Friday, July 20, 2007

Questions for the first show?

Here's the shout-out. Anyone want to provide a question or two for us to use for our first podcast? :)


mama_nomad said...

how do you raise athiest children in a god-fearing world? is it hypocrytical to impose your non-beliefs onto your children?


i don't know anything about podcasts. i just happened to check your blog and see this.

Sean the Blogonaut F.C.D. said...


I have a poll on my blog regarding Secular support for magical thinking through such shows as Supernatural and Charmed, maybe you could discuss how society, through pop-culture is reinforcing "magical" thinking.

DivaFFS said...

i am 38.5 weeks pregnant. i will be entering the world of secular parenting any day now. what is the best advice you can give to brand new atheist (or non-theist) moms and dads?

Ginny said...

how do I find your podcast?

Thranil said...

Assuming for a second that evolution is false and creationism is true: what is your favorite color? ;)

Russ said...


Some random thoughts for your podcasts.

The incredible diversity of religious belief even among a single monotheism such as Christianity could generate all sorts of questions. What do you think it means about the truth of Christian claims when one sect says all are damned to hell if they are not baptized by full immersion, but another Christian sect says that the same full immersion baptism will itself land you in hell? What about mortal sins like not showing up to church with coin in hand? How about the crazy-assed sects that kick out the elderly when they can no longer both eat and tithe on fixed incomes? How about the mainstream sects like the Lutherans who boot the elderly from their Faith-Based-Initiative funded nursing homes on finding that they are or were gays, lesbians, transsexuals or bisexuals?

What happened to limbo? Does the elimination of limbo suggest that religion is manmade? The rulers of Catholicism say that limbo was not actually church doctrine and yet millions of bereaved parents over centuries have been psychologically victimized by the idea through the authority of the clergy. To me this suggests that though limbo may not have been written into the mucky muck's canon law, it was a de facto doctrine of the church. What might it imply about the veracity of church dogma that leaders can change it as they please - as in limbo and as in Vatican 2 - for what appears to be marketing purposes?

Is Christianity's popularity in the US due to marketing? Perhaps the marketing of false promises?

Which is heavier a pint of glue or a square mile of spider web?

Does religion actually have greater appeal to uneducated people?

Is religious participation primarily a social phenomenon?

Why are no Christians actually Biblical literalists? Even those professing to be so, conduct themselves in ways that conflict heavily with the Bible.

Why are there so many versions of the Bible?

Do you think that the credulity inherent in religious people makes them more susceptible to fraud, political manipulation or other deception?

The oath of office for civil servants requires that the office holder vow to uphold the Constitution of the United States. Many politicians put their religious concerns ahead of those of the Constitution. Should this disqualify them from holding office? Right now many politicians publicly endorse religion. Is that a violation of the oath of office? When a Christian takes the oath of office, can we expect them to uphold the First Amendment religious freedoms for those with whom they are at religious odds like non-believers, non-Christians or Christians who are, at least from the office holders perspective, the wrong type of Christian.

The US military has become heavily populated by fundamentalist Christians. What impact do you think that might have on the future of democracy in the US? Do you think that having the US military so strongly fundamentalist Christian, puts the US in danger of a Christian coup d'etat?

How good is the evidence for the existence of a god, any god, or anything supernatural? What would constitute such evidence?

Is Gould's NOMA, Non-Overlapping Magisteria, a good model to use for science-religion interaction? Can religion be investigated by science?

Is god a delusion? Is god great? Does religion poison everything? Is religion a natural phenomenon? Can religion's spell be broken? Is god a failed hypothesis? Can I get fries with that value meal? Has faith ended?

How does "end times thinking" effect the debate on environmental issues?

Should atheists be more outspoken? Less outspoken? What is a militant atheist? How does a militant atheist compare to the other kinds of atheists of which there must be least one?

Of Sam Harris' two books, "The End of Faith" and "Letter to a Christian Nation," which do you think puts forth a more positive atheist perspective?

Do you think it is possible for two conflicting absolutisms like fundy Judaism and fundy Islam to reconcile their differences?

Do you have any thoughts about why worshippers of any specific one of the more than 1000 extant gods actively worshipped on earth today, feel perfectly comfortable ignoring all of today's other gods?

Are atheists in general more knowledgeable about the natural world than are religious types? How about mathematics, statistics, probability, coincidence, random processes?

Atheists are often empiricists who insist on having good evidence before making decisions. How would you characterize good evidence? Doesn't the Bible constitute good evidence since many of the places named in the Bible are known to have existed? Doesn't that mean the Bible is true? There are words mentioning a person named Jesus in the writings of some secular historians who lived during the time that Biblical Jesus would have lived. Isn't that proof that Biblical Jesus was real?

Do you think Jesus would have liked Birkenstocks? Christian Dior?

What factors do atheists take into account when making personal decisions about things like abortion?

Why do you think that Christian marriages fall apart half the time? Why aren't they observably more durable than the marriages of non-Christians?

Why do you think that around 90 percent of the members of the National Academy of Sciences are non-believers, while in the general US population about 90 percent are believers?

Who can drink more scotch, Hitchens or god? Who can write a bigger book Dawkins or god? Can god fart Onward Christian Soldiers? Does god fart?

From any of the several popular books currently in print about atheism, does any of the authors state his case in a way that is especially appealing to you? Has any of them put forth an argument that is new to you? Did any of the authors present you with a particularly memorable turn of phrase? Did any of them just knock you back on your heels? Did any of them make you say, Wish I'da said that?

Hitchens has stated that he thinks the Bible is important as literature. First, do you think he's correct? If so, then, do you think that it is necessary to study the Bible proper or are Biblical references better picked up on a "need to know" basis? Is the Bible worth reading?

Some atheists have made the case that the Bible should be studied by atheists as an Art of War sort of "know thy enemy." Do you agree with that assessment? According to Princeton Theological Seminary, most clergy have never read the entire Bible and among laymen the fraction is far scanter still. Given that, does it make any sense for the atheist to be better versed in the field manual of the enemy than the enemy himself?

Non-believers often criticize believers for their apparent lack of critical thinking skills. What is critical thinking, and why should anyone consider it important?

Lots of atheists justify their atheism with arguments based on science. I hate science. I can't tell a DNA polymerase from an insulin or a hexokinase. I wouldn't know natural selection if it hit me during a random genetic drift. Only recently I learned that a constellation is not a science term for an intestinal obstruction. I'm not a denier, just a hater. I don't disagree with Darwin, I'd have to understand him to disagree with him. I've tried to understand, but I don't get it. That's why I hate it. I just want to do my macrame, paint cows on jars, and go to artfairs. Can I still be an intellectually satisfied atheist if I hate science? Can't I just reject all the supernatural gobbledygook out of hand without taking all kinds of time away from my artwork to try to overcome my fear, my dread, my disdain of science?

What do you think it means for a democratic US, when religion has become intimately entwined in the political process and there is no enforcement of the laws concerning religion in politics? Do you think that atheists could eventually be made non-citizens through Constitutional amendment along the lines of comments made by Bush senior?

Could you be forced to be religious through persecution by the religious? What if the religious hurt your children to force them into religious compliance?

If some version of Christianity worships the one and only true god, and some version of Islam worships the one and only true god, how many one and only true gods are there?


There are a few ideas to stimulate podcast topics, PMomma.

Saurian200 said...


. Anyone want to provide a question or two for us to use for our first podcast?

I'd ask a serious question but I'm sure Russ already beat me to it. So, here's a not very serious question:

Who would win in a fight; Jesus, Vishnu, Ahura Mazda, or Wonder Woman? I expect a detailed answer.

I hope Russ didn't already ask that. I can't remember everything he asked.

Erp said...

Well specific questions might help

How do you handle Christmas, Easter, and Thanksgiving?

(Given that many Christians tend to think atheists are incapable of co-opting holidays just as Christians had done in ages past. On the other hand secular parents might want to know how others handle it.)

Russ said...

Saurian200 said, "I'd ask a serious question but I'm sure Russ already beat me to it."

I wasn't attempting to beat anybody to the punch, Saurian200. My twenty minute stream of consciousness scribbling hardly scratched the surface of the very deep and very important subject of atheism. I'm sure I could generate a thousand questions related to atheism. What I was hoping to do with my tumbling about was to get the ball rolling, maybe stimulate some creative juices for those with an as-yet not quite fully articulated question hanging in the air.

Just glimpsing back over the list, I think there are some questions there worthy of further consideration by any interested party, but at this point only PMomma knows the specifics of her podcast so I can't say that I know that any of the questions I put forth will be appropriate for her show. All I did was dump some ideas at PMomma's readers. The length of the show, the format, the style, the attitude and flexibility all play their part in determining what questions and issues get addressed, and how thoroughly the show treats them.

Ostensibly missing from what I jotted out are uncountable questions stemming from the philosophical roots of atheism, contemporary atheist philosophers, famous atheist personalities from history, the general history of atheism, atheism and the law, atheism and art, atheism and the media, atheism and interpersonal relationships, atheism and science, and lots of others. I skirted some of these ideas, but only in the hope of planting a seed. There are questions enough to fill a lifetime in the answering just beneath the surface waiting to germinate.

Saurian200 said...


I'm sure I could generate a thousand questions related to atheism.

That could take a while. You might want to spread them out over a couple posts. I think trying to cover it all in one post might make it a bit too long.

But, all right I'll try a serious question.

Lately there have been many atheist themed bookis released by such wonderful authors as Sam Harris and Richard Dawkins. P-Momma, my question is, why are these books always like 25 to 30 dollars? Seriously, I can't go spending 30 bucks every time a new book come out.

I'd kill for a paperback God Delusion or End of Faith. I guess that wasn;t that serious. Oh well, I tried.

Russ said...

Good news, Saurian200!

End of Faith is now available in paperback in the US, and The God Delusion will be in paperback release in the US this fall.

bugsoup said...


If it hasn't already been suggested, you could introduce some blogs/podcasts that you like to keep up on. That's not a question, I know, but sharing a reference or two could be an interesting way to end each show.


Google Video has Dawkins reading the preface to his paperback edition here:

Also, somewhere is the Q&A he had afterwords.

Saurian200 said...


End of Faith is now available in paperback in the US, and The God Delusion will be in paperback release in the US this fall.

Oh wow! That is good news, for me at least. Not so much for P-Momma, because now she has one fewer question for her show.

Anyway, off to I go. Thanks!

AJR said...

Bakerfsield native here.
I have a daughter that teaches at your kids' school. We have spoke on
I can't believe you are an atheist. I know that you are telling gods honest truth about your kids being smart and decent because everybody knows your family at school. Better than most kids, so I hear. Do you ever think you may be a christian but haven't found your right fit in religion? I'm not against atheists, but I'm confused. You seem so normal. The only atheists I have ever known have been so lax about their parenting like they don't care. Don't you think god could help you with morality lessons and your health issues? Respect - AJR