SkepSun #105 (08_24_2014)

On Freethought Radio, Dan Barker and Annie Laurie Gaylor celebrate Women’s Equality Day, and observe the 100th anniversary of the predecessor of Broadway’s “Book of Mormon,” a musical entitled the “The Girl from Utah,” that included the first hit  by freethinker Jerome Kern, then we’ll hear the audio from 20 short videos from FFRF’s new “Out of the Closet” Freethinker video campaign. After Freethought Radio we’ll hear  the late Christopher Hitchen’s response to someone who asks him why, if he doesn’t believe in a god, does he spend so much of his time arguing against the belief. We’ll hear Carl Sagan, reading an excerpt of his book, Pale Blue Dot, that is used in a new tribute video entitled “A Universe not made for Us.” We’ll hear Dr. Steven Novella reviewing a recent study looking at the association of strokes with chiropractic cervical manipulations from last weeks Skeptic’s Guide to the Universe podcast. Then finally, Daniel Fincke is a professor who has moved out of the university setting to teach philosophy online using interactive video conferencing technology (Google Hangouts) to offer affordable, private philosophy classes to people around the world. He joins the hosts of Atheist Talk, a radio show and podcast produced by Minnesota Atheists and talks about his personal journey from faith to a naturalistic worldview and how he’s pioneering this new model of instruction.

Dr. Dan Fincke, proponent of philosophy for everyone, online.

Dr. Dan Fincke, atheist & proponent of philosophy for everyone, online.



SkepSun #100 (07_20_2014)

On Freethought Radio, Dan Barker and Annie Laurie Gaylor celebrate the 166th anniversary of the Seneca Falls Convention called by agnostic Elizabeth Cady Stanton, then talk with newsmaker and freethought activist Dan Courtney, a Lifetime FFRF Member, who just became the first atheist to give an invocation in Greece, N.Y. — site of the governmental prayer dispute at the center of this spring’s Supreme Court ruling. Then we’ll hear two Skeptoid podcasts.  First, Brian Dunning looks at polygraph and other lie detection techniques and then at so-called “12-step programs.”  Then we’ll hear an address by Matt Dillahunty, co-host of the Atheist Experience call-in television show out of Austin Texas entitled “Theistic Reasoning: Fallacies and Faith.”


Matt Dillahunty, host of the Atheist Experience television program

Matt Dillahunty, host of the Atheist Experience television program

SkepSun #93 (06_01_2014)

A Christian pastor has a falling out with his Church, doubts his faith, loses his job and decides to try on atheism for one year.  I’m talking about Ryan Bell who until March of 2013 was senior pastor of the Hollywood Seventh-day Adventist Church. Currently he’s a researcher, writer and speaker on the topic of religion and irreligion in America. In January 2014, Dr. Bell began a year-long journey exploring the limits of theism and the atheist landscape in the United States. He blogs about this experience at Year Without God. He’s interviewed by Bo Bennett on the Humanist Hour podcast. We’ll find out what results he’s gathered to date from his experiment in the second hour of Skeptical Sunday. But First on Freethought Radio, Dan Barker and Annie Laurie Gaylor, co-presidents of the Freedom from Religion Foundation update us from the frontlines of the battle of church and state: FFRF’s Raleigh conference was covered CNN Belief Blog, new billboards in Ohio billboards and a Christian park in Iowa sparks protests. Then they talk with Greece vs. Galloway plaintiff Linda Stephens and get her response to being labeled “demonic” by a politician for trying to stop city prayer in Greece, NY. Also, we’ll hear a Skeptoid with Brian Dunning on which Brian looks at possible examples of conspiracy theories that may have actually turned out to be true.


Ryan Bell, former senior pastor at the Hollywood, CA Seventh Day Adventist Church, is trying atheism for one year.

Ryan Bell, former senior pastor at the Hollywood, CA Seventh Day Adventist Church, is trying atheism for one year.

SkepSun #89 (05_04_2014)

On Freethought Radio we’ll hear the Oxford University debate about the existence of God, where Dan Barker and Peter Hitchens, brother of the late Christopher Hitchens, go head-to-head. Dan Barker, flying solo this week, tells us how FFRF stopped a West Virginia high-school wrestling team from using a bible verse as their motto and celebrates the birthday of the freethinking composer Johannes Brahms. Then, given that most people believe in the reality of a god or god and polls show those people really don’t like atheists, how do you explain the half billion of us across the world, those who reject God belief? Why do atheists exist? Ara Naranzayan of the University of British Colombia has some answers from his research on human psychology that he discusses with Chris Mooney on the Inquiring Minds podcast. Finally, if you’re one of those atheists who does somehow exist, should you “come out” to family and friends as one?  What would be the short and long-term consequences?  What are the similarities and differences between coming out as an atheist and coming out as gay or bisexual? Author and blogger Greta Christina (who has experience coming out of several different closets) attempts to answer some of these questions in her most recent book, Coming Out Atheist: How to Do It, How to Help Each Other and Why, a no nonsense guide to leveling with everyone in your life about your non-belief. Lindsey Beyerstein interviews Greta Christina on the Point of Inquiry podcast.

Why are there atheists?

Why are there atheists?

SkepSun #85 (04_06_2014)

On Freethought Radio, Dan Barker and Annie Laurie Gaylor analyze the oral arguments heard this past week in the Supreme Court “Hobby Lobby” case, challenging the reproductive mandate of the Affordable Health Care Act on religious grounds, they celebrate Tom Lehrer’s birthday by listening to some of his songs, as well as Eric Idle’s “The Galaxy.” Then they speak with modern Renaissance Woman, Indre Viskontas, opera singer, scientist (Ph.D. in neuroscience), host of the Inquiring Minds podcast, co-star of “The Miracle Detective” TV series (which aired on the Oprah Winfrey Network), science/music educator, and atheist. Afterwards, infectious disease M.D. Mark Crislip plays whack-a-mole once again with the pseudoscience of acupuncture.  He gives us an in-depth examination of a recent study of auricular acupuncture published  in the British Medical Journal that claimed positive results. Good journal, must be a good study, right?  We’ll find out. For people in our camp, the choice of what words to use to describe our beliefs, or lack of them, is a highly personal one. “Atheist,” “agnostic,” “naturalist,” and “secular humanist” and even “bright” all have their passionate advocates. (Well, maybe not “bright”.) In hour two of Skeptical Sunday, rockstar astrophysicist Neil de Grasse Tyson, host of the new Cosmos series, tells  Massimo Pigliucci and Julia Galef, hosts of the Rationally Speaking podcast why he avoids the label “atheist” and an interesting conversation on labels and language ensues.


Indre Viskontas: soprano, scientist, skeptic

Indre Viskontas: soprano, scientist, mom, skeptic

SkepSun #82 (03_16_2014)

The FFRF asks the Pope to “stay away from Green Bay”; tells a praying police chief in Birmingham to cease and desist; and chastises Florida schools for mingling with a local church. After hearing “The Stay Away Pope Polka” and “The Salt Lake City Blues,” we talk with FFRF’s 20,000th member, Ken Knighton, a former Mormon from Utah. Then, interviews with the authors of two new, well reviewed books on the history of atheism. One looks at where people in the post-Christian West have turned for meaning in their lives while another argues that the modern world as we know it would not have been possible without the atheism.Historian Peter Watson’s book, The Age of Atheists: How We Have Sought to Live Since the Death of God, chronicles how Western scientists, philosophers, and artists have worked to draw meaning from our lives since Nietzsche famously signed God’s death certificate.  He’s interviewed by the hosts of the Atheist Talk podcast, produced by Minnesota Atheists.  Then, historian, journalist and professor of Media Studies at New York University Mitchell Stephens discusses the thesis of his new book,  Imagine There’s No Heaven: How Atheism Helped Create the Modern World, with Brian Lehrer on the Brian Lehrer Show produced by WNYC. Mitchell makes the case that the revolutions  in science, politics, philosophy, art, and psychology at the foundation of modernity would not have been possible without courageous atheists.


Age of Atheists

SkepSun #78 (02_16_2014)

On the weekend following Darwin week, we stay on the subject of religious opposition to evolution by natural selection in America. We’ll hear some great analysis of the Bill Nye – Ken Ham debate that we played last week from the hosts of the Reasonable Doubts podcast and also a snippet from a similar debate from 20 years ago, between Phillip E. Johnson, the author of Darwin On Trial and father of the ‘Intelligent Design Movement’ and Cornell’s own professor of evolutionary biology, now emeritus, William Provine.  But we get started as we do each week with Freethought Radio, the show produced by the Freedom From Religion Foundation on which Annie Laurie Gaylor and Andrew Seidel  interview the erudite and entertaining Ronald L. Numbers, history professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, about the history of creationism in this country. They also discuss FFRF’s new creationism law FAQ, Andrew’s complaint to New York officials over infant endangerment and deaths from an ultra-Orthodox Jewish circumcision ritual and honor the birthdays of Charles Darwin, Galileo, Jeremy Bentham and Susan B. Anthony.