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Our selection of books and associated reviews. Each cover is an affiliate link to Amazon for purchase.
Interview with Stephen Sullivan on Divine Command Theory
Edouard Tahmizian | Stephen Sullivan | May 29, 2023 | Kiosk Video
Check out the latest Freethinker Podcast interview with host Edouard Tahmizian for his roughly hour-long discussion with philosopher Stephen J. Sullivan about whether the position that God made us—and therefore he owns us—is a viable response to objections to classic (Plato-inspired) divine command theory, whether atheists can ground 'ought' statements (or at least moral duties) in the power of moral reasoning without need for a divine moral lawgiver, the role on biblical inconsistencies in countering ad hoc responses to objections to classic divine command theory, existentialist atheists like Albert Camus and Jean-Paul Sartre, how fundamentalist Christians deal with the free will vs. determinism (or predestination) issue, and whether less conservative Christians are able to concede that the Bible is not inerrant without generating logical inconsistencies. Tune in for some deep insights from a moral philosopher who has thought about these topics for decades!
Interview with Philip Goff on Panpsychism
Edouard Tahmizian | Philip Goff | Keith Augustine | Jason Thibodeau | April 18, 2023 | Kiosk Video
Tune in to Freethinker Podcast with host Edouard Tahmizian for an about an hour-and-fifteen-minute interview with panpsychist philosopher of mind Philip Goff as Tahmizian, Keith Augustine, and Jason Thibodeau query Goff about his reasons for embracing panpsychism, the view that all matter has some degree of a conscious or experiential element to it. Goff expertly fields questions from all three interlocuters about how his panpsychist views differ from those of other philosophers of mind and his rationale for taking this position. He suggests that "physicalist" Galen Strawson holds substantially the same view that he does, their differences largely being semantic ones about the meaning of the term physicalism (or materialism). Goff also responds to criticisms (like those of Massimo Pigliucci) that his picture of the mind is unscientific. He canvasses the hard problem of consciousness, structuralism about physics, why he favors taking the Russellian monist theory of mind in a specifically panpsychist direction, and what it might even mean to say that something like an electron has experiences. Goff also discusses whether arguing from a "top down" cosmopsychism (i.e., that the universe as a whole has experiential aspects, and divides down into our individual consciousnesses) is less problematic than arguing from the "bottom up" that the most fundamental constituents of matter have simple experiential aspects that somehow combine into our more complex, but unified, individual consciousnesses. The discussion then turns to Goff's take on the (classic, Plato-inspired) divine command theory of ethics, fine-tuning arguments, whether there's a middle way between traditional omni-God theism and traditional atheism that may be more attractive than either of those binary choices, whether libertarian free will exists given the possibility of determinism, and how his broader philosophical views impact the question of life's meaning. Check out this wide-ranging interview with a renowned philosopher of mind who has become increasingly prominent in public debates about these issues over the last several years!
Interview with Vincent Torley on Recent Apologetics
Edouard Tahmizian | Vincent Torley | April 7, 2023 | Kiosk Video
Join host Edouard Tahmizian in this roughly 40-minute return interview with skeptical Catholic Vincent Torley, opening with his critique of recent defenses of long-popular Christian apologetics, such as his recent Skeptical Zone post on Gavin Ortlund's (unsuccessful) defense of C. S. Lewis' liar, lunatic, or lord trilemma on Cameron Bertuzzi's Capturing Christianity podcast in August 2022, an argument that actually goes back to its first formulation in the late 19th century by Scots preacher John Duncan ("Christ either deceived mankind by conscious fraud, or He was Himself deluded and self-deceived, or He was Divine"). Torley notes that there are, in fact, seven or so alternatives, including that Jesus' divine status was merely a legend, that Jesus was mistaken without being insane, that Jesus was simply a mystic, or that Jesus never even existed as a historical figure at all, among other possibilities. Torley summarizes Ortlund's responses to these alternatives, which claim that they are not genuine possibilities for Jesus, and Ortlund's reasons for maintaining that Jesus was neither a "liar" nor a "lunatic," either. Torley then outlines the unintelligibility of the theological concepts of incarnation or the Trinity, despite recent attempts to make sense of them, before returning to the point that neither the traditional "lord, liar, or lunatic" nor modified "cosmic judge, liar, or lunatic" trilemma will be convincing in light of scriptural sources. Tahmizian then turns the discussion back to the unintelligibility of the incarnation and the Trinity, and how the human disposition to sin could possibly fit into such concepts, before closing on lighter topics like what life is like for Torley in Japan. Tune in for this fascinating discussion of an often-repeated but not particularly compelling apologetic argument!
Ultimate Weight Loss Plan
Edouard Tahmizian | March 3, 2023 | Kiosk Video
Tune in to a short video clip where Internet Infidels Vice President Edouard Tahmizian talks about his unique diet plan, as well as some of his achievements for Internet Infidels. He believes that some diet plans fail to mention what is actually the central concern that keeps people from being successful, and plans to share information on those tips once he loses weight. He is currently 202.6 lbs and plans to reach 140 lbs by September at latest.
Interview with Keith Augustine on Doing Afterlife Research
Edouard Tahmizian | Keith Augustine | February 17, 2023 | Kiosk Video
Join host Edouard Tahmizian in this over half-an-hour interview with Keith Augustine, Executive Director & Editor-in-Chief of Internet Infidels, as they discuss what parapsychologists or psychical researchers have presented as the "best" parapsychological evidence for life after death, the largely neuroscientific evidence against life after death, and problematic religious or spiritual conceptions of the purpose of earthly life. The interlocutors then canvass how those who research life after death from an ostensibly scientific starting-point often mirror the same sorts of fallacious reasoning found in Christian apologetics. Check out this quick interview for such a wide range of topics with a long-time afterlife skeptic (and Digital Millennium Copyright Act Agent)!
Interview with Dan Barker on Future Directions
Edouard Tahmizian | Dan Barker | February 12, 2023 | Kiosk Video
Tune in to Freethinker Podcast with host Edouard Tahmizian in this roughly 20-minute interview with Freedom from Religion Foundation (FFRF) co-director Dan Barker about his recent trip to India and the Atheist Centre there, FFRF's legal victory to display a secular nativity scene with a manger holding a copy of the Bill of Rights in Texas' state capitol, the FFRF's involvement in the formation of the Thomas Paine Memorial Association to establish a permanent Thomas Paine memorial statue in Washington, DC, and Barker's latest books, including the (Richard-Dawkins-inspired) title God: The Most Unpleasant Character in All Fiction (available in paperback in May 2023). In Dawkins' The God Delusion, the first sentence of chapter two characterized the biblical God as "the most unpleasant character in all fiction; jealous and proud of it; a petty, unjust, unforgiving, control-freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser; a misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully." In Barker's forthcoming (and expanded) paperback edition of God: The Most Unpleasant Character in All Fiction, each of the 19 chapters in part 1 ("Dawkins was Right") lays out the biblical verses (especially those in the Old Testament) backing up each of Dawkins' characterizations of Yahweh. In part 2 ("Dawkins was Too Kind"), Barker adds eight additional chapters on the personality flaws of the biblical God that Dawkins could have mentioned: pyromaniacal, angry, merciless, curse-hurling, vaccicidal, aborticidal, cannibalistic, and slavemongering. On an FFRF companion website to the book, Barker lists a sampling of verses on all of these characteristics, adding three more still: homicidal, evil, and terrorist. Barker also dives into what to expect from his longer-term book project (slated for 2024), The End of Worship, which in part 1 ("What is Worship?") just allows religious believers to speak for themselves long enough to incriminate themselves (so that Barker can't be accused of straw manning them). In part 2 ("Why Do We Worship?"), Barker lays out his hypothesis that some human beings voluntarily subjugate themselves to a "master" or king-like higher power for biological reasons instilled in us over the generations by those in power. In part 3 ("Should We Worship?"), Barker adds his personal take on whether worship is a desirable behavior for us to engage in. Check out this quick overview of the shape and direction to look forward to in Barker's future projects!
Interview with Bill Gaede & Jason Thibodeau on Human Extinction
Edouard Tahmizian | Bill Gaede | Jason Thibodeau | February 11, 2023 | Kiosk Video
Join Freethinker Podcast host Edouard Tahmizian in this hour-and-a-quarter interview with Rational Science podcaster and ex-Cuban-spy Bill Gaede and Cypress College philosophy professor Jason Thibodeau on the future of humankind. First they canvas the possibility that all mass extinctions on Earth have been the result of an ecological pyramid overturning (the population pyramid overturning for plants and the ecological pyramid overturning for animals), and the extrapolation from this pattern that human beings are unable to stop this overturning in their own case. Human beings were put on track in 1963 for zero population growth by mid-21st-century, Gaede argues, and rely on an artificial construct of money to secure the food that we need to survive, but that construct is divorced from the actual growth of resources necessary for the sort of economic system that human civilization has developed. A critical discussion ensues about the so-called "Alvarez hypothesis" that an asteroid impact wiped out the dinosaurs, if unprecedented economic collapse leading to the arrest of food production entails full-blown human extinction rather than simply a precipitous drop in population, the upper bounds of when human extinction might take place, and much more. Tune in for a fascinating—if sobering—discussion about the future of our own species!
Interview with Jason Thibodeau on Whether Theism is Necessary for Morality
Edouard Tahmizian | Jason Thibodeau | February 2, 2023 | Kiosk Video
Check out this nearly 90-minute debate preparation between host Edouard Tahmizian and Cypress College philosophy professor Jason Thibodeau about the ways in which some apologists might argue that belief in God is necessary for morality, and how opponents might respond to those arguments. Thibodeau proposes that they first break down the issue into smaller, more digestible slices on central concerns, starting with the meaning of should/ought in the sense raised in David Hume's is/ought distinction (i.e., that one ought to do what one is morally obligated to do). Moral philosophers widely agree that its meaning has something to do with at least having reasons for acting, and more importantly for morality, having an all-things-considered reason for acting in particular instances. Thibodeau proposes starting with a simple version of a moral argument for the existence of God: that moral obligation could only exist if God existed, it does, and therefore so does God. If the argument were reasonable, then there would have to be some specific aspect of moral obligation that's difficult to account for on the assumption that God doesn't exist—but then what aspect could be proffered that has that feature? There would also have to be some way in which positing God's existence would clearly account for the existence of this feature. After recounting a list of features that Christian apologist Matt Flanagan has said are central to the concept of moral obligation (like reasons for acting being authoritative and categorical, or failing to act in a certain way being blameworthy), Thibodeau goes on to consider how any of them could be problematic on the assumption that God not exist, or how positing God's existence could even possibly explain their existence. To get a feel for the angles that a Christian apologist might try to exploit to force some sort of necessary connection between morality and religion, look no further than this multiperspectival discussion!
Interview with Robert M. Price on Adversarial Exchanges on Mythicism
Edouard Tahmizian | Robert M. Price | January 26, 2023 | Kiosk Video
Check out this roughly 45-minute talk between host Edouard Tahmizian and long-time biblical scholar Robert M. Price on Price's take on Dennis R. MacDonald's view that it's a misunderstanding to characterize the Book of Luke as a history (as Richard Carrier does in his 2006 Secular Web online book Was Christianity Too Improbable to be False?), the conflation of what some Jesus mythicists have said with what Carrier, Price, and others specifically have said, how mainstream biblical scholarship might become more open to mythicism in the future (as Thomas L. Thompson's stance that Moses and Abraham were not historical persons eventually became the consensus view), and the reality of the Q source. The discussion then turns to the mythical personage of Judas and Peter, what we can know about how long an oral tradition inventing a mythical Jesus would need to develop, ancient Jesus mythicists like Celsus, Robyn Faith Walsh's view that the empty tomb story was a legendary trope borrowed from pagan works, Dennis R. MacDonald's view that none of the Gospels were written to evangelize/convert people to Christianity, and much more! Tune in for a wide-ranging interview with a legendary biblical scholar!
Interview with Dennis R. MacDonald on Mimesis & the Q Hypothesis
Edouard Tahmizian | Dennis R. MacDonald | January 20, 2023 | Kiosk Video
Join host Edouard Tahmizian in this roughly 45-minute returning interview with New Testament scholar Dennis R. MacDonald on mimesis (literary imitation mythologizing Jesus), the Q hypothesis (that a lost document dubbed "Q" was the common source for borrowed material found in both Matthew and Luke, but not found in the earlier Gospel of Mark), and the role of Christianity in America's culture wars. In MacDonald's experience, readers' reaction to his recently published three-part work on the Synoptic Gospels, the Acts of the Apostles, and the three Gospels of John has been largely positive with respect to mimesis, but negative toward the the Q material largely because, as a lost document, it has to be reconstructed. The interlocutors discuss why this attitude is unjustified (and anti-intellectual), how taking mimesis all the way to Jesus himself is intellectually irresponsible, and how external evidence for the existence of Q renders such skepticism extreme (e.g., there are earlier references to a Q document than Luke and John, like the elder John's belief in a lost document of Matthew). MacDonald and Robyn Faith Walsh have argued that early Christians were trying to establish a social identity for the emerging Christian movement, not inventing a nonexistent Jesus. MacDonald argues that mimesis is part of early Christians' intellectual project, not a haphazard attempt by early Christians to simply borrow amenable stories from earlier literary sources (e.g., pseudo-Luke is trying to craft a Christian identity in the Roman Empire and in contemporaneous Judaism by using fiction to construct a founding mythology of the early Church, not craft a history). After illustrating the story of a woman anointing Jesus for his burial in the Gospel of Mark as a simple and representative example of mimesis, the interlocutors go on to address Robyn Faith Walsh's view that the empty tomb story is a pagan trope to symbolize a mortal man attaining divinity and how both atheists and Christian apologists misread Luke as providing a history rather exemplifying literary models. Check out this enlightening interview with a prolific expert on mimesis and hermetics!
Interview with Aron Ra on Noah’s Ark
Edouard Tahmizian | Aron Ra | December 12, 2022 | Kiosk Video
Join host Edouard Tahmizian in this half-hour long talk with regional director for American Atheists Aron Ra. The interlocutors discuss fallacious appeals to authority, how young-Earth creationist arguments equivocate on the definition of "kinds" of animals, how macroevolution would (if anything) need to be accelerated if the story of the Flood were literally true, how feeding animals (and providing them with fresh water) during the Great Flood would not have been possible in the real world, how saltwater infiltration would poison any plant life post-Flood and cause Noah's saved animals to starve to death once they left the Ark, and other innumerable problems with taking the Genesis flood story as a literal account of a historical event. Instead, Ra argues that it is best seen as nothing more than a childhood fairy tale used by creationists today to assuage their fear of eternal oblivion after death. Check out where taking creationist beliefs seriously leads us in this broad-ranging interview!
Interview with Dennis R. MacDonald on Epic, Tragedy, and the Gospels
Edouard Tahmizian | Dennis R. MacDonald | December 11, 2022 | Kiosk Video
Join host Edouard Tahmizian in this half-hour long interview with New Testament scholar Dennis R. MacDonald on his magnum opus Synopses of Epic, Tragedy, and the Gospels, a groundbreaking hermetic commentary on the Synoptic Gospels and the narratives of the Acts of the Apostles. In this reference work all of the New Testament Gospels are translated side by side in adjacent columns for comparison with their (sometimes obscure) parallels in classical Greek poetry, especially the Homeric epics and Virgil's Aeneid. The interlocutors discuss how Pappias provides us with external evidence to the Gospels with a circa 110 CE text that predates the Gospels of Luke or John and reveals evidence of Pappias' knowledge of Johannine—but not Pauline—Christianity, and of Matthew and Mark. MacDonald goes on to explain why he hypothesizes from reverse priority that the lost document of Matthew referred to by Pappias was the Q source document before turning to what happened to the historical Jesus' body after his crucifixion, how the historical Jesus is hardly different from the historical Socrates, and two statements attributed to Jesus that are likely representative of the historical Jesus' views. Check out this intriguing interview with the world's foremost expert on hermetics—and check out his recent book while it's still on sale!
Interview with Justin Tang About Religious Experiences
Edouard Tahmizian | Justin Tang | December 2, 2022 | Kiosk Video
Join host Edouard Tahmizian in this roughly hour-long interview with Justin Tang, an "ex-vangelical" trauma-informed coach and hypnotist who specializes in the deconstruction of religious trauma, particularly how to break free of the subconscious cycle of guilt/shame and anxiety/fear that evangelical Christians are kept under. The first half of the interview starts with a discussion of how neo-Calvinist apologetics often hinge on double standards (e.g., where if we do something evil, it's evil—unless God happened to command us to do it). The first half continues with a discussion of how Calvinists like John Kearney try to explain away why God would have created human beings with a positive disposition to do evil things in the first place. The second half then turns to Tang's research into religious trauma, particularly the recurring themes that Justin has noticed from coaching people who are recovering from religious trauma, such as the fear of hellfire or divine judgment, the fear that having natural religious doubts is somehow immoral, and the loss of one's social networks and sense of identity that accompanies inevitably having such doubts. Tang then mentions some evidence-based, trauma-informed things that one can do to calm one's nervous system using bottom-up or top-down approaches before offering his take on near-death experiences, past-life hypnotic regressions, and the like. Check out this wide-ranging and intriguing interview!
Interview with Edward Tabash on the Conservative Turn in the Supreme Court
Edouard Tahmizian | Edward Tabash | November 5, 2022 | Kiosk Video
Tune in to Edouard Tahmizian's one-hour-and-twenty-minute interview with Los Angeles constitutional lawyer Edward Tabash as he surveys how the religious right-wing majority on the US Supreme Court is imposing religious tyranny and discarding science in the United States. The Court has demonstrated its disrespect for civil liberties precedent and overtly tried to impose a theocracy by, for example, ordering the state of Maine to make available its public education funds for the purpose of funding tuition specifically earmarked for religious indoctrination. In his dissent to Carson v. Makin, Justice Stephen Breyer pointed out that there's no meaningful difference between the state paying the salary of a religious minister and that of a teacher who proselytizes to children. Justice Sonia Sotomayor pointed out in her dissent that in the last five years, the Court has systematically dismantled the separation between church and state by shifting from a rule that permits states to decline to fund religious education to one that requires them to subsidize it. This, she notes, is leading us in the direction of treating those who uphold the separation of church and state as having engaged in a constitutional violation. The current Court's attack on Enlightenment values gives power to inherently unreliable voices to have sway in court and even permits the inadmissibility of scientific evidence under the guise of the "free exercise of religion," using the free exercise clause as a sword to wield against groups, rather than as a shield to protect them. Tune in as Tabash canvases growing threats to government neutrality in matters of religion, such as cases authorizing prayer at public school events, whether atheists could be excluded from testifying in court, whether states could have an official church under the new Court, the religious footing for anti-choice laws on abortion, and how voters' choice of the members of the US Senate directly affects who sits on the Court.
Interview with Myriam Valenzuela on Spirituality
Edouard Tahmizian | Myriam Valenzuela | November 3, 2022 | Kiosk Video
Check out this over half an hour long interview with Myriam Valenzuela, the fitness, Yoga, and Hawaiian dance instructor who owns Aloha Yoga and Hula and founded the skin care company Organic Skin Care. In this interview she schools host Edouard Tahmizian on reprogramming our subconscious thoughts concerning how we see life by "affirming" (speaking out loud) various items, her belief that individuals can "manifest" whatever they want because they are creating their experiences in life via their thoughts, how the powers that be purportedly control others by keeping this sort of information from them, her belief that everything is constituted by light, vibration, and frequency, her experiences with "energetic" astral surgery during meditation, the existence of spirit guides, star seeds, and light workers, hypnotic past-life regressions, intelligent extraterrestrial life, and humanity's massive Awakening. Tune in to learn about some of the ideas that have been permeating New Age subculture for quite some time, but that most viewers are likely unfamiliar with!
Interview with Robert M. Price on Scriptural Inerrancy
Edouard Tahmizian | Robert M. Price | October 27, 2022 | Kiosk Video
Tune in to this roughly one-hour discussion between host Edouard Tahmizian and esteemed biblical scholar Robert M. Price as they discuss how biblical inerrantists try to deal with textual evidence of New Testament contradictions. The interlocutors canvas how inerrantists deal with an apparent misquote of Jeremiah by supposedly God-inspired Matthew in Matthew 27:7-10 (whose actual source seems to be Zacharias)—with Calvinists attributing it to copyist error, and others sometimes claiming that it refers to an unwritten prophecy by Jeremiah and so is not erroneous—solid evidence that the longer ending of Mark after Mark 16:1-8 was interpolated by someone other than Mark (someone who wanted to compile details from other Gospels about the risen Jesus to avoid an awkward ending to Mark's empty tomb narrative and give more "evidence" of the resurrected Christ via his resurrection appearances), and Price's take on whether Robyn Faith Walsh's reasons for thinking that Jesus mythicism is implausible stand up to scrutiny. Check out this novel interview with an indefatigable biblical scholar!
Interview with Bill Gaede & Jason Thibodeau on Mathematical Physics
Edouard Tahmizian | Bill Gaede | Jason Thibodeau | October 13, 2022 | Kiosk Video
Join Freethinker Podcast host Edouard Tahmizian in this one-and-a-quarter hour interview with Rational Science podcaster Bill Gaede and Cypress College philosophy professor Jason Thibodeau as they explore what physical meaning, if any, can be derived from idealized mathematical physics. Gaede first outlines the difference between qualitative physics, whose three spatial dimensions (e.g., length, width, and height) are underwritten by genuine physical concepts like directions at 90° degree angles to each other, and mathematical physics, whose dimensions are underwritten purely by numerical magnitudes like the number of points necessary to locate an object within a coordinate system (e.g., latitude, longitude, and altitude). While genuine physics deals with perpendicularly defined dimensions (direction and orthogonality), mathematical physics only deals with number lines (with magnitudes) defined in relation to some locational reference point. The discussion then turns to whether it's possible for there to be additional spatial dimensions to the length, width, and height dimensions that we're all familiar with, what exists inside a black hole, whether the universe started with a Big Bang, how we should understand the nature of light and the nature of time, and much more! Check out this fascinating discussion about conceptual misunderstandings within even a hard science like physics!
Interview with Jonathan Sheffield on the Reliability of the Bible
Edouard Tahmizian | Jonathan Sheffield | October 1, 2022 | Kiosk Video
Join host Edouard Tahmizian for over an hour with Anglican and Christian apologist Jonathan Sheffield as Jonathan overviews his case for the reliability of both the Old and New Testaments and Edouard questions that case. The interlocutors canvass the chain-of-custody evidence for the traditional (or attributed) authorship of the four Gospels, which books of the Bible were allegedly inspired by God given the differences between the Catholic and Protestant Old Testament canons (where Catholics recognize seven more "inspired" or Deuterocanonical books than Protestants do), how Sheffield accounts for claimed historical errors noted by Protestants in the Deuteronomical Book of Judith, why the Gospel Jesus never makes reference to the Deuterocanonical books, the understanding of the Deuterocanonical books within the Greek Old Testament (Septuagint) or official works of the Jewish synagogues, whether we should take Jesus to have a divine will and/or human will, and much more! Check out this in-depth interview with a seasoned apologist on this long-debated topic!
Interview with Robyn Faith Walsh & Dennis R. MacDonald on their Differences
Edouard Tahmizian | Robyn Faith Walsh | Dennis R. MacDonald | September 23, 2022 | Kiosk Video
Tune in with Edouard Tahmizian in this over one-hour interview with New Testament scholars Robyn Faith Walsh and Dennis R. MacDonald for a novel first-of-its-kind conversation on the literary imitation of ancient Greek poetry and philosophy in the canonical Gospels. Does Mark imitate Virgil (who in turn imitates Homer)? Or is there a stronger case for imitation of Virgil in Luke-Acts? How do Mark and Paul deploy ideas in similar ways? In what ways do Achilles—and especially Hector—find their parallels in the Gospels? These and other questions are addressed before the discussion turns to the bigger-picture view of literary networks and mimetic chains where authors imitate other imitations. Given the common background agreement between Walsh and MacDonald about the 'game' that the ancients were playing in their writings, where do their perspectives diverge on Q source material? One must separate the question of whether there ever existed a Q document from the question of whether such a document, assuming that it did exist, can ever be reconstructed into a meaningfully readable document today (especially since there are several plausible reconstructions of Q). Can Q reasonably be viewed as a collection of the sayings of John the Baptist? And what should we make of Jesus mythicism? Do Jesus mythicists selectively cherry-pick the historical evidence, or not? Does it even matter whether a historical Jesus existed since the Gospel Jesus is clearly not the historical Jesus anyway? Check out this fantastic interview with world-class philologians finally getting together to discuss the interpretation of literature while highlighting their areas of interest and respectful disagreement!
Interview with Keith Augustine on Afterlife Research
Edouard Tahmizian | Keith Augustine | September 8, 2022 | Kiosk Video
Join host Edouard Tahmizian in this 45-minute interview with Keith Augustine as they canvass Augustine's recent exchange with prominent psychical researchers in the Journal of Scientific Exploration (JSE). On Thanksgiving 2021, the Bigelow Institute for Consciousness Studies (BICS) published 29 essays that it had deemed provided "hard evidence 'beyond a reasonable doubt'" for the survival of human consciousness after death. In the Summer 2022 JSE, Augustine critiqued the best of the lot, with the selected authors defending their contest-winning essays against Augustine's critique, and Augustine in turn responding to their defense before participating in a collaboration to design a preregistered experimental design that might advance the scientific debate if implemented. In this interview, Augustine delves into scientific versus legal standards of evidence and how they amount to the same thing for the purposes of this competition, what simple historical tests of survival after death have found, how researchers have used proxy sittings to make it more difficult for mediums to read cues from sitters (séance participants), how one might test paranormal powers scientifically in general, and the neuroscientific case against life after death. Tune in for a discussion that moves these issues outside of the parapsychological echo chamber and into the wider world for everyone to contemplate!
Interview with Robert M. Price on Mythicism as Scholarship
Edouard Tahmizian | Robert M. Price | August 23, 2022 | Kiosk Video
In a June 2022 interview with Edouard Tahmizian, New Testament scholar Dennis R. MacDonald admonished Richard Carrier for misappropriating his work in the service of Jesus mythicism. In a responding interview on August 1, Carrier disputed MacDonald's characterization, and published a longer missive titled "Dennis MacDonald's Change of Position" on his website on August 23. In this 40-minute interview with esteemed biblical scholar Robert M. Price on the same day, Price argues that while MacDonald himself is certainly no mythicist, nevertheless MacDonald's work is not merely compatible with Jesus mythicism, but suggestive of it. The discussion then turns to whether Jesus' disciples really had any understanding that Jesus would be resurrected from the dead on the third day, and if not, whether there could be any historicity to the account of guards being stationed to look after Jesus' tomb (as argued by D. A. Carson). Further issues concern the evolution of the understanding of whether Jesus is said to have had a spiritual or physical resurrection, how mythicists explain 1 Corinthians 2:6-8 (in part by interpreting to the archons of this age to refer to spiritual entities, not human leaders), and what central point Justin Martyr is trying to drive home, among other things. Tune in for this wide-ranging interview with a scholar of scholars!
Interview with Jason Thibodeau on Biblical Determinism
Edouard Tahmizian | Jason Thibodeau | August 15, 2022 | Kiosk Video
Join host Edouard Tahmizian in this over one-hour interview with Cypress College philosophy professor Jason Thibodeau as they deconstruct John Kearney’s defense of Adam’s accountability for the first sin (rather than God’s). Kearney’s defense centers around the idea that although Adam was not born with an ingrained disposition to sin, he nevertheless developed such a disposition when tempted by the serpent in the Garden of Eden. For according to Kearney, God was under no obligation to create creatures for which committing sin was impossible, and indeed it would be better for them to have to earn moral righteousness by being tempted to sin and not succumb to that temptation. Kearney provides little in the way of an actual argument for this claim, and regardless, the interlocutors show that this maneuver would entail that God had actually created Adam with a positive inclination to sin, bringing us back to the question of why in the world a morally perfect God would ever do that. Check out this in-depth analysis of another failed attempt to resolve an irresolvable theological contradiction!
Interview with Dennis R. MacDonald on Mimesis and More
Edouard Tahmizian | Dennis R. MacDonald | August 9, 2022 | Kiosk Video
Join host Edouard Tahmizian in this 45-minute interview with New Testament scholar Dennis R. MacDonald on his September 2022 3-volume reference work Synopses of Epic Tragedy in the Gospels on the Synoptic Gospels and the Gospel of John, and the narratives of the Acts of the Apostles. The interlocutors go on to discuss a central theme of that upcoming verse-by-verse commentary, mimesis (literary imitation), not only of Old Testament themes, but even more so of ancient Greek poetry and philosophy. Their discussion then turns to how the forced arguments of Jesus mythicists unscientifically retrofit the historical data to suit their pre-existing views in the same way as conspiracy theorists, and how the Jewish authorities' response to the empty tomb story supports the existence of a historical Jesus (regardless of the validity of the empty tomb story itself). They then turn to the plausibility of John Dominic Crossan's thesis that Mark is simply an extended parable, which MacDonald believes makes little sense since we need mimesis to understand how Mark rewrites the earlier Q document to be a modest biography infused by Mark with Greek mythology to render it more of an epic than a parable. Finally, MacDonald explains his view of a historical Jesus as a radical Jewish reformer who paid the price for trying to make Jewish law more humane. Check out this intriguing interview with the author of the most important book ever written on the Gospels!
Interview with Richard Carrier on Jesus Mythicism
Edouard Tahmizian | Richard Carrier | August 1, 2022 | Kiosk Video
Join Freethinker Podcast host Edouard Tahmizian in this nearly 40-minute interview with historian and freethinker Richard C. Carrier as Carrier responds to New Testament scholar Dennis R. MacDonald's statement that fellow atheists like Carrier have misappropriated his work, MacDonald's forthcoming definitive reference on the metahistory on the mythologized Gospels, the scholarship of Robyn Faith Walsh on mythologizing Jesus, the penal substitution model of atonement (where Jesus 'sits in' to brutally bear the punishment for our sins), how to square Paul the Apostle's words with a mythicist picture of Jesus as just another mythologized iteration of dying and rising gods, whether the apocryphal Gospel of Thomas is early or late compared to the canonical Gospels, and how Jesus Seminarian John Dominic Crossan's take on that issue compares to that of Mark Goodacre. Check out this fascinating interview with a historian as he shows his wide-ranging command of the historical record!
Interview with Bill Gaede on the Train Paradox and Counterespionage
Edouard Tahmizian | Bill Gaede | July 30, 2022 | Kiosk Video
Join Freethinker Podcast host Edouard Tahmizian in this 40-minute interview with Rational Science podcaster Bill Gaede about what Albert Einstein's train paradox reveals (or doesn't reveal) about the nature of time and the measurement of it, how the standard physical concept of spacetime (e.g., in concepts like simultaneity, time dilation, time travel, and warping spacetime) reifies time, and how the mathematization of physics is divorced from physical reality. In the final three-quarters of the interview, Gaede turns to how his counterintelligence work against Cuba created a spy-versus-spy dynamic that the Cuban government unsuccessfully tried to exploit. Tune-in for any always-fascinating interview with a contender for the most interesting man in the world (with or without the Dos Equis)!
Interview with Bill Gaede on 4-D Cubes and Tradecraft
Edouard Tahmizian | Bill Gaede | July 16, 2022 | Kiosk Video
Join Freethinker Podcast host Edouard Tahmizian in this 45-minute interview with Rational Science podcaster Bill Gaede about the conceivability of 4-dimensional spatial cubes—hypercubes or tesseracts—and his fascinating former life as a Cuban spy. After noting his intellectual "falling out" with Carl Sagan over his atheism, his reliance on mathematical physics and the modern conception of the scientific method, and his Polyannish vision of humanity's future, Gaede explains how the mathematical concept of dimensions differs from the physicist's concept of them. Sagan, for example, conceptualizes a 2-D square as a shadow of a 3-D cube, and goes on to conceptualize a tesseract as the 3-D shadow of a 4-D hypercube. But is such a hypothetical entity physically conceivable? If time is conceived of as the fourth dimension that connects the perpendicular lines in our visual representations of a tesseract, then the tesseract actually involves nested times (when rotated or moving), such that you really have two dimensions of time added (for 5 dimensions, not 4), rendering it conceptually impossible. In the second half of the interview, Gaede talks about his life in Argentina before he worked as a manager for Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) in California, passing trade secrets on to the Cuban government from the mid-1960s until 1979, before turning himself in to the CIA in 1992 and then doing counterintelligence as a double agent for the FBI at Intel, passing on disinformation back to the Cubans thereafter. Gaede recounts the fascinating story of how AMD's discovery of his betrayal ultimately led to his cover being blown. Check out this fascinating dive into the conceivability of purely mathematical concepts that dovetails into the perils of life as an industrial spy!
Interview with Jason Thibodeau on 4-D Cubes
Edouard Tahmizian | Jason Thibodeau | July 8, 2022 | Kiosk Video
Join host Edouard Tahmizian in this about 30-minute interview with returning Cypress College philosophy professor Jason Thibodeau as they outline the fascinating properties of a 4-dimensional spatial cube, or tesseract, by first considering how a creature living in Flatland, a 2-dimensional universe consisting of only length and width, would react to an intersection with that universe by a 3rd-dimensional object or entity. With this analogy to higher-dimensional space in mind, the interlocutors consider how we 3-Drs would react to the intervention of an 4-D being into our 3-D universe. Carl Sagan had suggested that although a Flatlander would not be able to perceive the 3-dimensional height of a 3-D creature, Flatlanders might be able to perceive its 2-dimensional shadow. The discussion turns to whether or not Sagan was right about this: would a 2-D creature actually be able to perceive anything from a 3-D object or entity? If so, what would it be able to perceive? Would it even be conceptually possible for a 3-Dr to exist in a 2-D space, or for a 4-Dr to exist in a 3-D space? If not a 4th spatial dimension, what is it that massive objects curve when they curve spacetime, according to Einstein's theory of general relativity Check out this mind-blowing discussion of modality, conceivability, and possibility!
Interview with Richard Schoenig on Original Sin
Edouard Tahmizian | Richard Schoenig | July 1, 2022 | Kiosk Video
Join host Edouard Tahmizian in this 40-minute interview with Richard Schoenig, a retired philosophy professor at San Antonio College who's published unique contributions to the philosophy of religion on original sin, the unfairness of Heaven, the objectivity of ethics in a naturalistic universe, and arguments from evil against the existence of God. In the first half of the interview, the interlocutors tackle whether God is the origin of evil per Edouard's "God is Either the Efficient or Final Cause of Evil" (and why—a là French Enlightenment encyclopedist Denis Diderot—God seems to care more about his apples than his children). Then the interlocutors turn to how the Garden of Eden story (and the original sin moral of it) is the edifice of Christianity since without it, salvation from Hell is not necessary in the first place (i.e., Christianity posits the disease so that it can sell you the cure). Finally, Schoenig canvasses the many human beings who, according to Western monotheism, were unable to achieve salvation through no fault of their own—such as those who died in utero, before the age of accountability, with mental handicaps, before Jesus (or other human messengers who delivered the purported requirements of salvation) even existed, or without ever having heard those requirements—whom Schoenig points out constitute the vast majority of human beings that have ever existed. Schoenig notes that attempts to ensure the fairness of salvation by loosening the requirements for the otherwise "unabled" to obtain it simply shift the unfairness of salvation on to the "abled." Unorthodox alternatives like universalism and postmortem-opportunity proposals raise their own vexing problems. Check out this in-depth interview on a fascinating "big picture" critique of Western monotheism!
Interview with Bruno V on Video Game Music
Edouard Tahmizian | Bruno V | June 16, 2022 | Kiosk Video
Join host Edouard Tahmizian in this 25-minute interview with Bruno V., the world-renowned video game music remixer known for his use of diverse musical styles across artists and musical eras. Edouard and Bruno canvass Bruno's influences, his Metalltool project on social media, his guitar work and use of synthesizers, his remixing process, how composers can improve the quality of their music, the tracks that he covers, how he does the longer tracks, how he pays tribute to the soundtracks that he grew up with, and more. Take a peek into the behind-the-scenes world of video game music and keep an ear out for Bruno V.'s upcoming original compositions soon to be posted on his YouTube channel!
Interview with Vincent Torley on Free Will
Edouard Tahmizian | Vincent Torley | June 12, 2022 | Kiosk Video
Join host Edouard Tahmizian in this twenty-five-minute return interview with Vincent Torley, the skeptical Catholic and former intelligent design proponent who wrote the blog series An A-Z of Unanswered Objections to Christianity, on the issue of whether or not the theological problems that arise from the existence of an inclination to sin under either compatibilist or libertarian notions of free will are insurmountable. The interlocutors canvass various unsuccessful attempts to solve the problem before focusing on whether introducing the notion of first- and second-order desires could give a theological out for why human beings have an inclination to sin in the first place. The discussion then turns to whether or not the way that we conceive of ourselves, or the inferiority of God’s creatures compared to himself, could dissolve the problem. Tune in for this in-depth analysis of attempts to get out of a central theological conundrum!
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