AS39: Blake Follow Up, Ex-Witness Harley

First we have a follow up with Blake from last week, fresh off his appearance on Dogma Debate.

Then, we begin a very gripping and engaging interview with Harley, an ex-Jehovah’s Witness who has somewhat recently come out atheist. This is no easy task and there have been many challenges and heartbreaks for him along the way. This episode is just a sneak peak, the bulk of the interview will appear on Thursday’s show.

You can find Blake’s episodes of Dogma Debate here: and his Twitter handle is @BlakeGiunta

Harley is on Twitter @secularlad.

If you want to hear the rest of the interview early, sign up on and it will be up by Monday night.

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18 thoughts on “AS39: Blake Follow Up, Ex-Witness Harley”

  1. I think that Blake’s argument against divine hiddenness is totally correct. I think if God evidently existed, there would be a lot of Hitchens-type resentment. However, is Blake comfortable with the inevitable conclusion that the only thing that makes pain bearable to a believer is doubt in their belief? Is he comfortable saying that believers don’t believe in God as much as they would if there were proof? Is he comfortable saying that that suggests it’s at least plausible that an existence without belief would, in the end, be more comforting to the grieving?

    As an antireligious atheist, I happen to think these things already. But does Blake?

    1. I think you are giving too much ground here.

      God is hidden by definition because it is made out of nothing (immaterial).

      To see what I mean, try to describe an evidently existing god…

  2. Well, a God that can be as reasonably sure to exist as we are about anything. For instance, if every time anyone said “God, please show me a sign,” God straight up made a voice in their head saying “Hello, my child! This is God speaking and here is my answer for you,” then it would be extremely reasonable to believe that God existed. (It wouldn’t prove it conclusively, of course, but conclusive proof of anything is probably impossible, and it comes just about as close to conclusive proof as a body can get)

    If everyone in the world could just talk to God at any time, but for the same reasons as divine hiddenness he didn’t always give good or complete answers, then there would likely be a lot of resentment. But this suggests that the resentment is only stifled because people right now don’t believe in God as much as they would if everyone knew he existed, and that it is this doubt that they experience that gives them comfort.

  3. All of our knowledge is inextricably tied to this Universe, a Universe where god is not apparent. It’s not like you can add an apparent god to this Universe and keep going about your day with the rest of this Universe intact.

      1. I am saying that you have to construct fictional Universes from scratch.

        A Universe that is “just like ours but with an apparent god” is fundamentally NOT like ours.

        1. I don’t think it’s necessary to say that a Universe with an apparent God would definitely be like ours. I think Blake’s argument holds if you even acknowledge that it’s /possible/, however unlikely, that our Universe is like ours.

          Furthermore, your objection actually bolsters a defense of apparent divine hiddenness. We can’t know what a world with an apparent God is like, so as far as we know, such a world could be much worse. Since the argument of divine hiddennness presupposes that a hypothetical God would be all-loving, the very fact that we cannot speculate on what an apparent divinity would do to the world suggests that, as Leibniz concluded, we are living in the best of all possible worlds (at least as far as divine hiddenness is concerned).

          1. A Universe with with an apparent god cannot be like our Universe because in such a universe googling the word “god” would necessarily produce different results 🙂

            “It’s a mystery” – this is Blake’s answer to hiddenness of god and the problem of evil.

            If I remember correctly, “good in a way that we do not know” is how Blake phrased it.

            Please do not allow theists to get away with these moves. Press them to openly acknowledge that they are just speculating.

          2. Alexey, all they need to do is speculate. The Divine Hiddenness argument begins by assuming that there is /no possible reason/ that a loving God would keep himself mysterious. All Blake or any theist, or any atheist interested in keeping things cogent, needs to do dismiss the Divine Hiddenness argument is say that there is some possible circumstance where a loving God /might/ keep himself hidden, regardless of whether that circumstance is true, likely, or even knowable. Unless their example can be positively disproved, it stands as a defeater to the assertion that there is no such example.

            That said, I still find the Divine Hiddenness argument persuasive, and I find Blake’s counter unpersuasive, but I certainly don’t find either to be /conclusive/ about anything.

          3. I do not think arguments can be dismissed with “it’s a mystery but here is some speculation”… So I will have to disagree with you there.

          4. Actually, maybe you’re right. I was thinking “address” and you wrote “dismiss”.

            “It’s a mystery” (or just closing your years and saying nanana booboo) can be used to dismiss any argument…

        2. The argument says a loving God would DEFINITELY reveal himself. All you need to do to dismiss the claim is demonstrate is that a loving God MIGHT not reveal himself under some POSSIBLE circumstances.

          1. The burden of proof is on those who claim it makes sense that a loving god that remains hidden, allows/causes bad things to happen, and sends people to hell.

            We ask: how does it make sense?

            They say: it’s a mystery.

            Are you satisfied by that answer?

        3. They aren’t trying to prove any reason why he’s staying hidden. All they’re saying it is wrong to say an all-loving God definitely wouldn’t. Imagine this conversation:

          A: My parents must have hated me because they spanked me.
          B: Some parents love their children and spank them because they think spanking is good for them.
          A: Can you prove that’s what my parents thought?

          Is the burden of proof on B to demonstrate that A’s parents loved A, or is sufficient to say that since SOME parents who spank DO love their children that A’s premise is false? Remember that this is irrespective of whether A’s parents actually did love him or not.

          1. The burden of proof is on people who claim that a loving parent could drown their kids.

  4. July 11, 2014

    Number 1 problem: Blake stated “you start with the universe coming into existence” (I’m paraphrasing so there shouldn’t be quotes but you know what I mean) and this is evidence of a prime mover and then you provide more and more evidence of this prime mover. This starting point for him is where I have a problem. There is absolutely no reason to believe a being, let alone an intelligent being, brought anything into existence. There is absolutely no reason why it wasn’t simply a natural process. Read “A Universe From Nothing” Lawrence Krauss. Blake’s entire argument is based on “Because we can imagine something, it’s possible.” No it’s not. Someone imagined Peter Pan, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, and many many other fairy tales. There is no more reason to believe any of these things exist in reality. A lot of people imagine a deity because of, what Shermer calls, patternicity. We as Homo Sapiens seek patterns by nature (the predator in the bushes rather than the wind blowing). It’s what I’ve called the “there must be” fallacy. “The universe is amazing so there must be a god.” No, no, no… just because someone thinks that, doesn’t make it so. He also stated that “everyone” can conceive of a god. Well, no they can’t. I can’t conceive of one and I was once a mild believer. I only believed because I was told this story was true and I imagined it could be. In the same way, I once believed in Santa. That in no way, makes me able to, now, conceive that Santa is possible. I simply don’t believe either god or Santa are possible because I’m very aware that they are both stories made up by humans.

    Also, he kept moving the goal posts. I’m not saying this was deliberate but it was clearly evident. Like in a few episodes back… his argument about the brain/mind… I’m very confident that the mind simply does not exist if the brain dies just as photosynthesis does not work without chlorophyll. Using AI as an argument is invalid. Humans are mammals. We’re biological organisms. Our bodily processes (including thinking, emotions, etc.) are a result of the functions of our organs and biological systems. If you seriously damage (kill) the heart, it doesn’t keep pumping blood in another dimension. The function of blood being pumped through the body relies on the heart being “alive” (for lack of a better term), just as what we call “mind” relies on the brain being alive. The analogies he used were frequently comparing apples to oranges. He may be sincere in his beliefs but his logic is flawed and I’m a lay person in terms of arguments of logic.

    I could continue to type for hours but I won’t bore you. I really enjoy your podcast. I get very frustrated with theistic arguments and tend to yell at my iPhone, “No, no, no!” but, generally I find your podcast informative and always entertaining (even when I’m frustrated). Keep up the good work.

    I’m just starting AS40 now so catching up (and I started somewhere in the early 30s).


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