Episode 35: Philosophy of Religion and Jesus v. Salem with Dr. Matt McCormick

27 Oct

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.

Listen to this episode

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:

Find out more about Matt, because he’s pretty awesome:


Posted by on October 27, 2013 in Cognitive Bias, Guest, New Episode, Philosophy


Tags: , , , , , , , ,

3 responses to “Episode 35: Philosophy of Religion and Jesus v. Salem with Dr. Matt McCormick

  1. Brian

    November 15, 2013 at 8:26 am

    Great episode. I’m wondering if you guys have heard of another philosophy profesor named Peter Boghossian? He has given several fairly popular Youtube talks on critical thinking and recently released a book called “A Manual for Creating Atheists”. He is a big advocate for what he calls “street epistemology”..which basically involved using the socratic method and other persuasive tools to encourage believers to question their faith. I think he would make an interesting guest for a future podcast and just wanted to encourage you to consider having him on for an interview. I’m linking to his book and Facebook page in case you want to read up on him. I hope you will consider having him on in the future.

    • nontheology

      November 28, 2013 at 6:09 am

      Yeah, I’m somewhat familiar with his work. I’d love to have him on. HAven’t read his book yet, but I’ve heard good things. Thanks for the heads up. He’s on our watch list…


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