Open thread for episode 22.43: Tracie and Guest Co-Host Reginald Bien-Aime (“Reggie Beloved”)

Tracie is joined by guest co-host Reginald Bien-Aime, founder of “Haitian Free Thinkers”.

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  1. Sue says

    Just putting my first post to get on the OK list. Love everyone at AE. Love the beuatiful thought process!

  2. Gail Herr says

    You guys need to get some help from a mental health professional on how to handle callers with serious mental health issues. I know you all want to be kind, but some conversations might actually be unhelpful to the caller, and open the person up to ridicule on the chat. I hope you’ll consider formulating some strategies to end calls before they go off the rails.

  3. paxoll says

    Wow, this weeks callers seemed really incapable of rational thinking. So bad Tracie pulled a Matt! I sure appreciate her patience.

    They are actually very good with people with mental health problems. When dealing with the irrationality of religious beliefs it is quite impossible to tell if their magical think is related to their mental health problem or they are simply a normal religious person. George did not display any signs of distress, anger, and no signs his mental health problem was not under control. They are adults have treating them with kid gloves because of their condition is wrong and insulting. Chat moderators are there to keep the chat as civil as possible on the internet.

  4. Heretical Ryan says

    Tracie, I think you displayed a Herculean level of patience with Jacob. I wouldn’t have lasted nearly long as you did before hanging up.

    Oh and welcome to the show, Reggie! Hope to see you again sometime!

  5. indianajones says

    I’m with ya Gail. I got a ticking off from the ACA FB page mods (And i get the rules are very different there!) for suggesting to a poster there that they not seek MH info from an Atheist FB page though. So best of luck with it!

  6. bluestar says

    Jacob from Miami. Another fairly frequent caller who needs to get his message out that science is changing and ‘more and more’ are accepting the YEBC. When I listen to him, I hear catch phrases and terminology found on websites like Answers in Genesis and the Institute For Creation Research and others of this ilk. I can safely assume the science he is referring to is from organizations like these. I would like to hear him ramble on and then ask him if he is familiar with the Mission Statement of these groups; how as a condition of employment, be one a research scientist or a receptionist, that any new discovery that conflicts with scripture will be publicly and professionally refuted.? How would he feel if the field of medical research followed the same rules? Any new discovery for treatment or prevention of disease will be professionally and publicly refuted if it conflicts with the practice of leech therapy? As a condition of employment these “scientists” are bound to confirmation bias right out of the gate. Which is why they have very little validation within the scientific community.

  7. says

    >You guys need to get some help from a mental health professional on how to handle callers with serious mental health issues.

    There was only one caller this week who identified themselves as someone coping with a serious mental illness, schizophrenia. And he seemed quite lucid to me. He rambled a bit–but so do many callers, so there was no reason to think it was tied to his illness. Additionally, his views were coherent to the degree that he was expressing many ideas written about by Carl Jung, who was a prominent psychologist–so I can’t actually say that his views are a reflection of his illness, unless I’m prepared to say Jung wrote a treatise that was a demonstration of the depths of his mental illness? The later call we took from the deist was more confused and difficult to follow than anything the “coincidence” (schizophrenic) caller expressed. So, I am not aware of any call we received that was indicative of anyone in crisis. When I do get calls from people who aren’t in treatment and seem to have difficulty parsing reality, or people who are in treatment who seem to be in crisis, I tend to urge them strongly to tell someone who can help, or contact their doctor if they have one. There were no such calls this week. Simply having a mental illness does not make someone automatically too unstable to have a conversation on the same level I would have with anyone else.

    > I know you all want to be kind, but some conversations might actually be unhelpful to the caller, and open the person up to ridicule on the chat.

    I can’t control people in chat. And I would hope that our moderators would check anyone who mocked mental illness in our feed, just as I’d expect them to check someone who mocked a person with a physical disability. I only recall joking over one issue during the show, that I thought could be construed as “mocking”–and it was mocking religious ideology, and I even stopped to confirm to the caller that we were just having a little fun, and make sure they knew we weren’t making fun of them personally. The caller responded in what sounded to me like sincere understanding, they even had a chuckle in their voice themselves. I did not mock anyone’s mental illness, and I absolutely encouraged no one to make fun of it in chat. People in chat are at the mercy of moderators, and if they mocked someone’s ideas, that’s fine. If they mocked their mental illness and weren’t warned or banned by a moderator, then that’s an ACA moderator problem that is a fair complaint. But we aren’t going to ban mentally ill people from calling the show, and we’re not going to *not* talk to them like we would anyone else–as long as they aren’t showing signs of being in crisis.

    > I hope you’ll consider formulating some strategies to end calls before they go off the rails.

    The caller who identified with mental illness never went off the rails, so I don’t know what you’re talking about unless you’re distance-diagnosing some other caller as being mentally ill? I felt the person who expressed they were schizophrenic was, again, more lucid than the deist caller, and more reasonable than the “science proves god” caller. I didn’t see the caller who identified with mental illness to be irrational, incoherent, in crisis, or going off the rails. So, I have no clue what you’re talking about, specifically.

  8. says

    >Tracie, I think you displayed a Herculean level of patience with Jacob. I wouldn’t have lasted nearly long as you did before hanging up.

    There was no longer any point to the call. The caller was “amazed” that I accept scientific consensus as being what X-field of science is standing behind. There is a reason we don’t teach fringe science in science classrooms. He couldn’t / wouldn’t understand that how scientists feel personally is not a reflection of what their fields actually support as far as evidence. They may personally feel that they see god in their field of science, but if they can’t support that, then it’s no more valid than saying “I see god in the face of a child / the trees.” It’s meaningless. And I used the example of a plumber saying he sees god in plumbing. No matter how many plumbers feel similarly, if they can’t demonstrate it from evidence, then it’s just a personal opinion that isn’t really informed by plumbing reality. And if most plumbers are admitting that, in fact, plumbing doesn’t demonstrate a god exists, then it becomes even less reasonable to expect lay people to accept plumbing as evidence of god.

    At the point we were both repeating our points, and the conversation was going in a circle, it seemed a good time to move on to another, more productive call.

  9. Heretical Ryan says

    > At the point we were both repeating our points, and the conversation was going in a circle, it seemed a good time to move on to another, more productive call.


  10. Sheilah says

    I was going to point out the Einstein point but DanDare2050 beat me to it. Love this show and the hosts and am hoping the next time I am in Austin I can drop by and see a show in person. Keep up the good work!

  11. says

    stop me if you’ve heard this one before …

    Tracie: Oh look, this isn’t an argument.

    Jacob: Yes it is.

    Tracie: No it isn’t. It’s just contradiction.

    Jacob: No it isn’t.

    Tracie: It is!

    Jacob: It is not.

    Tracie: Look, you just contradicted me.

    Jacob: I did not.

    Tracie: Oh you did!!

    Jacob: No, no, no.

    Tracie: You did just then.

    Jacob: Nonsense!

    Tracie: Oh, this is futile!

    Jacob: No it isn’t.

    Tracie: I came here for a good argument.

    Jacob: No you didn’t; no, you came here for an argument.

    Tracie: An argument isn’t just contradiction.

    Jacob: It can be.

    Tracie: No it can’t. An argument is a connected series of statements intended to establish a proposition.

    Jacob: No it isn’t.

    Tracie: Yes it is! It’s not just contradiction.

    Jacob: Look, if I argue with you, I must take up a contrary position.

    Tracie: Yes, but that’s not just saying ‘No it isn’t.’

    Jacob: Yes it is!

    Tracie: No it isn’t!

    Tracie: Argument is an intellectual process. Contradiction is just the automatic gainsaying of any statement the other person makes.

    [wait for it…]

    Jacob: No it isn’t.

    Tracie: Goodbye.

  12. fullyladenswallow says

    aarrgghh 13:
    “stop me if you’ve heard this one before …”

    I have heard this one before, but I won’t stop you. I love Monty Python. To me, that was their best bit ever!

  13. DrC says

    Ray from Texas – Phew! A complete mess up of ideas – strange comments with no basis for it. Ray could ‘explain’ very little and most of what he is saying is based on poorly defined term. The conversation was essentially a waste of time.
    “What if you were a Universe” … really!!
    If there is some sense here, then Ray needs to seriously take time, and rephrase what he believes so that it is presented in a form that makes some form of sense.

  14. Brian Ingram says

    Hello – this is my first post.

    I’ve looked all over the ACA website, but I cannot find what it is I’m looking for.

    When I listen to TAE, the hosts are wonderful about naming off all of the podcasts produced by the ACA.

    But, when I try to find them in my podcast catching app (such as podcast about parenting), it cannot find them.

    I’m thinking I’m not entering in the correct titles of the various podcasts in the search bar of the app – so, my question is this:

    Can someone who is in charge of the ACA’s website please provide a list of /all/ of the podcasts hosted or produced by the ACA?

    Thanks in advance … and thank you for your voices of reason!


  15. NeroZZZ says

    Hi this is my first ever comment here, I started listening to your podcast like 3 weeks ago. I have a religious background(my father a pastor in the church) .Right now I am in the valley of decision, shifting between atheist-ism and agonist atheist-ism. my question here is I had a car accident yesterday and came out with a few bruises and cuts, funny enough i was listening to your show just before the accident occurred. My thought right now is that was the accident a punishment from god for converting to an atheist or was it a coincedence? because I rarely ever have accidents. I haven’t been able to get this off my mind and I am seriously considering going back to my religion(Christianity).

    I would have loved to call in to ask this question but timezone

  16. says

    Ray phoned in to ask a question. “Am I an atheist if I believe in god? Answer: No.

    Why oh why did have have to listen to his “definition” of god? An universe? An unthinking, non-creating, no action universe? And he believes this because he thought of this idea when he was young?
    It would have, perhaps, been interesting to inquire why he felt so strongly about having the atheist label.

  17. says

    By the way, totally OT. Does anyone have any idea why I, up in Canada, are getting repeated emails telling to vote for Ted Cruz?? Mind you, I would never ever vote for him so I can feel gleeful at chanting “No, I won’t vote for you!” every time the email pops up.

  18. Dirk says

    Well I think I understand what Ray was saying. As far as I know, his question should be answered by “Yes, you are an atheist, if being a theist means believing in a god”. Every god I know of has an agenda, can be prayed upon for some wishes to be fulfilled. That “doing-wonders-thing” is kind of mandatory for a god, therefor he is not believing in a god. The view of a conscious universe was, for me at least, the last needed steppingstone away from the need to believe.

    Fate is a concept that helps accepting what ever comes your way as the reality. Having someone up there means you can never be actually alone. That’s soothing and can help. What Ray described was just that and the idea that looking back on events you can always call it fate and the laws of physics applied and the idea that events are can be calculated can be viewed as fate. I can only think what I can think. Every action I take is inevitable the action either I chose or has been chosen for me( I can’t control everything, right?). So everything can be seen as predetermined that way. Isn’t science trying to predict future events on a basis of understanding the laws of nature, fairly successful?

    I hope you can see more value in those points of views for your time reading and listening. Please carry on using your heads and hearts. 🙂
    Sorry if that is not formated, I didn’t find semantic descriptors on how to.

  19. Honeytone says

    Just finished listening to the podcast (busy week) and I wanted to congratulate the hosts on their patience with Jacob out of Miami. His brand of staunch closed-mindedness always drives me bonkers. Theists of all stripes forget (or ignore) that modern science is built on the foundation of those Christian and other god-believers of the past who were intellectually honest enough to go where the evidence led them and to accept, however reluctantly, the conclusions the evidence dictated, not the other way around.

    I’ve run across too many people like him, and yet they are people who would not in any other significant area of their lives accept conclusions dictated by beliefs rather than by demonstrable evidence: medical diagnoses, investment opportunities, criminal prosecutions, the safety ratings of children’s car seats, the purity of the air we breathe and the water we drink, etc. It’s just so damn infuriating.

    I know I’m preaching to the choir here, but I just had to get that off my chest.

    Carry on.

  20. Honey Tone says

    Mods – sorry about typing my username incorrectly for that last post. I’m sure you don’t need the extra work!

  21. says

    I wish there was a regular host with a background in biology to refute the all too common evidence for creation in nature arguments on the shows. As a biologist I just want to call in and scream that their wonder at the impossibility of life without design is a direct indicator of how little they understand how it actually works. Pick up a biology textbook, then a chemistry one, then a physics on and realise that the further down the facts rabbit hole you go, the more life liiks like a completely natural outcome of particle physics with no need for the supernatural to explain away. “It’s just obvious” means “I don’t know jack shit about genetics or biochem”. Grill these people on what they actually know about evolution and tell them to take a high school level science course! An overwhelming portion of phd level scientists are irreligious, cite those statistics too!
    Love ya, thanks for all that yall do!

  22. paxoll says

    @Nerozzz What exactly do you mean you “rarely have accidents”? The problem you are facing is I believe the 100% biggest obstacle people face when leaving their religion. Their religion has programmed into them this huge bias to see everything good that has happened to them as a gift from god and everything bad that happens to them as a punishment from “straying” from the path god wants them to follow. Essentially everyone is Jonah from the bible to a lesser extent. It is hard to get past and (i think it is called the outsider test) one way people get past it is to try and look at your life as someone else would look at it, or consider what happens to you as happening to someone else. If a wiccan was in a car accident and thought someone cast a curse spell on them, would you think it was a good explanation for it? If it happened to a buddist, would you think Karma was a good explanation for why it happened?

    When I was giving up christianity, I felt a great weight lift off of my mind (cognitive dissonance) when I came to the conclusion that the bible was just a made up book like all the other religions, but at the exact same time I felt even more devoted to my belief in a non-religious god because I saw so many things in my life as being improbably lucky and I felt that god taking care of me was the best explanation. It took a really long time to look at things objectively and conclude that my life was not particularly special and that everything good had everything to do with my actions before that and bad accidents were simply just accidents. Keep watching/listening to the show, and avoid doing it in a car if it is causing a distraction to your driving. Good luck.

  23. Bluestar says

    @Nerozzz #19. “Car accidents” are actually quite rare. Mechanical failures or medical events while driving causing collision with another vehicle or object are examples. Most motor vehicle collisions are due to one or more drivers making a judgement error or not obeying traffic rules. Examples of this include inattentiveness, impairment, speeding, failure to stop when required etc. Given the exact same circumstances that caused your crash, it would have still happened regardless of what you were listening to unless as Paxoll indicated your listening to the podcast was distracting you. All things being equal, if you were listening to a Christian radio broadcast, it would have still happened. I can see that just coming off a religious way of life can make you think the way you do, but try to analyze the details of the event and leave God and the podcast out of the picture. Would the crash still have occurred?

  24. Taylor Malone says

    @NeroZZZ If it’s any consolation to you, I’ve been an atheist for 30+ years, and I still almost never have car accidents. The few I’ve had have either been very minor, or my fault. No reason to believe it had anything to do with my lack of belief.

  25. indianajones says

    @Nerozzz Dude, I think ya oughta go back to Christianity. If a coincidence (and it most definitely was a coincidence) like that is enough to raise doubts in you about being an Atheist, then you ain’t one. If that hadn’t happened, something else would have for sure. We’ll see and welcome you when you are ready to come around.

  26. Mindgarden31415 says

    First post.
    T off, thank you ACA and AXP for all you do.

    This is a minor point, not even addressing the shoddy overall argument, but regarding David claiming only 4 cloven hooved cud chewers. Um… Buffalo?

    I think the incident creator of the universe would know about North America.

  27. Honey Tone says

    indianajones @ #27

    I suspect Nerozz is more atheistic than he wants to admit to himself, since he came to an atheist site asking for perspective with his particular god problem.

    My view: Nerozz, if your imagined god delivered an accident to punish you and/or to steer you away from atheism, he did a piss poor job of it by not making himself clear. You couldn’t train a dog with such sloppy methods, much less people. That god is so weak communicator that you sought help from the very folks you’re supposed to avoid. Well, I guess he/she/it deserves a participation trophy for effort, but certainly not your respect or worship.

    The simpler explanation is what the facts and circumstances dispassionately suggest: it was just a coincidence.

    I know from experience that it’s a struggle to let go of all the anxieties created by a religious upbringing. Keep using your brain. It will eventually win out over fear.

  28. Varkey says

    The bible/quran/torah are written from certain viewpoints, eg men. It was written, and more telling, allowed to come to power by men who were in power and legitimised by the text.

    It is not only gender/sexual orientation etc that centres those writing the text, it is also food. The bible centres animals from a certain region (ie the region the writers were from), I can understand people keeping traditions, but why do religious texts expect others to keep traditions in parts of the world they know little or nothing about, eg Aboriginal Australians eat kangaroo, wombats, possums etc.

    David was impressed by the torah knowing about cud chewing and split hooved animals. These animal would be familiar to the writers as they evolved mainly in that region (although did they know about bison?). It would be more impressive if they knew about marsupials (native to the Americas and Oceania and parts of Asia).

    Kosher animals such as cattle, sheep, goats, giraffe, deer, certain antelope, maybe rabbits are not native to Australia. So according to the torah Aborignal Australians should largely have not eaten meat, until arrogant mostly Europeans brought these animals over, often causing issues to the habitats. This is small-minded nonsense.

  29. mond says

    Just a word on the Biology and Cosmology prove there is a creator.
    I am sure that even if, for the sake of argument. you accepted this to be the case it would not satisfy most people who posit the argument.
    They really want it to prove that their specific deity exists.
    But there are scientists in all of these fields that follow a diverse amount of religions. So by Jacob’s logic does that mean there lots of different creators?
    So even with a massive concession of science proving a creator it doesn’t get you any closer to what most people who use the argument really believe.

  30. TheoRetical says

    First time going to the blog!
    I watched so many of your AXP shows and you are all wonderful people, being honest about reality and promoting the benefits of rationality while still being understanding and explaining to people of different convictions without being condescending!

    Keep up the great work (you’re probably not getting paid (enough) for) and amazing that you even respond to questions and comments personally here on the blog!

  31. jacobfromlost says

    No one is a believer in a god/creator BY VIRTUE of their expertise in biology, just as no one is a believer in a god/creator BY VIRTUE of their expertise in cosmology (or, as Tracie mentioned, plumbing).

    And inversely, plenty of people are NOT biologists and are NOT cosmologists, and believe in a god/creator. In fact, many people believed in a god/creator when next to nothing was known about biology, and when cosmology included (if it wasn’t dominated by) a flat earth paradigm.

    In fact, you can know next to nothing about anything–including critical thinking, evidence, science, logic, or reality–and still believe in a god/creator. Even as a child, this point (which seems to be the exact inverse of the caller’s) made god belief seem not only suspect, but literally stupid to me. There is no sense or intelligence needed for it, and no one who has the belief seems to demand sense or intelligence (or evidence) of others who also claim the belief. Therefore it is completely irrelevant if a specific biologist or cosmologist believes in a god/creator. The belief has nothing to do with biology or cosmology.

  32. wecandobetter says

    NeroZZZ First, I am glad you were not seriously hurt in an accident. It is pretty natural to feel that it may be God punishing you if you have a religious background and being a pastor son and you are at the early process of questioning your religion. I think it is pretty rare for a person to just switch without a transition period. Most atheist i know, it took quite a while.

    It does seem strange that a God would punish you for using your brain. I felt more punishment came from Christians. But when I asked them basic questions, they did not have reasonable answers and most could be debunked. It soon began to fall apart and there was no looking back.

    Keep searching and make the choice that is best for you and I give you kudos for questioning your beliefs. Never been a fan of blind faith or something should never be challenged before it is accepted.

  33. mond says

    The belief has nothing to do with biology or cosmology

    Yes and No 😉

    If you can retrofit science into your belief after you start to believe it I would say that it has a reinforcing affect.
    Even if you claim faith as a method of belief it still a hell of a lot easier to believe if you think you can use science to defend/promote your beliefs

  34. raykroc says

    I just now (December) watched this episode, it was great! Liked caller Robert – the phrase he mentioned is “Grüss Gott,” and EVERYONE in Austria says it. They don’t mean it religiously at all. And they joke “the only times we are in a church are for our wedding and our funeral.” Tracie was an animal! Go get ’em tiger! And I thought Reggie was excellent, very smart guy, please bring him back.

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