Thursday, February 24, 2011

San Francisco in March

I will be appearing in San Francisco next month, on Saturday 26 March (2011), for the San Francisco Atheists, at their usual venue (Schroeder's Restaurant, on 240 Front St., San Francisco, CA 94111), from 4:30-7pm. I'll be selling and signing books as usual.

Description: "From Robots to the Moon: Amazing Science and Technology of the Ancient World" : Dr. Richard Carrier, a specialist in ancient science and technology, surveys just a few examples of amazing achievements in scientific and technical knowledge among the Greeks and Romans, including computers, robots, automated factories, the invention of latitude and longitude, controlled medical experiments, and discovering the elliptical orbit of the moon.

And don't ask what I could possibly mean by "computers, robots, and automated factories." That would spoil the surprise! Come see and find out. I'll be repeating this talk in the St. Louis area later this year. Rest assured it's all based on established peer reviewed scholarship and actual concrete evidence.

Friday, February 18, 2011

March Course

This March (March 1 to 31) I will be visiting lecturer at CFI's online campus, co-teaching their one-month introductory course in the philosophy of naturalism, this year taught by Dr. John Shook (author of The God Debates) and myself. Anyone can attend and receive a certificate of completion (though only students at UB receive college credit). It is all online and all flextime (you can work at any time of day or week).

Course description: "Introduces the philosophy of naturalism by explaining its core ideas, examining what it is good for, and illustrating why it is a better view of reality than supernatural, mystical, or idealistic worldviews. Course topics include: (1) reasoning and the scientific method, (2) science's understanding of the universe and human beings, (3) how naturalism answers questions about morality, beauty, meaning, and society, and (4) making use of naturalism to better understand yourself and the world."

Students will be able to interact with both of us on a near-daily basis in professional-quality forum discussions of lectures and reading materials (or you can just listen in, although participation is required for a completion certificate). There are required readings but no grades, tests, or papers (we assess your level of participation and comprehension from your interactions with us each week). My book Sense and Goodness without God is the required course text. Tuition is $60 ($50 for Friends of the Center, and only $10 for college students). To learn more, or register, visit the CFI course page: Naturalism (SEC 224)

Thursday, February 17, 2011

New Vids and Podcast

Besides the major video release I mentioned yesterday, two other known videos of me came out around the same time, plus a new podcast. I'm blogging those three items today.

(1) Back in 2008 the guys of Give a Damn? came to my home and interviewed me for their film (which I've seen, and it's pretty awesome, hopefully it is near to a general release). I didn't make the final cut, so Rob Lehr, the atheist of the pair (Dan Parris is his Christian friend, and he's one of the cool Christians), put my whole original interview online. It's unedited so a bit random and rough (and they ran out of tape almost mid-sentence at the end), but actually it's really good, one of the best unedited interviews I've ever seen, and interesting for covering a lot of novel ground (since it is principally about whether we ought to "Give a Damn" about poverty in Africa). To watch it click here.

(2) Every year or so I speak to a Christian youth group called Stand to Reason. I've been doing this for years. But back in 2010 I spoke on metaethics and my lecture was recorded. It's now available online. It's a casual interactive lecture, not a formal talk, and it was mostly for the benefit of the students there, and only addresses a few specific questions, so it doesn't work that well as a video per se (much better for that is my Michigan talk on moral theory; and for more discussion and links on this topic see Darla the She-Goat and of course read Sense and Goodness without God). But if you are interested, click here.

(3) Finally, I did a Mindcore podcast: Interview with Richard Carrier. Mindcore is a rather low-production-value underground podcast for "elitist college dropouts" (as self-described). It's not an atheist podcast, it just happened to center around that issue this particular show. First half is a discussion between hosts Don Recuero (an atheist) and Diana (a kind of vaguely New Age theist). The interview then starts with me at minute 40:25. I'll briefly describe it from there.

Don begins with discussing the nature and history of the New Atheist movement and my role in it. We segue into politics of atheists. Note that I speak of naturalists of the kind I defend in my book, who accept empirical moderatism, but I mistakenly give the impression I'm speaking of all atheists, when certainly there are dogmatically ideological atheists (and across the entire political spectrum, too). Then we segue into moral theory and mataethics. I talk about the new book The End of Christianity (the now-completed sequel to The Christian Delusion that will be released this year, in which I have three chapters--I'll blog all about it when it's out). Then we close with a discussion of the Jesus myth debate specifically, and the development of the New Testament canon in general.

This was recorded way back in 2010, and the sound quality is not good, and we had delay issues that made it hard not to talk over each other, and I compensated by rambling too much. And not much new ground covered. So not the best show ever. But some may find it of interest.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Skepticon III Video

Video of my presentation at Skepticon III last year is now available. I like this one. This is my best and most entertaining talk yet. Informative and fun. I definitely recommend it. To watch it on YouTube click here. Filmed and edited by Rob Lehr of Hambone Productions, I recall there was a loss of data at the event but he restored it best he could (so you'll see a fade at one point), and I'm pretty sure no significant content was lost. The accompanying slideshow is also available for private viewing here (warning: it's a large PDF file).

There is also a video of the panel I was on (on a different day), Confrontation vs. Accommodation. Me and P.Z. Myers on one side, Debbie Goddard, David Fitzgerald, and John Corvino on the other (although we were all pretty much on the same side when it came to the issue discussed), moderated by D.J. Grothe (who made a valiant effort at playing Devil's Advocate). The panel is interesting but some will consider it a bit dull and frustrating in many respects (not only because of audio problems). Often thoughts couldn't be completed or revisited as a viewer would want, e.g. at one point I briefly approve of politicians lying, though I meant in regard to the religious and diplomatic palliatives politicians must deploy to get things done, not, of course, breaking the law or perpetrating a major deception. I thought that was clear in context, but on reviewing it, it's not. And if that was true for me, you can expect it may have been for the other panelists as well. So it should be viewed charitably.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Appearing in Greensboro

I will be appearing in Greensboro, North Carolina, in a few weeks, for the University of North Carolina at Greensboro Atheists, Agnostics and Skeptics, on Wednesday, March 2 (2011), at 7pm (until 9pm). My talk will be "Are Science & Religion Compatible? Looking at Ancient Creation Science vs. Modern," an updated version of the talk I gave in absentia at Indianapolis for Darwin Day 2008 (see those last two links for more details about the talk's content). This time it will be delivered on the UNCG campus, in the Graham Building, Room 313. For those coming from off campus, the organizers created a google map of the location of the event and parking locations near the Graham Building. It's free to all as far as I know. There'll be a Q&A. And I'll be selling and signing my books afterward.

Right now the UNCGAAS website is in development (old site | new site) but may have information up in a few days. The only publicly posted official announcement so far is on Facebook (which only Facebook members can see). But if you're on FB you can give them an RSVP or ask them questions there. They might also get info posted on their blog soon.

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Debating J.P. Holding

You heard that right. On Saturday, 9 April 2011, at 5pm, I will be debating my "nemesis" J.P. Holding on the textual reliability of the New Testament ("Do We Have What They Had?"). It is being sponsored by the Christian congregation of Pastor Cameron English and will be held at the Amador Christian Center (see their events page; right now it's a little ways down the page). For directions and more info see the Sacramento FAN page on the event. The center is located at 16829 Latrobe Road, in Plymouth, California, about twenty miles northeast of Sacramento. Anyone is welcome to attend.

There will be a Q&A, and afterward I will be selling and signing my books. If you are unfamiliar with my history with J.P. Holding (or his reputation generally) see (1) my book Not the Impossible Faith (which is a response to his book The Impossible Faith and its once-associated web pages at his site Tekton Ministries) and (2) the website Tektonics Exposed, which is run by others who have tangled with him and now document his foibles (to put it mildly). Despite his reputation I'm assured he'll be on good behavior in person.

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Abortion Redux

Recently Vincent Torley (of Uncommon Descent: Serving the Intelligent Design Community) asked the 25 Most Influential Living Atheists what their underlying views were on the issue of abortion and human rights. As I unexpectedly made that list, I received his questionnaire. It was well-formulated and honest (he allows for qualifications, for instance). I found it well worthy of an answer. He didn't ask specifically what our views were on abortion, but on the liminal status of babies.