annapustynnikova - Adobe Stock

Containing What Appeared to Be Blood

September 16, 2019

The big news for us from last week is that we got ourselves a new member of the CFI Board of Directors: Julia Sweeney! Here’s what Board Chair Eddie Tabash said about it:

With the degree to which atheists have been and still are society’s most unjustly despised minority, Julia Sweeney has shown remarkable courage and success in using her star power to help eliminate the horrendous prejudice that we face. She is a most welcome and wonderful addition to the CFI Board of Directors.

With CSICon 2019 just around the corner (holy crap I better book my flight), Susan Gerbic interviews the conference’s MC (which former CFI-er Lauren Becker decided stands for “Mission Commander”), the great Leighanne Lord. She says, “My Con advice is, get out and meet and talk to people. This is the place to have in depth, high level conversations that you may not ordinarily have an opportunity to engage in.”

Okay, fun’s over. What stops the California State Senate from working for 3 hours? No, not a screening of Endgame. According to police, an anti-vaxxer “threw a feminine hygiene device containing what appeared to be blood onto the Senate floor,” and after which, the perp yelled, “That’s for the dead babies.” Politics is going great.

Well, the full California legislature did pass a resolution that is sure to get the religious right hopping mad: Hey, religions! Be nice to the gays!

Resolved, That the Legislature calls upon religious leaders to counsel on LGBTQ matters from a place of love, compassion, and knowledge of the psychological and other harms of conversion therapy; and be it further

Resolved, That in addressing the stigma often associated with persons who identify as LGBTQ, we call on the people of California–especially its counselors, pastors, religious workers, educators, and legislators–and the institutions of California with great moral influence–especially its churches, universities, colleges, and other schools, counseling centers, activist groups, and religious centers–to model equitable treatment of all people of the state….

A federal judge rules that the family of the late DNC staffer Seth Rich can sue Fox News for spreading conspiracy theories about his murder.

Twelve former priests in Missouri may be charged for crimes related to the sexual abuse crisis, but so far no charges against anyone in church leadership.

Oxford’s Alister McGrath says atheism is “overly simplistic” and that “what really drew me to Christianity was this deep sense that it offered me a bigger picture of things.” That’s fine, but atheism isn’t supposed to “offer” anything. It’s just what’s up.

I missed this when it came out a couple weeks ago: Marianne Williamson gets a pretty sympathetic profile in the New York Times:

You can preach for people to love their illnesses in self-help; you can tell them that their healing is in their hands. People who look for those books pretty much know you’re speaking about the suffering of the mind, not the body; they understand the metaphors and know how to derive wisdom from them. The people who sought Williamson understood her language of angels and demons and miracles. They understood that those things didn’t take place on an unproven plane of the universe: The angels were our decisions to do better; the demons were our resolve to never try; and the miracle was just that tiny shift in perspective, that tilt toward love, that would change the way we think and act and believe.

But now everyone could hear her — the anti-vax nuts, the science crusaders — not just a self-selecting crowd of spiritual seekers. Her words were suddenly subject to the kind of scrutiny that a presidential campaign must learn to abide. Her life in self-help, which had brought her fame and the loyalty of millions, was being weaponized against her.

David Gorski explains why the “right-to-try” legislation has been a “spectacular failure”:

[R]ight-to-try was never about helping terminally ill patients, not really. It was always about ideology more than anything else. It was always about weakening the FDA’s ability to regulate drug approval, to cut it out of the process whenever possible, and letting companies profit. Terminally ill patients were always an afterthought.

When the black hole at the center of our galaxy eats too much, it burps radio bubbles. Yeah, I get it. It’s the Milky Way and it’s lactose intolerant.

David Kinnaman of the Barna Group has a book that offers five ways to keep Millennials and “Gen-Z-ers” (ugh) from slipping away from Christianity. I’m reminded of Adonis running after chickens in Creed.

Michio Kaku says that if you find yourself aboard an alien spacecraft, “For God’s sake, steal something!” Cute. But then he says this:

It used to be that believers [in alien spacecraft] had to prove that these objects were from an intelligent race in outer space. Now the burden of proof is on the government to prove they’re not from intelligent beings in outer space.

Yeah, I don’t at all think that’s true. Maybe that’s what some folks are doing, but no, the burden of proof is definitely not on the people saying “I don’t think that’s an alien spaceship.”

Big thanks to Cedar Park, Texas city councilman Tim Kelly, who single-handedly (well, probably he used two hands) prayed away the witches as Satanists that were doing sorcery in town during the full moon on Friday the 13th. A real hero.

Dennis Prager says that his YouTube channel totally counts as a “university.” Hemant zings, “It’s just Prager and people dumber than Prager promoting nonsense for people who consider Ben Shapiro intelligent.”

Quote of the Day

This is interesting: The AMA Journal of Ethics has an article on what nonbelieving doctors can do when a patient asks them to pray with them:

… a clinician should not lie about her religious beliefs. Trust forms the cornerstone of the patient-physician relationship and is particularly important for views that are central to one’s belief system, like religion. Hence, if [hypothetical doctor] Dr. Q were to misrepresent her beliefs to [hypothetical patient] Mrs. C, it would severely undermine the relationship. Dr. Q does not need to explicitly state her beliefs regarding prayer to support Mrs. C. For example, her response could focus on addressing the psychological basis of Mrs. C’s request for the physician’s presence while she prays.

Second, to the degree possible, and while remaining truthful, a clinician should promote trust in the relationship. Building trust means reaffirming one’s dedication to the patient’s well-being and staying present.

* * *

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.