Archaeopteryx Matters

January 29, 2016

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

Huffington Post's Nick Wing spoke with me about Bernie Sanders' recent comments about God and the candidates' alignment with humanist principles:

"I think everyone believes in God in their own ways," Sanders said in his interview with The Washington Post.

Glossy platitudes like this have become typical in the hyper-religious arena of national politics, but as Fidalgo points out, it's a blanket statement that casually dismisses nonbelievers. Coming from anyone else, it might be expected. But for the godless Americans who have followed Sanders' career and support his presidential campaign, the words sting more. 

Paul Waldman at the Post also explores the dynamics of having a more-or-less nonreligious candidate doing as well as Sanders is, while Sarah Posner at NYT looks at how the less-than-pious Trump is divvying up the conservative religious vote in the GOP. The panel on The View also discusses the Sanders-irreligion question. Joy Behar said, "This country is obsessed with religion. Right now." And I count myself among the people Whoopi Goldberg listed as "folks who believe in Star Trek."

We've got an action alert out, asking all you good folks to contact your congress-types and tell them to support H. Res 561, which "recognizes the systematic and structural challenges facing the transgender community and the need for action to improve safety and opportunity for transgender people” and “supports the transgender community and allies." Let's get on this, everybody.  

Ed Brayton cites Michael De Dora's excellent interview with Iowa Free Press on CFI's activism as an example of why he supports CFI above other freethought organizations. (Thanks, Ed!)

At last night's GOP debate, Marco Rubio raised the bar once again for expressions of devotion to Jesus:

Well, let me be clear about one thing. There's only one savior and it's not me. It's Jesus Christ who came down to Earth and died for our sins and so I've always made that clear... [...] And when I'm president, I can tell you this, my faith will not just influence the way I'll govern as president, it will influence the way I live my life. Because in the end, my goal is not simply to live on this Earth for 80 years but to live an eternity with my creator. I will always allow my faith to influence everything I do.

Marco, you can chill. Literally no one thinks you're an atheist or a Muslim or whatever. It's okay.  

It's not news that Donald Trump revels in anti-vax and other conspiracy theories. He's put his money there, too, it seems. In an AP report about his charitable giving, we get this nugget:

In 2010, Trump's foundation gave $10,000 to Generation Rescue, a nonprofit run by Jenny McCarthy to champion the widely discredited theory that vaccines cause autism. Trump also gave $1,000 to the New York Rescue Workers Detoxification Project, an organization confounded by Tom Cruise that offered free Scientology-based cleansing to rescue workers after the 2001 terror attacks. 

Looks like ancient Babylonians figured out how to chart the motion of Jupiter almost a full millennium-and-a-half before anyone in Europe ever did. Very cool. 

Kavin Senapathy at Forbes catches Deepak Chopra ascribing sentience and psychic powers to bacteria in your gut. 

Here's a novel idea: A film has debuted at Sundance that is a fake documentary about the (fictional) faking of the Moon landing.  

At Skeptical Inquirer, Penny Higgens works through the muddle that is taxonomy of species, and it's very enlightening:

Classifying such organisms into higher categories is difficult. But the classification (the taxonomy), aside from species, does not affect the actual relationships (the phylogeny), because taxonomy and phylogeny are not the same thing. For example, it doesn’t matter if Archaeopteryx is classified as a bird or a dinosaur. What matters is that Archaeopteryx as a species is clearly defined and distinct from other dinosaurs and other birds. Then we can start to understand how it is that birds and dinosaurs are hardly different in some ways but utterly different in others. 

Iran's president, Hassan Rouhani, will visit Paris, but he won't be dining with François Hollande because the French refuse to disallow wine at the table, or to serve only Halal meat, concessions which the Italian government had been willing to make for Rouhani (along with covering nude statues). The Telegraph notes:

Alcohol consumption is no laughing matter in Iran, whose culture ministry has just banned the word “wine” from books published in the Islamic Republic on the grounds that it amounts to the “cultural invasion” of the West.

The Satanists are coming to the Phoenix City Council.   

Quote of the Day:

A comic instead of a quote. More flat Earth fun by Charlie Hankin, hat tip to Barry Karr: 

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Original image by Shutterstock

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Comments:

#1 Richard (Guest) on Friday January 29, 2016 at 5:01pm

I do not believe in Star Trek. I believe in Solaris. The universe is not only duller than we suppose; it’s duller than we can suppose.

#2 Randy on Saturday January 30, 2016 at 3:45am

Regarding your Flat Earth comic, you must appreciate that the enlightened tell time in UTC (aka Z) time, a time useful no matter where you on Earth.  And for us, the time is the same on all the city clocks.  Of course, we only use one clock to display the time.

I’ve never understood why someone thought it was a bright idea to have everyone in different “zones” (only loosely based on longitude lines) and make that bad idea worse by throwing in Daylight-Saving.  It’s a bad idea executed poorly.  It is THAT system which needs to be mocked.

#3 Randy on Saturday January 30, 2016 at 2:31pm

Oh Bernie :(

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