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A Great Discussion about Atheism

Below are some links to a really great series of videos from Sunday’s episode of UP, a show on MSNBC hosted by Chris Hayes. This is one of the most thoughtful discussions about the role of atheism in politics and public life that I have ever heard.  There are some very intelligent and thoughtful people on the discussion panel including Steven Pinker and Robert Wright.  I encourage you to watch as much of it as you can.

Richard Dawkins also joins in for a few of the segments.  I have a real problem with his overall attitude and it was interesting to hear some of the reactions to his attitude from the panel.  Some disagreeing strongly, others identifying with his more strident take on atheism.  I’ve seen the damage that his attitude and incendiary comments have done and the ammunition it gives to conservative religious people, like my parents, so I have a real problem with him.

And also, in one of the later segments a pastor comes out of the closet as an atheist and engages in a fascinating discussion with the panel.  I wish there were more thoughtful discussions like this on cable news!

The full show: Sunday’s Show: Atheism

Individual Segments:

  1. Coalescing the atheist political movement
  2. Atheists, God, and the GOP
  3. Atheism in the Public Sphere
  4. How does God fit in with global warming?
  5. Pastor comes out as a non-believer
  6. Things you should know

Live Blogging The Righteous Mind

The Righteous Mind - By Jon HaidtI’m going to try something a bit different over the next week or so.  I’m going to read Jonathan Haidt’s new book about moral psychology, The Righteous Mind, and blog my thoughts as I read through the book.  Most people write short summaries and critiques of entire books, but I thought it might be interesting to write my thoughts and present them as I read through a new book.  I’ll try to combine as many thoughts as I can into single blog entries in order to avoid inundating people with new blog post notifications.  So without further ado, here are my thoughts on The Righteous Mind:

We start off the book with a quote from Baruch Spinoza from his Tractatus Politicus:

I have striven not to laugh at human actions, not to weep at them, not to hate them, but to understand them.

It’s pretty clear that one of the main themes of the book will be prizing understanding over judgment, something that I’ve become a big fan of recently.  In that regard it appears there might be some concurrence between this book and the last book I read, Sam Harris’ Free Will.  I know that Jon has a large measure of philosophical disagreement with the “New Atheists” so it will be interesting to see how this all pans out.

Introduction

We start off the introduction with a discussion about Rodney King and his rarely quoted response to the 1992 Los Angeles riots:

Please, we can get along here.  We all can get along.  I mean, we’re all stuck here for a while.  Let’s try to work it out.

Read the rest of this entry

Scientific American Pi Day Deal

Hey, I’m giving a quick shout out to Scientific American, who is offering a special Pi-day deal of $3.14 for a one year digital subscription.  I subscribe to Scientific American Mind, which is a great publication about the latest findings in neuroscience.  I also subscribe to Discover magazine, but there is no way I can resist a subscription to the main Scientific American magazine for this price.  Looks like this is a one-day only deal, so check it out quick if you are interested!

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