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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Episode 130: How Jesus Became God with guest Bart D. Ehrman

643How did Jesus, an apocalyptic prophet from Galilee, come to be regarded as a God by his followers? Bart D. Ehrman (Professor of Religious Studies at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill) joins us on the show to discuss his new book How Jesus Became God, which traces the historical evolution of early Christian thought about the nature and identity of Jesus.

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Episode 129: Find a New Hobby, Lobby

big_girl_pantsEd Brayton of Dispatches from the Culture Wars joins the Doubtcasters for an analysis of the SCOTUS ruling on the recent Hobby Lobby case. Some popular misunderstandings about the ruling and its implications are dispelled, and the true dangers of the decision are discussed. Also, Luke Galen reviews polling data on where the American public stands on the issue of birth control and offers some predictions on how the SCOTUS ruling may impact individuals and the nation.

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Episode 128: Inside the Mind of a Religious Sexual Abuser

Major League Baseball player Chad Curtis will always be remembered as the man who led the New York Yankees to victory by catching the last out of the last World Series game of the 20th century. To many religious sports fans, Curtis was a hero for taking a strong stand for Christian principles. He regularly spoke out against performance enhancing drugs and the hedonistic lifestyle of many professional athletes. He donated half of his income to charities that promoted Christian values. His friends described him as “morally blameless” and in the eyes of many, Chad Curtis was one of the few true role models left in professional sports. After retirement, Curtis returned to his home in west Michigan and began working as a teacher and coach in public and private religious schools but eventually resigned when three students accused Curtis of sexually molesting them in the school training room. Curtis denied the allegations, and his community rallied behind him even as more victims came forward. Transcripts from his trial reveal how Curtis used his reputation as a righteous man to manipulate his victims and win the support of the community after his crimes had been exposed. Disturbing but insightful, the Chad Curtis story provides a unique window into the mind of a religious sexual abuser. Also on this episode: Gay marriage advocates try an unusual legal strategy, the AFA claims they are being bullied and Christianity Today debates the causes of female masturbation.

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Episode Links:

The Chad Curtis Trial

Christianity Today: Getting to the Root of Female Masturbation

American Family Association says “We Don’t Discriminate” stickers bully Christians

NC clergymen say forbidding same-sex marriage violates their religious freedom

Journal of Religious Health: Evangelicalism, Sexual Morality, and Sexual Addiction:
Opposing Views and Continued Conflicts

Journal of Interpersonal Abuse: Cognitive Distortions of Religious Professionals Who Sexually Abuse Children

 

RD Extra: Does Religion Make Us Better People? (Galen’s Bulldog Edition)

Does Religion Make Us Better People? An Empirical Critique of the Religious Prosociality Hypothesis.

Does religion make us happier, healthier and more helpful? A number of popular psychology books and articles argue that religion is a positive force for enhancing the health and well-being of both individuals and whole communities. A careful examination of the social psychological literature, however, reveals a complicated relationship between religion and “pro-social” traits that defies such a simple characterization. Luke Galen, Professor of Psychology at Grand Valley State University, recently reviewed dozens of studies on religion and pro-social traits for the American Psychological Association’s Psychology Bulletin, exposing some of the misleading ways in which this research is conducted and presented to the public. For this talk Jeremy Beahan (instructor of Philosophy and World Religions at Kendall College of Art and Design and co-host of the popular Reasonable Doubts Podcast) will summarize key details of the review in a way that is accessible to non-professionals and reveal the devil lurking in the details.

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Episode Links:
Research Report: Does Religion Really Make Us Better People? By Luke Galen and Jeremy Beahan (Free Inquiry Volume 33 No 4)

Does religious belief promote prosociality? A critical examination.

Galen, Luke W.
Psychological Bulletin, Vol 138(5), Sep 2012, 876-906. doi: 10.1037/a0028251

 

Episode 126: Why Would God Hide?

divine_hiddennessJesus said “seek and you will find” but for many spiritual seekers, clear evidence for God cannot be found no matter how hard they search. If He really exists, why would God reveal himself only to some people and not to all? For this episode we examine “The Argument from Divine Hiddenness” which assumes that a perfectly moral being would want to enter into a relationship with His creation. But If that is true, theism faces some trouble in explaining how genuinely “non-resistant” seekers of God could exist. Also on this episode: Creationists attack FOX’s Cosmos series, Fred Phelps is dead, Michigan overturns its ban on gay marriage, and the link between depression, fear and belief in Hell is examined for this episodes installment of God Thinks Like You.

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Episode Links:

Michigan Gay Marriage Ban Struck Down

Better Things to Do Than Picket the Fred Phelps Funeral

Nathan Phelps Statement

First WBC Protest after Phelps death

Creationist critique of Cosmos episode 2

Belief in Hell makes people unhappy and afraid

Religion doesn’t protect against depression

Fatwa against living on Mars

Episode 125: Nye Smokes Ham

The doubtcasters, along with friend of the show Jordan Fett, share thoughts and analysis (scientific, philosophical and psychological) on the debate between Creationist Ken Ham and Bill Nye the Science Guy.  Also we discuss some of the psychological barriers to understanding evolution that both creationists AND evolutionists share, for this weeks “God Thinks Like You.” Also, learn about the Babylonian Ark Tablet and what it means for Biblical literalists in this episodes “Skeptics Sunday School”

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Episode Links:

Ken Ham and other literalists can’t handle pre-biblical Ark text

Follow up: The UN’s report on Catholic child abuse is released.

Stranger than fiction: dude tries to walk on water. Drowns.