Show 580: A Discussion with Leonard Pitts, Jr.

Host Matthew LaClair interviews Leonard Pitts Jr., a nationally syndicated columnist and novelist. Throughout his 35 year career, he has written on subjects ranging from music to politics, religion to science, race, writing, and more. We touch on all these subjects, with a focus on how interest in facts and critical thinking have declined, with ignorance taking its place.

Audio can be found here!

Show 578: The EOF Project w/ Jessica Schab and Diego Fontanive

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One of the core topics we discuss on this show, probably since we first went on the air in the summer of 2002, is how do we understand how people think, why they think as they do, and how can we help people develop better thinking skills. If change is going to take place, it will have to come from you and me, and not the ruling or monied classes. But changing minds is a prerequisite for social change, and in a society unable to think clearly, changing people minds — that is, away from the confused thinking which has brought us the ‘age of Trump’ — becomes an impossible task. Enter Diego Fontanive and Jessica Schab and the EOF Project: Evolve your Thinking.
Audio can be found here!

Show 568: Local artists Vincent Czyz and Chris Johnson

Local artists Vincent Czyz and Chris Johnson talk about their work concerning religion!

Today, Matthew LaClair speaks with Chris Johnson about his new book A Better Life: cialisfrance24.com 100 Atheists Speak Out on Joy & Meaning in a World Without God.

Also, Barry Seidman talks with author Vincent Czyz about his new novel (concerning whether or not a historical Jesus existed) – The Christos Mosaic.

Audio can be found here!

Show 567: Consciousness, American Empire, and “Sacred Humanism”

Consciousness, American Empire, and “Sacred Humanism” w/ Morris Berman

Whether discussing racism and ‘whiteness’ with Tim Wise and Robin DeAngelo, reviewing the natural and social scientific examinations of American society, or discussing the relationship between capitalism and what results from it regards the physical and psychological lives of each one of us, we have tried to go deeper than the symptoms of our current state of the nation and address the disease(s).

We have tried to remain optimistic that somehow the knowledge we share, and the growing discontent in the country, could lead us towards progressive social change. But not everyone is convinced this is possible. A few of our previous guests including Chris Hedges, and today’s guest, Morris Berman are achaten-suisse.com looking at America and preparing her epitaph. But while Hedges has a rather Hobbesian take on human nature in general, Morris might yet see a positive outcome for humanity…only probably not in the USA.

Today, as we head into the 4th of July holiday, we will speak to Professor Berman and see if we can pull some of these things together. Morris Berman is an American historian and social critic. Berman won the Rollo May Center Grant for Humanistic Studies in 1992, and the Neil Postman Award for Career Achievement in Public Intellectual Activity (from the Media Ecology Association) in 2013. Berman relocated to Mexico in 2006, and for a couple of years was a Visiting Professor at the Tecnologico de Monterrey, in Mexico City.

Audio can be found here!

Show 555: The Good Death: Exploring how People Die in America

The Good Death: Exploring how People Die in America w/ Ann Neumann

This week Barry Seidman will be speaking with Ann Neumann about her journey of discovery concerning death in America. No matter what happens to our society, to our species, over the next few decades…death isn’t going anywhere (well, unless the Transhumanists are right, of course).  How we die may or may not reflect how we’ve lived, but it does reflect our culture and the state of our society.  A merger of religion, politics, biology and existential angst tell the stories of people from all walks of life as they face and finally succumb to death.  And for naturalists, recognizing that death is not a transition to a heaven or alternate universe, it’s important we do this right.

Is there such a thing as a “good death?”  If so, how many Americans will experience it? What stands in their way, and is there anything we can do to make things less devastating? We will be asking these questions and more as we discuss Ann’s debut book, The Good Death: An Exploration of Dying in America.

Audio can be found here!

Show 554: Michael Shermer: Skeptic

Michael Shermer: Skeptic

From a 10-step “Baloney Detection” guide to investigations into alien abductions, 9/11 conspiracy theories,  Creationism, therapeutic magnetism, and Bigfoot, Dr. Michael Shermer has made it his life’s work to think critically about — well — everything! His new book, Skeptic, presents readers with the tools necessary to do the same concerning a variety of innocent but misguided assumptions, baloney, bunkum, balderdash, and bullsh*t.

Host Matthew LaClair interviews Dr. Shermer, founding publisher of Skeptic Magazine, founder of the Skeptics Society, and author of over 15 books including Why Darwin MattersThe Believing BrainThe Moral Arc, and the subject of our discussion, Skeptic: Viewing the World with a Rational Eye.

In addition to Dr. Shermer’s books and magazine, he is also a monthly columnist for Scientific American, a regular contributor to Time.com and a Presidential Fellow at Chapman University.

Audio can be found here!

Show 508: Sam Harris

Sam Harris on Spirituality, Minus Religion or God

This Saturday, host Matthew LaClair speaks with neuroscientist, philosopher, and author Sam Harris on his upcoming book, Waking Up: A Guide to Spirituality Without Religion.  Mr. Harris is the author of books including Letter to a Christian Nation, The Moral Landscape, Free Will, and the NY Times bestseller The End of Faith. He is also cofounder and CEO of Project Reason, “a nonprofit foundation devoted to spreading scientific knowledge and secular values in society.” Mr. Harris’ new book, Waking Up, is a personal, rational, and scientific exploration of the benefits of meditation, without the myths, stories, and theistic assumptions typically attached to such practices.  Throughout the book, Harris challenges the notion of “self,” arguing that such a feeling is an illusion, rather than the only state of being conscious.  It is both an attempt to better understand the nature of being, and to explore ways in which we may improve the quality of our lives.

Show 506: Greta Christina on “The Atheist Condition”

Greta Christina on “The Atheist Condition”

On ETFF we have discussed religion, supernatural beliefs and atheism from a philosophical and political perspective. We have asked why people believe without evidence, what role religion plays in our political landscape, and what role does our political natures play in the sorts of religious teachings we accept or reject. And we have asked what the relationship is between religion and science.

But what we may not have talked about well enough may be the more personal aspects of atheism for the non-believer. Why is it so hard, even in 2014, for atheists in some parts of this country to discuss their belief — and not just in public, but even with friends and family? How does one “come out” as an atheist in perhaps the most religious nation in the developed world? Why is it important that atheists do come out, just as the LBGT community has learned over the last several decades? And when atheists DO come out and discuss their beliefs and express their ideas with the general public, why does it seem many believers find us to be obnoxious, arrogant, stubborn, and angry?

Greta Christina will discuss these questions and more with us in just a few moments.  Greta is a regular atheist correspondent for AlterNet, Free Inquiry, and The Humanist, and has been writing about atheism in her own “Greta Christina’s blog” since 2005. As a public speaker, she is part of the Speakers Bureau for the Secular Student Alliance and the Center for Inquiry.  Greta was a speaker on the Diversity in Skepticism panel at The Amaz!ng Meeting in July, 2011, the Reason Rally in 2012, and the 50th annual convention of American Atheists in 2013.

In that same year, she was named the International Team Honored Hero of the Foundation Beyond Belief (FBB). The Foundation’s teams raise money for The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. Greta received the 2013 LGBT Humanist Pride Award from the American Humanist Association.

Her two books we will be discussing with her today are Coming Out Atheist: How to do it, How to Held Each Other, and Why, and Why are you Atheists so Angry: 99 Things that Piss off the Godless.

Show 482: Lawrence M. Krauss on “The Unbelievers”

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Lawrence M. Krauss on “The Unbelievers”

Where did the universe come from? Is an intelligent creator necessary to have set the Big Bang in motion? Theoretical physicist & cosmologist Lawrence Krauss doesn’t think so, and neither says the scientific evidence.

Krauss laid out that evidence last year in his book,  “A Universe From Nothing: Why There Is Something Rather Than Nothing”, demonstrating that it’s at least possible for a universe to arise spontaneously out of nothing. He’s also been giving talks and participating in debates, promoting science and unbelief, and this year he features with Richard Dawkins in a new documentary film called “The Unbelievers”, in which they travel the country promoting unbelief.

Krauss returns to the show to discuss science, religion, the universe from nothing, and why it’s important to talk about and debate these things. He will also discuss his new film, and much more. Krauss is a theoretical physicist and cosmologist who is a professor of physics at Arizona State University, where he also serves as Foundation Professor of the School of Earth and Space Exploration and director of the Origins Project. He is most well known for his contributions to cosmology, as he was one of the first physicists to suggest that most of the mass and energy of the universe resides in empty space, an idea now widely known as dark energy.