SkepSun #142 (06_14_2015)

Dan Barker hosts Freethought Radio solo again this week as Annie Laurie is taking care of her ailing mother. We hear that Justice Scalia believes the human species to be 5,000 years old, that Jesus welcomes visitors to a Texas town and about a widespread delusion that Christianity is under ruthless attack by the liberal world. Dan talks with Michigan activists Holly Huber and Mitch Kahle, who are fighting religious incursions into government, especially the public schools. After Freethought Radio, we learn from Gordon Bonnet that Western tourists who took their clothes off on the summit of Mount Kinabalu on Borneo caused not only scandal, but, according to some, an earthquake. Of course over here in America, we’re far too advanced to believe that gods send down natural disasters to punish sinners…or are we? Then, how close are we to understanding the psychological mechanisms that generate religious beliefs? Why do so many religions include beliefs in a counterintuitive world, but one which is only a little counterintuitive? What is the real function of religious ritual?  Do we need a group selection hypothesis to explain religion? Psychiatrist J. Anderson Thomson discusses how recent psychological research bears on these questions and more with Alan Litchfield, host of the Malcontent’s Gambit podcast. Thomson is author of Why We Believe in Gods, A concise guide to the science of faith, is a staff psychiatrist at the University of Virginia Student Health Services and faculty at the Institute of Law, Psychiatry and Public Policy at the University of Virginia.

University of Virgina psychiatrist J. Anderson Thomson

University of Virgina psychiatrist J. Anderson Thomson