Friday, May 22, 2009

Bonus Episode: Guest Appearance on "Faith and Reason" with host Bill Freeman

The Reasonable Doubts crew were recently guests on the "Faith and Reason" radio show hosted by Bill Freeman. Since we often focus on the claims of fundamentalists and conservative Christians this was our chance to engage with the ideas of with religious liberals. As we quickly discovered this is not as easy as it sounds. But we've offered it up for your listening "pleasure." After listening please share any tips you might have for nailing Jello to a wall.

To download this or any previous Reasonable Doubts episodes click here. Find the episode you want and right click the "play now" link and select "save target as..."


Vandeervecken said...

I cannot find the link to download this podcast!

Jeremy said...


The post now has a link. You can download any of our episodes from the play button.

White Rabbit said...

Did any of you guys feel like you were trying to nail jelly to the wall. I think these people belong in a Unitarian Universalist church, they would fit right in. I've given up arguing with some of the congregation, they just don't disagree enough to provide any kind of dialectic.

I think Dennet is right about this, religion this watered down is basically Atheism.

I'm kind of disturbed at the amount of freewheeling they did with language and epistemology but I'd prefer them about than literalists.

I'd kind of agree on the benefits the social structure of a church can provide. I just don't think it really needs a metaphysical underpinning to work.

What did you guys think of it?


ImbalancingAct said...

WOW. That was amazingly inane. You guys did a great job but I don't think those guys had a clue about what you were talking about most of the time.

"Odd or God"? Haha. I was cringing out of embarrassment for them. I felt pity for these grown men just being assailed and unknowingly doing it to themselves. They basically seemed to have no interest in defending Christianity or theism and just let out a whole lot of barely coherent hot air. I don't know how many times they basically just said things like "Well, we're all searching for truth..." as a total nonsequitur to the great points you were making.

I was expecting you guys to be going up against "fundamentalists", but those were some really wishy washy fellas. And frankly, they were "nice" but sounded pretty uneducated, even the guy who spoke the longest who apparently had some advanced degree was just embarrassing. It was fairly painful to listen to. When you described the necessity of induction I just pictured them with their jaws hanging open.

You guys did a great job though. Kudos.

snafu said...

I wanted to reach into the internet and choke that pastor guy who kept interrupting.

There was a lot of skating around the issues and not a lot of pinning things down.
The show would have been much better if each side held the other accountable to answer the issue, and allow each other no wiggle room, or no latitude to stray off topic. Not as fun conversationally, but might have been more productive. Did you ever get to cover "What is faith?" for example.

Would have been interesting to have each pastor state who/what they think God is, and in what sense they think he is real.

Thanks guys.

ImbalancingAct said...

Several times the one guy used the phrase "God or whatever" or "the universe or God or whatever." That about sums it up.

ImbalancingAct said...

A totally shameless dodge around 54 minutes in when the one guy told that utter nonsequitur of a story after being asked very clearly to name something good that religion offers that cannot be found through secular avenues.

The whole discussion was littered with these dodges.

I'd prefer to listen to you guys take on some ivory tower theologian types or hardcore fundamentalists. It wasn't even satisfying to hear all of this jelly drivel refuted. You should take on religious moderates/liberals like Karen "I'm a freelance monotheist" Armstrong and Terry Eagleton (whose latest book I'd love to hear you guys eviscerate, by the way). These are the people who keep this kind of moderate gibberish flowing out of the mouths of types like the (and again, they were nice) not-so-bright fellas in this discussion.

I also liked your takedown of Plantinga's EAAN, it'd be great if you could get him or someone like him in the studio for a serious debate about religion.

NH Baritone said...

Guys, you were incredibly patient while you were being manipulated and misled at practically every turn by three unctuous characters. Based on how they responded to you, I doubt they heard 30% of what you said. They certainly wouldn't directly answer your questions. Their obfuscations of definitions simply made them seem dishonest. The first sign of collaboration is agreement on definitions, and they couldn't even cross that first hurdle.

When one pastor presented the question of whether you would be willing to eat less so someone could eat more, all I could see enormous church buildings, the stained glass, gold leaf, pipe organs, and pastors pulling salaries of more than $100,000/year. I give to secular charities as much as I used to pledge to churches, and thanks to open books and review organizations like Charity Navigator, much more of it now actually reaches a beneficial destination. And even they admitted instilling guilt into congregants in order to wheedle more cash from their wallets.

Then another pastor said his job was to mess things up; it sounded much more like he considered his job to keep others confused by his own obfuscation. This is the same power-play tactic used by flim-flam men like the Professor Marvel/The Wizard in the Wizard of Oz. He avoids true connection by seizing control of a conversation rather than sharing it. I wouldn't buy a used car from him.

UnBeguiled said...


Those guys were such jokers. They never had the balls to come anywhere near your challenge about method.

articulett said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
articulett said...

I find the proper reply to the question "why are you an atheist?" to be a similar question regarding a similar unintelligible belief--"Why don't you believe in (leprechauns, demons, Thetans, astrology, rain-dances, etc.)?

I suspect I lack a belief in theistic invisible immeasurable unintelligible entities for the exact same reasons they lack a belief in the invisible friends or supernatural claims of others.

(I removed my prior post, because I haven't figured out to edit my typos without doing so.)

articulett said...

Faith is belief without or despite evidence.

I prefer the word "trust" for demonstrable claims based on history and evidence. This sloppy usage of the word "faith" is a common apologist tactic that seems to sound "good" to those who want to imagine faith as some worth having.

Theism encourages people to confuse facts with everything else (faith, beliefs, mottos, feelings, opinions, morals, myths, parables, gobbledygook etc.) by everlastingly playing semantic games so that lies take on the aura of "higher truths" and many words are used to communicate nothing much at all.

Objective facts are true for everyone no matter what people "believe in". 2+2=4 and the moon is not made of cheese and this was true even before humans came along to give definitions to those terms.

Either consciousness can exist without any measurable form of matter (be it gods, souls, demons, or sprites), or they cannot. To me,the concept is as unintelligible as talking about "magic" or sound that hypothetically exists in a vacuum. If you can't distinguish god from such concepts, then god is the SAME as such concepts--nonexistent... unintelligible... unknowable in any way. It may feel good or "moral" or salvation-worthy to claim belief in such nonsense, but it does not make those beliefs useful or true in any way.

Moreover, I hear that heroin produces the same effect.

Reasonable faith? I think the term is an oxymoron.

Heaven Into Me said...

At one point one of those preachers seemed to celebrate the fact that he used language in a vague and shifting way.

Equivocation and vagueness are the primary weapons in the apologist's armamentarium.

Dale said...

I want to commend the "doubtcasters" for managing to stay civil, polite, and congenial through all the mindless equivocation and dodging coming from the theists. Well done. The patience started to wear thin as the time passed, but that's understandable.

You had exactly the right question: *by what method* do you cherry-pick the good parts of the Bible (and Christian doctrine generally) from the bad parts?

Unless I'm mistaken -- I was trying to listen carefully, as I was hoping they'd at least dare an answer -- they never answered this question.

This is the linchpin to the whole "liberal Christianity" game. It can claim plenty of content but the content is simply pulled out of someone's butt (unless/until they can specify a method). Which leads directly to another question you raised, and which they didn't answer, namely: why bother calling this mess Christianity at all? Why bother with Jesus, the Bible, or any of it?

Everything they said in favor of the Bible could be equally said of the works of Emerson, Nietzsche, Confucious, Freud, Plato, Lucretius, Melville, Homer, Shakespeare, or anyone else who produced writings that wrote expansively on Life's Big Questions.

The theists here can't seem to admit it (for whatever reason), but what they carry around is a creed. So what? Creeds aren't special or magical; they don't require "divine guidance," and it's a good thing they don't, since there is no god to provide the guidance.

I was particularly stunned when one of them outright conceded that the authority behind the Bible is suspect.

Without the Bible's reputed authority -- i.e., it came from god -- it is just another book. Well, the Bible has its high points here and there, but all things considered, we have much better books.


Heaven Into Me said...

You had exactly the right question: *by what method* do you cherry-pick the good parts of the Bible (and Christian doctrine generally) from the bad parts?Exactly. And once you concede that you must cherry-pick the authority, then what use is the authority?

Heaven Into Me said...

The title of the picture associated with this post is "Vacuous Adolescence".

Just a coincidence, no doubt.

TV's Mr. Neil said...

Next time, I'd say to not fall into their trap of putting atheism and theism on equal footing. They pulled the "neither side is provable" crap. They also made sure to define atheism really early in the show so that it's a positive claim, which is another tactic I'm really tired of encountering. Next time, don't let them do that.

Whenever a theist comes at me with this, "You haven't proven there isn't a God.", my response is, "NO! That's YOUR job!". Theists, you're the ones claiming there's a God. YOU should be the ones to attempt a falsification. Stop asking atheists to do all the work for you.

Another thing that bugs me, specifically about liberal theists, is that the version of God that they present, while more palatable, is totally ad-hoc! They're just changing the characteristics of God so that they don't have to deal with the Problem of Evil or the absurdity of biblical literalism.

And so we see, that this is how liberal Christians deal with my prior statement about falsification. Any attribute that would falsify the existence of God is immediately abandoned so that God still exists.

How is this any different from the way acupuncture or homeopathy believers change their belief structures to avoid falsification?

All they're doing is moving the goal post.

Brooks said...

I actually enjoyed the interview as a whole although I had a few problems with it. I think the first half where they're trying to answer the problem of evil could have been less long-winded. They basically could have answered it by saying they're panentheists. To quote Wikipedia "Panentheism (from Greek πᾶν (pân) "all"; ἐν (en) "in"; and θεός (theós) "God"; "all-in-God") is a belief system which posits that God exists and interpenetrates every part of nature, and timelessly extends beyond as well. Panentheism is distinguished from pantheism, which holds that God is synonymous with the material universe." The guy who claimed he was an "a-theist" probably would have been more accurately described as a naturalistic pantheist. I don't think liberal Christians are any more cherry pickers than fundamentalists. Fundamentalists claim the bible to be the inerrant word of God but they cherry pick the scriptures all the time. Like when was the last time you saw one judge not lest ye be judged? When was the last time you saw them literally sell all their possessions to the poor? The only thing that kind of disappointed me besides them trying to equate atheism with theism was when they tried to make the claim that communism is a form of atheism. I had hope liberal Christians would be above such arguments but they at least conceded the atheists were right in the end, so I can forgive them for their mistake.

articulett said...

My favorite "woo" mind game is equating 2 options (god or not god) with each having a 50% probability.

Either leprechauns exist or they do not. One must be true, but both are not equally likely to be true. Moreover, the answer would necessarily entail a specific intelligible definition of leprechauns so that all those interested in the answer to the question could determine the existence of one from its nonexistence. Once we do that, then the believers of leprechauns need only provide one example of such. There is nothing for the nonbeliever to do until such an example exists. (I'd define "existence" as having demonstrable properties to avoid going down that rabbit hole of semantics since all things known to have exist have demonstrable properties.)

The same argument the theist would use regarding the existence of leprechauns also applies for gods, souls, demons, and all other supernatural entities and powers.

Sure, we can't prove there is no god just as theists can't prove there are no leprechauns. But we are as justified in presuming that god doesn't exist as they are for presuming leprechauns don't exist.

Define and produce one example of one god and then I shall consider believing in that god. Give me the same evidence you'd demand to believe in "leprechauns" or "Xenu" or somebody else's woo. Is that really too much to ask? Why shouldn't we want as much evidence to believe in your invisible friend as you'd require to believe in someone else's?

Does "do unto others" only apply to those who believe as you do?

Jeremy said...


The picture was no coincidence.

Heaven Into Me said...


Those moonbats spouted so much lamebrained vapid crap you might as well of had two birds chirping in your ears.

As annoying as those sappy hucksters are, at least they are not an existential threat like folks who actually believe in something. I'd rather have one of those dunderheads as a neighbor than someone who thinks Leviticus contains instructions from the creator of the universe.

It was telling that one of those guys said a big part of his job was to propagate confusion. He's damn talented at it.

Nicholaas said...

I'm sorry, guys. I truly am. I usually give your podcasts my undivided attention, but with this last episode I found myself spacing out to pictures of Danica Patrick whenever your religious counterparts rambled on. I agree with the previous posters who mentioned they seemed to not have the faintest idea what you guys were talking about. It brought to mind an image of a physicst trying to explain quantum theory to a 7 year old, while she sits there and picks her nose and clicks her heels. She speaks the same language, but just doesn't get it.You guys were totally on the ball, though, and in contrast their "faith" seemed very nebulous, especially when compared to most Christians I've spoken with. They seemed to either intentionally dodge and avoid your points, or just not grasp it at all.

Next time you guys do this (and I hope there is a next time) get some Christians who can bring some real arguments to the table. They seemed little more than well-mannered cannon fodder.

John said...

As others have written, I normally look forward to your show and enjoy it a great deal. Along with the Skeptic's Guide to the Universe, I normally listen to your show on the weekend while I go for walk and play with my camera. This show was so frustrating and maddening that I had to turn it off. It was, of course, not because of the three of you, but because of the men from Faith and Reason. At least the fundamentalists are willing to clearly state what they believe. I've listened to bits and pieces of this episode three or four times, trying to figure out what they are talking about. I'd like to give them the courtesy of considering their claims--it's a shame that I can't figure out what exactly they believe.

There were also a number of points when I became quite angry. The whole "atheism takes faith" gambit was especially maddening.

Thanks for podcasting, and I'm looking forward to the next episode.

tinyfrog said...

Hey guys. Good show. I had expected those pastors to be a lot more conservative. It was hard to pin them down. Regarding the "Odd or God" argument (which I'm sure no one took seriously): I couldn't help but think "why is this guy limiting himself to two options?" Afterall, he could drop-in a whole bunch of possibilities:
- The spirits of my ancestors changed the radio-station to that song.
- Fairies felt my pain and changed the radio-station to that song.
- My sub-conscious combined with psychic energy changed the radio-station to that song.

He wants to argue for the existence of God based on "God or odd" and claiming that "coincidence" seems too unlikely. Obviously, we would all agree that it is just coincidence along with pattern recognition (fitting the song to his circumstances), confirmation bias, and remembering the hits and forgetting the misses. But, to actually argue for the existence of God based on this argument, he has to discount all the other possibilities which he doesn't consider. Using his same method, he could argue for any of the three possibilities listed above, or invent something entirely new.

John said...

At first I couldn't believe he was serious with the odd or god argument.

I had been frustrated with him, but that was the point where I gave up any hope that he was going to make sense at all.

3Finker said...

Great show guys - enjoyed this one more than any of your shows since the Bizzaro episode! You really struggled to tie them down - closet atheists i think.

GLE said...

Hi Doubt Casters,

Along with some others it would seem, I also had to turn this one off for a bit. However, I got there eventually.

One thing that struck me was the somewhat defensive tone that appeared often in the David and Jeremy's voices. I can appreciate a certain amount of frustration, but even early on when one of the pastors popped a joke you were straight on to the back foot.

It might be the cultural context, I don't know. Here in Australia, religion seems so peripheral that I really can't comprehend what it must be like to be defending your position all the time.

Jeremy said...


There's some context to that. His "joke" that we think religious people are idiots, was not a joke at all. He had been making such comments for 2 prior on his show saying that we think all religious people are "crazy", "idiots", etc. and complaining that people wouldn't be able to sit through our show to listen to his (and that he couldn't blame them). This obviously bothered me because, not only do I not like being slandered on air with no chance to defend myself, but also because we've made a conscious effort never to make those types of statements on the show. He was characterizing us not by our show but by his sterotype of atheists. By opening with those comments he was setting the tone for a hostile interview. I'm actually surprised it turned out as peaceful as it did.
There is so much that one cant hear on the tracks that I wish our listeners could get a sense of (body-language, off air comments, etc.). It was the exact opposite of how things went with Dr. Myer. Despite my criticisms of him, he at least has a respect for evidence and clear thinking that gave us plenty to discuss...and when we disagreed it was always clear why and what type of evidence could resolve the matter. Myers also was relatively conservative with the conclusions he would draw from research and would remain quiet over matters that were unfalsifiable. The "Faith and Reason" crew were more similar to us politically but epistemologically they couldn't have been more different.

Zarathustra said...

Pleasure listening, occasionally painful (I'm thinking of "Odd or God") and certainly insightful.

Arguing with religious liberals (and for that matter, non-religious but spiritual people) is something I do often, so I'll redirect you guys to my latest blog post on nailing jello to a wall:

Honestly, and I know this might make me sound like a jerk, I think there's a subculture of pseudo-intellectualism that gets soaked up by college students and generally by other smart people who nonetheless are emotionally invested in their beliefs. As a skeptic, I realize that however much I may invest emotionally in a particular idea, I am far more invested in a process of critical inquiry, but it can be very hard to communicate the difference between this and a dogma or faith to people who aren't passionate skeptics, and indeed who may be very credulous. After all, plenty of people reject Christianity for neo-paganism, Scientology and other "new religions" not because they are critical thinkers but because they're rebelling against the traditions of (usually) their parents or their communities. Often though, I find the pantheists/deists/spiritual-but-not-religious folks make very similar arguments (and many of the same mistakes) as liberal theists.

Dale said...


The more I think back on the guy who so reveled in "muddying the waters," the more unsettling it is. Sooner or later we need some clean water to throw on the situation, don't we?

Muddied waters implies, among other things, no distinction between creationism and evolution; or between climate science and rank denialism; or between violations of church/state separation and everyday religious practice; or between considering yourself a fan of a particular sports franchise and considering yourself a member of a religious body. Etc.

In their case, a very muddy area is the line between *Christianity, the major world religion* and *Stuff I Like to Associate with Myself.* I still can't see how they justify a self-label as Christians given dammnear everything they said that wasn't a paraphrase of "I am a Christian."

I'm not reading too much into all that, am I?

Whether I am or not, I think it's quite important to keep these lines in place and clearly visible. We can *define rules about* crossing lines (up to and including the rules that say "never, ever cross this line"); but we can't have rules if we don't have lines.

Brooks said...

"It was the exact opposite of how things went with Dr. Myer. Despite my criticisms of him, he at least has a respect for evidence and clear thinking that gave us plenty to discuss...and when we disagreed it was always clear why and what type of evidence could resolve the matter"

I have to agree with this. While I still think it was a pretty good episode, I agree that the interview with David Myers was better. I could understand the points these guys were trying to make, but Myers had clearer arguments and these liberal Christian guys just felt kind of sloppy. Like when that one guy was saying it was his job to meddle up the meaning of words, I could sort of understand where he was coming from. Like how some gay people are trying to take back the word queer and reimagine it to mean something positive instead of insulting. But at the same time, I agree that if you're going to try use a new definition of a familiar word that's used differently by most people, you should at least attempt for some consistency.

I also thought they were holding that argument to double standards. Like they had no problem with using alternative definitions of words when it comes to faith and God, but when they claimed communism was a form of atheism, they contradicted their earlier claims about the meanings of words and kept insisting that communism and atheism are the same thing. At least David Myers was able to admit he was wrong when he made a mistake even if you disagreed with him.

Fletcher said...


"One thing that struck me was the somewhat defensive tone that appeared often in the David and Jeremy's voices. I can appreciate a certain amount of frustration, but even early on when one of the pastors popped a joke you were straight on to the back foot."

I'm not sure exactly what you're referring to (though I'm sure you're accurate). It may have been the initial "These guys say you have to be an idiot to be religious" bit that Pastor Bill did-- if that's what you were referring to, GLE, the reason Jeremy and I both jumped on that is because we've heard that from him a number of times. As the engineer for "F&R" I've actually listened to him say it both to my face and on the air several times and frankly, I'm a little offended by it. Okay, a lot offended by it.

I suppose we could have taken it a bit more lightly, but after hearing him say it a number of times on the air when I DIDN'T have a microphone to respond with, I wasn't about to let it slide this time.

Charles said...
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Charles said...

I agree with most of the points people are making here. This was a pretty frustrating episode though I still "enjoyed" it.

I think questions I would have had for these guys would be, "If god is just this universal good feeling thing then where is the impetus to identify as Christians and worship it?" Acknowledge maybe, but then the god concept just becomes this sort of 'string around the finger' reminding us why we should be good. Frankly, we atheist often don't need that reminder.

Also, was it my imagination or did one of the theists actually concede the god of the gaps idea? I think he was saying we needed god to stand in in areas we don't fully understand yet. That makes god sort of a "universal place holder" and is a best a weak argument for religion but not much of one for god. Definitely not the christian god.

Dan Gerics said...

Great episode. How nice to have a reasonable chat about religion/non-religion. Very cool.

My biggest problem with the pastors' side of the discussion was that they, or one of them, kept referring to things as "questions of faith" which clearly weren't. The greatest offense was referring to the decision not to commit suicide each day. That's not a question of faith. Most of the time it's not a question at all as we don't think about it. We just get up and live our lives. Calling that a question of faith is like saying it's a question of faith not to put your socks on your hands. Again, something most of us don't do, not because we considere it and some higher meaning influences our decision, but because we simply don't think about putting our socks on our hands.

It could only be considered a faith issue if one were seriously considering an act, like suicide, and then made the decision to be or not to be. Only then could any discussion of faith enter into it.

Anyway, fun discussion.

Derek said...

Hi, I'm a long-time listener from Vancouver, Canada, but this is my first comment.

The pastors seem like nice guys overall, but I wish they would simply have answered some of your questions. I was hanging wallpaper as I listened, and each time an "answer" veered off into a story or peripherally-related quote from one authority figure or another, I found myself concentrating on the wall rather than the show. There just wasn't much there there.

I usually find Reasonable Doubts fun, interesting, concise, and intellectually rigorous. This crossover episode indicates that Faith & Reason must be much the opposite. I'm glad I listened regardless, but I'll be glad to return to the regular Bat-Channel next time.

Greg said...

Nailing jelly to the wall, indeed. Except that you're blindfolded, the hammer is a slinky, and the jelly is invisible.

With about 30 minutes left I've been waiting for the pastors to offer up any sort of reason or explanation for something. The best I can figure out is that their faith is some sort of cosmic placebo effect. I'll try to make it to the end but I expect I'll just arrive at work tomorrow really frustrated.

articulett said...

I agree that the statement: "These guys say you have to be an idiot to be religious" is offensive.

Nobody said such a thing-- as such, it is a straw man. It's a tool designed to make your opponent look bad and dismiss what they say by pretending they are saying something they are not saying at all. It's a dishonest technique in that it attacks the doubtcasters and cast them in a false light.

Most people including some of the doubt casters were religious. Clearly, no one thinks you have to be an idiot to be religious-- all you have to be is "indoctrinated".

That being said, I am quite sure the IQ of the pastors is considerably lower on average than that of the doubt casters. It often DOES take a degree of intelligence to reason oneself out of the mental manipulation of religion where you are told you are "moral", "saved", and "special" for believing an unbelievable (unintelligible) tale.

triggertom said...

This show was truly difficult to hear and yet, I couldn't turn it off. I was anticipating some intricate logical dialog but what actually took place was disjointed drivel from these three semi religious goons who seemed to have long ago lost any semblance of backbone they may have once possessed. I can't imagine what kind of "religious" types would bother to attend a church that these wishy-washy clerics pretend to run. It would seem obvious that their shtick, which lacks any kind of substance, is simply designed to line their pockets in the same transparent way that a nude dancer looks directly at a man in her audience as if he will be the one with whom she will bed that night. I heard nothing but dollar signs in the voices of these men. I doubt even they believe their own BS.

UnBeguiled said...

I've been keeping score. Here are some highlights from the listeners:

amazingly inane

barely coherent hot air

really wishy washy fellas

shameless dodge

jelly drivel

moderate gibberish

not-so-bright fellas

three unctuous characters

confused by his own obfuscation

flim-flam men

such jokers

Equivocation and vagueness

mindless equivocation and dodging

pulled out of someone's butt

Vacuous Adolescence

moonbats spouted so much lame-brained vapid crap

sappy hucksters


little more than well-mannered cannon fodder

frustrating and maddening

cosmic placebo effect

semi-religious goons

wishy-washy clerics

Fletcher said...

Triggertom -- in their defense (in a way . . . ) I will say that these men do really seem to believe whatever it is that they believe. These aren't big money preachers. Sure, it may be a racket, but it's a racket that they believe in. I don't doubt their sincerity. I question their beliefs and methodology, but I don't doubt that they mean well.

articulett said...

I agree with Fletcher. I think they are nice guys who want to believe that faith is reasonable. They prefer mystery and magic to admitting they just don't know or the "cold hard facts". Many believers (and I once was one) imagine that faith and feelings are avenues toward "truth" and They mistake rationalism with cynicism and they think that people who lack their faith lack wondrous feelings they have. They also are ever-seeking to confirm their bias that those who believe as they do are the happiest, most moral, most wise, and most humble people of all though no outside measurement would confirm such beliefs. So long as they can confirm these biases, they don't have to face the fact that their supernatural beliefs put them in the very same category of "crazy" as believers in Scientology or other cults.

I got kind of "new agey" like these pastors, as I left the faith I was raised with Catholicism. I wanted something to give me that feeling of "transcendent specialness" and community, I suppose. So, I understand those who need the security blanket of some sort of belief making them feel in on some "universal secret". But I came to respect the truth more, and, to resent the believers need to manipulate others to prop up their pet delusion rather than given it the raised eyebrow it deserves.

I can assure those on the same path, that for most people, there is just as much happiness, poignancy, awe, and meaning to life once you decide to stop fooling yourself and aim to separate what humans can know and what they cannot. In my case there is more. And I find it welcoming to be amongst a world of people on a similar path moving away from the magical thinking and superstitions that has held humanity captive for far too long.

Mendelation said...

These guys sounded much more like Deists than Christians and yet all three profess to be Christian. I was waiting for a question on how they came to accept first that there is a god and second that Jesus is that god, or at least part of that god. I don't think I ever heard them explain that one but would be interested in hearing.

GLE said...


'...the reason Jeremy and I both jumped on that is because we've heard that from him a number of times."

Well, he who laughs last has had the Joke explained. I can see your respective points. It goes to show how easily simple things can be misinterpreted.

Anonymous said...

When I was a fundy I had no respect for liberal Christianity and these guys showed why. What DO they believe in? Nothing concrete from what I could tell. Now that I'm an atheist I STILL have no respect for liberal Christianity. Their nice people, but that's about all.

TV's Mr. Neil said...

Yeah, liberal Christians extremely guilty of cherry-picking. They basically strip away the stuff that's been completely falsified and stick with that which cannot be falsified.

They're basically trying to make it as hard to rule out God's existence as possible. But in doing so, they're clearly stripping away the absurdities. It's a very arbitrary sort of belief. As long as they can keep their God unfalsifiable, then they don't have to fess up to their bullshit.

Meanwhile, you have Christians like VenomFangX who make it astonishingly easy. In one of Shawn's videos, he remarks that the god who uses evolution is NOT the God of the Bible. To that, I say, "Okay then; the God of the Bible is false. Thank you for making it easy."

articulett said...

Maybe they are in the process of letting go of their faith, but they can't take that final step because they are pastors.

It seems like lots of folks (including me)segue out of religion by getting increasingly wishy-washy and unintelligible regarding what they believe--that may morph into eastern mysticism or post modern kind of thinking.

Most atheists were once believers, so there is hope for the wishy washy pastors. Atheism culls "converts" from all faiths. We disbelieve in all gods equally since there is no way to distinguish one from another-- or from any mythical entity one might imagine for that matter.

TV's Mr. Neil said...

THEY may not be in the process of deconverting, but they're making it extremely easy for their kids and grandchildren to walk away from religion.

I think that's what fundies fear the most. Once you start abandoning this tradition and that tradition, then you're basically telling your offspring that they should take faith with a grain of salt. And eventually, you're just going to have a generation that finds it as easy to abandon religion as it is to abandon Santa Claus.

B H said...

It's all been said, but after listening today I had to chime in. These F&R guys were absolutely unintelligible and I commend the doubtcasters on their patience. I've lost all tolerance for anyone who plays this backsliding game, and if I had been in your chairs, the entire program would have been me pursuing them relentlessly for a single useful definition.

As much as I'd like to hear "both" sides, I simply cannot sit through what passes for an argument in a religious context.

So, anyway, bravo. And though it was somewhat entertaining, do realize that at least one listener would be completely content if the show ignored first-person religious perspectives and apologetics and instead focused on news and evidence-based research on religion.

FarFromFaith said...

First of all, you you did an awesome job.

The passion of your cause was evident from the beginning. Being serious about what you presented with a solid case, as apposed to the three pastor with an extremely weak case with no passion.

They remind me of myself a year or two before my deconversion. Fighting for something I wanted to believe in but couldn't piece it together in my own mind.

ps. Thanks for getting me over that hurdle, defiantly 1 of the reasons I made that decision.

everettattebury said...

I had to take a shower after listening to this to get rid of the icky feeling it gave me.

"My job is to muddy lines... We are all in this big muddy mess together"

It gave me the mental image of a baby reaching into his diaper and playing with handfuls of his own poop.

Tommy Holland said...

I've posted a response to this podcast on my blog:

In summary, I understand the frustration you three felt dealing with slippery arguments. I specifically wished you would have pressed Freeman on the Problem of Evil.

Thanks, gentlemen. Keep up the good work.

david said...

Man Alive!! Those two pastors were slippery, obtuse and rude in a very passive aggressive way.

Frustrations aside, it's fascinating to hear these sorts of mental gymnastics at work. Annoying but fascinating.

david said...

"Facts knowable by non-reason..." said by one of the pastors around 1:11:50

What on earth is that supposed to mean?
Seriously, I'm not being flippant, can someone explain to me what that would/could be? I'm trying to be generous here.

It reminds me of,"As you know, there are known knowns. There are things you know I know. You also know there are known unknowns..."