A Bright Dot Below the Rings

July 23, 2013

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

Cassini took our picture from Saturn! We’re the bright dot below the rings. Did you smile? I think I blinked. Can we do it again?

Our public policy shop put out an action alert yesterday concerning the Buckeye State…hold on…<looks up what a “buckeye” is>…Holy crap, it’s a tree! Whose real name is Aesculus, after the ancient Greek playwright! Wow!

What was I talking about? Right, an action alert concerning the Ohio legislature’s attempts to impose draconian restrictions on reproductive rights, which, as we write, “are unsupported by scientific evidence and incompatible with logic, reason, and the basic human values of fairness and decency.” Take action here.

Kimberly Winston reports on the push for humanist military chaplains.

Philosopher Alex Rosenberg explains the thinking behind his new book to 3AM:

In The Atheist’s Guide to Reality I tried to coopt the word ‘scientism’ and to argue that science can answer the persistent philosophical questions that trouble people, including the nature of reality, the purpose of life, the existence of a soul, the grounds of morality, whether we have free will, and the meaning of human history. Most of the answers science gives to these questions are unpopular and people neither understand them nor want to hear them. 

Frank Brun rails against the “community intimidation” that hushed up accusations of sexual abuse by ultra-Orthodox rabbis in New York. 

Editorial board of the Deseret News reaches an unfortunate conclusion over the manufactured controversy over the alleged “suppression” of religious freedom in the U.S., writing, “Without religion in the public square, rights degenerate quickly into opinions open for debate and restriction.”

At Friendly Atheist, I riff off of Austin Cline to think about how to answer folks who wonder why we’re “so obsessed” with a God we don’t believe exists. 

NYT article about a guy who is a Religious Science practitioner, a minister of the Universal Life Church, ordained in the Church of the Universe (in Canada), and an official of the Oklevueha Native American Church of Hilo, is, of course, about weed

Warren Blumenfeld looks at the different ways of looking at Christian proselytization: as a freedom to share “good news,” and as a form of bullying or oppression:

Many of us understand Christian proselytizing as resting upon a foundation of Christian privilege in the United States, a privilege that grants unearned benefits, which exerts a degree of power and control not granted to members of non-Christian denominations and non-believers. 

Joe Nickell blogs on the recent discoveries about the Boston Strangler.  

A YouGov survey says belief in god-free evolution ticked up a few notches to about 1 in 5 Americans. 

UNICEF reports that over 30 million girls around the world are at risk for being subject to genital mutilation. 

It’s almost like God didn’t want the folks in Anderson County, Tennessee to put up that “In God We Trust” sign at the courthouse… 

Eugenie Scott is going to get a Houdini Award! Of course, she’ll have to get it while submerged in a tank of water, which itself will be buried in eight feet of soil, but still. 

Psychics could have flipped a coin to guess the royal infant’s sex and had better results than they got. 

Barbara Dority at the Seattle Times calls for the Boy Scouts to go all the way, and lift the ban on atheists.

Now that you can do atheist weddings in Ireland, the cup runneth over

James Bloodworth on what he sees as Islam’s special status as unassailable, even among many atheists:

[Dawkins, Harris, et. al.]  have fallen foul of an important unspoken code: while Christianity may be cursed to the skies, criticism of Islam must be bookended with ‘religion of peace’ disclaimers or refrained from entirely. The problem is not that the new atheists exult rationality at the expense of a deeper understanding of human affairs; it is that they are too consistent in their denunciations of religion. Being ‘tolerant’ is also very often seen on the left as more important than being correct.  

Quote of the Day

A handy reminder from Forbes‘ Peter Lipson about the safety and benefits of vitamins and supplements:

The source of the chemical is . . . irrelevant. A bottle of cholesterol medicine made by a large pharmaceutical company is no more or less a drug than an herbal tea. What counts is the dose and its biological effects. . . . Vitamins and supplements are drugs. That they aren’t subject to the same regulation as “real” drugs should bring comfort to no one.

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