In this edition of the podcast, Aidan is speaking to Eric Pratt, a former radical member of the Mormon Church. Born and raised in Utah, Eric was a follower of Mormonism for over 20 years, including two years spent as a proselytizing Mormon missionary. In this intriguing audio, Eric tells the story of his indoctrination into, and his escape out of, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Eric also talks about the infamous founder of Mormonism, Joseph Smith, what it was like to be a missionary, the prevalence of misogyny within religion, living a moral life as an atheist, and much more. A prequel of sorts to this episode is also available, see episode 82 – Project Extra: The Legacy of Christopher Hitchens.
This episode of the podcast is a bonus audio edition ahead of a full-length episode to follow. Aidan’s guest is Eric Pratt, who for over 20 years was an aggressively active member of the Mormon Church, including two years spent as a proselytizing Mormon missionary. Although it is addressed only briefly in this episode, in the full episode, Eric will explain his journey into, and out of, the Mormon faith. In this bonus audio, Aidan and Eric talk about the life and influence of Christopher Hitchens, whose reasoned arguments assisted Eric in leaving religion altogether. Aidan and Eric also discuss atheism and religion, friendship, and Eric’s possible foray into podcast hosting. Eric, as will be discussed in the full episode, is not on social media, but is working on a book about his life which will hopefully be available in the near future.
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In an upcoming podcast episode, Eric Pratt, a former member of the Mormon Church, explains his indoctrination into the religion, and his escape many years later. Eric credits the work of the late Christopher Hitchens in helping him forge a new life. This recording took place, coincidentally, on 13 April, Hitchens’ birthday. Hitchens would have been 69.
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In this edition of The Aidan Project, Aidan is talking to Dr. Gleb Tsipursky of the Pro-Truth Pledge about the battle for honest discourse. This is an important consideration. During a speech at the White House in January 2017, Donald Trump’s Press Secretary at the time, Sean Spicer, famously said: “This was the largest audience to ever witness an inauguration, period, both in person and around the globe.” This statement has been endlessly mocked, but, in more serious terms, it has come to represent, as stated shortly afterwards without irony by Trump advisor, Kellyanne Conway, as not being a lie, but an entirely different version of the truth. Spicer, explained Conway, was not being dishonest, but was dealing in “alternative facts”. Comparisons to George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four were manifestly obvious and, indeed, were deeply indicative of a very real problem. What is the answer to alternative facts? Utilising research in behavioral science, Dr. Tsipursky is leading a team effort to address post-truth politics, fake news, and those unscrupulous alternative facts. Dr. Tsipursky is asking people, be they members of congress or members of the public, to sign the Pro-Truth Pledge as a commitment to deal in only one type of fact, and not the alternative variety. Dr. Tsipursky explains the motivation behind this movement, and outlines his hopes for a more honest arena of public discourse. Why are humans so easily misled? What can be done about fake news? Is it possible that Donald Trump would sign such a pledge? How has social media been manipulated to spread misinformation, and can this be prevented? These questions, including a fascinating look at why humans are, from an evolutionary standpoint, poorly equipped to deal with the modern age, are featured in this episode. For more information on the Pro-Truth Pledge, or to sign the pledge, head to https://www.protruthpledge.org/take-the-pro-truth-pledge/ Expanded show notes: ‘Richard Dawkins: We’re too stupid to decide on EU (that includes me)’, The Times, 23 May 2016. ‘Nigel Farage backtracks on Leave campaign’s ‘£350m for the NHS’ pledge hours after result’, The Independent, 24 June 2016. Related episode:
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.