“Secular Social Justice”, Donald R. Wright on Atheists Talk

An atheism that changes nothing about the world but whether people believe in gods is a weak atheism. A humanism that concerns itself only with the flourishing of people who are already comfortable is a weak humanism. A vigorous secular movement requires engagement with the major issues and human rights challenges of our time. The Secular Social Justice conference, this January 30 and 31 in Houston, Texas, embraces that mission. From the conference website:

The conference will address the lived experiences, cultural context, shared struggle and social history of secular humanist people of color and their allies.  It will focus on topics such as economic justice, women of color beyond faith, LGBTQ atheists of color, African American Humanist traditions in hip hop, racial politics and the New Atheism and more.

This Sunday, Donald R. Wright of Houston Black Non-Believers, one of the organizers of the Secular Social Justice conference, joins us to discuss the upcoming conference. We’ll also talk about 2014’s Moving Social Justice conference, out of which this conference grew.

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“Thomas and the Bible”, Thomas Smith on Atheists Talk

On May 9th of 2010, Thomas Smith embarked on a quest to share his journey through the Bible with strangers on the internet. Thus began the Thomas and the Bible podcast. He started – as the Bible does – in the beginning. Genesis 1-5 posted on May 10th, 2010 and has continued to this day. Five years and 217 episodes later and we’re up to Luke 14-17. Thomas and his podcast are described by their iTunes reviewers as hilarious, educational, articulate, witty, and more than one reviewer commented along the lines that if you have to read the Bible, this podcast is the way to do it.

Thomas Smith also produces Atheistically Speaking, a podcast that deals with a whole host of issues of interest to Thomas that don’t necessarily have anything to do with atheism. Atheistically Speaking highlights the fact that atheists are not monolithic in their beliefs.

Join us this Sunday as we speak with Thomas about his experiences exploring the Bible and atheism.

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“The Myths that Stole Christmas”, David Kyle Johnson on Atheists Talk

From Humanist Press:

We all secretly know that Christmas isn’t wholly good cheer, but David Kyle Johnson is brave enough to say it. The Myths that Stole Christmas debunks the biggest misconceptions about America’s most popular holiday and dares readers to take it back and make the season their own!

In a tone that is both analytical and conversational, Johnson’s The Myths that Stole Christmas critiques the frivolous consumerism, religious extremism and the “Santa Claus lie” that characterize Christmas today. But far from being a holiday Grinch, Johnson also presents his readers with a way to reclaim Christmas so that it can again be a time of joy and community, not an expensive and divisive obligation.

Johnson begins his book with a bold assertion: Many of us just don’t like Christmas. Or, we like it, but we wish it weren’t such a burdensome obligation. The Myths That Stole Christmasunpacks the cultural baggage that Christmas has accumulated, from the $12 billion of “deadweight loss” gifts purchased that recipients do not even want to the way in which the Religious Right has hijacked the season to erode the wall of separation between church and state.

Along the way, Johnson’s meticulous research enlightens his readers about the history of Christmas and Santa Claus and their pagan roots, and explains how the Christmas traditions we take for granted, such as decorated trees and Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, were invented. Johnson systematically debunks the myth that “The Santa Claus Lie is Harmless,” while suggesting a workable, positive approach for parents in a Santa-obsessed season. But in the book’s final chapter, Johnson addresses the most pervasive Christmas myth of all—that our current Yuletide habits are inevitable and we cannot change them. Instead of letting Christmas control us, it’s high time we took control of Christmas!

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“The Fear Babe”, Kavin Senapathy on Atheists Talk

Being concerned for our health is big business these days, and marketing that business relies on making us just as concerned. Unfortunately, much of that marketing involves spreading bad information, making us afraid of the things that will drive business, not the things that threaten our health. When our world is made out of chemicals, making us indiscriminately afraid of chemicals does nothing but add to our stress. Unfortunately, stress is also bad for our health.

This week’s guest, science writer Kavin Senapathy, is working to defeat this fear-based marketing through a number of initiatives. From the book she co-wrote with Marc Draco and Mark Alsip, The Fear Babe: Shattering Vani Hari’s Glass House, to using the tactics of the fear industry against them, she is working hard to replace sensationalism with good information. Tune in this Sunday to hear more about her work and why it’s so important.

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“The Accidental Terrorist”, William Shunn on Atheists Talk

“Nineteen-year-old Bill Shunn was a man on a mission—a Mormon mission, that is, trolling for converts door-to-door a thousand miles from home. A seventh-generation Mormon, steeped since birth in the gospel according to Joseph Smith, Shunn had to place his life and writing career on hold in order to fulfill his two-year mission, and faced challenges along the way that led to the ultimate confrontation with both his spiritual and secular authorities. Now, with hard-won wisdom and compassion for his younger self, Shunn recounts the harrowing pilgrimage—rife with good intentions, noble ideals, and deep-seated insecurities—that pushed him to places stranger than any fiction. That story is ‘The Accidental Terrorist’.

Bill Shunn is a graduate from the University of Utah in Salt Lake City with a degree in computer science. Soon thereafter he began finding success as a science fiction writer. His short fiction has appeared in Salon, Storyteller, Bloodstone Review, Newtown Literary, Asimov’s Science Fiction, The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, Science Fiction Age, Realms of Fantasy, Electric Velocipede, and various anthologies, including year’s-best collections. His work has been nominated for the Hugo Award and the Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Award, and twice for the Nebula Award.”

Join us this Sunday as David Pacheco speaks with William Shunn about “The Accidental Terrorist”

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“The Rap Guide to Religion”, Baba Brinkman on Atheists Talk

Atheists Talk is proud to welcome Baba Brinkman to the show this Sunday, November 1st, 2015. We will be speaking with Baba about his newest music album, The Rap Guide to Religion. From his website:

Why do most humans believe in a higher power? What are those beliefs good for? And once they are gone, what can replace them? Fresh from a 5-star run at the 2014 Edinburgh Fringe Festival and a six month off-Broadway run, this groundbreaking new work explores the various ways and means by which religion evolves in our species, leaving audiences with a new appreciation of religion, and its critics. It’s time to eff with the ineffable.

Baba Brinkman is a Canadian rap artist, writer and actor. He blends his love of the arts and academia to produce intelligent criticisms of religious dogma and celebrations of science.

Baba Brinkman earned a Master of Arts in Medieval and Renaissance English Literature and he studied human evolution and primatology with the orangutan researcher Biruté Galdikas. His thesis compared modern Hip hop freestyle battling with The Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer.

We hope you can join us for this Sunday’s show.

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“Carl Sagan Day 2015”, Travis Peterson on Atheists Talk

Carl Sagan was an accomplished astronomer and cosmologist, and is well-known and loved for his work as a science popularizer and communicator. He contributed to the body of work that explains the greenhouse effect and its role in the temperature of Venus. He helped lend credibility to the search for extraterrestrial life, and produced work with CETI – Communication with Extraterrestrial Intelligence.

Dr. Sagan was the presenter and co-writer of the inspirational television series, Cosmos. He was a skeptic and educator of critical thinking, and his 1995 book The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark has helped laypeople to gain a greater understanding of the scientific method and rational inquiry.

November 14th is Carl Sagan Day and to celebrate we’ll discuss Carl Sagan’s contributions and achievements. Travis Peterson is an organizer for the Minnesota Skeptics and a fan of Carl Sagan’s works and legacy. Join us on Sunday to talk about space, critical thought, Cosmos, Contact and “billions and billions” of other topics (okay, not quite that many).

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“Model Patient’s Right to Know Act”, Amanda Knief on Atheists Talk

In the United States many citizens have access to regulated and safe healthcare (though expensive!). Unfortunately, more and more Americans are finding their access to vital and available services limited by the religious beliefs of their providers. We may ostensibly live in a secular society, but we’re finding that our healthcare system is become less and less so. From AtheistVoter.org:

Today, nearly 1 in 6 Americans is treated by a health care provider who is affiliated with more than 645 Catholic hospitals in the United States, according to the Catholic Health Association of the United States. All Catholic health care providers are encouraged to abide by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Ethical and Religious Directives, which affects the types and direction of treatment that men and women receive for everything from birth control to vasectomies to cancer to end-of-life care.

American Atheists is working to secure a legal right for patients to know what limits are being placed on us by our providers. By introducing the Model Patient’s Right to Know Act, they are hoping to create an environment in which we might be able to better understand our options when we’re choosing healthcare. From the American Atheist press release of the proposed legislation:

The proposed legislation would require health care providers to simply provide a list of services they will not perform for religious reason to patients, potential patients, health insurers, and state and federal grant or subsidy programs. The health care providers and insurance issues would them be requied to make that information available online for potential patients.

Join us this Sunday as we speak with Amanda Knief, National Legal and Public Policy director of American Atheists and author of the Model Patient’s Right to Know Act.

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“From Apostle to Apostate”, Catherine Dunphy on Atheists Talk

The road from being a devoted believer to becoming atheist can be a hard one. It is even harder for those who have devoted their lives to sharing those beliefs with others. In her new book, From Apostle to Apostate: The Story of the Clergy Project, Catherine Dunphy talks about the special challenges facing nonbelievers whose former faith led them to the priesthood. Along the way, she also tells her own story, from former seminarian to executive director of an organization helping people like her.

This Sunday, Dunphy joins us to talk about her book and the work of the Clergy Project.

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“Skepticon 8”, Lauren Lane on Atheists Talk

Skepticon grew from a student event on campus to the largest atheist and skeptic conference in the U.S. in just a few short years. Co-founder Lauren Lane and her team of volunteers built Skepticon into an atheist Mecca, if you will. With talks, workshops, vendors, and even a Dino Prom, it has become an unprecedented annual gathering of heathens from all over the country and beyond. The free registration and central location don’t hurt either.

This Sunday, we’ll talk with Lauren about seeing her baby grow up and what it takes to keep an event this size functioning, fun, and free.

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