We get started with Freethought Radio on which Annie Laurie Gaylor and Dan Barker discuss FFRF’s temporary setback (on standing, not merits) in federal Appeals Court over the IRS Housing Allowance case and they announce a new lawsuit challenging prayer at Chino Valley, California, school board meetings. They celebrate the 88th birthday of FFRF’s principal founder Anne Nicol Gaylor by honoring the feminist freethinker Margaret Sanger and then talk with author and scholar Barbara G. Walker about her new book, Belief and Unbelief. Afterwards we’ll hear from Kristoff Koch, a German-born American neuroscientist and long-time collaborator with Francis Crick, the co-discoverer of the structure of DNA who later studied the physical basis of consciousness. Koch’s talk, God, Death and Francis Crick, is a tribute to Crick in which he describes his mentor’s thoroughgoing rationalism and the inspirational way he dealt with his impending death from cancer. Then we hear a talk by psychologist, bestselling author, and founder of the Skeptic Society, Michael Shermer from last year’s TAM. Shermer has a new book coming out in the new year which will be called The Moral Arc: How Science and Reason Lead Humanity toward Truth, Justice, and Freedom. In the book and in this talk entitled Science and Justice he makes the case that abstract reasoning, rationality, empiricism, skepticism–scientific ways of thinking–have made people, and society as a whole, more moral.
On Freethought Radio, Dan Barker and Annie Laurie Gaylor discuss the Supreme Court’s lamentable expansion of government prayer in the Greece, NY vs. Galloway case that was handed down this past week, FFRF’s Out-Of-The-Closet billboards in northeast Ohio and they talk with atheist Leighann Lord, whose been called “one of New York’s 10 hottest comics.” Then: do near death experiences (NDEs) provide compelling evidence for some kind of life after death, or are there more plausible, naturalistic explanations? After Freethought Radio I’ll play an Intelligence Squared debate that took place last week in New York City. These are a series of Oxford-style formal debates held around the world, often with high-profile participants. Four people, two on each side of a resolution. Seven-minute opening statements, a round-table discussion, then two-minute closing statements. The resolution of this debate is, simply, “Death Is Not Final,” and it’s affirmed by Eben Alexander, a neurosurgeon who had a NDE and now claims to have proof of the existence of Heaven, and Raymond Moody a psychiatrist who has written books about NDEs. Arguing against the resolution are two regulars of Skeptical Sunday, physicist Sean Carroll of CalTech and neurologist Steven Novella of Yale. The audience, polled before and after the debate on the resolution, gave the victory to Carroll & Novella, but decide for yourself which side makes a more convincing argument.
Here is a link to the entire debate.