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, Bo Bennett and Kim Ellington interview Mr. “Godless in Dixie,” Neil Carter. They discuss what it is like to be an atheist in the Deep South, and more generally, the benefits that come with living the secular life. From Neil’s website: What you’ll find here are mostly my thoughts and ramblings about living as a skeptic in the Deep South. If you’re not from around here, you probably wouldn’t believe how central religion is to life in the South. I was raised in this culture, and I spent two decades of my life passionately pursuing the ideals of evangelical Christianity. Around age 35 I changed my mind, however, and now I find myself daily wrestling with the implications of unbelief and skepticism amidst a culture which praises faith in the unseen. I am not by nature a confrontational person (in fact, I’m pathologically conciliatory) so if the opinions expressed herein strike you as unduly antagonistic towards some aspects of religion in general, and evangelical/fundamentalist Christian faith in particular, I would encourage you to consider the possibility that circumstances around me have inspired that posture. I wear many hats (and none of them pay well!): I am a school teacher, a tutor, a personal trainer, a supplement pusher, a driving instructor, and a father of five. I also help moderate a growing discussion group of more than 450 atheists in Mississippi and I’ve recently started a more public forum for anyone interested in discussing issues related to skepticism and/or life in the Deep South.
In this episode, Bo interviews former AHA board member Margaret Downey about several humanistic issues as well as her famous anti-superstition parties. Downey has been active in a variety of causes including feminism and anti-smoking campaigns before becoming a public representative of atheism, and has known for her activities in this area. Her first major involvement as a publicly active nontheist was when her son Matthew was not allowed to renew his membership in the Boy Scouts of America since he was raised in a nontheist household. This led to Margaret Downey v. Boy Scouts of America, which did not go far in the courts before the United States Supreme Court's 2000 decision in Boy Scouts of America v. Dale that the Boy Scouts constituted a private organization and could thus choose their own membership criteria, preventing Downey from taking her case further. Since then Downey has been a prominent public representative of atheism in the United States as well as representing atheists and other non-theists at United Nations conferences. Her work has been incorporated into United Nations reports on religious discrimination.
In this episode, Bo Bennett and Kim Ellington interview Susan Porter and Rose McDonnell from PolyColumbus.org. Listen as they discuss polyamory – the practice of having multiple simultaneous sexual and/or romantic partners. From the PolyColumbus.org website: PolyColumbus empowers individuals that either self-identify as polyamorous, open, or ethically non-monogamous, or are exploring such possibilities. We build community to provide a safe and inclusive place to not only be ourselves, but also meet like-minded individuals from all backgrounds. We advocate for the equal treatment of the ethically non-monogamous under law, and for broader societal acceptance of the same. We serve organizations with similar goals by documenting best practices and creating other resources for successfully running such an organization. Finally, we educate each other, allied organizations, and the broader community on what it means to be ethically non-monogamous.
In this episode, Bo Bennett interviews Horus Gilgamesh, author of the "Awkward Moments (not found in your average) Children's Bible" series. From Horus’ website: Horus was raised Catholic before being "born again" in college when he began following a calling toward full-time ministry. Early on, his efforts were focused on youth evangelism and Biblical literacy around the world. When he was on a missions trip to Africa, a fearless young boy approached, pleading, "Chakula? Maji?" - the Swahili words for “food” and "water." Unfortunately, Horus had no food or water to offer the poor child – only Bibles. A few days later, Horus met a humanitarian relief worker from Spain who shared five simple words of wisdom that would change his life forever – "Empty stomachs have no ears." Horus realized that he was not meeting the very real needs of the people he was hoping to help – he was struggling to finding a purpose in his own life, as a self righteous servant of his Creator. To many Christians, the most important gift you could ever give to a man is a chance at eternal life through the Gospel of Jesus Christ – the Living Water. But what about this life? There are billions who would give anything for a drink of regular old H2O. Over the years, Horus became more interested in critical needs and social justice initiatives, helping those at risk of severe poverty, disease, or violence. The pain and suffering he saw first hand led him to be more and more troubled by God's apparent disregard for the children of His creation. This led Horus to years of re-studying the Bible for himself, away from the "rose-colored" teachings of any church or seminary. He never returned.
In this episode, Bo Bennett interviews Margaret Placentra Johnston, author of the book 'Faith Beyond Belief.' From Margaret’s Patheos blog: While the word spirituality can mean many different things to different people, on this site we consider it less as a supernatural (and perhaps escapist) concept, and more about living more authentically in this life. Rather than sequester herself away on a mountain-top, a spiritual person as I am using the word, involves herself fully in the world, faces its questions and problems honestly and directly and does what she can to help out. Specifically the term spiritual development, as used on this site, refers to the intention to move forward spiritually in three ways – Spiritual strength, spiritual maturity and spiritual courage. If you would welcome a broader perspective about religious belief versus nonbelief, please join me here for a bird’s eye view of the unitive and non-literal belief stance that often develops in true spiritual maturity.
In this episode, Bo Bennett and Kim Ellington discuss discovering meaning and purpose with Gleb Tsipursky, co-founder and chief insights officer at Intentional Insights. From his bio at IntentionalInsights.org: Gleb's passion for helping people use science to find purpose and meaning, evaluate reality rationally, and make effective decisions to led him and his wife, Agnes Vishnevkin, to co-found Intentional Insights in the Spring of 2014. Since that time, Gleb has collaborated with a group of like-minded enthusiasts to translate complex academic research on rational thinking and emotional intelligence into pragmatic tools and strategies relevant to a broad public. He was always excited about studying and promoting such ideas, leading him to get a PhD in history, and to research and teach students about meaning and purpose, decision making, emotions, and agency in various historical contexts. As a historian, he is in the fortunate position of having scholarly expertise in combining research from many different fields into a cohesive whole, and translation of this information for a broad audience. Gleb currently holds a tenure-track professorship at The Ohio State University as a faculty in the History Department and a member of the Behavioral Decision-Making Initiative there. He is also a member of the International Network on Personal Meaning.
In this episode, Bo Bennett interviews Yale professor Dr. Paul Bloom on the upside of prejudice and the secular side of morality. Dr. Bloom is the Brooks and Suzanne Ragen Professor of Psychology at Yale University. His research explores how children and adults understand the physical and social world, with special focus on morality, religion, fiction, and art. He has won numerous awards for his research and teaching. He is past-president of the Society for Philosophy and Psychology and co-editor of 'Behavioral and Brain Sciences', one of the major journals in the field. Dr. Bloom has written for scientific journals such as 'Nature' and 'Science', and for popular outlets such as 'The New York Times', 'The Guardian', 'The New Yorker', and 'The Atlantic Monthly'. He is the author or editor of six books, including 'Just Babies: The Origins of Good and Evil'.
In this episode, Bo Bennett interviews social justice comedian and advocate Sam Killermann on gender issues, feminism, humanism, and intolerance. Also, find out how NOT to make small talk with Bo! Sam loves and appreciates all people, and hopes to someday live in a world where everyone shares those views and we all stop being jerks. He uses humor as a “social lubricant” to put people at ease confronting difficult issues, drawing on his master’s education in college student development from Bowling Green State University and his eight years of experience working stand-up comedian for guidance. Sam is a dedicated ally and advocate for social justice. Ultimately, he would prefer shows and websites like “It’s Pronounced Metrosexual” to become unnecessary and irrelevant, even at the cost of his dream job. Unfortunately, we have a long way to go before he has to worry about that.
In this episode, Bo Bennett interviews author Benjamin Radford about his book, "Scientific Para-normal Investigation: How to Solve Unexplained Mysteries." Ben is deputy editor of Skeptical Inquirer science magazine and a Research Fellow with the non-profit educational organization the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry. He has written over a thousand articles on a wide variety of topics, including urban legends, the paranormal, critical thinking, and media literacy. He is author of six books: "Hoaxes, Myths, and Manias: Why We Need Critical Thinking" (with sociologist Robert Bartholomew); "Media Mythmakers: How Journalists, Activists, and Advertisers Mislead Us," examining the ways in which deception is used in various media to influence decision making and public policy; "Lake Monster Mysteries: Investigating the World’s Most Elusive Creatures" (with Joe Nickell), a scientific examination of lake monsters around the world; "Scientific Paranormal Investigation: How to Solve Unexplained Mysteries;" "Tracking the Chupacabra: The Vampire Beast in Fact, Fiction, and Folklore" and "The Martians Have Landed! A History of Media-Driven Panics and Hoaxes" (with Robert Bartholomew).
In this episode, Bo Bennett interviews author Marshall Brain about his book, "How 'God' Works: A Logical Inquiry on Faith". From the book description: "Does God exist? Using an intellectually rigorous, scientific approach, Marshall Brain—the founder of HowStuffWorks.com and author of the How Stuff Works series—sets out to resolve the eternal debate once and for all. With a compelling sense of curiosity, he breaks down mankind's search for a higher power, tackling such quandaries as: Who is God? What are his attributes? What is God doing and why? How does God interact with humanity? And ultimately, how can humans know with certainty whether God is real or imaginary? 'How God Works' is an enlightening journey in critical thinking that challenges readers to boldly approach the subject of personal faith and put aside intuition in favor of objectivity and logic." Marshall Brain is best known as the founder of HowStuffWorks.com, and is the bestselling author of the How Stuff Works book series. He has appeared on Oprah, Dr. Oz, Good Morning America, CNN, Modern Marvels, and in many other media outlets to apply his signature approach to unraveling the mysteries of life. He is also the host of the National Geographic Channel's "Factory Floor with Marshall Brain". He lives in Cary, North Carolina.
In this episode, Bo Bennett interviews author Jeff Rasley about his book, "Godless -- Living a Valuable Life beyond Beliefs". The history of religious and political ideologies is bloody. Crusaders and Islamic-Jihadist terrorists divide the world into believers and heretics. Their propaganda has persuaded followers to torture and slaughter unbelievers. "Godless" proposes a cure for the pathology of fanatical religious beliefs and political ideologies. Jeff Rasley lives on the White River in Indianapolis with Alicia and Bandit. Jeff is the author of eight books. He wrote bad poetry as a teenager and short stories in college. Newsweek, Chicago Magazine, ABA Journal, and other periodicals eventually published his feature articles. Jeff's commitment to social activism and philanthropy began in high school when he co-founded the Goshen Walk for Hunger. In law school he fought for renters' rights, and organized the first rent strike in Indiana as president of the Indianapolis Tenants Association. He was lead counsel on class action suits for prisoners which resulted in the construction of two new jails in central Indiana. Jeff was plaintiff in a class action requiring clean-up of the White River after it was polluted by an industrial chemical spill. Jeff is president of the Basa Village Foundation, which funds culturally sensitive development in Nepal. He is the director of five nonprofits. He is U.S. liaison for the Himalayan expedition company Adventure GeoTreks Ltd, and teaches philosophy of philanthropy at Butler University.
In this episode, Bo Bennett and Kim Ellington interview Ian Dodd and Amy Boyle from the Sunday Assembly in Los Angeles, CA. They talk how it got started, what it is, what it is not, and how they are keeping it going strong. From SundayAssemblyLA.org: Sunday Assembly Los Angeles is a new godless community that meets monthly to hear great talks, connect for service projects, sing songs and generally celebrate life. Assemblies are free to attend, and everyone is welcome. The Sunday Assembly: 1) Is 100% celebration of life. We are born from nothing and go to nothing. Let’s en-joy it together. 2) Has no doctrine. We have no set texts so we can make use of wisdom from all sources. 3) Has no deity. We don’t do supernatural but we also won’t tell you you’re wrong if you do. 4) Is radically inclusive. Everyone is welcome, regardless of their beliefs – this is a place of love that is open and accepting. 5) Is free to attend, not-for-profit and volunteer run. We ask for donations to cover our costs and support our community work. 6) Has a community mission. Through our Action Heroes (you!), we will be a force for good. 7) Is independent. We do not accept sponsorship or promote outside businesses, organizations or services. 8) Is here to stay. With your involvement, The Sunday Assembly will make the world a better place. 9) We won’t tell you how to live, but will try to help you do it as well as you can. 10) And remember point 1… The Sunday Assembly is a celebration of the one life we know we have.
This is a special live presentation episode of a presentation on positive humanism, given by Bo Bennett to the Concord Humanists in Concord, MA on December 3, 2014. What is positive humanism? Positive humanism is an applied humanistic philosophy based on the scientific findings of positive psychology that focuses on personal, professional, and societal flourishing. Translation: As an applied philosophy it offers practical solutions to increase well-being. As a humanistic philosophy, there are no appeals to the supernatural, the magical, or the mystical—the philosophy is founded on reason and critical thinking. The philosophy is science-based, meaning it is void of the unsupported and/or exaggerated claims and the constant confusing of correlation with causality often found in the self-help genre. The philosophy is grounded in the theories of positive psychology, which is the study of the other side of the mental health spectrum—human thriving. The philosophy focuses on concrete strategies to help individuals in all areas of personal growth and professional success, primarily through being of prosocial acts and through distributed kindness. Bo’s Links: Positive Humanism: http://www.positivehumanism.com About Bo: http://www.bobennett.com Twitter: @bobennett
In this episode, Kim Ellington interviews Sincere Kirabo, continuing the conversation from last week. Kirabo is a Board Member with Black Nonbelievers and a Regional Director for American Atheists. He has an insatiable thirst for knowledge and understanding, and interested only in the cerebral. Kirabo’s hope is to dissect every observation, grasp the fundamentals of executing knowledge in his daily walk, and question the very fabric of reality. Kirabo on Skepticism: "Skepticism goes beyond doubt or disbelief. It is not close-mindedness or being negative about every new or controversial idea. Skepticism is a process of critical thinking and analyzing evidence to determine the validity of a hypothesis. It is a rational and an open-minded process to find a conclusion that is supported by evidence. It is not used to justify preconception. It is not used to irrationally reject evidence based on a personal desire for only one conclusion."
In this episode, Bo Bennett and Kim Ellington interview James Croft, humanist activist involved in the events unfolding in Ferguson, MO. James Croft is the Leader in Training at the Ethical Culture Society of St. Louis - one of the largest humanist congregations in the world. He is a graduate of Cambridge and Harvard Universities, and is currently writing his doctoral dissertation as a student at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. He is a public speaker, teacher, and a passionate activist for human rights. James was raised on Shakespeare, Sagan and Star Trek, and is a proud, gay humanist. His upcoming book "The Godless Congregation", co-authored with New York Times bestselling author Greg Epstein, is being published by Simon & Schuster.