Agnostics and Atheists in the Asylum

December 8, 2014

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

Richard Cimino and Christopher Smith at Salon examine the idea of secularism as a political identity, cites heavily both current and former CFI folks, highlights the African Americans for Humanism 2012 campaign, and calls our org "influential," which warmed my frozen heart on this cold Monday in Maine. 

Don't forget to check out the latest Cause & Effect, our newsletter, to catch up on why CFI is so awesome to begin with. 

religious license-to-discriminate bill passes the Michigan House by a straight party-line vote. 

Will Oremus at Slate argues that Facebook should affirmatively use its curation algorithms to weed out hoaxes and lies

CFI-UK's Stephen Law winds up his three-parter on Young Earth Creationism:

Could Young Earth Creationism be strongly confirmed, at least in principle? Yes. If, on excavating the ground beneath our feet, we had discovered, not fossils, but a bottom layer clearly and repeatedly stamped ‘Made by God, 4004 BC’, that would provide a significant bit of evidence for Young Earth Creationism. 

Stephen also responds to a report by the UK religious think tank Theos that says humanists should be Christians, specifically the idea that human morality must come from a God who wanted morality to exist:

The God-explanation for human dignity, objective moral value, and reason is certainly handy and convenient. ... But then the same may well be true for the Gremlin explanation for the mysterious disappearance of your keys. All my gremlin explanation requires is that there be hidden beings (whom I dub ‘gremlins’) who (i) like stealing keys and (ii) had the power and opportunity to steal yours.

Laurie Zoloth, a bioethicist who is also president of the American Academy of Religion, wants to cancel the organization's major conference for the best of reasons. NYT:

Dr. Zoloth used her presidential address to call on her colleagues to plan a sabbatical year, a year in which they would cancel their conference. In her vision, they would all refrain from flying across the country, saving money and carbon. It could be a year, Dr. Zoloth argued, in which they would sacrifice each other’s company for the sake of the environment, and instead would turn toward their neighborhoods and hometowns. 

Openly Secular is targeting a blight that continues to stain many state laws: Unenforceable prohibitions against atheists holding public office.  

Our own Tom Flynn cheers the effort on:

Fifteen years ago, secular humanists, atheists, agnostics, and other freethinkers lacked the public stature and the organizational capacity to press this issue. Now -- just maybe -- we do. I wish Todd and Openly Secular the best of fortune in their lobbying. 

This is a real problem for those of us to work to advance science: The plague of scam scientific papers getting published in legitimate journals.  

The Supreme Court will take a case about whether speech on a license plate (in this case a Confederate flag) is private speech or government-endorsed. 

Congress wants to transfer the land that has the Mount Soledad cross to a private owner. 

WSJ: "Construction of religious buildings in the U.S. has fallen to the lowest level at any time since private records began in 1967." 

Vanity Fair asks Bill Maher if Karen Armstrong's comparison of his views to those of Nazis "stings," to which he replies, "It doesn’t sting because it’s beyond stupid." 

Here's a Thomas Friedman lede I never expected:

The Islamic State has visibly attracted young Muslims from all over the world to its violent movement to build a caliphate in Iraq and Syria. But here’s what’s less visible — the online backlash against the Islamic State, also known as ISIS and ISIL, by young Muslims declaring their opposition to rule by Islamic law, or Shariah, and even proudly avowing their atheism. 

The pseudoscience-peddling "Food Babe" responds to critics, to which David Gorski responds, "Clearly, self-awareness, thy name is not Food Babe." 

Moses didn't part the Red Sea. But you know what might have? Weather!

David Cameron to Pakistan: Be nice to the Briton you jailed for blasphemy

Honus Wagner: He looks bored in his baseball card picture, but he's really CURSED

The Oatmeal crushes evolution. With yelling! And a lobster!

A holiday card for the War on Christmas.  

Speaking of which, Kirk Cameron's movie is officially the worst movie ever made, says the Internet. In Kirk's defense, the Internet says a LOT of things.

Bill Donohue says of atheists:

They don’t want to be told anything, which is why they die prematurely, they’re unhappy. That’s why we have a disproportionate number of agnostics and atheists in the asylum. All of this is true. 

Not fair, Bill. I mean, that does sound like me, but come on. 

Quote of the Day

Rehka Basu at the Des Moines Register on the needless anger over atheist billboards:

What is so offensive about someone choosing no religion? ... Surely we have room as a society to accommodate both the faithful and the nonfaithful, to be able to work together toward broader societal goals without trying to force our orientations on others. It's that ability to live and let live that makes some of us proud to be American. 

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Image by Shutterstock 

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Comments:

#1 Randy on Tuesday December 09, 2014 at 9:50am

“young Muslims ... proudly avowing their atheism.”

Although the statement is about Muslims leaving Islam, this particular language almost treats Islam like a race.

To address this common fallacy, I try not to speak of “Muslims” or “Christians” (e.g) if I can.  Although awkward, “having Islam” or “having Christianity” is a bit closer to the truth.  These are just regular people with a large and unpleasant memeplex attached.

#2 Randy on Tuesday December 09, 2014 at 9:56am

“religious license-to-discriminate bill”

I call this “religious supremacy”.  There should be one law for everyone to follow, not exemptions for people based on religious claims.

#3 Jason (Guest) on Tuesday December 09, 2014 at 2:40pm

Randy, I call it bull.

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