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

This episode covers the first part of a conference given by André Gagné during the first Global Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) Forum organized by the Montreal Institute for Genocide and Human Rights Studies (MIGS). The event was held on November 16 & 17, 2016 at Concordia University and was made possible by the generous support of the Consulate General of the United States in Montreal. This forum brought together experts and practitioners from academia, the government and civil society. The goal was to discuss and find solutions to the current threat that violent extremism is posing to societies across the world.

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* Please note that our next episode will be on Monday, November 28th, 2016.
 
In this week's episode of the Inquisitive Minds Podcast, we look at how education can play a significant role in preventing religious radicalization leading to violence. The type of education needed should equip students to discern between what is mythological and what is historical; students essentially need to acquire critical thinking skills in order to protect themselves against fundamentalism. A lack of critical thinking about religion is precisely what can lead to radicalization. Students, therefore, should not be given religious education in high school or in college - this should rather be the role of religious communities - but rather, students should be taught about religion from historical, comparative, anthropological, social, and cognitive perspectives.

 

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This week again, we continue with our topic on "Assaulting Cultural Heritage: ISIS's Fight to Destroy Diversity in Iraq and Syria." A conference on this theme was organized by the Montreal Institute for Genocide and Human Rights Studies (MIGS) and held at Concordia University on September 25-26, 2016. This episode focuses on the Christian tradition and notes some of the recent destructive actions brought about by ISIS from a comparative perspective. We end with a few words on the shared apocalyptic worldview embraced by some religious extremist groups.

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In the next two podcasts, we discuss some aspects of a recent conference entitled: Assaulting Cultural Heritage: ISIS's Fight to Destroy Diversity in Iraq and Syria. The event was organized by the Montreal Institute for Genocide and Human Rights Studies (MIGS) and was held at Concordia University on September 25-26, 2016. These episodes will focus on a paper given during the first panel of the conference on ISIS and the Intellectual Roots of Assaulting Cultural Heritage.

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We are so happy to be back! We hope that listeners enjoyed the summer, and that some of you had time to catch up on past episode. As we ease into fall, we decided to share some of our current and future projects, and also say a few words about upcoming events that could of interest to our listeners.

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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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