An Exclusive Excerpt from Nobel Laureate Leon Lederman’s Beyond the God Particle

It was 20 years ago when Nobel Laureate Leon Lederman coined the term “God Particle” to describe what has since been confirmed as the Higgs Boson, the subject at the center of today’s announcement of the Nobel Prize in Physics. Lederman wrote at the time:

Why God particle?… the publisher wouldn’t let us call it the Goddamn Particle, though that might be a more appropriate title, given its villainous nature and the expense it is causing.”

Now that the Higgs Boson has been discovered, Lederman is back with a new book that continues where his previous one left off. Beyond the God Particle (Prometheus Books, 2013), written with Dr. Christopher Hill, talks about “the future of particle physics and the mysteries of the universe yet to be unraveled.”

Below is an exclusive excerpt from the book — keep reading for your chance to win a copy!

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After Wausau School District Limits Religious Music at Holiday Concerts, Community Members Freak Out

Last Thursday, Wausau School District officials (in Wisconsin) sat down with their music directors to explain that their holiday concerts would have to be secular in nature. The choirs could sing Christian songs, but they’d have to sing a few secular ones, too, to balance it all out. If they couldn’t find a way to do that, the December concerts would have to be canceled.

And then all hell broke loose because those terms were unacceptable to everyone:

[Wausau West High School's] elite Master Singers choir group will temporarily disband and Wausau elementary schools will no longer hold holiday concerts as the result of a Wausau School District directive to limit religious music in December.

“This group [Master Singers] sings at Christmas programs,” [director Phil] Buch said. “We sing for nursing homes, grade schools, businesses. To do that without Christmas music doesn’t make sense.”

A Facebook group called “Wausau School District Cancels Christmas,” popped up, too, with a picture of the Grinch right in the profile:

Even a petition began lamenting against a “decision [that] appears to be unreasonable censorship, anti-intellectual, and an unwarranted attack on people of faith.”

You can understand why they’re upset, of course. How do you have a holiday concert without Christmas carols? And if you’re part of an elite choir, can you really have a strong classical repertoire that doesn’t include a large selection of religious-themed music?

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Should We Outlaw Religion?

The video below, part of The Atheist Voice series, answers the question: Should we outlaw religion?:

We’d love to hear your thoughts on the project — more videos will be posted soon — and we’d also appreciate your suggestions as to which questions we ought to tackle next! [Read more...]

Zach Anner Learns About Islam

No criticism here. I think this is a genuinely good idea.

Internet celebrity Zach Anner, who calls himself a “religious idiot,” is learning about various religions for a webseries called “Have a Little Faith.”

His first one to explore: Islam:

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Justice Antonin Scalia: The Devil is ‘Getting People Not to Believe in Him or in God’

We’ve known for a long time that Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia bases his legal decisions on what the Constitution’s original writers would have wanted, regardless of what society may think or believe today. (Somehow, in his mind, that legal theory can apply to technologies that only became available in the past few years as well as social changes that couldn’t have been anticipated when our nation was founded.)

In an interview with New York Magazine‘s Jennifer Senior that’s getting a lot of press today, we “learn” that Scalia’s not just conservative, he’s a conservative Catholic who believes in the Devil:

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