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The Michael Shermer Show

A series of conversations between Dr. Michael Shermer and leading scientists, philosophers, historians, scholars, writers and thinkers about the most important issues of our time.

Watch or listen here or on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Amazon Music, Google Podcasts, iHeartRadio, Stitcher, and TuneIn.

EPISODE # 178

James Hunter & Paul Nedelisky on Religious vs. Secular Morality — Science and the Good: The Tragic Quest for the Foundations of Morality

Science and the Good: The Tragic Quest for the Foundations of Morality (book cover)

In their book Science and the Good, professional philosophers James Hunter and Paul Nedelisky trace the origins and development of the centuries-long, passionate, but ultimately failed quest to discover a scientific foundation for morality. The “new moral science” led by such figures as E. O. Wilson, Patricia Churchland, Jonathan Haidt, Joshua Greene, Sam Harris, Steven Pinker, and Michael Shermer is only the newest manifestation of that quest. Though claims for its accomplishments are often wildly exaggerated, Hunter and Nedelisky argue that this new iteration has been no more successful than its predecessors, and that the science of morality becomes, at best, a feeble program to achieve arbitrary societal goals.

The conversation took a decidedly interesting turn when Drs. Hunter and Nedelisky revealed, unbeknownst to Dr. Shermer, that they are both theists and that their Christian worldview informs their thinking on moral issues. The three then got into the weeds of the difference between religious and secular moral systems, the nature of God and morality, why a purely naturalistic approach to morality does not negate religion or even the existence of God (natural law could be God’s way of creating moral values), natural rights and rights theory, consequentialism, deontology, and virtue ethics, progress in philosophy, why philosophers never seem to reach consensus on important subjects like morality, how to think about issues like abortion, why they believe in God and follow the Christian religion and yet reject Divine Command Theory, and much more.

James Davison Hunter is LaBrosse-Levinson Distinguished Professor of Religion, Culture, and Social Theory at the University of Virginia.

Paul Nedelisky is a fellow at the Institute for Advanced Studies in Culture at the University of Virginia.

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Retrospective

Skeptic cover art by Pat Linse

Art of the Skeptic

In celebration of Skeptic magazine’s 100th issue, we present sage graphic art advice for skeptical groups and a gallery of art reflecting more than 47 years of skeptical activism from Skeptic’s long time Art Director, Pat Linse

Detecting Baloney

Baloney Detection Kit Sandwich (Infographic) by Deanna and Skylar (High Tech High Media Arts, San Diego, CA)

The Baloney Detection Kit Sandwich (Infographic)

For a class project, a pair of 11th grade physics students created the infographic shown below, inspired by Michael Shermer’s Baloney Detection Kit: a 16-page booklet designed to hone your critical thinking skills.

FREE PDF Download

Wisdom of Harriet Hall

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Harriet Hall M.D. discusses: alternative versus conventional medicine, flu fear mongering, chiropractic, vaccines and autism, placebo effect, diet, homeopathy, acupuncture, “natural remedies,” and detoxification.

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Science Based Medicine vs. Alternative Medicine

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Understanding the difference could save your life! In this superb 10-part video lecture series, Harriet Hall M.D., contrasts science-based medicine with so-called “complementary and alternative” methods.

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Top 10 Myths of Terrorism

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This free booklet reveals 10 myths that explain why terrorism is not a threat to our way of life or our survival.

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Who believes them? Why? How can you tell if they’re true?

What is a conspiracy theory, why do people believe in them, and can you tell the difference between a true conspiracy and a false one?

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Mind altering experiences are one of the foundations of widespread belief in the paranormal. But as skeptics are well aware, accepting them as reality can be dangerous…

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If humans came from apes, why aren’t apes evolving into humans? Find out in this pamphlet!

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5 Cryptid Cards

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