I Fear Not Existing

September 2, 2015

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

I was away yesterday, spending a museum day with my boy who's about to start kindergarten. Unreal. 

On Monday, we announced something inspiring, as well as a little worrying: There is now a CFI branch in Pakistan. A lot of you have already let us know how brave you think these folks pf CFI-Pakistan are, and we agree, and also how worried you are about their safety. We are too. As Hemant says, "In a country where Veena Malik and Asia Bibi have received severe punishments for not showing enough deference to Islam, any opponents of Muslim thought must tread lightly."

On Point of Inquiry this week, we have an unvarnished look at the state of New Orleans ten years after Katrina, with New York Times reporter Gary Rivlin. 

Pew released a new survey on U.S. Catholics (I was there for the reveal at the RNA conference), and among the big findings: 77% of those who were raised Catholic but left the faith say they could never return. But Catholicism still permeates the culture, as about half of Americans have what Pew calls a "close connection" to Catholicism.

At said conference, NYT's Laurie Goodstein, RNS's David Gibson, and the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette's Peter Smith (all very cool people) were among the first place winners for their religion coverage. On a somewhat somber note, Goodstein echoes my own feelings: "There are days when I feel despair about the news and the place of religion in it."

SCOTUS turns down the case of the Kentucky county clerk who refused to issue same-sex marriage licenses because of her religious beliefs, meaning she could be fined or go to jail for refusing to do her job. 

On September 16, PEN American Center will hold an event in solidarity with the murdered Bangladeshi bloggers, and our own Michael De Dora will be there. 

Get a full picture of what Michael and our policy office have been up to all last month with our Advocacy Update.

At Scientific American, Sander van der Linden looks at how those who indulge in magical and conspiratorial thinking share a "cognitive style" and are primed for science and reason rejection.

As an island community in Alaska is about to be swallowed up by rising sea levels, President Obama says, "If another country threatened to wipe out an American town, we’d do everything in our power to protect ourselves. Climate change poses the same threat, right now." 

Pope Fluffy says clergy get a free year to forgive women who have had abortions. It's like an amnesty period for overdue library books, but ridiculous. 

54% of Republicans think President Obama is a Muslim. Still.

This could get awkward: The oldest known Koran looks like it predates Muhammed himself

Elizabeth Stoker Bruenig explores why Evangelical Christians seem to be flocking to Donald Trump, who is not an exemplar of morality.

Dig this! CFI board member and tech pioneer Leonard Tramiel has a cool site: "How Do We Know?" So far it's tackled things like the Earth's orbit around the Sun, atoms, the speed of light, and other stuff like that.

Quartz's Deena Shanker reports that buying organic produce is a big, fat waste of money. You don't say. 

Harriet Hall reviews a book that badly needed to exist: A science-based book for new parents, The Science of Mom. 

Blood moon, end of the world, etc. 

Apparently there is a reality show about Mormon polygamists, and now they want to use the SCOTUS same-sex marriage ruling to validate their arrangement. 

Thomas Friedman on our alliance with Saudi Arabia:

The fact remains that Saudi Arabia’s export of Wahhabi puritanical Islam has been one of the worst things to happen to Muslim and Arab pluralism — pluralism of religious thought, gender and education — in the last century. 

Aaron Bayes of the Fraser Valley Atheists, Skeptics and Humanists recounts his experiences at July's CFI Leadership Conference:

...the CFI Leadership Conference was not just an amazing weekend, but an event that has had a very positive and lasting effect on me.

A French court rules a woman can get $900 per month in disability benefits because of her allergy to WiFi, which isn't a real thing. 

The New Statesman publishes online its complete Richard Dawkins interview of Christopher Hitchens from 2011. 

Lisa R. Petty has EXPOSED our evil atheist agenda, which includes gluten-free pastry. 

Quote of the Day:

CFI-DC's Simon Davis, on the death beat at VICEinterviews Stephanie Savage, who wrote of her six-week coma and the afterlife experience she didn't have in Skeptical Inquirer. She tells Simon something that rings mostly true to me:

I can't say I fear death, because I don't think anything happens after I die. I fear not existing. I want to keep existing as long as possible. 

The difference is I do fear death for this very reason.

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Original image by Shutterstock.

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