Vigorously Not Cooperating

December 19, 2013

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

Persecuted Indian skeptic leader Sanal Edamaruku launches a new international magazine, Rationalist.

Speaking of launches, European Space Agency launches Gaia, a space telescope fitted with a billion-pixel camera, to construct a three-dimensional map of the galaxy. 

And speaking of incredible images, io9 rounds up the the most awe-inspiring science images of 2013. 

Jim Underdown of CFI-LA gets a letter to the LA Times published about the Mt. Soledad Cross:

Replace the cross with a giant star of David, statue of Buddha or star and crescent, and see how Christians feel living under someone else's religious symbol.

The LA Times itself is pretty clear: "Take it down." 

David Morrison, John R. Mashey, and Mark Boslough offer a special report in Skeptical Inquirer on the question of whether global warming has stopped. (Can you guess?) 

According to a Harris online poll (grains of salt necessary), belief in God has gone down a notch or so from just a few years ago. And as for self-identification:

Nearly one-fourth of Americans (23%) identify themselves as "not at all" religious - a figure that has nearly doubled since 2007, when it was at 12%. 

CFI-Michigan group in Muskegon will hold a Cafe Inquiry discussion tonight all about Santa, which gets the attention of MLive

Bishop R. Daniel Conlon bristles at NYT at its editorial on the pope's tack on child sex abuse, saying, "the church has been responding vigorously to this crisis for years." Well, yes: vigorously denying, vigorously obstructing, etc.

And speaking of which! St. Paul police chief Tom Smith is making sure you know that the Twin Cities archdiocese is vigorously not cooperating with the investigation into sexual abuse charges made against Archbishop John Nienstedt.

Ben Radford on what is up with so-called spontaneous human combustion:

[I]f some natural (but unknown) mechanism causes the combustion, why would it only occur in humans? Why wouldn't cows, dogs, elephants, birds or other animals suddenly, randomly and inexplicably explode in a ball of flames now and then? Even if the phenomenon is incredibly rare, with billions of animals on the planet, statistically we should expect to see thousands of them exploding every day all around us. 

NJ police are looking for the jerks who set fire to FFRF's "Saturn in Saturnalia" billboard. (And hey, thanks, Raw Story, for that stock image of a cigarette lighter, without which I would not have been able to visualize what fire looks like.)

NBC is picking up on History Channel's Bible miniseries with a big ol' 12-hour post-crucifixion Jesuspalooza

Pastor Rick Henderson says atheists have no choice but to "reject objective meaning and morality" and must at best see morality as a "mass delusion." Sounds legit.  

And yeah, some atheists are jerks

I'll be on Wisconsin Public Radio's Joy Cardin Show tomorrow morning at 8am ET to talk about you angry atheists and your prospects for becoming presidents and senators and whatnot. 

Quote of the Day

Ariane Sharine (of "There's Probably No God" UK bus ad fame), who has a new (free) book on giving, explains why it's okay if you have ulterior motives with your altruism:

Some atheists would go as far as to say that atheists are actually more altruistic than religious people, because we aren't doing good things for any reward. This isn't true either, because doing good things always results in a reward. I'm not talking about heaven here, but rather research from Harvard in 2009, which shows that giving to others makes one happier. There can, of course, also be other motives for giving, such as trying to impress others or prove your own self-worth. 

But this doesn't matter; what matters is the outcome of your actions. Whether you run a marathon for charity because you want to impress your girlfriend, because you want to get fitter, because you like the challenge, or for the 'right' reason (because it's a kind thing to do for others), the charity will still benefit.  

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