78 – Seriously, an Atheism Episode?

Eneasz, Jess, and Steven take an hour or so to talk about the New Atheism movement that occurred in the mid 2000’s. We experienced a bit of audio loss in the second half of the episode, so the conversation occasionally jumps around a bit, especially around an hour and 20 minutes in for about 5 minutes… Sorry about that. We’re buying an SSD to hopefully prevent any lossy recording in the future.


Links to things talked about in today’s episode:

Gwern’s (a popular contributor to LessWrong) personal website

Guided Path Decision Advisor that Jess mentioned (other tools here)

The first part of the Four Horsemen of the New Atheists group conversation

The Amazing IQ Squared debate with Hitch and Fry

Jai’s Blog post “Foes Without Faces” that Eneasz brought up

On Immunity, the book Jess mentioned


Be sure to check out Eneasz’s book, What Lies Dreaming

Vote for What Lies Dreaming at Top Web Fiction!


Sequence Posts for next time:

Self Deception: Hypocrisy of Akrasia? 

Tsuyoku Naritai (I Want to Become Stronger!)


Big thanks to David for our intro music! Check out his music and VFX here!

We’d like to thank creators of our new outro music from the Sumerki Project! Check out their stuff here!

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4 Responses to 78 – Seriously, an Atheism Episode?

  1. Robert K says:

    I think your discussion on python was too personally motivated. Literacy is nice for a person to have, but universal literacy means that things like instruction manuals are standard issue. If there was universal programming, you might imagine that your phone would make programming it easier, so I could for instance program a small bet tracking app in 30 minutes. The ability to customize ie alerts or notifications on your desktop might be more accessible. Fantasy Football websites might be expected to offer public APIs, so you could graph player progress easily.

  2. Pingback: Rational Newsletter | Issue #47

  3. As both a bayesian rationalist who practices rationality everyday (or try to, I’m human after all) and a biblical scholar, I want to say that there actually is a strong support in the Newt Testament for the idea that correct belief will not be the discriminating feature to be found righteous in the eyes of God.

    For starters, there’s a huge thing about truth in the Gospel of John. Jesus is supposed to have brought two things to the world: grace and truth (Jn 1:17). And in the beginning, Jesus explains what separates bad people from good people; spoiler: it’s not belief. He doesn’t say that bad people are unbelievers and good people are believers (of a correct belief).

    Instead, Jesus says that bad people act in the shadow for fear of their actions being known and good people act openly. (Jn 3:20–21)

    Another important support is found, surprisingly enough, in Paul’s letters. In the first letter to the Corinthians, in two passages, he repeats twice that everything is permitted (and those four occurrences are not an accident for someone trained in classical rhetoric). He basically lays down a meta-moral to build a personal moral system from scratch, that can be summarized as “Don’t do anything you believe to be bad. Don’t be a slave to anything. Don’t do anything that is bad for others.”

    Of course, both Jesus and Paul insist heavily on the importance of a relationship with God. But it is still surprising and subversive of them to have these open views about morality, hence the case for conscience above dogma.

  4. As a bayesian rationalist and a biblical scholar, I find it quite disheartening when atheists choose to be the promoters of fundamentalist bullshit.

    Did you really study the Bible to be able to say that it clearly condemns homosexuality, or are you seriously saying that you, as rationalists, consider religious fundamentalists to be credible experts in biblical hermeneutics, to the point that you will promote their views?

    The very concept of homosexuality as we understand it today is only 150 years old! The scientific state of the art in archeology, history and linguistics is that the probability that the authors of the Bible have said anything about homosexuality is infinitesimal. (or do you consider that God actually inspired them to such a degree that he got them to write 2 millenia ago about such a recent a concept?)

    Did some of the authors had something against sexual relationships between people of the same sex? Probably. Though there’s a decent argument to be made that there are a few prominent queer characters in the Bible, at least David, Jonathan, Ruth and Naomi.

    Did the issues some of the authors had with same-sex relationships are the same issues some modern religious people have? Doubtful. Very doubtful, actually. (although obviously they may have some intersection)

    Some of those very rare verses (6 in total in the Bible, only one applicable to women) are pretty weird when you don’t pretend, with the weight of church-authorized interpretation, that they are clear and easy to interpret for modern readers.

    As an example, I would strongly encourage people to read a recent article from a biblical scholar from Oxford on Lev 18:22/20:13. Reading this, you may realize how the usual translation says a lot of things that are neither clear nor explicit in the Hebrew text.


    So, please, please, apply rationality to this subject: religious fundamentalist CLAIM that the Bible clearly condemns homosexuality, so say that THEY claim this. Don’t promote their bullshit by saying that the Bible does anything if your only source on the subject are religious fundamentalists.

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