Response to Atheist Logic February 24, 2008

Response to Atheist Logic

I’ll admit I forwarded through parts of the 11-minute clip (the Oscars are on…), but the ending is priceless.

After a long drawn-out discussion (?) over the meaningless theistic claim that atheists need just as much faith not to believe in God, Matt Dillahunty (host of the Atheist Experience cable access show) gets a fantastic response from the theist.

The relevant part begins at 10:50, but if you’re short on time, you may want to begin at 10:00 just to get a taste of the exchange:

[tags]atheist, atheism[/tags]

Browse Our Archives

What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • The comment was just a paraphrase of “turn the other cheek” and “do good to those who hate you,” right?

  • cautious


  • Renacier

    Sucker punches for Jesus!

  • Tim Van Haitsma

    Gotta admit I didn’t see that one coming. Sucka punched at the end.

  • QrazyQat

    Sadly typical.

  • AV

    I can’t access the YouTube from work, but I gather from the comments above that you’re referring to a guy who threatened to go down to the TV studio and punch Dilahunty’s “fat face.” I remember listening to the podcast of this episode, and there was a caller, previous to the caller featured in the YouTube, who made precisely the same threat in precisely the same terms, prompting Dilahunty to ask whether that’s the sort of thing Jesus would do. Given that the “sucker punch” was so out of keeping with the tone of the conversation featured in the YouTube, is it possible that the second caller was only joking when he made his threat?

  • I like that argument about Pluto’s orbit–I’m gonna have to use that one.

    AV–I didn’t see/hear the previous show, but I definitely interpreted the caller’s threat at the end of this to be a joke, and it looks like so did the host.

  • What a wonderful video. The host gave a very clear, concise answer to each of the caller’s questions. And no, I don’t think the ending is typical.

  • Wow, these are some really good arguments. My question gets to the basis of the knowledge the hosts have. How can they be certain that they have rational processes with which to understand reality? I love science as well but why does science have these logical, repeatable, laws? How did these laws come into existence and how is it that we can trust our perception of these laws in action? If we are truly matter in motion how can we have any certainty regarding the external veracity of our observations and the suppositions we make from them? I’m not advocating complete irrationality here but how do we know that we understand what we are seeing?

    The other issue I’m wrestling with is why this matters to atheists at all. If there is no God or lawgiver then what is there beyond matter? If matter is all we have then what consequence do my actions have? As a point of inquiry, If I’m just matter how do I explain thought at all? Is it the mistake of evolution? Can there be free will in a system based solely on organized chemical reactions? Are we determined to be atheist/Christian/Hindu by our DNA and that of those around us? Whoa…I’ve got a lot of thinking to do. I picked up a copy of The God Delusion this week, maybe I’ll find some answers to my questions in there.

    If you want to continue in this thread I’d love to have you over to my blog Now, be advised, It’s a blog dedicated to getting Christians to engage in these types of discussions with rationality and love (can an atheist believe in love?…no really, that’s a serious question for me)

    Thanks for the stimulation and God Bless you:)


  • Andrew

    AV- It did sound like the guy was doing an impression, as his voice changed noticebly. Either he was very emotional… unlikely considering the tone of the discussion… or you’re right.

  • I dunno.. I mean.. I don’t know who he was doing an impression of, or what humorous point he was making. I don’t deny that he could have been joking, and I certainly don’t think it’s typical of Christians, but I’m not sure I think it was entirely a joke, and in addition, even though the host laughed, I’m not sure he took it as a joke either, since he cut it off.

    If it hadn’t been for the “fat head” part, I might think he was about to make a point about relativism or something, but it seems strange that he would say it in that way if that’s the case.

  • Peter

    I love science as well but why does science have these logical, repeatable, laws? How did these laws come into existence and how is it that we can trust our perception of these laws in action? If we are truly matter in motion how can we have any certainty regarding the external veracity

    You could just keep going: How do I know this is really my house? How do I know I like fruit rollups? How do I know I’m typing right now?

    You could ask these questions, and a gazillion more, for the rest of your life. Have fun.

    For me, it is practical and simple: Which claim to truth has the best evidence vs. which is more likely based on human imagination.

    Of course, my perceived reality could just be The Matrix. At which point, I’d still want a strong, reliable, reproducable method to understand the virtual reality that is my life. And… tah duh… same thing: best evidence, best logic, best method to obtain an understanding.

  • Mriana

    I listened to the whole episode on iPod and really enjoyed it. It was really great and one of the best I think. He got me thinking.

  • Tom


    you hit on a big question of “faith” for atheism that others have concerns about. When my agnostic cousin told me he thought I had too much faith NOT to believe in a god, I told him this: I have “faith” there is no god in the same way I have “faith” that this world exists. Does this world exist? Are my experiences real? I don’t know, but I believe they are, because if I didn’t I wouldn’t be here talking to you right now because I’d not be able to survive in it.

    Hope this helps some people

  • Karen

    An excellent argument made by the host, and the first time I have understood why strong atheists make the claim to believe there is no god. I’ll have to think about that one.

    My take is that the caller simply realized he’d been boxed in by logic and rather than acknowledge that, or simply say “thanks for your time,” he reacted with frustration. He’d been out-argued, pure and simple. It’s clear that the host is used to getting threats; I don’t think he took that as a joke at all. The best way to handle that kind of anger is to move on quickly.

    It’s amazing how threatened people get when their god beliefs are shown to be illogical, and how quickly that threat can turn to an impulse toward violence.

  • What a shame. The discussion was going so well and it seemed as it the caller was learning something. It seems that his beliefs were so unyielding that he could only react with threats of violence. It’s not even that he wasn’t given any wriggle room in the discussion. What about saying that his criteria for belief is not as exacting as Matt Dillahunty’s? Or an appeal to history? Or to group conduct?

    The Pluto thing was good though. He even called it a former planet which is cool in it’s own right.

  • jtwurth

    I have to agree with a few of the others that it sounded like a joke to me. He seemed to be carrying out a reasoned calm discussion with the host. When he made the threat he voice suddenly sounded like a caricature of a southern redneck. Maybe it was part joke, part frustration when he realized the conversation had gone as far as it was going to go.

  • Mriana

    Well, I thought it was a joke and so did my older son what was listening to the podcast with me. I don’t think he was really serious about it. I think he realized the conversation was going no where, so he made a joke. He didn’t slam the phone down or anything like that. If he had, then I would think he really was mad, but I don’t think that was the case.

  • Jeff

    “When my agnostic cousin told me he thought I had too much faith NOT to believe in a god, I told him this: I have ‘faith’ there is no god in the same way I have ‘faith’ that this world exists.”

    Why would it take any “faith” at all to not believe in god? That’s not faith, it is the reverse. The point has already been made, but this all falls back to the Matrix and Descartes and whatever other phony idea people can come up with. Perhaps everyone is a robot and you can only find out by carving them open? Would that be an “acceptable” belief? If not, why not? Or perhaps the world is made of chocolate, but the only way to prove it is to run as fast as you can at the wall and leap at least two feet off the ground, mouth first. As long as you meet these criteria, you will discover the world transformed to chocolate and you will get a tasty treat…

    Anyone who is open for these debates, please come check out my site: Disillusioned Words: atheism, logic, politics.

  • Peter,

    No reason to get upset about the fruit rollup thing. I know they exist because they taste so darned good!

    No really, You just set up criteria for a system based on logic. Who set the rules for logic? You? Me? A Plurality? You propose a logical appeal to evidence to promote your worldview. What evidence can you accept when you’ve no basis outside of your belief to extend past solipsism?


  • I can kinda guess where OC is going with this, but I think this needs to be said: assuming one establishes that no human being set the rules for logic, one is still a long way off from establishing that any kind of supernatural being set them in the first place.

  • Micketymoc,


    I’m still formulating this stuff. I presume others have gone down this road before but I’m walking it for the first time this past week.


  • Jeff


    We start with the three basic rules of logic:

    A is A
    Anything is either A or not-A
    Nothing is both A and not-A

    If you are truly interested in knowing why this is, you should find a copy of George H. Smith’s “Atheism: the Case Against God”. It is an excellent book that does a very good job of considering the many theist arguments, including the current favorite Blind Watch Maker (i.e. Intelligent Design).

    In the end, the rules of logic are the rules upon which all rationality is based. It is not a question of “who made the rules”? It is simple, the rules have to be true in order to understand the world. If they are not true then the world is unknowable and absurd. But no one who speaks, write, or in any other way communicates actually believe the world to be absurd, because language itself necessitates that the rules of logic are True. (keeping in mind of course that language is arbitrary, but logic is not). This is not to say that people act logically. This is not to say that we have a perfect understanding of the world. But this is to say that when we discover our understanding of the world to be incorrect it is because we have discovered it to be logically incorrect. Logic is the only means we have for understanding the world. Rationality is not a tool in the box (to paraphrase Smith), it the entire toolbox.

    Of course logic does not account for love and hate and other emotions. Actually, let me be more specific. Logic can account for why one feels love (i.e. the physiological reason), but it cannot account for the feelings themselves. We fall in love for no good logical reason, etc. But emotions are not the proper way to understand the world. One may feel the presence of god in his heart, but that is not the same as proof. This idea is actually tested all the time. For instance, I feel like I have tonight’s winning lotto numbers for the $133 million jackpot, but if the numbers don’t appear in reality, my emotional knowledge won’t make me a millionaire. The same can be said of flight. The Wright Brothers may have believed that they could make a plane fly, but until they put the pieces together with a logical understanding of how to make a plane fly, it won’t fly. When a plane crashes, it isn’t because someone felt that it would.

  • Jeffrey Stingerstein

    FYI. The lotto numbers were wrong… and I really believed they were right.

error: Content is protected !!