Disingenuous Calculations

November 26, 2018

It’s a long one today, folks. Post-holiday and whatnot.

Without religion, the trope goes, how could one possibly find meaning? Well, apparently most Americans are already well beyond all that. Yonat Shimron at Religion News Service reports on a Pew Research survey:

…nearly 70 percent of Americans mention their family as a source of meaning and fulfillment. After family, Americans said they drew meaning and satisfaction from being outdoors, spending time with friends, caring for pets and listening to music. In this wide range of pursuits, religion ranked behind those things as something that gave them “a great deal” of meaning.

Hemant went on Fox News to talk about this with, ACK, Tony Perkins!

Thirteen agencies in Trump’s own federal government slam down a huge report on how climate change will ruin everything. NYT:

[The report predicts that] if significant steps are not taken to rein in global warming, the damage will knock as much as 10 percent off the size of the American economy by century’s end. ….  In direct language, the 1,656-page assessment lays out the devastating effects of a changing climate on the economy, health and environment, including record wildfires in California, crop failures in the Midwest and crumbling infrastructure in the South. Going forward, American exports and supply chains could be disrupted, agricultural yields could fall to 1980s levels by midcentury and fire season could spread to the Southeast, the report finds.

27-year-old Christian missionary and “Instagram adventurer” (???) John Allen Chau went to the Indian island of Andaman to share Jesus with the extremely isolated people of the Sentinelese tribe, who proceeded to shoot him with arrows and bury his body on the beach. (Adding to the horror, it’s possible he was still alive when he was buried.) The head of Survival International told the BBC:

The British colonial occupation of the Andaman Islands decimated the tribes living there, wiping out thousands of tribespeople, and only a fraction of the original population now survive. So the Sentinelese fear of outsiders is very understandable. … It’s not impossible that the Sentinelese have just been infected by deadly pathogens to which they have no immunity, with the potential to wipe out the entire tribe.

Having disposed of Moses’s decalogue, Jim Underdown now presents his own 11 Strong Suggestions, as opposed to “commandments,” such as number 10:

10. Tell someone to kiss your ass when appropriate.

I’m not talking about gratuitous expletives. I’m talking about resisting the temptation to sell your ethical soul. There are times in life when an offer comes along to do a wrong that will bring you some profit or even safety.

Do your best to deny another’s attempt to corrupt you.

Also at the CFI blog, Russ Dobler reviews the book At Least Know This: Essential Science to Enhance Your Life by Guy Harrison.

In a mind-boggling decision, a federal judge rules a law banning female genital mutilation law unconstitutional because “the Commerce Clause does not permit Congress to regulate a crime of this nature.”

In the Fresno Bee, Andrew Fiala rebuts the Jeff Sessions interpretation of secularism:

Mr. Sessions is wrong to say that secularism is relativistic. A relativist says that there is no way to judge because our judgments are made relative to a given perspective. Swami Vivekananda offered a soft and inclusive kind of relativism when he claimed that all religions are true.

But secularism is not so soft. It begins with a fundamental commitment to liberty. This commitment is not relativistic. Secular political systems maintain that religious freedom is a basic right. This means that secularism is not so inclusive as to allow theocrats to pick sides in religious disputes.

The Washington Post editorializes against China’s concentration camps for Uighur Muslims:

China has justified its actions as counterterrorism and “preventing extremism,” but it hardly makes sense to imprison 11.5 percent of the Muslim population of Xinjiang between the ages of 20 and 79, as has been estimated by some experts. Forcing tens of thousands of people into jails and then trying to wipe away their language and culture are crimes against an entire people. No amount of spin can conceal it.

Elizabeth Bruenig grapples with the Catholic Church’s handling of sexual abuse:

There is suffering, too, and defection and despair. The victim of a sexually abusive priest scoffed when I told him over the phone that I go to Mass at a parish not far from the one where he was molested. “You’re still Catholic?” he asked. I had to pause. My answer — yes — felt almost like an insult.

The Department of Justice tells a federal court that a ban on religious worship services at a South Carolina public beach is discriminatory. I guess the Religious Liberty Task Force is putting on its riot gear.

Hopping back into the Heresy Time Machine, we voyage to the year 1902, where Herbert Spencer writes an essay on how skeptics (or “sceptics”) ought to behave toward believers, which would be republished in The American Rationalist in 2011. Spencer says, “Sympathy commands silence towards all who, suffering under the ills of life, derive comfort from their creed.”

A man who murdered one woman and raped three (including the murder victim), one Jon Belmar of Missouri, used to be a pastor, having founded one church and serving at others. In 2003, this monster wrote:

Until we decide to turn away from a selfish and self-centered life and turn to the living God with a true and humble heart, there is no expectation but to continue to deteriorate to an even more debased level.

Jaerock Lee, a megachurch pastor in South Korea, is convicted and sentenced to 15 years in prison for raping women girls, which he claimed was on God’s orders.

Conservative Hindu activists in India are outraged at Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey for daring to be photographed holding a sign opposing Brahminical marginalization of women. Dorsey does not apologize…but Twitter does. Facepalm. Now Dorsey is actually being charged with blasphemy. Double-facepalm.

President Trump wants you to be thankful for “the love of God in every person, every creature, and throughout nature.” Well, if we’re going to be grateful for entities somehow residing inside us, I’m going to choose my microbiome. It’s not the best microbiome, but it’s mine.

Hey Jennifer Ouellette, how long does it someone to poop out a Lego? About a day and a half on average. She reports at Ars Technica:

Each subject kept a “stool diary,” recording their bowel movements before and after swallowing the LEGO heads. They evaluated the frequency and looseness of their stool based on the research team’s Stool Hardness and Transit (SHAT) score. (Who says pediatricians don’t have a sense of humor?) After swallowing the toy, they spent the next three days sifting through their own poo to determine when the LEGO head reappeared. The number of days it took to pass and retrieve it was dubbed the Found and Retrieved Time (FART) score.

Pearls were clutched and the vapors were gotten by conservatives across the land when two girls kissed in a performance from the musical The Prom at the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade. Hemant Mehta writes:

Todd Starnes, who can’t get through a day without thinking about what gay people do in their bedrooms, compiled a list of outraged people, before advising parents to “pre-tape next year’s parade — to avoid having to answer uncomfortable questions over the giblet gravy.”

What uncomfortable questions?

“Why did two women kiss?”

“Because they like each other.”

That’s it. That’s the whole conversation. It’s not complicated.

The Satanic Temple “amicably settles” with Netflix over their goat-person statue.

The eternally-aggrieved Bill Donohue of The Catholic League opens a statement on the rise in exorcisms among the sexually abused with “The Christmas season has just begun.” So you know there’s some full-bore crazy coming down the pike.

NASA’s gonna try and land the InSight probe on Mars today!

Quote of the Day

A federal judge blocks Mississippi’s 15-week abortion ban, with Judge Carlton Reeves simply not having it:

The Court’s frustration, in part, is that other states have already unsuccessfully litigated the same sort of ban that is before this Court and the State is aware that this type of litigation costs the taxpayers a tremendous amount of money. No, the real reason we are here is simple. The State chose to pass a law it knew was unconstitutional to endorse a decades-long campaign, fueled by national interest groups, to ask the Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade. This Court follows the commands of the Supreme Court and the dictates of the United States Constitution, rather than the disingenuous calculations of the Mississippi Legislature.

* * *

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.