Show 507: Patricia Churchland

Patricia Churchland: Touching a Nerve: The Self as Brain

The human experience, and the ‘self’, is so rich it must be produced by some transcendent being, some ultimate self that goes beyond the physical body, or so it is claimed.  How else can spiritual experience and deep emotion be explained?  Can they all be products of the brain?

It turns out that by studying the brain, scientists have gained profound understandings of much of human nature.  The brain really is capable of generating the rich, varied human experiences we call ‘spirituality’.  But that fact challenges our ideas about who and what we are.  If our ‘selves’ are “just” the product of some physical mechanism, even one as complex as the brain, are we really robust human beings?

Patricia Churchland, professor emerita at the University of California, San Diego, teaches neurophilosophy.  She’s accustomed to tackling the big philosophical questions with respect to the brain, and has become comfortable with the idea that our ‘selves’ really are our brains.  She’ll discuss these questions and more on this brain-twisting episode of ETFF!

Show 424: The Republican Brain w/ Chris Mooney

The Republican Brain w/ Chris Mooney

For the Equal Time for Freethought Spring Fund-Drive Special, we will be discussing science journalist Chris Mooney‘s new book, The Republican Brain: The Science of Why They Deny Science–and Reality.

Why do conservatives and Libertarians think differently than liberals and anarchists/socialists? Why do those on the Left seem ambiguous and often disunited or overly nuanced in their attempts to engage the political landscape while those on the Right seem close-minded and unwilling to accept objective scientific facts?

We discussed these issues and more with author Chris Mooney and will be offering his book and the entire interview we conducted with him as thank-you’s for contributing to WBAI-NY during our program! All proceeds go to the radio station so that it can continue to bring you programming you won’t find elsewhere.. especially programming like Equal Time for Freethought – the ONLY humanist/atheist/freethought broadcast program on the East Coast (and perhaps nation-wide)!

Show 377: The Brain: Revisited!

The Human Brain, as it is presented in the new exhibition at The American Museum of Natural History called “Brain: The Inside Story.”

Understanding that our brain is the source of all of our behavior, thoughts, and personality may seem obvious to people who are naturalistic in their world-view, however in mainstream culture, this outlook is not widely held.

Despite all evidence to the contrary it’s surprising how many people continue to believe that personality and behavior are manifestations of supernatural phenomena, such as an immortal soul, or some other immaterial, non-local, manifestation. The impact that such thinking has on everything, from the way we treat one another to the nature of our social institutions, is vast.

Because of this Equal Time for Freethought believes that the supernatural view of who we are needs to be challenged and, in recent memory, one of the best approaches to doing this that we’ve encountered is embodied in the incredible new exhibition.

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Show’s 350/351: Mind Matters!

Two-Part Special: Mind Matters!

What is the relationship between God and Mind, or between Brain and Mind for that matter? And speaking of matter, how can we explain how the brain as a biological organ can produce immaterial thoughts, and indeed consciousness itself? From where did the concept of God really originate befor…e it became a (but certainly not thE) foundational reason for the broader sociopolitical construct we call religion? And finally, if we can better understand the questions I’ve just articulated, can we have a better understanding of human behavior itself? We will address these questions today and next week with two social scientists who have themselves grappled with the nature of God, Mind, Brain and Human Behavior.

Continue reading “Show’s 350/351: Mind Matters!”