Ask an Atheist with Sam Mulvey

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Suffer for Our God

Sam and Libbie talk with author and activist Valerie Tarico about acquisitions and mergers of hospitals into Franciscan and Providence Catholic health care systems in Washington State.

There are show notes.

If you’d like to participate in the ACLU survey about heal care in religiously affiliated facilities, you can follow this link.   Here are the PDF slides from a recent ACLU talk about the matter.   If you’d like to check out MergerWatch, a national organization focused on this topic, you can check them out here.  Valerie Tarico has a pointed blog entry on this topic that includes an update since the affiliation between University of Washington Medicine and Peace Health, which was announced after this episode aired.
Here’s the email about Professor Kreeft:

Dear Sam, I found your May 12 show fascinating because Dr. Peter Kreeft was the person who was most influential in my becoming an atheist. Here is the story.

It was late 2004 and I would have described myself then as a deist with God as first cause creator of the universe. My God did not do miracles and did not really interact with the world. I almost never thought about God or the question of God’s existence. For Christmas in 2004, I asked my wife for both pro and con books on capital punishment, abortion and separation of church and state. She bought me Peter Kreeft’s book, Three Approaches To Abortion. One of the approaches was what Kreeft claimed was a logical proof that abortion was always immoral. He included a challenge in the book for any reader to refute this proof. I noticed that his exact same arguments could be used to prove that abortion was always moral. At that time I did not even know that Kreeft’s argument included the fallacy of begging the question. But since he had presented a challenge I responded by writing a letter to him with my proof that abortion was always moral using the arguments from his book.

I did not even expect a reply but I did get one. He hand wrote on my letter, sometimes in red pencil, what essentially was a professor’s correction to my letter as if I was one of his students. What followed was an exchange of letters and emails that lasted for about eight weeks where we argued about morality and objective morality. I look back at this and now know that we were arguing about the Problem of Evil. At the time of our discussion, I had never even heard of the Problem of Evil.

At the same time that we were exchanging letters, the news in the Seattle area included a story about a 10 year old girl in Bremerton who gave birth after being raped by her step-father. I placed myself in the position of being a father of a pregnant 10 year old daughter. At the time my actual daughter was 36 years old but I could remember how she was when she was ten. I tried to imagine how I would have responded and I knew that I would not have stopped at red lights as I drove her to an abortion clinic. Dr. Kreeft told me that even though a raped and pregnant 10 year old was an awful situation, abortion was always immoral, a second wrong does not fix the problem and things would work out for the pregnant 10 year old because God has a plan for her life.

I decided to take Dr. Kreeft seriously and consider that I was an immoral person because I was willing to act immorally. I sat in my office chair for almost 7 hours thinking of nothing else but this situation and the moral questions associated with a 10 year old being pregnant. I though about God and what responsibility God had in the process of a 10 year old becoming pregnant. This struggle ended in a flash of insight that God is Dead. Any all-good God with unlimited power who allows a 10 year old to be raped and become pregnant cannot exist. I walked out of my office and told my wife that I am an atheist. I was stunned.

From that flash of insight I searched out books on atheism. I discovered Harris, Dawkins, Hitchens, Dennett, plus more. I discovered the Ask an Atheist podcast plus more. And the rest is history. The bottom line is that I give all the credit to Peter Kreeft for guiding me to become an atheist.

Thanks for listening.
Gordon from San Mateo, CA

And our other email, this episode from Josh, with our notes included:

I am a recent agnostic but am still working on letting go of chrisitianity. I religious friend of mine sent me this article claiming that there were new discoverers proving Abraham. It was on Yahoo news so it wasn’t a quack site. I appreciate any help you can provide.
Josh from The Internet


  • Archeologists digging near Ur, Iraq
  • Home to Abraham according to the Bible
  • 4000 years old
  • partial ziggurat
  • public building or administrative religious center
  • 9-centimeter clay plaque showing a worshipper wearing a long, fringed robe, approaching a sacred site.


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Steve Jones

Just letting you know I sent an international wave. I might not have a lot of subscribers… but I ALWAYS get a lot of views. Cheers AaA CREW!

[…] get tone-trolled rather than continuing to point out that, no, seriously, Catholic hospitals are terrifying. I think my initial sentence might be a little nettling to a theists, certainly, but given that […]

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