Blog Archives

Growing Group of Doubting Clergy Speak Out in New Blog

May 21, 2014
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Rational Doubt: Researcher Linda LaScola’s Edits a New Blog for Pastors Leaving Faith Behind

Linda LaScola

Linda LaScola

Linda LaScola discusses the new blog she’s editing, Rational Doubt, The Clergy Project Blog. She also discusses her collaboration with philosopher Daniel Dennett on a study of non-believing clergy and a 2013 book about that work, Caught in the Pulpit, Leaving Belief Behind. LaScola is a qualitative researcher, and has traveled around the country interviewing people on numerous subjects, including health, mental health, public policy and religion. She been doing this for more than 25 years. LaScola earned a Master of Social Work from The Catholic University. The blog and the book provide unique insight into thoughts and arguments directly from the minds of those who preside in the pulpit – or used to. Both are valuable and informative reading.

MP3 File
(39 minutes, 1 second, 18.73 MB)

Click here to check out The Clergy Project | Click here to list to my conversation with Jerry DeWitt

Religious Conservatives Wrong on Church Freedoms

April 22, 2014
By
Rob Boston

Rob Boston

The Attempt to Redefine Religious Liberty is Misguided & Endangers Rights of Others

Conservative Christians complain that their religious freedoms are under attack partially because women in our country seek to use legal and effective birth control. These methods are included in a larger package of coverage offered in President Obama’s Affordable Care Act. This mandate to include contraceptives vexes the Mennonite owners of Conestoga Wood, a custom wood products manufacturer, and the Southern Baptist owners of Hobby Lobby, a craft store retailer. These proprietors claim that their religious liberty is restricted by the psychic shackles of the contraceptive mandate, distressing their godly conscience. With the enthusiastic support of religious conservatives, the legal attempt to seek an exemption reached the Supreme Court this March. Rob Boston, Director of Communications at Americans United for Separation of Church and State, and my guest on today’s podcast, rejects the notion that these business owner’s religious liberty is in jeopardy. He argues that religious conservatives are redefining religious liberty in a flawed and damaging way. Boston has worked at Americans United since 1987. He’s editor of the organization’s Church & State magazine and the author of four books, the most recent published this year titled, Taking Liberties: Why Religious Freedom Doesn’t Give You the Right to Tell Other People What to Do.

MP3 File
(37 minutes, 40 seconds, 18.08 MB)

Click here to listen to my podcast with Katherine Stewart, author of The Good News Club, The Christian Right’s Stealth Assault on America’s Children | Click here Listen to my podcast with Sean Faircloth, author of Attack of the Theocrats!: How the Religious Right Harms Us All-and What We Can Do About It | Click here to read the New York Times article explaining why morning after pills don’t cause an abortion

Bible Geek Views Jesus as Myth, Book of Acts as Funny Fiction

April 2, 2014
By
Dr. Robert Price

Dr. Robert Price

New Testament Scholar Dr. Robert Price Gives Brief Tour of the Search for the Historical Jesus

A small number of responsible and qualified scholars are currently representing a view of the the historical Jesus that is sure to have Christians rising from the church pews in indignant anger. These scholars are called “mythicists,” and they claim that Jesus was not an historical person, but a fictional or mythological character invented by early Christians. One popular proponent of the mythicist view is Dr. Robert Price. He is professor of biblical criticism at the Center for Inquiry Institute, and he teaches philosophy and religion at the Johnnie Colemon Theological Seminary. Price is the founder and editor of The Journal of Higher Criticism. He is a Fellow of both The Jesus Seminar and The Committee for the Scientific Examination of Religion, and he is also a Research Fellow for the Center for Inquiry Institute. Price is a prolific author – his work can be found at this link - and he also hosts two podcasts, The Bible Geek and The Human Bible. When I heard that Dr. Price would be in my home town of Portland, Oregon on Thursday, April 10 to deliver a speech titled, The Christ Myth, well, I just had to see if I could catch up to him and ask a few questions.

MP3 File
(51 minutes, 31 seconds, 24.73 MB)

Listen to my podcast with Dr. Richard Carrier here | Listen to Carrier eviscerate the book of Acts here

Philosopher Argues Against Christianity’s Double Standard

March 11, 2014
By
Philosopher Matt McCormick

Philosopher Matt McCormick

Drawing Ire From a Religious Crowd, Matt McCormick Says Case Against Jesus’ Resurrection is ‘Overdetermined’

Philosopher Matt McCormick created controversy in the small town of Manteca, California recently by delivering a speech against belief in the resurrection of Jesus. Approximately 300 religious people gathered in front of the library throughout the talk, hosted by the Stanislaus Humanists on January 15. They prayed, swayed and spoke in tongues, encircling the building at one point to shout out the Devil. McCormick joins the podcast to discuss his Manteca experience and his 2012 book, Atheism and the Case Against Christ. McCormick is a professor of philosophy at California State University–Sacramento. He argues that believing in the resurrection on historical grounds is a double standard, since believers reject analogous supernatural claims. McCormick compares the evidence for the resurrection in the Christian tradition to evidence presented during the Salem witch trials. The results are surprising and fascinating.

MP3 File
(53 minutes, 45 seconds, 25.81 MB)

Check out Matt McCormick’s blog Proving the Negative • See McCormick’s talk in Manteca here

Data, Death Threats, and Disinformation: The Modern Global Warming Debate

February 11, 2014
By
Dr. Michael Mann

Dr. Michael Mann

Renowned Scientist Provides Robust Climate Change Evidence; His Work Comes With A Price

Dr. Michael Mann, my guest on today’s podcast, says that global warming is real, is caused by human beings, and supports this claim with data both plentiful and compelling. This makes him very unpopular in some circles. Mann has been harassed, maligned and has even received death threats. He is an award winning climate scientist whose work contributed to a Nobel Prize and a 1999 graph dubbed the hockey stick. The graph modeled earth’s climate during the past 1,000 years, and its shape resembles that particular piece of sports equipment – a long shaft of a handle with the blade jutting alarmingly upward. Mann is Distinguished Professor of Meteorology at Penn State University, with joint appointments in the Department of Geosciences and the Earth and Environmental Systems Institute (EESI). We discuss his work and his 2012 book The Hockey Stick and the Climate Wars: Dispatches from the Front Lines.

MP3 File (53 minutes, 30 seconds, 25.69 MB)

Minds Held Hostage: Adapted Human Brain Prone to God & Other Glitches

January 14, 2014
By
Dr. J. Anderson Thomson, Jr.

Dr. J. Anderson Thomson, Jr.

Evolutionary Psychologist Reveals a Robust Science of Faith

Dr. J. Anderson Thomson, Jr. – you can call him Andy – guides us through a provocative tour of the human brain on religion. Thomson introduces us to the many cognitive adaptations luring us into religious belief and other irrational ideas. One of those ideas happens to be, disturbingly, suicide bombing. He’ll provide an answer to the age-old question of why a talking wolf is more memorable than a tree balancing your checkbook. Thomson’s current research interest is in the area of evolutionary psychology and using its principles to understand depression, suicide terrorism, and religious belief. Thomson wrote the 2011 book, Why We Believe in Gods, A concise guide to the science of faith. He is a psychiatrist in private practice in Charlottesville, Virginia. He is also a staff psychiatrist at Counseling and Psychological Services at the University of Virginia Student Health Services, and the Institute of Law, Psychiatry and Public Policy at the University of Virginia.


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(61 minutes, 14 seconds, 29.39 MB)

Listen to a podcast on the Stanley Milgram obedience and authority experiment here, or read about it here • Listen to Julia Sweeney’s hilarious monologue, Letting Go of God, here

Sean Faircloth’s Plan Battles Theocracy

December 19, 2013
By
Sean Faircloth

Sean Faircloth

Our government has been hijacked by the religious right, and Sean Faircloth wants to return it to its secular past – and he has a plan to do just that. Faircloth is president of Global Secular Organizing & Strategy, or GSOS. I talk to Faircloth about his plan, called SecularityUSA. It uses state-based volunteers – included members of the clergy – and is focused on both short-term and long-term goals. The project’s springboard is the 2016 Iowa Caucuses for the next presidential election. Faircloth served as Director of Strategy & Policy at the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason & Science, and served as Secular Coalition for America’s Executive Director, creating its 50-state plan. He is author of Attack of the Theocrats!: How the Religious Right Harms Us All-and What We Can Do About It.

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(46 minutes, 33 seconds, 22.35 MB)

Click Here to read the SecularityUSA Action Plan • For the Global Secular Organizing & Strategy’s website, Click Here • For the SecularityUSA website, click here • Click here to go to the American’s United for the Separation of Church and State website

The Future of the God Debates

December 1, 2013
By
Dr. John Shook

Dr. John Shook

As Theology Evolves, Humanist Philosophers Keep Pace

Dr. John Shook and I discuss a little philosophy, the evolution and future of the god debates, and the meaning of the word faith. Shook is a scholar and professor living in Washington, D.C. He received his PhD in Philosophy at the University at Buffalo in 1994, and joined the staff of the Center for Inquiry in Amherst, N.Y. in 2006. He has authored and edited more than a dozen books and dozens of articles in academic journals, along with essays for Free Inquiry and The Humanist. He published The God Debates: A 21st Century Guide for Atheists and Believers in 2010. Shook is currently Director of Education and Senior Research Fellow for the Center for Inquiry; the Education Coordinator for the American Humanist Association; a Co-Mentor with the Humanist Institute, and President of the Society of Humanist Philosophers. He is also an editor of three philosophy journals: Contemporary Pragmatism, Essays in the Philosophy of Humanism, and Philo: A Journal of Philosophy.

MP3 File
(52 minutes, 59 seconds, 25.44 MB)

Click Here to Read Shook’s CFI Blog ‘It’s Only Natural’ • To RSVP to CFI Portland’s 3rd Annual Dark-to-Light Gala, Click Here

Scholar Finds Peril & Progress Studying Religion, Society

November 13, 2013
By
Dr. Ryan Cragun

Dr. Ryan Cragun

Churches Using Alcohol to Attract Worshippers May Well be a Sign of Growing Secularity

Just what kind of affect does religion have on society? Are non-religious societies healthier, more educated, and happier? Are religious liberals more beneficial to a healthy community than fundamentalists, religious moderates or non-believers? And just where, and how, could we find answers to these difficult questions? With me today is Dr. Ryan Cragun, a sociologist of religion at the University of Tampa, in Florida. His research and writing focuses on religion, with an emphasis on Mormonism, the nonreligious and secularization. He’ll help us work through some of these tough problems. Where we don’t find answers, perhaps we’ll at least find some direction or context. We discuss his current book, What You Don’t Know About Religion (but Should), published earlier this year. This book deals with precisely the type of questions just posed, and Cragun uses evidence and scholarship when considering them. His results are interesting, and in some cases, surprising.

MP3 File
(43 minutes, 03 seconds, 20.67 MB)
Read the National Public Radio article on churches offering beer to worshipers here • Watch the Portland, Oregon Beer and Hymns promotional video here

Learn to De-Convert the Faithful With Practical New Book

October 29, 2013
By
Learn to De-Convert the Faithful With Practical New Book

Dr. Peter Boghossianʼs A Manual For Creating Atheists is a Must-Read. Iʼm starting to find the equivocations, vagueness, and the unmerited claims emerging from assertions of faith to be a bit tedious. Asking a believer for a definition of faith and a description of how it works will inevitably result in a…

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