That actual hole in the ozone

July 1, 2016

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

Paul is on vacation for the next week, so now you're stuck with his Morning Heresy understudy, Stef McGraw. Thanks to CFI Outreach intern Sam Farooqui for finding some of these stories, though no "thanks" should be given to her for finding the creepy fish with human-like teeth (see below).

We have an action alert out, and it's to urge your U.S. representative to oppose the hilariously misleadingly titled First Amendment Defense Act. From our alert:

[The bill] would bar the federal government from denying a tax exemption, grant, contract, license, certification, accreditation, or employment to a business, non-profit, or individual “based on their belief that marriage is a union between a man and a woman, or that sexual relations are properly reserved to such a marriage.”

Get angry and take action, because the hearing for the bill is taking place exactly a month (July 12) after the Orlando shooting of 49 LGBTQ people and allies.

In good news for LGBTQ rights, the 32nd session of the Human Rights Council adopted a resolution to establish a new independent expert on sexual orientation and gender identity. Our UN representative Michael De Dora was there to see it go down!

United Church of Canada minister Gretta Vosper is an open atheist, and the Church is so displeased that they're conducting a so-called "inquisition" into her beliefs. And I have to assume that immediately after this was announced, the United Church of Canada abruptly fired their PR guy. 

Al Jazeera reports on an upcoming rally at the National Mall in Washington, DC, and no, it's not Reason Rally 3—it's the American Muslim March. The stated purpose is to stand against "bigotry, 'extremism,' and gun violence," which all sounds good to me.

A Tesla and a tractor-trailer (or as we Midwesterners call it, a "semi") collided in Florida yesterday, causing what appears to be the first fatal crash involving a self-driving car. A federal investigation is underway, so we'll see whether it was due to human or a human-created-technology error.

The Huffington Post delivers some breaking news: Christians and atheists actually have similar morals, even though the two groups don't think too highly of one another. This is according to a recent study where it was found that both Christians and atheists care about those who are suffering, as well as hold values such as justice and fairness. It's also probably worth noting this:

Atheists typically described Christians more negatively than Christians described atheists, but both groups often claimed the moral high ground

So I guess we should work on that.

You know the almost-proverbial, dreaded "hole in the ozone"? Well, that actual hole in the ozone, located above Antarctica, is improving! That's thanks to public concern and environmental regulation on the part of government. Yes, despite how Congress is handling the issue of climate change right now, there apparently was a time when government could be proactive about helping the environment—it just happened to be before I was born.

Bernie Sanders addressed his support for GMO labeling in a Tweet:

Congress’ job is to represent what the people want, and an enormous majority of Americans want genetically modified food to be labeled.

Lots of great responses followed, including this fantastic one:

The majority of Americans don't believe in global warming either. We should be fighting pseudoscience, not writing it into law.

Oh Berrrrrn.

Some fishermen in Russia caught a fish with human-like teeth. That photo is so unsettling! 

Quote of the Day:

Gretta Vosper, who has been outspoken both about her atheism and her solidarity with those persecuted for criticizing religion, on the concept of god:

Were I to be given incontrovertible proof that a god does, or gods do, exist, the evidence of the cruel and capricious realities of disparity, tragedy, illness, and anguish in the world, and the truth that our world and our experience of it is wrapped not only in beauty but also in excruciating pain, would prevent me from worshipping it or pledging my allegiance to it.

There are no moral codes that have been formed by the mind of a god. Rather, there is a morality that we have created.
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#1 Mario (Guest) on Friday July 01, 2016 at 11:39am

I love the way you folks abstain from capitalizing the proper noun “God” as a way of showing you don’t believe in God.  It’s so delightfully illiterate and juvenile—in other words, pure Internet.

#2 Randy (Guest) on Friday July 01, 2016 at 12:24pm

Mario, in the English language “God” refers to the Christian god.  There are over 1000 other gods.  When referring to any generic god, lower case is what English speakers use.  While many people think God is the only god worth considering, atheists reject all gods, including even the most easily debunked one.

#3 Randy (Guest) on Friday July 01, 2016 at 12:29pm

Regarding GMOs, if I have a right to know the specific ingredients used in my food (I do) and if I have a right to know how that is evaluated nutritionally (I do) and I have a right to know where my food came from (I do) then I also have the same right to know whether it is GM.

I don’t know what part of this is so hard to understand.  It doesn’t matter whether you think that information is useful.

#4 Randy (Guest) on Friday July 01, 2016 at 12:39pm

“as well as hold values such as justice and fairness”

I see no evidence that either group is just or fair.  Rather, they both label themselves as just and fair, and adopt a stance of “whatever we do is just and fair”.

Atheists are tribalistic and taboo-based, just as much as religionists are, largely because most atheists did not arrive at atheism by a philosophical or scientific consideration of the facts, but by simply rejecting one or another religion to advantage themselves, and finding another tribe to join.

What is really shocking and disappointing is the delight with which atheists revel in the misery of others, so long as the blame can be put on religion.

#5 Oro Lee (Guest) on Friday July 01, 2016 at 1:30pm

Given the lack of any scientific evidence that GMOs are anything but harmless if not beneficial, it would be arbitrary and capricious for any regulatory authority to impose any labeling requirements; such requirement actually violates the substantive due process protections of the U.S. Constitution (as do all arbitrary and capricious governmental actions—there must be at least a scintilla of material evidence supporting the action).

#6 Mario (Guest) on Friday July 01, 2016 at 6:35pm


Yes, my mistake.  “A” is an indefinite article; hence, “a god” requires no capitalization.  It’s not functioning as a name.  I should have known that.  D’oh.

Double D’oh.

#7 Mario (Guest) on Friday July 01, 2016 at 8:56pm


Actually, I’m correct.  Paul wrote, “Gretta Vosper, who has been outspoken both about her atheism and her solidarity with those persecuted for criticizing religion, on the concept of god.”

Should be a capitol G.  Elementary grammar.  And it has zilch to do with whether or not the Christian God really exists—Hamlet didn’t exist, but nobody says, “I’ll be playing hamlet this Saturday.”  Paul Bunyan is a figure in folklore, but durned if we don’t call him “Paul Bunyan.”

These rules don’t apply on Twitter, of course.

#8 Mario (Guest) on Friday July 01, 2016 at 10:31pm

Er, Stef wrote “...the concept of god,” not Paul.

Still needs to be capitalized.

#9 Dennis Bierlein (Guest) on Saturday July 02, 2016 at 6:19am

Randy - “What is really shocking and disappointing is the delight with which atheists revel in the misery of others, so long as the blame can be put on religion.”
Like religionists don’t revel in the misery of others? So long as the blame can be placed on one’s sin?
Here’s a concept. Since both groups are comprised of humans, they fall into the same faults as all humans do.

#10 Mrs Grimble (Guest) on Saturday July 02, 2016 at 6:34am

Rany - you want to know the exact ingredients and makeup of your food? Then demand for your food to be labelled with the fertilisers, pesticides, weedkillers, antibiotics, animal feedstuffs etc - with their precise porportions of course.  Then be prepared to pay for the paperwork, record-keeping and extra-large labels involved! 
Wait, you DIDN’t know that your organic non-GMO food is also produced with pesticides, weedkillers etc?

#11 Mario (Guest) on Saturday July 02, 2016 at 7:18pm

“Like religionists don’t revel in the misery of others?”

Just so everyone realizes that overgeneralizing is an error in reasoning—right?  Just checking.

#12 Jim Baerg (Guest) on Sunday July 03, 2016 at 2:42pm

A cynical observation on the ozone hole

The opposition to phasing out the worst CFCs for eating ozone, from companies that manufactured them, ended as the patents on them were about to expire.

How can we vastly cut the profits on selling fossil fuels?

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