This is an Amazing Soufflé

August 9, 2017


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

Despite the best efforts of our president, life on Earth has not yet been extinguished. But, you know, give it a day. Besides, Pastor Robert Jeffress says, “God has given Trump authority to take out Kim Jong Un,” and that he may use “whatever means necessary.” Well, if we’re sure that God is cool with it…

And here’s a thing. You knew Carl Sagan was pretty damned smart. But did you know he was a prophet

The New York Times says that the coming official publication of the Climate Science Special Report, leaked this week to the press, will force Trump to decide between his anti-science base and the facts. You know, I don’t think he’ll have any problems making that call.

This is cool! Today there’s an India March for Science, calling for the funding of research and the rejection of unscientific, chauvinistic thinking and religious intolerance. 

The press is still feeding off the paper by Will Gervais, et. al., showing just how wary people are of atheists — including atheists themselves. Here’s Jonathan Freedland at The Guardian on what this means for would-be atheist presidential candidates:

No openly non-believing candidate has won the presidential nomination of either major party. Even figures whose personal morality has been famously suspect have rushed to assert their affinity for God. The most egregious example is surely the current incumbent of the White House. Despite leading a life dedicated to the worship of mammon, Donald Trump was embraced by white evangelical voters, who accepted his declarations of devotion and saw him as preferable to church-going Clinton. It suggests that, while Americans expect their politicians to profess faith in God, they hardly demand consistency.

Things are getting out of hand in Malaysia. One of the president’s cabinet members, Shahidan Kassim, says all nonbelievers need to be hunted down:

We need to hunt down these groups until the end, because they’ve broken state religious laws. … Even in our Federal Constitution, it says Islam is the religion of the federation, and other religions are also allowed to be practiced peacefully. It doesn’t mention anything about atheism. I suggest we hunt them down, until the end.

Good news: Our own Debbie Goddard will be speaking at the Black Nonbelievers 2017 Convention at Sea this November.

Sarah Kaplan at the Washington Post reports on new information about Saturn’s moon Titan, on which the ingredients for life are not only present, but abundant:

It’s as though scientists have walked into a cosmic kitchen and found the oven has been preheated to 350 degrees and the flour and eggs are mixed together, said Sarah Hörst, a professor of planetary science at Johns Hopkins University. “But you weren’t there when they got mixed, so you don’t know what they got mixed up to do. You don’t know what will happen when you bake it,” she said. All those ingredients may add up to nothing. Or, “You might be like, holy shit, this is an amazing souffle!” Hörst laughed. 

Susan Gerbic interviews Natalie Newell, creator of the upcoming Science Moms documentary which will premiere at CSICon. 

So Randy Newman has put out his first new album in about a decade, and one of the songs, “The Great Debate,” is more like a musical skit in which Newman plays various characters debating a lot of the science-vs.-religion/pseudoscience stuff we deal with, but from a kind of straw man POV. It’s weird and interesting, so give a listen.

Daniel Silliman looks at the rise of the religious right and its modern capitulation to Trump through the eyes and expectations of Howard Phillips, the late hard-right conservative purist who headed the U.S. Taxpayers Party/Constitution Party:

He had long argued that Republicans like being in power more than they care about conservative principles. And conservative evangelicals could be bought off with a little access to that power: a pat on the back, a visit to the White House, or a meeting with a vice president. Donald Trump promised the Religious Right it would win. He promised his supporters “so much winning.” For Phillips, a failed prophet of political purism, the only way the Religious Right could hold onto its principles was to be willing to lose. 

You’ve almost certainly heard about that dude at Google who emailed his coworkers a nutty manifesto about why diversity is a waste of time and women aren’t up to the task of working in tech because SCIENCE. The bro in question, James Damore, was fired for creating a hostile work environment, and of course (OF COURSE) Putin-puppets Julian Assange and Wikileaks offer him a job because something-something-FREE SPEECH.

Video of Richard Dawkins’ on-stage conversation with Dave Rubin is already available online.

Gizmodo‘s Rae Paoletta explains how Damore’s pseudoscientific arguments are not at all uncommon from men looking to claim victimhood. 

At Religion Dispatches, Tucker Fitzgerald talks about being in “a polyamorous relationship with atheism and a benevolent, personal deity.” Behave

An Ohio public school is denying FFRF’s allegation that they are teaching creationism in science class. However:

FFRF Staff Attorney Sam Grover explained to Bowlin in the letter that a concerned parent claimed that the biology classes had a unit titled “biogenesis,” which included the usage of the book In the Beginning: Compelling Evidence for Creation and the Flood by Walter Brown. 

Please enjoy this lovely photo gallery from Wired of homeopathic healing machines and other magical tools of the fake-medicine trade (including an actual wand).

Quote of the Day:

Yesterday my wife showed me this website I’d never seen before, and really, you should see it: The official (cough cough) website for Mike Pence, 46th President of the United States. At the bottom of the page, where one would see a prompt to sign up for emails, instead says:

This is a reminder to kill all your tiny dogs. Sign up to receive email notifications regarding best ways to do so, including strangling, drowning, and others. 

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