S1E11: What Even Are Miracles?

Show Notes

Jon and Logan discuss miracles and why Jesus was only the greatest magician until Penn & Teller came along.

Jon talks to Natalie Newell and Dan Broadbent from the Science Enthusiast podcast!
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Twitter: @ncnewell

Jon addresses awful miracle belief in the wake of the Las Vegas shooting. Call your Congress people at (202) 224-3121!

Jon and Logan break down a verse from the Bible and learn that Christians drink poison…or something.

Intro music by Austin Colón: http://austincolon.wixsite.com/music
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Pro-Truth Pledge

Pro-Truth Pledge

The Wayward Willis podcast has taken the Pro-Truth Pledge and committed itself to providing only factual, verifiable information and, wherever necessary, providing corrections or retractions in a timely manner.  Although this podcast deals in opinion and is intended to entertain and amuse, certain segments of the show present perspectives on politics and social issues that require careful and thoughtful examination and presentation of facts.  As hosts of this podcast we’re committed to stopping the spread of misinformation.

In an age where opening a browser window or picking up your phone may result in an overwhelming flood of news and information from an overwhelming number of sources we feel it’s particularly important that we hold the sources of this news and information accountable.  There is a tangible benefit to society when public voices deal in facts and there are notable consequences when they don’t.

We feel that the Pro-Truth Pledge is an appropriate movement with which this show should be associated and we’re helping to put the word out to other public figures as well.

Why Not My President

Homunculus Drumpf

Since Drumpf was elected as our next President I’ve used the #NotMyPresident hashtag a few times. I realize that this hashtag, in the wake of the Portland and Oakland protests that turned violent and resulted in property damage and at least one life lost, has become somewhat marred with irrationality, “cry-baby” entitlement, and unjustified anger. This is obviously not representative of my views on #NotMyPresident as an idea. This post is intended to clarify why I still use #NotMyPresident.

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Spiritual vs. Imaginary

Believers have long argued for the existence of beings in the “spiritual realm” which affect the physical universe but cannot be physically detected (except in very certain circumstances and with very few exceptions).  This is convenient, of course, because the believer is free to posit whatever entity he or she wishes without having the arduous task of defending that assertion with actual evidence.  What does “spiritual” mean though?  The dictionary defines it as follows:

1. of, pertaining to, or consisting of spirit; incorporeal.
2.  of or pertaining to the spirit or soul, as distinguished from the physical nature.

That doesn’t really tell me much.  If we’re talking about incorporeal things apart from the physical nature, how is this any different from being imaginary or fictional?  Why do we make such a concessionary definition for a word like “spiritual” when the end result is really the same?

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Atheism Sucks!

I saw a video recently from some kid who seems to have it all figured out.  His thought process is a lot like mine was when I was a kid: my parents told me what to think, I adopted it as my own, and I knew I was right.  His video is titled, “Atheism Sucks.”  Dislikes on this video currently outnumber likes 3,113 to 89.  You can watch it here:

[Video Removed: s7QXhGLZW00]

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Family Ties

One thing religious people cannot stress enough is that they’re all about family.  Their organizations even have names like Focus on the Family and the American Family Association (branded a hate group out of MS).  For the most part I find this to be true so long as everyone’s keeping the faith and maintaining the status quo.  I can say from my upbringing (aside from corporal punishment and having no say in church attendance) that our Christian family was very tight-knit and we spent a lot of quality time together.  It wasn’t perfect, but it was far better than a lot of other families I’ve seen.  Now, to clarify, some of these not-so-happy families I’ve seen are religious as well so it’s not as though they have a corner on the market.  I’m just speaking to the Christian view that family is important.

As I said, religious families are close-knit and happy so long as everyone’s keeping the faith.  They don’t say, “The family that prays together stays together” for no reason.  It’s literally true.  I found this out myself when I started to upset the status quo of my family and I was made to feel like an outcast.  My family’s treatment of me was mild compared to what some people endure at the hands of their religious parents, grandparents, and siblings.

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Like Fish in a Barrel

Rick Perry’s “Strong” ad (you can click the link if you haven’t seen it; I refuse to embed it into my blog) has been getting a lot of negative press lately.  I’ve been fuming about just how incredibly stupid the guy is for the last couple of days but haven’t as yet done a whole lot of commentary on the thing.  I wanted to make a YouTube video in response but I didn’t get around to it and it doesn’t seem like it would be timely and relevant anymore.  Then again, it’s such a timeless tragedy that people like Perry even have a voice in politics I may still make that video.  For now, I’ll devote a few minutes to a blog post dedicated to all of the “duh” in this ad.  Luckily, it’s so easy I won’t even have to strain myself.

Rick perry
"I'm Rick Perry, and I'm an ignorant piece of shit."
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Lowering the Bar

Whenhen I was a Christian it seemed like everything I saw pointed to the truth of god’s existence.  I had the Bible, my parents’ word, my Sunday School teachers and preachers, any number of books and pamphlets, and nature itself bolstering my faith.  I felt like I had good reason to believe what I did and I didn’t even have to look for evidence: everything was evidence!

That is, until I actually started examining my beliefs and my reasons for holding them.  What I found was not that the evidence for god was strong, but that I was willing to accept pretty much anything as evidence so long as it adhered to my preconceptions.  Those things that didn’t conform to my beliefs were simply ignored without any thought at all.

Christian evidence
Christian? Evidence? Hmmm.
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Dear Catholic League

JT Eberhard recently posted a story about an “Adopt-an-Atheist” program proposed by Bill Donohue of the Catholic League. I, like many others, think this is a great idea! I’d love to have the Catholic Church send a few unsuspecting saps my way to try to justify the behavior and beliefs of the Catholic Church, its clergy, and the whole of Christianity. If you’re an atheist and you want to be adopted by the Catholic Church, you can fill out this contact form and let them know.

Come at me, bro
Seriously, Bring It!

Here’s my invitation:

Dear sirs,

I recently got wind of the “Adopt-an-Atheist” program proposed by Bill Donohue and want to congratulate you on such a wonderful idea! As an atheist activist myself, I’d like to let you know that I’m effectively orphaned from gods and as such up for adoption. Since no gods have contacted me as yet, I avail myself to humans to rescue me from my spiritual broken home and make me feel wanted again.

You see, I’ve personally been guilty of anti-Catholic bias. More accurately, I’m biased against all untestable, unfalsifiable claims to the supernatural and the people in leadership positions who exploit the gullibility of other human beings. It’s not just Catholicism, if you want to know the truth. It’s all forms of manipulation, greed, abuse, oppression, ignorance, violence, intolerance, and bigotry. It’s a bias against people who enable others to harm children by looking the other way. It’s a bias against those who avoid responsibility for their actions by claiming that a cosmic “good guy” forgives them unconditionally so long as they apologize telepathically. I’m most certainly biased and I think the only way for you to show me the light is to adopt me and put some real time and effort into helping me see exactly why all of this is OK. You certainly have your work cut out for you.

I suppose the worst that could happen is that I talk some sense into whomever you send my way and you lose a tither. In that case, you shouldn’t look at it so much as the Church losing money but as the world gaining one more rational, responsible, compassionate human being. I said before that your idea is wonderful and I mean it. Send us some Catholics! We love the challenge.

You can reach me any time at jon(at)willisweb(dot)com or via my contact form on The Wayward Willis, http://willisweb.com.

Yours truly,
Jon

If they get back to me (their contact form says they have a high volume of requests so they may not answer all e-mails), I’ll most certainly be posting up the results here. I doubt anything will come of this because the religious community seems to be all talk and no action but you’ll hear it here first. Stay tuned!

Who Makes the Rules?

I was always taught as a child that god was in charge.  He was the ultimate authority, the first and last word on any subject, and the law.  He took orders from nobody and had nobody to whom he had to answer.  God made the laws of nature and he could break them any time he wanted.  There was absolutely nothing he couldn’t do.  Then I read the Bible.

At many points in the Bible god is seemingly forced to take some kind of drastic action to intercede in his creation and at every one of these points he chooses (or must choose) the most elaborate, ineffective, and sometimes flat-out silly means.  It seems that every time he has to step in and take action he’s constrained by the Hollywood villain code of monologuing and setting up a trap that’s just way too complex to work.  Here are some examples:

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