This May Have Been a Mistake

March 7, 2017

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

Read, and then weep over, Sarah Posner’s op-ed at the Washington Post, in which she explains just how committed white evangelicals are to whatever it is they feel that Trump represents:

His religious-right defenders see themselves as warriors in an epic battle for Christian America, not unlike the one underlying the agenda envisioned by top Trump strategist Stephen K. Bannon — and as Trump hunkers down, they are invested in the narrative that Trump’s critics are satanic enemies bent on destroying him. 

The new travel ban is out and it’s HEATING UP THE CHARTS. This time there are no provisions about prioritizing Christians (which is good), but it’s still a ban targeting Muslims. There’s a strange new twist: The order calls for a report on all foreign nationals who have carried out “honor killings.”

Look who we got on Point of InquiryIt’s Lawrence Krauss, talking about the big ideas behind his new book The Greatest Story Ever Told… So Far.

Amy Harmon at NYT reports on the thousands of academics, computer geeks, and librarians taking part in the big “data rescue” to save scientific data from the Trump administration. They call what they’re looking for “dark data”:

“It’s like dark matter; we know it must be there but we don’t know where to find it to verify,” said Maxwell Ogden, the director of Code for Science and Society, a nonprofit that began a government-data archiving project in collaboration with the research libraries in the University of California system. “If they’re going to delete something, how will we even know it’s deleted if we didn’t know it was there?” he asked. 

STAT has a big-giant report on how more hospitals are offering pseudoscientific treatments, and the litany of truly weak explanations doctors have for employing those treatments.

Simon Cottee at The Atlantic talks to friend-of-the-Heretic Ali Rizvi (The Atheist Muslim) about the difficult business of looking to reform Islam and point out its problems while not giving ammunition to Trump-style attacks on Muslims.

The Atheist Foundation of Australia is sponsoring…a comedy tour? This is not a bad idea, y’all. “Cosmic Shambles Live” features Robin Ince and a bunch of other folks I never heard of, but that means nothing because I am out of touch and they are all in Australia.  

Yosvaris Chuklom, a comedian and member of the populist “red shirt” group in Thailand, is jailed for insulting the monarchy in a speech from back in 2010. 

In Spain, a suit brought by the Association of Christian Lawyers seeks to charge performer Borja Casillas with “offense against religious sentiments” [article translated from Spanish]:

[He was] literally dressed as an image of the Virgin with a fantasy titled as My Heaven! I do not do miracles, whatever God wants. After removing his full outfit and crucifying himself as Jesus Christ, he ended up being a resurrected Christ with his crown of thorns and his thorn in the side. 

Peter Laarman at Religion Dispatches looks at the Dutch Calvinist roots of Betsy DeVos, noting a fierce determination to refashion American schools:

Whereas the Puritans eventually mellowed, as did Holland’s own theocrats, American Dutch Calvinists of the DeVos stripe show little sign of mellowing. 

Ben Radford looks back on 40 years of Skeptical Inquirer, and notes how skepticism “benefits the world in innumerable ways.”   

The eternally-aggrieved Bill Donohue says that the reports about the mass grave of dead babies in Ireland is “fake news.” I think he is a fake person.

UC Berkeley drops its religious studies program due to lack of interest. Hm.

Lots of folks on the twitters are praising this TED talk by Megan Phelps-Roper, she who escaped the Westboro Baptist Church. 

On his new CNN show, Reza Aslan shows (and takes part in) some Hindu ritualistic cannibalism, and comes under fire for “Hinduphobia.” But I clearly need to watch this:

At one point, the interview soured and one cannibal threatened Aslan: “I will cut off your head if you keep talking so much.” Aslan, in turn, said to his director, “I feel like this may have been a mistake.” And when the guru began to eat his own waste and hurl it at Aslan and his camera crew, the CNN host scurried away

These scientists want to sequence the genomes of life on Earth. Like, all of it. Starting with eukaryotes. NBD. 

NPR talks to some rogue Christians about their wacky podcasts The Liturgists and, yes, Bad Christian.  

Quote of the Day:

George Brietigam at Broadway World Los Angeles reviews a play called Disinherit the Wind, in which a new-agey biology professor has his job imperiled because he thinks there are holes in evolution which leave room for all sorts of pseudoscience nonsense. Oh, I should state that this professor is the protagonist, not the comic relief. The prof’s name is Cates (remember the teacher Burt Cates in Inherit the Wind?), and a pro-evolution biologist comes to “cross-examine” Cates, a Brit by the name of — and I’m not kidding — Robert Hawkins. “And, of course, Hawkins ends up dumbfounded and at a loss for words at [playwright] Chait’s character’s superior reasoning skills.” Brietigam concludes:

I recommend Disinherit the Wind to anybody who’s into New Age spirituality, opposes the theory of evolution, and is looking to have their beliefs reinforced.

Christians who also oppose Darwinian Evolution might also enjoy this play. It has a very God Is Not Dead feel to it.

I would not recommend this show to anybody else. 

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