Melvin Konner on Religious Belief: Self in Society #10

Anthropologist Melvin Konner explains the persistence of religious belief in the face of atheistic criticisms. Konner discusses his religious background and his path to a study of biological anthropology, including his work with the !Kung people in Botswana. Konner also challenges the New Atheists’ insistence that humanity can and should do away with religion.

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Buy Melvin Konner’s book via Amazon (paid link): Believers: Faith in Human Nature

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Kevin Currie-Knight on Self-Directed Education: Self in Society #9

Kevin Currie-Knight—professor of education at East Carolina University, author of Education in the Marketplace, and president of the board of New Pathfinder Community School—discusses self-directed education and answers various objections to it.

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Jason Crawford on the Roots of Progress: Self in Society #8

Jason Crawford, entrepreneur and author of the Roots of Progress blog, discusses what progress is, where it comes from, and how it vastly betters our lives. In the process, he highlights key industrial and technological innovations, explains the errors of Malthus, and discusses how we can keep progress alive.

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John Coffey on Religious Toleration: Self in Society #7

Historian John Coffey discusses his book, Persecution and Toleration in Protestant England 1558–1689, and its lessons for today. Coffey reviews the establishment of the Anglican church and the tensions between that church and both the Catholics and the Puritans, tensions that often erupted into state-sponsored violence. Coffee also discusses the theological and political disputes over toleration in this era.

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Buy Coffey’s book via Amazon (paid link): Persecution and Toleration in Protestant England 1588-1689: Study in Modern History Series

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Lawrence Goldstone on the Death and Legacy of Michael Servetus: Self in Society #6

In Out of the Flames, Lawrence and Nancy Goldstone recount the remarkable life and shocking death of Michael Servetus, theologian, editor, physician, and heretic. Lawrence discusses Servetus’s religious views and his lifelong rivalry with John Calvin, who eventually had him tried for heresy and burned at the stake in Geneva in 1553. But Servetus’s work escaped the flames to inspire generations of scientists, religious reformers, and advocates of liberty of conscience.

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Buy the Goldstones’ book via Amazon (paid link): Out of the Flames: The Remarkable Story of a Fearless Scholar, a Fatal Heresy, and One of the Rarest Books in the World

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Timothy Sandefur on the Ascent of Jacob Bronowski: Self in Society #5

Timothy Sandefur discusses the remarkable life and thought of science educator Jacob Bronowski, creator of the landmark documentary series The Ascent of Man. Sandefur’s The Ascent of Jacob Bronowski is the first book-length biography of this fascinating figure.

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Buy Sandefur’s book via Amazon (paid link): The Ascent of Jacob Bronowski: The Life and Ideas of a Popular Science Icon

Buy Bronowski’s book via Amazon (paid link): The Ascent of Man

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James Valliant on Rome and Christianity: Self in Society #4

James Valliant discusses his book, Creating Christ, in which he and his coauthor Warren Fahy argue that the Roman emperors Nero, Vespasian, and Titus played an active role in the development of early Christianity. Valliant discusses the broader context of the Jewish-Roman conflict of the First Century, the themes of the Gospels, and the remarkable parallels between the Flavian emperors and the Christian story.

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Buy Valliant’s book via Amazon (paid link): Creating Christ: How Roman Emperors Invented Christianity

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Michael Huemer on Animal Welfare: Self in Society #3

Philosopher Michael Huemer discusses his book, Dialogues on Ethical Vegetarianism, focusing on the problem of the severe suffering of most animals currently raised for their flesh, skin, milk, or eggs. He also discusses the difference between a strict vegan diet and a diet that includes bivalves and potentially lab-grown meat; the alternative strategy of reducing one’s consumption of animal products; the problem of social conformity; and more.

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Buy Huemer’s book via Amazon (paid link): Dialogues on Ethical Vegetarianism

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Robert Anthony Peters on Tank Man, Hollywood, Liberty, and Stoicism: Self in Society #2

Writer and Director Robert Anthony Peters discusses his short film, Tank Man, in the context of Chinese politics. Peters, an actor as well, also offers advice to young actors, discusses his advocacy of liberty, and outlines what in Stoicism he finds valuable.

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Robert Zubrin on the Case for Space: Self in Society #1

Robert Zubrin, head of the Mars Society and of Pioneer Astronautics, discusses his new book, The Case for Space.

Buy Zubrin’s book via Amazon (paid link): The Case for Space: How the Revolution in Spaceflight Opens Up a Future of Limitless Possibility

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