Not So Special in the Grand Scheme of Things

February 13, 2013

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

Today marks one year for me at CFI. (It's not one year for The Morning Heresy, as I didn't start that until the next week, and even then it was still an internal document only.) I'd have a big party with cake and whatnot with my coworkers, but 1) I telecommute from Maine, the End of America, so it'd be hard to get together, 2) I don't like parties, and 3) I'd rather have ice cream or cookies than cake. But still, it's kind of a big deal to me.

There's a lot of consternation in the skepto-atheist movement these days (I guess there almost always is for one reason or another), and very often CFI finds itself at or near the center of it. But that's part of what I like so much about CFI. It covers all the bases, it tackles the tough stuff, but not in a bomb-throwing, outrage-for-the-sake-of-outrage kind of way. Instead, CFI is, to me, about confronting tough questions with a purpose: science, reason, and secularism for the betterment of our species. For our intellectual enrichment, yes, but also for our overall well-being. That sometimes gets people mad, but it also adds substance to the overall discussion of what the heck it is we're all doing here in this movement. And I like where we stand. So even though times in Skepto-atheistville are tumultuous, I'm proud to advance under the banner of the Blue Flaming Meatball and count myself as a part of the Center for Inquiry. Happy anniversary, us!

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Greetings from Glasgow, Please Do Not Enslave Our Species

February 12, 2013

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

Today is, of course, the day that the world asks perhaps the most important existential question that confronts our species: Who would win in a fight, Lincoln or Darwin? Born on the same day in 1809, two of the most consequential humans ever to live could, in some fan-fic universe, have crossed paths, angered each other, and decided to go at it. (Let's be honest, Lincoln would totally start it.) Both were tall men, though Lincoln was taller by about 4 inches. Factor that with his rustic upbringing, which undoubtedly included far more manual labor than this guy ever had to endure, and it looks like a clear win for Honest Abe. But don't count Chuck D out, as his years aboard the Beagle would have toughened him up, dealing with salty sea dogs and whatnot. He may have been more scrappy than we can ever really know.

Anyway.

Tonight the president delivers the State of the Union, and WaPo is reporting that he is also considering some executive orders concerning protections for LGBT Americans, as well as energy and climate policy, among other things. 

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Nooooo One Expects the Papal Resignation!

February 11, 2013

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

Well, you probably already know what the big news is today.

Pope Benedict XVI, at times referred to on this blog as "Mr. Popey-head," announces his intention to resign the papacy in order to spend more time with his family.

No, wait, that wasn't it.

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Someone Who Hates Everything I Hate

February 08, 2013

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

Holy moly there's a lot of news this morning. Ill-timed, too, because the snowstorm "Nemo" is descending upon my plucky state of Maine with a vengeance -- and even getting a jump on things! We're already buried in snow, when it wasn't supposed to get blizzard-y until later this afternoon. And they say the real snowmageddon hasn't even started yet. So, as you can imagine, the wife, the kids, and I are all eyeing each other to see which of us we're all going to eat first.  

To the news! 

Religion Dispatches highlights atheist activism on college campuses, and looks to our own Sarah Kaiser and Cody Hashman for insight. 

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Geese, Beer, and Pterosaurs

February 07, 2013

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

President Obama has just wrapped up his speech to the National Prayer Breakfast, and the fact of his participation never gets less disappointing. I didn't see it, but I'm sure we'll be hearing about it. (I just saw on Twitter that in the speech Obama announced the coming departure of Faith-Based Initiatives chief Josh DuBois.) 

Tunisian opposition leader, critic of the Islamist government, Chokri Belaid is assassinated.

Man who tried to shoot up the Family Research Council, wounding security guard Leo Johnson, pleads guilty to terrorism.

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We Swoop in with Our Wall of Separation and Make Everything Right

February 06, 2013

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

Britain's House of Commons votes in favor for marriage equality by a huge margin. Meanwhile, the Pentagon is set to extend certain benefits to same-sex couples within its ranks this week.

Science writer extraordinaire Carl Zimmer is the guest on the latest Point of Inquiryand he's got viruses! To talk about. Viruses to talk about. Come on, people. 

CFI's Debbie Goddard declares that the skepto-atheist movement should be much more involved in education and poverty...

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Disrupt the DNA

February 05, 2013

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

I'm sure you'll be shocked to learn that the document dump by the Archdiocese of Los Angeles regarding child abuse cover-ups was woefully incomplete, even violating direct judge's orders. Oh, and the punishment meted out to Cardinal Mahony for enabling these crimes may be no punishment at all.

A new HBO documentaryMea Maxima Culpa: Silence in the House of God, looks to track this horrific crisis to its roots. Sara Smith at the Kansas City Star says, "No one can now pretend that the men running the world's largest Christian church don't know that they are protecting evil in their midst."

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You Get 28%

February 04, 2013

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

On Friday, the HHS announced a new policy allowing religious organizations to opt out of the contraceptive coverage rule of the Affordable Care Act. Our own Michael DeDora responded with deep skepticism, and also lamented a seeming lack of backbone on the part of the administration:

It is also troubling that HHS has given so much influence to the religious lobby on a major health and public policy decision. This drawn out debate over something as basic as birth control is a perfect example of the harmful influence of religious belief on public policy.

Sarah Posner cites Michael's analysis in her own breakdown of what's important about this new rule:

It's one thing for the Court to decide when a law violates the religious freedom of a citizen, and another for political pressure to be applied by a particular religious group (or a collection of religious groups sharing a particular religious view) to gain an exemption from a generally applicable law. 

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The Internet Will Find You

February 01, 2013

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

Wendy Kaminer at The Atlantic on the prospects of atheist would-be Boy Scouts:

Atheists who want to join associations that disdain them have to change the culture, not the law. Like gays and lesbians, they have to challenge popular notions of sin and immorality. And they have to sever the connection between godliness and patriotism, especially if they want to join the Scouts. 

Our own Tom Flynn relishes in his predictive triumph: It's been good for atheists to out themselves over the past decade or so, so says science

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The Taliban Card

January 31, 2013

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

Alber Saber's appeal of his blasphemy conviction in Egypt is rejectedSaber was at the hearing, which muddies the previous reporting that he had left the country. This article, however, makes it unclear as to whether Saber attended this hearing, as he has been otherwise reported to be out of the country.

At CSICOP.org, Sharon Hill talks about the "sticky wicket" of the line-of-demarcation problem between science and what we call pseudoscience. 

Also: Anti-vaxxer Jenny McCarthy is going to headline a health event in Ottawa. Sharon says, "What a DUMB move." 

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