Show 270: The Big Religion Problems…Solved!

“The Big Religion Problems…Solved!” w/Gregory S. Paul

As an interesting follow-up to our October/November two-part program with Ronald Inglehart and David S. Wilson – found here and here – we will discuss with scholar Gregory S. Paul the big questions of religion (not theology) – mainly, why was religion invented, why does it still exist in the 21st century, and what is the future for the religious impulse?  A short summary of Paul’s “answers” to these questions found in his essay – Religion, the Big Questions Finally Solved (Free Inquiry; Dec. 2008/Jan. 2009) – goes as follows:

“(The threats to religion today include) the contribution by naturalistic science, socioeconomic security, and corporate-consumer culture, (all of which) combine to form the ‘Triple-Threat Hypothesis of Democratic Secularization … Religion is-a superficial, primitive, and dysfunctional condition … Religious belief and activity are-superficial coping mechanism(s) that (are) easily cast off when the majority of a given society enjoy democratic governance, and a secure, comfortable middle-class lifestyle.”

Gregory S. Paul is a paleontologist, artist and author. In 2005 he made headlines with his studies indicating that religious societies are worse off than secular ones.

Show 254: Distracted: The Erosion of Attention and the Coming Dark Age with Maggie Jackson

From the Publisher:

We have oceans of information at our fingertips, yet we seek knowledge in Yahoo headlines glimpsed on the run. We are networked as never before, but we connect with friends and family via email and fleeting face-to-face moments that are rescheduled a dozen times. Distracted is a gripping exposé of this hyper-mobile, cyber-centric, attention-deficient life. Day by day, we are eroding our capacity for deep attention— the building block of intimacy, wisdom and cultural progress. The implications for a healthy society are stark.

And yet we can recover our powers of focus through a renaissance of attention. Neuroscience is just now decoding the workings of attention, with its three pillars of focus, awareness and judgment, and revealing how these skills can be shaped and taught. This is exciting news for all of us living in an age of overload. In her sweeping quest to unravel the nature of attention and detail its losses, Maggie Jackson introduces us to scientists, cartographers, marketers, educators, wired teens, and even roboticists. She offers us a compelling wake-up call, an adventure story, and reasons for hope.

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Show 247: Religion is Not about God!: A Conversation with Dr. Loyal Rue

Religion is Not about God!: A Conversation with Dr. Loyal Rue

Thousands of religious traditions have appeared over the course of human history but only a relative few have survived. Volumes have been written attempting to prove the existence or non-existence of supernatural being(s) including the recent best sellers by the so-called ‘new atheists”; Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris and Christopher Hitchens. But like biologist David Sloan Wilson and anthropologist Scott Atran both argue, there is far more nuance and complexity regarding the story of humanity and its myths than these best-selling authors want to admit.

If Dawkins, Harris and Hitchens are considered by some humanists to be the amateur polemicists of atheism, then Wilson, Atran and Rue are the scholars secular humanists need to turn to if we want to begin to learn what we ought to do concerning the future of religion.

So, if religion is not about God, then what on earth is it about? Co-host Paul Eckstein explored with Dr. Rue this question and more!

Show 221: Fund Drive Special with Rev. Billy and Alyson Cole

Our 2007 Fall Fund Drive Special featured Reverend Billy of the Church of Stop Shopping and social scientist Allyson Cole, author of The Cult of True Victimhood: From the War on Welfare to the War on Terror. Here is a bit about/from the guests!

Reverend Billy and the Stop Shopping Gospel Choir believe that Consumerism is overwhelming our lives. The corporations want us to have experiences only through their products. Our neighborhoods, “commons” places like stoops and parks and streets and libraries, are disappearing into the corporatized world of big boxes and chain stores. But if we “back away from the product” – even a little bit, well then we Put The Odd Back In God! The supermodels fly away and we’re left with our original sensuality. So we are singing and preaching for local economies and real – not mediated through products — experience. We like independent shops where you know the person behind the counter or at least – you like them enough to share a story.We ask that local activists who are defending themselves against supermalls, nuke plants, gentrification — call us and we’ll come and put on our “Fabulous Worship!” Remember children… Love is a Gift Economy! “— The Rev

Allyson Cole: According to the publisher, “Condemnations of ‘victim politics’ are a familiar feature of American public life. Politicians and journalists across the ideological spectrum eagerly denounce “victimism.” Accusations of “playing the victim” have become a convenient way to ridicule or condemn. President George W. Bush even blamed an Islamic “culture of victimization” for 9/11 … Cole investigates the ideological underpinnings, cultural manifestations, and political consequences of anti-victimism in an array of contexts, including race relations, the feminist movement, conservative punditry, and the U.S. legal system. Being a victim, she contends, is no longer a matter of injuries or injustices endured, but a stigmatizing judgment of individual character. Those who claim victim status are cast as shamefully passive or cynically manipulative.”

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