Atheism Times Infinity

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. The peer reviewers who evaluate papers before journals commit to publishing them are much worse at spotting mistakes than they or others appreciate. Professional pressure, competition and ambition push scientists to publish more quickly than would be wise. A career structure which lays great stress on publishing copious papers exacerbates all these problems.  

The CFI Summit is this week! And remember how Point of Inquiry just got new hosts? Well, they're going to be there, doing a live show! And because we love you (in a respectful, platonic way), CFI has finagled it so that you can still get the special discounted hotel rate for the CFI Summit (details here). 

Neil deGrasse Tyson is coming to speak to CFI-Michigan and Grand Valley State University November 13! 

Billy Graham (or whoever is doing his writing for him these days) tells us, "the Bible . . . says atheists are foolish because God has done everything possible to reveal himself to us." Sounds to me like God isn't trying nearly hard enough.

Baptist pastor Dr. Mark Ross discovers a prejudice:

I am bigoted. I associate faith with virtue. Believers always do good things. However, accounts of abuse by clergy should erase that fantasy. I also associate lack of faith with lack of virtue. That is wrong.  

Peru reopens its UFO-research agency, saying that if you "observe seemingly unconventional phenomena, which cause surprise or concern, know that there is an institution that will study and research your information." 

Goldfish crackers introduce a new flavor which I assume is aimed at the atheist market: Baby. 

The New Republic profiles the quackery-battling work of Dr. Paul Offit

A study by the religious research group Theos suggests that Britain is not becoming more atheistic, but more "spiritual." 

For a group of investigators, a fascination with cryptids evolves into an interest in re-investigating cold cases

LDS-owned Deseret News offers the administration vague recommendations in the service of "religious liberty." Our own Michael De Dora bristles at its characterization of the American Family Association as a "mainstream" Christian organization.

Peter Boghossian releases his new bookA Manual for Creating Atheists. I am told this is not about genetically engineering babies to be nonbelievers, but I may give it a shot anyway.

The Netherlands court rules Scientology a tax-exempt charitable organization, reversing a lower court's decision. 

A single proto-human skull is causing a huge reconsideration of the connections between species within the genus Homo. Georgia National Museum director David Lordkipanidze points out: "Danny DeVito, Michael Jordan and Shaquille O’Neal are the same species." Yes, but everyone knows that DeVito and Arnold Schwarzenegger are twins.

Phil Zuckerman scores in a debate on Christianity versus secular humanism with a Christian writer, and the hosting church will not release the video. Zuckerman:

[W]hat they've done is post a series of rebuttals to the debate -- refutations and criticisms. But they won't post the actual debate. And they've disabled my ability to even comment on their posted refutations. 

The Guardian profiles David Birnbaum, the jewel trader turned existential guru who purports to have "cracked the cosmic code." 

CFI board chair Eddie Tabash went to Florida to help secularize the place. Watch him debate Christian activist Tom Trento here

Robert Long at The American Conservative looks at the theological views of novelist Marilynne Robinson, who gets high praise from the left and the right:

As Robinson writes in When I Was a Child, Jesus does not say, “I was hungry and you fed me, though not in such a way as to interfere with free-market principles.” 

Brent Spiner toys with his own Data-esque faith: "I'm thinking of starting a new religion. The basic premise is Atheism times Infinity." 

Singularitarian-in-chief Ray Kurzweil explains to Maclean's how humans are approaching something akin to immortality

Speaking of "bio-hacking," how'd you like these guys plugging things into your organs

I'm not entirely sure this is a good thing, but Oasis's Noel Gallagher is apparently no fan of religion, as revealed in a grouchy and weird GQ interview:

Who would you ban? 

The root of all that is bad in the world. All religious and political preachers.

Isn't your wife religious?

She has been known to attend church.

That's one of the first signs.

I've never seen her do it. But you know when you see these people standing on soapboxes banging on about religion or politics, or worse - when they're combining the f***ing two? Really? If you're thinking that anything written in a book 2,000 years old bears any relevance to anything these days...

Ronald Goldman makes the case that opposition to circumcision is not a rejection of religious liberty:

Jews have been circumcising their sons for thousands of years, but this does not justify or reduce the harm. It perpetuates it.  

Runner-up Quote of the Day: Rob Boston on Twitter:

Gay people can get married in N.J. starting today. Tsunami, earthquake and Godzilla attack believed imminent. 

Quote of the Day

Letter to the editor at the New York Times by Grant Hicks, responding to T.M. Luhrman's use of the "no atheists in foxholes" cliché, among other offenses:

[I]t is a slur on every atheist, not just (although particularly) on the many who have served their country honorably in battle.

The implication — that atheists are all really theists at heart, our convictions casually and shallowly held and easily abandoned in the face of adversity — is simply untrue. I’ve never been in a foxhole, but I did once sit in a hospital waiting room while a surgeon explained that my young son had a life-threatening and possibly inoperable brain tumor.

I did not pray then, or since.    

* * *  

Linking to a story or webpage does not imply endorsement by Paul or CFI. Not every use of quotation marks is ironic or sarcastic, but it often is. 

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The Morning Heresy: "I actually read it." - Hemant Mehta

Comments:

#1 Tim P. Farley on Monday October 21, 2013 at 7:24am

It is perhaps worth noting that in that same interview, Noel Gallagher comes out against all works of fiction. All written fiction.

#2 Paul the Morning Heretic on Monday October 21, 2013 at 8:38am

Sigh.

#3 aminfidel on Monday October 21, 2013 at 3:24pm

as to Barney Frank; Thomas Jefferson and man, many other did not proclaim their atheism/deism/agnosticism etc., because they knew it would mean the end of their political careers.
    Pete Stark, the first out atheist in US congressional history came out when he was at the end of his career, but he’s still a hero, to my mind.
    and now Krysten Sinema in Arizona may turn out to be the first person with guts enough to hold on to her atheism (i don’t know her exact stance) and make a run for US Congress.  i will give her all the support i can if she decides to go for it.

#4 aminfidel on Monday October 21, 2013 at 3:46pm

f***!
    now i see i should have fact checked first, before posting. duh!  sorry!
    Sinema is already a US Rep., and has distanced herself form the tag “atheist”.
    pleas forgive my b.s.

#5 Randy (Guest) on Monday October 21, 2013 at 7:04pm

Re: Kurzweil…

“humans are approaching something akin to immortality” and yet we die in greater numbers than ever before.  What happens if people stop dying? 

“It’ll be a billion times more powerful, and will be the size of a blood cell…. ” and it will be hackable.  Ask Dick Cheney about a hackable body.

“We are smarter already.”  Do I need to say anything?

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