Absolutely. Sure. Possible. Unlikely.

June 20, 2013

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

I've been on "vacation." If you've ever travelled with two small children, you know why the quotation marks are there. 

Lauren and Ed did a fantastic job keeping up the Heresy while I was away, and I can't thank them enough. I mean, I didn't read it or anything, but I'm presuming.  

Alan Chambers of Exodus International, a pray-the-gay-away ministry, apologizes for all he's done:

Please know that I am deeply sorry. I am sorry for the pain and hurt many of you have experienced. I am sorry that some of you spent years working through the shame and guilt you felt when your attractions didn’t change. . . . More than anything, I am sorry that so many have interpreted this religious rejection by Christians as God’s rejection.  

While I've been slacking off, Ben Radford has been busy: He gets quoted in Slate on The Secret ("old wine in new bottles), in HuffPo on psychic detectives ("consistently failed"), pulled from his Discovery piece on a blown massacre prediction that wound up costing the seer $7,000,000 in damages. 

Ah ha, but has Ben ever rescued a horse using psychic powers?!?!?! 

President Obama, in Ireland, says the country's tradition of sectarian schools "encourages division and discourages co-operation." 

John Shook has a very interesting piece on the perceived "dogmas" and mythology of capital-A Atheists. 

Gasp! Famous scientists were imperfect humans! Learn about big screwups from Darwin, Einstein, and others in the latest Point of Inquiry with guest Mario Livio.  

In our Point of Inquiry weekly wrapup, we have the rare occurrence of Daniel Dennett speaking in short bursts. Asked about the possibility of articificial intelligence, Dennett says: "Absolutely. Sure. Possible. Unlikely, very unlikely." 

Laurie Goodstein: Sexual abuse allegations within the Catholic Church documented as far back as the 19th century

Mark Silk highlights the work of Ryan Cragun and Barry Kosmin from the latest Free Inquiry issue on religious bias in polling about religion.

Did you know Joe Nickell's new book is out? The Science of Miracles can be given a thorough exegesis now. 

Egypt's tourism minister resigns as Morsi appoints a radical Islamist with ties to a violent group as governor of Luxor. 

In Egypt, Islamists are "exercising their new societal clout" with a big uptick in blasphemy accusations

Human Rights Watch: In Libya, campaign workers could get the death penalty for alleged blasphemy in campaign posters.  

Rand Paul knows where his 2016 bread is buttered, and takes on the blasphemy issue as it applies to Christian persecution. 

Gut-wrenching struggle against sexual abuse within a Brooklyn Hasidic community gets uglier as the accuser becomes accused of extortion. 

Bangladeshis try to pray away the danger at a factory. 

Lourdes takes millions of dollars worth of flooding damage.

Heather Long, on the coming SCOTUS decision on prayer in legislative bodies, says, "Simply striking it entirely from our legislatures doesn't honor the many faith traditions who have come to this nation seeking religious freedom." Not that honoring faith traditions is the job of legislatures, but, whatever.

Bobby Jindal, governor of the Christian Dominion of Louisiana, signs a law allowing prayer gatherings at public schools. 

Adelle Banks takes a snapshot of the religious life of Frederick Douglas

Steven Salzberg at Forbes gives thumbs up and down to SCOTUS's ruling on genetic patents. 

In Skeptical Inquirer, Steven Novella shows us how even though most "herbal remedies" are useless junk, herbs themselves are still drugs that need regulation. 

Susan Johnson of CFI-Michigan is quoted in PrideSource for the group's presence at West Michigan Pride:

One of our humanist values is equality. Every person matters and should be treated fairly. We need to end religious persecution. 

Religious leaders in Kenya declare a "national disaster" over drug and alcohol addiction, as Christians and Muslims unite to combat the scourge. 

Christians. Atheists. Kansas City. Volleyball. Be there. 

Paul Offit gets pixel real estate at CNN to come down on alt-med:

Like conventional therapies, alternative remedies shouldn't be given a free pass. They should be held to the same high standards of safety and efficacy. And where scientific studies don't exist, we should insist that they be performed. Otherwise, we'll continue to be susceptible to the worst kinds of quackery.

Atheist hotline reaches its funding goal, and is looking for volunteers

Oh, guess, who knows most about religion, according to Pew: Atheists, Mormons, and Jews.  

Adam Lee blogging at the IHEU on the canard that atheists have no moral core:

This is what always happens. The moral advance comes first, triumphing over ferocious religious opposition, and then when enough time has passed for memories to fade a little, religion is given the credit for it 

Joseph L. Conn at AU is troubled by the president's choice of ambassador to the Vatican:

Once again, the president has felt obligated to name not only a Catholic, but one who meets the approval of conservative factions within the Roman Catholic Church.   

That indentation in the dirt tells me that Bigfoot lives in Malaysia. Wait wait! He's in Oklahoma. (Dude gets around, eh?)

Quote of the Day 

Saadia Faruqi on the global blasphemy crisis:

Our role as Americans, whether Muslims, Christians, Jews, Hindus, Sikhs, Atheists or anything else, is to uphold the values of religious tolerance and freedom of expression not only in our own country but everywhere in the world. Can we set aside our complacency and rise to the challenge? 

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Linking to a story or webpage does not imply endorsement by Paul, Ed, Lauren, anyone who can fire them, or CFI. Not every use of quotation marks is ironic or sarcastic, but it often is. 

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The Morning Heresy: "I actually read it." - Hemant Mehta