I Just Squirm Untelegenically

May 6, 2013


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

Washington Examiner interviews CFI chief Ron Lindsay on his beliefs regarding religious freedom:

On the one hand it’s clear from our constitution the founders wanted the government to stay outside of church internal affairs. We don’t want the government deciding who should be a bishop, don’t want the government deciding religious dogma, etc. I definitely agree with that position. Any time you have a mix of church and state it’s bad for believers and nonbelievers. On the other hand you have religious freedom that deals with freedom of conscience — the right of someone to refuse certain action that the government requires because it would violate their beliefs. What the Catholic bishops and some other organizations have done is to conflate those two types of religious freedoms.  

Ali A. Risvi at HuffPo digs into the kerfuffle over atheism and “Islamophobia” in a must-read piece:

[Religion] is considered sacred and untouchable now like white supremacy and patriarchy were less than a century ago. The consequences for speaking out against it are often as dire as they were for those who spoke out against white or male authority back then. But the secularist struggle is bearing fruit, here and elsewhere, particularly among America’s youth. 

Dhaka, Bangladesh sees violence as hardline Islamic protestors demand tougher blasphemy laws and riot, resulting in a reported 28 dead.  

I have some charts for you!

Science Committee chair Rep. Lamar Smith goes after the National Science Foundation with a bill that would heavily restrict its scope and funding. 

ACLU comes to the defense of the Westboro Baptists Church’s right to desecrate the American flag. 

Indonesian former child star charges a spiritual guru with blasphemy. 

This Friday, SCA president David Niose will come to CFI headquarters in Amherst, NY to talk about the rise of secularism in America.

Tim Kreider at NYT encourages an embrace of honest doubt:

I’m always ill at ease when I find myself conscripted by the media into the role of Expert on some subject about which I have rashly written. I felt like the explanatory caption beneath my name on-screen ought to be: PERSON IN WORLD. When interviewers ask me what can we do about the plague of Busyness, if a zero-terrorist-attacks policy is realistic or whether cryonics is feasible, I just squirm untelegenically and say things like “Gee I dunno,” which usually causes them to go, in disgust, to the phones. 

Ben Radford at LiveScience plums the peculiarities of pareidolia.

David Sessions at Patrol reviews Charles Taylor’s A Secular Age, and says religion would be better served by not aping rationalism and “facts”:

[T]he unqualified disaster of apologetics [in Protestantism] that have focused on rational-empirical argumentation as a means of persuasion, intensifying the already-problematic tendency of Protestantism to be in one’s head than in the practices of one’s body. The thrust of “resurgent” evangelical activity in my lifetime has been mostly to embrace and even radicalize the most harmful features of the modern obsession with rational control. If you can begin to pull your religion out of that abyss, there’s no telling what a powerful countercurrent it might become. 

Publishing Perspectives wonders if digital versions of holy books are sufficiently holy.

Michelle Martin at NPR talks to Greg Epstein about nonbelievers’ responses to tragedy

Diana Butler Bass at HuffPo suggests we celebrate the National Day for Prayer and Reason. Yeah, that’ll fly. 

Eboo Patel on what he thinks interfaith work is really about:

The central problem interfaith work seeks to solve is this: how are all of us, with our deep differences, to share a nation and a world together? I believe that is primarily a question of civic space, not political ideology.  

National Catholic Register gets a little argumentative with Joe Nickell about the authenticity of the Shroud of Turin

Motorcycles are dangerous. Go get yours blessed

Roger Marsh at HuffPo: Witnesses claim to see same triangle UFO from Tennessee and Colorado. 

Pastor Mark Driscoll: Screw the environment, God made it for me to burn. And yes, that attitude is effecting policy in a big way, with congressional Republicans blocking action on climate change because the end is nigh.

Albany Herald in Georgia profiles local atheist activist James Gillham who is trying to build community for local nonbelievers. Meanwhile, Neil Carter of Godless in Dixie submits to interview by an entire church!

Quote of the Day 

“Nate” in Jakarta, writing a letter to the editor about the schoolgirls accused of blasphemy for dancing to a Maroon 5 song:

Blasphemy laws are blasphemous in the sense that they infer that God, assuming there is one, requires lawyers and semi-literate policemen to carry out his will. 

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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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