Now, I’m Not an Atheist, But I Play One on TV

June 3, 2013

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

Massimo Pigliucci notes CFI's opposition to Rep. Lamar Smith's transparent attempts to gut science funding, and gives a little credence to Smith's "guidelines" in the abstract. 

John F. Burns at NYT on the grief and angst over the broad daylight slaying of Lee Rigby in London by Islamic extremists. 

Recovery Recovering from Religion launches the Hotline Project, a way for folks with religious doubts to find someone to talk to about it. 

LARB reviews The Science Silence of Animals by John Gray, which posits that "faith in progress," as with any religion, "is a superstition we should do without."

Pew study shows that one good way to ease tensions between Islam and the West is to get more Muslims on the Internet.

Add Pope Francis to the list of people Bill Maher thinks is secretly an atheist

Robby Bensinger at the On Campus blog writes about his group's discussions concerning whether to have women-only events

Paris-based company to test a new Borg-like artificial heart that combines biology and technology. Can I just get one now? 

Raymond Tallis, who apparently wears red hats and scarves because why not, says science is in big trouble when it comes to the big questions:

The attempt to reconcile its two big theories, general relativity and quantum mechanics, has stalled for nearly 40 years. Endeavours to unite them, such as string theory, are mathematically ingenious but incomprehensible even to many who work with them. This is well known. A better-kept secret is that at the heart of quantum mechanics is a disturbing paradox – the so-called measurement problem, arising ultimately out of the Uncertainty Principle – which apparently demonstrates that the very measurements that have established and confirmed quantum theory should be impossible. 

Yeah well tell that to Eric Weinstein, a mathematical physicist who now does hedge funds, who thinks he can tie it all up.  

"Ghost hunter" Nick Duffy wants his field of investigation to tone down the theme park aspects:

Our aim investigation-wise was always to be objective, we didn’t want to get carried away. We would just go into places and do a stakeout. No psychics, no EMF meters, we have no use for all of that. These days, people have those things for novelty value. It impresses people, but it’s not worth much. 

Archaeopteryx, you might still be the first bird

Toothpaste for Dinner learns to stop hating other religions. 

Herb Silverman finds it odd that the religious are worried about belief in "superstition." 

I posit that the skepto-atheosphere could benefit from aping Montaigne

American Humanist Association goes after a religious veterans' memorial in California. 

"One small step fuhrr man." Armstrong didn't screw up, and neither did the transmission. That's just how Ohioans talk

Not even Saint Patrick can explain the Trinity. And he's confused by Voltron.

Bangladeshi court gives the green light to a trial of the atheist bloggers accused of blasphemy. 

Fawaz Rob in the Dhaka Tribune argues for cooler heads in Bangladesh: "I am not an atheist, but I don’t want to hang one." 

Alternate version from John Fugelsang: "Now, I’m not an atheist, but I believe in them. I also believe in God because, hey, you gotta blame somebody."   

Affan Chowdhry in the Globe and Mail on the anti-blasphemy crisis in Pakistan:

Amending the anti-blasphemy law would go a long way in protecting minorities who make up less than 5 per cent of the population and more than 50 per cent of anti-blasphemy cases. “Whenever there is talk of amending the law … those people who are suggesting the amendment are accused of blasphemy,” said Ahmed Bilal Mehboob, executive director of the Islamabad-based Pakistan Institute of Legislative Development and Transparency. 

Not believing in Satan is the gateway drug to atheism. (Good tip.)

Research indicates that colder weather equals more empathy. Global warming now has another way to make things worse. 

Quote of the Day 

James P. Marsh, a Methodist minister, will not stand up during "God Bless America" at ball games:

I love this country and don’t want to live anywhere else. But being pressured to stand up at a baseball game for a song that’s essentially a prayer seems, well, un-American. It feels like being pushed into the river for a baptism I didn’t choose. It’s an empty ritual, and one that I think doesn’t hold much theological water. 

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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 Dave Muscato (Guest) on Monday June 03, 2013 at 7:36am

Just FYI it’s Recovering from Religion, not Recovery from Religion.

#2 Paul the Morning Heretic on Monday June 03, 2013 at 8:47am


#3 Reba Boyd Wooden on Monday June 03, 2013 at 9:19am

I started a once a month women’s only discussion at CFI-Indiana.  We had speakers from other women’s groups here in town to learn what they were doing and how we could get involved such as League of Women Voters and Indiana NOW.  We have had some discussions in this group that I don’t think would have happened in a mixed group.  We plan to sponsor a program soon to which everyone will be invited. 

I don’t prefer separate groups for men and women but I think sometimes women need their space to discuss in an all female atmosphere.  A couple of men conplained that we were discriminating by not inviting them.  I told them they were free to start an all men’s discussion group anytime they wanted. None of them took the initiative to do that.  I tried to make it clear that the purpose of this group was not to “man bash” but to focus on positive discussion among women with their interests in mind. We had good attendance for the first few months but now it has declined. So, I am planning a less often discussion.  Don’t know that it increased female attendance at other things. 

The most female participation is our Secular Family Network/CFI Kids program.  The moms come and bring the kids and we are having trouble getting the fathers to come.  Some do but we are making an effort to try to get more of the fathers involved with this.

#4 Dave Muscato (Guest) on Monday June 03, 2013 at 9:27am

As it happens I agree that it’s useful and positive for women to have their own space, but I just wanted to point out that saying men are free to start an all-men’s discussion group does not mean the women-only discussion group is not discriminatory. By way of example, say that you had a club that was only open to white people. Say some folks complained that this was discriminatory, and the leader of the white-people club said, “Well, you can start a minority-only club if you want.” That really doesn’t change anything; it’s more like a two-wrongs-make-a-right thing.

I do think, though, that there is a need for groups like this and that if people want them, we shouldn’t have a problem with it. I also think, though, that if someone who identifies as a woman wants to attend, or someone who doesn’t subscribe to these ideas of a gender binary, that these people should also be allowed.

#5 Matt Miller on Monday June 03, 2013 at 5:21pm

FYI: John Gray’s book, reviewed by LARB, is entitled The Silence of Animals, not The Science of Animals.

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