Monday, March 7, 2011

Episode 80 - Faith of the Fatherless

Episode 80 - Faith of the Fatherless

In his book Faith of the Fatherless, Dr. Paul Vitz explains that atheism is the result of weak, absent or abusive fathers. Dr. Prof. Luke debunks Vitz's 'theory' through the wily use of actual research. In counter-apologetics, Justin offers desire utilitarianism as one approach to morality. And Fletch introduces us to a Celtic love god in PolyAtheism.

Also in this episode: Props in Australia and Hawaii, a Stranger Than Fiction that'll help our single fans find like minded dates. And, we open up the Doubtcast Mail Bag and read some of your comments and questions.


Paul Vitz Interview

How did Jeffrey Dahmer Define Morality?


Anonymous said...

Hey guys, Love your show!

It's Billy from San Diego. You mentioned my post in episode 80 - You said it was clever, but what's the verdict? idiot or genius?

Andrew Ryan said...

Thanks for the 'Tough Questions' link. I posted the following there:

Bill Pratt: "This sounds like a pretty weak form of morality that I hope you don’t subscribe to. You seem to be saying, “Don’t do bad things or you will get punished.” This is what we tell children, but we expect adults to have better reasons."

Bill, I take it then that you reject as childish anyone who tells people "Don't do bad things or you will go to hell"? Because that's exactly the same argument.

Positing a God makes no difference to the problem you see in secular morality. It just moves the problem along one position. Why does 'God says this is wrong' make it objectively wrong? It is still subjective - it is wrong SUBJECT to the fiat of God.

Where is God getting the standard from? If it's himself and his own preferences, then it's as arbitrary as anyone else's morality. If it's from somewhere else, then his existence is not required for morality to exist.

Is it wrong because God says so, or does God say so because it is wrong? Is 'God is good' an objective truth? If so, how does one test it? Is there an act that God could conceivably commit that would stop him being good? If not, if he would be good REGARDLESS of what acts he committed, then what meaning does the assertion 'God is good' actually have?

Until you have answered these questions, you cannot accuse atheists of relativism or inconsistency.

Finally, I didn't notice if you answered Todd's question. In a Godless universe, would YOU, Bill Pratt, see no problem in raping and murdering? If no, then that suggests you don't actually have any love for your fellow man, and in fact only refrain from heinous acts for the selfish reason that you want to avoid hell.

Insomniac said...

I think if "Doctor" "Luke" "Galen" wants to put this issue to rest, he should simply show us his birth certificate. I mean, what's he got to hide? WHY HAVEN'T WE SEEN IT YET?!

Anyway, Jeremy is being missed, but Scheiber's doing pretty well. Thanks for the consistently good series.

/back to lurking

Rob said...

(apologies for length)

After listening to y’all rip a book on “Atheists with Daddy Issues” I was finally motivated to look at that book you praised by Bob Altemeyer, “Only Rightwing People are Evil.” What a hoot!

I love this one unbiased, unloaded question in his survey , “Our country desperately needs a mighty leader who will do what has to be done to destroy the radical new ways and sinfulness that are ruining us.” Nice use of the words “mighty”, “destroy” and “sinfulness.” Not leading at all.

The question could easily be rephrased, “Our country desperately needs an intelligent leader who will do what has to be done to transform the radical old ways and scientific questioning that is ruining our planet.” Now who is more likely to say yes to that, righties or lefties?

Also loved this line, “I’m sure one can find left-wing authoritarians here and there, but they hardly exist in sufficient numbers now to threaten democracy in North America.”

Current events suggest one major left-wing authoritarian group – unions. Just look to Wisconsin, with threats of mob violence and fleebagers deserting the legislature. The people protesting in those crowds show 1) a high degree of submission to the established, legitimate authorities in their society (union leadership); 2) high levels of aggression in the name of their authorities; and 3) a high level of conventionalism.

Quote, ““Right” for them means, more than anything else, that their hostility is (in their minds) endorsed by established authority, or supports such authority. “Might” means they have a huge physical advantage over their target, in weaponry say, or in numbers, as in a lynch mob.””

Yep. Sounds like Wisconsin.

One more example. The current Presidential administration, certified left-wing, has no problem mandating all Americans by law buy a private product, while also picking and choosing which other laws it will defend in court (Defense of Marriage Act). Question these moves and you’re just a racist hater who wants poor sick people to die and YOU GO SHUT YOUR FOX NEWS HOLE RIGHT NOW! YOU GO TO HELL! YOU GO TO HELL AND YOU DIE!

Also, Sarah Palin is a moron (non sequitur, but obligatory)


There is authoritarianism throughout the political spectrum. Neither right or left wingers are pious, but only one is sanctimonious. Altemeyer may as well have named his book, “People who voted for Bush are evil stoopid poopie heads.” Would have been a lot more honest.

I enjoy the podcast!

Jeremy said...

Rob, you are clearly outraged. I'm not sure if this will make any difference but I wanted to make a few comments. First, no one on this show made the claim that liberals are incapable of violence. We said it’s a false equivalence to say support for violence is the same on the left as it is for the right. We discussed the "fishhook" nature of the curve. Certainly support for violence does go up with extremists on the left, just not as much. We also pointed out that the connection is with authoritarian personality, fundamentalism, etc. which are more drawn to conservative politics …we did not claim having a fiscally conservative viewpoint somehow warps one into a vicious monster. I'm sure you've encountered liberals who flip out and tell you to go to hell when challenged but I hope you can agree ours was a much more reasonable response. Second, the Madison protests are not an example of extreme left wing violence. The Madison Chief of Police continually issued statements to the press expressing amazement at how peaceful the protests were (and the actions of a communist dictator like Castro is not an "outlier" either, it doesn’t even belong in the data set). If you want examples of liberal violence in America you would be much better off using eco-terrorism or the violent wing of the antivivisection movement. I wouldn’t object because it is real violence and should be condemned. Third, How else would you suggest we test for extremist attitudes other than seeing if people agree with extreme statements? You're pulling a couple of quotes and then acting as if the survey forced choices among different options with the conservative ones rigged to seem unreasonable. That wasn’t the design. The survey measured how strongly people agree…and apparently many agreed very strongly. Fourth, Palin is a moron and it matters because we don’t need any more morons in politics than we already have. Finally its not just Altemyers work that demonstrates inflexible thinking and intolerance are linked to authoritarianism and skewed to the right. There are many independent lines of evidence converging on this conclusion. We mentioned them in rd51 but I will give you some studies to look at in the comment below(make sure you read the end of the one by Jost). What we need are principled conservatives who instead of having knee-jerk reactions to such criticism are able to look at this data thoughtfully and reevaluate where their movement is heading and who it is pandering to. A few conservatives, Barry Goldwater types, are struggling for the soul of the party and pleading with its leaders to stop pandering to religious (and other types of) extremists. You could be one of them Rob and this data would help you make that case to your peers.

Jeremy said...

Here are those studies

Rob said...

Thanks for the reply. I'll look through those studies when I have time. I'm not outraged. (Nope. Not at all. Promise).

If you're looking for podcast fodder along these lines, here's a quote from a professor at the University of Chicago Law School. He has called the Wisconsin Republicans "criminals" and then said on his blog -

"At some point these acts of brazen viciousness are going to lead to a renewed philosophical interest in the question of when acts of political violence are morally justified, an issue that has, oddly, not been widely addressed in political philosophy since Locke."

Whackjob murderers accused of killing abortion doctors should find comfort in those high-minded words.

TV's Mr. Neil said...

You guys are ridiculous sometimes.

First of all, this is not to be taken as a defense of Dr. Paul Vitz. I'm an atheist, and I had a wonderful relationship with my father. When he died, it destroyed my world. So when I hear apologists come up with crackpot theories with the intent to defame atheism and push a religiously-motivated agenda, especially ones like this, I get angry. His work is cherry-picked and question-begging. And I even take issue with his assertion that atheism is so care-free that we can just vote for government to solve social woes, as if belief or non-belief in gods has any correlation with political beliefs. As an atheist, I'm sick of taking in the chin from goofs like this.

But then you guys did something that really irritated me. You laughed at someone else's political agenda, and then you inserted your own. It's right there starting at 22: 45. Vitz assumes (again, incorrectly) that atheism leads to a shift in one's political thinking, in which it's okay to let the government take care of the needy. You chuckle at this and say, sarcastically, "Oh Democrats, are so helpful. Shame on them." Yeah, Democrats are very helpful... when they're using other people's money.

That's always the part that gets left out whenever I hear about how charitable the left is. They always leave out the fact that government aid means tax-payer-funded. It's really easy to pat yourself on the back and tell yourself that you're doing a good job when all you did was vote for the government to appropriate someone else's hard earned money to causes that, though well-meaning, are funded by theft. In fact, it's only a semantics game that prevents people on the left to admit that this is stealing.

I don't get it. Do you think that because it's written into law, that appropriation of funds by taxation is no longer stealing? Do you believe that because it's all going to a good cause, that the ends justify the means? Maybe not, but that's the vibe I get from the left.

And don't get me wrong, here. I am NOT a Republican. I do NOT support the Tea Party. I'm simply a person who has grown tired of binary politics, because no matter which side I turn to, all I see are a bunch of people who are incapable of self-criticism. I'm with the left on a lot of things, but social politics is not one of them.

I'm not asking you to watch Fox News (HELL NO!), but I'd like you to listen to the criticism of fellow skeptics who disagree with you politically, particularly guys like Penn Jillette, Shane Killian, and Bitbutter. I don't agree with everything they say, either, but I appreciate the variety in their beliefs. I don't have to listen to the same old Democrat/Republican dichotomy from them.

Fletcher said...

First and foremost, I hate online debates as I think little to know good has ever come from one.

But, occasionally, I feel stupidly compelled to defend myself.

So here goes:

The focus of the show is not politics though it does inevitably come up from time to time. I'm a very political person. I am unabashedly a progressive liberal. Anyone familiar with current politics in the US knows that that means I am neither a Republican nor a Democrat. I am a liberal. Not a Libertarian like many other skeptics whom I respect very much.

I think your assertion that taxation is theft is incorrect. I think it is the duty and even the privilege of citizens to be taxed. I often don't agree with where my tax money goes (three wars, for example) but I am glad to pay my taxes. We must do what we can to change the way the money is spent, but I think it is selfish and irresponsible to pretend that taxes are not a necessary part of being a member of society.

This "hard earned money" wasn't earned just through your hard work. The rich become rich off the sweat of the working class and the help of the government. I'm not discounting the work that they themselves might also put in, but no one, not a single person ever became rich purely on their own. They are part of a society and they owe a debt to that society for helping them get where they are. This is true for the ultra rich all the way to the working poor.

And I could not agree more with your feelings on the Republican/ Democrat dichotomy. Though I think it may be generous to call it a dichotomy . . . I don't want a third party, at this point, I'd be happy with a second party.

Now, all that being said, these are my opinions and they fall profoundly beyond the scope of the show.

My comment on the show was not to support Democrats, the two party system or taxation (though the latter I actually do support). It was merely poking fun at Vitz for making it sound as though the willingness to help society was a weakness of Democrats. That's all.

Fletcher said...

Blerg. Typo in my first sentence. "No" not "know." Epic fail.