Show 582: Tom Clark on the State of Naturalism, 2018

Tom Clark on the State of Naturalism, 2018. A discussion hosted by Arnell Dowret

What does a naturalistic worldview mean for how we treat each other, how we understand our social interactions, and what sort of society we build? One of the key elements to fostering naturalistic relations is to avoid “judgmentalism” in how we interact with others as well as the narratives we play around with in our own mind.

Audio can be found here!

Show 548: My Professor and Me

Psychologist and guest host Damian Gracia interviews his psychology mentor, Pace University professor Paul Griffin.  Following the interview is special discussion between Damian and Arnell Dowret addressing ideas that the interview raised.

Audio can be found here!

A special discussion between Damian Gracia and co-Producer Arnell Dowret on the show above can be found here!

Show 544/545: Raoul Martinez on “Creating Freedom”

Raoul Martinez on “Creating Freedom” (Two-Parter)

Oddly enough, on Equal Time for FREEthought, the term freedom doesn’t come up too often. Well, not in an affirmative fashion, at least. We’ve been around too long to believe in things like the free market, free elections, or free media (though on WBAI, we come the closest to this). But we do tend to advocate for free speech and, of course, free thought. But what does freedom mean? Are we free in modern Western societies and to what degree? Can freedom be created out of non-freedom? And what can our understanding of all this help us to build a healthier, more humanistic society?

Today we will talk with Raoul Martinez about these questions and more. Raoul is a writer, artist, and award-winning filmmaker. His documentary, ‘The Lottery of Birth‘, premiered in 2012 as episode one of a series entitled Creating Freedom. It was nominated for Best Documentary at London’s Raindance Film Festival and went on to win the Artivist Spirit 2012 Award at Hollywood’s Artivist Festival. Accompanying the series is Raoul’s first book, also called Creating Freedom, written over four years and informed by over a decade of research.

Audio for part-one can be found here!

Audio for part-two can be found here!

Show 433: Joel Marks on A-moralism and the Philosophy of Desire

Joel Marks on A-moralism and the Philosophy of Desire

Audio Here!

Because of the Darwinian revolution, and the Galilean revolution before it, we have been able to – intellectually at least – get past our early notions of gods and supernatural beliefs in general… And now we are tackling what seems to be more and more scientifically evidenced… the death of free will and the notion along with it of the self-made man.  On ETFF we’ve discussed what ‘free will’ is, what determinism is, and how we might consider conducting ourselves in society when we know that no person is the ultimate author of their behaviors.  But, while some have argued that while we can’t hold people morally responsible for their actions, others still believe that we can entertain the notions of morality itself.  But is that the most logical way to look at the human condition? We’ll find out, on today’s edition of Equal Time for Freethought with Dr. Joel Marks!

Show 429: Against Moral Responsibility w/Dr Bruce Waller

Against Moral Responsibility w/Dr Bruce Waller

Audio here!

Humanity has had to adapt to deep philosophical and indeed psychological changes over the last 500 years. With the knowledge that came from geology and astronomy, we’ve learned we are not at the center of the universe, nor even a significant part of the “all that is.” From biology and genetics we have learned that we are a part of the animal kingdom, apes with big brains.. brains which, themselves have been programmed by nature much as a computer is programmed.

And we have also learned that there is no reason, nor any evidence, for us to believe in supernatural realms or beings for the universe to have come into existence, or for humanity to have thrived. Nature is our mother, and only nature (and perhaps our own ignorance) can put us under.

And, in the last twenty years, we have explored perhaps the most complex, most delicate feature of the universe, the human brain…and consciousness itself.  What we are learning now can arguably be thought of as the most significant of our many scientific achievements and perhaps the most dangerous idea.. that Free-Will is an illusion and all our thoughts and behaviors are caused by an intricate combination of our genetic heritage, our environment, and our social experiences. Whatever choices or decisions we make, or actions we take, there are reasons for which there is little we can do outside of allowing ourselves the experiences, and to learn from our wrong-steps.

But what does this do to our sense of morality – gleamed from either our religions or our secular philosophies? That will be the subject of today’s conversation with Dr Bruce Waller: Chair of the Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies at Youngstown State University in Ohio. Dr. Waller received his Ph.D. from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and his books include Consider Ethics: Theory, Readings, and Contemporary Issues; Critical Thinking: Consider the Verdict; You Decide!: Current Debates in Criminal Justice; And his latest, Against Moral Responsibility published by MIT Press.

Show 390: Easter Sunday Special w/ Dr. Bruce Waller

Easter Sunday Special w/ Dr. Bruce Waller

Audio here!

The believed resurrection of Jesus Christ celebrated on Easter Day is the climax of a bizarre moral narrative in which an innocent victim endures great suffering until death, for the purpose of absolving the sins of everyone else; and all of it, arranged and supervised by the Christian god.

The problems with deriving any meaningful message about morality from this very strange story are numerous. Yet despite all of the contradiction and irony in their founding narrative, for most of the past two thousand years Christians have generally managed to believe that each of us must choose of our own free will to let Christ into our hearts and be saved so that after we’ve died we may join him and perhaps our loved ones in a heavenly paradise.. or else we can except to suffer for all of eternity in Hell.  According to the bible the choice is ours, to make of our own free will.

The belief that with our ‘free will’ we are free to choose to be who ever and what ever we want to make ourselves is the primary rationale for assigning moral responsibility.  But today we understand that we are all the result of factors we do not choose.  We do not, and can not choose to be any way other than what our genes and our environmental experiences make possible.  At a time when we know this to be true, can holding people morally responsible still make sense?  And is it fair?

To help us examine the question of moral responsibility we will feature an interview with Dr. Bruce Waller, professor of religion and philosophy at Youngstown State University and author of the recently published book, “Against Moral Responsibility.”  And following our interview with Dr. Waller we will be pleased to again feature the complete recording of the last known mediated debate between Jesus Christ and the Easter Bunny.

Show 387: Free Will and Moral Responsibility

Audio here!

Who deserves their fate in life?  This question is increasingly being raised from various ranks in our society.  Over the past year or so there has been a spate of books discussing our ability to empathize as central to being human.  This week, as our Supreme Court deliberated whether life long prison sentences without the possibility of parole for 14-year-olds constituted cruel and unusual punishment, the entire validity of retributive justice is brought into question.  On the streets, the Occupy movement is calling into question the basic assumptions about how we as a society deem some worthy to enjoy outlandishly excessive rewards while multitudes of others get nearly enough for life’s basic necessities.

As our regular listeners know, we at ETFF have long advocated that believing in “free will” is no more grounded in reason and evidence than any other belief in the supernatural. But in addition, the belief in free will is corrosive;  it supports the notion that some people are more deserving than others, and is used to justify outrageous inequity and violence.

Hopefully a large nail in the coffin of belief in “free will” will be hammered in by the publication, earlier this month, of the new mini-book by Sam Harris, simply titled “Free Will.”

Joining us on the phone to discuss this important new book and the significance of the question of free will in general will be director of The Center for Naturalism, and repeat guest on our program, Tom Clark.

Show’s 323: Mind Matters!

Two-Part Special: Mind Matters!

Audio 1 here!

Audio 2 here!

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 323: Mind Matters!”