Follow TV Tropes


Series / The Atheist Experience

Go To

"Theists, we don't hate you, we just think you're wrong!"
— Old Show Motto

The Atheist Experience is a weekly cable access show in Austin, Texas that became popular world-wide with the rise of the internet. The show started in 1997 and is still ongoing. They are hosted by The Atheist Community Of Austin.

It's a show meant to educate theists and the general public about atheists and takes calls from believers and non-believers alike. The hosts regularly debate with their theist callers and sometimes the arguments can get very heated with theists often flummoxed arguing with atheist hosts well versed and practised in theological debate while the hosts often lose their patience with their rational arguments being ignored with the Insane Troll Logic of stubborn callers. They can be found at The Atheist Experience, also search for clips on Youtube or their podcast on Itunes.


See also Talk Heathen.

Interesting Links:


  • Abusive Parents: Matt Dillahunty has given many The Reason You Suck Speeches on the topic. Especially about parents who refuse to get medical treatment for their kids because they think praying will solve the problem.
  • A Dog Named "Dog": "Stotch", a caller who claimed to believe in the supernatural, told the hosts that when he was in Norway, he had met a troll who didn't really have a name and was just called "Troll", eliciting a question as to whether he was not a troll himself.
  • After the End: The episode after the May 21, 2011 predicted apocalypse is done this way as a Take That!.
  • Ass Shove: This gem, a response to the infamous Banana Argument, implies this trope.
  • As the Good Book Says...: Attempted by some callers who don't realize that the hosts of the show generally know the book better than they do and don't accept it as true in the first place.
  • Author Tract: "Theists, we don't hate you, we just think you're wrong!"
    • If Jeff Dee is hosting that week, do not threaten him with Hell, unless you're willing to listen to a long, loud rant about how inherently unjust Hell is.
    • Matt does not like it when theists call science a religion. See?
    • Matt is very critical of Pascal's Wager. He's outright called it one of the only religious talking points he'll refuse to deal with.
    • A lot of atheist trolls disguise themselves as theists with absurd worldviews and make prank calls to the show, to see the hosts' reaction to it. Of course, when the hosts figure out the caller is a troll, they call them out and they let them know that the actual purpose of the show rather than to make fun of stereotypical Christians. Sometimes the hosts will continue the call for the benefit of the audience.
    • The Atheist Experience will happily debate any theist who calls in but the hosts aren't afraid to insult or degrade the deep seated beliefs of others when the opportunity arises.
    • Advertisement:
    • The hosts also regularly criticize religious institutions for their response (or lack thereof) to immoral behaviour amongst their clergy.
  • Awful Truth: The Atheist Experience deconstructed this when a caller asked "What's wrong with a comfortable delusion?" by arguing that the trauma isn't caused by finding out the truth, but by discovering you were lied to.
  • Berserk Button:
    • The Atheist Experience will happily debate any theist who calls in... but if Jeff Dee is hosting that week, do not threaten him with Hell, unless you're willing to listen to a long, loud rant about how inherently unjust Hell is.
    • Matt Dillahunty Vs. Any Crazy Parents he comes across.
    • Matt does not like it when theists call science a religion. See?
    • Matt and Jeff both don't like Solipsists. See here. To be fair, the caller in question had been behaving like an arrogant Jerkass for almost seven minutes straight by that point and Matt and Jeff were both blatantly getting tired of dealing with him.
    • Matt is very critical of Pascal's Wager. He's outright called it one of the only religious talking points he'll refuse to deal with.
    • They are not amused with trolls (presumably an atheist in stereotypical Christian disguise) and prank callers.
    • Few things will incense Matt and cause him to drop a call as much as people advocating the morality of Biblical Slavery.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: Some theists tend to think Russell Glasser is the safer host to talk to and pay for it when his buttons are pushed.
    • Jim Barrows is usually pretty calm and cerebral, and tends to offset Matt's firebrand ways by taking a cooler, more analytical approach. But when a caller suggested they would kill their own child if their God commanded them to do so, he absolutely SNAPPED.
      Jim: "You are, by our definition, evil. You are wrong. You are immoral. And that's where we're going to end this call, because I have no further desire to talk to somebody so FUCKING immoral!!"
    • Jenna Belk is possibly the most patient and understanding host on the show, but she will drop your call like a bad habit if you attempt to condescend to her or imply that she isn't smart enough to understand something.
  • Catchphrase
    • Jeff: "Tortured! Forever!"
    • Jeff: "What's wrong with you?"
    • Matt: "You're done."
    • Matt: "That is asinine!"
    • Matt: "No no no no no no, no no no, NO!"
  • The Deep South: They tape the show in Austin, Texas.
  • Easy Evangelism: Subverted, many callers try and fail.
  • Flat-Earth Atheist: Many people insist that the show is run by these, and that the hosts would refuse to believe in god/s even if some really obvious evidence was right before their eyes (as opposed to the very weak proofs they're offered as a matter of routine). Russell Glasser is even on record saying that in a fantasy world where gods exist, real skeptics would be the ones who follow the evidence and believe in the gods (although not necessarily worshipping any of them).
  • Flame War: Guaranteed in the comments for every video on YouTube. Averted in that they invite people to join them after each show at a restaurant, but ask them not to show up in order to preach or proselytize.
  • Foreshadowing: As much as is possible in a call-in show, one caller in the early years of the show was Matt from Austin, Texas. He would go on to be perhaps the show's most recognizable host, speaker, and debater.
    • Tracie Harris, similarly, became a part of the show after first being a frequent caller.
  • God and Satan Are Both Jerks: They have been known to highlight the fact that God has a far higher body count than Satan in the Bible.
  • Hollywood Atheist: One of the purposes of the show is to avert this. Sometimes people assume that they are atheists because of some traumatic experience or they're rebelling against god.
  • Ignored Epiphany: The "Best Caller Ever".
  • Jerkass: Many callers have arrogant or hateful attitudes. Some have promoted twisted moral codes.
  • Insane Troll Logic: One prank caller made the claim that God ordered and permitted slavery in the Bible to teach humanity that it was wrong, but that murder was wrong because God directly forbade it. This position put Matt through a loop until he caught on that it was a prank.
  • Later-Installment Weirdness: Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the show began to air remotely in March 2020. While prior to the pandemic the show aired from a studio with an audience, it now airs as a split-screen of the two hosts streaming from their in-home offices. The lack of audience reactions combined with the hosts not being in the same room has lent a more somber tone to the show, and many viewers have commented that the hosts are not as energetic as they used to be.
  • Meaningless Meaningful Words: The stock-in-trade of many theist callers who claim to have "scientific" evidence that a God/creator exists. These claims are usually no more than meandering dissertations of complicated language that are almost impossible to follow or understand. This is invariably followed by one of the hosts boiling the argument down to a simple statement and exposing its baselessness.
  • Motive Decay: It is not uncommon for long conversations with arrogant theists to devolve into "gotcha games" with the callers desperately trying to trip up the host(s). This is especially true with presuppositionalists from the Darth Dawkins crew, who seem more interested in spewing word salad and shifting the burden of proof rather than honestly defending any kind of religious belief.
  • Motor Mouth: A lot of callers attempt to dodge questions by rattling off their arguments at a mile a minute. It never works.
  • Nay-Theist: Some callers accuse them of being this.
  • Ooh, Me Accent's Slipping:
    • Here, for example, a frequent Christian caller ("Pastor George") pretends to be an atheist named "Miles", with an inconsistent fake accent.
    • Here, after starting out with a fake Southern drawl, "Peter" (actually prank caller James of "James Calls In") very quickly slips out of it, entering Not Even Bothering with the Accent territory before sort of recovering it at the punchline. Lampshaded by Tracie: "...he sounded like a troll to begin with - I didn't like the accent; I thought it was a little bit weird on the..."
  • Pedophile Priest: The Atheist Experience (and The Non-Prophets podcast) regularly criticizes Catholic priests and Protestant ministers for this behavior.
  • Poe's Law:
    • Matt's wife has called into the show at least once pretending to be a theist caller with a cookie cutter argument. Good luck picking her apart from the normal callers.
    • A lot of atheist trolls prank call the show, pretending to be hardcore theists to see the hosts' reaction. Of course, when the hosts figure out the caller is a troll, they call them off and they let them know that the actual purpose of the show rather than to make fun at stereotypical Christians. But if the discussion is good, sometimes they'll continue it for the benefit of the audience.
  • Real Men Wear Pink: Or rather, dye their beards pink. Matt did this when a breast cancer research group he was part of met their funding goal.
  • The Reason You Suck: Apart from the speeches related to child abuse mentioned above, Matt severely rebuked caller "Roderick" after catching him in the act of pranking the show in the guise of a "stupid Christian". He angrily explained that the show was meant to communicate with people and educate them and not to mock their beliefs.
  • Running Gag: Serial prank caller James of "James Calls In" likes to start his calls by pretending to be seriously arguing his point, before moving on to revealing himself to be pranking the show by doing something silly, like screaming or making a reference to Harry or Jerry Platypus (obviously a play on the name of the cartoon character Perry the Platypus).
  • Selective Obliviousness: Special mention goes to a caller presented with the idea that the Christian God would have the power to stop child molestation but only waits until after the molester is dead to punish him, whereas the atheist hosts would prevent said molester from forcing himself on a child if they had the power. The caller then tries to assert that they don't know the kid isn't deserving of that treatment.
    Matt: "Goodbye you piece of shit!"
  • Seen It All: The most outrageous statements by the callers will typically get nothing more than a light chuckle or a cool request for clarification, with emotional statements more likely to come in response to especially annoying clichés. A quick run over the archive will show the reason for this: they really have heard everything.
  • Smug Snake: There's a fair amount of callers who come off as this, sounding fully convinced that they'll win their arguments with and possibly convert the hosts, who usually end up proving them wrong fairly quickly. This caller's a particularly good example, complete with punctuating all of his sentences with a smug little "I'm smarter than you" chuckle.
  • Sophisticated as Hell: The hosts know their theology, know their philosophy, know a little about science without being scientists themselves (though Russell Glasser and Jen Peeples are both engineers, of the software and mechanical variety, respectively), and aren't afraid to insult or drop a Precision F-Strike when warranted.
  • Spin-Off: Like The Atheist Experience? Check out The Non-Prophets Radio and also Godless Bitches, atheism from a feminist point of view.
  • Sympathetic Slave Owner: No. This trope gets discussed whenever a caller tries to argue in defence of biblical slavery, but as Matt loves to point out, owning another person is always a bad thing.
  • Unwanted Assistance: Some callers have expressed their disdain for the hosts seemingly only taking calls from ignorant theists who don't know what they're talking about. Said callers are sure they'll do better.
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: Matt tends to get annoyed with Eric due to the latter's tendencies to go off on tangents and indulge callers' fallacious reasonings, and on more than one occasion has expressed his irritation on the air. With that being said, the two remain good friends outside of the show and have collaborated on numerous projects.
  • Wholesome Crossdresser: Matt, for one episode, due to a summer camp fundraiser that various atheist groups were raising money for.