Sunday, October 24, 2010

Open thread on episode #680

Have at it, homies.


  1. Great show guys, I think once you get use to the hour limit, it will get even better.

    keep getting better! or ....... you'll get not better 8)

  2. Good show today, the shorter duration however makes the show seem awfully short. Still great though.

  3. Today was the day that I actually remembered it was Sunday in time to watch the show, so I filed it away in the back of my mind to get onto ustream today.

    Of course, I forgot, and was only reminded when I saw this post, so I ran on over to the website to grab a content feed, and it wasn't there. You guys are getting so good at your turnaround that you actually went back in time to make this post before it came up on the website. O.o Scary.

  4. You guys did a great job interviewing Mohammed. He gave a fascinating insight to a culture that is completely foreign to most Americans. I can't begin to imagine life knowing no other atheist. It must be terribly lonely.

  5. Just a short note on the "invention of lying". I think the difference between that movie and say religilous is that probably maaaaaany more christians might go and see the Ricky Gervais movie compared to the Religilous. Since that kind of movie people go see without knowing sh-t about what its about. So it might actually impact peoples thinking whereas the rligilous movie probably changed nothing since the absolute majority already were atheists and the minority of theist watching it just thought it was the work of the devil or something...

    But I also think much more could be done with the theme of the movie

  6. Excellent show, and good variety of callers. Mohammed, especially, was a really interesting call.

  7. I also found muhammed's call intresting. Great show.

  8. good job on shutting down Thunderboot. You brought up the disproportionately low representation of atheists in American prisons, you might equally have done with the studies of Societal health in industrialized countries, and the correlation with irreligiosity of low drug abuse, low crime, low abortion, longer life expectancy, etc...and he still would have ignored you completely, exactly as he did on the show.

    Thank you for playing, we have some lovely parting gifts...

  9. Just as a response to the caller "John" from London....I have ACTUALLY researched the UK prison population in terms of religious make up and his 85% stat is total crap!! I have no idea where he pulled that number from....probably his arse....

    you can find the REAL stats here, they are updated every month.

    Atheist make up LESS than 0.1% of the UK prison population. Those who describe themselves as Christian make up 49%.

    Stats are not, I agree, a definitive way of proving a point, there are various problems with doing so but this guy was WAAAAAAAAY off!

  10. Yeah, that guy was just trolling, because the last time he called in I guess Matt hurt his widdle feewings.

    SR: Those studies would have been awesome to bring up (though sure, he'd have ignored them), but that's the kind of thing where it'd have better to actually have the info on hand rather than just saying "there are studies that show yada yada..." A good tip to be prepared next time. (When I hosted the show I always brought a fat 3-ring binder, handed down from Jeff, full of info we accumulated over time.)

  11. Based on how the caller dismissed catholics very quickly I would not be surprised if he labels anyone who does not buy into his specific belief system as an "atheist".

    Maybe if there's a Christian denomination that accounts for 15% of the prison population that would explain his 85% statistic (everyone else doesn't believe in the real god therefore they're atheists, now I'm off to attack Matt!)

  12. Hey folks. Long time listener, first time poster. Good work on that 1hr format teething.

    I just happened to be watching 'John from London's previous appearance in the archive the other day. You guys must have missed his assertion this time around that the high number of christians in US prisons was due to "the jews" fiddling the figures.
    I was waiting for the gong/trap door/100 ton weight lever to be pulled at that point.
    (not that I mind either way, for the record. Presuming the remark was let slide, allowing the occasional crank show their true colours for a while can be good.

    Good on Muhammed staying up late for our general enlightenment too.

  13. Great show today. You handled all the calls very well. I didn't miss the extra 30 minutes at all.

    I do have a question however. I watched a few Matt Slick debates after the show and find him quite annoying. One of his favorite tactics is a variation of his TAG idea. When an atheist brings up the evil acts in the bible, Slick ALWAYS says something like "But you CAN'T consider it evil. On what basis do you claim this? The atheist can't derive an objective standard of good and evil without appealing to an higher/ultimate/transcendent authority. You have no ground to stand on so your criticism of the bible is moot."

    I understand his "objective" authority is God..and that this falls apart under examination (The Euthyphro Dilemma handily proves that objective morality can't come from God)

    So even though his position is debunked, do we have an answer to this question? Must we concede that in appealing to our personal reason and experience, morality is indeed subjective? If this is the case, Slick's "You have no objective grounding to call anything good or evil" criticism would seem to stand.

  14. @bdw3000,

    Replace "morality" with "physics" in your last paragraph. Would it be true that physics is a subjective endeavor? You are confusing your (subjective) tools for studying morality with the object of your study.

    You certainly do not need gods to claim an objective moral standard, because the arbiter for objectivity is reality itself. As long as morality relates to facts about the natural world we can make assessments about the morality of actions in it.

  15. bdw3000 wrote:
    "Must we concede that in appealing to our personal reason and experience, morality is indeed subjective? If this is the case, Slick's 'You have no objective grounding to call anything good or evil' criticism would seem to stand."

    He's throwing the word "objectively" in there just to trip you up. The atheists just note that an action is evil because *we* think it's evil. *I* think it's evil, *Matt Slick* thinks it's evil, every person in this room thinks it's evil. Isn't that enough?

  16. bdw300 said
    "Slick ALWAYS says something like "But you CAN'T consider it evil. On what basis do you claim this? The atheist can't derive an objective standard of good and evil without appealing to an higher/ultimate/transcendent authority. You have no ground to stand on so your criticism of the bible is moot."

    Smokey, my pet dragon who lives in the cupboard under the stairs and is where I get my objective morality.

    Smokey has convinced me that anything which he considers moral is what I should consider moral. After all he could be burn me to a frazzle with a single breath but he is good and loving and chooses not to, as long as I go along with his objective morals.

    I suppose it is easy to try abrigate personal moral responsibilty and go with an external objective morality source. But even then, you are still making a decision to go along with this morality every time you take an action (or inaction) based on this morality.

    If smokey tells me to do something the rest of society considers immoral then my decision to carry out this action is still my moral responsibilty.

    The objective source does not make my ultimate choice. At any point I could reject the morality of the objective source.

  17. @bdw3000

    Tracie usually has a good point about humans evolving as social animals and group survival being an evolutionary preferred trait over individual survival.

    Will it convince Slick Matt? I doubt it but it makes sense to me.

  18. Judging by his accent, "John Smith" from London is Swedish.

  19. I tend to avoid Euthyphro with some apologists, if only because William Lane Craig has given what they consider to be such a final answer to it--the argument falls on deaf ears. It can be a conversation starter, if only to point out the degree that WLC's position is a shifting of the goalposts, as much as is the "as omnipotent as logically possible" excuse.

    I haven't been trolling on Christian blogs so much anymore, but if I did, I'd likely proffer something I picked up off of the Reasonable Doubts podcast, which is to say that the Morality Of God is not a coherent concept. You cannot name an act which, if the Almighty committed it or ordered it to be committed, would not be just. Therefore to say "God is good" is a statement without content, it's devoid of meaning. Nor can one look to God as a model of good behavior.

    It's more-indepth than that of course, so I recommend that people go check that out (they also spend about 4 episodes on Free Will vs. Determinism, which pleased me as a fan of that episode of Non-Prophets.)

  20. @Skeptical Rationalist:

    You're basically using the Euthyphro dilemma, just not naming it that way. And I'm completely behind that approach. I feel like it's poor form and unnecessary to quote an argument by name, because it doesn't really add to the general understanding much; it tempts you to be lazy and not explain it effectively; and, as you say, it gives the other guy and opening to think say there is an easy refutation without having the burden of going over it.

    But the CONCEPT of the Euthyphro dilemma -- that "God" doesn't make morality problems go away, just shifts the subjectivity to another target -- is sound, and I think you're using a good method of introducing it. The only reason I would ever say "Euthyphro" specifically is if I think the person I'm talking to would benefit from looking it up and learning the basics of it.

  21. Great show, guys. I really enjoyed Mohammed's call, and was pleased you let that one go a bit longer. Loved his line: "The Qur'an has been unchanged for 1400 years. Well, it shows".

    I found myself consistently in agreeal with you.

  22. I'm not sure where that <0.1% figure came from either; perhaps a link to that exact set of data would have been better. The closest thing I could find was a "no religion" stat of 35% in 2009, which is in fact the largest demographic (but nowhere close to the insane statistic SunderB00t pulled out of his ass). Compare that to Anglicans (26%), Catholics (17%), and Muslims (12%).

    The most recent stats I could find for religious affiliation in the general population come from the 2007 British Social Attitudes Survey, which found that 45.67% of the general population were non-religious, 20.87% Anglican, 9.01% Catholic, and 3.30% Muslim (though I suspect the methodology here may be undercounting Muslims - we'll have to wait for the next actual census next year).

    Anyway, SunderB00t is almost certainly a Poe anyway, so it's not worth getting too bothered by him.

  23. Similar concepts, to be sure, but moreover it's just an attempt to circumvent the "it's a false dilemma" defense or the "God's goodness derives from his innate nature" which, even though it's a load of used cattle feed, in their mind the poor ignorant atheist just got schooled.

    It all eventually comes back to a quote that I picked up off a youtube video, insert appropriate terms--"debating evolution with a creationist is like playing chess with a pigeon. They knock over the pieces, crap on the board, then fly off back to their flock to declare victory."

  24. oh, and one other question I can never get a straight answer to, in any conversation which branches off the "by what objective standard of morality do you blah blah blah":

    "What 'objective standard of morality' have you used to evaluate the character of your god and conclude he is, actually, good?" and "how did you obtain the information about his character upon which you based that decision?"

    More shades of Euthyphro, of course, and an attempt to lead them by the nose back to the Bible, since William Lane Craig's apologetics are all based on (as was pointed out on the show and the last guerilla NPR) nothing but shifting the goalposts away from strict biblical Christian thought.

  25. Always enjoyable, you guys. Ah, but I do wish they'd relent on the shortening of your show; it seems to me you guys are just reaching a boil when the egg timer dings. I really enjoyed that rolling boil in the old shows.

  26. Personally, I'm a little disappointed you didn't leave that whacky nutbag on a little longer.

    If it weren't for the Alexandria guy, I'd be more put off.

    Rubes like and Mr Cesar from the previous ep are the great entertainment of the show.

    Yes, they present old, tired arguments. But as you're well aware, that's all there is. It's all old, tired arguments or personal stories of revelation.

    They're good fun, is all I'm saying. Cutting them off and asking for better arguments serves no purpose purely because there are no better arguments.

    Anyway. Keep up the good work.

  27. Young Earth creationism and directed evolution are so passe.

    Enter the God of Evolution:

    "God pays for having an evolutionary process in the
    first place.47 The occurrence of tsunamis is the price God pays (and we have to pay) for an earth that allows the development of life. Death is the price God pays (and we have to pay) for having life.
    It is God who sacrifices so that we can live."

    That's right: No more problem of evil because extermination in a gulag or by a tsunami is just like natural selection. Extinction of the unfit is just like the sacrifice of Jesus. A pleasing offering unto the Lord so that he can change his own rules.

    At least we can laugh at YEC. DO NOT WANT!


  28. I agree, leaving one tired theist argument in the hope of getting a tired theist argument isn't very productive. That's why I didn't mind the "all Cesar, all the time" episode.

    But where's the show go this week? I don't remember anyone mentioning it would be AWOL again.

  29. I wonder when those believers will work out that their morality is essentially subjective too. It's always a really stupid argument...

    Are their morals different to those described in the bible (to take a specific case)? Er, yeah, because if they weren't they'd have been locked up for society's good a long time ago.

    Mohammed's call was a good one. Props to him!

  30. There's no Atheist Experience this week and no Non-Prophets and the blog hasn't updated! Does the ACA still exist?! Did something happen I wasn't informed about?!

    ...Oh my god.

    Did the spoon change?

  31. Dances with Beast just failed his Turing test

  32. @ING so you think that labeling the human victims of tragedy as "entropy" and dismissing them on grounds of natural selection is intelligent?

    I think you're equating a computing device to a human brain.


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