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

This week, we discuss a short important article written by Jim Baggott about the lack of evidence in theoretical physics. The problem, according to Baggott, is that much of theoretical physics has crossed the line from physics to metaphysics. Theoretical physicists are sometimes eager to try answer the big questions concerning the origins of the universe, the underlying structure of reality and the meaning of life. The theories that emerge from this pursuit are often speculative; they are not based on any observable and measurable evidence. This is precisely where lies the danger! Baggott rightly notes that "the purpose of science is to seek rational explanations and ultimately an understanding of empirical reality by establishing a correspondence between the predictions of scientific theories and the results of observations and measurements."

00:0000:00
In our series on atheism, we continue our review of Gavin Hyman's article, "Atheism in Modern History." René Descartes' Cartesian model was the rejection of Thomas Aquinas' theological method, where human reason was subject to the authority of divine revelation. Aquinas emphasized God's transcendence through analogical language; he believed that this was the only adequate way one could speak of the divine. Many philosophers, however, insisted on using rationalism and/or empirical sense data, even in the realm of theological inquiry. According to Hyman, modernity brought with it a "domestication of God", where the divine was now defined in quantitative terms, rather than with qualitative language. But Hyman also sees the shift from analogical language to a more "hypostatic" and representational conception of God, as the result of theological speculation in the 14th century C.E.

00:0000:00

In this week's episode, we discuss the content of Gavin Hyman's interesting piece in the Cambridge Companion to Atheism entitled, "Atheism in Modern History." In his article, Hyman describes what he considers being an inextricable connection between atheism and modernity. He also explains how the English term "atheism" was first used in 1540 by Sir John Clarke in his translation of Plutarch's On Superstition, and was understood as "a denial of the intervention of divine providence, rather than a denial of the existence of God." It is only in the 18th and 19th centuries that the expression was used in a self-definitional way by French philosopher Denis Diderot, and by Charles Bradlaugh, a British parliamentary member who founded the National Secular Society in 1866.


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
The Mind-Body connection is best understood through the lens of neuroscience. This week on the Inquisitive Minds Podcast, we discuss how brain damage clearly affects the mind and one's perception and relationship to self, others, time, space, and environment. We also mention the important work of Dr. Vilayanur S. Ramachandran on phantom limbs (see also his book Phantoms in the Brain, as well as the YouTube video series) and how the brain can be tricked into believing things that do not exist. Ramachandran's research is an example of the most most compelling evidence for embodied realism, and that the mind is truly in the brain. Please note that there will be no podcast on July 7 and 14; we will be on vacation. We will resume our activities on Monday, July 21.

00:0000:00

Embracing a Mind / Body dualism requires a leap of faith or a dose of magical thinking since one cannot explain how immateriality interacts with the physical world. But many people, nevertheless, hold onto such an illusion. For example, this is why some think that quantum physics has supposedly solved the "hard problem of consciousness". This week on the Inquisitive Minds Podcast, we briefly discuss the impact of Descartes' Cartesian dualism and its consequences for understanding the relationship between mind and body. We also notice that first-generation of Cognitive scientists (1950s-60s) adopted a similar perspective and but that a significant change was brought about by second-generation researchers (70s +): embodied realism. Our goal is to explore some of the philosophical and scientific assumptions behind common held beliefs about consciousness, scientific inquiry, quantum physics and the afterlife.

00:0000:00

In this week's episode, we ask: How do people believe in the afterlife? It is an established fact that a person's culture and worldview shape their belief system and provides the language necessary to interpret and narrate cognitive experiences. Neuroscience has also clearly demonstrated - through a host of empirical research - that "mind" is not separate or distinct from body, but it is rather embodied. All experiences are thus lived out in the flesh. This is a direct challenge to Western philosophical thought which favors a mind/body dualism. Cognitive science understands "mind" to be an epiphenomenon of the brain; that is, people are not "souls" or non-material entities who will separate from their bodies at the time of death and live in the afterlife; rather, individuals are fully embodied; their minds (or being) are in the flesh. The current evidence shows that once the body dies and the brain shuts down, so does the mind. 


Please note that you can also find each podcast on iTunes (or doubleTwist for Android), Blubrry or Stitcher. If you are subscribed to these other providers, kindly take a few minutes to rate the show. In the case of Stitcher, ratings of individual episodes is good, but the general rating of the show as a whole will greatly contribute to our overall position in the "Society and Culture" category.

00:0000:00

The growing fascination with near death experiences (NDE) and out-of-body experiences (OBE) have people believe that such "experiences" are proofs of the afterlife. But are stories of NDEs and ODEs sufficient evidence for believing in the existence of souls, heaven or hell? Popular accounts of trips to heaven such as that of Eben Alexander in his best seller, Proof of Heaven: A Neurosurgeon's Journey into the Afterlife, contribute to the assumption that death is not final. It is quite surprising to see that most people adopt beliefs that require no evidence. For example, a higher percentage of Americans believe in the existence of heaven (75%) and hell (61%) over against evolution (45%), even if there is overwhelming evidence for the latter! But why do people need to believe in the afterlife? This week we will discuss NDEs and explore the mechanisms of such beliefs. We will see that there are more "down-to-earth" ways to explain NDEs and ODEs. Please note that the podcast is also available on iTunes, Stitcher and Blubrry.

00:0000:00

This is our third episode dedicated to Hector Avalos' book The End of Biblical Studies. In chapter 3, Prof. Avalos discusses History and Archaeology and remarks that, "at the heart of the entire debate about whether one can write a history of ancient Israel is an epistemological problem that is besetting all of archaeology and history. Historians and archaeologists have lost confidence in examining the past objectively." (p.111). We will also see how biblical scholars face similar problems when it comes to the study of the historical Jesus.

00:0000:00

André Gagné and Brice Jones speak about their former religious backgrounds and escape from fundamentalism. Both discuss the social dynamics which shaped their former conversion experience and what has lead them to reconsider some aspects of their beliefs inconsistent with their experience of the world.

00:0000:00

- Older Posts »