Greetings from Glasgow, Please Do Not Enslave Our Species

February 12, 2013

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

Today is, of course, the day that the world asks perhaps the most important existential question that confronts our species: Who would win in a fight, Lincoln or Darwin? Born on the same day in 1809, two of the most consequential humans ever to live could, in some fan-fic universe, have crossed paths, angered each other, and decided to go at it. (Let's be honest, Lincoln would totally start it.) Both were tall men, though Lincoln was taller by about 4 inches. Factor that with his rustic upbringing, which undoubtedly included far more manual labor than this guy ever had to endure, and it looks like a clear win for Honest Abe. But don't count Chuck D out, as his years aboard the Beagle would have toughened him up, dealing with salty sea dogs and whatnot. He may have been more scrappy than we can ever really know.

Anyway.

Tonight the president delivers the State of the Union, and WaPo is reporting that he is also considering some executive orders concerning protections for LGBT Americans, as well as energy and climate policy, among other things. 

At the CFI On Campus blog, "Ibrahim" describes his initiative with CFI-NYC for ex-Muslims and those Muslims who question their faith, the group "Muslim-ish." 

So what happens to Ratzinger once he retires? Andrew Sullivan gathers some answers, and also ponders some more serious possibilities:

What fascinates me is whether he can now be prosecuted for “crimes against humanity” for having enabled and concealed the rape of countless children in an institution under his direct authority – from the moment in 2001 when every single sex abuse case went to his office at the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith to his decision to leave Marcial Maciel alone to keep raping the innocent and continued cover-ups even after the reality had been so brutally exposed. To put it more bluntly: now that he is no longer protected from legal accountability as a head of state, can lawsuits proceed? 

David Gibson rounds up the possible successors to his popey-ness, including New York's Cardinal Dolan. For some reason, David chose to ignore my own bid for the big hat. He will rue.

How happy should you be that Ratzinger is retiring? Michael Nugent counts the ways

Did you used to be religious? Free Inquiry wants to know about your development from theism to nontheism, in a new call for submissions. Details here

Max Tegmark of MIT both laments and charts the conflict between science and religion with a big, crazy, infographic thing...that misspells "Buddhist." 

CFI's Center Stage podcast presents the panel discussion "Does Secular Humanism Have a Political Agenda?" from the 2012 Moving Secularism Forward conference, which featured Razib Khan, Ronald Bailey, Greg Laden, and former US Rep. Pat Schroeder - and man, was it cool to be in the same room as her.    

February 24 marks the 2013 Day of Solidarity for Black Non-Believers

Jessika at the Secular Alliance at Indiana University talks up CFI-Indiana's recent Civic Day, but bemoans the lack of youth participation:

. . . everyone involved in the secular movement plays a party in its success, but why aren’t  many young people getting involved in politics? We are the future, what will happen when these 60 year olds aren’t here any more, will we wait until then to step up and make our voices heard? 

Oh, and here's the Flickr set of photos from the event.

Doubtful News produces an early draft of a media guide to skepticism, which looks really quite handy. 

CNN anchor asks Bill Nye if near-Earth meteors might be caused by global warming, Bill Nye does not drop dead. 

Raina Rhodes in a guest post at Skepchick on our movement's difficulties understanding the struggles of certain groups:

. . . when we become atheists, skeptics, and freethinkers I think we need to understand the concept of culture and identity and how that discarding the explicit beliefs of a particular mindset that there still remains a whole set of assumptions and cultural patterns that you have to consider and discard. How can we expect to change this community and increase diversity if we continue to blind ourselves to the ongoing issues of sex and gender politics, or race, or handicap, or the numerous intersections therein? 

Josh Hunt investigates a haunted orphanage for CSI's Skeptical Briefs

This Sunday at CFI-DC, our own John Shook answers the question, "Who are the 'Nones'?"  

The Clergy Project begins an initiative to assist former clergy who are transitioning out of their church and into a nonreligious life. 

Poll-master Bill Schneider discusses the rise of the nones as a voting bloc, and recounts this exchange:

In the early 1990s, I held a post as visiting professor of American politics at a leading Jesuit university.

One of the perks of that position was an invitation to tea with the cardinal. After we exchanged pleasantries, the cardinal asked, "Is there anything happening in American politics that I should be aware of?"

"As a matter of fact, your eminence, there is," I answered. "Since 1980, religious Americans of all faiths -- fundamentalist Protestants, observant Catholics, even Orthodox Jews -- have been moving toward the Republican Party. At the same time, secular Americans have found a home in the Democratic Party.

"This is something new in American politics," I explained. "We have never had a religious party." Then I went a fateful step further, adding, "I'm a little uncomfortable with the idea of a religious party in this country."

The cardinal pounced. "Well, I'm a little uncomfortable with an irreligious party in this country," he said.

My response: "I think I'll have more tea." 

Jacques Berlinerblau diagnoses the state of organized none-hood:

Whereas evangelicals know who they are, know what their issues are, know who their leaders are, the same cannot be said about the religiously unaffiliated. At present, they are are politically disorganized, lacking in a coherent platform or leadership class, and without any institutional infrastructure. Put in the parlance of social science, they are an aggregate, or a bunch of individuals who simply share a common characteristic (i.e. not being "churched" or linked with an institutional religion), but no more than that 

Bill Frezza at HuffPo struggles to reclaim the word "spiritual" in a way that's meaningful to atheists. 

Asheville, NC city council member (and atheist) Cecil Bothwell releases a Darwin Day proclamation.  

Quote of the Day

The city council of Glasgow is forced by a Freedom of Information request to lay out its plans for possible alien visitors. (Hat tip Sharon Hill.) It had no such plans, but just in case, Dr. Kenneth Meechan says:

Glasgow is of course a vibrant and exciting city for visitors and has been awarded any number of accolades by national and international travel guides. We are sure that any (non-hostile) alien visitors would want to include Glasgow on their list of places to visit, and we can assure them of a warm and peaceful visit.  

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Comments:

#1 Ophelia Benson on Tuesday February 12, 2013 at 12:48pm

CFI’s Center Stage podcast presents the panel discussion “Does Secular Humanism Have a Political Agenda?” from the 2012 Moving Secularism Forward conference, which featured Razib Khan, Ronald Bailey, Greg Laden, and former US Rep. Pat Schroeder - and man, was it cool to be in the same room as her.

Right?

Well guess what: I loitered around after that session ended and when everyone had drifted away from the stage I went over to the table because I thought she’d left her name tag there and sure enough she had and I totally grabbed it.

Bet you wish you’d thought of that!

#2 Griff on Tuesday February 12, 2013 at 3:18pm

Not counting the “Chuck D” (ha, ha) references, I count a paltry two and a half token nods to science, a discipline which, if asked, would likely deny having anything to do with your group and its perverse brand of social science.  Whereas, you’re ALL about science.  News to science, I’m sure.

Anyway, two and a half, because MIT is about technology more so than science.  Let’s be honest.

I love this line from the Media Guide: “Skepticism is a process that uses reason and the tools of science to acquire knowledge.”  In reality, the cyberspace version of skepticism is snark, posturing, and shameless appeal to celebrity (Chuck D, anyone?).  I, for one, am not about to disrespect the real thing (skepticism) by connecting it in any way with the on-line behavior of your crowd. Nothing personal there; just the facts.

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