The Science of Keyboard Cat

October 7, 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.”

Check out my interview with Zack about his activism at the CFI Summit site

Living Without Religion billboards are getting a lot of attention in Michigan! We have coverage from the AP, the Kalamazoo/Grand Rapids CBS affiliate, the Detroit CBS affiliate, and MLive in Kalamazoo

Brandon Withrow highlights both the CFI-ARIS study on the beliefs of college students and CFI's Campaign for Free Expression in a piece on young Americans' estrangement from religious belief, but interest in its study.

Science gets some dogs to step into an MRI to look at their brains. According to Gregory Berns, their brains are "lighting up" in ways that make it seem like they have experiences similar to humans:

The ability to experience positive emotions, like love and attachment, would mean that dogs have a level of sentience comparable to that of a human child. And this ability suggests a rethinking of how we treat dogs. 

LDS's President Dieter F. Uchtdorf goes easy on Mormon doubters in a big speech. 

Josh Zepps interviews megapastor Joel Osteen who says God "absolutely accepts homosexuals." 

Supreme Court justices attend Red Mass, and hear a diatribe against partisanship and incivility. From the Catholic Church. Sigh. 

A new web video series looks to explore the science behind FAIL videos. What about the science that explains Keyboard Cat?!?! Checkmate, atheists! 

This might actually be a good Yahoo Answers question: "It it possible to purchase blasphemy insurance?

A Pakistani man's family turns on him and turns him in for allegedly desecrating a Quran. 

On Fox & Friends (I know, I'm sorry), a physician and her allegedly-atheist husband believe they are communicating with their dead son

Sally Quinn sees atheists becoming more of a political factor, but note this bit when she sough comment from the Terry McAuliffe campaign about getting an "A" from the Secular Coalition:

“It’s not something we really . . . ,” trailed off Josh Schwerin from McAuliffe’s office. He later e-mailed, “Declining to comment.” 

I live right next to the border of a town called Biddeford in Maine, where the ACLU is coming after the school district for allowing Christian assemblies from a group called "Life Choices."  

Jen Hancock on how a humanist handles the inevitability of death:

I have very little expectation I will be remembered past a few generations, unless of course my books outlive me and people still find value in my writing. In that way I suppose I could attain some immortality. As an experiment I encourage you all to go out and buy my books and share them with others.

My stint at the Religion Newswriters Conference atheist breakfast with a bunch of other freethought leaders has now been iTunes'd.  

Article from The Western Center for Journalism blames "atheists" for the vandalization of a Tennessee church, though all the reported examples are those of Satanists (or dumbasses pretending to be).  

Rev. Ed Rees (who doesn't "mean to be derogatory") is skeptical of atheist Sunday Assemblies:

How long before the pursuit of better living, frequent helping and more wondering is derailed by arguments about the color of the carpet in the assembly hall? . . . What this group fails to grasp . . . is that all the perceived benefits of church life mentioned above are not the essence of church, but a happy by-product.  

Quote of the Day

Rep. Bill Enyart, a military veteran, is the lone vote opposing a bill allowing military chaplains to minister on Sunday, despite the shutdown, saying:

I am not going to vote for any more bills designed to allow people to hide behind the flag – or the cross. 

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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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