Episode 136: Freedom Isn’t Free

Dale McGowan, executive director of the Foundation Beyond Belief talks about some of the exciting ways the organization plans to put humanist principles into action in 2015. Also, statistics on the public’s attitudes towards the Christmas holiday, the John Templeton Foundation donates millions of dollars to philosophers who study free will and the Norse god Oden might just be the world’s first Christmas ornament.

Interview: Dale McGowan – Foundation Beyond Belief

The Foundation Beyond Belief is attempting to raise 75,000 dollars for its years end fund drive. Executive director, Dale McGowan joins us on the show to share some of the exciting new projects (including the humanist service core and the disaster relief) the foundation is planning for 2015. Please consider donating to Foundation Beyond Belief. You can find out more about what they are doing to advance humanist at the links below.

Links:
Foundation Beyond Belief
Humanist Service Corps
Humanist Disaster Relief 

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God Thinks Like You: The High Cost of Free Will

Philosopher Alfred Mele believes the public has been misled into believing that neuroscience disproves free will. Now Mele is at the helm of a multi-million dollar research project to study the nature of freedom, a project funded by the theological wing of the John Templeton Foundation…prompting the doubtcasters to once again make the case for determinism in response to some of Mele’s objections.

Links:
Alfred Mele’s Big Questions in Free Will Project
Free Will & Punishment

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Polyatheism: Odin

The Norse god Odin is the subject of this episode’s polyatheism.

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RD Extra: Debate – “Is the US Government Founded on the Christian Religion?” Ed Brayton vs. Dr. Tim Schmig

brayton_v_schmigThis RD Extra features a debate between Ed Brayton and Dr. Tim Schmig. The debate took place on November 12, 2014 at CFI Michigan in Grand Rapids.

Ed Brayton is the founder and owner of the Freethought Blogs Network and the voice behind the popular blog Dispatches from the Culture Wars. He is the co-founder and past president of Michigan Citizens for Science and the recipient of the Friend of Darwin Award from the National Center for Science Education and has appeared on The Rachel Maddow Show, The Thom Hartmann Show, and C-SPAN. Ed is also a current member of CFI Advisory Board. Brayton argued for the resolution “That the government of the United States is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion.”

Arguing against that resolution is Dr. Tim Schmig, the Executive Director for the Michigan Association of Christian Schools. Tim Schmig has taught High School History, Social Studies, Government and Economics for 5 years in two different Christian Schools. He holds a Doctorate of Literature in Ministry from Maranatha Baptist Bible College.Tim spends much time in Washington D.C. and Lansing meeting with elected officials and has earned respect and garnered influence on both sides of the political aisle.

Reasonable Doubts would like to thank Ed Brayton and CFI Michigan for letting us share this debate, as well as a special thanks to Mike Slomka for helping capture the audio. Reasonable Doubts will be back with another regular format episode on December 15th.

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Episode 135: Pain and Paradox

Physical pain plays an important biological role, but should we expect it to in a world created by God? Also, a recent paper in the journal cognition posits distinct cognitive attitudes underlying religious belief and factual reasoning, but is the evidence from cognitive science and philosophy sufficient to support this claim?

Counter-Apologetics: Theism, indifference and the biology of pain

 

Pain serves an important biological purpose. Even animals who lack moral agency experience pain, and moral agents often experience gratuitous pain that serves no biological or moral purpose. Paul Draper’s paper “Pain and Pleasure: An Evidential Problem for Theists” explores the philosophical implications of these facts for theism.

Links:
The Biological Role of Pain and pleasure by Paul Draper

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God Thinks Like You: Imagination and Religious Belief

 

The power of imagination can make fictions seem real to us–even prompting behaviors and powerful emotions. The paradox of fiction asks how we can have such powerful reactions to what we know to be false. The journal Cognition recently featured two papers inspired by the paradox of fiction. One demonstrates how imagined events can fool our unconscious mind into believing the events are real, even when we factually know the experiences never happened. Another claims that religious beliefs are formed by cognitive processes more similar to imaginings than factual beliefs.

Links:
Religious Credence is not Factual Belief by Neil Van Leeuwen
If I Imagine it, then it Happened by Shidlovski, Schul & Mayo

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Polyatheism: The Heroic Adventures of Cú Chulainn

This polyatheism is the final instalment in a three part series on the zany adventures of the Irish mythological hero Cu Chulainn.

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Religion in the Headlines – Ebola Edition

 

Leo Igway on faith healers and bishop Duncan-Williams

ebola conspiracy theories are causing people to stop vaccinating

Props: National Association of Evangelicals calls for greater regulation of predatory lending.

 

 

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Episode 134: Coming Out Atheist (with guest Greta Christina)

 greta christina coming out 150

Many non-theists keep their doubts hidden for fear of losing friends and love ones. But remaining in the closet also has drawbacks: stress, hypocrisy, the oppression of silence and fear of being found out. Despite the risks, those who’ve made the decision to be open about their atheism almost never regret it. Luckily, doubters do not need to make this important decision on their own. Greta Christina (FTB blogger and author of Why Are You Atheists So Angry) conducted over 400 interviews with non-theists about their experiences of leaving the closet. Along the way she discovered that differing circumstances call for different coming-out strategies. Her latest book Coming Out Atheist: How to Do It, How to Help, and Why?–distills this wisdom into clear and compassionate strategies for preserving important relationships while being open about your doubts.

Links:
Order “Coming Out Atheist”
Greta Christina’s Blog

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Polyatheism: The Heroic Adventures of Cú Chulainn

This polyatheism is the second in a three part series on the zany adventures of the Irish mythological hero Cu Chulainn.

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Religion in the Headlines:

14 year old kid gets jiggy with Jesus Statue, punished under blasphemy law

Scalia on favoring religion over secularism

White Evangelicals Think They’re Discriminated Against More than Others

Stranger Than Fiction: Christian Swingers

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Episode 133: Your God Detector is Busted

Our cognitive faculties evolved to help us detect agents in our environment and to predict the content of their minds but those same faculties also generate beliefs in supernatural minds and divine agents. While this seems to suggest that religious intuitions are untrustworthy by-products of ordinary cognitive processes, Cognitive psychologists like Justin Barrett argue  the existence of these “god-faculties” in the brain should not make the atheist more comfortable with their skepticism. In fact, Barrett believes they actually provide a defeater for atheism.

Counter-Apologetics / God Thinks Like You Crossover: Do Cognitive Faculties for Religious Beliefs argue for Theism or Atheism?

The fact that our cognitive faculties produce immediate, non-inferential beliefs supporting some of our most basic assumptions (an external world, the existence of mind, the validity of logic, etc.) should provide some epistemic assurances against extreme skepticism. Since our faculties seem aimed at forming true beliefs about the world, we have reason to trust them until we find evidence to the contrary. Building from this epistemlogical foundation, Justin Barrett and Kelly Clark argue we also have warrant to believe in God, since the same faculties that produce beliefs in agents and other minds also produce belief in Gods. Furthermore, Barrett insists the atheist cannot claim the mind’s god-faculties are unreliable without undercutting the foundations of a naturalistic worldview. Jeremy Beahan and Luke Galen look at the philosophy and science behind these arguemnts, and draw a differnt conclusion.

Links:
Reidian Religious Epistemology and the Cognitive Science of Religion by Kelly James Clark and Justin L. Barrett
Should CSR Give Atheists Epistemic Assurance? by Justin L. Barrett and Ian M. Church

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Polyatheism: The Heroic Adventures of Cú Chulainn

This polyatheism is the first in a three part series on the zany adventures of the Irish mythological hero Cu Chulainn.

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Stranger Than Fiction: Children’s Satanic Activity Book

Links:
Satanic Coloring Book distributed to Florida children (and a pdf of the book)

 

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Upcoming Debate in Dallas, TX. (Justin Schieber v Blake Giunta)

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The University of Texas at Dallas
Alexander Clark Center – CN 1.112
Time: 6:00-9:00 pm
Date: September 20th, Saturday

Justin Schieber is co-host of the Reasonable Doubts Radio Show and Podcast and serves on the advisory board of the Grand Rapids, Michigan chapter of Center For Inquiry. Promoting a friendly, yet firm, skepticism toward religious claims, Justin has lectured and debated on the philosophical arguments for and against the existence of God across United States and Canada.
Find him online at: Justinsweh.com

Blake Giunta is the creator and founder of Treesearch, an interactive debate map designed for easily navigating and exploring otherwise complex debates surrounding the truth of Christianity. Blake has been studying apologetics and related topics as an enthusiast for over ten years.
Find him online at: Treesearch.org

Facebook Event:

https://www.facebook.com/events/847634235249518/

Episode 132: Euthyphro’s Revenge

Does God approve actions because they are good? Or is an action good because God approves it? Euthyphro’s Dilemma is perhaps the oldest challenge to a theistic conception of morality, but many modern philosophers of religion believe the dilemma to be a false one. While the traditional formulation of the dilemma may have an answer, Socrates’ challenge lives on in a new form.

Counter-Apologetics: A New Euthyphro Dilemma

 

Philosophers such as  William Alston, Robert Adams and William Lane Craig, believe they can split the horns of Euthyphro’s Dilemma by looking to God’s nature as the standard of goodness, but in a fascinating paper Jeremy Koons has devised a new version of the dilemma which exposes this conception of divine goodness as unintelligible.

Links:
Can God’s Goodness Save the Divine Command Theory From Euthyphro? By Jeremy Koons

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God Thinks Like You: The Moral Psychology of an Anthropomorphic vs. Theological God Concept

 

How one conceives the nature of God can have a powerful impact on how one views violations of his commandments. When believers embrace a more anthropomorphic view of God, they are more prone to judging minor violations of religious teachings as immoral.

Links:
Anthropomorphic God Concepts Engender Moral Judgment by Carey K. Morewedge

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Special Focus: How religion stunts innovation, and other musings on the conflict between science and religion

 

A new study argues highly religious countries have less scientific innovation then more secular ones, even after numerous variables are controlled for. While its unclear what is the cause behind the relationship, carefully designed experiments have shown how a scientific view of the world can be at odds with religious views, especially in regards to ones view of the soul and our connection to nature.

Links:

Science and Religion Really are Enemies After All by Chris Mooney
Neuroscience and the soul by Preston, Ritter & Helper
Faith and Nature by Vess, Arndt & Cox

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Religion in the Headlines – Big Fuzzy Beard Edition

 

The continuing misadventures of Sam and Johnny Mullet

A prisoners Beard Offers the Next Test of Religious Liberty for the Supreme Court

Church Of England Will Allow Women To Serve As Bishops

Mormon woman excommunicated for activism seeking priesthood for women

 

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Episode 131: Witch-Hunt (with guest Leo Igwe)

leo_igweInterview: Leo Igwe

The award-winning human rights activist Leo Igwe exposes how witchcraft accusations are used to prey upon societies most vulnerable, often with tragic consequences. He recounts how the study of philosophy emboldened him to speak out against the dangers of superstitious and magical thinking in his home country of Nigeria and some of the challenges of promoting critical thinking and humanism in Africa.

Links:
Articles by Leo Igwe
Foundation Beyond Belief – Pathfinders Project

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God Thinks Like You: The Evil Eye, God & Moral Typecasting

 

Witch-hunts often begin because of the natural envy felt by members of small communities towards their more successful peers. A related superstition, fear of “the evil eye”, is common in a variety of cultures and might play a role in managing envy among close neighbors. Moral typecasting theory might help explain why the human mind is so prone to seeing supernatural agency both tragic and uplifting events that have strong moral importance.

Links:
Blaming God for Our Pain by Gray and Wegner (2009)
Warding Off the Evil Eye by Van de Ven, Zeelenberg and Pieters

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Counter-Apologetics: The Fallacy of Understated Evidence

 

Some of the best arguments for theism begin with general facts of the world that seem more likely if a god were to exist, but as Paul Draper argues, further examination of specific facts complicates the picture, making theism seem less likely. Justin Schieber argues that the fine tuning of the universe and the existence of biological beings capable of agency, are two such facts that on the surface seem more probable on theism, until one digs deeper.

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Religion in the Headlines:

 

A Catholic Archdiocese objects to the “Ice Bucket Challenge”

Orthodox beliefs complicate organ donation in Israel

Openly religions & non-religious job candidates receive fewer calls.

Battle over whether guru is dead or just meditating
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