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Feb 14 2013

Episode 110: Clever Hermeneutics

What is a thoughtful, compassionate Christian to do with all the outrageous violence and hatred in the Old Testament? Many liberal Christians will reject the notion that these texts are inspired by God but in rescuing God’s character they sacrifice the divine authority of the scriptures. Fundamentalists will often bite the proverbial bullet and accept that God really did command these atrocities but how can one give any intelligible account of God’s holiness if He commands such evil deeds? Are these the only options available to a believer who wishes to keep the Bible and their conscience too? Apologist Randal Rauser doesn’t think so. He advocates an approach to interpreting the Old Testament which he calls a “qualified embrace” of the scriptures. It’s a clever hermeneutic but does it succeed in providing an intellectually sound way out of this dilemma? Also on this episode: Jesus shares your political views but he is more extreme, the Boy Scouts of America consider admitting gays and we conclude the episode with a touching Polyatheism segment.

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Jan 31 2013

RD Extra: Debating the Amalekite Genocide

not_very_nice_yahwehWhen Richard Dawkins wrote “The God of the Old Testament is arguably the most unpleasant character in all fiction.”, he was spot on. Many Jews and Christians recognize the deep problems these texts present to their views on the most basic moral questions. Unfortunately, it’s become commonplace for some christian apologists to claim they ‘wrestle’ with these difficult passages when, in reality, they are rewriting them. Recently, Justin Schieber was invited to debate God’s command to slaughter the Amalekites on the popular christian radio show, ‘Unbelievable’ against apologist John Allister. In this episode, we give you the debate, response emails and closing commentary.

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Episode Links:

‘Unbelievable’ podcast

John Allister’s blog

Dec 24 2012

RD Extra: The Nativity Debate with Jonathan Pearce and Randal Rauser

why_does_mary_look_like_a_dudeDon’t get into heated debates with your family this Christmas without first getting your facts straight. Check out this debate between Jonathan Pearce and Randal Rauser on the historical reliability of the Nativity narratives so you can impress your family by being the most informed troublemaker at the dinner table. Merry Christmas from the Doubtcasters!

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Dec 15 2012

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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Nov 20 2012

Episode 108: Post-Election Withdrawal

The doubtcasters collectively work through their post-election withdrawal symptoms by examining how demographic shifts are changing the American political landscape with special focus on how religious vs. secular polling locations influence voting. Also for this week’s counterapologetics Justin Schieber presents a presuppositionalist argument for atheism developed by Stephen Maitzen.

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Nov 14 2012

RD Extra: Is Abortion Murder? (Debate)

Contrary to what we hear shouted from both sides of the pro-choice/pro-life divide, abortion actually is a complicated issue. Is it possible to make progress on an issue that seems to straddle the line of our deepest philosophical differences? If it is, it certainly won’t be done with pictures of dead fetus’ or insisting that a women’s right to choose is the only morally relevant factor to consider.
This RD extra is a debate between Justin Schieber and John Barron on the issue of abortion. John keeps a blog at Siftingreality.com. There John blogs about Christianity, atheism, gay marriage and, of course, abortion.

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Nov 04 2012

RD Extra: Remembering Paul Kurtz (1925-2012)

The following is a rebroadcast of the doubtcaster’s 2007 interview with the late humanist philosopher, author and activist Paul Kurtz.

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Oct 11 2012

Episode 107: Are We Born Depraved?

The discovery that children have a natural inclination to believe in invisible, immortal, super-knowing agents has some religious apologists boasting that science has found the sensus divinitatis. Despite possessing this inner sense of the divine, John Calvin declared children to be morally corrupt by nature.  This doctrine of total depravity has served as a justification for authoritarian child-rearing practices aimed at instilling obedience in strong-willed children.  But a close look at the data suggests our theistic inclinations are byproducts of our cognitive development and not a special God-given faculty. Likewise, studies on the moral development of children reveal the foundations for empathy are present even at a young age. Authoritarian parenting may hinder that development and contribute to a variety of social ills.

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Sep 18 2012

Episode 106: Moonie Madness

The Unification Church was virtually unknown in America until the 1970′s when concerned parents, anti-cult groups and members of congress raised alarm about the powerful “brainwashing” techniques used by “moonies” to lure new converts into their dangerous cult.  Now that the self-proclaimed “messiah” Sun Myung Moon has died a group of sociologists are defending the Unification Church. While their beliefs and practices may strike most as odd they are hardly the predatory cult some have made them out to be (these sociologists claim). In particular, researchers of new religious movements object to the pseudoscientific notion of “brainwashing”–insisting that what compels people to join groups like the Unification Church amounts to nothing more than ordinary forces of group psychology at play in any religion. Anti-cult groups have fired back accusing these researchers of engaging in apologetics and secretly accepting financial kick-backs from the same groups they defend. What is a cult and how is it different (if at all) from a religion? Is there any scientific support for the concept of brainwashing? We will attempt to answer these questions and more. Also on this episode: violence across the Muslim world, blasphemy laws backfire in Pakistan, and Mark Regnerus’ research on homosexual parenting is dissected for this weeks “God Thinks Like You”

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Aug 29 2012

RD Extra: The Problem of Non-God Objects

This RD Extra is a lecture delivered by Justin Schieber to CFI Michigan on August 22nd 2012

Discription: In this week’s presentation, Justin Schieber will present – and defend from possible objections – an argument against a Christian view of the divine that insists upon God’s perfection while maintaining that God alone is responsible for intentionally creating non-god objects.The Christian scriptures seem clear; John 1:3 says ‘All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being.’ They are equally clear about this God’s ontological and moral perfection. But, are these beliefs compatible with the existence of non-God objects?

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