December 14, 2018

Michael Gerson: Republican, conservative, former George W. Bush speechwriter, humanist. Wait, what?

Most Western societies, including the United States, have reached the stage of secularism without humanism. Our greatest efforts are spent on getting and keeping. Our defining creed is consumerism. … What we need is a revival of humanism. This need not be secular humanism (though it will be for some). In the Renaissance, humanism involved claiming every area of achievement in art or science for human excellence and civic pride. It was displayed in the relentless emphasis on decoration. Every clock, every chair, every gun handle, every scientific instrument, every bit of door, or floor, or ceiling was stamped with human creativity and given lasting worth. It was a declaration against time and decay that the world is not disposable. That humans could leave a lasting mark.

And yep, he links to our site, the Council for Secular Humanism’s “What is Secular Humanism? page.

Check out our joint effort with other freethought groups to upend the “war on Christmas” trope the religious right loves so much: #MySecularHoliday.

Tara Isabella Burton at RNS explores the spiritual diversity within the religiously unaffiliated, and says the term “nones” just doesn’t cut it:

As religious identity becomes ever more “unbundled” — and the religiously unaffiliated continue to grow in number — we’ll need to develop a vocabulary for talking about the wealth of practices, beliefs, communities and rituals that shape future faith identities, few of which may be easily reducible to a single label. In other words, most of America’s young religiously unaffiliated are not so much religious nones as they are religious “manys.”

Among the variations on spirituality she mentions is the “cult” of CrossFit, which is also the subject of a fascinating piece by Julia Belluz at Vox, in which she reports on the science, pseudoscience, and cultural appeal behind the phenomenon.

How did I not know that Joe Nickell had been interviewed for an article in Playboy way back in July about people who think they have sex with ghosts? My Google alerts are clearly failing me.

New York state Catholic schools response to the Education Department’s promise to inspect schools for academic rigor: Bite me. (paraphrase)

Orrin Hatch, in his farewell address to the Senate, says this:

Religious liberty is a fundamental freedom. It deserves the very highest protection our country can provide. At the same time, it’s also important to take account of other interests as well—especially those of our LGBTQ brothers and sisters.

Wait, what? You okay, Orrin? As Nico Lang at INTO reminds us, “In 1988, Hatch infamously called the Democratic Party of ‘the party of homosexuals.'”

The back and forth over the contraceptive mandate continues as the 9th Circuit upholds an injunction against the religious exemption put in place by the Trump administration.

Campbell Robertson at the Times reports on the decision by many Catholic dioceses to release lists of predator priests:

Many of the priests named on the lists are dead, but not all. Many had already been known as abusers, but scores of names are new, even to activists who have been closely following the church abuse scandals for years. Among the known allegations, many of the cases date back generations.

An atheist family in British Columbia (which is in neither Britain nor Columbia but, counterintuitively, Canada) is awarded $12,000 (I assume Canadian dollars) by the province’s human rights tribunal after their kid is barred from a preschool because of the parents’ opposition to religious holiday celebrations at the school.

In Skeptical Inquirer, Susan Gould reports back from a workshop on the alleged benefits of essential oils, and finds a lot of well-educated, credulous people. “I guess it’s hard to resist when you are told that you are ‘investing in your health.'”

John Kerry writes an op-ed for the New York Times in which he encourages us not to focus on Trump’s culpability over climate change, and instead focus on what can be done to “make him choose” the right course. Offering up legislative ideas, he adds:

…if Mr. Trump says no, make climate change the galvanizing issue for 2020 for millennials who will vote as if their lives depend on it — because they do.

Meghan Cook at Business Insider highlights 10 rainforest animal species that are threatened with extinction due to climate change, including pandas, chimps, Asian elephants, manatees, and even toucans!

Jeffrey Toobin has just had it, and it’s great. Look how tired of it all he looks.

Here’s a thing I didn’t know: Jordan Peterson is not on board with climate science. And, apparently, a lot of other areas of science. Is accepting science only when convenient the 13th rule?

Some Mormons are protesting the poster for Once Upon a Deadpool (the PG-13 edited version of Deadpool 2), because there must be literally nothing left in life to do.

KUSI TV news in San Diego runs a package literally titled “Veterinary acupuncture effective in treating a variety of ailments.” So we’re just not even bothering with reality anymore. Next up, “Unicorn horns add centuries to life when licked.”

Quote of the Day

Seneca, to Lucilius, on the soul:

Heat unbends curved beams, and wood that grew naturally in another shape is fashioned artificially according to our needs. How much more easily does the soul permit itself to be shaped, pliable as it is and more yielding than any liquid! For what else is the soul than air in a certain state? And you see that air is more adaptable than any other matter, in proportion as it is rarer than any other.

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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.