The Measles of Mankind

March 17, 2014

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

The latest Free Inquiry features a poignant and tough review by Tom Flynn of Jennifer Michael Hecht's anti-suicide book Stay. Calling it “marvelously written,” Tom says it “excludes individuals who make clear-eyed decisions to end their lives in response to calamities whose aftermath they prefer not to experience.”

Editor of The American Rationalist, S.T. Joshi, and his prolific work on atheism, are profiled in the New York Times.

NYT also covers an experimental "God-optional" synagogue.

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10,000 Hours Down the Drain

March 14, 2014

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

There's a great article about CFI's Long Island branch in the Plainview-Old Bethpage Herald. Treasurer Phil Pollack says:

This is a philosophy and discussion group. We always have really interesting topics, and we also have a book club discussion group as well. We talk about politics, science, real history, and other aspects of the world in which we live. It’s a fascinating group of people, and we invite anyone who’s interested in experiencing our discussions to come down and try it out.

Pew has done a lot of number crunching on various religious identification surveys, and finds that while "nones" are in a three-way tie with Evangelicals and Catholics in the U.S., many of the nones are "unattached believers," theists but not under any particular sect's sway. That said, a key takeaway from this article from Cathy Lynn Grossman is that even those "unattached believers" are likely "unreachable" by any church. 

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A Glossy Multi-Million Dollar Piece of Agitprop

March 13, 2014

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

I finally got to watch the first episode of the new Cosmos last night! Of course, my 4-year-old son wouldn't go to bed when he was supposed to, so he watched with us. Which, I now realize, is now it should be.

Andrew Leonard goes off on the religious groups who are upset about Cosmos:

The best part: Cosmos is labeled “a glossy multi-million-dollar piece of agitprop for scientific materialism” as if that’s a bad thing.  

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For Yuppies Who Want to Feel Good

March 12, 2014

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

The Morning Heretic may just be suffering from a stomach flu, for which he blames the following: 1) An angry, vengeful God, 2) mischievous/evil spirits, 3) Benghazi, and 4) his children. Anyway. 

A bit of very bad legislation was passed overwhelmingly in the House yesterday. HR 1814, the Equitable Access to Care and Health (EACH) Act, passed by voice vote with the support of a boatload of Democrats. CFI vehemently opposes this bill.

Might this be the best opening paragraph for a Skeptical Inquirer piece? Possibly. Here's Carrie Poppy:

Are you a human? Do you have access to the internet? Then you may already know about Dr. Masaru Emoto, the Japanese “scientist” who magically turns normal rice into gross rice, simply by yelling at it. 

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I’m Up All Night to Get Ouija

March 11, 2014

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

Those plucky Senate Democrats, trying to change the conversation on global warming, were up all night to talk climate. But as Rebecca Cusey asked on Twitter, "What about to get lucky?" About which I L'd OL. 

Rita Swan warns of a nefarious bill quickly moving through Congress which would exempt anyone claiming religious reasons to opt entirely out of the health care law. Our Office of Public Policy has shot out an urgent action alert on this development, so get clicking.

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Sir, I Protest, I Am *Not* a “Fuzzy None”!

March 10, 2014

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

So how was Cosmos? I haven't seen it yet, because we don't get cable or broadcast TV, so I'll need the Information Superhighway to help me out with seeing the show. I get the sense, though, that people liked it. 

Matt Zoller Seitz at New York Mag notes the secularist overtones:

The new Cosmos makes it clear that the war [against science] is still going on, and that this series is determined to be on the right side of it, by painting organized religion as an irrelevant and intellectually discredited means of understanding factual reality.  

Willa Paskin at Slate says it's less overt than that, writing, "Cosmos is offering viewers a way to reconcile science and faith: Don’t let your god be too small."

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Five Finger Discount on Crosses

March 07, 2014

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

The push to privatize public education and send tax dollars to religious schools has reached new heights of late, with a series of new bills in Congress that would privatize nearly all federal funds for K-12 schooling. We have an action alert out so you can help stop it. 

Check out what we've been up to public-policy-wise throughout the past month in our Advocacy Update

Pope Fluffy: Grave robber

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A Collection of Passionate Oddballs

March 06, 2014

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

The impact of Carl Sagan on humanism is examined by Kimberly Winston, here in the Washington Post. Lots of important skepto-atheists are quoted in here, and somehow I got in there too, saying:

He showed us that to marvel at life on our planet was to cherish it and work to preserve it. For that, we have to reject bad, old modes of thinking, look at the world as it really is rather than how we’d like to believe it is, and tackle the crises that face us. 

Winston also rounds up some of Sagan's profound quotes. Chris Stedman talks to former Sagan pupil, SETI Carl Sagan Center director and Committee for Skeptical Inquiry fellow David Morrison:

Carl was an inspiration to his students—not only in helping us to become good research scientists, but also in challenging us to understand the cultural context of our science and encouraging us to be leaders and reach out to communicate with the public.

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We Get in There and Burp and Scratch

March 05, 2014

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

It's Ash Wednesday, and Michelle Boorstein reports on the reluctance of some of the faithful to don the forehead mark in public.

Amid the outrage over Uganda's awful anti-gay law, American Evangelicals have their hackles up as if to say, "hey, we didn't do it!" 

Last night's Q&A with the team behind the new Cosmos is available to watch online

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Your Murky Raison d’Etre

March 04, 2014

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

Daniel Loxton, author of one of my son's favorite books, Ankylosaur Attackis the guest on Point of Inquiry this week. 

Carrie Poppy chants her way to altered states of consciousness at Skeptical Inquirer:

I felt like I was out of my body, floating above it. I couldn’t tell if my hands were near my face or far, far away. I wasn’t sure if my eyes were open or closed. I heard sounds no one else appeared to hear and saw vague, distant images: a pink diamond, a rooster with a pyramid for legs, an elderly woman in a revealing gown. At one point I snapped to attention and found that my upper body had been rhythmically swaying in a semi-circle. I wasn’t awake, and I wasn’t asleep. I was in a trance. 

Rob Boston's book Taking Liberties goes on sale today, and you can read an excerpt here

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