And Now to Deliver the Opening Invocation, Darth Maul

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
December 11, 2014

The Morning Heresy is your daily digest of news and links relevant to the secular and skeptic communities.      

Yesterday we put out a press release about the joint statement by Fellows of the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry asking the media to stop using the word "skeptic" to describe science deniers like Sen. James Inhofe. And I guess some folks saw it, because we got coverage in ThinkProgressNational JournalSalonUPIRaw StoryAlbany Times-Union, and more. So that's good!

Good for Google, for honoring she of the spectral classification system of stars, as they do a doodle for Annie Jump Cannon (who has perhaps the greatest name of any human ever). 

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A Parallel Excretion of Hype

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
December 10, 2014

The Morning Heresy is your daily digest of news and links relevant to the secular and skeptic communities.      

Time's 2014 Person of the Year, or rather "People," are "the Ebola Fighters." Also, coming next Christmas, Disney pictures presents the first Guardians of the Galaxy/Avengers/Ebola Fighters installment of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Now, to me, personally, it seems that the more appropriate choice for newsworthiness would have been the Ferguson protesters. They certainly had an enormous impact on how we think of the right to free expression right here in the U.S. But hey, I'm all for people fighting Ebola. But really, I'm with David Graham: The whole POTY thing is fun, but not worth taking all that seriously.

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What We Need is a Truly Anti-Darwinian Society

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
December 09, 2014

The Morning Heresy is your daily digest of news and links relevant to the secular and skeptic communities.      

Point of Inquiry this week features CFI's president and CEO, Ron Lindsay, talking about his new book The Necessity of Secularism. How did we manage to get him on the show?!?! By the way, Ron will be speaking at CFI-DC on Sunday.

The Curiosity rover helps scientists determine that Mars may have once been habitable for known forms of life for millions of years, far longer than once thought. Meanwhile, scientists in Prague (which is on Earth) simulate a meteor strike (with a laser!!!) and find that such an impact could have been part of life's origin.

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Social Justice and Humanism: Embracing Pluralism in Value Theory

by David R. Koepsell
December 08, 2014

A Humanist/skeptical approach to ethics does not necessailry lead to moral nihilism or relativism, and a pluralistic approach can help to navigate the shortcomings of moral theory. We live in a society, and the institutions we are involved in generally assume that there is a good, that we strive toward it, and that we are responsible to each other. A pluralistic approach to ethics and social justice suggests that we can productively work toward the good even while we lack certainty about its objects.

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“Rosewater”—and Personal Anecdotes of Iran

Investigative Briefs with Joe Nickell
December 08, 2014

Based on the true story of an Iranian-born journalist named Bahari, Rosewater marks Jon Stewart's directorial debut. It is the comedian's stark drama of Bahari’s arrest for his courageous broadcast journalism. In 2009, Iranian president Ahmadinejad declared victory in his election hours before the polls had closed. In response Bahari bravely submitted camera footage to the BBC showing the unfolding street riots. After his arrest by Revolutionary Guard police, an interrogator identified as “Rosewater” tortured and interrogated him for 118 days. Rather than my adding to the many critiques of this film (I do give it a 3 on a 4-point scale), I thought I would instead share impressions of my own experiences in Iran in a contrastingly different time—some incidents showing the more favorable behaviors of many ordinary Iranians.

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Legacy Atheist Bans in State Constitutions a Long Recognized Problem

Advocatus Diaboli with Tom Flynn
December 08, 2014

Todd Stiefel and the Openly Secular project have announced a bold plan to lobby legislators to repeal unconstitutional "legacy" language in seven states' constitutions that bars atheists from holding public office. It bespeaks the growing prominence of unbelievers and "nones" in public discourse that someone now imagines that these unenforceable, but repellent, constitutional provisions might finally be swept away. The unbelieving community has long recognized that these hateful provisions exist, and that they are problematic. What is new, and welcome, is the possibility that our community finally has the muscle to demand that something be done about them.

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Agnostics and Atheists in the Asylum

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
December 08, 2014

The Morning Heresy is your daily digest of news and links relevant to the secular and skeptic communities.      

Richard Cimino and Christopher Smith at Salon examine the idea of secularism as a political identity, cites heavily both current and former CFI folks, highlights the African Americans for Humanism 2012 campaign, and calls our org "influential," which warmed my frozen heart on this cold Monday in Maine. 

Don't forget to check out the latest Cause & Effect, our newsletter, to catch up on why CFI is so awesome to begin with. 

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Humanists Should be Christians, Argues New THEOS Report

The Outer Limits with Stephen Law
December 08, 2014

Atheists 'saw off the branch on which Humanism sits', argue the authors of a report by Theos, Britain's leading religious think tank. The Case for Christian Humanism argues we atheist humanists should be Christians (2,800 words).

POSTSCRIPT: THEOS respond directly to my post below here.

 

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Seeing “The Theory of Everything”

Investigative Briefs with Joe Nickell
December 05, 2014

This is not one of my Nickell-odeon reviews: Having seen this first-rate movie, I was first speechless, then moved to write the following poem.

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What’s wrong with Young Earth Creationism? (part 3 of 3) The strange case of the car-stealing elves.

The Outer Limits with Stephen Law
December 05, 2014

A final post on Young Earth Creationism. So when is your theory strongly confirmed? And when are you justified in believing elves stole your car?

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