Music, Kisses, Life

November 16, 2015


The Morning Heresy is your daily digest of news and links relevant to the secular and skeptic communities.      

At least 129 innocent civilians were killed Saturday in Paris in a coordinated terror attack of suicide bombings and hostage executions, for which ISIS has claimed responsibility. But you know that already. France is carrying out a massive retaliatory military strike, and the city of Paris is on lockdown as police raids swarm across France and Belgium.

As I’ve noted previously, we keep having to do these official responses to these horrible things that seem to be happening like clockwork, from Charlie Hebdo and Avijit Roy and on and on throughout this bloody 2015. The composition of these statements, I can tell you, are fraught with inadequacy — of course they are! — and bring their own heaping doses of emotional exhaustion. But I can hope that they at the very least help to focus the thinking, and remind us of what we’re all working for. Here’s a bit:

The attacks in Paris are an inhuman and grotesque assault on the foundations of our global civilization. Too often, a hateful few have used their loathing of these humanist values as justification for unthinkable violence. From the campaign of murder with impunity against secular writers and activists on the streets of Bangladesh, to the now multiple mass-slaughters in Paris that shock the conscience of the planet, it is our fundamental conceptions of society itself that have been targeted, hacked away at with each chop of a machete, with each spray of gunfire, with each detonation of a suicide bomb. Innocent human lives become disposable props in a ghastly exhibition of an archaic, backward, and tyrannical ideology. 

It is a madness that must end. There is no ideology, no creed, no theological argument that is sufficient to justify these acts of terror. 

Humanity is better than this. 

Or at least it ought to be. We can decide that it is. 

Ian McEwan:

The death cult chose its city well—Paris, secular capital of the world, as hospitable, diverse and charming a metropolis as was ever devised. And the death cult chose its targets in the city with ghoulish, self-damning accuracy—everything they loathed stood plainly before them on a happy Friday evening: men and women in easy association, wine, free-thinking, laughter, tolerance, music—wild and satirical rock and blues. The cultists came armed with savage nihilism and a hatred that lies beyond our understanding. Their protective armour was the suicide belt, their idea of the ultimate hiding place was the virtuous after-life, where the police cannot go. (The jihadist paradise is turning out to be one of humanity’s worst ever ideas; slash and burn in this life, eternal rest among kitsch in the next).  

Zeba Khan at Boston Globe says we should all agree to start referring to ISIS as the more derogatory “Daesh.”

The Pope says the attacks are part of a World War III “in pieces.” Franklin Graham, who, let’s face it, is not an open-minded fellow, says we should pray that “Islam will be stopped in its tracks.”   

Sam Harris podcasts about what he says is the desperate need for us all to “get our heads straight” about the threat of jihadist theology. 

Charlie Hebdo cartoonist Joann Sfar:

friends from the whole world, thank you for #prayforParis, but we don’t need more religion! our faith goes to music! kisses! Life! champagne and Joy! #ParisisaboutLife. 

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Not all the news is bad, of course. Check out last week’s Cause & Effect newsletter for some of the great stuff being done around the world by CFI communities. 

A man suckered out of over $700,000 by fake-psychics gets over his embarrassment to go public after one of the perps got a mere slap on the wrist.

Aaron E. Carroll at NYT says that doctors need to get over hangups about “sexual permissiveness” nonsense and encourage patients to get the HPV vaccine

Turkey blocks access to Reddit. Has it eradicated Twitter yet? 

The Supreme Court will consider Texas’s draconian abortion restrictions.  

Ariana Eunjung Cha at WaPo tries to clarify new data indicating that autism diagnoses are spiking. Nowhere is the word “vaccine” used, thankfully.

Josh Dean at Popular Mechanics reports on the efforts to detect and stop an asteroid from killing us all

Speaking of which, Harvard theoretical physicist Lisa Randall posits the idea that a “dark, pancake-shaped patty of densely packed dark matter” killed the dinosaurs. What? 

At The Guardian, Mike Daisey distinguishes between lies, delusions, and storytelling to try and make sense of what keeps coming out of Ted Cruz’s and Ben Carson’s mouth. 

Utah Judge Scott Johansen orders an adopted baby be taken away from its lesbian parents (because something-something “instability”), and then reverses his order after the whole universe of sentient beings, more or less, tells him where to stick it. 

Kristen V. Brown at Fusion tries to figure out what’s up with atheists in India getting their Facebook pages taken down

Scotland’s Inverness Airport might be renamed the Loch Ness Airport. Macbeth might not be pleased. 

Evangelical leader David Lane claims he has recruited over 500 Christian pastors to run for office

Siberians witness a dazzling, crashing flash in the sky that’s as yet unexplained. 

Nigel Tufnel is no longer correct. At Stonehenge, we do now have a better idea of “who they were [and] what they were doing.” 

Joe Nickell gives a four-star review (well four-nickel) to He Named Me Malala.

George Hrab does a TEDx talk on skepticism, recommends that “Every time you look on the web, every time you receive a piece of email…pretend it’s April 1st.” 

Quote of the Day:

Andy Ihnatko:

If I want peace in my lifetime, it has to begin with me. When tragedies like the Paris shootings take place, my compassion and love and concern for the victims is a much more powerful and effective force than my feelings about the killers. I must try to nurture and express those positive reactions. They should be so great that there’s no room in my heart for anything else.

Fight and hope for justice. But let peace begin with me

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