Pastors of the Dead in Comfortable Chairs

March 28, 2013

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

Yesterday, I called CFI-Indiana's chief Reba Boyd Wooden a "media darling" for appearing so frequently on local news and whatnot. And let me tell you, I am thrilled whenever that happens because she does such a great job representing CFI and what we stand for. Well, I have to assume that the press in Indiana agreed with me, because she was unavoidable on Indiana media yesterday. The state is on the cusp of passing an extremely restrictive and punitive anti-abortion bill, and Reba went to the statehouse to offer testimony in opposition, which was covered by Fox 59WISH-TV 8, and The Statehouse File

Right wing pundit Erick Erickson says, I presume with a straight face, that marriage equality and religious freedom are "incompatible." CFI's Michael De Dora blows that idea apart:

True religious freedom respects the rights of all individuals over their own conscience, including decisions regarding who and who not to marry. True religious freedom is not only compatible with marriage equality -- it is an essential component of marriage equality.  

Rhett Allain at Wired is tired of the misuse of the terms "theory," "hypothesis," and "scientific law." He suggests we do away with the lot of them and use "model." I'm dubious. Even Buddy the Tyrannosaurus understands what a hypothesis is.

Matt K. Lewis at The Week complains that cultural conservatives have lost the culture wars because the fight "has always been rigged":

In today's America, there is huge value placed on people being able to do what they want and be who they want to be. Trying to deny them those "rights" has become something of a taboo in many circles. 

Well boooooooo-hoooooooo. 

Elizabeth Drescher explores the practice of prayer among "nones," quoting one "almost-atheist" who says:

[Prayer] is different than just sitting on a bench thinking, I guess. I mean, if you tell someone you’re ‘praying,’ I guess you are saying there’s maybe something else out there. You’re praying to, you’re praying for, even if, like me, you don’t exactly believe in that. 

Fox News' Juan Williams comes out in favor of stomping on Jesus. Not really. Actually, Williams makes a case for teaching critical thinking in the face of controversy over a university exercise.   

Muslims protest in Liberia over moves to make the country officially a Christian state.  

CFI-UK's Stephen Law says on Twitter that he tried to kill Indian skeptic fugitive Sanal Edamaruku with his psychic powers, but it looks like he's okay.

Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (in North Africa) calls upon Muslims to focus their ire on secular France.

CSI's Ben Radford at Discovery News on the silver lining to the epidemic of faked alt-med products in China: Though they're frauds-of-frauds, they may spare the lives of animals used in the "real" things. 

At LiveScience, Ben explains the paper lanterns, durrr, I mean alien spacecraft in Texas

Once again, atheists in Madrid are barred from marching

Naturopath sued for allegedly causing a woman's childbirth to go badly, resulting in brain damage to the baby.  

Forbes: Sales of Merck's HPV vaccine are up, but so is the number of folks opting not to let their daughters get it thanks to misinformation and hangups about sex. 

Law professor Ediberto Roman opines against the conflation of religion and civil institutions in the marriage equality debate.

CSI Fellow Mark Boslough recalls the tremendous spectacle of comet Shoemaker-Levy slamming into Jupiter in 1994:

This event changed the way we think about the vulnerability of our own planet, and planetary defense is now a subject of serious scientific studies and regular international meetings. 

Speaking of space-things slamming into other things, is doing a special on the Siberian meteorite

A telling of how a young Joe Nickell found his inner Sherlock

Research from the Barna Group reveals a scriptural disconnect:

Although 66 percent of survey respondents agreed that "the Bible contains everything a person needs to know to live a meaningful life," the majority (58 percent) said they "don’t personally want wisdom and advice from the Bible." 

I presume CFI On Campus blogger Seth Kurtenbach is very smart, because his posts have lots of symbols and Latin words and things. But it's early, you know? (Seriously, it's good stuff. But seriously, it's too early.)  

Atheist Alliance regrets a tweet and apologizes. 

Creationist, not quite understanding where the burden of proof actually lies, offers 10 grand to whoever can "disprove" the Bible. 

Quote of the Day 

This is more like an unintentionally-hilarious anti-quote of the day. Uri Brito at the Christian Post (whose name is an anagram of "I, Burrito") thinks atheists are getting too arrogant and willful:

Much like the homosexual community is becoming more and more comfortable coming out of the philosophical and theological closet; atheists today put on a robe and march to their pulpits with their well-scripted homilies. These pastors of the dead are not only situated in the comfortable chairs of the academic halls of well-funded state universities, they also sneak into the high-school curricula with a fancy diversity library card. 

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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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