The Erosion of Humanity

May 10, 2016

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

The DOJ is suiing North Carolina over it's "bathroom law," a suit which Mark Joseph Stern at Slate calls "wonderfully tough" (my nickname in highschool). (No it wasn't.) Stern says:

[The suit is a] clear-headed document that carefully explains why “sex discrimination”—which is barred in employment and education under federal civil rights law— encompasses gender identity discrimination. Sex, the suit notes, is an incredibly complex concept: “An individual’s ‘sex’ consists of multiple factors, which may not always be in alignment,” including chromosomes, hormones, and gender identity. By distilling sex to the label a hospital put on one’s birth certificate—then restricting bathroom access based on that label—North Carolina “stigmatizes and singles out transgender employees, results in their isolation and exclusion, and perpetuates a sense that they are not worthy of equal treatment and respect.” 

Watch the video of Lynch's address. It's quite something. 

A Columbia University study gets sign-on from 15 legal scholars, urging President Obama to reverse the 2007 Bush memo allowing hiring discrimination for faith-based charities getting federal assistance.

The Skeptical OB, Amy Tuteur, is back on Point of Inquiry, casting a critical eye on myths about "natural" childbirth and the guilt levied against mothers.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon calls for the first World Humanitarian Summit, because “we will not accept the erosion of humanity which we see in the world today.” Doctors Without Borders opts out, saying, in effect, 'meh':

As shocking violations of international humanitarian law and refugee rights continue on a daily basis, WHS participants will be pressed to a consensus on non-specific, good intentions to ‘uphold norms’ and ‘end needs.’ The summit has become a fig-leaf of good intentions, allowing these systematic violations, by states above all, to be ignored. 

The United States of America now has an official National Mammal. Congratulations, bison

Laurie Goodstein at NYT profiles the work of Muslim scholars and imams who are trying to win the ideological war with ISIS using the theology of Islam. These Muslim leaders are now attracting death threats from ISIS, which suggests that they're getting somewhere. 

Eric Niiler at Wired talks to theoretical physicist Sean Carroll on the distinction he draws between atheism and "poetic naturalism." Carroll explains:

Poetic naturalism emphasizes that there are many ways of talking about the natural world. The fact that the underlying laws of physics are deterministic and impersonal does not mean that at the human level we can’t talk about ideas about reasons and goals and purposes and free will.  

Come with me, won't you, to the center of UFO activity, right in New Mexico: Rosw...what?...I'm sorry, I'm being told that it's now Dulce, NM with all the alien action...plus Bigfoot! 

Hillary Clinton's enthusiasm for the topic of UFO disclosure reaches NYT, revealing that she is by all accounts sincere in her interest and desire to bring more transparency to the issue.

Donald Trump mixes it up on Twitter with the Southern Baptist Convention's Russell Moore.  

On that topic, Sarah Posner at NYT looks at whether Trump heralds the end of the religious right. Nope:

Deliberately or not, Mr. Trump may be the perfect candidate for an evangelical subculture that has increasingly become enamored with the prosperity, or health and wealth, gospel. In trying to build a singular religious faction that agreed on some core issues (like abortion), the Republican Party has courted that subculture, even though many evangelicals consider prosperity theology to be heretical. Mr. Trump acts more like a televangelist than an evangelical. 

Glenn Beck says "God will now allow this nation to suffer the consequences of our decisions," meaning the nomination of Donald Trump. Well, suffering will happen, regardless of what God allows. "He ain’t a bad dad," says Beck. Okay.

A federal court lays the smackdown on an international psychic scam ring, which is said to have raked in over $180 million from duped Americans. 

Fun letter to the editor in The Evening Sun:

Our churches, schools, government, even the Supreme Court have been infiltrated by atheists who fight against God and all that is good and moral.

Now, how this person caught me sneaking around the Supreme Court, trying on RGB's robe and whatnot (we're both small), I will never know. I'll turn myself in. 

John Oliver goes after crappy science reporting, and Samantha Bee and Patton Oswalt go after so-called Crisis Pregnancy Centers. 

Quote of the Day:

I don't know why this brings me, and thousands of other people, such joy. But it does:

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Comments:

#1 Randy (Guest) on Tuesday May 10, 2016 at 10:06am

RGB is a colour system.

You’re looking for RBG.

#2 Randy (Guest) on Tuesday May 10, 2016 at 10:09am

“psychic scam”

So if you’re going to scam people, you have to scam them individually.  Because that makes sense.

#3 Randy (Guest) on Tuesday May 10, 2016 at 10:13am

“Nope”

Agreed.  There are only a handful of issues on which Trump has never flip-flopped in the campaign, and one of those few is how wonderful he says evangelicals are.  Whether he agrees with them on anything or not is irrelevant.  He believes he needs them, and is constantly praising them.

#4 Randy (Guest) on Tuesday May 10, 2016 at 10:22am

“The fact that the underlying laws of physics are deterministic and impersonal does not mean that at the human level we can’t talk about ideas about reasons and goals and purposes and free will”

And talking about these things doesn’t affect whether or not they exist.  In particular, I’m not aware of any good case for free will.  And that takes down the rest.

#5 Randy (Guest) on Tuesday May 10, 2016 at 10:42am

“the label a hospital put on one’s birth certificate”

The hospital doesn’t always have the final word.  Some states and countries allow birth certificates to be amended under various circumstances, so that a different sex may be listed.  The text of the law makes no mention of “original” birth certificate (and it probably cannot), so a person’s current birth certificate is what is used.

By basing the law on this widely varying set of documents, NC is treating NC citizens and residents differently based on what other state or country they were born in (and where will some people from Germany pee, since Germany started recognizing a third gender?)

This NC law is such a farce it will be simple to strike it down.

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