May 19, 2024

The Role of Faith in Society

Just a couple days after I got back from the Global Atheist Convention in Australia, I had to give a speech at Eastern Illinois University.  My plane was delayed, and my driver was pulled over for speeding from Champagne to Charleston.  So I arrived more than a half hour late to a crowded lecture room.  There was no time to set up my own recording equipment.  I didn’t even plug my laptop in.  I ran off the battery and it shut off just a minute or so after into the QnA, which is included in this video.


A week later, at the Freethought Festival in Madison Wisconsin, Matt Dillahunty said on-stage, “I love me some student groups, but you guys and your time tables…”, complaining that it took so long to get recorded data from them.  I can now attest to that too -as I just received the raw video yesterday from a talk that happened two months ago.  No worries.  It’s all good.  There is also an edited glitch in the video where I think a small outburst was deleted.  The talk was sponsored by the Secular Student Alliance, but the college gave extra-credit to any student who attended.  So I found myself addressing a largely Christian crowd.  This was also my most anti-Christian speech.  It seems that several of the kids in attendance were -to their credit- normally very tolerant Christians, who may not have known what they were in for.  There was a moment of mild protest from the normally quiet audience at one point.

I should also apologize that I had to be lame and simply read the speech out.  That is not my usual practice, but I wrote it on two of the 13 planes I was on that month, and had no time for better preparation.  Thankfully that didn’t seem to bother anyone in the live audience.

41 thoughts on “The Role of Faith in Society

  1. FYI the video displays the message: This video contains content from FOX, who has blocked it on copyright grounds.

  2. “This video contains content from FOX, who has blocked it on copyright grounds”

    Do they know what fair use is? I’m sure it’s the typical Christian censorship.

  3. is it just me or does the video just rest on the belief definition screenshot and become voice over of that for a large portion of the video?

  4. I occasionally engage in religious discussions with a co-worker who is religious and knows I am an atheist. Once they reach the point where they are hopelessly trapped by logic, they throw out something like “The Bible says, blessed is he that walks by faith.”

    I expect them to say something like this eventually. What annoys me is the smug attitude they say it with. The expression that crosses their face says, “I just trumped everything!” They honestly think by invoking “faith” they have done something amazing and powerful.

    So long as someone clings to faith, there is no amount of reason that will sway them. The more evidence they face, the harder they will cling to their faith.

    1. My favorite reply: If there were any evidence in support of your religion, then faith would be a sin.

  5. Lots of facepalming during the QA.

    The irony of a participant saying that atheists can’t have passion for things like Christians do, then Aron goes on a soliloquy about it.

    1. I get the feeling the Christians in the audience were nodding along in agreement with the anti-atheist video, because they seemed to be parroting it during the Q/A session. I don’t think they got the point.

  6. AronRa, why do you keep with your pseudonimity even when you go to speaking events and now have a blog?

    1. What business is it of yours what someone decides to call themselves?

      I’ll tell you what business it is: NONE. NADA. ZILCH. ZERO.

      What a stupid and annoying question.

  7. @AronRa:

    I transcribed subtitles for your “Long Boring Speech” if you’re interested.


    Makes words like “A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada”

    and “Kirlian photography” googlable.

  8. My plane was delayed, and my driver was pulled over for speeding from Champagne to Charleston.

    It’s Champaign, not Champagne. The spellcheck probably screwed that up.

  9. Awesome, clear, deeply informative historically, accurate, precise, fair, logical, very significant and relevant and well, er, umm…spot-fukken-on. Can’t wait to share this with my “faithful” friends and family.

    Aron Ra, FTW!

  10. ‘So allow me this moment to pre-emptively correct that eventual asshole…’ hahaha, it’s funny cuz it’s true.

  11. Good presentation; the Q and A especially remind me of that time aeons ago when I was a sincere, Bible believing youth and I attended a similar lecture given by an atheist speaker at a local Mennonite college (long story…)

    I wasn’t persuaded at the time, but when I look back I think that was when I started really asking questions about my faith. I will always be grateful to that speaker, but I don’t remember his name, so I’ll thank you instead.

  12. Good to see you here. 0/

    I loved your speech as always, I have been a big fan of your talks and videos since I came across your talk at the Oklahoma freethought convention (where I also discovered Matt Dillahunty, whose name I will one day learn to spell without copy pasting from AETv).

    The one problem I have with the video is I can make out less than half of what the questioners are asking you.

    I was wondering whether it would be possible for you to repeat/summarize the question before answering it, in those instances where there are no audience mics… Or would that break the flow too much?

    I know that your not always (or should be) focusing on the video audience over the real live one, but then I have often found that at real lectures the people asking the questions are often hard to make out for the rest of the audience as well so it can be a help to both.

    Anyhow I look forward to hearing more of your thoughts here on FTB 🙂

    1. I know that your not always (or should be) focusing on the video audience over the real live one, but then I have often found that at real lectures the people asking the questions are often hard to make out for the rest of the audience as well so it can be a help to both.

      You know this is a good idea, maybe someone with skillz in the area could put together a how-to thingy for atheists in the media. How to deal with Q&A sessions. Standing still while talking! God, some of you are like hyper-active lions running up and down the stage. And also the camera guys, spend some coin and buy a tripod, and learn to film the slides when the speaker is talking about them, not ten minutes later.

      But in the end a big thanks for all the videos you guys have made. We appreciate them, and continue to use them as weapons of choice.

    2. I was wondering whether it would be possible for you to repeat/summarize the question before answering it, in those instances where there are no audience mics…

      Ah, the good ol’ teacher echo. Appropriate, given that he was apparently giving the Christians in the audience their first exposure to atheism. But yeah, this is a good idea. I gave up on trying to hear some of the audience members’ questions and just inferred them from the answer.

  13. Welcome to FtB, I look forward to your pithy observations on religion, education and social issues.

    Ever get to Canada?

  14. I enjoyed that and am glad to see you here.

    Have you ever done / thought of doing an extended riff on just how long it took even some of them to come up with the trinity idea, how convoluted the arguments got and how it was all politics anyway?

  15. Aaron Ra. Bahahahaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa!!!!!!!!!

    What a pompous ass.

  16. The answer/diatribe starting at ~51:00 is just perfect! That succintly states why religion is NOT the benevolent and innocuous system of belief Christians make it out to be, and is an excellent counter to Pascal’s Wager aside from the typical “which god?” argument. Seriously, the answer to why one should NOT believe is wrapped up in just a few minutes. Well done.

  17. This speech was even better in person… Something that wasn’t noted is the majority of this group cut out early and by the end there was probably about 15 of us left.

  18. oops, spotted a broken link.

    Your link to the freethought festival is not correct.

    It turns out to have an extra http:// stuck on the end.

    and thus looks like this.

    I think everyone has been to caught up watching your excellent speech to notice the duff link.

  19. Aron,

    That was a great speech. The fact that you had to mostly read it didn’t take away from it IMO.

    You certainly weren’t reading during the QnA portion. I learned a lot.

    And welcome to FTB!!

  20. Something has been bugging me since I watched this video. The clip of the various atheist bashers included a Jewish guy who referred to atheists as parasites. I recall reading about this guy saying this some time ago. His argument seems to be that morality comes from religion and that atheists get a free ride because they don’t have any morality of their own.

    The first thought that came to me was that this guy is a member of a minority religion in a country that contains a very large number of very intolerant Christians. Does he think that the concept of freedom of religion, came from his God? The first of the Ten Commandments suggests otherwise. Atheists are at the forefront of defending the US constitution against Christians who would like nothing better than to turn America into a Christian theocracy. Where would he be if the theocrats were to succeed? On his knees with a gun at his head eating bits of Jesus is my guess, the parasite.

  21. Late posting but just watched (or rather listened to) the video.

    Really good, especially the Q&As. I wonder whether some of the students there knew what they were letting themselves in for, especially as some of them seemed to roll out the old classics. A pity about the volume levels on the Qs though.

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