Instagramming Atoms

May 30, 2013

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

Kimberly Winston reports on the legacy of (and the efforts to resurrect the legacy of) Robert Ingersoll, with commentary from our own Tom Flynn and friend-of-the-blog Jamila Bey. Says Winston:

Ingersoll had the intellect of the late atheist Christopher Hitchens and the crowd appeal of Daily Show host Jon Stewart — or their 19th-century embodiments. 

The more you know (cue streaming sparkly star graphic): The Economist reminds us what the heck the difference is between Sunni and Shia Muslims, because, you know, it’s important:

The argument dates back to the death in 632 of Islam’s founder, the Prophet Muhammad. Tribal Arabs who followed him were split over who should inherit what was both a political and a religious office. The majority, who would go on to become known as the Sunnis, and today make up 80% of Muslims, backed Abu Bakr, a friend of the Prophet and father of his wife Aisha. Others thought Muhammad’s kin the rightful successors. They claimed the Prophet had anointed Ali, his cousin and son-in-law—they became known as the Shia, a contraction of “shiaat Ali”, the partisans of Ali. 

The Economist also tries to lend some clarity (sort of) over the hubbub over the pope’s kind words to atheists and how they might maybe possibly get into heaven:

Religious statements are rooted in a metaphysical system, an understanding of the universe, which is pretty foreign to the modern, liberal mind. In traditional Christian thought, the primordial . . . assertion is the existence of a loving God, from whom humanity has been estranged. Within that system, self-exclusion from that loving God is self-evidently a “hellish” choice; that is almost a tautology, a statement of the obvious.  

Hey, Indonesia: When even the freaking Heritage Foundation thinks you stink on religious freedom, you really need to reexamine your priorities. (No mention by Heritage of atheist persecution, of course.) 

Instagrammers: Stop taking pictures of your food and dogs. Take a photo of the inside of an atom instead (and add old-timey filters, of course!) 

Hassan A. Khalifeh at the On Campus blog reminds we seculars that there are folks in the Muslim community who are on the fence and should be reached out to

Openly gay priest, Rev. Gary Meier, on his struggle:

I was hopeful that I could find a way to have integrity while remaining part of a hierarchy that is anti-gay — I was unsuccessful. 

Wooly mammoth found in Siberia, preserved with “flowing blood.” Whoa. But Sharon Hill is not so sure

Sharon also has a great piece at on how folks can easily slip into supernatural thinking when dealing with reason gets inconvenient.  

French soldier is stabbed in the neck at a shopping mall in Paris by a recent convert to Islam. 

Six Bosnian Croats are convicted by a U.N. tribunal for persecuting a murdering Muslim Croats during the Bosnian War of the early 90s. 

The oldest known Torah scrolls are found in Italy. 

Here we go: Wisconsin Republican introduces a “religious freedom” bill to, I dunno, stop the ungodly crackdown on religion and faith that we all know is rampant. In Wisconsin.

AU’s Joseph L. Conn on a proposed “teach the controversy” policy in Springboro, OH’s public schools designed to promote “critical thinking”:

We’re all in favor of “critical thinking,” of course. And my critical thinking leads me to believe that board members are on a religious crusade. 

If you’re ever about to be infinitely compressed by a black hole’s singularity, I’ve got a pro tip: Apply some quantum gravity. You’re welcome! 

Gallup shows that Americans think religion’s influence is on the decline (yay!) but that most think that’s a bad thing (boo!).  

Jann Bellamy would like Pennsylvania legislators to know that a bill that would license “naturopathic doctors” would include permission for them to “reposition body tissues and organs.” Oh, which is impossible. 

Atheist megachurch

Forget that: American Atheists is going to unveil the first atheist courthouse monument!  

T. M. Luhrmann at NYT says (okay, brace yourself) that faith is not really about belief. I know!!! I know.

If you can sidestep the problem of belief — and the related politics, which can be so distracting — it is easier to see that the evangelical view of the world is full of joy. God is good. The world is good. Things will be good, even if they don’t seem good now. That’s what draws people to church. It is understandably hard for secular observers to sidestep the problem of belief. 

Who knew Jesus would come back as Moss from The IT Crowd

Quote of the Day 

The president at a Democratic fundraiser yesterday:

I don’t have much patience for people who deny climate change.

Us either.      

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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. 

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