Your Brain is Not Sending Out Waves to the Universe

September 23, 2013

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

James Croft and Greg Epstein talk up "godless congregations" in a piece for the latest issue of Free Inquiry:

[T]hese emerging humanist communities represent an entrepreneurial social project, born of creative individuals willing to take risks and rethink old ideas. 

Tom Flynn, in the same issue, sticks up for a stricter secular humanism without all the togetherness:

[T]here is something tragic in the rising popularity of congregational humanism among the young. . . . [W]e are seeing the human cost of Christian literalism’s late-twentieth-century ghost dance.  

According to a survey by LifeWay Research, about one third of Americans think prayer and Bible study are sufficient to "cure" mental illness.  

GOP Rep. Raul Labrador puts forth legislation to keep the government from discriminating againt businesses who want to discriminate against gay people. Guess who likes this idea.

The White House disappoints seculars once again, filing an amicus brief via the Solicitor General in favor of prayer at legislative sessions in the current Supreme Court case. 

Catholics for Choice doesn't like the Catholic Church (in the guise of the Holy See, "a fake state") having sway at the UN, and makes an awesome video to explain

Robert P. George of the US Commission on International Religious Freedom calls upon the UN to tackle the problem of blasphemy laws.

Turkish pianist Fazil Say, having gotten a retrial for his blasphemy charges, is again convicted and given a 10-month suspended sentence

CFI-Michigan is hosting Ed Brayton in Grand Rapids for a discussion on free speech and its limits this Wednesday. 

American Public Media's The Story does an episode on skeptic activist Leo Igwe and the struggle to save those accused of witchcraft.

Sean McGuire talks about the Pathfinders Project and its work with Uganda's Kasese Humanist Primary School.

Jessica Ahlquist's school gets a secular mural

Prosperity gospel types won't like this from Pope Francis: "The world has become an idolator of this god called money." 

At the CFI On Campus blog, Jeffrey Elliott writes in praise of gadflies

Physician Suzanne Koven, in the Boston Globeon the conflict between skepticism of alternative medicine and honoring a patient's wishes. 

Hemant rebuts Tom Flynn's position that secular groups should not go in for "interfaith" meetings, even with the administration. 

Azusa Pacific University, a  Christian college, would like its philosophy professor to leave because he's transgender. 

Almost 80 people are killed in a suicide bomb attack on a Christian church in Pakistan. 

Paul Vale and Ned Simons at HuffPo contrast the state of nonbelief in the UK Parliament (not uncommon) and the US Congress (essentially non-existent). 

This is almost meta: Muslim clerics in Russia are warning about extremist behavior if an extremist version of the Koran is banned. 

Teresa MacBain, now running the Humanist Community Project at Harvard, is profiled by NYT.

A study in Psychological Medicine says religious believers tend to be more depressed than atheists. 

About 200 clergy in North Carolina are trying to get their hands on a huge Senate intelligence report on the torture of terrorism detainees.

Atheism Ireland launches a course on atheism for primary schools

Now you can take a ghost tour of the New York State Capitol. Great. 

Patrick Stewart marries Sunny Ozell (officiated by Ian McKellan), where she holds forth a Bible, but then opens it only to read lyrics from Sting's "Englishman in New York." 

Quote of the Day

This is long, but totally worth it. Bestselling life coach Matthew Hussey on what's wrong with stuff like "The Secret":

I just don’t believe in it. The grain of truth is that what you focus on you’ll get more of, and that’s got to do with the reticular activating system in your brain, not “The Secret.” Let’s say tomorrow you decide that you quite fancy buying a red car. Your research mission for the next month will be finding a good red car. Most likely you’ll see red cars everywhere. That’s not because the universe is bringing red cars into your existence. They were always there. You’re just more conscious of them. The people who buy into it are buying into the positive reinforcement.  I drove here and got all green lights because I focused on green lights, or, I was parking and I focused on the space that I wanted and it was there! What are you talking about? That doesn’t tell me anything. That tells me you found an available parking space.

Your brain is not sending out waves to the universe that are bringing you green lights and parking spaces. They’ve turned wishing for things into a science and I think, how have you done this? This isn’t science. When did you decide that this was science? I think it’s damaging for people. I really believe it’s damaging because everything that’s come to me in my life has come because I worked fucking hard and tirelessly and I lost sleep and I lost out on girlfriends and I missed a big chunk of my twenties where I should have been being twenty-two and I wasn’t, I was being forty-five, and I sacrificed a lot. It did not just come to me. Not to mention, most of those people never achieved what they’re asking their clients to achieve.

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