No Bright Line That Can Be Readily Drawn

January 22, 2013

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

The president got himself sworn in once again yesterday (ceremonially, as he was sworn in officially the day before in private), and if you heard the speech and the surrounding to-do, you know that there was at least one really good thing for the reason-based community, and one not-so-good thing.

The not-so-good, man, was that inauguration God-heavy. Lots of biblical-this, scripture-that, God-given-this, we-pray-for-that. David Gibson has more on those themes. (And Cathy-Lynn Grossman reminds us that "so help me God" is an informal add-on to the oath.)

On the plus side, the president made a big stink in his speech about climate change, which surprise almost everybody. He rejected the nonsense about it being a hoax, and made clear that it was a generational responsibility to respond to the reality of the crisis. So that was cool.  

Also: Did you see Joe Biden's Bible? (Look over to the right.) That thing was huge!!! I was afraid he was going to break Sotomayor's foot if he dropped it.

CFI is revving up for the inevitably-awesome Women in Secularism 2 conference in May, and you can save on admission if you register by March 15

(Jason Thibeault will be there, if we let him into the country.) 

Vlad Chituc is skeptical of the whole the-Internet-is-killing-religion idea. 

UK Air Cadets no longer have to swear anything to God. 

The Morning Heresy and others smarter than the Morning Heretic totally bought the Satanists-love-Rick-Scott story. It was a hoax. My face is red. 

Ben Radford takes to Yahoo News to lay out the five most ridiculous hoaxes. Remember Balloon Boy?  

Ben also reviews a book by not-the-guy-who-did-X-Files Chris Carter, which purports to throw cold water on the skeptic movement, and finds it wanting. 

I disagree strongly with this NYT piece about atheism and its intellectual viability. TL;DR: Atheists can't just dismiss religious belief because smart people often believe in religion. Me: Yes we can.

Florida high school student Daniel Koster takes to Friendly Atheist to write about his fight against Bible distribution at his school:

Despite its myriad flaws, I like my school. I want everyone else there to like it, and that means fighting to ensure that everyone is treated fairly. So far, with the support of the secular movement at large, we’re getting there. 

McDonald's settles a lawsuit over alleged false advertising of meeting Islamic dietary requirements

Rebecca Watson looks at the organized skepto-atheist movement, and sees little hope for the cause of ending the harassment of women within its own ranks (but gives CFI kudos at least for the Women in Secularism conferences). 

According to the Texas Freedom Network, some Texas public schools are teaching Biblical notions of race and its origins, which, you know, are not what we'd call "correct" or "non-racist." 

A Brigadier General urges the Army to emphasize alt-med.

A 300-million-year-old piece of alien technology is found in Russia.

CFI On Campus contributor Chris Burke has a four-point plan to help your godless, heathen, infidel club. 

Drunk guys walking away from a car accident blame the aliens

At Token Skeptic, Kylie interviews Ben Goldacre all about bad medicine. 

Mark Oppenheimer at TNR: Worry less about celebrity Scientologists, more about the poor suckers you never heard of trapped inside its organization. 

Most depressing lede of the day, from the AP:

Retired Cardinal Roger Mahony and other top Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles officials maneuvered behind the scenes to shield molester priests, provide damage control for the church and keep parishioners in the dark, according to church personnel files. 

Real astrologers go after those pesky fake ones. Sharon Hill: "TRY NOT TO LAUGH." 

The Skeptically Speaking podcast gets with Scientific American to talk about world changing ideas

Daniel Dennett at Edge.org on a "vision of the brain as a sort of social arena of politically warring forces." (I haven't read it yet, but it's in my Instapaper.) 

Andrew Sullivan highlights a couple of examples of Evangelicals leaving the right

Statue of "Santa Muerte" in Texas cemetery is freaking people out. 

Via InterfaceLIFT, a totally awesome picture of the Orion Nebula for your electronic wallpaper use.

And just because, here's R.E.M.'s "Losing My Religion" in all-major scales

Quote of the Day

Katrina Lantos Swett and M. Zuhdi Jasser of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom pen an op-ed saying that the as we protect religious freedom, that must also include the right not to believe:

. . . in the end, freedom is indivisible. There is no bright line that can be readily drawn in the sand to separate them. [ . . . ] Those who stand unequivocally for other freedoms, including freedoms of speech and press, association and assembly, also must support religious freedom, just as those who stand for the right of believers to follow their conscience must do the same for nonbelievers. 

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 Randy (Guest) on Tuesday January 22, 2013 at 9:13pm

I found Luis Leon’s “benediction” (“speaking well of”) really bigoted.

“bless us with your continued presence because without it…” (i.e. if we’re atheist)

“hatred and arrogance will infect our hearts”
“distrust, prejudice and rancor will rule our hearts”
“suspicion, despair, and fear of those different from us will be our rule of life”
“we will see only what the eye can see” (yes, and?)
“we will only see scarcity in the midst of abundance”

In other words, it was a direct stab at the “good without god” message.

Obama sometimes acknowledges atheists, but this bigotry has got to stop.

#2 Reba Boyd Wooden (Guest) on Wednesday January 23, 2013 at 6:27am

Yes, had to just tune out and try to ignor the religious stuff in order to enjoy the rest.  When will this ever end?

#3 John Kiel (Guest) on Wednesday January 23, 2013 at 11:42am

You’re right Paul, wow, that damn bible IS huuuge; Jill was prolly struggling not to drop it. Any idea what version/year it is?

#4 craig gosling (Guest) on Wednesday January 23, 2013 at 1:40pm

Obama is president of everyone, religious or not, so he gets criticized from both sides. Nevertheless, way down deep, very deep in his intellect, he understands the impossibility of a traditional, supernatural God.

#5 danial (Guest) on Sunday February 10, 2013 at 4:54am

I think Obama is a great leader and has done more for the american people, especially the poor and every day american, than bush, by a long way.

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