Unbelieving Scum on the Airwaves: Science and Secularism videopodcast Coming Soon!

I’ll be remodeling my old office in the basement in September/October to turn it into a video studio/library for all my science and secular books as backdrop to the video lectures I want to record and publish on YouTube. The room needs better lighting and insulation and lots more bookshelves. I’m keeping this weblog as a companion site to the new video series of lectures I plan to produce every 2 weeks: 20-30 minutes of video lecture/podcast each, with images, powerpoint slides and researched info on all manner of topics in Science and Secularism.
The two definitely go hand in hand as it were. The more science one tends to learn, the less religious and more secular one becomes. Information Kills Religion is what I always say. It made for a great bumper sticker and book subtitle:

It is damn hard to hang onto old myths and silly rules you were taught as kid. The more you learn about what we know about the real world and find there is not only no evidence for religious claims, one also discovers those myths and often repressive rules are not only unneeded for a good life, they tend to get in the way of any real social progress.
I will keep writing, but mostly on my second book, which has the working title: “Tools, Concepts and Consciousness” that I hope to finish over the next year. Besides advancing secularism and teaching science, it is my passion: Cognitive Evolution, investigating how the hell we ended up so qualitatively different than all the other animals, with which we share so much. Our technology, centered on our tool manufacturing abilities and abstract concepts that no animals can produce, are intimately entwined with our also utterly unique consciousness. We live every waking moment, in a model of the world in our heads, full of objects, people, events, and our selves moving thru time and space, that no other critter on earth experiences. I’ll be doing a lecture or two on topics from that book now and again, fersure.
In the meantime, I’m teaching a full load (and a half), 7 courses this semester, and I plan to be registering young people, women, Hispanics, and other folks of color to vote, and be out speaking on science and secular topics to student groups and adult secular meetups. With some luck I’ll also nail down a regular weeknite solo gig, playing Classic Rock-acoustic/electric tunes. I love the music, love to sing, and the extra cash is fantastic as well.

“Science and Secularism”. That has a nice ring to it. We are taught all sorts of spiritual and mythical ideas as kids. Santa Claus is a great example. He doesn’t exist, never did.The wiki on him relates the accumulation of his legendary elements from various cultures rather well. In the days before wiki, I’d read a number of excellent articles that traced how the myth grew and developed over the last few centuries to become the fat bearded jolly guy in the red suit. I went to source some of those just now, and the 1st entry was the wiki I linked above. Many of its references listed at the end may be the very same articles I may have first read years ago. Information at the speed of light at our fingertips: a keystroke or two on the laptop or smartphone and voila’ all of it right there, and assembled in a wiki or similarly researched web article. Unreal. But really real, actually. Unlike Santa Claus, laptops, smartphones, and wikis are real. And kids nowadays figure that out real quick. Not long after being taught to believe in Santa Claus, kids figure out nobody could make it down a chimney, if you even have one, and mom and dad are the source of the presents under the tree every year. And they eat the cookies left for Santa as well, if the dog didnt get them first.
My oldest granddaughter figured it out about age 7 when her parents took her little sisters to see Santa at his little hut downtown, and she quickly caught on remarking: “that’s not Santa, that’s my gym teacher!”

Ho, ho, ho.

Some Evangelical Xian acquaintances of mine took exception to the whole Santa schtick as a terrible pagan myth to be taught to children instead of the “real thing” they must learn and never deny: Jesus as the reason for the season. They decried it was the worst thing to do to a kid, lying to them about this guy that never existed.
Wow. In reality, figuring out Santa Claus isn’t real and just a myth is many a child’s first exercise in critical thinking that parents universally allow the child to arrive at on their own. It is likely vanishingly rare for any parent to maintain the Santa Claus myth and demand any child anywhere they must never question Santa, they must continue to believe in him, just like Jesus. The child letting go of the Santa myth is about as healthy as it gets. Maintaining the Jesus myth is reprehensible in contrast. If Jesus was a real guy (very doubtful) he surely wasn’t born at Xmas time, Dec 25th being a pagan holiday that got mixed into the Jesus myth during Roman times. Only 2 Gospels have an Xmas story: Matthew and Luke, (Mark, John, and Paul’s epistles know nothing of Jesus’s birth) which notably don’t say when he was born, hopelessly contradict one another, and read like a typical myth, embellished over time and eventually taught as true, every bit as much as the Santa story.
But what a difference in the Santa myth or Aesop’s fables. We let kids arrive at the obvious conclusion that these things are pure fantasy and never existed as throughout the child’s life they come to notice absolutely no evidence for these ideas, and most importantly, these ideas are never taught as true, nor demanded to be believed.
Religious stories, on the other hand, be they of the Buddha, JC, Mohammed, Shiva, what have you are taught as eternal truths, not to be questioned. Many kids, as young adults or later during adulthood, do observe that what they were taught is myth, having seen no more evidence for these religious figures than for Santa Claus. And if they read the myths in their original writings and/or any historical analysis and secular critique, they most likely discard their belief in these religious figure, again, just like Santa Claus.
Science and history say they don’t exist, there is no evidence, their mythical origins are obvious upon just a bit of research, and one becomes secular.

So, my office downstairs will recreate the huge, beautiful, modern, full of bookshelves office I had last year while teaching on a wonderful one-year stint at Monmouth College, downstate (a bit) in Illinois. I had all my pewter knicknacks, hominid skulls and stone tools displayed with all my science books organized into subjects and arranged rather nicely. I need to build a few more shelves to accommodate all my books, and have a small whiteboard for unscripted lecture notes, just like I do in my lectures every day in class.

I love my job, lecturing every day on science to college freshmen, and I enjoy just as much doing secular or science talks to adult groups, evenings and weekends, so I am super XCITED to get going on this remodeling project. The finished studio-library will have a homey, den type look to it: the perfect backdrop to my lectures. I hope to make them as entertaining and informative as my class lectures and outside speaking. So watch for the “Science and Secularism” video podcast series coming this Fall, brought to you by DRZ, the Unbelieving Scum!

end religion now





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