HNN #24: The New Atheists on Organized Freethought

HNN #24: The New Atheists on Organized Freethought October 24, 2007

In this month’s audio podcast we celebrate our program’s two-year anniversary by interviewing Sam Harris, Richard Dawkins, Daniel Dennett and Christopher Hitchens. HNN’s Duncan Crary interviewed these best-selling authors, a.k.a. “The New Atheists”, at the Atheist Alliance International annual conference in September. At the conference, Harris, author of “The End of Faith,” told the crowd that they should not identify with the atheist label. Dawkins, Dennett and Hitchens react. So does the Rational Response Squad and Pastor Deacon Fred of the Landover Baptist Church. Also, Sweet Reason gives advice on “coming out” as an atheist.

Segment 1: Sam Harris on “The Problem of Atheism”

Interview: Sam Harris, author of The End of Faith explains why people should not identify as atheists, humanists or Brights. Harris also says that religion testifies (more or less) to the possibility of extraordinary self-transformation, which is why he feels that we must develop a scientific language for talking about “mysticism” or “spirituality.” (End: 14:06)

Interview: Daniel Dennett, author of Breaking the Spell: Religion as a Natural Phenomenon responds to Harris. Dennett recognizes the limitations of the atheist label, but thinks the atheist label needs to be reclaimed and not discarded. He says religion cannot be exterminated, but it can be encouraged to be more socially benign. (End: 16:55)

Interview: Prof. Richard Dawkins, author of The God Delusion responds to Harris. He believes that atheist organizations are necessary, especially in the United States. Dawkins also talks about The Richard Dawkins Foundation for Science and Reason and his newest idea to write a children’s book.(End: 27:39)

Interview: Christopher Hitchens, author of God is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything, responds to Harris and explains why avoiding the term atheist is inescapable. Hitchens also shares his thoughts on atheist organizations. (End: 33:23)

Interview: Brian “Sapient” and Kelly M. of the Rational Response Squad react to Sam Harris’s “seditious proposal” and offer a new challenge to humanists. (End: 43:54)

Interview: Pastor Deacon Fred of the Landover Baptist Church responds to Harris, blasts Harry Potter and prays for Humanist Network News listeners. (End: 47:32)

Segment 2: “Sweet Reason” on Coming Out as an Atheist

Audio Advice Column: Molleen Matsumura, the voice of “Sweet Reason” responds to a question from Tom about coming out to his family as an atheist.

End: 55:52

Segment 3: Please Support the HNN Podcast

Message: Did you know that Americans donated $97 billion to religion in 2006? What can you do to help humanists make our voice of reason and compassion heard? Nancy Buxton, development coordinator of the Institute for Humanist Studies, has a special message to Humanist Network News listeners.

End: 58:30


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Atheist Alliance InternationalSam Harris Official WebsiteRichard Dawkins Foundation for Science and ReasonThe Official Richard Dawkins WebsiteDaniel DennettRational Response SquadLandover Baptist ChurchSweet Reason, the Humanist Advice Column

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