Episode 122: A Deluge of Stupidity

Noahs_ArkKen Ham is trying to raise 24 million dollars to build a life size replica of Noah’s Ark for the Ark Encounter theme park and zoo. Ham hopes that the park will convince people that Noah really could have fit two of each of the worlds animals on a 450 foot wooden boat. While apologists like the Creation Research Institute’s John Woodmorappe argue it could have been feasible for Noah to build an ark, investors are not as confident in Ham’s Ark project. Which is why the young earth creationist organization Answers in Genesis has been actively seeking public funding for the project,in the form of tax subsidies and public works projects for the park. But should tax payer dollars really be used to push a religious fantasy? For this episode we will plunge into the tale of Noah’s Ark and note the absurd consequences of reading this myth literally. Also for this episode we begin a multi-part “God Thinks Like You” mini-series examining the hidden influences behind how religious believers and skeptics make moral choices.

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Episode Links:

Should Quebec ban the scarf?

Ark Encounter trying to use public funds because their fundraising efforts have been a disaster

AU on Ark Encounter

How the animals fit in the Ark. 

Shitlist: Humanist leader resigns

Stranger Than Fiction: Jihadis accidentally behead wrong guy

Episode 121: Divine Deception with guest Erik Wielenberg

Philosopher Erik Wielenberg joins us on the show to discuss his upcoming paper on Skeptical Theism and Divine Deception. The evidential argument from evil concludes that the existence of God is unlikely given the many cases of gratuitous suffering we witness in nature. Some theists have responded that we cannot grasp the mind of God and have no reason to assume these instances of suffering may not work out to some greater good. Wielenberg argues that this skepticism, if adopted, would undermine many other theistic claims to knowledge. At the heart of his argument is the idea of divine deception. The scriptures record numerous instances of God deceiving humans to achieve some greater moral end. But if God can lie to his children in this way, what reason do we have to suppose any doctrine based on divine testimony reliably speaks the truth?

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Episode 119: Quivering (part 2) with guest Vyckie Garrison

Ex-quiverful mom and activist, Vyckie Garrison, joins us in the studio to talk about the aftermath of her decision to leave her husband and religious community and to share what she is doing to help women like her to escape abusive patriarchal households. Also on this episode we take a critical look at Bill O’Reilly’s new book Killing Jesus. We also explore the new atheist mega-church “The Sunday Assembly” and debate just how closely secular communities should emulate religious congregations. Finally we examine and critique a research report which creates a taxonomy of non-believers to be used by researchers studying “the nones”.

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Episode 118: Quivering (part 1) with guest Vyckie Garrison

A disturbing trend is catching on among Christian fundamentalists across the nation. Couples are abandoning birth control and encouraging women to view their “wombs as weapons” in America’s culture wars. Dubbed the “quiverful” movement, these families come from different denominational backgrounds but are united in the hope that by out breeding the competition they might stem the tide of secularism. Vyckie Garrison once made her living promoting this extreme patriarchal view of the family. But as the arrows in her quiver multiplied the quiverful lifestyle began to take its toll on her mental and physical health. Today she runs No Longer Quivering, a blog devoted to exposing the hidden struggles of quiverful families and to support those trying to escape. Also on this episode: the crisis in Syria has prophecy buffs combing the scriptures, an advice show for Catholic fathers explains why girls shouldn’t be allowed to attend college, and a mustache to die for infuriates the Taliban.

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Episode 117: Why Are Atheists More Intelligent?

The Doubtcasters return from their ridiculously long, unannounced break to dissect  the research behind the much reported headline that non-religious people are, on average, more intelligent than the religious. While the available data makes it clear that religion is negatively correlated with intelligence, the reasons behind this relationship are less clear. We will review some of the best theories advanced to explain this relationship for this episodes “God Thinks Like You” segment. Also, a new counter-apologetics segment asks “What is the probability that God would want to raise a first century religious leader from the dead?”; and the laughter is contagious in this weeks “Stranger Than Fiction”

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Episode Links:

Zuckerman, Silberman & Hall’s Meta-Analysis on Intelligence and Religiosity

In mother Russia, feelings hurt you!

State Department’s office of “religious engagement”

Atheism is warning sign for suicide according to Marine Corps

Can Atheists be military chaplains

Episode 115: The Myth of Martyrdom (Part 3)

The doubtcasters wrap up their “Myth of Martyrdom” series by discussing the evidence of others (non-apostles) who supposedly witnessed the resurrection, other miracle claims from antiquity and the false dichotomy at the heart of the “die for a lie” argument. Also, the Dr. Professor makes up for lost time by reviewing numerous studies on the psychology of religion, including: religious rationalizations of criminal behavior, cognitive overlap between deontological and consequentialist moral reasoning, and the different paths that lead people to doubt the supernatural.

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Episode 114: The Myth of Martyrdom (Part 2): Who Would Die for a Lie?

peterWould anyone knowingly die for a lie? Christian tradition teaches us that many of Jesus’ disciples were persecuted and martyred for their faith. But if Jesus did not really rise from the dead why would the apostles be willing to sacrifice their lives over claims they knew were false? To many Christians, the apostle’s martyrdom is compelling confirmation that the message they preached was true. But is there any reliable evidence that the apostles actually were martyred for their faith in the resurrection? Also on this episode: The Pew Research Center releases a global study on the views of Muslims world-wide. We’ll take a look at the survey and what it suggests about the source of Islamic extremism.

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Episode Links:

Pew Research Center Report: The World’s Muslims: Religion, Politics and Society
Triablogue: Early Sources on the Death of the Apostles

Episode 113: The Myth of Martyrdom (Part 1) with guest Candida Moss

myth_of_persecutionJesus famously told his disciples “take up your cross and follow me” and the church has proudly circulated stories of Christian martyrs ever since. Stories of believers who refused to renounce their faith in the face of persecution inspire some to great acts of heroism but can also promote a spirit of victimization. In her new book “The Myth of Christian Persecution” Candida Moss argues that the martyrdom stories from the first centuries of the Christian church have been exaggerated, and in many cases completely fabricated. Contrary to popular accounts of church history there never was any widespread systematic persecution of Christians in the first centuries of the common era. Join us as we discuss her fascinating book.
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Episode 111: Goodbye Joey Ratz

joey_ratzCelebrate the end of Pope Benedict XVI’s short reign with a look back at the good, the bad and the ugly of the polemical pontiff’s career. We’ll discuss all the big questions you probably don’t care about: will Benedict still be ‘infallible’? What were the real reasons for his resignation? What will he do now? Who will be the next pope? Also, a brief history of Papal resignations before Benedict and we turn to Stephen Greenblatt’s book “The Swerve” for a surprising connection between a former Pope and the rebirth of humanism in the western world.

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Episode 109: The Biology of Religious Patriarchy

womenWhy are religious moralists so preoccupied with sex? Attitudes on sexuality are far more predictive of religiosity than attitudes on charity, social justice or any other measure. Religious scriptures abound with rules and restrictions aimed at controlling women’s sexuality in particular. Is the current religious obsession with sex just an unfortunate result of religion’s male-dominated history or are there deeper forces at work? On this episode the doubtcasters review recent studies which illuminate possible procreative strategies underpinning religious patriarchy. Also on this episode: the supreme court hears gay marriage cases, the Pope Who Stole Christmas and fan favorite Ed Brayton joins us to discuss his new book about the violence and intimidation many secular activists face when defending the separation of church and state.

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