Episode 4: Partial Transcript
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And now, the Scathing Atheist:
It’s Thursday, It’s February 28th and when I asked for more reviews on iTunes I meant good reviews, but thanks anyway.
I’m your host Noah Lugeons and from New York, New York, THIS is the Scathing Atheist.
On this fortnight’s episode:
- A school board in Jackson, Ohio decides there’s nothing explicitly Christian about a picture of Christ,
- Eli Bosnick will join me to try to fuck up the rhetorical meaning of the phrase “Is the Pope Catholic?”
- And I’ll try to figure out what all these little knobs on my new mixer do,
But first, the diatribe:
Today I’d like to talk about being the only atheist in a room full of theists. It’s a diatribe I like to call “There is too a God, now pass the fucking string beans!” Because that’s usually where it comes up. It’ll be at some social event or a family gathering, you’re sitting around the table, minding your own business and suddenly those 7 fateful words’ll come up.
Somebody’ll say “So you don’t believe in God, huh?”
And you don’t want to have the conversation. You don’t feel like playing “stump the atheist”. You even try to distract them with something like “hey look, your kid’s on fire”, but it never works. They’re in that zone. They lean in really close and they put on their best “profound” face and then they’ll pose… “the challenge”.
The challenge usually come in the form of a question, and the question usually starts, “So how do you explain…”
And that’s where I stop them. I’ll say, “Hey man, I’m gonna let you finish your question and everything, but before you do, I’d like to point out that my ability or inability to answer whatever question you’re about to ask has absolutely no bearing on the existence of God. When I say that I don’t believe in God, I’m stating a lack of belief, not a claim of knowledge. I’m not an expert on the origins of life or the cosmos any more than the next guy and failing to be so doesn’t disqualify me from atheism. What’s more, whatever question you’re about to pose is also one for which you have no answer. I know that you think you have the answer, but ‘my guy has super-powers times infinity’ doesn’t really count at all… but by all means, carry on.”
I don’t want to dissuade them, after all. It’s pretty easy to argue with a Christian, since they only really have about three different arguments. So they’ll throw out Pascal’s wager or the Lunatic, Liar or Lord shtick or the First Mover argument or whatever and I’ll refute it in whatever way I refute it.
Sometimes you’ll even get that “sophisticated theist”, you know, that one who went on that there internet and looked up ways to stump atheists? And that’s always fun because you get to hear them try to pronounce words like “abiogenesis” and “flagellum”. And you can refute these points too if you want to, but there’s usually no point. Most of the time they don’t even understand the argument they’re regurgitating enough to know when you’ve countered it.
So you sit there suffering the slings and arrows of their tortured logic and you’ll come out on top, but eventually the tone of the argument will change altogether. It’ll no longer be a rational discussion on any level. It’ll turn into something like “Well I don’t want to live in a world without God,” or, “There is too a God, now pass the fucking string beans!”
And that’s when the real nature of the argument comes out. That’s when it becomes obvious that this conversation was never about logic, it was never about reason, it was about emotion. It wasn’t about the world you observe, it was about the world you want to observe.
Eventually you’ll have to come to understand that there is no logical reason to believe in God. If there was, atheists would believe in God. We got where we got by using logic and believe me, if there was a shred of evidence to suggest that I get to live on for eternity in space Disney Land, I’d take that deal even if it meant I couldn’t have fish on Fridays.
But even knowing that logic will never work, you’re still going to try to employ it you silly little Christians that stand between me and a second helping of mashed potatoes. So I’d like to make a request of you. Before you bring your “logical” argument to me, I want you to take a deep look at it and ask yourself, “If this was evidence going the other way, in other words, if this was offered as proof that God doesn’t exist, would it sway you at all?”
If I walked up to you and said something like, “I’m gonna prove to you that God doesn’t exist. Now let me tell you about the bacterial flagellum.” Would you listen to anything else I had to say at that point? And if the flagellum evidence ended up swinging the other way, would you give up your belief in God altogether? Are you subscribing to all the flagellum blogs and newsletter so you can know for sure if this God thing holds water?
You’re never going to win an argument with an atheist by using logic. We’re just better at it. That’s kind of our thing.
You have to admit going in that yours is not the rational argument. If you insist on arguing with atheists, at least be honest with yourself about where your beliefs come from. And I’ll give you a hint, it’s not your brain.
Joining us for the headlines this fortnight is Heath Enwright. Heath, are you ready to inform?
Hello, Noah Lugeons. As you said, I’m Heath Enwright . . . and there’s nothing clever about our names.
Now, before we jump into our lead story tonight, I should note that the Pope is still stepping down. Of course, we’ve known that shit for weeks, but that hasn’t stopped media outlets everywhere from covering it nonstop as though it somehow remained newsworthy even after everyone knew it. In fact, I’ve spent two weeks combing through news items for this segment and, like far too many altar boys in the past, I’ve been up to my balls in bishops and cardinals the entire time.
So what follows are the few non-papacy related nuggets I could dig up in that morass of ass-rapists and ass-rapist enablers.
In our lead story tonight, the House of Representatives recently passed HR 592, a bill that would allow taxpayer money to be allocated to houses of worship as part of FEMA federal disaster grants. The bill, which passed by an overwhelming 282 vote margin, was created in response to recent caterwauling by Christian Leaders over FEMA’s refusal to grant churches and synagogues relief money after Superstorm Sandy.
When FEMA abandoned black people after Katrina, I gave them a pass. But now they’re neglecting Christians and Jews. A line has to be drawn somewhere.
Amen brother. There are, of course, numerous compelling reasons not to grant federal money to churches, but strangely Christian leaders have chosen not to address any of them and instead opt for a policy of crying, whining, bitching and flailing about like wounded animals.
Take pastor, author and latenight-accident-attorney-infomercial clone Paul De Vries’ recent Op-Ed in the Christian Post. Rather than tackling the constitutional and logical concerns one might have against giving taxpayer money to organizations that don’t pay taxes, he instead chooses to obscure the issue with a series of points that can easily be refuted in three sentences or less. Are you up to the challenge, Heath?
#1 “…[the policy] treats churches as outsiders” After all, why should a groups devotion to god make any difference when it comes to public policy?
1. That’s why they should be paying property taxes, rather than being treated differently in public policy because of devotion to god, and getting a tax exemption.
2. If they were paying taxes this whole time, they would – in turn – be eligible to receive federal disaster aid.
3. That’s how taxes work. .
#2 “This ‘discrimination’ could open the door to “other risky discrimination”. Will the government stop providing churches with firefighters and police officers?
1. They should stop providing them with police, fire fighters . . . roads, water, electricity, freedom of speech, and any other government-provided privileges, unless they pay taxes.
2. Again . . . that’s how taxes work, and this is a basic principle of organized society.
3. And even if they did pay all the same taxes as everyone else, churches are clearly not the most important thing to rebuild.
#3 “…[the policy] ignores the immensely positive roles churches have already played after Superstorm Sandy”, and then he lists how many millions of dollars churches donated and raised for victims.
1. Don’t they justify their tax exemptions by citing their benefit to society?!?
2. They’re honestly trying to say, “The reason we should get tax-funded aid without paying taxes is the same reason we don’t pay taxes.”
3. That’s like saying that a disputed book is valid because in several passages within the disputed book, it indicates that the disputed book is valid.
Not to mention that “look how much money we had to give away” is a shitty argument when you’re asking for money.
Is their an entire bad tautology department at Christianity HQ?
And finally, My personal favorite, #4: “blocking FEMA grants to churches is to pretend to be ignorant of the continuing soul care needed by the many and various victims…”
I guess we can always feed starving children with the bullshit the church consistently feeds parishioners.
And of course, deep-fried figurative cannibal wafers would be good soul food.
You’d think that somebody with a good batting average could have been praying for the hurricane to go offshore: If that praying shit works, forget the church volunteerism after the storm, and try some simple fucking preventative medicine, idiots.
Well, they’ll probably say that the gay marriage interfered with their prayer frequency.
Can’t imagine a lot of people needed blankets, jackets, and bibles. If you gave bibles to homeless people in NYC after Sandy, they would have been burned in trash cans, just like the bibles they started with before the storm.
One can only hope. Anyway, the bill will now go to the Senate where we expect it will die quietly.
Like the way god died.
Taking a page out of the Catholic playbook, a Baptist group has fired the independent investigators that were looking into child sex-abuse allegations against a member of the group mere weeks before the findings of their investigation were scheduled for release.
The Association of Baptists for World Evangelism, or ABWE has terminated the investigative firm “Godly Response to Abuse in the Christian Environment” or “GRACE”. They cite a laundry list of general complaints about GRACE’s investigative technique, especially, one would speculate, the ones that result in them finding massive culpability within the group.
GRACE has issued a response to the allegations, pointing out that the ABWE refused to meet with them to address the alleged poor-practices that led to their eventual termination, repeatedly breached their contract by refusing to disclose documents and make witnesses available for interview, wantonly delayed the investigation and have the far lamer acronym.
Reminds me a little bit of the internal affairs department within the Gestapo. I think they were called Hitler Examines Internal Legality, or HEIL. They made sure that atrocities were carried out with dignity and GRACE. Brought it back full circle – nailed the joke. Seriously though, the Nazis would probably have gotten in big trouble if they hadn’t disbanded HEIL right before the release of their controversial report on the morality of holocausts. I’m led to believe that HEIL did, in fact, uncover one or two questionable practices.
Main Story: http://www.christianpost.com/news/us-missions-group-fires-child-sex-abuse-investigators-claims-process-fatally-flawed-90100/
GRACE’s response: http://netgrace.org/wp-content/uploads/GRACE-Response-February-10-2013.pdf
In other news, Heisman Trophy winner, Christian Evangelist and former 3rd string New York Jets mascot Tim Tebow has cancelled a planned April appearance at the First Baptist Church in Dallas. The church, which is led by controversial pastor Robert Jeffress, is decidedly anti-gay, anti-Islam and anti-Mormon.
Tebow, who claims to have only recently realized that this church is even more ridiculous than average, announced the cancellation on Twitter, but added “I will continue to use the platform God has blessed me with to bring Faith, Hope and Love to all those needing a brighter day, except the ones who are fans of whatever unfortunate team has me on its roster.”
If god wanted Tebow to be a star QB, and big spokesman for religion, why did he give him the throwing ability of Helen Keller’s less-coordinated little sister?
He looks like a drunk redneck throwing a folding chair at a bowling alley fight.
He looks like he’s throwing a gallon of milk, but without the container.
This is only the latest piece of evidence that suggests that Tebow is as bad at picking PR events as he is throwing a fucking football. You’ll recall that in 2010 Tebow appeared in an ad where he encouraged women to ignore any doctor who said they had high risk pregnancies because “what do those doctor’s know? Just look how good I turned out.”
We can’t deny that without the Tebow fetus avoiding responsible parenthood planning, the Jets certainly wouldn’t have been able to convert those 3 fake punts, salvaging a 6-10 season in 2012.
And I apologize to all our international listeners who could give a fuck less about all these American football references.
Sticking with the regional focus, Oklahoma becomes the latest in a dishearteningly long list of state’s that are pushing some cretinous law that would give creationism a foot in the door of public schools. Republican State Representative Gus Blackwell has introduced a bill which he, of course, vociferously insists has nothing whatsoever to do with religion, claiming [quote] “I proposed this bill because there are teachers and students who may be afraid of going against what they see in their textbooks”.
And in my mind, it’s about damn time somebody stood up for the right of students to ignore all those realities in the curriculum. What gives textbooks the authority to determine what is and is not a fact? Other than school boards, textbook guidelines, knowledgeable authors, federal and state educational mandates and rigorous review by experts, I mean.
Can’t students study falsehoods at church like they always have? Isn’t there already a chapter in the science texts at Sunday school, that’s discusses in detail, many baseless claims about creation?
But you don’t understand. Blackwell promises with all his heart, so help him die, that this bill is in no way informed by his religious views or the multiple decades he spent working for the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma.
Is he claiming that he intentionally erased his subconscious?
That probably wouldn’t be the dumbest thing he’s claimed.
Oklahoma Creationism Bill: http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2013/02/oklahoma-hr1674-science-evolution-climate-change
In other news, a horrible bitch is suing New York’s Department of Education because they did not grant a religious exemption to vaccination for her five year old daughter. Proving definitively that there’s no stupid like religious stupid, she argues that [quote] “To inject invasive and unnatural substances into [god’s] divine creation is showing a lack of faith in God and His way”.
I forget which verse, but I’m pretty sure the bible does eloquently suggest, that law suits against public school districts are a good show of faith in god and his way.
I believe it’s in the book of Macabee-otch
Is it? Could’ve sworn it was in the Penta-douche.
And finally tonight, Jackson Ohio has become a central front in the battle for the proper separation of church and state. A recent lawsuit by the ACLU and the Freedom From Religion Foundation charges that a portrait of Jesus that hangs in a public middle school illegally promotes religion and stands in direct violation of the first amendment.
Those Jews are always rubbing our smaller noses in the fact that they had Jesus first, aren’t they?
Rather than politely acknowledging their error and removing the portrait, school officials have dug in their heels and cobbled together an argument so disingenuous you almost expect them to use the word “quantum” at some point.
Damn godless hippies trying to take down our jesus poster. Somebody better stand in the way of this progress . . .
Is that approximately their argument?
Even worse, I think. They say that portion of the wall is reserved for clubs within the school to place pictures of “inspirational figures central to the club’s meaning and purpose”.
To get me pumped up before a big game, in my locker, I would always keep a little figurine of the sports god named Baal. I think he stood for good sportsmanship. I really idolized that little guy.
Well that’s, of course, the “now-you-see-it-now-you-don’t, pay-no-attention-to-the-man-behind-the-curtain” legal defense, but the layman’s defense is the same ones that worked so well when it was used to justify slavery, oppose women’s suffrage, rationalize prejudice against gays and validate circumcision: “It’s been there a really long time”.
That’ll do it for headlines, when we come back I’ll be joined by unlikely papal candidate Eli Bosnick.
I made a request in last fortnight’s calendar for help finding a good online source for atheist, humanist and skeptical events in Australia and I got a few responses, but I really have to single out one listener in particular, @workMX on Twitter seemed to take this as a personal challenge and helped out a lot, so I decided that on this episode I’d devote the calendar section entirely to March Meet Ups in the land down under.
On March 13th – The Brisbane Rationalists are meeting from 6:30 to 8 and encourage anyone who enjoys rational conversation in an informal environment to join them… Although I’m sure if you show up in a tux they won’t turn you away. The monthly meet up will be held at the Coffee Club on Albert Street.
On March 20th we have a few events worth noting – The Central Victorian Atheists will be holding their monthly gathering at the Albion Hotel in Kyneton. Or Keyenton. Or whatever. I’ve gotten some mixed advice on the pronunciation there. All free thinkers in the area up for an evening of godlessness are encouraged to attend, regardless of how they pronounce it.
Also on March 20th in Adelaide the Humanist Society of South Australia will be holding their monthly meet up as they do on the third Wednesday of every month. The meeting runs from 7 to 9 at the Weatsheaf Hotel
Moving 1400 kilometers due east, on March 24th Sean Faircloth, author of “Attack of the Theocrats” will be appearing with AC Grayling and other secular speakers at the Sydney Opera House. This appearance will kick off a national “Reclaiming a Secular Australia” tour organized by the Rationalist Society of Australia and the New Zealand Association of Humanists and Rationalists. Additional appearances include:
March 26th at Melbourne University
March 27th at the Kyneton Mechanics Institute
March 28th at the Wheeler Centre in Melbourne
For a full calendar of appearances, including stops in Perth and New Zealand, check the link on the shownotes for this episode at Scathing Atheist (dot) com.
That’ll do it for the Calendar this fortnight. On our next episode we’ll turn our eyes to Austin and breakdown the schedule of events for the American Atheist’s 50th annual meeting, which I hope to be attending.
As always, if you’re involved with or aware of an atheist, secular or skeptical event that’s in need of some free publicity, feel free to email me or send me a Tweet. You’ll find all the contact info, along with links for all the events covered on this segment, at Scathing Atheist (dot) com.
I wanted to respond to a couple of quick emails before I closed out the show. First a correction: how quickly we forget. The Pope announced his retirement and within days I’m already forgetting the asshole’s name, apparently. On Episode 3 I accidentally called him “John” Ratzinger. Quick slip of the tongue while my mind was focused on a pretty crappy “John Ratzenburger” joke. Sorry about that. Kind of kills one’s credibility when one does shit like forgetting the Pope’s name.
Anyway, on to a more serious correction. I woke up to a pretty compelling comment on the blog on Sunday. John took me to task for repeatedly calling Ex-Benedict a Nazi in the last couple of episodes. As he points out (and as I will readily admit), mandatory membership in the Hitler Youth does not a Nazi make. But rather than frame this simply as an ad hominem, John hits me where he knows it will hurt. It’s not just an ad hominem, but a lazy one. After all, why go after a spurious connection to Nazi-ism when one could just as easily point to all the horrible shit that he actually did without being forced to by the state?
So I apologize for calling that sexist, homophobic, child rape enabling, child rape ensuring, genocidally anti-condom, thoughtless, heartless, antiquated, purposeless, money-laundering, hypocritical, superstitious, felonious Palpatine lookalike a Nazi. It won’t happen again.
That does it for our show but if you want more, there’s more. The interview with Eli went on a lot longer than I anticipated and when I cut it down for the show I left a lot of great stuff on the cutting room floor. If you want to hear the full version, check out Scathing Atheist (dot) com and click on the “Extras” tab at the top of the page.
I want to thank Heath and Eli for joining me and I want to wish Eli good luck in his bid for the papacy. I encourage you to follow him on Twitter if for no other reason than to see pictures of him wandering around Manhattan on Ash Wednesday with a smiley face drawn on his forehead.
We’ll be back in two weeks with our Countdown to Austin Edition. Between now and then, check out our erratically published blog and follow us on Twitter. If you liked the show, help us spread the word by leaving a good review on iTunes. If you have questions, comments or death threats, you’ll find all the contact info at Scathing Atheist (dot) Com. All the music used in this episode was written and performed by yours truly and yes, I did have my permission.