Blog Archives for October 2013

The Right to Be Confused

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
October 31, 2013

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

Happy All Hallows' Eve, everyone! Don't get into any mischief tonight, or the Morning Heretic's boy, donning the guise of the Dark Knight, will have to set you straight. (The Heretic's daughter, meanwhile, will be a cute piggie, and likely not crime-fighting, or even aware that she's wearing a costume.)

If Tom Flynn were a vampire or a werewolf (and who can say, really), and there was only one way to kill him, this might be it: "The Humanist Ten Commandments"

Piercarlo Valdesolo looks at the power of belief in things like Satan and the notion of "pure evil."

What if They Gave a War of the Worlds and Nobody Came?

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
October 30, 2013

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

Huge: Hamza Kashgari, imprisoned for the past two years by Saudi Arabia for tweeting about the human aspects of Muhammed, has been released. Kashgari is a focus of our Campaign for Free Expression.

Meanwhile, an atheist in Egypt is reportedly under investigation for starting a Facebook atheism group. 

Former CFI intern Monica Harmsen has produced this great promotional video for the Living without Religion campaign with the folks at CFI-Michigan. 

CFI legal director Nick Little is quoted in this Reuters piece on Internet psychic scammers. 

The Heart and Liver of a Muscovy Duck

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
October 29, 2013

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

Your Morning Heretic has been soaking up the skepto-atheism at the CFI Summit in Tacoma, which was a truly excellent and enlightening event (if for no other reason getting to witness the rebirth of Point of Inquiry, which is largely responsible for getting me into the movement back in Olden Times™). Yesterday, I was recovering from a time-zone-shifting redeye. Hopefully, nothing all that interesting happened outside the conference.

One theme that came up a couple of times at the Summit was the desire for CFI to make more noise about its international program, headed by Bill Cooke. Ophelia Benson makes this point. No argument here, as a lot of that activity is a little under the radar. If you're interested in international activism, don't forget our Office of Public Policy's Campaign for Free Expression and our UN work. 

Major Newsweek piece covers the loss of tax revenue to churches in the U.S., citing data from the groundbreaking study in our own Free Inquiry.

Don’t Get Atheism in the Soup!

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
October 24, 2013

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

What time is it? Is it still morning, technically? Well, it is somewhere -- specifically on the West Coast, an alien land to the Morning Heretic, who awakens to find himself in Tacoma for the start of the CFI Summit! And what do you know, here's an awesome piece on the Summit by Steve Maynard at the News Tribune

That's not all, of course. At Newsday, there's coverage of CFI's opposition to the use of a public library on Long Island for the commercial promotion of a fake psychic. 

And! And! CFI-DC announced that February 1, 2014 is the date for the next African Americans for Humanism regional conference!

More Off-Putting Than Hasselbeck!

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
October 23, 2013

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

The CFI Summit starts tomorrow, where humanists and skeptics will gather to solve all world problems. <listens to earpiece> I'm sorry? <pause> Ah. I'm now being told that this is not true. But I think we ought to at least give it a shot.

CFI-Michigan's Jennifer Beahan, our shining media darling lately, is a guest on WKAR radio to talk about our Living without Religion campaign and the mission of CFI. 

Ali A. Rizvi's posts are always must-read, and he's done it again, this time trying to lend comfort to a grieving friend through the perspective of the nonbeliever. 

Anti-vaxxer Jenny McCarthy might be rejected by The View's own immune system...

Not the Genetic Mutagen We Thought it Was

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
October 22, 2013

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

Today is a big day for my own religion, the Cult of Apple, in which the prophet Tim Cook, emissary of The Steve (peace be upon him), reveals the latest Holy Gadgets of Loveliness. It seems as of this moment that the Apple online store is down...it's a sign!!! Steve be praised.

CSI Fellow Mark Boslough uses a metaphor involving a child's blocks to help us understand why we are really in trouble with global warming, no matter the small fluctuations:

Not knowing exactly how energy is "partitioned" into its various forms at any given time is like not knowing how much melting an asteroid will cause, how small the pieces will be when a boiler explodes, how the victims of a drunk driver will die, or how many minutes it will take for the Titanic to sink. 

CFI expresses its disappointment with a Long Island-area public library that hosted a psychic's event, serving mainly as a commercial platform for fake paranormal services. 

Atheism Times Infinity

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
October 21, 2013

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

Hemant is not so sure about AHA's choice of Barney Frank as "humanist of the year":

Barney Frank came out as an atheist only after he left office, and he did it in a passive manner on the segment of [Bill] Maher’s show that most of his viewers never even saw. For 32 years, Frank’s official religious affiliation was “Jewish,” but he kinda-sorta-wishy-washily came out as an atheist only after it was too late to have made a serious impact on society. 

The Economist reports, troublingly, that science as a discipline may be getting, well, sloppy:

Various factors contribute to the problem. Statistical mistakes are widespread. . . .

5 Comments

Hitler and Satan Ruin Your Coffee

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
October 18, 2013

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

Point of Inquiry has a new team! Yesterday we announced two new hosts: Lindsay Beyerstein and Josh Zepps, and producer Joshua Billingsley. Completely awesome.

CFI-Michigan makes the news again with the Living without Religion campaign, this time hitting the Detroit Free Press and by extension USA TodayAnother piece from Calvin College's paper in Grand Rapids goes further into the mission of CFI. 

Ken Ham of Answers in Genesis considers our campaign, and seems to think we're in trouble...

I Am Not Shake-and-Bake

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
October 17, 2013

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

The shutdown is over, but not before the House stenographer began shouting from the dais about how the Freemasons wrote the Constitution, who were "against God," and how "You cannot serve two masters."

The State Department's religious freedom ambassador, Suzan Johnson Cook, resigns.

The great Eye of Google maps the Galapagos.

One Big Buzzkill

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
October 16, 2013

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

Tibor Krausz at Killing the Buddha rants against what he sees as the pig-headed arrogance of his fellow atheists:

Any self-respecting nonbelievers should champion a rational view of the world where informed decisions are based on empirical evidence, progressive morality and simple common sense, yes. But they also ought to try and live up to the exacting ethical standards that Enlightenment values entail — or, for that matter, to standards of morality that several liberal schools of religious thought require of the faithful. 

Yesterday, CFI announced the winners of our Twitter contest for International Blasphemy Rights Day. Congrats to @SkepticalPoet, @marit_rogne, and @krow9768 (who also have real names).

Malaysia v. Amazing Mumford

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
October 15, 2013

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

Bill Nye talks to the Tacoma News Tribune for a front-page interview about the CFI Summit

Q: How does the Center for Inquiry fit with your own beliefs?

A: Extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof. We want everybody in the world to be aware of that message. … The Earth is round. The universe is not only expanding, it’s accelerating. … These are extraordinary things, and they can be proven. When someone says I can determine your personality by the date of your birth, that can be shown to be absolutely not true in any way.

At Discovery News, our own Ron Lindsay casts doubt on the recent Jesus-as-hoax claims:

The reality is we are unlikely ever to know the ‘facts’ about Jesus . . . On the one hand, we have many who will take things on faith, accepting some subset of the stories as unquestionably true. On the other hand, there are those who insist that Jesus is an invented figure, a myth or a hoax. I think both of these extremes are almost equally implausible. 

2 Comments

Your Sense of Humor is Based on a Brain Limitation

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
October 14, 2013

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

Last week religious conservatives gathered for the Values Voters Summit, where among other things, Rand Paul decried a global war on Christianity, and Allen West took exception to CFI's Living without Religion ad campaign (video here, around the 12 minute mark or so):

When you look at the growth of secular humanism -- I was over at the McPherson Square Metro station just two days ago, and there was an advertisement that said "Millions of Americans are happy without religion." [sic] That may be true. But millions of Americans would not have enjoyed the freedoms and liberties if it weren't for people that had religion. [Crowd applauds.] 

I am officially scared of Blemmyae, and so were people of the Middle Ages, apparently. (They were scared of a lot of things.)

iCloud Communion

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
October 11, 2013

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

I can't believe I missed this when it first hit the web: Malala Yousafzai goes on The Daily Show and humbles everyone.

Bill Nye, keynoter of the CFI Summit this month, is launching a non-dance-related web series with NASA on its Juno probe of Jupiter. 

Rabbis are kidnapping husbands who won't consent to divorce with their wives. 

A Community of Galactic Civilizations

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
October 10, 2013

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

Defeated former congressman Allen West is none too impressed by our Living Happily Without Religion campaign, and took to Facebook to tell us all why:

America has a Judeo-Christian faith heritage and promotes the free exercise of religion. However, it has been my experience in life that people who possess no deep faith are not happy. 

Hemant shakes his head:

I would urge you all to let West know that atheists and others without “deep faith” are perfectly happy without God… but I don’t think he’s capable of changing his mind no matter what the evidence says. 

Paul Thornton, letters editor at the LA Timeslays down the law on science-denial: If you send in a letter about how climate change is a hoax, you're not getting published, because it's not true.

1 Comment

Fear My Fanfic!

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
October 09, 2013

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

Claudia Dreifus interviews Bill and Melinda Gates for NYT, and it's really quite interesting, but she clearly doesn't understand what Richard Dawkins means about "the selfish gene":

Bill Gates: I gave [Warren Buffett] a copy of “The Theory of Moral Sentiments,” which is the Adam Smith book that predates “The Wealth of Nations.” It’s got the idea that generosity is sort of this inherent characteristic of mankind.

C.D.: So you don’t hold with Richard Dawkins about the “selfish gene”?

B.G.: Well, I believe in most things Richard Dawkins says. 

Adam Frank discusses one of the ways the shutdown harms science, the loss of ability for students at all levels to train. "In science, you don't get to skip a generation."

You’re Looking At Me As Though I’m Weird

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
October 08, 2013

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

Peter Higgs (of boson fame) and François Englert win the Nobel Prize in Physics.

Meanwhile, Alexander Aan, the persecuted and imprisoned atheist of Indonesia, is among those the Guardian offers up as a possible Nobel Peace Prize winner (and you can vote for him in their poll). 

Prepare to have your mind blown by the utter sincerity with which Justice Antonin Scalia believes in the Devil. This interview with New York Magazine is a freaking doozy:

I mean, c’mon, that’s the explanation for why there’s not demonic possession all over the place. That always puzzled me. What happened to the Devil, you know? He used to be all over the place. He used to be all over the New Testament. . . . He got wilier . . . You’re looking at me as though I’m weird.

The Science of Keyboard Cat

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
October 07, 2013

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

Persecuted Egyptian atheist Alber Saber, though away from his home country as he struggles for justice, is nonetheless a proud papa. Welcome, Hypatia Alber Saber!

Politico runs a report largely critical of vouchers (aka, taxpayer funding for private and religious schools). I know, I'm surprised too. They quote secular wunderkind Zack Kopplin:

Nationwide, many schools participating in voucher programs infuse religion through their curriculum. Zack Kopplin, a student activist who favors rigorous science education, has found more than 300 voucher schools across the U.S. that teach the biblical story of creation as science; some also instruct children that the world is just several thousand years old and use textbooks describing the Loch Ness Monster as a living dinosaur. Parents at one such school in Louisiana received a newsletter calling secular scientists “sinful men.”

Put This in Your Pipe for Separation of Church and State

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
October 04, 2013

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

Now how cool is this?! MLive expands on its coverage of the CFI Living without Religion campaign with short video interviews of some of the folks at CFI-Michigan, who talk about how they find meaning and purpose.

Some folks are surprised to find the body of Christ in their burger

Brian Pellot rounds up some other blasphemous examples that have been attacked by believers. 

Scalia opens mouth, makes secularists die a little inside...

1 Comment

Armies of Pestilence

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
October 03, 2013

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

Arab League member states collaborate on drafting a blasphemy law that expands jurisdiction to blasphemy practiced outside national borders. Living in Opposite Land, one official said:

The law does not interfere in any way with the freedom of opinion and expression which is well protected and guaranteed.    

Jim Downard in Spokane alerts his community that the godless are coming! Of course I'm referring to the CFI Summit this month!

And hey, remember that big ARIS survey about secular, religious, and spiritual college students? Well, at the Summit, Barry Kosmin will drop more new data, this time focusing specifically on we seculars. I can't wait! 

2 Comments

Proselytism is Solemn Nonsense

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
October 02, 2013

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

Elise Hilton at the religious-conservative organization Acton Institute respectfully questions the new CFI Living without Religion campaign, and still concludes, "Believers and non-believers have much in common, and much to discuss."   

Popes John Paul II and John XXIII will be magically turned into saints on on April 27, 2014. 

The current pope is still generating good copy, for example:

Proselytism is solemn nonsense, it makes no sense. We need to get to know each other, listen to each other and improve our knowledge of the world around us. Sometimes after a meeting I want to arrange another one because new ideas are born and I discover new needs. This is important: to get to know people, listen, expand the circle of ideas. 

2 Comments

Atheists Don’t Steal Danish Bicycles

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
October 01, 2013

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

The government may be shut down, but luckily, heresy does not depend on public funds.  

Yesterday was International Blasphemy Rights Day, and I was proud to watch as CFI's Michael De Dora did a live Google Hangout interview with persecuted atheist Kacem El Ghazzali of Morocco. (Alber Saber was supposed to be there, too, but his connection failed. We plan to have him back.) Skim past the technical troubles in the first few minutes, and then it's a great interview with a fascinating guy.  

Also yesterday we launched the Living without Religion campaign, and people seem really excited about it. I know we are! Tweets are coming in that eloquently tell how you guys live happy, fulfilling lives #withoutreligion, and I encourage you to keep it up. If you live in or near DC, NYC, Grand Rapids/Detroit, or Indianapolis, keep your eyes out for the ads, like this one in Michigan!