The End(s) of the Earth

May 8, 2018

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

I swear, I don’t think I could have made this up: A member of the UFO “religion” the Raelians, whose last name is “Bilbo,” is suing to have “so help me God” removed from the U.S. citizenship oath, which of course should be removed. And who’s her lawyer? The secularism-enforcer who gets knocked down but gets back up again, Michael Newdow.

There is Emma González, survivor of the Parkland massacre and now an outspoken activist, and there is Emma Gonzalez, 31-year-old vegan chef in Brooklyn. They are not the same person, but the latter’s life has been turned upside down as she is the target of threats and stalkers as she has been sucked into the conspiracy theories surrounding the shooting, labeled the “real” Emma Gonzales and a “crisis actor.”

Pamela Constable at the Post takes a step back to look at how Pakistan is letting religious fanaticism—and fear of its political power—tear the country apart:

“This menace of hatred will destroy everything,” tweeted former foreign minister Khawaja Asif. “For God’s sake, we have to work together for our country.” In another tweet, Afrasiab Khattak, a retired senator and a human rights activist, warned, “Weaponizing religion is a path to horrible disaster.” 

Paige Patterson, the septuagenarian president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s seminary, believes that abused women should just pray that they stop getting beaten and that women in the seminary need to work harder to be pretty (so young men can be “biblical” about them). Southern Baptist women have had it:

The uproar calls into question how women are treated in this religious community that preaches the theology of complementarianism, which says men and women are called to different roles, with men leading in the church and the home. 

On this same issue, Michael Gerson has also had it:

…this is the calling of faith. It is not a form of nostalgia. … it requires people to be outraged at every violation of human dignity that crosses their path, including abuse and misogyny in any form. 

Alan Turing, who saved the world by breaking the Enigma code, who fostered modern computing and pioneered artificial intelligence, was also a “naturalist who explained patterns in nature with math.” JoAnna Klein reports.

Carbon dioxide in Earth’s atmosphere has topped 410 parts per million, the highest in 800,000 years. 

GoDaddy gives the boot to Richard Spencer’s altright.com domain after complaints that the site encouraged violence. Another option, of course, would have been to refuse to host it at all. 

Scott Pruitt (Destroyer of Worlds) is really afraid of tough questions, and will go to the ends of the earth (or, rather, the End of the Earth) to make sure no one does.

SPEAKING OF THE END OF THE EARTH: More fun from the Flat Earth Convention in the UK, as Kat Eschner at Popular Science explains flat-Earthers’ belief in the “Pac-Man effect,” where one reaches the “edge” of the world, and then “warps” through space-time to pop up on the other side. Because that’s way less elaborate than the damn planet just being ROUND.  

CFI is a signatory to a statement by the National Coalition for Public Education urging U.S. House to leave Impact Aid alone and not to sneak anything into the next Defense Authorization bill. 

The Anti-Defamation League releases a report showing that within a 12-month period, 4.2 million anti-Semitic tweets were posted from about 3 million Twitter accounts. (What I can’t tell is how this compares to bigotry directed at other groups.) From their press release:

The research shows that the number of anti-Semitic tweets fluctuated between a low of 36,800 the last week of July 2017 to a high of 181,700 in the first week of December 2017. The average number of anti-Semitic tweets per week: 81,400. 

Benjamin Radford takes a fresh look at the reporting around a recent study about how college men think they’re smarter than women, and found that the study doesn’t say that at all:

There are enough legitimate, actual findings about substantive sexism in America that journalists don’t need to manufacture new ones to drive traffic for ad revenue. 

Religion News Service is very concerned about what you think of them right now, you know, after the firings and resignations and whatnot:

The RNS CEO and publisher does not have the power to dismiss the editor-in-chief. … The RNS publisher and Board of Managers may relay story ideas and responses, or offer to help connect journalists with sources in our networks, but do not attend editorial meetings or otherwise involve themselves in editorial matters unless an issue arises that relates to our fiduciary or legal responsibilities. … Inaccuracies concerning these details have appeared in several news and opinion pieces in recent weeks. Both types of journalism are critical components of intelligent discourse — but neither is entitled to create its own facts. 

At Courthouse News, Milt Policzer wants better conspiracy theories about the Mueller investigation of the president, and offers some sample questions for Trump for conspirators to plant with Mueller:

Is chocolate cake a food group? … Do you believe in love? … Have you considered military action against the government of Wakanda? … How many fingers am I holding up?

Quote of the Day

Preacher Matt Powell knows what’s up with atheists:

They can’t think for themselves! They sit back and they drink Coke all day, and sit behind the video game system, and then wonder why, “Oh, you’re crazy, Brother Paul, for believing in a Creator! Oh, you’re insane.” No, you’re crazy, and you need to get off the video game system, and somebody needs to preach to him the gospel of Jesus Christ and so that they can be saved!

That’s what we need. And I’m sick and tired of these stinking video games messing with people. 

LOOK HERE, MY GOOD MAN. I drink Coke ZERO all day, and I almost exclusively play Civilization VI, which only messes with me insomuch as I feel the need to lay siege to various nations’ capitals before they can build a Mars colony. SO THERE.

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