Naturalistic Support Workshop w/ Arnell Dowret

Becoming empowered to advance your life while also advancing the lives of those around you; attaining a deeper sense of connectedness to others; and experiencing life with sublime inspiration and serenity.  While faith-based and other traditional paths which are based on supernatural beliefs claim to provide these benefits, the reality clearly falls short.  Naturalism in contrast, which concerns itself with attaining an understanding of ourselves and our place in the universe that is accurate, reliable, and testable, (evidence-based), can actually deliver all of these benefits, with a level of effectiveness that no supernatural-based approach can equal.

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Who deserves their fate in life?  This question is increasingly being raised from various ranks in our society.  Over the past year or so there has been a spate of books discussing our ability to empathize as central to being human.  This week, as our Supreme Court deliberated whether life long prison sentences without the possibility of parole for 14-year-olds constituted cruel and unusual punishment, the entire validity of retributive justice is brought into question.  On the streets, the Occupy movement is calling into question the basic assumptions about how we as a society deem some worthy to enjoy outlandishly excessive rewards while multitudes of others get nearly enough for life’s basic necessities.

As our regular listeners know, we at ETFF have long advocated that believing in “free will” is no more grounded in reason and evidence than any other belief in the supernatural. But in addition, the belief in free will is corrosive;  it supports the notion that some people are more deserving than others, and is used to justify outrageous inequity and violence.

Hopefully a large nail in the coffin of belief in “free will” will be hammered in by the publication, earlier this month, of the new mini-book by Sam Harris, simply titled “Free Will.”

Joining us on the phone to discuss this important new book and the significance of the question of free will in general will be director of The Center for Naturalism, and repeat guest on our program, Tom Clark.

The Reason Rally w/ Jamila Bey and Hemant Mehta

The Reason Rally is only a few weeks away, March 24th to be exact, in Washington D.C. This Saturday, we will speak with two of the speakers who will deliver addresses during the events; Hemant Mehta and Jamila Bey.

Mehta is a the host of the blog Friendly Atheist, and is the chair of the Foundation Beyond Belief.  He has worked with the Center for Inquiry and the Secular Coalition for America, received scholarships from American Atheists and the Freedom From Religion Foundation, and is the former chair of the board of the Secular Student Alliance. He appeared on the front page of the Wall Street Journal and his book, “I Sold My Soul on eBay,” was released in 2007.

Bey is a journalist and former a Editor and Producer for National Public Radio. She is the host of SPARring With Jamila: The Sex Politics and Religion Hour on the Voice of Russia Radio. Bey is also a comedian, and has been a writer for hire for the better part of the last decade – one devoted to spreading the gospel of Logic, Reason, and Science to all those who may hear. She is part of  Black Atheists of America which is is a non-profit organization dedicated to bridging the gap between atheism and the black community.

We will be talking about the Reason Rally and the issues surrounding it, including what they hope to accomplish with the event. We will also discuss Mehta’s and Bey’s own work and their experiences as ‘atheists/humanists of color.’

Promoting African-American Humanism

It is generally understood that the struggle of Black Americans to overcome the numerous obstacles to freedom and empowerment that has been placed in their way has always been supported by their unwavering faith, and by the Black Church.   But this is only part of the story.   Black Americans also have a long and rich secular tradition that continues in the present day groups like the Harlem Humanists.

To report on what the Harlem Humanists have been doing, as well as telling us about some of their upcoming plans, we will be joined by Leighann Lord and Ayanna Watson, as well as one of the core group organizers of the Harlem Humanists, Michael Lightsmith.

Questions we’ll try to address will include:

1.   What types of experiences does a group like Harlem Humanists offer their fellow Blacks and other persons of color?

2.   Is it likely that they can attract people who are used to community experiences that are much more emotionally dynamic and intense – with  “call and answer,” singing, gestulating, and cathartic emotional outbursts?

3.   Can the naturalistic approach become widely accepted if it is conveyed and practiced solely with an intellectual approach?

4.   What can be done to make the naturalistic approach more relevant and inspiring so that more come to realize the profound utility of naturalism.