The Morning Heresy 7/3/12: Recognize the Concept of a Cat

July 3, 2012

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

Don't forget, folks. The NYC protest of the imprisonment of Indonesian atheist Alexander Aan is happening this Friday. Here's our press release (picked up by RDF), and here's the Facebook event page so you can coordinate. 

So that not-funny guy who somehow gets a lot of work in Hollywood, Rob Schneider, thinks big government is using Nuremberg-like principles to give your kids autism through vaccines. Hey, I know why he's really afraid of vaccines: Because he is, himself, a virus. And what do viruses spend their time doing? Makin' copieeeeees! 

The latest Center Stage podcast features a debate on the existence of God with Louise A. Antony of the University of Massachusetts Amherst and Doug Geivett of Biola University, moderated by CFI's John Shook

Sharon Hill at the CSI site blows apart the "we report, you decide" canard (and does so without even mentioning Fox News by name!) in "reporting" on pseudoscience and the paranormal.

Also from Sharon, on pseudo-research on how genes might determine one's reactions to "food compounds": 

There was this quote: “learned his DNA doesn’t agree with salt”. What does that even mean?!?  

Federal judge knocks down a NYC law that prevents churches from using public schools for religious services. Great.

Via Phil Plait, Bill Nye tells CNN's balance-o-meter that global warming is just happening whether it feels equal-ish or not. 

Joe Biden sneaks some alone time with some nuns, spokesperson tells RNS's David Gibson: "This was nothing more than a private, casual reunion of friends of faith over ice cream and cookies."  

Religious scholar Stephen Prothero: Ignore David Barton when it comes to Jefferson:

This Fourth of July, after the parades are over, I propose we all devote a few minutes to remembering our least Christian president.  

Nasser Rabat at Foreign Policy is bullish on secularism after the Arab Spring:

Though outdone in the current rush to power by the Islamists, it still has the ability to reassert itself in the political arena, if not as the ruling party, at least as lawful opposition and guardian of the principles of civic freedoms. 

Giles Fraser at the Guardian, himself a priest, is impressed by those nonbelievers who do more than just "not believe," but really engage the topic:

Much of the atheism I experience in the parish is little more than shoulder-shrugging indifference. You don't get that with the sceptics. They sting the church into a defence of the full ambition of its calling. Amazingly, unlike many in the church, they actually want to talk about God. 

Rod Dreher, who you know I'm not crazy about, levels with us about whether his children should enter the priesthood:

. . . if either of my sons embraced the priesthood, I would be sorrowful, because I would know they were being put to a terrible test, one that I know without a doubt that I would have failed had I made the mistake of becoming a priest. God knows how many souls I would have brought down with me had I, with my temperament and spiritual weakness, been ordained. 

Looks like #GreatSkepticism is taking off.

AP: It looks like maybe but we're not sure but it really could be that the CERN folks have possibly discovered the Higgs boson "God particle" but we're not sure. 

Citing how one Google experiment got a computer to "recognize the concept of a cat," Dominic Basulto at WaPo declares:

Yes, the machines are, for all intents and purposes, alive. 

In South Carolina, a judge adds Bible reading to drunk driver's sentence. 

Greta on the Just World Fallacy: "Religion lets people continue to believe that justice is being done… even when it conspicuously is not." 

Today in religiously-fueled violence: 

  • Al Qaeda-linked militants kill 15 Christians at a Kenyan church. 
  • Buddhists in Myanmar arrested for killing 10 Muslims in revenge for gang rape of Buddhist woman.
  • Islamists use axes to destroy the door of a centuries-old mosque in Timbuktu.
  • India marks 10 years since an explosion of violence in which Hindus killed about 1000 Muslims.

Hemant posts video of his speech from the recent Freethought Festival in Madison. 

Also, Hemant touts the latest Foundation Beyond Belief beneficiaries

And Hemant, please stop reminding me of how evil Chick-fil-a is! Those nuggets are soooo delicious!!!! <sob> 

PZ rebuts the "don't trust the godless" malarkey in Salon. 

Scientology squirms in the wake of that divorce. 

Edward Strickson at Teen Skepchick looks at superstitions at exam time, and features a picture of something horrible happening to a poor, defenseless bunny. 

Simon Brown at AU: Despite the new "inspirational message" law in Florida, looks like most schools are saying thanks but no thanks to all the legal trouble it could bring. 

Of course there's a Chinese Bigfoot, and we have to go find him. 

Note: There will be no Morning Heresy tomorrow as I declare my independence not only from British tyranny, but from this blog as well. For one day, anyway. 

Quote of the Day     

RNS's Mark Silk on the growing habit of praying for the power to crush one's legislative opponents in Congress:

If religion wasn't part of the solution in 1787, I'd say it's part of the problem in 2012.

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