Touched and Inspired by Some Nutter

April 11, 2014

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

Usually, when an article is headlined in the form of a question ("Is Google Making Us Stupid?" "Was the Malaysian Plane Swallowed by a Black Hole?"), rule of thumb says the answer is always "No." (Thus this Twitter account.) But lookie here, in a piece by Kimberly Winston, the question posed is "Is the Internet Bad for Religion?" Guess what:

[A new] study shows that as Americans reported more Internet use, their religious identification dropped. Those who reported only a few hours of weekly Internet use were 2 percent less likely to claim a religious affiliation than those who use no Internet. And those who use the Internet more than seven hours weekly are even less likely to adhere to a religion — by an additional 3 percentage points.

That newly discovered bit of text referring to the wife of Jesus? Not a forgery. But then what does it mean? 

Whoa. David Cameron is letting his Jesus flag fly in a way that's pretty unprecedented for a British PM:

I think there's something of a [Christian] fightback going on, and we should welcome that. The values of the Bible, the values of Christianity, are the values that we need. 

Guys, there now exists what might prove to be a rudimentary dolphin translator. Guys. GUYS. We're gonna TALK to DOLPHINS. DUDE. 

Pastafarians are now official in Poland

With a name like "blood moons," you kind of assume it means terrible things are coming. Not so, says, well, reality. 

Yeah, the Galapagos Islands are nice, but can you really enjoy them without being in the company of a Nobel Laureate and a famous cosmologist? Well, lucky for you

TechHive looks at the truth and pseudoscience of high-resolution audio. (Spoiler alert: save your money.)

The Justice Department opts to defend the placement of the Mount Soledad cross as part of a public war memorial. Church-state, smurch-state, amirite? 

Alan Lightman reviews Amir D. Aczel's Why Science Does Not Disprove God, and considering the question, calls it a draw:

[N]o matter what scientific evidence is amassed to explain the architecture of atoms, or the ways that neurons exchange chemical and electrical signals to create the sensations in our minds, or the manner in which the universe may have been born out of the quantum foam, science cannot disprove the existence of God — any more than a fish can disprove the existence of trees. Likewise, no matter what gaps exist in current scientific knowledge, no matter what baffling good deeds people do, no matter what divine and spiritual feelings people have, theology cannot prove the existence of God. 

As Stephen Colbert is set to take over for Dave, Sarah Posner thinks about the real Colbert's Catholicism

Massimo Pigliucci on "demarcation" in science, at Skeptical Inquirer:

It is good to have people from outside of science, but who are well acquainted with its inner workings, to keep an eye on the epistemic warrant and underlying assumptions of scientific theory and practice. That’s what philosophy of science (and also history and sociology of science) at its best is supposed to do. 

Kids in Chicago area schools are at risk for infections thanks to low vaccination rates. 

No, Facebook is not launching a campaign to stop the posting of religious material, and his name is not spelled "Zukerberg." 

Thanks to help from Tim Farley, I can share with you more conference-mania this weekend. We have...

 

 

A pseudoscientific practice of repeatedly puncturing yourself with needles might actually come with risks. Who'd'a thunk?!?

Look out for the newest threat to the Real America™: the Gay Supremacist movement.  

God was really upset with this guy for his patronage of an adult store ("Amazing Intimate Essentials"), so the guy set fire to it, because that's what God wanted.

So, Bono, he's a smart guy, got a good heart, hell of an artist. One for the ages. His theological justifications? Meh, a little weak:

[Jesus] was crucified because he said he was the Son of God. So, he either, in my view, was the Son of God or he was nuts. Forget rock-and-roll messianic complexes, I mean Charlie Manson-type delirium. And I find it hard to accept that whole millions and millions of lives, half the Earth, for 2,000 years have been touched, have felt their lives touched and inspired by some nutter. I just, I don’t believe it. 

It's rainin' frogs! Hallelujah it's-a-rainin' frogs! 

If Super Mario were more realistic, tragedy would ensue

Quote of the Day

Jennifer Raff tries to level with parents about the misinformation sold by the anti-vaccine movement:

Why are they lying to you? Some are doing it for profit, trying to sell their alternative remedies by making you afraid of science-based medicine. I'm sure that many others within the anti-vaccine movement have genuinely good intentions, and do honestly believe that vaccines are harmful. But as a certain astrophysicist recently said 'The good thing about science is that it's true whether or not you believe in it.' In the case of vaccine truthers, this is not a good thing. Good intentions will not prevent microbes from infecting and harming people, and the message that vaccines are dangerous is having dire consequences.

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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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Comments:

#1 Randy (Guest) on Friday April 11, 2014 at 2:52pm

“half the Earth, for 2,000 years have been touched, have felt their lives touched and inspired by some nutter. I just, I don’t believe it. “

Apparently the other half, though… totally nutter.

#2 Randy (Guest) on Friday April 11, 2014 at 3:02pm

“Alan Lightman ... calls it a draw:
  ... science cannot disprove the existence of God ... theology cannot prove the existence of God.”

Why the fascination with the Christian god?  There are hundreds or thousands of gods, and we don’t believe in any of them, either.

The “draw” isn’t between existence, or non-existence, of God, but between existence, or non-existence, of all the gods who aren’t contradicted by their own source material, or by scientific evidence.  God plainly doesn’t exist, by the contradictions in his own book.  But many other gods might exist.

Yet, we can’t even define who these possible gods are, and we never will, because our only tool for learning about things can never detect a god that doesn’t interact with our universe.  This isn’t a draw.  It’s a waste of time.

#3 dewdds on Saturday April 12, 2014 at 8:02am

On the Jesus-Wife manuscript fragment. I think it actually is the earliest evidence for the classic one liner, since the proposed reconstruction may well read, “[take] my wife [please].

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