The Morning Heresy 8/20/12: Nothing More Than Meat

August 20, 2012

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

There is a lot of good stuff from over the weekend, so let's get right to it. 

So you may have heard over the weekend that Rep. Todd Akin, the Republican candidate for US Senate in Missouri, declared that women have a "biological mechanism" that can prevent pregnancy in the case of "legitimate rape." I know, it's one of the worst things I've ever heard too. Akin now says he "misspoke," which doesn't make a heck of a lot of sense, and the Romney-Ryan campaign is trying to distance itself. Electorally, this could potentially put the otherwise-doomed incumbent Democratic senator Claire McCaskill back in the game, but I wouldn't bet too much on Akin's defeat. It's that kind of world right now.  

Sara Posner looks at the roots of Akin's bizarre thinking:

Akin's comments reveal a religious culture fundamentally opposed to women's equality. On the rape exception question in particular, he's not forging new ground, but rather echoing tropes long in circulation.  

Ron Lindsay returns to the virtual panel on HuffPost Live today to discuss the enormously uplifting Monday morning topic of death and grieving. It starts at about 12:40pm.

Ron also aims a skeptical eye at the thesis of Jonathan Haidt's book getting a lot of attention lately, The Righteous Mind -- with an example taken from, ahem, consensual cannibalism:

Morality is not merely a matter of knowing what’s right and wrong. For moral institutions to be effective, people have to be disposed to act in certain ways. If many of us were to begin to think of other humans as nothing more than meat, this attitude would almost surely manifest itself in ways detrimental to the welfare of the community. Given Haidt’s own emphasis on moral psychology, it’s puzzling that he does not seem to consider a change in attitude that causes us to lose respect for our fellow humans as harmful. 

Jen McCreight sounds a call to begin atheism's new wave (no, not like the B-52s new wave) - a concerted focus on social justice, which happens to jibe with the most recent Free Inquiry, which has a special section on "Humanism with a Pulse."

Head of CFI-DC Melody Hensley did a stint on Public Reality Radio's Reality Check on Friday to discuss Women in Secularism.

George Ongere, executive director CFI-Kenya, fills us in on the work of his organization, including their "Support a Humanist Orphan" initiative.` 

An 11-year-old girl is reportedly arrested for blasphemy in Pakistan for allegedly burning pages from a Quran. The girl may also have down syndrome. At Friendly Atheist, I talk about how this kind of persecution exposes blasphemy laws for the vindictive bullying they are. 

Panic strikes in India as rumors of Muslim attacks on particular tribes cause hysteria and a mass exodus. 

A kind of remarkable moment in presidential history: Mitt Romney invites the press to join him Sunday for Mormon church services

Rick Warren wants you to lose weight with the Bible. It's actually sillier than it sounds. 

Neuroskeptic brainstorms as to why we don't see as many new cults as we used to. 

Donald Neidig, Thomas Schmugge, and CSI fellow Mark Boslough connect the dots of heat waves and droughts with global warming.

Heresy reader Jay informs us that "investigators" will descend upon the USS Salem next month to hunt for ghosts and charge $125 for folks to join them. 

RNS's Kimberly Winston talks to WNYC's Brian Leher about the rise in folks declaring their atheism - CFI-NYC gets a shout out. 

Things get ugly when rebelling miners in South Africa undergo magic rituals to render themselves "invincible" -- 34 died and 78 were injured by police gunfire. 

Roger Ebert worries over the attempts to dismantle the wall between church and state by conservatives. 

BoingBoing: Pharmacy retailer Boots won't stop selling homeopathic fake children's remedies, even the kind that might have broke glass in it.  

Leah Libresco warns folks, particularly her fellow Christians, to watch it with the cheap shots against Mormonism, such as knocks on the so-called "magic underwear":

You could make the argument that all ritual and tradition is a warning sign, and it’s just that Christianity has enough other kind of evidence on its side to overcome these red flags, but I think that’s not a case any Christian can make with a straight face. But that’s the claim you’re supporting when you attack Mormonism for its aesthetic/ritual components instead of attacking the truth-claims it makes.  

German court rules that the far-right "Citizens Movement - Pro Germany" group can display images of Muhammad, despite the feelings of Muslim groups. 

The Humanist magazine interviews Gloria Steinem. 

Cara Santa Maria hosts a panel discussion on atheism for The Young Turks' The Point series.

No, the folks in this photo are not victims of a pastoral stick-up. They are praying to the inhabitants of Venus and Mars to bring us peace.  

Dr. Albert Lim Kok Hooi sings the praises of besieged Indian skeptic leader Sanal Edamaruku:

In my books, Sanal Edamaruku is also a medal winner of the highest calibre. If ever there is a prize for publicly defending science, reason and rationality, I would nominate him for it. 

The amazing Spider-Bigfoot

Today in 1858, Darwin first published his theory of evolution by natural selection in The Journal of the Proceedings of the Linnean Society of London. 

As the petition for Alexander Aan sputtered last week, I attempted to work out some thoughts and emotions in an open letter to Alexander published at Friendly Atheist. Folks had some strong feelings about it, to say the least. Stephanie Zvan also struggles to come to grips with the petition's failure and what it means for the broader movement.

Quote of the Day      

Hemant, on the final book by Christopher Hitchens:

This book will be the last time we get to hear anything original from him. I’ll be reading it as slowly as possible, just to make it last. 

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. 

Follow CFI on Twitter: @center4inquiry 

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Image source

The Morning Heresy: "I actually read it." - Hemant Mehta


#1 Tim P. Farley on Monday August 20, 2012 at 12:14pm

Don’t forget that Alfred Russel Wallace also published his paper today in 1858 in the same journal.  Not a coincidence - they knew their work overlapped and arranged to publish simultaneously - and yet somehow Darwin always gets the credit (or blame).

#2 Paul the Morning Heretic on Monday August 20, 2012 at 1:48pm

Thank you for that!

#3 Griff on Monday August 20, 2012 at 2:59pm

A “pastoral stick-up”?  Ohh-kay.  Does that involve a gun made out of cow patties, or…?

Or is it a reference to religion as a confidence game?  As in, pastors sticking up their flocks?  That would be a kind of “pastoral stick-up.”

I’m just wondering how it was intended to work as English.  So, I ask the source.

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