Dr. Matt McCormick is an atheist who teaches and publishes on philosophy of religion. He joins us to talk about his experiences examining philosophical religious claims, confronting a public fear of philosophy, and to explain why if you don’t believe witches performed magic in Salem, you shouldn’t believe Jesus performed magic in Jerusalem.
The outline of our discussion:
- Being an atheist in the field of philosophy of religion
- Demographics of philosophy
- Teaching philosophy of atheism
- Why we shouldn’t strive to be apologists for atheism
- Dealing with a fear of philosophy
- Salem vs Jerusalem: evidence of magic
- Accepting a low threshold for magic, and subsequently opening the floodgates for all the other crazy magical claims: Hindu Milk Miracle, Miracles and healings performed by Joseph Smith, miraculous levitations of Joseph of Cupertino (now the patron saint of aviation and also, perhaps comically, of mental handicaps), the miracle of the sun, and on and on and on…
- Epistemology of accepting miracle claims
- Faults, biases, and glitches in human cognition (for more: see our other episodes about cognitive biases)
- Dangers posed to the information age
- Daniel Dennett’s proposal to teach a comprehensive comparative religion course.
- The social benefits of being out as an atheist, at least if you’re mildly well-adjusted and not an axe-wielding maniac
Books referenced in the show:
- Atheism and The Case Against Christ, by Matthew McCormick. Hint: this is the one that discusses the Jesus and Salem stuff in the first few chapters. Published by Prometheus Books, with lots of other good books about skepticism and atheism.
- Thinking Fast and Slow, by Daniel Kahneman
Find out more about Matt, because he’s pretty awesome:
- His blog, Proving The Negative
- Request him as a speaker for your local Secular Student Alliance affiliate
- His academic course site
- CV and additional publications
- A search for sensus atheistus does in fact point you to Matt’s work