Teach 2 Dumb Dudes

Hemant Metha: Where Have The Angry Atheists Gone?

May 16, 2022 Joe Bento Season 2 Episode 5
Teach 2 Dumb Dudes
Hemant Metha: Where Have The Angry Atheists Gone?
Show Notes Transcript

Today we have a very special guest, and one of my favorite people! We're talking to Hemant Mehta, also known as The Friendly Atheist. We discuss where Atheism stands in 2022 and how the focus has shifted over the past couple of decades. We also discuss the left/right spectrum and how the sides are getting more extreme than ever before. Don't forget to check out Hemant's blog. https://onlysky.media/hemant-mehta/
*We apologize in advance, but the audio for Hemant is quite loud, we tried to even out the levels as best we could*

Bento:

What's up, everybody. Welcome to another edition of teach to dumb dudes. Bento he's Bobby, not feeling so hot today, but we're going to do it anyways. So that's how we roll today. We're talking to Hemet Metta. Most people would know him as the friendly atheist. He's a writer and atheist activists. He's worked with atheist groups, such as secular student Alliance and the secular coalition for America and the center for inquiry. He's currently on the board of directors for the foundation beyond belief. He writes it as own blog called the friendly atheist and has published two other books. the young atheist survivor guide, helping secular students thrive and the friendly atheist thoughts on role of religion and politics and media. As long as this first book which introduced myself to him is I sold my soul on eBay. Looking forward to talk to this guy Bobby, where do you stand on the whole? Are you atheist agnostic? What'd you classify yourself gun to your

Bobby:

head? I was raised going to a Methodist church on Sundays, which means that I went to Sunday school while my parents went to mass. I never did C, C, D or. Whatever, but I was baptized, I've made my communion. But that was really, it I'd say, you know, towards the age of eight to 10 to 12 in that area my sister being a little bit older, my parents gave us the option. Like, Hey, if you want to continue coming with us, you can. And if you don't, you don't have to. Yeah. And so they continued to go for, I'd say another two years, and then they stopped going as well. But my parents felt it was interesting to at least involve us in some sort of religion in the beginning to experience something. But all in all, I unfortunately do not believe in God. I am envious of those who do the idea that you could blind faith, like follow something very envious of that.

Bento:

Ignorance is bliss.

Bobby:

Right, right. And innocence. But I just don't have that. That will have faith. Right? Sure. I mean, there are very few things in life because I have that much faith in when you were

Bento:

a kid, you know, you. When something was going bad and you believe in God, you can pray and find solace in that, you know? And you know, like you said, like, I am envious of that because there are some times in life now where things are going bad or, you know, normally I would pray to get a job or something, or if there had an interview and you know, now it's like, you don't feel like there's that outlet, you know?

Bobby:

And it certainly has something to do with like you said, like say you're like, you know, trying to get a job. Like, it's, it's a hope, it's a, there's something to the fact that there's always there. There's always somebody there to help you and

Bento:

support you, always on your side, what a beautiful way to live life. And you can talk to

them

Bobby:

whenever you want. That's not, I mean, so like, I am not a really not always beautiful. Well, but you get my point though, right. And it can be, and that's where I'm envious of people who are religious, because you know, whether it's Christianity or any other religion, they all in some shape or form offer that. Peaceful, you know, fulfillment and support and things like that.

Bento:

I feel after life thing too. It's

Bobby:

yeah. Right, right. And that's what I mean, it's like a, it's like a built-in support system for me.

Yeah.

Bento:

Yeah. Well, my mom became an atheist and I remember then when her mom passed, she had a tough time dealing with it because she, you know, she didn't believe that she was going to go to heaven. She didn't believe in heaven. And she was just kind of like, just kind of having like a crisis of, you know, this woman who spent her life doing these good deeds and now she's going to pass away and there's nothing to kind of reward her for that.

Bobby:

And what about, what about you how'd you grow up in that

Bento:

sense? So I was raised very Catholic, you know, obviously my father coming from Portugal, my grandparents they were as Catholic as Catholic and B you know, my grandmother did the pilgrimage the Lisbon pilgrimage before in Portugal, I'd have to look up the details, but it's, it's like a several day

Bobby:

walk. Is that the Constantinople one where it ends and Constantinople and Spain?

Bento:

No, I don't think it was that one. I think it was some lesbian support though. Maybe a okay. It was long. Yeah. My, my dad had locked Joe when he was a kid and you know, most people do not survive lock jaw and she prayed and said. You know, if my father pulls out of this, she was going to do this pilgrimage paid the guide. So she owed it to him and she did it, which is fucking crazy. I wish, I wish I had talked to her more about it before she passed, because it sounds intense. But yeah, we used to go to Los ELAs, Massachusetts, and she would walk up the stairs on her knees and say hail Mary and enough father, every single step, you know? And there's like, I don't know. I forget how many steps, like

Bobby:

30 or 40, those who don't know what loss is lost. Light is a, it's a shrine. And to write his last, let, not a Saint, is that correct? I forget. I don't remember either, but anyway, so as children, everybody in this area, we always used to go there and it's a lights. And where are you? Interesting place? Because there was like a thousand Christmas lights. And so like kids would get into the Christmas lights and they had hot chocolate, but then you reached a point. You would see every kid there, you know, start with a smile and then slowly, slowly, slowly. And by the end of the night, every single kid, I was like, get

Bento:

me out. Oh my God. It's so true. So yeah, so we were heavy Catholic, you know, I did, my obviously got baptized, did my first communion, you know, my parents made me go to CCD classes. So I got my confirmation. Those were funny too. Like my mom was like making me go to these things. And I asked, I was like, did you ever make your confirmation? And she's like, no. So why am I going? Why, why am I going to all these classes? And you never done this yourself. So she actually went and she did the classes also. It's not with me. They were separate adult classes, you know, obviously still was going to separate 2000, the kids. And she ended up making a confirmation too. And there was a requirement that you had to go to church every Sunday. So there was an actual sign up sheet at the chair. And one day we went up and I didn't, obviously, I didn't feel like going. She didn't feel like going. So she signs our names on the paper and we just bounced and she felt so guilty. So guilty for doing that now is, you know, obviously she's an atheist now, so she laughs about it. But yeah, so, you know, when my late teens or so, you know The whole Catholic church molestation thing came out and I was like this. I was like, I need something else. Like, I don't want to be associated with this. So I started looking at all sorts of other religions. I read books about witchcraft and paganism and Celtic's and just regular Christianity. I could picture you as

Bobby:

a Wiccan.

Bento:

Yeah, I did. For a little while. Of course we did. And then I actually settled on Buddhism for awhile.

Bobby:

So that's the one that, that's the one that I've always been, I mean, in general Eastern religions are fascinating to me. And I really do like, there's something about like towers, Buddha, Buddhism. Like I want to learn more about those and experience some of those types of

Bento:

things. I liked it cause like they don't believe in creator gods. And that was my big thing. Like I don't believe that there's just some being in the sky that is, or is not in charge of our everyday lives, which I just, you know, to me, it's just nonsense

Bobby:

educate us on all the different types of religions. There are. Maybe

Bento:

I wonder,

Hemant:

Hey there. Hey man. How's it going?

Bento:

Good. How are you? Very good. Thanks.

Hemant:

Excellent. Let me see if I can get this stuff going here. Here we go. You told me we were not recording video. So I'm dressed for the occasion. Yeah, we all are mad. And I'm sorry, can you just say your name one time clean. So I'm not screwing up this whole time. Hammond. Hammond. Perfect. Thank you. Thank you. Yeah, that's one. That's the one thing we talked to so many people, we see all these different names and that's the first thing I always get clear up right away. Please. Don't let me screw this up with the entire no, no, I've been there. It's all good.

Bento:

Awesome. So you're in Chicago

Hemant:

right now. I am a suburb of it, but Chicago. Yeah. Where are you guys from? Rhode Island.

Bento:

Oh, okay. Yup.

Hemant:

Very cool. I'm trying to think. I don't think I've ever been in Rhode Island, but to be honest, I, I rarely get to visit east coast much at all. Closest is Maine for a short vacation. And that was about it.

Bento:

The you know, we're not in home, the famous prayer, the prayer banner in school and without

Hemant:

yes. And I never got to visit when that was happening at school. Yeah. Yeah. I went to high school and when I went there, nobody thought about it. Like nobody thought about it at all. It wasn't even a thing. Oh my God. Yeah. That was a wild thing that, that just blew up for a while there. Yeah,

Bento:

for sure. Where

Hemant:

it was then Cranston, right. Cranston in high school.

Bento:

Yeah, that was like 2010. I think it

Hemant:

must've been, yeah, it wasn't a service that wasn't around when that, when that happened, when I go back and I was like, what, why do people care about this? And they were like, oh, someone was offended and they had to take it down. And I was like, oh my God. Yeah. Yeah. I think I remember. I mean, that, wasn't, it wasn't a, one of a kind thing that sort of thing happens often, but the way that one took off and the way people were attacking the girl that was doing it was just crazy. Right.

Bento:

Yeah.

Hemant:

All right. So what's the what's I mean, I'm game, you tell me what to do. I'm good. Awesome.

Bento:

Awesome. Yeah. So, so just kind of like I'm a huge fan of yours. You know, I was just telling Bobby kind of like how, you know, we did it like a little intro and just talked about how we felt about God and how I became an atheist and he kind of his upbringing. So, you know, when I was in my early twenties I was kind of like searching for religion. You know what I mean? I didn't want to be, I didn't want to be a Catholic anymore. You know, I come from a Portuguese house, very Catholic. So I, you know, I was searching a lot. And then I remember when I finally became an atheist. No, I was really angry about it. So I was like that down essential, like angry atheists, you know, like everything I've been told my whole life too. Yeah. Like I saw on the internet, I was just like, just attacking, you know, like, how can you do this? I tried to give him a fax, you know, thinking I'm going to go on this like quest to cover

Hemant:

everybody.

Bento:

And, you know, I had in the reading your book, the first book that you wrote, I sold my soul on eBay. Started following. Yeah. Right. I started following your blog. And actually you helped me change from becoming that angry atheist to someone that's a little more sensible and, and, you know, just yelling at people all the time. Just talk to him. I don't want people in and about your differences. And yeah, I kind of realize that, you know, you're not gonna, you're not going to change everyone's mind all the time, you know, but it's, what's really important is to have them understand where you come from and how you feel. So if you can just talk about that and how, you know, how you got started in this and, and kind of your journey

Hemant:

as well. Yeah, yeah, yeah. That sounds good. Yeah. So I was raised in religion. My family's actually Jane J a I N smaller Indian religion that actually preaches non-violence every now and then you'll hear some crazy stories about people taking that too far to cause because religion is religion, but by and large, it was totally fine. But they do believe in having hell karma, supernatural, things like that. And for me in high school, when I just started questioning that stuff for the first time and we're talking, I don't know how old you guys are, but for me it was like dial-up AOL era, like trying to get on the internet when I found stuff on there, it all, every website looked to be like shady dudes who live in a basement rent, like typing out their manifestos and stuff. And it's like, and when they talked about religion, it's like, oh, oh, this is weird. These guys in the basement make a lot of sense. And it takes a while to be like, I think the crazy man has some good points here. Yeah, it is. And over the, over a few years, like it's one of those things where I might've talked about it a little bit with friends, but more or less, I, I had the luxury of just letting it play out in my mind. And it just seemed to make more sense. The more I looked. You know, whether it's a website or trying to answer questions about religion. And I came to the conclusion. It's not that my religion is wrong. And another one is it's that religion is wrong. And in college, like by the end of my first year of college, it's like, you know what? I really want to meet other races. Because like you like you were saying, Joe, like the, when you finally think you figured it out, you want to tell everybody, I mean, that's honestly not that different from someone who just found Jesus either. Like you figured it out and you got to tell everybody,

Bento:

oh, you thought about it for us to, you know, cause like you, you feel like, like, am I this? Like, I feel like it was, it felt wrong from all this indoctrination. Yeah.

Hemant:

Yes. And I think I was at the point where it didn't feel wrong, but I just didn't, I didn't get to talk about it with anyone in person. And so long story short, I ended up forming a college atheist group with another student on campus who felt in a similar way. And through her, I actually, through the person I started with, she was actually a camp counselor at a thing called camp quest, which is like a secular summer camp, which blew my, which blew my mind because I'm like, wait, there's like a summer camp for the children of atheist parents. That's weird. And she's like, oh buddy, there's a whole world out there. You don't know anything about like, so she actually got me interested in like this national movement that was a rising of atheist organization. So the one specifically I got involved with was the secular student Alliance, which works with college atheist groups. And now they've expanded since then. But through them. I got, I did an internship with the center for inquiry. I got to know people who worked at the American humanist association and some of these FRF and these other large groups. And it's like, oh, wow, there's this world of people who are not just atheists, but like they're actively working to push back against religious discrimination and fighting for church state separation, which is really exciting. And I didn't see myself heading down that path, but I did want to get involved as a volunteer things like that. And so I'll fast forward through some of this. I was starting grad school. I genuinely hated grad school. I dropped out of grad school for like a year, like give me some time off before I reenter this program. And in that time I was like, while I'm looking for a real human job, I'm also volunteering and working with these groups in my spare time. And it's like, I love this sort of activism. I'm passionate about it in a way that I don't care about anything else. But also there's no job there in my mind in that world. So I got to still do the normal nine to five sort of thing. You know, I'm trying to navigate all that, but I also have time off because I just quit grad school. So I ended up, I ended up doing this thing. I said, you know what? eBay was the thing at the time. And it's like, why don't I just volunteer to go to all these churches? Because the thing is when you work with all these activists, just about all of them are coming from Christian backgrounds. And I know what I've learned about Christianity, but that's a far cry from people who lived it and breathed it for a long time. It's like, you know, what's weird. I live in the U S I've never actually been to like a real church service. I've never been to a much less a mega church. Like the ones that really attract. And if you've never been like, holy crap, those are a trip. And so it's like, okay, I'll go to wherever you want me to go. You can bet on where I go. I'll keep a record of it. Somehow. And this guy, this pastor was like, I'm intrigued. He ended up, he ended up winning that auction and said, look, you owe me like a year's worth of Sunday church visits. But his motive was interesting. He's like, if you do that, you're going to hate religion. And I don't want you, he's like, I don't want you to hate religion. I genuinely hope you can Bert. But I think what would be more interesting for both of us, for him? He's like, why don't I know the Christian landscape you do not. And he's right. And he's like, why don't I send you to a whole bunch of different type of churches in Chicago where I lived and he did not live, but he's like, I'm going to send you to a mega church and a black church on the south side of Chicago and a guy's living room. Cause he just started a church. And so you start in your, you know, you start in your home and he's like sending me to all these places. And I wrote about my visits on his website. And the one thing we agreed on is I'm not going to announce myself at any of these places I'm just visiting. And some of these churches, like the mega churches specifically have secret services are where they're aiming to attract people like me who are not religious because they think, you know, we want to draw you in. So. Do a sermon on a Wednesday night specifically for you or something like that. So it's like, well, I won't tell them I'm coming. I'm just going to go. And then the way they'll know on there is because I'm going to write about what I saw. So I did that for all these, except for like the dude's living room. We let him know who I was and what I was doing. Cause that would have been weird.

Bento:

So looking for me in an hour.

Hemant:

Yeah. That's exactly. That's exactly it. And what was so cool is even though, you know, this is a small, neat niche niche of the internet here, looking at any of this, but at the time, I mean, the story was viral of, because things go viral randomly, like some mainstream newspapers had written about. Experiment. We were doing I was visiting a bunch of places. And what was amazing is like common threads. When I wrote about my journeys and my visits, the comment threads were surprisingly civil. You had atheist saying, you didn't like this thing at this church. Guess what? I went to a church like that. I hated that. That's why I left. And you had Christians saying, oh my God, face home. Like, yeah, I hate that. That's the thing. I hate that they do that. Like I'm religious, but man, you saw the wrong guy or you saw the wrong sermon or whatever. And like, but people were having a real dialogue, which you don't see very often. And so at the end of this experiment for the guy, I did not convert. But what was interesting is that a book publisher that this pastor had worked with said they liked publishing edgy Christian books, however, with big quote, hands with edgy, you know what I mean? But they really were like, it's kind of amazing that this atheist is going to seek seeker services and basically telling these Christians the honest truth about what he is experiencing and why it's not working. And like as a Christian book publisher who caters to that market. That is catnip. It's like a marketing tool on how to convert people. And again, and again, to be clear, the publishers wanted to convert people. That was their mission as a book publisher. And the churches obviously did. And they're like, well, evangelicals love reading about themselves. So why don't we work with this atheist, send them to even more churches separate from the one he went to for that pastor. And we'll send you not just to small churches starting out, but we'll send you the like mega churches across the country because they, theoretically, they Excel at drawing in people who don't go to church. So like, what do you like, what do you not? I mean, I went to Joel Osteen's church in Texas. Euston. I went to Ted Haggard's mega-church in Colorado auto at the time, he was like, he was evangelical big shot, had to be a national association of evangelicals before he had a downfall because he was seeing a male escorts. But I went off, I went to all these places. Sometimes the pastors would talk to me like afterwards, if we let them know, Hey I'm visiting your church, but usually we didn't tell them we didn't talk to them. And, and to be honest with you, some of it was genuinely like, wow, this is a really good thing that some of these churches they're doing, I see why they're drawing people in. I see why, if you believe in the Christian stuff, why you'd want to attend a church like this and make it your entire life, right. Did you go to, did you go to different subsets of Christianity? Like some Methodist church, some Catholic church experience the differences. The, the answer to that is yes, but not by much. Sometimes it's like, you know, you're going to this mega church let's say in Houston. Well, it turns out there's a popular black church nearby. That's a Protestant, but not evangelical. Why don't we send you there because the pastor is famous. You don't know him, but he is. And by the way, there's also like a Presbyterian church. That's one of the most popular in the country, different style, different everything. Why don't you go there while you're in town? So, yeah, there was a little of that, but. This is honestly what they told me. It's an evangelical book publisher, and they're like Presbyterians, don't buy books about their churches, evangelical evangelicals do so we're mostly sending you to those places. So I did that experiment for them. That's the book called? I sold my soul on eBay, quote unquote, like, did I actually sell my soul? No, but that's how the marketing went. But I mean, I'm telling you it was a, it was a cool learning experience. I've actually encouraged other atheists college students, especially if you've never witnessed this stuff firsthand, it's so easy to demonize them. And I'm not above that because they do a lot of horrible things and they say a lot of horrible things, but if you've never witnessed it, you should go to see how captivating it can be. How sometimes how sometimes life inspiring, like awe inspiring. It can be. Cause you need to know firsthand. It's so easy. I think for a lot of atheists to think if you just have the right arguments and the right logical arguments and you know, the biblical contradictions, if you just say that stuff effectively, you'll convince people to lose their faith in God. And it's like, that's maybe, but that's usually not enough because there's so much in church that is keeping people there. And if you don't know what that is, There's no way you're going to move. And by the way,

Bento:

community, you know, out there, they, they pick and choose what they want to believe from whatever book they are believing in any anyways. So it's really you know, you go to a evangelical church, like you can instantly see why people get sucked into that. I mean, the music, you know, it's, it's, it's very, meditative

Hemant:

yeah. Yeah. They make you think about your life in ways. We usually don't. Cause we're all hustling and doing

Bento:

with a bunch of people that think of the same thing that you believe,

Hemant:

you know right. And you're all bound by something that is, I'm not going to say it's, it's bigger than you were hired than you, but it is a strong driving force for everyone who goes to those type of places, if they are sincere and they believe that stuff. And so it's hard to get logic and reason into the mix when, I mean, you know, those. Yes. You know, those atheist churches that popped up for a couple years back in the day church, like in big quote, where they would meet on Sundays and they would have like a sermon, but it was like a Ted talk or it was about science and they would sing songs, but they were like Beatles, uplifting songs. And it's like, wow, that's funny. Sometimes they do get a lot of people. Some of those congregations, big quote hands, some of those places still exist, but by and large, they failed. And I think one of the reasons they didn't work on a massive scale is because I think in a lot of ways, they just kind of missed the mark on why do people go to church? Yeah. I mean, and not just that, it's the, if you really belong to a mega church near you and you wanted, and you believed and you wanted to be, you want a church to be a bigger part of your life, they give you volunteering opportunities. They can hire you on staff. You can work with kids your entire life. If it, if you wanted it to could revolve around the church and you were con you were connected to it with a glue that is so strong. And even if you have doubts, even if you start to have doubts, you're not about to leave that to think like, well, why do people go to church? Is it the music? Is it because they love. Something to someone for 10 minutes, like buddy, that's not, that's not why people go to church. So trying to replicate that without guide, you're actually not replicating. The reason everyone goes week after week. So again, it is, you feel like you were part of some bigger thing that is so much more important than your life. And honestly, you can hear a sermon about science and if you're reading a good book or listening to like watching a documentary, maybe you're transported temporarily. And maybe you can be odd, no Dallas by science, but like, it just doesn't have that. Like you matter, because what is the astronomy, you know, it's like, no, no, no, none of us matter. It's a very, it's honest, but it's not, it doesn't, it does not affect the astronomical world. That's true. Yeah. And when you're feeling, go ahead, go ahead. I would say it's not, it's not that immediacy impact feeling that, Hey, my choices and all of that have a real outcome in whatever after life or feeling towards me. And it's very interesting that you bring up too. Cause we were talking earlier about faith and how, you know, in general, like, like the thought of faith and it's very difficult for me because I just, oh, I just feel. How do you blindly put your, like that much faith into anything? I mean, you know, you think about, you know, all the great even scientists of the world, you know, it's reflected in a funny it's always sunny in Philadelphia episode talks about the different, you know, astronomers, like Galileo who thought this, but then later on, you know, at the time he was a genius, then later on when the next genius comes around a disproves him. So, and so even things in science, you know, in a sense you are having some faith, obviously some science is non-debatable facts, the theories out there. I mean, it, it just seems so hard in my mind that people can be, I don't know. I don't want to use the word duped, but like, like I feel like church and, and things like that. Like, all right. Yeah. Great. You go there, you listen to the 10 minute sermon makes you feel good, warm, fuzzy, like, yeah, life is all right. Like sweet man. Good for you. Right. But I just don't understand how people can get so wrapped up in just that feeling. It makes sense when you find a church that makes it feel that way though. It's real. I mean, I think the thing to keep in mind is a logical argument or an art, like. All that stuff that we're so used to hearing from a lot of popular atheists. It's not the thing that's going to draw them out necessarily. Maybe it plants a seed of doubt and that's great. But that alone, like it's not going to do the trick. And by the way, like, I've heard this argument within atheist circles because there are groups for like black atheist and Latino atheist. And it's like, well, why, why do we need to segregate? Like that. And the reason is because of black church, it's a totally different beast than a white evangelical church, of course. And arguing that you should leave your faith. If you're black, you're not just leaving your church, which is hard enough as it is. It's almost like turning your back on your entire family and your community. And it's like Richard Dawkins for all his flaws. Like I get the God delusion, I read the God delusion, but it's like, you're not speaking to a lot of the reasons some people may want to stay in their church. And so again, my whole point is, I didn't know what any of this going to, a lot of these places, you kind of get a better sense of it. And so to, and it's good to go back to the question from whenever ago after I went all these places, I did end up working on the boards of some of these atheist organizations. I ended up, I really love the idea that I could visit churches, write about it and get this feedback in real time. And I just kind of wanted to keep that going. And so that's kind of when I started my, my friendly atheist website and in some version or another that's been going ever since. So the name is still there, kind of, sort of, but really it's, it's me writing about religion. I've been doing that ever since. So,

Bento:

This stems off of a recent article you had too. One thing I have noticed is, we went, we went from, we had a period of time where I felt like we were making some really good progress, like getting, religion out of public schools and, and, and government, we, I feel like over the past, I don't know, five or six years. So we've kind of seen a shift in that. And, we got the, the abortion bill going on Texas passed that. I think Oklahoma is going to pass another one or they already have Florida terrible. Why are we seeing this sudden shift in getting regressive now? Is it just the natural kind of course of correction where it's, you know, we over-exaggerate and then kind of come back

Hemant:

and now they're moving. Yeah. So I'll, I'll say a couple of things about that. One is. Politically speaking, when, you know, the culture is going in one direction, it makes the people on the other side of it, which in this case of the Republicans and conservatives in general, doubling down and trying to cling to whatever they can. So if you're in a red state, they are passing bills that are as extreme as possible while they have the power to do it because they know if it's based on popularity or things like that, they're not going to win any of these debates and they keep losing it. So part of it's political, like the extreme on the right, just get more and more extreme. I wish the left would get equally extreme when they can, but. Like it's unfortunate. The left is relatively moderate party. Totally extreme. There are two extremes. There are two extreme in the left. Yeah. They're fighting for like what equal rights and med like healthcare for everybody. And it's like, how dare you come here. Save that one. We'll get back to that. Save that thought for a second. Cause I would love to address that. But in terms of the religious thing, this is, this is actually funny to me. I actually just started giving a talk recently about the exact thing that you mentioned, Joe, which is like, it seems like we were making headway somewhere when it comes to atheism and truancy separation, and now we're regressing and the truth is this is what the talk is about. That's not actually the case. I know it looks like that, but it's not. And I could justify that with a bunch of different like metrics. One of which is like, here's one example, fewer than half of all Americans say they have absolute certainty that God exists. I mean, you would hope even super religious people are like, well, sure. I have some doubts. That's why they call it faith. But no, like by and large, for a long time, like 75 to 80% of people said, not only do I believe in God, I never have any doubts. And it's like, that's a high, that's a high number even.

Bento:

Isn't it. More than half to now that don't identify as

Hemant:

religious authority flips. We're getting there. Yeah. Like more people than ever before say they have no organized religion. So on that front, like that shift is still moving in our direction and it hasn't stopped. And I think a lot of that has to do with what we saw a decade two decades ago, where people started talking about atheism, making it more normal and getting used to it. And all of a sudden, like if you're at a big public high school, for example, even in conservative areas or red states, odds are, you know, someone who's LGBTQ, you know, someone who's not religious or not Christian, and it's just a part of your life and you disagree fine. But like it they're there. So like it's not as weird as it used to be everywhere. So that's, that's part of it. It is getting better in that sense. Here's another thing that I found interesting, which is a lot of people who might have been interested in like the new atheism thing from like the mid aughts or the books, or they were interested in atheist activism specifically. I can tell you anecdotally that a lot of the friends that I got to know in those circles back in the day, they are still activists. They're still passionate about these. But they're not all working for atheist groups or church state separation groups. They're working on causes that are deeply affected by the most extreme religious people in our country. So they might've been an atheist activist a while back now they're working on abortion rights or they're working on LGBTQ rights, or they're working on political campaigns in some senses to get people elected who are going to push that we don't necessarily need to be because that, can you say, we're not over when you say we're not as loud as we need to be. What is it that you think we need to be loud about? Is it the fact that atheists are out there? No one really doubts that we are out there. Is it, is it because we want to let people know it's okay to have their doubts and to question their faith. Not only are more people aware of that there are more resources that they can access privately or publicly than ever before, in whatever medium they want. You know, you want to listen to a

Bobby:

finding that information out there now, as opposed to that's so funny too. Cause like you think about like the prior to internet days, When you had questions and doubts of your faith, who did you go talk to? Most likely you went and talked to your

Hemant:

priest and what's the answer they give you. If you ask a question about God,

Bento:

pray and in his basket and go pray,

Bobby:

come, come sit in a box for two hours. And talk to me,

Hemant:

just have faith. Don't ask that question. Just believe it it happened. It's true. Of course it's not rational. It's a biblical thing. You got to have faith. I mean, those are bad answers and everyone can tell you those are bad answers. They still had doubts. But again, if you have those questions now, Not only are there books in your library, you can access, you can find if you like. I mean, one of the things that actually shocked me years ago is I spent all this time writing blog posts about atheism. And this is after the books were out too. But on, I started putting out some YouTube videos where I talked about like, how do atheists get their morality? Well, let me try to riff on that for a few minutes and try to answer that for you. And the thing is, people found those videos and it's not because I was trying to push them. They just organically found them. And what I realized is people are searching for those questions on YouTube, the way I would have done with Google. Right? And it's like, you could find theologian like secular theologians, unlike Tik TOK. Now you can find podcasts where they talk about this stuff, whether it's current events or atheism 1 0 1 or whatever it is. So the idea of like, well, atheist activism, it was, they were so pushing atheism and getting the word out there. Well, they did. And it worked and like, what are you trying to push now? I mean, I know there are a handful of atheists that are like, I wish we were in your face about this stuff again. I mean, I know they wish they were back in like those old days, but the truth is like, if you're asking me what's the, who faces actual persecution discriminate. It's not atheist. It's people impacted directly by religious extremism, Christian nationalism. And it's not atheist per se. It's people who are trying to do things that might piss off the church. And sometimes yes, that strict state separation cases, like straight up, we were talking earlier about like the religious sign in a Rhode Island high school back like several years ago. Yeah. That stuff does happen. Freedom from religion foundation, Americans United for separation of church and state, they will send letters. They will fight that stuff. That is true. But at the same time, if you're talking right now, what does religion impact? I mean, I would easily point to like women's rights, abortion rights, honestly, racism in some ways too, because Christian nationalism is very much an overwhelmingly white thing. And so like, they're like, oh, this, this classroom textbook includes something about black people. Sorry. Nope. You can't discuss it. Or we got to make sure it's like low key history books talking about civil rights. Or like I saw this example in Florida when they were trying to get like trying to ban math books that they said went too far. Yeah.

Bento:

There was the graph of people. That's

Bobby:

right. There was graphs of

Bento:

of percentages of people that are racist or something. And it was

Bobby:

kind of graphic. And one chart was by.

Hemant:

Yeah. I mean, some of that stuff is just, I mean, those are actual surveys. Do you want to use actual real world data or do you want like Timmy has two apples and then he gives Susie one app. I mean Florida. Yeah. I mean, one thing I saw, and this was a real question in one of the books, Jesus says, how many Jesus has.

Bobby:

You don't think that that just seems like, cause I remember I remember hearing this and I was just like, why is that?

Hemant:

Here's a question that I think maybe this goes to what you're saying, Rob, like there was a question that I saw, I don't know. I didn't double-check this, I don't know if this was in a Florida math book, but this was an example of a question that I read was in a book. So don't quote me on this. But the question was something like, it was a, it was a word problem where he had to do some addition, subtraction, or like analyze some data. And the data they had was like in the African-American population, sickle cell anemia is higher than it is in other populations. And they had specific numbers to go with it and something like that. It's like, well, yeah, I mean, that's actual data because they're trying to give you a word problem that has real world applications. By the way, I taught statistics like advanced placement statistics that I school for a bunch of years. I'm the one thing I tell people about that class is unlike all the other math classes I taught stats was the one where no kid ever asks, like, when are we going to use this in life? Because every pub, every problem we did was a real world problem. But if the mention of like bringing up race in that context, or maybe using a survey where they talk about race and analyzing that data, which is a real thing that people do, like, how does COVID impact different populations? Well, guess what, if you break it apart by race, you're going to get different cancers. And that requires. Different area. I mean, yes. I mean, I agree with you. Of course, that stuff is important and we should be able to analyze it and dissect it. And I feel like when you see that stuff in a book, there's some people who just see the differentiation by race, or they bring up an example in a history book of what civil rights activists did and this stuff. And they get so defensive about like, well, how dare you include that stuff in this book? Are you secretly trying to, you know, I don't

Bento:

know, that's fine. So, because it's, it's the way did to us, you know, like they presented it to assess, this is a snippet of the book that, you know, Ron DeSantis is freaking out about. They don't give you the lead up to why they're showing you that data. They don't give you the chapter. This is why we're talking about this. They just see this graph. And everybody just like has a freaking heart

Bobby:

attack and inside though. Right? So throw the data out for a second. Why are we having examples like that in a math book? For instance, I'm not going to have an example in there that talks about, you know, percentages, you know, in 1942, this percentage of Jewish people were killed by Nazis. Instead of this percentage in 1943, it just doesn't seem like an inappropriate placement for that time. That type of education, that education should be included in your history and social studies

Hemant:

courses. I mean, I know you're raising a hypothetical there. Like that's not the question per se, but like, let me riff on that for a second. Why not include that number? Because, because depending on the, depending on the unit, depending on, and the

Bobby:

data, all data is formed with some sort of analysis behind it, that's presented in a visualization of a graph and there can be biased. You cannot just present a graph and a math problem without educating people on the context

Hemant:

in, I don't disagree with you on that stuff. But like, if you want real world examples of analyzing two sets of data, there are, I mean, and that's one of them. So why not say like, this is something that is interesting, this is something that is relevant. It's not a bad example. It's

Bobby:

real. And that's what I mean. I don't, I don't think it's a horrible example. I just think when you, when you do something like that in a math setting, now you're asking that math teacher who might get questions on it to educate students on a topic that she might

Hemant:

not never has that ever happened. And does that happen? When does the question about like, I mean, whether it's Jewish people population over time, or, you know, this segment of the population is dealing with this and like we have numbers and we're trying to analyze the numbers there that, I mean, I'm telling you this as a guy who taught this stuff for many. We don't have time to get into the backstory of the question, but you do want to see, but you do want to move on. Like, I mean, you're not using your time there, but it's like, okay, the war happened. Let's do a question that involves it because this actually plays a role in other classes. It comes together.

Bobby:

And that's a good point. That's a, that's a good point too. Like if that math book is for like a high school, senior, a great thing, all that information, right. For a

Bento:

third grader, for sure.

Hemant:

I'll give you an F I mean, this is a way it played out, not with race or gender or anything, but like just a few years ago Republicans were mad about like common core math in quotation marks. And again, I, I think I was a teacher at the time when those things were happening. And I remember thinking like there's no, every time I read someone complaining about. They have no clue what they're talking about, because the thing I'm saying, the thing I was saying is like, oh yeah, like they're doing, I'll give you an example. If you had to do something like I'm making this up, I don't know the answer. 34 times 23. And you had to figure that out without a calculator. Cause you got to learn multiplication. I mean, we all, anyone listening to this knows, oh, right. Like you put those numbers, there's an algorithm you use to get the answer. Yes. And I know how to do that. And you know how to do that. Yes. And the QA, the zero. And like, if I asked you, if I asked you for a second here, like, remember how, like on the second line of your answer, you had to put a zero placeholder. And then if I asked you right now, do you remember why you did that?

Bento:

'cause

Hemant:

cause that's the way, cause that's the way you're talking. Right? Like I that's honestly, for a lot of students, that's the thing. And what I'm telling you is like, I ran into,

Bento:

you know, they don't know how to do that math. So if they need to help their child with math homework

Hemant:

from

Bobby:

the tenths position at

Hemant:

that point. Yeah. You're, you're getting closer. J yes. You're getting closer to the answer, but I promise you, most people could not give even an answer that involved like, well, you're in the tens place, so you have to do this. They couldn't do that. But the thing is when you, when you teach, like, when I see, like, so what, what happens is you have students who never really learned why they had to do something. They just knew the algorithm for doing it. And the thing is when I'm trying to teach them higher level math, where you got to manipulate equations or numbers in different ways, if they never learned how to break stuff apart. Cause they're like, well, what's the formula. Let me plug it in and just get the answer. It's like, you're not, you don't know how to do it. The smart students in the classes, they figured this out. And did it organically. Yes. I was lucky enough that in math anyway, not in other subjects in math, I was one of those kids. I figured out how to manipulate the stuff on my own. But when I saw what they were doing with like, quote unquote, common core math, it was let's teach kids how to manipulate the numbers at a young age, because that's going to make it easier for them down the road. Yeah, exactly. And do you know, like I don't, I, when I type on my computer, I do like hunt and pack, but I'm really fast at it. I never learned how to, I never learned how to type up my fingers. I never learned how to do that. But here's the thing. If you asked me, like, if you taught me how to do that, what's going to happen. Well, I'm going to go super slow at first while I get used to it. But in theory, once I got used to it, I'm going to go really fast. Cause I know how to do it. That's what common core math is. We're slowing you down at first and your parents are pissed because they're like, I know the algorithm just use that.

Bobby:

I was like, why can these kids not just do it all done

Hemant:

it? Like

Bobby:

complained to a suit. I couldn't. I mean, at the time too, like my kid was in the second or third grade, just getting into like multiplication, division

Hemant:

fractions, you know how to do it. And you know, the algorithm and they're not doing it that way. I got to

Bobby:

go and look up online, how to do this, the common core way. So you know, lock step with the teacher because otherwise it gets. No clue what's going on. And it's just like, I was frustrated. He was frustrated. The teacher was

Bento:

frustrated

Hemant:

and I totally get the frustration at the same time. If your kid learns how to do that stuff, when they're in high school or later, it's like, yeah, you're going to be better set. But that's the thing about the I even, there's the example of like,

Bobby:

well, the crazy part about that common core is when they finally got it in the schools that he goes to the lasted one year, and then they went back and I was like, you guys are just wasting everybody's time. Like how can you look at a curriculum, make a decision and then just change it again in a year, because

Bento:

on,

Hemant:

I don't know, but I, I don't know the specifics about it, but I, what I will tell you is even though like the state standards or federal standards might change, depending on who's in office, by and large math education as a whole is in that direction, they may not call it common core, but that's what they're doing now in a lot of places, because it's better for everybody. But going back to like, even if you think about this for a second, you give a, you go to a coffee shop, you give them 20 bucks for like a drink. That's like $9 82 cents. And how much change should you get back? Of course, it's $10, 18 cents. Or what did you do to figure that out? Did you do 20.00 minus 9.82. Oh, no. Carry.

Bobby:

Yeah. You know, this 10 left.

Hemant:

Right. You didn't do the algorithm. You did it the manipulative way, which is the smart way to do it, which is how the smart is all. Do it. That's where the teachers were trying to educate students to do. But the reason I bring all this up is when you say like when we bring up, how are they teaching this stuff in class? Now, part of, part of the way you get kids to care about this stuff is you integrate what they're learning in other classes into your class. So like math, the learning, yes. To reinforce it and to show you that the stuff you're learning in history. Yeah. That's one thing, but also, you know what, when we're doing statistical analysis, That stuff comes into play too, looking at census data, looking at this stuff like you want to use real world data because I'm telling you the hypothetical crappy word problems. You get maps. Those are

Bobby:

dumb. The hardest, like those are always the word problems everybody's for everybody gets wrong too. Cause they just speed through the question and not paying attention.

Hemant:

Yeah. Right. And so actually getting it some real world implications here and saying, well, this is what happened. This is the data that we had. Or for example, like statistically speaking 2016 election the, the polls all said, Hillary Clinton was gonna win. That's not what happened. What happened? Analytically, statistically, why did everyone get it wrong? Was that a problem with the polls? Was that a problem with the analysis? What, what happened that managed to get the polling so wrong? I mean, if you're in a statistics class that is a real world, very important thing to figure out how to discuss now is that it is that like democratic indoctrination to say, like she was supposed to win according to the statistics. Why is that? I mean, I would argue that's a great discussion to have in class. Cause you can talk about so many different things and I would also, it would not be real. Yes, exactly. Like, well, she had a night 80% chance of winning. Well, if she was in the 20%, that election was in 20%, does that mean it's weird? Or was that like, yeah, that could have happened. That's exactly. I mean, but to have that discussion, I mean, I guess that's the question, is that a, are we biased in favor of Hillary or is that a real world application that leads to a bigger discussion, right? And so I want to disagree with that. Yeah. As a teacher, I want to have the power to say, this is an interesting question that is worth this discussion. Now I want to be able to talk about it and to have any politicians say none. No, no, no, no. You can't do that in math class because I know what's best for you. That pisses me off.

Bento:

Maybe someone like a governor, that isn't shit that shouldn't be tasked with with doing things like that. No, I agree. There are so many more things that the governor of Florida should be handling rolling out of a pandemic to the educators and the superintendents and the people, you know, I'm sure this even higher people than that, that, you know, make these books and decide what curriculum these kids

Hemant:

The mapping was almost a side distraction, but like the sex education and stuff, like what do you think teachers are actually teaching kids because whatever they're being accused of, I'm like, that's not what anyone's doing in a classroom like that.

Bento:

I moved to North Carolina for a year in 2010. We was like, oh, like grass screening on the other side. So we went down there, we went to this like outdoor zoo where you kind of like, you sit in a tractor and they drive you around. So there was this couple there and with their kids and, you know, when I very, very Southern, very. You know, you could tell they lived in a trailer park and not very educated. And we were just kind of having a talk. And the parents mentioned that they took their kids out of school and they homeschool now. So immediately, I was like, I need to know why, because like, these people have no business homeschooling the kids. And they said it was because the teacher made them make African mass. And these African mass had horns in them, of course, because that's the culture and that's the way they do things because they may have made these massive horns on it. They attributed to a sign of the devil and they ripped them off for these poor two kids are going to live their whole life now with, you know, not a good education and you know, who knows where they are, where they're on now. They're probably like,

Bobby:

you have to it's so, so way, like, is that really the, the hill, the dye on and be like, ah, African Hornback, right,

Hemant:

right at home home homeschooling can be hit or miss. But the thing about homeschooling is like, and this is something you hear from parents, especially atheist ones who, for whatever reasons. They decided to do it. It's like all the resources that are available to us that are marketed to us. They're almost always coming from Christian companies. And so you talking about, you want to talk about indoctrination, like I D if you, and if you haven't done this, if your listeners haven't done this, if you look up like a, B, E K a, a backup books or accelerated Christian education, ACE, if you look up textbooks, math, textbooks, science, textbooks, all the stuff they accused public schools of doing in their like English and math classes and stuff like which, which doesn't actually happen. If you look at their science books and math books, holy crap. The indoctrination that is in those books, wild, wild. Oh my God. There's so

Bento:

many,

Bobby:

I mean, Washington people while they're at the Catholic colleges.

Hemant:

Yeah. And then you have like atheist parents. Yeah. And then you have atheist parents who are like, I want to homeschool my kids for reasons X, Y, or Z. And they're like, well, I want to get a textbook that I can use. Cause it's different than the ones you might get in a public school. And it's usually always, those are their options. It's these Christian ones. And they're like, I can't use that, but now I don't know what to do because I mean, I'm sure now it's a little better. They're more homeschooling.

Bento:

They have secular

Hemant:

textbooks. They do. But again, the field is dominated by Christians,

Bento:

so yeah. So where do you see the landscape going in the next say like 10 years or so? The

Hemant:

landscape of what the landscape of

Bento:

Christianity and, and non secularism that's in this country, the thought that, you know, we're a Christian nation kind of, kind of goes back to my point where I said, it's, it feels like, it feels like it's becoming stronger again.

Hemant:

Yeah. I mean, I wish I could give you an answer that the long journey here is heading in the right direction. And I don't know that we're in the middle of it. I don't know where it's going to go, but like, what's amazing is people are moving away from organized religion. People are moving away from Christianity or at the very least they're leaving like evangelical Christianity and going to more progressive different denominations or non-denominational, they're like, I'm not Christian, but I do believe there's something out there. Right. So the percentage of Christians is getting smaller and smaller. And yet, what do you have left behind? It's this more extreme, more right-wing version of evangelical Christianity, Southern Baptist.

Bento:

And it's almost like they're leaving their religion, but they grabbing to grabbing the political landscape as the inner religion.

Bobby:

It's

Bento:

really like a

Hemant:

cult. Now. It's like the Republican party by and large, like the moderates have all, almost all left the building. And what do you have left? You have a smaller number of people, but the ones who were there are hardcore, like whatever it is, they believe so Christianity like the people nowadays. But yeah, like they they're Christians who have the power are these. Yeah. They're they're anti-science anti-women anti-gay what have you, we can go on for awhile. They have a lot of power. There are fewer of them, but man, are they more monolithic than ever before? And that's a scary thing. That's a scary thing. We, as atheists, atheist numbers have not really budged. However, the number of people without organized religion has gone up and up and up, and what's actually been maybe optimistic for me is that a lot of those other groups like atheist groups, they used to have to work on our own because who the hell wants to be our friends. They seem, they seem to be working with a lot of progressive religious groups when it comes to lawsuits, when it comes to issues and saying like I mean lawsuits for one, for example, like there, the abortion bill that the the abortion law that the Supreme court is about to rule on that could overturn Roe V. Wade. When you see the Amicus briefs, scary stuff, when you see the legal briefs, that abortion rights supporters file basically saying, Hey, Supreme court, here's our arguments for why you should rule in our favor. We're not part of this case, but we have a vested interest in this case. And when you, when you see who's signing those, it's like you will see briefs that are not just like American atheists and FFR F wrote. Talking about the religious aspects of this. And they filed that officially. That used to be what we did. And what you see now is a lot of those groups will work with progressive Jewish groups, progressive Muslim groups, progressive Christian groups, and they file them together saying we all have very different views about guns. And we are all saying that. Yeah, we all agree on this. So you see a lot of cooperation on issues where extreme religious, slight, extreme Christianity really hurts so many different groups of people. And I think that's a good thing. It means like, you know what? We all have very strong disagreements, all like very strong. We all feel very passionately about our views about God atheists, believers, what have you, we all care about this. I wish we could just debate that, but we're not in that, but we're not there. And right now this group, whether it's like, well, we don't like a mask mandate because our religion commands it. Here's a bunch of religious groups and church state separation groups and atheist groups saying all of us have different beliefs about God. And we say their religious argument is bullshit. And here's why, and you know what, that's, that's kind of an amazing thing. And here's an example of. The January 6th insurrection thing, there was a, there was a meeting that took place on Capitol hill, like a couple of like a month ago. And the reason that got attention, the reason you had Congress, people involved in that meeting, and you got coverage in mainstream media, publications, like which said, you cannot talk about January six without talking about the impact of white Christian nationalism specifically, because that played a role in this. The reason that got attention is because it wasn't just atheists putting it out there, even though, even though they were it's because they said, Hey progressive Baptist group that exists and has some files, Hey, two members of Congress. One of you is a humanist. One of you is Jewish. We want your help in putting this out there. They did. And like all of a sudden it's like, what's a humanist. The it's basically a. I'm an atheist and you're like, yeah, but what do you believe in humanist as an answer to that? It's saying, I don't believe in God, but I do have a set of ethics and values. I want to make this a better place. Right? Right. I mean, yes. And there was one humanist open humanist in Congress, Jared Huffman. He's a Democrat from California. He's the only guy who's openly. Non-religious right. And so when you get a guy like that on board saying, I'll help you push this because it's important and people need to hear this. And then he goes on the floor of the house and makes a speech saying like Christian nationalism is a problem. We cannot separate that. And Jamie, Jamie Raskin from Maryland, who's on the January six committee is saying that, and he's going to be doing primetime hearings on this stuff next month. Like, how do you make a change? How do you see the long-term prospects of atheism? It's not just about. Convincing people, God doesn't exist is saying, you know what? We're not scary. We want you to listen to what we have to say, but first let's make sure Christian extremism doesn't control all of our lives. And by the way, we're not alone on that. Look at all these other people who agree with us. And if we can get back to that, Great. Let's have debates on God's existence. I'd love to debate all these allies we're working with. I mean, honestly right now, though, but I

Bento:

love the satanic church. They always come in and fight the Christians. When they be the 10 commandments monument. I forgot what it was. They came in Arkansas. They came in and brought that big statue of Bahamas. And even now in Florida, they're, they're trying, since the Santas passed that law against the critical ratio, they're saying the Bible should be banned from schools because it has massage in a rape infant side, like

Hemant:

irony. There is like, so the one in Florida, the guy who trying to ban the Bible because of the book ban, he's actually a lone Wolf. He's just an atheist who works for himself, not affiliated with the satanic temple and the Arkansas monument that lawsuit has been going on for years. It's still ongoing. We don't have a resolution in that. And the guy who put up the 10 commandments monument in Arkansas is running to become Lieutenant governor with Sarah Huckabee Sanders, like it's wild, like the guy who's pushing Christian nationalism and putting the 10 commandments on the outside of the Capitol bites stuff, by the way, not with like 10 other historical monuments. He's about to ascend. So like a heartbeat away from the governor ship in that state, which is. Yeah, it's scary stuff. And because it's Lieutenant governor, you never hear both of these idiots, they spread fear and persecution to a group of people who want to feel like, like there are people looking out for them. If the irony is that,

Bento:

think about if the new governor Allen was a Liverpool fan and he was like, everything in here, Liverpool, it's going to be Liverpool banners on the city. You know what I mean? Season tickets, Liverpool games. Like, you'd be all about it. You'd be for farm in a second.

Bobby:

Like the, there has to be a line. Like, you know what

Hemant:

I mean? That's the thing. When someone is telling you, I mean, this is the thing that they do really well. And this is true in every state where there's a chance of Republican could win the office there, which is that they go to these Christian organizations, whether it's a church or a ministry or whatever. And they tell these people who are by the way in the religious majority. And they're like, the world hates you. I am on your side. We're going to push back against every single thing these liberals and progressives are doing. Of course. Yeah. Yeah. Oh, like red, they had a holiday cup, like never, we're going to bring back Jesus into every and all these

Bobby:

do both sides. Do that.

Hemant:

No, no, no, no. Not a chance. No way. No, no, no.

Bobby:

I'm going to tell me that. You said that the Democrats don't stand up there and say, we gotta take down these white nationalists.

Hemant:

Are they wrong?

Bobby:

No, but we need to take down white nationalists are all Republicans white nationalists.

Hemant:

No. And they're not saying all Republicans, they're saying specifically white nationals. Whereas,

Bobby:

whereas to say, because the Republicans go and they say, we got to take down all these woke and super progressive people. Are they all? No, of course not.

Hemant:

But that's how. I'm pushing back against that, because I don't like that both sides argument, because what they're doing on the right is deliberately distorting everything that's going on on the left, they will take what a couple of progressive activists might say, which is legit. They save that stuff and then assume every Democrats on board. And it's like, no, they're like Joe Biden, Joe Biden is not on board with any of this. And neither are elected Democrats. Whereas on the right, if you ask, like how many, what percentage of Republicans believe Q Anon? What percentage of evangelical Christians actually believe Q Anon conspiracies that the election was stolen. We're not talking about a fringe minority. That is the majority of those groups. That's the difference?

Bento:

Like, I think about like the left when they, you know, like, cause I'm kind of on the same boat too. Like I'm not both sides of the sense of like both sides are equal. You know what I mean? Like they're, they're, the Republicans are really doing

Hemant:

us a disservice. I'll give you an example. I'll give you an example, like defund the police as the slogan. Yeah. It's not Joe Biden. It's not the elected Democrats. It's a couple of Congress people. And again, if you ask, what do you mean by that? They are not saying let's like banish every police department in the country. And it's a couple of activists who use it as a slogan. We didn't vote on this. They just started saying it. But again, it's very easy to take that snippet and say, here's what it means. They hate the cops all up and down the line. No, no, no

Bobby:

labels on it.

Hemant:

No, absolutely

Bento:

not. Especially again,

Hemant:

what percent, what percent, what percentage of elected elected like in Congress or, or percentage of Republican voters in general, believe Trump won in 2020. It's the majority. It's a lot. It's the vast majority. It is not like I,

Bobby:

and I find that so crazy. Like people really think like there's a massive conspiracy Syria.

Hemant:

Yes, yes, yes. They are that insane. And they're the majority and they're the majority

Bento:

you don't spend no seriously follow these things and

Bobby:

no interest. Right. So myself,

Bento:

you know what I mean?

Hemant:

I teach to me your powers, teach me how to do this.

Bobby:

No interest in getting into the minutia with the

Hemant:

here's the problem. Here's the problem. And I totally respect that position to take because it's infuriating and yeah, it'll take over.

Bobby:

That's part of the reason that we started this podcast, because we want invite people on like yeah. Not, not personally, I don't agree with everything you're saying, but sweet man. That's why having intelligent conversation about it and talk about it. But like when you go on the internet and you get all these like keyboard heroes and the first comments go kill yourself, like what?

Hemant:

Yeah. And of course I'm not advocating any of that. I mean, you know what, what I'm trying to put out there though. He's like the things, I feel that a lot of liberal, progressive, mostly, I mean, among the atheist crowd, for sure. When I like, I'll give you an, let me tell you this. If I want to show you that religious people are acting insane, I've built a career on that for 15 years. I could do that. And you and I, I want to make clear when. Yeah, I could easily pick on low-hanging fruit and fringe pastors and I do cause they're crazy. But at the same time I could, I mean, I could also quote what members of Congress are saying what mega church leaders are saying. I did that today. For example, a mega church pastor said something insane. That's not a fringe dude. That's a guy fully in the mainstream. Appreciate it. But if you see it, if you want to do it, play that game the other way around. There's no freaking way you could get away with saying, well, here's the crazy thing, like Polosi said today, or Biden said today, or like some AC. Like group said today, because by and large, you're just, I can quote them directly and give you a transcript of everything they said, and they look insane if you play that game the other way around, it's like, you have to take a little snippet of something and blow it out of proportion. Like

Bobby:

the lake Biden, the Biden teleprompter problems. And he mixes it up or something like that. And they're like, oh, he's going to

Hemant:

die. Right. He's senile. He's going to die. And it's like, no, he actually gave a long speech and then had a Glip in it. Guess what? It happens to me too.

Bobby:

It's 12 hour flight and you're standing in front of a microphone, like, right.

Hemant:

Whereas if you wanted to play, for example, like a Trump gave a rally as we're recording this, if you it's like a one hour speech he's giving, if you wrote out that transcript and put it out there, like you're lucky, but that's the thing. And the thing that I'm trying to get to you. He's basically like, that's why I don't see this as two sides because my side, my side is literally saying, look, here's everything. They said, here's the recording. Here's the transcript. Here's the link. So you can look at it for yourself and you could see that the argument I'm making, I hope is the sensible one. But when I look at right wing websites talking about what my site is doing, they don't do that. They don't play that game because they can't. Because when you look at what we say in context, it's not insane. It's not crazy. And like when it comes down to religion, it's the same thing. If you want me to point to. Like mainstream evangelical Christian Southern Baptist Catholics. When I'm saying here's what they are doing, like from top down, this is what they're saying and doing, I have the numbers to back it up. I have the quotations to back it up, go look at it for yourself. I can do that. If they want to pick on like some idiot atheists or what have you that said something in artfully or wrong, like, it doesn't represent everybody. So, but that is like, that's the Tucker Carlson method right there. Let me pick out one little thing, blow it out of proportion. Like I genuinely get pissed off if someone says like, I like, oh, Tucker did this, but Rachel Maddow did this. Like buddy, you've never seen both of their shows. I do. I do it for a living. I promise you, they are substantively different. These are not two sides of the same point. So like,

Bobby:

what do you tell the same story in two different, completely different ways? Like by the time, by the time they're done, it's not even the same story

Hemant:

anymore. Well, and it's substantively different in the sense that like you have one side doing actual research and showing all the aspects of this and giving you the context and history and the other side playing like again, the snippet blowing it out of proportion and it's insane. So like, I, I will push back on you if you're doing the both sides thing on anything. Like, I just think

Bobby:

that, I just think that in certain things that we talk about today, I felt that the both sides were being invited. I do agree with you in this. In the totality of both parties, as we look at them in general, across the board, you are 100% correct. The Republicans totally tend to play a snippet game. We see it constantly with Joe Biden, everything that Joe Biden does wrong. It's one snippet of a much bigger, higher station situation, all that kind of stuff. And so I do definitely agree with you there.

Hemant:

And yeah, when you, when you play, when you tell people, when you tell people like you, you take that snippet and you blow it out of proportion and stuff, and you tell people they don't want to talk about this. I'm the one that's selling you this because it's true. And I'm on your side. You're being persecuted. They're telling you, they're grooming your children. Whatever. It's not just infuriating because I know they're not actually doing that. It's infuriating because it works. Because when you tell people who are desperate for that kind of validation that they're being listened to and they think they're being lied to, but they're not. But when you tell people like, no, no, no, I know what's going on. The rumors you heard in church are true. And they're like, of course that has, I mean, it's a lot easier to bring together people who believe they're all victims, whether it's conspiracy or not. And it's a lot harder. I mean, we're mostly, I would guess on the same side of a lot of issues, but obviously from this conversation, you can see, we have disagreements about stuff. Imagine the complication, how hard it is to get all of us under the same tent, because we have to be, cause look

Bobby:

at the other side, like I look at the three of us and I said, I bet you, we could come up with a compromise. I bet you, we can figure it out. Bento. There were plenty of things to myself eating out every week. And there are some things we just straight up don't agree

Bento:

inject the second, but that's kinda the problem, right? It's everything is all about sides. You know, it's like pick a team, pick a side. And I think it's more important to, you know, don't identify with the side, don't say, I'm going to pick this side. This is the only thing I'm going to believe. Like we need to learn how to think critically. And you know, like we are our episodes going to release tomorrow. We had a conversation with a Republican from Massachusetts, you know, blue state. And you know, I disagree with a lot of the things that he said Bobby did too, but there's a lot of stuff that we ended up agreeing on. And I think that's kind of the thing. Like, don't just be like, well, just because I'm a Democrat, just because I'm a Republican, I have to soul stand with

Bobby:

these people. You know, that's a great point. Cause like myself, I don't know. Any party, because when I vote, I vote like crazy. Like I'm like, you know, my mayor, I voted my, you know, for, for the mayor of Cranston, I used to live there. I used to vote Republican because I knew the guy and I knew he would do the job and stuff like that, you know? And so it's very, just, I

Hemant:

dunno, yeah, they just had an election, they just had an election in France. And the way they did it is they have all the candidates, they in the top to go to a runoff and those, and that sort of thing. But when it came down to the runoff, it was between Macron. Who's like more of a centrist and Marine Le pen. Who's extremely, in my opinion, very, very right-wing. But the thing is the guy who took the third, but the guy who took third in that before the rock, he didn't make the runoff. He took third. He's very much a like French, Bernie Sanders type and not a fan of Macron. And his followers are very much not a fan of McCombs, but that guy who took third did exactly what Bernie Sanders did in the U S which is to say, look, I did not win the primary. I did not get to where I needed to get to. And I'm sorry, like that sucks. I wish I could put it because I don't want to get any of these candidates. When it comes down to it, you have a choice between two people, because that's how the game works here. And the French dude said, listen, I, you heard me criticized McCrone cause I don't like him. You need to vote for him because the opposition, like that's how this works. Bernie did the same thing too. And for what it's worth Biden did take a lot of his views into consideration. So to the point about taking sides, I'm with you. I don't, I wish people didn't have to take sides. Unfortunately, right now this is kind of the problem. You have one side that in my opinion is like very monolithic, very right wing, very extremist, majority Christian, majority of like this mega cultish type of thinking, and everyone else is on the other side. And all these other people have a ton of different opinions about

Bobby:

everything he just said right there though. I feel over representation of the Republican party. Because, because, because how can you say that an entire party of people are manga and

Bento:

things to look at the amount of votes like

Bobby:

that you just described. They could be in the same position where he say, well, it's the worst of two evils, right? Bree with all of those uses.

Hemant:

Okay. So two things about that. One is I mean, would it convince you if I showed you polling that said, how many of these people think the election was stolen? That Trump is like the real president. Like if I showed you that poll, would that convince you a hundred

Bobby:

percent?

Hemant:

If you believe the methodology and all that. And the other side of that is, okay, what you're saying is maybe I don't like this candidate, but the opposition I liked even less. And that's what they're doing, the problem with that in this position. But the problem with that in this particular case, depending on which election we're looking at is when you say, what am I getting on board with? Even if I don't agree with it, they're basically picking people who are like, well, I'm a Christian nationalist. I want to enforce Christian values, quote, unquote, like on these things. And they're basically like, yeah, it's not my guy, but that's the lesser of two evils right there. But the theocrat who wants to impose their religious use on everybody

Bobby:

religious thought rather than

Hemant:

Paula or yeah, it's like this person hates democracy. Hillary Clinton is not like the monster you think she is, she's just pro choice, but like, she's not crazy. Then you got like, but you're voting like,

Bobby:

and that people really have that stop in their mind where they say, well, hold on us. I have to vote for the Christian dude.

Hemant:

Absolutely. Yes. Yes. It happens all the time. Yeah. This is an interesting Gallop Gallop does this every year where they're like, would you vote for someone from your political party? If that person were a blank? And if you say like, if you're a Republican, would you vote for the presidential candidate? If that person was a woman. And then the answer is like 96% these days, like most people, almost all of them are like, yeah, I don't care if she's a woman, as long as we share the party, we share the values, whatever. What about a black, what about a black person for your, from your party? And it's a little lower, but it's in the nineties. Okay. So most people have no problem with it. Republicans, a little less than Democrats, but it's in the nineties. Then you go down to like, what if there mostly. And all of a sudden it sinks lower. Yeah. It's made with her LGBTQ, I mean, gay or lesbian, not necessarily trans, but if they were gay, would you vote to them Democrats it's maybe in the seventies or eighties now I'm making that up. I think it's around there. Republicans it's lower, but it's probably fifties or sixties. They don't care as much. But, and this is the reason I bring this up because I've looked at this so many times. What if that person were an atheist and for so many, for so many years, it was the lowest one on the list like with, so when people say atheists are unelectable, that's what they always pointed to that even if, even if it was your

Bobby:

political party, I agree with every other issue. But if that's big,

Hemant:

that would be the deal breaker. And the thing is, if you look at it today, I think socialist is the term that is a little lower than atheist these days. But the second, but the second thing about it is if you break that down by age group, like if you're, let's say older than 60 or 70, it's still very, very low. But if you ask people who are like under 30 doesn't matter, Republican or Democrat, they don't care. It's like in the seventies for an atheist. So like the reason I bring that up,

Bobby:

I do like the younger generations in general, like. They're just more clear-headed about these types of things.

Hemant:

Yeah. Religion. Isn't the deal breaker for them. But among Republicans who have power and are running for office, like being a Christian and promoting your Christian, I mean, there's a guy in Ohio running in the primary, Josh Mandel, who's Jewish and his whole stick is I'm still a Christian nationalist and he's like the whole time. And it's like, he knows that's what it takes to win a Republican primary. It's all marketing. It is. And like, but that's the thing, like in the Republican party right now, if you want to win, I mean, we did this with Donald Trump who I would easily argue. He's not really Christian in any meaningful sense of the word, but he used the rhetoric of Christian nationalists. Like I'm here for you. I don't talk like it. I don't act like it, but I

Bento:

am one of those evangelicals, which is people to follow him, the evangelicals.

Hemant:

It's just crazy. And that's the excuse they all gave. They're like, well, I don't like him. He's not what I would've picked, but you know what the Bible says, you don't get to pick exactly what you want and look at who the alternative is, but think about what they did in return. They're like, oh yeah, like

Bobby:

walk with an excuse forever.

Hemant:

But they're like, what did what's Trump doing for immigrants? Oh, he's not like welcoming them in, like Jesus would have wanted don't care. He's our guy. We're going to support it. What's he doing on these issues? The Republican

Bento:

Jesus.

Hemant:

And that's the thing like they decided re being Christian is whatever they wanted it to mean. And it allows them to defend anything. Even the things that you are the opposite of what you might hear in a church. It's insane. So like to get to what Bobby was saying a bit ago, like, is it fair to say, like, is it fair to put all Republicans, all conservatives in the same camp? Not all of them. No, but the vast majority, yes, absolutely. Mike, are they Christian?

Bobby:

You mean, I'm saying it's fair to say the vast majority from a religious perspective.

Hemant:

Oh, no. I'm saying for the party, for the religion altogether, that like the extremism we are talking about that is not relegated to a fringe group. That is well that's,

Bento:

it's very anecdotal. It's like, he didn't say a large

Hemant:

majority, but again,

Bento:

and I imagine your father is a Republican. That just doesn't really care either. Like he's not, your dad is not coming off. Somebody who is like ingrained in the politics.

Bobby:

He knows a lot of bombs. He just believes in Republican

Bento:

publican, he just stays out everything

Hemant:

else. Right. And that's the thing like that's, I, I have no doubt, like I'm not suggesting anything about your father or anything I'm saying like, but no, if you look at the polling, what do they actually believe? The people who are voting for this stuff for vote for Republicans. They believe the conspiracies, they believe in Jesus. They believe that Donald's vast majority. It is not, it is not a small group. Yeah. It is

Bobby:

a lot about education levels amongst these people.

Hemant:

Sure does. I know, you know what it says to me, it says to me they don't want kids getting properly comprehensively educated, which is why you have, diSantos saying like, we gotta, we gotta get in the way of these classrooms.

Bento:

And what's funny is it's, you know, it's a lot of boomers, so it's all the people that said, don't believe everything you read on the internet. And now they go facebook.hilary.evil.com and like interstellar alien that blessed children. You know what I

Hemant:

mean? Yeah. I don't know if you seen like the MyPillow dude making crazy claims, but the thing is he's nuts, but here's the. He doesn't represent a fringe. Cause what he's saying is actually believed by a lot of voting Republicans. And by the way, this is a poll that I forgot who did it, but like they asked mega church, like, I'm sorry, not megachurch. They ask Christian pastors, like what percentage of your congregations believe in this nonsense? Q or non nonsense? Not like religious nonsense and a lot of, and a lot of them were like, it's more than half for sure in my church to the point where like, people like near, like, I don't need you to tell people how to vote. I don't want you to do that, but I wish you would speak out against this sort of other nonsense

Bento:

on the issue, right? I mean, you're talking to a bunch of people that believe that Noah was 600 years old. I mean, look, I mean, of course I'm not pushing back. They're already

Hemant:

easily. Oh I know. But the pastors, the pastors are like, yeah, I believe in this stuff for religious reasons. But of course, you know, the bar Trump lost the election fair and split. There was no election fraud in the way they're talking about it. Of course there's no like pedophilia ring in some pizza place. But, but the problem is a lot of those pastors know that if you set that sort of thing on stage during the sermon, which is legal, by the way, that's fine. You could say that they know if they did that their congregations would revolt because too many of them. Yes. And they're like, I can't afford to do that. Not talk about that from the pulpit. Yeah. Which means all of those extremist views get more of a chance to sink in among the masses, which is scary because they're not listening to us, but those people might listen to their pastors. They might listen to maybe some Republicans who disagree. There's a couple in Congress who have been at least on these issues. Voices of reason, literally a couple, but they're not taken seriously. They're discounted. And so that's,

Bento:

and then when they go home, they sit in their computer and they go on Facebook. That is just an echo chamber of everything they just heard and believe.

Hemant:

So, which makes it a lot harder,

Bobby:

their church community,

Hemant:

but multiplied. And this is what we're up against. It used to be, we were like the lone voices of reason on religion, atheist, like trying to speak truth to all these other people. And what the problem now is you have a large, powerful. Maybe not the majority, but the large powerful group of Americans who believes all these batshit insane things and everyone else who knows that stuff's not true, but we have so many warm, much bigger tent. It's much harder to bring all of us under the same roof, which is why, like, why are Biden's approval ratings, like as low as they are, because of course Republicans don't like him, but most Democrats don't like what he's doing, but that's the thing. Like, whereas if you say like what's the approval for Trump among Republicans sky high, because they all think relatively the same way by and large, whereas we have a bigger tent. So this is what we're up against in the future. Whether it's whether it's religion, whether it's politics or anything, we have to find a way to bring together. A lot of people who have nothing in common and who disagree about a whole bunch, except we think we are logical, rational, sensible people. Well, we have differences of opinion and it's really hard to bring all of that together. Whereas the other side is almost all monolithically in this insane camp that you can't break apart. And

Bobby:

that's so hard because you're right. It would be so hard. How do you bring together all of these people for so many different facts of life without that commonality piece, except for. Rallying against the other side.

Hemant:

Yeah. I mean, that's what happened in the 2020 election. It's like that, that is what happened. People who weren't Fang. I didn't vote for Biden in the primary. I didn't want to, he wasn't the candidate I wanted, but I know what we're up against. So again, when it comes to religion too, though, what's happening in the future of religion, you have this strong growing population of Christians, evangelicals, Christian nationalists, they are small, they're smaller, but they're monolithic. They're tight, they're bonded. And you have all these other people that are like, I might believe in God, but those people are insane. So if I need to work with atheists and I need to work with Jews and Hindus and Muslims, because we're fighting for a common cause I'm going to, I'm going to do that. And honestly, that's a good thing. I like seeing that lead the religious debates to us in our spare time, over beer, let's work on these other things together. That's the one thing that I'm kind of optimistic about, but the opposition is really tough. I will

Bobby:

say too though, that, that, you know, once you start collaborating to, with various groups and hopefully it creates more exposure for different people, they, you know, those views will subside over time, as well as, you know, generations past. But that's, that's one of the things that I, I I am. Like I said earlier, I mentioned about the younger generations. Like I see, I have a 13 year old son and I see his friends and they don't give a shit about the things that we care about and it's really refreshing.

Hemant:

And so hopefully, yeah, good. I'm glad they don't. I'm glad they have lives because,

Bobby:

because to them, it's a simple answer. It's a simple answer. Why are you getting all into all this minutiae, like simple answer. Let's all drive on together.

Hemant:

Oh, I mean, I've definitely heard that when it comes to like atheism stuff. Cause obviously I know that's my life. I've made it my life, but also there's plenty of people. Like why is that the thing you care about? And it's like, I know, I know it's. I don't like it as much as you don't, but what do I write about, I never write about trying to, if you look at anything I've written over the past several, several years, I am not trying to convince anyone to become an atheist. I'm trying to write to even get religious people, reading what I'm saying and saying like, okay. Yeah, I agreed facts insane. And we should all oppose this issue. I mean, that's kind of the audience I'm writing for. It's not just atheists, it's religious people who are open to saying yes. Yeah. And if, look, if you decide to lose your faith, like that's on your own time.

Bento:

Well, I could go for another probably hour here, but I should probably start wrapping up. But yeah, I we really pitched coming out. Like that was a great conversation. Can you just let, let everybody else know what you got going on? I ain't. You want to plug

Hemant:

anything coming up? I mean, there's always stuff coming up and if anyone wants to find me, if you're on YouTube right now, search for friendly atheist and subscribe to that channel, it would mean a lot to me. I write at a website called only sky because that's the only thing above us. Search for that. It's relatively new. There's a lot of really interesting things on there. And if you're on Twitter, I'm at Hemet, Metta, just Google it. You'll find the spelling. There you

Bento:

go. Awesome. Well, thanks a lot for coming on teaching a couple of dumb dudes about some stuff we're not

Hemant:

dumb. You guys are not dumb. I was lied to in the premise.

Bobby:

It's funny. It's funny. When we were joking the other, the other week we had a gentleman on, it was a, you know, part of NASA think tank and he's talking to us about space plants and he's like, yeah, you guys are obviously college educated. It's like, no, we're not. We are really not.

Bento:

That's funny. That's

Hemant:

awesome. Thank you for having me. It was fun.

Bobby:

Thank you so much, man. We appreciate you coming on and talking through some of this stuff with us. I feel like I learned a ton, so. Awesome.

Hemant:

Have a good one guys. School,

Bento:

oh, that's that's a Hermione from Harry Potter. Oh, I'm a Watson. I'm a Watson. That's it? I

Hemant:

offered to buy her a beer once I was politely declined. Did you really, it's funny. She used to go to school in Providence dishing. Yup. For a time I was, I was underage drinking at a bar and there she was, oh man. As you

Bento:

got to bang her money,

Hemant:

but that's what it was. I said I have no, I told my point. I was like, I have no chance of this, but how can I live myself if I don't try

Bento:

penis? yeah.

Bobby:

Yeah.