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Episode 9: Partial Transcript

April 18, 2013 Leave a comment

by Noah Lugeons

Sponsor:

Today’s episode of the Scathing Atheist is brought to you by the new line of Christian feminine hygiene products, Penta-Douche.  Remember, when you have that not-so-fresh feeling, it’s because you’re unclean in the eyes of God.  So when you’re being shunned for seven days, as is proscribed in all of the Abrahamic faiths, be sure to use our new Adam & Summer’s Eve brand.

Penta-douche; because women are cursed and responsible for the fall of man.

And now, the Scathing Atheist

Intro:

It’s Thursday, It’s April 18th and due to an increase in promiscuity, Allah has cut it back to 54 virgins per Jihadee.

I’m your host Noah Lugeons and from scandalous New York, New York, this is the Scathing Atheist.

On this week’s episode,

  • Pope Frankie names a group of 8 mini-bosses you’ll have to defeat before entering his lair,
  • Carl from Post Rapture Looting joins me for some atheist Easter Egg hunting where we look for eggs we know aren’t there,
  • And Representative Joe Barton moves to tackle global warming by first gathering two of every unclean species and seven of every clean one

But first, the Diatribe.

Diatribe:

A lot of theists have trouble accepting that we really don’t believe in god.  They like to think that deep down we’re just suppressing our faith but when we find ourselves in a really tough situation, we’ll revert to our programming, we’ll drop to our knees and we’ll start praying.  After all, when they look at the world, they see god.  So how could we look at the same world and not see him at all?

Similarly, a lot of atheists have trouble accepting that theists really believe in god.  We like to think that deep down they know good and damn well that it’s all a myth propagated by power-hungry shamans and that when the shit hits the fan, they’ll abandon their superstitions and turn to a secular solution.  After all, when we look at the world, we don’t see a god.  How could they look at the same world and see one?

Clearly part of this is just a lack of intellectual empathy.  They think we’ve got a ‘god shaped hole’ in our hearts and we think they’ve got a ‘reason shaped hole’ in their heads.  It’s a defense mechanism like the one where we demonize the opposite side of the political spectrum.   It’s harder to Accept that they’ve looked at the evidence and come to a contrary conclusion than it is to create a caricature of their opinions and pretend that they’re all heartless or stupid.

And I suppose a lot of people would tell me to leave it there.  I said something bad about one side and then I said something bad about the other and now can’t we all just get along?

But I think it’s too neat and tidy to write it all off as a self-delusion.  After all, when I listen to somebody tell me that they believe that god’s in heaven and Jesus loves them and grandma and Sparky are at the pearly gates waiting for them, I don’t wonder how they believe it.  I wonder why they’re not in a bigger hurry to die.

If I ask them, they’ll tell me that god has a plan for them on earth and that they’d miss their kids or their grandkids or their friends or whatever, but if you balance the time we spend on earth with the eternity they expect to spend in heaven, it’s an insignificant blink of the eye.  Ten billion years from now your grandkids won’t even remember that you weren’t there while they were learning to poop.

And why aren’t they more eager for their loved ones to die?  It seems to me that once mom has arthritis or even a persistent headache she’d be better off in heaven where she wouldn’t have to suffer anymore.  How selfish is it for me to hope she lingers on in minor pain for decades just so that I can have her around to babysit the kids?  Hell, it seems like as soon as your folks start hitting financial troubles you’d be hoping they’d die so they could move into that mansion god has for them in heaven.

I’ve watched friends grieve the loss of a loved one; both theist and atheist.  And I can tell you from a statistically insignificant, unblinded anecdote that one didn’t seem to have any easier a time with it than the other.  Somehow the person who professed to believe that their beloved was living in a mansion with a golden driveway in paradise was every bit as bereaved as the person who professed to believe that their loved one no longer existed at all.  How could that possibly be?

When I say that I don’t think theists believe their own bullshit, it’s not something I’m basing on my own psychology, it’s something I’m basing on their behavior.  If you honestly believed, all the way to your core, that you were going to meet the people you lose in a perfect world in the clouds, how could you possibly mourn their passing?  How could a funeral be anything but a joyous occasion?

The religious dingbats of the world like to express their disbelief in atheists with one of the most pervasive and insulting clichés ever coined to smear rationalists; “There are no atheists in a foxhole.”

The idea is that even we heathens will turn to god if things get bad enough.  Included, of course, is the unspoken assumption that when we experience this instantaneous conversion, it’ll be their god we’ll start praying to.  It never seems to occur to them that if that’s how it worked, all the Christians in the foxhole would start praying to Allah, Shiva and Odin just to be on the safe side.

But I’d like to submit the opposite.  When you’re in the proverbial foxhole, myths and superstitions are cold comfort.  When the bombs are raining down, nobody’s saying “Shit, I sure hope that one hits us!” and if they were, we’d rightly assume that they’d lost their fucking minds.  I submit that when we’re facing the uncertainty of our own deaths, we are all atheists by default.

Contrary to the adage, when it comes down to it, there are no theists in a foxhole.

Headlines:

Joining me for headlines tonight is my kemosabe Heath Enwright.  Heath, are you ready to Lone Range?

In our lead story tonight, California legislators are subtly suggesting that perhaps the Boy Scouts of America should stop being bigots.  A proposed law would strip the Boy Scouts of their tax exempt status along with any other nonprofit that excludes members based on sexual orientation, gender identity or religious affiliation.

There’s been a real outcry surrounding this proposal and strangely enough it’s not because this wasn’t done decades ago.  How common sense is this proposal?

  • I’d like to read a quote from christiannewswire.com: “Should SB 323 become law it would break new ground in using the tax system to punish those who are disliked by LGBT activists.”  Those who are disliked by LGBT activists are called bigots.  So the the tax system punishes bigots.  Is that unreasonable?
  • I’d like a tax system that punishes all sorts of shitty people.  That’s actually the whole point of certain taxes.  To discourage things with negative externalities, like the actions and opinions of the ignorant.

Yeah, hard to imagine why religious groups would be threatened by a law that strips tax exemptions from groups that institutionalize discrimination, huh?

While most of the major media coverage has focused on the gay stuff, this law would also force the Boy Scouts, and any other group seeking tax exemption, to allow the dreaded atheists to walk amongst them.

  • Much like a black person disrupts the front of a bus, an atheist clearly disrupts a lesson in the tying of a bowline knot.
  • What’s their problem?

The bill is saying, you can still be an asshole, and you can still have your asshole club.

The government just happens to offer extra credit on the test for clubs that are not assholes . . . So you assholes don’t get those particular bonus points.

  • We’re bending over backwards to be tolerant of assholes.  We’re just taking away the asshole subsidy they’ve been getting.  And we’ll give it right back if they stop being assholes.

California pushes bill to end State tax exemptions for Boy Scouts because of anti-gay, anti-atheist policies:

–          From a real news source: http://news.yahoo.com/calif-tax-bill-seeks-punish-scouts-gay-ban-193252719.html

–          From Xian Newswire: http://www.christiannewswire.com/news/2250071876.html

From the “Should we call it the Reform Council or the Council on Reform” Department, the Pope has assigned 8 cardinals to advise him on thinking about talking about thinking about reform.  While major media headlines like “Pope Makes First Big Decision Naming Advisory Board” and “Pope Makes Tough Decisions as Reforms Loom” would suggest that he’d actually done something, the actual meat of this story is downright vegan.

So Pope Frankfurter has commissioned an advisory panel to look into overhauling the Vatican Bureaucracy.  Vatican officials point out that it’s been a quarter century since the bureaucracy was updated, somehow missing the irony that it’s been two millennia since any-damn-thing else about their church was updated.

  • Yeah their literature could use a few retractions.  Maybe a new edition, in light of all this new shit.
  • I heard the advisory panel has a small delegation scouring the woods to confirm or disconfirm the presence of bear shit.
  • Maybe the panel can also look into whether there will ever be some way to create individual cross-sections that divide up an entire loaf of bread into convenient pieces.

But the collective media cock-guzzle around Pope Frank-n’-Beans continues and everything he does from washing a foot to wiping lefty is dutifully reported as proof that he’s a real reformer and things are gonna be different under his watch.  He’s not like that old creepy pedophile-protecting Palpatine lookalike.  He’s an old creepy, pedophile-protecting Droopy Dog lookalike.

  • He reminds me of Elmer Fudd, but with a sillier hat . . . doing the “Kill the Wabbit” song to Wagner’s “Flight of the Valkyries”.
  • Sidenote: I’m thoroughly impressed by the lefty wiping.  I tried to jerk it lefty one time, and I suffered an elbow injury and an eye injury.

Pope names 8 advisors to think about talking about thinking about reform: http://news.yahoo.com/pope-taps-cardinals-advise-governing-reform-124612388.html

And in earth-shattering international news, women are wearing man-clothes at the Western Wall.  This news comes to us from the 1300s via modern day Jerusalem.  Several female activists were arrested at the holy site last Thursday for wearing man-shawls and praying out loud.

  • The man-shawls don’t help the sexual roles platform, and they definitely muddle the homophobia stance a little.

And as much as my liberal heart wants to stand behind the women involved in this protest, my rational mind says, “you’re trying to pray to an imaginary being whose very existence was largely manufactured to oppress your gender”, so it’s hard for me to rally behind them too much.  If you want to advance women in these silly cultures, leave all the talking-to-walls to the men and maybe try reading or something.  Just a suggestion.

  • Yeah, why the hell do they want to go there or do that in the first place?  They must have got Tom Sawyered.
  • “Don’t even think about wearing that man-shawl and whitewashing this prayer wall with me.”

Clash with religious authorities at the Western Wall because women are wearing the “man shawls” http://religion.blogs.cnn.com/2013/04/12/battle-of-the-sexes-at-western-wall/

And in “No-when-to-fold-em” news, a NY nun has admitted stealing more than an eighth of a million dollars to cover her gambling expenses.  She now faces six months in prison, which, for the record, I would do in a heartbeat for $128,000.  I mean seriously?  Six months?

But before you go thinking the sentencing was light because she was a 68 year-old nun, I should mention that her attorney says she’s really, really sorry.  And if we were more like Jesus we wouldn’t be so worried about the past.

  • I guess you gotta support the habit somehow.

Vinnie “Knuckles” Malone, a source close to the case was quoted as saying, “That bitch just lucky she still has all her fingers.  Nun or not, I’ll fuck that whore up.”

  • The Knuckles brand of justice sounds surprisingly well-informed on the 1st Amendment.

NY nun admits to stealing $130,000 from churches to pay for her gambling addiction: http://news.yahoo.com/gambling-nun-pleads-guilty-theft-york-churches-224339427.html

And earning the honor of the stupidest politician in the national spotlight this week is Texas Republican… and I’d just like to point out that those two words very often precede the naming of the stupidest politician in the national spotlight on any given week…

  • Texas Republicans making political decisions, are like the youngest brother in a big family getting to choose what everyone has for dinner on their birthday.  You end up having to appease them once in awhile, so you try to take them seriously that one day,  and they’re like “Deep Fried Chocolate Baloney Hot Pockets!!!”

Anyway, Texas Republican Joe Barton was trying to justify a bill to force Obama’s hand on the Keystone pipeline.  And atheists, I’m sure, have differing opinions on the issue of this controversial energy project.  But I think we can all agree that it takes a class A jackass to use the issue to write off climate change on the grounds of God’s predilection for flooding the whole world.

  • The gradual melting of polar ice caps would be the lamest Great Flood ever.  Not exactly an awe-inspiring demonstration of omnipotence.
  • “Does the water look a couple inches higher to you?  That’s it . . . I’m devoting my life to Jesus.”
  • Decent amount of slavery in the bible, so that must not have been a man-made phenomenon either.  Just pious plantation owners fulfilling their destiny.  Somebody’s gotta get enslaved.

Now, if I quoted him directly, I’d probably get accused of making it sound stupider than it actually sounded, so here it is, in all it’s glorious fucktardary: [SOUNDCLIP]

Rep. Joe Barton cites the great flood as evidence that global warming is not man made: http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2013/04/10/rep-joe-barton-biblical-great-flood-shows-climate-change-isnt-man-made/ (grab soundclip on this one, too!)

And finally tonight, the intrepid radio host and fundamentalist activist Bryan Fischer has uncovered our secret, homofascist plot to make Christians wear Christian badges like ghetto Jews in Nazi Germany.

  • We ended up going ahead with that plot?  I was thinking thorny crowns though.  The sleeve patches are a little too subtle.
  • Didn’t Fischer seem strangely preoccupied with the design of the Christian ghetto patch?

Our nefarious strategy had managed to stay so well-hidden over the years that not even the key players instrumental in its implementation knew about it, but despite this nearly preternatural level of secrecy, Fischer’s mind was able to twist through the various corridors of our labyrinth and figure out our plans even before we did.  And he did so amidst the following random assemblage of gibberish: [SOUNDCLIP]

  • Of course, you never want to hear about a holocaust.  Of course.  But if another one HAD TO HAPPEN, I’d say Christians are the logical victims.  Hold on, what am I talking about?  Muslims, obviously.  What, it’s a fucking roast!
  • I’d say that the most surprising thing I learned when I was researching this story is that spellcheck has no issues at all with the word “homofascist”.

Bryan Fischer discovers our homofascist plot to make Christians wear badges like ghetto Jews: http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2013/04/12/bryan-fischer-homofascists-will-treat-christians-like-jews-in-the-holocaust/ (grab soundclip!!)

That does it for headlines, when we come back, Carl from the Post Rapture Looting Podcast will join us to discuss all the fun he had over Easter Weekend.

Skit:

Normally I save emails for the end of the show but I got one from a celebrity the other day and it got me really excited.  I’m not sure if I he would want me to mention his name, but you know what?  Fuck it, I’m pretty stoked, I’m gonna go ahead and tell you.  It was from God.

Now, I know what you’re thinking.  It’s an email and anybody could say there were God, but the way I figure it, I’ve got exactly as much evidence that this email was written by god as Christians have that the bible was, so I’m rolling with it.

Anyway, it’s pretty cool, so I thought I’d share it with you:

Dear Noah,

This email is intended as official notice that you have been damned.

This action was taken against you by me, the Lord Almighty on April 13th in the year of our me 2013 for trespasses including, but not limited to:

  • Taking my name in vain while suggesting that I, Father of Abraham, Granter of Life, Alpha and Omega, am physically comprised of fecal-pornography,
  • Making it sound on your show like Jesus is bad at finding keys when, if fact, he is damn good at it, and
  • Making a blasphemous exclamation while masturbating on the Sabbath to impure thoughts about your neighbor’s wife in mixed garments.

As a consequence of your damning, the standing invitation of your immortal soul to return to heaven upon its earthly passing has been revoked.  Alternate accommodations will be provided.  In addition, your prayers will be ignored separately from those of believers, you will not be permitted to use a crucifix to ward off vampires and Jesus says from now on you can find your own fucking keys.

If you feel that you have been damned in error, please reply within 30 days with an explanation of any extenuating or mitigating circumstances along with heaps of sanctimonious praise and obsequious adulation.  Failure to remit in the time frame outlined above will result in your damnation being converted to eternal status.

Praise and adulation will be judged at the discretion of the damning party and may or may not be deemed sufficient for salvation.

May God have mercy on your soul… Oh wait, too late for that Bitch.

Jehovah.

Calendar:

It’s time for the atheist calendar portion of the show.  Normally we try to keep things light hearted and funny on this show, but sometimes there’s nothing funny about what we’re doing.  And once in a while we need to step back and recognize that.

That’s why I’m dedicating this week’s calendar to the atheist bloggers and activists in Bangladesh that are risking their lives to do exactly what I’m doing.  Freedom of speech is something I blithely accept as my birthright as an American, but not everyone is as fortunate.

I can’t possibly cover all the details of this story in such a short format, but I strongly encourage you to learn more about it.  We’ll have links all over the shownotes and if you follow us on Twitter we’ll keep you abreast of the story.  Suffice to say that a well-organized group of Islamic militants are trying to use their bully pulpit to divert attention away from their wrong-doing and a group of atheist bloggers have become their unwitting scapegoat.

Two bloggers have already been killed and Islamic leaders are calling for the execution of 84 more named atheist activists.

In response, atheist and humanist organizations all over the world have declared April 25th a day of action to stand with our fellow non-believers.  And you can make a difference here.  Write a blog, send a letter, join one of the many protests being organized across the country, or, if nothing else, take to social media and let people know what is happening.

Regardless of our beliefs, we can all agree that nobody should die for theirs.  I urge you to check out the links at Scathing Atheist (dot) com and learn more.

And now, back to the fart jokes and stuff.

April 25th, stand with the atheist bloggers in Myanmar: http://freethoughtblogs.com/maryamnamazie/2013/04/11/on-25-april-2013-we-stand-with-bangladeshi-bloggers-and-activists/

Outro:

There was one email I wanted to respond to before we closed things out for the night, but first a quick correction.  You’ll recall that last week Heath and I discussed a nincompoop that wrote an article about how Steven Hawking proved the bible correct by referring to dust.  Anyway, I identified the numb-skull as Paul Hitchins, his name is actually Paul Hutchins.  So I wanted to apologize, not to the Christian dingle-berry, but rather to the name “Hitchins”.  So sorry about that, I owe you more respect.

Okay, so first email comes to us from Renee in Clemsdale and I’m not sure what state or country Clemsdale is in.  Renee was very polite in his or her full condemnation of everything we’ve done on the show and, in a round-about way, everything I’ve ever done in my life.  But I just wanted to tell Renee that I did love the email, especially the contradictory notion of condemning me to hell in one paragraph, but then hoping I have a lovely day in the next.

Sorry to end on such a somber note, but that does it for our show this week.  We’ll be back in 168 hours, when we’ll crack open our bibles and tackle Genesis in the “Holy Babble”.  If you can’t get enough of us, be sure to check out our erratically published blog and follow us on Twitter.

I want to throw a big thanks to Carl for joining me early on a Sunday morning for that interview.  He had to miss church and everything, so I want to thank him for making the sacrifice.  If you haven’t checked out his show, be sure to do that.  Once again, it’s the Post Rapture Looting Podcast and we’ll have links to it on the shownotes for this episode. (http://postrapturelooting.net/PRL/)

I want to thank the person who gave us our first donation.  Haven’t figured out how to find out who you are so I can thank you by name, but thanks.  Really means a lot to us.  If you’d like to join this exclusive group of one person, you can donate to the show as well.  You’ll find the link on the right side of the page at Scathing Atheist (dot) com.

If you want to help us out but don’t want to part with any of your hard earned cash, you can always swing by iTunes and give us an awesome review.  We really appreciate everyone who does that and we love them more than the other audience members… except the ones who give cash, who we love the most.

Of course, a huge thanks to Heath for everything he does to make the wheels of this podcast turn and a big thanks to everyone who decided to give us thirty minutes of their lives.  We’ll be hard at work earning thirty minutes next time.  Until then, check out the backlog and do it on Stitcher because seriously, our Stitcher rank sucks balls.

If you have questions, comments or death threats, you’ll find all the contact info on the contact page 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.

Episode 8: Partial Transcript

April 11, 2013 1 comment

by Noah Lugeons & Heath Enwright

Sponsor:

This week’s episode of the Scathing Atheist is brought to you by Mitt Romney’s new brand of baking soda, Mormon Hammer.  Guaranteed to keep your fridge as free of odor as it is of alcohol, caffeine and gender-equality.  So send one of your wives to the store and tell them to look for the whitest baking soda on the shelf: Mormon Hammer.

And now, the Scathing Atheist…

Intro:

It’s Thursday, It’s April 11th and bananas are my worst nightmare.

I’m your host Noah Lugeons and from climatically-schizophrenic New York, New York, this is the Scathing Atheist.

On this week’s episode,

  • A Louisiana legislator tries to teach kids about religious freedom by taking it away,
  • We’ll use the word “fuck” more times than there’s any real need to and
  • My wife and my best friend will join me for the most disappointing threesome of all time.

But first, the Diatribe…

Diatribe:

“How Hubble Saved My Soul”

I rejected religion at an early age.  My parents were religious but they weren’t church-goers and they only made a half-ass attempt to brainwash me.  I can’t tell you exactly when I out-logiced religion, but my earliest atheist memory is at the age of 8 when my 3rd grade teacher settled an argument between me and some other kid by affirming that there was too a god.

Now, I’d say I was proud of that fact, but atheism is nothing to be proud of.  Outsmarting a book that starts contradicting itself in the second chapter isn’t very hard.  And, as I proved for many years after rejecting my parent’s faith, you can be both an atheist and a gullible dipshit simultaneously.

See, I didn’t do the whole religion thing, but I was every bit as irrational in my puerile new-age hippy tie-dye, goatee, anything goes, neo-pagan spiritualism.  I dismissed all the doctrines, but I still had a soft spot in my brain for ancient wisdom.  What’s more, I wanted magic and eternal life.  I just wasn’t willing to get them from a church.

So I alternately identified myself as a Wiccan, a spiritualist, a Thelemite or, my personal favorite, a Pangeantheologist.  I read books on witchcraft and Kabbalah and chakras and high magick and low magick and herbal magick and color magick and chaos magick and shamanic magick and Enochian magick.  And I read the I Ching and I read Tarot cards and I read runes and I read palms.  And I read Aleister Crowley and Raymond Buckland and Donald Kraig and Israel Regardie and Peter Carroll.  And I went to pagan communes and I met gurus and I went on silence retreats and I danced naked around bonfires and I called upon ancient spirits and I invoked undines and deep down I knew the whole time that it was a load of shit.

The cognitive dissonance wasn’t that hard at first, because I was getting laid.  But it got harder and harder as I learned more and more about this stuff.  There was never any substance.  It never made any more sense.  There were never any deeper secrets and there were never any results.

My friends would all say, “Oh, you’ve gotta meet this guru” and when I do, I figure out five minutes in that he knows less about what he’s talking about than I do after reading three books on the subject.   I would get together with some coven for a big communal spell and I would happen to catch them on one of those rare nights when nothing happened at all.  Or worse yet, you would know the ceremony was over when the most gullible jackass in the room says, “Did you feel that?!”

And as I’m going through this whole five year acid trip of the soul, something else was happening too.  And even though I wouldn’t realize it for a quite a while, it was steadily eroding the foundation of my bullshit; I started to see the images being returned from the Hubble Space Telescope.

Like practically everyone, I fell in love with these images as soon as I saw them. I was fascinated and I couldn’t possibly see enough. I wanted to know more about what they were and the incredible universe they revealed. But more than that I wanted to know how we got them and what they meant.  It was slow and sometimes painful, but that was the origin of my love for science.

Somehow underpaid, uninspired public school teachers had failed to instill any real appreciation for something as fascinating as everything in my developing mind and it took seeing the universe in this scale for me to truly appreciate the wonders of human curiosity.

But it sure made that cognitive dissonance harder.  After all, if science said what I believed was bullshit and they could back it up with pictures of the entire fucking universe, who was I to disagree?  How could I cocoon myself in some arrogant worldview that places humanity in the center of it all when there were things like the Hubble Deep Field Image to contradict me?

Even the young religions had a multi-century head start on science when it came to this whole “heaven” thing and they were happy to tell you what it was like and who was in charge and how you could get there, but they never managed to take pictures. We never glimpsed the earliest stars through the power of herbal supplements. We never saw a cloud of dust four light years across through proper breathing techniques.  We never saw galaxies forming with color-infused water.  The methods and practiced that all my hippy gurus promoted had been around for centuries and sometimes millenia, and yet knowledge of their deep and mystical secrets had never managed something as stupefying and eye-opening as even the lowliest of Hubble’s observations.  And yes, I’m talking about the blurry shit before they fixed it.

Sure, you eat enough mushrooms and get in a sweat lodge, you’ll see all the bright lights and pretty colors Hubble has to offer, but there’s nothing there.  Just like every other silly little spiritual distraction, there’s nothing there.  It’s all empty, hollow, meaningless, unsatisfying, Chicken Soup for the Brain drivel.  It demands that you suspend your disbelief even to the point of suspending your own senses.  It demands that you practice for years at something you can’t actually get better at.  It demands that you nod along with every stupid post-modernist notion some yoga instructor blurts out because you don’t want to be the only one at the party wearing incredulity.

But science, as Carl Sagan said, brings the goods. The appeal of all the spiritual mumbo-jumbo was rooted in my desire to be part of something larger, but when I glanced at the universe through the eyes of a space telescope, I saw that science was offering me something larger than any new-age guru could dream of. And what’s more is that it was real; tangible; provable. Unlike the “truth” offered by faith, science demands nothing in return.

And that’s how Hubble saved my soul.

Headlines:

Joining me tonight for headlines is my fidus Achates, Heath Enwright.  Heath, are you ready to, um… I don’t know, feed us?

In our lead story tonight, the state of North Carolina decided to declare a state religion last week, then the ether wore off and they wondered who that lump in the bed was and where that tattoo came from and what the fuck they were thinking.

This story starts in Rowan County, North Carolina (go Mustangs!) where a lawsuit threatened to stop county commissioners from opening their meetings with a prayer.  They had two choices, one was concede, give up the prayer and not look like stupid assholes.  The other was to try to rewrite the constitution.

  • They were trying to invoke a silly little idea that I remember my 10th grade history teacher asserting.  The idea is that the constitution only forbids congress from establishing a religion, not the individual states.
  • I’m not sure if there’s any real constitutional ground for that argument but I’m skeptical and so is North Carolina House Speaker Thom Tillis, who killed the bill once the national media started to make a stink about this.  Which suggests to me that somehow North Carolina legislators didn’t realize that people were gonna make a stink about this.
  • And that’s why we need watchdog groups.

LEAD STORY: The North Carolina State Religion: http://news.yahoo.com/could-north-carolina-actually-declare-state-religion-130700725.html Follow Up : http://www.goddiscussion.com/108691/north-carolina-house-speaker-kills-bill-that-would-have-allowed-the-state-to-create-a-state-sponsored-religion-in-violation-of-first-amendment-to-the-constitution/

And in “I’ll see your state religion and raise you twelve pounds of raw bat-shit” news, Louisiana State Representative Katrina R. Jackson has proposed a new bill that would force students to recite the Lord’s Prayer along with the Pledge of Allegiance every morning.

With an inspiring effort to yet be the most destructive Katrina in Louisiana’s history, Representative Jackson attempts to justify the bill with some of the most Orwellian language since Orwell.  She actually says:

  • “Students shall be informed that these exercises are not meant to influence an individual’s personal religious beliefs in any manner.”
  • The recitations shall be conducted so that students learn of America’s great freedoms, including the freedom of religion symbolized by the recitation of the Lord’s Prayer.

Louisiana state rep proposes a prayer-in-school law: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/2013/04/05/louisiana-state-representative-students-should-learn-freedom-of-religion-by-reciting-the-lords-prayer-every-morning/

And following up on a story we covered back in episode 4, the big Jesus picture in Jackson, Ohio is coming down.  You’ll recall a flurry of defensive posturing by the school board, who insisted that nothing on heaven or earth was going to make them take down their beloved Jesus pitcher.

Well, it turned out that all it took was an insurance company deciding that Jesus was a liability.  And this goes to show you how heartless we atheists are.  They tried to compromise.  They offered to take the picture down from the Middle School and put it up in the High School but that wasn’t good enough for those secular humanist jackoffs.

But I do think it’s worth pointing out what a signpost this really is.  It doesn’t take too many successful lawsuits by atheists to convince insurance companies to pull the plug on shit like this before it ends up wasting a truckload of taxpayer money.

Follow Up: School in Jackson Ohio agrees to remove Jesus painting: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/2013/04/03/the-giant-portrait-of-jesus-is-finally-coming-down/

And in more shameful news, a new poll finds that 13% of Americans think that Obama is the anti-Christ.  Many of our listeners will have already heard about this survey, as we’re not the only media outlet that found that number interesting.  In addition to that statistic, the study also found that:

  • 20% of Americans believe that childhood vaccines are linked to autism,
  • 9% believe that fluoride is added to the water to control our minds,
  • And 4% believe that shape-shifting lizards secretly control our government.

I find some of those numbers hard to believe and I hope that there was a lot of the “these questions have gotten so stupid I’m gonna start fucking with the interviewer” effect in it, but the fact that David Icke’s lizard theory is even well known enough to be included on the survey is plenty of evidence of some horrible failures in public education.

–          I’d still be ashamed if only 13% of people believed that there would be an anti-christ.

Studies show that 13% of Americans think Obama is the anti-Christ: http://www.publicpolicypolling.com/pdf/2011/PPP_Release_National_ConspiracyTheories_040213.pdf

And sometimes you’re combing through news sources and you see a headline so promising you know it’s gonna make the show even before you read the article.  A headline on the Christian Newswire caught my attention the other day.  It said, and I quote, “Stephen Hawking Solves Bible Creation Mystery Proving the Bible Accurate”.

And basically what we’ve got here is every bit as stupid as what you expect when you read it.  This apologist Paul Hutchins is trying to employ one of the Muslim apologist’s favorite tactics, the one where you say, “look at all the science that my book of bullshit predicts.”

This is kind of a dubious tactic in my mind, since all but eight words of the bible are contradicted by science, but nevertheless, he’s trying to say that the creation account in Genesis is in keeping with our current beliefs about how the planet formed.

Now, I’ll give him the credit of saying that he does get there, but he asks for a few huge favors when it comes to interpretation, including but not limited to:

–          When the bible talks about 6 days they just mean “6 unequal periods of indeterminate time”

–          When the bible says “Let there be light” what they clearly meant was “Let the sun transition from a protostar to a main sequence star.”

–          When it talks about god making the sun 4 days after making day and night, they meant that he made the sun visible through the cloud of pre-solar system planetary fragments.

 

  • He keeps talking about how these things “correspond exactly” to the Genesis account.

Stephen Hawking Solves Bible Creation Mystery Proving the Bible Accurate (I shit you not, that’s what the headline says): http://www.christiannewswire.com/news/2911771800.html

And finally tonight, The Foundation Beyond Belief has announced is 2nd quarter beneficiaries.  For those of you who aren’t familiar with the Foundation Beyond Belief, it is a most excellent secular charity that gathers donations in the name of atheism and then distributes them to a number of deserving charities.

Basically, they do all the hard work of confirming that none of your charitable dollars are going to support one of these half-charity/half-proselytizing funds.  Which is helpful if you’ve ever wondered exactly how much of the money you gave to the Salvation Army was spent opposing gay rights.

The five charities selected for this quarter are:

  • The One Acre Fund
  • The Innocence Project of Texas
  • T’ruah
  • Bernie’s Book Bank
  • And Trees, Water & People

To learn more about these charities and all the news items discussed on this episode, be sure to check out the shownotes at Scathing Atheist (dot) com.

Foundation Beyond Belief Announces its 2nd quarter beneficiaries. http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/2013/04/03/foundation-beyond-belief-announces-q2-2013-slate-of-charities/

That does it for headlines tonight.  Heath, appreciate your help as always.

And Heath, please stick around.  When we come back, Lucinda Lugeons will join Heath and me for a little Bible study.

Skit:

Writer:  Hey chief – Did you get a chance to look at the draft I sent you of “The Bible”?

Editor:  Oh yeah the fictional allegory book . . . I looked it over . . . Why don’t you have a seat.

W:  Sure, how did you like it?

E:  (Sigh) I didn’t love it. I’m just a little worried people might take some of it literally.

W:  Come on, seriously? The stories are absurd. How could someone take them literally?

E:  Well… whenever the scripture department releases something, readers tend to get a little too carried away.  Remember the shit show after we printed the Torah? Which actually brings me to my next concern . . . and if I’m way off base here, I’m sorry . . . But it seems like you pretty much plagiarized the entire Hebrew Bible for this first half. Is that what you did?

W:  Listen, the Jews are not a very litigious people, so it’s not look they’re gonna sue us. But maybe I’ll add a few footnotes to properly cite the direct quotes.

E:  Don’t get me wrong, that thing’s way overdue for a sequel, but do we really have to reprint the whole first book with it?  That’s gonna cost a pretty shekel.

W: I’ll be honest, I had a little bit of writer’s block, and I couldn’t seem to get the ball rolling.  I added some stuff though.  Judith, Wisdom… um… Maccabees…

E:  Yeah, we might have to trim that part.

W: Are you sure?

E:  Not really no.  Look, I understand borrowing from it, that’s not a huge problem.   It’s not like a religious text is just going to pop into your head, divinely inspired, ready to print.

W: Right, I’m not just gonna find a bunch of golden plates with the words of god etched into them.  So I did some research, and the Torah had a lot of stuff very similar to what I was looking to write myself. One god, omnipotent vengeance scenarios, get really mad at any future religion that also likes the Middle East. It just made sense as a jumping off point.

E:  Okay let’s circle back to that. Open up your copy to the Leviticus section.

W:  I’ve gotta stop you right there. I know what you’re gonna say. That was a really weird time for me. I had to stone my 4th concubine AND 3 slaves to death that month. Lots of mixed emotions. And my normal guy was out of town, so I had to call this delivery service I never used before, and I’m pretty sure they laced the frankincense with something crazy.

E:  Listen, it’s understandable. I’m thinking maybe just a little disclaimer at the beginning. Novelty purposes only, or something.

W:  I really think you’re underestimating the intelligence of our readership. It’s not like a giant population the world over is going to get swept up in some sort of crusade to make sure everyone agrees – word for word – with my little book here.

E:  I guess you’re right. I’m probably being paranoid. I just had one other concern . . . Why all the hate against gays?

W:  What?

E:  All the anti-homosexual passages.

W:  Where are there any anti-homosexual passages?

E:  Right here in Leviticus. “Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is an abomination.” Then later in Romans and again in Jude.  It seems like you’re at least tacitly allowing the lesbian stuff, but still…

W:  I thought it was clear that this section was tongue in cheek. I guess I really didn’t sell the sarcasm. And I wasn’t even talking about the sex part, just the lying in bed after. Nobody wants to see 2 men cuddling. That’s just faggoty.

E:  And what’s with all the Yoda talk, and the weird numbering. You really think people are going to refer back to this one book, line by line, and need reference numbers? Normal page numbers, like every other book, should be just fine.

W:  That was a software issue. I wrote the thing in Aramaic, and when the word processor translated the characters over to Times Old Roman Latin, a bunch of random numbers showed up by accident.

E: Okay, let’s skip ahead to this “New Testament” part.  I get what you’re going for here and I like the idea of god having a kid in the sequel, but that whole part seemed way off to me.  The first four chapters just seem to be telling the same story over and over and none of them agree on the details.  It’s just weird.

W:  Yeah, I started off with a “choose your own adventure” concept in mind but eventually I just slapped everything together in that opening chunk.

E: (Big Sigh) Look, I’m gonna be perfectly honest with you.  Religious texts are hot right now and the epic poetry division hasn’t had a best seller in centuries.  There’s a lot of problems here, but we’re probably gonna roll with it anyway.

W: Good to hear.

E:  Do you have anything in mind for the sequel?

W:  I’m thinking illiterate, child raping warlord on a flying horse.

E:  Not bad.

Calendar:

It’s time for the atheist calendar portion of the show where we set aside a few minutes to talk up some of the great atheist and secular meet-ups going on around the country and around the world.

We’ll start off with a Skepticamp event in Essex County, Massachusetts on April 13th.  Runs from 9:30 to 4, has some really interesting topics lined up and ends out with a Skeptical Trivia event that should be a lot of fun.

http://skepticamp.capeannskeptics.com/?page_id=45

On April 20th we have the South Dakota Conference of Reason in Sioux Falls.  And I know that people who live in and around South Dakota have a lot of choices when it comes to atheist conferences, but this one should be worth the drive.

Facebook Page for conference: https://www.facebook.com/events/214700748667522/?fref=ts

On the 27th of April there’ll be another Skepticamp event in Denver with an equally impressive slate of topics including a pretty promising talk on pseudo-astronomy, woo in women’s health and teen atheist outreach.

http://skepticamp.org/wiki/Skepticamp_Denver_2013

And finally in Atlanta we’ve got a three day skepticamp conference starting on the 3rd of May and running through the weekend.

http://www.atlantaskeptics.com/skepticamp/

And how could I not mention the fact that the Brisbane Atheists are hosting a Pirate Party for their monthly meet up on April 30th.  I’d love to go just to find out what pirate-speak sounds like with an Australian accent.  And incidentally, if any of my Australian listeners want to settle that mystery for me, feel free to send an audio clip.

http://www.somewheretothink.com.au/events/pirate-party-australia-brisbane-monthly-meetup-2013-04-30/

That’ll do it for the calendar this week, but I want to remind everybody listening that if you’re involved with an atheist, skeptical or secular event that could use some publicity, let me know.  Also if you’re aware of any good online resources for such events, let me know about those as well.  You’ll find all the contact info on the contact page at ScathingAtheist (dot) com.  And remember, we’re weekly now so I need all the help I can get filling this segment.

Outro:

I had a couple of quick announcements before we close out the show.  We’ve been putting a few segments of the show on You-Tube so if you want to share one part of the show with somebody who might not be able to make it through the whole show, check out our You-Tube channel for some bite-sized pieces of The Scathing Atheist.

We’ve also added a donation button to the website so if you were anxious to give us money, you could do that.  Those donations are tax-deductible, but unfortunately that’s only for residents of Tatooine, Mordor and the magical land of Hyrule.  The rest of you still have to pay your taxes.

We’ll have the long version of the Holy Babble segment up on the extras page on the website soon so be sure to check that out.  Wanted to thank everyone who’s made their way over to iTunes to leave us a five star review.  Gotta thank Lucinda and Heath for helping out tonight.

And I want to give a big thanks to George Hrab for both providing the Farnsworth quote to start us out and for entertaining the shit out of my wife and I last Friday night.  The guys an incredible musician so if you’re a fan of the music, find an opportunity to watch him live.  It’s an incredible experience and I’ll have links to all his upcoming events on the shownotes for the page.  He also has a really fun podcast that I’ll link to as well.

http://about.me/georgehrab

http://www.geologicpodcast.com/

That does it for tonight, but if you want more be sure to check out our erratically published blog, follow us on Twitter @Noah (underscore) Lugeons, like us on Facebook, subscribe to us on You-Tube, listen to us on Stitcher and give us money.

If you want to learn more about the news items and events discussed on this program, check out the shownotes for this episode.  If you have any comments, questions or death threats you’ll find all the contact info on the “Contact” page at Scathing Atheist (dot) Com.  All the music used in this program was written and performed by yours truly and yes, I did have my permission.

Religion as Child Abuse

April 3, 2013 4 comments

by Noah Lugeons

Yeah, a lot has been said about this already so I’m not going to devote too much time to it here.  The four horsemen have long since established what I feel to be a compelling and nigh undeniable argument that religion is often a guise for child abuse.  And we’re not talking about the sexual abuse that has become so synonymous with religious leaders, we’re talking about the actual practice of teaching religion to children.

The apologists like to sweep this under the rug.  When they address a crowd of hostile atheists, they downplay the literalism of the bible.  They pretend that religious people all look at it like a divinely inspired-Aesop’s Fables.  They like to pretend that Christians don’t treat the bible as being 100% accurate.  But when we’re not looking, that’s exactly what they’re teaching their kids.

I recall a field trip I took in 3rd grade where my class was presented with a human skeleton and asked if we could determine whether it was the skeleton of a man or a woman.  Without exception, every kid in my class immediately took to counting the ribs.  Until then, there was no difference between the authority of a religious figure and a secular teacher.  They were both grown-ups who told us things with authority.  They were both people who our parents told us we should listen to and respect.  How were we to know that one source was sound and the other bullshit?

But when all the little Christian Twitter trolls pop up to give us atheists the smack-down we so richly deserve, they have to answer for shit like this.  When a kid gets really, really interested in science she or he might learn something that will aid them for the rest of their lives.  But when a kid gets really, really interested in religion, she or he might do this:

Belittling Christians

April 2, 2013 35 comments

by Noah Lugeons

Sometimes people say, “Noah, you belittle Christians a lot.”

And I respond, “Yeah, I do my best.”

So no, I’ll be offering no apology for it here or anywhere else in the foreseeable future.  When people point out that I belittle Christians, I respond the same way that an Olympic sprinter would respond if somebody asked her why she was in such a hurry… After all, that’s kind of the point.

Now, there are those that would say that this is counterproductive.  They say that the caustic brand of atheism I subscribe to is antithetical to the goals of minimizing the role of religion in society.  They present a “circle-the-wagons” mentality that I might inspire if I’m too insulting.  They point out that the more attainable goals of keeping religion out of science class and the courtroom can be hamstrung by the more grandiose goal of stamping out organized religion altogether.

And what’s more, they might be right.  I still don’t care.

My goal as an atheist activist is to marginalize religion.  I work toward a world where anybody who believes in something without evidence is embarrassed to admit it in public.  I want reason by way of shame.

I think it’s a sad commentary on our culture that my unwavering belief that all truth-claims should be subjected to the same scrutiny puts me in the extreme wing of a minority.  That shouldn’t be a bold stance. It should be nearly unthinkable to take any other stance and that’s precisely what I seek.

To be fair, I’ll concede that it’s entirely possible to take that stance without belittling anyone.  A lot of skeptics do yeoman’s work by patiently walking sasquatch hunters, UFOlogists and homeopaths through the ladder of logic without a hint of condescension.  I admire that ability but I do not share it.

And of course, many skeptics are crass and dismissive of nonsense like sasquatch hunters, UFOs and homeopathy.  They don’t bother to spare anyone’s feelings and simply treat it like the demonstrable bullshit that it is.  In the skeptical movement the battle between “soft” and “hard” is a hell of a lot more muted than the one in the atheist movement, but it’s still there.  Some people just insist that the “kill-them-with-kindness” approach is the only valid one.

Many much wiser observers than me have pointed out that there probably isn’t one “valid” approach, so I’m not going to spend any time retreading that ground, but there is something I’d like to offer to the kindness camp.  Sure, it’s an anecdote and can thus be easily dismissed, but I think it’s illustrative of the justification behind the approach that I share with a number of other scathing atheists.

Arrogance is a powerful force.  Those of us who like to think or ourselves as intelligent don’t like to be told we’re stupid.  It’s the only insult that really gets under the skin of some people.  Now, when somebody says, “you disagree with me so you’re stupid” it’s meaningless, but if someone you respect intellectually lumps your beliefs in with a bunch of the other “stupid” ones, that has an impact.

I’m not saying there’s anyone out there that respects me intellectually, but there are a number of learned men and women in both the atheist and skeptical movements who sport intellects that are beyond reproach.  An intellectually arrogant person hearing that his beliefs are stupid from those people will have an effect.

Now sure, some people are arrogant enough to just toss off the insult and say, “what does that ivy-league professor know?”, but those people are all-but unreachable.  But for many if not most intellectually arrogant people, the root of the arrogance was real intelligence.  And there are plenty of intelligent, arrogant people out there that still believe in some really silly stuff.

Those people are vulnerable to the caustic attack.  I know because that’s how I arrived here.  I got to atheism through simple observation and the correct application of logic, but I became a skeptic and (more importantly) a skeptical activist because somebody with an intellect I admire told me I was a dumb-ass.  And what’s more, he didn’t try to cater to my ego by telling me how okay it was to still believe this dumb-ass belief.

Now I know that the research shows that most people are far more inclined to listen to and consider your viewpoint if you’re non-confrontational and I recognize that, generally speaking, this is the optimum approach.  Hell, it’s the one I usually employ when I’m talking to someone in person.  But just because it’s the most widely applicable approach doesn’t mean it’s the only correct one.  A person like myself would never be swayed by it, as they would take the agreeable demeanor as a sign of intellectual uncertainty.  They would toss off anything you said that didn’t crack the armor of their intellectual arrogance and the only way to do that is to be caustic.

My mother told me that if I didn’t have anything nice to say, I shouldn’t say anything.  And a lot of people have told me the same thing since.  I get it.  I disagree.  I feel that it would be intellectually dishonest to say anything nice and it would be socially irresponsible to stay silent.

And if you disagree with my approach, that’s fine.  I strongly encourage you to get involved and run as far in the opposite direction as possible.  We need all the help we can get.  And I believe that we also need all the types of help we can get.

How Religion Makes You an Asshole

April 1, 2013 4 comments

by Noah Lugeons

So I was just listening to episode #108 of the Ardent Atheist podcast.  The episode’s title was “Why Would God Make Cripples” and the exchange that led to that title had me so furious that I had before I even made it home, I was already composing this blog in my head.

First, a bit of background.  The Ardent Atheist is an interview show that brings on a variety of guests, but mostly comedians.  They talk about an array of subjects, but as the name suggests, religion is always on the table.

In this episode, they had two guests, Roy Wood, Jr. and Anthony Ramos, both comedians and both of the wishy-washy, pseudo-religious variety.  Roy confessed to being a Southern Baptist by merit of being born into it and never bothering to discard it once he realized it was bullshit.  Ramos was a little closer to the agnostic camp, though still held out for an afterlife and a higher power.

But during the discussion of his religion, Ramos noted that if/when he got a chance to meet god, he looked forward to punching him/her/it in the face for giving him a degenerative muscle condition that leaves him unable to run and scarcely able to walk at this point in his life.

This led to the obvious question of why a loving god would create crippled people.  You would think this would be a really tough question for a theist to answer, but only if you weren’t familiar with the kind of ramshackle bullshit that counts as an “answer” in the minds of a religious person.

Roy Wood, Jr., who to that point had presented himself as a perfectly reasonable, moral, amiable and funny guy let his religious side out for just a minute to defend his god and did so with a statement that was so deceptively demonic that I’m sure he walked away from it with no idea what an asshole he had been when he uttered it.

“You know, people would make the argument that you’re here to inspire others”

And what’s more, he manages to deliver it with a smug, condescending tone that says, “how dare you question god’s plan for you?”

Consider just how awful a thing to say that really is.  Perhaps god has chosen to torture you for your entire life by teasing you with physical abilities that he knows he will soon rip away from you.  He’s chosen to close doors to you while saddling you with lifelong pain, inconvenience and depression.  He’s chosen to punish you unduly compared to his other children, and what’s more, he did so to inspire others.

He’s god, of course, so he could have reached deep into his infinite quiver of miracles to inspire anybody he cared to inspire, but instead of a subtle miracle or a divine whisper, he chose to condemn you to a life-altering disability.  Your very existence is an afterthought to god, who could miraculously cure you from your degenerative condition at any time, but chooses not to every minute of every day because he needs you to act as a personified Chicken Soup for the Soul.

I doubt that Roy Wood, Jr. is anywhere near the asshole he came across in that brief moment.  In fact, judging by most of the rest of the interview, I’m almost certain that he isn’t.  But it doesn’t matter what kind of person you are.  When you take it upon yourself to defend a notion as logically incoherent as an omnipresent, omniscient, omnipotent and omnibenevolent deity, you almost have no choice but to be a jackass about it.

The frightening thing is that faith blinds you to it entirely.  You could hear Roy getting angry every time someone would start applying logic to his pet superstition and at some point he was psychologically bound to lash out.  At a crippled dude.  Like an asshole.

Granted, this is quite low on the totem pole of what’s wrong with religion, but it’s one of those minor infractions that’s so common that even many atheists don’t notice it.  In fact, I would imagine that many religious folks won’t understand what was wrong with that statement even after reading this post.

And that, in a nutshell, is the biggest problem with religion.  It has the power to blind you to the problems with itself.  And once you’ve crossed that line, it’s pretty hard to tell when you’ve crossed another.

 

 

Start Digging

March 31, 2013 6 comments

by Noah Lugeons

StartDigging

The nature of most religious arguments is doomed from the start.  It amazes me how often I’ll theoretically concede a point just to point out that even then, they’ve done nothing to prove their point.  I will say, in effect, “You’re not right, but even if you were right, you still wouldn’t be right.”

How many religious debates hinge on things that barely crack the 3rd layer of the diagram above?  How often does the would-be apologist fail to even break the surface?  Arguing against evolution, the big bang, the secular root for morality, the existence of this or that miracle… none of this would even make it into the red.

It’s a really indicator of just how soundly we’re winning the debate.  At one time the best we could hope for was to stand in the yellow and argue with the folks in the orange.  Before Darwin, most learned men and women (and how woefully few learned women there were then) had to stand in the red and argue against the yellow.

But as empiricism charges forward, the mental-missionaries find themselves in constant retreat.  When they pick away at tiny nuggets of their own ignorance about evolution or abiogenesis, they’re breaking their pick-axes against the blue.  It’s gotten so bad for them that if they can convince one poor sap to even momentarily doubt evolution, they consider it a victory.  Never mind that this does nothing to prove superstition, theism, religion or their own personal religion.  They’re breaking out the party hats if they can simply convince someone to think perhaps something someone else told them might be flawed.

Going Weekly

March 30, 2013 4 comments

by Noah Lugeons

It’s not a decision I came to lightly, but it was one that seemed inevitable from the start.

I was careful when starting this podcast to avoid biting off more than I could chew.  When we made our first false start years ago, we were trying to produce an hour long, weekly show and I quickly became overwhelmed with all the work that went into it.  So much so, in fact, that we never got the show off the ground.

Granted, there was a lot more wrong the first time around than just shooting for a high level of content.  We also lacked the right equipment, didn’t know how to process sound and had no clue how to produce a podcast.

So when we chose to reboot it, I spent a few months learning the technical stuff before we got going. I also opted to do so with a “dipping-a-toe-in-the-water” approach, starting with a 30 minute, biweekly show.  The last thing I wanted to do was to produce a few subpar episodes and throw in the towel like we did before.  I didn’t really know how hard it would be to fit it in around the rest of my life and I didn’t want to risk promising more than I could deliver.

But truth be told, it was always our intention to eventually make it a weekly show.  I told my wife when we started that I’d give it five episodes and, depending on the response, we’d move it up to once a week.  I arbitrarily picked the number 1000 and said that if we had 1000 downloads after 5 episodes I’d double our schedule.

I’m not really sure where that number came from.  I had no idea what to expect, I had no idea what was typical and I had no idea what was possible, but I figured if we had 200 people willing to listen after 5 episodes, it was worth my while to keep putting a significant portion of my time into it.

Turns out that I massively low-balled the guesstimate.  We had 1000 downloads after 2 episodes and by the time episode 6 was ready to drop we were well over 12,000.  What’s more, the feedback we were getting was almost universally positive and the predominant theme in the feedback was “more please”.

The request came in a number of ways.  Many people feel obligated to dance around the subject a bit when they’re asking somebody who gives them something for free to give them more, but others are far more direct.  Contrast commenter EDT who says, “I’d take more episodes if more were there for the taking” with PyrOphelia’s more forceful approach, “damnit, get off your lazy ass and give me more!”

For the record, when you’re telling someone that you so enjoy their creative endeavor that you wish they’d do twice as much, you don’t have to pussy-foot around it.  I’m flattered and I’m sure I speak for most podcasters when I say that.

Obviously, doubling our workload is an intimidating prospect.  There are plenty of podcasters out there producing a lot more than 30 minutes a week so it’s clearly not unobtainable, but it will require a lot more effort and a little more sacrifice.  My fear, of course, is that the quality of the show could suffer if we find ourselves overtaxed.

We’ve committed to doing the next ten episodes on a weekly schedule, but we do reserve the right to return to a biweekly schedule if we feel that the show is suffering.  I’d much rather give you 30 great minutes once every two weeks than give you a pretty good 30 minutes every week.

That being said, up to this point we’ve been constantly bumping segments and shoring up diatribes just to make room for what we have.  I have a skit we wrote for episode 3 that I’m hoping to squeeze into the end of episode 7.  Heath and I recorded a bit for episode 4 that’s still sitting on my hard drive waiting for a spare 4 minutes in an upcoming episode.  I’ve got interviews lined up for episodes in June and July.  Every week we have to shave three of four good minutes off the program to make the 30 minute limit.

In other words, we’re already producing more content than we’re using without even trying to.  Something tells me we’ll get used to this weekly schedule pretty quickly.

How To Not Believe in God

March 26, 2013 1 comment

by Noah Lugeons

WhyNotBelieve

 

It baffles many atheists when religious folks say things like “I just don’t understand how you can believe in a world without God.”  They’re baffled because they’re quite certain that the theist is familiar with both of the constituent principles involved; god and not believing in something. How can a person who themselves rejects some beliefs be confounded by the notion of rejecting some beliefs?

The problem, of course, is one of cognitive dissonance. They’ve insulated the god-concept so much in their mind that they can’t apply reason to it in the same way that they can to claims of the paranormal or other religions. It sounds like I’m being dismissive, but how else can you possibly explain a person who thinks god has demanded the tip of their penis as a sacrifice laughing at how silly someone else’s beliefs are?

When I was a younger and less experienced atheist, I used to appeal to all the other religions that they didn’t believe in. I was often thwarted by hand-waving explanations of the various interpretations of the one god. It was only much later that I realized that intelligent people who have decided to ignore logic and be theists anyway have to build a hell of a defense around it. So much so that when they see somebody who has embraced the obvious, they don’t even know how we scaled the wall in the first place.

So I offer the chart above as a quick and easy visual aid for any theists that seem confused by your choice to reject all religious myths instead of all but one. And as it turns out, the Redditors love the charts and graphs, so expect to see more of them.

 

Are Atheists Angry at God?

March 24, 2013 11 comments

by Noah Lugeons

AtheistAngerMeme

There are plenty of stereotypes about atheists that piss me off, but among my least favorite is this notion that atheists were driven to disbelief by their “anger at god”.  Screenwriters and religious bigots would love for you to believe that atheists became atheists because god wasn’t there for them in their time of need. They’d love for you to believe that atheism is the byproduct of trauma that we’re all still working through.

But on this subject and many others, Carlin said it best. I became an atheist right around the age of reason. The same can be said of most atheists. Some of us have great stories about our deconversion, but most of us can’t pinpoint a single time or date or significant precursor. We just slowly came to realize that religion was bullshit.

That’s not to say that nobody becomes an atheist after a traumatic event. I’m sure there are plenty of stories of devoutly religious people abandoning their faith after personal tragedies, but to be fair there are also plenty of stories of nominally religious or non-religious people embracing faith after similar events. Either way, these anecdotes are in the minority. Most atheists are atheists because they correctly employ logic.

But if you cut the sentence short and put the question mark two words sooner, the answer is very different, and I think that’s why theists have such an easy time believing the cliche. Atheists are angry. We’re not angry at god, we’re angry at religion, but I can see how it’s difficult for a theist to draw a distinction there. It has to be hard to step completely outside the religious worldview, but if they did, I think they could see fairly easily why pretending to speak for god would piss off people who don’t believe in god.

I don’t know that this is an understanding that some theists can reach, but I offer the Venn-diagram anyway. It’s not as much for them as it is for all the other atheists that are sick and fucking tired of pretentious religious fuck-munches who, upon hearing that they are atheists, respond with a condescendingly ostentatious display of pity and the words, “what happened?”

 

Why Do You Believe?

March 20, 2013 9 comments

by Noah Lugeons

One of my least favorite questions is, “Why are you an atheist?” and it’s nearly identical but more frequent form, “Why don’t you believe in God?”

It’s very tempting to answer “Because he doesn’t exist” and depending on my mood and the identity of the inquisitor, that’s often exactly how I answer.  When somebody accosts me at a subway station to hand me some silly pamphlet I’ll usually say, “No thanks, I’m an atheist.”  And if they pursue it any further, I’ll give them the short, testy answer.

But that’s not always appropriate.  Like everyone else out there, I have a lot of friends, coworkers, family members and acquaintances that are religious and when they ask me why I’m an atheist, it’s usually out of a genuine curiosity and I feel like they deserve more than, “Because there is no Tooth Fairy.”

That is the honest answer, of course.  I can dress it up in the language of politic and say, “Because there is no convincing evidence of the existence of a higher power, nor is there any logical reason to assume one exists in an absence of evidence”, but that doesn’t do much to soften the blow.  The fact is, there is no way (that I’m aware of) to explain it without insulting the believer.  What I’m saying, regardless of what words I choose, is, “I’m an atheist because I’m better at thinking than you.”

I honestly believe that this is why atheists have earned the stereotype of intellectual arrogance.  The reason that one is an atheist is because one properly applied logic to the question of religion.  Atheists are atheists because they thought correctly.  Now how the hell does one explain that to a person who thought incorrectly without sounding pretentious?

The problem, as we all know, is that the question is facing the wrong way.  It’s not for me to explain why I believe the negative proposition.  We both claim A-Y, you just add Z.  If you’re the one adding something, you’re the one with the burden of proof.  But Google-forbid you flip the question on its head and ask them why they believe in God.  You’ll get a laundry list of nonsense that goes on for an hour.  You’ll hear about their personal relationship with Jesus and you’ll hear about the value of faith and tradition and the meaning that religion gives their lives and you’ll want to take a trowel to your eardrums by the time it’s all over.

So how does one tackle this question without coming off as scornful?  More importantly, how does one tackle this question with any persuasive power?

The truth is that I have no idea.  Tact is not one of my strong suits (you may have noticed) and usually I respond with something like, “So how ’bout them Yankees, huh?”  But if somebody is insistent and I can’t avoid delving into it, I usually find something that we can both disagree with.  I’ll ask them if they believe in Bigfoot or Alien abductions or Atlantis or Astrology or the giant diamond in Sam Harris’s backyard  until I find something that we can both agree is bullshit.  Then I’ll ask them why they don’t believe in it and let them make the argument against god for me.

And then, of course, I’ll play devil’s advocate by trying to convince them with all the arguments that are typically offered for religion; “But hunting sasquatches gives meaning to so many people’s lives”, “But how can you discount all those anecdotal accounts?”, “What about people who feel Bigfoot’s presence?”, “What about all the written accounts of Bigfoot over the many decades?”

Granted, I suppose I come off every bit as arrogant and scornful in this tactic, but it redirects the question and at the same time, it deflates all the worst arguments they can offer.  When I then say, “So why do you believe in god?” they have to at least filter their answers through the “would-this-convince-me-there’s-a-bigfoot?” filter.  Even things like “How do you explain the ‘order’ and ‘design’ of the universe?” can easily be answered with “Bigfoot makes noises in the night and there are noises in the night.”  This is the intellectual equivalent of “God makes universes and there’s a universe” and is every bit as convincing if you strip away the veneer of intellectual honesty.

But in the end, as I said, I don’t spend too much time concerned with tactful answers to questions like that.  It’s the question that is pretentious, assuming and arrogant so if I inadvertently insult the person who asks it, perhaps they’ll think twice about asking it next time.

And if it’s somebody that I really don’t want to offend; my mother, for example; I’ll just throw out this caveat: “You’re asking me why I think one of your most cherished beliefs is misguided and silly.  Do you really want me to answer that question?”