Conversations with The Austin Stone

A place for discussion and feedback regarding the Non-Prophets podcast and/or the Atheist Experience TV show.

Conversations with The Austin Stone

Postby MAtheist » Sat May 07, 2011 3:21 am

When I first heard the calls from Mike and Mark, I had the idea of typing them up because it may make a nice progression. After hearing some of the later calls, and upon reading some of the comments by others, I am not totally convinced that Mark is on the "up and up," so I debated with myself for a while if I would type up the calls here.
After the latest calls, I have decided to post what I have after all. Even if the calls from Mark may not be totally sincere, I love the responses from The Atheist Experience hosts. They are sincere, they represent how I feel atheism should be represented. They give honest, thoughtful responses that can only foster critical thinking in others. While these conversations may not lead anyone to atheism, I would hope that they can at least get some people to think for themselves, and hopefully remove some of the misconceptions that people still have about what an atheist is.

As always, I have done my best to keep what I typed as accurate as possible. I am thinking of adding an e-mail address to my profile so people can offer me corrections and criticisms.

Anyways, here we go.
Last edited by MAtheist on Sat May 07, 2011 3:26 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby MAtheist » Sat May 07, 2011 3:30 am

I am leaving this post blank as a placeholder. In the first call from Mark, he states that the last time someone from The Austin Stone called in, Jeff went "wild" on him. But, I have not been able to find that call with any certainty.

In episode 676 with Jeff, there are two callers from Austin, but neither says they are from The Austin Stone, and there is no "wild" Jeff.

In episode 691 with Jeff, there is phone trouble, so all the conversations are one sided.

But, in episode 686, there is a caller from Austin that may be Mark, or Mike, or Andrew, or Luke, but they do not claim to be from The Austin Stone. Also, this episode has Matt Dillahunty with Darrel Ray as a guest, not Jeff Dee. So, without being certain, I do not wish to include it.

If the call that Mark talks about does come to light, I will edit this post and place it here.
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Postby MAtheist » Sat May 07, 2011 3:40 am

The following call was from episode 693 which aired on January 23rd, and can be seen here.

http://blip.tv/file/4674944

The show covers the topic of misconceptions about atheists, in which Tracie covers many ideas theists have about atheists, only to have the first caller, Mike hit just about every one of them. It was this call that gave me the idea of typing up a transcript, and then when additional calls came in from The Austin Stone, the idea grew into a series.

I shall not include the full transcript of what Tracie covered before the call, if you want to read that, you can go here.

http://forum.ironchariots.org/viewtopic.php?t=4173
Last edited by MAtheist on Sat May 07, 2011 6:05 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Mike from episode 693

Postby MAtheist » Sat May 07, 2011 3:42 am

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

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

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

Jen: OK

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

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

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

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

Tracie: well, thank you

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

Tracie: no, you're right

Jen: you're right, we don't

Tracie: but thank you for the invite

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

Tracie: I did

Jen: yes, I did as well

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

Tracie: yeah, I did, I did

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

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

Jen: yeah

Mike: so, why exactly did you quit?

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

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

Jen: well, why …

Tracie: what have I said that's bitter?

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

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

Jen: gosh, we just had that conversation…

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

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

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

Mike: … hold, hold …

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

Mike: yes … well, of course ...

Tracie: OK, then do you understand …

Mike: … I'm not stupid

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

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

Tracie: thank you

Mike: about this so called institution you call it

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

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

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

Mike: who does the church harm?

Tracie: who does the church harm?

Jen: who does … are you kidding?

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

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

Jen: we didn't say …

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

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

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

Jen: no, no, no …

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

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

Jen: no one said you did

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

Mike: well …

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

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

Jen: no, no, no, no, no …

Tracie: who am I beating up?

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

Tracie: I'm answering your question

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

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

Jen: so …

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

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

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

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

Tracie: it certainly bothers you

Jen: it bothers you

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

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

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

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

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

Jen: Oh

Mike: to talk to serious people about this …

Tracie: are you serious?

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

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

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

Tracie: are the clueless ones

Jen: we invite people to call end defend their beliefs

Tracie: anybody can call us

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

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

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

Mike: well …

Tracie: consider it an invitation

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

Tracie: I would expect that from a theist

Jen: so, for example

Mike: pardon me?

Jen: for example

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

Jen: OK

Mike: we've got a bit of a problem

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

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

Tracie: OK …

Mike: I'm sorry, it sounds a little …

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

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

Tracie: like

Jen: such as

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

Tracie: that's horrible

Mike: … that …

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

Mike: representative Gifford got shot through the brain …

Tracie: right

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

Tracie: so you don't think …

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

Tracie: what about the nine year old who died?

Jen: yeah

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jen: we're asking how you know this

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

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

Tracie: right

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

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

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

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

Jen: yeah, the doctors don't know that

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

Tracie: she's brain damaged

Jen: if you ...

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

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

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

Jen: no, no, no

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

Jen: so

Tracie: could never happen without God

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

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

Jen: you said most people

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

Jen: how many

Mike: it's pretty rare

Jen: right

Tracie: but it happens

Jen: ten percent of people ...

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

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

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

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

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

Tracie: why not?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jen: no, we don't

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

Jen: no, I wanna know

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

Mike: you mean if someone survives cancer ...

Tracie: right

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

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

Mike: Oh, I understand the question now

Tracie: right

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

Tracie: right, I didn't think you did

Mike: if a human survives ...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tracie: like winning the lottery

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

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

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

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

Mike: well, maybe there is no real justification

Tracie: that's my point

Jen: there you go

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

Tracie: it is a problem

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jen: well, that's not the same

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

Mike: I agree with that, too

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mike: do you guys belong to other organizations?

Tracie: yeah

Jen: yeah

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

Jen: yeah, we have a local coalition

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

Jen: right

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

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

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

Jen: exactly

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

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

Tracie: I hope you're right

Mike: it would be hard for them

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

Jen: OK, well that was interesting

Tracie: it was a good call

Jen: yeah

Tracie: I appreciate the call

Jen: OK
MAtheist
 
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Postby MAtheist » Sat May 07, 2011 3:47 am

The next call is from episode 695 which aired on February 6th, and can be seen here.

http://blip.tv/file/4736996

Russell and Martin talk to Mark who gets cut off. In a later episode Mark says he was having trouble on his end.
Last edited by MAtheist on Sat May 07, 2011 6:06 am, edited 1 time in total.
MAtheist
 
Posts: 36
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Location: Massachusetts

Mark from episode 695

Postby MAtheist » Sat May 07, 2011 3:48 am

Russell: we've got Mark in Austin

Martin: Mark in Austin, who is local, start with a local fellow

Russell: there you are, Mark, hi

Mark: I have a lot of experience with theology and the academic side of Christianity, so I thought I would call in and have a polite debate with you.

Russell: That's fantastic, I'm seeing on the board here you are calling on behalf of your church?

Mark: A lot of the youth at my church have been watching your program.

Russell: Thank you

Martin: Hi

Mark: And while myself, and the parents, find it amusing, we are worried that the youth are being tricked and deceived by your program.

Martin: Oh dear, I think you're on to us

Russell: Well, we don't want to ...

Martin: I think you're on to us.

Russell: No, seriously ...

Mark: My congregation is watching, so please be polite, the last time someone from the congregation called your host Jeff was wild.

Russell: Jeff can be a bit of a firebrand, I'll admit that.

Martin: Ah, you're gonna' need to ... you're feeding back

Russell: We're getting feedback

Martin: If your watching on your television while you're talking to us ...

Russell: We've been having problems with studio stuff for the last few weeks, so ...

Martin: It could also be if you're watching the program and you have your television turned up sometimes that will feed back into the phone, also

Russell: Okay

Martin: So you don't want to do that.

Russell: Well, anyway ...

Martin: Well, the rule at this program is that you get what you give, so we're all about having polite discussions, but it works both ways.

Russell: And, so have you mentioned what your church is?

Martin: Mark, are you still ...

Mark: I can't hear you very well

Martin: Okay

Russell: Have you mentioned what your church is, would you like to plug them?

Mark: My church is the Austin Stone, and ...

Russell: Okay, Hi Austin Stone ... go on

Mark: we are a new testament church.

Martin: So, what's your question, or what would you like to talk about today?

Mark: Well, my question is, first of all, is it true that on your show you made a comparison between God and Bigfoot?

Russell: Very likely.

Martin: We quite possibly have done that, yeah.

Mark: Okay, first of all, it is true there is no Bigfoot because there simply are no transitional forms, there is a ten thousand dollar cash prize for anyone who presents a transitional form ...

Russell: Yeah, but I think ...

Mark: to Ray Comfort.

Martin: Oh, oh, you're one of this batch, all right ...

Russell: I think you'll find that the reason that we brought up Bigfoot is because people frequently ask us why don't you believe in God, and can you prove that there's no God? And the kind of response that we usually throw out there is, it doesn't have to be Bigfoot, it can be leprachauns or fairies or unicorns, but the question is you don't believe in Bigfoot, but can you prove that there's no Bigfoot?

Mark: I think you're correct that Bigfoot is not real, however God is real.

Russell: Right, but you can't prove that Bigfoot doesn't exist, that is probably the point that somebody was trying to make by bringing it up earlier.

Mark: Yes ... okay ...

Russell: So, what we're saying ... I'm sorry, I should draw these lines a little better, when we say that we're atheists and we don't believe that God exists the point that we're making is that in order to demonstrate that something like a god exists the burden of proof rests on the person making the claim. So, if you wanted to make me believe that Bigfoot exists you would have to find ... you would have to first present some pretty convincing reasons why you would believe in Bigfoot, now you don't believe in Bigfoot, you do believe in this omnipotent presence in the universe, and all we like to say is, basically, how do you know? What kind of evidence would you have about that?

Mark: Now, this is where you start to lose your credibility with people who have watched the program before.

Russell: Well, I'm sorry about that.

Mark: Because Matt Slick already did a proof for God ...

Martin: Yeah, and we ...

Mark: you might remember it from the episode where he called in and embarrassed Matt Dillahunty, your organizations ...

Martin: That's funny.

Russell: That's really not how we saw it, actually what's interesting is that after that episode happened he went back and changed the web page where he was making that argument because Matt demonstrated that his argument didn't work.

Mark: Right, right.

Martin: Because, the point is you can take Matt's, I wasn't on that actual program but we watched it ...

Russell: Matt Slick changed it ...

Martin: You can take Matt Slick's entire ... we're familiar with the transitional argument for god, there was that whole program about it, the problem with it, as Matt Slick presents it on the carm website, is that you can take his entire argument word for word, every single one of his points as it's outlined, and even if you were to grant him, for the sake of argument, every one of his premises, although on that program we pointed out where some of the ... Matt pointed out ... Matt Dillahunty pointed out where some of the premises were flawed. Even if you took his entire argument as written and said, "All right, I'll grant you this, I'll grant you this, I'll grant you this, I'll grant you this," you get right down to his conclusion at the very bottom where he says, "and we call this creative force or whatever ... we call this thing God," right? When you get to his conclusion, you can take his entire argument, you can replace the word god in the conclusion with Zeus, with the flying spaghetti monster, with any mythical being that you care to dream up and the argument works just as well. You can take his entire argument as worded and come up with the same conclusion, and we call this being the invisible magic space pixie, and the argument works just as well. So that, essentially, is why the argument failed, and what Matt Slick did ...

Mark: I think that Matt Slick's point was that everything is physical or conceptual ...

Russell: So ...

Mark: So absolute logic statements ...

Martin: But do you agree with me that you can ...

Mark: are not physical ...

Martin: But do you agree with me that you can do that with his argument

Mark: and that means that they are concepts in God's mind.

Martin: Well, how do you distinguish God's ... first off, how do you distinguish that God's mind is a thing that actually exists

Mark: Well, that is how you prove that God's mind exists

Martin: But, as I just explained to you ...

Mark: Evidence from the Bible will prove that the Christian God exists.

Martin: But, what I just brought up, right, was that the transcendental argument for god, as Matt Slick had written on the carm website, in its exact wording, you can replace the word god with the name of any mythological being that you choose and the argument works just the same. And, you didn't disagree with me when I said that, shall I take that as agreement that the argument works just, well, as the transcendental argument for anything?

Mark: It proves that there's a mind.

Martin: how does it even prove ...

Russell: Can I just change tacts

Martin: I just want to say ... you agree then that the argument can be used just as well to prove any mythological being as well as God, am I right or am I wrong when I suggest that?

Mark: It proves there is some god, then the Bible proves that the god is the Christian God.

Martin: Well, how do you get from the wording of that argument to the Bible? Where's the link from that argument to the Bible? Because, again, you could say ... you could take the argument as I've just suggested, replace God with Zeus, and then you could say the argument proves that there is a god, and then Greek mythology proves that that god is Zeus. See, what you're saying to me is exactly the same as saying that.

Mark: Greek mythology did not have eyewitnesses.

Russell: Well, as far as we know, anyone who wrote the Bible that came like thirty years later. But, I'd also like to go back to one of the premises you were talking about earlier. You said that everything is, I'm sorry, remind me of the wording, everything is either physical or conceptual, right? Right? Can you hear me?

Martin: Mark, can you hear Russell?

Russell: Mark?

Martin: Are you there?

Russell: Hello?

Martin: I'm not ...

Russell: I'm not hearing Mark anymore.

Martin: Yeah, control room did we lose Mark?

Russell: Yeah, hang on we're sorry about this.

Martin: yeah, technical problems. In terms of comparing God to Bigfoot, while we're waiting to get whatever issue is a problem right now

Russell: We're going to put you on hold Mark and we're going to try again in two minutes, I'm sorry about this.

Martin: Well, Bigfoot, God, loch-ness monster ...

Russell: I want to finish what I was saying, actually.

Martin: Oh, okay, I'm sorry, go ahead.

Russell: The premise of this transcendental argument is that everything is either physical or conceptual, and the idea is that if these things are to exist then conceptual stuff must be held in the mind of a god unless there are human minds to conceive of it. So, my question, and I think the approach that Matt took when Matt Slick called was which one is God? Is God physical, or is God conceptual? Because, if God is one of those or the other then obviously the basic issue of the question has not gone away, its just been transfered. Like, who's conceiving of God, or where did the physicalness of God come from? And if you say that God is neither physical nor conceptual then you've undercut your own argument, because by saying everything is physical or conceptual then you're making a special exception to the rule that you say applies to everything. And once you acknowledge that there's stuff that is neither physical nor conceptual then the argument doesn't work anymore.

Martin: Okay, Mark, we have no idea what happened to the audio on getting you in here, so we'd like to invite you to maybe try hanging up and calling back.

Russell: No, don't try that, lets check if another caller works first

Martin: That could be the case ...

... Mark is no longer on the line ...

later

Russell: ... and Mark if you're out there, I'm really sorry.

Martin: Yeah, we didn't cut you off, we want to talk to you.

Russell: Maybe other members of Mark's church could keep trying to call just so that somebody manages to get in.
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Postby MAtheist » Sat May 07, 2011 3:52 am

The next calls are from episode 696 which aired on February 13th, and can be seen here.

http://blip.tv/file/4765419

Matt and Jeff talk to Mark who gets cut off again, but does manage to call back in.
Last edited by MAtheist on Sat May 07, 2011 6:07 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Mark from episode 696

Postby MAtheist » Sat May 07, 2011 3:52 am

Matt: We've got Mark in Austin, how are you?

Mark: Hi, Matt, I'm glad I get to talk to you this time, I tried to get to talk to you last show, but you weren't on.

Matt: Can we ... It's like overly loud, so I don't know ...

Mark: Can you hear me?

Matt: I can hear you, I have difficulty understanding you, you said ... hey, they're going to turn this down and we'll try this one wore time, go ahead and talk, Mark.

Mark: Can you hear ... hello?

Matt: Hello

Jeff: Keep going

Mark: Okay, I am from a church, and ... (click click)

Jeff: And, now we lost him.

Matt: You know, that's curious, because i haven't been able to catch up on the last two shows, but evidently last week there was some kind of a disconnect, there were people who thought we hung up on them, there were other people who thought they hung up on us. I don't know what the disconnect was, I haven't seen the last two shows, but people were, like, this Mark guy from Stone Church is likely to call back in, I've been looking forward to talking to him. Mark, if we can't get the phones to work, and you can't get back in, let me know. I'm happy to come visit your church, I'm happy to sit down with you otherwise, we can certainly work something out. I apologize, but I don't seem to be having problems with other calls, so I'm not sure ... let me take another Austin call ...

later

Matt: ... I think Mark's actually back, he's fixed his phone, hey Mark, you there?

Mark: I'm sorry, can you hear me now?

Matt: I can.

Jeff: Yeah, we could before we just had ...

Mark: I'm sorry, and last time I called the show that was a mistake on my part, too.

Matt: No worries, we're just glad to get it sorted, so what's up?

Mark: Well, I actually go to church here in Austin, and there's been a bit of a discussion here at my church, and there's actually been a lot of concern because I don't know which church you guy went to, but we're pretty by the book, and ...

Matt: Sure, I was primarily Southern Baptist, I went to a handful of Pentecostal churches from tome to time but almost exclusively Southern Baptist.

Mark: And, what did your church say about blasphemy?

Matt: I went to a number of different churches, I don't necessarily know that ... I don't know that blasphemy was specifically discussed in a way that I remember, I understand that it's a sin, and apostasy being the unforgivable sin, and things like that. So, yeah, blasphemy was wrong.

Mark: And, ... when you were at church, if there was a show like your show what would you have thought about it do you think?

Matt: You know, I've thought about that a lot, and I'm really not sure because I can no longer view this show through the lens that I would have once viewed it through. I can do a pretty decent job of thinking about how I might have looked at it, I probably would have been concerned about the effect that it might be having on people. My parents think that I'm working for Satan, leading people to hell. I can kind of use their assessment as a barometer. And I would have been concerned for the souls of the individuals on the show for fear that they would be lost to hell as well.

Mark: Well, that's just a perfect answer. My church believes Heaven and Hell are real places ...

Matt: mm...mm

Jeff: uh...ha

Mark: and guess which one you're going to if you keep this up.

Matt: Oh, dude ...

Mark: yeah, just ...

Jeff: See, here we go. Why do you want to be our enemy? Why do you, on purpose, choose to think bad things about us? What's wrong with you?

Mark: I'm sorry, the Bible is really clear ...

Jeff: Never mind the friggin' Bible, do you want to be a person who can get along well with others, or not? Or do you want to partition yourself off into some little sub-group where if people aren't in that little group with you then they're bad? What's wrong with you? Why is this appealing? You want to believe that me and Matt, we're not hurting anybody we're just stating our opinion on TV, that we deserve to be tortured for ever? That's what you want? Cut it out. Just relax.

Mark: We're a New Testament church, and the book is pretty clear about ...

Jeff: Well, there's your mistake.

Matt: Okay, why ... I understand your position, I understand that you believe this, and you believe it because the Bible says so. Why should anybody else believe it?

Mark: Well, that's the reason I called really, to defend the faith. And the Bible says you should defend the faith.

Matt: I understand that, you know ... 1st Peter 3:15, we've got you, we're on the same page there, I understand what the book says. What I asked was why anybody else should believe it, because the reason that I'm no longer a Christian is because I finally came to the understanding that my beliefs were without rational justification, and without evidentiary support. So, and I'll go a step further, even if the Bible were true, and I don't for a second think that it is, and nobody has yet come close to demonstrating that it's true, that still does not put one in a position where they are worshipping out of anything but fear of a monster that is grotesque and wants to punish people for its own problems. Now, setting aside all that, why should anybody believe what you believe?

Mark: There are a million different reasons ...

Matt: Give us your best one.

Jeff: Just give us your best one ...

Mark: to believe not just that God is real, but that Christianity is the only way to God.

Matt: Sure, what's the best reason?

Mark: Well, it's sort of ... what exactly am I trying to demonstrate here, just that ...

Jeff: Why are you a Christian, what is the main reason why you are a Christian?

Mark: Well, there's a lot of evidence the Bible was divinely inspired.

Jeff: Such as?

Matt: Yeah

Mark: There is prophecy ...

Jeff: No, no, such as ... what is ... where is ... give us a piece of evidence that shows us that the Bible is divinely inspired.

Mark: Okay, the Bible says things about ... about nature that weren't widely known at the time.

Matt: How do you know, and give me an example first of all.

Mark: Well ...

Matt: because we're talking about a book ...

Mark: examples on carm.org

Matt: Oh, no, no, first of all, Matt Slicks called in. The nonsense at carm.org has been refuted I don't know how many times. But, we're talking about a book that, if you actually take it literally ... do you think the world is six to ten thousand years old?

Mark: Well, there's a lot of interpretation.

Matt: That's an easy yes of no question. Do you think the world is closer to six to ten thousand years old or closer to three point five billion years old?

Mark: Well, I guess if you take it literally, the world is closer to six to ten thousand years old.

Jeff: Matt asked you specifically what you believe. 'Cause we're trying to get at what is the main reason why you're a Christian and your dancing all around. Why can't you tell us?

Matt: If you listen back to the way you just answered, or tried to answer, or actually tried to avoid answering that last question, all I was asking was what you think, and we were going to go on from there. I'm happy enough with your answer that, yes, a literal view would make it six to ten thousand years old. So, clearly either you think it's six to ten thousand years old, or you're not completely a literalist. But, irrespective of what your position is, do you at least acknowledge that all of the scientific evidence points to an earth that is vastly older than six to ten thousand years old?

Mark: Yeah, I'm aware of that.

Matt: Okay, so how do you reconcile ...

Mark: It doesn't prove there's no God.

Matt: You're right, you're right. Did I say it did? I'm not saying that that proves there's no God. What I'm saying is here's something we've learned about the universe, and it doesn't match with your literal view of the Bible. Now, there's a conflict there, and we need to resolve that. And some people resolve it in favor of the Bible, saying the Bible's absolutely right, and ignore whatever actual evidence is presented there. I find that to be patently absurd because it turns Christianity into a self contradictory proposition, which is ... and so by the way does the entire idea of a revelation in the New Testament, because your position, to the extent that I understand it because you haven't got a straight answer yet, is one where there is a god who has an important message for mankind, and somehow he only reveals it to certain individuals who then write this down. And thousands of years after this initial revelation we have to rely on copies of copies of translations of copies by anonymous authors with no originals. And the textual testimonies of miracles, for example the loaves and fishes, there's no amount of reports, anecdotal testimonial reports, that could be sufficient to justify believing that this event actually happened as reported, no amount. And anything that would qualify as a god would clearly understand this, and if it wanted to convey this information to people in a way that was believable, would not be relying on texts to do so. And this, for me, is the nail in the coffin for Christianity. The god that Christians believe in is amazingly stupid if it wants to actually achieve its goal of spreading this information to humanity by relying on texts, by relying on languages that die off, by relying on anecdotal testimony. That's not a pathway to truth. And anything that would qualify for a god would know this. Which means either that that god doesn't exist, or it doesn't care enough about those people who understand the nature of evidence to actually present it. Now, which of those possibilities do you think is accurate?

Mark: I think you do need faith to believe it.

Matt: Sure, and why would you believe anything on faith? Faith isn't a pathway to truth. Every religion has some sort of faith. People take things on ... if faith is your pathway you can't distinguish between Christianity, Hinduism, Judaism, any of these others. How is it that you use reason as a path to truth in every endeavor of your life, and then when it comes to the ultimate truth, the most important truth, you're saying that faith is required. And how does that reflect on a god who supposedly exists and wants you to have this information? What kind of god requires faith instead of evidence?

Mark: Well, I think you probably have faith about a lot of things, too.

Matt: Like what? I have reasonable expectations based on evidence. I have trust that has been earned. I will grant trust tentatively. I don't have faith. Faith is the excuse people give for believing something when they don't have evidence. If you can come up with something that I believe that I don't have evidence for, guess what I'll do? I'll stop believing it. That's the nature of a rational mind. That is the goal. My only goal was to be the best Christian I could be, and represent this to people that didn't believe. And what I found, because I actually cared about whether or not my beliefs were true, rather than whether they felt good, was that my beliefs weren't justified. Try as I might, and pray as hard as I could, no answer comes. No evidence is forthcoming, and when I talked to people about this the only answer they ever offer is the one you did, which is you just gotta have faith. Well, sorry, I don't, and not only ... I'm not sorry that I don't, I'm sorry for others that they think that I should have, because faith is not a virtue. Faith is gullibility. It's evidence that determines whether or not your perception or reality is reasonable and in conjunction with the world as it is.

Mark: Well, I think that church gives a lot of people community and some values.

Matt: Sure, so what? That has no ties to the supernatural claims. Religions ... churches have tons and tons of benefits for the in group, and some of them even have benefits for some of the out groups ... feeding the homeless, although I really wish, as many of the atheists do, we have the atheists helping the homeless group in Austin where we will actually help the homeless without making them sit through a sermon first, we're not holding their sandwich ransom in the name of Jesus. There's no good thing that a church or religion does that can not be achieved by purely secular means. And there's no benefit, positive benefit of churches and religions, that necessarily demonstrates the truth of their supernatural claims.

Jeff: But there is, this is my personal hobby horse today, there is a cost to deciding that you're gonna' take, in particular, Christianity, on faith, and that is that when you run into folks like us, who don't believe it, you are compelled, because you have decided to believe Christianity, you are compelled to think all kinds of horrific things about us and tell us ... come at us with these threats of eternal torments which just draws an insurmountable line between us.

Matt: Yeah

Jeff: We can not be friends because of what you have decided to take on faith, that's the cost.

Matt: Yeah, and I'll tell you, that divisive cost plays out not only in the previous caller who had to give up his job because of good intentioned Christians, but I have a fiance sitting in the room who is essentially estranged from a good portion of her family who consider me to be the Devil. Now, I may not be a perfect person, far from it. But, I'm generally a good person, and a caring person, and I do whatever I can to live the best life I can. I'm certainly not, well, I guess if I was the Devil this is what he would say, so, who knows. But, the absurdity of the divisive nature of Christianity in particular, and by the way, I'm an atheist in regard to all gods, but since you're kind of representing Christianity, it just breaks my heart. People who actually understand what love is, people who actually understand what morality is, people who actually understand reality, it is almost unbearable to watch the people that you love be so absolutely duped into a divisive hateful religion that they think is not divisive, they think it's inclusive, and they think it's positive. It kills me, and it's one of the reasons that I do this, because I for twenty five plus years believed this stuff. I am so happy, so happy, that I no longer think that my former roommate is destined for Hell. I am so happy that despite fact that my relationship with my parents, the nature of it has changed, I don't have to worry about them. The division is entirely one sided. I didn't end relationships when I became an atheist. Christians ended those relationships, and it was because their particular religion cannot tolerate ... I had letters from people who said we can no longer associate with you, you are of the Devil. Now, it's possible that they're right. It's possible, I don't know under what circumstances, but the only way that you can demonstrate that is with reason and evidence, not faith. And, I don't know how we can fix a world where people have been so convinced that they are doing the right thing out of compassion, and love, and trying to help people, when it is absolute poison. When it is absolutely destructive. I wish everybody could go through what I went through so they could have a proper understanding of, wow, how the heck could I have believed those things that I believed. And, how much better life is when you want to deal with reality on realities terms. I know we didn't give you a huge opportunity to express your views, but every time I asked I got kind of a dance, and I'm happy to have you call back in, but if your whole position is that the foundation of you belief is necessarily dependent on faith, then we got nothing to talk about. because, I don't think that that's a good thing, and until you demonstrate that faith is a good thing, how could you possibly convince anybody. And, by the way, how do you go about demonstrating that faith is a good thing without evidence? It all comes back to reason and evidence.

(click)

Jeff: I think he's gone again.

Matt: All-right, I was going to give him the last word.
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oops

Postby MAtheist » Sat May 07, 2011 3:57 am

I just realized that I haven't been including the dates these calls have been on, I will have to go back and edit those posts.

Also, I hope I haven't missed an calls so far.
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Blog entry about Austin Stone pastor writing in

Postby MAtheist » Sat May 07, 2011 4:04 am

On Tuesday, May 14th a blog entry titled Austin Stone pastor writes in, dismisses Mark as "crazy" appeared.

http://atheistexperience.blogspot.com/2011/04/austin-stone-pastor-writes-in-dismisses.html

It was about an email from a teaching pastor named Ronnie Smith at The Austin Stone Church. I feel no need to include any of the text here, but I did want to include it in the timeline, so to speak. Apparently it was about Mark, but I have no idea if it mentioned Mike.
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Non prophets episode 10.9

Postby MAtheist » Sat May 07, 2011 4:09 am

During the Non-Prophets show on April 16th, Matt talks about the Austin Stone, so I wanted to include that here as well. The audio can be found here.

http://www.nonprophetsradio.com/audio/The%20Non-Prophets%2010.9.mp3
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Non-Prophets episode 10.9

Postby MAtheist » Sat May 07, 2011 4:10 am

...

Matt: Next Sunday is not only the American Atheists national convention ...

Dennis: Yeah

Matt: but also Easter, which we talked about a little bit at the beginning.

Dennis: Right

Matt: And, because I know there are some Christians out there listening, we've had a caller named Mark from the Stone Church here in Austin call in a couple times, and its been good calls, some popular feedback. And Sunday he called in while Russell was on and ...

Russell: and Tracie

Matt: and Tracie, and made some statements. And I was watching the show while I cooked, and said ... and I called in real quick to get a message to Russell to say, Look, we can't keep letting this individual, who, from my point of view is clearly mildly unstable and not an original thinker, I mean, when you ask him what him what he believes he'll tell you. When you ask him why he believes it, not once did he reference anything other than, "well, my paster said," or "If you listen to this sermon ... ," you know, those types of things.

Dennis: Right

Russell: He keeps saying, "we believe," "my church believes"

Matt: Yeah, and he mentioned that his church would hate us for certain things, and that there's a significant problem within the church of their youth group, or youth in their church, watching our show and looking up to us, and this is causing some problems. And I said, "We can't keep ..." I'm happy to talk to Mark about what he believes and why, but I can't take his word for what's going on in the church. So, tell him that we don't need him to keep bringing this stuff up, about youth in the church

Dennis: Right

Matt: I'd rather hear from pastors in the church, parents of youth who have this problem, or some of the youth themselves, whatever, so that I can actually get it from the horses mouth. Rather than one person who is nice and generally pleasant, but obviously terrified and shaken every time he calls giving me information. It's all hearsay. So, I heard from one of the teaching pastors at Stone Church by e-mail ...

Dennis: Yeah

Matt: who basically, in a nutshell, said that Mark doesn't speak on behalf of the church, which Mark didn't really claim to do, but some of the things he said were along those lines.

Dennis: Right

Matt: And that the church doesn't hate us, that he actually watches the show and thinks that we provide a valuable service. He and I are going to lunch on Tuesday, hopefully. It may have to be postponed, because we're using one car and she's driving the carpool this week, so it may not happen Tuesday, and then Beth and I are planning on probably going to Stone Church for a service on the fifteenth, because there's no TV show in the fifteenth.

Dennis: Wow, you're not trying for a Templeton prize, are you?

Matt: No, no, but ...

Russell: Can I come, if I'm free?

Matt: I don't care

Russell: next month?

Matt: Sure, I don't want a flood of atheists to come marching in the door ...

Russell: No

Matt: and disrupt their service, but we can't even say for sure it's the fifteenth, but maybe. But, as the Christian listeners go about their Easter celebrations, I'd like you to take a second to think about, from within your doctrine, what exactly is it that you're celebrating and commemorating here? Set aside the fact that Easter, right down to the very name, is stolen from other religious traditions. Set aside this absurd nonsense of rabbits laying eggs and things that have become the secular let's have fun with this and pass out chocolate.

Dennis: Right

Matt: I'm talking about from the standpoint of your church, and your churches doctrine, what are you actually celebrating? In most Christian denominations, to the extent that they celebrate it at all, Easter is a commemoration of the resurrection of Jesus. We have no good reason to think anything like this has ever occurred, that the stories are accurate. And set all of that aside. What you're really doing is saying, "I'm a fan of a god who's willing to torment and torture and crucify an individual,"be it god or man, whatever.

Dennis: Right

Matt: " to serve as a loophole for the rules that he created." It is a blood-cult. You worshipping the equivalent of a zombie. I don't care how offensive you find that. But, more than that, you're not only worshipping and commemorating something that's patently absurd, but also disgusting. You're worshipping a god who created everything, and made rules, and doesn't seem to find any other way of circumventing these rules. I don't know why you would have to circumvent rules you created, you just change them.

Dennis: Right, they're supposed to be perfect

Matt: I created a perfect world, perfect rules, so there can't be an error in the rules. If I'm going to make an exception to the rules I would just change the rules, although that would be an admission I'm imperfect. So, instead I'm going to create a loophole, which is still an admission that I'm imperfect, and what's the best way for me to create that loophole? I've got it, a blood sacrifice. Because, we're really just descendents of a magic cult that believes life is in the blood.

Dennis: But, then again, it's not really a blood sacrifice. 'Cause what did Jesus lose?

Matt: Well, I mean ...

Dennis: nothing!

Matt: There wasn't a sacrifice, like we said before, when Elvis died for our sins, he stayed dead.

Dennis: But, you like the blood

Matt: And, by the way, if somebody came to me and said, and I knew for certain as within the theology Jesus clearly would have known for certain, "Hey, I'm gonna torture you, and kill you, and then three days later you get to go on and rule the universe."

Dennis: Yeah

Matt: I'm pretty sure it'd be okay, if you can prove absolutely that it's true ...

Dennis: yeah, yeah, if you convince me, sign me up

Russell; you'd need some pretty solid evidence on that one

Matt: clearly, if it was true, then Jesus was aware of the truth of this. Not really a sacrifice

Dennis: No

Matt: I guess he sacrificed two days and a night, or so. It's not just absurd, it's immoral

Dennis: Yeah

Matt: It doesn't make any sense. And when you think about that, and when you ask about it, or when you try to shrug it off as, "well, I realize this doesn't make sense to you, but that's because your not looking at it through the eyes guided by the Holy Spirit," think about what you're actually saying. That to a regular rational mind, this doesn't make any sense, but it only makes sense if you already presuppose the conditions of this religion. And then, once you're all done, and you've come up with whatever rationalization it is that allows you to continue to not only believe this, but to laud it as something valuable. Think about the people who don't do that, and take a second to at least try to see why we not only think that you are demonstrating a severe lack of critical thinking skills, but that your brain has been so polluted by a dogma that you have taken something that by any other standard would me considered immoral, and are now holding up as the greatest moral event in history.

Dennis: Right

Matt: It is the ultimate sacrifice that wasn't a sacrifice. It was the ultimate demonstration of love, which has absolutely no recognizable corollary to what we think of as love. How duped do you have to be, how poisoned does your brain have to be, before you can twist evil into good, non sacrifice into sacrifice, absurdity into rationality? And if you've rationalized on this, well God understands it and I don't, then you're admitting that you don't care to think for yourself, that you're believing it on terrible grounds, and that should be all any of you need to chuck this nonsense aside. And on that, happy Easter.

Dennis: Yeah

Russell: Happy Easter, everyone

...
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Postby MAtheist » Sat May 07, 2011 4:31 am

In episode 705, which aired on April 17th, there are two calls from the Austin Stone. The first from Luke, and the second again from Mark. Mark's call was taken off the air, and I actually cheered at the end of it. I started typing up Marks call first, because it was what I had been hoping for. Mark may not become an atheist, but assuming he is a genuine caller a change is taking place. At the very least, he seems to begin to understand that you can think for yourself.

The show can be seen here.

http://blip.tv/file/5038731

I noticed that Mattmon has also typed up a transcript of the post show call, and it can be found here.

http://forum.ironchariots.org/viewtopic.php?t=4178

I did borrow a few lines from it during the parts that I could not understand a few words, I hope he can forgive me. I like how he, I am assuming that Mattmon is a he, included emphasis at certain parts, and also descriptive parts such as when Jen wrote a note to Matt.

I just kept mine as plain text though, I have been a little worried that if I highlight certain passages that I feel are important, it may bias the conversation. But, what do I know, I did enjoy Mattmon's style.
Last edited by MAtheist on Sat May 07, 2011 6:02 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Luke from episode 705

Postby MAtheist » Sat May 07, 2011 4:33 am

Matt: We've got Luke from here in Austin, how are you?

Luke: I'm good thanks, how are you?

Matt: I'm fine

Luke: That's good, well, my family goes to Austin Stone, do you know this church?

(phone noises)

Matt: Ooo, wow, we're getting some feedback. Yeah, I haven't been there yet. We've had another individual call who called himself Mark. Is everybody at Stone Church named after one of the gospels by the way?

Luke: I'm sorry, I can't really hear you.

Matt: Oh, I don't know if this is loud or not, can you hear me now?

Luke: It's a little bit better.

Matt: Sure, I was just making a joke because Mark had called previously and now a Luke's calling so I was wondering if everybody at the Stone Church was named after ...

Luke: Oh, okay ...

Matt: But, I'm roughly familiar with it, one of the teaching pastors e-mailed me this week and we're going to go to lunch at some point and talk about it, what's up?

Luke: Not very much, I just wanted to say that a lot of our friends ... my friends have been watching the show, but some of them have been punished because they have really strict parents. You guys both went to church back when you were younger, right?

Jen: Yeah

Matt: I did, yeah

Luke: Were your parents really strict about your belief?

Jen: No

Matt: Mine were somewhat strict, I mean it depends ... you'd have to define it a little better for me to actually answer, there were certain things that were simply not tolerated.

Luke: Right, how did you guys treat other atheists?

Matt: Well, I don't think that I knew, or met, or interacted with any atheists when I was young.

Jen: Yeah, I didn't know any atheists when I was younger

Matt: I didn't recognize them as atheists, I never really ran up against them. I remember my mom talking about Madeline Murray O'Hare, and how she was this evil woman who was trying to destroy God's country. But, generally when we ran into people they were ... who weren't Christians, they were simply non believers, the concept of an atheist meshing with this idea of non belief just never really registered back then.

Luke: Oh, okay. One of the main beliefs we have is in Hell, at any point in time did you have a fear of it?

Matt: Sure

Jen: Yeah, sure

Luke: Oh, okay. If this happens to be true, why would you want to take the risk to go to Hell?

Jen: You're not going to go Pascal's wager on us, are you?

Matt: See, the thing is, you're right, if it happens to be true I suppose I'm taking a risk. And, I'm also taking a risk against every other religions' claims, and every other religions' hells. So, by what right do you determine that the one you're avoiding is the correct one to avoid? And, by the way, as a matter of principle, believing something simply to avoid a negative consequence is, in my opinion, could be reasonable, I mean, if somebody's got a gun aimed at my head and wants me to say something to avoid being shot in the head, I'll say it. It's not a big deal. But, I don't actually mean it. It's an avoidance thing. But, what I find kind of repugnant is that there are ... most Christians don't tend to look at this as, "I believe this so I won't go to Hell," although I think that's one factor. They actually revere this as if this is a loving god saving them from the hell that he evidently created. So, not only do you have this problem where you haven't determined which hell to avoid, or which heaven to aspire to, you haven't set up any criteria by that, but just the mere statement that one should attempt to avoid the possibility of a hell, and therefore change the way they live, the one and only life we know we're gonna get, is something that I find absolutely absurd and immoral.

Luke: Well, I hope you guys all find Jesus, because I don't want you guys to go to Hell, and John 14:19 says, "After a little while the world will no longer see Me, but you will see Me; because I live, you will live also."

Matt: Sure, and ...

Luke: God bless, and thank you very much

Jen: Wait

Matt: That's it?

Jen: that's all you're gonna do?

Matt: You're just gonna call in and throw in the towel, and quote a Bible verse? Why should I believe a Bible verse?

Jen: Yeah?

Luke: Well, it hasn't been disproven, has it?

Matt: Oh, so you believe everything that hasn't been disproven? Why aren't you a Muslim?

Luke: How I was raised, I guess.

Jen: There you go

Matt: So, you believe everything that hasn't been disproven, and then you make exclusions for how you were raised. Do you think that's a reasonable way to go about finding what's true and not true?

Luke: I guess that's not the best way.

Matt: Okay, so why do it?

Luke: Well, in general, I'm just afraid I might go to Hell.

Jen; So, that's why you believe?

Luke: That's part of it, yeah.

Jen: Okay

Matt: Okay, you know, when you say that, there's kind of a complicated situation, because you also said I hope you guys find Jesus so you avoid Hell, etcetera. So, you admit that you don't have a rational basis for your belief, that's great, I'm glad that you're at least of the mind to say something like that. You also admit that your primary reason for believing this is out of a fear of a hell. And, what I'd kind of like you to think about is have you spent any time at all in fear that you might be sent to the Muslim Hell, or some other hell?

Luke: I guess it's all kind of the same, I guess.

Matt: It's not all kind of the same. They don't all have the same doctrines about what's going to happen after death, and they don't all have the same pathways to salvation. So, if you take a look at all of the different religions, if your only reason for picking the one that you've got is that this is the way you were raised, why aren't you worried that you're wrong?

Luke: I guess that's a really good question, I'm definitely gonna need to do some more research.

Matt: Okay ...

Luke: Thank you very much, you guys.

Matt: do it, and call back any time you want.

Luke: All right, thanks a lot, God bless.

Matt: Sure, thanks, I love that it has to end with a god bless as well

Jen: I know

Matt: I don't know why it has to end with a god bless, it's not like I even sneezed or anything ... okay

Jen: I told you what my son has told me that he requires me to say if he sneezes?

Matt: Yes

Jen: Yes, It's ... his requirement is no, no, you're supposed to just say, poor guy

Matt: Poor guy

Jen: Yeah

Matt: Poor guy, well I'm glad we're getting calls from people, regardless of what church they're from or anything else. It's rare that we get people who are willing to have a conversation like that and actually acknowledge that they're believing something for no good reason. And, I think it's one of the reasons that we hear so much, lately, from and about the Stone Church and I'm looking even more forward to not only speaking with one of the pastors from there, which will happen in the next week of two, but we're also talking about going and attending a service there sometime in the near future. Because, you've got people who legitimately would like to care about whether on not something's true, and they seem to be kind of stuck. They've accepted the first thing they've come across ...

Jen: Right

Matt: believe it, and ... they're compelled out of fear. They haven't really bothered to sit down and think through things. And, this is something I can relate to, because, for twenty some odd years, I did pretty much the same thing.

Jen: Yeah

Matt: I don't know that mine was primarily motivated by a fear of Hell, but that was definitely a factor.

Jen: Well, I ... when I was still a theist I was actually confirmed into the Episcopal Church which doesn't emphasize Hell that much, and even then, fear of Hell was kind of a sticking point for a while. It took a little while to kind of break the indoctrination and get through it, and I wouldn't say that I had as much trouble breaking through it as most people, that I wasn't as thoroughly indoctrinated as a lot of people are.

Matt: Yeah, in my case it was just this is kind of the way things were, everybody around you believed it, your parents, your grandparents, your extended family, ministers, everybody you interacted with. Growing up, all of my close friends were pretty much in the same youth group at church, I wen to ... we had the largest graduating class of any public high school at the time, which was almost a thousand, and they split the school in half a year after that. And, despite going to that big school, and being on student council, involved in different activities, playing soccer and things like that, still the overwhelming core of my friends were all in that church youth group. Some of them I still have contact with today, some of them are still among my best friends despite the fact that we don't believe the same thing. And, I look forward to seeing some of them at the wedding in October.

Jen: Yeah

Matt: But, this insular, kind if, set up that is arranged in religious ... it's not even ... you didn't even think about it, and I don't know that it was necessarily intentional, it's just you gravitate towards the people who are like minded, and you spend time ... when I'm in church Sunday morning, Sunday night, Monday night, sometimes Tuesday, Wednesday night, Thursday night youth group, and then special things on the weekends, those are the people that I hang out with, those are the people you only want to hang out with.

Jen: Yeah

Matt: And, it took being ... leaving home and being in the Navy for eight years or so, to where I was separated from that constant reinforcement, and exposed to a much more diverse range of views on religion and other subjects before i could break down some of the assumptions I had made.

Jen: Yeah

Matt: I mean, I was reasonably ... i didn't get smarter or more intelligent when I became an atheist. I was a smart kid. I was interested in science and was skeptical about this and that, but I never applied ... it never even occurred to me to ask the questions, and that's why I'm glad we got to talk to Luke. Because, it's kind of clear it never ... it has never occurred to Luke to ask those simple questions ...

Jen: Yeah

Matt: it begins with this presupposition that I'm right, and then we go looking for all the evidence to support it, if we even bother to go that far.

Jen: Yep
Last edited by MAtheist on Sat May 07, 2011 6:01 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Mark from episode 705 post show

Postby MAtheist » Sat May 07, 2011 4:34 am

Matt: Hey, Mark

Mark: Hey, this is Mark, I've talked to you before

Matt: Yeah, unfortunately there's only like thirty seconds left in the show, so if you want to you've got like ten seconds and then I'll put you on hold and you can talk to me after if you want

Mark: after the show?

Matt: Sure

Jen: Yeah

Matt: I can stay on the line after the show

Mark: OK

Matt: cool, well, that burned up your ten seconds, I'll put you on hold and get right back to you after the shows over

...

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

Mark: We have an affirmation of faith and values, and the faith is the Bible is the word of God. You don't believe that, right?

Matt: Correct

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?

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 that.

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: This is Mark, I talked to you before.

Matt: Well, okay, everybody knows that, 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, what is it you wanted to address?

Mark: Well we have values too

Matt: Sure

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?


Tracie: Why would ...

Matt: Why would you even ask something so silly? Why would I believe ... 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: Sure

Jen: Yep

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'll 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 who 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?

Mark: No

Matt: So why do you ...

Mark: No one believes in that.

Matt: Yes actually there are people who 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 what? Why is the Bible relevant, I mean there's a Koran. You don't believe in Allah, do you?

Mark: No

Matt: Okay, so can we agree at least that the Bible's irrelevant to whether or not there is a god?

Mark: Well a lot of people read the bible at my church, we just read it this morning.

Matt: Okay, what'd you read this morning?

Mark: We read the 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: are you admitting 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 twenty 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 I was any more stupid. Was I dumber with regard to the 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.

Mark: Well ...

Jen: Mark, I have a question for you.

Mark: Yeah

Jen: Why do you believe?

Mark: Well... I think... last time I talked to Tracie, she said she was indoctrinated.

Matt: Mm-hmm

Jen: Okay

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

Jen: Yes

Mark: Do you think if people stop going to church, they'll stop believing it?

Matt: No

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. It's true you guys wouldn't object to this sort of comment with regard to any other claim. If I said that Bigfoot hadn't met its claims, you'd be okay with that, and the same thing with fairies. But, because it's something about something 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?

Matt: Yeah

Mark: When you were a Christian, what would you say if I said what's your reason?

Matt: My reason at the time for why I was a Christian?

Mark: Yeah

Matt: I don't know that I would have given a good answer, I probably would ...

Mark: So, you would have been just like me.

Matt: Yes

Jen: Yes

Mark: So, you're being hypocritical.

Jen: No

Matt: No, how am I being hypocritical? I am 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.

Matt: Right

Jen: Exactly, 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 ... I know I'm on your side on a few things, a lot of people at my church ... say, if the Bible says that, if you, if you're a man, and you have sex with another man, that's an abomination.

Matt: Yep.

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 deciding what's ... what in the Bible's right, and what in the Bible's wrong?

Mark: Well, you know what, can I just say one thing? Some people say 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 ... well you just know that Jesus was good 'cause 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 ... what's an example, like the age of the Earth?

Matt: Sure

Mark: Well, I know 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?

Mark: Yeah

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 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.

Mark: I don't think you should stone gay people.

Matt: Yet the ...

Jen: But, the Bible says you're supposed to.

Matt: Actually, it says they deserve it.

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 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 that 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?

Mark: Yeah

Matt: So ...

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 you ...

Mark: To see if it's true that they're an abomination.

Matt: Well, no, no, no, 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 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, but saying love your neighbor in one passage, and saying kill the people ... 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

Matt: Why?

Jen: Why?

Mark: It's just like an instinct.

Matt: Okay, 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 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.

Matt: Amen

Jen: There you go

(applause)

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 in 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 ...

Matt: Yes

Mark: unless they hurt each other.

Matt: Well, you know, we'll assume it's 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 fifteenth, I'll be there

Mark: We really like you

Matt: May fifteenth, bye, bye
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