Rebecca Goldstein: the atheist with a soul

Note: this interview was broadcast on WGBH, Boston’s NPR station for news and culture!
Rebecca Goldstein

Rebecca Goldstein’s latest work, called 36 Arguments for the Existence of God: A Work of Fiction, is perhaps best described as a hybrid. It is indeed a novel, with its share of psychology, mathematics and academic politics, but it concludes with an appendix outlining these 36 arguments, as well as their rebuttals, in the language not of fiction, but of philosophy. So, as in many of Goldstein’s earlier novels, this one manages to fold ideas into art.
ThoughtCast spoke with Rebecca in her home in the Leather District, in downtown Boston.
Click here (28 minutes) to listen.
Click here (90 minutes) to listen to a discussion with Rebecca Goldstein and Steven Pinker, sponsored by PEN New England.  It’s titled Mind-Body Problems: A Conversation About Science, Fiction and God, and focuses mainly on Rebecca’s latest novel.
Steven PinkerRebecca Goldstein received her doctorate in philosophy from Princeton, and went on to teach philosophy before trying her pen at fiction. Her first novel, The Mind-Body Problem, was a critical success, and she went on to write 5 other novels, including Properties of Light, Mazel, and The Dark Sister. She has also written non-fiction studies of the mathematician Kurt Gödel, and the philosopher Baruch Spinoza.

In addition to being Rebecca’s husband, Steven Pinker is Harvard College Professor and Johnstone Family Professor of Psychology at Harvard University, and one of the world’s leading authorities on language and the mind. He’s written seven books (so far) including The Blank Slate, How the Mind Works and The Stuff of Thought.

And finally, to listen to this ThoughtCast interview on the WGBH Forum Network, click here!

Posted on March 11, 2021 in a new podcast, Front Page, Ideas, Literature, Philosophy, Religion
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Dinosaurs on Thoughtcast

Back when I was working as a reporter for WNYC TV, a public TV station in Manhattan, I covered the return of the dinosaurs to the American Museum of Natural History, after a three year absence. The updated exhibition focused on the link between dinosaurs and birds. Though it’s hard to imagine a connection between the tiny city sparrow and the Tyrannosaurus Rex, there apparently is one!

Posted on November 25, 2020 in a new podcast, Front Page, History, Science
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Poet Robert Pinsky takes on King David

Note: The WGBH sister stations WCAI and WNAN broadcast this interview, and it also received a 5 star review on PRX!

Former poet laureate Robert Pinsky tackles King David of the Bible – the shepherd, poet, warrior and adulterer – in his “Life of David.”
Is David a legend? A real, flesh and blood warrior who killed Goliath, and united the 12 Jewish tribes into one nation? Robert Pinsky delves into these questions, and into David’s story, with relish.

David’s story has been told many times, and the tale has changed with each telling. There’s the David of the Hebrew Bible, and another version of his life in the Talmud. We know he slept with Bathsheba, but was this a sin? An act of love? Of violence? It depends on whom you ask.

David, who lived about 3000 years ago, was beloved of God, and as a result, he got away with more than his share. He was a seductive, wily politician, a doting father, a bitter old man. These contradictions in David’s character spur Pinsky on, and he adds his own twist to the tale, as you will hear, on ThoughtCast!
Click here: to listen (28:30 mins).

Posted on August 22, 2020 in a new podcast, Literature, Poetry, Religion
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Words @ Work: The Origins of “Rock”

Note: this piece was broadcast on NJN (New Jersey Public Radio), New Hampshire Public Radio and WMUB, an NPR station in Oxford, Ohio. It was also podcast on KXCI.org, in Tucson.
What does the word rock mean? Simple enough question. But how did the term originate? Where — and why? These questions are bit more difficult to answer!

Tune in for a quick romp through the origins of the word — with Berklee College of Music professor Ken Zambello.
Click here: to listen (3:30 minutes).
(And thanks to Pam Scrutton and Planning For Elders for the “Let’s Rock and Roll” illustration!)

Posted on July 4, 2020 in a new podcast, Front Page, Music, Words@Work
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Buffalo Dance: A Poem for NPR’s Poetry Month

 

Posted on April 18, 2020 in a new podcast, Art, Environment, Front Page, Literature, Poetry, Tweets, Words@Work
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Red Hook, Brooklyn, before the Gentrification

On a beautiful spring day in the mid 1990s, I meandered the streets of Red Hook, when it was still a rundown Brooklyn neighborhood. I met its first art gallery owner, and the two longshoremen who ventured inside. This is one of my favorite stories for WNYC TV, the PBS station I worked for in Manhattan. (This station too is now history.)

Let me know what you think!
Click here (2:30 minutes) to listen!

Posted on March 13, 2020 in a new podcast, Art, Front Page, WNYC TV
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