Morality

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 #116 (12_07_2014)

On Freethought Radio, Dan Barker and Annie Laurie Gaylor tell us about a victory stopping a “Keep Christ in Christmas” parade in Piedmont, Alabama, and celebrate the birthdays of secular songwriters Ira Gershwin and Jay Gorney. Then they talk with FFRF intern and activist Jarvis Idowu, a 3rd-year law student at UW-Madison, about the Secular Law Students Society that he started and his work to keep state and church separate. Afterwards, we will hear  the Skeptic Rogues from the Skeptics Guide to the Universe discuss testability in science and beyond. Is testability a requirement of a scientific claim? Are all supernatural claims untestable? Then, on the Inquiring Minds podcast, host Indre Viskontas interviews cognitive scientist Paul Bloom of Yale University, author of  Just Babies: The Origins of Good and Evil. Bloom presents some pretty compelling evidence that at least some parts of our moral compass are innate—that is that babies are born with the capacity to tell good from bad. Finally, in hour 2 we hear an address at last summer’s TAM by Robert Kurzban, Associate Professor of Psychology at the University of Pennsylvania and Founder of the Pennsylvania Laboratory for Experimental Evolutionary Psychology. His research focuses on evolutionary approaches to understanding human social behavior. In his talk entitled “Why Everyone Else is a Hypocrite,” Kurzban presents an explanation from his discipline for why we are so good at fooling ourselves. His recent book shares the same title.

[audio http://dl.dropbox.com/s/ygv12o0k4330hpa/SkepSun_12_07_2014.mp3]

 

KurzbanPaul Bloom

SkepSun #114 (11_23_2014)

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.

Francis Crick (1916-2004), molecular biologist, neuroscientist, Nobel Prize winner, atheist.

Francis Crick (1916-2004), molecular biologist, neuroscientist, Nobel Prize winner, atheist.

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: http://ffrf.org/news/radio#sthash.gz5jiqrg.dpuf

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.

saturnalia

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.

SkepSun #48 (07_21_2013)

Skeptical Sunday gets underway with Freethought Radio.  Annie Laurie Gaylor and Dan Barker report on FFRF’s victory in Ohio, removing a Jesus painting from Jackson High School, they talk with Mandisa Thomas, president of Black Nonbelievers, who is planning a “Blackout Rally” in New York City on Saturday July 27, celebrating the contributions of nonbelievers of color. We also get to enjoy George Carlin’s monologue on “God and Religion.” After Freethought Radio we will hear from both the late Christopher Hitchens and Sam Harris, each of their takes on how the Ten Commandments could easily be improved upon.  Then in hour two, does religion lead people to be more cooperative, generous, friendly, and happy?  In a recent talk given at CFI-Michigan, Dr. Luke Galen of Grand Valley State University asks critical questions regarding the types of conclusions that can be drawn from the “religion makes you good” literature.
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blackout-web
Blackout Rally event poster; for more information go to: http://blackoutsecularrally.blogspot.com