Disagreement over Whether We Must Agree to Disagree about Whether We Must Disagree Agreeably

April 3, 2013

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

The leaders of several major skepto-atheist organizations sign on to a letter calling for civility in the recent disputes between skepto-atheists, and suggesting alternatives to online bomb-throwing.

Most of the big orgs have attached themselves to it, including CFI and the Council for Secular Humanism, though not surprisingly, not everyone is pleased. Secular Woman and American Secular Census have opted to refrain from signing on, not out of a disdain for civility, necessarily. Rebecca Watson calls it "stone tablet communication." On the other hand, Hemant Mehta calls it "a place of common agreement" and commends the signatories.

Many of the articles from Free Inquiry's groundbreaking issue on the US military's atheists are now online. 

Also in Free Inquiry, Tom Flynn reminds us of a time in the not-at-all-distant past when most of national organized secularism was led by women.

Sam Harris posts a heated exchange with Glenn Greenwald on whether Harris's views constitute "Islamophobia" or racism.

A bill introduced by North Carolina State Reps. Harry Warren and Carl Ford would allow North Carolina to establish a state religion if it so chose (I'm guessing they go with Zoroastrianism), and to ignore any federal restrictions concerning church-state separation.

I know you've checked out the schedule for Women in Secularism 2, the CFI conference happening May 17-19 in DC. It's going to be awesome. 

Dig CFI-NYC phone banking for marriage equality! They look so dedicated! 

Tia Ghose at LiveScience seeks to clarify the meaning of oft-misused science terms including "theory," "hypothesis," and one I hadn't thought of, "significant." 

Ben Radford comes down against "mission creep" in the skeptic movement, which, I presume, will generate some feelings:

There already exist well-run, effective organizations for just about any social or political cause. If you want to support wolf conservation, breast cancer research, reproductive rights, animal rights, alternative energy sources, social justice, independent news media, feminism, freedom for Tibet, gay rights, the prevention of overfishing, Democrats, Republicans, libertarians, transgender librarians, or any other of countless causes, there are plenty of opportunities to do so.    

Public Policy Polling asks some of most daring and revealing questions in its surveys, and this one will no doubt send you to the liquor cabinet:

The study revealed that 13% of respondents thought Obama was "the antichrist", while another 13% were "not sure" – and so were at least appeared to be open to the possibility that he might be.  

Meanwhile, 37% think global warming is a hoax, which is actually better than I would have guessed. 

Adam Frank at NPR's 13.7 blog on calculating Doomsday:

Using only arguments from probability theory and population growth, the relentless logic of the Doomsday Argument tells us that we are probably already near the end of the line. 

Nathan Phelps will be speaking to our on-campus affiliate the GW Secular Society this weekend.

After massive demonstrations in Bangladesh against atheist bloggers, three of the bloggers are arrested, and it is believed that 84 other bloggers may be at risk:

“They have hurt the religious feelings of the people by writing against different religions and their prophets and founders including the Prophet Mohammed,” said deputy commissioner of Dhaka police, Molla Nazrul Islam. 

She of the Bigfoot DNA, Melba Ketchum, is April-Fools-punked by the Animal Legal Defense Fund's faux announcement that it would sue to stop a sasquatch hunt.  

Thirteen state attorneys-general urge the White House to broaden religious exemptions for the contraceptive mandate. CFI thinks you should urge just the opposite.

At HuffPo, Sharon Hill suggests skeptics should bring a little more compassion to bear with believers in the paranormal.  

Chris Stedman talks to Religion Dispatches about the potential for greater atheist "neighborliness." 

Atheist-turned-Catholic Leah Libresco takes 200 words to explain why she has joined the Church, concluding:

Catholicism is specific enough to make philosophical demands and to do me the courtesy of not pretending it’s no big deal to differ with them.  It welcomes faith seeking understanding, but spurns the comfort of agree to disagree. 

China's got itself a sea dragon!  

PBS Newshour looks at the debate over vouchers in Indiana. 

$5 will get you a video of Julia Sweeney's play Letting Go of God

Police in Vermont are going after Bigfoot! A stolen sculpture of it, actually. 

Seth Kurtenbach concludes his series of posts on logic for the On Campus blog, including the insight, "Logic can be a bit feisty sometimes." 

Quote of the Day 

Republican senator Mark Kirk comes out for marriage equality:

When I climbed the Capitol steps in January, I promised myself that I would return to the Senate with an open mind and greater respect for others. Same-sex couples should have the right to civil marriage. Our time on this earth is limited, I know that better than most. Life comes down to who you love and who loves you back — government has no place in the middle.

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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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