Jewish Intervention: Atheists vs Jewish Nick Zatz on RRS #16

RationalResponseSquad's picture



0:15 Brian Sapient introduces Nick Zatz. Rook explains that he and Nick went to HS together. Both played drums and took theology classes. Nick went to this Catholic school as a Jew.

1:45 Rook mentions there were times they were strong in their respective faiths but there were times where they doubted, describing themselves as "agnostic theists". Rook mentioned a common teacher "Father Baker" that he questioned about God and time. Father Baker said God existed outside of time. Rook referred to him as a “lying Priest.”

2:28 Nick responds to calling Baker a "lying Priest". Nick prefers to say that Baker was misinformed. Brian then asks Rook at what point Nick lead him to his atheist position.

2:51 Rook explains they were going through an "agnostic" stage. Rook explains he had a "snap" moment while discussing belief with his dad one night. Rook explains Nick got him thinking and his dad gave him the final push.

3:30 Brian asks Nick why he still believes. Nick explains he believes in God because of "personal experiences." Nick says he believes God has shown himself to him. Nick explains his experiences, admits he has never seen a physical God but believes that there is a "metaphysical" God that has been with him.

(Note, not a good argument for god claims by any name. Human's perceptions of reality are notoriously flawed. See Dawkins God Delusion and Victor Stenger's New Atheism)

4:40 Brian pushes Nick again for specific example of how he knows this metaphysical god is with him. Nick repeats that it is not something physical but something he "felt"....... Brian asks how those feelings differ from other feelings. Nick repeats that it is just "something inside him" admits that it is something he cannot explain.

6: 05 Brian Sapient asks Nick if he is willing to admit if that feeling is due to being raised his entire life to believe that there is a god and that his feelings are derived from that indoctrination. Nick responds that his father was an atheist. Brian asks how he ended up Jewish, and explains that his biological mother was Jewish. Nick's dad thought the discipline of the Catholic school would help him, but he was wrong.

7:10 Rook asks Nick if he is aware of a scientific study of the brain that shows the area of the brain that is "spiritual." Nick responds that he is open to looking at that, says that there is a phrase "Jews will always bow before science" and if you can prove there is no god "True Jews" will acknowledge that there is no god, but will continue with the rituals anyway.

11:05 Brian explains that you can judge "love" not just by the chemical brain activity but also by the other persons action. You can tell based on the way someone treats you if they truly love you. Nick says he will never say "I know there is a God." Restates that he believes there is a God, but says he wont say it absolutely. Brian says "So you are saying it is OK to believe things you don't have proof.” Brian asks Nick if he believes in the snarfwidget that is actually responsible for the god feelings he has.

12:35 Nick says if belief in that "snarfwidget" helps make them a better person or a happier person he has no problem with it. Brian agrees if the belief is harmless he agrees, but what if a sect of snarfwidget believers were willing to legislate laws based on what the snarfwidget tells them to believe?

14:00 Nick responds that there will always be people like that. Brian explains that we are crusading against claims that have no evidence for them. Brian he wants evidence for the claims we hold to be true. He also explains other types of claims without evidence exist such as homeopathic medicine. Brian explains that it isn't anti God, but explains there is no good reason to believe in one.

15:44 Nick asks about the snarfwidget believers killing as a result their interpretation of dogma, as a result of repeatedly handing that down generation after generation as being unacceptable. Saying that the teachings are unacceptable. Gives example of "If I were a representative of the Rational Response Squad and burn a church down" then what good is there in not believing in God?

16:32 Sapient makes clear that violence and vandalism are not part of the mission of The Rational Response Squad, nobody has done those things, and if someone does do those things they aren't welcome to be part of RRS. Rook explains what the Rational Response Squad is doing is the ability look at a situation and determine if it makes sense or not, by calculating if things are true or false. If you go ahead and burn that church down, you're not listening to us and following along. Rook explains that atheism is not an organization or religion. Points out that "freethinkers" have the ability to judge for themselves.

18:00 Nick admits there were horrible things done in the name of God, and there always will be. “Islam and Christianity are based on Judaism.” In the Torah it says to be a true Jew you have to do mitzvot, we believe he meant Mitzvah. Whereas Mitzvot are Jewish Commandments and Mitzvah's are good deeds, although the two are often conflated. And in Nicks interpretation if you don't do these good deeds than you're not truly Jewish and therefore not truly Christian or Muslim. However Nick is running into the no true Scotsman fallacy again.

19:08 Brian points out that Deuteronomy and Leviticus commands us to stone our children to death if they disobey us and that we are not allowed today to do those things. In fact he says, a child who disobeys should succumb to a public stoning. Brian wants to know why Nick isn't outraged at the people who don't follow this biblical law and why he gets to determine who the real “true jews” are. Brian's point is that the true jews stone their disobedient sons to death. There is no way to misinterpret these words, Nick is cherry picking the bible.


Deuteronomy 21:18-21King James Version (KJV)

18 If a man have a stubborn and rebellious son, which will not obey the voice of his father, or the voice of his mother, and that, when they have chastened him, will not hearken unto them:

19 Then shall his father and his mother lay hold on him, and bring him out unto the elders of his city, and unto the gate of his place;

20 And they shall say unto the elders of his city, This our son is stubborn and rebellious, he will not obey our voice; he is a glutton, and a drunkard.

21 And all the men of his city shall stone him with stones, that he die: so shalt thou put evil away from among you; and all Israel shall hear, and fear.


20:30 Brian points out other OT laws banning eating shellfish, homosexuality is a death sentence, women wearing men's clothing, condones selling your daughter into slavery. “It's disgusting [the bible]. And to say the person that does these things is misinterpreting the bible, it's actually you that is misinterpreting the bible.” - Sapient

21:15 Brian presses Nick about his "feeling" that god is real, claiming they "seem to be telepathic." When you take the biblical story which is clearly either metaphor or outright false, and blend that with “feelings” that god is real... how does one logically jump to... bible god is real?

22:15 Questioned is asked why does it seem that god is geographical? Makes point that if you are born in Iraq you are most likely going to be Muslim and not Christian. Brian points out that although Nick's father was an atheist he still had a Jewish mother and still went to a Catholic school. But points out that Nick does not have a literal belief in Dionysus from the “feeling” in his heart that god exists. And the question is “Why?”

22:53 Nick says “you are partially right because that's the exposure I've had.” Nick then proposes that everyone believes in the same god.

Note from Sapient: The truth is the polar opposite of this. What we see in believers is that God is like a snowflake. Every single person on earth has their own version of God. From Christian to Christian within the same church we see people that when interviewed have various interpretations of their god to fit their needs/desires/ideas. If there was a god who did impart knowledge of him/her/it within us, we would likely all believe in the same version. The fact that everyone has their own version of god is evidence that he is made up by humans.

23:30 Nick asks hosts if they are familiar with the "metaphysical side" of Judaism, says everything is a metaphor for something else. Claims Jews are to refer to god as "Ishi" translated in Hebrew means "husband" and Israel is supposed to be the wife of God. Admits god is all over the place(as far as different claims). Brian asks again how Nick translates his "feeling" into that specific god claim in Yahweh and not another one. Brian says you can make it easier to claim they are all the same god, but if you ask a fundamentalist Muslim if it is the same as yours they will react violently to such a claim.

24:52 Brian points out Dionysus and Zoroaster and Mythraism pointing out that is where the myth of Jesus was stolen from. Brian points out that Jesus doesn't exist in a vacuum, he's just a copy of other gods before him.

25:10 Rook says he found more quotes.......Leviticus 29 Says any child cursing their parents will be put to death. Brian brings up Exodus 21:7 rules for setting a daughter slave free are different than setting a male slave free. Is anyone hearing this? THE BIBLE CONDONES SLAVERY! Are you desensitized to these atrocities? Any person who is rationally addressing religion would see this slavery point as enough to discount the entire thing as hogwash.

26:14 Rook quotes the book on the issue of intolerance. Nick gets ahead of him quoting "I am a vengeful God" Rook says those are "anthropomorphic traits". Rook quotes Deuteronomy 2-25 "All nations shall be terrorized by the followers of Yahweh" Quotes Duet 6:15 "Worshiping the wrong god" Deuteronomy 7-10"God will kill those who hate him" Deuteronomy 12:30 and17:2-7 "Kill those of other faiths". "If someone tries to get you to worship another God they should be killed" Deuteronomy 13:6-10

27:18 Brian asks Nick "Can you condone a belief you will that you will interpret in your way so that it is good, and that it betters your life, but somebody else will interpret it as it's written. And yet you claim that their misinterpreting, but when you look at it, their interpreting it as it's written... and it makes them a worse person. Can you condone that belief?” - Brian Sapient

27:45 Nick says he believes all the bible is open to interpretation and says he doesn't endorse violence against other people. Brian asks “Do you really believe in that god if you don't endorse it?” Nick repeats that it is open to interpretation. Nick points out the countless versions of the Catholic bible. Nick points out also the amount of time it took for the bible to be written. Points out that these stories were passed down generation to generation. Points out the oral tradition lead to the written tradition. Admits to personal interpretation. Nick says the Bible is “whisper down the alley.”

Note: Does this admission describe an efficient god? Why would it take thousands of years and humans to write one book? Doesn't it seem more likely that this is the invention of fallible humans?

29:00 Rook points out to Nick cherry picking the parts of the Bible that he wants, Sapient calls it being a “Cafeteria Jew.” Rook points out Biblical were meant to be taken literally. Rook explains that the reason we don't do those things now is that we realize this is bullshit, you can't just go around killing people because they disobey you. We cling to these old books because we think we need that feeling that something is there, but we're still clinging to an intolerant and unjust faith. And Nick it right it is based on oral tradition, which is all the more reason why we shouldn't follow it. It's invalid and unverifiable. Everything we're being told about this faith is preposterous. You have no idea, you've never seen the original copies of the books [bible]. Nobody's ever seen the original copies, so they can't tell you what was said. So when it comes down to it, Nick is telling us we should believe it because he has a feeling in his heart but nobody can actually come up with a reason why we should believe in this garbage.

30:30 Nick is asked if he considered himself an atheist at birth (hint: we're all born atheist). Nick says that while he was not aware of god claims at birth he cant say he was without a god. Razorcade asks if he was taught religion by his family. Nick again points out that he was raised with an atheist father. Nick does admit though that there are religious influences everywhere.

32:30 Nick is asked why he would think the people who wrote it back then knew any better than he does today. Nick is asked why he would use such an old book as an authority and claims he is not using it as an authority but the closest "indicator" of what he calls God. Razor points out that we know more now than we did back then. Nick again says he is not claiming it as authority, but says the OT is full of metaphor. Nick says he never claimed that his religion was the only way, it's just what appeals to him, what he chooses to believe in.

33:35 Nick says he doesn't belittle others for what they believe and says he believes in god because he believes in god. Nick admits he doesn't know he exists and claims that Judaism is a constant quest for knowledge. He has no problem with people who don't believe in a god. But has a problem with people who "maliciously try to debunk".

34:49 Brian asks him "You mean people who believe in things without evidence?" Nick says he has no problem with people believing things without evidence. Sapient says “You have no problem with that?”

35:40 Brian and Rook point out that when it comes to religion, it is the ignoring the negative affects it has because there are always people in power telling you what to believe and how to believe it. Brian says that he doesn't have a problem with people who believe something that makes them a better person, if that's actually what it accomplishes. But what we see with most religious people is that their belief plays a role with how they vote, how they think, and can make them less rational. Sapient also explains that the few believers that are better because of their religion (if such a person actually exists) are providing comfort to the overwhelming majority that religion makes a worse person out of. Religion feels comfortable when more people embrace it, but it should be outcast, it should feel uncomfortable as it has no basis in reason.

Brian gives the example that evolution has scientific evidence to back it up. Nick says he also believes in evolution. Brian says that believing in evolution makes him a better person because evolution proves we are all related. Nick is a good person but condones the actions of other believers by ignoring the dark side of religion. By being a believer out of comfort, he is another number. He becomes one of the many in his belief, and that provides comfort to the fundamentalists. The fundamentalists who kill in the name of their religion are spawned from a society in which religion is normal... Nick is one more person to make religion appear normal. It's a vicious cycle. Nick derives comfort from his belief while openly admitting he has no proof and simply chooses to believe because “he feels it.” Fundamentalists and terrorists are spawned from moderates who live in a world in which religion feels comfortable. It's a “comfort” cycle.

39:50 After Brian sums up that religion is the cause of attacks on woman’s rights and homophobia. Nick points out that the majority of Jews are democrats. Nick attempts to point out the difference in the Christian faith and Hebrew faith. Nick says Christianity teaches you "child like faith" where as Judaism teaches you an eternal quest. Nick employes the "no true Scotsman" fallacy again saying "true Jews will always bow to science". Nick says if you could prove to him beyond a shadow of a doubt that there is no god it would be his obligation as a good Jew to adapt that position. Brian points out that the burden of proof is on the person with the extraordinary claim.

41:00-43:00 Brian points out that the OT claims the earth was made in a week and points out that science contradicts that claim. “How do you know that the Earth being created in seven days is metaphor, and that God existing isn't a metaphor.” Brian asks how he knows what is metaphor and what is evidence that leads Nick to believe. When Nick admits he doesn't have a literal belief that the earth was created in 7 days, Brian says “so the bible is wrong?”

42:35 Nick again says it is a matter of faith and personal experience, because of the "evidence" he claims was shown throughout his life. But agrees that the universe was not created in 7 days. Admits that the creation story is just a story. Brian points out that God is part of this creation story so is God just a character in this story? Nick says that God being part of what is just a story, does not falsify God. Nick continues to repeat "personal experience".

Brian's point is that if the bible is a book of metaphors and stories, why aren't we just calling God “a story.” God is basically a metaphor to encourage discipline, to keep people in line, and worse... to hold power over them and take their money!