Point of Inquiry
Point of Inquiry
Center for Inquiry
Point of Inquiry is the Center for Inquiry's flagship podcast, where the brightest minds of our time sound off on all the things you're not supposed to talk about at the dinner table: science, religion, and politics. Guests have included Brian Greene, Susan Jacoby, Richard Dawkins, Ann Druyan, Neil deGrasse Tyson, Eugenie Scott, Adam Savage, Bill Nye, and Francis Collins. Point of Inquiry is produced at the Center for Inquiry in Amherst, N.Y.
Annabelle Gurwitch on Living Through Ups and Downs
Annabelle Gurwitch is an award-winning actress, comedian, and writer. She's also a secular humanist and a skeptic, though that hasn't always been the case -- at least not the skeptic part. On this episode Annabelle speaks with host, Jim Underdown about her beliefs, her new book, life as a performer, new age religions and cults, and dealing with adversity. Annabelle's latest book, You're Leaving When? Adventures in Downward Mobility (Counterpoint Press, 2021) is an insightful trip through trying times as experienced by a funny woman with a flair for living.
May 13
49 min
Interview with David Javerbaum, Daily Show Writer and host of Godcast Podcast
David Javerbaum is the guest on this week's episode of Point of Inquiry. David discusses his early writing career and his current gig as God. David discusses starting out with The Onion and what it was like working with David Letterman, Jon Stewart, and Stephen Colbert. As former head writer and producer on the Daily Show, David gives his insights into what it was like working on the show and its cultural impact. David is also the mastermind behind the popular TheTweetOfGod Twitter account and host of the related podcast, Godcast. What began as the book, The Last Testament: A Memoir has since moved on to become a successful Broadway play and was the impetus behind creating the Twitter account. David goes into how it all started and what the journey has been like.
Apr 15
34 min
Behind The Mind of a Conspiracy Theorist
Have you wondered what it's like to get caught up in a conspiracy theory? QAnon, the 9/11 truth movement, lizard people who want to take over the world. What does it take for rational humans to believe such outstandingly irrational beliefs? In this week's episode, Leighann Lord speaks to Stephanie Kemmerer about her personal journey falling in and eventually coming out of being a conspiracy theorist. She began as a 9/11 Truther, believing that 9/11 was an inside job, and eventually came out of that movement as she discovered people she knew were personally affected by Sandy Hook. Kemmerer speaks about the psychology and mindset that led her and others down the rabbit hole, what she sees in QAnon believers, the huge role that social media and YouTube play in moving people into conspiracy theories, the dopamine hit when digging for the supposed truth, and how you can help others find their way out. Stephanie Kemmerer is a researcher and writer for the podcast, Even the Podcast Is Afraid and an occasional contributor for the Southern Oddities podcast. She is a contributing author to Skeptical Inquirer. You can reach her by email: kemperkitten@gmail.com or Twitter @mcpasteface
Mar 30
41 min
An Atheist and a Christian Walk Into a Bar
An Atheist and a Christian Walk Into a Bar | Overcoming Differences America is as polarized as it's been in decades as our citizenry draws lines in the sand over a variety of issues. Friends and family who hold different political or religious persuasions may find it hard to impossible to hold civil conversation together. One friendship hasn't suffered because of all this divisiveness. Jim speaks to Christian Pastor Joe Manno of the Revelation Church in Florida. Joe and Jim have been friends since they met on the set of Cagney and Lacey in the mid-80s. Their conversations touches on how they've stayed friends and how they believe others can look past differences; by making the problem simple and only taking people for people. Manno recounts to Underdown his many experiences that have solidified his faith in a higher power, how miraculously not a single person in Manno's congregation would have anything negative to say to an atheist, and the importance of looking past a person's beliefs to their experiences in order to understand them even when their beliefs counter your own humanity.
Feb 19
39 min
The Trouble with Christmas for Atheists with Tom Flynn
Christmas in 2020 will be unlike any other in recent history due to COVID 19. Nevertheless, Christians around the world will be finding ways to celebrate the birth of Christ. On this episode of Point of Inquiry, Jim speaks to Tom Flynn, editor of Free Inquiry magazine and author of The Trouble With Christmas. Affectionately known as the Anti-Claus, Tom gives some insight to when Jesus may actually have been born, the origins of the Christmas holiday, how traditions have changed over the centuries, modern day customs surrounding the event, and the alleged "War on Christmas", real and imagined. Happy just another day everyone! We are proud to announce that this episode of Point of Inquiry was sponsored by the Wadsworth-Sheng Fund. Our friends, Spike Wadsworth and Sherry Sheng, are committed to ensuring that everyone has access to thought-provoking content that addresses the big questions in science, religion, politics, and culture. We are grateful for their support. If you would like to learn more about how to support Point of Inquiry or the work of its umbrella organization, the Center for Inquiry, please contact our Director of Development, Connie Skingel, at development@centerforinquiry.org.  
Dec 24, 2020
46 min
Revisiting The Life Of Frank Sinatra – Living A Life Of Homelessness
In 1997 Jim produced and directed a short documentary called “A Day in the Life of Frank Sinatra” that was an exploration of what it was like to be a homeless man with a famous name. Twenty three years later, Frank Sinatra is recently off the streets, lives in a government-funded camper in Los Angeles, and is trying to live a normal life. In this episode, Jim sits down with Frank and asks him about being a cab driver, a one-time contestant on the “Gong Show”, about homelessness in Los Angeles for the last 28 years, the troubles and lasting damage addiction can cause, how Frank believes that no one is immune to turning to drugs, and his hopes for the future. This episode of Point of Inquiry does contain explicit language.
Nov 25, 2020
31 min
The Puritan Roger Williams, Church State Separation, and The Impact on Today
What does the Puritan founder of both the state of Rhode Island and the Baptist Church have to say about modern evangelicals?   Roger Williams had certain ideas that didn't fit into 17th century England or its American colonies. Freedom of conscience, separation of church and crown, fair treatment of indigenous peoples, and supporting the rights of women were all a tough sell in the 1600s. But sell he did, and though Roger Williams is far from a household name in 2020, some of his ideas still reverberate through our country and our world.   In this episode, Jim Underdown speaks to Roger Williams' 12th great-granddaughter, Becky Garrison, about her book, Roger Williams's Little Book of Virtues. They speak about and his legacy, dive into his beliefs and their context in the 1600s, and how much of Williams' legacy impacts us today.
Nov 12, 2020
58 min
J.R. Becker on the Annabelle and Aiden Book Series and Teaching Children Critical Thinking
Author J.R. Becker joins Leighann Lord in this episode of Point of Inquiry to speak about his book series, Annabelle & Aiden. The series is a pro-science children's book series that explores science, philosophy, and critical thinking. Their conversation dives into: What inspired Becker to write the series How the books teach critical thinking and a skeptical outlook to children and why that's important The push back the series has had from various religious groups How adults can enjoy and learn from these books as well What's in store in Annabelle & Aiden's future You can learn more about the Annabelle & Aiden series on annabelleandaiden.com
Oct 22, 2020
38 min
Chris Matheson on Writing Bill and Ted and his Books on God and Buddha
Screenwriter and author Chris Matheson joins Jim in this episode which touches on the recently released Bill & Ted Face the Music, then dives deeply into Matheson's two comedic books on the Bible and the Buddha.   In his The Story of God, Chris gets into the mind of what must be an insane and sadistic deity by using the Bible itself to retell the story. In The Buddha's Story, he points his rapier wit at the “Awakened One” -- also through scripture -- and unveils a religious icon most would find rather reprehensible.   Both books find a way to raise incisive questions about key religious figures in a very humorous way. Chris Matheson is one of those rare people who can get people to laugh and learn at the same time.   You can find both of Matheson's books, The Story of God: A Biblical Comedy about Love (and Hate) and The Buddha's Story on Amazon We are proud to announce that this episode of Point of Inquiry was sponsored by the Wadsworth-Sheng Fund. Our friends, Spike Wadsworth and Sherry Sheng, are committed to ensuring that everyone has access to thought-provoking content that addresses the big questions in science, religion, politics, and culture. We are grateful for their support. If you would like to learn more about how to support Point of Inquiry or the work of its umbrella organization, the Center for Inquiry, please contact our Director of Development, Connie Skingel, at development@centerforinquiry.org. Point of Inquiry has a listener survey available that we are asking you to complete! Visit the survey at bit.ly/poisurvey. Filling out the survey will help the show grow and improve as we understand the fine folks who listen. Thank you.
Oct 8, 2020
47 min
Rev. Barry W. Lynn on The Supreme Court, Retirement, and His Upcoming Book
The recent passing of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has left many shaken. A few weeks prior to her passing, Leighann Lord had the opportunity to speak with Rev. Barry Lynn, former executive director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, an organization dedicated to the preservation of the Constitution’s religious liberty provisions. Rev. Lynn has spent much of his career working between religion, government, and fighting for the rights of marginalized communities. He and Lord discuss his new retirement and how it was not what he was anticipating, stories from his new book, “You Don’t Know Me - But You Might Have Heard of Some of the People I’ve Met”, the importance of the separation of church and state, the hyper-politicization of US politics, how we've moved away from finding creative compromises, and how this has bred a new kind of evil in men like Tucker Carlson. Finally, Rev. Lynn speaks his views on the Supreme Court and what needs to change for anything meaningful to happen and how even before Justice Ginsburg's passing, the difficultly and unlikelihood that certain policies, like The Green New Deal or Medicare for All, would be passed. You can find out what Rev. Lynn is up to by visiting his website or twitter. We are proud to announce that this episode of Point of Inquiry was sponsored by the Wadsworth-Sheng Fund. Our friends, Spike Wadsworth and Sherry Sheng, are committed to ensuring that everyone has access to thought-provoking content that addresses the big questions in science, religion, politics, and culture. We are grateful for their support. If you would like to learn more about how to support Point of Inquiry or the work of its umbrella organization, the Center for Inquiry, please contact our Director of Development, Connie Skingel, at development@centerforinquiry.org. Point of Inquiry has a listener survey available that we are asking you to complete! Visit the survey at bit.ly/poisurvey. Filling out the survey will help the show grow and improve as we understand the fine folks who listen. Thank you.
Sep 24, 2020
54 min
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