Show 250: Actress/Comedienne Julia Sweeney!

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Best known to audiences as the androgynous, nerdy “Pat” from Saturday Night Live, where she was a cast member from 1990 to 1994, Julia Sweeney actually began her comedy career as an accountant, of all things. Working as a numbers-cruncher for Columbia Pictures in the mid-’80s, Sweeney ignored her degree in economics to pursue comedy. In 1986, she joined the Groundlings, the famous L.A. improvisational troupe that also produced success stories like Conan O’Brien and Lisa Kudrow.

Quentin Tarantino cast her in 1994 in a small role opposite Harvey Keitel in his Oscar-winning film Pulp Fiction. Tarantino then executive-produced what was arguably the most important work of Sweeney’s career: “God Said, Ha!,” a film version of her one-woman Broadway show detailing her “cancer year,” in which she and her now-deceased brother Mike battled the deadly disease. Sweeney has also appeared on the big screen in Clockstoppers, Whatever It Takes, and Stuart Little. In 2004, Sweeney co-starred in two episodes of Frasier and had a guest role on Sex and the City. Sweeney’s 1993 impression of Chelsea Clinton caused somewhat of a stir when Hillary Clinton found it offensive and sent an angry letter to Studio 8H.

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Show 242: Chris Hedges

Chris Hedges Doesn’t Believe in Atheists!

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From the Publisher:

From the New York Times bestselling author of American Fascists and the NBCC finalist for War Is a Force That Gives Us Meaning comes this timely and compelling work about the “new atheists”, those who attack religion to advance the worst of global capitalism, intolerance and imperial projects.

Chris Hedges, who graduated from seminary at Harvard Divinity School, has long been a courageous voice in a world where there are too few. He observes that there are two radical, polarized and dangerous sides to the debate on faith and religion in America: the fundamentalists who see religious faith as their prerogative, and the “new atheists” who brand all religious belief as irrational and dangerous. Both sides use faith to promote a radical agenda, while the religious majority, those with a commitment to tolerance and compassion as well as to their faith, are caught in the middle.

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Show 241: Susan Jacoby, author of The Age of American Unreason

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With reading on the decline, scientific and historical illiteracy on the rise, and a mass media dedicated to the dumbing-down of our minds, it is crucial now more than ever to understand just how we got to this point and what we can do about it. This Sunday, Susan Jacoby will discuss her new book “The Age of American Unreason” to enlighten us on the aforementioned trends. Jacoby dissects a new cultural phenomenon at odds with our Enlightenment traditions that has at its core a disdain for logic and evidence, a triumphalist religious fundamentalism, a mediocre public education system (at best), and the triumph of infotainment. Jacoby’s analysis describes and points out this anti-intellectualism and anti-rationalism for what it is and what it has cost us as a society.

The Age of American Unreason is Susan Jacoby’s eighth book. Jacoby’s “Freethinkers: A History of American Secularism” (2004), was hailed in The New York Times as an “ardent and insightful work” that “seeks to rescue a proud tradition from the indifference of posterity.” Among her other books are “Wild Justice: The Evolution of Revenge,” a Pulitzer Prize finalist in 1984, and “Half-Jew: A Daughter’s Search for Her Family’s Buried Past.”

Show 203: Robert M. Price – The Reason Driven Life

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Pastor Rick Warren’s The Purpose-Driven Life has been both a commercially successful best seller and a widely influential book in the Christian community. As a rejoinder to the fundamentalist assumptions of Warren’s book, Robert M. Price, a biblical scholar, a member of the Jesus Seminar, and a former liberal Baptist pastor, offers this witty, thoughtful, and detailed critique.

Following the concise forty-chapter structure of Warren’s book, Price’s point-counterpoint approach emphasizes the importance of reason in understanding life’s realities as opposed to Warren’s devotional perspective.

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Show 200: Raymond Lotta – “Atheism & Politics”

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In 1843, Karl Marx captured the way that religion is both an escape for millions whose lives consist of daily exploitation and oppression and is a mental shackle that keeps masses from understanding and making revolution to overcome those conditions of oppression, in his now famous statement, “Religion is the opiate of the masses.”

This week on Equal Time for Freethought, Sunsara Taylor will talk with Raymond Lotta about the past experience and future prospects of Marxist revolutions. They will explore both how these revolutions have popularized a scientific understanding of the world and made strides in overcoming the conditions that drive people to seek comfort in religion and some of the shortcomings of this experience, in part through engaging some of the work of Bob Avakian on questions of religion, morality, the role of myth, and the importance of bringing millions into an unfettered search for the truth as part of emancipating all of humanity.
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Show 198: Victor Stenger

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Atheism has taken a turn toward the right, some have said, as writers like Sam Harris, Richard Dawkins and others have penned best-selling books on religion and faith which tend to see religion as the major problem in today’s society while leaving out politics and the economy. And while the Left ought to recognize the inherent dangers in religious fundamentalism, they also should understand the many complex reasons religion exists in the first place, and how fundamentalisms arise.

While on this program we have featured what some critics have dubbed the evangelical atheists in the past, we have also had folks like DS Wilson, Scott Atran, Robert Dreyfuss and Robert Pape on to take us deeper into the many facets of religion, its causes, and how we could begin to reign in the more dangerous verities.

Still, it is always useful to listen to anthropologists like Hector Avalos who cut to the roots of certain sorts of religious violence, and today’s guest, physicist Victor Stenger who takes a purely scientific view on the supernatural. Can science prove God does not, can not, exist? Many scientists, atheistic scientists in fact, disagree on the answer to this question.

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Show 173: David Mills

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From the Publisher:

Clear, concise, and persuasive, David MillsAtheist Universe: The Thinking Person’s Answer to Christian Fundamentalism details exactly why God is unnecessary to explain the universe and life’s diversity, organization, and beauty. The author thoroughly rebuts every argument that claims to “prove” God’s existence — arguments based on logic, common sense, philosophy, ethics, history and science.

Atheist Universe avoids the esoteric language and logic used by philosophers, and presents its scientific evidence in simple lay terms, making it a richly entertaining and easy-to-read introduction to atheism. A comprehensive primer, it addresses all the historical and scientific questions, including: Is there proof that God does not exist? What evidence is there of Jesus’ resurrection? Can creation science reconcile scripture with the latest scientific discoveries?

Atheist Universe also answers ethical issues such as: What is the meaning of life without God? It’s a spellbinding inquiry that ultimately arrives at a controversial and well-documented conclusion.

Show 155: Richard Carrier

Sense and goodness without God: A Defense of Metaphysical Naturalism w/ Richard Carrier

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“If God does not exist, then what does?  Is there good and evil, and should we care?  How do we know what’s true anyway?  And can we make any sense of this universe, or our own lives?

“Sense and Goodness without God: A Defense of Metaphysical Naturalism answers all these questions in lavish detail, without complex jargon.  A complete worldview is presented and defended, covering every subject from knowledge to art, from metaphysics to morality, from theology to politics.

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