Argumentum ad Ignorantiam

September 2, 2016


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

They’re about to make Mother Theresa a saint, but Joe Nickell shows us in a piece for the upcoming issue of Free Inquiry that the miracles attributed to her are very weak tea:

In both cases “miracle” was defined as it always is in such matters as “medically inexplicable.” The evidence is therefore not positive but negative, resulting in a logical fallacy called argumentum ad ignorantiam “an argument from ignorance”—that is, a lack of knowledge. One cannot draw a conclusion from “we don’t know”—least of all that a miracle (supposedly a supernatural occurrence) was involved. 

Fictional presidential candidates appearing on ballots is a time-honored tradition in the U.S. of A., with some like Deez Nuts polling relatively well, all things considered. But rarely to these candidacies have such cosmological and theological implications as this one: God is apparently running for president. And he lives on Staten Island. TPM’s Katherine Krueger reports:

“It has come to the attention of the Federal Election Commission that you may have failed to include the true, correct, or complete committee name, candidate name, custodian of records name, treasurer name,” an FEC analyst wrote in the letter, which was sent Wednesday. Now God has 30 days to prove He exists, or his campaign for the presidency will be terminated. 

And you thought this election couldn’t get any more consequential. 

Important stuff here: Emma Green at The Atlantic looks at an Indiana case where a mother is charged with beating her 7-year-old kid with coat hanger because Jesus, and her defense will lean heavily on good ol’ RFRA, the law brought to the Hoosier state by Mike Pence. 

And one thing we know about Mike Pence: he’s not a guy who’s interested in science, evidence, or facts

Jerry Coyne formally reviews Tom Wolfe’s The Kingdom of Speech, which purports to prove Darwin and Chomsky wrong. Coyne writes:

At the end, Wolfe places Darwin in company with five others whose words changed history: Jesus, Muhammad, John Calvin, Karl Marx and Sigmund Freud. The first four offered hope, and Freud offered sex, but, Wolfe says, “Darwin offered nothing at all.” Most thoughtful people, pondering the depth, beauty and far-reaching implications of modern evolutionary theory, would beg to differ. 

Amy Littlefield at Rewire reports that a Catholic hospital in California is refusing to perform a hysterectomy on a transgender man, which even the doctor who would perform the surgery was prepared to do when the hospital pulled the plug. 

Ashifa Kassam at The Guardian profiles Raihan Abir, a bestselling Bangladeshi writer who fled the storm of murders that claimed the lives of secularists like his friend Avijit Roy and many others. 

The death of his co-author left him racked with grief. Apprehension set in months later, after another blogger, Washiqur Rahman, was hacked to death outside his home. “I knew it was my turn,” Abir says with a wry smile. 

Sikivu Hutchinson collects stories from black nonbelievers for The Humanist magazine:

It remains to be seen how this next generation will redress the systemic inequities that confront people of color, who can’t bank on the wages of whiteness while being religious outsiders.  

Stephen Law examines the claims of “best available explanation” to back up conspiratorial or paranormal beliefs.

President Obama travels to Midway in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands to highlight the threat posed by climate change, saying, “If oceans continue to get warmer, that a lot of the marine species here could be affected, and ultimately that’s going to have an impact on human populations.”

John Patterson at The Guardian wonders if Sausage Party is part of an atheistic trend for Hollywood.   

Stephen Colbert talks to God about tracking down Lyle Jeffs, who may or may not have been raptured. 

Tracey Moody highlights a new children’s book on evolutionAnnabelle & Aiden: The Story of Life.

Quote of the Day

In this video, two-year-old Nicholas solves the Trolley Problem: Kill everyone, and make sure they’re good and dead. Nicholas’s quote?


* * *

Photo credit: rhys_kiwi via / CC BY-NC-SA 

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

Follow CFI on Twitter: @center4inquiry

Got a tip for the Heresy? Send it to press(at)!

News items that mention political​ candidates are for informational purposes only and under no circumstances are to be interpreted as statements of endorsement or opposition to any political candidate. CFI is a nonpartisan nonprofit.

The Morning Heresy: “I actually read it.” – Hemant Mehta