Against Moral Responsibility w/Dr Bruce Waller

Humanity has had to adapt to deep philosophical and indeed psychological changes over the last 500 years. With the knowledge that came from geology and astronomy, we’ve learned we are not at the center of the universe, nor even a significant part of the “all that is.” From biology and genetics we have learned that we are a part of the animal kingdom, apes with big brains.. brains which, themselves have been programmed by nature much as a computer is programmed.

And we have also learned that there is no reason, nor any evidence, for us to believe in supernatural realms or beings for the universe to have come into existence, or for humanity to have thrived. Nature is our mother, and only nature (and perhaps our own ignorance) can put us under.

And, in the last twenty years, we have explored perhaps the most complex, most delicate feature of the universe, the human brain…and consciousness itself.  What we are learning now can arguably be thought of as the most significant of our many scientific achievements and perhaps the most dangerous idea.. that Free-Will is an illusion and all our thoughts and behaviors are caused by an intricate combination of our genetic heritage, our environment, and our social experiences. Whatever choices or decisions we make, or actions we take, there are reasons for which there is little we can do outside of allowing ourselves the experiences, and to learn from our wrong-steps.

But what does this do to our sense of morality – gleamed from either our religions or our secular philosophies? That will be the subject of today’s conversation with Dr Bruce Waller: Chair of the Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies at Youngstown State University in Ohio. Dr. Waller received his Ph.D. from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and his books include Consider Ethics: Theory, Readings, and Contemporary Issues; Critical Thinking: Consider the Verdict; You Decide!: Current Debates in Criminal Justice; And his latest, Against Moral Responsibility published by MIT Press.

William Gardner on Handling Truth

Why is truth such a hard thing to handle? Why do different people assert different things to be true, with equal certainty? Dr. William Gardner discusses four kinds of truths, which he calls Rhetorica, Mystica, Logica, and Empirica… and why they don’t always get along.

Also, why is it important to distinguish one kind from another, and – most importantly – how can someone living in today’s sea of information navigate the riptides of truths? And does it matter to the way we see the universe and the human condition if we never get to the truth?

We will discuss these questions with Dr. William M. Gardner, author of Handling Truth: Navigating the Riptides of Rhetoric, Religion, Reason, and Research. Gardner received a Ph.D. in General Experimental Psychology from the University of Alabama; he spent a year studying language at the University of Wisconsin, and occasionally during his teaching career took courses in philosophy.  His research topics included animal behavior, comparative learning, personality, childcare institutions, and academic honesty.

How to be Secular w/ Jacques Berlinerblau

This Saturday, Matthew LaClair will interview Jacques Berlinerblau on his new book, How to Be Secular: A Call to Arms for Religious Freedom.  Berlinerblau is a professor at Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service and director of the Program for Jewish civilization.  He has written numerous books, is a regular contributor to the Washington Post’s “On Faith” column, and hosts the podcast “Faith Complex.”  In the book How to Be Secular, Berlinerblau enlightens readers on the realities of secularism, covering its intriguing and complex historical roots and trajectory, and its immense challenges.  He argues for increased cooperation among theists and non-theists, less focus on an absolute separation of church and state, and for a nuanced and informed approach to tackling the Religious Right “Revivalists.”

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.

Gaining a naturalized understanding of ourselves and how we fit into the world around us can help us reduce thoughts and feelings that diminish our effectiveness and debilitate us mentally and physically such as guilt, shame, regret, blame, resentment, indignation, anxiety, fear, anger, hurt, and feelings of worthlessness; it can sharpen our awareness, deepen our empathy, and support lasting growth. The way we will demonstrate how a naturalistic understanding can accomplish all of this will be by taking calls from listeners who are willing to share how such damaging feelings may be diminishing their happiness.

Naturalistic Support is an approach to providing non-hierarchical peer support, and demonstrating how applied naturalism can facilitate personal growth. It is not a substitute for conventional psychotherapy or other forms of counseling that are traditionally provided by licensed professionals.