Episode 705 Post-Show Transcript
Atheist Experience #705: Bullying Bans Persecute Christians
Matt: Hey Mark?
Mark: Hi Matt. I wanted to talk about values. Last time I called, I talked about beliefs, and I don't think you share a lot of our beliefs.
Matt: There I agree.
(Jen wrote something on a sheet of paper and showed it to Matt)
Mark: We have an affirmation of faith and values. And the faith is, the faith is the Bible is the word of God. You don't believe that, right?
Mark: There is one true and living God who exists in three persons, God the father, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit. Did you believe that before?
(Jen wrote something on a sheet of paper and showed it to Matt)
Matt: Sure, I used to believe it, don't believe it.
Mark: God created all things for his glory.
Matt: Yeah, I don't believe it.
Mark: You don't believe in God, or God made anything?
Matt Yeah. I'm not even sure I believe this is actually Mark.
Mark: Uh, this is Mark, I talked to you before.
Matt Well okay, everybody knows that and anybody can try to fake what you're saying, how do I know it's Mark?
Mark: Well, I go to the Austin Stone Church.
Matt Sure, you've said that every time you've called in.
Mark: What do you want to know?
Matt I don't know, I don't have any way of telling. So I mean, what is it you wanted to address?
Mark: Well we have values too.
Mark: An authentic and intimate relationship with God.
Matt: Hey Mark? Do you have any original thoughts, or are you just going to keep reading me what your church says?
Mark: Well I just wanted to know what values you believe.
Matt: Well, there's lots of things that I value. Love, happiness, health, those types of things. I've given an entire talk on the superiority of secular morality, and how you can begin with very very simple beginnings, and establish values that build up to a more complicated moral system.
Mark: What about submission to the God of the Bible?
Matt: Why would you even ask something so silly? Why would I believe to, why would I have a value that has me submit to something I don't believe in? You know what else? I won't submit to anything in the sense that you're talking about it.
Mark: Well, last time I talked to Tracie, she said God was just like Santa Claus.
Matt: From our point of view, I'll even go one further. We've compared God and other supernatural claims that aren't supported by evidence, we've compared them to Santa Claus, leprechauns, all kinds of things, and I go a step further, and say that leprechauns are by definition, as are most cryptozoic things, or cryptozoological things, more plausible than your god, simply because they are less powerful. It's more likely there's a magical fairy out there that can do some things, than that there's a magical transcendent being who can do anything. Now I think they're both absurdly implausible, but if we're going to compare the two, fairies win. You don't believe in fairies, do you?
Matt: So why
Mark: No one believes in that.
Matt: Yes, yes actually there are people that believe in that kind of thing. And the Cottingley Fairies Hoax demonstrated this quite nicely when even Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, believed that he had evidence of fairies, so your claim that nobody believes it, not only is wrong, but it's irrelevant. What difference does it make if somebody believes it? I asked whether or not you believed it, and you said no. Now how is it you can say no you don't believe something that's more plausible than God, yet still believe in God?
Mark: Well there's no Bible for fairies. There's no religion for fairies.
Matt: So, so, so what? Why is the Bible relevant, I mean there's a Koran. You don't believe in Allah, do you?
Matt: Okay, so can we agree at least that the Bible is irrelevant to whether there is a god?
Mark: Well a lot of people read the bible at my church, we just read this morning.
Matt: Okay. What'd you read this morning?
Mark: We read sermons, this time it was about heaven.
Matt: Okay. And so a lot of people read it, and you think that's enough to say that it's worth believing? Because a lot of people have read Harry Potter.
Mark: Yeah, but you believed it too, so are you
Matt: Yes, I did
Mark: So are you saying that you're dumb too?
Matt: No, and I'm not saying you're dumb. I'm saying that I used to believe it, and then when I investigated why I believed it, I found that I didn't have any good reason to believe it.
Mark: Then why do you think you believed it for 20 years?
Matt: Because I was *wrong*, I did not realize that I didn't have a good reason, and as soon as I did realize that, I stopped believing. The difference is, that when you come up against a wall in trying to present some reason for you to believe it, you just stop thinking. You don't stop believing. I was wrong, that doesn't mean that I was any more stupid. Was I dumber with regard to truth of biblical things? You bet. Was I an idiot, with regard to whether or not a god exists? Yes. But that doesn't change who I am. Being wrong about something, or being stupid in one area, or being uninformed in an area, or dumb, or whatever label you want to put on it, doesn't mean that you or I as a person is completely stupid. I'm dumb, I am an idiot about a great many things, including as we've seen in the last week or so, finances. I'm a moron when it comes to investing and managing my money in a reasonable way. It's something that I've always had to deal with. But does that mean that I'm an idiot across the board, of course not. But I do at least recognize that I have this issue, and so I'm getting help with it.
Jen: Mark, I have a question for you.
Jen: Why do you believe?
Mark: Well... I think... I think, like last time I talked to Tracie, she said she was indoctrinated.
Mark: I don't know exactly what indoctrination means but
Matt: It means that you were brought up in an environment that encouraged a belief without evidence to support it.
Mark: Right. But when parents indoctrinate their kids for Santa Claus, kids don't believe it anymore, but they still believe in God.
Jen: But the difference is, that at some point the kids realize that Santa Claus doesn't make sense, and at that point, parents stop reinforcing that belief. Or in the case of my kid, he never believed in Santa Claus.
Mark: So you mean if we stop reinforcing this belief then we'll stop believing it.
Matt: I, I, Yes.
Mark: Do you think if people stop going to church, they'll stop believing it?
Jen: No, I think if parents stop reinforcing these beliefs, stop teaching their kids that this is literally true, then, yeah, people will stop believing it.
Matt: You're confusing the scope of this. On an individual level, there's no guarantee that any person who stops going to church, is going to stop believing. But I will say that the people who escape, and avoid the constant reinforcement and constantly being surrounded by people who believe that stuff, those people are more likely to stop believing. That's just a demonstrable fact. It's the reason why groups like the American Family Association are worried about kids who go off to college, because the number of college students who abandon their religious beliefs within the first couple of years is staggering. And it's the reason why you and some others are worried about youth in your church, who are watching this program, and getting ideas. Because on some level, on some level, and I know this is insulting, and I apologize, but we've had a number of conversations, and whenever you've been asked why you believe something, you have yet to give anything other than, because a pastor said so, or because a sermon said so. You haven't expressed any actual reason, on your own, any thought behind what your beliefs are. And, when, I think, no matter how insulting this is, that you are aware on some level that you have no good reason for your beliefs, and you're worried that nobody actually does, otherwise you would not have any concern at all about whether or not a kid is exposed to additional information. Because I'm not sitting here in this chair on this show, asserting that your beliefs are false. I'm simply saying, that your beliefs have not met their burden of proof. That you guys haven't been able to provide - meet the standards of evidence that any reasonable claim should be. There's absolutely nothing objectionable about that. If it's true, you guys wouldn't object to this sort of comment with regard to any other claim. If I said that Big Foot hadn't met its claims, you'd be okay with that, and the same thing with fairies. But because it's something about something that you believe, you're going to object to it, and I think that this betrays your own doubts about what you believe. And all I'm saying is, that's not a bad thing. Embrace it, don't be afraid of it, because, if it's true, if your beliefs are true, the truth has absolutely nothing to fear from investigation. If something is true, the more you investigate it, the more brightly the light should shine and expose that truth.
Mark: Because it'll hide, right?
Mark: When you were a Christian, what would you say if I said what was your reason?
Matt: My reason at the time for why I was a Christian?
Matt: I don't know that I would have given a good answer. I probably would have
Mark: So you would have been just like me.
Mark: So you're being hypocritical.
Matt: No. How am I being hypocritical? I'm encouraging you to take, I've already said I was in the same position you were in, Mark. I'm not being hypocritical, I am encouraging you to take the steps that I took, and embrace your critical thinking skills, and to foster your critical thinking skills, so that you have a good understanding of what sort of evidence you'd need. What have I said that's hypocritical?
Mark: Well, you just said you don't have a reason, but you didn't have a reason either.
Jen: Exactly. And that was what was wrong with it.
Matt: And I'm saying that was dumb. That it was unreasonable to believe something, and soon as I realized that I didn't have a good reason, I stopped believing.
Mark: Well, okay, I look, I know I'm on your side on a few things like a lot of people at my church, say like, if the Bible says that, if you, if you're a man, and you have sex with another man, that's an abomination.
Mark: So... So, I don't like that, I know that that's not, that's not Christian because he said you should love your neighbor. You know some things in the Bible are good, like you should love your neighbor, and some things like...
Matt: Okay, how do you go about discerning what's, what in the Bible is right, and what in the Bible is wrong?
Mark: Well, you know what, can I just say one thing? Some people think that the're Christian, but some of the people who are Christian, they like war, or they like something like that.
Jen: So they're not true Christians?
Matt: I don't care about what some Christians do, the question I'm asking is, I agree with you, there are some true things in the Bible, and some false things in the Bible. We're in agreement. How do you tell the difference?
Mark: You just uh... Well you just know that like Jesus was good because he said you should
Jen: No. No.
Matt: No. No, no, no, no. You don't just know. There is a pathway to truth. There is the pathway to discover whether or not something's true. And saying you just know it, is not included in that pathway. So If I were to tell you anything else, how would you go about figuring out whether it was true or false?
Mark: Well, you'd have to... Like, what's an example? The age of the Earth?
Mark: Well I know like scientists found a lot of fossils and things.
Jen: We don't determine the age of the Earth with fossils.
Matt: But in any case, what you're talking about there is evidence. Okay
Matt: Now let's get away with physical truths about the physical nature of the universe because that's fairly simple, despite the fact that your Bible gets a number of things wrong, like whether or not bats are birds, and whether or not rabbits chew their cud, I dismiss that as the ignorance of the people who wrote it. And so by the way do most Christians, because they recognize there's no way to reconcile this with an all-knowing God, but let's talk about moral things. The Bible is clear, that a man having sex with another man is an abomination, yet you disagree with the Bible. I do too.
Mark: I don't think they should be so mean to gay people.
Matt: I, well, I completely agree, but your Bible says that your God says it's an abomination.
Jen: Not only that, but you're supposed to stone gay people.
Studio: You can probably get out of here in ten minutes.
Mark: I don't think you should stone gay people.
Matt: Yet the
Jen: But the Bible says you're supposed to.
Mark: Right. I don't believe everything.
Matt: So there's some things in the Bible you believe, and some things you don't believe. And I'm asking, I understand your reason, or your explanation for why you don't believe them, but, you, let's, you're right here, although you can't see me, so you reject some things in the Bible, and accept some other things in the Bible. And somebody else in your church, disagrees with you. And they accept some things in the Bible that you reject, and they reject some things that you accept. How do the two of you decide who's actually correct?
Mark: I don't, I don't know.
Matt: Don't you think that's important to find out?
Mark: Yeah like, there's Muslims, there's all sorts of different religions.
Jen: Well we're not even talking about that, we're talking about in your church.
Matt: Yeah, we're talking about at the Stone Church in Austin. I mean are you saying that nobody, everybody there agrees with you, that there's nothing wrong with being gay? I'm pretty sure there are people at Stone Church who would say that the Leviticus passages about it being an abomination for a man to lie with another man, is actually the opinion of God. Now, that puts you in disagreement with somebody at your church, hypothetically. How would you go about resolving this? How do you find out who's right?
Mark: I don't know.
Matt: Okay. Don't you think that's something you should know?
Matt: So, uh.
Mark: Well maybe you should just, maybe you should just make friends with some gay people and see if they're bad people.
Matt: What difference does that make? I mean maybe
Mark: To see if it's true that they're an abomination.
Matt: Well no no no, but the passage means that it's an abomination to God, that God thinks it's evil. It doesn't matter to God whether gays are good or not. So you going out and meeting them doesn't tell us anything. You could meet a homosexual who's an axe murderer, and you could meet a homosexual who gives up all their time to charities, but that tells us nothing at all about it, because people aren't all the same.
Mark: Maybe you should, maybe you should look at the other things Jesus said, like love your neighbor, and compare that with Leviticus.
Matt: Okay, and so, now you've got a, well first of all love your neighbor is kind of generic. I mean, I don't know that it necessarily means intercourse.
Studio: It might.
Matt: But you know, saying love your neighbor in one passage, and saying kill the people that, there's a passage that says that if anybody tries to lead you to another god, including your wife, yours should be the first hand on them to put them to death. So you've got one passage that tells you to kill somebody who leads you to another god, and another passage that tells you to love them. Now which one do you follow and why?
Mark: The love.
Mark: It's just like an instinct.
Matt: Okay, uh, well I'll praise you for having instincts that seem to be more moral than the contrary, but it seems to me that if you're just going to go on instinct, um, why, why do you believe anything about the Bible, or this god, or Jesus, or whatever, if you have given yourself the authority go to through and pick the parts of the book that you instinctively feel are true?
Mark: So maybe I should just trust myself, not even listen to the Bible.
Jen: There you go.
The studio shouts a cheer and starts clapping.
Matt: Everybody here is clapping for you Mark. Everybody. Now, here's the thing. Don't just listen to yourself. Because you can be wrong, I can be wrong, Jen can be wrong, we've all been wrong before. You have to actually make a concerted effort, and look at what's going on around you, and have conversations with other people. Because how do we decide whether or not we consider something to be moral or immoral? It has nothing to do with what some old book said, or somebody else's opinion, it has to do with the consequences of that action, and realizing that your actions have impact on other people, and their actions have an impact on you, and when those things come into conflict that's where we make assessments with respect to our values.
Mark: Because when gay people have sex, it doesn't hurt anyone else.
Mark: Unless like they hurt each other.
Matt: Well, you know, we'll assume is consensual. I know plenty of people who hurt each other in sex and are really happy about it. But we'll save that for another time. I gotta go Mark, thanks for the call.
Mark: Come to my church sometime.
Matt: May 15th I'll be there.
Mark: We really like you.
Matt: May 15th. Bye bye.