Advice Goddess Blog
« Previous | Home | Next »

Frank Under Fire


My Faith Under Fire "Ask The Atheist" TV segment turned out better than I thought it would be. They cut out the front part of it, where I couldn't get a word in edgewise because boorish former Cincinnati Reds pitcher, Frank Pastore, kept talking over me. They also cut out the part where I threatened to walk off because he was being so rude. The rest is intact. Gregg is turning it into postable video, which you can click on here.

*You will need Quicktime to view it. It's available free, even to Windows people. Just click on the movie, and it will tell you what to do.

For a great resource for the rational, turn to Lots of smart stuff there, including this link to a logically based defense of Dawkins and evolution.

Posted by aalkon at December 19, 2004 10:29 AM


Was there no moderator to keep this boorish oaf in line? Had I been moderating -- my religious views aside -- first interruption, I would have reminded him that this time was delegated to you and you would proceed without interruption and that he would have his turn to respond later. Second time, I would have pointed out that this is the second warning, and if I had to speak to him again, he would be removed from the discussion. Third time, he'd be escorted out.

When I was in high school, I was taking an ethics class (yes, my Episcopalian Boarding School required such a thing), and we had a debate on biomedical research.

I was for it, of course, and could barely keep myself in line when my opponent insisted that those who supported biomedical research were purely selfish. With all the problems in the world due to overpopulation, the idea of prolonging life and maintaining the quality of it would only contribute to it.

When it came my turn to reply, I was virtually shouted down by my apparently anti-adult class. My instructor didn't even TRY to keep it in check.

Can you imagine if Dr. Albert Ellis, for instance, was only allowed to reach normal U.S. life expectancy?

AddendumBy the way, I'm now the only living member of my graduating class. The class of '83, in keeping with their concern about overpopulation and rabid stance against actually prolonging life, all put bullets in their heads on their 30th birthdays.

Posted by: Patrick, Advice Goddess Fan at December 19, 2004 1:01 PM

The guy just said "let her talk" or something like that, and Pastore just ignored him. I could have had a civilized discussion with Strobel, actually, or anybody who gave me a shot to speak. That was some clever cutting -- and Pastore is very lucky, because if they'd let him play as is, he would have looked just an enormous bully. By the way, greedy Pax, owned by fundamentalist Bud Paxson, doesn't pay for your appearance -- one of the few places that doesn't. They told me (this little show on a station nobody sees) that they base their talent policy on that of...Oprah! Yeah, well, I'll PAY to be on Oprah. That's like being on Good Morning America (where you just get paid by vast publicity for whatever you're selling, if you are selling something). A guy I know, a former studio honcho who's actually a serious Christian, told me "you know you're in trouble when Bud Paxson tells you he's going to ask Jesus how much he should pay you." Hmm, would Jesus really have been THAT big a cheapskate? This is an NBC show -- how come they don't have to pay AFTRA scale for cable?

PS If not for the fundamentalists and their fight against stem cells, Albert Ellis, who has diabetes, and was hospitalized for very serious complications from it last year, might live even longer than his now 90 years.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at December 19, 2004 4:03 PM

It's too bad they didn't give you anything, but look at it from their point of view. A couple loaves, a few fishes, it starts to add up.

Posted by: Jim Treacher at December 19, 2004 5:52 PM

That FABULOUS photo of you with that FABULOUS caption is precious. I have saved it in my computer -- will enlarge it later on and plaster it all over Hollywood Blvd.

Posted by: Lena-doodle-doo at December 19, 2004 6:13 PM

I like to see people who are excited about a topic, but Pastore was somewhere past being excited. Maybe being "the opiate for the masses" is just so 20th century and some people think it is time to move on to being the PCP for the masses.

The insane cop/rational cop routine of the show was interesting. It seemed like the only time you lost your smile was when the host of the show did his "I'm so rational" act. I wish I knew what was going on hin your head at that moment.

Posted by: John Schmidt at December 19, 2004 6:34 PM

Probably a mixture of pity and rage. How incredible and awful that somebody is rational, then pushes the "back" button to irrationality and intellectual primitivity. I love that these guys say they "were" unbelievers, like that gives them some greater weight for believing in the societally approved version of the tooth fairy. I mean, if we assume there's a god, how do we know there isn't a Santa, flying through the skies with his reindeer. And here's something I always wondered -- which of the reindeer were gay?

Posted by: Amy Alkon at December 19, 2004 6:54 PM

Frank Pastore, what a jackass! He clearly suffers from the Y chromasone gene that doesn't hear the pitch of women's voices.

Posted by: Sheryl at December 19, 2004 8:23 PM

Yes, that's a great picture of you.
You look very pretty and enticing

Posted by: chris volkay at December 20, 2004 1:03 AM

Why, thank you. And rational, too!

Posted by: Amy Alkon at December 20, 2004 1:31 AM

Dear Amy:

I taped "Faith Under Fire" last night and just watched you this morning. A big BRAVO and a huge hug to you. I am a secularist Biblical expert, and my newest book, "The Christian Right... or Wrong?" agrees with your work. Absolutely nothing you said was an offense against the Bible's Message, and you were totally correct about the destructive nature of global, corporate Christianity.

My work, unlike any other book about Christianity, serves to heal the growing friction between the Secularists and Religionists. But healing will come only to those who honor Common Sense and honesty over superstition and absurdity.

The source of America’s problems surrounding Christianity is Christianity itself, guilty of being the great deliverer of lies about God’s Message. The biggest lie, of course, is that only "Christians" go to Heaven. It is precisely this religious separatism that birthed such horrors as the Inquistion, the Crusades, the KKK, and that is currently working to brand all Muslims as "evil" and "hellbound." I prove, absolutely, that Jesus Himself does not care if you are a Christian, but that you live to conduct love and goodness, unselfishly, because that is "The Way" of God. If the world’s Bible-believing Jews, Christians, and Muslims truly worshipped God (the Spirit of Selfless Love and Goodness), then peace would reign among them, naturally.

Secularists would find no offense with Christ if they fully understood that Christ doesn’t care if people are Christian or Atheist, but cares only that we live and grow in Selfless Love and Good Works. That’s it! But that’s not what Christianity teaches and, consequently, America’s Secularists are rightly repulsed by Christianity’s relentless, holier-than-thou intrusion into American politics.

Why must government and politics be the least bit concerned about "God" and "faith-based groups?" By definition, every one of these groups is a cult. Most are doomsday cults. When will our government treat "God" and "faith-based groups" as non-governmental issues, and leave these things out of politics? Who cares what religion you choose to follow? Even Jesus doesn’t care, for Christ’s sake! Why should our government embrace specific religious beliefs belonging to a specific religious group, even allowing for such discriminatory beliefs to affect laws?

I am a lifelong, independent scholar of the Bible. I have never been indoctrinated into any religion, and my work is not beholding to any sectarian view of Scriptures. I am a secularist who agrees with Christ’s Message, but not how it is taught by global, big-business Christianity.

I can’t stomach these self-righteous Christians just as much as the secular media can’t stomach them. I prove wrong the teachings of 40 of America’s Christian leaders (Falwell, Schuller, Robertson, Graham, Swaggart, etc.) regarding abortion, gays, marriage, salvation, Islam, tithing, Christmas… you name it. They are so completely and terribly wrong on all these issues, because they interpret Scriptures by the Letter of the Law and not the Spirit of the Law. It’s that simple.

I am blessed indeed to have suffered (and survived) Catholic school in my childhood in Japan, because those painful years planted the seed that moved my life to help to educate and enlighten the world’s ignorant Bible-lovers… Christian, Jew, and Muslim. It is a weighty task. Though we have different approaches, we are on similar paths, desiring the same end-result, I believe.

I think you might find my book of excellent worth to your work. For more about The Christian Right... or Wrong?, go to:

You were 100% correct about your "religion" of goodness Amy. Everything you said was logical and not at all offensive. Finally, someone on TV that doesn't have braces on their brains!


John Cord
Reno, Nevada

Posted by: John Cord at December 20, 2004 2:23 AM

Hey Amy,

I caught your appearance on Faith Under Fire last night, and I think congratulations are in order. Even with the editing, you did a flawless job. Your answers to Pastore's loaded questions were clear, simple and inarguably correct; I wouldn't have said anything different if I had the chance. And since I think refuting Christian stereotypes of atheists is very important, I was extra happy to see you defend so well the view that we can be good without God. Frankly, I think you're a much better person than he is, morally speaking - who's more ethical, the atheist who does good for its own sake, or the Christian who does good only because he's afraid of divine retribution?

As for Pastore, I wouldn't worry too much about them editing the tape to make him look good. Even in the edited version he came off as rude and pushy, and it was painfully obvious how close he was to losing his cool completely. But what amazed me more than anything else was when Strobel (who's supposed to be the *moderator*, let us not forget) actually jumped in and took his side near the end of the segment! Even then you more than held your own, but I guess it just shows what passes for objectivity on a Christian television network.

I wish I could say it shocked me to hear that they don't pay their guests, but it doesn't. Still, I'm glad that you chose to be on the show regardless; I would have done the same. Defending the good name of atheism and showing that we're human beings like everyone else is far more important than money (although I grant it doesn't pay the bills). I'm glad we're on the same side! Who knows - some day in the future, when humanity is finally free of this religious madness, people may just look on you as a woman ahead of her time. :)

Posted by: Adam Marczyk at December 20, 2004 4:02 AM

You came off really well, Amy- and he came off like a real jackass. Not to mention, you looked and sounded really fabulous, too!

Posted by: Kate at December 20, 2004 4:38 AM

Thanks Adam and Kate. And everybody for all the support. I don't do "free" anymore, and I generally give anybody who asks me for "free" an earload, but I believe in this issue, so I made an exception.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at December 20, 2004 6:02 AM

Personally, I really don't see the need to make an issue of this. If people want to believe in God, let 'em, it's no skin off my nose.

Posted by: RKN at December 20, 2004 7:07 AM

Pastore, Frank:

7 years in the majors (1979 - 1986) with the Reds. ERA = 4.29 (decidedly mediocre) Pitched one game in the post-season and lost it. Won/Lost Percentage = .453 which means he lost more games than he won.

Maybe he should have been praying back then?

Posted by: The Prop at December 20, 2004 5:11 PM

Very witty!

Posted by: Amy Alkon at December 20, 2004 8:41 PM

Hi Amy! May I lavish some more praise on you for your style and beauty? I just got back from the ever-morose East Coast, where the girls seem to think that looking "smart" means wearing nothing but black and gray pleated robes (I know of no other way to describe what they're wearing). The girls in DC are an absolute nightmare -- it looks like they're all on their way to a big funeral for the communist party. I'm sorry, but they should have their breasts and labia recalled.

Thank non-god for REAL GIRLS like you, so pretty in pink -- a smart motherfucker, to boot.

Posted by: Lena Conde-Nasty at December 21, 2004 5:46 AM

I applaud your effort. I think you did a pretty good job under the circumstances. But trying to fit a coherent, well-supported argument into a sound bite just isn't possible.

Now that you're a television personality, can I be your stalker? I'll need to borrow some money for a plane ticket.

I notice Pastore claims to be yet another of the hordes of former atheists. It seems that no one was ever raised a Christian - they were all atheists originally. I've certainly met my share of these people, but I've yet to meet one who could demonstrate a sound grasp of atheist thought. I think most of them are just lying to make themselves seem more credible.

He also made use of the classic theistic tactic of hitting the opponent with a barrage of various forms of "evidence" for God and then challenging the person to somehow disprove all of them at once. This tactic is popular because any theist with sense knows that a careful examination of one particular argument for God will usually work in the atheist's favor. They can maintain a facade of rationality if the discussion is kept general enough, but their case breaks down when the specifics are examined.

Of course, it takes a considerable amount of study to be able to respond well to the full range of theistic arguments. Many theists take this into account, and make sure to bring up obscure arguments that most people are not aware of, such as transcendental arguments. And of course some lie outright, like Behe with his intelligent design fabrications.

Happy HumanLight,

Posted by: GodlessRose at December 21, 2004 7:39 AM

"Personally, I really don't see the need to make an issue of this. If people want to believe in God, let 'em, it's no skin off my nose." - RKN

I think belief in God is a sign of a credulous state of mind that is liable to cause needless suffering, both in the religious person's own life and in society at large, if the religious are powerful enough to shape government policy. Challenging people to make greater use of critical thinking skills can do a lot of good. Also, there is tremendous prejudice against atheists in the US. Raising awareness about atheism is important to protect the atheist community.

Furthermore, humanist philosophy can help people find more peace of mind. I've found that to be true for me personally, and there is even some scientific evidence that atheism can confer the same mental health benefits as religion.* So I think it is important we share our humanist convictions with those who may be open to them.

Besides, if to discuss a subject in a public forum is to "make an issue" of it, then people routinely make issues of much less significant matters.

All the Best,

* For an overview of data on the effects of religion and atheism on life satisfaction and depression, see "Reason, Faith, and the Good Life" by Ken Livingston in Free Inquiry Vol.2, No.1.

Posted by: GodlessRose at December 21, 2004 8:29 AM

"He also made use of the classic theistic tactic of hitting the opponent with a barrage of various forms of "evidence" for God and then challenging the person to somehow disprove all of them at once."

This is an illegitimate tactic across the board -- not only when the existence of God is the issue. The burden of evidence is always on the person who is making the claim.

Posted by: Lena did poppers with Karl Popper at December 21, 2004 8:39 AM

"The burden of evidence is always on the person who is making the claim. " (and on the extraordinary claim, especially)

When the godless harlot plays the segment this afternoon for Lena who did poppers with Karl Poppers, Lena will hear that this is exactly what the godless harlot said!

Posted by: Amy Alkon at December 21, 2004 2:13 PM

LOL. I finally watched it. I love when you stated you had a strong feeling you had to go the bathroom!

You were awesome as always.

Posted by: alex at December 21, 2004 4:37 PM

While I don't necessarily agree with your stances on everything (I own a Jeep Grand Cherokee), I do find your views intelligent and witty. I am a bit of a fence-sitter when it comes to God. Maybe it stems from the fact that I would like there to be something beyond this current existence, or it could be that as a former altar boy I can't quite shake the beliefs that were instilled in me as a youth. Either way, I go through the logical argument for the lack of a divinity in my head all the time. I appreciated the argument you made on the program and they are arguments I frequently consider. It is ironice that he kept using the word petulant to describe your approach to the argument, when by the defintion of the word he was in fact the one being petulant. Amy, you did a wonderful job and for fence-sitters like myself your arguments came off as being more reasonable.

Posted by: Kevin at December 21, 2004 9:11 PM

Thanks so much, Kevin. That means a lot.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at December 21, 2004 9:23 PM

"The burden of evidence is always on the person who is making the claim."

But in real life, that is not the way it works.

This fight is best fought at the fenceline, where neighbors wish to intrude.

Posted by: Tanquerayeric at December 22, 2004 6:37 AM

"If people want to believe in God, let 'em, it's no skin off my nose."

I'd agree with you wholeheartedly, RKN, if people who believed in God were willing to live and let live. The problem is, many of them aren't. In the country where I live, people who believe in God want to post the Ten Commandments in schools and courthouses, not only violating the separation of church and state, but implicitly calling me a second-class citizen, because the first one of those commandments demands that I worship their god. People who believe in God want to have their religious beliefs taught as science to everyone's children in public school classrooms. People who believe in God want my tax dollars to pay for restoring their churches and funding their proselytization under the name of "faith-based initiatives". People who believe in God want to ban gay marriage, abortion and euthanasia for everyone because their religious beliefs lead them to disapprove of those things. People who believe in God want comprehensive sex education programs for teenagers replaced with abstinence-only programs, which studies show are far less effective at preventing teen pregnancy. People who believe in God openly encourage war and violence in the Middle East because they think it's a lead-in to Armageddon. When atheists speak out against any of these things, people who believe in God call them communists and unpatriotic, demand they leave the country, sometimes even threaten them. And, let us not forget, people who believe in God killed over 2,000 Americans on September 11 because they thought they'd go straight to Heaven if they sacrificed their lives to kill the infidels.

I'm not saying all religious people believe or support these things. But enough of them do that they are all serious threats - to liberty, to separation of church and state, to free speech, sometimes even to our lives. That's why appearances like Amy's are so important. We *need* a positive secular message to counter the tides of anger, intolerance and hate spewing out from so many of those who profess their belief in God. On the day when people cease to kill, die and oppress others because of religion, I will agree with you that there will be no further need to speak out. Unfortunately, I don't think that day is going to come for a very long time.

Posted by: Adam Marczyk at December 22, 2004 7:23 AM

"But in real life, that is not the way it works."

Yeah, silly me. I thought people still took an interest in argumentation and rhetoric.

Posted by: Lena is doing poppers alone now at December 23, 2004 5:50 AM

Several of us do. The rest prefer to swallow what's shoved down their throats.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at December 23, 2004 6:42 AM

"The rest prefer to swallow what's shoved down their throats."

Which is just fine with me, as long as the thing getting shoved is 7 inches or more.

Posted by: Lena Cuisina, in the remake of Deep Throat at December 23, 2004 6:01 PM