A Particular Splinter

June 11, 2018

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I was traveling last week in order to face the withering scrutiny of the CFI Board of Directors, and since I haven’t been fired yet (yet!), I’m now back to catch up on many days of news. (There was so much, I had to declare Google Alerts Bankruptcy.)

One of my heroes, Bonya Ahmed, has a TEDx talk in which she discusses the machete attack in Dhaka she narrowly survived, but that took her husband Avijit Roy, and how she has managed to recover.

Our legal director Nick Little, a guy who argues with me about whether characters like Batman and Black Widow count as superheroes (they do), is not wrong about what the hell happened with the Masterpiece Cakeshop SCOTUS decision:

The specific factual nature of this case, combined with the clear statements that religion does not provide an automatic exemption to anti-discrimination law limit the harm this decision will have. … the decision is bad, and the future is murky. But the sky hasn’t fallen. Yet.

When it does fall, Batman and Black Widow will be out there performing super-feats to save people. Or would. If they were real. Which of course I realize they are not. Ahem.

John Agar at the Grand Rapids Press reports on CFI’s lawsuit in Michigan to allow Secular Celebrants to solemnize marriages, featuring quotes from CFI Michigan’s Jen Beahan and of course Nick Little, who is wrong about superheroes and that’s okay. He’s right about so many other things.

Howard Friedman at Religion Clause also takes note of our case.

Ha! Check this out! CFI West director Jim Underdown gets coverage on L.A.’s ABC and CBS affiliates for trying to show flat-Eathers how incredibly wrong they are.

Oh hey, we got webinars! Who wants webinars! Come get your webinars! That word keeps getting weirder the more you say it. Anyway, this Wednesday our government affairs director Jason Lemeiux joins MAAF’s Jason Torpy and SCA’s Sarah Levin for an online advocacy training session for members of the military.

Plus, on June 26 TIES presents an online workshop with game designer Jonathan Tweet, author of the book kids’ evolution book Grandmother Fish.

Coral Davenport at the Times notes that Trump is the first president since 1941 to go without a science advisor, and as he heads into talks over nukes with Kim Jong-un, this lack of scientific advice “could put him at a tactical disadvantage in one of the weightiest diplomatic matters of his presidency.” You think?

Lindsey Bever at the Post reports on how the American Medical Association may be coming around on the issue of physician-assisted suicide.

Also at the Post, Michelle Boorstein and Sarah Pulliam Bailey provide a historical context for the rise and fall of Southern Baptist leader Paige Patterson, how women asserted themselves to put a stop to his abuse, and how younger leaders in the church were just plain embarrassed by him.

In Skeptical Inquirer, Benjamin Radford tackles the somewhat-pointless disagreements over ghost taxonomy, and much to my disappointment, never cites the phrase “Sir, what you had there was what we refer to as a focused non-terminal repeating phantasm, or a Class 5 Full Roaming Vapor. A real nasty one, too.”

Kylie Sturgess interviews Katinka Day (what a great name), who leads a campaign against fake medicine and useless supplements in Australia.

Joe Nickell investigates a card from his collection from a 1920s fortunetelling automaton, and says of the device, “It scanned and determined nothing.” Sounds like Amazon’s recommendation algorithm.

In a startlingly straightforward and sad “note to readers” in the Post, Charles Krauthammer announces his impending death:

My doctors tell me their best estimate is that I have only a few weeks left to live. This is the final verdict. My fight is over. … I leave this life with no regrets. It was a wonderful life — full and complete with the great loves and great endeavors that make it worth living. I am sad to leave, but I leave with the knowledge that I lived the life that I intended.

Also, Matthew Sharps looks at how Percival Lowell in 1901 could have come to believe that Mars had artificial “canals.”

Oh, for the love of…gah, yes, there’s a “blockchain religion” now. Blarf. Drew Millard at The Outline explains:

While the details of 0xΩ are a bit fuzzy, it’s basically meant as a platform where people can democratically design a belief system and use blockchain technology to exchange “sacred texts” and vote on the operations of said religion.

Four U.S. Senators write to the President of Mauritania to protest a blasphemy charge and death sentence given to blogger Mohammed Cheikh Ould Mkheitir.

Jennine Khalik at Australia’s ABC News reports on the perilous challenges faced by ex-Muslims.

Rafael Cruz, Ted Cruz’s even-crazier dad, says the Obergefell ruling on same-sex marriage means that soon it will be legal to have a marriage “between two men and a horse,” which is already a better show than Two and a Half Men. Just by default. (Also, considering Rick Santorum’s man-on-dog ideas, could a dog then marry a horse?)

Rachel Becker at The Verge profiles Jess Peláez Phoenix, the volcano scientist who waged an ultimately unsuccessful campaign to be the Democratic candidate for Congress in California’s 25th. But I bet Dr. Phoenix will rise again from the volcanic ashes. What, you thought of that joke already? Well why don’t you do a news roundup with dumb jokes if you’re so smart???

Philosophy professor Stephen Asma complains that the up and coming generation of “nones” is doing it wrong:

These nones tend to believe in the soul, divine energy, mystical realities, ghosts, fate and myriad other superstitions that traditionally fell under the umbrella of religion. They also tend to eschew formal social gatherings and regular group activities. Young nones, in other words, are adopting one of the least helpful aspects of organized religion (magical thinking) while abandoning one of the most beneficial (social bonding).

I can’t wait for the film adaptation of Young Nones, which damn well better feature a hit song by Jon Bon Jovi. Perhaps called “Blaze of Apathy.”

Quote of the Day

Writing into the Arizona Daily Sun, one Charles W. “Chuck” Barnes sticks it to the state superintendent and her effort to erase evolution from the state’s science standards:

Judaism, Islam and all Protestant churches, except those on the conservative fringes, have agreed that evolution is consistent with their theologies. Thus Ms. Douglas in insisting that her particular splinter of Protestantism be taught in tax-supported schools as science. Nope.

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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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