Reasonable Doubts takes an informative and humorous look at religion from a freethinking perspective; offering news and commentary of interest to skeptics, atheists, agnostics, humanists, courageous religious believers looking for a challenge and freethinkers of all persuasions. In addition to interviewing the top minds in skepticism (former guests include Christopher Hitchens, Susan Jacoby, Paul Kurtz, Edward Tabash, DJ Grothe) RD offers regular segments on counter-apologetics, biblical criticism, creationism intelligent design and church state issues. RD also examines the psychology of religion, reviewing recent and exciting research you won't hear about anywhere else. Tune in for a hard-hitting critique of religion balanced by plenty of humor, a fair-minded attitude and a commitment to critical thinking. Check out our website at doubtcast.org for information, episode links or to email questions, comments and challenges. Reasonable Doubts...for those who won't just take things on faith.
Here it is�the final episode of Reasonable Doubts, featuring new Counterapologetics, God Thinks Like You and Polyatheism segments mixed with goodbyes from our fans and outtakes from the past eight years of doubtcasting. Thank you to everyone who made this show what it was. Special thanks to Jonathan MS Pearce for the spoken word introduction to the show and to Hugh McDonald for allowing us to use his song "Schrodinger's Cat" for this episode.
This podcast features a previously unreleased interview with Australian Singer and Songwriter Shelley Segal. Shelly shares about her experience growing up in a conservative Jewish household and how her music naturally turned to turned to secular themes when she decided she was an atheist. She also performs two songs from "An Atheist Album."
This one is all about Charlie. Guest Dan Fincke defends free speach and the right to blaspheme. Dr. Galen examines the psychological root to religious extremism and the Enuma Elish is the subject of this episode's Polyatheism.
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.
Is the US Government Founded on the Christian Religion?
Ed Brayton is the founder and owner of the Freethought Blogs network and the voice behind the popular blog Dispatches from the Culture Wars. He is the co-founder and past president of Michigan Citizens for Science and the recipient of the Friend of Darwin Award from the National Center for Science Education and has appeared on The Rachel Maddow Show, The Thom Hartmann Show, and C-SPAN. Ed is also a current member of CFI Advisory Board.
Ed brayton will be arguing �That the government of the United States is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion.
Arguing against that resolution is Dr. Tim Schmig, the Executive Director for the Michigan Association of Christian Schools. Tim Schmig has taught High School History, Social Studies, Government and Economics for 5 years in two different Christian Schools. He holds a Doctorate of Literature in Ministry from Maranatha Baptist Bible College.Tim spends much time in Washington D.C. and Lansing meeting with elected officials and has earned respect and garnered influence on both sides of the political aisle.
The debate took place November 12, 2014 at CFI Michigan in Grand Rapids. Thanks to Ed Brayton and CFI michigan for letting us share this debate, and special thanks to Mike Slomka for helping capture the audio. Reasonable Doubts will be back with another regular format episode on December 15th.
This RD Extra features a debate, hosted by the Reasonable Doubts Podcast, between Jeffery Jay Lowder and Kevin Vandergriff on "Metaphysical Naturalism or Christian Theism? Where Does the Evidence Point?"
Physical pain plays an important biological role, but should we expect it to in a world created by God? Also, a recent paper in the journal cognition posits distinct cognitive attitudes underlying religious belief and factual reasoning, but is the evidence from cognitive science and philosophy sufficient to support this claim?
Many non-theists keep their doubts hidden for fear of losing friends and love ones. But remaining in the closet also has drawbacks: stress, hypocrisy, the oppression of silence and fear of being found out. Despite the risks, those who've made the decision to be open about their atheism almost never regret it. Luckily, doubters do not need to make this important decision on their own. Greta Christina (FTB blogger and author of Why Are You Atheists So Angry) conducted over 400 interviews with non-theists about their experiences of leaving the closet. Along the way she discovered that differing circumstances call for different coming-out strategies. Her latest book Coming Out Atheist: How to Do It, How to Help, and Why?--distills this wisdom into clear and compassionate strategies for preserving important relationships while being open about your doubts.
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.
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.
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.
This debate on the existence of the Christian God took place at Ferris State University on October 23rd.
Steven Kozak - Christian Apologist, Author (Stevenkozak.com)
Justin Schieber - Atheist, Podcast Co-host (doubtcast.org)
How 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.
Ed 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.
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.
Does Religion Make Us Better People? An Empirical Critique of the Religious Prosociality Hypothesis.
Does religion make us happier, healthier and more helpful? A number of popular psychology books and articles argue that religion is a positive force for enhancing the health and well-being of both individuals and whole communities. A careful examination of the social psychological literature, however, reveals a complicated relationship between religion and "pro-social" traits that defies such a simple characterization. Luke Galen, Professor of Psychology at Grand Valley State University, recently reviewed dozens of studies on religion and pro-social traits for the American Psychological Association's Psychology Bulletin, exposing some of the misleading ways in which this research is conducted and presented to the public. For this talk Jeremy Beahan (instructor of Philosophy and World Religions at Kendall College of Art and Design and co-host of the popular Reasonable Doubts Podcast) will summarize key details of the review in a way that is accessible to non-professionals.
Jesus 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.
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"
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.
In late 2013, Chris Hallquist (http://www.patheos.com/blogs/hallq/) and Randal Rauser (http://randalrauser.com/) participated in a debate on the rationality of belief in God. This debate was not a live debate, rather it was a series of audio exchanges that took place in late 2013.� The exchanges were according to agreed upon time limitations on each section. For each of their several sections, the debaters were given at least a week to analyze, script and record their entries before submitting it to their opponent.� Each submission, has been edited together in the agreed upon order for your listening interest.� As one speaker ends, the next will follow without interruption.
For the second part of our "Winter of Morality" series, Dr. Galen examines the psychological factors that make a deontological (rule-based) approach to morality more appealing to most religious people than a consequentialist approach. Meta-ethical questions aside, does adopting a deontological perspective over a utilitarian ethic actually make any difference in real-world measures of moral behavior? According to new studies it might. Fundamentalists, for example, tend to adhere rigidly to a rule-based moral code and in some instances may act on their convictions more than their liberal counterparts. But as you've guessed, the devil is always in the details. Also on this episode: the Pope is Time's person of the year, the ACLU sues Catholic Bishops and a Polyatheism segment delves into the bizarre and adorable beasts of Japanese mythology.
Ken 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.
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?
After 25 years of ministry, Pentecostal preacher turned atheist, Jerry Dewitt, finds himself behind the pulpit once again. He's still singing, teaching and calling upon his congregation to share testimonials...but this is no ordinary "church." The Community Mission Chapel, where Dewitt now serves, spreads a humanist message to a congregation of atheists. But do atheists really need a church? Dewitt joins us in the studio to tell us about his church, the challenges of ministering to atheists and to share his thoughts on why some skeptics desire a more traditional form of fellowship. Also on the episode: sorry, but Jesus was not made up by the Roman aristocracy no matter what biblical pseudo-scholar Joseph Atwill tells you. We'll tell you why for this episodes Skeptics Sunday School.
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".
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.
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"
This debate was not a live debate, rather it was a series of audio exchanges that took place through the months of June and July of 2013. The exchanges were according to agreed upon time limitations on each section. For each of their several sections, the debaters were given at least a week to analyze, script and record their entries before submitting it to their opponent. Each submission, has been edited together in the agreed upon order for your listening interest. As one speaker ends, the next will follow without interruption.20 minutes were allowed to each debater for opening statements.Followed by 20 minutes to each for first rebuttals. Then 15 minutes to each for a second round of rebuttals.Then 5 minutes to each for closing statements.Arguing in the affirmative is Max Andrews. In the negative, Justin Schieber. Max Andrews is senior writer and public relations administrator for Reasonable Faith with William Lane Craig but, just to be clear, he is NOT representing either entity in this debate. He has a BS in Religion specializing in Biblical Studies and an MA in Philosophical Studies from Liberty University. His primary research is on the fine-tuning argument for the existence of God as it relates to multiverse scenarios. Max has two papers in the Cornell University History and Philosophy of Physics pre-print archive on Albert Einstein and scientific theology as well as the relationship between scientific realism and epistemology. He has also written a review in the Midwestern Journal of Theology on Molinism, which concerns the relationship between divine omniscience, human freedom, and providence. Last November he coauthored a paper on God and the multiverse with David Beck, which was presented at the Evangelical Philosophical Society's annual conference in Milwaukee. Additionally, in 2010 Max studied at the Discovery Institute's Center for Science and Culture in Seattle, Washington. Max has been a member of Phi Sigma Tau, the National Honors Society for Philosophy, and was an officer for the Philosophy Club and Ratio Christi during his graduate studies. This summer Max and his wife, Leah, will be moving to the University of Edinburgh in Scotland to begin his PhD in Philosophy under Alasdair Richmond. His dissertation will be on the fine-tuning of nomic behavior in multiverse scenarios and the ontology of the many worlds interpretation of quantum physics. Max maintains a blog at sententias.org. Justin Schieber is Co-Host of Reasonable Doubts, the radio show and Podcast.Reasonable Doubts wants to thank Max Andrews for his participation in this debate and wishes him well as he continues his education at the University of Edinburgh
This RD extra features a lecture by Luke Galen "A Skeptical Review of Religious Prosociality" delivered to CFI Michigan June 26th 2013
It is often suggested that religion leads individuals to be more prosocial, that is, more cooperative, generous, friendly, and happy. A commonly held belief is that "religion makes better neighbors". However, a closer examination of the research supporting these claims yields important qualifications to this relationship. Dr. Galen will offer some common examples of these types of studies and invite the audience to ask critical questions regarding the types of conclusions that can be drawn from the "religion makes you good" literature.
How can one accept the Bible at face value but reject the Quran's teachings? How can one accept Christian miracles as evidence but reject Hindu miracles? John Loftus, author of the Christian Delusion and God or Godless, joins us on the show to discuss the Outsider Test For Faith, which challenges believers to thoughtfully consider why they reject the claims of other religions and then apply the same critical standards to their own beliefs. Also on the show, its the Gospel of Superman! Why has Hollywood decided to promote the latest superhero film specifically to evangelical churches? And for God Thinks Like You, can just thinking about Superman turn you into a hero? All that plus a polytheism that is , quite frankly, a little twisted.
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.
Last month Justin Schieber was invited by Etcetera (Etcetera.org) to Traverse City, Michigan to debate/discuss with Scott Smith (TCApologetics.org) the �Status of God in the 21st Century�. The lively discussion touched on a wide range of topics from moral intuitions to the strength of positing a God as an explanation. For video of the debate go to www.doubtcast.org
Would 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 apostles 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.
Jesus 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 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.
Today most Americans have never heard of Robert Green Ingersoll but in the 19th century he was considered one of the greatest orators of his age. Known as "the Great Agnostic", Ingersoll criticized religion and championed progressive political causes with great ferocity, wit and humor. Though his writings are controversial even by today's standards his personal charm was so disarming that people would travel miles for a chance to hear him speak. Susan Jacoby, author of Freethinkers and the Age of American Unreason joins us to talk about her new biography of Ingersoll and to illuminate how his courage and integrity continues to inspire to this day. Also on this episode: Unlike Ingersoll, Pope Francis seems to have more charm than courage and the doubtcasters enjoy a hearty "I told you so" moment thanks to a new study on the impact of free will/ determinism belief on ones larger worldview.
For this RD Extra, we give you a lengthy debate on the existence of the Christian god. Arguing in the affirmative is apologist Jared Orme of Conversion Points Radio and in the negative, Justin Schieber. Reasonable Doubts wants to thank Jared for the time and effort he put into this exchange
Celebrate 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 resign? 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 humanism in the western world.
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 and biblically 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.
When 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.
Don'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!
Why 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 supreame 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.
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.
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.
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.
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"
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?
Some atheists have argued that children are naturally non-believers. Were it not for indoctrination at the hands of parents and clergy children would never pick up supernatural beliefs on their own and religion would wither and die. But a growing body of research in developmental psychology suggests just the opposite. Children have a natural inclination to believe in invisible, immortal, super-knowing agents who are responsible for design in the natural world. For this first part in a series on the evolved origins of religious belief the doubtcasters review two books (Justin Barrett's Born Believers and Jesse Berring's the Belief Instinct) which make the case that religious belief is not only natural--it is almost inevitable.
This RD Extra features a lecture by David Fletcher, delivered to CFI Michigan on July 11th 2012
There are many lessons we can learn from the myths of ancient and modern cultures, ranging from the profound to the absurd. In this presentation we will explore the mythologies of various cultures around the world and get to know some of the many gods and goddesses worth not believing in.
For many religious believers the most compelling evidence for theism is their own personal experience of God's presence. Christians in the rapidly growing charismatic "renewalist" movement do not just talk to God. They claim to actually hear God talking back. Are these powerful religious experiences evidence that God really exists or are they the result of mental illness? Anthropologist Tanya Luhrmann, author of When God Talks Back, offers another explanation: such experiences arise naturally when spiritual communities learn to train and enhance their natural capacity for imagination. She joins us on the show to talk about what she observed while studying members of the renewalist Vineyard Church. Also in this episode: just how much government revenue is lost due to religious tax exemptions and direct subsides to churches? The answer will shock you. Plus, a counter-apologetics on Richard Swinburne's argument from religious experience and a new pollyatheism.
Members of the Southern Baptist Convention are denouncing the aggressive "new Calvinists" who have infiltrated their ranks and insist on pushing the belief that God predestined some people to hell long before the first human sinned. You know what that means? IT's TULIP TIME! Join us as the doubtcasters give a skeptical overview of the five points of Calvinism (also known as T.U.L.I.P.) and explain why the SBC objects to these doctrines. But new Calvinists are not the only ones making news in the American south... hear from gay hating preachers, snake-handlers, and mega-church cult leaders for the first (and possibly the last) installment of a new segment�WHEN SOUTHERN PREACHERS ATTACK! Also, more on the link between atheism and autism, plus William Lane Craig grapples with determinism for this weeks counter-apologetics segment.
Last April, secularist author Susan Jacoby and Christian apologist Dinesh D'Souza debated each other over the question, "Is Christianity Good for American Politics?" While Jacoby's argument was more accurate, D'Souza employed a host of logical fallacies and historical inaccuracies to gain a rhetorical edge. For this RD Extra, doubtcaster Jeremy Beahan joins Ed Brayton of Culture Wars Radio for some in-depth post-debate analysis.
Over the past several years a number of studies have been published which purport to show the psychological benefits of religious belief. These studies are often plagued by shoddy design, inadequate controls and overreliance on self-report data--yet even the most careful skeptics can overlook these mistakes. For this episode Dr. Galen explains 10 of the most common errors to watch for in psychology of religion research. Also, for this episode we examine contradictions in the story of Judas, the disciple who betrayed Jesus, and we take a look at Thor for another polyatheism segment.
Numerous passages in both the Old and New Testaments depict God as a being who actively engages in deception but apologist Joel Furches claims that these passages, seen in their proper context, reveal a God that never deceives--He simply allows sinful people to reap the consequences of their own lack of faith. A careful examination of the Bible, however, shows a God that is willing to use deception as an instrument for advancing his plan on earth. For this episode's installment of God Thinks Like You we examine more evidence that links religious faith to an intuitive style of thinking while skepticism correlates with an analytic style of thought. We also take a look at politics in Egypt in the wake of the Arab spring and find that, while the overall picture looks grim, there may still be reason for hope. Remembering that women have the most to lose from an Islamic theocracy in Egypt, we close the episode by recounting the mythology of Egypt's powerful goddess Isis--the subject of this weeks Polyatheism
The Doubtcasters would like to thank all the RD fans from around the world who took part in our live 100th episode special. Your questions, stories and insights made this milestone for the show that much more special. But if you didn�t get a chance to listen, it's all here. Does Jesus fulfill the biblical requirements for being the Jewish Messiah? Does the bible condone the beating slaves? What are the worst arguments you've ever heard for the existence of God? Why do atheists care what religious people believe? We attempt to answer these questions and many more, and in doing so we show once again that when it comes to the claims of religion there are plenty of reasonable doubts.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints remains largely mysterious to those of us on the outside. With the help of three former Mormons, we explore the history, rituals and beliefs of the LDS including proxy baptisms for the dead, racial issues, mission trips, and a theology more uncomfortable than any "magical underwear."
Also, Rick Santorum's comments about the separation of church and state make us want to throw up and in God Thinks Like You we look at recent claims by Santorum and others that colleges are nothing but liberal atheist factories.
According to the Transcendental Argument For God (TAG), the principles of Logic, inductive science and morality all depend on the existence the Christian God. In the second part of RD's series on presuppositional apologetics the doubtcasters offer direct challenges to the soundness of the transcendental argument for God as well as several internal critiques of Christianity which show the Christian worldview to be incoherent.
Most Christian apologists attempt to persuade the skeptic by offering rational arguments for theism. Proof of theism may be possible, they argue, but even if it is not multiple lines of evidence support the reasonableness of the Christian worldview. Presusppositional Apologetics abandons this approach. There is no neutral ground, they say, from which the theist and atheist can argue their claims. Gods existence cannot be proven. We must believe in Him, however, if the world is to make sense at all. According to the Transcendental Argument For God (TAG), the principles of Logic and science both depend on the existence the Christian God. Atheism is a self-refuting belief because one must presuppose theism to even argue against it. For the first episode of this series the doubtcasters present an overview of Presuppositional Apologetics and discuss strategies that atheists should avoid when attempting to counter their claims. For part 2 of the series the doubtcasters will present several challenges to TAG and Presuppositionalism more generally. Also on this episode: creationism bill in Indiana, Amish renegade Johnny Mulet goes on a beard-shaving rampage, a new Pollyatheism and more.
Fresh from a month long break the doubtcasters return do discus some of the stories they missed while away. The U.S. supreme court has ruled that religious groups have a "ministerial exception" from anti-discrimination laws. We discuss how this ruling might effect those working for religious institutions. Meanwhile, Catholic Charities are closing their doors because they are no longer permitted to receive government funds while discriminating against same-sex couples seeking to adopt children. Hardware superstore Lowes panders to Christian bigots who insist there is no such thing as an "All-American Muslim" even though recent studies suggest otherwise. For this week's God Thinks Like You segment we discuss how secular authority can fill that "God shaped hole" in your life and in Counter-Apologetics we debunk the "King James Bible only" crowd as our belated tribute to the 400th anniversary of that historic document. We end with props for anti-fundamentalist protests in Israel and Jessica Ahlquist who recently succeeded in getting a religious banner removed from her high school.
Those who reject religion go by many names; atheist, agnostic, skeptic, freethinker, secular humanist--but please do not call us "unbelievers." If you ask you will find there are many things we believe in. We believe that the natural world , as revealed through science, is more beautiful and inspiring than any mythology. But a world without the supernatural also confronts us with disturbing possibilities. If there is no God then the human story comes with no guarantee of a happy ending. Humanity must solve it's own problems but it's not at all clear we are up to the task. If there is hope, it will be found in those who reject the hollow consolations of faith and choose to press on instead of hoping for a miracle. By living with courage and integrity, pursuing truth for truth's sake, we can make our lives and our world significant.
Breaking his silence on the subject of religion after more than a year, a former apologist, conservative activist and Christian radio show host discusses his rejection of religion in this exclusive interview. Jeremiah Bannister has served as a preacher, worked with anti-gay groups, been a presuppositionalist, Calvinist, sedevacantist, and soon will be returning to the airwaves in his new role as a freethinking secularist. Hear his story in this exclusive interview with Reality Check/ Reasonable Doubts.
The Doubtcasters take a look at Ray Comfort's film "180" that equates a woman's right to choose with the atrocities of the Holocaust. In God Thinks Like You, Dr. Prof. Luke discusses a new study that finds people view atheists as being as untrustworthy as rapists. The Aztec god Huitzilopochtli will rip your heart out in PolyAtheism. Plus, Obama doesn't acknowledge God in his Thanksgiving address, the Catholic Church goes old school and we answer listener questions about how to deal with the ridiculous and how to find comfort in atheism.
Who says you can't serve both God and Money? Certainly not the 17% of American Christians who believe in the Prosperity Gospel. They think God will reward their faithfulness with great material wealth and a clean bill of health. Millionaire evangelists like Joyce Myer and Joel Osteen offer tips to help you "manifest" Gods blessings in your life by cultivating a positive attitude, banishing self-defeating thoughts and meditating daily on God's desire for you to live an abundant life. But according to Barbara Ehrenreich, it's no coincidence that the prosperity gospel resembles "the power of positive thinking" more than it does the bible. In Blindsided: How Positive Thinking Is Undermining America Ehrenreich highlights the striking similarities between prosperity preachers and secular self-help gurus while tracing both back to a common ancestor.
While on tour promoting his new book "The Magic of Reality" Richard Dawkins found himself banned from a book signing at a Detroit area country club after the owner learned that Dawkins was an atheist. Dawkins called the last-minute cancelation of the event an act of "sheer bigotry" but some insist that a privately owned business has the right to refuse service to atheists. Jennifer Beahan, the assistant director for the Center For Inquiry Michigan, joins us on the show to explain how the law does not allow discrimination against the non-religious and why CFIMI will be filing a lawsuit against the club. Meanwhile the American Cancer Society has also banned the atheist charity Foundation Beyond Belief from joining their "Relay for Life" even though the foundation was planning to raise over half a million dollars for the event. Also on this episode: Richard Dawkins explains why he will not debate apologist William Lane Craig; The connection between intuitive thinking styles and religious belief is explored on this weeks "God Thinks Like You" segment and we examine the "Outsider Test for Faith" proposed by John Loftus in The Christian Delusion.
Leaving religion can be difficult. It may lead to conflicts with family and friends and the loss of social support--and the more one is involved the deeper the loss. Clergy who silently doubt often feel trapped in a double life. They cannot continue to preach with conviction but they have come to depend on their congregations for financial support. Admitting their doubt could mean losing everything. Ex-minister Dan Barker, (co-president of the Freedom From Religion Foundation and author of the Good Atheist) knows first hand the challenges faced by atheists in the pulpit. He joins us to talk about The Clergy Project--an online support network for ministers who have begun to question the faith. Also on this episode: We discuss the physical cost of leaving groups like the Jehovah's Witnesses on this weeks "God Thinks Like You." Doubtcaster Justin Scheeber takes on William Lane Craig for this weeks Counterapologetics and Fletch brings us a tribute to the Valkyries for a new Polyatheism segment.
For the second part of RD's Summer Genocide Series the doubtcasters ask what turn to recent findings in archeology which indicate that the genocides in the book of Joshua probably never took place. But if the conquest of Canaan is just legend, what was the real reason for the fall of Canaanite civilization? Where did the ancient Israelites originate and how did the come to occupy that region? And why would the Bible's writers invent the conquest narratives if these events never really happened? Also on this episode: Michele Bachmann provides the doubtcasters with a "target rich environment", plus new "God Thinks Like You" and Pollyatheism segments.
Ten years have passed since the 9/11 attacks but a large number of Americans still have negative impressions of Muslims. While much of this distrust seems to be related to political ideology and misinformation in the media there are also deeper psychological forces at work. For many Christians, simply reading a passage of the Koran (or Richard Dawkins "The God Delusion") triggers feelings of physical disgust. Atheists are the only other group that face the same kind of popular distrust. That is why the Center For Inquiry is launching a new billboard campaign aimed at challenging negative stereotypes of atheists. The doubtcasters share the local reaction when one of those billboards went up in their hometown of Grand Rapids, MI. Also on this episode: another installment of Polyatheism and some obligatory reflections on the September 11th attacks.
RD kicks off it's "Summer Genocide Series" with a critical review of Paul Copan's book "Is God a Moral Monster?" Copan argues that the holy war waged against the Canaanites was not the blood-soaked genocide that critics of the Bible make it out to be . It was a limited, relatively humane campaign that was morally and spiritually justified. Thom Stark disagrees. He's written a massive point-by-point refutation of Copan's book entitled "Is God a Moral Compromiser?" We'll take a look at Copan's arguments and Stark's response for this weeks Counter-apologetics segment. Also on this episode: the doubtcasters discuss the religion and politics of Anders Breivik and for a new segment of "God Thinks Like You" we share new data which proves fundamentalists are kind and helpful--except towards people who are different from them.
This episode features the lecture "Deceived Into Thinking: Teaching Students to Think Critically Through The Study of Deception" presented by Jeremy Beahan to CFI Michigan on May 11th, 2011
After trying (unsuccessfully) to get young students excited about learning informal logic, Jeremy Beahan began flirting with a different strategy. Perhaps a better way to convey the value of fair-minded/ critical thinking would be through the study of its intellectual opposite � deception. This simple idea had a surprisingly strong impact on how students engaged with the material.
Instead of endlessly rehearsing procedures for analyzing arguments, students delight in examining real "case studies in deception"-- everyday instances of fraud, distortion, manipulation,self-deceptio?n and group think. Through class activities and assignments students can imaginatively step into the role of the deceiver by learning how to fake psychic powers, perform classic street-cons or twist logic in order to defeat an opponent. Also, when students witness the harm done to individuals and society by deception they can come to see the value of thinking skeptically and work to expose deception in their own community.
The design argument may be the most intuitively appealing argument for the existence of God. Creationists often point to organs such as the human eye as examples of complex systems that could not have arisen by chance. But take a closer look at nature and one will find several instances of "unintelligent design"--design flaws which reveal the blind processes of natural selection at work. For this episode Justin Schieber kicks the design argument in crotch when he brings the debate over design into the arena of human reproductive biology. Also in this episode: Will rejecting belief in free will make you a bad person? We'll look at the latest attempt to discredit determinism for a new installment of "God Thinks Like You" plus Dr. Galen gives his book review of "American Grace" and Zeus makes his debut on Polyatheism.
Hemant Mehta (author of the friendly atheist blog) was only looking to expand his horizons and raise a little money for a local freethinking student group when he came up with the idea that made him a media sensation. He started a page on Ebay where he offered to attend the church of the highest bidder. Stories quickly spread in the media of an atheist "selling his soul" on ebay, which drove the bid higher and higher. Soon Mehta was traveling across the country visiting different churches to make good on his commitment. These church visits became the basis of his book "I Sold My Soul on eBay"--which gave Christians a chance to see church through the eyes of a friendly but critical atheist. For this episode Hemant joins us in the studio to talk about what he saw and how Christian readers reacted to his book.
Life isn't always fair. Sometimes good people suffer needlessly while immoral people prosper. Nevertheless belief in a just world persists. Deep within the human psyche is a strong urge to believe people get what they deserve and while this mentality may bring some comfort to the individual it can also result in victim blaming or turning a blind eye toward real injustice. Unfortunately religion often bolsters just world belief--especially when the believer is forced to reconcile the idea of a righteous God with the reality of suffering. Also on this episode: the doubtcasters remember Jack Kevorkian and argue in favor of allowing physician assisted suicide; the Myan goddess of suicide and a stranger than fiction that will make you loose your head.
On May 22nd, 2011 dozens of people will be disappointed to find that the world is still spinning, hundreds of billboards across the world will look ridiculous and Harold Camping will struggle to find an explanation for how he could have gotten it wrong once again. Yes, yet another "Judgement Day" draws nigh. The Doubtcasters take the opportunity to discuss end of the world prophecies past and present and what happens to the true believers when their dreams of leaving us behind are inevitably dashed. In counter-apologetics Justin takes on the moral argument from a new perspective and asks the question: If Yahweh is so moral, how come people like Abraham and Moses need to remind him to do the right thing? Then in God Thinks Like You, Luke looks at a study that reveals how your view of God affects your moral choices. We offer Props to yet another godless institute of higher learning and making the Shit list is a Southern Baptist minister playing a part in a case of anti-gay international parental kidnapping.
The Biblical account of the Jewish slavery in and exodus from Egypt is regarded by many as a historical fact, give or take a few miracles. But what does modern archaeology have to say on the subject? We dive into the evidence (or lack their of) for this ancient tale.
Luke and Justin take on recent criticisms concerning the roots for morality and the sacrificial practices of ancient Jews and early Christians. Dave takes a look at another springtime resurrection god in a PolyAtheism segment and the doubtcasters discuss Terry Jones trip to Michigan, a "miraculously healed" child, and some people in the Philippines who take their Easter celebrations very serisously. Also, more bad news and some potentially good news out of the on-going Catholic sex abuse scandal
This RD Extra features a lecture by Luke Galen entitled The Roots of Morality: Does Religion Play a Role or is the Tail Wagging the Dog. Video of the presentation and a pdf file of Luke's lecture slides are available at www.doubtcast.org
In this presentation, Dr. Galen, PhD, Associate Professor of Psychology at Grand Valley State University, will consider the root of morality and pro-social behavior. Are we kind and considerate of others because religion creates a set of rules and "commandments" or are these behaviors a natural result of our evolutionary need to live in community? Dr. Galen will also cover related topics such as why humans construct religions and how religion can create prejudicial beliefs and behaviors.
West Michigan's own Rob Bell has a new book out entitled Love Wins: A Book About Heaven, Hell and the Fate of Every Person Who Has Ever Lived. The Doubtcasters take the opportunity to revisit Bell's "theology," and take a look at just what it means, historically, to go to Hell. We also discuss a new study which draws the not-so-new conclusion that Yahweh had a wife.
The DoubtCasters take on some of the most bizarre stories in the news recently, including the latest Catholic sex scandal (not what you expect), the latest anti-gay crusader's sex scandal (exactly what you'd expect), the Supreme Court, Fort Bragg, and beyond. Plus, liberal use of the word "booty."
In Skeptic's Sunday School Justin takes a look at Jesus' role as a sacrificial lamb. And in God Thinks Like You, Dr. Prof. Luke offers up props to other researchers who think like him and addresses a listener question about Terror Management Theory. We close out the episode with a PolyAtheistic look at the Titan Prometheus and his sacrificial liver.
In his book Faith of the Fatherless, Dr. Paul Vitz explains that atheism is the result of weak, absent or abusive fathers. Dr. Prof. Luke debunks Vitz's 'theory' through the wily use of actual research. In counter-apologetics, Justin offers desire utilitarianism as one approach to morality. And Fletch introduces us to a Celtic love god in PolyAtheism.
Also in this episode: Props in Australia and Hawaii, a Stranger Than Fiction that'll help our single fans find like minded dates. And, we open up the Doubtcast Mail Bag and read some of your comments and questions.
First we take a look at XXXChurch.com�s latest attempt to dress puritanical sexual politics in a slutty outfit. Then, we take a look at recent events in Egypt and discuss whether or not we should be afraid of Glenn Beck�s Muslim Caliphate taking over the world.
In response to listener comments from our previous episode, we take a look at Sarah Palin�s idiocy and look at the data about the claim that the American political Left is just as bad in its violent rhetoric as the Right.
In our counter-apologetics segment, Justin Schieber schools apologist William Lane Craig on why there�s something rather than nothing.
We wrap up this week with another adventure in the world of PolyAtheism as Fletch tells us the story of Enki, Mesopotamian god of mischief, water and incestuous rape.
Getting into debates over religion can be frustrating and people rarely ever change their minds. So why bother? What would an atheist possibly hope to achieve by debating religious apologists? Justin Schieber has had plenty of time to ponder those questions. He represents the atheist viewpoint for a monthly debate series called "A Christian and an Atheist walk into a Coffee Shop." For this episode the doubtcasters are joined by Justin for a roundtable discussion on the joys and frustrations of debate. Also on this episode: the latest development in the Catholic child-abuse scandal and inspiring proof that moderate Muslims do exist.
With exiting new developments in stem cell research hitting the media, we thought it would be a great time to revisit the science behind the controversy. Is stem cell therapy really the panacea it's advocates claim it to be? How is an embryonic stem cell different from an adult stem cell and is experimentation on embryos really necessary? For this RD extra, Dr. Greg Forbes gives us an overview of the current state of stem cell research.
*The doubtcasters want to thank loyal RD fans for their patience during our recent unannounced hiatus. Look for regular shows to resume within the next week.
This extra was recorded at the Carl Sagan Day 2010 celebration hosted by the CFI On Campus group at Grand Valley State University. Doubtcasters Luke Galen and Jeremy Beahan share their respect for Carl Sagan with two short presentations. Luke talks about Sagan's "baloney detection kit" and Jeremy shares his favorite passages from Sagan's 1985 Gifford lecture series on natural theology.
A broad secular education can undermine dogmatic religious faith. Knowing this many conservative Christians choose to isolate their children intellectually through homeschooling or enrolling them in religious private schools and Christian colleges. Such children can reach adulthood without ever being challenged to think critically about their religious or political beliefs. In some cases they are recruited directly from Christian colleges into republican politics for that very reason. For this episode the doubtcasters examine this process of indoctrination and argue that it is a threat public education as well. Also on this episode: the religious right's reaction to the U.S. midterm election results and a counter-apologetics segment debunking "beatific vision" theodicies. We also introduce and a brand new segment on mythology called "polyAtheism"
America is one of the most devout nations in the west but it also has one of the lowest levels of religious literacy. According to the U.S. Religious Knowledge Survey published by the Pew Research Center most Americans cannot correctly answer simple questions about their own faith. But America was not always this way�what changed? Stephen Prothero attempts to answer this question in his book "Religious Literacy". For this episode the doubtcasters discuss the Pew Survey and offer a short synopsis and critique of Prothero's ideas. Also on this episode: the fundamentalist response the recent string of gay suicides, the Crystal Cathedral goes bankrupt and a renegade Christian filmmaker discovers the founder's dark secret.
On October 7'th Jeremy Beahan debated Cliff Knechtle (of Give Me an Answer Ministries) on the question "Is Christianity Rational." The debate covered the following topics: the existence of God, the historical reliability of the gospels and the historicity of the resurrection. The debate was organized by Epic: the college ministry of Riverview Church in Lansing. Chuck Wynn moderated the debate.
While the doctrines of early Buddhism were pragmatic, skeptical and humanistic it did not take long for Buddhism to acquire the familiar trappings of an organized religion. Just a few hundred years after the Buddha's death many of his followers began to teach that the Buddha was not an ordinary human but rather a supernatural being living in a celestial realm. Mahayana Buddhists believed that they too could acquire supernatural powers by earning merit and becoming Bodhisattvas. How did Buddhism stray so far from the teachings of its founder? What happens when western converts to Buddhism start to question its metaphysical assumptions? Stephen Batchelor, former Buddhist monk and author of "Confession of a Buddhist Atheist", answers these questions and makes the case that Buddhism must become secularized if it is to remain relevant in our modern world.
For this, the second in a three part series on Buddhism, the doubtcasters turn their attention to the Noble Eightfold Path and its emphasis on mental discipline. While some meditation techniques aim at achieving deep trance-like states, Vipassana or "mindfulness" meditation is relatively free of mysticism. The goal of mindfulness is to carefully observe every aspect of ones experience in order to break free from habitual patterns of thought and behavior which cause suffering. In recent years, mindfulness has become popular in western therapeutic circles. Many insist that meditation is an effective treatment for a variety of mental health problems including depression and anxiety disorders. Is there any solid data to support these claims or is mindfulness meditation just the latest fad in a long series of pseudoscientific psychotherapies?
Stephen Batchelor, author of "Confession of a Buddhist Atheist" joins us for the first installment of a three part series on Buddhism. Batchelor, a former monk in both the Tibetan and Zen traditions, was trained by monks in the Dali Lama's inner circle. Over time he began to doubt many core doctrines of Buddhism when he found they could not withstand the test of reason. This crisis of faith prompted him to closely examine the earliest Buddhist texts. In them he found a very different conception of the Buddha and his teachings--one that is surprisingly humanistic. Also in this episode: the doubtcasters give a thumbnail sketch of the religious and social context of early Buddhism and a summery of Buddhist doctrines such as "the three marks of existence" and "the four noble truths".
Each year 2 million women worldwide are subjected to the practice of female circumcision, sometimes called "cutting" (we prefer the term Female Genital Mutilation). This brutal practice is not limited to the Islamic world. As many as 2,000 British school girls may be forced to undergo this horrific procedure over the summer. Apologists for Islam claim FGM is a cultural practice, not a religious requirement while some cultural relativists argue FGM is just a different way of celebrating womanhood and should not be condemned by western outsiders. By addressing these claims, the doubtcasters make their case that Religion may not be the sole source of sexism but it is the greatest obstacle in challenging patriarchy. Also on this episode: the overturning of California proposition 8 may set the stage for legalizing gay marriage nationwide. Also a new "stranger than fiction"
The following is a lecture entitled "Which Jesus: Examining Diffrences in the Gospel Narratives" by Jeremy Beahan recorded at CFI Michigan. A pdf file of the PowerPoint slides for this lecture is available at www.doubtcast.org
Christian apologists spend time and ink trying to smooth over the many contradictions within the Gospel narratives. But according to biblical critics, such discrepancies hold the key to understanding how stories of Jesus evolved. This lecture will examine some of the methods used in redaction criticism and the patterns they reveal when applied to the gospels.
Two decades ago David Berkowitz, the infamous "Son of Sam" serial killer, became a born-again Christian in what may be the most publicized jailhouse conversion of our time. For many his story proves religion's power to transform the lives of even the most hardened criminals. Today groups like Chuck Colson's Prison Fellowship Ministries aim to convert inmates while seeking public funds for their sectarian programs. But are these programs as successful at lowering recidivism rates as they claim? And are there any secular alternatives to such programs? Dr. Michael DeWilde, founder of the Community Working Classics Program, joins us to discuss the joys and challenges of teaching philosophy to prison inmates. Also on this episode: American evangelicals are meddling in foreign affairs from Uganda to Palestine; plus a new "Stranger Than Fiction"
Are Science and Religion compatible? The New Atheists argue that a proper understanding of science undermines faith. But according to atheists such as Chris Mooney (author of Unscientific America and host of CFI's podcast Point of Inquiry) not only are science and moderate religion compatible, but the uncompromising rhetoric and harsh tone of the New Atheists "can only damage the cause of scientific literacy." For this episode, the doubtcasters share their take on the "accommodationist" vs "confrontationist" debate. Also on this episode: a critical look at the Templeton Foundation and we look at the psychology of persuasion for a new installment of God Thinks Like You.
Forty years ago Ernest Becker theorized in his "Denial of Death" that our culture and our cherished worldviews serve the purpose of maintaining our self-esteem and sense of meaning in the face of inevitable death and insignificance. More recently a body of work in the social sciences called "Terror Management Theory" has lent empirical evidence to these provocative ideas. The unconscious anxiety about our own mortality has been linked to group conflict, aggression against those who challenge our worldview, denial of our animal nature including the theory of evolution, and the unreasonable belief that the world is predictable and just.
Through billions of years of evolution, small molecular machines have acquired an amazing range of abilities including the capacity to think, feel and change. For this episode the doubtcasters once again return to the subject of determinism--answering questions from our listeners about Jeremy's debate with Don Johnson. Also on this episode: a witch hunt in Nigeria targets young children, Muslims consider creative ways around Sharia law, and we'll explore the connection between atheism and Asperger's syndrome for this weeks installment of God Thinks Like You.
Recently the Don Johnson Radio show (a Christian apologetics podcast) devoted an episode to critiquing the doubtcaster's case for determinism (made in episodes 29, 30, 34). After several listeners of both shows asked for a follow up, Don Johnson graciously allowed Jeremy from RD to come on the show and clarify his position. The conversation generated "more heat than light" but we submit it for your listing (dis)pleasure.
Brian McLaren, evangelical author and leading voice in the "emergent church" movement, is creating controversy with his latest book "A New Kind of Christianity." Some evangelicals see McLaren as a wolf in sheep's clothing. He rejects the notion of a vengeful God that would punish all non-Christians with eternal torment. He questions traditional evangelical doctrines like original sin and the inerrancy of the Bible and he argues in favor of a number of (gasp!) progressive political causes. McLaren joins us on the show to discuss his perspective on Christianity and the Bible. Also in this episode: for a new installment of "God Thinks like You" we critique a recent Christianity Today article "the Case for Early Marriage" and discuss research regarding "blue state" vs. "red state" views on marriage and divorce.
Not content with attacking evolution, the Discovery Institute and its cultural allies are taking aim at psychology. Believing that any naturalistic approach to psychology is inherently biased against religion they seek to overturn the "materialist paradigm" in neuroscience and replace it with their own version of mind-body dualism. For the second part of a two part series, the doubtcasters are joined by Dr. Steven Novella, author of the Neurologica Blog and host of the Skeptic's Guide to the Universe. Novella refutes ID nonsense by showing how successful the naturalistic approach in neuroscience has been.