Inquisitive Minds Podcast Critical Thinking on History, Religion, Politics and Culture

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".


00:0000:00
In this last episode dedicated to Phil Zuckerman's book Living the Secular Life, we discuss the concept of "aweism". Zuckerman recognizes that theists, atheists, and agnostics do not understand everything about life; there are still "mysteries" about the world and the universe that one cannot yet grasp. What is life's purpose? How do we understand our place in the universe? Accordingly, Zuckerman says that "a lack of belief in God does not render this world any less wondrous, lush, mystifying, or amazing... One need not have God to feel and experience awe. One just needs life."

00:0000:00
Secular societies are sometimes perceived by certain religiously minded people as hell on earth. But according to Phil Zuckeman, in his most recent book, The Secular Life, the current state of the world shows that it is among the most secular societies that one can find the greatest levels of equality, social harmony, peacefulness, civility, prosperity, and freedom. In opposition to this state of affairs, most religiously oriented societies have the greatest levels of poverty, oppression, chaos, immorality, insecurity, destitution, and inequality in the world.

00:0000:00
Some people see secularism as a positive personal orientation which focuses on the here and now, and is concerned with people and nature, life and existence. This week, we continue our discussion of The Secular Life by Phil Zuckerman. In his book, Zuckerman notes that George Jacob Holyoake was the first person to coin the term "secularism" in 1851. Holyoake defined secularism as "a code of duty pertaining to this life, founded on considerations purely human, and intended mainly for those who find theology indefinite or inadequate, unreliable or unbelievable. Its essential principles are three: (1) The improvement of this life by material means. (2) That science is the available Providence of man. (3) That it is good to do good. Whether there be other good or not, the good of this present life is good, and it is good to seek that good."

00:0000:00
In our series on atheism, we examine the question of non-belief in Antiquity. In the first part of this episode, we review Jan N. Bremmer's article in the Cambridge Companion to Atheism on the various ways certain philosophers spoke and defined atheism and/or agnosticism. We then discuss whether or not human beings can be moral without belief in god/gods. Are atheists immoral because of their unbelief? Is good behavior only possible for those who embrace religion? Can non-believers also live meaningful lives or is meaning only to be found through religion? Do people really need to rely on some kind of transcendent reality or supernatural entity(ies) to find true purpose? Ancient and modern critiques argue that morality and meaning do not require one to adopt a religious outlook on life.

00:0000:00
This week's podcast is dedicated to the social impact of atheism. Some people today are "coming out" as atheists and speak about how religion has negatively affected their lives. They also advocate for a complete separation of government and religion. In the past few years, we have seen the rise of what some call the "New Atheists". Often labelled as radical and outspoken, these individuals have made a tremendous impact on the lives of millions people through their writings; for example, just think of the influential works of the famous "Four Horsemen": Dawkins, Dennett, Hitchens, and Harris. Many other prominent writers, bloggers, and vloggers have now followed their lead. But what exactly is atheism? How does it differ from theism and other forms of beliefs or non-beliefs? These are some of the questions we address in this episode.
 
00:0000:00