03/20/23 Biking & Listening

Biking is something else I both love and hate. It takes a lot of effort but does provide good exercise and most days over an hour to listen to a good book or podcast. I especially like having ridden.

Here’s my bike, a Rockhopper by Specialized. I purchased it November 2021 from Venture Out in Guntersville; Mike is top notch! So is the bike, and the ‘old’ man seat I salvaged from an old Walmart bike.

Here’s a link to today’s bike ride. This is my pistol ride.

Here’s a few photos taken along my route:

Here’s what I’m currently listening to:

Here’s the link at Sam’s website. You can also listen on Spotify (full episode requires subscription to Sam’s podcast).


This series is designed for long-time fans, newcomers, haters, lovers, critics, and curious dabblers in the philosophy and works of Sam Harris. Each episode in the series is structured as a guided tour through one of Sam’s specific areas of interest: Artificial Intelligence, Consciousness, Violence, Belief, Free Will, Morality, Death, and more. We’ve plunged into the Making Sense archive dating back over 10 years, and surfaced crucial exchanges with incredible guests to dissect Sam’s evolving stances — along with various explorations, approaches, agreements, disagreements, and pushbacks. We’ve crafted and juxtaposed these clips with original writing and analysis into brand-new audio documentaries.

You’ll be introduced (or re-introduced) to fantastic thinkers, and we’ll help illuminate your intellectual journey with plenty of recommendations, which range from fun and light to densely academic.

The writer and producer of this series is filmmaker, author, and podcaster Jay Shapiro, whose credits include the documentary adaptation of Sam Harris’s dialogue Islam and Future of Tolerance. Jay writes essays at whatjaythinks.com and hosts the Dilemma Podcast.

The voice of the series is author Megan Phelps-Roper. Megan was born into the extremist Westboro Baptist Church, where she was a member and spokesperson before leaving the group in 2012. She has since published a memoir, Unfollow, and works as a producer, writer, and speaker. She has twice appeared as a guest on Making Sense.

MARCH 17, 2023

In this episode, we examine a series of Sam’s conversations centered around religion, atheism, and the power of belief. 

First, we hear the stories of three guests who have fled their respective oppressive religious organizations. We begin with Sarah Hairder, founder of the advocacy group Ex-Muslims of North America, who details how her encounters with militant atheists catalyzed her journey to secularism. Then our narrator, Megan Phelps-Roper, walks us through her story of abandoning the Westboro Baptist Church. Finally, Yasmine Mohammed presents her harrowing account of escaping fundamentalist Islamism and Sam’s role in inspiring her public advocacy work.

We then tackle the concept of belief more broadly, diving into Sam’s understanding of atheism and what sets it apart from the views of other atheist thinkers like Matt Dillahunty and Richard Dawkins. We also revisit an infamous conversation between Sam and Jordan Peterson, wherein they attempt to come to some universal definition of the word “truth.”

The episode concludes with two Q&A portions from life events in which Sam addresses some real concerns about purpose and meaning in the absence of religion.

Author: Richard L. Fricks

Former CPA, attorney, and lifelong wanderer. I'm now a full-time skeptic and part-time novelist. The rest of my time I spend biking, gardening, meditating, photographing, reading, writing, and encouraging others to adopt The Pencil Driven Life.

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