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Thomas J.J. Altizer - The Death of God
Posted: 04 April 2010 05:11 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 31 ]
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alex - 04 April 2010 03:40 PM

I’m am disappointed in this podcast episode too. Maybe it would help if the staff or a select few where able to listen to episodes prior to publication. I think CFI needs to remember that with all the available podcasts on the internet that it’s better just to not publish a bad one, since if a first time listener happened to listen to this episode they might just not want to listen to another one.

Alex has a good point.  They are more likely to give up and not try again than log on here and find out it isn’t really the norm {we hope}

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Posted: 04 April 2010 07:06 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 32 ]
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After being a fan or POI for such a long time, it is unfortunate that I am compelled to register on the forums to express my dismay with the most recent podcast.  Much of it was gobbledy gook and some of the statements on the face it were patently absurd…perhaps I am missing something.  The concept that you have to be a Christian to be an atheist was one that leapt out, I have never been a Christian (having being raised in a secular home) and I do not believe in the biblical god or any gods that have ever existed - what does that make me?

When one has devoted so much of their life to the research of a myth, perhaps they fail to see how unimportant such myths are in the context of a discussion about the existence of deities.  Dawkins comment that “do you have to read up on leprechology before disbelieving in leprechauns?” springs to mind.  Furthermore, his the way he dismisses of the new atheists seemed off hand…how could Altizer comment on them or describe them as not being thinkers when he admits to not reading their books.

I have enjoyed Robert Price as an interviewee on the Infidel Guy’s show, but so far he has been too cosy with his guests.  He needs to stop being a fanboy and start being an interviewer by facilitating the discussion so that the listener not only enjoys the discussion, but actually understands it!

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Posted: 05 April 2010 01:54 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 33 ]
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Like others, I feel compelled to post to this forum to register my frustration at this podcast.  It’s just too bad that all I wanted to say has already been well-said. 

I tried desperately hard to grasp the argument, but there was none, only assertion after assertion and name-dropping - all without explanation. We might well have been listening in on a private chat between two long-lost mates for all the audience mattered, we were treated with disdain.  However, what really riled me was Altizer’s contemptuous dismissal of the ‘New Atheists’ (whom he doesn’t even read) as non-serious thinkers.  This was a flat insult to writers like Sam Harris, whose latest foray into the Moral landscape is quite fascinating as he expounds his reasons for fastening morality to hard science - and its all perfectly comprehendible to the educated lay-person - that is what communication is all about.  POI needs to apologise to its listeners (while it still has some) and to Messrs Harris, Dawkins, et al for this insult.

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Posted: 05 April 2010 06:45 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 34 ]
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Like many others I felt I had to register just to complain about this episode. I’ve been listening to POI for over 2 years now and this was some of the most unintelligible ‘philosophical’ rambling I’ve ever heard. Completely inaccessible to someone not already steeped in this nonsense. I turned it off just over halfway through. “You can’t be an atheist without being Christian”? Give me a break. The interview was just filled with these pseudo-philosophical statements which were never justified or explained. Claiming that God has literally died is no more an unsupported bald assertion than saying God exists.

Bob Price needs to work on his interview skills. These episodes have been absolutely terrible to listen to. A good interviewer puts himself in the shoes of his audience, plays devils advocate, and clarifies important terms and definitions. Price does none of that. What kind of an interview question is asking whether or not some random theologian is a “death of god” theologian, a guy that I guarantee 95% of your audience has never heard of at a point where you haven’t even really explained what a death of god theologian is. As soon as you do that, you might as well be having a private conversation because you’ve lost me. I learned more about Christian Atheism and Death of God theology in 5 seconds on wikipedia than I did from this episode and that is just shameful. Price gets one more chance to redeem himself. I guess one benefit of the new format is that you will only lose 33% of a listener if he fails to do so.

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Posted: 05 April 2010 08:49 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 35 ]
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“The Death of God”? Sounded more like “The Death of PoI” to me. What a load of hogwash.

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Posted: 05 April 2010 01:55 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 36 ]
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Well a few things. First of all, for the people baffled by this, terms such as “crock of manure,” “gobbeldy gook,” and “hogwash” do little to contribute to your understanding or anyone elses. Instead of jumping on the “I hate what I don’t have the understanding for” bandwagon, pick up a book and have at it.

Secondly, most of you are admitting you fall under the “new atheist” heading. I don’t think you realize that most of the podcasts with new atheist interviewees contain equally esoteric language and just as obscure name dropping for those unfamiliar with the speakers. But like many of you said, many of you are used to thinking in that manner so what someone would see as an absurdity uttered by Dawkins, you see as perfectly in tune with your line of thinking. And thats fine, this podcast caters primarily to that crowd, and is listened to primarily by this group of people. But not all of POI’s subscribers fall in line with this mode of thinking, and I for one found this podcast to be a welcome reprieve.

So on that note, I’d be really interested to engage in an actual discussion of the contents of the podcast. I’m not familiar with the works of Altizer at all, but I have read some of Derrida and found the relation of deconstruction to this Death of God theology quite interesting. I’d be interested to hear from someone more familiar with this topic.

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Posted: 05 April 2010 02:18 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 37 ]
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I like some others registered to discuss this given episode. I can appreciate that being a new interviewer on a prestigious show might inspire one to want to bring forth novel points of view, and so feel compassion for him at reading some of the harsher comments above. For the most part however (for as long as I could bear to listen), I found the interview incomprehensible. I look to Point of Inquiry to help me think more clearly, in new ways and to discuss points of interest in a new light.

One of the reasons I’m atheist is that I’ve observed that religions and their theologies often push people’s minds into realms of utter non-sense; this last podcast is rarefied example thereof. I found it to be a bit akin to junk food chemists enthusing over the value and composition of various chemical flavourings while on a health food podcast.

Surely this was merely an unfortunate subject for the interviewer and look forward to further ones to learn more.

* Of Note! I’m sure this episode has caused more people to register than most- Good job! smile

[ Edited: 05 April 2010 02:26 PM by Frank M ]
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Posted: 05 April 2010 02:19 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 38 ]
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I felt the need to register to give POI my feedback.

I have loved POI for almost 6 months since I discovered it.  I can safely say that this is was the worst show I have listened to.  I even listened to the introduction 2 times to try and get prepped in some way for what the discussion was about.  Too much name dropping that I do not know.  It was more like he was having a chat with the man and we happened to be eavesdropping rather than him interviewing someone.  Like others have said before I needed the commentator to ask questions to actually help me understand what was being discussed. 

I even wiki’d death of god theology.

“God is dead” never meant that Nietzsche believed in an actual God who first existed and then died in a literal sense. It may be more appropriate to consider the statement as Nietzsche’s way of saying that the “God” of the times (religion and other such spirituality) is no longer a viable source of any received wisdom.

A common atheist idea is that religion does not provide us with morals as it is very evident because we do not believe in god and we do not go around just indiscriminately killing and stealing etc. like religious people think we would.  I receive no wisdom from god and never will because he does not exist.  Nietzsche wanted a way to prevent nihilism from spreading when religion was lost in some way is why he said this phrase(from what I understand) and it only makes sense if you are a christian who is losing faith or something to me.

From my limited understanding it seems like a strange idea.  Does anyone have a better way to explain it?

[ Edited: 05 April 2010 03:01 PM by Drunkhobo ]
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Posted: 05 April 2010 02:45 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 39 ]
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You know how most of us get annoyed when someone with a fundamental approach to a given religion chimes in on, say, a thread on evolutionary biology and claims to be an authority in a field they have no formal understanding of? Just saying…

Dogmatism and close-mindedness are dogmatic and close-minded regardless of who is doing the preaching. And despite its explicit implications, preaching goes on in environment like this a fair deal more than it should. If you don’t understand a topic, you should probably educate yourself about it before you dismiss it. I believe that would be a rather rational approach, no?

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Posted: 05 April 2010 03:36 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 40 ]
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I am one of those who found the Podcast to be gobbeldy gook and I normally have no issue with listening to theological discussions about religion, but as issue for me is more in the delivery of this particular podcast.

I admit it, I am lazy (or perhaps to busy) to go away and read up on many of the topics presented on Point of Inquiry and so I do put some faith in the interviewer asking the right questions to make it clear to me at an introductory level.  This discussion was pitched to high and assumed a lot of prior knowledge of the part of the listener.  I would have been interested to know exactly what Altizer meant by the ‘Death of God’, why you have to be a Christian to be an atheist, and why Altizer was so quick to dismiss the New Atheists.

I hope that Bob listens to the feedback here and makes his future podcasts more accessible.

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Posted: 05 April 2010 03:37 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 41 ]
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Well, I used to be a Christian who actually bothered to study the Bible and now I’m an atheist, so I am fully qualified to say Thomas JJ Altizer is full of shit. “God couldn’t be dead if God didn’t exist.” What utter rubbish. Proves nothing except that Altizer and Price want to believe their ideas are truth.

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Posted: 05 April 2010 04:43 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 42 ]
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Crazywumbat - 05 April 2010 01:55 PM

Well a few things. First of all, for the people baffled by this, terms such as “crock of manure,” “gobbeldy gook,” and “hogwash” do little to contribute to your understanding or anyone elses. Instead of jumping on the “I hate what I don’t have the understanding for” bandwagon, pick up a book and have at it.

Secondly, most of you are admitting you fall under the “new atheist” heading. I don’t think you realize that most of the podcasts with new atheist interviewees contain equally esoteric language and just as obscure name dropping for those unfamiliar with the speakers. But like many of you said, many of you are used to thinking in that manner so what someone would see as an absurdity uttered by Dawkins, you see as perfectly in tune with your line of thinking. And thats fine, this podcast caters primarily to that crowd, and is listened to primarily by this group of people. But not all of POI’s subscribers fall in line with this mode of thinking, and I for one found this podcast to be a welcome reprieve.

So on that note, I’d be really interested to engage in an actual discussion of the contents of the podcast. I’m not familiar with the works of Altizer at all, but I have read some of Derrida and found the relation of deconstruction to this Death of God theology quite interesting. I’d be interested to hear from someone more familiar with this topic.

You completely missed the point of just about every comment in this thread. If Point of Inquiry wants to be a podcast that seeks to educate people about pseudoscience, the paranormal, and the role of religion in society, this is not the way to go about it. It’s completely fair to label that interview as gobbledygook because to anyone who doesn’t already have a solid understand of what they were talking about, that’s what it sounded like. If the majority of your audience is just as clueless about the topic at the end as they were at the beginning then you’ve failed in your mission. It has nothing to do with “I hate what I don’t understand”. You made that straw man up all on your own.

I don’t see how your second point has anything to do with this discussion. If estoric language and name-dropping is not a good way to discuss issues with a lay audience then how does “but… but… the new atheists do it too!” going to help anyone?

On a pure level, Altizer’s religious proclamation viewed God’s death (really a self-extinction) as a process that began at the world’s creation and came to an end through Jesus Christ—whose crucifixion in reality poured out God’s full spirit into this world. -Wikipedia

The charge of close-mindedness is the typical, plaintive whine of the crank. When Altizer can actually produce some evidence that a literal God existed and died and that he poured his spirit out into the world, whatever that means, then we can talk.

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Posted: 05 April 2010 05:35 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 43 ]
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I don’t see how your second point has anything to do with this discussion. If estoric language and name-dropping is not a good way to discuss issues with a lay audience then how does “but… but… the new atheists do it too!” going to help anyone?

My point is that we should be consistent with our criticism, and if we find it permissible for one person to forgo such base considerations then we should extend the privilege to all.

The charge of close-mindedness is the typical, plaintive whine of the crank. When Altizer can actually produce some evidence that a literal God existed and died and that he poured his spirit out into the world, whatever that means, then we can talk.

And I would argue that overt hostility and baseless dismissal are the typical responses of the ignorant and the incompetent. Furthermore, a single sentence taken out of context from a very short Wikipedia article is hardly a respectable way to go about critiquing someone’s line of thought.

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Posted: 05 April 2010 05:40 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 44 ]
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Crazywumbat - 05 April 2010 02:45 PM

If you don’t understand a topic, you should probably educate yourself about it before you dismiss it. I believe that would be a rather rational approach, no?

Probably as rational as feeling the need to study 19th-century French history to figure out that the guy who claims to be Napoleon on the subway is a mental patient.

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Posted: 05 April 2010 06:31 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 45 ]
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Argh.  Its really good I wasn’t born a fish.  I’d be dinner since I find rising to the bait irresistible.  It seems that Crazywumbat the concern troll is concerned.

Since I’m the one who used gobbledy gook first I thought I might comment.

Crazy wrote:
Well a few things. First of all, for the people baffled by this, terms such as “crock of manure,” “gobbeldy gook,” and “hogwash” do little to contribute to your understanding or anyone elses. Instead of jumping on the “I hate what I don’t have the understanding for” bandwagon, pick up a book and have at it.

For starters, I’m not baffled.  There was a total lack of clarity in the introduction.  And it didn’t get better as the podcast went on.  One of my favorite things about language are some of the shorthand expressions that we use.  Simple.  Declarative.  Pithy.  Easily understood by all.  I’m a particular fan of Yiddish for just that reason.

When I said gobbledy gook, everyone with English as a first language understood what I meant.  They may not have agreed, but my opinion was clear.

Crazy wrote:
… pick up a book and have at it…. So on that note, I’d be really interested to engage in an actual discussion of the contents of the podcast.

Pick up a book?  Back at you.  You made no argument that added to the discourse.  And then you had the nerve to task those you dismissed to do it for you.

Crazy wrote:
Secondly, most of you are admitting you fall under the “new atheist” heading.

So?  That implies?

I have a very different take away from the types of posters.  I think is fair to say that many (or even most) were new posters.  Folks like me who look forward to POI, who don’t normally participate in the online discourse and were motivated to say “Hey, what? Huh?”

For what its worth, I’ve never been sure what the “new” part of the moniker means, but I’m an atheist (about a 6.3).  The kind that sees that the god hypothesis has failed based ever expanding evidence.  Simply that.  Someone who believes that god lived and died is clearly a theist.  With a twist perhaps, but still a theist.

And that’s an argument that some other posters made quite well.  If you are going to go far afield from topics of interest to people who look to foster a secular society based on science, reason, freedom of inquiry, and humanist values then do it in a way that is accessible to the audience.

Concern troll is a schnook.

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