No Bugs Go to Heaven

August 4, 2016

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

We have a new action alert, where we need you to tell Congress to support the Restore Honor to Service Members Act, which will correct the military records of those discharged from the military under Don't Ask Don't Tell. 

Gov. Pat McCrory of North Carolina thinks that disaster relief isn't nearly as important as his state's anti-LGBT "bathroom bill," so $500,000 have been moved from disaster relief to the legal defense of bigotry. Good thing natural disasters never happen in North Carolina. 

And the Supreme Court won't let a transgender boy use the boy's restroom in a Virginia public school while his case is decided, get this, "as a courtesy."

Meanwhile in Indonesia, the country's Constitutional Court is hearing a case that could result in the criminalization of gay sex. And Beena Sarwar at the Boston Globe looks at the struggles of LGBTQ people in South Asia:

Being religious and being gay within Islam are no longer as mutually exclusive as they once were. A forward movement is visible and the struggle continues. 

100,000 students in Bangladesh formed human chains to protest the recent attacks by Islamic extremists. 

Richard Dawkins glowingly reviews The Girl Who Beat ISIS (titled The Girl Who Escaped ISIS in the U.S.) by Farida Khalaf:

What a wonderfully gallant young woman, what a shining example to all of us spoiled brats fretting about our first world problems. Read the book, although I must warn you it’s highly distressing. But also uplifting. Never to be forgotten. 

The latest Richard Dawkins Foundation newsletter has a particular focus on how France has become a target for Islamist attacks.

Fredrik deBoer, an atheist who is not a fan of Richard Dawkins or Sam Harris, nonetheless pushes back against the idea that "angry atheists" are "just as bad" the religious right:

That notion simply isn’t true, and it’s destructive. To begin with, not only do the aggressively religious outnumber the aggressively atheistic by huge margins, they are also far more politically organized and influential. For however much the Christian right’s political power has attenuated, they remain a potent force, particularly in state elections, and particularly when it comes to certain issues, such as abortion. If we expand this critique simply to ask whether the influence of atheism has been as high as that of religion, I find the comparison simply absurd. The Catholic Church alone is a vast entity with enormous resources that it uses strategically to alter the world. And many of its goals are contrary to my conception of the public good.

Katherine Ozment at the Boston Globe notes that Nones are relatively inactive in politics, but have the power to spark a "secular groundswell" 

Yemisi Adegoke at True Africa reports on how atheists in Nigeria are relying on social media to assert their humanity in one of the world's most religious countries. Says Mubarak Bala:

Without Twitter I would be a dead man, or a drugged incapacitated dullard. Social media is the ultimate pen, the weapon that reaches far and wide. 

New research suggests that life could find a foothold on planets orbiting "low mass stars," which are much more common than Sun-like stars, but might not be habitable for trillions, with a T, of years.

73% of people who believe in an afterlife for humans also believe in an afterlife for non-human animals. This mostly applied to cats, dogs, and horses, and insects, fish, and reptiles were less likely to be presumed to infest the kingdom of heaven.

Anhvinh Doanvo takes a swipe at the pseudoscience-pandering of the Green Party's Jill Stein, saying, "Like Ted Cruz and Donald Trump, Stein is merely interested in pointing to the angriest voice in the crowd and amplifying it, without any regard for the scientific truth."

Anti-vax guru Andrew Wakefield takes to the steps of the Idaho Statehouse to rally against reality. "This moment in time is the beginning of the end of the first republic of the United States of America." Okay, dude.

Remember the Alamo, a place where you can hug an atheist.  

I suppose if you're going to get baptized, you could do worse than to do so via water slide. Of course, then you must heed Ben Folds' song "Not the Same" in which a religious conversion occurs at a time when "someone died on the water slide." So, you know.  

Quote of the Day

The headline from an article in Popular Science:

Maggots Raised On Chicken Blood Could Save Darwin's Finches 

Yep that's all I'm giving you. 
* * *

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Comments:

#1 Randy (Guest) on Thursday August 04, 2016 at 1:51pm

“Okay, dude”

Really?  People in the Hillary campaign have been making similar statements with regularity, despite the fact that the US government was designed specifically to make it difficult for the president to single-handedly ruin it.

#2 Randy (Guest) on Thursday August 04, 2016 at 1:55pm

“Social media is the ultimate pen”

This is exactly why Twitter, the company, cannot be entrusted with it.

We should support and (to the extent possible) contribute to projects working to replace web hosting, file serving, tweeting, etc.  See IPFS and ZeroNet, and projects based on those, and similar technologies.

#3 Randy (Guest) on Thursday August 04, 2016 at 2:01pm

Thank you, Fredrik.

It’s worth pointing out also that Richard Dawkins and Sam Harris both are subject to smear campaigns about them than transparently misquote, misrepresent, and straw man them, in order to score cheers with the regressives on the left.

#4 Randy (Guest) on Thursday August 04, 2016 at 2:05pm

“correct the military records of those discharged from the military under Don’t Ask Don’t Tell”

Why does this even need to be a thing?

Any time a law is changed to reduce or eliminate punishments, unless otherwise specified it should be automatic that ALL government records should be revised, and any sentences adjusted, to reflect the change retroactively.

As was recently noted on Reddit, we now use more computer power to use the toilet than it took to launch men to the moon.  Anyone who says we can’t do this is simply lying.

#5 Stacey C. on Friday August 05, 2016 at 7:31am

@Randy. “It’s worth pointing out also that Richard Dawkins and Sam Harris both are subject to smear campaigns about them than transparently misquote, misrepresent, and straw man them, in order to score cheers with the regressives on the left.”

Welp, I guess I’m a member of the “regressive left” (stifles snort of amusement) because when I read that quote from Dawkins above my first though was “way to throw out the fallacy of relative privation to take a cheap shot at people in the first world who have problems that you deem insufficiently severe.”

#6 Mario (Guest) on Friday August 05, 2016 at 11:08am

Stacy C.—Re the “fallacy of relative privation,” comparing the relatively trivial gripes of well-off humans to the far worse issues of less well-off humans is simply a matter of putting a proposition into perspective.  I can’t see how such a move earns the status of a fallacy, and it frightens me to see any skeptical stance labeled as an error in thinking/arguing.  We have every right to judge a proposition as absurd, to refuse to grant it serious debate.

#7 John Thirmals (Guest) on Tuesday August 09, 2016 at 7:11am

I am currently coordinating a campaign aimed at raising awareness and understanding of hagioptasia, and we are trying to get coverage of our cause. Last week produced a 2 minute video to help us in this challenge, and of course we are eager to share the video as widely as possible, and any help with this would be greatly appreciated.

The video “An Introduction to Hagioptasia” can be found on Youtube:

#8 Stacey C. on Tuesday August 09, 2016 at 9:58am

@Mario
The problem is that there is context that I am responding to that has to do with the originator of the quote. Dawkins is known for dragging out the fallacy of relative privation all the time. So when he says something like that it just feels like yet another cheap shot. Sure, if I stub my toe or don’t get to go to a concert, that’s nothing compared to the ordeals of a refugee. But Dawkins has used it against much more serious issues such as sexual harassment.

#9 Mario (Guest) on Tuesday August 09, 2016 at 11:03am

@Stacey
Thanks for clarifying. 

I’m not defending Dawkins here (I’m no fan!), but I think it’s important not to label something as a logical fallacy simply because it’s perceived as glib or dismissive.

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