Catholic vs. Atheist - 2016-08-02 - David Rand

Author Recorded Tuesday August 2nd, 2016

There are 47 episodes in the Versus:Atheist series.

Recorded February 9th, 2019

Catholic vs. Atheist - 2019-02-09 - Greg

Recorded September 11th, 2016

Catholic vs. Atheist - 2016-09-11 - Renaud

Mr. Rand is the president of the Atheist Freethinkers association. We had a nice long chat in behind the Sanctuaire Saint-Sacrament church. He was a great speaker, which made editing a breeze.


Catholic vs. Atheist - 2016-08-02 - David Rand

Author Recorded July 30th, 2016

audio


video

transcript
These YouTube transcripts are generated automatically and are therefore unformatted and replete with errors.
my name is David Rand and you're listening to Catholic vs. atheist let's start by just having you introduce yourself a little bit your philosophical journey up until this point how you got where you are what you believe in why you believe it I'm an atheist and I have been for most of my life since I began to think consciously for myself I was raised in a Christian household but I realized as a teenager that or even earlier that Christianity was not for me and by the time I was in my early 20s I was consciously calling myself an atheist but I was nae this since before that but I didn't know what it was called for the folks that might not know you already by name in Montreal or elsewhere what is the group that you represent the group is atheists freethinkers or liberal apostle at a in French my name is David R and I'm the president of the Association we've existed since about 2010-2011 and our website is a theology CA or at the ology panacea our focus is to defend the rights of atheists defend atheists against defamation to throw the rights of religious non-believers such as ourselves to prote secularism as one aspect of that and to promote philosophical materialism you personally and or your group would deny supernaturalism anything supernatural is that yes we deny the we deny the existence of the supernatural although it's a little more subtle than that if supernatural phenomena exist and they can be detected in any way whatsoever if they can be observed no matter how indirectly or matter how poorly if they can be detected then they're part of the natural world and they're not supernatural anymore and they they're just part of this world and we can examine them and study them and and that's part of the natural world and so and if they cannot be detected in any way then it's as if they didn't exist and they may as well not exist so either there are supernatural phenomena which are badly named and they're just part of the natural world we don't know well or they don't exist you mentioned something about the defense of the atheist or the defense of the non believer in our society it seems to me that you're not in a position to need that oh yes we are could you explain a little bit about that well because things are not too bad you know here in a country like Canada but the attitudes toward atheism atheists are very negative throughout the world and atheists are often subject to direct persecution for example in in Saudi Arabia is an extreme example they classify atheism as a form of terrorism which is absolutely ridiculous basically atheism is illegal in many other Muslim countries as well the Saudi Arabia apostasy is a crime it's criminalized and maybe in some countries punished by death and apostasy means leaving a religion and what they what they mean is leaving Islam and so to leave Islam to become a Christian or to become an atheist or anything else is a crime which may even be punished by death that's extremely severe even in the United States the idea being an atheist is considered very bad it's worse than being gay being gay is more acceptable now than being an atheist a person who is openly atheist could probably never get elected in the United States one of the ways in which apparently some people in the Democratic Party wanted to slander Sanders was to call him an atheist which turns out he isn't but that was a that's a form of slander because atheists are so badly looked at as as having no morality it's an old prejudice which has been around ever since Plato or longer called a Thea phobia and that's a major focus of our aboot you mentioned Saudi Arabia as an extreme example but it brought to mind martyrdom are there martyrs of the Atheist movement well martyr I don't like the word martyr because there are atheists who have been killed for being atheists in Bangladesh and in Pakistan especially Bangladesh recently very well-known high-profile cases I can't recall the names of the victims right now but there's been several in recent months and years and they have been murdered by is extreme radical Islamist groups because they published a blog which defended secularism more which criticized Islam or which criticized religion and so to be an explicit non-believer an atheist or secular and to talk about it openly can be very dangerous in some countries now in my religion Catholicism if you explicitly die for your faith and it's your faith you're dying for you are a saint you go straight to heaven what is the case well the best case scenario for an atheist an atheist that atheism is not a faith there is no faith it's simply a rejection of fears and and by extension supernaturalism in general theism being the most important supernatural belief the belief in a an all-powerful God as a supernatural entity and so it's not a question of faith it's a matter of saying we don't buy your faith in a Creator God you do not share your belief and death is the end of life there is no afterlife where that's why this life is so important because the only one we have and that's why it is so important to live it to the best you know as as best we can that's why it's important to warp drive for justice in this life because there's nobody's going to get punished in the afterlife or get rewarded in the app tonight do you believe that justice is achieved in the overall balance no I think that Justin's vestas is very often not achieved and it's up to us to do it justice will never be achieved if we human beings don't work for it that's the only way justice gets done the scales of justice they're supposed to be impartial but if the bad guys are getting away with stuff and the good guys are suffering then I would say the scales have been tipped are the scales tipped a little bit a lot what is your I think I can't put a number on it but the scales are being tipped a lot there's a whole lot of injustice standards of living are rising globally so am led to understand from the statistics that so there is good news nevertheless there is there are massive inequalities and there are people who don't have adequate water there were adequate food there are a women who do not are not able to control their own reproduction and and so they and their families are condemned to poverty by restrictions on their sexuality and the reproduction and that is a gross injustice it seems that you have a picture of reality such that justice is an ideal that hasn't been achieved and if we all could get together and work towards it maybe we could help tip the balance but ultimately the record is marred throughout history such that will never have a perfect record of justice but we could just fix it a little bit over time and perhaps forget about the bad old i'm not i'm not working for perfection i'm working for improvement ok the concept of perfection is probably a religious concept anyway there's no such thing as perfection we want to improve things and that we certainly can do when you improve are you moving towards the good and the perfect and the just we're moving towards towards justice for the good yes ok but not toward the perfect as I say I don't really think because we would have to agree absolutely wondrous on what is what is the perfect situation for perfection to exist there's there'll always be lots of disagreement about what direction we should be working in but we can most humans can agree that we would like to get rid of hunger disease or war you know we can agree on a lot of things and work toward those things the notion of good better best that seems valid to a scientific to you well that's good better yeah it's just if we improve from good to better and better to best that seems like a logical progression yes it's not offensive to you to move from better to best offensive no it's just that I think that these definitions are very abstract there they're abstract in there I don't know if they're well defined I mean the only thing we can work for is the better ok ok I mean the best is I don't know what your best you're a bit hesitant to embrace the notion that there is a best well I in absolute what I what I will not embrace is the concept of perfection because I don't think such a thing as possible or I don't think it can even be defined pragmatically is it is useful to strive for this perfection it is pragmatic to strive towards and betterment yes it's making things better you don't aim high you're never going to even yes mediocrity it's probably a good strategy when you talk about justice when you talk about achieving justice is there an eternal objective standard by which you're judging justice no like I said I don't I don't think there's perfection but I know that one thing we can do is to completely neutralize the power of the Catholic Church internationally that would be an excellent thing because the Catholic Church is a motor of poverty and misery throughout the planet it doesn't necessarily do it deliberately and explicitly but it denies women control over their own bodies by restricting contraception and family planning and abortion and all the various tools that that people need and it's specifically women need so that they can plan their lives and live better and by not allowing them to do that they're condemned to be at the whim of their body they get pregnant or they don't they have five children instead of they only wanted to or whatever and the situation condemns women in particular and societies in general to poverty creates a whole lot of misery and so one thing we can do to make the world a better place is to kill the power of the Vatican to stop the Vatican to stop the Catholic Church from preventing women to control their own reproduction I want to present you with the two enemies of atheism that you mentioned Islam and the Catholic Church which one do you fear most of which one do you hate more Islam and Catholicism being one very large current in Christianity are both very negative they're very harmful to humanity in different ways it turns out that Islam is currently on a bit of a roll and it's extremely dangerous because of the radical terrorist aspect of Islam Islamic fundamentalism but there was a time when Christianity was worse than Islam and it's Christianity remains of a force a very very harmful force worldwide as well what can you see that I can't see about how the church's harming me as a man a white privilege Western man or am I not in a position to be hurt by the Catholic Church your harmed a lot less than other people just be and so am i am harmed a lot less than a lot of people simple by virtue of living in a relatively well-to-do country where we have certain basic freedoms that I mean it's not perfect but as a whole lot better than to some other countries being a man it things like that to the harm is highly mitigated for us but it still exists I think everyone is harmed when people are denied basic rights will you be willing to hazard a guess as to how I'm suffering in the church I have no idea I can't talk about you personally know well I would say that Roman Catholicism distorts the relations between the genders women by virtue of the reproductive capabilities are more directly harmed but that harms everyone it means that people in general cannot plan their reproduction it impacts women directly but in it impacts men indirectly man who are in relationships with women or you know men who want to be Father's or don't want to be father is it the church's attitude towards sexuality in general towards homosexuality is very damaging basically for the Catholic Church homosexuality is okay as long as you're a member of the clergy and you're sufficiently hypocritical but if you are honest about it and open about it it's a sin or there's something wrong with it and it's it basically the Catholic Church is an engine for hypocrisy in the field of sexuality in general and homosexuality in particular and the trouble is it says this with the pretense of divine authority a priest who happens to to abuse someone sexually or even abuse them in some other way it's a little different from just an ordinary human being who abuses another person because that priests is imbued according to the Catholic Church with divine authority and that means that that gives that person a great deal of power which means a great you love a potential for abuse the corruption of the best is the worst well I wouldn't say they're the best but you let their corruption can be the corruption of those who have who are reputed to be of the best who have the authority of as if they were the best their corruption yes can be very helpful which form of Christianity were you raised with I was raised in a Protestant church a very liberal Protestant church d know the name of the denominations oh yeah the United Church of Canada it's the most important Protestant denomination in in Canada that's the church I was baptized in okay as a child okay and it so it's very you know it's very open minded compared to two probably the majority of Christian churches but I think it's naive to credit them or give them too much credit for what they've done they still hang on to the idea of morality being situated to create Creator God they're a big proponent of multiculturalism which his is become very damaging in Canada because it's used as a as a sort of as a vehicle to oppose secularism and I mean by multiculturalism it used to mean cultural diversity it doesn't mean that anymore and now it means more like cultural relativism means that people's attachment to their ethno-religious community is more important than their citizenship and that's what's that's what's harmful for example when a previous Quebec government tried to implement secularism here they're accused of being racist and intolerant and xenophobic all of which is nonsense but and this is all based on the ideology of multiculturalism if you don't like it to erase this whereas in fact I think that multiculturalism is like a soft form of racism but anyway the United Church of Canada is a strong proponent of that it's it's it's very much I call it the religious left we all know the religious right you nitrogen Canada that's the religious left do you place the Catholic Church on the writer in the center oh it's more on the right okay it's it's sort of in a classified stuff it is the biggest Christian organization on the planet I think yeah it's very right-wing but it's also very large and varied and the there are left-wing Catholics and would you include the Pope by the left-wing path no I would consider him as a clever marketer and someone not to be trusted I think he's very sort of fashionable these days because he says a lot of nice things but basically it's the same old same old he's just a very good he's a really good propaganda it turns out the pope is catholic yes yes how you say it seems pretty catholic and if we go um I don't know the details but I believe he has some pretty close associations with the dictatorship in our in his native argentina I need to research that further but I do know that he was involved in administration of a Catholic University in Argentina and the Declaration of Principles of that university and there were there were three basic principles and I forgotten what two of them were but the first one of them and the first was the fight against atheism and I don't think he's changed his opinion on that at all basically the idea is that atheism is bad because atheism atheists have no morals because morality belongs to the Catholic Church we we own it that's what the Catholic Church says we own morality and that is nonsense what you're saying makes me think immediately of Freemasonry because Freemasonry seems to have your same objective in mind which is the eradication of religion and the elevation of reason I wouldn't say the eradication because i would say remove its power and then it it will fade into insignificance but removing its power is a big job I'm not familiar with the Masons I've heard of them i think i was actually accused of being one because i was involved in the fight for secularism and and sort of the Masons are sort of like the Jews of secularism like you're the Jews of anti-catholicism if somebody criticizes the Catholic Church so no goddamn freemason and so I got accused of one of her boots what's a freemason but I believe the Freemasons are there's a large variety there's a whole gamut of them and some of them are religious and some are not and some are more progressive than others some are more anti-catholic than others but there is a very old organization or a very old movement with many organizations what I would say is that I've met vegetarians who eat meat but that doesn't change the definition of vegetarianism Freemasonry has a doctrine your movement and has a clear agenda and it seems to me that you should be working together because you're you're very United in your gold a secular world with reason as its well the most the most secular non-religious Freemasons have apparently a political position which is compatible with ours to my understanding but I don't that the older such an organization exists in Quebec of oh yeah this is that there's a freemason lodge right by a church that I go to I consider them sort of very old-fashioned like sort of old boys club almost medieval that like they're like they're among the original critics of Christianity which I think gives to their great credit there's a lot of rich pseudo religious ritual apparently and also then because they've been around for so long they it's a movement that started at a time when it was extremely dangerous to criticize the Catholic Church and so they had to be very subtle and careful and and I think that's part of their tradition is that they're not quite open enough in their criticism now what do you think of another group that I think is very similar and that's the Satanist I'm not familiar with Satan this either very similar goals reason Liberty from religion what yes I mean religion I considered to be at best harmless but generally harmful and often extremely harmful and we have examples that today but the Satanists I'm not familiar with they have a taboo to be associated with someone with that well not me you know no I do have one sort of a reservation Satan is it's a myth it's a supernatural mythological character and I can understand if they're using it in a strictly metaphorical boy it means and that's fine but that's something I need to clarify the atheistic Satanists are the theistic Satanist also there are always like the Freemasons there's something okay well then she I don't know enough about it they seem like resources that you have not yet tapped but maybe you're busy enough with the regular Joe Blow atheist well I mean in addition to atheists there are humanists who have very similar goals to us there are people who call themselves secular but they don't necessarily call themselves atheists and they have goals very similar to ours and you know there are people who call themselves agnostic and you know we reject that term but you know often they have similar goals sometimes not but there's a whole gamut of people with whom we share some values do you know any closet atheists that go to Catholic Church I don't personally but I'm sure there are he's probably a lot of it is probably have a lot of closet atheists in the priesthood for that matter yeah I mean I mean those who are who have studied the have studied the theology long enough who come to the conclusion that it's a house of cards my journey from atheism in to Catholicism was via western philosophy how do you view me psychologically as someone that's gone off the rails how would you describe my I don't know I don't know you personally I don't know how you could get from Satanism to Catholicism but at least you've informed me that your Satanism was atheistic okay so I know that now my leap was a very short jump from me as God to God has got a very short leap you as God yeah this is logical outcome of atheism if you're going to ask yourself Who am I how did I get here what is the source of my life there only two answers I am the source of existence or God is no no that's not that's not correct atheism does not posit that the individual is God you am NOT God you would lose membership for sure if you explicitly said that but that is the lodge out in very much you do realize that there's a gnostic new-age mole right that people are expressly coming out of the closet saying i am god you do understand oprah winfrey and people like that she said are saying that yeah I find the whole concept kind of silly anyway why there is no God and so we don't have to be one the point I know where we came from we came from evolution of other species that happened over billions of years and you know that's where we came from do you believe in the Big Bang I don't believe in anything in the sense of being attached to that as belief if if the scientific evidence points to that okay then show me the evidence would you be opposed to the idea that the universe has no beginning that i think is plausible yes i mean there could of if if there was a big bang at the beginning then maybe there was something before the Big Bang and though so that wasn't really the beginning and you know maybe there's a a bang and is in a shrink and a bang in a shrinking every 30 gazillion years you know would it be safe to say that you prefer a universe that's infinite in both directions past and future would you prefer that philosophically because then you don't need to deal with that troublesome beginning going from nothing to something an eternal universe is simpler than one that was created so I would have some preference for that but it's only a time you don't you don't see the logical necessity of a first cause in the universe where cause and effect determines every no I don't accept the idea that you go back and back and you have to stop and there oh and then that's God do you believe in cause and effect of course there's cause and effect but there's also random fluctuation and randomness do those random fluctuations obey the laws of nature the laws of nature are not written down in some big book that we discover them we see patterns and we recognize them and and we predict events based on those laws which we make up from the data we've observed and if our predictions turn out to be true then that violates the law is probably being a good one but it's there's nothing sacred about them do you believe that randomness is truly random and uncaused do you believe that randomness is uncaused it is not part of the cause and effect chain I could ask you I could ask you another way are you a determinist or do you believe in free will oh that's a huge question and my mind is not made up from my limited knowledge of philosophy is an extremely difficult question that philosophers have been bending their brains around for millennia and still not solved would you prefer to have free will real free will as opposed to just the illusion of freedom do you experience the illusion of free will at least oh yeah I experience the illusion but as you say it may be an illusion it may be a reality it may be a reality as well would that damage your determinism with cause and effect in science I would have to see how they fit together I mean the reality may be some combination of determinism and randomness and with some portion of free will mixed with a certain degree of determinism is free will by definition supernatural no free will is a scientific notion in the laboratory can we test free will can we find free will or you'd have to define it first before you can test for it I mean what are you going to test a human being or some animal and how do you define free will an action where no cause can be found or in principle even though in the lab it's difficult there are many things in the lab that are difficult but in principle do you think that free will follows cause and effect clearly if we have free will it's not infinite you can't do everything some things are possible where where where we are bound by certain constraints I can't fly no matter how much free will I have if you watch water tumbling over a waterfall you would agree that its movements are all bound by the laws of nature and by cause and effect no its general movements but there's a there's probably a great deal of random motion within the water at a microscopic submicroscopic scale I mean molecules moving around randomly because of their other particular temperature that's thermodynamics if I flip a coin is the outcome determined by the laws of nature and cause and effect well if you could describe and quantify all the variables maybe but there's a help a lot of variables what if it's a little little current air current they didn't take account of is you know if we in a vacuum we let a coin fall if it's in a vacuum that simplifies things greatly it removes a lot of variables and you know it's completely deterministic unless it happens to land on its edge and the edge is infinitely thin and I don't know what are you and the this is when you decide to have chocolate versus vanilla ice cream is that decision deterministic in the same way or is there a different process I don't know he's the complexity preventing you from having an opinion about free will just the complexity that's probably it yes because I'm I'm not a professional philosopher and I think I would have to be one to fully understand these concepts of free will in principle would it change your a theistic worldview if you realize that free will is real and that it's supernatural well first of all a free will were real and on delusion I don't think that would change anything but your statement that that it could be supernatural I'd find that a meaningless statement okay what about your mind if you came to understand that your mind is not just activity in your brain it's not an epiphenomenon what your mind itself is supernatural with that change your atheistic worldview the mind is simply the result of brain activity if a criminal commits a criminal act and the judge sentenced him to prison do you think that the deterministic scientific nature of his act removes guilt from him if there's no free will if there is no free will okay but that's a big if I think it's pretty clear that punishment doesn't work very well anyway and so I expect an evolution of criminal law in the future but I can't say I can't give any details in principle you believe that we are moral agents we have well morality is simply intelligent self-interest who's a better example of a moral person the one who lives in reality or the one that lives in a delusion I would say the one who lives in reality would you agree would you be willing to agree in principle that if God created you that you owe him worship and love and obedience in principle not necessarily and to say that God exists is it is a humongous leap of faith to begin with but then even if we accept that and take that leap of faith why the hell with that entity need to be worshipped or adulate it God doesn't need anything but let me let me ask you a different way if you receive love is it natural for you to reciprocate that love not necessarily it may be undesired love his loves about stalking our child abuse her you know love is not always a good thing and hate is not always a bad thing is that all depends on context if we define love as the church does that love is the willing of the good of the other would you say that that's always good the willing of the good of the other it's I where you well if it's limited to simply a wish which app does nothing then it's harmless it's irrelevant but if it if it leads to action then that action may have consequences and it may be misguided if somebody does something for me without me asking for it they could do something I don't like and I could interpret that as hostility and not love did you consent to every loving gesture your mother made towards you when you were an infant no but that doesn't mean I children are unable to consent to everything and even adults and we have our limitations in principle if there is an all-loving God who doesn't need anything but just gratuitously created you and loves you and knows that what's best for you is to go to him because he's the source of everything good and only with him can you be happy would you be willing and principle to go to god I'm not going to answer that question because it starts with a whole lot of ifs each one of which is a humongous assumption if you had a distant relative that you were unaware of that has lots of money and that is eager to get in touch with you to help you with whatever projects you have yes would you be willing in principle to meet with that person share have you heard of Pascal's wager yes what do you think of Pascal's wager I think it's a pretty lame excuse to believe in God I think it's pretty lame if you believe in God and God exists you win if you believe in God and God doesn't exist you lose nothing and if you don't believe in God but he or she or it exists then you lose big time but it's not true i mean if if you believe in God and God does not exist and if you spend your entire lifetime basing your actions on a belief in God which causes to do you to do a whole bunch of things you wouldn't have done you may end up wasting your life I mean you could be doing other things more interesting if you spend your entire lifetime trying to please a fictional entity in ways which do not please you're either yourself or other people then why not go through life enjoying this short precious time we have here instead of attempting to please a fictional entity in the hope that he she or it will somehow reward us after we're dead or I'm not sure I have 11 interesting thought experiment for you I think you find it interesting in your atheistic worldview what's preventing someone if in principle they could find a way to hide their sick and malicious pleasure seeking which is at the expense of helpless victims but he covers it up to such an extent that no one ever finds out of course the victim is fine they're they're not going to tell anyone and he he gets extreme pleasure from exerting this power and all the sexual things he does and he lives life to the fullest he has all the things that all of us want in terms of money and pleasure and dies peacefully in his sleep in your atheistic worldview what's wrong with the choices that that man made what's wrong with the choices yeah because he maximized his pleasure those types of others and no one ever suspected him he was treated as a pillar of the community the what's wrong is that we human beings are social animals we live in societies and no person is an island but he was the talk of the town he everyone thought he was a saint well he was extremely lucky that's all okay I mean people were harmed by this person at first I thought you were positing the idea of an evil god but you were talking about an evil human being okay but that's another interesting idea the hypothesis about a idea of it of an evil God pretends to be good and loving but no okay you're talking about an evil person get that never gets found out well I mean that that's that there are limitations to human justice you know we don't always detect injustice you know there were imperfect we're limited but we nevertheless have laws and procedures to enforce those laws and all of which are highly imperfect but they're better than nothing and the idea is to is to read out or prevent the most egregious examples of harming other people do you think that that person in principle could exist even though he's rare because it's a rare form of genius but do you think that that sort of person would be violating his own conscious necessarily because there is like you're describing a psychopath they have such people do exist and there are people who are devoid of the sort of voice of conscience the the psychological makeup that most of us have the majority of us have that that caused us to feel what you might what I might call emotional pain mmm that is guilt remorse things like that that is a handicap for which the person him for herself does not apparently suffer but other people do and but it's still suffering and we are social animals and you know if you want to be absolutely one hundred percent egotistical about that one person okay they're happy great but you know no person is totally isolated and you don't you don't think he's in an env Obel position really objectively speaking no because this person is apparently unable to connect with other people emotionally it sounds like the person is a psychopath and they probably lose out a lot in the quality of life for the same way like don't they don't feel that guilt and remorse but they probably don't feel other feelings that are more friendship love loyalty the whole range of human emotions is probably perverted or distorted or you know in that person I don't know but so it it seems that you value these intangible things Justice loyalty friendship that doesn't seem inconsistent to you as my fist no these are these there are plenty of intangible things that are that we use to describe behavior I mean loyalty is a form of behavior it's not it it's not tangible but we can recognize it can they be reduced to a Darwinian mechanic survival of the species sometimes yes that's so that Darwinian worldview is it a big part of your world yes certainly of course evolution is essential everything evolves I mean and not just animals and plants but you know the universe evolves societies evolve Darwin's worldview the Darwinian world world view will be interpreted with increasing subtlety and got more nuanced he laid the foundation what it was was crude from our point of view but it was the essential beginning he got they got their guts right and we're adding all the new ones as research continues if there happened to be any religious listeners what would you say to them on a personal level we all want to be good people is your religion really necessary for you to do that do you really need your religious beliefs in order to be the good person if you like a world view if you think it's got some questions at the end I'll tell all you got to do is all you got to tell all you got to do is all you got to do is

transcript2
These ReWatch transcripts are also generated automatically and are therefore sometimes improperly unformatted and replete with errors.