That’s Unfair to Snake Oil Salesmen
February 25, 2013


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

Yowza. Cardinal Keith O’Brien of Scotland resigned today in the midst of allegations of sexual advances on priests.

Good stuff: Harriet Hall and Amy Davis Roth begin the healing

Bad stuff: Egyptian author of The Arabic Theology, Youssef Zeidan, may be charged with blasphemy for his book.

Christian pastor in Pakistan, Asghar Nizam Ranjha, is accused of blasphemy for allegedly defiling a Bible…

Bleeding Grapefruits
February 22, 2013


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

International human rights experts present “a plan of action to prevent incitement to discrimination, hostility and violence” in regard to “national, racial and religious hatred.” Yes, CFI will be looking very closely at this.

We know you love smart, science-and-secularism podcasts. You should tell the world by donning the new Point of Inquiry T-shirt. It might help if you make this face, as modeled by CFI’s own Sarah Kaiser.

CFI yesterday trumpeted our inclusion in the Respect for Marriage coalition, dedicated to the repeal of DOMA and in support of marriage equality. 

Armchair Apocalyptists and Newspaper Exegetes
February 21, 2013


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

Just posted yesterday (we’re really excited about this): Point of Inquiry‘s big live show (on video no less!) for the AAAS conference with guest Steven Pinker. 

I missed this one a couple weeks ago, but it’s good. Daniel Burke explores how notions of the “Antichrist” reflect a current era’s anxieties, meaning that current fears among “armchair apocalyptists” and “newspaper exegetes” is of a Muslim Antichrist. (And not for nothin’, I’m going to go ahead and recommend not doing a Google image search for “Antichrist.”)

Sunday is the Day of Solidarity for Black Non-Believers, and CFI branches are holding events, including NYC and DC.  

Less and Less for God to Do
February 20, 2013


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

Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper launches a “religious freedom” office, and CFI-Canada notices that secularist groups have not been invited. 

Self-described curmudgeon Jacques Berlinerblau, whose Secularism on the Edge conference gets underway today, expresses a rare hint of optimism for the movement:

I want to note, buzzkillingly, that 2012 was more a victory for secularism than a victory by secularism. But a victory nonetheless! Moreover, secularists can’t help but wonder if the pope’s recent resignation signals, at the very least, a set back for the global anti-secular platform. 

Rewards for Failure
February 19, 2013


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

Spencer Ackerman at Wired: When asteroids come falling, we’re essentially screwed

I want to know what, exactly, the Universe is, but I only have a minute. Oh look! A handy video

Well isn’t that convenient: Reuters reports that by remaining in the Vatican after he retires, Ratzinger maintains immunity from any prosecution for his role in the abetting of generations of sexual abuse by clergy. 

The Sham Institution That Employs You
February 18, 2013


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

President Obama begins a decade-long moon shot to bring on the Singularity. Not really, but he does intend to “build a comprehensive map” of the human brain, hoping to make big leaps in treatments for things like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, and advances in artificial intelligence. 

Something for seculars to think about regarding our numbers, our percentage among the population. Following new Gallup data that estimates gay, lesbians and transgender Americans at about 3.5 percent, Andrew Sullivan writes:

And why on earth does it matter if we make up 10 percent or 1 percent? A minority’s civil rights are not dependent on how many of them there are or how large a segment of society they form. Do we say: sorry, guys, you only form 2 percent, you don’t meet the minimal bar for becoming a minority? It’s not like running for the Knesset.  

CFI is now a proud member of the pro-marriage equality coalition Respect for Marriage.

Seriously, Duck and Cover
February 15, 2013


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

So, um, holy crap!

A meteor crashing in Russia’s Ural mountains has injured at least 500 people, as the shockwave blew out windows and rocked buildings. . . . A fireball was seen streaking through the clear morning sky above the city of Yekaterinburg, followed by loud bangs. 

And this isn’t some thing where it all burned up in the sky. There’s a freaking impact crater. I mean, look!

Valentinosaurus
February 14, 2013


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

Along with our related conundrum over Christmas and Santa Claus (there is no such conundrum for Tom Flynn, of course), we skepto-atheists are now faced with a holiday named for a Catholic saint, and many of us are expected to take part in the surrounding mainly-secular rituals, which usually involve buying a lot of things that are red and pink. Like Christmas, the holiday now has little to do with its namesake or faith of origin. 

But I suppose there’s nothing wrong with using the opportunity to remind the people you love how much you love them, and to do something nice for them. Of course, you can do that any time you want, and you should, but doing it today is just fine also. But do it because you want to, because you mean it, not because the Rite Aid is bedecked with cards and heart-shaped balloons. Thus ends my catechism. 

Not So Special in the Grand Scheme of Things
February 13, 2013


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

Today marks one year for me at CFI. (It’s not one year for The Morning Heresy, as I didn’t start that until the next week, and even then it was still an internal document only.) I’d have a big party with cake and whatnot with my coworkers, but 1) I telecommute from Maine, the End of America, so it’d be hard to get together, 2) I don’t like parties, and 3) I’d rather have ice cream or cookies than cake. But still, it’s kind of a big deal to me.

There’s a lot of consternation in the skepto-atheist movement these days (I guess there almost always is for one reason or another), and very often CFI finds itself at or near the center of it. But that’s part of what I like so much about CFI. It covers all the bases, it tackles the tough stuff, but not in a bomb-throwing, outrage-for-the-sake-of-outrage kind of way. Instead, CFI is, to me, about confronting tough questions with a purpose: science, reason, and secularism for the betterment of our species. For our intellectual enrichment, yes, but also for our overall well-being. That sometimes gets people mad, but it also adds substance to the overall discussion of what the heck it is we’re all doing here in this movement. And I like where we stand. So even though times in Skepto-atheistville are tumultuous, I’m proud to advance under the banner of the Blue Flaming Meatball and count myself as a part of the Center for Inquiry. Happy anniversary, us!

Greetings from Glasgow, Please Do Not Enslave Our Species
February 12, 2013


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

Today is, of course, the day that the world asks perhaps the most important existential question that confronts our species: Who would win in a fight, Lincoln or Darwin? Born on the same day in 1809, two of the most consequential humans ever to live could, in some fan-fic universe, have crossed paths, angered each other, and decided to go at it. (Let’s be honest, Lincoln would totally start it.) Both were tall men, though Lincoln was taller by about 4 inches. Factor that with his rustic upbringing, which undoubtedly included far more manual labor than this guy ever had to endure, and it looks like a clear win for Honest Abe. But don’t count Chuck D out, as his years aboard the Beagle would have toughened him up, dealing with salty sea dogs and whatnot. He may have been more scrappy than we can ever really know.

Anyway.

Tonight the president delivers the State of the Union, and WaPo is reporting that he is also considering some executive orders concerning protections for LGBT Americans, as well as energy and climate policy, among other things.