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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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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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

 

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. 

Episode 124: Religion’s Role in Global Conflict

New data from the Pew Research Center shows religious violence is on the rise world-wide. Religiously motivated sectarian violence, harassment of women, mob-violence and terrorism have increased steadily and dramatically over the past 7 years in every region except the Americas. Still, many of these conflicts erupt in areas plagued by disputes over land and political control, so is religion really to blame? For this episode we review empirical research that attempts to understand the role religion and politics play in global religious conflicts. Also on this episode: What the hell is going on in Philosophy of Religion departments? While only 12% of philosophers accept or lean towards theism, 72% of philosophers who specialize in Philosophy of Religion are theists. Of course, both theists and atheists can find self-serving interpretations of this disconnect, but what is really going on? In trying to answer this question we examine research and educated opinions of those who work in the field.

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Episode Links:

Kirk Cameron on Parenting

UN committee takes on Vatican and Pope Defrocks 400

Violence on the decline world wide, except religious violence which is rising

Satanic Statue controversy

Dsouza election fraud

A study of what motivates people to enter Philosophy of Religion

Uganda bill doesn’t get signed into law, but even the reasoning why is so bigoted it will make you furious.