. GumB. says

    @RationalismRules

     

    I think population growth, the industrial revolution, and human greed are far more significant.

     
    I’ve read some pretty profound summarized analysis made from all of our collective anthropology to date that lays waste to that argument based upon a much larger dataset. It exposes a stark change, a distinct line in the sand, that took place much farther back in time than the industrial revolution. The industrial revolution and the ecological disaster of taking up fossil fuel use is just one ecological issue, but it’s not the singular event. By that time, the tracks in the ground had already demonstrated a long history of a single culture that enacted a ‘scorch the earth and move on into some other guys land’ approach to living.

     
    I can’t disagree more strongly with your phrasing of it as ‘human greed’ (implying a species wide characteristic) when the anthropology clearly demonstrates that it was actually one culture of humans that radically changed their entire behavioral approach to living at a very distinct point in history and started leaving behind evidence of things like greed and systemic aggression toward their fellow members of the human family.

     
    I fully agree with your idea that an unstable population explosion was a factor. But after asking why it was that for 3 million years of hominid evolution our numbers remained relatively stable, including 250,000 years as our current variation of the homo sapiens gene even … it asked why now, why suddenly after this one distinct point did population explode, and only in one anthropologically distinct culture too. The evidence clearly points to a single culture and destroys the current myth of our time that this is just basic human nature. These strange behaviors didn’t show any signs of appearing in any of the other homo sapien cultures that also used to exist before the this one culture rooted them out and eliminated them as it burnt out it’s own ecological resources and needed to invade and take ‘the others’ resources. The point here is that what the anthropological evidence shows is that it was one culture that changed, and that the ‘oh, it’s just human nature’ trope is false.

     
    But arguing this and pointing out all the physical evidence for this is far beyond the scope of what’s possible on this blog. It’s only even just a curiosity that along the way shortly after this psychopathy emerged in this one distinct culture of the human family, that all the salvation religions emerged, likely as a way to try and rationalize this cultures bizarre behavior to itself. An even more bizarre twist is how it appears as though some of it’s bible may have actually been verbal war propaganda, told by this cultures enemies, that over several thousand years became confused and adopted as being it’s own creation story.

     
    Why isn’t this information from physical anthropology more widely known and disseminated? I don’t know, too inconvenient do you suppose? Why do people still think Indians scalped the European settlers when it was actually the other way around and was the way the ‘settlers’ collected their bounty, it’s right there in the US army records for anyone to go read. So why do we think the opposite? It’s because of revisionist history that we think the myths about ourselves that we do. But the physical evidence of a different story is out there. Most people just avoid the story is all. This wasn’t human nature; it was just the nature of a single cultural offshoot. The native Americans called him ‘the wetiko’; (the cannibal.) And all of what I described had already been going on for thousands of years before the Europeans even came to America, by the way. I’m actually casting a much wider net here than just that. You’re talking 200 years of history. I’m talking ten thousand.

     
    Imagine that, hey? An anthropological look at our own culture and it’s physical tracks. Why do we never hear about that, hey? I know why, it’s obvious why nobody is waving this information around. But people have looked you know. I’m sure you’ll disagree with what the evidence demonstrates here. After all, it’s a pretty damning conclusion, and one without a very clear solution either, other than the obvious evolutionary one.

  65. RationalismRules says

    @GumB.
    Re: the anthropology study. It sounds very interesting, and I would like to read it. Please give us a citation.
     
    Re: ‘human greed’, I didn’t intend it as a species-wide characteristic, I intended it to refer to greedy individuals, but I accept your point about the implication. It’s worth noting though, that you’ve made exactly the same error in attributing it to a culture – implying that it’s a culture-wide characteristic. Can we agree on “greedy individuals”?
     
    Re: population explosion. Population started to rise with the advent of sophisticated agriculture, but it really kicked off after the industrial revolution. Advances in medicine leading to us getting better at not dying: more humans living longer and making more humans. Exponential growth. graph – US LIbrary of Medicine
     
     

    I’m sure you’ll disagree with what the evidence demonstrates here.

    I don’t like being accused of intellectual dishonesty. Please show me where you’ve previously seen me ignore / reject evidence.

    You know what’s ironic about this? It’s exactly the same bullshit tactic Ray pulled on me:

    It’s not a rhetorical question by the way, but I’m sure you will treat it as such

    (I had addressed every question of Ray’s prior to that point, and I continued to address every question after it)

    Also, you’re preemptively accusing me of ignoring evidence that you haven’t even provided. You’ve told me about some things you’ve read. That’s interesting, but it’s not evidence to anyone else but you until you direct us to those sources. (aka “citation please”).

  66. GumB. says

    @RationalismRules

    I apologize for using a literary device to try and accentuate my observation based on past experiences that most often people will automatically reject evidence psychologically that deeply disrupts their worldview about themselves. Sorry for the implication.

     
    After debating this for years with people and only ever being met with deep cultural hubris eventually, I actually don’t care to discuss it any further. Libraries are filled with volumes of anthropological data. If you’re curious, I invite you to look into it. I’m not going to walk you through it though, not any further than the introduction I’ve (probably mistakenly) given to the subject here. Like I implied already, from what I’ve seen here so far, I think it’s far beyond the scope of this blog to be able dig into such a thing to any reasonable depth. Consider it an invitation to do your own research if it interests you. I regret even bringing it up now, actually, so please just disregard my entire comment to you. It’s not like knowing this makes any difference anyway.

     
    There’s 7 billion people now in this culture. One or two or ten people being exposed to this data is meaningless. Constructing my post at all, was an error on my part. I apologize. As my citation, I point you to the entire body of anthropology collected over the past century since the field has existed. That’s too much to individually cite here just for six or eight people. I withdraw my argument. I don’t even care enough anymore to even bother. I wasn’t looking to have a pissing match with you. Think want you want, every else does. I just didn’t agree with your unsupported assertion was all.

  67. Monocle Smile says

    @GumB
    Yeah, that last paragraph in your post #69 is rather silly and reads like a rant directed at nobody on this blog. Then you go totally off the rails in #71. RationalismRules wasn’t expressly challenging your position, he was just giving his opinion. He’s always been good about changing his mind when new information is presented. This blog is largely about skepticism and you’ll find that most of the regulars will do the same. Don’t ruin your rep by not giving us the benefit of the doubt when we’ve demonstrated reasonable natures to you thus far.

    Obviously we’ve stumbled onto a pet issue for you, but maybe you could tone it down? Just in general, why do people feel the need to not only have pet issues, but to make them everyone else’s business and use the lamest of reasons to launch into a tirade?

  68. Theisntist says

    “And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.”

    Some may not see this passage as guiding the modern attitude towards the animal kingdom, but that may be because it is so baked into our culture it’s hard to see the forest for the trees.

    Meanwhile, the kosher and halal traditions codify the slaughter of animals in the name of god, and countless religious festivals around the world revolve around the sacrifice and consuming of animals, sometimes brutally so.

    So, much like slavery, which existed before the bible was written but the bible was then used to justify for a couple thousand years, dominionism has guided our mistreatment of the animal kingdom well past the point that an objective morality can rationally justify.

  69. GumB. says

    Actually Monocle, I am offended still at this place that some turd atheist pulled the abortion argument on me in the last thread and said that because they didn’t want to read my posts, that I should stop posting them. Sound familiar? Because he doesn’t like abortions, that I should stop having them instead him just skipping over having one himself? It’s was a colossally dumb thing to suggest to me.

     
    I live in a place where abortion is legal and not being contested, and the same goes for same sex marriage. I can clearly see now that the blog’s pet issues, a term you just threw out at me, where people discuss those ideas at length without citations either and just make their case for them through informal discussion (that everyone finds quite interesting and engaging) … is definitely not the atheist community for me. I’ll take Matt’s advice and fuck off from here. Bye Paxoll, it seems that you can take the boy out of Mormonism; but you just can’t take the Mormonism out of the boy, can you. (Rhetorical question there, I could care less what your response would be.)

     
    Good luck Texas, and goodbye. You’re welcome for getting rid of Sam for you. No hard feelings, just a carefully considered toodle-loo.

  70. Monocle Smile says

    @GumB
    I’m completely baffled.

    Actually Monocle, I am offended still at this place that some turd atheist pulled the abortion argument on me in the last thread and said that because they didn’t want to read my posts, that I should stop posting them

    I…what? Not only can’t I find this actually happening, why can’t you be an adult and get over it? Some people are unpleasant. Deal with it. I don’t understand people who hold grudges or get overly butthurt about what one lone stranger on the internet said to them. Especially when they said something so relatively mild.

    I can clearly see now that the blog’s pet issues, a term you just threw out at me, where people discuss those ideas at length without citations either and just make their case for them through informal discussion (that everyone finds quite interesting and engaging) … is definitely not the atheist community for me

    Uh…the fuck? Most of the regulars are great at providing citations when needed. This is beyond silly. I have no idea what’s gotten you in a tizzy, but clearly I was wrong in thinking you’re a great new addition to the blog.

  71. Daniel Ocean says

    @RationalismRules

    Yes, but not on the slavery issue.

    I concur, although your typical run of the mill Christian will either be unaware their religion condones slavery or will have worked out some loophole via the New Testament. It’s a double bind really: either God didn’t change his mind and he supports slavery (bad), or he did change his mind and your basis for ethics isn’t absolute but merely temporal and therefore relative in some way (also bad). The latter point is also implied whenever a Christian argues context. If there is a context where something is moral and then another context where it is not, then that morality cannot by definition be absolute.

    In either case it’s pretty clear that citing the Bible is best used to undermine arguments for God, not support them.

    “I like this approach: “If your morality is dependent on the bible, how do you decide which parts of the bible are moral and which are not?”

    This is an effective approach on most lay churchgoers, you can show that ultimately they appeal to their own sense of morality when interpreting the Bible. Apologists with any training, I’ve found, are far more deluded. If you’ve got time, patience, and a working understanding of modern theology then you can show that their system for interpreting passages is wrong (take Prager for example, who denies that the Bible is even really talking about slavery) but I just don’t like going there. Same goes for the Exodus example I don’t like to use it with trained apologists unless I’m presenting in front of an audience I can appeal to. If you’ve reached the Bible, you’re already giving them too much credit. The Bible is worth jack shit until they can show it was divinely inspired in the first place.

  72. Serge Rubinstein says

    As the son of a survivor of Auschwitz, I’m gonna strangle everyone who compares abortion to the Holocaust again !

  73. t90bb says

    74.. gumB

    c’mon man. Stop it. You are not going anywhere!!! You are one of my fav posters!!! Can’t we agree to disagree on some shit without hard feeilngs???? I really value you here. Hope you change your mind.

  74. t90bb says

    75….

    Do you think Ray the soul music gawd lova…….has used his “plan” on GumB????

    What if I am next???!!! THE HORROR!!! lolololoolol……think i might have just pissed myself in laughter! Do not underestimate the ULTIMATE one…..unless is involves a magic jack…..

  75. RaoulOfBayonne says

    GumB. I’m mostly a lurker on the blog, but, like t90bb I hope you change your mind and stay. Please! You are a true voice of reason! You are the best antidote to the poison that people like Ray spew here. Your input is always well thought out, rational and very informative.

  76. Monocle Smile says

    @cristina
    The fact that no message of that specific nature has ever come from the show as well as the labeling of certain religions as “brown” makes me smell troll.

  77. RationalismRules says

    @GumB.
    #73
    Are you fucking kidding me?
    After an entire thread of trying to teach Ray that “I have evidence for my claims, but you have to find it for yourself” is bullshit, you’ve gone ahead and pulled the exact same argument.

    I’m not about to start a general study of anthropology just on the basis of a blog conversation, but when somebody refers to an interesting line of thought presented by “some pretty profound summarized analysis made from all of our collective anthropology to date”, that sounds really worth the reading time. Now I’m left thinking it just doesn’t exist.
     
    #76
    I had no beef with you, I thought we were having an interesting conversation until you went rogue in the last couple of posts. It is going to be hard to come back after an epic flounce like that, though.

  78. RationalismRules says

    @Shaun

    I can imagine people who find the idea of sexual acts between two men repulsive.

    Being able to imagine it doesn’t tell us anything, you’re effectively just arguing ‘it’s natural’ somehow. Do you not think your imagination is influenced by the world you inhabit? You’ve grown up in a society that places all manner of taboos on sex – I don’t think it’s at all significant you can imagine being disgusted by some form of sex that isn’t your preference, I think it would pretty amazing if you couldn’t.

    I’m interested in the ‘why’. Religion provides one ‘why’, and I haven’t found any others yet.

    I did a bit of reading on ‘disgust’ yesterday – an evolved emotion that seems to be only found in humans. I have learned that ‘sexual disgust’ is a thing, as is ‘moral disgust’. At this stage, from what I’ve read (not a huge amount), sexual disgust refers to a general disgust for sex that we all carry to some extent (…?). However, I’ve not yet found anything that relates to differing levels of disgust for ‘other’ sex, that doesn’t reference cultural or societal norms. (which takes me straight back to religion).

    Just that much reading has moved my position somewhat, as before now I’ve assumed that our general attitude to sex as ‘icky’ is the result of religion, whereas I’m now aware of the evolutionary basis for it.

  79. CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain says

    @RationalismRules #86:

    I did a bit of reading on ‘disgust’ yesterday – an evolved emotion that seems to be only found in humans.

    ? ? ?
     
    Article: Wikipedia – Disgust, Animal Research

    With respect to studies using rats, prior research of signs of a conditioned disgust response have been experimentally verified by Grill and Norgren (1978) who developed a systematic test to assess palatability. The Taste Reactivity (TR) test has thus become a standard tool in measuring disgust response. When given a stimulus intraorally which had been previously paired with a nausea-inducing substance, rats will show conditioned disgust reactions. “Gaping” in rats is the most dominant conditioned disgust reaction and the muscles used in this response mimic those used in species capable of vomiting.

     
    Article: ScienceDaily – A sense of disgust in bonobos?

    “[…] bodily fluids are universal disgust elicitors in humans, and recently, we published evidence that the same reaction exists in our primate cousins.”
     
    bonobos were presented with different food choices involving novel food items: foods contaminated with feces or soil; chains of food items linked to a contaminant; previously contaminated food; or only the odors of feces or rotting food.
     
    Although bonobos happily gobbled up clean food, they steadfastly avoided anything contaminated. Moreover, their sensitivity toward contamination risk seemed to wane the farther away a food item was located from the source of contamination.
     
    Another experiment showed that bonobos are less likely to engage in exploratory activities like touching and tasting substrates, or even using tools to achieve a goal when confronted with ‘bad’ smells.
    […]
    “There’s some evidence from humans and other animals – classically with rats – on what we call food neophobia, which is an inclination to stay away from or be cautious around new foods,” adds senior author Andrew MacIntosh. “This might also be related to our tendencies to avoid things that might make us sick, with different individuals being more or less conservative in both cases.”
    […]
    “But we need more information about how [bonobos] might react to a range of new foods before we can try to link food-neophobia with contamination sensitivity in other primates.”

  80. CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain says

     
    Article: Epiphenom – Planned Parenthood is disgusting? What does that even mean?

    Previous research has shown that, strangely enough, physical cleanliness seems to have a real link to morality – simply wiping your hands can get rid of the feeling of moral disgust. What’s more, simply breaking a religious taboo can induce feelings of disgust (if you want to know more, see Is the God Delusion more disgusting than the Koran?).
    […]
    What they did was to hook their Christian subjects up to a device that could measure tiny movements in facial muscles […] Then they showed their subjects a number of true and false factual statements and also religious ones of various flavours (e.g. “Jesus is the light and the way” and “God does not exist”).
     
    What they found was that, as other studies have shown, ‘false’ religious statements induced feelings of both anger and disgust, and that disgust was an independent predictor of how morally outraged people were. Not only that, but people who reported feeling disgusted also reported feeling literally contaminated.
     
    But the odd thing was that this wasn’t reflected in their facial expressions. They said they were disgusted, but they didn’t look disgusted or recoil in disgust. They did, however, look angry
    […]
    the disgust experienced by religious people in response to moral transgressions is real and is different from simple anger because it’s linked to genuine feelings of contamination. But it is not directly related to physical disgust.
     
    In other words, it seems that when people reach for the word ‘disgust’ in this context, they’re using it as a metaphor to describe mental contamination.

  81. RationalismRules says

    @SkyCaptain
    I did see the rat study on the Wikipedia page, but a couple of other things I read afterwards said it was only found in humans. I think I assumed the 1978 study had been superseded.
    Hadn’t seen the bonobo ref.

    I actually thought “I bet Sky Captain will find some articles on this” (the whole topic, that is, not the ‘human only’ comment – I’m not that good at prophesy).

  82. CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain says

    RationalismRules #58:

    our attitude to the subject draws on cultural ideas that spring primarily from religion. I can accept that in the case of homophobia as I’m unaware of any non-religious root for that attitude/behavior

    Shaun #69:

    I can imagine people who find the idea of sexual acts between two men repulsive.

    @RationalismRules #86:

    Do you not think your imagination is influenced by the world you inhabit? You’ve grown up in a society that places all manner of taboos on sex.
    […]
    I’ve not yet found anything that relates to differing levels of disgust for ‘other’ sex, that doesn’t reference cultural or societal norms. (which takes me straight back to religion).

     
     
    Article: Wikipedia – Societal attitudes toward homosexuality, Regions and historical periods

    Societal attitudes toward homosexuality vary greatly in different cultures and different historical periods, as do attitudes toward sexual desire, activity and relationships in general.
    […]
    Ancient China
    Like the cultures of many ancient civilizations, the Chinese had no concept of homosexuality and heterosexuality, and according to Louis Crompton, there are historical records that tacitly assumed bisexuality as the human norm […] Writings from the Liu Song Dynasty claimed that homosexuality was as common as heterosexuality in the late 3rd century
    […]
    Opposition to homosexuality in China originates in the medieval Tang Dynasty, attributed to the rising influence of Christian and Islamic values

  83. says

    @RR

    “Being able to imagine it doesn’t tell us anything, you’re effectively just arguing ‘it’s natural’ somehow. Do you not think your imagination is influenced by the world you inhabit? You’ve grown up in a society that places all manner of taboos on sex – I don’t think it’s at all significant you can imagine being disgusted by some form of sex that isn’t your preference, I think it would pretty amazing if you couldn’t.”

    I think you misunderstand where I’m coming from here. I’m just saying that it’s not uncommon for people to look in askance at other people’s sexual behaviour and say, “that’s disgusting”. My kink is perfectly normal, but yours.. well that is just weird.

    I guess you could argue that it is because religion has for so long claimed a right to prescribe what people should and shouldn’t do in the bedroom that we have a society that in general terms feels they have a right to judge other people’s preferences. And of course, that in turn normalised homophobia.

    But there’s a spectrum there. Religion has been so repressive to human sexuality, that grew up believing that the only time sex was not frowned upon was in the missionary position for the purpose of procreation. That is the extreme puritanical view.

    Fortunately, then I realised that the reason religion did this is because that made it all more fun.. ooh the church says you’re not supposed to do that? Wow.. it feels extremely naughty to do it!! What fun!

    In the end I’m just arguing that there is no accounting for other people’s tastes and it is not

  84. says

    …In the end I’m just arguing that there is no accounting for other people’s tastes and it is not up to any of us to judge the other person’s tastes.

    Some men prefer blondes, some prefer brunettes. Some prefer skinny women, some prefer curvy women. Some prefer twinks, some prefer bears. Personal prefernce is what it is.

  85. bluestar says

    @Christina #59
     
    At the risk of smelling trollish myself, I agree all religions are harmful. I also have not heard anyone claiming “brown” religions are less harmful. Something else that I have not heard here is that christianity is a white religion which I think it is. Look at the gold standard KJV bible. Anglo-European fingerprints are all over it! Do christians really think there were men by the names of Bartholomew, Peter, Paul, Nathaniel, Philip, James and Andrew living in 1st century Palestine? The first recorded humans in the bible, Adam and Eve???!! When I was growing up I used to think they had 4 o’clock tea in the Eden.

  86. paxoll says

    @skycaptain
    I think in general “disgust” has been well demonstrated to have evolved from eating contamination but to separate it from standard conditioning responses we see in vertebrates we need to see it demonstrated in non-food related items, separate from smell which is the primary detection of food related senses. Show me a bonobo that shows disgust from seeing a fellow bonobo eat something the first THINKS is bad with no smell trigger, and I’ll jump on board. Those examples are not much different than Pavlov.

  87. CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain says

    @paxoll #94:

    I think in general “disgust” has been well demonstrated to have evolved from eating contamination but to separate it from standard conditioning responses […]

    touché
     
    Article: Original Paper – Feeding decisions under contamination risk in bonobos

    aiming at a better understanding of the ways in which the behavioural immune system operates in primates. This article is part of the Theo Murphy meeting issue ‘Evolution of pathogen and parasite avoidance behaviours’.
    […]
    Evidence is accruing to suggest that such avoidance responses are indeed common across the animal kingdom. The Parasite Avoidance Theory of Disgust (PATD) was thus introduced to place the emotion of disgust into an evolutionary framework, suggesting that disgust evolved to help animals respond to and avoid matter that might harbour communicable pathogens and parasites, though whether other species experience similar emotions that drive such avoidance behaviour remains to be determined.
    […]
    Pathogen and parasite avoidance behaviours have been described in a wide range of species in both social and foraging contexts. However, contamination risk recognition and assessment in a feeding context remains largely unexplored in our closest phylogenetic relatives, despite the numerous infectious diseases we share with nonhuman primates and which are caused by the ingestion of infectious agents (e.g.
    Salmonella typhi, Rotavirus, Giardia spp.) found in contaminated water or food. Therefore, we expect to have evolved similar mechanisms of defence. To better characterize the cues that may be used by a non-human great ape species to indicate pathogen presence, we conducted five experiments

     

    Altogether, these results are in line with the parasite avoidance theory of disgust, i.e. what we would expect if the bonobos had a system of disgust driving their behavioural decision-making. However, we do not test this hypothesis directly in our study, and therefore cannot conclude that bonobos were showing evidence of disgust in our experiments. Immature individuals (infants and juveniles) showed lower precautions in most of our contamination experiments, therefore matching human infant behaviour in similar contexts.
    […]
    Over evolutionary time, primates along with other animals have developed the ability to respond physiologically to exposure to contaminant-derived cues, especially when behavioural avoidance may be constrained by other factors such as parental care, reproduction or limited food resources. We know for example that humans physiologically react to disgusting stimuli via different sensory channels. Exposure to odours of contaminants provokes heart rate reduction, indicating a vagal reaction and a decrease in blood pressure, both of which are hypothesized to prepare an individual for emesis, and therefore mimic the rejection of contaminants entering the body. In addition, disease avoidant ingestive behaviours may constitute one of several other physiological responses (e.g. thermoregulation, energy storage mobilization, immunity, sleep patterns) preparing the body to counteract pathogens by anticipatory immune responses.
     
    Therefore, new avenues for research should focus on the physiological responses of nonhuman primates to contaminant-derived stimuli […] Such research can help us determine whether both behavioural and physiological responses are conserved across taxa, or whether some may have evolved during the course of primate evolution.

  88. says

    @david McDonald —

    It is a fact that, in our world/our existence, life persists by consuming other life. So a moral/ethical stance supporting veganism flies in the face of reality.

    I agree that factory farming and caged livestock for economically efficient production is HORRID. It smacks of a bit of slavery, with more than a bit of the vampiric final solution from the Blade movies. Natural methods will always be preferable, but heartless capitalists feel their balls anchor more securely when they dismiss that.

    My exposure to veganism does not reflect that distinction. I reject veganism on that basis.

  89. paxoll says

    @Skycaptain
    Thanks,
    I always have an optimism that questions I come up with have already been answered scientifically, but sometimes we just gotta wait.

  90. RationalismRules says

    @Shaun
    I’m going to have one more try to see if I can do a better job of this.

    I would summarize your position as ‘it’s natural’. Have I understood you correctly?

    The problem is, your points “I can imagine it” and “it’s not uncommon” don’t get you to ‘it’s natural’ because they could just as easily be the result of culture as of nature.

    To successfully argue ‘nature’, you need to show an evolutionary underpinning. Without that, you are really just arguing from feelz.

    My kink is perfectly normal, but yours.. well that is just weird.

    This comes closer to a link to evolution. because it corresponds to an evolved social trait – tribalism. However, abhorrence and repulsion are a heightened emotional response, which is not accounted for by tribalism.

    What does get us to that emotional level is the evolved emotion ‘disgust’.

    …which takes us to the previous few posts from Sky Captain and me.

    [caveat: I have no expertise in evolution. Anything I’ve said above should be assumed to carry the qualifier “according to my limited understanding of this subject” :)]

  91. RationalismRules says

    @Mark Brewster #96

    It is a fact that, in our world/our existence, life persists by consuming other life. So a moral/ethical stance supporting veganism flies in the face of reality.

    Nooooo! (I hate seeing bad arguments for my own position)

    Ethics and morals are cognitive / social tools. Tools take us beyond biology. The fact that we have evolved as meat-eaters is the starting point of the ethical discussion, not the finishing point.

    If I change your argument a little, look where we end up:
    It is a fact that, in our world/our existence, males from some social animal species will attack and kill the offspring of other males in order to father their own offspring. So a moral/ethical stance that we should not kill other people’s children for our own advantage simply flies in the face of reality.

  92. says

    @RR

    My point is that religion isn’t necessarily at the root of all homophobia. It clearly acts as a enabler to homophobia, normalising it. No doubt about that, but I can imagine homophobia in the absence of religion.

    But to full discuss we’d be going to a rabbit hole of the fragile masculinity of some homophobes, repressed homosexuality, which is clearly a big factor, in groups, out groups and tribalism as you mentioned. Probably end up TL;DR;

  93. cedarstilts says

    I am currently doing some contract work for a local CPA firm. It is a fairly small firm of about 50 associates. I have been working there for just over a year and enjoy the work environment and the people. It is a relaxed environment and fulfilling professionally.

    The firm does well financially, and the partners believe in giving back, so they often do fundraisers and charity events for local non-profits. I have no problem with this.

    Recently however the firm has decided to put on a fundraiser for Youth for Christ. As an atheist, that is hardly any organization I can support. I am disappointed because there are so many local charities that could use help that do really great things. Instead they chose an organization whose sole purpose is to convert people to Christianity.

    This fundraiser is taking place at the end of the day, but still during work hours. They are planning some fun things like a food truck, dunk tank and beer. I would like to have fun with my coworkers, but can’t bring myself to support this organization. I fear that by not participating I will be labeled as anti-social. Moreso, I fear that if they find out I am an atheist, it could affect my work status. As a contractor, my work status is only good as long as they want me.

    Really struggling with how to handle this. Any guidance is appreciated.

  94. Matthew Simon says

    @PAXOLL SAYS

    Jainism is a religion that require vegetarianism but permits milk if the animal is not harmed by the harvesting of the milk.

  95. Matthew Simon says

    @Ray

    I don’t either proposition reasonable. I think the reasonable position is to standby and wait for the research to be done. Support the funding of science research. Review the results once the scientific community has had a chance to weigh in.

    Fortunately, the answer to the question has no immediate life or death consequences. I’m fine with waiting on this.

  96. Matthew Simon says

    @bluestar

    The hosts break out the argument you propose from time-to-time. I think you are correct that it effectively demonstrates that faith is not a reliable pathway to truth.

    The problem is that theists aren’t talking about material truth — they consider truth to be a metaphysical construct.

    I’m a sociologist by training but took some anthropology courses on the way to my degree. The Atheist Experience talks about the worlds’ big religions but when you look at some of the older, or tribal religions the variation in human thought on religion is just astounding. And they can’t all be right…but they could all be wrong.

  97. Matthew Simon says

    @devocate

    The scientific community is speculating that the conditions for life may exist on one of Jupiter’s moons. May also on Saturn’s moons too. Evidence of liquid water created by gravitational forces on the moons creating heat in the absence of light.

    Just a working hypothesis / speculation at this point as far as I can tell. The only way to know is to send a probe and explore these lunar oceans. It’s an intriguing concept.

  98. Lamont Cranston says

    cedarstilts says:

    This fundraiser is taking place at the end of the day, but still during work hours. They are planning some fun things like a food truck, dunk tank and beer. I would like to have fun with my coworkers, but can’t bring myself to support this organization. I fear that by not participating I will be labeled as anti-social. Moreso, I fear that if they find out I am an atheist, it could affect my work status. As a contractor, my work status is only good as long as they want me.

    Really struggling with how to handle this. Any guidance is appreciated.

    Wow. It’s hard to even know where to begin. That is a work environment that has clearly and badly stepped over a line that could ultimately get them in a lot of trouble. It’s not just you as an atheist that they have stepped all over, but every Jew, Moslem, Hindu, Buddhist or any other non-Protestant Christian religion whose beliefs they are trampling all over (especially having this during work hours).

    At least if they had chosen to do this during non-work hours a person’s absence might escape notice, but the way it is being done is manipulative and coercive which makes matters even worse.

    Now, what to do?

    That kind of depends on what you find to be an acceptable risk. Do you just tell someone the truth and explain why you feel that you can’t participate, or do you contrive an excuse to leave early that day to avoid the situation?

    I think it is pretty clear that this is not a company with an HR department or they would be going in circles over the potential legal ramifications of what is happening, so going to HR to voice a private concern is likely not an option (the same for an Ethics hotline).

    If I were otherwise OK with the company I probably would contrive an excuse to have to leave and hope that it doesn’t happen again. Then if it did reoccur I would be trying to find another job since it is pretty clear that my time will shortly come to an end voluntarily or involuntarily.

    Lamont Cranston

  99. RationalismRules says

    @cedarstilts
    Truly a dilemma! On the one hand, if you attend, you are compromising your personal principles. On the other hand, if you don’t attend, you may be compromising your employment prospects.

    The best thought I can come up with is go along with the fundraiser for the sake of your job, but then donate an equal or greater amount to some counter-cause like FFRF, thereby counteracting your contribution to Indoctrination Inc. It will cost you twice as much as everybody else, but you could consider it an investment in your job security.

    (It’s impossible to make an argument for pragmatism without immediately thinking of situations where small acts of pragmatism over principle has led to large bad outcomes, like the rise of Hitler, but the reverse also happens – if Bernie supporters had exercised a more pragmatic attitude to the 2016 election rather than withholding their votes on principle, the world would be in a far less parlous state today.)

  100. indianajones says

    @cedarstilts Just to point out options, you could always try to find some christian reason to object. There just about gotta be one somewhere…..

  101. suedoenimm3 says

    20:22 – “No I’m not necessarily saying I’m fine with killing a baby up to the day it crawls out.”
    .
    That statement is contrary to the right that Tracie says she has. Tracie emphatically argued for a woman’s absolute right of self determination – that any time a baby is in the womb it is a dangerous, life threatening foreign invader over which the woman rightly has absolute (life or death) authority.
    .
    It is true that Tracie didn’t explicitly say that abortion is OK up to the last day of normal pregnancy. But the only time she did explicitly say that it is not OK to kill the kid is after birth.
    .
    If Matt is not fine with the day before it crawls out, what about the day before that? When is the real limit? After the 35th week? 28th week? As I understand it Texas law puts the limit at 28 weeks. Is that wrong or unfair?
    .
    Regarding the letter that was read (at the 18:40 time point), skipping the first couple sentences, starting with the words, “The bizarre position …”, I totally agree with the writer.
    .
    You don’t have to be a theist to view a fetus/baby a few weeks before natural birth to be as valuable and worthy of protection as a baby after normal birth. The instant of birth is a rather arbitrary instant for the status change to human being. A baby removed at 34 weeks has a 98% probability of survival if it is not killed. A fetus/baby becomes a human being some time before it is born.
    .
    It certainly does the repute of atheists no good to be associated with the idea that is it fine and dandy to abort a late term pregnancy and end the life process of an otherwise totally viable fetus/baby/human person. To me and others that is a ghoulishly selfish disregard of the life of another person, even without introducing some spiritual mumbo-jumbo.
    .
    Matt’s response to the writer – “Watch some other f-in’ show.”
    .
    Matt quoting writer with a mocking voice, “Wait, it’s not just her body.” Matt’s response, “Shut up!”
    First class. Laser sharp reasoning.
    .
    “Most people happen to be religious.” So all objection to late term abortion is religious and therefore invalid? I’m not religious and I have given reasons above to consider the child to be a human person some time before birth.
    .
    -sue

  102. paxoll says

    @Sue
    Continuing to spout the same shit without regard to the vast amounts of replies that show you are strawmanning everyone is flagrantly dishonest. Abortion in the third trimester is called birth because abortion is the termination of a pregnancy not a fetus. If you can’t argue honestly go someplace else to preach.

  103. Monocle Smile says

    @Sue
    At this point, you’re just spamming or trolling. You’re not engaging at all with the many responses to your bullshit posts. Begone.

  104. Matthew Simon says

    @suedoenimm3

    I’ll engage in conversation with you on the abortion topic. It’s complex and while it has been addressed on the show I think there are some subtleties that haven’t been fleshed out well. I recommend watching Matt D’s debate with an atheist who doesn’t support abortion under any circumstances. She too had a overly rosy view of the reality of pregnancy as I will discuss below.

    In Roe vs. Wade the Supreme court tried to balance the rights of the mother to bodily autonomy vs. the ‘right’ of the fetus to become a child. The right to an abortion was affirmed but constrained by the assertion of some rights for the fetus and the right of the community/state to standing in these decisions. Neither side in the debate got everything they wanted in the decision.

    Here’s the rub. Criminalizing abortion at any point is in effect saying that the state, can use force to compel a woman to carry a fetus to term. Threat of prison enforced at the point of a gun is the objective truth of anything that is criminalized. I’m not comfortable with conceding that level of intrusion on the bodily autonomy of any citizen. Where does that right end? In Venezuela, women can, and are imprisoned for miscarriages even when it has not been demonstrated that she contributed to the miscarriage. If the fetus has rights should a woman be held criminally liable for eating a poor diet, not taking maternal vitamins, or any other action that might harm a fetus? The logical conclusion is any action in this regard would be considered contributory negligence, manslaughter, or murder.

    As for the 28 week limitation — to follow your logic — why not 24 weeks, or 12 weeks, or from the point of conception, or even regulating any sexual activity that is not ‘creative’ as the Catholic Church asserts? Many denominations would assert that the use of condoms, or any other form of birth control is immoral and should be illegal. The slippery slope works both ways.

    Also, carrying a fetus is inherently, and unavoidably, a threat to a woman’s life and health. This is an objective fact and is not open to reasonable debate. I’m a father and stand in awe of any woman who consents to take this risk and produce a child. I think that should a society choose to create a supportive environment for pregnancy such as health care, job protection, and economic support they can do so. Compelling a woman by force to carry a child is a bridge too far.

    I’ve heard arguments that fathers should have legal rights in deciding when to terminate a pregnancy. I strongly disagree. A father is not risking life and health due to a pregnancy. It is immoral to force a woman to take this risk if she decides otherwise.

    I make a distinction between immoral conduct and legal conduct. I don’t like the idea of terminating a pregnancy for frivolous reasons and in some cases I would consider such behaviour immoral. However, who am I to impose my judgement of what is, and what is not frivolous? It’s a practical impossibility to make that judgement on each individual case and there would be a plethora of different opinions on this. Since no legal framework can be constructed to address every individual set of circumstances it is best to have no restriction at all. The 28 week limit is an arbitrary, over-simplification of the criteria for determining the appropriateness of an abortion.

    I think the angst of what you are hearing from Matt D. and Tracie H. is their weighing of the morality vs. the legality of abortion. I think they agree that abortion should be legal. What they seem to be struggling with is the morality of abortion and late-term abortions in particular. This is always going to be a struggle and the debate will continue.

    I don’t expect you to agree but this is my assessment for your consideration.

  105. suedoenimm3 says

    @Matthew Simon, re: 114

    Thank you for your civil and considerate response.
    .
    “I recommend watching Matt D’s debate with an atheist who doesn’t support abortion under any circumstances.”
    .
    I might look for that but it sounds like he is arguing against a position I don’t hold.
    .
    “Neither side in the debate got everything they wanted in the decision.”
    .
    There will be no pleasing everybody on this subject.
    .
    “Here’s the rub. Criminalizing abortion at any point is in effect saying that the state, can use force to compel a woman to carry a fetus to term. Threat of prison enforced at the point of a gun is the objective truth of anything that is criminalized.”
    .
    There is no law without enforcement. It may be the woman that requests an abortion but it is someone else (generally a doctor) that performs the procedure. Under Texas law legal penalties are directed at the person actually performing the abortion. Under Texas law it appears that the penalty for a first time offense is a fine of $500. A third offense is cause to revoke the doctor’s medical license. Hardly draconian. Further characterizing this as “at the point of a gun” would be rather hyperbolic in my view.
    .
    “In Venezuela, women can, and are imprisoned for miscarriages”
    .
    I’m against that, in case it needed saying.
    .
    “should a woman be held criminally liable for eating a poor diet, not taking maternal vitamins, or any other action that might harm a fetus?”
    .
    In certain cases of gross extreme negligence or malice, yes. A poor diet or not taking vitamins wouldn’t be gross extreme negligence.
    .
    “As for the 28 week limitation — to follow your logic — why not 24 weeks, or 12 weeks, or from the point of conception,”
    .
    I said in the thread for episode 22.33, which you might not have seen:
    That is the law in Texas. Actually on further reading I think Texas law is 20 weeks. It varies by state. In California it is 24 to 26 weeks. In California it is variable based on an assessment by a physician of the viability of the fetus. Across the states the laws are generally based on the time of viability of the fetus. I think there are eight states that have no limit.
    .
    “Also, carrying a fetus is inherently, and unavoidably, a threat to a woman’s life and health. This is an objective fact and is not open to reasonable debate.”

    The risk is a fact. The magnitude of the risk versus the concern for the child is debatable. And remember, were talking about late term abortions here. The woman has already been carrying the baby for five or six months.
    .
    “Compelling a woman by force to carry a child is a bridge too far.”
    .
    She has already been carrying the baby for five or six months. She had the legal opportunity to have it aborted earlier. (Not to mention the availability of contraceptives from the beginning.)
    .
    She is not being “compelled” by “force”. Through her negligence in not using the available legal means to avoid the third trimester there has now come a dependent child into the picture. No one held a gun to her head to force her not to use contraception. No one held a gun to her head to force her to have unprotected sex. No one held a gun to her head forcing her to not have a legal abortion before the third trimester. “Compelled by force” is an inaccurate characterization in my view.
    .
    “I’ve heard arguments that fathers should have legal rights in deciding when to terminate a pregnancy.”
    .
    Yes, that’s a separable issue.
    .
    “It is immoral to force a woman to take this risk if she decides otherwise.”
    .
    It is not immoral that someone might have to suffer some negative consequences from their own negligence. It is immoral to expect total indemnity regardless of ones actions.
    .
    “I make a distinction between immoral conduct and legal conduct. I don’t like the idea of terminating a pregnancy for frivolous reasons and in some cases I would consider such behaviour immoral. However, who am I to impose my judgement of what is, and what is not frivolous? It’s a practical impossibility to make that judgement on each individual case and there would be a plethora of different opinions on this. Since no legal framework can be constructed to address every individual set of circumstances…..”
    .
    The rule of law is what maintains civilization. There have to be laws. They must be written down. And as you say, not every possible situation can be anticipate when the laws are written. And there are various factions that want the laws written according to their view. So we have legislatures with representatives that will hopefully hammer out a good compromise. It’s imperfect but it is the best that is humanly possible.
    .
    Note that Texas is a conservative and religious state. The legislature is solidly Republican. Yet Texas still allows abortion up to the 20th week.
    .
    “….. it is best to have no restriction at all. The 28 week limit is an arbitrary, over-simplification of the criteria for determining the appropriateness of an abortion.”
    .
    No restriction?! 🙂 That’s not much of a compromise. 🙂
    Consider a case at one week before natural birth. Would another week of pregnancy really be an odious hardship to the mother? The baby would likely survive without special care, that is if the abortion doctor doesn’t tear it apart in removing it.
    .
    “I think the angst of what you are hearing from Matt D. and Tracie H. is…”
    .
    I think Tracie has reached a moral view that she is absolutely convinced of and believes everyone must recognize. One problem is that her view leads her to assert that women have a certain right that they – by law in 42 states – do not in fact have.
    .
    “This is always going to be a struggle and the debate will continue.”
    .
    Yes, it will.
    .
    “I don’t expect you to agree but this is my assessment for your consideration.”
    .
    We disagree on some things but you are quite civil and reasonable. I appreciate your assessment. Thanks.

  106. Honey Tone says

    A little perspective: 1.3% of abortions in the US occur at or after week 21. 89% happen within the first 12 weeks. (www.guttmacher.org/fact-sheet/induced-abortion-united-states)

    Talk to any OB/GYN. There are many women who don’t even know they are pregnant at 21 weeks.

    There is virtually no woman walking into a doctor’s office late in her term asking to kill her baby, and likely no doctor willing to do it unless the baby is dead or dying, or it’s killing the mother, or it is afflicted with some genetic condition where it won’t survive birth or won’t survive for long.

    We don’t need abortion restrictions. Let the woman and her doctor decide.

  107. suedoenimm3 says

    @ Honey Tone, show 22.34, #113
    .
    “A little perspective: 1.3% of abortions in the US occur at or after week 21. 89% happen within the first 12 weeks. (www.guttmacher.org/fact-sheet/induced-abortion-united-states)”
    .
    So yes, we have been talking about what are basically fringe cases.
    .
    “Talk to any OB/GYN. There are many women who don’t even know they are pregnant at 21 weeks.”
    .
    That is another fringe case but I acknowledge that it happens. It deserves consideration.
    .
    “There is virtually no woman walking into a doctor’s office late in her term asking to kill her baby,
    and likely no doctor willing to do it unless the baby is dead or dying, or it’s killing the mother, or it is afflicted with some genetic condition where it won’t survive birth or won’t survive for long.”
    .
    Those cases are already accounted for in the law. There is no restriction on a dead or non-viable fetus or if the mother is (really) in imminent danger.
    .
    “We don’t need abortion restrictions. Let the woman and her doctor decide.”
    .
    But I don’t see how that follows. If we could trust everybody all the time we wouldn’t need laws. I’m in favor of the law monitoring doctors in order to forestall abuses.
    .
    (I’m preparing a response to your other posting. I thought this one was short and worthy of a quick response.)
    (And sorry to everybody about all the ‘.’ That is my hackish hack to get the spacing somewhat aesthetic.)

  108. Monocle Smile says

    @Sue
    Are you ever going to acknowledge that terminating a 39-week pregnancy DOES NOT result in the death of a fetus, or are you going to continue lying?

  109. Matthew Simon says

    @suedoenimm3

    “The risk is a fact. The magnitude of the risk versus the concern for the child is debatable. And remember, were talking about late term abortions here. The woman has already been carrying the baby for five or six months.”

    The maternal mortality rate in Texas is 35.8 per 100,000 births. This does not include those women that have serious or permanent damage as the result of pregnancy. I don’t think the state should have the right to force a woman to undertake that risk against the will.

    “So yes, we have been talking about what are basically fringe cases.”

    As @Honey Tone notes. The number of late term abortions is about 1.3%. I’m assuming that those are overwhelmingly required for non-viable fetuses or to save the life/health of the mother. Texas is regulating a problem that basically doesn’t exist.

    “No restriction?! That’s not much of a compromise.”

    Unapologetically so. I don’t believe that the state should compel a woman to carry a fetus. Similarly, I don’t believe the state should force a father to donate a portion of their kidney to save a fetus. I certainly would for my children, but not by force of law. It’s the same issue – bodily autonomy.

    The other aspect of allowing the state to force a woman to carry a fetus to term is that Texas IS a religious state, governed overwhelmingly by men. The potential for abuse (eliminating abortion or so restricting access that it becomes a practical impossibility) for poor and middle class women is a constant threat. Your founding fathers specifically warned about the ‘tyranny of the majority’ and constructed the Bill of Rights and the Supreme Court to counter this potential abuse of power. Rich women can always skip the jurisdiction to get an abortion on demand.

    You made a comment regarding the ‘negiligence’ of women who get pregnant. I assume that you are aware that condoms break, and the birth control pill and IUD’s are not 100% effective. An unwanted pregnancy is not always a case of negligence. Not knowing you are pregnant before 20 weeks is a real possibility. Some women have irregular cycles – it’s not negligence either.

    Food for thought.

  110. suedoenimm3 says

    @Matthew Simon
    re: episode 22.34, message 119
    .
    “The maternal mortality rate in Texas is 35.8 per 100,000 births. This does not include those women that have serious or permanent damage as the result of pregnancy.”
    .
    Interesting point. I wonder what the rest of the numbers are.
    .
    “ I don’t think the state should have the right to force a woman to undertake that risk against the will.”
    .
    The state gives the woman all sorts of opportunities to avoid being pregnant in the third trimester. And sorry, but at the risk of being repetitive, you are disregarding the value of a viable fetus.
    .
    “As @Honey Tone notes. The number of late term abortions is about 1.3%. I’m assuming that those are overwhelmingly required for non-viable fetuses or to save the life/health of the mother. Texas is regulating a problem that basically doesn’t exist.
    .
    So then you should have no objection to the regulations, right? 🙂
    .
    “Unapologetically so.”
    .
    🙂 And I am unapologetic for advocating against killing a late term fetus that is scarcely different in development or viability from a normally delivered baby.
    .
    “I don’t believe that the state should compel a woman to carry a fetus.”
    .
    Sorry for the repetition but the state gives the woman all sorts of opportunities to avoid being pregnant in the third term.
    .
    “It’s the same issue – bodily autonomy.”
    .
    Nobody has absolute “bodily autonomy”.
    .
    “The other aspect of allowing the state to force a woman to carry a fetus to term”
    .
    Uh… well… I’ve already objected to that.
    .
    “Texas IS a religious state, “
    .
    I live in California. California is a very “liberal” state. The laws are similar to those in Texas. One difference is that the limit in California is 24 to 26 weeks based on an assessment of viability by a physician. A by no means thorough Googling shows that the law are very similar in the various states. Abortion became legal in the US about 40 years ago. All this suggests to me that the laws are an evolved and convergent compromise between the various sides of the issue. Some people believe a sacred soul enters the egg/zygote at fertilization. Others want to be able to make a fetus that is indistinguishable from a baby just “disappear” up to the instant of delivery. I’m sure neither pole in that spectrum is happy with current compromise. Pragmatically speaking the current compromise is workable. I am unsympathetic to the extremists.
    .
    “The potential for abuse (eliminating abortion or so restricting access that it becomes a practical impossibility) for poor and middle class women is a constant threat.”
    .
    But that is just not the case from what I see. Do you have support for that?
    .
    Not specifically related, but I have known (at least) two women who have had abortions. One was in her early twenties and – I will say – not in a position start a family. There was no hint or thought that the state would “compel her by force” or “hold a gun to her head” to be a “brood mare” (to use the rather passionate terms that have been used in this thread). She simply had the abortion, in the first trimester. The other is Chinese and lived in China at the time. You’ve heard of the “one child” policy. (It has since been ended.) The state compelled her to abort her child.
    .
    “You made a comment regarding the ‘negligence’ of women who get pregnant. I assume that you are aware that condoms break, and the birth control pill and IUD’s are not 100% effective. An unwanted pregnancy is not always a case of negligence.”
    .
    Yes, condoms break, etc. And you seem to accept the 20 week window in these cases.
    .
    “Not knowing you are pregnant before 20 weeks is a real possibility. Some women have irregular cycles – it’s not negligence either.”
    .
    Indeed. And that would be a fringe case. There would still be alternatives available. I would request more substantiation of the magnitude and tangible examples of that problem before we remove all restrictions on ending the lives of viable fetuses that are virtually indistinguishable from delivered babies.
    .
    “Food for thought.”
    .
    Indeed. Thanks.
    .
    .
    BTW, starting tomorrow I’m going to be away from reliable internet for week. I’m sure no one will miss me. 😉

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