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CFI-L.A. Feed Your Brain Lecture Series DVDs

Alphabetical by speaker's last name

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Louise A. Antony vs. Doug Geivett
Debate: Does God Exist?

Louise A. Antony, professor of philosophy at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, faces off against Doug Geivett, professor of philosophy at Biola University at Barnsdall Gallery Theater, across the street from CFI-L.A. Moderated by John Shook, director of education for CFI and coordinator for its Science and the Public Program. The debate is preceded with a talk by Eddie Tabash on debating religion in the public.


Ayaan Hirsi Ali
in conversation with Jill Stewart

Author of New York Times Bestseller INFIDEL Ayaan Hirsi Ali discusses her new book, Nomad, with LA Weekly Deputy Chief Editor Jill Stewart at CFI-L.A. on May 23, 2010.


Ron Aronson
Living without God in America Today

Prof. Ronald Aronson picks up where the "New Atheists" (Harris, Dawkins, Dennett, and Hitchens) leave off, turning to face the need for a coherent and contemporary secular philosophy that will answer life's vital questions. Aronson argues that living without God means acknowledging that we are dependent and interconnected beings, rooted in nature, history and society.


Derek Bartholomaus
A Swiss UFO Mystery Explained: an Investigation of the Claims of Billy Meier

Since 2003 IIG Investigator Derek Bartholomaus has researched the many claims of alleged UFO contactee Billy Meier, a Swiss farmer. Meier and his publicist Michael Horn claim that the evidence they have provided proves that Billy Meier has been in contact with extraterrestrials since the 1940s. Derek's research suggests that this may not actually be the case.


Ross Blocher
Swaddling Cloth out of Whole Cloth: Problems with the Nativity Story

Find out how the biblical story of Christ's birth is internally inconsistent, incongruous with known history, borrowed from other legends, and why none of it is reliable. Including a look at the biblical text itself, the "prophecies" that are claimed to be fulfilled by New Testament authors, and pre-existing mythology that got wrapped up into the Christmas story we’ve all heard. Plus, a hilarious alternate telling of the story from the 2nd century that you won't hear in Sunday School!


Vincent Bugliosi
Divinity of Doubt: An Agnostic's Challenge

A provocative defense of agnosticism by the L.A. County District Attorney  known for prosecuting Charles Manson and writing Helter Skelter. In his new book, Divinity of Doubt: The God Question, Bugliosi argues that agnosticism is the best position to take on the existence of God.


Nina Burleigh
Biblical Archaeology, the Limits of Science and the Borders of Belief: An Inside Look at the Proof-for-Faith Industry

Journalist and author Nina Burleigh discusses a scheme to modify actual archaeological objects or create entirely new ones to make them appear to verify biblical characters or stories, including the materiality of Christ and the existence of Solomon's Temple.


Sean Carroll
The Origin of the Universe and the Arrow of Time

Theoretical cosmologist Sean Carroll, a senior research associate in physics at Caltech, discusses how the ultimate explanation is to be found in cosmology: special conditions in the early universe are responsible for the arrow of time. He talks about the nature of time, the origin of entropy, and how what happened before the Big Bang may be responsible for the arrow of time we observe today.


William R. Clark
Bracing for Armageddon? The Science and Politics of Bioterrorism in America

Five people have died so far from bioterrorism attacks in America. By the end of 2008, the nation will have spent nearly $50 billion to thwart a future bioterrorism attack. How likely is that to occur? Who would do it and with what weapons? How would bioterrorism compare with the damage from other terrorist attacks or from a natural pandemic like the avian flu? William R. Clark, emeritus professor in Immunology at UCLA, discusses these questions and argues that a successful bioterrorism attack is extremely unlikely, while a flu epidemic, such as the 1918 outbreak that killed millions, is much more likely.


David R. Contosta
Rebel Giants: Darwin and Lincoln's Revolutionary Lives

In 2009, the world celebrated the 200th anniversary of two giants, Abraham Lincoln and Charles Darwin, who were both born on the same day in the same year - February 12, 1809. Author and professor of history David R. Contosta discusses how and why these men led their revolts and the ways in which their revolts have come together to shape the modern world.


Prof. Gayle Greene
Insomniac's Slant on Sleep

How does sleep deprivation affect the body and mind? Why do people suffer from insomnia? Illuminating that topic is Prof. Gayle Greene, who has been an insomniac since she can remember. She found that insomnia affects mainly women, the elderly, and the poor, yet these are the groups least studied. If researchers cast a wider net, they might find that excluded groups have insights that bear scientific investigation, and the mystery of sleep that's so long eluded them might yield some secrets.


Ronald Hamburger
Conspiracy or Science: Why Did the Towers Fall?

Debates have been raging for years about whether or not the twin towers of the World Trade Center collapsed due to the impact of the two commercial airliners that struck them on 9/11/2001. Questions about the collapse of building 7, which was not struck by a plane, feed the conspiratorial fire. Could terrorists have planted explosives throughout the WTC in advance of the crashes? Were the fires caused by the planes enough to bring down these engineering marvels? Structural engineer Ronald Hamburger discusses why those buildings collapsed and illustrates his talk with graphics. He was principal author of FEMA's initial report on the collapse of the twin towers and later a key participant in the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) study.


Celebrating the Life of a True Celebrity Atheist: Christopher Hitchens
Taped Jan. 15, 2012 at CFI-L.A.

CFI-L.A. Chair Eddie Tabash keynoted a morning of remembrance of our beloved "Hitch." The ultimate purpose of this celebration/memorial is to redouble our efforts to perpetuate his legacy and to make the world safe for those with the courage to reject religious dogma. Also paying tribute to Hitchens was stage, screen, and TV actor Jack Maxwell reading selections from Hitchens' impressive collection of writings.


Gary S. Hurd, Ph.D.
Geology, Creationism, and the Bible

Archaeologist, psychiatrist, and social scientist Gary S. Hurd discusses the geologic record and how it demonstrates the physical impossibility of divine creation of the sort described in the book of Genesis.


Maggie Jackson
Attention Must be Paid: The Perils of Cultivating an Attention-Deficient Nation and the Prospects for Change

Increasingly, our culture is eroding our capacity to pay attention - the building block of intimacy, wisdom and cultural progress. Can we as a nation afford to cultivate an attention-deficient democracy, economy, culture? Author and columnist Maggie Jackson traces the roots of our culture of distraction, details the cost of living this way, and reveals how we can help recover our powers of focus.


Clifford Johnson
Strings Everywhere?

String theory may become crucial to our understanding of some of the most fundamental questions in nature, such as the origin of fundamental particles, the nature of black holes, and the origins of the universe itself. Clifford Johnson, professor in the Physics and Astronomy Department at USC, explains the ideas behind string theory, showing its promise, strengths and weaknesses.


Jonathan Kirsch
Tinkering with the Inquisitor's Toolbox: The Long Shadow of the Inquisition from the Grand Inquisitor to Abu Ghraib

The Spanish Inquisition was only a branch operation of the engine of persecution that operated for 600 years across Europe and the Americas. Jonathan Kirsch, best-selling author of the newly published The Grand Inquisitor's Manual: A History of Terror in the Name of God, traces the unbroken thread that links the friar-inquisitors who set up the rack and the pyre in southern France in the early 13th century to the torturers and executioners of Nazi Germany and Stalinist Russia in the mid-20th century.


Edward J. Larson
Scopes at 85: An Anniversary Look Back at the History and Folklore of America's Most Famous Trial




Ron Lindsay
Secular Humanism and its Discontents

New chief executive officer of the Center for Inquiry Ron Lindsay provides an unsparing review of the state of secular humanism today and issues a rousing call to arms. Dr. Lindsay demonstrates the critical significance of the secular perspective, especially as it relates to public policy.


William Lobdell
How I Lost My Religion - and Found Unexpected Peace

After becoming a born-again Christian in his late 20s following personal problems, veteran journalist William Lobdell saw that religion wasn't covered well in the mainstream media, prayed for a religion beat at a major newspaper, and in 1998 landed that beat with the Los Angeles Times. Over the next eight years his investigative reporting, experiences, and evidence slowly chipped away at his faith. After being reassigned, he wrote a personal essay in 2007 that became an international sensation for its honest exploration of doubt.


Chris Mooney
The War on Science: What Have We Learned?

Science has never been more crucial to deciding the political issues facing America. Yet science and scientists have less influence with the federal government than at any time since the Eisenhower administration. In the White House and Congress today, findings are reported in a politicized manner: spun or distorted to fit the speaker's agenda; or, when they're too inconvenient, ignored entirely.


Barbara Oakley
Evil Genes: Why Rome Fell, Hitler Rose, Enron Failed, and My Sister Stole My Mother's Boyfriend

Have you ever heard of a person who left you wondering, "How could someone be so twisted? So evil?" Prompted by clues in her sister's diary after her mysterious death, author Barbara Oakley takes us inside the head of the kinds of malevolent people you know but could never understand.


Jennifer Ouellette
The Rules of the Game: Finding the Physics in the Buffyverse

What does the fictional world of Buffy the Vampire Slayer have to do with science?  Plenty. Join science writer Jennifer Ouellette for an entertaining tour of the science behind “Buffyverse,” where magic, vampires and demons are real. Take a closer look of this surreal world and you’ll find that science lurks everywhere from the “Big Picture” framework to the nooks and crannies. There are alternate universes and parallel worlds, Newtonian mechanics, electromagnetism, string theory, and even a “thermodynamics of magic”. 


John Shook

The God Theory is Dead: How Naturalism Has Driven Theology over the Edge

Dr. John Shook, vice president and senior research fellow at the Center for Inquiry-Transnational in Amherst, N.Y., discusses three main types of theologies and examines the debates about the existence of nature; the problem of evil, and the essence of morality.


Craig Stanford
Beautiful Minds: Apes, Dolphins and the Roots of Humanity

What do great apes and dolphins have in common? They’re second in intelligence only to humans. Dr. Craig Stanford, who is Professor of Anthropology and Biological Sciences at USC, discusses the parallels between the great apes and dolphins and what they may tell us about the origins of human intelligence.


Jim Stein
The Limits of Knowledge - As Explained by Math  

Three remarkable developments in the 20th century showed that there were limits to what we can know and what we can accomplish, which Jim Stein will discuss: Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle (physics), Godel's Incompleteness Theorem (mathematics), and Arrow's Impossibility Theorem (political economics). Amazingly, all three of these seemingly abstract mathematical theorems have a substantial impact on all of us and our daily lives.


Edward Tabash
America at the Crossroads: The Threat of the Religious Right  to Our Most Basic Freedoms  

Attorney Edward Tabash, chair of the Center for Inquiry-Los Angeles, demonstrates how the nation's Founders intended God and government to be separate and what will happen if the next president appoints a religious right wing sympathizer to the Supreme Court.


Eddie Tabash vs. Jason Gastrich
Clash of the Titans II: Does God Exist?

CFI-Los Angeles Honorary Chair  Eddie Tabash squares off with Christian evangelist Dr. Jason Gastrich in a rematch of their 2004 debate in San Diego. Tabash presents the latest and greatest arguments for scientific naturalism, the philosophy that holds that the universe is all there is, and that God and the supernatural are human constructs.


Eddie Tabash vs. Bob Siegel
Does the Christian God Exist?

Eddie Tabash debates Bob Siegel, who hosts weekly radio show, The Bob Siegel Show (airs on KCBQ), a call-in talk show where skeptics and Christians alike can phone in with questions about Christianity. Siegel has a B.A. in Theater Arts from San Jose State University and a M.A. in Biblical Studies from Denver Theological Seminary.


Ibn Warraq
The Apologists of Islam

Conflicting assessments about the character of radical Islam today are reminiscent of past disputes about the nature of communist systems. Attention should be paid to earlier analyses of radical Islam by important Western scholars and thinkers. In both cases, central to the disagreements has been these questions: To what degree do beliefs and ideologies determine policies or behavior? How closely did ideas shape actions? Ibn Warraq, an independent scholar and a leading figure in Koranic criticism, answers these questions in his talk.


David S. Whitley
Shamanism and the Origin of Creativity

Archaeologist David S. Whitley, Ph.D., argues for a new interpretation of shamanism, the first known human religion, with significant implications for the origin  of human creativity. He suggests that modern human behavior first appeared not simply with the evolution of our cognitive capability but with the development of certain mental diseases, especially bi-polarity, that is strongly associated with artistic genius and shamanic religions.


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