All posts by Emerson Green

CA61 Reformed Epistemology



We discuss Alvin Plantinga’s reformed epistemology, and ask whether belief in god is “properly basic.” We also discuss Cartesian skepticism, the notion of a divine sense or “sensus divinitatis,” and which beliefs should be considered properly basic. We also spend some time on the age-old question of “What is the difference between god and trees?” We discuss various types of trees, and which trees are the most reasonable to believe in, and why I don’t appear to have a sensus ghostatis. 
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CA42 The Argument From Personal Experience could be a supplement to this episode.
. . . . . 

CA60 Christianity vs. Climate Change



Does Christianity, and religion generally, naturally lead to skepticism and apathy towards climate change? We discuss the apocalypticism, otherworldliness, and the just-world belief of Christianity, and their effects on our priorities and beliefs. 

Blinded by Eschatological Light – William Bradford Nichols [Humanist]

Climate Change and Religion (Special Issue) – Journal for the Study of Religion, Nature and Culture [PDF]

Climate Change Skepticism and Denial – Riley Dunlap [PDF]

​​The Politics of Climate Change in the U.S. [Pew Research] 

GOP rep: If climate change is real, God will ‘take care of it’ [TheHill]

Jesus Christ’s Return to Earth [Pew Research]

Predictions and claims for the Second Coming of Christ [wiki]

Trump will start the end of the world, claim Evangelicals who support him [Newsweek] 

Charles MacKay – Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds [PDF]

Nietzsche and the Other World [YouTube] 

Philosophize This – Nietzsche and Otherworldliness [YouTube]

Potholer54 – Climate Change Playlist [YouTube]

. . . . . 

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. . . . . 

Though this episode focuses on the religious contribution to climate denial, that focus shouldn’t obscure the political and economic causes. My position is that Christianity, by its very nature, is fertile soil for climate denial, and that it makes the potential destruction of human life on earth seem like no big deal. The religion, by its various doctrines and dogmas, naturally leads to apathy, and to disbelief towards anything like climate change. However, I think climate change and our insane reaction to it so far is first and foremost a result of our political and economic system. You can’t disentangle religion from our political and economic system, and it deserves to be singled out because it does play a consequential role in the story that’s too often overlooked. If we weren’t so religious, I think we would be in significantly better shape regarding climate change. 

“Dark Money” Funds Climate Change Denial Effort [ScientificAmerican]

Following the Money that Undermines Climate Science [NYT] 


CA59 Irreducible Complexity II



Having discussed the basic problems with irreducible complexity, I wanted to examine a paper published in the journal Protein Science that has been cited by the Discovery Institute as supportive of irreducible complexity and design. In reality, this paper is an incredible self-own and accomplishes the exact opposite of what the DiscoTute claims.
We also discuss Behe’s persistent misunderstanding of exaptation and natural selection, and read a defense of the notion of irreducible complexity.
I heavily relied on the work of biologist Kenneth Miller, and specifically Ed Brayton’s 2009 interview of Kenneth Miller, which was broadcasted on the Reasonable Doubts podcast. Here’s the link to that interview: https://player.fm/series/reasonabledoubtspodcast/rd33darwindaywithedbraytonandkenmiller
Some resources on natural selection:
. . . . .
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CA58 NDEs pt. II



Today we continue our discussion of near-death experiences. The debate over how to interpret NDEs, on some level, is an argument over substance dualism. As best we can tell, you do not have a brain — you are a brain. The way believers want to interpret these experiences hinges on a particular understanding of mind and body — one that happens to be completely at odds with science.
. . . . .

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CA57 NDEs (Near-Death Experiences) pt. I



Near-Death Experiences (NDEs) have received much attention in recent years. Are they evidence of an afterlife or merely evidence of our fear of death?

*UPDATE* A version of the out-of-body experiment I mentioned around 13:00 has been run. The results were negative. Unique photos were placed on high shelves, and not a single person was able to report what was on the shelves. The researchers brushed these unwelcome results under the rug, despite the fact that this part of the study was emphasized when the project was announced years earlier. Here are the results, and here’s a discussion of those results from Steven Novella. We’ll be discussing this study in Part II. 🙂

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. . . . .

Christopher Hitchens and Sam Harris — Afterlife Debate [YouTube]

Sean Carroll and Steven Novella vs. Eben Alexander and Raymond Moody — Intelligence Squared Debate [YouTube]

Neurologica — Steven Novella’s Excellent Blog [Neurologica]

DMT and NDEs [Wired]

HowStuffWorks – NDEs [HowStuffWorks]

Why People Have OBEs [Atlantic]

Susan Blackmore — NDEs [The Guardian]


CA56 The Flat Earth and Creationism



There seems to be significant overlap between the flat earth and young earth communities. One explanation for this is that those with poor judgement and critical faculties are drawn into multiple conspiracies, hoaxes, and pseudo-scientific beliefs. However, the connection between flat-eartherism and young-eartherism runs much deeper than that. The history reveals the Biblical roots of the modern flat earth movement, and the parallels between flat-eartherism and young-eartherism are striking. We discuss the literalist origins of flat earth belief, and the two Christian founders of the modern flat earth movement — Samuel Rowbotham and Elizabeth Blount — who took the Bible at its word.
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. . .

CA55 Separation of Church and State



We discuss secularism, liberalism, and the wall of separation between church and state. Secularism, in a political context, is the principle of separating religious institutions and government, and it’s the best way – maybe the only way – to guarantee freedom of belief. Secularism is the only serious game in town for anyone trying to ensure freedom of religion.
By the way, did you know it never says the words “wall of separation between church and state” in the Constitution? I’ve been listening to a lot of David Barton lately.
Secularism [wiki]
JFK and Catholicism [JFK Library]
. . . . .
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I made this kinda last minute, hope that doesn’t show too much. I thought July 4th was a nice excuse to talk a little about secularism.
Happy Independence Day to all the American listeners! And to all the non-American listeners…America, Fuck Yeah

CA54 Three Things Christians Should Stop Saying



“You were never a true Christian.”  “Love the sinner, hate the sin.” “It’s not a religion, it’s a relationship.”

Atheists Before Darwin [AtheistRepublic]

No True Scotsman [YourLogicalFallacyIs] 

Michael Gungor Interview [Nomad] 

(I can’t find the one I heard a year or two ago, which was just Michael without his wife. You can read more about him on Patheos here)

Origins of “Love the sinner, hate the sin” [Catholic] 

“It’s not a religion, it’s a relationship” – Noah Lugeons and Heath Enwright [YouTube] 

I hate religion, and Jesus too – Amazing Atheist [YouTube] 

Why I Hate Religion, But Love Jesus – Jefferson Bethke [YouTube] 

Matt Dillahunty – Appeals to Personal Experience [YouTube] 

End religious tax exemptions, get $80 billion a year [BigThink] 

. . . . . 

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CA53 Darwin Devolves (pt. II)



We continue our discussion of Michael Behe’s latest case for intelligent design. Not only does his “First Rule of Adaptive Evolution” betray his lack of understanding of natural selection, it also conflicts with empirical data. In his attempt to respond to these empirical difficulties, he creates even more problems for himself. We also discuss the creationist fixation on “randomness” in evolution and a naturalistic universe.
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. . .
Behes 2010 Paper [Quarterly Review of Biology]

CA52 Darwin Devolves: Michael Behe’s Case for Intelligent Design (pt. I)



Michael Behe recently published his latest case against naturalistic evolution and in favor of intelligent design: Darwin Devolves. Behe also authored Darwin’s Black Box, a creationist favorite, coined the term “irreducible complexity,” and was a key part of the famous Kitzmiller v. Dover trial in Pennsylvania. He’s also a senior fellow at the Discovery Institute, a conservative think-tank that engineered the “Teach the Controversy” campaign aimed at smuggling creationism into biology education.

In his latest book, he argues that natural selection causes “devolution,” not evolution; and that random mutations will almost never “build or create anything at the genetic level.” Natural processes are unable, he argues, to generate the adaptive gains of genetic function that would be required to explain macroevolution or the biological complexity we observe.

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. . .

Michael Behe and Eric Metaxes – Darwin Devolves [YouTube]

Michael Behe – Darwin Devolves Summary [YouTube]

All of Behe’s Responses to Criticism [DarwinDevolves]

Richard Lenski – Does Behe’s “First Rule” Really Show That Evolutionary Biology has a Big Problem? [TelliamedRevisited]

Richard Lenski – On Damaged Genes and Polar Bears[TelliamedRevisited]

Jerry Coyne – Intelligent Design Gets Even Dumber [WaPo]

Nathan Lents – Behe’s Last Stand [Skeptic]

Nathan Lents et al. Criticize Darwin Devolves [ScienceMag]

Behe Summarizes “Central argument of the book” [EvolutionNews]

Jerry Coyne Responds to Behe’s EN Post [Whyevolutionistrue]

Behe’s Colleagues Criticize Darwin Devolves – Gregory Lang, Amber Rice [Wiley Online Library]

Behe’s 2010 Paper [Quarterly Review of Biology]

Jerry Coyne’s Response to Behe’s 2010 Paper [Whyevolutionistrue]

Darwin Devolves – Michael Behe [Amazon]


CA51 Irreducible Complexity



Irreducible complexity (IC) has become one of the most popular arguments in favor of intelligent design, if not the most popular. The biochemist and ID proponent Michael Behe coined the term in his book Darwin’s Black Box, bringing the notion of IC to prominence. Certain biological systems, the argument goes, cannot have evolved by small changes through natural selection. If it could be demonstrated that there are irreducibly complex structures in nature, we would have a serious challenge to evolution by natural selection. Darwin wrote, “If it could be demonstrated that any complex organ existed, which could not possibly have been formed by numerous, successive, slight modifications, my theory would absolutely break down.” However, Darwin’s next sentence was, “But I can find out no such case.” Not only has no such case been found out, there are deeper conceptual problems with irreducible complexity that we’ll explore.

I have an episode forthcoming on Darwin Devolves, Behe’s new book, but it was necessary to talk about IC first. I would also plug Richard Dawkins’s books if you’re looking to inoculate yourself against creationist nonsense generally. Climbing Mount Improbable, which came out in 1996, and The Blind Watchmaker, which came out in 1986, are both decisive smackdowns of the concept of intelligent design generally and IC specifically, since neither of those ideas are actually new; and the God Delusion deals with those subjects the most directly.

Though the term ‘irreducible complexity’ was coined by Behe in 1996, the underlying idea is an old and familiar one. As P.Z. Myers aptly explained, the creationist argument is and always has been some version of: “‘Complexity, complexity, complexity complexity. Oh look, there’s a pathway — it’s very complicated. Complexity! Complexity, complexity complexity — complexity. And did you know that cells are really, really complicated? But we’re not done — complexity! Complexity (complexity complexity). And you’re gonna be blown away by the bacterial flagellum — it’s like a little machine! And it’s really, really complicated! Complexity-complexity complexity. Complexity. We need more cells, they’re really complicated. You just get blown away by these things, they are just so amazingly complicated. Complexity. Therefore; design.’ You’ve heard it all now.”

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. . .

Irreducible Complexity [wiki]

Nathan Lents – Darwin Devolves [Science Mag]

Exaptation 101 [LiveScience]

Irreducible Complexity – Rationality Rules [YouTube]

Francis Collins – The Language of God [Amazon]

Kenneth Miller – Finding Darwin’s God [Amazon]

Richard Dawkins – Climbing Mount Improbable [Amazon]

Richard Dawkins – The Blind Watchmaker [Amazon]

Richard Dawkins – The God Delusion [Amazon]

Michael Behe – Darwin’s Black Box [Amazon]

Homunculus Argument [wiki]


CA50 “If there’s no god, why not rape and murder?”



We discuss the moral argument for god’s existence, religious fictionalism, anti-theism, 20th century atrocities, and being good without god.

The discussion of Craig’s moral argument isn’t a comprehensive treatment, but I had to get him in there if we were going to address the question posed in the title. Craig has stated that on naturalism, there’s no reason to not literally eat our young, so I thought he should be included.

“We get our morality from our parents, peers, mentors, teachers, books, and culture, and we listen to that still small voice within—our moral conscience. Morality is in our nature. We are moral beings, with real moral emotions that we can reason about.” – Michael Shermer

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. . .

William Lane Craig – objective morality [YouTube]

Hitchens on anti-theism [YouTube]

Hitchens on faith-based morality [YouTube]

Hitchens on innate morality [YouTube]

Penn Jillette on rape and murder [YouTube]

Tales of the Hasidim (source of Jewish story about atheists) [Wiki] 

Slavoj Žižek – “If there is a god, everything is permitted.” [YouTube]


CA49 Science vs. the Supernatural: the Failure of NOMA and the Triumph of Naturalism



The biologist Stephen J. Gould proposed a solution to the apparent friction between religion and science: rather than being in outright conflict, science and religion each preside over distinct, non-overlapping magisteria (NOMA). Science can tell us nothing of the supernatural, and religion can only give us values, meaning, morality, and purpose. We discuss the utter failure of this conciliatory approach and point out the obvious: there is a zero-sum conflict between science and religion. We also discuss Carl Sagan’s garage-dwelling dragon, Bayesian reasoning, the triumph of naturalism, the definition of supernatural, the one-sided function of NOMA, and the inseparability of what is and what matters.

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​​. . .

​​Sean Carroll – The Case for Naturalism [YouTube]​​
Stephen Jay Gould on NOMA [SJG Archive]​​​​NOMA [Rationalwiki]

NOMA [Conservapedia – the only encyclopedia I trust]

Evolution [Pew]

Evolution II [Pew]

Catholic Church Admits Galileo was Right [New Scientist]

Carl Sagan – The Demon Haunted World [Amazon]

The Dragon in my Garage – Reading [YouTube]

Bart Ehrman – Anachronistic Camels [EhrmanBlog]

The Case for Religious Studies – William Gruen [InsideHigherEd]
​​
​​Sam Harris – Religions are failed sciences [YouTube]

Jerry Coyne – NOMA [Whyevolutionistrue]
​​Noah Lugeons – NOMA Diatribe [YouTube]

TMM – NOMA [YouTube]


CA48 William Lane Craig’s Four Facts about the Resurrection



“Any responsible historian, then, who seeks to give an account of the matter, must deal with these four independently established facts.” William Lane Craig has four non-negotiable, “established facts” that we apparently need to explain as non-believers.

(1) Jesus was buried by Joseph of Arimathea in the tomb.

(2) On the Sunday following his crucifixion, Jesus’ tomb was found empty by a group of his women followers.

(3) On different occasions and under various circumstances different individuals and groups of people experienced appearances of Jesus alive from the dead.

(4) The original disciples suddenly and sincerely came to believe that Jesus was risen from the dead despite their having every predisposition to the contrary.

All four of these claims are possible to dispute. In fact, they’re not that hard to cast doubt on. But does it even matter? These four facts don’t go a long way. If we grant all four of Craig’s facts for the sake of argument, a resurrection is not the best explanation for them.
​​I assume a certain level of background knowledge about the resurrection today; and if I didn’t say it in this episode, it’s probably somewhere in CA24-26. Check those out for some more Easter stuff that wasn’t covered today 🙂

I primarily worked off the transcript of Bart Ehrman’s Debate with William Lane Craig on the Resurrection. I also occasionally referenced my notes from Ehrman’s work, usually from How Jesus Became God.

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​​CA47 Ten Contradictions in the Bible



If god cannot err, and the Bible is the word of god, shouldn’t we expect the Bible to be inerrant? And yet, we can find plenty of examples of the Bible making mistakes and even contradicting itself, and this would seem to imply that the Bible is not the word of god. Apologists have answered that the “original text” of the Bible has no errors, even if our passed-down manuscripts have a few. Of course, we have no access to this “original Bible” so their claim is unfalsifiable. Additionally, the presence of errors means that god, if he exists, doesn’t care very much about the contents of the Bible. Which is more likely: that god created a perfect word and didn’t care to preserve it? Or that god just didn’t have anything to do with the Bible? God easily could have made our Bibles inerrant; in fact, it’s what we would expect. This tells us something important about how much god, if he exists, cares about what’s in the Bible.

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​​. . . . .
​​
​​The Big Book of Bible Difficulties [Amazon]

Bart Ehrman with Sam Harris [YouTube]

Self-Contradictions of the Bible – William Henry Burr [PDF link]

​​Matt Dillahunty – Primer on Scriptural Contradictions [YouTube]

​​Nonstampcollector – Bible Contradictions Quiz Show [YouTube]


CA46 Is Religion the Opium of the People? — Marx and Religion



“[Religion] is the opium of the people,” said Karl Marx. This remark has been widely quoted and often misunderstood. While religion is an illusion that provides escape from the real world, it emerges from conditions that require illusions. There’s a well-established inverse correlation between societal health and religiosity, lending some credence to Marx’s view. But religion isn’t just an opiate. Marx’s speculations on the social function of religion discuss why it emerges, what it provides to adherents, and how religion prevents the improvement of the material world around us. 
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. . . . . 

Evangelical Christianity — Bonus



What is Evangelical Christianity? Why is anyone surprised that Evangelicals love the president? We discuss the characteristics of Evangelical Christianity, speculate about its future, and wonder how everyone isn’t an anti-theist at this point.

Eviction – Whalers [YouTube]

Secular Talk – Franklin Graham [YouTube]

Robert Wright Show – Sarah Posner [YouTube]

Chapo Trap House [iTunes]

Matt Walsh – Why Christianity Is Declining [YouTube]

Michael Shermer – The Moral Arc [YouTube]

The best anti-Evangelical tract in my opinion is Letter To A Christian Nation by Sam Harris. Definitely check it out if you’ve never read it.


CA45 Heaven, pt. II



We discuss how we’re supposed to get to heaven in the first place, substance dualism, emergence, the population demographics of heaven, religious epistemology, and dying as a naturalist. 

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Lofi 1 and Lofi 2

DarkMatter2525 — The Afterlife is meaningless without an Afterafterlife [YouTube]

The Big Picture: On the Origins of Life, Meaning, and the Universe Itself — Sean Carroll [Amazon]

Valorie Tarico on Heaven [Salon]

Greg S. Paul on Abortion and Heaven [PDF]

On dying as a naturalist — The Five Invitations [Waking Up] 


CA44 Heaven, pt. I



We discuss the possibility of god tinkering with our natures after death, free will in heaven, Satan, and god’s bizarre sense of justice.
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CA43 Prophecy and the Birth of Christ



The Christmas narratives in Matthew and Luke are supposed to contain fulfilled prophecies. However, these two Gospel accounts of Jesus’ birth are not only discrepant, but conflict with our historical knowledge. Biblical prophecies are commonly invoked as compelling evidence for us to consider, so we examine the Christmas story and the prophecies believers claim were fulfilled. 

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. . . . . 

Historian Bart Ehrman’s excellent blog [Ehrmanblog] 

Christmas lofi [YouTube] 

“We have a whole religion based on a woman who really stuck to her story.” -Greg Giraldo 


Russell Conjugation — Bonus



We examine a concept vital to the project of being a skeptic. We’re not perfectly rational beings, and we have to learn about our cognitive biases if we want to overcome them. This was originally released as Patron bonus episode #8.

Russell Conjugation [Edge.org]


CA42 Argument From Personal Experience



One of the weakest and most common arguments encountered, the argument from personal experience comes to us in many forms. Near death experiences, “feeling that there’s something more,” feeling god in worship or prayer, “just knowing,” and dozens of other commonplace mantras from believers all employ the argument from personal experience. Recognizing this kind of reasoning in the wild is extremely useful. 
I recorded parts of this when I was a little under the weather so I apologize for the intermittent frog in my throat.

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. . . . .

Epistemology [Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy]
Epistemology of Religion [Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy]
Reformed Epistemology [Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy]

CA41 Argument From Biblical Confusion



The existence of Biblical, Koranic, or Talmudic confusion is not easy to square with an omni-god who inspired, dictated, or otherwise controlled the contents of a holy book. The Bible is long, vague, contradictory, ambiguous, and has no obvious message. There are about as many interpretations of the Bible as there are readers of the Bible, but why should this be the case? Wouldn’t god want to make her message as clear as possible, especially since these issues are literally life and death? If god is omniscient and omnipotent, she would know exactly how to make her message impossible to misunderstand, leaving no room for misinterpretation or confusion. In her omniscience, she would see all the strife, bloodshed, and damnation that would result from her lack of clarity; if she was omni-benevolent, she would want to avoid this and make her message clear. How is it possible that two sincere believers, approaching god’s word in good faith, can come away with clashing interpretations of god’s message that leaves one of them destined to burn for all eternity?

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. . .

The argument from biblical confusion against Christianity — Jonathan Garner [Philosophy of Religion blog]


CA40 Speaking in Tongues / Glossolalia



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. . .

Glossolalia [Wiki]

Glossolalia [Rational Wiki]

Heather Kavan — Linguistics of Glossolalia [PDF]

William Samarin — Linguistics of Glossolalia [Amazon]

Andrew Newberg — Glossolalia Neuroimaging Study [PDF]

Wired — Glossolalia Neuroimaging Study [Wired]

Glossolalia – OWN [YouTube]

Dan Barker – Tongue Speaking [YouTube]

Anti-Glossolalia Christian Writer [GotQuestions]

Patheos — Non-Christian Glossolalia [Patheos]

Bart Ehrman — Tongue Speaking and Snake Handling in Mark [EhrmanBlog]

Prank Calling Joel Osteen’s Prayer Line [YouTube]

. . .

[Clips of glossolalia]

Crazy hat lady

Totally normal

nothing to see here

Jesus Camp — excerpt

ABC segment


CA39 The Story of God — Conversation with Chris Matheson



Chris Matheson is a screenwriter and author whose credits include Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure, Rapture-palooza, The Story of God, and The Trouble with God.

You can buy The Story of God here and The Trouble with God here [Amazon] 

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“The religion of one age is the literary entertainment of the next.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson


CA38 The Evil God Challenge



Stephen Law’s Evil God presents a challenge to theists: Explain why the hypothesis that there exists an omnipotent, omniscient, and omni-benevolent god should be considered significantly more reasonable than an omnipotent, omniscient, and omni-malevolent god. Many of the most popular arguments for god’s existence (first cause, intelligent design, fine-tuning) don’t give us any indication of god’s moral orientation. So is there any way to render Good God significantly more reasonable to believe in than Evil God?

Sorry again about the cold if it hurt the quality.

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The Evil God Challenge — Stephen Law [Cambridge University Press]

Stephen Law — Evil God Challenge [The Panpsycast]

Evil God Challenge — CFI UK [YouTube]


CA37 The God of Jordan Peterson, Pt. II



We discuss the utility of fiction, the future of Christianity, and psychonautic Shaman biologists.

I’m still getting over a cold, hopefully it didn’t come through that much.

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Jordan Peterson on DNA, psychedelics, ancient humans [YouTube]

Rationality Rules — Atheists Are Not Murderers [YouTube]

Jordan Peterson — Waking Up [YouTube]

Matt Dillahunty / Jordan Peterson Debate [YouTube]

Game Theory — Playlist [YouTube]

Robert Wright — “Non-zero-sumness” [YouTube]

F*ck 12 — Chapo Trap House [YouTube]


CA36 The God of Jordan Peterson, Pt. I



Jordan Peterson is an unusual Christian apologist. Beyond a few of the standard apologetic tropes he spouts (we need god to be moral, atheists aren’t really atheists, Judeo-Christian values created Western civilization, atheism leads to communism), he defends god by adopting a pragmatic conception of truth that allows him to circumvent traditional arguments surrounding god’s existence. He claims to be a Christian, but his Christianity is not one most Christians would recognize. And yet, many have tried to claim him as their own. We explore Peterson’s notion of Jesus, god, and truth, and touch on his belief that atheism is corrosive to civilization and to morality itself.

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Rationality Rules — Peterson’s Truth [YouTube]

Rationality Rules — JP Is Not A Christian [YouTube]

Matt Dillahunty / Jordan Peterson Debate [YouTube]

Bret Weinstein on Metaphorical Truth [YouTube]

Jordan Peterson on Truth — Transliminal Interview [YouTube]

Jordan Peterson on Truth — Waking Up [YouTube]

Jordan Peterson — Gawd [YouTube]


CA35 The Gruesome History of Christian Torture



Christianity has a long and romantic relationship with torture. The primary symbol of the religion is a torture device, God’s chosen method of providing salvation was a grisly act of public torture, and hell has been an object of fascination for Christian artists, writers, and church fathers since the beginning. As the religious scholar Karen King puts it, there are “torturous narratives at Christianity’s foundations.” Obsession with torture, though not unique to Christianity by any means, has always been in Christianity’s DNA. We also discuss the witch craze, the theologically-induced mass hysteria that led to gruesome acts against “witches” for centuries.

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Christopher Hitchens [YouTube]

Skeptical Examination of Torture [YouTube]

The Moral Arc – Michael Shermer [Amazon]

Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds – Charles MacKay [Amazon]

The End of Faith – Sam Harris [Amazon]

Triumph of Christianity – Bart Ehrman [Amazon]


CA34 Women v. Religion — Conversation with Karen Garst



Author Karen Garst joins me to discuss a range of topics, including the high level of religiosity among women, the influence of mythology, abortion, and her upcoming debate at Mythcon. She has recently released a book entitled Women v. Religion: The Case Against Faith and for Freedom, which is the primary subject of our conversation today.

Women v. Religion [Amazon] 

If you’d like to hear Karen speak at Mythcon, you can buy tickets here.

Faithless Feminist Blog

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CA33 Evolutionary Argument Against Naturalism (EAAN)



The discovery of evolution by natural selection arguably did more to reinforce naturalism than any other single discovery in science. However, not everyone agrees that Darwinian evolution was a blow against god. In fact, Alvin Plantinga, a Christian apologist, thinks that you can’t believe both in Darwinism and naturalism simultaneously — they’re incompatible. We discuss his famous argument and also wonder why god is such an incompetent engineer.

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Evolutionary Argument Against Naturalism [wiki]

Alvin Plantinga on EAAN [YouTube]

Warrant and Proper Function – Alvin Plantinga (Excerpt) [Google Books]

rd23 Plantinga Schmantinga [Reasonable Doubts Podcast]

Massimo Pigliucci on EAAN [Rationally Speaking Blog]

List of Cognitive Biases [wiki]

A Critique of Plantinga’s Probabilities in EAAN [PDF]

(I didn’t cover this part of the argument, but I would’ve pointed out that in Plantinga’s Bayesian reasoning, he sets his priors absurdly low.)

Richard Dawkins on Evolution [YouTube]


CA32 Does Christianity Make Sense? — Conversation with Evan Davids



Author Evan Davids joins me to discuss why there is something rather than nothing, evolution, biblical literalism, whether Evan is really an atheist, the Fall, hell, abortion, and other topics.

Christianity No Longer Makes Sense – Evan Davids [Amazon]

EvanDavids.com

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CA31 The Ethics of Abortion



Can abortion be morally justified? We know that Christians generally think it’s abhorrent. But once we’ve left religion behind, how should we draw a conclusion about such a contentious moral issue? Independent moral reasoning is something atheists, naturalists, and skeptics can’t avoid, so we shouldn’t shy away from intra-group discussion about one of the most important moral issues of our time.

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2014 Abortion Data [cdc.gov]

Fetal Pain: A Systematic, Multidisciplinary Review of the Evidence [Journal of the American Medical Association]

Can Fetuses Feel Pain? [British Medical Journal]

Utilitarianism [Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy]

The Impact of Legalized Abortion on Crime — Donohue-Levitt Hypothesis [PDF – Quarterly Journal of Economics]

Freakonomics — Abortion and Crime [Freakonomics]

The Trolley Problem — Massimo Pigliucci [YouTube]

“But the peculiar evil of silencing the expression of an opinion is, that it is robbing the human race; posterity as well as the existing generation; those who dissent from the opinion, still more than those who hold it. If the opinion is right, they are deprived of the opportunity of exchanging error for truth: if wrong, they lose, what is almost as great a benefit, the clearer perception and livelier impression of truth, produced by its collision with error.” — J.S. Mill


CA30 “Western Values Are Based on Judeo-Christian Values”



Is western civilization a product of Judeo-Christian values? Apologists assert that Judeo-Christian values influenced the thinkers of the Renaissance and the Enlightenment so greatly as to deserve credit as the foundation of western values. So even if Judeo-Christian beliefs are entirely untrue, could the mythology could be a useful fiction that created the west as we know it?

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Rationality Rules – Western Civilization is Based on Judeo-Christian Values [YouTube]

Nonstampcollector – Ten Commandments [YouTube]

The Basis of Western Civilization – Jordan Peterson [YouTube]

Western Civilization – Ben Shapiro [YouTube]

Richard Dawkins – Militant Atheism [YouTube]

Ben Shaprio – Ten Commandments [YouTube]

Sam Harris – Ten Commandments [YouTube]

Hitchens on Morality [YouTube]

Stephen Fry on Ten Commandments [YouTube]

Yaron Brook on Judeo-Christian Values [YouTube]

Sam Harris vs. Ben Shapiro [YouTube]

Ben Shapiro vs. Sam Harris — TMM [YouTube]

TMM on Ben Shapiro [YouTube]

Bible Verses on Obeying Governments [KnowingJesus]

The Myth of the Jewish Origins of the Renaissance [PDF]

Bertrand Russell — Why I Am Not a Christian [Amazon]


CA29 Science vs. The Soul



Are we just electrified meat or is there a ghost in the machine? Believers claim that naturalism cannot account for the phenomenal properties of consciousness and tend to hold the position that the mind is more than the biological activity of the brain. We examine the conventional idea of the soul and how it conflicts with science.

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Skeptic’s Guide to the Universe

Steven Novella’s Excellent Blog [NeurologicaBlog]

The Neuroscience of Consciousness — Anil Seth [YouTube]

Consciousness – Anil Seth and Sam Harris [YouTube]

Crash Course Philosophy – Philosophy of Mind [YouTube]

Steven Novella and Sean Carroll – Intelligence Squared [IQ^2]

Causation and Emergence – Sean Carroll [PreposterousUniverse]

Sean Carroll – Zombies and the Hard Problem [Nautilus]

Substance Dualism – QualiaSoup [YouTube]

Richard Feynman – Science [YouTube]

The Interaction Problem – TMM [YouTube]

Mind-Brain Interaction and the Violation of Physical Laws – DL Wilson [PDF]


CA28 State Atheism



Christian apologists, citing a few twentieth-century regimes, often try to conflate atheism and authoritarianism. They ignore the fact that most atheists are secularists and don’t advocate for any form of state atheism. They also ignore the fact that the policies of the atheist states they cite, most frequently North Korea and the Soviet Union, were transparently motivated by a totalitarian desire to control their populations. We discuss secularism, freedom of belief, religious toleration, Christian communism, and separation of church and state.

Part two of the consciousness series is taking a little longer than expected, so I thought I’d continue the atheism and the 20th-century series back from episodes eight and nine.

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Christopher Hitchens on Stalin [YouTube]

Church-State Separation — Christopher Hitchens [YouTube]

Michael Shermer — Intelligence Squared U.S. [YouTube]

The Gulag Archipelago — Alekandr Solzhenitsyn [Amazon]


CA27 Argument from Consciousness



Can consciousness only be explained on a theistic worldview? Christians often appeal to the phenomenon of consciousness and argue that it’s unlikely or impossible on naturalism. We discuss substance dualism, the hard problem of consciousness, identity, intentionality, and the unclear role the material realm plays in theism.

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Christianity No Longer Makes Sense — Evan Davids [Amazon]

Evan Davids’ Official Website

The Neuroscience of Consciousness — Anil Seth [YouTube]

Consciousness – Anil Seth and Sam Harris [YouTube]

Thomas Nagel – What is it like to be a bat? [PDF]

Sean Carroll – Zombies and the Hard Problem [Nautilus]

Crash Course Philosophy – Philosophy of Mind [YouTube]

Rationality Rules – Argument From Consciousness [YouTube]

William Lane Craig on the Soul [YouTube]

Consciousness – Steven Pinker [YouTube]


CA26 The Spread of Christianity



A forbidden religion, originally composed of only a few devoted followers, eventually swept the western world. Believers think that the rise of Christianity was so unusual to suggest it was miraculous, and they argue that the stunning growth and eventual size of their religion is evidence that God really is on their side. We explore the historical causes behind the spread of Christianity and try not to sound condescending as we explain that the popularity of a belief isn’t evidence.

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The Triumph of Christianity: How a Forbidden Religion Swept the World — Bart Ehrman [Amazon]

Bart Ehrman Interview [NPR]

Christopher Hitchens [YouTube]

2015 Religious Demographics [Pew]

How Many Anatomically Modern Humans Have Lived on Earth? [PRB]

Your Logical Fallacy Is…


CA25 “Who Would Die for a Lie?”



Christians claim that the majority of the disciples were martyred for their belief in the resurrection. They were tortured and killed in horrible ways, supposedly for their beliefs. And who would go through that for a lie?

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Tracie Harris — Why Martyrs? [Atheist Experience Blog]

Were the Disciples Martyred? [EhrmanBlog]

Easter Reflection [EhrmanBlog]

Paul’s Execution [MappingTheMartyrs]

Stephen’s Martyr Legend [Acts 6-7]


The Trilemma: Lunatic, Liar, or Lord? — Easter Bonus



Liar, lunatic, or lord? C.S. Lewis says we have to make our choice. Jesus must have been one of these three things, and there are definitely no other options. We also discuss the historical Jesus and clarify a detail from last week’s Easter episode regarding the women’s discovery of the empty tomb.

I hope none of you have to suffer through church today! If you do, try to steal some money out of the plate (don’t get caught).

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“If Jesus Never Called Himself God, How Did He Become One?” [YouTube]

How Jesus Became God — Bart Ehrman [Amazon]

Misquoting Jesus — Bart Ehrman [Amazon]

Trilemma – Matt Dillahunty [YouTube]

Josh McDowell on the Trilemma [YouTube]

C.S. Lewis — Mere Christianity (audio excerpt) [YouTube]

The Ending of Mark [wiki]


CA24 Easter — The Resurrection of Jesus



Today, we discuss the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus, the evidence for the Gospel stories, and what it’s all supposed to mean.

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Oldest Manuscript of 1 Corinthians 15:6 [Wiki]

The Ending of Mark [wiki]

Bart Ehrman on Gospel Eyewitnesses [EhrmanBlog]

Bart Ehrman on the Resurrection [YouTube]

How Jesus Became God — Bart Ehrman [Amazon]

TMM on the Resurrection [YouTube]

Matt Dillahunty on God’s Mysterious Ineptitude [YouTube]

Sam Harris on Jesus’ Miracles [YouTube]

Christopher Hitchens on Vicarious Redemption [YouTube]

Dan Barker on the “Good News” [YouTube]


CA23 “The New Testament is Better”



Once we get past the bloody and bizarre Old Testament, it’s all “Love thy neighbor” and “Help the poor” from there, isn’t it? We’re expected to accept that Jesus was a wise moral teacher and that the New Testament is a valuable document of morals, even if we aren’t believers ourselves. But the goodness of the New Testament isn’t as obvious upon examination, and it’s not entirely clear that it’s even better than the Old Testament. A respectable case can be mounted either way, but even if we decide that the New Testament is an improvement upon the old one, it’s still undeniably evil.

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Letter to a Christian Nation — Sam Harris [Amazon]

Christopher Hitchens on Vicarious Redemption [YouTube]

Nonstampcollector – Modern Christian vs. Jesus [YouTube]

Mere Christianity — C.S. Lewis [Amazon]


CA22 Why We Believe in Gods: The Byproduct Theory of Religion



If naturalism is true, why do so many people believe in god? What is it about human psychology that has made belief in god, in one form or another, the default position for the overwhelming majority of human beings that have ever lived? The theory of religion as a byproduct provides a potential answer. It’s possible that religious ideas are byproducts of normal human psychological modules that evolved for other reasons. Our psychological evolution imbued us with theory of mind, decoupled cognition, agency detection, and other useful functions for social animals. These modules interact and misfire — creating beliefs in souls, an afterlife, and even gods.

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J. Anderson Thomson – American Atheists Lecture [YouTube]

Why We Believe in God(s) – J. Anderson Thomson [Amazon]

Steven Pinker on Byproduct Theory [YouTube]

Michael Shermer on Belief [YouTube]

Paul Bloom on Byproduct Theory [YouTube]

Paul Bloom on Dualism [Edge.org]

Why Would Anyone Believe in God? – Justin Barrett [Amazon]

The Believing Brain – Michael Shermer [Amazon]

Religion Explained: The Evolutionary Origins of Religious Thought – Pascal Boyer [Amazon]


CA21 Divine Hiddenness



Why would God hide? If God wants us to know he exists, he’s not off to a great start. Being invisible, silent, and undetectable in every way isn’t exactly what one would expect from a god who wants you to know the truth. The Bible says, “Seek, and ye shall find,” but not everyone who honestly seeks becomes a Christian, or even a theist. How can this be if God wants us to know he exists, save us from hell, and have a relationship with us?

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Christopher Hitchens on Wishful Thinking [YouTube]

Christopher Hitchens vs. Alister McGrath [YouTube]

The Demon Haunted World [Amazon]

Theoretical BS on Divine Hiddenness [YouTube]


CA20 Pascal’s Wager



What if you’re wrong? Aren’t you afraid of going to hell? Many Christians claim that their belief is the safe bet — they have nothing to lose and everything to gain. We examine Pascal’s Wager and decide if one of the most popular arguments in favor of belief should make us lose as much sleep as Christians seem to think it should.

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Pascal’s Wager [wiki]

Tracie Harris on The Scathing Atheist [YouTube]

Matt Dillahunty on Pascal [YouTube]

Christopher Hitchens on Pascal [YouTube]


CA19 The Euthyphro Dilemma



Are good actions commanded by God because they are good? Or are good actions good because God commands them? We discuss Euthyphro’s Dilemma, the apologists’ favored “third horn” solution, and revisit the Problem of Holiness.

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Euthyphro Dilemma [wiki]

William Lane Craig on Euthyphro [YouTube]

Apologist Matt Slick on Euthyphro [CARM]

TMM on Euthyphro [YouTube]

Hank Green on Divine Command Theory and Meta-Ethics [YouTube]


CA18 Moral Luck and Responsibility (Free Will pt. II)



If humans have no free will, can we assign praise or blame? Is it reasonable to condemn someone as immoral in a deterministic universe? We explore the concept of moral responsibility in a naturalistic world and distinguish between causal and moral responsibility. We also examine the problem of moral luck, which makes a case for determinism and against moral responsibility.

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Moral Luck by Thomas Nagel [PDF]

Compatibilism: Crash Course Philosophy [YouTube]

William Lane Craig on Moral Responsibility [YouTube]

Tumors and Behavior [The Atlantic]


CA17 Free Will and Determinism (pt. I)



Do we really have free will, or are we determined to think and behave as we do? Most Christian worldviews take it on as an assumption, but their conception of free will can’t be justified.

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Hank Green on Determinism [YouTube]

Free Will by Sam Harris [Amazon]

Sam Harris on Free Will [YouTube]

The Gene by Siddhartha Mukherjee [Amazon]

Dan Harris and Sam Harris on Introspection [10% Happier Podcast]

Minnesota Study of Twins Reared Apart [PDF]

Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy


CA16 Is Religion Child Abuse?



There seems to be genuine disagreement within the atheist community over religion and child abuse. We’ll explore the nuances and examine the instances where religion appears to be responsible for child abuse. We’ll also discuss whether the intellectual roots of religious child abuse can be traced back to the Bible and justified therein.

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Atheist Experience on Religion as Child Abuse [YouTube]

Richard Dawkins in a Hell House [YouTube]

Richard Dawkins on Religious Child Abuse [YouTube]

Spare the Rod Article [NYT]

Child Beating Article [HuffPost]

Child Deaths Caused By Medical Denial [MassKids]

Laci Green Sex Ed [YouTube]

Abstinence-Only Sex Ed [Article]

Hitchens on Circumcision [YouTube]

WHO on Circumcision [Article]

Religious Exemptions for Abuse [Pew]


CA15 Faith



We discuss whether faith is a reliable foundation for belief. When arguments fail, believers often say that we just need to have faith. But is faith a valid way of knowing something?

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Matt Dillahunty on Faith

Steven Pinker on Epistemology

Richard Dawkins on Science

Jerry Coyne on Faith

“Living by Faith” (Hymn)


CA14 Creationism’s Greatest Hits — Defending Evolution



We address 20 common objections to evolution, give some evidence supporting the theory, and try to figure out why some Christians have a problem with evolution in the first place.

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Objections (in chronological order)

  1. Evolution is just a theory
  2. Why are there still monkeys?
  3. Why don’t chimpanzees give birth to humans?
  4. You weren’t there!
  5. Microevolution / Macroevolution
  6. Evolution has never been observed
  7. Evolution is unfalsifiable
  8. Genetics conflicts with evolution
  9. Mutations are always harmful
  10. Random chance couldn’t make an organism
  11. 2nd Law of Thermodynamics
  12. The Cambrian Explosion
  13. Missing Links
  14. Carbon Dating
  15. Irreducible Complexity
  16. Bacterial Flagellum
  17. Abiogenesis
  18. DNA is a language
  19. Teach the controversy!
  20. Evolution leads to immorality

Science in the Soul and The Greatest Show on Earth by Richard Dawkins [Amazon]

Finding Darwin’s God by Kenneth Miller [Amazon]

Richard Dawkins with a creationist [YouTube]

Scientific American on Creationism

Michael Russell on Abiogenesis

Popular Science on Abiogenesis

Most Recent Creationist Data on America from Gallup (2017)

TalkOrigins

Evolution FAQ

RationalWiki


CA13 Prayer Studies



Nothing fails like prayer! We examine prayer studies, try to figure out how prayer is supposed to work, and wonder why God is so shy now that everyone has video cameras in their pockets.

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Sean Carroll: From Particles to People


CA12 Argument From Miracles



Believers often point to miracle claims as validations of their religious beliefs. This argument is the basis for other popular apologetics regarding the resurrection of Jesus, the power of prayer, and famous anecdotes of miraculous events, so let’s examine the bare bones of the argument from miracles.

Thank you to everyone who’s been leaving reviews on Facebook and iTunes, I’ve been stunned at the kindness of all of you!

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Rationality Rules on Miracles


The Satanic Panic – CA Halloween Special



Get your pentagrams ready, because today we’re talking about the Satanic Panic, recovered memory, and the spirited debate in the Christian community over whether Jesus approves of Halloween.

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8bit Theme Music for this episode

Elizabeth Loftus on False Memory

Remembering Satan by Lawrence Wright

The Demon-Haunted World by Carl Sagan (pgs. 136-168) was a huge resource for this episode.


CA11 Satan



We discuss the Christian concept of Satan and wonder why he exists in the first place. Why would God make a perfect plan and then create someone whose primary purpose is ruining it? His ways are indeed inscrutable.

Hail Satan!

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Noah Lugeons interviews Chris Matheson

The Scathing Atheist

The Story of God by Chris Matheson

Atheist Experience

Barna Poll on Satan

Christian Apologist on Satan

Magic Tricks by Whalers

Hail Satan!


CA10 “The Old Testament Doesn’t Count”



Christians spend a lot of energy distancing themselves from the horrors of the Old Testament. Apologists often try to justify their diminishing or dismissing of the Old Testament’s authority by employing Covenant theology. We explore that idea along with other common arguments Christians use to ignore the bad parts of the Old Testament.

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Matt Dillahunty on the Old Testament


CA09 Darwinism, Eugenics, and Hitler



Does atheism inevitably lead to social Darwinism? Are atheists implicated in Nazi eugenics? We continue our discussion from last week’s episode into the territory of Darwinism, eugenics, Hitler, and whether atheists are able to morally condemn the events of the 20th century.

[Part II of II]

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CA08 Atheism and 20th Century Atrocities



Hitler! Stalin! Mao! Any lengthy debate with a Christian apologist seems to lead to those names. The idea, either stated explicitly or implicitly, is that atheism inevitably leads to war, genocide, and the crumbling of society. So were the bloody atrocities of the 20th century the logical result of the spread of atheism? Many Christian apologists seem to think that the death of God lead to the cruelties of the last century, but this idea doesn’t hold up to the slightest bit of scrutiny.

[Part I of II]

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CA07 Mother Teresa



Mother Teresa’s work greatly increased the amount of poverty and suffering in the world and her reputation deserves to be exposed for what it is: a myth. She was not, by her own admission, a humanitarian who worked to alleviate poverty. She thought suffering was good for people and had no interest in alleviating poverty — pain brings one closer to Jesus. She worked tirelessly to impose misogynistic laws banning divorce, contraceptives, and abortions everywhere she could. She had warm relations with genocidal maniacs like the Duvalier family in Haiti, she took money stolen from the elderly and didn’t return it, she sold modern versions of indulgences, and she took donations meant to help the poor and used it to build convents instead.

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CA06 Problem of Holiness



What does it mean when we say that God is holy or morally good? Does it mean anything at all? We take a look at Jeremy Beahan’s Problem of Holiness and consider the possibility that God’s goodness may actually be meaningless.

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Jeremy Beahan on the Problem of Holiness


CA05 Biblical Prophecies



Many believers argue that Biblical prophecies have been fulfilled and that this needs to be accounted for. But how persuasive are these Biblical prophecies? And what would a prophecy look like if it was made by God? We take a look at the celebrated Ezekiel 26 prophecy, as well as prophecies regarding Jesus.

I also want to thank Noah Lugeons of the Scathing Atheist for giving me a shout out on their show, which lead to an influx of new listeners to Counter Apologetics. Hi new listeners! Unfortunately, I’m recording ahead of schedule and I won’t be able to give a proper thanks until next week. Until then, please support the incredible multipodcasting efforts of Noah, Heath, Eli, and Lucinda. They’re amazing.

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CA04 Hell



According to Pew data, 82% of America’s Evangelicals believe in Hell. However, the traditional conception of Hell falls apart under any amount of scrutiny and reveals the haphazard, man-made nature of the idea.

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CA03 Problem of Evil



The Problem of Evil! I discuss the most common defense, free will. Also, is heaven is full of lobotomized robots? I also discuss hell, animal suffering, eye burrowing insects, and why the logical POE maybe isn’t so bad after all.

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CA02 Abortion and the Afterlife



Do aborted fetuses go to heaven? If the answer is yes, then abortion might be the only guaranteed path to Heaven. Since the way to Heaven is straight and narrow and most won’t make it, abortion may not be the evil that many Christians believe it is. If you take Christianity seriously, isn’t abortion the most loving decision you could make for the child?

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CA01 The Fine-Tuning Argument



The Fine Tuning Argument is considered by many to be the best argument apologists have on offer. So in the spirit of attacking theism at its best, here are a few reasons I don’t accept the Fine-Tuning Argument presented by the religious.

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Sean Carroll Debate

The Big Picture