Show 510: Islamophobia, ISIS, Hamas, & the Politics of Empire

Islamophobia, ISIS, Hamas, & the Politics of Empire w/ Deepa Kumar

A few days ago marked the 13th anniversary of the attacks on America on September 11th, 2001. Among the still many unanswered questions concerning politics, religion, and the nature of global violence — at least for Americans and some Europeans — is what role Islam has played in all of this? That is, it is assumed Islam is different, somehow, from other major religions because it was founded as a warrior religion and seems to be immune to the liberalization process other religions tend to have gone through.

But of course, religion can not be separated from the people who practice it, and thus there have been many racial undertones and overtones to the debates. Even in the atheist and otherwise secular world, many condemn and blame Islam far more than they condemn and blame Western Imperialism, geopolitics, or economics… And this has once again taken hold of the Western imagination with the recent battle between Israel and Hamas, and the brutal actions of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, better known as ISIS.

Today, new host Abby Davenport, will discuss these topics with a guest who we’ve had the pleasure to talk with on Equal Time in the past, Deepa Kumar. Deepa Kumar is an Associate Professor of Media Studies at Rutgers University; and is affiliated faculty with Middle Eastern Studies and graduate faculty in the Sociology department. She is a public speaker and has spoken at dozens of university and community forums on a range of topics: Islamophobia, Political Islam, US foreign policy in the Middle East and South Asia, the Arab Spring, women and Islam etc. She has shared her expertise in numerous media outlets such as BBC, The New York Times, NPR, USA Today, Philadelphia Inquirer, St. Louis Post Dispatch, Hurriyat Daily News (Turkey), Al Jazeera and other national and international news media outlets.

Today we will be discussing current events in light of her latest book, Islamophobia and the Politics of Empire.

Show 506: Greta Christina on “The Atheist Condition”

Greta Christina on “The Atheist Condition”

On ETFF we have discussed religion, supernatural beliefs and atheism from a philosophical and political perspective. We have asked why people believe without evidence, what role religion plays in our political landscape, and what role does our political natures play in the sorts of religious teachings we accept or reject. And we have asked what the relationship is between religion and science.

But what we may not have talked about well enough may be the more personal aspects of atheism for the non-believer. Why is it so hard, even in 2014, for atheists in some parts of this country to discuss their belief — and not just in public, but even with friends and family? How does one “come out” as an atheist in perhaps the most religious nation in the developed world? Why is it important that atheists do come out, just as the LBGT community has learned over the last several decades? And when atheists DO come out and discuss their beliefs and express their ideas with the general public, why does it seem many believers find us to be obnoxious, arrogant, stubborn, and angry?

Greta Christina will discuss these questions and more with us in just a few moments.  Greta is a regular atheist correspondent for AlterNet, Free Inquiry, and The Humanist, and has been writing about atheism in her own “Greta Christina’s blog” since 2005. As a public speaker, she is part of the Speakers Bureau for the Secular Student Alliance and the Center for Inquiry.  Greta was a speaker on the Diversity in Skepticism panel at The Amaz!ng Meeting in July, 2011, the Reason Rally in 2012, and the 50th annual convention of American Atheists in 2013.

In that same year, she was named the International Team Honored Hero of the Foundation Beyond Belief (FBB). The Foundation’s teams raise money for The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. Greta received the 2013 LGBT Humanist Pride Award from the American Humanist Association.

Her two books we will be discussing with her today are Coming Out Atheist: How to do it, How to Held Each Other, and Why, and Why are you Atheists so Angry: 99 Things that Piss off the Godless.

Show 482: Lawrence M. Krauss on “The Unbelievers”

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Lawrence M. Krauss on “The Unbelievers”

Where did the universe come from? Is an intelligent creator necessary to have set the Big Bang in motion? Theoretical physicist & cosmologist Lawrence Krauss doesn’t think so, and neither says the scientific evidence.

Krauss laid out that evidence last year in his book,  “A Universe From Nothing: Why There Is Something Rather Than Nothing”, demonstrating that it’s at least possible for a universe to arise spontaneously out of nothing. He’s also been giving talks and participating in debates, promoting science and unbelief, and this year he features with Richard Dawkins in a new documentary film called “The Unbelievers”, in which they travel the country promoting unbelief.

Krauss returns to the show to discuss science, religion, the universe from nothing, and why it’s important to talk about and debate these things. He will also discuss his new film, and much more. Krauss is a theoretical physicist and cosmologist who is a professor of physics at Arizona State University, where he also serves as Foundation Professor of the School of Earth and Space Exploration and director of the Origins Project. He is most well known for his contributions to cosmology, as he was one of the first physicists to suggest that most of the mass and energy of the universe resides in empty space, an idea now widely known as dark energy.

Show 478: De-converting from Christianity, the Sensible Thing?

De-converting from Christianity, the Sensible Thing?

It’s one thing to realize that science contradicts the Bible in a lot of ways, that the bible contains a lot of immoral passages (slavery, anyone?), that some passages in the bible are even contradicted by other passages in the Bible. It’s quite another thing to take the next logical step and realize God is nonexistant altogether.  After all, maybe the Bible is just a collection of metaphors, an inspired book of wisdom not meant to be literal truth.  Maybe “God” is a primal being who set the universe in motion and then did nothing else; a God like that couldn’t possibly conflict with science.  Maybe there’s a true god out there, and all the different religions are only glimpsing pieces of divine truth.  Right?

Wrong.  It turns out there’s absolutely no good reason to believe in a God of any kind, Biblical or otherwise, no matter how little it directly contradicts science or how little immorality is contained in that God’s scripture.  Few understand this better than this week’s guest Matt Dillahunty, who was a fundamentalist Christian for 25 years of his life and sincerely believed in and enjoyed his religion and God, before becoming an outspoken atheist.  He’s been hosting the cable access show “The Atheist Experience” in Austin, Texas for the past six years, and served as the president of the Atheist Community of Austin for much of that time.  He also appears in formal debates with Christian apologists and on his own YouTube channel, discussing atheism.  He co-founded the “Iron Chariots” wiki with Russel Glasser, a fellow host on “The Atheist Experience”.

Dillahunty will discuss his experience going from Christian to atheist, why it doesn’t make sense to believe in a God or gods, why theistic arguments are largely based on fallacies, and much more.

Show 467: Attack of the Theocrats!

Attack of the Theocrats!

This Saturday, host Matthew LaClair will speak with Sean Faircloth, the author of “Attack of the Theocrats: How the Religious Right Harms Us All and What We Can Do About It.” Faircloth served for a decade as a state legislature (Maine), and later worked for the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science as the Director of Strategy and Policy and served as Executive Director for the Secular Coalition for America. We will talk about the effects of the religious right on America’s military, children, laws, education system, politics and more. With these concerns in mind, Faircloth presents a vision of a more secular America that provides true Constitutional religious equality among all citizens, both legally and socially.

Show 458: How to be Secular w/ Jacques Berlinerblau

How to be Secular w/ Jacques Berlinerblau

This Saturday, Matthew LaClair will interview Jacques Berlinerblau on his new book, How to Be Secular: A Call to Arms for Religious Freedom.  Berlinerblau is a professor at Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service and director of the Program for Jewish civilization.  He has written numerous books, is a regular contributor to the Washington Post’s “On Faith” column, and hosts the podcast “Faith Complex.”  In the book How to Be Secular, Berlinerblau enlightens readers on the realities of secularism, covering its intriguing and complex historical roots and trajectory, and its immense challenges.  He argues for increased cooperation among theists and non-theists, less focus on an absolute separation of church and state, and for a nuanced and informed approach to tackling the Religious Right “Revivalists.”

Show 441: David Niose on his new book, Nonbeliever Nation: The Rise of Secular Americans

David Niose on his new book, Nonbeliever Nation: The Rise of Secular Americans

David Niose advocates for an identity-oriented approach to secular activism to raise awareness of the secular demographic in American society. Using the LGBT movement as a model, Niose argues that by “coming out” and asserting rights as a minority group, nonbelievers can similarly gain acceptance. Critical of the Religious Right, Niose argues progressive policy goals will be difficult or impossible to attain without the secular demographic in America asserting itself. David has served since 2009 as president of the American Humanist Association, an organization that promotes humanism, and defends the rights of humanists and other non-theistic Americans is the author of Nonbeliever Nation: The Rise of Secular Americans.

Show 416: Promoting African-American Humanism

Promoting African-American Humanism

It is generally understood that the struggle of Black Americans to overcome the numerous obstacles to freedom and empowerment that has been placed in their way has always been supported by their unwavering faith, and by the Black Church.   But this is only part of the story.   Black Americans also have a long and rich secular tradition that continues in the present day groups like the Harlem Humanists.

To report on what the Harlem Humanists have been doing, as well as telling us about some of their upcoming plans, we will be joined by Leighann Lord and Ayanna Watson, as well as one of the core group organizers of the Harlem Humanists, Michael Lightsmith.

Questions we’ll try to address will include:

1.   What types of experiences does a group like Harlem Humanists offer their fellow Blacks and other persons of color?

2.   Is it likely that they can attract people who are used to community experiences that are much more emotionally dynamic and intense – with  “call and answer,” singing, gestulating, and cathartic emotional outbursts?

3.   Can the naturalistic approach become widely accepted if it is conveyed and practiced solely with an intellectual approach?

4.   What can be done to make the naturalistic approach more relevant and inspiring so that more come to realize the profound utility of naturalism.

Show 383: Paul Kurtz: Humanist

Paul Kurtz: Humanist

It has a long history dating back to the Renaissance, picked up steam during the Enlightenment and the Scientific Revolution, and became the umbrella philosophy for atheists, agnostics, skeptics and other freethinkers during the 20th Century. Does humanism have a voice for the 21st Century? Can we trace the evolu…tion of this rich philosophical outlook to today and shape a neo-humanistic worldview which could speak to the challenges – both intellectual and spiritual – of what could be either the most disastrous or most prosperous century for human kind?  Saturday, we will be speaking to one of the founders of 20th Century humanism, and key figure in the Secular Humanist movement, Dr. Paul Kurtz.

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Show 382: Secular Art W/ Global Perspective w/ Aladdin Ullah

This week, Aladdin Ullah will perform excerpts of his one-man show, Indio, which follows his travels from his childhood home in the projects of Harlem to the childhood home of his parents in Bangladesh.  This surprisingly hilarious show deals with the ache of displacement, the contrasts as well as the commonalities of oppressed people on different sides of the globe, and a unique perspective on religion as it takes shape in different cultures.

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