01.30.19. The Philosopher, the Pastor, and the Podcaster


This week on Middle Theory we are joined by atheist philosopher Keith Parsons and retired pastor Paris Donehoo for a sit-down conversation about finding common ground, and restoring common decency.

With the Federal Government finally open for business again (for now), we lead off with a bit of discussion about public intellectual and podcaster Sam Harris, who has made the bold decision to change the name of his “Waking Up” podcast (see the show notes below for more on this). We argue why Sam is, in many ways, the model American intellectual, before getting into a bit of news pertaining to a “gag order” that may be placed on Roger Stone, and an AP report on how the collapse of hometown newspapers contributes to polarization in the United States.

While we’re on the subject of things being “Polarized,” for the latter portion of the show we are joined by a pair of guests from different walks of life, who have a surprising amount of things in common. First up is Keith Parsons, a professor of philosophy at the University of Houston-Clear Lake. He is the author of nine previous books including It Started with Copernicus, Rational Episodes, and God and the Burden of Proof. His writing argues the case for logic, reason, and atheism, which as we will see as we shift our attention over to his co-author, may at times make for unique alliances. Also joining us is Paris Donehoo, a retired pastor and writer in Elgin, Illinois. After serving 16 years as pastor of First Congregational United Church of Christ in downtown Elgin, he decided to join Parsons in co-authoring the new book Polarized: The Collapse of Truth, Civility, and Community in Divided Times and How We Can Find Common Ground. In it, “An atheist philosopher and a Protestant minister interact in a constructive and respectful dialogue about their differing views on life, stressing the importance of honesty, civility, and community engagement at a time of polarized politics.”

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