Episode 96: Better Late Than Never

Fresh from a month long break the doubtcasters return do discus some of the stories they missed while away. The U.S. supreme court has ruled that religious groups have a “ministerial exception” from anti-discrimination laws. We discuss how this ruling might effect those working for religious institutions. Meanwhile, Catholic Charities are closing their doors because they are no longer permitted to receive government funds while discriminating against same-sex couples seeking to adopt children. Hardware superstore Lowes panders to Christian bigots who insist there is no such thing as an “All-American Muslim” even though recent studies suggest otherwise.  For this week’s God Thinks Like You segment we discuss how secular authority can fill that “God shaped hole” in your life and in Counter-Apologetics we debunk the “King James Bible only” crowd as our belated tribute to the 400th anniversary of that historic document. We end with props for anti-fundamentalist protests in Israel and Jessica Ahlquist who recently succeeded in getting a religious banner removed from her high school (Jessica’s scholarship fund can be found here).

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  1. George says

    You mentioned that a study suggest that people behave better when they know they are being watched.

    I remember an interview with a crew member of a reality show who said that this effect is true only for the first few days the camera is in front of their face all the time, but then get used to and behave as crazy as they normally do.

    Similar comments have been made by filmakers of wild life documentaries and photographers. They usually have to go through a period where the subject has to get used to see them in their environment all the time.

    Anecdotally, I have notice that members of my family are better behaved on Sunday’s afternoon, but by Monday morning they are back to be the same good old a-holes

  2. says

    I’m sure some people don’t care for it, but I really appreciate the Bible history. I think we could stop most of the debates right there. As soon as anyone quotes the Bible, just ask them which Bible that was and how they know that is what was really said. In practice of course this doesn’t work so good, as someone once screamed at me that I first need to accept that the Bible is true, then he would discuss the truth with me, or something like that it was hard to understand.

    Seriously, even with a crazy fundamentalist, it could be a respectful way to start a conversation, simply ask which Bible they want to use in the course of the conversation and why. I have an NIV study Bible, not the best translation, but it does have footnotes about things like the 1 John 5:7 text.

    In more formal debates with experts, they should be required to state their Bible choice and a make brief statement about why they selected that one and not others. The atheist side should have this information in advance and be allowed to make a statement about the known problems with that particular Bible.

  3. says


    Thank you for the link. The article you linked to and the study it references did debunk a classic priming experiment but it did not conclude priming does not work, or that it only works when psychologists expect priming. Quite the contrary, the study shows priming does work…so well that it can be very difficult to tell what is actually doing the priming. We need to be extra cautious that the subject is being primed by the conditions of the experiment not the attitude of the experimenter. This means tighter controls may be necessary for some experiments, but as the article concludes many priming studies are already controlled well enough to prevent this type of contamination. Quoted below:

    “Joshua Ackerman, a psychologist from MIT, says, “There have been hundreds, if not thousands, of priming studies conducted, many of which use designs that make experimenter bias essentially impossible. It would be a huge mistake to draw the implication here that [these] studies refute this body of work in any way.”
    Doyen’s study doesn’t show a radically new flaw, or one that’s unique to this branch of social psychology. We’ve known for over a century that scientists can very easily bias their own experiments, even in the most carefully controlled cases. “It’s a neat paper that re-emphasises some highly important and widely relevant warnings for everyone who might want to conduct experiments with people,” says Stafford. “Expectations – participants’ and experimenters’ – and inaccurate measurement can combine to give you biased results.” Ackerman adds, “It’s a lesson that behavioural researchers are all trained in, but one that bears repeating from time to time.”

  4. martinbell says

    The whole ministerial exemption thing is a real sweet deal for employers. I predict that it’s going to be exploited like crazy until they push it too far and the courts will be forced to define what a minister is. They won’t be able to come up with a definition, and the ministerial exemption will be eliminated. Fear not my faithful friends. You can accomplish the same thing by re-classifying ministers as performers. Isn’t that what they really are?
    In the mean time, anyone applying for a job at a religious institution should ask whether it is a ministerial position. Get the response in writing.

  5. llewelly says

    The Mormons use the King James Version (with a few minor adjustments to the text, and framing it with a blizzard of reference to the other Mormon scriptures, such as the Book of Mormon, the Pearl of Great Price, the Doctrine & Covenants, etc.). They make a lot of noise about the bible being of flawed translation, but it’s the KJV they portray as the best translation.

    There are other Christians which also aren’t strictly KJV, but view the KJV as the best translation. So while the KJV-only Christians are a fringe group, the KJV-is-best Christians are not.

  6. cafeeineaddicted says

    Whenever I hear of these KJV / non-KJV or other translation battles, it occurs to me how anglocentric the argument is. I sincerely doubt all the Hispanics, Italians, Greeks, Portuguese, Chinese or Japanese Christians give the matter much thought. I’m not denying that the subject is interesting, and English is the current lingua franca but for a Christian to exclude all non-English translations from their considerations is a bit presumptuous.

  7. says


    Whats interesting about the KJV only people is they DO see this as a problem for translations in ALL languages. Some of them believe that God has only preserved one bible for each human language. But all preserved translations use the Textus Receptus as thier source.

  8. Ed Benson says

    Coincidentally, a few weeks ago I was in an Egyptian restaurant in Knoxville, TN. There was what looked like a bumper sticker on the wall that said something like:


    Seemed to me a ludicrous thought. I had no idea there was some sort of philosophy behind it.

    I now consider myself better informed on the topic – thanks, guys!

    BTW, it seems no less ludicrous in spite of being informed.

    Fast Eddie B.
    Mineral Bluff, Ga

  9. cafeeineaddicted says

    That is interesting Jeremy. I wonder how far they’re willing to take that. I remember reading (it was a comment on a forum, so I have no idea if the crazy goes any further than the commenter) that the KJV was proof that Jesus must have spoken KJV English in 1st century Israel.

    Being Greek, I used to roll my eyes at people arguing which was the best translation even though I was unaware at the time I myself was reading a translation of the Koine Greek into a more recent dialect.

    There is a saying among translators that translations are either beautiful or faithful, but not both. I think there is a big problem here for any type of biblical literalist.

  10. Dane says

    A huge thank-you for the podcast! We’ve listened to every one of them and loved them all. Came across an “eyebrow-raiser” last night when we were watching Clash of the Gods (episode 3) and are hoping the experts can shed some light. Apparently, they’re saying that the bible talks about Jesus visiting Hades. Never having read the book, I couldn’t comment one way or the other. I haven’t heard story this before but if it’s true, wouldn’t it go a long way towards showing how that book is simply a work of fiction? If their main character visits the mythological realm of another culture, isn’t it clear that the christian story must be fiction? I’m confused! I’d have thought this was “case-closed”. Would love to know if this is one argument I can use in future.

  11. says


    I’m aware of no such passage that explicitly states that.There is something about, just like Jonah in the belly of the fish Jesus must enter into the belly of the earth…but this probably just means burial. Luke’s account has the crucified Jesus saying he will be in paradise that day which seems to rule any hell visit out. Despite this there are Christians who believe as part of his atoning sacrifice Jesus himself must have endured the agony of hell for a short while. Makes sense to me…how can he pay other peoples debt if he never has to endure their punishment. But that idea is regarded as heresy by most Christians. More common is the belief that Jesus went down to “Abraham’s bosom” (a sort of holding tank for righteous Jewish souls who preceded Christ)so the prophets and other nice children of Israel could become Christians and go to heaven. Im not aware of any verses backing that one up either.

  12. eoraptor013 says

    @13 & 14,

    Hmm… From a mainstream Presbyterian church background, the Apostle’s Creed (a variation on the Nicene Creed) says that JC was,

    “…crucified, dead, and buried and descended into Hell. On the third day he arose from the dead and ascended into heaven…”

    One typical explanation was that it showed not even Hell was beyond God’s reach.


  13. says

    Well I guess I got to brush up on the Apostle’s creed then…but Im still not sure that is supposed to mean Jesus was tortured in hell. Rather he ministered to those in hell (which could still be abrahams bosom…in that sense hell & paradise would be the same thing…or compartments in the same place) while waiting to be resurrected as he could not have ascended until resurrected. Might be wrong on that though.

  14. Dane says

    Thanks fellas! This is one of the first hits I found when I looked it up after watching the show … http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harrowing_of_Hell.

    I think it probably comes down to a Zeitgeist-type stretching of interpretations on the part of the film-makers. :) It didn’t seem likely that “Hades” would show up. Oh well!

    Just listened to the latest podcast today and lunch and found it really interesting!! Will definitely listen again and take down a few notes for future discussions!! :)

  15. Dan says

    Really good episode. Worth the wait. For everyone interested in the KJO discussion and some pretty good rebuttals to KJO arguments, check out “The Facts on the King James Only Debate” – Ankerberg & Weldon. It is short and only $4 on kindle.

    Justin – was that your question on the Unbeleivabe podcast on demons? He read an email from a Justin Shieber asking how one allegedly differentiates between possession and mental illness.

  16. says

    I really admire Jessica ALquist for what she did, it makes me think that we should all do our part in promoting fairness and equality. I recently joined the National Guard and will be shipped off to basic training within the next fortnight. We are not allowed to bring any personal reading material except Holy Scripture (this is specifically listed http://www.nationalguard.com/guard-basics/basic-combat-training/what-to-bring-to-basic) I’ve been atheist since I was 12 (I’m 23 now) but have never been very vocal about it but still have been rebuked by friends for my indifference and lack of deference to religiosity. I’m very tempted to bring a book such as ‘The Quotable Hitchens’ or ‘The Portable Atheist’ and argue that this should be my allotment for “holy scripture”. I’m an avid reader that would liken text to water. I’ve never missed an episode of RD and feel guilty that I haven’t been more active in the atheist community but BCT is going to be very hard as it is and I’m wondering if I should wait until I’m a higher rank to say anything. Plus I’m a girl going into a non-combat MOS and my recruiter told me to attend available church services on sunday just to break up the tedium of BCT. Advice?

    P.S love love love this podcast!

  17. Will says


    Hi there! I am Will and I am also in the National Guard but in central Texas. When I went to BCT back in 2007 at Fort Benning, GA back when I was a very big believer in christ, but now I have been a secular humanist for over a year now. Woot woot! :)

    I say go for it take the book with you and during the “Shakedown” show it to the Drill SGTs and explain yourself to them. I really doubt there will be any problems with them.

    The thing is I wouldn’t worry too much about the Drill SGTs making a big deal of it they see people of all walks of life come through the training, but I would worry more about the fellow soldiers you’re going to spend the next several weeks with. Some of them might not be too happy with the idea, you will need them and they will need you to get through the training. Make friends not enemies.

    Good luck! Just be strong, don’t give up, and do your best and you will be just fine! :D

    Oh and the whole “Go to chruch on Sunday thing” you don’t have to go, if your training is going to be anything like mine was Sunday is the “off-day” the Drill SGTs don’t usually bother you much on Sunday. What I did on Sunday was clean most all day, oh yeah and do my laundry. XD

  18. Pither says

    A friend of mine works for a company that employs a lot of migrant farm workers from Mexico. The Gideons came by one day to drop off some Spanish language Bibles for the workers. When my friend inquired of his boss (a KJV-only type) whether it would be OK to leave those Bibles in the employee break room so people could take one if they wanted one, the boss thought about it and asked, “Are those Spanish Bibles in King James Version or not?”

  19. peterh says

    @ Jeremy:

    For the creed business, begin with the Council of Nicea, 325 C.E.; that was “day one” for all variants of the Apostles’ Creed.

    @ Dan:

    For the KJO discussion, you might try God’s Secretaries – The making of the King James Bible, Adam Nicolson, Harper, 2004/5, ISBN 978-0-06-083873-7; and The New Testament – A Historical Introduction to the Early Christian Writings, Bart D. Ehrman, Oxfor University Press, 2000, ISBN 0-19-512639-4.

    The notes & bibliographies in each will further lead to vast amounts of relevant material most fundies have never heard of and hope never to hear of.

  20. Jeremy says

    Jeremy- what is a source for the comments you made that the trinity verse was not in the oldest manuscripts? I want to use this bit of info in an article I am writing, and I just wanted a source. Was it an Ehrman book?


  21. says

    Information on that verse is everywhere…I first read about it in Bible College. Google “Johannine Comma”(1 John 5:7)and you will find no shortage of information and controversy to wade through for your paper.

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  24. sweetcaroline997 says

    Authentic Christianity is loving, forgiving, and non-discriminatory. It is not “religion”-rules- it is having a relationship, a spiritual connection, with Jesus Christ. Christians believe homosexuality is a sin, but, on the other hand, they are commanded to love the person. Anyone who does not agree doesn’t have to, but that doesn’t mean that they are right and Christians are haters. We are following the teachings of the bible, which we believe in the word of God. I have a hard time with this but who am I to question God? Love does not judge, love does not condemn. Disagreeing with someone’s lifestyle doesn’t make someone a hater. My husband’s best friend is gay, and although I do not condone his lifestyle, I do not condemn and I do not judge. I love and accept.
    Exceptions for religious reasons are getting out of hand. Happy Holidays vs Merry Christmas-no more nativity sets for sale. Halal meat in public schools-the slaying process is cruel and inhumane. Prayer removed from school. We are becoming Islamicised and too secular and politically correct. People should be free to practice others as long as it doesn’t harm anyone or interfere/impose the belief’s of others. I condemn Islam because they clearly criticize us and want to impose their beliefs and lifestyles on us.
    Authentic Christianity does not harm others. If anyone disagrees, read the 4 gospels. Christianity is the teachings of Jesus, I personally stay away from the rest of the bible because I feel that their cultural beliefs and traditions are no longer applicable in today’s society. I stay away from the OT period because I am not a Jew. The NT is more modernized but still very primitive, as evidenced by Paul’s teachings regarding women in the book of Timothy.
    Anyone who is looking for an accurate version of the bible should invest in a concordance. Choose the bible you feel most comfortable reading, and anything you have to look up will be easily accessible and accurate.

  25. CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain says

    @sweetcaroline997 #30:

    Authentic Christianity is loving, forgiving, and non-discriminatory.

    Google “No True Scotsman”.

    We are following the teachings of the bible, which we believe in the word of God.
    I personally stay away from the rest of the bible because I feel that their cultural beliefs and traditions are no longer applicable in today’s society. I stay away from the OT period because I am not a Jew. The NT is more modernized but still very primitive, as evidenced by Paul’s teachings regarding women in the book of Timothy.

    You ignore practically everything in the bible then, neither believing nor following it.

    It is not “religion”-rules- it is having a relationship, a spiritual connection, with Jesus Christ. Christians believe homosexuality is a sin, but, on the other hand, they are commanded to love the person.

    Not rules, it’s a relationship… with commands. Uh-huh.

    We are becoming […] too secular […]. People should be free to practice others as long as it doesn’t harm anyone or interfere/impose the belief’s of others.

    That is what “secular” means.

    I condemn Islam because they clearly criticize us and want to impose their beliefs and lifestyles on us.

    Ah, but that’s not Authentic Islam.

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