The Malcontent’s Gambit

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Author Tracks Secular Methods of Meaning, Ethics, Hardship & Death

If you want to find out how non-religious people deal with tragedy, death and suffering, one good method is to simply ask them. This is one approach sociologist Phil Zuckerman uses in his wonderful new book, Living the Secular Life, New Answers to Old Questions. Zuckerman is my guest today, and we discuss this recent publication, which was just released at the beginning of this month. Zuckerman is a professor of sociology and secular studies at Pitzer College in Claremont, California. He is the author of Faith No More: Why People Reject Religion (2011), and Society Without God(2008). In 2011 Zuckerman founded an interdisciplinary Department of Secular Studies at Pitzer College, the first in the nation.  In his new book Zuckerman weaves numerous interviews of secular people into compelling narratives of life, death, morality and meaning. He combines these interesting anecdotes with the latest sociological studies and data to provide a fascinating view of the irreligious in modern society.

Host of The Malcontent’s Gambit, Alan Litchfield, earned a bachelor’s of science in technical journalism with a minor in anthropology from Oregon State University, and has worked in the graphic arts and communications industry for several years. His podcast, The Malcontent’s Gambit, was awarded the Best Northwest Podcast by the Center For Inquiry-Portland in 2012. Alan is a contributing member of the Center For Inquiry and a coordinator for the Beaverton Atheists.

More Malcontent's Gambit

The Tense Relationship Between Science and the Law

Philosopher Susan Haack and I discuss the tension between science and the law. Haack cogently and clearly considers the issues involved in the interface between the two institutions in her 2014 book, Evidence Matters, Science, Proof, and Truth in the Law. She tackles issues raised from the landmark U.S. Supreme Court case, Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals, such as the veracity of peer review, the reliability of litigation-driven science, and concerns with the forensic science industry. Haack considers the difficult task and the philosophical issues raised when judges consider the admissibility of scientific or expert testimony. Haack is Distinguished Professor in the Humanities, Cooper Senior Scholar in Arts and Sciences, Professor of Philosophy, and Professor of Law at the University of Miami. She is an award winning, highly regarded scholar and author of many articles and books.

Authors Map Robust & Mature Humanist Worldview in New Book

John Figdor, a co-author of the book, Atheist Mind, Humanist Heart, Rewriting the 10 Commandments for the 21st Century, discusses the merits of a complete and coherent worldview, his views on ethics, and working with his co-author Lex Bayer. Their concise, readable book focuses on epistemology and morality and outlines a complete theory of knowledge and a guide to ethical behavior. Figdor is the Humanist Chaplain at Stanford University. According to The Stanford Review, Figdor is the first Humanist Chaplain serving a university community on the West Coast.

Richard Carrier: Mythic Jesus More Probable Than Historic Jesus

Historian Dr. Richard Carrier discusses his scholarly theory for a mythical Jesus in his peer reviewed book, On the Historicity of Jesus, Why We Have Reason For Doubt. Carrier is a philosopher and historian with degrees from Berkeley and Columbia, specializing in the contemporary philosophy of naturalism, and in Greco-Roman philosophy, science, and religion, including the origins of Christianity. The gospels, and the book of Acts, are unreliable, writes Carrier, and the Epistles contain an alarming and surprising lack of historical data. The extra-biblical evidence is no help to the historicist, either, as it provides no reliable data on a living Jesus, as well. For example, passages mentioning Jesus in the Ancient historian Josephus’ work were most likely not original, but added later by Christian scribes. Carrier concludes that mythicism is far more probable than a historical Jesus. Carrier draws upon mainstream scholarship in the field of biblical studies, and also uses Bayes’ Theorem to assess the historical evidence.

Theology Follies: Confusing God & Infinity; Vic Stenger Remembered

I dedicate this podcast to Dr. Vic Stenger, a three-time guest on this show. I was saddened to hear of his death last August at the age of 79.During my last conversation with Stenger, a retired particle physicist, we briefly discussed the subject of infinity. After our talk I realized that I was extremely confused about the subject. My guest on today’s show will provide some clarity. His name is James A. Lindsay, author of Dot, Dot, Dot: Infinity Plus God Equals Folly. Lindsay is an author and an outspoken atheist voice who holds degrees in physics and mathematics, including a doctorate in the latter. Motivated by a love of knowledge and learning, he writes and speaks in an attempt to clarify our religious and cultural landscape and by doing so to help heal the related harms. Lindsay is also wrote God Doesn’t; We Do: Only Humans Can Solve Human Challenges. We end this podcast discussing Stenger’s contribution to secularism and science, after which I conclude with a few more words about Stenger.

Iraqi Rips ‘Non-Liberal Left,’ Cheers Ayan Hirsi Ali, Decries ISIS

During this podcast I talk with Faisal Saeed Al-Mutar about the violent Muslim extremist group ISIS, American strategy in the Middle East, the non-liberal left and the vilification of activist, writer and critic of Islam Ayan Hirsi Ali. We end our discussion on the subject of civil rights. Al-Mutar, an Iraqi born writer, public speaker, community manager, web designer and a social activist living currently in the United States. He is an advocate for freedom of thought, science, reason and the free market of ideas and economy. He is the founder of the Global Secular Humanist Movement and Secular Post. He is a Community Manager at, a columnist for Free Inquiry Magazine, and is on the editorial board of Applied Sentience. Al-Mutar has been featured in and has written for many national and international publications.

Raising Godless Children: No Indoctrination Required

A significant hurdle secular parents face is deciding how to navigate the religious dogma prevalent in the modern cultural landscape. How do they sidestep the all-too prevalent superstitious psychobabble and raise smart little critical thinkers without achieving what they most want to avoid: indoctrination. Today’s guest, writer Dan Arel, the author of a new book, Parenting Without God – published on August 22nd – will discuss the importance of raising godless children and provide some good advice. Arel is a freelance journalist whose work has appeared in SalonAlterNet, The Huffington Post, The Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science, American Atheist Magazine, and many others.