RD Extra: An Atheist’s Sermon

This RD extra features a sermon written by Jeremy Beahan for All Souls Unitarian Church in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Description:

Those who reject religion go by many names; atheist, agnostic, skeptic, freethinker, secular humanist–but please do not call us “unbelievers.” If you ask you will find there are many things we believe in. We believe that the natural world , as revealed through science, is more beautiful and inspiring than any mythology. But a world without the supernatural also confronts us with disturbing possibilities. If there is no God then the human story comes with no guarantee of a happy ending. Humanity must solve it’s own problems but it’s not at all clear we are up to the task. If there is hope, it will be found in those who reject the hollow consolations of faith and choose to press on instead of hoping for a miracle. By living with courage and integrity, pursuing truth for truth’s sake, we can make our lives and our world significant.

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RD Extra: Interview with Jeremiah Banister

Breaking his silence on the subject of religion after more than a year, a former apologist, conservative activist and Christian radio show host discusses his rejection of religion in this exclusive interview. Jeremiah Bannister has served as a preacher, worked with anti-gay groups, been a presuppositionalist, Calvinist, sedevacantist, and soon will be returning to the airwaves in his new role as a freethinking secularist. Hear his story in this exclusive interview with Reality Check/ Reasonable Doubts.

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Episode 95: “180”

The Doubtcasters take a look at Ray Comfort’s film “180” that equates a woman’s right to choose with the atrocities of the Holocaust.  In God Thinks Like You, Dr. Prof. Luke discusses a new study that finds people view atheists as being as untrustworthy as rapists.  The Aztec god Huitzilopochtli will rip your heart out in PolyAtheism. Plus, Obama doesn’t acknowledge God in his Thanksgiving address, the Catholic Church goes old school and we answer listener questions about how to deal with the ridiculous and how to find comfort in atheism.

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Episode 94: The Gospel of Positive Thinking

Who says you can’t serve both God and Money? Certainly not the 17% of American Christians who believe in the Prosperity Gospel.  They think God will reward their faithfulness with great material wealth and a clean bill of health.  Millionaire evangelists like Joyce Myer and Joel Osteen offer tips to help you “manifest” Gods  blessings in your life by cultivating a positive attitude, banishing self-defeating thoughts and meditating daily on God’s desire for you to live an abundant life. But according to Barbara Ehrenreich, it’s no coincidence that the prosperity gospel resembles “the power of positive thinking” more than it does the bible. In Blindsided: How Positive Thinking Is Undermining America Ehrenreich highlights the striking similarities between prosperity preachers and secular self-help gurus while tracing both back to a common ancestor.

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Episode 93: No Atheists Allowed

While on tour promoting his new book the Magic of Reality Richard Dawkins found himself banned from a book signing at a Detroit area country club after the owner learned that Dawkins was an atheist. Dawkins called the last-minute cancellation of the event an act of “sheer bigotry” but some insist that a privately owned business has the right to refuse service to atheists. Jennifer Beahan, the assistant director for the Center For Inquiry Michigan, joins us on the show to explain how the law does not allow discrimination against the non-religious and why CFI-MI will be filing a lawsuit against the club. Meanwhile the American Cancer Society has also banned  the atheist charity Foundation Beyond Belief from joining their “relay for life” even though the foundation was planning to raise over half a million dollars for the event. Also on this episode: Richard Dawkins explains why he will not debate apologist William Lane Craig; The connection between intuitive thinking styles and religious belief is explored on this weeks “God Thinks Like You” segment and we examine the “Outsider Test for Faith” proposed by John Loftus in The Christian Delusion.

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Episode 92: Atheists in the Pulpit with guest Dan Barker

Leaving religion can be difficult. It may lead to conflicts with family and friends and the loss of social support–and the more one is involved the deeper the loss. Clergy who silently doubt often feel trapped in a double life. They cannot continue to preach with conviction but they have come to depend on their congregations for financial support. Admitting their doubt could mean losing everything. Ex-minister Dan Barker, (co-president of the Freedom From Religion Foundation and author of the Good Atheist) knows first hand the challenges faced by atheists in the pulpit. He joins us to talk about The Clergy Project–an online support network for ministers who have begun to question the faith. Also on this episode: We discuss the physical cost of leaving groups like the Jehovah’s Witnesses on this weeks “God Thinks Like You.” Doubtcaster Justin Schieber takes on William Lane Craig for this weeks Counterapologetics and Fletch brings us a tribute to the Valkyries for a new Polyatheism segment.

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Episode 90: Disgust Discussed

Ten years have passed since the 9/11 attacks but a large number of Americans still have negative impressions of Muslims. While much of this distrust seems to be related to political ideology and misinformation in the media there are also deeper psychological forces at work. For many Christians, simply reading a passage of the Koran (or Richard Dawkins “The God Delusion”) triggers feelings of physical disgust. Atheists are the only other group that face the same kind of popular distrust. That is why the Center For Inquiry is launching a new billboard campaign aimed at challenging negative stereotypes of atheists. The Doubtcasters share the local reaction when one of those billboards went up in their hometown of Grand Rapids, MI. Also on this episode: another installment of Polyatheism and some obligatory reflections on the September 11th attacks.

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Episode 89: Genocide (part 2)

For the second part of RD’s Summer Genocide Series the doubtcasters turn to recent findings in archeology which indicate that the genocides in the book of Joshua probably never took place. But if the conquest of Canaan is just legend, what was the real reason for the fall of Canaanite civilization? Where did the ancient Israelites originate and how did the come to occupy that region? And why would the Bible’s writers invent the conquest narratives if these events never really happened? Also on this episode: Michele Bachmann provides the doubtcasters with a “target rich environment”, plus new “God Thinks Like You” and Pollyatheism segments.

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Episode 88: Genocide (part 1)

RD kicks off it’s “Summer Genocide Series” with a critical review of Paul Copan’s book “Is God a Moral Monster?” Copan argues that the holy war waged against the Canaanites was not the blood-soaked genocide that critics of the Bible make it out to be . It was a limited, relatively humane campaign that was morally and spiritually justified. Thom Stark disagrees. He’s written a massive point-by-point refutation of Copan’s book entitled “Is God a Moral Compromiser?” (free pdf available here!). We’ll take a look at Copan’s arguments and Stark’s response for this weeks Counter-apologetics segment. Also on this episode: the doubtcasters discuss the religion and politics of Anders Breivik and for a new segment of “God Thinks Like You” we share new data which proves fundamentalists are kind and helpful–except towards people who are different from them.

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