The Desolate Cosmic Abyss

November 9, 2017


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

Well this is unexpected. Ladies and gents, we have our first openly nontheistic Member of Congress, like, ever. It’s Rep. Jared Huffman, Democrat of California. (The first was former Rep. Pete Stark, also of California.) Via Michelle Boorstein at The Post:

Huffman said that at the moment, he’s a “nonbeliever, a skeptic,” but he’s open to having his mind changed. “I suppose you could say I don’t believe in God. The only reason I hesitate is — unlike some humanists, I’m not completely closing the door to spiritual possibilities. We all know people who have had experiences they believe are divine … and I’m open to something like that happening.”

Plus: Hemant makes sure we don’t miss the fact that secular humanist Audra Killingsworth won a seat on the Town Council of Apex, North Carolina.

We put out an action alert yesterday about Paul Ryan’s diss of secular people and his assertion that “prayer works” to solve the nation’s big, awful problems. Go tell Congress he’s wrong.

And this, well, this is just gold. The loathsome Daily Caller more or less repeats our whole press release on the Ryan/prayer thing, but gives it a headline that even I have to admire:

Sad, Lonely Atheists Insist Prayer Is Dumb As They Stare Hopelessly Into Desolate Cosmic Abyss

I hate these guys, but, okay, come on, that was good. Bring it here, Daily Caller

In what appears to be a rather awkward move to punish CNN for coverage he doesn’t like, Trump’s Justice Department is telling AT&T that its purchase of Time Warner won’t be approved unless they divest from CNN.

A very purturbed reader of the Newman Times-Herald in Coweta County, GA is very angry with Dan Barker (I assume it’s Dan, anyway) for something, says the left are like Nazis, and also:

The only individuals in America who are persecuted are those who follow Jesus Christ. Muslim terrorists get a pass, why? The poster boy for atheists, Richard Dawkins, will wake up one day in Great Britain to find that a Muslim will control the government and his head will roll into a basket not long after their takeover.

That’s gonna be one valuable basket.

The Senate questioned Trump’s pick to head the White House Council on Environmental Quality, Kathleen Hartnett White, and, well, you know how this goes. The Post reports:  

Hartnett White’s history of statements challenging science and policy on climate change is extensive, and she did not substantially back away from that skepticism at the hearing. For instance, Senate Democrats highlighted an April 2016 article for The Federalist titled “Signing the Paris Agreement is the Worst Way to Celebrate Earth Day.”

“That a majority of the world’s nations would sign an agreement ‘recognizing that climate change represents an urgent and potentially irreversible threat’ requiring an accelerated, ‘deep reduction’ in global greenhouse gas emissions is, indeed, an unprecedented but tragic event in mankind’s history,” she wrote in that article.

Petula Dvorak marks the importance of Tuesday’s elections with its many milestones:

On Tuesday — in Virginia, in North Carolina, in Minnesota and many other places — we got a powerful answer. This election wasn’t just a repudiation of President Trump. It was a repudiation of Richard Spencer, the “alt-right” and the violence and bigotry they are peddling. 

Stephen Hawking warns that if humans keep as they are, the Earth will become “a ball of fire” within 600 years. Pfft, Stephen Hawking. What does he know? 

I am really looking forward to reading this. At The Atlantic, Ross Andersen asks what happens if Earth’s first contact with an alien species is not made by the U.S., but China.  

BBC profiles a scientist and skeptic team from Russia that is YouTube-ing to confront pseudoscience.

Consistently enlightening are Ben Radford’s correspondences with those who vehemently disagree with our skepticism. Here, he is remarkably delicate and yet steadfast in an exchange with someone who is sure that psychic powers exist and something about Thomas Edison having been thought of as a “lunatic” in his day. (Lunatic? Nah. Jerk? I have heard that.)

Gordon Haber at Religion & Politics interviews Joel Baden and Candida Moss, authors of a new book on the family behind Hobby Lobby and the Museum of the Bible. 

An outlet called Hyperallergic, which is new to me, reports that an anonymous artist in Italy who goes by the name Hogre has be
en arrested for blasphemy over art pieces that depict, among other things, a rather, um, excited Jesus.

A woman in France is suing a phone psychic for predicting her imminent demise. Can you do that?

Jonathan Malesic laments the millennialist attitudes of many Trump supporters:

Trump supporters in Johnstown, Pennsylvania still adore him. One even suggests he’s the Second Coming of Christ, a “savior” presiding over the end times. … We’re all mortal. If you don’t care what happens to the world after you leave it, or to people alive now whom you never see—if all you care about is having your resentments symbolically gratified—then Trump 2016, Trump 2020, Trump for the Great Tribulation and Thousand-Year Reign is exactly the right choice. 

A woman with bad arthritis gets treated with gold-thread acupuncture, which is as ridiculous as it sounds and leaves the insides of your wrists all sparkly. 

Congratulations, Cary, NC. You’re getting a Flat-Earther conference.

Quote of the Day:

I missed this from a couple of weeks ago: Bill Nye gives a pretty interesting interview to Jack Holmes at Esquire, which includes this bit about why he never had kids for fear of passing on a genetic disorder that runs in his family:

Coming to grips with your health problems is very important, but just notice that everybody who’s alive today got this far. Even the inferior or ugly people got this far.* As we say, evolution—if it were an entity—doesn’t care about whether or not you are a superior athlete. You only have to be good enough. That’s it. A big idea that people miss—and it’s because of 19th century English—is the expression “survival of the fittest” refers to the organisms that fit in the best, not the organisms that do the most crunches, or something. This is a big idea in science that everybody’s got to stop and appreciate. There’s a lid for every pot. Everybody got this far. Everybody you meet made it this far. 

* * * 

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* That’s me! 


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