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

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.

00:0000:00
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.

00:0000:00
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".

00:0000:00

Yesterday evening, we witnessed a super moon lunar eclipse or what Christian fundamentalists like to call a "blood moon". The latest craze among some evangelicals is the "Four Blood Moons Prophecy", an idea popularized by evangelists Mark Biltz and John Hagee. The event is interpreted in light of several apocalyptic texts from the Bible, which are believed to be tied to Israel's destiny. In this week's episode of the Inquisitive Minds Podcast, we deconstruct the preposterous claims of this so-called prophecy. People who believe such ludicrous ideas clearly lack critical thinking skills. The same goes for fundamentalist Christian preachers who promote this "prophecy". They simply are unqualified to teach the Bible, the holy book they claim to know and believe.


00:0000:00
This is Part 2 of our interview with Dr. Hector Avalos (Iowa State University). In this week's episode, Prof. Avalos answers a wide array of questions. He shared his thoughts on the Historical Jesus, health care and the rise of Christianity, scarce resource theory in relation to religion and violence, the role and responsibilities of biblical and religion scholars in today's world, the end of biblical studies, and his future research projects, and many more topics. Once again, listeners will appreciate Dr. Avalos' perspective on such crucial issues.

00:0000:00
This episode of the Inquisitive Minds Podcast features Part 1 of an interview with Dr. Hector Avalos, professor of Religious Studies at Iowa State University, on his latest book entitled The Bad Jesus. The Ethics of New Testament Ethics (Sheffield Phoenix Press, 2015). Professor Avalos was a keynote speaker at a recent colloquium on religion and violence held at Concordia University (Montreal, Quebec, Canada). During his visit to Montreal, Dr. Avalos graciously agreed to speak with us about his life story, his recent monograph, and his various research interests. Listeners will truly enjoy and learn from this exciting interview.

00:0000:00
A recent colloquium was held at l'Université Laval in Québec City on May 29-31 on the discovery of the Nag Hammadi texts after 70 years. Andre Gagne and Calogero Miceli were among the list of presenters at this event. This week on the Inquisitive Minds Podcast, they share a few words on the importance of this discovery for scholars who study the history of early Christianity, as well as a brief overview of their own conference papers.

00:0000:00
It has been quite an exciting journey into Hector Avalos' important book, Fighting Words. The Origins of Religious Violence. In this last episode dedicated to this topic, we briefly review Avalos' last few chapters where he provides a synthesis and some solutions to the issue of religion and violence. We end this series with a quote found at the end of the book on the scholar's responsibility toward the topic at hand: "Most academic scholars are not so frank in acknowledging that their scholarship is an apologetic enterprise. Given the violence in the scriptures we have examined, I would suggest that the opposite should be our mission. Our job as biblical scholars is to undermine the value of any scripture that endorses violence. [...] We become complicit in violence when we attempt to maintain the value of a book whose main truth claims can never be verified. [...] Our final mission, as scholars of these scriptures, must be to help humanity close the book on a long chapter of human misery."

00:0000:00
Most people think that Christianity is non-violent. But such a perception is flawed, since the foundational event of the Christian religion - the sacrifice of the Son of God - is of extreme violence and has engendered some of the most horrific acts of violence in the history of humankind; actions which led directly to the Holocaust. In his book, Fighting Words: The Origins of Religious Violence, Hector Avalos discusses how Christianity also creates scarce resources. Even if there seems to be less violence stemming from the Christian religion at this time - this can be questioned since it depends on how one understands violence - Christians still cling to the hope of the New Testament authors, when God will establish his kingdom and bring judgment upon unbelievers. The New Testament clearly speaks of a "deferred violence" awaiting those who do not surrender to God and believe in Jesus Christ as their way to salvation.

00:0000:00