A Manifestation of a Foul Substance

May 1, 2014

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

It's the National Day of Reason (also the National Day of Prayer, so maybe it's really the National Day of Contradictory Concepts), and to mark the occasion we have a powerful piece by CFI's Lauren Becker on why we need to lose religion to save America.

Bill Nye goes on Seth Myers' show to tell the world: Don't ask me for a selfie while I'm defusing a bomb

This is like a birthday present for skeptics: Harriet Hall knocks out a pretty darn comprehensive introduction to homeopathy for Skeptical Inquirer. Of course, it has only the essence of words that were once there. I'm kidding! But seriously, here's a homeopathic cartoon

New Scientist does nonbelief on its cover, and editorializes on the growing apathy toward religion:

[I]nasmuch as there ever was a contest between strident religion and militant atheism, it seems there was no winner. In practice, however, indifference to religion looks very much like atheism, and even more like secularism. 

The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom issues an annual report on the (sorry) state of freedom of belief around the world. Brian Pellot rounds up the countries named by the report as awful on religious freedom rights, yet still not on the list for the US State Department. I doubt any of them will surprise you. 

This is how it goes when a real science journalist goes on the execrable Fox & Friends: climate denial, anti-Obama propaganda, and conspiracy theories. 

Meanwhile, Fox News keeps referring to the Military Religious Freedom Association as an atheist group (it's not) and its president Mikey Weinstein as an atheist (he's not). 

Sarah Posner checks in with Phil Zuckerman on the recent Vox.com assertion that the kids of secular parents are prone to go religious, and finds the opposite:

Zuckerman says this data is further backed up by a study, in the 1980s, by another Penn State sociologist, Hart Nelson, who found that 85% of children raised by two secular parents remained secular as adults. What's more, two Scottish sociologists, Steve Bruce and Tony Glendinning, found that "if someone was not raised in a particular faith, the chances of acquiring one later in life are small." Very small, in fact, as Zuckerman notes: just five percent.  

Duncan Pickard reports on the progress Tunisia is trying to make in their "Second Republic":

In the aftermath of decades of authoritarian rule, the question remains, however, how the new constitution can constrain the executive and create a balance of powers without resorting to religious or military domination? 

Secularists in Iraq try to cobble together a coalition of smaller parties to bolster their chances in the election next week. 

The FDA raises awareness of fake autism cures

Mental Floss rounds up a list of obvious things Confirmed by Science™, such as "meetings suck." And here's some more science-related betcha-didn't-know fun in animated GIF form. (I didn't know how keys worked, so that was neat.)

There was all of a sudden a lot of talk about halal and kosher meat yesterday, as some Subway restaurants in the UK adopt halal meat and ban pork products, days after the appearance of a new law requiring the US government to stock food banks with sufficient halal and kosher foods. The thing is, halal can mean that the animal has been slaughtered without first stunning, which, you can imagine, is really awful, so there's a petition for the UK

As the parent of wee children, I dig this thought from Sharon Hill:

KIDS KNOW ABOUT BIGFOOT AND NESSIE. Most of them think they are AWESOME. What better way to start a discussion about evidence than with a topic they have curiosity about! 

A couple bits of atheist advice out there today. You got some Dear Abby action here for a mixed-faith marriage, and you got an atheist who wants to come out to her in-laws.  

Speaking of Abby, Abby Cadabby and Moses have something in common: a magic wand! And Hobby Lobby's owners want the latter taught as fact

A family's allegedly haunted house results in a book deal (ka-ching). They said there was "a manifestation of a foul substance found on the walls." Demon. Right. Had to be.

The Hope Diamond, if in fact cursed, needs a new name, I'd say. 

There is a dot-tumblr-dot-com for everything, such as Tea Party Jesus

Get out of my dreams, get into my car...NO WAIT YOU'RE A GHOST GET OUT OF MY CAR. 

Ann Druyan likes your Cosmos tweets

Quote of the Day

Our own Ms. Becker, from the above-linked essay:

It’s 2014 and, like Madison, we have a problem. There is a dangerous problem with the desire to base our national morality on Christian beliefs—or any religious beliefs. Of course it’s a good idea to have a strong moral foundation, but morals don’t need religion to be sound. In fact, history is replete with examples showing that morality does horrific damage when it is based on the authority of a god. God’s laws are absolutes and the things that make people want to cling to absolutes are the very things that make them dangerous: Absolutes shut down critical thinking. They do not allow debate. They allow no reflection. There is no moderation. There is no reason. 

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Comments:

#1 mharbour on Thursday May 01, 2014 at 7:27am

“climate denial” ?
Did anyone actually deny the existence of climate?

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