The Humanist Hour
Summary: A typical episode of the HH podcast features interviews, commentary, news, and music. Notable guests have included Sir Salman Rushdie, Prof. Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, Christopher Hitchens, E.O. Wilson, Alan Dershowitz, Neil deGrasse Tyson, Andy Rooney, Greg Graffin of Bad Religion, Holly Near, Dar Williams and Julia Sweeney. The HH podcast is hosted and produced by Bo Bennett, PhD, from the American Humanist Association.
In this episode, Peggy Knudtson speaks with former scientologist Chris Shelton at The Skeptics of Oz conference. Later, correspondent Jenn Wilson speaks with Dr. John Hawks, one of the lead scientists on the Rising Star Expedition, about the practice of open science and how it has benefited this work. Chris Shelton used to be a Scientologist and got himself out of that situation in late 2013. As part of his road out of that mess, he discovered skepticism and the whole subject of critical thinking. It was an epiphany for Chris and a very important step on his road to recovery. No one wants to think that they were duped or made a fool of, and no one wants to think that they could be so easily deceived. Once he started learning about logic and reason, he made it his mission in life to spread this new “gospel” so as to help others in their lives. John Hawks is an associate professor of anthropology at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. He also is the author of a widely read paleoanthropology blog.
In this episode, Bo Bennett interviews Michael Werner about the history of humanism and dis-cuss ethics from a secular perspective. Werner is a cofounder of SMART Recovery, a past president of the American Humanist Association, and currently a member of the AHA chapter Humanists and Freethinkers of Cape Fear. Later, Humanist Hour contributor Ron Steelman interviews Ron Flannery on artificial intelligence.
In this episode, Bo Bennett speaks with author and journalist Antony Lowenstein about his latest book, Disaster Capitalism, dealing with a broken political system in need of fixing. Antony Loewenstein is an Australian independent freelance journalist, author, documentarian and blogger. He has written for the The Guardian, Washington Post, New Statesman, Al Jazeera, Huffington Post, The Daily Star, Le Monde Diplomatique English, Foreign Policy, The National, Al Akhbar English, Dawn, Haaretz, The Nation, New Internationalist, Sydney Morning Herald, The Australian, BBC World Service, Adbusters, Al Masry Alyoum, Juan Cole, Mondoweiss, Tehelka, Sydney’s Sun-Herald, New Zealand Herald, Sydney Ideas Quarterly, The Australian Financial Review, Crikey, Melbourne’s Age, Brisbane’s Courier Mail, Canberra Times, Online Opinion, New Matilda, The Conversation, ABC Unleashed/The Drum, Amnesty International Australia, Green Left Weekly, Eureka Street, Kill Your Darlings, Tikkun, Adelaide’s Advertiser, The Bulletin, Znet, Overland, Sydney PEN, The Big Issue, Counterpunch and many others.
In this episode, Chris Johnson, author of the book A Better Life and producer of the movie with the same title, talks about his experience creating these works and what it means to have “a better life.” Chris is a New York-based photographer and filmmaker. He received his undergraduate degree in film production (along with a minor in religious studies) from Concordia University in Montreal, Quebec. His photography has been seen in various outlets, including The New York Times. He has spent the last three years working on A Better Life, traveling across the United States, Canada, the UK, Ireland, and other countries. Apart from his own film and photographic work, he has also collaborated with artists and directors in various roles and capacities from assistant director and stage manager, for theatre, film, and print. For the book and film of A Better Life, he interviewed many prominent atheist figures such as Richard Dawkins, Steven Pinker, Dan Dennett, Derren Brown, Pat Churchland, Julia Sweeney, Penn & Teller, and many more. He has given talks on atheism and his work at the Humanist Community at Harvard, New York Society for Ethical Culture, PA State Atheist/Humanist Conference, Sunday Assembly - New York, the Atheist Community of Austin, Freedom from Religion Foundation Annual Conference, and more. In addition, he has also been a guest on various podcasts and TV shows such as The Humanist Hour, Atheist Airwaves, The Phil Ferguson Show, The Atheist Experience, and Pivot TV’s TakePart Live.
In this episode, Bo Bennett and Kim Ellington speak with author John Loftus about his new book, How to Defend the Christian Faith: Advice from an Atheist – the first book on Christian apologetics written by a leading atheist figure that teaches Christians the best and worst arguments for defending their faith against attack. From Amazon.com: The Christian faith has been vigorously defended with a variety of philosophical, historical, and theological arguments, but many of the arguments used in an earlier age no longer resonate in today’s educated West. Where has apologetics gone wrong? What is the best response to the growing challenge presented by scientific discovery and naturalistic thought? Unlike every work on Christian apologetics that has come before, How to De-fend the Christian Faith is the first one written by an atheist for Christians. As a former Christian defender who is now a leading atheist thinker, John Loftus answers these questions and more. He tells would-be apologists how to train properly, where to study, what to study, what issues they should concern themselves with, and how poorly the professors who currently train them practice their craft. In the process, he shows readers why Christian apologists have failed to reach the intelligent nonbeliever. For those Christian apologists who think this book will provide a secret formula to convert the nonbelieving mass-es, be warned: as an exposé of the present state of Christian apologetics, it can just as easily be used by atheists to refute apologetic arguments. Thus, this book presents both an opportunity and a challenge to Christians: they must either change how apologetics is done, or quit doing apologetics altogether.
In this episode, Bo Bennett speaks with writer Chris Matheson about his book, "The Story of God: A Biblical Comedy about Love (and Hate)." From Amazon.com: The Bible offers some clues to God’s personality—he’s alternately been called vindictive and just, bloodthirsty and caring, all-powerful and impotent, capricious and foresighted, and loving and hateful. But no one has ever fully explored why God might be such a figure of contrasts. Nor has anyone ever satisfactorily explained what guides his relationship not just with angels, the devil, and his son, but also with all of creation. Might he be completely misunderstood, a mystery even to himself? Might his behavior and actions toward humankind tell us much more about him than it does about us? Enter the mind of the creator of the universe, travel with him through the heavenly highs and hellish lows of his story, from Genesis to Revelation, to better understand his burdensome journey: being God isn’t easy. After hearing his story—at times troubling and tragic but always hilarious in its absurdity and divine in its comedy—you’ll never look at a miracle or catastrophe—or at our place in the universe, or God’s—the same way again.
In this episode, Bo Bennett and Kim Ellington have a casual chat about several topics: some fun, some exciting, and some that can have a significant impact on humanity. Listen in and enjoy!
In this episode, Bo Bennett and Kim Ellington speak with world-renowned artist and humanist science fiction author Scott Burdick about how his travels led him to a humanistic world view, and how his latest science-fiction novel, Nihala, explores many humanistic issues. Scott’s bio from Amazon.com: Scott Burdick studied art at Chicago's American Academy of Art and then film and writing at Chicago's Columbia College, where his short story "Fear" was published in the Hair Trigger anthology while a student. Burdick subsequently illustrated covers for TSR's Dungeon and Dragon magazines, as well as working on the development team for Dreamworks' animated feature film, Spirit (uncredited). Unsatisfied with the prospect of living in Chicago or LA and working for others, Scott and his wife, fellow artist Susan Lyon, moved to rural NC in the foothills of the Appalachian mountains, as a home base between traveling extensively across the world--researching many cultures and indigenous tribes for his artworks, novels, and short stories. Burdick's paintings are widely shown in galleries and museums across the country, and he's directed three independent documentaries on religion--In God we Trust?, Sophia Investigates the Good News Club, and In Reason We Trust, (featuring Richard Dawkins, Adam Savage of Myth Busters, Eddie Izzard, Dan Barker, Annie Laurie Gaylor, Lawrence Krause, Greg Graffin of the band Bad Religion, and a dozen other prominent free-thinkers from the 2012 Reason Rally in Washington DC.) Many of the themes of his films overlap those of his novels--religion, science, philosophy, the direction of technology, and morality. Nihala description from Amazon.com: Steven Hawking recently warned that artificial intelligence poses an existential threat to the human species. And yet, how to stop such a singularity without halting scientific advancement itself? Some claim that humanity should abandon the enslavement of technology altogether for a return to nature and a way of life more in sync with our psychological needs. But who is to say exactly how much technology is too much? And who will ensure none crosses some arbitrary line of demarcation? Kayla Nighthawk, crippled and orphaned from birth, has been raised in the theocratic society of Potemia. Hundreds of years have passed since the Neo-Luddite War cut Potemia off from the rest of mankind. The Founder predicted that sciencecraft would destroy those on the Outside, but what if the pursuit of scientific advancement has created wonders beyond imagining? Will Kayla risk leaving her homeland in search of the forbidden knowledge that might cure her—even at the cost her immortal soul? Through a series of dialogues with the strange creatures she encounters, Kayla’s religious convictions come under attack. Her search for the divine, an absolute basis for morality, and the meaning of existence itself becomes a matter of life or death for Kayla—as well as for all of humanity. This is the history of the next millennia. An epic tale of technology and the backlash against it. A journey of war, love, revenge, and heartbreak—a philosophical adventure story.
In this episode, Kim Ellington speaks with Certified Forensic Examiner Derek Ellington on a host of issues in the digital age including the recent hack of online dating/affair service Ashley Madison. What should parents be aware of in the digital age? What should we all be aware of? Derek Ellington is a Certified Forensic Examiner with over twenty years of IT experience and over ten years of forensic experience. He is a court-recognized expert witness and regularly testifies in varying courts and jurisdictions. He conducts seminars and trainings, and is a contributor to family law and legal publications on the subject of digital forensics.
In this episode, Bo Bennett speaks with author Seth Andrews about his latest book Sacred Cows: A Lighthearted Look at Belief and Tradition Around the World. “[I]nto the 21st century, our species continues to participate in beliefs and customs that seem more suited to the Bronze Age than the Information Age, some of which involve poisonous snakes, holy smoke, urine bubbles, crystals, tarot cards, aliens, costumed virgins and, of course, an offering plate.” A Christian of 30 years and former religious broadcaster, Seth Andrews ultimately found himself dissatisfied with the explanations and doctrines of scripture and the church. His search for answers let him to reject, completely, Christianity and all other religions, and Seth now hosts one of the largest online atheist communities in the world, The Thinking Atheist. His "everyman" approach and skills as a broadcaster and video producer have brought, literally, millions into the conversation regarding religious beliefs and the benefits/damage they do in the name of their respective deities, especially in regard to the indoctrination of children. The Thinking Atheist is on YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and BlogTalkRadio.
In this episode, Bo Bennett speaks with AHA Legal Director David Niose about many of the issues humanist students can face in public school, and more importantly, what can be done about these issues. David Niose's background includes experience in law and mass communication. Having practiced law in Massachusetts since 1990, Niose has also worked in print and broadcast media, taught both history and law, and written extensively on a wide array of issues. Upon joining the AHA board in 2005, Niose initiated and helped develop the AHA's media campaign. Niose has appeared in national media and spoken to groups around the country, emphasizing the importance of utilizing mass media to inject humanist ideas into the public dialogue, improve the public image of humanists, and sway public opinion away from the religious right. As an attorney, Niose has advocated for church/state separation and the rights of humanists and other nontheists, and he is currently involved in implementing a legal strategy to enforce the rights of humanists and other nontheists via the avenue of equal protection law. He has worked with the Secular Coalition for America in various positions to help advocate for the rights of Secular Americans, and has served on the boards of Greater Worcester Humanists and Greater Boston Humanists.
In this episode, Bo Bennett speaks with Greg Epstein, Humanist Chaplain at Harvard University and Executive Director of the Humanist Hub, about his recent article in Salon, "Ta-Nehisi Coates woke me up: Lessons on race, atheism, and white privilege". From HumanistHub.org: Greg M. Epstein serves as the Humanist Chaplain at Harvard University, and is author of the New York Times Bestselling book, Good Without God: What a Billion Nonreligious People Do Believe. He sits on the executive committee of the 36-member corps Harvard Chaplains. In 2005 he received ordination as a Humanist Rabbi from the International Institute for Secular Humanistic Judaism, where he studied in Jerusalem and Michigan for five years.
In this episode, Kim Ellington speaks with Dr. Richard Carrier about the historicity of Jesus. They discuss the fine line between history, philosophy, and science and why Jesus was more likely just a literary figure than a real person. From Dr. Carrier’s website: Richard Carrier is a world-renowned author and speaker. As a professional historian, published philosopher, and prominent defender of the American freethought movement, Dr. Carrier has appeared across the U.S., Canada and the U.K., and on American television and London radio, defending sound historical methods and the ethical worldview of secular naturalism. His books and articles have received international attention. With a Ph.D. from Columbia University in ancient history, he specializes in the intellectual history of Greece and Rome, particularly ancient philosophy, religion, and science, with emphasis on the origins of Christianity and the use and progress of science under the Roman empire. He is also a published expert in the modern philosophy of naturalism as a worldview. He is the author of On the Historicity of Jesus, Proving History, Sense and Goodness without God, Not the Impossible Faith, Why I Am Not a Christian, and Hitler Homer Bible Christ, and a contributor to The Empty Tomb, The Christian Delusion, The End of Christianity, and Christianity Is Not Great, as well as copious work in history and philosophy, online and in print. He is currently working on several upcoming projects, but also teaching affordable online courses in secular philosophy, history, and methodology at Partners for Secular Activism, and blogging and speaking about history, philosophy, feminism, and other moral causes, as well as his past in the military and his current life in polyamory.
In this episode, Bo Bennett speaks with Matt Dillahunty, host of the Atheist Experience cable access television show broadcast from Austin, Texas. The discussion covers many aspects of debate and common Christian argument, along with some suggestions on how to respond and how not to respond. From The Atheist Experience website: I was raised in a loving, Southern Baptist home and was a fundamentalist Christian for over 20 years. After 8 years in the Navy and several years in the hi-tech game, I set out to re-affirm my faith with designs on attending seminary and continuing with a life in the ministry. What began as an attempt to bolster my faith became a continuing investigation into more topics than I ever suspected I'd enjoy. After the first couple of years, reason forced me to acknowledge that my faith had not only been weakened by my studies - it had been utterly destroyed. The thoughts, writings and wisdom of people like; Robert Ingersoll, Voltaire, Dan Barker, Richard Dawkins, Farrell Till and many others, helped free my mind from the shackles of religion without a single moment of despair. I continue to study philosophy, religion, science, history and the many other topics which have helped me to understand reality and enjoy my life. Having spent the majority of my life compartmentalizing my religious beliefs to keep them safe from skepticism, it's thrilling to leave the critical, investigative, hungry portion of my brain turned "on". While my own pursuit of knowledge is a powerful driving force in my life, I'd also like to prevent others from wasting another day on irrational beliefs. Education is the key ...and if my work manages to educate even one person, I'm satisfied. Anyone interested in reading further is encouraged to visit the counter-apologetics encyclopedia, Iron Chariots (wiki.ironchariots.org). Russell Glasser and I started the wiki and we encourage others to help us build it into a great resource for anyone interested in apologetics and theological debate.
In this episode, Bo Bennett speaks with author and journalist Johann Hari about the failed war on drugs, its history, and a proposed solution that has been tested. Hari’s new book, "Chasing the Scream," explores the war on drugs through the stories of people across the world whose lives have been transformed by this war. From ChasingTheScream.com: Johann Hari is a British journalist. He has written for many of the world’s leading newspapers and magazines, including the New York Times, Le Monde, the Guardian, the Los Angeles Times, the New Republic, Nation, Slate, El Mundo, and the Sydney Morning Herald. He was a lead op-ed columnist for the Independent, one of Britain’s leading newspapers, for nine years. He was born in 1979 in Glasgow, Scotland, and has lived in London since he was a baby. His mother is from the Scottish tenements and his father is from the Swiss mountains. He graduated from King’s College, Cambridge with a double first in Social and Political Sciences in 2001. Johann was named ‘National Newspaper Journalist of the Year’ by Amnesty International twice. He was named ‘Environmental Commentator of the Year’ at the Editorial Intelligence awards, and ‘Gay Journalist of the Year’ at the Stonewall awards. He has also won the Martha Gellhorn Prize for political writing. He is currently working on his next book, and he is a Visiting Fellow with Purpose, the New York-based progressive campaigning group.