The Serpent of Obscurantism

November 4, 2013

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

CFI's International Program Director Bill Cooke guest-posts at Butterflies & Wheels on the fantastic work being done by George Ongere and CFI-Kenya to help get orphan students the educations they need.

Ireland's Constitutional Convention recommends nixing the 2009 blasphemy law, though replacing it with a measure against "incitement to religious hatred," whatever that means. Members of Atheist Ireland delivered speeches on the subject.

Maine gubernatorial candidate Rep. Mike Michaud comes out as gay in an op-ed, in order to end whisper campaigns and rumors.

No matter who becomes mayor of New York, religion is about to get a little cozier with the city

Move over, militant New Atheists. Deepak Chopra opines now against "militant skeptics"! You believe in facts too much! 

Here comes Anti-Claus! Council for Secular Humanism chief Tom Flynn is starting a lecture tour of the Southwest beginning November 11 in Oklahoma City.

New York Times weighs in on the Supreme Court legislative prayer case Greece v. Galloway, and by "weighs in" I mean "says nothing much one way or the other." CNN, meanwhile, profiles one woman at the center of the case, atheist Linda Stephens.

Guerrilla Wikipedian Susan Gerbic rounds up her impressions of the CFI Summit. She has a huge swath of photos from the event here.

This cannot be a pleasant task: Tim Farley is putting in great effort to round up conference-related audio at Lanyrd.com, including this batch from the 2011 CSICon

Tara Isabella Burton at The Atlantic endorses the study of theology, even for those who don't believe. 

Carrie Poppy spends some time with the 9/11 truthers:

“I twittered at Tom Hanks,” [truther] Abel says, “and asked him why he isn’t calling out Hollywood for covering up 9/11. Now his eight hundred thousand followers will all see my message!”

The room breaks into applause. Several people tell him he did a good job. A small voice from the back asks, “What’s Twitter?” 

Jailed Pussy Riot member Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, after being moved to a new prison, goes mysteriously unheard from

Father Robert Barron checkmates atheists with this convenient get-out-of-evidence-free card for God:

[T]he physical sciences, no matter how advanced they might become, can never eliminate God, for God is not a being within the natural order. Instead, he is the reason why there is that nexus of conditioned causes that we call nature — at all. 

Speaking of a convenient out for God, Rhys Southan guesses at why all these near-death-experiences, popular in the media, are so contradictory:

Maybe God shows every visitor different heavens and tells them to write about these conflicting characters, activities, and landscapes because he’s up to his old mysteriousness business. Does God want to hint to us that heaven is really real, while teasing our craving for evidence by sending us garbled, contradictory messages about what’s actually there – forcing us to rely on faith again after all? Oh God, you sneaky devil you. 

This Saturday, CFI-DC celebrates its 7th anniversary with Rebecca Goldstein. 

Lee Speigel at HuffPo: More drone attacks means more UFO "sightings." 

The whole flap over yoga-as-religion in public school resurfaces, as the original plaintiffs appeal

Sam Harris shudders at video of an Islamic "peace conference":

The serpent of obscurantism has finally begun to devour its own tail. Apparently, it is a sign of racism to imagine that only a tiny minority of Muslims could actually condone the subjugation of women and the murder of apostates.  

Hussein Kesvani describes the extreme difficulty in leaving Islam for British ex-Muslims. 

The Vatican starts polling its flock on hot-button social issues. 

Looks like the Christians are stealing some good ideas from us: Church in the Pub

Pseudohistorian David Barton is being urged to run for the U.S. Senate in Texas. Great. 

Quote of the Day

I can't stand SNL, but here's a pretty relevant sketch in which Obama supporters ask what it would take to get them to stop supporting the president:

Thompson
: [What if Obama converts to] Scientology?

Washington
: … All hail Xenu, my thetan brother.

Thompson
: What about Orthodox Judaism, where he wears the hat, the long coat, and everything?

Pharoah
: The coat and everything? I mean, he’d just look like he was in Run–D.M.C. So that’s cool, you know. That’s fine.

Thompson:
Right, right… well, what if he becomes an atheist?

Washington
: Mm-mmm! No no, no no no. I do not think I could trust a godless man!

Thompson: So does he lose your support?

Washington: He does not.      

* * *  

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