Overheard (January/February 2018)

It has historical significance to me as a Jew, but not so much that I wouldn’t be willing to share it with other people to whom it also has a historical significance. But to point to a holy book and use that as proof — it’s not proof of any kind that a city belongs to one people or another. Religion should be kept out of it. I would prefer to separate religion from the state.

Debby, 66, a dual citizen of the U.S. and Israel who lives in Jerusalem, commenting on President Trump’s announcement that the U.S. would formally recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. 

New York Times, 12-18-17


You don’t actually have to swear on a Christian bible. You can swear on anything, really. I don’t know if you knew that. . . . The law is not that you have to swear on a Christian bible. That is not the law. You didn’t know that?

CNN anchor Jake Tapper, responding to Roy Moore campaign spokesman Ted Crockett, who said without a hint or irony, “You have to swear on a bible to be an elected official in the United States of America.”

CNN, 12-12-17


Most deniers know full well that global warming is real, that it is caused by humans, and that it will continue. Why take a personal risk with actual money when it is easier and less expensive just to continue denying, blogging and harassing scientists? . . . The blogging and posturing are just for show. I look forward to this year’s excuses, insults and hand-wringing.

Mark Boslough, physicist, skeptic and science communicator, after offering for the fourth straight year $25,000 to anyone who thinks a record high temperature will not be set in the coming year (2018 for this specific bet).

Huffington Post, 12-28-17


The usual fallacies: 1.“Rationalists must have faith in reason” (no, we don’t *believe in* reason; we *use* reason).

Fallacy 2: “Reason can’t get me to love my wife.” That’s a preference (desire), not a proposition (belief), so neither faith nor reason is relevant.

Fallacy 3: “We must act short of certainty.” Best action under uncertainty is not faith.

Worst of all: “Faith is OK, so believe the dogmas of *my* tribe!”

Cognitive scientist Steven Pinker (and FFRF honorary president who spoke at FFRF’s convention) tweeting about a New York Times op-ed “How can I possibly believe that faith is better than doubt?” by Peter Wehner.

Twitter, 12-25-17


How did you spend Sundays growing up? “Going to church . . . with dad.” How do you spend Sundays now?  “Breakfasting, and trips to farmers’ markets.”

Molly Shannon, actress, being interviewing by Parade Magazine.

Parade Magazine, 12-31-17


Those seeking to breach the wall between church and state fail to understand that the separation protects them. If the church is allowed to formally seek to influence matters of the state, the state will eventually seek greater influence over them.
It’s axiomatic. Indeed, that pressure is bound to increase once taxpayers are called upon to support religious organizations via their tax-exempt status, even as those organizations seek to influence public policy through overt political activity.

Newspaper editorial.

The Buffalo (N.Y.) News, 11-27-17