I Was on a Christian Radio Show… December 15, 2010

I Was on a Christian Radio Show…

Yesterday, I was a guest on a Christian radio show.

Before you listen to it, understand how this even happened. I got an email from the show’s producer a couple weeks ago:

I checked out their website and got a quick sense of the type of show they put on. The host was a conservative, Christian, evolution-denier, etc. I wasn’t optimistic, but I still like to think something productive can happen if they’re willing to reach out to me. So fine, I said yes to doing the show. I just wanted to make sure I knew the nature of the conversation they wanted to have…

I thought that was a reasonable request. I’m not a science expert (and don’t claim to be) and I don’t really enjoy formal religious debates. But if you want to have a real conversation about churches and stereotypes, I’m all for it.

It seemed like that was an option:

Ok, fine. Don’t really care much for the whole Resurrection answer, but Option 1 works. We rescheduled the interview day because of some conflicts and spoke yesterday.

You can hear the first part of our conversation here.

Somehow, the conversation about my book became a conversation about Darwinism and Eugenics and Stalin.

Am I surprised? No. I suppose I knew it would degenerate into that — it’s happened a few times before. I’m used to the Christian Bait-and-Switch by now.

But would it be so terrible for Christian media types to actually want to discuss how outsiders view their churches? I think that’d be an interesting conversation to have without having to slide into long-debunked Christian talking points.

If you get a chance to hear the interview, I’d love to hear your thoughts. I’m sure there were moments you wanted to yell at the audio…

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  • Just the other day I had the most lovely conversation with a close friend of mine, a Christian, about her church and her beliefs and what she’d been taught. It was the first time I’d ever spoken to her about religion, and I think we were both being very careful not to offend whilst trying very hard to explain why we believe what we believe. It was a difficult conversation, but I think we both came away better people because of it.

  • AM

    Why should you be required to answer for Michael Shermer? I have to commend you on your patience.

  • The Other Tom

    Hemant, I think your email was inadequately clear about what you wanted and why. I think you need to say something more like “I’m willing to come on your show to discuss my book and its content. I’m not willing to argue about whether atheism is or isn’t right or moral, and if the host steers the conversation in that direction I will point out that I am there under the promise that that wouldn’t happen, and that they broke their promise, and I will leave. I’m sorry to have to be so blunt about this but I’ve had problems in the past and want to ensure there will be no confusion or difficulty.”

  • annette

    FNAR!

    Typical.

    *rolls eyes*

    “Bible. Bible. Bible. Bible. Bible. Bible! Your argument is invalid.”

    I can’t take it.

  • Andy

    I love how he opens with the line about Schermer apparently saying the sun is not a light.

    That same passage also says the moon is a light, which is false, is the host willing to accept he’s wrong?

    Ugh

  • billybobbibb

    @The Other Tom: At least Muslims are intellectually honest enough to admit that they will lie to infidels to promote the cause of Islam. Christianity lacks this honesty, and act as if their perceived superiority permits them to behave in deceptive ways. I plead guilty to this as a former Christian: I would start a sermon with a secular feel-good message anyone could get behind, and slowly twist it towards the cross of Jesus. That’s how any good propaganda works, start out reasonable, get the buy-in, then work your point in. I don’t think anything Hemant could have written these people would have diverted them from their singular purpose.

  • Robert W.

    As one of the Christians who comment here, I thought you did a fine job. I also thought that the host was fair and that he kept to your book fairly closely.

    Those whoa re saying the host was deceptive, please show it. this was a Christian show. Of course they are going to talk about Jesus and Christianity. And they are not going to agree with everything Hemant had to say. He based his discussion on quotes from the book. He didn’t go off on a rant.

  • Nadine

    I listened to that “infamous” Shermer clip, and it cuts off the rest of the conversation (it’s 73 seconds). Suspiciously, the link to that entire episode doesn’t work.

  • Myrmidon

    B: “You know how memories change over time and people tell stories and they get exaggerated?”

    H: “I hear it in church all the time.”

    B: “Right, that’s the explanation for the phenomenon that you’re saying.”

    I laughed out loud at this point.

    Also, i’m glad they played the Michael Shermer clip at the end; it confirmed my suspicions that Mr Shermer was in fact saying that the sun is not a light insofar that it does not give light specifically for us, but rather that it gives light naturally and purposelessly.

  • Dkeane

    He got to the driving motivation behind Stalin was atheism and I had to turn it off – it is pretty obvious he was using this interview to fill his weekly quota of railing against those baby eating, homicidal atheists.

    The very idea that atheism in itself contains a moral standard that allows the execution of millions is absurd. The purpose of atheism for Stalin was to make sure there wasn’t two irrational dogmas (religious and the pseudo communism) competing for the minds of the soviets.

  • Robert,

    I didn’t make it very far into the interview, but I did listen to the excerpt from Shermer’s interview, and from that excerpt it’s very clear how dishonest the radio host is. First, the host throws the word ‘planet’ into the conversation. The bible has concept of planet. He ignores the fact that the bible incorrectly labels the moon a light (it only reflects light, doesn’t generate it’s own), and then focuses on whether or not the bible is right when it calls the sun a light.

    Shermer was faced with the situation of saying, yes, the bible is right when it says the sun is a light (and the host was trying to then imply that meant that all cosmology presented in the bible is true), or getting into the technical nature of the question. Is the bible a light? Well, it’s main activity is fusion, which just happens to have a byproduct of light, but light doesn’t account for even a large fraction of what it’s doing.

    So, even if you want to say the bible is true in labeling the sun a light, it’s such a simplistic view of what the sun actually is that it’s kind of useless. Not to mention that focusing on that one aspect ignores all the other places where the bible gets cosmology completely wrong.

  • Myrmidon

    but rather that it gives off light naturally and purposelessly

    (fixed my own comment)

  • jose

    “but if you want to avoid that, that’s okay.” —> jerk.

  • jonezart

    I think you hit the nail on the head when you say that it seems that most of the time, Christians want to catch atheists in a trap.

    And then he proceeded to attempt to trap you with the Stalin/Mao argument.

    Also, hated the way he constantly said your name with more than a hint of smugness and condescension. “Hement…? Hement….?”

  • Vas

    Yeah easy to zone out as this guy babbles about some point he wants to make despite it not really meaning anything. To paraphrase, Hemant said a real miracle would be something that may make him reconsider his position. Bob took forever to say, no seeing a real miracle would make you harden your heart to god. Well that’s just odd if you ask me and kind of pointless ta boot. In the end you both got book plugs out of it and I guess that’s the point. It seems Hemants book is sold in xtian book stores so I have to think plugs on xtian radio help sell books. Pretty common talk radio fair.
    Frankly it would be more fun to listen to Bob Larson exercise Hemant. Larson exercised demons out of me some 30 years ago and if memory serves it was VERY entertaining.

  • “gotcha” “journalism” is what has killed this secular representative democracy dead. your interview (i couldn’t listen to all of it, sorry) just reminds me of that fact. you did fine, but it was very obvious to me he was mostly interested in making his believer audience reel in horror that he was speaking to a godless brown guy raised in another tradition. teh horror! clutch those pearls, little Blue Hairs. and send him a check, of course.

  • Stephen P

    It’s hilarious how they include the completely irrelevant power of their transmitter in the opening mail. Do they also tell guests they’ll be picked up by a car with a 150 hp engine?

  • Robert W.

    Josh,

    I haven’t listened to the Shermer interview but I assume you are correct in your assessment of it. That doesn’t change my thoughts that he treated Hemant fairly. However, If he did infact misconstrue the Shermer conversation then tht would be deceptive of him.

    As a follow up to your comment- I admit I don’t know the answer to this but maybe you do. It is obvious that ancient cultures had different explanations for the stars, including the Sun and the Moon. For example, Greek mythology.

    I don’t think that the Biblical account in Genesis is intended to be an in depth explanation of the cosmos but it is certainly a far cry from a bear eating the sun every night, or Apollo racing his chariot across the sky. So my question is- how does it stand up to other ancient writings on its accuracy? Particularly when you base it on the knowledge back then? I mean based upon what it says, not what others (including this host) may want to read into it.

  • Ugh! I’ve been on radio shows like these, and (even as a Christian), I’ve been lured into stupid debates about evolution or universalism or whatever. I’ve even had hosts basically tell their listeners NOT to buy my book! It was all just a set-up for a debate.

    So sorry. This is an especially annoying aspect of the Christian subculture that I wish would go away.

  • rdhbcx

    @16:50

    “Hemant, you’re almost qualified to teach Sunday School at our church, at Denver Bible church.”
    “Done and done. I accept your offer.”

    awesome.

    Ugh. And then they played that horrendous song after the cut instead of letting you finish talking.

  • Ron in Houston

    You’re always so nice. I loved it when you said “I zoned out.” How about “I can only listen to so much stupid at one time.”

  • Robert,

    Apollo was worshiped as a god of light, including the sun, but now that he was the sun. As far as I know, the bible isn’t any more accurate than any other ancient writings on cosmology, nor is it very accurate about what we know today, and with both small errors (the moon as a light) and large errors (firmament, flat earth, etc).

    I think it would have been amazing if we had discovered that the bible was very accurate in describing anything that could be confirmed by science, but I can’t think of anything that holds up to that in the bible.

  • The “verbal trap” statement you used was very well said. You did a great job at trying to steer the conversation into something that was constructive and helpful (more than once). I’m sorry that you were lied to here.

    I guess talking about what “the other” have to say about us is a little too uncomfortable. Which is about the least productive thing that Christians can do. *sigh*

  • Gosh, that was hilarious. “Atheists are so obstinate, and so angry and so fearful…” And Christians aren’t?

  • Christopher

    I normally don’t do plugs for people’s youtube channels, but this seemed on topic: On Brettppalmer’s channel he has a video called “A Creotard In My Own Backyard” and it’s about his experience with Bob Enyart.

    It’s much the same as Hemant’s, and worth watching.

  • Angel

    I was expecting to hear a wildly different conversation, and I was pleasantly surprised!

    I thought that the host did a very decent job of keeping the topic moving along, although he definitely took the opportunities to bring up some “talking with atheists” points.

    The only point I had a really tough time listening was the end with his argument that the book says that people won’t believe if there are miracles, and then he went on to say that if the book said it, why would H (and by extension, atheists in general) expect to believe differently. It almost sounded as though the host was setting up a “See? He thinks he’s better than god” moment there – to what end is unclear and I won’t speculate on.

    I am of the personal opinion that as soon as someone brings up the book as evidence for anything, it needs to be said that if the individual chooses to use the book as the basis for empirical evidence, there can hardly be any rational conversation as the very definition of evidence is under dispute.

    I was very pleasantly surprised to hear him state that people who claim they have experienced miracles have deluded themselves…it is the first time I’ve heard it said by a Christian, truth be told.

    All in all, exceeded my expectations. While there were some moments that definitely made me sigh and shake my head, the conversation was definitely a decent one. Thumbs up!

  • Dan

    “but if you want to avoid that, that’s okay.”

    Based on that alone, I’d have said no thanks. From the tone of the email they obviously did not want to have a conversation.

  • Valdyr

    Why does their website name Eugenie Scott as a “leading anti-evolutionist”?

  • Shawn

    I find it funny if you go to the KGOV link up there, scroll down to where it says “Have you browsed through our Science Department in the KGOV Store?” and click on that link, you get the following;

    “Search Results
    Your search for “Topics:Science” did not match any products that we carry. ”

    🙂

  • JSug

    Going to comment as I listen:

    * So he starts off by admitting he hasn’t read the book. I don’t see this going well.
    * What the hell was up with the non-sequitur about the beetle?
    * I can already predict how he’s spinning the Shermer quote by taking it out of context. The sun is not “a light” in the sense that a lamp is “a light”. Its’ sole purpose is not to provide light. The sun emits a broad spectrum of em radiation as a natural by-product of its fusion reactions. Life on this planet has evolved sensory organs that detect various spectra of that radiation in order to gather information about the environment around them. Calling the sun “a light” is a human-centric interpretation.
    * 12 minutes in. Why do I feel like he just wants to drop names? He keeps talking about all the other people he has interviewed. When is he going to start asking you questions about what *you* think?
    * Okay this discussion about miracles is interesting, even if it is only based on a single paragraph of the book.
    * Did he just offer to let you teach sunday school? Oh snap!
    * 20 minutes in. Okay, now he’s off the reservation again, quoting scripture and asking you to agree that it’s relevant. He’s missing the whole point of your argument. Without confirmation, the bible is no greater a source of authority than Garfield the cat.
    * What Jesus said doesn’t matter to people who don’t believe Jesus was the son of god. Telling us what he said isn’t going to convince us that he was.
    * Yep, I nailed the context of the Shermer quote. “They aren’t lights… The sun generates light as a product of fusion.”

  • Agreed that the Shermer quote is being totally misconstrued. Shermer starts by saying “they” aren’t lights (which they aren’t).

    Meanwhile Enyant switchs to “the sun is a light” mocks Shermer and then switches back to “the sun, moon, etc are lights” when asking him the question again, muddying the waters.

    When Shermer disagrees with the statement that all other ancient people worshipped the sun, moon, etc, Enyant takes that as a response to the “are these lights?” question and mocks him some more.

    All it proves is that Enyant is too busy focusing on where to put another plug for one of his products (I’m amazed at how many he was able to push in his interview with Hemant-made for tortured phrasing on his part, but amazing nonetheless)or the conclusion he wanted to make *regardless* of whether the guest’s answer relates to that conclusion.

    Hemant made some very good points in a less than optimum environment and was polite in an all over the map discussion that bore little resemblance to what was promised-it likely provided many of the listeners with a different image of an atheist from what they were expecting. Good job.

  • Jeff

    AM radio in Colorado – that should have tipped you off, right there.

    Here are a couple of entries from a list of bob’s articles on the website:

    Nicer Than God

    Christians today are nicer than God. Or at least they are trying to be so. In the Church there is a standard of niceness that Jesus failed to reach while on earth. Comparing God’s attitude and behavior with that of the Church today shows that believers are far more polite, tolerant, understanding and respectful to the wicked than God is…

    On Jews Who Reject Christ

    Various televangelists promote a false teaching, that Jews can reject Christ and still have salvation.

    There’s also an article in which he takes Dr. Dobson to task. Yes, that’s right – apparently, Dobson is too liberal for him.

    He’s also a pastor (is anyone surprised?): http://denverbiblechurch.org/

    Hemant, don’t do this to yourself again. Life is too short to waste even one moment on these cretins.

  • I think you handled it as best as you could. What was said after you were off the air?

  • PZ had a bit of a run in with this clown also.

    LINK

  • Angel

    From some of the comments, it almost feels as though I listened to a very different radio conversation than the one I did.

    Normally listening to Christian radio makes me want to bang my head against a cupboard, but I actually didn’t think that this was too terrible a conversation, all things considered!

    It was a Christian radio show. The host threw in some bits that had absolutely nothing to do with the conversation. He attempted some gotcha points, which were effectively dismissed out of hand. He actually stated some pretty impressive things (the bit about miracles). That is pretty tame, as far as conversations with religious talk show hosts go.

    It was pretty respectful, and the comment in this post about the way he said his name seemed to me to be someone who had absolutely no idea how to properly pronounce it and was merely trying to flesh it out. Until I heard it pronounced a few times, my brain read it as “heh-mant” with emphasis on the second syllable. Trying to break yourself of that habit can be difficult, and if he had the same issue as me, I can completely understand it.

    There is no need to try and read into everything. No need to jump on the offensive/defensive as I think that, as far as part one goes, everyone involved seems generally okay with the conversation.

  • I gotta hand it to you “H”, you do great working getting out there representing Team-A. thanks homie.

  • Hemant, I thought you did a good job and I also think these types of interactions are good.

    I thought it interesting that Bob admitted that all the modern miracle claims are bogus. What he won’t consider, though, is that the ancient miracle claims are also probably bogus. Bob’s sole point seemed to be that since it is written in the bible that Jesus said the occurrence of miracles did not lead to more fervent belief, then that is probably why God has not seemed fit to cause any miracles in the modern age. Well, isn’t that convenient… I would speculate that if you went back in time, there would be all these religious people back then (just like there are now) going around claiming all sorts of bogus miracles (including all those listed in the bible). Many of the people back then probably also realized that they were bogus exaggerated claims and didn’t become fervent believers.

    Personally, I totally reject the notion that God dabbled in miracles in the distant past and then retired from the miracle business. No ALL the miracle claims in the bible should be questioned with the same skepticism as any miracle claims of today. Bob was trying to sell the point that faith should be build on faith alone without any modern demonstration of miracles (except a belief in past miracles and the inerrancy of the bible). That product can only be sold to people who already believe it. Perhaps Bob fulfilled his objective with his believing audience. But also, perhaps Hemant got through to a few out there.

  • Grimalkin

    He got all insane there (as other commenters have said, why should *you* be responsible for anything Michael Shermer says? Why should you have to be put in the spot of either defending him or apologizing for him when you’ve never even heard the interview being refered to?), and you definitely did a great job maintaining your poise.

    I think he was trying to bait you and make you into that “angry atheist” we all keep hearing about, so I was really glad to see you keep your cool. The only thing I could recommend is working a bit on steering the conversation back to the intended topic. But you did an amazing job considering what was going on!

  • ACN

    So my question is- how does it stand up to other ancient writings on its accuracy? Particularly when you base it on the knowledge back then? I mean based upon what it says, not what others (including this host) may want to read into it.

    I don’t understand the question, and it is certainly possible I just didn’t read it correctly, are you asking: “given what was known about these things at the time, who was more right?”

    If that is what you’re asking, I think the comparison is sort of nuanced and non-trivial. It is easy to say “here is the greek myth”, but Eratosthenes knew the Earth-Sun distance and the Earth’s circumference 2-300 years BCE which blows the hebrew model of a “bowl of the firmament” out of the, metaphorical, water. But this is still sort of comparing apples and oranges, as I’m throwing a natural philosopher/geometer at a tribal myth. I don’t really know anything about hebrew science at the time which would be a fairer comparison.

    Admittedly, the whole exercise seems a bit silly to me. The question of “which myth was more right given its time period?” is sort of ridiculous. There are a lot of myths, and frankly, no one knew enough at the time to be right about the sun. If they are right, it would seem to be about trivial details. For example, you’d have to be an idiot or literally blind not to know that the sun looked bright and seemed to produce light and that when it was in the sky the whole world lit up. Whether you’re a greek and call it a great ball of fire attached to Apollo’s chariot or a hebrew who announced that it is a light that god has hung in the bowl of the firmament, you’re both wrong, and incredibly so.

  • margaret

    Have not listened to the interview yet, but I will when I get home. I am surprised you agreed to go on their show, because they were hateful at the very beginning, accusing you of avoiding the issues. Already they set the tone, “you are the enemy.” From what I can tell, believers are not even willing to acknowledge non-believers as even human. Dealing with them, you must have the patience of a saint. Ironic, yes, the believers are hateful and the atheists are gracious, yet they want to label themselves as good, and everyone else as bad.

  • Steve

    I’m usually a bit more intellectual when I leave comments…but Bob Enyart seems like a real tool.

  • billybee

    Bob starts his challenge to Hemant with the words “Jesus said….”

    I would have said: STOP right there….you’ll first need to show me reliable verification that this miracle working Christ actually lived before I can even consider if his claim is valid.”

    …and that is the rub. Nobody can prove that the Jesus we hear about in the Gospel stories actually ever existed (let alone the insane claims of miracles.)

  • Steve

    Hemant – very nice job! You didn’t fall for his baits and you were the epitome of cool.

    I heard the Shermer bit at the end of the mp3, I sense he was afraid of getting baited , but he could have clarified his position- in any case Bobby was being a bit of a tool trying to make some impressive pronouncement that the sun was a light…ooh…how scientific! Of course Moses needed to get all his followers under his one god to consolidate his power, so he couldn’t have anyone believing the sun was another god with another set of priests. That would have just diluted his power(one interpretation of the start mono-theism).

  • Jeff

    That PZ post for which Scott provided a link reveals a lot. One of the commenters posted this excerpt from Wikipedia:

    Enyart is a proponent of corporal punishment of children saying that their “hearts are lifted” by spanking. He was convicted for misdemeanor child abuse in 1994 after beating his girlfriend’s child with a belt so hard that the beating broke the skin.

    So I followed the footnote to an article in the Rocky Mountain News:

    Conservative cable TV talk-show host Bob Enyart Friday began serving a 60-day jail sentence for hitting a 7-year-old boy with a belt.

    Enyart was found guilty of misdemeanor child abuse in 1994 for striking his girlfriend’s son with a belt hard enough to raise welts and break the skin.

    The boy’s mother, Cheryl, gave Enyart the belt to discipline the boy because he wouldn’t take a shower.

    Yeah, this guy’s a real class act – and, the thing is, he isn’t exceptional in that world.

    Hemant, all religious differences aside, a piece of garbage like this shouldn’t be validated by being treated as though he has anything worthwhile to say.

  • dc

    I thought it was great! I didn’t find the interviewer’s tone to be condescending at all.

    If this guy discounts modern miracles, he and his followers are not amongst the more conservative Christians. Perhaps a few of those listening will have some cognitive dissonance stirred over Jesus’ claim that “seeing is not believing”. I know I used to wonder why his own town rejected him. That seemed a bit suspicious, but I would always suppress the doubting thoughts it prompted. 🙂

    It was nice that he recommended your book and that there was talk about the amputee website. “Thinking” Christians like this who claim to welcome scrutiny are opening their minds a bit. That makes the possibility of an “ah ha” moment more likely at some point.

    Good job with your responses.

  • annette

    What frustrated me about this interview is that it wasn’t an interview, it was an argument (though rather a polite one) with an atheist, trying to show Hemant where he was wrong and bolster The True Way.

    The set-up was the book. Then, it switched to “oh, aren’t you a an honest atheist? How nice. Most atheists can’t hold an honest conversation, eg. Shermer. In fact, atheists harden their hearts to the supernatural. . .Bible, Bible, Bible. You’re wrong.”

    Now, that’s fine. I expect Christians to hammer the Bible and tell atheists where they’re wrong. I expect them to call us angry, murderous socialists. But it would have been nice to address the _book_, yanno, throw something thoughtful in there, just to shake things up.

    The interviewer didn’t want to do that. He had a set of talking points that he managed to connect to Hemant’s book.

    Pander, pander, pander to your audience. Don’t actually inform.

    Typical

  • sailor

    Hermant, you were fine, but the interviewer was rather boring.

  • Personal opinion:
    a) I found the host’s tone very condescending.
    b) The host did 90% of the talking. That’s not an interview, that’s tricking someone into a situation where they’re forced to listen to your monologue.

    The host did everyone a disservice. He had an interesting guest on his show, and instead of asking clever questions to reveal the guest to his listeners, he blabbed on and on himself. From a broadcasting perspective, he did a terrible job.

  • Don

    I think Shermer should have agreed that the bible was right about the sun and moon not being gods. Then he could have pointed out that even the bible is atheistic about some gods.

    I also would have admitted that the host was correct that just because god didn’t answer prayers doesn’t mean that he couldn’t. But all of that assumes that he exists in the first place which I don’t concede. Furthermore, agreeing that if he existed then he could possibly perform some particular miracle is in no way proof that he exists. He has to actually perform the miracle for it to be proof.

  • Sean

    Your answer to everything next time should be something like this:
    “Well, that is an interesting point, Bob, and coming from a convicted child abuser, it really makes sense”.

  • Don

    I also should have said I thought you did a very good job. I think the host was attempting to be fair, but it seemed like a struggle for him. The whole Shermer part was completely irrelevant and unprofessional on his part. I also zoned out a bit on the question where you zoned out. I can’t blame you there.

  • Don

    What the hell was up with the non-sequitur about the beetle?

    Yeah that was weird. And kind of passive-aggressive I think.

  • Richard P.

    Talk about using an obscure chunk of wording to play on words. The light thing is just plane stupid.
    I think you did a great job Hemant.

    The guy was very disingenuous in his interview. I assume you did this on the phone. I would have hung up. You have more patients than I would.

  • SeekerLancer

    I could barely get past the horrible, tacky intro theme.

    I think you did a good job, and the host wasn’t as awful as I was expecting, though he was predictable and his arguments were the same old silly arguments we’ve heard a thousand times.

  • Everyone just loves to tar and feather the atheist.

  • RiftchaserMej

    I admit I wasn’t excited to hear the old atheist = Stalin = bad routine, but that wasn’t the most annoying part of the interview by; the dance around the word “miracle” was far worse.

    This might be hubristic of me to suggest, but I might have gone a different route with the miracle argument. I understand the word “miracle” to apply to something that cannot be explained without invoking an omniscient god, and it sounds like both you and your host agreed to that definition. Yet, if one exercises good skepticism, this definition makes miracles impossible. If a man walks on water or the moon splits in two, a good skeptic can make room for the possibility of a powerful being or force, but under Ockam’s razor, one can only admit a force just powerful enough to explain the phenomenon. No demonstration of mystery is sufficient to justify an omnipotent being; how could one even demonstrate infinite power? God, if he existed, could certainly demonstrate great power, but infinite? Certainly for any fantastic display, there must be one even more fantastic; thus, no display can require infinite power.

    Even for miraculous displays cited to establish finite power, divinity does not get a free pass. For any inexplicable event, the correct skeptical response is to admit ignorance of the forces at work. Note that saying, “I don’t know” cannot logically lead to “God did it;” if you don’t know what something is, you certainly don’t know that it’s God. This is the aptly named argument from ignorance.

    Thus, if a god wished to convert me through miracles, there is only one he could use, and it wouldn’t be demonstrative: he’d have to simply snap his fingers and make me believe.

  • Scott Evans

    I liked Bob’s question, “Wouldn’t it become a bad leg before it became a good wing?” How could a species survive long enough to become a different species if it had to hobble around with bad legs for millions of years? That may not be a subject within Hermant’s book, but it was a good question none-the-less.

    Plus, I see Hermant calls this blog, “Friendly Atheist,” but he talked over Bob many, many times and offered up the good old condescending laugh often. I don’t consider that being very friendly, especially on someone else’s talk show. It was disrespectful.

  • Darryl

    I’m still stunned that this guy so readily admitted that all personal miracle stories told by modern Christians are exaggerations and fabrications to make them feel more important. That was one of those realizations that sent me down the slippery slope. He’d best be careful.

  • Scott Evans

    Darryl, “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” – Hebrews 11:1 NKJV If one wouldn’t believe until they experienced a miracle, then faith wouldn’t have to enter into it, would it.

  • Very good! I really enjoyed listening to this.

    I’m in support of “good religious people.” People who actually have hope of reaching those who are otherwise doomed be “bad religious people.” Obviously, it’s not as ideal as everyone becoming non-theist, but it’s better than nothing. The guy who interviewed you may or may not be one of the good guys. I don’t know enough about him. But I think Dan Merchant is one of the good Christians. We interviewed him on my blog back in October, and he’s really a great guy.

    Keep up the good work Hemant!

  • @RiftchaserMej, good point about skepticism and Ockam’s razor.

  • Can anyone link this to another site? It’s blocked here at work (which probably means I shouldn’t be listening to it… huh?)

  • You did a great job, bro!

    i find that the host did a horrible job of making the conversation flow. he was smug and sly. Like most people he tried to catch you in a trap and even insulted some people with that “honest Atheist” thing.

    i get the feeling that he comes off as one of those, “Our church is the right one, everyone else’s isn’t” kind of Pastors.

    and talk self promotion, holy smokes…

  • Benjamin

    Go to the Shermer episode, skip to 26 minutes in. You will fall out of your chair laughing.

  • Alex

    What a waste. I really think they seek us out for debate in an attempt to bring legitimacy to their delusions. Debates between science and religion are a farce and only help superstitious beliefs with scientists willing to listen to their silly ideas.

  • carl

    I’ma say that it’s true that “the sun is not a light” – in particular, in the context of the writing of the creator of the universe. We KNOW that the sun is a fiery crazy ball of gas that ’emanates’ light; i’d expect the all knowing creator of the sun to also pass on that information if (s)he knew it.
    In this way, the other cultures that worshiped the sun *also* knew it was a light. the only difference noted by moses is that the sun is JUST a light. But Shermer’s point is that it isn’t JUST a light. Touting the Bible as a book that knows something that cultures of antiquity didn’t know is a brutal stretch…

  • DanD

    Bob – “A leg would become a very bad leg before it became a good wing.”
    Hemant – “I’m not the evolution expert, but that is not how it works.”

    I’m always curious after an interview what the opposing side WON’T mention. I read all 60 comments and no one has mentioned Bob’s argument about a leg turning into a wing. This is a great Creationist argument if I may say so. How long did it take for legs to turn into wings? Millions of years?

    Hemant – “It happens over millions and millions of years, and you’re going to get different species.”

    If it happens over millions and millions of years, like Hemant said, wouldn’t it be a bad leg FAR before it was a good wing? That leaves 2 problems. A bad leg would take away the ability to walk or run. That would obvisouly lead to extinction. (Reminds me how evolutionary textbooks show dead giraffes in the grass because they couldn’t reach the trees to eat. Not sure why they didn’t eat the grass.) Second, if it somehow managed to make it past the bad leg stage (which it can’t), then you have the bad wing stage. Now it can’t walk, run OR fly. Now you have extinction again. Yikes. How exactly does an animal go from a good leg to a good wing over millions of years? And why would a good leg ever need to turn into a wing in the first place?

  • DanD

    Hemant – “I’m used to the Christian Bait-and-Switch by now.”

    Give me a break. I’ve never heard a Christian use this argument. Stalin and Mao and Lenin and Shermer were not planned parts of the interview. They came up in the flow of the conversation. You asked him on the fly to name a dishonest atheist, so he brought up Shermer. You said,

    “You can use anything you want to justify anything you want.”

    That was a stab at Christians and rightly so in many historical contexts. Bob then responded by making sure you knew, agreed and were willing to admit that it’s not only Christians that have done that and mentioned Stalin and Mao and Lenin. Definitely not a planned part of the interview, and not bait-and-switch. I may have found another dishonest atheist.

  • DanD

    Hemant – “I think that’d be an interesting conversation to have without having to slide into long-debunked Christian talking points.”

    If they’re so “long debunked” why don’t you have answers for them and why did you say repeatedly that you’re “not an expert?”

  • Aahh, Please don’t debate Christians. You really aren’t very good at it. If you do plan to do this again, please do some research first. Know who you are talking to, what issues they tend to push, and at least some of the most basic defenses against this stuff.

    Also, please learn how to push back.

  • DanD

    Bob – “There are many famous atheists who have enslaved millions of people in the last century.”

    Hemant – ”Oh, oh, oh really?”

    I particularly liked that part. Let’s be honest here Hemant. The fact that some very bad dudes did some very bad things because of their atheistic beliefs doesn’t disprove atheism. Of course many famous atheists have enslaved millions of people in the last century.

  • DanD

    Concerning Christians, Hemant said,

    “We think they’re wrong and we want to have that conversation.”

    Just not on Bob Enyart Live, right?

    Hemant – “You lied to get me here, and you’re wasting my time if you’re not talking about my book.”

    Wasting your time?!

    Hemant – “We want to have that conversation.”

    Hemant – “You’re wasting my time if you’re not talking about my book.”

    Hemant – “We want to have that conversation.”

    Hemant – “You’re wasting my time if you’re not talking about my book.”

    Which is it?

  • DanD

    Concerning the phrase “Survival of the fittest,” Hemant said,

    “It’s not a term that Darwin even used. Look it up on Wikipedia.”

    From Wikipedia:

    Darwin first used Spencer’s new phrase “survival of the fittest” as a synonym for “natural selection” in the fifth edition of On the Origin of Species, published in 1869.

    Just sayin’…

  • DanD

    Bob – “Darwin was a racist.”

    Hemant – “You know that I think you’re crazy right now.”

    Book: On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life.
    Author: Charles Darwin
    Just sayin’…

  • DanD

    Now this was classic!

    Hemant – “You need to read some evolution books.”

    Bob – “Do you think I’ve read 5 times as many evolutionary books as you have?”

    Hemant – “I don’t.”

    Two things here. Hemant, why does Bob need to read some evolution books, when you admitted numerous times that it was you who was not the evolution expert? It sure sounded to me that it is you who needs to read some evolution books.
    Second, why would you not think that Bob has read 5 times as many evolutionary textbooks as you have when you readily admit that you don’t study evolution that much? Wouldn’t that lend credibility to the fact that Bob has indeed read 5 times as many evolutionary books as you?

  • DanD

    Concerning Darwin, Hemant said,

    “He was right about natural selection.”

    Wait a minute here. How do you know? You’re not a science expert, you don’t want to talk about science, but you know Darwin is right about natural selection?
    Sure sounds to me that you believe in natural selection by faith.

  • DanD

    Hemant, you said…

    “Oh my god!”

    …twice in the interview. I’m curious, whom exactly were you referring to?

  • DanD

    Last but not least, I heard Bob offer an invitation for Hemant to teach Sunday School at Denver Bible Church. I attend Denver Bible Church and I can guarantee that that was not an empty promise by Bob. We’ve done it before. If Hemant is willing, I will arrange it. Please email me if you are willing. I will forewarn you though, our Sunday School is interactive. We’re allowed to ask questions of Pastor Bob, so I assume that would be the case with you too. I’m sure we could do some sort of webinar or maybe you could even fly out. Let me know!

  • Dandy DanD seems to have his defenses up a bit.

  • Angel

    DanD is a member of the church this radio host belonged to….so it isn’t at all surprising to see him in here trolling.

  • If it happens over millions and millions of years, like Hemant said, wouldn’t it be a bad leg FAR before it was a good wing?

    Legs never turn into wings. ARMS turn into wings, and there really aren’t too many hindrances in the different stages of arm / wing development which would have slowed the animal down. In fact, animals don’t necessarily even have to lose the usefulness of hands; many animals, even to this day, can still use their wing / hands to clutch and climb things.

  • Heidi

    Dandy DanD seems to have his defenses up a bit.

    You noticed that, too?

    I’m really not clear on why creationists always seem to think we owe them a lesson in evolutionary biology. Take a class or read a book like everybody else who understands evolution had to do. May I suggest Jerry Coyne’s book, Why Evolution is True? (I’m assuming that reading Dawkins is right out of the question. If not, then I’d also recommend The Greatest Show on Earth.) Evolution: It doesn’t work how you think it works.

  • Jeff

    Hey DanD,

    Doesn’t it bother you that your spiritual guide is a convicted child abuser? Or was he just framed by liberals?

  • Going back to the wing thing (sorry, I was in a rush before but wanted to get back to it to elaborate), we actually have a fairly clear picture of how wings developed over time. Far from having a hindering stage, the transformation really is quite elegant.

    Feathers and wings developed far before flight, as you can probably guess. We know from fossil imprints that smaller therapods like oviraptor and deinonychus had feathers, and possibly what one might consider primitive wings. They weren’t used for flight at that time, but for things like mating display or possibly heat regulation. As I said earlier, these wings developed from arms, so they never reached a stage where they were ‘bad legs’. They didn’t effect locomotion in a negative way at all.

    After that, it was just a matter of getting dinosaurs that were just small and light enough that those display feathers also helped out with gliding. While feathers had already been around for millions of years, dinosaurs that were small enough had the new advantage of using these display additions to help them escape predators (go, team archeopteryx!)

    The ones who could glide the furthest lived the longest and bred the most. The ones that could glide far AND were good at steering bred even more.

    Before you know it – BAM! We have flight! And we didn’t even have to deal with a fussy ‘lumbering along with bad legs’ stage.

    In many ways, I think the process was kind of majestically beautiful.

    Sorry. I know the overwhelming opinion here is that you should read books on evolution to find answers to your own questions, but I just really really like talking about dinosaurs.

  • Crundy

    What the hell was the analogy with killing the bug for cash about (well it wasn’t an analogy, they did kill a bug for money)?

  • DanD

    Dave Hasbrouck – Legs never turn into wings. ARMS turn into wings

    Dave, please take Hemant’s advice and read more evolution books. (If you want to understand the theory of evolution that is. Your comment that legs never turn into wings is your admission of the absurdity that legs turned into wings.) Evolutionists like you try to distract from this powerful argument by insisting that the evolution theory suggests that wings evolved from ARMS, and not legs. Yes, it’s true that current evolution theory includes the untenable concept that birds evolved wings from arms. However, current theory also suggests wings evolved from legs.

    Dinosaur: Evolutionary speculation suggests that the pterosaur may have evolved flight from the four-legged, ground-running Scleromochlus.

    Insects: And regarding the phantasmal evolution of wings, OxfordJounals.org states, “the hypothesis that insect wings evolved from leg branches rather than as de novo outgrowths of the body wall [was] (argued for by Kukalová-Peck 1978 with molecular developmental data contributed by Averof and Cohen 1997).” And Discover.com: “In insects, Kukalova-Peck thinks–and recent genetic comparisons of crustaceans and insects have pretty much cinched the case–the flattened branches on the first segment of one pair of legs evolved into wings.”

    Bats: Softpedia.com “what probably prompted the appearance of bats from mouse-like rodents” and rodents don’t have arms, but only legs. And a 2004 NewScientist article argues that bats evolved from mice.

  • DanD

    Heidi – Evolution: It doesn’t work how you think it works.

    Your statement is almost accurate. Let me fix it.

    Evolution: It doesn’t work.

    Again, like Dave, your response shows that even you believe that evolution’s claim that legs turned into wings is absurd.

    Heidi – I’m really not clear on why creationists always seem to think we owe them a lesson in evolutionary biology.

    Obfuscation at its finest. Imagine this kind of response in a debate. This is not how conversation works. When someone challenges you, you don’t respond by telling them you don’t have to answer and that they need to go read books if they want an answer.

  • DanD

    Angel – DanD is a member of the church this radio host belonged to….so it isn’t at all surprising to see him in here trolling.

    Wow, sounds as if I’m not welcome. Trolling? Ummmm…no. If you read my posts, I try to be as substantive as possible. I usually get ad hom from atheists, and that was pretty much par for the course here too in the entire thread.

  • ATL-Apostate

    DanD – your arguments are fallacious and tired. Have you ever tried reading the arguments AGAINST your arguments (they are legion, to borrow a biblical phrase)? No, of course not, because then you would know your arguments have all been shot down, definitively and repeatedly.

    All,

    FYI – apparently, Bobby Enyart is not well thought-of in some Christian circles. See link below for some amusing “he’s not a true christian” stuff from another evangelical who disagrees with Enyart’s form of evangelical christianity.

    http://www.apologeticsindex.org/e23.html

  • ACN

    obvious troll is obvious…

  • DanD

    ATL-Apostate – DanD – your arguments are fallacious and tired. Have you ever tried reading the arguments AGAINST your arguments (they are legion, to borrow a biblical phrase)? No, of course not, because then you would know your arguments have all been shot down, definitively and repeatedly.

    Your argument against my arguments is fallacious and tired. Have you ever tried reading the arguments AGAINST your argument against my arguments? No, of course not, because then you would know your argument against my arguments doesn’t get anyone anywhere.

    Wow, now we’re really getting somewhere!

    I’ll say the same thing I told Hemant. If my arguments are so fallacious and tired, then you could answer them. But you can’t. It’s obvious to everyone reading, don’t be fooled.

    Hypothetically speaking, if Hemant made an argument on Bob Enyart Live and Bob responded with, “Hemant, your arguments are fallacious and tired” and Bob refused to answer his argument, you guys would cry foul from the mountain tops and claim VICTORY!

    …Maybe I’ll do the same.

  • @ATL-Apostate,

    Perhaps DanD will nominate Bob to be the Protestant Pope. Then all the Protestants can fight it out. The Catholic Pope would not look so bad in comparison.

  • DanD

    Jeff P – Perhaps DanD will nominate Bob to be the Protestant Pope. Then all the Protestants can fight it out. The Catholic Pope would not look so bad in comparison.

    The substantive arguments here are just killing me.

  • DanD,

    There have been Christians on this website (like “Robert W” and “Nathan”) who have taken a much more polite and conciliatory tone and people here have been happy to have nice long theological discussions with them. If having nice long theological discussions is what you are after, then perhaps with changing your tone you can attract more substantial conversations. So far, what you have received is a reflection of what you have given.

  • Dinosaur: Evolutionary speculation suggests that the pterosaur may have evolved flight from the four-legged, ground-running Scleromochlus.

    Scleromochlus was four-legged ground walking and two-legged ground running. When it had to make a speedy getaway, it likely reared up and ran on two legs. That’s not me stabbing in the dark; that’s the consensus of scientists based on the animal’s physical structure. In that scenario, the front legs are a good deal closer to arms, at least in situations where it would matter (fast locomotion).

    And Pterosaurs aren’t actually considered dinosaurs. I know! Jurassic Park TOTALLY LIED TO US! Who would have thought that so much pop culture could get things wrong?

    I’ll confess that bat evolution isn’t something I know a ton about. However, even a cursory look on the hive-brain we call the internet gave a pretty quick and logical explanation. In between regular mice with standard legs and bats there was a transition where elongated digits helped the rodents to climb on and clutch surfaces… So rather than hindering locomotion with ‘bad legs’, having longer digits allowed for new opportunities in both escaping predators and finding food in new places.

    And I’d still argue that ‘limbs with longer digits that can clutch things’ sounds an awful lot like primitive arms.

    On insects; okay, you got me there. Insect wings evolved from legs. I’ll concede defeat on that one. But let’s face it; insects had enough limbs for locomotion that the transitional stages of wing evolution wouldn’t have slowed them down one bit.

    I did think of another ‘legs into wings’ example, though, and I should call myself on it since you missed it. Microraptor had wings on both its arms AND back legs.

    The thing you have to remember, though is that Microraptor was a rebel. He took no guff from nobody; not nature, not science, and certainly not from that fascist truant officer who was always breathing down his neck. Everyone tried to tell Microraptor that it was crazy (CRAZY, I tell you!) to try and fly with four wings. But Microraptor wouldn’t listen. He was filled with sneering confidence and malt whiskey, so he climbed up that conifer, spread his leg wings wide and went for it. For a brief time he felt like the king of the Cretaceous era. The wind was in his proto-feathers, and all was right in the world… But his victory was short lived as he crashed headlong into the neighborhood liquor store.

    Microraptor didn’t survive his injuries that day. A small memorial was held at his High School. His girlfriend Tiffani was devastated and never really recovered. You’d see her working as a waitress at the Pangaea Diner, a vacant and dead look in her eyes.

    From that sad day, whenever a therapod got the wild idea of having wings on their back legs, they all remembered poor, reckless microraptor, and cooler heads went on to prevail.

  • @Dave Hasbrouck,

    Nice Friday afternoon comic relief with Microraptor! Thanks. 🙂

  • Inthewater

    I wish this idea that you must be able to defend your belief (or non-belief) in something at a PhD level that DanD is holding us to was implemented in the Xtian world. In my experience, most defense of criticism there comes down to, “It’s in the bible”.

  • BlueRidgeLady

    Thing I noticed most was (my opinion only!) that he seemed to be over-using your name in an attempt to infantalize. Maybe I am reading a little too far, but it seems almost scolding on his part, and I think that was completely intentional. Very prickish.