If You Desperately Want the World to Come to an End

April 25, 2018

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

I was a guest on The Whiparound podcast this week, in which I go on at absurd length about CFI's work, because as a communications professional I apparently have no idea how to be concise. I also discuss some of the news with hosts Dave and Shaun, and invent a cult based on Lakitu from Super Mario Bros.

Some stuff obviously went down over the past few days at Religion News Service, as their editor-in-chief Jerome Socolovsky is let go, replaced by G. Jeffrey MacDonald, and a number of reporters walk, including friend-of-the-blog Kimberly Winston, the "atheist beat" reporter.

Scott Pruitt, Destroyer of Worlds, implements a new rule at the EPA that pretends to be about transparent and reproducible science, but is actually a means of cutting a lot of science out of policymaking. NYT reports:

Under the measure, the E.P.A. will require that the underlying data for all scientific studies used by the agency to formulate air and water regulations be publicly available. That would sharply limit the number of studies available for consideration because much research relies on confidential health data from study subjects. 

Wow, Rep. Jared Huffman of California announced the formation of the Congressional Freethought Caucus. Just, wow. The times they are a-changin'.

NYT reports on efforts by Evangelicals to navigate Trump's many, many, many scandals in order to cushion the coming onslaught in the 2018 midterms:

The vast majority of evangelical Christians are digging in for Mr. Trump, despite accusations by a pornographic film star and a Playboy playmate that he had separate affairs with them shortly after his wife, Melania Trump, gave birth to their son. Those controversies, paired with the multiple women who accused him of groping them before the election and his own boasts of sexual aggressions, have highlighted the unyielding support of a political bloc that once put moral behavior at the center of its political judgment. 

Mike Pompeo, Trump's nominee for Secretary of State, says we are in "a never ending battle until...the Rapture." Oh great. Parker Molloy responds:

I really don't think someone who believes in the Rapture should be running any government agency, tbh, but especially not the one in charge of worldwide diplomacy. If you desperately want the world to come to an end, you shouldn't be in charge of maintaining peace. 

Scotty Hendricks at Big Think felt it necessary to address whether atheism is a cult. It's not! Bullet dodged! (This post also features the least effective blurring of a curse word ever.) 

Benjamin Radford is cited in the Spanish outlet El Español on exorcisms being used to "cure" one's gayness or mental health problems. 

A paper in Sociological Science claims that American religion is "exceptional and intense" in a way that belies the decline of moderate religiosity. 

Congratulations, homo sapiensTorture is part of your extended phenotype

Here's a fortunate pair of articles: Religion Dispatches interviews the Unitarians' first woman president, Rev. Susan Frederick-Gray, and RNS reports on the Assemblies of God (Pentecostals) and their unanimous election of its first woman general secretary, Rev. Donna L. Barrett.

"ghostly black monk" has been sighted at Eynsford Castle in Kent. Not true! It's actually that guy from Mr. Robot

As though you needed to be told (but apparently many, many people do), Steven Novella explains why bee venom is, it turns out, not medicine:

Bee venom is the new snake oil. The term “snake oil” has come to refer generically to fake medicine because it was popular in the 19th century, and more recently in Traditional Chinese Medicine, as a patent medicine. Perhaps in a hundred years people will be referring to “bee venom salesmen” the same way we refer to their snake-oil counterparts today. 

Reasonable Talk brings you video from CSICon 2017 with Susan Gerbic, discussing the Guerrilla Skepticism On Wikipedia Project. 

Apparently this book by John Gray, Seven Types of Atheism, is the Most Important Book of All Time™, because people can't seem to stop writing about it and nodding along in agreement about what jerks we are. Anyhoo, Noel Malcolm at The New Statesman says, "to treat religion itself as merely a defective form of science is a strangely crude error." And then I lost interest.

Jim Bakker reveals that we would have cured cancer by now, but we keep aborting the scientists who would have figured it out. Wow, I mean, what are the chances?!?!?!? 

Move over, Clapton, Yo-Yo Ma is God now

Quote of the Day

Jesse Ball on why you don't have to read the Bible:

The Holy Bible is rated very highly by all the people who supposedly live by it but who in actuality have not read it. Those who have read it know there are some good parts, but overall it is certainly not the finest thing that man has ever produced. It is repetitive, self-contradictory, sententious, foolish, and even at times ill-intentioned. If the thing you heard was good about the Bible was the nasty bits, then I propose Agota Kristof's The Notebook, a marvelous tale of two brothers who have to get along when things get rough. The subtlety and cruelty of this story is like that famous sword stroke (from below the boat) that plunged upward through the bowels, the lungs, and the throat and into the brain of the rower.  

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