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Episode 44: Daniel Dewey – Thinking Carefully About Artificial Intelligence

In this episode, Gabe and Dan have the opportunity to chat with Daniel Dewey about artificial intelligence (AI) and intelligence explosion. Daniel is a researcher at the Future of Humanity Institute, researching artificial intelligence, reinforcement learning, and how machines could have values.

Check out Daniel’s TEDx talk: The long-term future of AI (and what we can do about it)

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Some links to what we talked about:

The book we mentioned in the episode:

Links to other people whose cool research came up in the discussion:

Thanks for listening!

 
 

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Episode 43: Dr. Eric Meikle – Anti-evolutionism and Human Uniqueness

Continuing in their quest to talk about evolution, Erik and Gabe chat with Dr. Eric Meikle about the Nye-Ham debate, anti-evolutionism in the education system, and what makes humans unique in the animal kingdom. T’was a total blast, so listen up!

Dr. Eric Meikle is a physical anthropologist and the Education Project Director for the National Center for Science Education (NCSE). He has done a lot of awesome work in the origins of humans, and countering groups who want to bring anti-evolution material into science classrooms in the public schools.

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The show:

  • The recent debate between Bill Nye and Ken Ham
  • Countering anti-evolutionism in the public education system
  • What (if anything) makes humans unique compared to other animals?

Links:

 
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Posted by on February 16, 2014 in Guest, New Episode, Science

 

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Episode 42: Bad Objections to Evolution

We once again attempt to digitally celebrate Darwin Day with a few episodes about evolution. Here, we take on some bad and common objections to evolution.

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What does the show say? This:

  • Hello, listeners!
  • Wait, What…? Alan Keyes on the coming (sp?) gay dystopia
  • Evolution can’t happen, because something can’t come from nothing
  • Evolution takes too much time to have been observed, so we can’t know it’s true
  • Ring species (see a cool look at some of these here)
  • Micro evolution is true, but macro evolution is not
  • You never see a Crocoduck
  • Why don’t you see dogs giving birth to cats?
  • If humans came from apes, why are there still so many apes?
  • Darwin was wrong about some aspect of evolution
  • Hitler believed in evolution and used the principles to drive Nazi ideology
  • The human eye is to perfect to have evolved (find your blind spot!)
  • The bacterial flagellum is irreducibly complex and couldn’t have evolved
  • We don’t observe any transitional forms in the fossil record
  • Mutations are always negative, so they can’t be making us better and better
  • Mutations don’t create new information
  • Life is balanced on a razors edge (ex: because of the proportion of oxygen in our atmosphere), it is only rationally attributable to an intelligent creator – Cliffe Knechtle in a debate with Matt Dillahunty at 1:12:30
 
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Posted by on February 3, 2014 in Mailbag, New Episode, Science, Wait What?

 

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Episode 41: Matthew Ferguson – Metaphysical Naturalism and Secular Humanism (Part 2)

We chat with Matthew Ferguson about metaphysical naturalism and secular humanism. It was a lot of fun and maddeningly interesting. This is part 2 of 2 of our discussion.

Matthew is currently a PhD student in Classics at the University of California, Irvine. He has written several scholarly papers about ancient history, and blogs about naturalism, secular humanism, and counter apologetics at his blogs Κέλσος and Civitas Humana.

Listen to this episode

Our discussion covers…

What are arguments in favor of naturalism?

  • Teleological argument for naturalism
  • Argument from inefficient design
  • Argument from irrational suffering
  • Naturalism makes sense of the dependence of the mind on a physical brain
  • Theism is fundamentally backwards in it’s model of the universe

What are arguments against naturalism?

  • Naturalism isn’t falsifiable
  • Pragmatic argument against naturalism: naturalism doesn’t properly motivate us to be good, whereas Christianity does
  • Naturalism seems to assume that everything that exists in the universe is somehow empirically observable, which probably isn’t true
  • Naturalism offers no basis for making or justifying normative claims
  • If secular humanism is human-centric, then it is guilty of speciesism
  • Alvin Plantinga’s evolutionary argument against naturalism

What kind of world do secular humanists want to create?

  • A culture of regular self-reflection
  • Criminal justice systems using rehabilitation instead of punishment
  • Religion, it’s role in society, and how this may change over time
  • The government’s role in a transition to secular humanism

Books references in this episode:

Matthew was kind enough to provide a solar mass of really great resources for anyone interested in learning more about what we were talking about. Check them out below:

Matthew’s Blogs:

Κέλσος

Civitas Humana

Resources for Naturalism:

The Naturalistic Worldview

Defining Theism, Atheism, Supernaturalism, and Naturalism (by Matthew Ferguson)

The Secular Outpost: Arguments for Naturalism (by Jeff Lowder)

The Best Argument Against God (by Graham Oppy)

Sense and Goodness without God (by Richard Carrier)

Naturalism’s Support among Professional Philosophers:

Even If Most Scientists Are Atheist, Don’t Philosophers Come to the Rescue for God and Religion? Turns Out, No. (by Matthew Ferguson)

The Teleological Argument for Naturalism:

Finely Tuning a Killer Cosmos (by Richard Carrier)

The Fallacy of Fine Tuning: Why the Universe Is Not Designed for Us (by Victor Stenger)

Naturalism as the Best Explanation for Irrational Suffering:

The Evil-God Challenge (by Stephen Law)

Naturalism and Mind-Body Physicalism: 

The National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology: Biointerface Research Group

The Phineas Gage Case

Naturalism, Secular Humanism, and Ethics: 

Confused Metaphysics: Apologetic Efforts to Corner the Market on Ethics (by Matthew Ferguson)

Naturalism and Epistemology: 

C.S. Lewis’ Milk Jug: Apologetics and the Retreat into Epistemology (by Matthew Ferguson)

Evolutionary Naturalism, Theism, and Skepticism about the External World (by J. Wesley Robbins)

Plantinga’s Evolutionary Argument Against Naturalism Refuted (by Stephen Law)

Critical Review of Victor Reppert’s Defense of the Argument from Reason (by Richard Carrier)

Dishonest Apologetic Debate Tactics:

Southern Evangelical Seminary Tricks Bart Ehrman after a Public Debate with Mike Licona

A Response to Cliffe Knechtle’s Campus Apologetics (by Matthew Ferguson)

Counter-Apologetics:

Counter-Apologetics FAQ (by Matthew Ferguson)

 
 

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Episode 40: Matthew Ferguson – Metaphysical Naturalism and Secular Humanism (Part 1)

We chat with Matthew Ferguson about metaphysical naturalism and secular humanism. It was a lot of fun and maddeningly interesting. This is part 1 of 2 of our discussion.

Matthew is currently a PhD student in Classics at the University of California, Irvine. He has written several scholarly papers about ancient history, and blogs about naturalism, secular humanism, and counter apologetics at his blogs Κέλσος and Civitas Humana.

Listen to this episode

We discussed:

What is a worldview?

  • Comparing worldviews
  • Explanatory scope and explanatory power
  • Worldviews used as a rhetorical tool by presuppositional apologists

What are metaphysical naturalism and secular humanism?

  • What questions do each of these answer?
  • How do they fit together and compliment each other?
  • The relationship with methodological naturalism, physicalism, materialism, and atheism.
  • The role of science in our knowledge
  • Getting knowledge from science and history
  • Can a metaphysical naturalist or secular humanist be religious?
  • Making sense of minds, consciousness, shapes, numbers, propositions, and other abstract object on metaphysical naturalism

How does metaphysical naturalism compare to christian theism?

  • Eschatology
  • Rules to live by
  • Agreeing about reality
  • Authority
  • Religion, religious experience, and the evolution of agent over-detection

Books we referenced:

Matthew was kind enough to provide a metric ton of really great resources for anyone interested in learning more about what we were talking about. Check them out below:

Matthew’s Blogs:

Κέλσος

Civitas Humana

Resources for Naturalism:

The Naturalistic Worldview

Defining Theism, Atheism, Supernaturalism, and Naturalism (by Matthew Ferguson)

The Secular Outpost: Arguments for Naturalism (by Jeff Lowder)

The Best Argument Against God (by Graham Oppy)

Sense and Goodness without God (by Richard Carrier)

Naturalism’s Support among Professional Philosophers:

Even If Most Scientists Are Atheist, Don’t Philosophers Come to the Rescue for God and Religion? Turns Out, No. (by Matthew Ferguson)

The Teleological Argument for Naturalism:

Finely Tuning a Killer Cosmos (by Richard Carrier)

The Fallacy of Fine Tuning: Why the Universe Is Not Designed for Us (by Victor Stenger)

Naturalism as the Best Explanation for Irrational Suffering:

The Evil-God Challenge (by Stephen Law)

Naturalism and Mind-Body Physicalism: 

The National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology: Biointerface Research Group

The Phineas Gage Case

Naturalism, Secular Humanism, and Ethics: 

Confused Metaphysics: Apologetic Efforts to Corner the Market on Ethics (by Matthew Ferguson)

Naturalism and Epistemology: 

C.S. Lewis’ Milk Jug: Apologetics and the Retreat into Epistemology (by Matthew Ferguson)

Evolutionary Naturalism, Theism, and Skepticism about the External World (by J. Wesley Robbins)

Plantinga’s Evolutionary Argument Against Naturalism Refuted (by Stephen Law)

Critical Review of Victor Reppert’s Defense of the Argument from Reason (by Richard Carrier)

Dishonest Apologetic Debate Tactics:

Southern Evangelical Seminary Tricks Bart Ehrman after a Public Debate with Mike Licona

A Response to Cliffe Knechtle’s Campus Apologetics (by Matthew Ferguson)

Counter-Apologetics:

Counter-Apologetics FAQ (by Matthew Ferguson)

 

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Episode 39: Bonus Lost Audio

Some of the funny extras from the episode with Raphael Lataster, and a salvageable section from our attempt at a Christmas episode that was lost.

And you’re right: in a perfect universe, this would not count as an actual episode. Sorry. Life’s not fair.

Listen to this episode

Cool announcement: we have recorded some really great content with Matthew Ferguson, who blogs over on Κέλσος (Kelsus) and Civitas Humana. He’s got a ton of awesome content over there, so check it out and look forward to episodes with him.

Andrew, our guest to help us wage war against Christmas, can be found on his site Laughing in Purgatory, Twitter, and YouTube.

Additional links:

 
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Posted by on January 6, 2014 in Guest, New Episode, Rants

 

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Episode 38: Ellery Schempp – Protesting Prayer in Public Schools

Gabe and Dan sit down with Ellery Schempp to talk about his experiences as a life-long secular activist. Ellery is best known as the litigant in the landmark supreme court case Abington School District v. Schempp, which brought an end to requisite prayer in public schools in the US. What a treat.

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The outline of the conversation:

  • The requirement for students to read versus from the Bible in public schools in Pennsylvania
  • Ellery’s initial protest by using the wrong holy book during morning devotionals
  • Angst associated with suing your school over prayer during McCarthyism
  • Religiously motivated changes to the pledge of allegiance
  • Ellery’s principal actively trying to ruin his chances of being accepted to college
  • Ellery’s participation in the Secular Coalition of America and the Secular Student Alliance
  • The role that religious references play in the governing documents of the US
  • Positive changes in the education system over the past few decades
  • The work Ellery has done as a scientist and his involvement in science education
  • The role of religion in education, art, and literature
  • Secular/Humanist/Atheist organizations
  • Some goals and directions for the future of the secular movement
  • The fun adventuring Ellery has been able to be a part of

Links to some of the things we discussed:

 
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Posted by on December 9, 2013 in Guest, New Episode

 

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