Sensitive to Robots

December 3, 2014

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

Yesterday was #GivingTuesday, where nonprofits were showing their puppydog eyes to potential supporters. Yes, it's now Wednesday, but don't let that stop you

The Secular Coalition gets an Interim Executive Director in Kelly Damerow, as Herb Silverman returns as its board president. I hope he can make time for the SCA while he's moonlighting with the KKK

A town in Georgia is banning Muslims from renting space in a strip mall for worship services because something-something-Islam-is-scary.

Federal judge tosses out a suit against the Kansas Board of Education claiming that teaching evolution is science classes promoted atheism.

There's yet another anti-New Atheist piece, this time at Jacobin, which I haven't read because, really, I think the genre has been exhausted.   

In a good example of journalistic accountability, io9 editor Annalee Newitz takes responsibility and apologizes for what she says was an unacceptably one-sided piece by George Dvorsky (who does great work generally) on animal lab testing.  

Rev. C. Welton Gaddy announces his retirement from the Interfaith Alliance.  

Erica Hellerstein at ThinkProgress investigates Americans United for Life and its efforts to thwart abortion access. 

Hayabusa 2 is rocketing toward an asteroid as we speak, set to collect a piece of it. 

Pakistan investigates a former pop star turned "evangelical Muslim" (from the band Vital Signs, which I've never heard of) for blasphemy, for allegedly saying something bad about a wife of Muhammed. Sounds like a totally worthwhile endeavor to spend time and resources on.

A guy died back in March, but his family kept him in the house in case he was resurrected.  

This animated infographic shows how speakers actually work. I still don't get it, but that's why I'm not an engineer or scientist. 

Ben Radford looks at the shutting down of flights over a "psychic's" warning of doom, and explores the penchant for superstition in travel. 

Britain's anti-porn laws get weirdly specific.  

Religious fundamentalists seem to be more sensitive to the creepiness of human-like robots than others.

A new book looks at the American-Christian fascination with (and belief in) the apocalypse.  

FFRF has a nice "naturalist nativity scene" in Wisconsin, with Darwin and Jefferson and a space man. The Springfield Area Freethinkers will be placing a Solstice display in the Illinois Capitol.

But this, THIS, is the God-King of All Nativity Scenes, featuring Riker, Troi, Batman, a T-Rex, Bill & Ted, Battle Beats, and I presume Three Wise Vaders. My friend Chris Sawyer says:

I like this because it represents most, not all but most, of my religious beliefs.  

ClickHole wins my heart with this.  

It's okay, Tony, I feel this way about Christmas cards, too. 

Quote of the Day

Chirstian Bale on making Exodus:

It’s very easy when you’re making a film that has this sort of weight to it, you could unintentionally start making ‘Life of Brian.’

Oh, sir, you should be so lucky.     

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Image by Shutterstock 

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Comments:

#1 DebGod on Wednesday December 03, 2014 at 1:13pm

Ha, I disagree that the “anti-New Atheist” genre of article (if that’s what we want to call it) has been exhausted.  That article provides more support for its premise than others I’ve seen on the topic.  There are many examples given which may make you uncomfortable.  I know they made me question some atheist “idols” when I first read them.

These paragraphs from the article represent a key idea that I think we in the movement would do well to explore more:

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At face value, and by its own understanding, New Atheism is a reinvigorated incarnation of the Enlightenment scientism found in the work of thinkers like Bacon and Descartes: a critical discourse that subjects religious texts and traditions to rational scrutiny by way of empirical inquiry and defends universal reason against the forces of provincialism.

In practice, it is a crude, reductive, and highly selective critique that owes its popular and commercial success almost entirely to the “war on terror” and its utility as an intellectual instrument of imperialist geopolitics.

Whereas some earlier atheist traditions have rejected violence and championed the causes of the Left — Bertrand Russell, to take an obvious example, was both a socialist and a unilateralist — the current streak represented by Hitchens, Dawkins, and Harris has variously embraced, advocated, or favorably contemplated: aggressive war, state violence, the curtailing of civil liberties, torture, and even, in the case of the latter, genocidal preemptive nuclear strikes against Arab nations.
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