Welcome to the Harvard Lunch Club Political Podcast for November 7, 2017, it’s number 147, the Happy Trump Year edition of the show with your hosts Hartford radio guy Todd Feinburg and nanophysicist Mike Stopa. One day short of the anniversary of napalm in the morning…or evening…or whenever. It was victory when it happened. And it smelled great!

But first, a word from our sponsors! Don’t forget, this Saturday in Burlington MA at the Tavern in the Square, 100 District Ave. come join founder Rob Long and Michael in the Morning host Michael Graham along with us guys, the HLC podcasters Todd and Mike for an evening of comradery, argument and great fun at the Boston area Ricochet meetup.

Now, back to our show.

This week we will talk first about atheism and mass murderers. Did Devin Kelley’s atheism have anything to do with the motivation (if such it can be called) for his massacre? What sets atheists apart? And if his religious beliefs (or lack thereof) were really of no relevance to his actions (which, in fact we believe) then what is winding the spring inside the heads of killers like him?

Next, for a happier topic, we celebrate the first year of Donald Trump’s Presidency. Paper hats and noisemakers are given out to the first one hundred participants. Birthday cake will be given to all. I make a shameless reference to my Boston Globe column published Monday asserting that, pace unhinged liberals and even more unhinged NeverTrumpers (sorry, we’re not supposed to use that term, right?) Donald Trump is proof positive that his followers are *not* as interested in personality as they are in ideas and policies. We expound.

We will have our shower thoughts and this week’s “hidden” gem (okay, not so hidden really) is one of my favorite Beatles pieces: “Golden Slumbers/Carry That Weight.” Enjoy!

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There are 14 comments.

  1. Member

    Good grief, everyone knows that the four Elephants stand on the back of the great A’Tuin, the World Turtle, who is swimming through space!

    Seriously, though, the conception of G-d as an old guy in a chair (and, in the Far Side cartoon, reaching for the Smite button on his computer) is a common enough way for the carnally minded to think of G-d. (I remember having an image of G-d like that when I was a kid.)

    Augustine, however, teaches us that we need to have a non-physical conception of G-d–if we can.

    If that’s hard, it helps to start with a not-strictly-physical conception of your desk.

    Hylomorphism, Baby! Phil and Sophy explain here.

    • #1
    • November 8, 2017 at 8:55 am
    • Like
  2. Podcaster

    I guess we only scratched the surface, Saint. In fact I long ago read On True Belief (which I’ve re-read from time to time) in trying to grasp the idea of faith. I have tried to fathom it and similar arguments, e.g. that the moral order of the universe somehow implies the existence of a deity – but find it yet unconvincing.

    Thanks for correcting me on the elephants and the turtle. There are all kinds of things that everyone knows but I don’t (you know, stuff like Justin Bieber’s favorite dessert). Just another example.

    • #2
    • November 8, 2017 at 11:15 am
    • 1 like
  3. Member

    Hey, thanks for the reply! Those Discworld books are great. In one of them the Omnian religion insists the Earth is round because that would be the best way for God to create it, and ignores the evidence of the great elephants and turtle holding up a flat world! It’s hilarious.

    So do you read Utilitate Credendi (On the Usefulness of Belief) or Vera Religione (On True Religion)? They’re both good books. Actually, they are about two ninths of the book on Augustine which I am currently writing, and part of the reason I have been relatively inactive on Ricochet of late.

    It seemed to me from a little later in the podcast that your idea of faith is very different from that of Augustine, Aquinas, Lewis, Plantinga, Anselm, and for that matter the Bible. It sounded to me like you were talking about a God-of-the-gaps notion, but I don’t think that in all my reading in philosophy of religion and philosophical theology and the Bible and historical theology I have ever come across any one promoting any such idea.

    Suspension of rational thinking? What has that to do with belief in G-d?

    (If you reply I hope I can get back to you in good time! Besides the book project, I am also trying to get over a cold and am in between two intercontinental moves.)

    • #3
    • November 8, 2017 at 12:59 pm
    • 1 like
  4. Member

    The next door neighbor in my teenyears was a most unique man with a Harvard Ph.D in applied physics who was also a passionate Christian. Such fervent loves he had for God, his beloved wife, his four children and math/physics/all things scientific had the effect on me that these things always traveled together especially since my dad (a chemist though) also had these passions.

    It is too deeply set into everything that I call ‘me’ to not have this same world view and to see not only Creation but the Creator as sublimely beautiful to really comprehend your arguments but I do think you presented them well and fairly. How the worldview of many democrats uses all things politic to satisfy the spiritual was particularly insightful Great podcast and loved the McCarney touch at the end

    • #4
    • November 8, 2017 at 3:04 pm
    • 2 likes
  5. Coolidge

    Mike, may I suggest Henry Eyring’s Faith of a Scientist? It’s an older book, but may offer something of interest.

    • #5
    • November 8, 2017 at 3:36 pm
    • 2 likes
  6. Coolidge

    Todd nailed the psychopathic mindset later in your “why do they hate Trump” conversation

    In the proselytizing branch of atheism, there is a political strain to it that “these stupid people who pray to their invisible man in the sky to save them or bless them are preventing us from getting our way. These stupid people need to be corrected, shamed into silence, or eliminated.”

    The opiate of the masses branch, government and the “enlightened class” needs to replace God in people’s lives.

    Every Tier II and Tier III liberal arts grad who calls Christians “stupid” fancies his or herself a Harvard trained intellectual because they agree. This plays into your “looking up” to the President discussion as well. Sarah Palin was mocked for not having the “right” education, for working her way from PTA mom to Governor. All the while calling themselves the “working man’s party” when much like a lot of their voter bases, they have contempt for their existence, but need their votes. They turn on these groups the moment it appears they are “ungrateful” or question their intellectual superiority.

    Why mock “thoughts and prayers?” The answer is “because these people are keeping us from getting our way” Build up enough of this frustration, plus demonize and feel apoplectic on these stupid people having control over your agenda, you get rage.

    • #6
    • November 8, 2017 at 4:30 pm
    • 4 likes
  7. Podcaster

    Yes Saint, it was On True Religion, not On True Belief that I meant. It was recommended to me long ago. Generally the Christian square one for grasping the meaning – the inevitability – of faith is Augustine, I guess. Aquinas never did much for me. Maybe I will take Jim Wright’s advice and look at this Faith of a Scientist.

    I am not, N.B., searching to be converted. But I remember my callow days when I proselytized my atheism and I don’t any longer.

    Overall very interesting discussion here. Maybe we should get into religion again on HLC.

    • #7
    • November 8, 2017 at 7:34 pm
    • 2 likes
  8. Member

    Well, it took me pretty much the whole day to get through this podcast. Good work as usual, gentlemen!

    I enjoyed the remarks on intellectuals towards the end. I myself (a guy with a Ph. D. in philosophy, a university teaching job, and membership in maybe two or three organizations with Greek letter names) sometimes dabble in sentiments against the intellectuals.

    • #8
    • November 8, 2017 at 7:36 pm
    • 1 like
  9. Member

    Michael Stopa (View Comment):
    Yes Saint, it was On True Religion, not On True Belief that I meant. It was recommended to me long ago. Generally the Christian square one for grasping the meaning – the inevitability – of faith is Augustine, I guess. . . .

    Interesting. I think I wouldn’t have recommended that book. (Not without first making a good case for hylomorphism or mathematical realism or something like that. It seems to rely too much on Platonism rather than materialism being true.) I think I would have recommended the other one, On the Usefulness of Believing!

    . . .

    Overall very interesting discussion here. Maybe we should get into religion again on HLC.

    Your call. I’d probably enjoy it, but I’m just one person.

    (The initials “HLC” often confuse me for a second or so because they resemble “HRC” for “Hillary Rodham Clinton”! Am I the only one with that problem?)

    • #9
    • November 8, 2017 at 7:44 pm
    • Like
  10. Thatcher

    What happened to the bells chiming (with Mike saying “HLC podcast”) at the end of the podcast? I liked that.

    • #10
    • November 8, 2017 at 7:52 pm
    • 1 like
  11. Coolidge

    Hey Michael,

    I enjoy your podcast! I generally enjoy your thoughtful take on things. I think that your discussion on conservative atheists was interesting, but I was surprised that you hadn’t delved more deeply into the nature of religion. It looks like you are taking the Bible at face value and rejecting it, as many from our generation do. I recommend that you check out Jordan Peterson’s lectures about the psychological meaning behind the bible. JP isn’t exactly known for his brevity, but I think you will find his insights worth listening to.

    • #11
    • November 8, 2017 at 8:22 pm
    • 1 like
  12. Contributor

    Saint Augustine (View Comment):
    Well, it took me pretty much the whole day to get through this podcast. Good work as usual, gentlemen!

    I enjoyed the remarks on intellectuals towards the end. I myself (a guy with a Ph. D. in philosophy, a university teaching job, and membership in maybe two or three organizations with Greek letter names) sometimes dabble in sentiments against the intellectuals.

    It took us about the same amount of time to record it. And with the technical issues, I’m impressed with your fortitude.

    • #12
    • November 9, 2017 at 9:00 am
    • 1 like
  13. Contributor

    Mike LaRoche (View Comment):
    What happened to the bells chiming (with Mike saying “HLC podcast”) at the end of the podcast? I liked that.

    Hey Mike – someone made it to the end!

    • #13
    • November 9, 2017 at 9:01 am
    • 1 like
  14. Coolidge

    I have a big problem with Trump’s tone:

    1 – I personally don’t like having such a crude person as a leader.

    2 – It’s counter productive. His crudeness is part of the reason why he cannot get substantive legislation passed. He cannot get along with many members of Congress. And a big part of the anti-Trump fever on the left is because of this attitude, not just his policies. They also hated Bush and earlier Republican presidents, but it never rose to the current level; not even with Nixon. This week’s Virginia disaster is because of Trump’s tone.

    • #14
    • November 9, 2017 at 9:39 pm
    • Like