God Dropped the Ball

December 26, 2012

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

Here’s a nice gift for the season for you: After a harrowing medical scare concerning his heart, Ed Brayton gets back up. Show him some love.

The Economist goes to Hell. And by that I mean they have a cover feature this week on The Bad Place:

Religion thrives on fear, as well as hope: without fear, bad behaviour has no sanction and clerical authority wins scant respect. 

Speaking of Hell, Richard Dawkins attempts to add clarity to anger directed at him concerning his 2006 comments in The God Delusion in which he asserts that belief in Hell is more traumatic for a child then sexual abuse. He says in part:

My expectation would be that violent, painful, repeated sexual abuse, especially by a family member such as a father or grandfather, probably has a more damaging effect on a child’s mental well-being than sincerely believing in hell. But ‘sexual abuse’ covers a wide spectrum of sins, and I suspect that research would show belief in hell to be more traumatic than the sort of mild feeling-up that I suffered. 

In Pakistan, a man is beaten to death by a mob and his body burned, because he might have desecrated a Quran. 

Rimsha Masih sends her good wishes and prayers to other victims of blasphemy laws. 

The late Gary Gygax, co-inventor of Dungeons & Dragons, was a Christian, but he sure didn’t want folks celebrating Christmas.

Christian David Lose at HuffPo also seems to find something amiss about the holiday, and sympathizes with us doubters:

For Christians like me, you see, atheism isn’t so much an offense as an understandable and occasionally tempting alternative in light of our circumstances. 

Michelle Boorstein profiles atheist parents helping their kids deal with the shock and grief over the Newtown atrocity, without the help of a deity. (Features members of CFI-DC!)

Valerie Tarico at AlterNet wonders about the role of the Bible in America’s violence. 

This guy says Lincoln was all about homeopathy. Ugh. 

Naked for secularism in Egypt. 

Joanne Bamberger at HuffPo is cheesed off that Time did not choose Malala Yousafzai as its person of the year. 

Sarah Kaiser highlights the Secular Alliance at Indiana University at the CFI On Campus blog. 

Massimo Polidoro writes about the paranormal legends surrounding works of art for Skeptical Inquirer. 

Students who want the Ten Commandments removed from their high school will get to remain anonymous

The editor of Ars Technica explains why he refuses to be “neutral” or hands-off on allegedly-controversial scientific topics like evolution and climate change:

What those petitioners do not realize is that in asking us to be silent, they require that we take a politicized stance. Intentional silence is support for the status quo, and as such, it’s inherently political.  

At NYT, Molly Worthen dispells the myth of a human populace that in some hazy golden era in Olden Tymes everyone was a really good Christian. 

Chris Stedman goes on the Melissa Harris-Perry show to talk about this same topic

Judge orders cultist to pay $100,000 for wrongful death of a young girl who was subjected to “faith healing.” 

Jonanthan Freedland at the Guardian on why pesky things like an entrenched perceived right to wield deadly firearms in the U.S. is so tough to undo:

Despite, or perhaps because, the US is a country animated by faith, the “founding fathers” are treated as deities, their every word analysed as if it contained gospel truth. 

Mark Alford reviews Lawrence Krauss’s A Universe from Nothing for Skeptical Inquirer.

Gather up the skeptical wee ones, ’cause Camp Inquiry is coming August 4-10, 2013! 

Religious leaders demonstrated in DC on Friday for gun control

At my blog, I look askance at the notion of the claim to being “spiritually convinced” of anything. 

Gee-dub’s secular student group celebrates, sort of, Festivus. 

Jib-Jab celebrates the end of creation.  

Mother Jones: Preppers spend big bucks getting ready for various doomsday scenarios.  

Calvin and Hobbes draw the line from Santa to you-know-who. 

Today’s image comes from Toothpaste for Dinner

Quote of the Day

Must-read from Anthony Pinn on the futility of trying to wedge the notion of a just God into the Newtown massacre, and why humanists have a better handle on how to process the tragedy. 

At best we might suggest that God “dropped the ball”—failed to do what a loving God is supposed to do. Instead, it seems to me, as we read the stories of the victims we are also reading God’s obituary. By this I mean that such extreme human tragedy makes it impossible to talk about God in any useful way.

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 

Got a tip for the Heresy? Send it to press(at)centerforinquiry.net! 

The Morning Heresy: “I actually read it.” – Hemant Mehta