Episode 136: Freedom Isn’t Free

Dale McGowan, executive director of the Foundation Beyond Belief talks about some of the exciting ways the organization plans to put humanist principles into action in 2015. Also, statistics on the public’s attitudes towards the Christmas holiday, the John Templeton Foundation donates millions of dollars to philosophers who study free will and the Norse god Oden might just be the world’s first Christmas ornament.

Interview: Dale McGowan – Foundation Beyond Belief

The Foundation Beyond Belief is attempting to raise 75,000 dollars for its years end fund drive. Executive director, Dale McGowan joins us on the show to share some of the exciting new projects (including the humanist service core and the disaster relief) the foundation is planning for 2015. Please consider donating to Foundation Beyond Belief. You can find out more about what they are doing to advance humanist at the links below.

Foundation Beyond Belief
Humanist Service Corps
Humanist Disaster Relief 

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God Thinks Like You: The High Cost of Free Will

Philosopher Alfred Mele believes the public has been misled into believing that neuroscience disproves free will. Now Mele is at the helm of a multi-million dollar research project to study the nature of freedom, a project funded by the theological wing of the John Templeton Foundation…prompting the doubtcasters to once again make the case for determinism in response to some of Mele’s objections.

Alfred Mele’s Big Questions in Free Will Project
Free Will & Punishment

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Polyatheism: Odin

The Norse god Odin is the subject of this episode’s polyatheism.

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  1. Snoof says

    The current episode isn’t showing up in my feed. The last one is the RD Extra: Brayton vs Schmig.

  2. dargndorp says

    Yeah something’s funky with the RSS feed. I get a 12.9 MB file consisting solely of the interview with Dale.

  3. Snoof says

    The feed seems to be working for me now. Haven’t listened to the entire episode, but iTunes is reporting it’s 1h 23min, which is about normal length.

  4. dargndorp says

    Haven’t listened to the entire episode, but iTunes is reporting it’s 1h 23min, which is about normal length.

    Which goes to show that the itunes feed is healthy but the RSS feed isn’t.

  5. Greg Esres says

    Speaking of Odin, there’s a show from New Zealand called “The Almighty Johnsons” that features four brothers who are the reincarnated Norse gods. The original gods fled Europe a few centuries ago to escape persecution. Their powers have diminished over time.

    It’s a comedy. Thor is a minor character who is a big fat man who rushes around with a carpenter’s hammer.

  6. latveriandiplomat says

    Odin seems pretty unique as a divinity who suffered to gain wisdom. Your gain with no pain know-it-all’s like Athena or Thoth wouldn’t ring true to the Norse.

    Of course, “wisdom” in this sense, was mostly about fortune telling and mystic runes, IIRC. Not useful stuff like washing your hands before eating, dentistry, or how to make a battery.

  7. Golgafrinchan Captain says

    Off-topic for the episode but I just watched the Logos video again, and wanted to say thanks for that piece of awesomeness. I still laugh out loud repeatedly. For anyone who hasn’t seen it, google “Reasonable Doubts Logos”

    Do I recall correctly that you said in an old episode that Ann Druyan had heard it and enjoyed it?

  8. Golgafrinchan Captain says

    P.S. I know the video is newer than the original audio version, but the number of views on YouTube is surprisingly low. You should mention it in an episode.

  9. says

    Great, as ever guys. Being a philosopher who specialises in free will, I LOVE it when you talk about it, especially in the context of psychology.

    I have just written a short post on the illusionism you talk about. This is not entirely uncommon; it’s a consequentialist approach after all.


    Also, I wonder if Luke and the team have read the excellent book “Are We Free?” written by psychologists about free will, with chapters from both sides of the divide (including from Mele himself).


  10. diego says

    Normally I love the well researched content at Reasonable Doubts but I think that a disservice was done in this episode. Al Mele (pronounced ‘Mee-Lee’) was my partner’s PhD adviser. Like the RD crew I am no fan of the Templeton folks but it looks like Mele has made good use of the money. Last year I attended a conference summarizing the results of the then completed grant (so, for one thing, your criticism is out of date). There was some interesting psychological research funded by the grant. I would not say that the results were entirely congruent with what the Templeton Foundation crew would have wanted and I would urge you to look into some of these studies more. In talking to both my partner and Mele, I have come to the conclusion that your assumptions about Mele’s motivations are indefensible. Mele is, as far as I can tell, an agnostic on whether we have free will and what kind of free will we do have. As for myself, I readily admit that I am just a biologist and try not to over-reach into philosophy when I am not entirely sure of the ground I stand on. I will give Mele’s new book a chance. Apparently it’s his first foray into a popular account of this tricky area of philosophy.

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