SkepSun #117 (12_14_2014)

On Freethought Radio, Dan Barker and Annie Laurie Gaylor tell us about nativity scenes, county grants to churches, praying high-school coaches, and Winter Solstice displays that are all in the news this week. Then they speak with Harvard evolutionary psychologist and linguist Steven Pinker about his newest book, The Sense of Style: The Thinking Person’s Guide to Writing in the 21st Century. Apropos of good writing, tomorrow, Monday the 15th, we mark the passing three years ago of author, essayist, polemicist, and contrarian Christopher Hitchens. Atheism never had a more rhetorically skilled advocate and religion never a more formidable opponent. This past week, reflecting on this sad anniversary and the void left behind, I found myself watching clips of Hitchens in action, online, some of which we’ll hear on today’s show.  [In doing so I stumbled upon an excellent documentary spanning Hitchens life and career.  It is so good that you’d never guess it was made by one individual fan named Kristoffer Hellssmark as a labor of love. It is called simply “The Hitch” and is available on the website Vimeo. ] Afterwards, we’ll sample a recent episode of the Friendly Atheist podcast on which hosts Hemant Mehta and Jessica Bluemke interview Steve Wells, author of the Skeptics Annotated Bible (an amazing resource that exists both online and in print). They speak with Steve about his time in seminary, how one documents the number of deaths during an imaginary flood, and what has motivated him to spend the last 25 years of his life producing annotated guides not only to the Bible, but also to the Qu’ran and Book of Mormon.


Christopher Hitchens, 1949-2011