A Veritable Museum of Mistakes

January 27, 2014

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

A must-read: Friend-of-the-blog Ali A. Rizvi corresponds with Faisal Saeed Al Mutar on their shared and differing experiences as atheist former-Muslims. One big theme: their belief that Western liberals are "selling out" liberals in the Muslim world. Writes Rizvi:

Western countries like the US barely use a fraction of the force they have the capacity to because whatever their flaws, they are still bound by a code of ethics -- and as democracies, accountability to their people. If the Taliban or Al Qaeda had even a tenth of the weaponry that the US does, you'd already have entire countries razed to the ground. I think many writers confuse neutrality with objectivity.

Tom Flynn is the guest on the Religious Studies Project podcast, unpacking what exactly it means to be a secular humanist. 

CFI-Los Angeles hosts astronomer David Falk for a talk, and one audience member gets really pissed when Falk disses astrology.

Kimberly Winston's story on CFI's Freethought Books Project hits USA Today (yay!) but gets yet another weird headline: "Atheist groups cater to a captive audience: Prisoners" Get it?? Captive????  

"pH Miracle Living" cancer-cure huckster Robert O. Young is arrested, and David Gorski digs in.

We have an awesome video, a presentation by Chris Silver from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, on the varieties of atheistic experience.  

It's Horseman v. Horseman, as Sam Harris posts Daniel Dennett's critique of Harris's Free Will on his own blog. Dennett calls it, in the nicest way possible, "a veritable museum of mistakes." 

Peggy Revell has kind of had it with inspirational memes with stars and moons that have nothing to do with what stars and moons actually are. 

Point of Inquiry host Josh Zepps talks to CFI Summit headliner Bill Nye about The Big Question - does Bill believe in God

Yet another uncritical profile of a "pet psychic." Ugh. 

Magic athletic tape seems less than magical

Noah's Ark never existed, but someone drew up the plans nonetheless, which we can now read thanks to the discovery of an old Babylonian tablet:

The ark is a huge circular coracle, 3,600 square metres in dimension or two-thirds the size of a football pitch, made like a giant rope basket strengthened with wooden ribs, and waterproofed with bitumen inside and out.  

Tim Farley tracks down Patient Zero of the preventable-outbreaks map outbreak.

Mike "Uncle Sugar" Huckabee is opposed to contraceptive mandates, except when he signs them into law

Dude. There ARE no black holes. (No really, Stephen Hawking thinks so.) 

Can a Tumblr so thoroughly parody conspiracy theories that it begins to generate them

The Bradenton Herald reports on the genesis of a thriving humanist group, with a nod to the Council for Secular Humanism. 

The Supreme Court save the Little Sisters, an organization of Catholic nuns, from the horrid, unthinkable task, of filing paperwork to get out of the contraceptive mandate.

American Secular Census is looking to survey on the topic of discrimination against atheists

Bill Maher gives a long interview to The Atlantic (including an exploration of what the hell happened to Dennis Miller), and on Pascal's Wager says, "I don't know what happens when I die, and I don't care." 

South Dakota legislators want to make sure no one has to take part in a same-sex wedding if they don't want to. Well, phew! 

Jacques Berlinerblau does a "conference call" podcast with the Council on Foreign Relations on the topic of secularism and US foreign policy

Khaled Aljenfawi at Arab Times seeks to differentiate atheism from secularism:

Secular thought does not pose a clear or present danger against our Islamic heritage. In previous Islamic eras, tens if not hundreds of Muslim scholars did not find it troubling to their consciences to hold philosophical and intellectual discourses with Western secularism. 

Utah appoints an attorney to fight marriage equality who sees his job as a "religious duty." Sarah Jones calls him on it:

[O]pponents of marriage equality often insist that their views have nothing to do with religion. Yet when they are asked to articulate a secular reason against same-sex marriage, they struggle to come up with one that makes even a lick of sense. 

Ew, someone stole a dead pope's blood.  

Quote of the Day

Jon O’Brien of Catholics for Choice makes a Catholic case for contraception coverage in health care:

Individuals have consciences, they have health care needs and they have religious liberty. They deserve to have these rights and needs respected and protected. Institutions, however, do not. The constant bleating about institutions having their conscience violated by the contraceptive mandate is a bogus argument.

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