Swept Out of Existence

November 6, 2017


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

A court-martialed former Air Force member who had been imprisoned for assaulting his wife and child, Devin Patrick Kelley, murdered 26 people in a church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, and injuring almost everyone else. Half the the dead are said to be children, as young as 5 and possibly as young as 1. Eight of the dead represent three generations of a single family, all within a town of about 700 people. Medical assistant Kevin Jordan avoided being hit and tried to get into the church to help:

I walked inside and just walked out. I couldn’t handle it. It was bad. A lot of blood and bodies. The pews were knocked over. I’m a medical assistant and medical assisting does not prepare you for this. 

Kelley was confronted by a local with a rifle, so he took off in his car and crashed it while being chased by police. He was killed in the crash. Incidentally, there seems to be confusion as to the religious beliefs (or lack thereof) of Kelley, and Hemant wrestles with the possibility that he was an atheist, though BuzzFeed says that at the very least he was not an “atheist on the DNC payroll.” Texas attorney general Ken Paxton seems to think the answer to the whole crisis is more guns in churches

So I don’t think I want to do dumb jokes today, okay?

The UN says the planet will warm by 3.2C by 2100, and flooding will redraw te map of the world. Shanghai, Hong King, and Osaka are some of those at the greatest risk of calamity, but don’t get too attached to Miami or The Hague either.

According to the American Psychological Association, 59 percent of Americans believe we are living through America’s lowest point

I don’t really understand how this works, but musician Pablo Carlos Budassi has used logarithmic maps of the universe to compose a single-view image of the entire universe. Of course, it’s a two-dimensional image, not taking into account dimensions three and four. But still, pretty cool just as a concept.

The antifa revolution that was going to murder conservatives by the tens of millions never came as predicted by conspiracy theories, and Adi Robertson points out how these ridiculous scare-stories are used to justify violence by the radical right

Canada’s Gov. Gen. Julie Payette wins a lot of skeptic fans as she addresses a science conference in Ottawa. 

French national Olga Paule Perrier-Bilbo has Michael Newdow as her attorney as she sues to take “so help me God” off her citizenship oath

Here’s how to get an angry protest going in Pakistan: change a government form for Muslim political candidates to say you “swear” to belief in Muhammad’s “finality” as a prophet to saying that you “declare.” 

David Bentley Hart posits that in its “early radicalism,” Christianity was a “communist” faith, but not to expect that this can apply to what is now a dominant religion in a capital-driven world.

Matthew Faciani says he’s become skeptical of those who identify as skeptics:

I’ve run into far too many skeptics who turn off their skepticism when it’s convenient for them. You’ll see them apply great skepticism to some areas (like religion), but then become much less critical of ideas that are consistent with their own ideologies (like maintaining the status quo).

In Sojourners, Stephen Mattson says that conservative Christianity has rejected what is supposed to be a core principle of the faith, which is their conception of truth:

…if we’re willing to compromise on what it means to be truthful and trustworthy, the very core doctrines of Christianity will themselves become muddled. Things that Jesus taught, commanded, and lived become corrupted by secular versions of truth and “alternative facts.”  …  when the truthful message of Jesus is sold out for the lies of political power, a transformative faith that is fueled by the Holy Spirit —exhibited by love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, and self-control— gets quickly transformed into a civic religion managed by federal legislation — exhibited by corruption, deception, fear-mongering, racism, xenophobia, misogyny, and greed.

Quote of the Day:

I’ve been reading H.G. Wells’ The Time Machine for the first time, and this passage stuck out to me, you know, as we ponder all that’s going on in our world these days:

Above me shone the stars, for the night was very clear. I felt a certain sense of friendly comfort in their twinkling. All the old constellations had gone from the sky, however: that slow movement which is imperceptible in a hundred human lifetimes, had long since rearranged them in unfamiliar groupings. But the Milky Way, it seemed to me, was still the same tattered streamer of star-dust as of yore. Southward (as I judged it) was a very bright red star that was new to me; it was even more splendid than our own green Sirius. And amid all these scintillating points of light one bright planet shone kindly and steadily like the face of an old friend.

Looking at these stars suddenly dwarfed
my own troubles and all the gravities of terrestrial life. I thought of their unfathomable distance, and the slow inevitable drift of their movements out of the unknown past into the unknown future. I thought of the great precessional cycle that the pole of the earth describes. Only forty times had that silent revolution occurred during all the years that I had traversed. And during these few revolutions all the activity, all the traditions, the complex organizations, the nations, languages, literatures, aspirations, even the mere memory of Man as I knew him, had been swept out of existence. 

* * * 

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