Well. I'm here. You're here. Let's recap the week! :)
You'll certainly want to check out our interview with Dr. Robert McCauley, airing for the first time tonight! Dr. McCauley is the William Rand Kenan Jr. Professor and the Director of the Center for Mind, Brain, and Culture at Emory University. Considered to be one of the founders of the Cognitive Science of Religion, his research interests in this area have centered on the cognitive foundations of religion and religious ritual. His work (often in collaboration with another founder of the field, E. Thomas Lawson) has provided many insights into the evolved cognitive mechanisms that underpin religious thought. Dr. McCauley joins us to discuss his lively and fascinating new book, Why Religion is Natural and Science is Not. As always, don't worry if you can't be in front of your speakers for the live presentation of the interview; you can always stream the interview from the archive or download it in mp3 and from our iTunes portal for playback in the car and on all your devices, just like you can all of our shows.
And on that note, last week we aired our interview with sociologist Dr. Phil Zuckerman author of the recently released Faith No More: Why People Reject Religion. Dr. Zuckerman joins us to talk about the results of extensive interviews he performed looking into the reasons why people apostasize. The results are both compellingly personal and fascinating! If you want to better target the things that apparently cause people to leave their religion in order to be more effective at prompting the religious to pause to think for a minute, you have to hear what Zuckerman has to say!
We're recording two interviews this week for you guys: one about the precursors of morality (altruism, fairness, empathy, etc.) in animals, and another about how the universe exists without having been created. And there's much more to come in the short term. Further out: I've also had the opportunity to see the Spring catalog of releases of some of the publishers I work with (the others aren't available yet) and I can tell you there's some awesome stuff coming up! We'll be answering questions like Is the Bible a reliable source for the resurrection? Is the methodology of Historical Jesus scholarship valid? What about meaning and value under atheism? What sort of evidence can genetics bring to the case for evolution (and why should we care)? And on, and on, and on...
Alright, let's give you some links!
So, on New Year's Eve the recording artist Cee Lo did a cover of John Lennon's song "Imagine" except where Lennon imagined a perfect world with "no religion too", Cee Lo changed the words to "and all religions true." Commentary followed. Hemant Mehta was early on the scene in the atheosphere to say that Cee Lo was already doing damage control minutes later on Twitter. American Atheists President David Silverman's ingenious response was to tell Cee Lo to come to the upcoming Reason Rally and sing the song with the correct lyrics as a way to apologize. Greta Christina pointed out that, besides being in poor taste in light of what Lennon was saying with the song, Cee Lo's lyric is also just absurd.
R. Joseph Hoffman continued his habit of posting douchey pretentious attacks on the "New Atheism". PZ Myers attempted to cut through the bullshit. Eric MacDonald waded in deeper.Jerry Coyne gave Hoffman the "award" for Accommodationist of the Year.
Christian apologists (but specifically William Lane Craig) rely on selective sources when they argue from the Bible, to the Bible.
The Village Voice is one of the only media locations where you can get real critical and hard-hitting information about what's going on with– and what's going on inside– Scientology (case in point, from this week!). But this past week they paused to make sure that readers know just what Scientology IS, and what Scientologists believe.
Jerry Coyne continued the discussion about whether we have free will, this time at USA Today (plus a touch at his own site.) Jean Kazez commented. Russell Blackford had a few words, and then some more. Then Coyne posted to his site in order to respond to reader comments. Make sure to read the comments to these posts: there's lots more to think about there than even there is in the posts themselves (including a bit of back and forth between Kazez and Blackford at Kazez's site that's interesting). This continues to be a fascinating discussion. And here's an interesting twist on the topic. Let's say that I believe that everyone has free will, but YOU. How would you even prove that I'm wrong, that you do?
Carl Zimmer's profile of Neil deGrasse Tyson in Playboy (don't worry, link is SFW) is a must read this week.
Recently there was some talk about how Intelligent Design is dead. This talk was from non-believing biologists, however. But this week, Christian physicist Paul Wallace wrote at PuffHo to say that, indeed, even from his perspective, Intelligent Design is dead.
Chris Halquist wrote, thinking out loud: while there are interesting arguments for god, are there any interesting defenses of the moral side of religion?
What are you looking at when you dream? What is REM (rapid eye movement)?
There's been a great deal of important talk about atheism and feminism this last year and it continues, to the movement's credit. But boy did Penn Jillette and a friend of his step in shit when his friend wrote an awful piece about skepticism and feminism and Jillette tweeted it from his Twitter account, calling the piece "something really wonderful." Hemant Mehta commented.Jen McCreight gave it the torching it deserved.
The CFI's Ron Lindsey posted to respond to Christian philosopher Alivin Plantinga's new book that attempts to reconcile science and religion.
There's going to be an uphill climb if this new atheist political party is going to succeed.
Five experiments at the frontier of science, each as hard as finding the Higgs.
New Hampshire legislators are trying to challenge the teaching of evolution.
How much life lurks in a single scoop of sea floor mud? Incredible.
Listening to the stars to learn their secrets. The Kepler Space Telescope is allowing astrophysicists and asteroseismologists to learn the mass, composition, and size of the stars.