Blog Archives

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.

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(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.

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(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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Author Explores Odd Beliefs & Peculiar Religious Practices

October 14, 2013
By
Karen Stollznow

Karen Stollznow

Some are Weird, Many are Harmful, Almost all Are Misunderstood

During this episode I explore some bizarre and interesting religious traditions with guest Dr. Karen Stollznow, author of the 2013 book, God Bless America: Strange and Unusual Religious Beliefs and Practices in the United States. We’ll consider a variety of groups, from the Amish to exorcists, from satan worshipers to Scientology practitioners, from old-time voodoo to new age woo-woo. Stollznow discusses her experience with these varied organizations, and what she learned by researching and interacting with them. She corrects more that a few Hollywood stereotypes along the way, including my own, and shares some interesting adventures. Stollznow is a linguist with a background in history and anthropology. Previously a researcher at the University of California, Berkeley, Stollznow has spent two decades writing about a diverse array of topics, including language, culture, religion, science, pseudoscience, and the paranormal. She writes the “Bad Language” column for Skeptic magazine and is a research fellow of the James Randi Educational Foundation.

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(45 minutes, 15 seconds, 21.73 MB)

Humanity’s Current Problems & Uncertain Future Require Science

September 18, 2013
By
Dennis R. Trumble

Dennis R. Trumble

Scientist Touts the Discipline as Accessible, Rewarding and Necessary in New Book

In our modern world, religious faiths expounding violent end-of-times eschatology are perilously juxtaposed to nuclear weapons; global warming is often poo-pooed by conservative evangelical Christian politicians; and evolution is continuously denied by young earth creationists seeking to dilute the intelligence of our next generation. Science, skepticism and critical thinking are needed now more than ever, a “new trinity,” if you please. These issues are discussed in Dennis R. Trumble’s book, The Way of Science: Finding Truth and Meaning in a Scientific Worldview. Trumble is a project scientist in the Circulatory Support Laboratory and an adjunct professor of biomedical engineering at Carnegie Mellon University. The scientific worldview is vital for humanity’s future and well-being, and Trumble assures us can that science can also be part of a satisfying and fulfilling life.

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(37 minutes, 56 seconds, 18.21 MB)

  • Read Harvard Psychologist Steven Pinker’s article in The New Republic on “scientism” and science and the humanities here.
  • Read The New Republic’s Literary Editor Leon Wieseltier’s rebuttal to Pinker here.
  • Click here for Philosopher and Cognitive Scientist Daniel Dennett’s response to Wieseltier.
  • For Evolutionary Biologist Jerry Coyne’s comments on the issue, Click here.


Theologians Dodge Tough Questions, Rationalize Atrocities

September 6, 2013
By

A provocative headline in the July/August online issue of Christianity Today magazine asks, without a trace of irony, Can We Trust the God of Genocide? The question introduces a trio of odd articles attempting to justify biblical atrocities, vile behavior and cruel laws condoned and commanded by the god of…

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Atomic Theory’s Progress Refutes God, Supernatural

August 28, 2013
By
Physicist Victor Stenger

Physicist Victor Stenger

Physicist Vic Stenger Traces Atomism From Past to Present

Whenever physicist Vic Stenger writes a book, it’s usually at the expense of god, the supernatural and scientific woo-woo. He spoke to me recently about his current book, God and the Atom, From Democritus to the Higgs Boson: The Story of a Triumphant Idea. Stenger is a retired elementary particle physicist and has written many critically well-received popular books that interface between physics, cosmology, philosophy, religion, and pseudo-science. The success of the atomic model of our universe, with the overwhelming amount of scientific observation and data to support it, renders other explanations of our cosmos obsolete and unnecessary, says Stenger. God and the supernatural, as Stenger has argued for some time now, are failed ideas. Atomism is the concept that reality consists of small, irreducible objects moving through space – particles and the void, as it were – and this idea has been with us for millennia. Stenger chronicles Atomism’s progress from its ancient roots to its present status as found in the standard model of particle physics and the modern search for the Higgs Boson.

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(42 minutes, 47 seconds, 20.54 MB)

To more about the Scanning Tunneling Microscope, click hereClick here to see a list of Vic Stenger’s books • Listen to my previous podcast with Stenger here • You can find my interview with physicist Sean Carroll here • Watch Jim Holt interview Carroll here

Aron Ra Reveals the Tricks and Tropes of Professional Creationists

July 31, 2013
By
Aron Ra

Aron Ra

‘YouTube Atheist’ Battles Irrationality in Politics and the Classroom

Aron Ra discusses politics, the Bible and abortion before addressing the misdeeds of creationists. Ra labors to educate others on the correct rules and mechanisms of evolution. His video series, the ‘Foundational Falsehoods of Creationism,’ and his subsequent series, ‘Falsifying Phylogeny’ (including the Phylogeny Challenge) have been mirrored, featured, referenced, and recommended by many professional scientists, secularists, and educators, and has attracted more than 60,000 subscribers to his YouTube channel, according to his biography on his blog, The Ace of Clades. Ra’s videos are intelligent and succinct, and powerfully refute the outlandish quackery by creationists such as Ray Comfort and Ken Ham.

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(55 minutes, 42 seconds, 26.74 MB)

To View Aron Ra’s Blog click here • To View Ra’s YouTube Channel click hereTo Read About Chromosome 2 click hereTo Hear Ken Miller’s Speech on the Defeat of Intelligent Design click hereTo Listen to Ra Debate Ray Comfort – aka “The Banana Man” – click here

Miracle Claims Investigator Talks 44 Years of Skepticism, Passion

July 10, 2013
By
Joe Nickell

Joe Nickell

Believers in Miracles & the Paranormal Are Fooled by the ‘Argument From Ignorance’

Joe Nickell, senior research fellow of the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry (CSI) – an international scientific organization – and investigative columnist for Skeptical Inquirer magazine, discusses his new book, The Science of Miracles: Investigating the Incredible, published earlier this year by Prometheus. Nickell has been investigating the paranormal since 1969, and is a prominent investigator of myths, mysteries, frauds, forgeries, and hoaxes. He has been called “the modern Sherlock Holmes,” “the original ghost buster,” and “the real-life Scully” from The X-Files. He has investigated scores of haunted-house cases, including the Amityville Horror, as well as healers, statues, visions and demons. Nickell was an inspiration for Hilary Swank’s role as a miracle investigator in The Reaping (2007).

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(1 hour, 8 minutes, 11 seconds, 32.74 MB)

A Path From Faith to Reason: ‘A Manual For Creating Atheists’

June 12, 2013
By
Philosopher Peter Boghossian

Philosopher Peter Boghossian

Philosopher Pete Boghossian Slams Contemporary Academic Leftism as a Hurdle to Progress

Portland State University Philosophy Professor Peter Boghossian and I discuss his new book, A Manual for Creating Atheists, in which he provides conversational strategies and tactics designed to lead religious believers from faith to reason. Throughout his book Boghossian offers diagnostic methods, provides practical examples, and supports his project with evidence. He also criticizes a disturbing trend in modern liberalism that helps fuzzy reasoning flourish. A Manual for Creating Atheists will be published in November 2013 by Pitchstone Publishing. Boghossian will be appearing at The Amazing Meeting, also known as TAM, July 11-14, 2013, in Las Vegas.

MP3 File
(46 minutes, 15 seconds, 22.2 MB)
Pre-order A Manual For Creating Atheists (with forward by Micheal Shermer) by clicking here • See the video “Islam Supporters Bully College Republicans Out Of Their Own Event,” and read about it here • Follow Pete on twitter @peterboghossian

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