If you aren’t familiar with The Thinking Atheist (either his YouTube channel, his podcast, his website, or his forums), you need to be. Seth Andrews, former Christian broadcaster and true believer, lends some great perspective to issues atheists deal with frequently.
This is his latest video, ‘Intelligent Design’, which is (like his others) beautifully produced and thought-provoking.
In case you haven’t seen it before, The Atheist Experience is a live call-in talk show hosted by The Atheist Community of Austin. The hosts take calls from theists and atheists alike, and the discussions are occasionally really good. The show is broadcast live on public access in Austin, Texas and over the internet on Ustream. For example, during today’s show, a Christian called in to challenge the hosts on whether or not an objective morality was possible without a god. The conversation was pretty amazing. Watch it for yourself and see!
Fascinating and terrifying stuff: “Can Religion Justify Bullying Children?” (a talk by Sean Faircloth.) If you’ve got a spare half hour or so, I highly recommend giving this a watch. Never let it be said that fundamentalist Christianity isn’t a threat to nonbelievers or believers of other stripes.
In case you haven’t heard of it: Intelligence Squared (IQ2) is a multinational series of public debates held on often controversial subjects touching issues like race, religion, sexuality, and politics. They’ve got a great backlog of debates featuring prominent speakers from all across the spectrum.
On September 6, IQ2 Australia held a debate over the proposition “Atheists are wrong.” Here’s the summary:
Having been persecuted as a dangerous minority for centuries, in recent years the champions of atheism have achieved celebrity status around the world. Atheists have been quick to point to the evils done in the name of religion and to claim that their criticism of religion is grounded in the demands of reason. Their opponents have championed faith as a source of inspiration and as an essential aspect of the human condition. However, beyond rhetorical skirmishes, in the end, just one fundamental question must be answered: does God exist?
The video isn’t available yet, but when it is, it’ll be online here. I’ve never heard of any of the speakers, which should make it interesting to watch. In any case, judging from the pre- and post-debate audience poll results, it should be interesting to watch; the pro-proposition group decreased slightly, the undecideds almost vanished, and anti-proposition group jumped by 10%.
YouTuber Evid3nc3 recently put out a couple of videos that describe the development of the modern concept of the Judeo-Christian God in great detail. From what I’ve heard and read before, he really seems to know what he’s talking about; plus he has plenty of sources cited to back up his claims. If you’re at all interested in learning about how the monotheistic god of the Abrahamic traditions came to be, you should definitely watch these. It helps explain the evolution of the mythology, from the worship of the tribal war god of the Israelites as one deity among many to the theology we see today of a singular, all-powerful creator god.
Evid3nc3 also has several other great videos, including the compelling story of his deconversion.
Hemant Mehta, best known as The Friendly Atheist or The eBay Atheist, recently paid a visit to the Secular Student Alliance at Rennselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, New Yok. Hemant’s original claim to fame was an eBay auction where he offered to go to the religious service of the buyer’s choice for one day per $10 spent. The media spun this as Hemant “selling his soul,” and after he tipped off a few key blogs and local media organizations, his auction quickly made the international news. Atheists and Christians squared off in a bidding war over the deal, and Hemant fielded dozens of questions in response, both off-the-wall and serious.
The winner of the auction, a former evangelical minister from Seattle named Jim Henderson, tweaked the deal a bit and offered to send Hemant to several different churches around the country, from tiny home churches to Ted Haggard‘s massive megachurch. Henderson runs an organization called Off the Map which (at the time – the focus has now changed) hired non-churchgoers to attend local churches and write up critiques of their experiences. Jim asked Hemant to do the same, and to post them online. The result surprised both Jim and Hemant: People from all along the religious/irreligious spectrum responded almost entirely positively, often finding common ground in their recognition of parts of what Hemant articulated.
In his talk at RPI, Hemant went into great detail about this project, its aftermath, and what he has been doing since then. Hemant is now chair of the Board of Directors for the SSA, a role which lets him play an active role in supporting secular student groups across the country. He is also a math teacher in the Chicago suburbs, a role which led to his coming under attack as a “dangerous influence” for kids from a extreme conservative Christian group called the Illinois Family Institute. Hemant described how that came about and how his life has changed (or not) as a result of it. Continue reading →