Open thread for episode #945: Matt and Tracie

I (Tracie) will do a brief reading from Bulfinch’s Mythology, for a passage on the Greek tale of Agamemnon and Iphigenia, as follows:

After two years of preparation the Greek fleet and army assembled in the port of Aulis in Boeotia. Here Agamemnon in hunting killed a stag which was sacred to Diana, and the goddess in return visited the army with pestilence, and produced a calm which prevented the ships from leaving the port. Calchas, the soothsayer, thereupon announced that the wrath of the virgin goddess could only be appeased by the sacrifice of a virgin on her altar, and that none other but the daughter of the offender would be acceptable. Agamemnon, however reluctant, yielded his consent, and the maiden Iphigenia was sent for under the pretense that she was to be married to Achilles. When she was about to be sacrificed the goddess relented and snatched her away, leaving a hind in her place, and Iphigenia, enveloped in a cloud, was carried to Tauris, where Diana made her priestess of her temple.

The earliest references to Agamemnon appear to date back to the 14th C BCE. The story of Iphigneia is reminiscent of the Binding of Isaac, told in the Biblical book of Genesis, which dates back to approximately the 5th or 6th C BCE. In both tales, a god demands the human sacrifice of an adherent’s child, stays the execution, and then supplies a substitute sacrifice after the rescue. Iphigenia’s tale has alternate endings, one of which expresses the maiden is actually killed. Likewise, scholars have suggested there is evidence the story of Isaac has a similar alternate ending that likely predated the modern tale in which he is ultimately rescued from death.

it is important to note that similarities in mythologies may or may not be evidence of prior cultural connections. And sometimes themes are simply “human” and follow a common thread, despite a lack of cultural connection. I have not researched connection in this case. I just read the story of Iphigenia this week, and was struck by the similarity to the Bible story from my youth. I found it interesting and wanted to share. If others would like to expand on research for either or both of these subjects in comments, I encourage you to do so.

Tracie will be speaking at River City Reasonfest this weekend

Hey folks!

I forgot to mention this past Sunday on the show that I’ll be talking at River City Reasonfest this weekend hosted by the Humanists, Atheists, & Agnostics of Manitoba. If you’re interested and able to attend, you can find information at the convention website online. The event brags a lot more speakers and presentations than just me and mine–so check it out!

ABC’s “What Would You Do?” Gets It Very Wrong

Today someone shared with me a link to a promotion for an episode of ABC’s “What Would You Do?”

For those unfamiliar, the program uses actors in public spaces to test how the general public will react to particular situations that often involve moral responses. I’ve seen one where a man slips drugs into his date’s drink in front of other bar patrons while his date is in the bathroom. Many people came forward to warn the woman about what had happened, and a few challenged the man with the drugs directly. In another segment, they had a pretty blonde woman struggling with her bike lock at a local park. Passersby stopped to assist her. When the person struggling with the lock was changed to a young black man, however, the responses were quite different–hostile and accusatory. [Read more…]

“A Better Life” the Movie – Austin Premier in June

Author and Film-maker Chris Johnson will be in Austin for a showing of his film version of his book “A Better Life: An Exploration of Joy & Meaning in a World Without God”. The event is free for ACA members, but there will be a $5 charge for nonmembers of ACA. It will be held June 28, 2015, from 1-3 PM, at the Trinity United Methodist Church (4001 Speedway, Austin). If you’d like to join the Facebook event page and receive updates, please feel free.

Chris’ journey began with a book. He reached out to us at The Atheist Experience while he was working on his project, and we have followed his progress ever since, with many of us supporting his efforts with participation and resources, because it’s a cause many of us felt comfortable getting behind.

As part of the effort to produce the book, Chris also videotaped the atheists who agreed to interviews. After the book’s publication, he began work on processing and editing the video footage to produce a companion film version. During the 2014 ACA Annual Bat Cruise, Chris came to Austin to be a joint “pre-cruise” speaker along with Richard Carrier. Chris presented a short trailer for the upcoming film and talked about the inspiration behind his project—to dispel the negative misconception of atheists as people without joy and meaning.

That same weekend, you may recall seeing Chris and Richard both on The Atheist Experience talking about their respective projects.

Since then we’ve been expectantly following the progress of the movie at this blog. And if you have as well, then you are aware it opened with a world premier to a sold out crowd in London earlier this year. He’s been showing it all around the globe, and we are extremely excited to have him coming back to Austin to showcase the culmination of all his hard work.

Hope you can make it!

Viewer Asks for Your Help with Some Questions

Hi All:

We have an e-mail from a viewer who has a LOT of questions. I began to answer it, and got about halfway down before I thought “this is taking A LOT of time.” I asked him if he was OK with me sharing his questions at the blog for reader/viewer response, and he was. So, please feel free to offer your responses. I am sending him this blog article link so he can read your feedback and clarify any questions you may have if he wants to join in. Thank you all for helping this viewer! [Read more…]