It Sounds Very Hocus-Pocusy

June 25, 2013

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

In the Washington Post, Michelle Boorstein explores the (real) phenomenon of atheist prayer, in particular one atheist who has a "rigorous prayer routine" despite his nonbelief. Oh, and I'm quoted as well, perhaps being the first person in history to introduce the term "hocus-pocusy" into a major national newspaper. 

The Secular Coalition for America announces its meeting with Melissa Rogers of the Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships, which included CFI's Michael De Dora. Washington Times also reports on the meeting. 

Tom Flynn and I both come at the Joe Klein potshot at secular humanists from different angles. Tom says Klein is actually correct that secular humanists do not require an affiliation to rally around or plug when doing good works. I try to make clear that, apart from Klein's factual error, he's also engaged in a hurtful smear. 

Also, in Free Inquiry, Tom warns against Millennials' apathy in the struggle for an atheist-friendly society:

Do the math. If 20 percent of adults have no religious identity, that means 80 percent still do. If a third of the young are not religious, that means two-thirds of the young still are. Religious believers are still very much in the majority, and they are still enormously powerful. 

BBC: A 13-year-old Egyptian girl dies from genital mutilation. Says one grandmother justifying the horrid practice: 

We have been brought up according to certain morals. It shows good upbringing, a way of controlling a girl's sexual desire.

Because that's really the source of so many of the world's problems, folks. 

Emily Willingham at Forbes argues for a way to "recall" erroneous science reporting:

All the original stories with their original, alarming headlines, are still out there, underreported and without context, with the follow-up articles buried somewhere else, accurate signals hidden within all of that noise. 

Also at Forbes, recent Balles Prize winner Steven Salzberg goes looking for help with knee pain, finds lots of information about "complementary" treatments, and notes "one of the major flaws with the U.S. health system":

We don’t discriminate between effective and ineffective treatments, and some doctors seem content to let patients try anything, regardless of efficacy or cost. 

This is completely awesome: What would it look like if the other planets were the same distance from Earth as the Moon? Look out for Jupiter, folks. 

Herb Silverman in WaPo makes the case that atheists are gaining traction in organization and media presence.  

Get uncensored tonight in New York as CFI-NYC presents Joan Bertin of the National Coalition Against Censorship. 

The president makes a speech on climate change today, and Kate Sheppard at Mother Jones gives a preview.

Joe Nickell lends his insight to the mistaking of drones for UFOs

Darrel W. Ray introduces the Secular Therapist Project to readers of Free Inquiry, and explains why it's so badly needed. 

AU and the ACLU go after the state of New Jersey for sending more than $11 million in taxpayer funds to religious educational institutions. 

A match made in heaven: Rick Santorum gets a job as the head of a Christian movie studio. 

Australian Senate urges the anti-vax Australian Vaccine Network to drop dead

Things the pope is saying "NO" to today: Anti-semitism and opulent concerts.

You know trouble's coming when Richard Dawkins wears really loud shirts. He explodes your brain

Lesley Hazleton argues in a TED talk that Muhammad (yes that one) was possessed of a "soul-shattering doubt."  

Christian Post reports on a lawsuit from EllenBeth Wachs against the Atheists of Florida. 

Ethan Zuckerman of the Center for Civic Media at MIT is the guest on Point of Inquiry.

Quote of the Day 

At CSICOP.org, Robert Blaskiewicz repents belief in a conspiracy in his youth, and is way too hard on himself:

It seems clear. All the evidence suggests that at twenty-years old, I was a moron, and without evidence to the contrary I have no excuse to doubt that. 

I feel you, Robert. 

* * *  

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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Comments:

#1 SocraticGadfly (Guest) on Tuesday June 25, 2013 at 3:53pm

Gold may claim to be an atheist, but I could claim to be Michael Jordan, and it wouldn’t be true, either.

Page 2 of the story notes that he started making his idol (hey, that’s what it is, “decades ago.”

>>Gold’s ideal is embodied by a female image he began drawing decades ago, a 15-foot-tall goddess he named “Ms. X” after Malcolm X. There are drawings of her around the house, as well as spiritual pieces of art. His two children have middle names taken from Greek Gods, and he is open to someday changing his mind about the existence of God.<<

This man may not believe in the god of western monotheism, but I wouldn’t accept his self-definition as “atheist.”

That said, as Bob Carroll consistently reminds us at Skeptic’s Dictionary, “atheist” does not equate to “irreligious.” Millions of Theravada Buddhists are quite atheistic, and quite religious. With their belief in karma and reincarnation, quite metaphysical, too.

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