Is it just dumb luck that the universe has just the right settings to support life as we know it?

Belief in God is thought by many to be the only possible source of morality, such that without a God, “everything is permitted.” Yet godlessness is on the rise in the West, with figures like Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, and Lawrence Krauss leading the “New Atheism” movement. But if atheism is defined by its lack of belief, where do these non-believers find guiding principles? Are there any positive beliefs or values that atheists have in common? If so, are they based on a rational, scientific framework, or must non-believers, like believers, ultimately rely on faith?

Philosophy Talk asks: Why (not) believe in an afterlife?

Jan 9, 2015

The question of what happens to us after we die remains as mysterious now as it always was. Some think that death amounts to total annihilation of the self; others adhere to certain religious traditions, which teach that the immaterial soul (and, in some traditions, the resurrected body) can ultimately survive death. So how are we to judge between these radically different views of what happens to us in death? What would it mean for the self to persist beyond the destruction of the body? Is there room in a scientific account of the mind for the existence of an immaterial soul?

KALW's community storytelling project Hear Here has been asking Oakland and San Francisco residents about meaningful places in their neighborhood. KALW's Alyssa Kapnik chose her place, a church, because she used to pass it on her way to the BART station. Since Kapnik is  from a totally different faith – she's Jewish – she wondered what it would be like to experience religion and God from such a different perspective. Fully aware that she’d be an outsider, she decided to go one recent Sunday, and she was the only white person in the entire congregation.


Feb 26, 2012

On this week's Philosophy Talk, the subject is pantheism: the doctrine that the world is either identical with God or an expression of His nature.