Sunday, July 03, 2011

Open thread on episode 716

Jen and I are starting in three minutes. We'll be talking about investigating some events of the Bible (specifically 2 Kings 24-25) for historical accuracy. Have at it!


  1. Go go gadget pascal's wager.

    "What if you're wrong about there not being an invisible immortal tyrannosaurus rex that'll gobble you up and digest you forever?"

    "Well then, I guess I'll be gobbled up and digested forever."

    "Exactly! You should hedge your bets and wear dark clothing for the rest of your life, just in case!"

  2. I'd love to know why the second to last guy thinks evidence is subjective, or if he understands what subjective is.

    The standards of evidence aren't arbitrary. It's not like we sit around and declare that all valid evidence must be purple.

    Instead, they are objectively determined based on what demonstrablly and consistently works in reality.

  3. Clearly, JT is no true invisible immortal tyrannosaur believer!

    Dark clothing is completely useless without hot pink suspenders as revealed by the true teachings of the time-traveling unicorn prophets!

    JT, I hope you are prepared for an eternity of festering in bowels of the almighty Lizard of Lizards for teaching that kind of heresy!

  4. To correct myself, the standards of evidence are subjective. It was something in particular he was doing that is setting off my BS detector.

    I could be wrong, it it seemed like his point was:
    1) Standards of evidence is subjective.
    2) Subjective things are just opinion
    3) Standards of evidence are therefore just opinion.
    4) Different opinions are equivalent
    5) So your standards aren't any more relevant than others.

    The problem is at #2. The only opinion is that the goal is the maximize the accuracy and usefulness of evidence. How those conceptual standards are established, as I pointed out, are objective.

  5. I wish they would have asked the creationist what evidence he has for believing the bible to be true in regards to the origin of the universe. That's all they needed to ask. Sometimes I think they get to soft with callers like these, when if fact there are very simple ways to rebuke these claims and beliefs.

  6. Listened to this after shooting off my fireworks. Have to say I like the episode, the length of the topic was good for the new length of the show, and the callers were decent. I'm not saying the callers topics were new or inventive, but they were mostly new callers (not Mark or Charlie) with decent discussion. I think they could have been crushed faster, but then there is almost no conversation.

    I hope there will be as many theist callers in following episodes.

  7. How often do y'all wish the hosts would hit a big buzzer and say "Dude, what is your FUCKING POINT?"

    Please, if you ever plan to call in any show ever about anything, think about what you're going to say first.

  8. I have a comment about the caller who claimed that scientists, having no evidence whatsoever, assumed that there was a period of inflation after the Big Bang.

    That's bullshit. And the funny thing is that after the last show, in which some callers also made some crazy cosmological statements about the beginnings of our universe, I sent an e-mail to the AE's mailbox with links to the site of a theoretical physicist Ethan Siegel (it's actually one of the Science Blogs, like PZ's Pharyngula) which explains what we know about those beginnings and what we don't and which unequivocally states and explains, among other things, that the period of inflation took place BEFORE the Big Bang.

    Apparently, my e-mail got read only by David Tyler (one of the ACA's directors) and not by the hosts themselves, so I'm using this occasion to post those links here again so that everyone can have look and maybe the hosts can somehow answer similar claims in the future.

    So here it is:

    And you can look up all the subsequent posts of 'The Greatest Story Ever
    Told' series because it's great reading.


  9. Question: If Tracie is defining strong Atheism as "Given the evidence presented, I can say there is no god" (Correct if that is not accurate), then what is weak atheism in relation to that and why is Russel a weak atheist.

    Also, why is that Tracie's definition? When I look for the definition of Strong atheism, it doesn't come with the "Given the evidence presented" clause.

    Or is Tracie saying that she is a strong atheist to specific claims of God and not others?

    Note: I'm not making any arguments against what you guys actually believe, it all sounds sensible, this is a purely semantic based question.

  10. @ Rod Keller

    -It was Jen, not tracie on the show. Idk man it really depends on how you define the terms and what you are really claiming to know or believe. Jen wasn't saying that she was 100% percent certain that no gods of any kind exist(we can't be 100% certain about anything), just that given the amount of knowledge/facts that we DO have concerning cosmology and biology, it's more likely that a god/gods doesn't exist rather than do. I personally don't like using the terms "weak" or "strong" atheist. I think it's much more simple to lay out: I'm an atheist, I don't believe that a god of any kind exists given the common definition. I don't claim to know for absolute certainty, but I'm about as close as you can get to knowing that one doesn't exist given all the facts and knowledge that we do have concerning the explanation of the universe and life on earth. That is there is no evidence that suggests that a god is necessary for the existence of our earth or universe, thus I'm not inclined to believe that one exists.

  11. @Mamba24 Whoops, my mistake! I meant Jen! I know what she was saying, don't worry about that. Like I said, it's merely a question about semantics.

  12. Great job Jen and Russell, and not that I think it matters much, but here is my take on strong vs weak atheism.

    weak atheist - "I don't believe in any gods."

    strong atheist - "I believe there are no gods."

    Also, for the record, I hate when people get so hung up on the definition of a word. The strong vs weak vs positive (or positivist as one person I've had a discussion with kept calling it) argument is almost as bad as Charlie arguing that the definition of marriage means man and woman.

    atheist - someone who lacks belief in a god

    How hard is that?

  13. "The strong vs weak vs positive (or positivist as one person I've had a discussion with kept calling it) argument is almost as bad as Charlie arguing that the definition of marriage means man and woman."

    How is it an argument when you're asking for clarification? The definitions aren't completely arbitrary when you're using it as a descriptor on yourself and Charlie's take on the strict never changing definition of Marriage is hardly analogous to the situation.

    Jen and Russel disagreed on the Strong vs Weak stance and I'm curious what the difference is. If you define Strong as (strong atheist - "I believe there are no gods.") what degree of certainty is this implying that the weak atheist doesn't agree with? If you start saying "Well I'm not saying certainty" then I don't see where the two even differ at all.

  14. its like the strong and weak forces. ;-)

    i think the last guy calling ( not the chick with the retard room mate ) is playing a game of trying to tie up the show for as long as possible... he will be back and grab another 20 minutes of your time, just watch!

  15. It is important to establish definitions, particularly if you want to use less main stream ones, in order to verify ideas are being conveyed correctly. The old "faith" in god being the same as faith in your car starting equivocation fallacy comes to mind. If there is a hang up on words though, the best thing to do is think of other ways to say what you are trying to say and move on.

    As for the special 100% certainty requirement for a lack of a belief in god, I will concede that I do not have 100% confidence on that because 100% certainty should not be applied to anything. I just don't understand why apologists always try to go there or consider that admission some kind of victory.

    I am as certain that there is no god as described in the Bible as I am certain that monkeys will never fly out of my butt. We clear now?

  16. The last guy does not know a thing of what he was talking about. The big bang is this thing, as he called it "the inflationary area". There is ample evidence of it happening. Please look up the CMB. As for holding a belief of something that is "immaterial", I would love to know how that type of belief can honestly hold such a belief. What is the evidence of immaterial things, other than ideas or thoughts; which by the way whose existence only depend on material things.

  17. I flubbed, I meant how can a person hold belief in the existence of the immaterial outside of concepts, ideas or thoughts and are independent of some material thing.

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  19. What happened to the discussion post for episode #714 where CHARLIE called in AGAIN?

  20. Am I just really dumb?
    I always assumed that the "promotion of positive atheism" that the ACA advocates was about countering the negative stereotypes that many theists have about atheism, rather than a statement about the flavour of the atheism that the ACA favours

    On a totally different point.
    I usually watch the show live on ustream and would get adverts before being able to view the stream but the actual show would be uninterrupted. But sundays show was nightmare for adverts starting during the show. It really spoiled my enjoyment and I may have to stop watching live if it is going to be the norm.
    Has anyone else experienced this?

  21. @Rod Keller - sorry, I wasn't very clear in my response. I wasn't implying that your asking for clarification was an argument, just that I have seen that as a point of arguments in the past, and find that as annoying as someone like Charlie going around and around with his ideas of marriage.

    I agree with John K. that it is important to agree on definitions in order to have a constructive dialog. I just think people can get too hung up on nitpicking details and lose sight of the main focus.

    Atheism is a claim of belief, or lack of belief as it were, nothing else. Certainty doesn't enter in to it. Let me try a slightly different approach. Imagine someone that has never even heard of a god, they have no concept of any god at all. This person, in the most basic definition, would be an atheist. They lack a belief in a god. If you desire an additional label, I would certainly agree on weak atheism, which, to me, also fits those people that simply state they don't believe in any gods.

    Now, contrast that with someone that was raised religious, and has then spent time researching, questioning, reading, studying, etc. their beliefs and has come to the realization that not only do they no longer believe in any gods, they now believe there are no gods. This would be a strong atheist.

    But, notice that neither position has anything to do with certainty, or any claim of knowledge at all.

    @ Thomas F. Bourque - I noticed that too, and am grateful to Russell for putting this post up. Thanks again, Russell. At least Charlie didn't go on about straw-men this time.

  22. Has anyone else experienced this?

    No, I'm all set on the meeting Christian singles thing.

    No, really. I'm good, thanks.

    No, I don't want to meet Christian singles.


    No! I don't care!

    I do not want to meet Christian singles!


  23. I kinda liked the explanation of verifiable evidence, but unless I missed it somehow, I didn't see an explanation of what u were going to do. It would have been nice to hear "today we are going to explain what we (most atheists) mean when we say u need verifiable evidence". Other than that, a really good job Jen!

    I thought they spent way too much time on the 2nd guy. He kept jumping all over the place and didn't stick with a specific point, at least it seemed that way to me. He wouldn't admit he felt the earth was young, and didn't seem to grasp that there were no bibles/torah found over 4-6k years old. He seemed to be one of those theists that cannot grasp that we don't believe the bible's explanation for our origins lacks enough evidence to be valid, so therefore we do not fear or believe in hell. He seems to assume we are just denying god and that we know we are really going to end up in hell anyway. I wish u guys had called him on some of that shit.
    I would have liked to hear more from the last caller whose sister kept putting her down. I wanted u guys to tell her to stand up for herself, no matter how hard she is trying to soothe the relationship. Without establishing boundaries that the theist should not cross, there can be no meaningful relationship. I mean, how can u have a meaningful relationship with someone who refers to u as an evil, immoral person? If someone said to a third party about me to pay no mind to the immoral godless bastard, i'd say, yes and pay no mind to the irrational myth buying sycophant, either. Please go do ur own research and make up ur own mind. At least that would give u a chance to defend ur position.

  24. Hey JT, the more you protest, the more we know you are dying to meet Christian singles. Just admit it already, will you?

  25. "I always assumed that the "promotion of positive atheism" that the ACA advocates was about countering the negative stereotypes that many theists have about atheism"

    You aren't the only one who's confused. There's quite a lively internal discussion going on about what we mean by this, and I'm sure we'll clarify soon.

    In the meantime, the term "positive atheism" has a specific meaning, and it's not a PR campaign for atheism. If positive atheism as it's properly used is not what we in the ACA are promoting, then I think we should be more specific about what we mean. We hammer people frequently for misusing terms (mostly atheist & agnostic), so I think it's only fair that we apply the same standards to ourselves.

  26. Regarding positive atheism and the ACA, Jen said "You aren't the only one who's confused."

    Ah, I'd often wondered about this because over the course of so many shows, I recall times when different hosts and co-hosts of TAE seemed to explain the "positive" adjective in different ways. In either case, it is still describing the extent of belief rather than knowledge.


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