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This Week: Sam Hasn't Read Calvin & Hobbes

Anti-Atheist Bigotry

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Join Deanna, Mike, Sam and guest-host Greta Christina as we talk about bigotry as applied to atheism and atheists.

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About the Author: Sam Mulvey

Sam Mulvey is a producer and the technical brain behind Ask an Atheist. He is a collector of vinegar varieties, vintage computers, antique radios, and propaganda.

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Stan Brooks August 7, 2011 at 3:41 pm

I really loved the analogy of the talking defroster, it really makes the point well. I’ve often talked about GWB saying that he prayed and talked to god about the invasion of Iraq and god told him to invade, and people said things like how happy they were to have a man of faith as our president. However, if GWB had instead said that he talked to Mickey Mouse and MM had told him the same things we hopefully would have recognized that he was in fact mentally ill, but he gets a pass because he was talking to his imaginary friend. Thanks for the great conversation point.

Durakken August 7, 2011 at 11:07 pm

The Big bang thing is wrong.

The Big Bang denotes the current form of our “universe” and not that there was nothing “before” the big bang.

Before the big bang is odd cuz time the way we think of it generally didn’t exist. However it’s likely other forms of time did.

Also the big bang also only refers to our universe/dimmension/membrane and not the entirety of the universe/cosmos/reality.

Mike Gillis August 7, 2011 at 11:28 pm


We may have not been clear about that, but we know this. The Big Bang is not “something from nothing” as the creationists mischaracterize it.

It’s the creation of the universe AS IT’S CURRENTLY CONSTITUTED. The matter is all the same, but in a new arrangement.

Sam August 8, 2011 at 1:06 am

Actually, I’d like to see evidence for Durakken’s claims. Sounds interesting.

Durakken August 8, 2011 at 2:33 am

Which claim?

Big Bang cosmology has long been not thought of as the “beginning” of the universe. It’s always been thought of as the point where our science breaks down and where our understanding no longer quite works.

As far as time in a different form is likely the case calculations only really work when you think in an 11 dimensional universe where there is 3 directions of physical movement followed by a axis of change that is then a single point in the next set.

the big bang as the starting point of “our” universe is how science is coming to understand cosmology that even if there is only one universe as in 1 timeline and the 11 dimensional model isn’t right the universe WORKS as if there is more than 1 timeline/universe/dimension. This is shown with quantum computing.

The point is though that there seems to be someone misunderstanding the science involved (probably the guy going for the PhD sadly). There is no science saying that the universe came about ex nihilo…the science argues that the universe (all of it) existed always and the rules of physics as we know them now came into being after the big bang point, which means him saying there can be no god because there was nothing before the big bang is absurd and disconcerting that someone that doesn’t understand this is so far in their education about this stuff.

Magenta August 8, 2011 at 1:43 pm

There is NO Mike vs. Joel debate. Everyone knows that there is only one true Gizmonics Temp. Joel be thy name. But… if there were a spectrum I’d be a 6 toward the Joel side.

Silent Bob August 10, 2011 at 9:48 pm

I hope my comment isn’t too crass.

But I noticed when you were talking about the death of your friend, all three presenters used terms like “passed away” and “moved on” – terms that, of course, refer to the transition to an afterlife.

Why not just say he died? Is that somehow offensive?

JoeCascio August 19, 2011 at 8:46 am

It’s so nice to hear some cogent thoughts and observations and not the usual ranting. As People of Reason, we need to inform and provoke thought and curiosity, not just engage in shock and confrontation. As you pointed out in the “coming out is difficult” section, we need to stop the interminable arguing with theists about whether or not there are gods or dueling Bible quotations and get on with explaining who we are and why we think what we do. (Notice I didn’t say ‘believe’ there 🙂

Joe Knapka August 23, 2011 at 12:30 pm

Great show!

The question I’d ask about free will is, “How could will or moral responsibility exist WITHOUT physical cause and effect?” In other words, IF my will is somehow disconnected from physical cause and effect, but is instead resident in some immaterial soul; THEN how could it ever make sense to punish my physical being for crimes “willfully” committed?

My (tentative) answer to this is: of course punishment DOESN’T make sense in a dualist universe. But in a purely physical universe, it’s all computation, physically realized; and we have “free will” to the extent that our actions are the consequences of computations that our minds perform on its inputs (and stored knowledge). And to precisely the same extent, we are responsible for our actions. Of course, a lot of our computations are performed unconsciously and are more or less cryptic to us. On a physicalist account, this does not absolve us of responsibility! In fact, I’d claim that an attempt to understand oneself, to uncover and understand those cryptic motivations and computations, is a moral necessity in a purely physical universe.


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