Sheen of Plausibility

February 16, 2016


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

CFI president Ron Lindsay takes to HuffPo, not to praise Scalia, but to bury him. More specifically, to bury his supposedly “rational” originalism:

The more fundamental flaw [in Scalia’s thinking] is to assume that the Founders wanted us to use detailed historical research, or perhaps necromancy, to discern the specific things they were thinking of at the time they wrote the Constitution. 

Religion scholar Mark Silk at RNS makes no bones about the damage done by Scalia to the concept of free exercise in the case of Employment Division v. Smith. “It’s time to make the free exercise of religion a full constitutional right again.” Tobin Grant also looks back at Scalia’s take on religion and secularism, saying, “Scalia wasn’t a passive jurist.” You can say that again.

CFI–NE Ohio’s Monette Richards is quoted in a WCPO (which I keep reading as C-3PO) story on Ohio’s so-called “Pastor Protection Act,” which, as Monette correctly puts it, “is privileging religion and actually codifying bigotry.”

PBS Newshour considers what it would take to keep a real conspiracy going, such as the “faked Moon landing,” and Skeptical Inquirer‘s Ben Radford lends some perspective, noting that an enduring conspiracy theory needs a “grain of truth” for a “sheen of plausibility.”

Franklin Graham says Christians have “one election left” before secularism/communism (“They’re both exactly the same.”) takes over America. Can you feel how close we are to our Perfect Atheist Hellscape???

Ted Cruz says liberals want religious symbols “sandblasted off of the tombstones of our fallen veterans.” But come on, that would be so expensive

The guys at the Naked Diner podcast had me on as a guest (I have to assume they were hard up for folks), and we had a jolly good time. Contrary to the name, there was no nudity, nor was there any eating.

So there really is a thing called the “Conspira-Sea Cruise,” and it is a “holistic cruise,” whatever that means, and Kylie Sturgess has an interview with a skeptic who raised the funds to endure the voyage. 

This dark blob of something in the forest that you can see for about half a second in this video is obviously Bigfoot

Oh this is good:

A Kentucky lawmaker fed up with anti-abortion laws in her state has introduced a bill that would require men seeking erectile dysfunction drugs to visit a doctor twice, get a note from their wives and swear on the Bible to be faithful. 

One day you ask yourself, hey, what does a 45 million-year-old flower look like? Like this

Rhiannon Graybill of Rhodes College confesses to the difficulty of being a religious studies professor who must spend almost every day discussing stories of sexual violence:

Most of my classes are about the Hebrew Bible (or Old Testament). These are texts that are, as my students often point out, “pretty rapey.” They are right. Genesis alone contains multiple narratives of sexual violence and violation. Dinah, Jacob’s only daughter, is raped in Genesis 34. The story of Sodom and Gomorrah closely associates sexuality and violence (Gen. 19). Noah is naked before his son, and perhaps raped by him (Gen. 9); Lot is likewise raped by his daughters (Gen. 19). Even the narrative of Tamar and Judah (Gen. 38), often read as a story of comic sexual trickery, raises some uncomfortable questions about sex, power, and consent. This means that when I teach Genesis in a first year course, there are whole weeks when every class meeting involves a different incident of sexual violence.

The ultra-right-wing Clarion Project uses clips of Sam Harris to make people scared of Syrian refugees and Muslims in general, and Sarah Lazare at AlterNet declares that “a convergence of New Atheists and right-wing militarists seems inevitable.” But isn’t it “co-opting” and not “convergence”? (Harris says these were used without his permission.)

The Telegraph talks to Tim Whitmarsh about atheism in the ancient world, which Point of Inquiry did, like, totally first.  

UFO sightings spike in the summer! Why? Because people are outside more, and there are more things being flung into the sky like fireworks, kites, lights from events, etc. 

Quote of the Day:

Yesterday was Galileo’s birthday, did you know that? I didn’t. Anyhoo, here he is talking all skeptic-like:

In the long run my observations have convinced me that some men, reasoning preposterously, first establish some conclusion in their minds which, either because of its being their own or because of their having received it from some person who has their entire confidence, impresses them so deeply that one finds it impossible ever to get it out of their heads. Such arguments in support of their fixed idea as
they hit upon themselves or hear set forth by others, no matter how simple and stupid these may be, gain their instant acceptance and applause. On the other hand whatever is brought forward against it, however ingenious and conclusive, they receive with disdain or with hot rage — if indeed it does not make them ill. Beside themselves with passion, some of them would not be backward even about scheming to suppress and silence their adversaries.

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Original image by Shutterstock

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