The Good Atheist 041

This week, things get heated up when Ryan and I discuss agnosticism! Also join us as we talk about the UN Anti-Blasphamy resolution, as well as the potential execution of two young women in Iran. It’s 40 minutes of good old fashioned debating!

Comments (12)

  • avatar

    Davo

    One of the better shows. I think when the planes hit the towers a lot of people woke the fuck up and saw the danger of religion.
    Some said it was Islam and it was but all religions have that potential. Having said that did you see this article?
    http://www.csmonitor.com/2009/0310/p09s01-coop.html

  • avatar

    c10

    “agnosticism is a weak position.”

    What’s the deal with wanting everyone who labels themselves as “agnostic” to admit they’re actually atheists? I understand your political agenda to make atheism more acceptable in america than it currently is, but the fact is, every person who labels themselves as agnostic are not a member of any particular religion. that in itself should be a victory of sorts for any strong atheist.

    I get into a lot of arguments with aggressive “agnostics” who think they have the mightiest position to hold–being open to possibilities, awaiting evidence for a claim–but they fail to realise that most atheists are in the same boat–agnostic atheists (since atheism and agnosticism aren’t mutually exclusive terms).

  • avatar

    Ptah

    Fractally Wrong:
    The state of being wrong at every conceivable scale of resolution. That is, from a distance, a fractally wrong person’s worldview is incorrect; and furthermore, if you zoom in on any small part of that person’s worldview, that part is just as wrong as the whole worldview.

    Thanks for demonstrating, Jacob.

  • avatar

    Bob

    I hate how everyone thinks an agnostic is someone who sits on the fence. Atheism and Agnosticism are not mutually exclusive. I don’t know that there isn’t a god so I am an Agnostic. I also don’t believe in a god so I am an atheist as well.

  • avatar

    Owen

    Great episode- and as one of those people who spent years outwardly vacillating under the guise of agnosticism whilst inwardly knowing that I was an atheist, Jacob I totally get where you are coming from, and agree that the huge majority of agnostics are probably in the same boat.

    However, the reason for this, which you actually covered through your own personal experience, is to allow our loved ones to adjust to the idea. For people in this situation I think quite a lot of them do actually think about the issue a great deal, but I don’t think we can underestimate how much emotion can get tied up into this question. Even if you know at heart you are atheist, you keep in mind that your parents, your aunts, your grandparents, and sometimes your siblings may all be crushed at the idea and potentially prompted to spend many hours in prayer over the matter (shudder).

    I think part of this is the (incorrect) impression that Atheism is the hard-line stance – closing off the possibility of any supernatural deity-thing, whereas Agnosticism is softer, keeping the doors open. As you can have agnostic theists and agnostic atheists alike, it is the perfect cover for budding athiests-to-be to live under whilst garnering their arguments and rallying their reason.

    It took Prof. Dawkins to wake me out of the slumber of agreeableness, Jacob, for many that person will be you – go for it – but keep in mind that people aren’t necessarily at the point where they wish to estrange their family for what they know is true and right.

  • avatar

    WCLPeter

    I listened to episode forty today at lunch and while I enjoy the show, even considering being a patron, I’ve never felt the compulsion to write in until today. Jacob I have to say that I think what you did to your sister was really assholish of you.

    I get it that, as the show-runner, you’re going to talk about events that happen in your personal life. Your experiences define who you are and the worldview you have. It is what makes you the interesting commentator and host I’ve come to enjoy listening to [Ryan too; and can we have the gay guy come back, he had interesting things to say the last time. Oh yeah, you also need a woman’s perspective as well; atheist guys need to know that all hope isn’t lost and that real women with similar worldviews exist].

    I also get that you’re comfortable with your atheism and you want to share that, and the reasons you became one, with the world. While this is true for you, it doesn’t give you the right to have a lengthy discussion where you “out” your sister as an atheist, even after your comments regarding her religiously minded husband who was okay with her being agnostic but would most likely have a problem with her being an atheist. What gives *you* the right to create a potential strife event in what is probably an otherwise happy marriage by announcing to the your brother in law, and the world, that the person he married isn’t the same person he thought he married?

    Is your zeal to have everyone “pick a side” so great that you’re willing fuck over your sister’s potential future happiness to do it?

  • avatar

    Jacob Fortin

    You make too much of it. The marriage is not threatened. I also find it odd that anyone could feel happier and more secure about one’s belief when no longer tied to the notion of forced agnosticism.

  • avatar

    WCLPeter

    I don’t think you’re making enough of it.

    Even though we both wish it weren’t so, religion is important to people. Many religious followers won’t even consider a person as a potential friend or mate if their religious ideologies are too divergent.

    Now I don’t pretend to know the complete dynamics of your sister’s relationship with her husband. However, from your description in the podcast, I can infer the following:

    * Your brother in law is a religious individual who could tolerate a relationship with an agnostic, but would probably have a problem with an atheist.
    * Your sister informed your brother in law that she was an agnostic, something he could live with.
    * You and your sister had a lengthy conversation one evening where she admitted to being an atheist.

    Now this is all well and good, and had you indicated in your podcast “I was talking to a woman over the weekend about the differences between agnosticism and atheism and blah blah blah…” we wouldn’t even be having this conversation. Hell, you could have even made up a name, it’s not like any of us listeners would have known.

    Yet, despite the knowledge of the relationship dynamic of your sister’s marriage as provided by you, you outed your sister anyway. Did she know when she was talking to you that you were going to use her “confession” for your next show?

    Now I do concede your point that, from a logical standpoint, the difference between agnosticism and atheism is really non-existent. Who knows, your sister and her husband might have a [nudge nudge, wink wink] agreement between them when it comes to religious topics, ie: “Yeah, my wife is an *agnostic* [nudge nudge, wink wink].”

    Or they might not.

    You and your sister had a personal connection where she offered information about herself that she hadn’t even told her husband. You then violated the trust she had placed in you and spread this information to the world, simply to prove to everyone that you were “right”.

    Abusing the connections and trust placed in you by your friends and family, which are important since we atheists don’t have a magical invisible friend to fall back on, for the sole reason of proving your “right” is petty and a really assholish thing to do.

    Also, what the are you trying to say with this sentence?:
    “I also find it odd that anyone could feel happier and more secure about one’s belief when no longer tied to the notion of forced agnosticism.”

  • avatar

    Jacob Fortin

    That’s just it man; your assumptions are all wrong. I don’t feel like having a hypothetical on a situation that you’ve grossly misunderstood. I appreciate what you’re trying to say, and your intentions are noble, but we’re not in Sudan here, so you don’t need to worry about her well being.

  • avatar

    WCLPeter

    You’re right, we don’t live in Sudan. Not that it has anything to do with our conversation here.

    Our conversation is about how you divulged someone’s religious leanings, despite knowing how their significant other would feel about it. It’s not even really about your sister, although it *does* piss me off since you shouldn’t screw over your family that way, it’s about you and your lengthy, often repeated, comments about trust, companionship, making connections and finding one another.

    You say that my assumptions are wrong, I would like to trust and believe you. But seeing as my assumptions are based on comments made in *your* podcast, perhaps you could correct me?

    I don’t need you to divulge personal, private, details. I simply want to understand this from your point of view. If you feel more comfortable sending me an e-mail, please do so.

    Jacob, I like the show. I like yours and Ryan’s style, although you should *really* lay off using so many F-Bombs. Not only do they lose their impact when frequently used, I shouldn’t have to worry about my prim and proper grandma, or four year old niece, walking in while listening to your show.

    What I’m trying to make you understand is that with your having decided to dedicate your life to being a voice for atheism, at least for the foreseeable future, your audience needs to be able to trust your judgment. We need to know you’re going to rise above the petty games played by our religious counterparts to make a point, particularly if you’re asking us to pay you to do it.

    Like it or not, we are a reviled minority Jacob. Numerous opinion polls have shown, time and again, we are the least trusted group of people on the planet and our moral fiber is constantly under attack. Unlike the faithful, where morality is assumed because of their belief, atheists need to constantly prove our ability to be moral human beings. How we treat our family and friends is going to be a large part of that.

  • avatar

    Mandozilla

    Just wondering if this show is available? Just wont download for me.

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