Towards Increasing Non-knowing

January 14, 2013

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

Internet activist, co-creator of RSS, co-founder of Reddit Aaron Swartz kills himself in the midst of prosecutorial pressure after attempting to make freely available the contents of the JSTOR academic archive. 

U.S. District Judge Naomi Reice Buchwald refuses to stop a new regulation in NYC concerning parental consent for metzitzah b'peh circumcisions, which are the ones "involving direct oral suction of the penis" by the rabbi.   

Amanda Marcotte on scientists' limited political options:

Since scientists have no ability to stop Republicans from attacking science, their only real option is to take power away from Republicans by supporting Democrats.     

Dig this: Video of Chris Mooney's really great presentation on The Republican Brain from the 2012 Student Leadership Conference is up. Even if it makes you mad, it's totally compelling.

Struggling to believe in God? Don't worry, David Bryant in The Guardian has some choice circular logic for the justification of faith:

It is only possible to escape from this impasse by re-orienteering our thought forms. Faith is not the progressive unearthing of God's nature but a recognition that he/she is fundamentally unknowable. The signpost points not to growing certainty but towards increasing non-knowing. 

Got it? 

Justin Erik Haldór Smith, meanwhile, has his own struggles with his atheism vs. a different sense of God:

I am sooner an atheist, if what we understand by Christianity is a sort of supernatural monarchism; if we understand by it that God is love, though, then, I say, I am a Christian. 

Robert Blaskiewicz at CSICOP.org warns of the snowballing effect of bad information in the wake of disasters: 

What conspiracy theorists identify as “cover-up” is actually good journalism, and it is helping audiences understand this is something that the media should emphasize. 

Marek Kohn at Aeon looks at how "us vs. them" starts early:

Infants lose the capacity to distinguish individuals regardless of race (in the sense of visible difference); then they gain the capacity to absorb prejudices; and they end up the kind of adults who say ‘They all look the same to me’ as an expression of disdain rather than a statement about perceptual shortcomings. Even without factoring in prejudice, it affirms the lesson on which so much of human history seems to insist: that sympathy for some entails the exclusion of others. 

Talking Points Memo introduces you to the House Anti-Science Committee, also known as the House Science Committee. 

365 Days of Philosophy interviews CFI-UK's Stephen Law for its podcast.

Teacher who had her religious proselytizing paraphernalia removed from her classroom sues. (Oh and she apparently lives in CFI's home town of Amherst, NY.) 

At Skeptical Inquirer, Robert Shaffer looks at the double-edged problem in Pakistan of fraudster faith-healers and the violence to which they are subject from radical Islamists. 

Kimberly Winston covers the distribution of the Jefferson Bible for the Twenty-First Century to DC pols. 

Jennifer Hancock: Humanist parenting's goal is to raise "ethically courageous" children. 

American Academy of Pediatrics study: Alt-med use is on the rise in pediatrics.  

Pat Robertson advises a 17-year-old boy that his parents' lack of closeness is probably because mom is "hard-nosed" and ugly.  

Atheist professor Edward Slingerland of the University of British Columbia begins $3 million research project into religion and morality. 

Citing data from Free Inquiry, columnist in Lockport, NY paper calls for the taxation of politically active churches. 

Suzanne Somers: Newtown shooting may be the result of toxins in household cleaners.

Navy ship flies a Christian flag over Old Glory. 

Lawrence O'Donnell notes that the biggest problem would-be inaugural pastors have is the Bible itself, and that perhaps it is rather misplaced in such a ceremony. I'm starting to think that Mr. O'Donnell (who wrote many latter-day West Wing episodes) may be one of us.

Alexandra Petri at WaPo suggests a rethinking of the whole benediction thing at inauguration. 

To honor a beloved Wyomingite, the Equality State (yes, that's its official nickname) may name the Jackelope its official mythical creature. (h/t Rob Boston)

Virginia State Senator Bill Stanley wants a constitutional amendment to allow students to opt out of learning horrible things like evolution. 

Arizona man jumps into mine shaft to "appease the gods." 

Adam Lee starts a petition in support of feminism and diversity in the skepto-atheosphere. 

Spiritual but not religious? Back away slowly. According to a new study:

SBNRs were found to be significantly more likely to be drug-dependent (77%) and to suffer from phobias (72%) or anxiety (50%). No wonder they’re significantly more likely (40%) than the religious to be being treated with psychotropic drugs. 

Evansville Courier & Press highlights troublesome Bible passages with the help of Derreck Bennett.

This is comforting: Christian Soldier Firearms & Accessories. 

The Revealer: Was the Assad regime good for secularism and protecting religious minorities? 

Hey look! Daniel Dennett's on Twitter! Speaking of which, he tells Edge.org that one thing we ought to worry about and prepare for is some kind of mass Internet outage.

And now, some rhymes about a pre-dinosaurian reptile

Quote of the Day

Atheist Alliance has an update on Alexander Aan, who has some messages for us:

Alex appears to be well, socialising with other prisoners and communicating with the officers. Alex and the visitor discussed recent news related to secularism and atheism and Alex provided a copy of some of his recent notes, including (on the second page)  "I always concern in humanity and science and never come back to Islam", "I need to leave Indonesia quickly" and "I need to be myself".  Alex also thanked his supporters: "Thank (you) for all my friend who support(ed) me all the way". 

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. 

Follow CFI on Twitter: @center4inquiry 

Got a tip for the Heresy? Send it to press(at)centerforinquiry.net! 

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

Comments:

#1 TEarl (Guest) on Monday January 14, 2013 at 10:56am

Others have already mentioned this on Hemant’s page, but I’ll say it here.  The pennant flying above the Ensign in the Navy photo is the church pennant, required to be flown there when religious services are being conducted while in port.  The sailors did nothing wrong.  As an atheist, I’ll agree that they should consider redesigning the pennant, but as a former Naval Officer, I can assure you that it is not a violation of Navy regs.  Times have changed and very few sailors actually attend services on board, but decades ago it was not uncommon for the majority of the crew to attend, and the pennant was flown as a reminder not to come aboard with unimportant business during services.

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