About Me

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Australian philosopher, literary critic, legal scholar, and professional writer. Based in Newcastle, NSW. My latest books are THE TYRANNY OF OPINION: CONFORMITY AND THE FUTURE OF LIBERALISM (2019) and AT THE DAWN OF A GREAT TRANSITION: THE QUESTION OF RADICAL ENHANCEMENT (2021).

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Point of Inquiry interview

My interview with D.J. Grothe is now available.

From the intro on the site:

In this interview with D.J. Grothe, Russell Blackford explains the need for 50 Voices of Disbelief. He argues that there can be no more important question than whether religion and faith deliver on their promises. He explores whether religion will persist. He contends that religious leaders are not our society's moral leaders. He discusses a number of contributed essays in the 50 Voices collection, such as James Randi's, entitled "A Magician Looks at Religion," which explores how a background in magic may inform one's understanding of religion, and Peter Adegoke's essay, which argues that religion is impeding Nigeria's social, economic and scientific progress.

He talks about how the book includes contributions from people all over the world and from every continent, except Antarctica. He discusses essays by Sumitra Padmanabhan and Prabir Ghosh that explore the harms that religion cause in India, and alternatives to religion, such as humanism. He talks about how the diversity of views in the essay collection show that there is "no party-line of atheism." He comments on essays by psychologist and parapsychologist Susan Blackmore ("Giving Up Ghosts and Gods"), and philosopher Philip Kitcher ("Beyond Disbelief"). He discusses recent controversies over CFI's International Blasphemy Day, and opposing views of Paul Kurtz and Ron Lindsay regarding criticism of religion, and whether "moderate religion" should be criticized or viewed as an ally to advance secular, pro-science values. He talks about the relationship between atheism and progressive social values. And he argues that religion should not be allowed to remain private, and therefore beyond public scrutiny and critique.

Just one point of qualiifcation that I'll make, as somebody raised it at RichardDawkins.net. I think that DJ in the last sentence above, means "religion should not be allowed to hide from public criticism"; i.e., he doesn't mean "religion should be allowed to exercise political power". I'm sure he doesn't believe the latter or think that I do.

It was an enjoyable experience doing this interview, and a great opportunity to communicate to a different and larger audience. My thanks to DJ Grothe and others at Point of Inquiry. I hope the result is enjoyable and illuminating.


NewEnglandBob said...

I listened to this over at RD.net and posted this:
I just received my copy of the book today (November 7) and this discussion makes me even more enthusiastic to read it.

Steve Zara said...

It was a very enjoyable and interesting interview. I think the point you make about "moderate" religion is a very important one: we tend to call religions moderate just because they accept evolution, but they can be very immoderate about other matters. I really wish this was more widely expressed. This does not mean we should not ally with moderate when useful, but that we should not hesitate to criticise their ideas either.

When someone says a religion is moderate, the question should be "moderate about what?"

From a selfish point of view, I think it is good to see you getting such publicity as I think you have an interesting and thoughtful perspective on issues (at least as far as I can judge with my limited experience of philosophy and politics). I hope you are enjoying it too!

Unknown said...

I began reading your blog after I saw it mentioned on Pharyngula. I listened to the Point of Inquiry interview this past weekend and thoroughly enjoyed it. I ordered a copy of your new book as a result. I hope I find the essays as thought provoking as those by Bertrand Russell which led to my atheism when I read his "The Will to Doubt" and "Why I Am Not a Christian" in my early twenties.