Comments

  1. biasedlemmings says

    OK, 60%, 70% or 80% certain there are no gods. That’s not what I expected. That seems very close to the 50/50 number that theists assert when throwing Pascal’s Wager into the mix. Usually, the claim is to their one god and not all gods in general, but I’m quite sure it’s logically consistent to not change one’s level of certainty just by adding a god. It’s just as likely that 100 gods don’t exist as 1. Would it make one’s certainty of a pink unicorn’s existence rise if it were claimed that 100 pink unicorns existed instead of one? Certainly not mine. Why would a claim that has zero evidence result in a numerical certainty SO far away from the initial evidence? It feels like Hitch’s extraordinary evidence is NOWHERE to be found and that one’s certainty that no gods exist should be close to that same extraordinary numerical claim. I think Dawkins’ 99.9% is closer to what the evidence warrants. Matt, could you give me a bit of insight as to what would lower your certainty by 20%-40% from what the evidence suggests is warranted? A bit confused. =/

  2. billkw says

    Seems anyone who has to shoulder the taxes that the churches are not paying would have standing.

  3. Jake3D says

    Atheist Experience 22.48 with Matt Dillahunty & Geoff Blackwell 2018-Dec-02 Response 01

    Let me take the time to try to restate and clarify my position (my call starts at 1:20:40). At time 1:53:22 Geoff says I believe in a god to avoid an argument? That’s total BS, it was uncalled for. I would not have called in to to avoid an argument. They completely dismissed my argument. I still believe in a god, in part, to avoid an argument from authority. Matt is basically telling me there is no evidence so you should be an atheist wither or not I look into the claim. However, I am trying to confirm that there isn’t evidence.

    I’m disappointed that we spent nearly 35 minutes in a circular discussion (and no I’m not saying a circular argument fallacy). Matt and Geoff simply ignored or misunderstood my whole position. When I called in I tied to be honest about my position so we could move onto a universal objective morality. And instead we ended up not being able to leave that first point. Perhaps I miss stated my point. If I were to take Matt’s word that there is no evidence for god, and therefore don’t believe without any searching for that evidence that would be an argument from authority. Whether or not I came to my believe for good, or bad reasons, accepting the atheist position without taking the time to verify that there is no evidence is intellectually dishonest.

    Matt and Geoff keep saying that I am putting the burden of proof on finding evidence against god, but that is not at all what I am doing. The fact is that “evidence to the contrary” is not the same as “a sufficient overwhelming body of a lack of evidence for a god”. With a overwhelming body of no positive evidence for god that constitutes a rational reason for accepting “there is no reasonable conclusion for god”. Take it from the leprechaun point of view. Find the end of the rainbow and there is not pot of gold. Does that disprove leprechauns? No, but at what point do you conclude there are not leprechauns? Its a war of attrition against that belief, it doesn’t take that much to not belief in leprechauns, but you don’t start with a belief in leprechauns.

    I am trying to be honest with my self here. I am not being apathetic like I was for the previous 10 years I am legitimately searching for evidence. Trying to confirm that there isn’t evidence. Thats the only honest thing to do. How am I doing that? I am doing a critical reading/listening to the bible in full, I am listening to formal debates, informal debates and discussions, and anything directly related to the subject. Let me be specific in what I mean by formal debate. I mean debates like Christopher Hitchens vs Jay Richards at Stanford University, Lawrence Krauss vs William Lane Craig at Melbourne – City Bible Forum, Matt Dillahunty vs Blake Giunta at Bible and Beer Consortium. And by informal debates/discussions I mean things like the Atheist Experience. Simply asserting that I am not looking into my belief is dishonest, I was saying the whole time that I am looking into it, extensively. At 1:41:35 Geoff mocks me for using youtube to listen to debates. Don’t mock youtube as the source of formal debates its not it just hosts the recording, or you can just throw out AXP and the Atheist Debates Project. May formal debates and legitimate news organizations upload their episodes/shows to youtube. Aside from listening to BOTH SIDES of the issue 50+ hours a week I am also reading several books on this topic. Most recently I started reading Sam Harris The Moral Landscape. I’m also trying to talk to people who have studied this subject. Aside from trying to have a converstaion with Matt here I’m also trying to get into contact with other formal debaters. Next step is to go back and interview my former paster, as well as others. Don’t dismiss me as someone who isn’t putting work into this.

    Up until a month ago, would have agreed with the next caller Gerry from Seattle that the moral argument is boring. However, even when debaters say they are not going to use the moral argument, or its just a small part of their argument it always creeps its way into the discussion and usually as a main, or their only, argument. So you cannot ignore the morality issue if your really want to take part in the discussion (is there a god?). View Matt’s videos on “Atheist Debates – Debate review: Does God Exist? with Jay Lucas Part 1” for an example of Jay Lucas changing his tactic to a generic moral argument instead of arguing for his Christian faith. I’m not saying this is necessarily wrong but instead I am pointing that out you cannot avoid the Moral argument and participate in the discussion at hand. If Matt has taught me anything it is that.

    I’m going to go with the principle of charity here and assume that they both misunderstood me and I likely didn’t make my case well on the call. I have tried calling in at least 3 or 4 times and this is the first time I have been able to speak with a host, so I wasn’t expecting to actually get through this time either.

  4. Darren powell says

    Not particularly connected with this show, It would be great if you would consider ‘an athiest perspective on death’ as maybe a topic for your show, maybe Tracie?. Whilst all the logical, reasoned and scientific arguments against using religion as a way to truth are undeniable, I’m convinced many thiests cling to religion as it offers ‘answers’ no matter how unbelievable for death which satisfy the biggest fear any of us can face. A topic I find rarely considered by fellow atheists in depth in public. I don’t know anyone who will talk about this without tears, it’s usually swept aside with ‘ I dont wanna talk or think about that’ or a ‘ live for today’ attitude. Rationality Rules as a video on accepting death but it’s rather a single view perspective.

    Hope someone gets what I mean! Lol.

    Love the show btw.

  5. dorbel says

    I believe that Jupiter (the planet) exists, but it has no effect on my life or, as far as I can tell, on anybody’s life. Does God exist? Who cares if he doesn’t impact on my life or as far as I can tell, on anybody’s life. The belief in God’s existence does impact billions of lives, but that isn’t the same thing!
    Give it up Jake, it does you no good.

  6. Wiggle Puppy says

    @ Jake:
    “Trying to confirm that there isn’t evidence. Thats the only honest thing to do. How am I doing that? I am doing a critical reading/listening to the bible in full..”

    Here’s your problem, and why the hosts got frustrated. As they mentioned, you’ve picked out this one (likely unfalsifiable) belief in some version of the god of the Bible, and set out to try to confirm that no evidence exists for this god. If this god is unfalsifiable, you’ve created an impossible task, because there is usually always some apologetic to explain apparent lack of evidence. (“Oh, prayers don’t seem to have any tangible effect beyond random chance, but God works in mysterious ways, and the Bible also says that thou shalt not put God to the test…”) And as Geoff mentioned, you’re engaged in special pleading: there is a practically limitless number of unfalsifiable beliefs one could hold – belief in the Bible god, in the Koran god, in the Hindu gods, in Ahura Mazda and Ahriman, in reincarnation, in the idea that we are living inside a computer simulation, in the idea that you am a brain in a vat and all other people in the world are figments of your imagination – but you’ve chosen this one particular one to try to disconfirm, without any good reason to do so except for the fact that you’ve been raised with it. For skeptics, no one unfalsifiable belief gets any special consideration over any other. I think it was your inability to recognize this simple fact that led to the hosts’ frustration.

    “Don’t mock youtube as the source of formal debates its not it just hosts the recording, or you can just throw out AXP and the Atheist Debates Project. May formal debates and legitimate news organizations upload their episodes/shows to youtube.”

    Why isn’t this god clearing up your confusion himself? Doesn’t the god of the Bible, especially the New Testament, love humans and want them to follow him and be saved so that they can join him in heaven eventually? Why is he making it so hard for you just to confirm that he is real?

  7. RationalismRules says

    @Jake3D

    I still believe in a god, in part, to avoid an argument from authority.

    I was with Matt and Geoff in finding this difficult to make sense of.

    I think the problem is that you are mixing up two separate propositions:
    – There is no evidence for god
    – There is a god
    Although they are related they are separate propositions and need to be assessed separately. You don’t avoid a fallacy on the first proposition by believing the second proposition – that doesn’t make any sense.

    You are right to identify “there is no evidence for god because Matt says so” as a logical fallacy, and you are looking for the evidence yourself, rather than simply accepting Matt’s say-so. Fallacy successfully avoided.
    (In this case, the evidence for this proposition is actually lack of evidence. Very confusing.)

    You should treat the second proposition the same way, and withhold belief until you have evidence. If you have evidence, then that is why you believe.

  8. says

    jacob,

    believing in a deity in order to avoid a very particular logical error (while freely indulging in many others) is the first new apologetic i’ve heard, which just sounds disingenuous, as geoff remarked at the end of the call.

    and as geoff pointed out to you (@1:45:45), if you believe god exists because your parents and your pastors taught you so, then you’re still committing the argument from authority fallacy, which you seem to be using, with a heaping side dish of special pleading, just to stubbornly reject sound arguments against your position.

  9. bluestar says

    @Jake3D – I understand your frustration, but from an outsider looking in your thoughts appeared disjointed from the very beginning of the call. Even after reading your comment I am still unclear of your ‘goals’ for lack of a better word. I lose interest with complex philosophical arguments, perhaps because I’m a nuts and bolts kind of person. Some of these arguments like the Kalam, and subjective morality make my eyes glaze over. Now I didn’t have the disadvantage of being indoctrinated at a young age. My parents and close family were Catholic, but not very religious. However I did spend a good amount of years as a born again Christian in a bible believing Baptist church. It was the study of that very bible alone that led me to where I am now. I gleaned during your conversation that you used to be a YEC but are not anymore. The overwhelming evidence of science in respect to evolution and the formation and age of our planet and universe has changed your mind. So by default, you have concluded that the bible is not true in this area at least. My question is, why stop there? Christianity is built on the bible, both the old and new testaments. While there are many Christians who don’t buy the creation story, they buy the other ones. Fundies will tell you that every word of the bible from Gen – Rev points to Christ. Why do you think Christian so called science organizations are popping up like dandelions on an April lawn? Their job is to convince the skeptical believer that mainstream science is wrong and misleading. The reason being if any part of the bible is untrue {false} then how can one verify any part is true? Further in Genesis you read about a global flood. All evidence compiled by science over the last 200 years demonstrates that this never happened. Into Exodus we read a story about Moses and God’s people. Another anchor in the Judaeo-Christian belief. It never took place. Despite years of coming for a shred of evidence that this event was real, earth sciences and secular history show otherwise. The same is true for other OT stories. I suggest watching a documentary by Nova called “The Bibles Buried Secrets” and following up with the writings of the featured scientists. A real eye opener. Further on in the NT, we see the disparities of the gospels, the lack of any secular documentation of miracles, dead people walking through the cities, and other supernatural claims. As the Western culture moved towards Christianity we can further identify the influence of western civilization into these ancient Hebrew and Greek writings which by then were copies of copies, etc. The KJV…the Fundie Gold Standard of bible translations has characters named Paul, Philip, Andrew, Bartholomew, Timothy…were there truly men with these names living in 1st century Palestine? Only in the bible. In summary, perhaps it would be helpful to you to stay off of debates about morality and other esoteric topics. Look at the blueprints for Judaeo-Christian, and Abrahamic religions. If one finds so much untruth, how can one accept any part of it?

  10. Jake3D says

    Ok lets get something clear, because you all obviously don’t get it. Those who do not examine their core are destined to be wrong. I have been doing a purely critical and skeptical evaluation of my core beliefs but I wont be so dishonest as to claim I have abandoned by belief just because the Atheist Community thinks my beliefs are wakadoodles. You don’t change your belief over night. I agree with Matt in that you don’t chose your beliefs you become convinced of them, and just because you want to ad populum me doesn’t mean that counts as a good reason to change my belief. If you care what is true the you Do have a burden of proof to find out If there is evidence. THIS IS NOT believing until you have “evidence to the contrary” this is verifying the atheist claim. This is not Special pleading, or Argument from authority, or trying to falsify the unfalsifiable, this is the only honest thing to do, but skeptical about both sides. Nullius in verba, Trust No One, “on the word of no one” or “take nobody’s word for it”. Find out for yourself.

    @bluestar
    “your thoughts appeared disjointed from the very beginning of the call” fair assessment, there is a number of reasons for that. As I already said I was surprised to get through, I was having issues with my notes ap on my table, there were plenty of things going on here I wont discuss, but mostly thats because we talked for 35 minutes about a topic I wasn’t prepared to talk about.

    “perhaps it would be helpful to you to stay off of debates about morality and other esoteric topics. Look at the blueprints for Judaeo-Christian, and Abrahamic religions. If one finds so much untruth, how can one accept any part of it?” Don’t presume that I cannot have an intellectual debate about morality just because I am honest enough to admit I don’t have a good reason for my prior belief in god. Thats absolutely ridicules. And to assert I don’t have an understanding of the blueprint of my religion is just down right insulting. I don’t know you or your background, I don’t know how much time you have spent in critical examination of your core beliefs so I wouldn’t say something so …… to you. As for me I have been doing a purely critical and skeptical evaluation of my core beliefs. I have a strong understanding of the blueprints of my religion and everyday I spend multiple hours looking deeper into them.

    @aarrgghh
    It may sound disingenuous to you, and I don’t think I care, your wrong. As I already have said You don’t change your belief over night. To do so would be committing the fallacy. Yes I have already agreed that I came into my belief for bad reasons (as far as I can remember) it would have likely been argument from authority when I was a child. But it would be more dishonest to claim a change in belief just because that’s the cool kid thing to do now.

    @RationalismRules
    You again just didn’t understand what I was saying. see above. Perhaps it would be better to say, Here is my belief, we are putting it aside for now, we cannot make a rational judgment on it until more evidence is in. Again all parties have a burden of proof here, the greater burden is on the theism side, but all parties are not divorced of responsibility if they care about the truth. So until we can properly reevaluate the whole position we can assume it is tentatively correct.

    @Wiggle Puppy
    You are doing exactly the same as Matt and Geoff ignoring what I’m saying and assuming that I am trying to falsify the unfalsifiable. This is dumb, read what I said, it is not at all what I am doing.

    And then you go with the divine hiddenness problem. If she wants to have a relationship with us then he wouldn’t hide himself. And if it doesn’t want to have a relationship they will stay hidden and we cannot change that. I reject this type of god out right. If there is a being, or entity, that omni w/e and doesn’t want to be found it doesn’t qualify as a god. For something to be real to us it necessarily must manifest in our reality. If it doesn’t manifest in any way then it is by definition not real, regardless of its actual state of being. So that type of entity does not meet the minimal qualifications of being a god.

  11. Patrick Lee says

    @ Jake

    I would recommend looking into Bart Ehrman. He basically gave his life to studying the Bible and Christianity, first as an aspiring Christian apologist and ended up an atheist. He shows that the gospels are mostly just copies, which show historical inconsistencies throughout. The Bible flies against science from the start, which states that the universe was created with “God created the Heavens and the Earth”, which is historically inaccurate. The Earth is 4 B years old and the universe 13.7, so they weren’t created at the same time. Look into the websites “a skeptic’s annotated Bible” and “evil Bible” to see the inconsistencies and negative aspects of the Bible. Good luck!

  12. dc19 says

    When is it a good time to stop the conversation with a theist? I tried to have a conversation with a theist about morality and it went no where. I continued to answer questions multiple times, but it was as if my answers were not even being read (probably doesn’t help it was on social media)

    I got irritated and just stopped because it felt like a waste of time, but I’m wondering if I should have continued to try and explain.

  13. bodbod says

    @Jake3D

    You keep saying you don’t change your belief overnight. Why not? If someone points out something ball scratchingly obvious, what is it about you that stops you accepting it right away?
    Also, your main premise just makes no sense! You won’t disbelieve in God until you know there is no evidence for him (if I’m getting that right?). How do you know when you’ve looked under every rock and it’s time to stop looking. I’m guessing you’ll always feel the proof is just round the corner. Bit of a silly approach.

  14. Murat says

    @Jake3D
    I haven’t yet watched this episode. Just came across your comments and mine will be based on them solely:
    I suggest you try to structure your 1) position 2) motivation for search 3) objection to the atheist “position” in very straight, sharp, to the point “propositions” before getting into exchanges with others.
    Because this way, when you are trying to communicate both your feelings and your stance mixed up together, subjective takes from you and others are clashing as opposed to one proper statement being put under scrutiny by various minds.

  15. Varkey says

    @Jake3d, comment 2
    I think it is a fine distinction between the 2 ideas of, a) disbelief as the default position until a burden of proof is met; and b) saying I don’t know either way.

    AE often mentions (a); when I was younger people often (using poor terminology) called themselves agnostic, to mean they were not sure whether a god existed or not, ie (b).

    It is a fine difference. In someone said to me do you believe JFK was killed by the CIA, I would answer (a), my friend would answer (b). If someone asked me about whether I thought aliens existed I would answer (b), not (a), I think it is likely aliens exist, based on probability. I think people do an internal probability calculation in their head for many questions to decide if they are (a) or (b), even when evidence is sparse or non existent.

  16. says

    jacob,

    “Again all parties have a burden of proof here, the greater burden is on the theism side, but all parties are not divorced of responsibility if they care about the truth. So until we can properly reevaluate the whole position we can assume it is tentatively correct.”

    no — only one side of a claim has the burden of proof at any time. there is no “greater burden” on one side.

    we talk so much about the burden of proof that we neglect its complement, the benefit of assumption (of being correct). the burden always starts on the claimant. the party not carrying the burden is given the benefit of assumption, meaning they are not obligated to defend the rejection of the claim. in court, it’s represented by the presumption of innocence. when the claimant fulfills their burden of proof, they capture the benefit of assumption and pass the burden to the party contesting the claim.

    in this manner the burden is like a football. you either have it or you don’t. when one side presents sufficient arguments and evidence to meet their burden of proof, then — and only then — is it handed off to the opposition, who may attempt to meet their new burden with counter-evidence or concede defeat.

  17. StonedRanger says

    Jake3D You are going about your search backwards. You do not look for proof something does not exist. You look instead, for proof something does exist. And stop telling people they don’t understand what youre saying. You are not communicating with dummies here. Most here were christians at one time or another and we understand you very well. That’s why were telling you youre going about this all backasswards. And I think that contributed to the hosts frustration. They kept trying to tell you that and you kept saying ‘nuh uh’. You look for proof god exists. If you cant find that, then you have all the proof you need that god isn’t there. If you are in Death Valley and you are out of water, do you look for proof that there is no water? Or do you look for water and end up finding none? You spent so much time going in circles and to what end? I would have hung up on you long before the call ended.

  18. CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain says

    @Jake3D #2:

    Take it from the leprechaun point of view. Find the end of the rainbow and there is not pot of gold. Does that disprove leprechauns? No, but at what point do you conclude there are not leprechauns?

     
    Article: Wikipedia – Rainbow

    A rainbow is not located at a specific distance from the observer, but comes from an optical illusion caused by any water droplets viewed from a certain angle relative to a light source. Thus, a rainbow is not an object and cannot be physically approached.

     

    I am looking into it, extensively.

    Snakes don’t speak human languages. You are, of course, entitled to dismiss my authority on that subject and personally scour the Earth for a talking snake. Maybe try catching up to one of those rainbows and look there?

  19. Wiggle Puppy says

    @ Jake #2:

    “Find the end of the rainbow and there is not pot of gold. Does that disprove leprechauns? No, but at what point do you conclude there are not leprechauns? Its a war of attrition against that belief, it doesn’t take that much to not belief in leprechauns, but you don’t start with a belief in leprechauns.”

    You don’t start with a belief in a god either. It’s put there by indoctrination or some other external source. That’s the point you’re missing over and over.

    @ Jake #7:

    “This is not Special pleading”

    It is, unless you’re also trying to confirm that evidence does not exist for every other supernatural claim, and believing them all until this lack of evidence is conclusive.

    “Again all parties have a burden of proof here”

    There’s no burden of proof for “I do not believe in any gods,” nor is there one for “I do not find your argument compelling.”

    “But it would be more dishonest to claim a change in belief just because that’s the cool kid thing to do now.”

    Sure, but it *is* honest to claim a change in belief due to a recognition that your previous reasons for holding a belief were insufficient and/or inadequate.

    “For something to be real to us it necessarily must manifest in our reality. If it doesn’t manifest in any way then it is by definition not real, regardless of its actual state of being. So that type of entity does not meet the minimal qualifications of being a god.”

    Deists would disagree. You have a very narrow view and understanding of the issues under consideration based on your preconceptions and prejudices. That’s why everyone is getting frustrated with you.

  20. t90bb says

    Jake….

    To put it bluntly..your approach to this is ass backwards. Basically you are saying that at some point you were convinced a god exists (since you are a theist), and you are doing a studious study to see if you can find evidence that your magic genie does not exist,

    At one point you even said “you were sticking a pin” in your belief as a starting point….and it will be up to your study to change your current belief.

    Heres the PROBLEM….you have admitted you had no good basis for belief originally.

    If you were being fair and objective about this, your CURRENT position would be “I DONT KNOW”….and you would let your current study guide your ultimate conclusion.

    The fact that you held a belief on admitted bad evidence (or lack of any evidence) DOES NOT justify your current position of a theist.

    Try and get honest with yourself pal.. I could really care less about where you end up. I am just trying to tell you that your process is bias from the start. Perhaps you are really arguing for belief in a magic genie should be the default position. If, indeed that is your argument. I disagree with that as well but would better understand why you are so obtuse about this.

    Wish you luck pal. If you find any good positive evidence of the cosmic da da please let us know.

  21. Monocle Smile says

    @Jake
    Here’s another vote for “your position is backwards.”
    But it’s worse than that:

    How am I doing that? I am doing a critical reading/listening to the bible in full, I am listening to formal debates, informal debates and discussions, and anything directly related to the subject. Let me be specific in what I mean by formal debate. I mean debates like Christopher Hitchens vs Jay Richards at Stanford University, Lawrence Krauss vs William Lane Craig at Melbourne – City Bible Forum, Matt Dillahunty vs Blake Giunta at Bible and Beer Consortium. And by informal debates/discussions I mean things like the Atheist Experience

    Why are all things science absent from your list? If something exists, then there can be tests designed to test for its existence based on its properties. This is how science works.

    Don’t presume that I cannot have an intellectual debate about morality just because I am honest enough to admit I don’t have a good reason for my prior belief in god. Thats absolutely ridicules

    If you admit that you don’t have a good reason to accept a fundamental premise of the discussion that infiltrates every aspect of said discussion but you argue from that premise anyway, can the discussion be considered intellectual? I certainly think not.

    Also, you come across as extremely aggressive for someone who openly admits that he believes things for no good reason. That won’t win you many friends or allies in any discussion. It makes you sound like someone that people barely tolerate at best.

  22. einyv says

    Sorry Jake ,the only one that doesn’t get it is you. We clearly understand your position. Like everyone else said, you are doing it backwards.

    I agree don’t believe in god because we said so. The point is there is no evidence to believe in your God in the first place. You can’t use the bible as evidence because that would be purely circular reasoning. If your god is all powerful why can’t it manifest in reality (which is one of your criteria) so it can be shown to everyone? Since it hasn’t and without the bible you have 0 evidence. Even the voices you heard in your head as a child is not evidence.

    Fact of the matter is you have no good reason to hold the belief you have. It might happen in time like the other beliefs you used to hold and no longer do. Remember this, we know what you are going through because many of us used to be theists and went though a journey ourselves. Heck Matt was studying to be a pastor.

    The many long pauses after the hosts stated something I feel you know logically in your mind they made a great point but because of your indoctrination you suspend logic to hold on the belief because it is comforting. You are prime examples of the god of the gaps. You slowly remove pieces you no longer really have nothing to do with God. Even from your testimony on the show your God has become smaller.

  23. constantreader says

    Hey, Jake. I don’t think you are being misunderstood. I think you are being understood all too well.You are simply not finding the agreement you seek.
    *
    The burden of proof lies with the claimant. The claim that there is a god carries the burden. Since there is absolutely no actual evidence in support of the claim, the claim fails.
    *
    As pointed out above there is a mountain of evidence contradicting the claim. Not accepting the evidence in opposition to the claim, or adjusting the claim to accommodate the opposing evidence, is not supportive of the claim. It is actually more evidence that the claim fails.
    *
    I am curious as to what you wished to discuss in regard to morality. As Matt has pointed out time and again, the god of the Bible is an immoral thug. If a person followed the morality of the Bible and they were caught perpetrating the crimes, they would be imprisoned.
    *
    On a positive note, you are at least questioning your faith in a god. Perhaps you will one day start to accept the obvious answer.

  24. t90bb says

    Jake…..try this on for a reasonable response to our collective feedback:

    “Yea guys, I see that I really do not have a good reason to hold the position of theist, and clinging to it as I do my studies is silly. I think I will just study and keep an open mind”

    Now that would be entirely reasonable…..

  25. Derak says

    I have a friend who sounded very similar to Jerry. He may be suffering from schizophrenia. Listening to him as he went on was breaking my heart. If anyone has contact with him, he may need to see a professional.

  26. RationalismRules says

    @Jake3D #7
    I’m doing my best to understand what you mean. This is what I understand you to be trying to say – feel free to correct me if I have it wrong. I think you’re trying to say: “I have a prior belief in god. If I were to abandon that belief just because Matt (or anyone else) says there is no evidence for god, I would be falling for an argument-from-authority fallacy.”
    Did I get that right?

    If I’ve paraphrased you successfully, you are right on that point – if you simply abandoned your belief because someone told you to, that would be falling for an argument-from-authority fallacy. The confusion arose because it sounded like you were citing it as one of your reasons for believing in god, which it’s not. It’s a reason for not abandoning your prior belief without investigation, and I think that’s what you’ve been trying to say all along, but the way you phrased it confused us.

    I think it’s a very good thing that you’re examining your beliefs, and I’d like to keep chatting with you on the subject, but you’re under attack from all sides at the moment so maybe I’ll step back for a while. It’s been a bit quiet around here for the last couple of weeks – I think everyone’s excited to have someone to argue against.

  27. paxoll says

    I think Jake should listen to the video a few dozen times. Indoctrination as a child is a belief founded on an appeal to authority. By giving up your belief because of an appeal to authority is also wrong. The correct response is to recognize you have no good reason to believe and give up that belief until you can find evidence to believe. It is really hard to give up a belief. The best way to go about it is to try and identify the arguments that have persuaded you to believe, and then go research each of those arguments in an honest attempt to see the best of both sides of that argument.

  28. Bluestar says

    @Jake3D#7— I certainly did not mean to insult you and I’m sorry if I did. My suggestion to focus on the information in the bible and not become engrossed in esoteric issues was just that, a suggestion. Something that helped me and many others. I didn’t mean to infer you are not capable of an intellectual discussion on morality, truth be told the thought never entered my mind. As far as understanding the blueprint for your religion, that blueprint is the bible. Compare what is written in it to things that are known today or at least to the evidence that has or has not been found regarding the stories. I found it at first disturbing but then realized that a rational mind, after performing such a task, will discard the bible writings for what they are presented to be; The infallible word of god. The rational mind will see them for what they are…the words of people, nothing more or less. After that, the only thing left is still what other people tell you. One makes this journey alone. Good luck to you.

  29. Ronald Kyle says

    Caller Gerry is very obviously lying for Jesus. Most people do not know but lying for Jesus is a full time concern that numerous people engage in for various reasons.

    Gerry is blatantly one of those liars for Jesus… his words expose his dissimulation… no other proof is needed other than his own words.

    Some might be generous and say that he is a confused dupe…. but yet again listen carefully to his words and you would have all the proof for the fact that the guy is not a confused dupe but rather a deliberate pretender lying for Jesus as his own way of proselytizing for his illegitimate son of his sky daddy who he thinks will reward him for his LIES for his sake.

    Well done Matt for cutting him off …. I admire your patience I would have cut him off the moment he said that he told his pretend lie of a hallucination to stay away because he was unworthy…. that is a blatant telltale of his dissimulations and lies for Jesus.

    His whole story is a lie for Jesus rehearsed and practiced and designed for proselytizing to atheists.

  30. Ronald Kyle says

    @Jake3D…. your entire stance is called Cognitive Dissonance… you were inculcated and indoctrinated and brainwashed into a belief system by the authority in your life right from your formative years until now… and you recognize that there is a problem in that brainwashing and know there is something wrong… BUT… you are suffering Cognitive Dissonance due to recognition of the problem and are now going through the pangs of C.D…. I suggest you research this condition… it is a real psychological condition and can be quite painful (psychologically)….. here is a link as a starter https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cognitive_dissonance

  31. Altitudes says

    @Jake3D

    “I still believe in a god, in part, to avoid an argument from authority. Matt is basically telling me there is no evidence so you should be an atheist wither or not I look into the claim.”

    I don’t think you’re understanding what an argument from authority is. An argument from authority would be “You should be an atheist because Matt says so”. No one is saying you should be an atheist simply because Matt says so. The argument is that you should not accept a proposition until such time as there is sufficient evidence. The fact that it’s Matt making that argument is completely irrelevant.

    Equally you are not supposed to take it at face value when Matt says “There is no evidence for God”. You are supposed to consider whether you actually, as of yet, have any evidence for God. If you don’t yet have any evidence for God, then you don’t yet have any good reason to believe in God. This, again, is not an argument from authority. It’s a simple consideration of the available evidence.

    You are, of course, welcome and encouraged to go out and search for evidence for God. And if you find such sufficient evidence THEN you will be warranted in your belief. And you are free to believe in God even not having sufficient evidence, but that is by definition irrational.

    I have no idea what you think argument from authority is or why it’s relevant here, but it isn’t.

  32. Murat says

    @Altitudes
    What is more striking is that, he does not even consider “theism” as a way following “argument from authority”.
    Thinks being an atheist would, somehow, necessarily make him fall under the authority of those advocating the atheist position, but does not consider the situation vice-versa.

  33. Bluestar says

    Thanks for pointing that out Ron. Lying for Jesus is in the realm of Pious Fraud which has been around for ages. Recently, there has been a resurgence typically among young, aggressive evangelical Christians in the digital venues. These folks appear on shows like AXP, Web boards, and YT threads. Despite criticism from contemporaries for lying, they look at themselves as soldiers in Christ’s battle for souls albeit via a by any means necessary approach a la Malcom X. They almost always follow the same script…flattering the host or OP, aligning with their cause, ex- whatever, then describing their revelation which most times includes Jesus and the devil. A few shows back I had the same opinion of another ex atheist caller.

  34. Varkey says

    Clicked on one of the side bar stories, regarding Neil Degrasse Tyson, the tattoo tracing sounds like @21:35 in the clip. Not the best look (although I don’t know their friendship).

  35. Ronald Kyle says

    @Bluestar “a la Malcom X”… actually it is more like a la Saint Paul and Martin Luther and Eusebius and Jesus himself

    Lying for the sake of Jesus is a well cherished tradition in Christianity started off by the alleged words of the purported Jesus himself in the fairy tales
    ○ Matthew 4:19 And He said to them, “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.”

    Jesus even says outright that you can sin for as long as you want and for as much as you want and have as many victims as you want… and when you finally retire from a life of crime you will be more welcome in heaven than 99 innocent souls or even your very own victims (some of whom might be in hell due to not believing in Jesus)…
    ○Luke 15:7 I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance.

    Paul dissimulates and hucksters and shysters for Jesus’s sake
    ○ 1 Corinthians 9:20-23 To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews. To those under the law I became like one under the law (though I myself am not under the law), so as to win those under the law. To those not having the law I became like one not having the law (though I am not free from God’s law but am under Christ’s law), so as to win those not having the law. To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some. I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings.”

    Eusebius, Emperor Constantine’s bishop, legalizes deception for Jesus’ sake
    ○ How it may be lawful and fitting to use falsehood as a medicine, and for the benefit of those who want to be deceived.

    And Martin Luther the founder of Protestantism sanctified lying for Jesus’ sake
    ○ What harm would it do, if a man told a good strong lie for the sake of the good and for the Christian church … a lie out of necessity, a useful lie, a helpful lie, such lies would not be against God, he would accept them.

  36. Ronald Kyle says

    @Bluestar “They almost always follow the same script…flattering the host or OP, aligning with their cause, ex- whatever, then describing their revelation’…. EXACTLY… it is the formula that Saint Paul used

    ○ 1 Corinthians 9:20-23 ….I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some. I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings.”

  37. paxoll says

    Varkey, please do not bring off topic subjects to this blog. If you want to discuss those topics please go to the blog you found them.

  38. Varkey says

    No, it is hardly mayhem. These are very relevant. As far as I am aware you are not a moderator.

  39. Monocle Smile says

    Varkey, you’re new on this blog and already you’ve gotten overly butthurt twice at the first sign of adversity. Might want to rethink your attitude.

  40. Varkey says

    Let’s just save the self-appointed BB policing for the actual moderators, if that doesn’t hurt your feelings. Projection much. I really could do with a block button.

  41. Murat says

    I’d be okay with reading comments on how beliefs do or do not matter in cases of sexual misconduct between people, and such topics may well fit into the context of the blog, even with vivid and popular examples in written words, but a whole account of who grabbed whose ass in video form may even visually disturb the outlook of the page as it loads.
    I think maybe we should at least write something notable as an introduction to the relevance when posting videos.

  42. Wiggle Puppy says

    The hosts have sporadically complained on the show about receiving emails that just consist of a Youtube video without any explanation why it was sent. Perhaps it might be a good idea to provide *your own* comment or commentary about a topic, and then provide a link to a relevant Youtube video if you wish, without embedding the video itself? Spamming video thumbnails is kind of annoying.

  43. Varkey says

    Wow, the I need my handheld when it suits BB police are in force. Not interested in your assessment of my posts or people’s armchair psychology. Comparing my reasonable posts on a BB to a personnel email is so balanced! I’ve seen the same shocking BB posting from others, without censor! Someone get my smelling salts.

    My posts are not inappropriate, unlike using conventions to be inappropriate. See what I did there (but people are often quick to say such stuff is inappropriate, ignoring the stuff that is actually inappropriate). Perhaps people here need a posting etiquette or to see a psychologist, armchair (some here no doubt) or otherwise, as such behaviour is truly shocking.

    Let the tag-team pedantic bullying and enabling begin (or continue). Eg. calling out my responses and ignoring others and blaming me for being disruptive. Yawn.

  44. Varkey says

    And I didn’t start policing before someone tries that blinkered pointing tactic.

    And in advance, “thanks” to the people who police further, for proving my points.

  45. says

    Varkey, your habit of posting random youtube links was, perhaps unknowingly, a behavior that some found to be rather obnoxious. Someone alerted you to this fact respectfully, and you responded in a most unpleasant manner.

    If there is any part of you that cares about the quality of discussion on this forum, then please heed my sincere advice: Tone it down.

  46. Varkey says

    By someone do you mean a moderator or an unsolicited life coach/annoying person. The latter. Bye. Self appointed BB police to the rescue. Tone it down.

    Oh forgot to give you credit:
    5 points for giving clearly unwanted annoying condescending advice (even though it has been given (badly) before)
    10 points for proving my previous post
    Can’t award points for continuing to miss the point of inappropriate behaviour

    Sure posters will keep it up and not move on. And i’ll of course keep posting as I have been doing in an appropriate manner for a FREE THOUGHT BLOG.

  47. Wiggle Puppy says

    “Comparing my reasonable posts on a BB to a personnel email is so balanced!”

    I was comparing “passing along Youtube videos with no explanation of context of why you think they are important” to “passing along Youtube videos with no explanation of context of why you think they are important.”

    “Wow, the I need my handheld when it suits BB police are in force. Not interested in your assessment of my posts or people’s armchair psychology. Comparing my reasonable posts on a BB to a personnel email is so balanced! I’ve seen the same shocking BB posting from others, without censor! Someone get my smelling salts.
    My posts are not inappropriate, unlike using conventions to be inappropriate. See what I did there (but people are often quick to say such stuff is inappropriate, ignoring the stuff that is actually inappropriate). Perhaps people here need a posting etiquette or to see a psychologist, armchair (some here no doubt) or otherwise, as such behaviour is truly shocking.
    Let the tag-team pedantic bullying and enabling begin (or continue). Eg. calling out my responses and ignoring others and blaming me for being disruptive. Yawn.
    And I didn’t start policing before someone tries that blinkered pointing tactic.
    And in advance, “thanks” to the people who police further, for proving my points.
    By someone do you mean a moderator or an unsolicited life coach/annoying person. The latter. Bye. Self appointed BB police to the rescue. Tone it down.
    Oh forgot to give you credit:
    5 points for giving clearly unwanted annoying condescending advice (even though it has been given (badly) before)
    10 points for proving my previous post
    Can’t award points for continuing to miss the point of inappropriate behaviour
    Sure posters will keep it up and not move on. And i’ll of course keep posting as I have been doing in an appropriate manner for a FREE THOUGHT BLOG.”

    “Wow” is right.

  48. Monocle Smile says

    My feeling is that Varkey has behaved in similar fashion on a number of other forums and received similar feedback. This isn’t going to stop and will probably get worse. Hope the mods are watching.

  49. Varkey says

    Didn’t read your post (like most I think), I’ll assume it is more BS. Don’t want to encourage this. And relevance to atheism activism (unlike my post)? Rhetorical question so don’t bother.

    This is such a “most unpleasant” response by me (which set this all off):
    “No, it is hardly mayhem. These are very relevant. As far as I am aware you are not a moderator.”

    Last person to post is not right as some seem to think. The last lawyer to speak in a court case does not win automatically. Keep up the posts.

  50. Varkey says

    I expect if aliens or god landed in Time Square we would not be allowed to talk about it (by the BB police, not the actual moderators) if it was not mentioned in the episode. Unless the BB police wanted to of course. Special pleading, and the rest of the logical fallacies rife in their comments. Next (sarcastic btw).

  51. Bluestar says

    A – hole obviously wants to hijack threads for whatever reason. Ignore it and it will go away. Smh

  52. Varkey says

    And more logical fallacies and bullying. Like an obnoxious theist. Fallacy from (self-appointed) authority, etc. Leave me alone (just so I have made it clear).

  53. Varkey says

    Watching Smallfoot and it seems like a possible atheist film aimed at kids! Although at least one christian does not agree!:

    “Whatever the filmmakers” intentions might have been, “Smallfoot” speaks volumes about seeking the TRUTH, and so I actually find it supports Christianity rather than subverts it. “Smallfoot” does blatantly present an attack against having blind faith in what we are taught, in following ancient traditions which are not to be questioned and in trusting the leaders who espouse them. And although on the surface that would seem to be an attack against Christianity, to me it could just as easily be an attack on the modern worldview of never questioning Evolution”
    https://christiananswers.net/spotlight/movies/2018/smallfoot2018.html

  54. t90bb says

    Boy do we need JAKE to come back……..this squabble looks bad from all sides, honestly

    For the love of god (ha) fellas, enough.

  55. Varkey says

    At least Smallfoot is encouraging critical thinking and not blind faith:
    Yeti 1: Do you seriously believe mammoths are holding us up?
    Yeti 2: What’s holding up the mammoths?
    Yeti 3 (believer): Uh, hello, it’s just mammoths all the way down. They’re questioning the stones, and we don’t do that, okay.

  56. ecostarr says

    My difficulty with a discussion about intuition is a basic understanding of what intuition is. For the most part, intuition is one of two things: a feeling about the truthiness of a situation based on a lack of information or a feeling based on unconscious knowledge. In both cases, your intuition may be wrong. However, intuition based on unconscious knowledge is more likely to be right as compared to the intuition that has no basis in conscious or unconscious knowledge (i.e. a lack of knowledge). The higher probability is based on the fact that unconscious knowledge is rooted in rational or known fact . . . you just don’t have direct access to that.

  57. Theisntist says

    Man, that’s 2 people on this thread completely misusing the term “argument from authority”. I’m starting to worry that axp is just giving people bigger words to use when being immature. For the record, “argument from authority” isn’t synonymous with “you’re not the boss of me”.

  58. says

    @ecostarr:

    intuition based on unconscious knowledge is more likely to be right as compared to the intuition that has no basis in conscious or unconscious knowledge (i.e. a lack of knowledge). The higher probability is based on the fact that unconscious knowledge is rooted in rational or known fact . . . you just don’t have direct access to that.

    but how can anyone determine the presence or validity of knowledge even the claimant cannot access? in both cases, we weigh the truth of intuitions the same way we weigh any other claim — against logic and evidence. so partitioning intuition in this manner seems to create a distinction without a difference.

  59. Varkey says

    I think the difference between ‘know’ and ‘believe’ is also important. Many people say they know God exists when really they should, imo, say believe. I believe aliens exist (based on probability, ie a type of evidence) but I do not know they exist. Belief has a (much) lower level of evidence if you will.

    I think saying as I did, ‘self-appointed authority’ is effectively, the other person thinks they have authority but does not even have that, aside from them trying to lean on it fallaciously. A “whatchu talkin’ about Willis”, if you will, more than a ‘you are not the boss of me’.

  60. Varkey says

    I think Jake3D was saying if he had changed his views because he felt he was supposed to philosophically, that would be an authority type fallacy. I don’t think he felt that was what Matt was asking him to do, or that it was what Matt was asking him to do. I think Matt was asking him to examine his reasons for belief and what the default position should be.

    Resisting control or being your own person is a separate thing. Many people naturally baulk against control. I grew up in a sometimes controlling environment. eg. automatic respect for elders, which could go too far or used as manipulation; my mum is still trying to arrange my marriage despite me telling her no.

    The control I have had to deal with was no way near as bad as what others have had to deal with. If anyone has seen ‘A Girl in The River’ some of the scenes are shocking:

    Saba (whose family tried to ‘honour’ kill her): The Elders have changed lawyers. They took away my old one. My old lawyer gave me good advice. But this new lawyer has not even spoken to me.
    Cut to new lawyer
    New lawyer: With Saba’s consent I am moving to have her father and uncle released.

    After the father is released:
    Father/attempted murderer: After this incident everyone says I am more respected. They say I am an honourable man. They say what I did was right…I have other daughters. Since the incident each daughter has received proposals because I am called an honourable man…I can proudly say that for generations to come none of my descendent will ever think of doing what Saba did [she married a man without her parent’s permission].

    I have had to cut family members, friends and work colleagues (as much as I could) out of my life for overly controlling or unsavoury behaviour, eg. sleazy work colleagues that were using me as cover or to enable their womanizing/man-izing at work. Obviously nothing as bad as ‘A Girl in the River’.

    I have met many people, religious and non-religious, who have an assumed air of authority, judgement (eg giving dirty looks), and who infantilize, and my natural reaction is to tell them to **** off! TheraminTrees examines similar issues in his series on transactional analysis:

  61. Varkey says

    Obviously authority is sometimes reasonable. But it can be abused or unwarranted.

    Religion, as has been said by others, is a Rorschach test, that can in some situations enable abusive controllers. Back to ‘A Girl in the River’:
    Interviewer: You’re locked up because you tried to kill your daughter
    Father/attempted murderer: Lady, Islam does not permit the girl to go outside of the house…
    Interviewer: Does Islam permit murder?
    Father/attempted murderer: No, it’s not written in the Quran. But where is it written a girl can run away with a stranger?

    On a separate note on control, what is happening in China to the Uyghur, is an example of government authority being used to abuse/control, this time against religion.

  62. Josh Opell says

    I wish more atheists were philosophical instead of putting faith in science and reason. David Hume demonstrated that scientific reasoning cannot be justified deductively becuase it would be very circular to assume that the future will resemble the past based on past observations. My only wish for fellow atheists is for them to be more skeptical of science, logic, and mathematics as those also have yet to find a consistent system. Remember, science doesn’t look for truth. Philosophy does. In fact, philosophy invented science.

  63. Varkey says

    Religion is a form of control. Big brother and the ultimate rewards/punishment, carrot and stick.

    The Abrahamic religions for some reason what to control LBGTQ people. But it is not just religion (or directly religion). Russia is doing the same, perhaps from a basis in religion.

    Putin is very controlling: LBGTQ people, Crimea, and the poisonings in the UK. And he is largely supported by the religious, and heterosexual/cis people. As long as they are treated okay, or are centred, they will support him.

    It seems he has sanctioned journalist killings. He was in charge of the FSB (Russian successor to the KGB) until a few months before the Russian apartment bombing which killed 293, which are widely suspected to have been carried out by the FSB. And he blocked parliament member Yuri Shchekochikhin’s attempts to call for an investigation, before Shchekochikhin was murdered.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Russian_apartment_bombings

    I am not qualified to diagnose people, but it seems brazen/obvious that we have a sociopath or someone who is very comfortable lying to get what he wants in charge in the US, and a psychopath in charge in Russia. And they have a strong support from the religious especially. It’s not like voters could not have supported others who were also religiously conservative – they just don’t seem that bothered, or did not want to.

  64. Varkey says

    MBS in Saudi Arabia is also a control freak, supported by a religious base and structure. He is implicated in the killing of Jamal Khashoggi and kidnapped the leader of Lebanon.

    The leader of Dubai has kidnapped his own adult daughter.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ivnf7Xt57HU

    Religion has been used to control or enable control, or seems very much okay with it. But of course, as I mentioned with the Uyghur in China, humans are very much capable of controlling without religion being the oppressor or enabler.

  65. oreoman1987 says

    I don’t understand how so many people can call themselves skeptics amd yet still believe in science. Have they never heard of the problem of induction? Or the problem of underdetermination? I think more atheists need to embrace philosophy as opposed to having faith in science and reason.

  66. Paul Money says

    My two cents.
    Geoff was I thought a particularly bright debutant, not the easiest seat to fill alongside Matt.
    Varkey’s contributions are tedious space filler, largely off topic and even when factual, not news to me or one suspects anybody else.

  67. Varkey says

    Okay. You’re entitled to your balanced, news worthy, non-filler (non bully enabling) opinion, as little as I care, glad you can centre your opinion as a voice of the masses. Gotta be popular above all else. This BB does have a toxic male air to it, but then, welcome to the internet.

    I think you proved my point by saying it is not news about Putin etc; religious people know this (although I’d guess many don’t) and still support them. Although Saudi Arabia, China and Dubai are not democracies so there is limited people power.

    To correct my previous post, Putin stepped down as the director of the FSB on August 9th 1999, and the first Russian apartment bomb was 4th Sep 1999, so not a few months gap as I said. Forgot to mention he was close friends with his successor in the FSB. But then Paul could have told you that, and it was known to all anyway.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Director_of_FSB

  68. Varkey says

    And what was I thinking, talking about sexual impropriety at atheist conventions, or by atheist speakers; or control – on an atheism/religion board. Shockingly bad form, and not relevant. Must stay ‘on-topic’. Glad we have topic keepers to police this (self appointed again).

    Again, I’m not trying to derail the conversation from religion/atheism, as some seem to doing. Move on and play the ball.

  69. Paul Money says

    Varkey illustrates my points nicely!
    I have no idea what a BB is.
    “Alleged” sexual impropriety may be more accurate, not that publishing a link to a YouTube post can be described as “talked about”.

  70. Raz says

    JakeD
    It’s almost a week now, so I don’t expect you’ll ever see this, but just in case:
    I heard at the beginning of your call something akin to “…evidence that no gods exist/ evidence that god doesn’t exist.”
    While this may be a common position among atheists, it is not THE atheist position, nor is it the reasonable/ rational default position. THE atheist/ reasonable/ rational position is “I’m not convinced a god exists.” While some atheists will go one step farther than that and say “I’m convinced that no god exists.”

    Please recognise that they are two different positions, with different implications. The hosts are NOT suggesting that you should be convinced that ‘no gods exist.’ They are saying that the default position that we should all rationally start from is “I am not convinced that this/ that/ the other god exists.” I hope you understand what might be deemed to be a subtle difference between the two positions and that being unconvinced of a god’s existence does not mean you actively disbelieve in said god.

    The thing is, it’s impossible to prove a negative. No one can prove that Santa Claus doesn’t exist. No one can prove that there isn’t really a small china teapot orbiting the earth opposite the moon. No one can prove that Zeus doesn’t exist. No one can prove that your god doesn’t exist. If you’re going into this looking for proof that your god doesn’t exist, you’ll never find it and you’ll spend the rest of your days mistakenly thinking that your belief is justified. But by that same token, you’d have also been justified in believing in Zeus, Santa Claus and the aforementioned teapot-in-space.

    Hope this all makes sense to you and is relevant,

  71. jacobfromlost says

    Raz: One small quibble. Insofar as you can demonstrate something with evidence (not “prove” in the mathematical, absolute sense), you can sometimes demonstrate something is not true. An alibi, for instance, is an example of demonstrating a negative. If we accept that one person cannot be in two places at the same time (and time travel has never been demonstrated), and if we can demonstrate Person A was in Seattle on the night of the murder, and the murder occurred in Vermont, then we have demonstrated a negative–that Person A did not commit the murder in question. Likewise we can demonstrate Santa doesn’t exist by listing all of Santa’s claimed attributes in the real world (lives in the North Pole, flies a sleigh, delivers presents all over the world, etc). The fact that no such person lives in the North Pole, no such presents are delivered, etc., is all evidence that Santa does not exist. If you redefine Santa into an invisible, loving force that lives invisibly (and completely and totally undetectable) in the North Pole, then you’ve made the claim unfalsifiable and divorced Santa from all his defining characteristics. And since you could have innumerable unfalsifiable claims, all in conflict with each other, picking one and running with it is irrational, especially when trying to smuggle in the defining characteristics anyway (with Santa, he still flies a sleigh and delivers presents; with God, he still answers prayers and give some people the “power of healing”).

    So in short, insofar as we can demonstrate anything in the real world true in a falsifiable way, we can also demonstrate it untrue. All of the possible difficulties we have in demonstrating something untrue are also present went demonstrating something true–you may not have enough evidence, or access to the evidence is impossible or improbable.

    Aside: I emailed Matt about 7-8 years ago. I told him that since many claim god exists despite the lack of evidence, and indeed, often people say God did this or that because there isn’t any evidence…then all the unsolved murders in the world should be immediately blamed on god, and he should be found guilty of murder. Matt said he was going to tweak it and use it, which I swear is when he started using the “God is not guilty of existing” analogy, lol. Sometimes I do wish TAE would expand their repertoire of arguments. It is hard to remember when I was vaguely a theist, but if it had ever occurred to me that a perfect creator god is claimed to created many, many imperfect things (not just mankind, but the universe itself…and let’s not forget Satan), the entire notion would have fallen apart immediately in my mind. The apologetics always say god gave man free will, yada yada yada, but a perfect creator by definition cannot create anything imperfect in any way, thus he couldn’t create beings that CHOSE evil either. The Satan thing always gets me weird answers with theists. I’ve heard them impose the free will thing on Satan also, but sometimes I hear the angels weren’t created–they were always around. You never know what you’ll hear from theists, as Hitch used to say.

  72. Ray Smith says

    I want to thank Matt for making an effort to stay calm and for being patient with the callers. It made the show more enjoyable, at least for me.

  73. Monocle Smile says

    Yes, Paul, how dare we peons desire to keep an open thread for a specific show about that specific show. We should instead let the almighty Varkey bless us with knowledge due jour and just shut up.

  74. Varkey says

    At least most religious people leave you alone when you ask them to. But then many do straw-man. Talk about stuff, it’s a ‘free thought blog’, not that my permission is required.

  75. RationalismRules says

    @jacobfromlost

    …a perfect creator by definition cannot create anything imperfect in any way, thus he couldn’t create beings that CHOSE evil either.

    I don’t see why a perfect creator couldn’t choose to create an imperfect thing. However, by doing so, the creator is clearly the source of that imperfection (aka ‘evil’).

    The apologetic that Satan is the source of evil fails on this point. Even if Satan had the power to ‘create evil’, that power must have come from the God that created it, and whatever qualities led Satan to reject God and set itself up in opposition – vanity, lust for power etc. – must have been imbued in it by the creator god.

    The same thing applies to Adam and Eve – even if they made a free choice to ignore God’s commandment and give in to the tempting of the serpent, what was the source of their gullibility and disrespect for authority? The god that created them. It’s inescapable.
     

    The Satan thing always gets me weird answers with theists… I hear the angels weren’t created–they were always around.

    Which of course means that god isn’t the only eternal thing. I like to think of this as not-so-special pleading. It’s only a small step away from polytheism.

  76. jacobfromlost says

    The way I see it, a perfect creator cannot be in any way the source of something that is not perfect. Choosing to make something imperfect would, to my mind, negate the perfection of the creator. It’s like a perfect car mechanic who fixes your car, yet it still does not run. We can make excuses afterward to explain why the perfect car mechanic would fix a car that still does not run–it’s the car’s fault, it’s your fault, he chose to allow it to not run, etc–but it would seem to me we are just playing mind games with ourselves. You can’t be a perfect fixer if the things you fix don’t work, and you can’t be a perfect creator if the things you create are in any way imperfect–now or later, for any reason.

    And the contradiction gets WORSE if someone claims the perfect creator is the creator of EVERYTHING–indeed, the first cause or source of everything–in which case NOTHING can be imperfect in any way. Which, I think, is why sometimes I hear that Satan wasn’t created by god…so they can weasel out of part of the problem…while creating a whole host of new problems. If Satan doesn’t need a creator they way they say god doesn’t need a creator, then indeed, as you say, that seems to be polytheism.

  77. RationalismRules says

    @jacobfromlost
    I guess it all hinges on your idea of ‘perfection’. I would argue that a perfect being cannot be lacking in any way, and to be unable to create something imperfect is to lack an ability that lesser mortals like you and I definitely possess.

    It’s a moot point, because perfection clearly isn’t attainable, but it’s interesting to think about.

  78. Ronald Kyle says

    In regards to a creator in the esoteric ethereal sense… we do have quite a lot of knowledge now, thanks to science, that would render the concept of a creator sky daddy quite a silly concept altogether.

    Just the knowledge of the fact that humans cannot manufacture all the amino-acids needed by human biology and therefor have to resort to killing and devouring other animals and beings to acquire these additional amino acids that we need but cannot manufacture, is enough to render a designer an imbecilic incompetent designer (IID)…. or a SADISTIC monster.… and that is just one bit of knowledge… there is a plethora of such little bits of facts about human biology (and reality altogether) that make the concept of a designer a ridiculous possibility.

    If there is a designer then s/he/it is an incompetent pathetic designer, or is a mad scientist who blew him/her/itself up already in the lab while accidently concocting this crazy reality …. or an evil sadistic monster who enjoys watching and listening to the cries and screeches of agony and suffering that this reality is filled to the rim with.

    Designer Sky Daddy Concept + Reality as we have it and as it is ====> Paradox ===> sky daddy concept is an illogical fallacy

  79. RationalismRules says

    @jacob
    I guess the other problem is how you define ‘imperfect’. You and I might consider a faulty heart valve to be imperfect, but what if that’s exactly the way the god wanted that particular heart valve to act – is it still imperfect? From our perspective, yes. From the god’s perspective, not so much.

  80. jacobfromlost says

    One COULD conceivably say that everything one ever observes is exactly, perfectly the way a god wanted it. But to me, that waters down “perfect” to such a degree that an imperfect universe that wasn’t created looks exactly the same as a perfect universe created by a perfect creator god who just happened to want it too look imperfect in many ways that just happen to make it look like it wasn’t created at all (IF we accept a perfect creator could make something that appears imperfect by any useful definition). Which would be diametrically opposed to something like the fine tuning argument. On the one hand, the universe had to be created because the physical constants of the universe had to be just (perfectly) so for us to exist…and on the other hand, all the imperfections in the universe can be explained away because a perfect creator god wanted it to look that way for some reason. It just seems like all of these arguments demand an outsider entertain a whole host of tacit assumptions that are often in conflict with each other to get to a conclusion the insiders want you to get to no matter what.

  81. RationalismRules says

    @jacob
    You’ve missed my point. In order to assess something as imperfect you have to have a standard which you have adjudged as perfection, and that depends on your perspective.

    You keep referring to ‘imperfect’ as though there’s some objective standard, but I think it’s actually very similar to Matt’s point on objective morality – once you have a standard you can make objective comparisons to it, but how you get to that standard varies, and may even be arbitrary. There is no objective standard of perfection, just as there is no objective standard of morality.

    Using the heart valve example, you and I might assess the heart valve as imperfect because the standard we are comparing it to is that of functional elements of the cardio-vascular life support system, but the god may consider the primary function of heart valves is to make percussive rhythms for the music of the universe, in which case it may have made that particular heart valve that particular way because it wanted that person’s heart to make a different rhythm to everyone else’s. Which it does. Perfect!

    Ultimately, I think the only way you can judge the success of a creation is by assessing it against the creator’s intentions. Which brings me back to your original concept of a perfect being: that it cannot create anything imperfect. You may be right, and there may be no imperfections in the universe – we may just be assessing them against the wrong standards.

  82. Varkey says

    I think some are reasonably seeing a ‘perfect’ universe as one without suffering or cruelty. Nature is cruel and kind and indifferent, and we are part of nature, although we like to see ourselves as special.

    Cuckoos remove eggs from nests and lay their own. Ticks can cause disease or kill when they feed, and we eat creatures and pollute environments. Nature ‘rewards’ survivalists even if that is a lion than commits infanticide to increase it chances of producing young, or a mallard duck that rapes. We are likely the descendants of rapists and murderers.

    I am trying to be vegan and it can be difficult given our evolutionary past (why would a God make it so difficult, almost encouraging suffering?). Although the essential amino acids can be sought from plant sources (assuming plants don’t suffer greatly!), many vegans are advised to take a B12 supplement – agreeing somewhat with what Ronald Kyle was saying in comment #79.

    ‘Evil’ traits exist as they can aid survival. It is easy to remove ourselves from the bad we do, especially if, say you go by the ten commandments, and the simple or dubious morality in the rest of the Bible (or other religious texts).

    I do not rape, murder etc, but I do produce plastic waste or CO2, which can lead to great suffering. A creature could die horribly on a plastic item I used, or flooding in Bangladesh can be worsened by my CO2 emissions, but I, like many Christians, can be ignorant of this and see myself as ‘good’. Here is a trailer for the BBC’s ‘Drowning in Plastic’, which shows some of the damage:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q2-UQxbF-QI

    I don’t think the universe is a morality test (maybe inadvertently a survival test), but if it was, it would be one hell of a running of the gauntlet. God, if ‘good’ seems like a Heath Robinson (or Rube Goldberg) inventor. Science can help us understand our own ‘goodness’ by helping us see the harm we cause, trying to extricate it from this complex life.

    Morality in life is likely more complex that we often see, or have an interest in seeing. Is anyone really good and should they go to a heaven (not to say we should not have laws), if so what is the cut-off and how easy is it to establish. And is it as simple as a hard cut-off, as mentioned by TheraminTrees here at 16:40 – 17:54 in the video:

  83. jacobfromlost says

    We may not have an objective standard, but we can say that believers often say god is perfect and we are sinners, that god is absolutely good and evil exists, that there is a “problem of evil”, and so on. Therefore god is one thing, and other things are different. Once we say god is “perfect” and have already acknowledged other things are different, I think we can argue, in that context, that they are not perfect. It’s hard for me to imagine believers arguing sin or evil or Satan are perfect, but they will argue that “god has a plan” and “god works in mysterious ways”, etc, which IMPLIES the evil is somehow ultimately good…but we don’t know how or why yet. I did have a college professor (who was a Calvinist) claim that Satan is absolutely evil. One could argue that is a flavor of perfection. I just don’t see how you can have an absolutely good god and an absolutely evil Satan, where 1) Satan’s source was something that was absolutely good, 2) without an infinite regress of a stalemate back through time where neither being was created (and we know how believers hate infinite regresses), 3) an eternal stalemate between them going forward. I asked the professor about this third one, and he said yes, there would be an eternal stalemate…until god throws Satan in the lake of fire at the end of time. That was over 20 years ago, and the day I started calling myself an atheist.

  84. RationalismRules says

    @jacob
    I mostly agree. I’ve led you off down a philosophical side-track, which doesn’t really matter to the apologetic because the believer declares that god is perfect and humans are imperfect. The problem remains though, because you are arguing against their definition of perfection, but without any standards to measure against that really just comes down to opinion. I still don’t see why a deliberate choice to create something imperfect would invalidate the perfection of the creator. It seems a bit like a category error to me.

    I think the good/evil argument is much stronger, because although good and evil are also non-objective in this case the argument isn’t simply over the definition. Both sides basically agree that an all-good creator shouldn’t be able to create evil, which creates a logical conflict with the idea that the creator created everything.

    Out of interest, do you know whether your professor believed Satan was created by god?

  85. CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain says

    @RationalismRules #78:

    I would argue that a perfect being cannot be lacking in any way

    Paraphrasing Justin Schieber (of ReasonableDoubts)…
     
    If a perfect being lacks nothing, what does God need with a starship non-god objects?

  86. jacobfromlost says

    “Out of interest, do you know whether your professor believed Satan was created by god?”

    All I remember was that he was a pretty hardcore Calvinist (I don’t know their specific view of Satan). He had one of those intimidating “fire and brimstone” voices. I later learned he was some kind of minor radio personality. I looked him up a few years ago on the internet, and he is apparently working with young conservative Christians in some kind of journalism program to make sure the conservative Christian view gets into the media…or something. I didn’t really get it. lol

  87. indianajones says

    Considers changing name on here to ‘Moderator’

    I use kill File to block certain commenters on here, it works good for me, here’s the link

    https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/blog-comment-killfile/kpoilnkelonbaapoapibddjaojohnpjf

    And don’t forget to refresh the page before you try it out after you have installed it. That threw me the first time i tried it.

    Anyway, I sincerely hope Jake is still around, as I think I have a take not explored on his question (And wish I hadn’t been away for a week). I still don’t quite get what you are getting at here Jake, but here is a perhaps useful method/example for you.

    I sincerely believe that the sun will come up tomorrow. And that it will go down tomorrow night. And that for any spot on the earth, outside the polar regions, that these events for any particular day can be predicted for thousands of years out, at a low estimate, from here down to the minute.

    But I can be proven wrong. Suppose I wake up one fine not morning and almost everything is the same. I want a coffee, the traffic is about the same as usual, breakfast radio is still inane, the car clock says AM, and so on. Everything the same except for the startling lack of a gigantic fusion reactor somewheres off to the east. Unlikely to happen, sure, but thusly would I be definitely dis-proven I suppose.

    Now I am not sure if this applies to your quest for evidence for whatever it is, but maybe you could try something like that.

  88. RationalismRules says

    @Jacob
    I was sufficiently interested to do a quick search, and I came up with this article from a Calvinist/Baptist pastor

    And the answer is…. cognitive dissonance!

    How did Satan become evil? I do not know. It is plain to me that those who believe in ultimate self-determination of God’s creatures, like angels and humans, don’t know either. To say that Satan had free will — that is ultimate self determination — is not an explanation for why he committed his first sin. It is a label. It is not an explanation.

    It is a label of a mystery. How could a perfectly good being with a perfectly good will and a perfectly good heart ever experience any imperfect impulse that would cause the will to move in the direction of sin? The answer is, nobody knows, including those who say: “Oh, it is free will.” That is not an explanation. It is a name for a mystery.

    We don’t know. The Bible doesn’t explain how.

    Rob quotes Norman Geisler who says, “The unmistakable, logical conclusion for the extreme Calvinist for both Lucifer and Adam that they sinned is because God gave them the desire to sin.” Now I am not sure whether I qualify for Geisler’s extreme Calvinist, but I strongly suspect that I do. But just at this point I am disagreeing with that description of me, and I am saying: “No, I am not driven to say God gave Lucifer his first desire to sin. That is an oversimplification of virtually everybody’s viewpoint. I do not know how Lucifer came to feel his first inclination to rebel against God.”

    Here is what I do know. God is sovereign. Nothing comes to pass apart from his plan, which includes things he more or less causes directly — things he more or less permits indirectly. There is no doubt in my mind that Satan’s fall and all of the redemptive plan of God for the glory of his grace afterwards was according to God’s eternal plan. But it is precisely at this point that the how of the causality of Satan’s first sin worked we do not know.

    I have a category in my thinking, in other words, for the fact that God can see to it that something come to pass which he hates. This is what he did, for example, when he planned the crucifixion of Jesus, according to Acts 4:27–28.

    The murder of Jesus was sinful, and it was planned down to the detail by God. You can read it in the Psalms, and you can read it in the New Testament. Precisely how God does that, maintaining his sinlessness and the sin of the things that comes about and the moral accountability of those who do those sins, the how of that, I do not know. But I think the Bible leads us to believe that he is sovereign over all sin and that he never sins. That is what I believe the Bible teaches

    Translation: “I don’t know how a contradiction can be not a contradiction, but this contradiction is not a contradiction. Even though it’s clearly a contradiction, it’s not a contradiction because The Bible.”

  89. RationalismRules says

    @joshopell/oreoman1987
    I always love it when someone uses their computer to tell us how unreliable science is.

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