2.2 Mere Christianity

In the second coming of the second coming of Irreligiosophy, Matt and Chuck tackle CS Lewis, his life and times, some of his fiction and non-fiction, and finally his most well-known piece of apologetic, “Mere Christianity.” In the middle we get sidetracked discussing the misogyny of 1940s apologetics as compared and contrasted to the 21st century atheist-skeptical movement.

After everything is said and done, we really only get through the preface and Book One, but it still compares well to the supernatural but quite real standard I like to call the “Law of Podcast Nature.” It’s just like the law of gravity but better.

129 Responses to “2.2 Mere Christianity”

  1. I’m that guy who goes around liking his own Facebook posts.


  2. Ben Tegland says:


  3. Glad to hear it, Chuck (that you still think it’s funny). I just listened to it again and it is fucking hilarious. That shit is golden! So, I think all those precious members of the “hurt feelings” brigade who have been chastising you over it should take the sage advice you once offered to Mims Carter…

    Amen to that!

  4. I don’t want to be the asshole that complains about free entertainment, but I’m just curious when the next one is coming out. Your mere christianity episode totally whetted my appetite! lol

  5. I thought I’d have it edited by now but a bunch of 10 and 12 hour days got in the way. I have an extended lunch on Thursday I can use to finish if I don’t need it to sleep.

  6. Citizen Wolf says:

    I read a comment a while ago on this whole lift-gate thing. The poster asked: if a white guy was in a lift and a black guy got in with him and asks him if he has the time, would it be racist of the white guy to feel uncomfortable/threatened?

    Likewise, is it sexist of a woman to feel uncomfortable in the real situation that happened to Rebecca?

    Is pulling the racist card in the first situation appropriate? I don’t know. It’s certainly all a grey area, this whole lift-gate thing. Some people will have fears/worries no-matter what. I know some people are afraid of my dog when he’s not on a lead, even though he pays them no attention, and never would.

    Should I put my dog on a lead when in a public space (perfectly legal as long as he’s not being a bother to anyone) because of someone else’s irrational fear (and when it comes to my dog, believe me, it is an irrational fear)? Again, the answer isn’t always so straight-forward.

    Apologies if this is a rambling post; it’s 3am.

  7. somewhere in greece says:

    @ Citizen Wolf:

    Are you seriously, and without any sense of irony, equating someone asking the time with the subtext being that one cannot overpower the other easily, with a woman being asked by someone she doesn’t know, who can overpower her more easily than someone of her own gender, in an enclosed space, at four o’clock in the morning, in a foreign country, for a get together in a hotel room?

    I am truly interested in your answer.

  8. No, what CW is asking is whether the woman’s fear of being assaulted is sexist (as some men have actually claimed) in the same way that a white man’s fear that a black youth is a stereotypical gang thug with a hidden weapon planning to rob him is racist. That’s a fair question. Men do assault women, and gangsters do mug people–far less often than people fear–but it happens.

    I personally don’t think they’re analogous, but it’s a fair question. Painting men with the “potential rapist” brush who are really just insensitive jerks does make life harder for the rest of us, but I’d have to say the fear is more reasonable and the reputation more deserved.

  9. Would a better analogy in @citizen Wolfs point not be would it be racist for a white guy to be scared of a heavy set black guy approaching him to ask for a light without a visible cigarette when walking in a dark area alone late at night? It makes it a situation with a more realistic expectation for violence akin to what Watson claimed to fear could happen in the hotel room.

  10. Kyle Meyer says:

    Thanks Chuck, I appreciate it! So, is Medicine worth it? Also, I just wanted to say that I loved the addition of medical corner, and while I know you don’t want to put too much of your personal life in, I would love to hear an episode on religious and wooish bullshit you hear in the actual medical field.

    Anyway, good luck with everything, and thanks again for the fantastic material.

  11. Well the big difference between the two things being compared is that the guy had heard a couple times that she hates it when guys come up to her and flirt and he ignored that. He should have been plenty aware of where her boundaries were and he violated them and he violated them on unfamiliar turf in an enclosed environment.

    Plus (from what I remember) she didn’t necessarily state in her original video that she was afraid of being raped, but that it was incredibly rude of the guy to completely ignore her wishes and just being a stranger and walking up to someone trying to fuck someone is rude as well. It’s a slimy thing to do, and being treated that way makes you feel incredibly uncomfortable.

    Just a random guy asking for the time is completely different.
    People making that comparison are basically making the “Oh we men are so oppressed by society. Someone save us from the sexist women dominating the world!!!” argument.

  12. @DBP Being of a skeptical nature my first thoughts when reading your post are how do you know he was trying to flirt and how do you know he was trying to fuck? While it is cliched that asking someone for coffee means something else there are times when coffee means coffee without knowing the guys thoughts we have no idea that he was flirting and wanting to fuck and thus can’t assert that he was. Evidently he made an error in judgement in asking rebecca for coffee (no matter what his intentions may have been) but without being there we don’t know how much he heard of her speaking prior to the encounter or why he thought his chances of success in either extending the discussion or getting intimate were high enough to merit an approach.

    Like many others it amazes me how big an issue this has become (though peoples opinions and interpretations of the story do interest me).

  13. @Marc:

    They were leaving a place where they spent a few hours,could talk, and that served coffee and she said she was done for the night and going to sleep. Both were going to be in the same location the next day.

    The argument that the guy was totally innocent in his intentions implies that he is a hapless fuckwit who can’t understand pretty much anything, not even a plainly spoken “everyone leave me alone now.”

    And if we agree that his behavior was wrong, who cares about his intentions really? Intentions aren’t magical. He’s still either a bag of ass or at best, a total moron who behaves like a bag of ass.

  14. In terms of morality I tend to believe a persons intention matter quite a lot so if we are to say that this guy was in the wrong to approach Rebbecca (note I didn’t state definitively i thought he was in the wrong I said he made an error in judgment in thinking his approach may be welcomed) then his intentions are relevant. What were the exact words of this plainly spoken “everyone leave me alone now.” or was that a direct quote you were making? Do you know for a fact the guy heard the words and wasn’t of to one side at the time or saying something to someone else and missed it? I personally have no idea what exactly he said to her in the elevator or what she said prior to leaving the group or even how big the group was as up to now I have only Rebecca’s account of the event to inform me what may or may not have happened (before you jump on this I am not here claiming Rebbecca is lying or making up the story). I have one side of the story basically so cannot reliably speak to the persons motivations or thought processes. Perhaps his reasoning was logical but he missed some key information, perhaps given her feelings of being creeped out and the lateness Rebbecca is misremembering some of the events, perhaps all of the above and many more factors make it impossible for those that weren’t there to know exactly what happened. You seem to be very happy to jump to assumptions and make judgments about this person in an elevator that I assume you have never met (obviously you may know the person involved well I can’t know this).

  15. (note I didn’t state definitively i thought he was in the wrong I said he made an error in judgment in thinking his approach may be welcomed)

    He wasn’t wrong, but he certainly wasn’t right.

  16. Citizen Wolf says:

    @somewhere in Greeze

    I wasn’t equating anything with anything. I was just posing a question genuinely interested in other peoples views on the matter.

    For what it’s worth I would never approach a woman I didn’t know in an elevator in the early hours of the morning and ask them back to my hotel room whether it was for sexual or other social reasons. That would be over the line for me. I would be well aware that some women would find that unacceptable and so I wouldn’t do it.

  17. Citizen Wolf says:

    BTW, it was 3am and I do realise it’s not the most coherent of posts, so I should point out that I didn’t mean to imply that women who have fears for their saftey are irrational or without reason. I know that in the same post I talk about some peoples irrational fear of my completely harmless dog so I can see that some people might have been wondering WTF I was rambling about.

    Apologies to all, as I say, it was 3am, and I had been up for 24hours. FYI despite the muddled post I was just interested in others peoples views.

    And you know what, I’ve only had 4 hours sleep since, so perhaps I should refrain from posting unless I’ve had a proper nights sleep 🙂

  18. I know, I already gave my 2 cents but curiosity pushed me to finally look at this issue beyond the elevator. I never really did understand how such a stupid incident could cause such deep rifts. I think I have a better understanding of it now and since people are using analogies, I will also use one to explain it:

    Jim is a gay man who loves animals (not in that way). He joins an animal rights group and eventually rises to a certain level of prominence within that group. One day he’s asked to speak at an animal rights conference. The topic he chooses is “Homophobia in the Animal rights community”. Jim doesn’t really present a convincing case that homophobia is a problem amongst animal rights activists, he cites some emails, but Jim proposes that the group adopt an anti-homophobia policy for all future conferences.

    Reactions of the group:

    1. A portion of the group are not only animal rights activists but they actively fight for gay rights as well. They are all in favour of Jim’s ideas.

    2. Another small faction of the group are all for animal rights but they think gays are kinda icky (they’re a little bit homophobic). The don’t like Jim at all.

    3. Another significant portion of the group do not feel that Jim properly demonstrated that homophobia is a real problem amongst animal rights activists and therefore highlighting it as such and implementing solutions for it will simply send out the wrong message. Gay rights may be a worthy cause but it is not the cause that has brought the group together. Spending time on this issue will not advance the cause of animal rights and it could potentially divide the group.

    Later that night, Jim walks into an elevator…

  19. @DBP Great rebuttal, very well reasoned……oh wait. Since you didn’t address a single point I have made I will assume you are conceding that you completely overstated your case and are unable to back it up in any reasonable way. Have a nice day.

    @Horatio I think your analogy sums it up pretty well. I am not sure if it is worth also saying though that most of group 3 are also very in favour of gay rights (though they don’t see the animal rights movement as being exceptionally homophobic) but they think in terms of human rights rather than gay rights, possibly because in a very none homophobic mindset they don’t differentiate between gays and straights (after all they would say gay people are equally human as any other group and thus human rights cover them as well as they cover everyone else when they are properly implemented).

    I would also suggest that many people in group three believe Jim and those in group 1 use questionable tactics in their pursuit of their goal such as blocking disagreeing opinions without addressing them (basically they think the tactics they use are similar to those employed by the anti animal rights groups that dismiss the animal rights arguments out of hand).

  20. I’m glad to see this turned into elevator-gate after all! Praise Jesus.

    Arent we due a new episode Chuck? I’ve never paid a dime towards the podcast, but I still feel you owe me. It’s good to be an American 🙂

  21. Citizen Wolf says:


    So what the heck happened after Jim walked into the elevator? Goddammit, it was just getting interesting!

  22. Well, Citizen Wolf, it so happens that a man followed Jim onto the elevator. This man was wearing an animal rights t-shirt and he kept looking at Jim. Then the man coughed. Jim is certain that he heard: *cough*… *cough*… *cough(faggot)*.

    When Jim got home, he made a video about the incident. The people in group 2, who saw Jim’s speech as an attack against them, used this video to vent their serious dislike of him. Some of these people went too far. Even members of group 3 began belittling Jim and seeing him as a liability to the cause. This was then held up by members of group 1 as proof of the rampant homophobia in the animal rights community. Homosexuals interested in animal rights began avoiding this group and their cause.

    Maybe it would have been better if Jim had just stuck to the fucking topic (animal rights) in the first place…

  23. Citizen Wolf says:

    You know, they’re not even called elevators in Ireland, so this whole elevator-gate thing is completely misnamed.

  24. Ben Tegland says:

    Has elevator guy ever made a statement about this situation. His side of the story, etc.

    One thing that I haven’t ever heard brought up is how PZ Myers has frequently talked about staying up all / most of the night chatting with Watson. It is possible that this guy had that in mind and was honestly interested in talking. (In this secnario the main thing the dude wouldnt understand is that PZ is PZ and this guy is just a random stranger.)

  25. It is possible that this guy had that in mind and was honestly interested in talking.

    It’s been brought up constantly. And it’s pretty much the only defense of the guy’s actions.
    And no. It isn’t possible. She said she’s off to bed and he followed her a good bit of the way to her hotel room before actually saying anything to her. Only an idiot would think he had pure intentions.

    And no, he has never come out with his side because he was a stupid douchebag and wants that never to be tied to him.

    @ Marc
    I didn’t address anything you said because nothing you said was worth the effort. You’re stupid. That’s it. There is no other way to truly believe that his actions were purely intellectual. If you make a point that isn’t fucking moronic I’ll respond to that. I don’t need to jump to conclusions about the man, he made his intentions really fucking clear. Only a dipshit would be confused by the situation.

  26. Maybe it would have been better if Jim had just stuck to the fucking topic (animal rights) in the first place…

    Yes. THIS EXACTLY. If you ignore issues they will go away. Hatred and bigotry fix themselves and you’re an asshole if you try to address them.

  27. So, if you address an issue like animal rights you must address every other issue out there, like homophobia, racism, sexism, ageism, etc. You simply cannot make common cause with people unless they agree with you on ever fucking issue, right?

    No one is stopping Rebecca Watson from talking about feminism but doing it at a skeptical conference is off topic and trying to make it fit into the topic by framing it as “The problem of misogyny WITHIN the skeptical community” is pointing an accusing finger at people.

    Citing a bunch of emails she got is NOT proof that there is a problem which is particular to the skeptical community that needs to be addressed. Did Rebecca Watson advance the cause of women by doing this? No, she just alienated a bunch of people.

  28. Ooops, screwed up on the quotes thing…

  29. @DBP Resorting to ad hominim now i see, way to show you have a valid argument. You would make an excellent creationist, your last response was almost exactly the same as arguments I have seen from the likes of Kirk Hastings.