The Morning Heresy 8/13/12: Romney Feels Randy

August 13, 2012

Your daily digest of news and links relevant to the secular and skeptic communities. 

Oh, hey guys!

I'm back from my two-week hiatus as we welcomes my new daughter into the world, Phoebe Helen Fidalgo, born July 27. Baby and mommy are doing fantastically, and daddy continues to do battle with the two-year-old boy Toby who, I should say, is really jazzed about his new baby sister (or, as he calls her, "my baby").

So, what's been going on? I understand a lot's been happening since I've been away. Here's what I think I know from a quick round of catch-up: NBC delayed the broadcast of Paul Ryan winning the gold medal in Mars exploration. Is that more or less right?

My sincere thanks to Dren, Cody, Tony, and Stef who all did a fantastic job filling in for me with the Heresy. If, after their great work, you're disappointed that I'm back, please keep it to yourself.

On to the news!

So, seriously, Romney chose chairman of the House Budget Committee, P90X enthusiast, and Ayn Rand devotee Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin as his running mate. It's inarguably a remarkable choice (though I doubt it will have significant electoral consequences) for a number of reasons. For our purposes, though, we can look at a few aspects of Ryan's worldview.

He is, as I said, a fan of Ayn Rand (and remember, "Ryan" is an anagram of "Ayn R.," so of course the universe already decided they'd be historically linked). And usually mentioned in the first sentence about any Rand-Ryan discussion is that she was an atheist. Not only that, but she championed a kind of hyper-individualism, an anti-altruism that flies in the face of Ryan's other big philosophical foundation: his Catholicism. Daniel Burke at RNS explores this conflict

Sarah Posner cautions Democrats to pick the right battle with the Rand-Ryan connection:

Democratic “faith” strategists have jumped on Ryan over his affection for Ayn Rand, criticizing him because she was an atheist—a wrongheaded move that demonized atheism rather than the cruelty of Randian economics. 

With enormous disappointment, I inform you that Missouri voters stupefyingly and overwhelmingly approved the misleading "Right to Pray" amendment. Tom Flynn prophesies:

I’m counting the hours until some Christian student demands to be released from an earth science class after hearing that the earth is billions of years old, not six thousand. A few geocentrists, even a flat-earther or two, might press to skip general science classes also, since the Old and New Testaments clearly insinuate that the earth is flat and the sun revolves around it. . . . Nor may math classes escape unscathed, for the Old Testament states not once but twice . . . that the value of pi is exactly 3.0.

I'm not going to sugarcoat this. Time is running out FAST for the Alexander Aan petition, and much to my despair we have a long way to go. Please, surprise the hell out of me, and get this thing across the 25k mark, by, I dunno, using magic or something. 

Adam Lee gives us the highlights of a big religion and atheism study by WIN-Gallup. 

NYT: Columbia University’s clinical psychology program dabbles in the supernatural

Whoa. Is Bill Nye the Science Guy coming back to TV??? 

Kate Donovan at FA interviews Mary Johnson, a former nun who worked under Mother Theresa. 

Also from Kate: Look out, atheists, we may be shedding folks from the movement.  

Herb Silverman ponders the reasoning behind the sexual harrassment hubbub. 

The journal Reset DOC takes a nuanced look at the meaning of secularism in its different contexts around the world. 

Your Apple Airport Extreme base station is giving you brain fog. (No it's not.) 

CSI fellow Mark Boslough recounts the wonder of finding that something isn't a UFO. 

Austin Dacey in The Revealer: You may have a philosophical right to blaspheme, but whether you have that right according to international law, well, that's a little unclear.

Phil Plait lays out some possibilities for discovering extraterrestrial life. 

Soraya Chemaly undoes the idea of a "just war" when the victims are considered:

The realization that the rape of women and children during wartime is considered insignificant and not worth measuring supports the idea that the concept of a “just war” is a logical fallacy.  

Financial Times does a long piece on religiosity in the context of Silicon Valley

An Italian former legislator argues that we should be considering ourselves Christians even if we don't believe in Christ. 

Who better to investigate the rise of homeopathy than President Bartlet? 

Jerry Coyne is dumbfounded by US taxpayers' subsidization of religion, as exposed in a recent blockbuster study in Free Inquiry

Scott Atran at Foreign Policy: We're leaving a world of ideology-based conflicts, and entering one with religion-based conflicts

Stephen Law. William Lane Craig. The existence of God. Let's do this

This will only matter to me and fellow CFIer Matt Licata, as we're fans of the tech podcast world, which means we consider Leo Laporte of TWiT to be something of a goofy uncle. Well, turns out he's also in our other family: He's an atheist. From his recent Reddit AMA:

I have, myself, been both a believer and a non-believer and a student of many religions. Currently I'm an atheist but I acknowledge that there's much more to life than we know or understand, so I'm not dogmatic about it. I admire people of faith, I just don't share it. 

Bonus! CFI-LA's Jim Underdown talks about bear wrasslin'

Quote of the Day      

Tiffany Stanley at Religion & Politics:

In 1844, the religious violence committed against [LDS founder] Joseph Smith and his followers was real. In 2012, Romney’s invocation of a “war on religion” is not. The rhetoric does a disservice not only to the real costs of warfare, both also to the violence so often done in the name of religion.  

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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