SkepSun #157 (09_27_2015)

On Freethought Radio we hear that the “JESUS Welcomes You To Hawkins” sign is coming down in Hawkins, Texas, that an Arizona city will stop favoring Christian prayers, and that the University of Wisconsin Athletic Department is donating sports memorabilia to FFRF. We also hear from FFRF co-presidents Dan Barker (Annie Laurie Gaylor is traveling this week), how the FFRF is protesting the Pope’s visit to America with full-page ads in several newspapers, plus JFK and Ron Reagan ads on TV. We’ll listen to Kennedy’s 1960 Houston speech in favor of a secular government, and then hear philosopher Daniel Dennett read his Foreword to Dan Barker’s book Life Driven Purpose.

Gordon Bonnet looks at some anti-vax lunacy from Donald Trump in the last Republican Presidential candidate debate and notes how the two MDs competing with Trump for the nomination failed to stand up for reality-based public policy. Is it pandering we’re looking at, or just honest-to-goodness stupidity?

In hour two, could empathy be a bad thing?  Yes, empathy. This is the counter-intuitive thesis of Paul Bloom, professor of psychology and cognitive science at Yale University. He makes his case that empathy is at the root of a lot of bad decision-making with host, Julia Galef, on the Rationally Speaking podcast.

In between, somewhere, will be musical selections from Cynthia Carle and Tombstone Da Deadman.

Is empathy a bad thing? Half-human, half-Betazoid empath Deanna Troi from Star Trek: The Next Generation (actress Marina Sirtis)

Can empathy a bad thing? Half-human, half-Betazoid empath Deanna Troi from Star Trek: The Next Generation (actress Marina Sirtis)

SkepSun #138 (05_10_2015)

On Freethought Radio, Dan Barker and Annie Laurie Gaylor touch on Black Atheism, Nonbelief Relief, and why politicians should get off their knees and get to work. Then they interview Andrew Solomon, president of the PEN American Center, about why they awarded Charlie Hebdo its “Free Expression Courage Award” last week. Gordon Bonnet of Skeptophilia calls to task those in Congress who seem to think they can legislate away reality by cutting funding for climate change research. Then in the second half of the show, two takes on secular morality and ethics.  Can we be good without a God, and what does secular morality look like?  First, veteran atheist debater Matt Dillahunty from the Atheist Experience television show describes how tackles this topic in debates with theists, and then we hear from Princeton professor Peter Singer known for his thinking on topics such as animal rights, abortion and wealth inequality who is interviewed by Josh Zepps on a Point of Inquiry podcast. They discuss  Singer’s newest book,  entitled The Most Good You Can Do, an exploration of the philosophical movement known as effective altruism; the desire to make the world the best it can be using reason and evidence.

Matt Dillahunty of the Atheist Experience.

Matt Dillahunty of the Atheist Experience.

SkepSun #83 (03_23_2014)

On Freethought Radio, Dan Barker and Annie Laurie Gaylor tell us about unholy mixing of religion and government in Green Bay (WI), Birmingham (AL), and Sand Point (ID). They welcome spring with music from Richard Rodgers and Yip Harburg, and celebrate the birthday of Elton John by hearing his freethought song “This Train Don’t Stop Here Any More.” Then we talk with prominent attorney Marci Hamilton, author of God vs. The Gavel, who argued and won a Supreme Court lawsuit challenging the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, and who wrote FFRF’s Supreme Court amicus brief challenging Hobby Lobby’s refusal on religious grounds to honor the Affordable Care Act’s contraceptive mandate. Then two interviews from the new Inquiring Minds podcast, hosted by the former hosts of Point of Inquiry, Chris Mooney and Indre Viskontas.  First, Joshua Greene he’s  director of Harvard University’s Moral Cognition Lab. His work focuses on the intersection of psychology, neuroscience, and moral philosophy. He’s author of a new book entitled Moral Tribes: Emotion, Reason, and the Gap Between Us and Them. He talks to host Chris Mooney about the evolution of morality—and why humanity may, objectively, be getting better in the long run. Then, can we talk rationally about GM crops?  Indre Viskontas talks to Dr. Stephen Novella about GMOs and human health.  Are there legitimate health concerns about them, or are those fears a product of what he calls the “naturalistic fallacy”?


Moral Tribes

SkepSun #69 (12_15_2013)

It’s the most wonderful time of year…for nativity scene violations! Dan Barker and Annie Laurie Gaylor report on complaints to the FFRF about creche scenes erected on public property and then talk with Tom Cara, director of FFRF’s Metropolitan Chicago chapter, about the large atheist ‘A’ and the “nativity of the Bill of Rights” his group erected in downtown Daley Plaza. On the second half of the show, they interview Linda LaScola, one of the founders of the Clergy Project, and co-author of the new book (with Daniel C. Dennett) about clergy who have abandoned faith, Caught In The Pulpit: Leaving Belief Behind. – See more at:

After Freethougtht Radio we ask where does morality come from and in what do we nonbelievers say our ethics are grounded?  If there is no God or gods, is everything permissable? We’ll hear from two prominent thinkers on this subject on today’s show.  First evolutionary psychologist Steven Pinker, professor in the Department of Psychology at Harvard University in a talk he gave at MIT in 2010. Pinker discusses the probable evolutionary origin of our sense of right and wrong and defends a compatibilist view of free will.  Then we’ll hear from the moral philosopher perhaps best known for his arguments for widening the circle of moral responsibilty to include other species, Peter Singer from Princeton University.  Singer talks to Massimo Pigliucci and Julia Galef on the Rationally Speaking podcast about consequentialist ethics and animal welfare.


The FFRF’s banner in Pitman, NJ, countering another placed by the Knights of Columbus that urges people to “Keep Christ in Christmas.”  See the story here.