The Common Enemies of Humanity

October 25, 2016

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

Holy crap everybody, CSICon 2016 is just a couple of days away, and I may or may not be freaking out. You'll have to just wonder.

Thomas Larson at the UK magazine Church and State explores nontheistic nomenclature, in particular the choice to identify or not identify by the word "atheist." CFI's Tom Flynn gets a quick mention and a video of one of his talks is included. There's some great stuff with RNS's atheist-beat reporter Kimberly Winston, who says “many religion reporters ... say that the main job hazard is a loss of faith.” I bet! Oh, and this was notable:

To be clear, Winston asks interviewees how they describe themselves, faith-wise. If the atheist self-identifies, she asks “How did you get there?” Amazed, Winston says, seven out of ten times, she hears that Richard Dawkins was the cause. Losing one’s religion is a de-conversion, she says; being de-converted by a Dawkins’ book is also a textual conversion, not unlike St. Augustine’s was with the Bible. 

Two scientists from Laval University in Quebec, detecting "modulations" from a clump of 234 stars, are publishing a paper that says, I'm not kidding, that the signals are "probably from Extraterrestrial Intelligence." That seems like, you know, a pretty big claim.

Cats! They're not just for memes, but, according to Abigail Tucker, the guest on Point of Inquiry, they have more or less been domesticating us dumb humans for thousands of years. Good on them.

Catherine Dunphy grapples with the revelation that Teresa MacBain, a fellow Clergy Project alumnus, has gone back to Christianity, bringing in the context of her falsifications:

Teresa had always identified herself as a Duke grad. I like many others, was confused by her motivation to fabricate credentials that were not necessary for her membership in the Clergy Project. Seeing her web of untruths collapse, I and, others were hurt when confronted by her proclivity for duplicity. ... 

Unfortunately I am not surprised she has taken this route. I, and a few others thought she would claim belief again – but we anticipated it happening shortly after her public reproach in the New York Times, when it seemed that she could no longer profit from the atheist community. That said, being proven right about someone doesn’t always make you feel good. In this case, it sickens me. 

NYT has a major multimedia feature on the impact of climate change on China

Steven Salzberg separates the flu treatments that do work from those that are crap (pretty much everything you can buy off a Rite-Aid shelf).  

Nicholas Kristof, looking into the rift among evangelicals, sees light at the end of the Trump tunnel:

As many prominent evangelicals renounce Trump, the secular response should be to applaud that courage in hopes that this is a turning point, and that people of good will, regardless of where they stand on the faith spectrum, can begin to move from fighting one another to tackling the common enemies of humanity that plague us all. 

A feature from Skeptical Inquirer by Craig A. Foster, Christopher K, McClernon, and Richard F. Reich investigate the health claims of Phiten, which sells titanium-infused necklaces that allegedly "help maximize your potential energy and strength."

An amendment to the next defense authorization bill by Rep. Steve Russell would exempt religious groups with government contracts from civil rights law AND the Americans with Disabilities Act, effectively snuffing out the executive order that bars anti-LGBT discrimination. Apart from being morally abysmal, it may also upend Congress. We really want you to help us #RejectRussell.

Herb Silverman contrasts Trump's understanding of religion and religious freedom with Thomas Jefferson's, which, come on, is like comparing my basketball skills with LeBron James. (I am very awkward and short, you see.)

GOP Texas State House Member: Vote against my opponent because she is an atheist

Ryan Moore at VICE reports on how Alcoholics Anonymous is accused of booting nonbelievers from its groups in Canada, as atheists seek to nix the God-stuff from the program. 

Samantha Bee goes after Catholic hospitals. I think I will enjoy this. 

Deepak Chopra says that his critics (like us, who, you know, don't just make stuff up) are "frozen in the ’60s or ’70s." He also says, "Stress is the No.1 epidemic of our time, and it’s an addictive behavior." I'd feel a lot less stress if he'd go away. 

Hey, alt-med is a waste of money, but it doesn't have to waste THAT much, amirite? Here are some ways to save some cash/game the system so you can buy your useless-I-mean-natural treatments. 

Quote of the Day

Rep. Bobby Scott, on the Russell Amendment:

The Russell language would open the entire federal procurement process to taxpayer funded religious discrimination. The language turns the Civil Rights Act of 1964 on its head by undermining fundamental fairness and equal opportunity in the workplace. The funding of our nation’s critical defense needs should not be held hostage to coerce the passage of taxpayer funded discrimination.   

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Photo credit: Alex Dram via / CC BY-NC-ND 

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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#1 Randy (Guest) on Tuesday October 25, 2016 at 3:40pm

“turns the Civil Rights Act of 1964 on its head”

How is that even possible, when this act purporting to advance equality in fact enables and promotes segregation of the religions?  A true civil rights act would require that no cleric could be hired based on their actual beliefs, but rather on their ability to do the job.  (This would also ensure that no religious “school” could discriminate in hiring against teachers having other, or fewer, beliefs).

#2 Randy (Guest) on Tuesday October 25, 2016 at 3:43pm

“I am very ... short, you see.”

Watch more basketball.  Short guys can be some of the best players.

#3 Randy (Guest) on Tuesday October 25, 2016 at 3:49pm

“As many prominent evangelicals renounce Trump, the secular response should be to applaud”

I disagree.  The reasons they are likely to renounce Trump are not likely to be good reasons (e.g. disloyalty, constant lying, general ineptitude) and are more likely to be among the wrong reasons some of them left don’t like him (e.g. unafraid to speak about religious terrorism, identifying lawlessness, defying prudery).

#4 Randy (Guest) on Tuesday October 25, 2016 at 3:55pm

“Extraterrestrial Intelligence.”

Haha… now we know why such civilizations don’t last long.  They advertise themselves to losers like humanity, and eventually we drop in… wiping them out in less than a lifetime.  Extinction: it’s what we do.

A moment of silence for the 234…

#5 Mario (Guest) on Tuesday October 25, 2016 at 5:05pm

Kimberly Winston is “amazed” at the number of atheists led to atheism by Richard Dawkins?  Actually, given modern reading skills, it would be amazing if Robert Ingersoll were that person.

“Physics has no religiosity, Tyson said.”  And Tyson, it would appear, has no literacy.

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