Trading in Christ for Thor

May 19, 2015

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

Ron Lindsay opens up a new series of posts that will challenge what he calls "humanist orthodoxies," the positions our community tends to hold that might not be sufficiently backed up by evidence:

My forthcoming essays are designed not so much to persuade, but to make us think carefully about the grounds for our opinions. It seems to me this work is in furtherance of CFI’s mission. We are the Center for Inquiry, after all, not the Center for Ideology. 

Point of Inquiry is super-cool this week, as Josh Zepps interviews the writer and director of Ex Machina, Alex Garland, and they talk about the ethics and perils of artificial intelligence. Neat stuff.

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The Complete Absence of Physical Matter

May 18, 2015

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

I know I say this a lot, but seriously, things have been incredibly busy. Check out Friday's Cause & Effect newsletter to see what I mean. 

The Environment and Energy newswire talks to ThinkProgress's Joe Romm about the skeptic-vs-denier debate spurred by the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry's letter to the media. Rightwing outlet Newsmax quotes folks who worry about being "smeared" by us who "hold the reins of power." Wow!

Michael Newdow is back, trying to use RFRA "religious freedom" laws to challenge "In God We Trust" on currency

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Insufferably Messianic

May 15, 2015

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

The California State Senate easily passes SB 277, which removes most "belief" exemptions from required vaccinations. The Assembly may be a different story.

Yesterday we announced that CFI filed for summary judgment in our lawsuit in Florida to stop the public funding of explicitly religious prison rehabilitation programs ("ministries," by their own description). It's kind of a legalese way of saying to the judge, "Come on. I mean, really. Come. On." 

Ishaan Tharoor at WaPo reminds us that Sweden rejected the visa application of Ananta Bijoy Das, now dead from Islamist attack...

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Mayberry Leads to Hell

May 14, 2015

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

Yesterday we announced that a bill authorizing Secular Celebrants in Oregon to solemnize marriages, championed by CFI-Portland, had passed a key committee vote, and it looks like the bill will be voted on by the full House tomorrow! If you're in Oregon, tell your state rep to vote for it

Meanwhile, a little under the radar, atheists win the right to officiate at weddings in Washington County, Minnesota. ...

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A Cramped Coffin of Orthodoxy

May 13, 2015

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

Readers of the Heresy, imma be honest with you. We're really freaking busy over here at CFI. Yesterday, we were talking a lot about the new Pew survey showing "nones" overtaking Catholics in the U.S., and CNN's widely-distributed article on the news features some commentary from yours truly (in which I use the terms "cognizant" and "straight-up" in the same sentence, because that's how I roll). 

Sky News uses Ron Lindsay's statement as its lead quote. Even better, Ron was a guest for the hour on the Diane Rhem Show today.

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The Oldest and Stupidest of Them All

May 12, 2015

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

There's a lot of news today, so to quote Samuel L. Jackson in Jurassic Park, "Hold on to your butts."

First: Pew has released a major new survey that shows "nones" -- the religiously unaffiliated -- overtaking Catholics in the U.S. to hit number 2 with 23%. We call it a "tectonic shift" and an indication of religion's loosening grip over policy and culture. 

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Not in Every Way Nice People

May 11, 2015

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

Rafida Bonya Ahmed, who survived the attack on her and her murdered husband Avijit Roy, speaks to Reuters:

This [attack] was well planned, choreographed – a global act of terrorism. But what almost bothers me more is that no one from the Bangladesh government has reached out to me. It’s as if I don’t exist, and they are afraid of the extremists. Is Bangladesh going to be the next Pakistan or Afghanistan? 

Amy Davidson explains what the hell is going on with "Jade Helm 15" and the conspiracy theory propagated by Texas's governor that his state is about to be invaded by the United States.

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I’m Sorry, Ms. Jackson

May 08, 2015

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

The New York Times' public editor Margaret Sullivan considers the challenge posed by our Committee for Skeptical Inquiry on not calling science-deniers "skeptics." 

Norway finally scraps its ridiculous blasphemy law. Better late than never. 

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Hatemonger Gold

May 07, 2015

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

Our boss Ron Lindsay takes to HuffPo to weigh the relative morality of capital punishment versus life in maximum security prisons:

Because of the unacceptably high possibility of an erroneous conviction, I am a reluctant opponent of the death penalty. Reluctant, because some murderers undoubtedly deserve to die. But for me at least, it is no consolation to be told these murderers will be locked away in isolation for decades. Except for the extremely rare Hannibal Lecters of the world, there's no possible rationale or justification for supermax facilities. They are vehicles for prolonged psychological torture. 

Ensaf Haidar asks the Saudi royal family for amnesty for her husband Raif Badawi, on the first anniversary of his sentencing. 

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The Face-Crawling Gastropods

May 06, 2015

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

Gary M. Bakker at Skeptical Inquirer looks at the evolutionary and adaptive reasons why people believe in fictional things like gods and ghosts and conspiracies, and one key factor is "promiscuous teleological intuition."  

The New Republic posts its original review of L. Ron Hubbard's Dianetics (Scientology's "founding text") from 1950 by Martin Gumpert:

This reviewer, in exploring the book, suffered a most painful "cellular engram"—to use the author's language. And he ardently wishes that something could be done to prohibit the activities of psychotherapists of this sort.  

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