Show 205: Fund Drive Show – “African-American Naturalism: A Forgotten Tradition” – Neil deGrasse Tyson, Anthony Pinn & Muntu Matsimela

Fund Drive Show – “African-American Naturalism: A Forgotten Tradition” – Neil deGrasse Tyson, Anthony Pinn & Muntu Matsimela

It’s widely accepted that faith and religious belief have been the most important elements sustaining the African-American community throughout their long history of subjection to oppression and adversity, but even in the Black Church, other worldly concerns were far less important than is generally believed.

The secular and humanistic traditions are long standing threads in African-American life that are hardly ever mentioned – yet it’s out of these traditions that the real world strategies and real world solutions which have yielded the greatest strides toward Black liberation and empowerment were developed and deployed.

What might happen if African-Americans today more fully embrace their rich history of naturalistic traditions; how might it make a difference for the future?

Dr. Anthony Pinn, author of “African American Humanist Principles: Living and Thinking like the Children of Nimrod” will help us trace the long and rich history of secular and humanistic traditions in African American life.

We will also be joined by Astrophysicist and Director of New York City’s Rose Planetarium and host of PBS’s “NOVA Now” series, Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson, and African Studies Professor, Community Activist and former Black Panther, Muntu Matsimela.

Show 198: Victor Stenger

Atheism has taken a turn toward the right, some have said, as writers like Sam Harris, Richard Dawkins and others have penned best-selling books on religion and faith which tend to see religion as the major problem in today’s society while leaving out politics and the economy. And while the Left ought to recognize the inherent dangers in religious fundamentalism, they also should understand the many complex reasons religion exists in the first place, and how fundamentalisms arise.

While on this program we have featured what some critics have dubbed the evangelical atheists in the past, we have also had folks like DS Wilson, Scott Atran, Robert Dreyfuss and Robert Pape on to take us deeper into the many facets of religion, its causes, and how we could begin to reign in the more dangerous verities.

Still, it is always useful to listen to anthropologists like Hector Avalos who cut to the roots of certain sorts of religious violence, and today’s guest, physicist Victor Stenger who takes a purely scientific view on the supernatural. Can science prove God does not, can not, exist? Many scientists, atheistic scientists in fact, disagree on the answer to this question.

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Show 182: Fund Drive Special: Ann Druyan & Stephenie Hendricks

For the 2-hour Equal Time for Freethought October marathon special, the bridge between science and religion will once again be crossed… this time to analyze the special relationship between the two and to find out what can go wrong when the latter steps to hard on the toes of the former. For this program, we talked to Ann Druyan and Stephenie Hendricks.

Carl Sagan is considered one of the greatest scientific minds of our time. His ability to explain science in terms easily understandable to the layman in bestselling books such as Cosmos, The Dragons of Eden, and The Demon-Haunted World won him a Pulitzer Prize and placed him firmly next to Isaac Asimov, Stephen Jay Gould, and Oliver Sachs as one of the most important and enduring communicators of science. This December will mark the tenth anniversary of Sagan’s death, and Ann Druyan, his widow and longtime collaborator, will mark the occasion by releasing Sagan’s famous “Gifford Lectures in Natural Theology,” The Varieties of Scientific Experience: A Personal View of the Search for God.

The Varieties of Scientific Experience has been edited and updated with an introduction by Ann Druyan. In the book, Sagan discusses his views on topics ranging from manic depression, creationism and so-called intelligent design, and the likelihood of intelligent life on other planets, to the likelihood of nuclear annihilation of our own.

In Divine Destruction: Dominion Theology and American Environmental Policy, Emmy-winning broadcast journalist Stephenie Hendricks charts the important connections between “Wise Use”—a rabidly anti-environmental philosophy—and dominion theologists—far-right Christian ideologues who believe that there is no reason to protect the environment given the imminence of the Second Coming of Christ. This political collaboration reaches all the way to the Bush administration whose environmental policies are deeply influenced by dominionist thinking. Divine Destruction is an in-depth look at the radical remaking of American environmental policy already underway—in terrifying secret.

Show 175: Harold Barclay; Anthropologist

Harold Barclay discusses his book People without Government: An Anthropology of Anarchy

Over the last three weeks, Equal Time for Freethought has asked scientists basic questions about human nature.

Is it within human nature to be aggressive, or is aggression the result of environmental circumstances?

Is war inevitable because humans have a natural tendency to inter-societal violence, or is there something unique in modern culture which brings out the soldier in many of us, particularly our males?

What if peace was closer to the “natural state” of human nature, and we have lived though an aberration of violence over the last few centuries?

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Show 166: Fund Drive Program: Religion, Science, Dubya and the “Selfish Gene”

Fund Drive Program: Religion, Science, Dubya and the “Selfish Gene”

For this special fund drive program, we will be traveling along the crossroads of religion and science, and chatting a bit about the relevance of science for a progressive understanding of political activism, and we will perhaps delve a bit into how science may become politicized, even subtly.

Joining me today for this special program will be my associate producer, Arnell Dowret, and hosts’ Neil Murphy and Sunsara Taylor, and also a special appearance from Dr. Reg.

We will be offering as a gift for your new or renewed membership to WBAI, a special presentation by evolutionary biologist Niles Eldredge recorded on CD for us by the World Can’t Wait group, and also Dr. Eldredge’s latest trade paperback, “Why We Do It: Rethinking Sex and the Selfish Gene.” This book responds to what I said before about subtle politicizing of science… that is, when scientists offer seemingly apolitical information on human nature, such as E.O. Wilson’s Sociobiology, Richard Dawkins’ “selfish-gene” model of evolution, or Stephen Pinker’s nature over nurture arguments a la “evolutional psychology,” are they sailing beyond science toward dangerously political waters? Dr. Eldredge seems to think they are.

Show 156: Matthew Chapman (Great, Great Grandson of Charles Darwin)

Trials of the Monkey: An Accidental Memoir w/ Matthew Chapman (Great, Great Grandson of Charles Darwin)

Matthew Chapman was born in England… The great, great grandson of perhaps the most significant scientist of the last 200 years.. Charles Darwin.

Chapman ventured to the U.S. in 1980, and headed straight for Hollywood, where he directed several indie films with such actors as Johnny Depp, Jennifer Jason Leigh, and Peter Coyote.  He also wrote the screenplay for “Consenting Adults,” starring Kevin Spacey, and co-wrote the screenplay for John Grisham’s “Runaway Jury,” which starred Gene Hackman.

In 2001, Chapman went back to his roots, so to speak, and wrote “Trials of the Monkey – An Accidental Memoir” – a book about a trip he took to the town where the Scopes Monkey Trial took place.

Most recently, he has a new essay in the February issue of Harpers Magazine called, “God or Gorilla,” which is an account of the new monkey trial in Dover, Pennsylvania.

On Equal Time for Freethought this Sunday, February 5th – one week before Darwin Day, Chapman will discuss with us things from religion in the US, evolution, ID, superstition in Hollywood, and what’s its like to be the descendent of perhaps the most feared scientist .. In Red State America, at least.