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FROM THIS EPISODE

Is the renewed influence of religion in public life a threat to reason and science? That's the conviction of some nonbelievers aggressively advocating Atheism. We hear the latest version of an ancient argument in the US, where Atheists have less credibility than anyone else. Plus, Mexico swears in its new President amidst a slug-fest, and a conversation about Hugo Chavez. Dictator out of control or secular saint?

Producers:
Frances Anderton
Katie Cooper
Christian Bordal

Main Topic Are Atheists Evangelizing against God?

Three hundred years after the Age of Enlightenment began some nonbelievers are worried that reason is losing out to religion. Their concern has provoked what's called a New Atheism movement. Proponents, who see the growing influence of religion in public life as an attack on reason and science, are fighting back with an intellectual movement that has produced several best-selling books. At the same time, surveys show that Atheists are America's least trusted people, and critics accuse them of being fundamentalists in their own right. Does religion foster ignorance and lead to violence and war?  Can human society survive without it?

Guests:
Richard Dawkins, Professor of the Science of Public Understanding at Oxford
Francisco Ayala, Professor of Evolutionary Biology at UC Irvine
Bob Edgar, General Secretary of the National Council of Churches
Penny Edgell, Director of Graduate Studies in Sociology at the University of Minnesota

Reporter's Notebook Venezuela's Hugo Chavez, Saint or Dictator?

A new president was sworn into office today in Mexico, after much uncertainty after a disputed election. On Sunday, President Hugo Chavez is running for re-election in Venezuela. Reviled in the United States, but in his own country Chavez arouses passion in supporters as well as opponents. What are the chances of the man who called President Bush "the devil" in a speech to the United Nation?

Guests:
Guy Taylor, International Editor for World Politics Watch

Making News Mexico's Lawmakers Stage 'Lucha Libre' on the Congressional Dais

Felipe Calderón took the oath of office as President of Mexico today amid jeers and whistles from opposing factions in Congress. For three days, his elected friends and enemies have assaulted one another with soft-drink cans, pizza boxes--and punches--in the Congressional chamber.

Guests:
Hector Tobar, author and journalist

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