Show 219a: “Understanding and Defending Evolution” with Sam Datta and Massimo Pigliucci

This two-part conversation with Sam Datta and Massimo Pigliucci will dig into how evolution takes place, including by taking on popular misconceptions about evolution, and explore why understanding the science of evolution matters. We will touch on the escalating attacks on evolution and science in general, and explore more fully why these are happening now, and visit the intersection where science and morality meet.

Since its publication last fall, The Science of Evolution and the Myth of Creationism; Knowing What’s Real and Why it Matter, by Ardea Skybreak, has received increasing recognition from renowned scientists like Richard Leakey, Kevin Padian, Taner Edis and David Seaborg as well as educators… and from many people who are ordinarily denied access to science, including a large number of prisoners.

The book is unique in the way it popularizes the science of evolution and the scientific method and in the very non-defensive way it takes on religious superstition. It combines uncompromising scientific rigor with an accessible style which gives it the ability to connect with a broad and diverse audience.

Recently, Skybreak’s book was named as one of three finalists for the 2007 Benjamin Franklin award in the category of Science/Environment.

After reading this book a prisoner described the debate going on over evolution inside his prison, and remarked that, “A lot of these bible bangers who have been misled think this debate is about ‘winning or losing.’ I tell them this debate is about struggling for the truth.”

Skybreak was unavailable for this interview, but has connected us with one of her publicists, Sam Datta, whom we will be speaking with about her book.

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Show 208: Charles Kimball: When Religion Becomes Evil

From Publishers Weekly:

By now it’s commonplace to remark that more violence than good has been committed in the name of religion. The terrorist attacks of September 11 and the continuing Israeli-Palestinian strife confirm this age-old aphorism. Wake Forest religion professor (Charles) Kimball has made something of a career out of speaking about the ways in which religion becomes evil.

Every religion has the capacity to work either for good or evil, and he contends that there are five warning signs that we can recognize when religion moves toward the latter. Whenever a religion emphasizes that it holds the absolute truth-the one path to God or the only correct way of reading a sacred text-to the exclusion of the truth claims of all other religions and cultures, that religion is becoming evil.

Other warning signs include blind obedience to religious leaders, apocalyptic belief that the end time will occur through a particular religion, the use of malevolent ends to achieve religious goals (e.g., the Crusades) and the declaration of holy war.

Kimball focuses primarily on the three major Western monotheistic religions, although his examples also include new religious movements such as the People’s Temple, Aum Shinrikyo and the Branch Davidians.

Religion can resist becoming evil by practicing an inclusiveness that allows each tradition to retain its distinctiveness while it works for the common good. Kimball’s clear and steady voice provides a helpful guide for those trying to understand why evil is perpetrated in the name of religion.

Show 188: The Politics of Jesus – A Debate

The battle between the progressive secular Left in America with religion lies squarely on the frontlines of radical religious fundamentalism. It is clear for the American Left that an America dominated by the likes of Dominionists – Pat Robertson, Jerry Falwell, Tim Lahaye and many politicians in the current Neo-Conservative Republican Party – will be an America minus democracy, diversity and equality.

But what of religious liberals?

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Show 178: The Fallacy of Moderation or Why Liberals seem so Stupid

1-Hour Special!

The effective alternative to policies which are based on misanthropic assumptions of people’s inherent laziness, greed, selfishness, and antisocial nature are policies which are radically different than the “moderate” ineffectual policies which most liberal-minded people support.  If we are going to be successful at becoming the kind of free, egalitarian, open, tolerant, inclusive, creative, inventive, dynamic and forward looking culture which we want our society to be, we will need to base our policies on a very different understanding of the human experience.

Join our discussion about how things might look if our understanding of the world was based on naturalism and humanism.  We’ll be taking your calls throughout the hour!

Show 165: Robert Dreyfuss on How the United States Helped Unleash Fundamentalist Islam

Devil’s Game: How the United States Helped Unleash Fundamentalist Islam

“I wrote Devil’s Game to fill in a gap amid the millions of words that have been written about political Islam and U.S. policy since September 11, 2001.

“It’s the story before the story, and it helps answer the question: How did we get into this mess? It’s my contention that part of the answer to that question, at least, is that for half a century the United States and many of its allies saw what I call the “Islamic right” as convenient partners in the Cold War.

“I approached this book not as an historian, but as a journalist. A great deal of it is based on scores of interviews with men and women from the State Department, the Central Intelligence Agency, the U.S. military, and the private sector who participated in many of these events. And I relied on dozens of published works. Most of the sources I interviewed are quoted on the record, and virtually every fact in the book is footnoted…” – Robert Dreyfuss

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Show 158a: The Trials of Democracy: American Nationalism, Religion & Foreign Policy

The Trials of Democracy: American Nationalism, Religion & Foreign Policy (Part One)

What is the relationship between nationalism and religion in the US? How do Americans see the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and why? How does nationalism and religion in America influence US Foreign Policy? And what is the relationship between Islamic Fundamentalism, and US Foreign Policy?

As Iraq slips into civil war, bin Laden continues to record threats of terror against America, and the misguided brouhaha in the western press over the Muslim reaction to Danish cartoons unfavorably depicting Islam, add to the tensions of the modern world, these kinds of questions are more important than ever.

Anatol Lieven, originally from the UK, offers a European take on American nationalism while Stephen Bronner offers an American-born outlook, and Pervez Hoodbhoy offers a Pakistani (Muslim world) outlook.