The Morning Heresy is your daily digest of news and links relevant to the secular and skeptic communities.
Kimberly Winston interviews Phil Zuckerman about his new book and his ideas about nonreligious “aweism,” in a piece that also has response from our own Tom Flynn from a piece in Free Inquiry.
Tom also declares the biggest untold church-state story of 2014 to be the Vatican’s involvement in U.S.-Cuba relations.
Would you like a chance to change American culture by introducing the country to a non-jerky atheist fictional TV character? Here’s your chance with a contest sponsored by CFI and FFRF.
The tug of certain dwarf stars could bring deadly comets crashing into Earth as soon as 500,000 years from now. How’s that Mars One project going? Step it up, people!!!
For the college freethinker, here’s the latest edition of the Campus Inquirer with lots of useful info about how to kick off the semester.
Writing at WSJ, Robert Sapolsky presents an anecdote on how confirmation bias can be so powerful as to seem almost magical.
Joe Nickell at Skeptical Inquirer looks at how “Bigfoot programming” leads some to perceive Sasquatch when it’s really bears or bison or buffalo.
Joe also gives a glowing review to The Imitation Game, the story of Alan Turing as portrayed by Benedict Cumberbatch. You can learn more from a recent Point of Inquiry interview with Turing biographer Andrew Hodges.
Master of all things library, CFI’s Tim Binga, announces the acquisition of the Martin T. Orne Collection at CFI Libraries.
Italian bishops condemn the Mafia, which is actually kind of important. But I guess they figure their boss is tougher than the mob’s. Killed more people, certainly.
Jarune Uwujaren has a fascinating piece at Everyday Feminism on the particular struggles and frustrations of nonreligious African Americans:
Even in social justice contexts, the omnipresence of religion and prayer contributes to the erasure of black nonbelievers. … The trend of black nonbelievers openly identifying themselves pushes back against several harmful myths about their place in the black community.
Simon Cottee at Canada’s National Post reports on peril faced by ex-Muslim apostates.
Kenan Malik tries to zero in on the nihilistic core that is particular to Islamic violence:
A religion is defined not just by its holy texts but also by how believers interpret those texts — that is, by its practices. The ways in which believers act out their faith define that faith. The fact that Islamist extremists practice their religion in a manner abhorrent to liberals does not make that practice less real.
Rabbi Marc Schneier reminds us that Muslims are condemning extremist violence all the time, but says we rarely hear it.
Pakistan’s parliament moves to include religiously-based violence in its anti-terrorism law, meaning perpetrators of acts such as the massacre in Peshawar would be tried in military courts.
Indian folklore is encroaching on actual science, as presentations on Vedic myths about ancient aircraft make it into a science conference.
Reviewing the new book Atheist Awakening, Naomi Schaefer Riley makes this observation about our constituency:
The vast majority of the unaffiliated are not atheists as such. They are simply disaffected and indifferent, and many are uneducated about religious doctrine. They have no biblical literacy and embrace the shallow postmodern notion that good behavior is relative and that being “judgmental” is the big problem in life. It’s not clear that atheists would really want these folks in their camp.
Jeffrey Tayler is unimpressed by Reza Aslan’s atheistic taxonomy, saying, “The semantic distinction between ‘atheist’ and ‘antitheist’ is key and intended to discredit those speaking out for rationalism and against religion.”
The Universe would certainly continue to exist even if the strength of the four known forces was different. It is true that if the forces had slightly different strengths ( but nowhere near as tiny as the fine-scale variation asserted by the writer) then life as we know it would probably not have evolved. This is more likely an example of life being fine-tuned for the universe in which it evolved, rather than the other way around.
If Bigfoot sends his kids to public school in Maine, he may have a harder time opting out of vaccinations.
Quote of the Day
Hey guys, bad news. I lost an electron, but I’m staying positive. I hope you can keep an ion me.
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