Our Better Angels? Have humans turned over a new leaf? A Discussion with Steven Pinker
Matthew LaClair interviewed evolutionary psychologist Steven Pinker on his most recent work which includes an examination of his claim that humans have become more altruistic and less violent over the last 50,000 years. Many contest this hypothesis — from social scientists to historians — and some have suggested that quite the opposite is the case.
We asked Dr. Pinker about his work in the hopes to better understand his argument and what is indeed the reality concerning human nature in this special LIVE program!
Naturalistic XMas Special!
This Xmas, Arnell Dowret will host our annual program taking a humanistic, naturalistic view on the Christian holiday! The two-hour special will feature all the usual goodies including the Xmas meditation, our historic interview with Santa, and more…
This Xmas, we also had the pleasure of speaking with two members of the Freethought community! Dr. Dian Killian is a Certified Trainer with the international Center for Nonviolent Communication. We often hear that this is the season of goodwill towards all men/women — a noble humanistic ideal which should extend the entire year — and that in times of trouble, this sentiment takes on even more profound meaning. In the “Immediate and Personal” segment of this special program, we will speak with Dian about her work and how it can be useful when dealing with the recent and intense conflicts between the Police and the public.
Later on, in the “Vast and Futuristic” segment, we will speak with astronomer Carolyn Porco who is the leader of the imaging science team on the Cassini mission presently in orbit around Saturn, a veteran imaging scientist of the Voyager mission to the outer solar system in the 1980s, and one of the imaging scientists on the New Horizons mission on its way to Pluto and the Kuiper Belt. Here we will take a look at the cosmic view of a holiday — built on the scientific and intuitive awareness of the winter solstice — where even its religious endeavors are an attempt – albeit a weak one – to understand the universe.
So join us for this 2-Hour Xmas Special, and then come back on Saturday for a special repeated program on the origins and continued existence of our policed society in America, with Kristian Williams!
We are a culture besieged by violence. Everyday we hear stories of mass shootings or stabbings, of a rising violent crime rate, of vigilantism, and we have been marred in one war or another since the birth of this nation… resulting in the maiming or killing of millions (usually far less Americans than those we target).
When peace activists, humanists, or even average citizens – tired of all the violence and war – try to speak out against the insanity, we are told human beings are violent by nature. We are shown right-leaning works of social science which prove our bloody history to be the norm, not an anomaly, and told it goes back 50,000 years or more. We are told that war is either in our genes, or even something which is needed for homo sapien sapien to have balance in our societies. Even those who admit “war is hell” are pretty sure it is also inevitable; consequently they, and many in our society, feel those of us looking toward a peaceful, egalitarian, humanistic society without warfare are utopians living in a reality of our own inception… peaceniks left over from the radical 60s who have not grown up and who would be better served trying to help others within our current, often dysfunctional society, rather than demand another kind of world…
But what are humans REALLY like? What does the science ACTUALLY say? We will be speaking with evolutionary anthropologist Douglas Fry and psychologist Darcia Narvaez about these questions and more on the next edition of Equal Time for Freethought!
War, Gender, & Religion
This Saturday on Equal Time for Free Thought, Sunsara Taylor will be talking with:
Nica Lalli, author of “Nothing,” a memoir about growing up – and then making her way in the world – without religion. This segment will examine the lessons Lalli has drawn from her own search for meaning and her journey to becoming what she calls a “pink atheist” as well as her insights and approaches to building a family and community with, or sometimes at least among, those who believe in different ways.
Kathleen Barry, author of “Unmaking War, Remaking Men,” which examines the links between “masculinity” as we know it and a world of wars of aggression and plunder.
Taylor and Barry will explore the links between the rampant violence against women in the most intimate of spaces and the mass-scale brutality of imperialist wars, including some discussion of the recent unjust and immoral U.S. military assault on Libya.
Global Rebellion: Religious Challenges to the Secular State
On Saturday, we will be airing a special one-hour program on the global rise in religious fundamentalism and in particular the political revolution and/or rebellion of groups who seemed defined by their religion against the industrial nations whether capitalistic or s0-called communistic. What are the motives of these groups? Why have they become so numerous over the last 4o years? Does religion act as the catalyst, cause, or as a tool for these uprisings? And, how do those nations best deal with the violence these groups target them with, while finding new ways to prevent these uprisings in the first place?
To speak to these questions and more, we will have on the line sociologist Mark Juergensmeyer, author of Global Rebellion: Religious Challenges to the Secular State, from Christian Militias to Al Queda. Juergensmeyer is an American scholar and writer best known for his studies of religious violence and global religion. He also has written on conflict resolution and on South Asian religion and society, and has been a pioneer in the field of global studies.
Continue reading “Show 331: Global Rebellion: Religious Challenges to the Secular State”
One-Hour Easter Special: “Questioning Judeo-Christian Morality”
Are Easter and Passover the basis for morality or for violence?
This week most people commemorate the foundational narratives of the Jewish and Christian religions, both widely regarded as the main source of ethical inspiration and social stability for the Western world, yet there are sound reasons to believe that it’s our Judeo-Christian tradition that might actually be responsible for a great deal of violence.
At this moment in our nation’s history when we continue to have the largest prison population in the Western world – when we’re being told that the only solution to a disastrous unwinnable military adventure is to send more troops – and when our leaders have seen fit to pass the Military Commissions Act of 2006 which denies detainees the right of Habeas Corpus and the protections against torture afforded by the Geneva Convention – Equal Time for Freethought will take a critical look at how our Judeo-Christian traditions not only fail to curb such institutionalized brutality, but actually make such policies appear as if they are morally acceptable.
Continue reading “Show 201: Easter Special: “Questioning Judeo-Christian Morality””
First of Three Parts!
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 Hobbes got it wrong?
What if women were in charge instead of men?
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?
And if cooperation and beneficence is prevalent in Homo Sapien Sapiens, how can we cultivate the human potential for peace … particularly when many people, even some scientists, are so pessimistic about our fate?
On Sunday, July 30th; Sunday, August 6th; & Sunday, August 13th, we will be talking with anthropologist Douglas Fry, author of Beyond War: The Human Potential for Peace, and biologist Judith Hand, author of Women, Power, and the Science of Peace. Humanity’s history is not so “primitive” as some might argue, and our present day situation may not be as dire as it sometimes seems.
Naturalism and Bodily Pleasure w/ James Prescott
Equal Time for Freethought begins 2006 with the first of a two part examination of how a culture that rejects precepts of religion should regard bodily pleasure and sexuality. To help us in our discussion we will be pleased to have joining us developmental neuro-psychologist, and cross-cultural psychologist, Dr. James Prescott.
Continue reading “Show 152: Naturalism and Bodily Pleasure w/ James Prescott”