On this date in freethought history…

sanaledamarukuMay 26, 1955 – Indian activist Sanal Edamaruku, son of influential rationalist Joseph Edamaruku, is born. Continuing his father’s work, he is president of the Indian Rationalist Association and founding president of Rationalist International. A smiling Edamaruku famously “survived” a tantric guru’s attempt to murder him on live television using only mental power. In 2012 Edamaruku investigated a “miraculous” drip of water from a Christ-statue’s toe in Mumbai and traced it to a seeping drainpipe. Infuriated Catholics complained under a statute prohibiting “outraging religious sentiments.” Fearing arrest and under threats of violence, Edamaruku fled to Finland where he lives in exile.

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On this date in freethought history…

johnscopesMay 25, 1925 – John Scopes is indicted in Tennessee for teaching evolution. As reported by the New York Times, “John T. Scopes, young Dayton (Tenn.) high school teacher, tonight stands indicted for having taught the theory of evolution to students attending his science classes in violation of a law passed by the Tennessee Legislature and signed by the Governor on March 21, 1925.” Scopes’ indictment set the stage for the famed Scopes Monkey Trial. Scopes was convicted and fined $100. He appealed, and while the Tennessee Supreme Court upheld the conviction, they dismissed the fine on a technicality.

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On this date in freethought history…

copernicusMay 24, 1543 – Astronomer Nicolaus Copernicus dies in Frombork, Poland, aged 70. Copernicus is best known for advocating a heliocentric model of the Solar System, in contradiction to the long accepted geocentric model. During his lifetime, he privately circulated copies of his theory via a short outline written in Latin called the “Little Commentary.” His magnum opus On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres was published around the time of his death, sparing him any unpleasantness from Catholic authorities. Copernicus’ work advanced modern astronomy and set the stage for Galileo’s confrontation with the Church beginning in the early 1600s.

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Podcast #225 – How to Defeat Religion in 10 Easy Steps

Ryan Cragun makes his fourth appearance on the podcast, discussing his new book How to Defeat Religion in 10 Easy Steps: A Toolkit for Secular Activists. His broadranging suggestions include taxing religious institutions (and thereby unshackling them from IRS regulations on their speech), defending nonpartisan science and history education, and even co-opting religious traditions (including offering secular alternatives to traditional religious holiday songs). This compact book is an excellent resource for newby freethinkers, suggesting specific actions that can be taken by individuals, local groups, and national organizations.

How to Defeat Religion is available in paperback and for Kindle. For more about Ryan Cragun visit RyanTCragun.com.

To listen to this podcast click here.

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Podcast #224 – Alice Dreger (Galileo’s Middle Finger)

We interview Dr. Alice Dreger, author of Galileo’s Middle Finger: Heretics, Activists, and the Search for Justice in Science, in which she discusses recent controversies involving bioethics researchers and activists—herself included. Dr. Dreger is the professor of Clinical Medical Humanities and Bioethics at the Feinberg School of Medicine, Northwestern University in Chicago. She found herself at the center of another controversy recently when she live-tweeted her son’s abstinence-heavy public school sex-ed class.

Galileo’s Middle Finger is available in hardcover, for Kindle and as an audiobook. For more about Alice Dreger visit AliceDreger.com.

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Podcast #223 – James Morrow (Galapagos Regained)

galapagosregainedWe interview science fiction and fantasy writer James Morrow about his latest novel Galapagos Regained. This historical fantasy follows Chloe Bathurst, an actress and former zookeeper for Charles Darwin, who treks across the 19th century land- and sea-scape to gather evidence to disprove the existence of God and win a £10,000 prize! Speaking of prizes, Jim has won numerous awards, including the Hugo and the World Fantasy Award. His previous novels include Towing Jehovah, Blameless in Abaddon, The Eternal Footman, The Last Witchfinder and The Philosopher’s Apprentice. For more about Jim visit JamesMorrow.info. Galapagos Regained is available in hardcover, for Kindle and as an audiobook.

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Podcast #222 – Phil Robertson’s Atheist Fantasies

Duck Dynasty’s Phil Robertson is at it again. This time he entertained a Vero Beach, Florida prayer breakfast by gleefully describing the hypothetical rape, torture and murder of an atheist family. Classy.

Plus:

Give credit where credit’s due: Afghanistan’s new president Ashraf Ghani speaks out on behalf of moderation and tolerance in the Islamic world.

Neil Degrasse Tyson has a new weekly talk show debuting on April 20th.

If you have an opportunity, check out CNN Special Report: Atheists: Inside the World of Non-Believers. It’s neither a perfect nor a complete depiction of the freethinking community, but it’s certainly an improvement over CNN’s traditional coverage. Also, HBO’s Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief is well worth your time.

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Podcast #221 – Dollars for Dollar

Prosperity con-man Creflo Dollar is asking his followers for $60 million so he can buy a new luxury jet. Apparently souls can’t be saved using business class.

Meanwhile…

Thomas Dunn, a member of the Leesburg, Virginia town council, apparently downplays the role that the United States government had in freeing African-Americans from slavery. According to Dunn, it was the “hand of God” that freed the slaves. What Dunn can’t explain is why God chose to free them immediately after the Civil War (with at least 650,000 dead) and the passage of the Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution.

A Washington, DC pastor (who also happens to be a member of the DC police force) has been charged with sexually abusing a teenaged girl who attended his church.

Finally, complications continue to arise over marriage equality in Alabama. While the state supreme court continues in its defiance, a federal judge  has reiterated her previous ruling overturning the state’s ban on same-sex marriage.

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Podcast #220 – Assassination of Avijit Roy

Atheist author and activist Avijit Roy was hacked to death by religious hardliners in his native Bangladesh. His wife was gravely injured and lost a finger, but is expected to recover. It’s small consolation, but his death has lead to widespread outrage in Bangladesh.

Plus:

Three young Muslims (and, by all accounts, model citizens) were gunned down by their neighbor in Chapel Hill, NC, ostensibly over a parking dispute. Did the fact that the neighbor was a self-described atheist who railed against religion on Facebook make this a hate crime?

Baseball Bat of Doubt: A father new to atheism struggles with his family’s involvement in Boy Scouts.

Finally, we mourn the passing of Leonard Nimoy. He did indeed live long and prosper.

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Podcast #219 – National Prayer Breakfast 2015

President Obama disappoints (again) with his attendance at the “National” Prayer Breakfast, but… his observations on Christianity’s checkered past and comments urging tolerance and humility have conservatives in a snit. Yay.

Plus:

Now that a federal court has cleared the way for gay marriage in Alabama, some counties are complying while others aren’t. Some counties are refusing to issue ANY marriage certificates until this whole thing is cleared up. Meanwhile the state’s Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy “10 Commandments” Moore has called for a Constitutional convention and declares that the US Supreme Court has no authority to rule on the matter.  Looks like he might lose his job. Again.

Resolutions have been introduced in both houses of Congress honoring Darwin Day. They have zero chance of making it out of committee, but this is farther than it’s gotten in years past.

Creationist kook Ken Ham is upset over Carnival Cruises’ Superbowl ad featuring a JFK voiceover in which the late president muses over our relationship to the sea.

Finally, we overstated the effect of the Constitution’s “full faith and credit” clause as it applies to recognition of out-of-state marriages.

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