episode 693 transcript: Misconceptions About Atheists

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episode 693 transcript: Misconceptions About Atheists

Postby MAtheist » Sat Apr 16, 2011 6:37 am

This show aired on January 23rd, 2011 and can be seen here.

This currently contains the first 45 minutes of the show, but I left a placeholder at the end if I ever decide to include the last 15 minutes.

This show contains the first lengthy conversation with Mark from the Austin Stone, but in this episode he is referred to as Mike. This may have been a simple misunderstanding on this episode, or I may be totally incorrect and Mike and Mark may be two different people.

I also plan to do shows 696, and 704 which contain conversations with Mark, and the latest word is that Ronnie Smith, a pastor from Austin Stone, will be calling in. So, I may actually start a thread that contains Marks calls, including the one or two short calls that I think he made before episode 693, I just have to find them again, and then also include other calls from the Austin Stone. I think they may all fit in nicely together.

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Postby MAtheist » Sat Apr 16, 2011 6:38 am

Jen: Hi everybody, and welcome to "The Atheist Experience," I'm Jen Peeples and I'm your host for this episode and with me today is Tracie Harris.

Tracie: hi

Jen: take it away Tracie

Tracie: today we're talking a little bit about a couple of atheist misconceptions, this would be misconceptions applied to atheists, not misconceptions that they have

Jen: Right

Tracie: and, I wanted to look specifically at "why are you angry at God," and "you're searching for God," and I wanted to use an analogy of a person who has a family member who is ill with a potentially dangerous and treatable illness who decides to treat it only using an alternative medical method such as homeopathy. It doesn't have to be homeopathy, just fill in the blank for any non standard alternative treatment. They go to a doctor who advises them not to go to a regular doctor, that all medically trained professionals are in the pocket of big pharmaceuticals, it's a conspiracy, and they should trust this doctor and his treatments and he's going to help them. You try to talk to the family member, you try to convince them that this is treatable, and it may not be a hundred percent of a cure rate, but there is treatment for this that is effective, and it's demonstrated more effective than placebo, and that they should go and get the treatment that is demonstrated effective, instead of putting their life on the line with something thats not been demonstrated to be effective in any sort of valid research way. But the person goes forward, they follow this doctor, and ultimately they die. After their death, because you are incensed at the death of your loved one at the hands of somebody who claimed to be a professional, who claimed to have knowledge that they were willing to follow, you then take up a blog, take up a youtube channel, and you start telling this story. And you start saying this person went to this doctor, this is what happened to them, they went for these treatments, we tried to talk to them and there is an effective cure rate for this, they did not take advantage of that, ultimately they died and you blame this alternative treatment that is put forward, that it does not work, its not been demonstrated to be effective, here's the reality behind the research that is claimed for this, this is why it doesn't work, what's actually been shown to be demonstrated for it, which is nothing.

And after you post that, you start hearing from people who say to you, "I have the same story, I had a loved one that this happened to," or "I was seeing this doctor and I almost died, and then I finally got to a hospital, I was taken to an E.R. where they finally treated me, and found out that this was really helpful, and now I'm better." You get these stories from people saying this is a really bad thing, and it does cause damage, and this same thing happened in my situation. You decide to put together an association to say we need to start telling people what's going on here, we need to make sure to get the word out, maybe we should start printing materials, we need to start looking at maybe doing something more, maybe outreach, educating people about the dangers of this. And, as this movement grows, you're going to expect that more people who actually endorse this form of alternative treatment are going to hear about this, and they're going to react, and they're going to object. Some of the complaints that you would expect to reasonably receive from somebody who would accept this would be just someone writing to tell you that you're wrong.

You might get somebody who writes to tell you that you've just bought into that same big-pharma conspiracy and this medical science you're touting is no better that this other stuff, because all the research is jaded and biased because of how it's done, and there is no real information, and that you're trusting the wrong people, and studies for these alternative treatments are not ... you can't have them done, and there' s things blocking it, and nobody wants people to know the truth

Jen: right

Tracie: and, so you might get letters like that, you might get letters prom people ... you would expect to get letters from people saying, "I went to a homeopath," or "I went to this alternative treatment, and I got better, and I'm doing better now, and so I know that it works, and there's nothing you can say to convince me that this doesn't work, because I had this illness, I took this treatment, and now I'm better." And you can tell them that sometimes people do get better

Jen: yeah

Tracie: you know, have spontaneous ... remission

Jen: remission, yeah

Tracie: but, that person's going to believe, they're going to tell you their story, and say that's why they believe, and that's a letter you would expect to get. And you might even, believe it or not, expect to get letters from people who actually agree with you, that the alternative treatment doesn't work, but say a lot of people have a placebo effect from it, it has this helpful benefit to it, and so maybe you should just lay off a little bit and let people take comfort in the fact that they're being treated for this illness, even if they're not actually being treated, some times these doctors work in conjunction with a real medical doctor and so we should probably not be so down on this, and maybe just take it with a grain of salt that this sometimes helps people, and acknowledge that there's some help that comes ... that there's some good that comes of this.

These are all the types of letters that you would expect to get if you were starting up that type of an educational foundation.

What I would never expect that you would ever get would be a letter from somebody who says, "I believe that you're against homeopathy because you believe it works, and you're angry about the fact that it works." I don't know why somebody would think that you would advocate to put out information that something doesn't work. Now I get the big-pharma conspiracy, and how, like I said, somebody might say that you've bought into a lie and that you're wrong in believing that it doesn't work, but for somebody to write to you and say that you believe that it does work, but you're advocating against it, and you're not the big-pharma company

Jen: right

Tracie: you're not gaining from this, so you just simply, I don't know, out to hurt people I suppose. I don't know what your motive would be, but the idea that somebody would accuse me, who's not the doctor benefiting from the big-pharma conspiracy, who is not the big-pharma conspiracy benefiting from the big-pharma conspiracy, I'm just a person whose relative died and went to look at the research, and I couldn't find anything to show this is real treatment. I'm trying to help people, and somebody's writing to tell me that I really believe homeopathy works, but I'm just trashing it because?

Jen: yes

Tracie: because I'm pissed at it, that is works? i mean, that makes no sense, and additionally I would be surprised if I got letters from people saying that I was actually in favor of homeopathy and trying to prove that it works, and that I was, somehow, manifesting that as being against it, and trying to discredit it. That makes no sense.

Part of the confusion about "you hate God" that I hear come up, and it's ... it can be frustrating, because sometimes when you're in a dialog you will encounter a communication that you know that in any other context but theological context you would not be having this conversation, and that happens when you use a hypothetical when you're talking sometimes to theists. They'll put forward some model of god, "I believe in the god of the Bible," and you'll say, "well, the god of the Bible is a horrible monster who killed all these people, the Amalekites, and the laws against homosexuals, and the laws against adultery, and laws against ...," and you list all these horrible things and then they'll say, "Oh, well see, you're just angry at God."

Jen: yeah

Tracie: it's like, no, you put forward the concept and the model of god, and I was simply adopting that concept in order to say if this were true, I would have some concerns about this model of god, because this model of god is monstrous. People routinely, in dialogs, adopt hypotheticals in order to respond to a claim. If someone comes home and they say I was abducted by aliens, you're not going to initially believe that, you might be like "calm down, what happened to you?" and as they start to explain you might start trying to find problems to help them realize they weren't really abducted, "I don't know what happened to you, but if you were abducted by aliens don't you think someone would have seen?" The fact that you go with their claim and start making hypothetical speculative statements about it doesn't mean that you have adopted the belief.

Jen: well, and actually this whole idea of taking someone's claim at face value initially is all part of the scientific method. Someone proposes some hypothesis, and we say, "OK, if your hypothesis is valid, I would expect to see the following pieces of evidence."

Tracie: correct

Jen: it doesn't mean that you've accepted that

Tracie: right

Jen: it's part of the process

Tracie: right, we had an issue with, I think it was Noah's flood, where somebody called us, and I was saying that if there was a global flood I would expect to see a strata layer where you have all the animals

Jen: right

Tracie: in the same fossil records, like all the way around the planet at the same level. It's not me saying that I believe it, and that we should start digging tomorrow to find this strata layer. I mean, I don't care if people do want to go search for it, but the fact is I'm just putting forward an if then statement. If your model is correct, then this is what I think about it. We do it all the time, nobody gets confused and thinks that you believe what you're arguing against. So the fact that it comes up in conversations with theists so often as a point to demonstrate that you actually believe the thing that you are countering, I'm sorry, I can't believe it's an honest statement.

Jen: yeah, I agree

Tracie: I'm just going to call it disingenuous ... nobody is that naive, this is a tactic that is so common in conversation and in debate and in dialogs and in daily conversations with anything that you disagree with, that I cannot reasonably give somebody the benefit of the doubt that they are so unfamiliar with this line of response that they would confuse it with adopting the position that you're arguing against. I can't, you're not being honest or you're not being reasonable for some reason, where outside or this realm you would be. I don't know why it is, I'm not proposing why it is, but that's how I see it and I don't see a point to wasting time defending something that is so silly that it shouldn't require a defense, and that's part of why I wanted to do the program on this, because I just feel like this needs to be put to bed, not that I think this program will put it to bed, but at least I would like to have it out there that this is ridiculous, that theists ask us to respond to such stupidity and if you are a theist that puts forward this kind of stupidity, you're wasting everyones time, and I think you're wasting your time personally because you don't want to defend your position and you would rather throw up something stupid to get the atheist to go over and run after that ball so that you get the pressure off you to have to demonstrate that there's any validity to your claims whatsoever. My theory ...

Jen: yeah

Tracie: My hypothesis, whatever you want to call it

Jen: I agree, I think attributing motives that are ...

Tracie: clearly not

Jen: clearly not applicable and emotions that are not applicable, I think you're going to touch on one of these here in a minute

Tracie: yeah, sure

Jen: I think it's a dishonest debate tactic, it's designed to basically divert attention from the fact that no evidence has been presented to support a god claim

Tracie: right, and someone did bring up ... they were like, you know, it's such a script, some of these apologetics are such a script, that it's not so much that the person that's saying it understands that they're lying or understands that they're being dishonest

Jen: yeah

Tracie: it may just be like a thoughtless thing where the script comes out and they don't even think about it, and I said "to me that's sort of like a hairline between you abuse your child and you're criminally neglecting him."

Jen: right

Tracie: it doesn't matter to me, the point is that you're saying something that is so silly that it ought not to be said, and if you had given it a moments thought you could save everybody an hours worth of arguing. So, just don't even go there.

Jen: well, and that's the thing, I think that many of the times the theists present these non-arguments they're not trying to be deliberately disingenuous, but they have just never thought about it very much, and that's criminal, I mean,

Tracie: in the metaphoric way ...

Jen: really, you're asserting this is true ...

Tracie: we don't mean this is truly criminal, that people should not think

Jen: yeah, it's not against the law

Tracie: I mean, clearly a lot of people would be put away, and there'd be times I'd probably have been cited myself

Jen: yeah, but no I mean ... you've got this set of beliefs that you base your whole life on, you're really betting your whole life on this, and you haven't given it much thought

Tracie: yeah, but I mean I went to church, I was indoctrinated, and I acknowledge that, and part of that indoctrination was being fed scripts, so you're told this is what atheists believe, you're told this is what Buddhists believe, you're told this is what Hindus believe, you never speak to a Hindu or a Buddhist or atheist about what they believe because you already know because your preacher told you, and what they're telling you everyone else believes is not correct so that when you get into a dialog with these people there's a lot of time and energy spent on the other person having to explain to the theist what they actually believe because what you were taught in Sunday school that all these people believe, it's not what they believe. The Buddhists do not worship Buddha ...

Jen: yeah
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Postby MAtheist » Sat Apr 16, 2011 6:38 am

Tracie: it's just not what it seems, and what you've been told though it what you believe is accurate, so the responses that you've been given, because you've been fed those too, this is what the Buddhist believe and this is what's wrong with it, this is what the atheist believes and this is what's wrong with it, the problem is is that's not what the atheist believes, it's a straw-man of what an atheist believes and it's a response that makes the atheist look silly because you were given this silly model of what an atheist actually thinks, and so you think to yourself, "how can an atheist be so stupid?" and I understand that because you're presented with a model of atheism that only an idiot would be an atheist, but that's not what atheists think, and so instead of approaching them assuming that what your preacher told you they believe is what they believe, it's probably better to go to the individual atheist and say, "can you please tell me what you think about god claims," let the person tell you what they think and listen to what they think, don't get what they say into your head and then translate it into what your preacher told you, because that happens too. Listen to what the person tells you, because I guarantee there's an indoctrination filter going on in your head, and if you can't see past it you're never going to have a productive dialog.

So, if I support that X is something I actually would like to demonstrate is true, discrediting, I don't think, makes any sense.

Jen: right

Tracie: and if I hate it, like if I hate God, then I'm not an atheist, and you simply don't understand the term atheist

Jen: right

Tracie: if you're putting forward that atheists hate God, you're either saying that you don't believe the person thinks what they're telling you they think, or you don't know what atheist means, but atheists cannot hate God, it's a nonsensical statement. A person who does not believe in something cannot hate the thing that they don't believe exists. And, now you can hate the concept of it, and what that does to people, just like a person can hate that homeopathy could be harming people without believing that homeopathy actually works. OK, it's harming them by making them not get the treatment that they would normally get. It's not necessarily harming them because water is hurting people. So, if it comes down to an inability to, I guess, understand what the atheist is actually promoting that they think, and you're not willing to actually listen to them, my advice to the atheist is to stop the dialog at that point. You're dealing with somebody that doesn't hear you, that can't hear you, the indoctrination is too deep, and they are not going to ... the dialog can't be productive, I just can't believe that it can, unless they can understand what you're saying. It's sad if you're in a position where you have to point out that not believing in something precludes hating it, it seems silly to have to point it out, and I want to say right now feel free to tell them that they're being silly, because it is so silly that it deserves a reprimand.

And, I was hit, I guess, with the idea that somebody had put forward, the idea that sometimes we question peoples reasons, so a person will put forward something and then they give these reasons that they are sincerely putting forward, and yet you can see that the reason is flawed, and you can point out that the reason is flawed. They were like, don't we do that all the time, for example ... the example that they gave on the blog, it doesn't matter if you agree or disagree with it, it was simply an example that was put forward, was they were saying republicans will put forward trickle down economics, and they will say this is why we shouldn't tax the rich, and they were pointing out that they believe that trickle down economics doesn't work, and so we know that this thing they're putting forward they don't believe. And, I said but we also know that the base thing that they're defending, don't tax the rich, they absolutely do believe. So, it doesn't matter if the apologetics or the reasons you're putting forward are not sincere, that's a different statement, I'm not going to say it doesn't matter if you're sincere, it does, but as far as this dialog is concerned, what I'm talking about is what you're claiming at the base of what you're defending. So, in other words, the republican who says I don't think we should tax the rich, and I don't think we should tax them because I believe in trickle down economics ... even if you could demonstrate that they were absolutely knowingly lying, and they accepted that trickle down economics doesn't work and they were trying to lie to people to avoid taxing the rich, the point is they still believe the rich shouldn't be taxed

Jen: right

Tracie: and, the convoluted reasoning for that is irrelevant to the fact they do believe what they're saying, they believe as far as what they're claiming their goal is, just like the person against homeopathy could have all these weird reasons that somebody thinks they could discredit, but at the end of the day, they still believe homeopathy doesn't work. And, when it comes to theism we do the same sort of thing, I mean, there's a whole lot of theistic arguments that atheists will say this is not a valid argument, and sometimes you can actually get the theist to acknowledge the invalid nature of all of their support, and they get to the bottom of the list and they say it doesn't matter, I still have faith. We've all been there, we've all heard a theist get to that point where they're saying I still believe it anyway, it doesn't matter if my reasons don't hold up. At the end of that, I don't say, "well since you agree that your reasons don't justify the belief, I don't believe you believe it," absolutely I believe they believe it. It doesn't matter if it's unsupported, if they're saying "I still think a god exists" I accept they still think a god exists. I don't tell them they don't believe it because I think their reasoning is just ingenuous, or even erroneous, and so with atheism I expect the same courtesy of somebody saying to me even if you think my reasons for not accepting your claims are not valid in your opinion, or not valid in reality if you think it's demonstrably not valid, to say that I don't actually not believe your claim is ridiculous, it is just ridiculous, there's ... and it's pathetic that it even requires a response. I'm just tired of responding to certain types of stupidity, and this is just one of them, two of them , I guess.

Jen: yes

Tracie: and, it looks like we've got some calls

Jen- yep, so why don't we go ahead and go to calls, we've got Mike in Austin you're on the air

Mike: hello, I am from the Austin Stone, I'm sure you know the church

Jen: OK

Mike: and I welcome you to join it, we've got a great church, we're pretty much by the book, I've helped many lost souls find their way

Jen: we're not lost, don't have a soul …

Tracie: wait, is this just a call to advertise your church?

Mike: well, I just wanted to start off by welcoming you to join, if you want

Tracie: well, thank you

Mike: it sounds like you don't obviously belong to one now, do you?

Tracie: no, you're right

Jen: you're right, we don't

Tracie: but thank you for the invite

M: but you did, at one time, didn't you?

Tracie: I did

Jen: yes, I did as well

Mike: so, you didn't feel any warmth when you sang the hymns or listened to the sermons or anything?

Tracie: yeah, I did, I did

Jen: yeah, but that has nothing to do with whether the theology is true

Tracie: I came to the conclusion that feelings are not god

Jen: yeah

Mike: so, why exactly did you quit?

Tracie: well, I quit because I did a lot of research into how the Bible came to exist, and also into church history, how the church came to exist, and when I realized that in my view I couldn't find anything to substantiate that there was a hand of God involved, I began to question the authority of the church and of the Bible, and at that point I stopped being a Christian, but I maintained theism for about another ten years while I searched to try to find out then if the Bible is a man made book, and if the church founded upon Jesus is based on that Bible and is a man made institution then what really is God and what would God want me to do, and so I aimed my search more toward just putting my life in the hands of whatever God was, that he would show me what was required, what I needed to do, just lead the way and I will follow, I'm searching. That went on for about ten years until I came to the conclusion that if God is everything pretty much that's pantheism so I thought I was a pantheist for about a week, I guess I was a pantheist for about a week, and I said this is kind of ridiculous it's the universe, and so we have a name for it and God and matter are not the same thing, material existence is material existence and if that's what I'm calling God then I might as well just say I'm an atheist.

Mike: well, it seems to me that you can be a non-believer, but it's another step if you want to make a show and say you're an atheist and start to say these bitter things

Jen: well, why …

Tracie: what have I said that's bitter?

Jen: yeah, why do you think we're bitter?

Mike: well, I mean, just the general tone I get from you is that you're actually mad or angry with God

Jen: gosh, we just had that conversation…

Tracie: oh, my goodness, is this a joke? are you a poe? is this a poe or are you for real? are you calling just to pull our legs or is this a serious call?

Mike: this is a serious call … there's people from my congregation that watch your show and ...

Tracie: OK, so now wait a second, do you understand that an atheist does not believe a god exists? do you understand that?

Mike: … hold, hold …

Tracie: do you understand that an atheist does not believe a god exists?

Mike: yes … well, of course ...

Tracie: OK, then do you understand …

Mike: … I'm not stupid

Tracie: I'm not accusing you of being stupid, I just want to make sure we're clear on our definitions. If you understand I don't believe a god exists, how does the statement "I'm angry at God" make any sense at all?

Mike: well, angry, angry about ... religion then …

Tracie: thank you

Mike: about this so called institution you call it

Tracie: it is an institution, I mean, even if you believe God produced it, It's still an institution, right? … it's institutionalized

Mike: well, you said yourself that you felt some warmth when you went to church, that it just wasn't for you, but why do you have to make a show and say these things then?

Tracie: did you not hear of the example of the homeopathic remedy? did you hear what I just talked about? If not, I'll be happy to repeat it, I mean, really, if you were on the phone and you were on hold and not really hearing it that's fine. I'll be happy to give you the example again, but the point is I said that there would even be people that don't believe in homeopathy that would write to you and say, "well some people are helped just because they feel better because of a placebo effect, so why are you bitching about homeopathy?" But, the fact is there's a lot of people harmed by homeopathy, and I can't …

Mike: who does the church harm?

Tracie: who does the church harm?

Jen: who does … are you kidding?

Tracie: we have, first of all, Christians in Nigeria who are killing their own children because God said to not suffer witches to live, and they believe their children are witches. We have Christians in Uganda who are passing laws to … they wanted to execute homosexuals as a crime, but now they've made it life in prison. We have Christians in Africa that are missioning and telling people in AIDS ridden nations not to wear condoms. We have Christians here in Austin, Texas, who don't think that a woman should have a right to choose, that are down on women's rights. We have Christians across the U.S. who are trying to trample the rights of gays, who are trying to keep them from …

Mike: I personally find it a bit insulting for you to say that my church is bad people, they're good people at my church …

Jen: we didn't say …

Tracie: when did I say that your church is bad people, you asked me to give you examples of the harm that religion causes, and I just listed some … you asked me to …

Mike: you don't thing there are atheists who do bad things? I could tell you about them how would that make you feel …

Tracie: you didn't … wait a minute ...

Jen: no, no, no …

Tracie: you didn't ask me to provide examples of that, you asked me specifically for examples of the harm that religion causes, you asked for that and I provided it, how is that offensive to you?

Mike: well, I didn't do anything wrong to anyone, in fact I think I'm a pretty good person …

Jen: no one said you did

Tracie: you didn't ask me to give you examples of wrong you've done, you asked me to give examples of harm that the church has caused, that religion has caused, and I provided those examples. How is that a problem?

Mike: well …

Tracie: why should that offend you? why did you even ask for examples if getting those examples was going to upset you?

Mike: alright then, well, I just … why don't you just have someone like Dr. Craig on your show? Why do you always beat up on random people who call in, why don't you have some actual

Jen: no, no, no, no, no …

Tracie: who am I beating up?

Jen: no, stop, we're not beating up anybody

Tracie: I'm answering your question

Jen: and listen, there are how ever many religious shows on public access television and network television, and there's this one atheist show here in Austin, Texas. Why should we give airtime to a professional apologist?

Mike: because they're actually educated on the subject ...

Jen: so …

Mike: you'd actually have a challenge, I think you guys are too scared to have serious guys on …

Jen: so, wait a minute, none of us are professional atheists, whatever that would entail, OK. We're inviting people to call and tell us what they believe, why they believe it, and why we should believe it too.

Tracie: right, but the other point, I just want to reiterate what Jen said earlier, because I want to make sure you heard this, there are hours and hours and hours of TV and radio and indoctrinal institutions around the globe going non-stop promoting religious indoctrination and religious belief, and I really think it's ridiculous to get upset at a one hour atheist amateur program that's put out weekly by an educational foundation here in Austin. It's really just about putting out information on atheism, you think that one hour dedicated by a bunch of amateur atheist producers, and cast, and crew is really that intimidating to you?

Mike: it's not intimidating, it certainly bothers people at my church …

Tracie: it certainly bothers you

Jen: it bothers you

Tracie: yeah, but look at all the airtime you've got, I mean, for one billboard we put up in Austin, how many religious billboards do I pass each day?

Mike: well, no wonder we have more shows, we're about ninety-nine percent of the country, really

Jen: no, you're not, no, no, no

Tracie: what is it, like eighty percent religious, and not all of that is Christian, but it wouldn't maker, I don't care. The point is you have all the airtime, all the radio time, and we have a one hour … you know what it reminds me of, there's a parable actually in your Bible that reminds me of this. It's the one where they give the example of the guy who has like a hundred sheep, and his neighbor has one little pet sheep, and the guy with a hundred sheep goes and steals his neighbors sheep and slaughters it. And it's like, wow, you couldn't really deal with the guy having one sheep? That was like … freaked you out, that your neighbor had one sheep, even though you had a hundred, and it's like that's kind of what you're doing, you've got like all the airtime, all the TV time, all the money, all the resources, all … I mean, you've got people handing you ten percent of the tithe, i mean, you've just got them throwing their money at you, and yet this one hour show … we have no budget, it's like nothing, and we should have Christians on to promote Christianity, really? … Does that seem reasonable to you, honestly?

Mike: if you want my honest opinion, I think you guys are scared to talk to …

Jen: Oh

Mike: to talk to serious people about this …

Tracie: are you serious?

Mike: you guys just beat up on some clueless guys, and then …

Tracie: that call us, like the callers, right?

Mike: (couldn't make out what was said)

Tracie: are the clueless ones

Jen: we invite people to call end defend their beliefs

Tracie: anybody can call us

Jen: and anybody can call us, we're on the show every Sunday

Tracie: we let you call, I mean, feel free ... and we're letting you talk about whatever you want

Jen: any of these professional apologists are welcome to call at any time

Mike: well …

Tracie: consider it an invitation
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Postby MAtheist » Sat Apr 16, 2011 6:39 am

Mike: I just want to say that I think a lot of things you guys say are wrong …

Tracie: I would expect that from a theist

Jen: so, for example

Mike: pardon me?

Jen: for example

Mike: well, that there's no God, I guess, would be the start if you're an atheist, then right off the bat

Jen: OK

Mike: we've got a bit of a problem

Tracie: well, yeah, but that's an easy problem to resolve because all it takes is a demonstration of a justification for your belief

Mike: you use really big words when you talk, I …

Tracie: OK …

Mike: I'm sorry, it sounds a little …

Tracie: OK, I just want you to demonstrate to me that your belief in the existence of a god is justified

Mike: well, why do I believe in God? Well, there's evidence for God everywhere you look

Tracie: like

Jen: such as

Mike: just on the news, lately, we had a national tragedy, someone got shot through the brain …

Tracie: that's horrible

Mike: … that …

Tracie: wait a minute, wait a minute, what? they got shot and they ... ?

Mike: representative Gifford got shot through the brain …

Tracie: right

Mike: the doctor said it was a miracle she even lived

Tracie: so you don't think …

Mike: she got show through the brain, and she is still alive, and it looks like she will actually get back to normal

Tracie: what about the nine year old who died?

Jen: yeah

Mike: well, you just look on the news, and the president said she's up in Heaven, and you wanna tell us, you wanna … jumping in rain puddles, he said, and you wanna tell people it's just lights out when you die

Tracie: so, the president decides who's in Heaven?

Mike: he said she's jumping in rain puddles up there

Tracie: did he see her? I mean, how does he know this?

Mike: well, you want to tell us that it's just game over when you die?

Tracie: no, I'm just asking how you knows this?

Jen: we're asking how you know this

Tracie: where is the justification for claiming she's in Heaven? And even if she is in Heaven, is that a justification for someone shooting a little girl? Is that part of the miracle, that a nine year old got killed?

Mike: it's a miracle that representative Gifford survived ...

Tracie: right

Mike: imagine you got shot in the head, you think you'd have a good chance to live?

Tracie: so the plan was about killing several people so that God could show his beneficence in making somebody go through rehab after getting brain damaged from a bullet through the brain, that's your miracle?

Mike: you don't think that's a miracle, if someone survives a gunshot to the head?

Tracie: I think it's an extreme tragedy, and it's fortunate that not everybody was killed, but I don't think it's a miracle that somebody survived and is now having to go through rehab, and she can barely ... I don't even know if she can speak yet

Jen: yeah, the doctors don't know that

Mike: but it's a miracle she's even alive

Tracie: she's brain damaged

Jen: if you ...

Tracie: and people are dead, and that exactly what I would expect to happen at an event where somebody shoots into a crowd. I don't consider several people shot dead, and one person brain damaged, to be proof of God's miraculous powers

Jen: let me ask you something, how do you define a miracle, what's your definition of a miracle?

Mike: a miracle is the way God shows us he is real

Jen: no, no, no

Mike: it's something that could never happen without God

Jen: so

Tracie: could never happen without God

Jen: so, people never survive being shot in the head without God

Mike: without God she'd be dead just like most people who get shot through the head with a bullet in their brain

Jen: you said most people

Tracie: most people, so you admit that there's some people that get shot through the head that don't die

Jen: how many

Mike: it's pretty rare

Jen: right

Tracie: but it happens

Jen: ten percent of people ...

Mike: that's why we call it a miracle ...

Tracie: so, a miracle is a rare event, it's not something that can't happen, it's something that could happen but statistically would be rare

Jen: and in this case it happens ten percent of the time

Tracie: so, anything that happens that's against the odds, which we would assume that in the universe some rare things will happen, every time a rare event happens you just say, "God did it," is that what we're calling a miracle now?

Mike: well, I wouldn't say it's a miracle if you win the lottery, but I would say ...

Tracie: why not?

Jen: it's a rare event, in fact it's ...

Tracie: what is the statistical odds that determine a miracle, like at what point it it statistically ... become a miracle versus a rare event?

Mike: I don't think you can ... just ... you can't do science on it, that's 'cause it's nothing to do with science it's ...

Tracie: so we don't really know at what point rare becomes miraculous versus just rare?

Mike: well, this isn't something you study at a university, I mean, this is ...

Tracie: right, but you're saying that you recognize miracles and I'm asking you what they are and you're saying they're rare events, and I said there's some rare events like winning the lottery, and you said that's not a miracle, so I'm saying when do we hit the point when a rare event is then determined to be a miracle?

Mike: I think you guys ... you guys are playing dumb with me, I think you know exactly what I mean when I say

Jen: no, we don't

Tracie: actually, I don't know what you mean

Jen: no, I wanna know

Tracie: I'm asking you how do you know, how do you differentiate the rare medical survival event from a miracle?

Mike: you mean if someone survives cancer ...

Tracie: right

Mike: I guess that's a miracle if they survive a deadly disease

Tracie: but, do you believe that there is such a thing as natural remissions that can occur? like, for example, if you have rats in a lab, and some of those rats have cancer and they have a natural remission and survive that are you thinking God is saving those rats, or do you think that sometimes there's a natural remission?

Mike: Oh, I understand the question now

Tracie: right

Mike: it's not always a miracle, first of all, I don't think God does miracles for rats, I think it's just for humans

Tracie: right, I didn't think you did

Mike: if a human survives ...

Tracie: I just want to maker is clear, I didn't think that you did think God was doing miracles for rats, but I was just trying to make you understand my question better. So, my question is, when you see somebody survive cancer how do you tell the difference between a natural remission, like what we would see in a rat which we would assume would also occur in humans, versus God fixed the person?

Mike: well, obviously it's just a question of what you believe

Tracie: no, it's not, that's why I'm asking you to explain it

Mike: the doctor can't tell if God did it, or if it was natural

Tracie: so, the doctor can't tell if it's a natural remission or a miracle, but... then how can you tell?

Mike: well, I believe that when these things happen it's God's work that he does

Tracie: except that sometimes you think it's just a rare event

Mike: it's just a really good thing that happens, it's ... you didn't think was going to happen, and it happens, and you say it's a miracle

Tracie: like winning the lottery

Mike: God loves you, and that's how he shows you he loves you, he protects you

Tracie: how do you differentiate between a rare event that you don't think is miraculous, and a miraculous rare event

Mike: I guess you can't really, it depends on different people, you might ask different people, they might say it's a miracle, some people might say it's never a miracle, maybe just one thing in their life is a miracle, some people might say like every day there's a miracle

Tracie: I know people say this, because I talk to them all the time, what I'm asking is where's their justification when they say it's a miracle when they're also acknowledging that sometimes rare fortunate things do just simply occur, so when they're saying I've determined it's a miracle I guess I'm asking where's their justification when they're telling me this is a miracle

Mike: well, maybe there is no real justification

Tracie: that's my point

Jen: there you go

Mike: but, that's not necessarily a problem ...

Tracie: it is a problem

Jen: it is a problem, if you want me to believe ... it's a problem

Tracie: it's a problem if you care whether or not the things you believe are true, if you don't care if they're true, then justification for them doesn't matter. If you care if they're true, then whether or not they're reasonable beliefs to hold, and there is justification for holding them, becomes important.

Mike: well, I mean, I just think it doesn't even matter, I don't even think it matters if it's true, if it makes you feel good, and do good things ...

Jen: well, in that case then, the dialog is kind of over, and I don't mean that in any kind of offensive way, but honestly when the person on the phone tells us they don't care if their beliefs are true or not, they just simply hold them and they can't justify them and they don't care, then I don't really see a point in a dialog because you're saying that even if we can demonstrate you're wrong you don't care. You're still going to believe it, or you're still going to say it's OK to hold the belief, and so to you whether or not beliefs are true is unimportant.

Mike: well, maybe we don't have a justification for miracles. That doesn't mean we don't have a good church and we're not good people.

Tracie: and I don't doubt that you're a decent person, I mean, if you were my neighbor I'd probably be fine with that, I don't think that you're, you know, killing babies in the basement

Mike: I find all this stuff pretty philosophical, if you ask me, I don't think it has much to do with whether religion is good or bad, I mean ...

Tracie: well, no, whether religion is good or bad has to do strictly with what it does, and what I see is that there are some benefits to religion, such as it supplies like a good support structure, for example you're saying you've got this community of people that are at your church

Mike: yeah, some people, they said the Bible helped them through like a time ... like a suicide ... they thought they were going to commit suicide, and the Bible helped them

Jen: well, that's not the same

Tracie: there's a different issue there because I sometimes wonder if Christianity specifically doesn't kind of rob us of our self esteem by telling us that we're inherently depraved, and then give us back, you know, that sort of, if you grovel then you're acceptable to God and that makes you worthy of something, but that's a whole different issue, because right now, what I'm trying to say is that I agree with you that there are certain things like the social structure of your church is probably very supportive and it's a positive social influence on the people that attend there. I agree with you.

Mike: I agree with that, too

Tracie: right, OK, but I also understand that there is a great deal of pain going on around the globe for religious reasons because of the same doctrines that are coming out of the same book, because people read that book and they read a lot of different things, and for every Christian that I've ever met who says this is what, really, my religion is about, I've met other Christians who say that Christian's not a real Christian, and this is what my religion is about, and so, I have to look at Christians and say what does each person believe, and what are they doing here, and yes, there are some good people who are Christians, and there are some evil evil people also who are Christians, and it's the Christianity that seems to motivate some of these evil things, and before you react, let me just say I don't think that people in Nigeria would be murdering their children as witches if somebody didn't tell them God wanted them to kill witches and convince them that their child was a witch. I think that is a superstitious belief that they were convinced of that is causing those deaths that would not be happening if they had a real world perspective that says witches are not real.

Mike: well, I mean my church doesn't ...

Tracie: I understand, you're not killing children, I get it, your church is not doing that, your a happy group of people that has a community going on, and it makes you happy. The problem is this is a belief that proselytizes all around the globe, and different people interpret it in different ways and it causes a lot of harm. Most of the harm that comes from the religious teaching seems to be connected to the supernatural and superstitious parts and claims about it. The parts that are good are the very real things that we agree are good, that are like you're talking about, the social structure, we get together, we sing songs, we feel happy, we like each other, we rely on each other, if someone needs help, we come together and help them. All of that is community, it's good, it would be good whether you were a social group, or a church. It would still be good either way, for you people to come together and be a good community group of people, I would support that . What I have problems with is when you start teaching people things that are superstitious and supernatural, that a lot of uneducated people get a hold of, don't know how to interpret and start hurting each other, or you get some people who are educated who hurt people. Who are like voting and saying, you know, gay people need to be not treated like other people, they need to be treated less than other people, or they need to ... that women shouldn't have the same rights as men, or that, I mean, when you start getting things like that, I mean, these are people that did get a regular education who don't know how to read this and not make it hurt people. So, what I'm saying is maybe if we took the good parts of it that your saying are the good things, like community ...

Mike: you mean we need to make a new new testament with no supernatural things ...

Tracie: I'm saying maybe we could just take the good community aspects of what you do as a church, and hold on to those things, and maybe weed out some of the stuff that you're saying we can't really demonstrate and maybe it's not true, but we don't really care, lets care ...

Mike: Is that what your organization does, you like ... it's sort of like you help people but you have no Bible, you have no ...

Tracie: we are a community group, we're pretty small, I mean I'm going to admit we probably don't have the resources and power that your church has behind it for sure, but we do our part, we have an adopt a street cleanup, and we have a blood drive, so we do do community effort, we try ... we're not a humanist group, now I will tell you that there are secular organizations that are ...

Mike: do you guys belong to other organizations?

Tracie: yeah

Jen: yeah

Tracie: there's like the coalition of reason, which is like a national arm that we just had a partnership with ...

Jen: yeah, we have a local coalition

Tracie: so, I mean, but there's a little bit of networking ... but the thing is what we're describing would be like a humanist group, of even like a Unitarian Universalist church might be more along those lines, like a group of people who a re really getting together to do like a sort of almost secular ... I don't know if it's correct or incorrect to call it a secular religion, but it's almost like a secular, sort of, we believe in helping humanity, and so there's a group called humanists, that would be secular, generally secular, you don't have to be secular to be humanist, don't get me wrong

Jen: right

Tracie: there goal is just sort of, like, lets promote the welfare of the human good, and I think ...

Mike: I thought all you guys did was just go out and do protests and say you don't like religion, I didn't know you actually did ...

Tracie: well, we also do protests, but honestly there's some things that we protest that there are church groups that would protest as well, that do protest as well

Jen: exactly

Tracie: for example, the people united, or Americans united for separation of church and state is headed by a minister who believes that the government should stay out of religion, and so he wants to see that separate, because he believes that his religion is better served by not having the government involved in what they're preaching and what they're doing, and so that is an area where we are aligned with certain churches who believe that it's best that government stays out of religious belief, and we believe, of course, from the secular side that it's good that religion stays out of the government, and so we see it both as a mutually beneficial thing agreeing that religion benefits when government doesn't run it, and government does well when it handles the secular concerns and lets religion handle, you know, the people that are religious, and let them figure out what they want to do with their own religion, that's up to them. It's personal private decisions for them, not something the government should be dictating.

Mike: well, thanks to much guys, I think I have good news for you, because I don't think most people ... I think most ... I don't think people like the bad parts of the Bible, so they would like to get rid of that too, maybe, but ...

Tracie: I hope you're right

Mike: it would be hard for them

Tracie: I hope your right, and I thank you for your call

Jen: OK, well that was interesting

Tracie: it was a good call

Jen: yeah

Tracie: I appreciate the call

Jen: OK
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Postby MAtheist » Sat Apr 16, 2011 6:45 am

placeholder for last 15 minutes of the show

(if I ever get motivated enough to do it)

My main interest was the call from Mark (Mike in this episode) and how well it fit into Tracie's introduction, that part is done.
I don't "believe" in evolution, I understand evolution.
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