March 22, 2008 – Guest: Harvard Prof. Steven Pinker
As a salute to the Easter Holiday (which roughly equates to the Vernal Equinox) Dan discusses the origin of the word Easter, which is a corruption of the name for the goddess Ishtar-Astarte who later became more widely known as the Greek goddess Aphrodite. The Vernal Equinox heralds the return of spring, so the festivals of Spring naturally include fertility gods and symbols of fertility (like eggs and rabbits) since Spring represents the re-birth of the world from the death of Winter (at least in the far northern climates) The translator of the King James version of the bible substituted the word Easter for the word passover, and so popular celebrations of the day, which were pagan in nature, entered into the bible as a christian holiday.
Theocracy Alert contrasts the posturing of Obama’s pastor Rev. Jeremiah Wright with the fundamentalist pastor, John C. Hagee, who endorsed John McCain. In that light, it’s pretty hard to figure out what all the fuss is about. Why don’t politicians’ keep their religious lives personal, here’s a good reason to stop wearing religion on their sleeves; a sentiment voiced by Annie Laurie Gaylor.
Freethinkers Almanac features a tribute to Arthur C. Clarke, who died this week. The end of another SF era is upon us. So long, Arthur.
Steven Pinker has been on the show previously. The Stuff of Thought is his latest book. His interviews are always thought provoking.
As an authority whose testimony has been requested by the Council on Bioethics, Steven Pinker has a personal insight into the problems with the anti-science views of the Bush White House. Most troubling is the trumping of rights with the concept of dignity; as in the dignity of human stem cells, trumping the rights of scientists to explore the possibility for cures held within these special types of cells, and the rights of patients to receive treatments involving stem cells or transplantation.
The report Human Dignity and Bioethics produced by the council is especially problematic, producing what can only be seen as a religious test when it comes to perceptions of dignity.
March 24, 2007 – Priest Abuse of Children
Every copy of Freethought Today, the newspaper of FFrF, features a blotter sheet on Black collar crime, which frequently involves children. Annie Laurie Gaylor was one of the first publishers in the modern age to bring attention to the crimes of men of the cloth (although in previous generations freethought publications were known for this) because, as the leader of FFrF, she received letters from individuals who were suffering at the hands of their religious leaders. After she realized how many such stories she had in her files, she decided that it was necessary for someone to publish these stories.
Joe McGee was the guest. His chronicle, No longer Catholic, No longer Quiet was published in the March 2006 edition of Freethought Today. If you want to know the details of what Joe went through at the hands of his priest (and also his family. His father was a devout Catholic who denied his family basic needs in order to be able to tithe larger amounts to the church) you’ll have to read the article or listen to the podcast. I’m not going to paraphrase any of it here. This was a hard episode to listen to. As the father of two children myself, the stories of child abuse were almost more than I could stomach.
Mercifully, the episode ends with one of Dan’s pagan pulpits. Dan fillet’s Paul Campos’ article Why there are almost no genuine atheists, starting with the observation that he might have been more enlightened on the subject of atheism if he had bothered to talk to one before writing his article. It almost gets the bad air of priest abuse of children out of the ears. Almost.
Philip Appleman reads Exegesis as the show ends. Definitely apropos.