Inquisitive Minds Podcast Critical Thinking on Religion, History, Culture and Science.

In this episode of the Inquisitive Minds Podcast, we have decided to discuss a chapter from Russell T. McCutcheon's book, The Discipline of Religion: Structure, Meaning, Rhetoric (2013). Our podcast focuses on chapter 6 entitled, "Alienation, Apprenticeship, and the Crisis of Academic Labor." This section addresses important questions related to the discipline of religious studies and the current expectations placed on graduate students if they wish to have a shot at an academic job! McCutcheon rightly notes that, "... pre-professional candidates must meet such professional standards as peer-reviewed publication, excellence in teaching, and public presentation of their research at conferences before even gaining entrance to the profession. It was and still is a market in which candidates may very well have a more extensive publication record than many of the people interviewing them. It is a market in which, at many schools, it takes far superior credentials to get a job interview (let alone the job!) than it might have taken one's interviewers to have been awarded tenure."

Please note that this is our last podcast of the season. We will resume our episodes around mid-September. Have a great summer and hope you can take this time to re-listen or catch up on the podcast!


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Dr. André Gagné of Concordia University has extensively studied the Gospel of Thomas. He shares his views on "Talk Gnosis" concerning this enigmatic document’s origins and how it might have been used by early Christians. You can listen to the interview at:

http://gnosticwisdom.net/reflections-on-the-gospel-of-thomas/

This last episode on Whitmarsh's Battling the Gods: Atheism in the Ancient World focuses on atheism in the Roman Empire. The rise of Rome brought with it the belief that the Empire's existence was the result of a divine mandate. Some opposing voices were raised against this idea of divine providence. Atheistic arguments circulated through various doxographies written mostly by people opposing non-believers. These texts give us insight into how disbelievers argued somewhat successfully against theistic perspectives. As Rome embraced Christianity, rulers such as Theodosius I (379-395 CE) established that it was now insufficient to simply adopt the right religion; one also needed to adhere to the right theological position on the right religion. Codex Theodosianus goes as far as treating "heresy" (which was now clearly understood as an incorrect theological position) as crime against the state. According to this law, "any crime committed against divine religion is treated as an aggression against everyone".

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In this third episode dedicated to Tim Whitmarsh's book, Battling the Gods: Atheism in the Ancient World, we review his section on the Hellenistic Era where kings were sometimes worshiped as "gods". Some philosophers, however, were skeptical of such ideas and adopted an agnostic position toward the existence of gods. Epicureans, on the other hand,believed in gods but not in their involvement in the world, and since the gods were different in matter and not part of this world, they even thought that there existed a plurality of universes; a concept similar to what is now referred to as "multiverse".


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We continue our discussion of Whitmarsh's Battling the the Gods: Atheism in the Ancient World. The second part of his book deals with the atheism in Classical Athens (5th-4th centuries BCE). In this episode, some important figures of that time period such as Thucydides (author of the Peloponnesian War), Protagoras, Democritus, Aristophanes, Euripides, Plato, as well as Anaxagoras, Diogoras of Melos, Socrates, and Theodorus of Cyrene and their impact on atheistic thought are reviewed.

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This is special episode of the Inquisitive Minds Podcast on the terror attacks which happened earlier today (March 22, 2016) in Brussels, Belgium.

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This week, we start a series of podcasts discussing Tim Whitmarsh's, Battling the Gods: Atheism in the Ancient World. In this episode we will discuss how the ancient Greek world differentiated between the sacred and the profane, despite the fact that people embraced polytheism. We will also note that Greeks did not consider their texts as sacred, certainly not in the sense Jews, Christians and Muslims understand their own scriptures. Homer's Iliad and Odyssey were not sacred texts even if they are comprised of divine characters; these are rather to be understood as myth. We will end our podcast with an important note on the concept of "mimesis" and how such a practice could be understood as a "battle with the gods" (theomachy), a way to contest their very existence.

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In our third and last podcast dedicated to the "The Second Wave of the New Atheism. A Manifesto for Secular Scriptural Scholarship and Religious Studies", we will answer as to why the authors have framed their manifesto in the context of the New Atheism. This question was asked several times by some of our listeners. We would like to discuss how Avalos and Gagné respond to people who think the manifesto should not be associated to the New Atheism.
   
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Two weeks ago, the parliamentary secretary of the Canadian Defense Minister insisted that ISIS was "criminal organization with a religious veneer on it". A week later, the Premier of Canada stated that the country would stop airstrikes against ISIS in Syria and Iraq, but would still participate in the coalition's effort to combat the jihadist group. In that same week, the Defense Minister was reportedly reluctant to call the conflict with IS a war. It seems that there is a clear disconnect between the reality which the coalition forces face in the Middle East, and the obsession of this new Canadian government to keep its electoral promises at all costs.

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This week again, we examine the manifesto written by Hector Avalos and André Gagné entitled: "The Second Wave of the New Atheism. A Manifesto for Secular Scriptural Scholarship and Religious Studies." We invite scholars of religion or scriptural studies who share some of the ideas and would like to become signatories, to contact the authors at the information found on the manifesto's website accessible here.


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