The Complete Absence of Physical Matter

May 18, 2015

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

I know I say this a lot, but seriously, things have been incredibly busy. Check out Friday's Cause & Effect newsletter to see what I mean. 

The Environment and Energy newswire talks to ThinkProgress's Joe Romm about the skeptic-vs-denier debate spurred by the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry's letter to the media. Rightwing outlet Newsmax quotes folks who worry about being "smeared" by us who "hold the reins of power." Wow!

Michael Newdow is back, trying to use RFRA "religious freedom" laws to challenge "In God We Trust" on currency

Yvette d’Entremont ("The Science Babe") recently gave a talk to CFI-L.A., and we've got the video!

Omer Aziz at The Globe and Mail laments the state of free expression in Bangladesh:

Rabindranath Tagore, the author of Bangladesh’s national anthem, would understand this. It was he, this most famous Bengali of all, who wrote of a world “Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high / Where knowledge is free / Where the world has not been broken up into fragments.” The assassin’s veto must not be allowed to render the cultivation of such a world impossible. 

I did a lot of writing over the weekend you guys might dig. New Zealand declared animals to be sentient, and I had thoughts about that and how it connects to artificial intelligence. As if to make the connection for me, right after posting that, I saw that scientists had made a virtual mouse brain in a computer.  

Also, I reflected on the reporting of Lee Billings about surveys of galaxies to look for "Type 3 civilizations." In my post, I imagine what a galactic civilization might actually look like, and why we might never detect it. 

"See, the complete absence of physical matter in my vegetables is kind of a deal breaker for this chemist..." 

Chuck Todd explores the political impact of the big numbers for "Nones" in the recent Pew report, saying it favors Democrats a lot (which we knew).

Al Hunt looks at the Pew numbers and finds that while secular voters are tougher to get organized, there is a lot of "untapped potential." NYT's Charles M. Blow says that "for now, unaffiliated is an identity as yet unaware of its power." 

Peter Manseau sees the Pew numbers as being less about nonreligion and more about being pan-religious:

The next Great Awakening — a transformation of the religious character of the nation as radical as it is unexpected — might be led by those with too many spiritual influences to choose just one.

Joseph Fiennes is in a new movie about the resurrection of Jesus "through the eyes of a nonbeliever," meaning a dirty Roman pagan.

Christians pray in protest against a psychics' expo. Talk about not knowing who to root for.  

Quote of the Day:

I can't believe I'm doing this, but the quote of the day HAS to be Michael Gerson's on the anti-GMO fad:

Chipotle, Whole Foods and those who follow their examples are doing real social harm. They are polluting public discourse on scientific matters. They are legitimizing an approach to science that elevates Internet medical diagnosis, social media technological consensus and discredited studies in obscure journals. They are contributing to a political atmosphere in which people pick their scientific views to fit their ideologies, predispositions and obsessions. And they are undermining public trust in legitimate scientific authority, which undermines the possibility of rational public policy on a range of issues.

Whatever the intention of those involved, embracing pseudoscience as the centerpiece of an advertising and branding effort is an act of corporate irresponsibility.   

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Original image by 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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