Show 421: Easter Sunday Special w/ Dr. Bruce Waller

Easter Sunday Special w/ Dr. Bruce Waller

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 418: Free Will and Moral Responsibility

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!

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!”

Show 302: On Humanistic Psychology

Humanistic Psychology with Dr. Kirk Schneider & Dr. Edward Neukrug

What is Humanistic Psychology? Does it fit the parameters of secular humanism and scientific naturalism? What is the legacy of some of its star names like Carl Rogers and Abe Maslow? What does Humanistic Psychology say about Free Will and Human Nature?

Arnell Dowret will explore these questions and more with Dr. Kirk Schneider, a licensed psychologist and leading spokesperson for contemporary humanistic psychology, and Dr. Edward Neukrug, Professor of Counseling and Human Service at Old Dominion University in Virginia.

Dr. Schneider has published over 100 articles and chapters and has authored or edited eight books including, Rediscovery of Awe: Splendor, Mystery, and the Fluid Center of Life; Horror and the Holy: Wisdom-teachings of the Monster Tale; The Paradoxical Self: Toward an Understanding of Our Contradictory Nature; and his most recent, Awakening to Awe.

Dr. Neukrug is also the author of numerous books on pyschology and counseling including Counseling Theory and Practice, Theory, Practice and Trends in Human Services: An Introduction to An Emerging Profession, Skills and Tools for Today’s Counselor’s and Psychotherapists, and Essentials of Testing and Assessment for Counselors, Social Workers, and Psychologists.

Show 296: Personal Responsibility and Society w/ Dr. Les Garwood

Personal Responsibility and Society w/ Dr. Les Garwood

In addition to having a deep distrust of government, those who oppose health care being extended to the uninsured will often express utter disgust for people who they see as “refusing” to take responsibility for themselves. Welfare to them is not about caring for the citizenry of the country, but the way the State babies and pampers to the “lazy” and “irresponsible.” Indeed, “personal responsibility” seems to be at the foundation of American Conservatism and R-Libertarianism, both often tied to an almost pathological “rugged individualism.”

But “personal responsibility” is a term widely used, but not often really understood…even by those few who agree with the idea that our behaviors are completely determined…who seem to embrace traditional ideas of “holding people responsible” and “keeping people in line” with punishment and rewards. Continue reading “Show 296: Personal Responsibility and Society w/ Dr. Les Garwood”

Show 293: Dr. Joy DeGruy Reacts to Conservative African Americans on Post-Traumatic Slave Syndrome.

Belief in Free Will and Post Traumatic Slave Syndrome Denial

The belief that people’s behaviors are freely chosen, and not the result of all of their previous experience, enables some to justify the plight of others and perpetuates blaming victims for being victims.  And although it’s a belief that is contradicted by a mountain of evidence, it remains replete throughout our entire society, primarily inculcated as part of a traditional religious worldview.

This Sunday on Equal Time for Freethought Dr. Joy Degruy, author of “Post Traumatic Slave Syndrome,” defends her work against criticism in the recent book by Sana Butler, “Sugar of the Crop: My Journey to Find the Children of Slaves.”  Butler claims that the children of freedmen simply chose to leave their slave experience behind, and that any  problems currently experienced in families who descend from African slaves is just the result of people deciding to not “choose” correctly.

Join us as Dr. DeGruy weighs in on personal choice, Post Traumatic Slave Syndrome denial, and recent events in general.

Continue reading “Show 293: Dr. Joy DeGruy Reacts to Conservative African Americans on Post-Traumatic Slave Syndrome.”

Show 277b: On the Origins and Psychology of Dogmatic Thinking and Ideology II

What’s so Wrong about being Absolutely Right?: A Discussion on the Origins and Psychology of Dogmatic Thinking and Ideology.

Pt. 2 of 2

What does it mean when we say someone is being dogmatic?  Are only religious fundamentalists capable of dogmatic thinking?  Can science-based atheists be dogmatic?  What is the difference between dogmatism and ideology?  Why do people engage in dogmatic thinking in the first place; is it biological, sociological or psychological or all of the above?  And, what can we do to limit dogmatic thinking?

These questions and more will be discussed in a special two-part program with clinical psychologist Judy Johnson and social psychologist John Jost.  If we want to get to the reasons why some feel religion and politics are so contentious, and even dangerous, we probably should be focusing on how people behave within religious or political frameworks.  If we want to build a more humanistic, less dangerous world, we must then learn what we should be doing to avoid the potential dangers therein.  We hope this program will offer some of those answers as well as tools toward creating a healthier society.

The audio for this program, which aired in two parts on March 29th and April 5th, can be found BELOW. Please note that this audio is an EXTENDED version containing two questions not aired on WBAI-NY; one of these concerns the question of whether authoritarian persons or societies are a normal part of human nature, or a sign of either an unhealthy individual or society, while the other is a personal question the host asks regarding his own possible dogmatic tendencies.

Show 277a: On the Origins and Psychology of Dogmatic Thinking and Ideology

What’s so Wrong about being Absolutely Right?: A Discussion on the Origins and Psychology of Dogmatic Thinking and Ideology.

Pt. 1 of 2

What does it mean when we say someone is being dogmatic?  Are only religious fundamentalists capable of dogmatic thinking?  Can science-based atheists be dogmatic?  What is the difference between dogmatism and ideology?  Why do people engage in dogmatic thinking in the first place; is it biological, sociological or psychological or all of the above?  And, what can we do to limit dogmatic thinking?

These questions and more will be discussed in a special two-part program with clinical psychologist Judy Johnson and social psychologist John Jost.  If we want to get to the reasons why some feel religion and politics are so contentious, and even dangerous, we probably should be focusing on how people behave within religious or political frameworks.  If we want to build a more humanistic, less dangerous world, we must then learn what we should be doing to avoid the potential dangers therein.  We hope this program will offer some of those answers as well as tools toward creating a healthier society.

The audio for this program, which aired in two parts on March 29th and April 5th, can be found on the April archives page. Please note that this audio is an EXTENDED version containing two questions not aired on WBAI-NY; one of these concerns the question of whether authoritarian persons or societies are a normal part of human nature, or a sign of either an unhealthy individual or society, while the other is a personal question the host asks regarding his own possible dogmatic tendencies.

Show 265: “The Dialectical Biologist: A Discussion w/ Dr. Richard Levins”

“The Dialectical Biologist: A Discussion w/ Dr. Richard Levins

Richard Levins studied agriculture and mathematics at Cornell. He was a tropical farmer in Puerto Rico before getting his PhD at Columbia University. He later moved to Harvard with the sponsorship of E. O. Wilson, with whom they had later disputes over sociobiology. Levins was elected member of the US National Academy of Sciences but resigned because of the Academy’s role in advising the US military.

Levins is John Rock Professor of Population Sciences at the Harvard School of Public Health. During the last two decades Levins has concentrated on application of ecology to agriculture, particularly in the less developed nations.  He has also written on philosophical issues in biology and modelling.

An influential article of his is “The Strategy of Model Building in Population Biology”. He has influenced a number of contemporary philosophers of biology. With the evolutionary geneticist Richard Lewontin, Levins has written a number of articles on methodology, philosophy, and social implications of biology.

This interview, conducted by Professor of Philosophy Paul Eckstein (Bergen Community College, NJ), focuses mainly on Levins’ contribution to the text, Biology Under the Influence: Dialectical Essays on Ecology, Agriculture, and Health (w/ Lewontin).