What a Fraud You’ll Feel Like

October 26, 2015

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

The New Yorker, just in time for Halloween, republishes its 2002 profile of CFI's own Joe Nickell, with the best caricature of him ever. 

Today, however, Joe warns folks about a telephone scam where callers claim to be the IRS, and investigates claims of "miracles" from the painting of the Black Madonna of Czestochowa.

Tanya Lewis at Business Insider explores the psychology behind ghost-belief, and checks in with CFI's Ben Radford who asks, "If you're genuinely terrified of ghosts and think they could kill you, why the [heck] would you go looking for them?" (I wonder what he said instead of "heck.") 

Brian J. Grim & Brian W. Walsh write at Forbes that fostering religious pluralism around the world will help bring economic stability and perhaps "prove to be a global engine for innovation and sustainable development." 

Looks like neither the Washington Post nor the LA Times are following the AP's lead when it comes to climate change deniers: Both have headlines labeling deniers (Exxon and in Congress) "skeptics."

Ben Carson comes out for a full ban on all abortions in all circumstances

Greg Gaffin is the frontman of Bad Religion, has a PhD in zoology, and has a new book out called Population Wars: A New Perspective on Competition and Coexistence. He talks to VICE about it

Mike Kilen at the Des Moines Register looks at how atheism has become less stigmatized in Iowa

Jesse Rifkin at The Daily Beast profiles atheist rapper Baba Brinkman

Steven Salzberg sees the censorship of science going on in Russia, and urges Russian scientists to flee to the West to do their work and critique the Putin regime.

Raza Habib Raja worries about the growing demonization of secularism (often as "sickularism") in India. 

The Economist reports on a strange-bedfellows coalition of secularists and Christian groups against efforts in the UK to curtail radical speech. 

Jim Weiker at the Columbus Dispatch looks at the decision faced by realtors when they find a property is believed to be haunted

Goldwin Emerson at the London Free Press explains humanism:

Humanists try to sort through ... ethical issues in a caring thoughtful and logical manner. What if we are wrong? What if there is a caring, loving, and wise God who has set out his ethical principles for us to follow? What if there really is a hell that awaits us with eternal damnation? Then we are wrong in our views. 

Anti-vaxxers and the Nation of Islam "rally" against vaccinations. With RFK Jr. 

Atheist Ijeoma Oluo says nonbelief is its own "leap of faith," and cautions atheists not to judge believers:

We need to constantly examine and expose our nature as pack animals who are constantly trying to define the other in order to feel safe through all of the systems we build in society.  

Norwegians: Bustin' makes them feel good.

Quote of the Day:

A 16-year-old atheist in Alabama writes to Dear Abby about her struggle to belong, and whether she should just pretend to be religious. "Abby" (Jeanne Phillips) responds:

I think you should continue being true to the person you really are. Let me point out that if you're feeling isolated now, consider what a fraud you will feel like if you join a religion and must pray to a deity you don't believe in in order to "fit in."

While many churches promote church-related youth activities, you should explore what nonsectarian activities are available in your community. If the boy you like cares about you, he will like you even if you aren't religious, and you will have your self-respect. It's not easy feeling different, but sometimes it's worth it.

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Original image by Shutterstock

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#1 Randy on Tuesday October 27, 2015 at 2:44am

Ijeoma Oluo is wrong.  All systems of knowledge require some basic assumptions.  That’s not a fault.  But it doesn’t get them all off the hook either.  Some really are better, and we need to stop pretending otherwise.

The system must be examined to see whether it contradicts its own assumptions (as religions tend to do) or is objectively a worse match for reality as competing systems (as religions tend to be).

The promotion of inferior models plainly harms humanity in often extreme ways, and is effectively “the enemy”, and that needs to be pointed out and denounced as surely as any threat should be.

It is true that atheists (e.g. Julia Gillard) can be sexist and homophobic, among other faults.  This is not a flaw in atheism.  Rather, it’s a flaw in Julia Gillard, and others.  We do not need to address such things IN THE NAME OF atheism, because atheism is not a system of morality and does not speak to that. Further, the religious or non-religious source of institutional bigotry is largely irrelevant in a (supposedly) secular society anyway.  Rather, we address it as part of governing.

Oluo: “words in a book are not responsible for the atrocities we commit as human beings”

This is in direct contradiction to the plainly-spoken and written words of people who commit these atrocities.  Even atrocities committed by the (supposedly) secular West are done with blatantly religious rituals, themes, and writings.

Religion is not the only source of threatening ideas, but it’s certainly got the high score. 

Even if humans are tribal and exclusionary, that doesn’t mean that some ideas really aren’t wrong.  It just means that we should be honest about the reasons we oppose something or some one.

#2 Randy on Tuesday October 27, 2015 at 3:06am

“Goldwin Emerson at the London Free Press” (Canada, not UK) makes this odd statement:

“But if we are caring, concerned people who have tried our best to help our world and our fellow humans, then we will not be any worse off than our religious friends if we discover God exists and He is truly a just, merciful, loving and forgiving God”

What kind of reverse Pascal’s Wager is this?

“God” is “Yahweh”, and that character, in his own words, is not a loving god.  The fact that no other gods are ever mentioned reveals Goldwin’s closed-mindedness, but let’s go with it.

Humanists are supposed to hope that (a) there are no gods, or (b) God exists but is completely unlike what God’s own supposed autobiography says he is like.

Let’s be clear: Mark 3:29 “But he that shall blaspheme against the Holy Ghost hath never forgiveness, but is in danger of eternal damnation” (words attributed to God/Jesus)

2 Timothy 1:9 is a New Testament verse speaking about the irrelevance of good works: “Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began”

#3 Randy on Tuesday October 27, 2015 at 3:09am

“urges Russian scientists to flee to the West”.

Come to Canada.  We’re just starting to have science again.

#4 Randy on Tuesday October 27, 2015 at 3:15am

“Baba Brinkman”

There’s been much made of this year’s musical Hamilton, and that 50-song hip-hop musical is an impressive feat. 

But I think Brinkman’s latest album is just as impressive, and I do hope he gets the attention he deserves from it.  I want to hear this on the radio.

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