The Morning Heresy 11/15/12: The Confusion that Ensues

November 15, 2012

Your daily digest of news and links relevant to the secular and skeptic communities. 

Wow, we have a lot of stuff to cover today, folks. Let's dive in. 

As egotistical as I am, yesterday I neglected to link to Kylie Sturgess interviewing little old me for the Token Skeptic podcast, and what do we talk about? Why, The Morning Heresy of course! 

Speaking of me, myself, and I, at Friendly Atheist I cast a skeptical eye on Louisiana governor Bobby Jindal's prescription for conservative success: 

I’m not just trying to prove that Jindal is a theocrat — we know that — but I do want to point out that this flies in the face of his professed prescription for healing the GOP nationally: to offer more policy specifics and to avoid being the party of “offensive, bizarre comments” like those that describe impregnation-by-rape as a gift from God. All of these bizarre comments, of course, stem directly from the kind of absolutist-Christian worldview that Jindal himself subscribes to. So I suppose what Jindal wants is a party that still believes all the same crazy things, but that he also doesn’t want anyone to talk about them. 

There's a lot of news on the blasphemy front:

Hazrat Ali Shah receives the first known death sentence in Pakistan for blasphemy.

Pianist Fazil Say of Turkey, charged with blasphemy, has defiant words for his persecutors:

They want me to believe in God by having me sent to prison for a year and a half. . . . Is it up to the government to determine whether or not a person believes in God?

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay calls on Indonesia to repeal its blasphemy law.  

Ed Brayton calls out an example of "secular blasphemy," censorship and persecution for the violation of the culturally or governmentally sacred, if not religiously. 

A reader sends a tip that a White House petition advocating for the criminalization of "offending prophets of major religions" had a pretty strong showing.

In other news... 

Bill Foster from Illinois is going to the U.S. House. He's a particle physicist, and wants more science-literate folks in Congress. Why?

It's very valuable when you're formulating policy to attach even a rough number to what's under discussion. That's an instinct that engineers and scientists have. In terms of getting the policy right, often you'll find that one of these arguments is quantitatively 10 or 100 times more important than all the others. 

A young boy with cancer unites a Colorado town, and it turns out that boy never existed

Hat tip to Lousy Canuck: You're not going to like much about this PPP poll on belief in things like ghosts and demons. Lots of facepalm here.

Reuters on the efforts of CREW, FFRF, and Americans United to take on electioneering churches.

Rick Santorum should be waking up angry, as the UN says access to contraception is a human right, and those who seek to block it are human rights violators. 

The Atlantic covers the decrease in Evangelicals' political clout following the 2012 election, and Boston University's Peter Berger puts things in perspective:

Modernity is not necessarily secularizing; it is necessarily pluralizing. Modernity is characterized by an increasing plurality, within the same society, of different beliefs values, and worldviews.

Well look at this: OpenCulture has a 1948 BBC radio debate between Bertrand Russell and F.C. Copleston on the existence of God. You're welcome.  

Robert Evans of Reuters reports on the badly-needed African Humanist conference in Ghana later this month. 

CFI Institute offers a seminar on "Humanism, Atheism and Social Justice" with John Shook and Jennifer Hancock.

Speaking of which, Robby Bensinger at Secular Alliance at IU reports on the CFI Institute “Defending Science: Challenges and Strategies” workshop with Massimo Pigliucci and Julia Galef. 

Sharon Hill profiles Dr. Andrew Read who is trying to connect students to science in a way that inspires them to carry it with them regardless of their career paths. 

Students not learning science in school, meanwhile, are getting grades in science anyway

Almost 300 people show up for atheist church in Oklahoma. Hemant says "That’s pretty goddamn impressive." 

Meanwhile, James Croft sees a growing yearning for humanist community

Kylie Sturgess wants to keep the ball rolling on encouraging women's voices in Austalian atheism

I almost can't believe this got published. In the TelegraphRev. Peter Mullen insists that since solar eclipses look so awesome, and the Moon and Sun almost fit right into each other, ergo, God exists. 

Another crazy White House petition: Give Bigfoot endangered-species status

Oh great. Global warming will not only make things such on Earth, but it might also mean more space junk in orbit

There's a fight to get God off the currency! In Brazil

Remember when Leah Libresco left the atheist rabble for the Catholic Church? She's being officially received this Sunday, and promises to blog more on the experience. 

Quote of the Day        

Hannah Brady at The Daily Californian struggles with the labels "atheist" and "agnostic":

. . . while definitions may sometimes be daunting and unsatisfactory, labels are not always helpful in discovering what someone truly believes. Just ask the question: “What religion are you?” Then, embrace the confusion and dialogue that ensues. 

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. 

Follow CFI on Twitter: @center4inquiry 

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The Morning Heresy: "I actually read it." - Hemant Mehta