Tag Archives: Atheism

Christopher Hitchens summed up his response to incredible religious claims with the following maxim: “What can be asserted without evidence can be dismissed without evidence.”

#73 – Abraham’s Secular Covenant

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Abraham is the common patriarch of the three major world religions. Indeed, Abraham was supposedly a man of such faith in God that, when commanded to do so, he would have sacrificed his son, Isaac, to prove his devotion. Such fanciful tales are easily dismissed, but Aidan’s guest, Bernard Lamborelle, argues that the Abrahamic faiths – Judaism, Christianity and Islam – very likely do have a real story to tell about a covenant, but not a religious one. Instead, an earthly tale, argues Lamborelle, would later be adapted and obscured until a simple handshake between Abraham and a mortal lord became a story which proclaimed a divine covenant with the almighty. Lamborelle’s industrious research resulted in a book, The Covenant: On the Origin of the Abrahamic Faith, by Means of Deification, which takes readers back to 3,500 years ago, to a time when men of power were viewed as living gods. Using a holistic, literal, and secular interpretation, this historical essay first demonstrates that the Abrahamic narrative from Genesis is far more coherent when considered from the standpoint of a mortal lord alongside the establishment of an earthly, rather than divine, covenant. In this episode, Aidan and Bernard discuss the fascinating reframing of Abraham’s covenant, the implications that the adoption of such an understanding could have for Jews, Christians and Muslims alike, and a great deal more, including the battle between the forces of secularism and religious literalism.

Bernard has very kindly made the book available via Smashwords for a period of 30 days following the release of this episode. Head to 
https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/766677 and simply enter the code HG64L at the checkout. The offer expires on 16 March 2018.

You can visit Bernard’s web site at http://www.earthlycovenant.com/ and follow Bernard on Twitter at https://twitter.com/blambore. Bernard would be delighted to hear from you.

Expanded show notes:

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Bernard Lamborelle, Rehabilitating Sodom in support of the LGBT community.

The Aidan Project Live: Inside Veganism

#71 – Inspiring The Aidan Project

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Guest Appearance on Miracles and Atheists

On Thursday 18 January, I appeared as a guest on Miracles and Atheists, a live Facebook show in which believers and non-believers engage in civil discourse. I discussed atheism, my view on miracles, the collision between religion and secular values, Christopher Hitchens, faith healers, and much more. A replay is available – my guest spot begins at around 02:36:00.

For more information on Miracles and Atheists, see https://www.facebook.com/miraclesatheists/.

Follow The Aidan Project on Twitter and/or Facebook for updates on upcoming external appearances.

#68 – Notes on Pascal’s Wager

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In this edition of The Aidan Project, Aidan examines Pascal’s Wager. Blaise Pascal (1623–62) was a talented French mathematician, physicist, inventor and writer, but he is most famous for his theological work. Pascal’s famous wager argues that it is rational to believe in God, because the benefits of this belief being justified when you die are vast: Entry into heaven, avoidance of hell. By contrast, said Pascal, even if God does not exist, the costs of living as if God does exist are trivial. To not believe in God, therefore, is irrational. Whilst it also means you will never know that God does not exist if He, in fact, does not exist, you risk fiery damnation if He does exist. Your life is a bet, believed Pascal, and, on the balance of probability, there is only one way to place it – on belief.  In a mathematical sense, if we believe in God, and He exists, the rewards are infinite, and if we are wrong, the losses are hardly worth worrying about. If we do not believe in God, but we are wrong, the punishments are potentially infinite. Aidan examines the merits of Pascal’s Wager, and explores its common criticisms. Place your bets.

Further reading:

Richard Dawkins, The God Delusion, (London: Transworld, 2006).

Christopher Hitchens, God Is Not Great, (New York: Twelve, 2007).

Paddy McQueen and Hilary McQueen, Key Concepts in Philosophy, (Basingstoke: Palgrave, 2010).

Pascal’s Wager, Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/pascal-wager/.

Bertrand Russell, What I Believe, (Abingdon: Routledge, 2004 [originally published 1925]).

The Quran, Chapter 29, Verse 46, https://quran.com/29/46-56.

 

#64 – Notes on Jerusalem Syndrome

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The status of Jerusalem is a leading news story, following Donald Trump’s historic announcement that the United States will recognise the Holy City as the capital of Israel. Aidan looked at the contentious issue of Israel and Palestine back in episode five, The Demise of the Two State Solution. The ancient city of Jerusalem, well known for its importance to the Abrahamic religions, is also at the centre of a peculiar religious psychosis, called Jerusalem syndrome. On this edition of The Aidan Project, Aidan explores Jerusalem syndrome, a clinical psychiatric condition, defined as a temporary state of sudden and intense religious delusions, which manifest while visiting or living in Jerusalem. Examples of Jerusalem syndrome include that of a man from Austria, who became enraged at hotel staff who would not prepare for him a last supper, and a man from the United States Midwest, who was found wandering the city, dressed in a white robe, claiming to be the Apostle Paul. Indeed, many people have become intoxicated with religious devotion in Jerusalem, including Homer Simpson. In a 2010 episode of The Simpsons, the phenomena served as the key plot point, with Homer believing himself to be the Messiah. Aidan also looks at Christopher Hitchens’ verdict on Jerusalem syndrome, which was as unforgiving as one might expect.

References:

Christelle Evans and Jonathan Behar, ‘Jerusalem syndrome’, Student BMJ, 14, 2006. [Subscription required]

Yair Bar-El, Rimona Durst, Gregory Katz, Josef Zislin, Ziva Strauss, Haim Y. Knobler, ‘Jerusalem syndrome’, The British Journal of Psychiatry, 176, 1, 2000.

Homer Simpson isn’t the only would-be ‘Messiah’ in Jerusalem, CNN, 29 March 2010.

Jerusalem Syndrome: the madness that grips foreigners on the streets of the holy city, The Telegraph, 26 March 2016.

Trump Jerusalem move sparks Israeli-Palestinian clashes, BBC news, 7 December 2017.

Recommended reading:

Christopher Hitchens, God Is Not Great, (New York: Twelve Books, 2007).

Related episode:

The Demise of the Two State Solution

#54 – Afterword on Atheism, Hitler and Nazism: Broken Glass

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Kristallnacht, or ‘Night of Broken Glass’, was a notorious pogrom against German Jews throughout Nazi Germany on 9–10 November 1938. In this edition of the podcast, Aidan expands on the arguments presented in episode 49, ‘Notes on Atheism, Hitler and Nazism’, to provide a comprehensive afterword. In the original podcast, Aidan explored the classic argument of the faithful against atheism when discussing human history. This argument – especially prevalent whenever the issue of violence or hatred is discussed – is that Adolf Hitler was an atheist. The inferred claim is that this godlessness demonstrates the danger of turning away from the moral teachings of the church. Another aspect of the argument which is often thrown in as an addendum is a charge that the Third Reich was a secular movement. Aidan revisits these arguments, with particular attention to the Night of Broken Glass, to provide further insight and analysis. Aidan is on Twitter @AidanXCoughlan.

Bibliography:

Christopher J. Probst, Demonizing the Jews: Luther and the Protestant Church in Nazi Germany, (Indianapolis: Indiana University Press, 2012).

Richard Steigmann-Gall, The Holy Reich: Nazi Conceptions of Christianity, 1919-1945, (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003).

John Toland, Adolf Hitler, (New York: Doubleday, 1976).

Volker Ullrich (Author), Jefferson Chase (Translator), Hitler: Ascent 1889-1939, (London: Bodley Head, 2016).

Paul Weber, Becoming Hitler: The Making of a Nazi (unreleased, due November 2017).

Further listening

Sam Harris, ‘Episode 96: The Nature of Consciousness A Conversation with Thomas Metzinger‘, The Waking Up Podcast

The Aidan Project archive on Atheism

#49 – Notes on Atheism, Hitler and Nazism

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Also available: #54 – Afterword on Atheism, Hitler and Nazism: Broken Glass

The faithful are playing with reference to a different set of rules when arguing for the merits of religion based on faith alone. Faith, by definition, requires no tangible evidence. But claims from the faithful about human history can be countered by the inquisitive atheist. We all have access to a plethora of terrestrial historical accounts which were not gleaned from divine revelation. In this edition of the podcast, Aidan explores the classic argument of the faithful against atheism when discussing human history. This argument – especially prevalent whenever the issue of violence or hatred is discussed – is that Adolf Hitler was an atheist. The inferred claim is that this godlessness demonstrates the danger of turning away from the moral teachings of the church. Another aspect of the argument which is often thrown in as an addendum is a charge that the Third Reich was a secular movement. How much merit is there in these claims? Did Hitler reject God, and if he did, did this make a difference to human history? And how secular was Hitler’s Nazi regime? Aidan delves into the argument to provide grounded insight and analysis. Indeed, as with the claims of the holy books, the introduction of earthly evidence is crucial when one desires to separate fact from fiction.

Selected bibliography:

J. Cornwell, Hitler’s Pope: The Secret History of Pius XII
A. Hitler (ed. N. Baynes), The Speeches of Adolf Hitler
A. Hitler, Mein Kampf
C. Hitchens, God Is Not Great
G. Orwell, Literature and Totalitarianism

Additional Aidan Project content on related persons:

Adolf Hitler (podcast)
Christopher Hitchens (article)
George Orwell (podcast)

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#45 – De-Platformed: Challenging Bad Ideas

On July 21, the noted evolutionary biologist and author, Richard Dawkins, was de-platformed by a ‘progressive’ radio station in California because of comments he had previously made about Islam. This decision – powered by the moral confusion that maliciously designates fair criticism of religion as hate speech – is yet another example of the left’s deeply dishonest, nonsensical, virtue-signalling and outlandish apologising whenever Islam is discussed. In this episode, Aidan is joined by Sadia Hameed, spokesperson for the Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain, for an honest conversation on the challenging issues of appraising Islam, leaving the faith, the media’s obsession with ‘Islamophobia’, the widespread cultural relativism and obscurantism espoused on the left, the conflation of peaceful Muslims and archaic Islamists by the right, and much more, including the de-platforming of Dawkins. This is an important conversation regarding the interactions of the ideas of Islam and the world. For more information on the Council, visit their web site at https://www.ex-muslim.org.uk/.

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