Bhinneka Tunggal ika

February 3, 2014

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

Excellent news on Friday, as CFI was able to independently confirm that Alexander Aan, the persecuted Indonesian atheist, has been released from prison. Michael De Dora has more, including why all is not roses yet for Alex

Over the weekend, CFI's Debbie Goddard and I took part in Google Hangout panel discussions for Freethought Blogs' FTBCon2. Debbie did one on community building and one on trans men and trans masculinity, and I did one on social media at conferences.

Video for Kylie Sturgess's TEDx talk on superstition is up, and not even bridges can stop her. She also has a new podcast episode out, with Chris Johnson who did the atheistic "A Better Life" book, which features CFI's Michael De Dora, among others. Full circle!!!

The Texas Board of Education actually takes a positive step, and limits the power of "citizen review boards" to hack away at science in textbooks in favor of not-science. 

Constitutionality of Hawaii's marriage equality law is upheld

Elizabeth Drescher explores the phenomenon of "Good Samaritan Nones," the unaffiliated or nonreligious who still like Jesus:

In this cosmopolitan spiritual landscape, Jesus is just alright with Nones—othered as they are by choice or circumstance from traditional religions—to the extent that he is seen as a particularly exemplary inhabitant of the “many dwelling places” in a diverse cosmic household rather than as the keeper of the “narrow gate.” 

Hehehe: Rapid City Journal calls the new South Dakota intelligent design bill the "Odd Bill of the Week." 

NYT reviews the book Families and Faith: How Religion Is Passed Down Across Generations, which also explores how and why the kids of religious families might leave their faith. 

Ordered to pay a $15 million settlement for sexual abuse victims, the Diocese of Helena, Montana files for bankruptcy

I missed the Big Sportsball Game, but here's a commercial they didn't run for a fascinating new drug, with advertised capability to "filter out bullshit."

Atheist James Conmy wrestles with explaining death and heaven to his 5-year-old son, opting for now to let him believe

Francis Adams has 5 reasons for believing that secular humanism is "winning." 

David at Concord Area Humanists makes a case for an "interfaith" SCA:

The Secular Coalition for America should not be comprised only of non-theistic organizations like Humanists, Atheists, Agnostics, etc.  Just as Jewish and Muslim groups should be joining the Secular Coalition for America in fighting against Christian themed government decorations, so too many of the main stream religious groups should want to join in seeing that Health Care issues are handled in a Secular fashion.  

Carl Zimmer expounds on some lessons he wish he'd learned when he began as a science writer. 

Cindy Hoedel, who came out as an atheist in her Kansas City Star column, rounds up some responses, and characterizes them generally:

Most of the nonbelievers congratulated me for “courage” in stating my atheism but feared I would receive lots of hate mail. I did not. Responses from believers were respectful. Some tried to persuade me I was wrong and one criticized me for being a Marxist (I am not) but no one warned of eternal damnation (thank you).

Quote of the Day

Rafiq Mahmood has been visiting Alexander Aan and keeping us up to date on his situation. In honor of Alex's release and continued struggle for real freedom, here's a clip from an interview with Rafiq about Alex at Maryam Namazie's blog:

[Alex] said that the most important thing of all is love. The world is one and we are all brothers and sisters. He was deeply troubled by the news from all around the world of people suffering. ... These are our brothers and sisters, Alex said, it doesn’t matter where they are from, it doesn’t matter about their country. I asked him, “or what they look like or their belief?” No. It doesn’t matter what they look like or what they believe. The only way to solve the problems of this world is through empathy. We can’t do that if we don’t know about each other. We need education and need to talk about ideas and information freely. There can’t be any inside or outside. We are all one. “Bhinneka Tunggal ika?” Yes. Bhinneka Tunggal ika – Unity in diversity. The most important thing is love and unity and empathy.

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Image via Shutterstock

Linking to a story or webpage does not imply endorsement by Paul or CFI. Not every use of quotation marks is ironic or sarcastic, but it often is. 

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#1 Mario (Guest) on Monday February 03, 2014 at 10:18am

“Debbie did one on community building and one on trans men and trans masculinity, and I did one on social media at conferences.”

Ah, yes.  The usual hard science!

#2 DebGod on Monday February 03, 2014 at 8:08pm

Yeah, it’s a little funny that the movement is not actually a hard science movement—the organizations don’t generally employ scientists, and we don’t do hard science in our activism.  More of it is related to the squishy soft sciences, including sociology, psychology, and anthropology.  I don’t think the hard sciences can be promoted well without a good understanding of those anyway, and I, like many in the movement, am in the “business” of organizing and activism, not doing hard science!

#3 Mario (Guest) on Monday February 03, 2014 at 9:59pm

Yet, the movement uses the authority of astronomy, biology, geology, etc. when dismissing religion.  It laments the state of science and math education.  CFI’s posts often include links related to hard science.

#4 DebGod on Tuesday February 04, 2014 at 10:52am

I don’t disagree, of course!  I think when I refer to “the movement” I’m describing a broader collection of goals and people.

#5 Mario (Guest) on Tuesday February 04, 2014 at 11:38am

True.  But it seems as if the Randi/Sagan/CSICOP approach is the public face of the freethought/skeptical/secular movement.  You know, fantastic claims require f. proof, the need to make “reality-based” claims (wherein subjective means false, and objective=true), and so on.  As a popular movement, it boasts many different branches, but there seems to have been a decision across the various factions to focus on scientific rebuttal of faith and its “claims,” and the science in question is hard, math-y science.  Given that so many in the movement are as unversed in hard, math-y science as the average believer (actually, I know some very science savvy evangelicals!), isn’t the defender-of-science image a little… hypocritical?  And, given that both objective AND subjective premises are permitted in critical thinking, why the movement’s stance that subjective=false and objective=true?  This amounts to giving a pass to pseudoscience, whose claims are frequently “based on” science, albeit improperly.  If the goal is to disentangle truth from faith, then notions such as “reality-based” and “consistent with reason” should be avoided like a History Channel ancient-aliens marathon….

Btw, thanks for debating.  It’s appreciated!

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