AA008 – What is Faith? with John Bishop

For some religious believers, faith is one of the most important things a person can have in their life. But what is faith? Common theistic definitions say that faith is belief or trust, while a number of atheists argue that faith is an irrational claim to knowledge. In this episode of the show, I talk with Professor John Bishop about some of these issues, as well as the different models of faith. Dr. Bishop is Professor of Philosophy at the University of Auckland in New Zealand. He has a BA from the Australian National University and a PhD from Cambridge...

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Why atheism?

Why Atheism?

The Big Questions, as their name implies, are questions about who we are, about the universe we live in, about our place in the universe, and more along these lines. Theistic religions, especially those that proselytize, have constructed cases for their beliefs that tend to pay a great deal of attention to these Big Questions. Sometimes widespread and culturally dominant religions even succeed in defining the terms of the questions, so as to give themselves greater assurance of their influence on the lives of their adherents and the societies in which they thrive. So far, we have considered w...

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Man, Myth, Messiah: Answering History’s Greatest Question

When The Passion of the Christ was released to movie theaters in 2004, it erupted into a storm of excitement and controversy. Many believers used the film as a witnessing tool, inviting friends, coworkers, and family with the intent of eliciting conversation. Others found themselves convicted by the story, and took its message as a call to change, including a Texas man who felt inspired to confess to the murder of his girlfriend.1 Documentaries such as Changed Lives: Miracles of the Passion and Impact: Passion of the Christ have chronicled the enormous popular response to the movie around the...

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morality

The Moral Argument for God

In his dialogue with Euthyphro, Socrates asks, “Is the pious loved by the gods because it is pious? Or is it pious because it is loved by the gods?” To put the dilemma in more modern terms: does God command an action because it is good, or is an action good because God commands it? If the former is true, then the good exists independently of God. If the latter is true, then a question arises concerning the arbitrariness of moral obligations...

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Spirituality for the Skeptic

What does it mean to be a spiritual person? According to some, spirituality is about identifying with certain otherworldly beliefs. Others consider it to indicate faith in a deity or in supernatural beings. Recently, in Waking Up, Sam Harris has suggested that religious traditions have too often imposed their restrictive ideas onto spirituality. A spiritual person is not necessarily a religious person, and may only be spiritual in the sense of having a particular disposition towards life, the world, and the universe.

Robert Solomon, who was Quincy Lee Centennial Professor of Business and Phil...

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AA007 – How Ancient is Atheism? with Tim Whitmarsh

How long has atheism been around? In this seventh episode of the show, I talk with Tim Whitmarsh, the A.G. Leventis Professor of Greek Culture at the University of Cambridge, about atheism in ancient history. Professor Whitmarsh works on all areas of Greek literature and culture, specializing particularly in the world of Greeks under the Roman Empire. Professor Whitmarsh has published several books, including Greek Literature and the Roman Empire, Narrative and Identity in the Ancient Greek Novel, and his most recent, Battling the Gods: Atheism in the Ancient World.

Armchair Atheism is the of...

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pagan origins of christmas

The Pagan Origins of Christmas

Break out the lights and the mistletoe – it’s the Christmas season once more! As in years passed, families are decorating trees and preparing for the holiday, retail stores are stocking the shelves with festive goods, and churches throughout the world are planning their Christmas services. Though easily forgotten amidst all the Santas, trees, and candy canes, there is a religious component to the celebration...

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The God Debates: A 21st Century Guide for Atheists and Believers

Does god exist? This question, deceptively simple in its brevity, has formed the basis for countless debates both written and oral in the last few dozen decades. All too often such exchanges proceed on little to no discussion of what exactly either side means by “god.” Even narrowing down the scope to the Christian god invites the further question of whose denomination and doctrines are being assumed. Richard Dawkins and the other New Atheists became quite familiar with this problem after numerous critics drew attention to their broad generalizations about religious faith...
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AA006 – What is Naturalism? with John Shook

What is naturalism? For episode six, I take up this broad topic in conversation with John Shook, a research associate in philosophy and instructor in science education for the University at Buffalo. Dr. Shook holds a Ph.D in philosophy from the University at Buffalo, served as professor of philosophy at Oklahoma State University from 2000-2006, has worked for several secular and humanist organizations – including the Center for Inquiry and the American Humanist Association – and he is the author and editor of numerous books, including The God Debates and The Future of Naturalism.

Armchair Ath...

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The Unbelievers

The Unbelievers

The “Nones” are on the rise, according to a recent study published by the Pew Research Center.1 In the last 8 years, the number of Americans identifying as non-religious has gone up from 16% to 23%. Although the Nones do not consist exclusively of atheists and agnostics (many profess a belief in some sort of god or spirituality, but eschew traditional religious labels), the study does show there to be a growing number of those who claim to believe in no deity...
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