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

In this week's episode, we continue our discussion of recent terror attacks through the lens of propaganda used by IS and other jihadist groups or sympathizers. We try to understand the impact of terror propaganda on social media plateforms and see how "news" relegated by terrorists and their supporters serve as a way to promote an "alternate" version of events.

 

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In this week's episode, we will discuss three recent terror attacks through the lens of propaganda used by IS and other jihadist groups or sympathizers. What is the impact of this terror propaganda on social media plateforms? How much credibility should be given to "news" relegated by some jihadists channels? In what way does such propaganda provide an alternate version and interpretation of events? 

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In this week's episode of the Inquisitive Minds Podcast, we discuss two recent events which happened in the Province of Quebec: a shooting at an Islamic Cultural Centre in Quebec City on January 29th and a bomb threat at Concordia University on March 1st. We try to understand the possible motivations behind such acts and the implications this might have on Quebec society in general.

 

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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 this last episode of the year, we thought it would be good to end with a discussion on the purpose of the University. With the increasing corporization of the university, one wonders what the purpose of post-secondary education today can be? Do universities exist solely to help people get a job, and what role should universities play in society? We also look into the recent controversies concerning political correctness on certain university campuses. Universities, we contend, are places where open discussion and debate about ideas should be found, where bad ideologies are to be thoroughly critiqued and where students acquire critical thinking skills. This is the only way students can be prepared to face the harsh realities of life; in a nutshell, the university is not a place for the fainthearted; it is not a "safe-space" to shelter one from controversial ideas and sensitive issues. 

Please note that our next episode of the Inquisitive Minds Podcast will air on January 18th, 2016. We would like to wish all our listeners a Happy Holiday Season and all the best for 2016.

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After interviewing Dr. Hector Avalos during our last two episodes of the Inquisitive Minds Podcast, we decided to do a short recap on some of the topics covered at our recent Religion and Violence conference, held at Concordia (Montreal, Quebec, Canada) last June. In this episode, André Gagné, Calogero A. Miceli and Costa Babalis briefly discuss the content of their papers and the purpose for hosting such a conference. Please note that an edited volume of the papers is currently in the works. Listeners will be informed in the coming weeks when the publication will be available for purchase.
 
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