$100 Trillion Per Light-Second

May 16, 2013

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

Must-read: Ken Chitwood at the Houston Chronicle reports on the state of women's equality in the skepto-atheosphere, providing background for the Women in Secularism conference (starting tomorrow!), and talking to CFI's Melody Hensley. 

(Speaking of the conference, yes, there will still be a Morning Heresy tomorrow, hopefully going up around its usual time.) 

Amanda Marcotte, one of the WiS speakers, relates a heartening geek culture anecdote to the situation within skepto-atheism.

Two-thirds of Canadians are Christian in some way, but that about a quarter are "nones." 

Psychiatrist diagnoses a young girl with a spiritual malady, becomes her "spiritual mentor," loses his license

Charges against Kiera Wilmot, the high school student who did an explosive science experiment, have been dropped.

John Quiggen runs the numbers on how much we'd have to pony up for a space colony to one of the recently-discovered Earth-like planets, and estimates:

. . . a cost of around $100 trillion per light-second for 10,000 people. 1200 light-years is around 30 billion light-seconds, so the total cost comes out roughly equal to the value of current world GDP accumulated over the life of the universe. 

Apparently atheists can't lose in the Massachusetts special election for U.S. Senate, as both candidates get an "A" from the SCA. I am skeptical, guys.

New Kickstarter project looks to fund the making of a documentary about pastor-turned-atheist Jerry DeWitt, called The Outcast of Beauregard Parish

YOU get a Forkosch! And YOU get a Forkosch! And that's it. Susan Jacoby and the team behind the Free Inquiry expose on religious tax exemptions will be presented the Forkosch Award at the CFI Summit in October.

High school student Katelyn Campbell makes noise about being forced to be proselytized to in public school, and gets her speaking slot pulled at graduation.

Embryonic stem cells are being cloned. I'm sure this will satisfy everyone. 

After a North Carolina local school board refuses to give up prayer at meetings, member Leonard Pryor resigns in protest, and then the board reverses itself. 

Reuters described "apartheid tactics" separating Myanmar's minority Muslims from Buddhists. 

NYT on how rough Christians have it in post-revolution Egypt:

. . . Mr. Mubarak made a point of protecting minority groups to nurture loyal constituencies and patronage systems that he could leverage against his Islamist rivals. Though secular tension sometimes turned violent during his 30 years in power, it was generally contained by the state security apparatus. Since the election a year ago of a government dominated by the Muslim Brotherhood, however, attacks on Copts and their institutions have multiplied. 

Leaders of Christian groups that don't agree on anything besides the idea that Jesus was way cool get together in DC to consider a "national day of civil discourse." Hmm. 

Mayoral candidate "endorsed by Jesus Christ" comes in last place. THANKS, JESUS. 

Cardinal Keith O'Brien of Scotland, who resigned for unspecified sexual no-no's, reportedly with other priests, will leave the country to engage in “prayer, penance and spiritual renewal.”  

France worries over the ingredients of jihad fermenting in its jails

The Economist on the Web as a kind of oasis of the mind for Muslim kids:

. . . the web seems to offer an escape of a healthier kind. As a counterpoint to a real-world existence where they are obliged to think, pray and behave by hard-and-fast rules, the net can bring them into a modern or post-modern realm where many different ideas and cultural styles can be questioned, discussed, discarded or combined. 

Nature profiles the great work of the NCSE

At Skeptical InquirerTerrence Hines reviews Medusa’s Gaze and Vampire’s Bite: The Science of Monsters

Oh, who cares about the humanities anymore? Olivia James at the CFI On Campus Blog, that's who.  

Also at the Campus blog, Seth Kurtenbach takes on Penn Jillette with "belief, add truth, justification, and some special sauce." 

Aliens also seem to find Canadians pleasant, as UFO sightings are way up.  

Quote of the Day 

Moroccan atheist in hiding, Imad Iddine Habib:

Dear friends, we have a long way to go to break down those Middle Aged myths and ways of thinking, those oppressive and repressive rites in the name of religion or culture, those violations of human rights in the name of cultural relativism… We have to fight for this long awaited world, where people will live equally regardless of their gender, religious beliefs, or sexual orientations, where we will live in harmony with our environment, a world where wars and un-civilisation will only exist in history books.

* * *  

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Comments:

#1 Randy (Guest) on Thursday May 16, 2013 at 4:09pm

Unfortunately, the Houston Chronicle writer didn’t do their homework.  Of course it’s only natural that reporting suffers when nobody buys newspapers.  So you just get a series of press releases, pretending to be news and analysis (and shame on CFI for being part of it).

Where, exactly, is the “hostility towards emerging feminine secular champions”?  It simply doesn’t exist.

There has been hostility received from, and therefore reflected back to, sexist and dogmatic conservative agendas advanced by some under the banner “feminist”.  And that has involved males and females alike.  PZ is not female.  Nor is Richard Carrier.  They are merely two of the more outrageous examples.

Selectively quoting Vacula (who correctly pointed out the necessity of properly using logic) to not-so-subtly imply that he is an anti-woman bigot is itself sexist, and certainly of a quality that should makes skeptics wonder about the usefulness of this source of information.

“women are tentative to be outspoken freethinkers”

I could not disagree more.  The atheist women in my own family want nothing to do with the conservative and sexist “feminists” in the atheist convention circuit and online admiration societies.  They have no problem being outspoken about their non-religion in the real world, on the street, in the mall, in the boardroom, and I’m always delighted to hear their stories when they have a particularly interesting discussion.

All that said, regardless of sex, if I’m going to pay to see someone talk in person, then I want to know that person isn’t just a blogger, or some middle-manager somewhere.  I want someone who has been published in peer-reviewed journals, who knows what they’re talking about, and can hold their own in a debate without censoring discussion.

Presidents, board members, and so on should never be chosen on the basis of what’s between their legs.  It must be based on merit.  That’s what true equality means.

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