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
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 â€¦
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
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 â€¦
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 conversationâ€¦
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 â€¦ 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: â€¦ hold, hold â€¦
Tracie: do you understand that an atheist does not believe a god exists?
Mike: yes â€¦ well, of course ...
Tracie: OK, then do you understand â€¦
Mike: â€¦ 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 â€¦
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? â€¦ 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 â€¦
Mike: who does the church harm?
Tracie: who does the church harm?
Jen: who does â€¦ 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 â€¦ 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 â€¦
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 â€¦
Jen: we didn't say â€¦
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 â€¦ you asked me to â€¦
Mike: you don't thing there are atheists who do bad things? I could tell you about them how would that make you feel â€¦
Tracie: you didn't â€¦ wait a minute ...
Jen: no, no, no â€¦
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 â€¦
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 â€¦
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 â€¦ 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 â€¦
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 â€¦
Mike: you'd actually have a challenge, I think you guys are too scared to have serious guys on â€¦
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 â€¦
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 â€¦ 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 â€¦ 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 â€¦ 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 â€¦ we have no budget, it's like nothing, and we should have Christians on to promote Christianity, really? â€¦ Does that seem reasonable to you, honestly?
Mike: if you want my honest opinion, I think you guys are scared to talk to â€¦
Mike: to talk to serious people about this â€¦
Tracie: are you serious?
Mike: you guys just beat up on some clueless guys, and then â€¦
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 â€¦
Tracie: consider it an invitation
Mike: I just want to say that I think a lot of things you guys say are wrong â€¦
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
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 â€¦
Tracie: OK â€¦
Mike: I'm sorry, it sounds a little â€¦
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
Jen: such as
Mike: just on the news, lately, we had a national tragedy, someone got shot through the brain â€¦
Tracie: that's horrible
Mike: â€¦ that â€¦
Tracie: wait a minute, wait a minute, what? they got shot and they ... ?
Mike: representative Gifford got shot through the brain â€¦
Mike: the doctor said it was a miracle she even lived
Tracie: so you don't think â€¦
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?
Mike: well, you just look on the news, and the president said she's up in Heaven, and you wanna tell us, you wanna â€¦ 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 ...
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
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
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 ...
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
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: 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
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
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
Tracie: I appreciate the call