Friday, March 4, 2011

Dan Dennett: what should replace religion?

On January 29th the podcast Big Ideas suddenly published three issues all at once. Normally we get one a week from Big Ideas, but now three? Big Ideas is a program by TVO and delivers on podcast interesting lectures the broadcaster has recorded at universities or conferences. The trio that came out on the same day, were recorded at the Canadian conference for Humanism. (feed)

One of the three was lecture by Brian Dalton about whom I wrote before (The podcast review of Mr Deity and Mormon Stories meets Brian Dalton), the other two I would like to recommend here.

First there is the lecture by Daniel Dennett in which he discusses what atheists and humanists can organize to offer themselves and everyone else what otherwise is only offered by traditional religions. The underlying thought in Dennett's lecture is that the religions are, in his view, outdated and falsified and we'd be better off without them. Yet he acknowledges that the religious traditions fulfill a function in people's lives. So the talk is trying to identify these contributions of religion and to propose secular alternatives for them.

Second is PZ Myers lecture in which he argues that the scientific world-view pairs especially well with an atheistic outlook. My expectations were a bit negative, but I found myself fascinated by the talk after all. Myers is a biologist and I began to wonder about Richard Dawkins, who is also a biologist and such a public face of atheism. Eventually I was tempted to get his The God Delusion from the library and I am reading it now.

More Big Ideas:
Chris Hedges,
Needham about China,
The Reluctant Fundamentalist,
Ayaan Hirsi Ali and the quest against Islam,
Jewish Humor.